Sunday, 12 April 2015

003. The Cardboard Cartographer issue 3 pt 1.



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Welcome to the first part of issue 3 of The Cardboard Cartographer.

Editorial.
In each issue we hope to post some news, a game review and talk about topics relevant to table top games, such as mechanics, conventions, Kickstarter and so on.

There is so much content this issue that we have had to separate it into two parts.
In part one we will be covering the News, Kickstarter previews and the Contents & Google-Fu segments of hits issue's boardgame review
In part two we will be reviewing this issue boardgame, handing down some personal opinions, covering expansion and digital incarnations, as well as having a very special segment just for this issue

You can find the second part here - Five Tribes Issue 3 part 2.

In this issue of The Cardboard Cartographer we'll be reviewing 'Five Tribes'.

In addition The Cardboard Cartographer is proud to introduce one of the hosts of the Board Game Hour podcast, Ben Maddox
.
001 Board Game Hour Logo

 

Ben will be putting forward his thoughts in support of the decision made by Days of Wonder to remove the Slave card from Five Tribes after public pressure on the issue.
On the other hand I (DarKHaZZl3) will be playing devil's advocate and explaining why I am against the decision.

It at this juncture I'd like to mention that all opinions in this issue, and all subsequent issues, are those of their respective authors.
This disclaimer is usually included in every issue, however it is important to emphasise this point for this issue as it will certainly divide opinions.
Please don't feel like they are a personal attack or an attempt to undermine or void the opinions of others.

In addition it is important to note that The Cardboard Cartographer and all of our contributors view slavery as a deplorable activity that cannot be tolerated in the real world.

As usual feel free to agree, disagree, debate and discuss, or simply ignore any or all that is written here.

Whatever you do, be civil. Thank you.

If you have any suggestions or feedback feel free to comment, email us, or hit us up @TCBCartographer on twitter.

News.

Birmingham Comic con.

On the 21st and 22nd of March 2015 MCM Comic Con came to Birmingham.
If you're are unfamiliar with Comic Con it is a convention where lovers of games, comics, manga, anime and all things related to geek culture gather to celebrate their hobbies.
Various industry representative have booths and there are many independent vendors selling all sorts of merchandise.

Inevitably boardgame enthusiasts are going to be there, but the percentage of floor space dedicated to boardgames has been extremely low in the past. In 2013 it was almost none existent.

This year however there was significantly more boardgame goodness on show.
As well as a bunch of individual retailers, Esdevium Games were on hand to demo some games under the Asmodee umbrella.

 
 
003 Comic Con Asmodee



The games on hand were Splendour, Five Tribes, Cash and Guns 2.0 and a few others.
This space was busy all day.



002 Comic Con - Days of Wonder



We had a quick game of Cash and Guns that I essentially had to run because the demo guys were so busy.


004 Comic Con Esdevium



It was great to see a lot of people interested in boardgames and wanting to learn about them.
Needless to say the hobby seems to be in great health and growing in stature within the general community. I feel this can only be a good thing.

International Table Top Day.



005 International TableTop Day


April 11th was International Table Top day.
International Table Top Day was founded three years ago as a way for the world to celebrate tabletop gaming together. Every spring, fans post thousands of events all over the world to the site, and every year, the event has grown.TableTop Day 2014 was celebrated in 80 countries, over all 7 continents, and had over 3,000 events in total.


In a the past year the hobby has continued to grow more and more so this year's event was set to be huge.
The hashtag #TabletTopDay was trending for most of the day, with revelers sharing their activates throughout the day, while Geek&Sundry broadcast the event on their Twitch channel. The official figures are yet to come in, but it looks like the days was bigger than ever.

You can check out the Geek&Sundry tweets and photo streams from the day over at
their website.

We managed to join in the festivities.
Some Battlestar Galactica was played. The Cylons reigned supreme.

006 Battlestar Galactica - TableTopDay



Followed by the obligatory few rounds of Love Letter



007 Love Letter TableTopDay

Kickstarter.

Two more weeks. Tons more Kickstarter news.

Post Human.
008 Posthuman Kickstarter


'In Post Human you play as one of the last human survivors in a world where nature is reclaiming the planet and our mutated offspring are working to eradicate us. Will you resist mutation and survive, or give in to the inevitable and join the mutants'

Ending on April 24th 2015, 'Post Human' by Mr. B. Games has already gone above and beyond their initial funding goal of $27,000 and is Kickstarter staff pick.

Post Human is at its core an event driven racing game with an RPG element to it. The game is largely competitive, however it also has several cooperative aspects between the human players and potentially those who become mutants.
If you'd like to see how the game works you should consider watching the play through videos on the Post Human Kickstarter page.

The game does seem to have a handful of interesting aspects to it.
The way players can choose their own path to explore and the random nature of the tiles drawn makes for exceptional amounts of replay-ability. The concept of players becoming more mutated over time and thus becoming enemies of the human players is also very interesting, however I'm not sure how well it would work in practice.
From the game play video the combat comes across as extremely clunky and laborious, and while they note they have changed it since then, I can't shake the feeling that it won't be that much better.

Mr. B. Games has produced a handful of games so far, all launched via Kickstarter, most notably Spurs which received some decent reviews, and Dungeon Lords anniversary edition which made $247,502.
Dungeon Lords launched June 24th 2014 and completed a month later in July. As of March 23rd 2015 the game was still being shipped out to backers, which is a fairly long fulfillment period and importantly several months overdue.
Admittedly one has to consider the impact of the West Coast port strikes, and being printed and fulfilled by CGE.
Have the lessons been learned? It is impossible to say, but what we can say is that the project will be fulfilled, backers may just have to wait a little longer.

I think this is a safe bet to back if you like the look of the game. It certainly has some good ideas behind it as well as a fairly well executed theme.

Salem.
  
009 Salem Kickstarter



'The year is 1692, and it is a perilous time to live in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. One wrong step, or one misplaced accusation, and you could be the next Witch to hang. "Salem" takes players into this perilous world and lets them re-live the tension, politics, and religious extremism that still has people talking about it 300 years later.'

Also ending on April 24th, Salem is a true blue indie game by Travis and Holly Hancock. It is their first Kickstarter project and it has reached over 700% of the initial $6,00 funding goal.

Salem is a hidden enemy game similar to mafia and werewolf where the players are trying to discover who the bad guys are, while those bad guys are trying to work against them.

There are some key differences that set Salem apart from Mafia and werewolf.

In Mafia and Werewolf the players principle source of information is the players behaviour.
In Salem you have much more to go on due to the cards are played.

These cards really switch up the game, they can mess with a players hand or grant protection to another player.
Not only do these powers add another dimension to game they also add another level of player behaviour to be aware of.

The art style is quirky in exactly the right way. From the book style box the game comes in, to the portrait style character cards the art work emphasises the 'on trial' feel of the theme.

And now, the negatives.
The first problem is an obvious one.
While I admire the designers of this game for creating this project; a project that emphasises and epitomises exactly why Kickstarter was created, there is always the issue of backer fulfilment.
They can guarantee as much as they are able, but having never created a project one can see potential issues causing a more trouble than if the project was created by an experienced creator.
This is always an issue with Kickstarter projects.

My other gripe is not limited to Salem, but rather with all games like Mafia and Werewolf, and that is the reliance on a moderator.
A non-player moderator is easily the best option, but I'd never want to be one.
I feel excluding someone form playing to moderate isn't a fair option.
This is mainly to do with downtime. In these games the potential for player elimination is huge, and in large games so too is the potential downtime for eliminated players.

Salem mitigates this slightly by having multiple lives, or Tryal cards.
While I think this is a innovative way of adding something new to the mechanic I still feel that with multiple 'nights' comes the same problem.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf solves this issue by only having one night, and therefore little to no downtime; albeit at the expense of depth.

Salem is certainly an intriguing game; quirky and different enough to not just be another boring Mafia or Werewolf recreation. 
The PDF version is only $10, so if you're interested it won't break the bank to try it out.

Surviving: One Month In.
 
010 Surviving: One Month In, Kickstarter

'The game in a nutshell. You control a group of survivors, not just one ninja of the apocalypse. You control your team to try and take back as much of the city before the infection ends.
Then you can reign as king over the post-apocalyptic city.'


Ending on April 27th, 'Surviving: One Month in' is another first timer game, this time by TeddyTech and is yet to reach its funding goal at the time of writing.

'Surviving: One Month in' is essentially a 4X game; explore, exterminate, exploit and expand.

We recommend you watch this video to get a good overview of the game

If you like 4X games the 'Surviving: One Month In' looks set to be a good game in the genre.

Not only does this game have the classic 4X power struggle between the players in the game, but it also has the Zombies to contend with.

In established games like Civilization the 'board controlled' enemies get worse as the game goes on and the players improve. In Surviving: One Month In the Zombies strength is relative to the players strength so the challenge is consistent.

As a first time project the issue of fulfillment is always one that stands out. However, in the case of 'Surviving: One Night In' I don't feel that it will be an issue.
TeddyTech has teamed up with Panda Games Manufacturing to fulfill the backer rewards. Panda Games Manufacturing have worked on games such as Dead of Winter, Pandemic the Cure, Robinson Crusoe and many more. 
Their prestigious back catalogue oozes quality in terms of components and printing.
The only downside is they are also responsible for Myth which has had many issues in terms of backer rewards.
Overall I think we'll give TeddyTech and Panda games Manufacturing the benefit of the doubt on this one.

If you're not sure, good news! There is a free to download print and play version of the game available, which we will certainly be checking that out - http://www.teddytech.co.uk/#!printnplay/c1016
Free print and play versions of the game are great for players to try before they buy, so on this basis, this is our pick of the issue.
 
011 Car Wars Arenas Kickstarter


'Car Wars Arenas gives hardcore autoduellists more exciting locations to showcase their skills and blow away their opponents. The boxed set contains five one-sided 22" x 34" arena maps and a booklet detailing the special features of each arena. The rules will also cover revised versions of popular variants like corporate team duelling, an AADA pro circuit, and more.'
Ending on April 29th Car War Arenas by Steve Jackson Games is an expansion for Car Wars drawing from some of the classic supplements. 

I'm going to get this out of the way; this doesn't need to be on Kickstarter.
While I get that Car Wars is niche, Steve Jackson Games is far and beyond a big enough company to publish this off its own back. When they launched OGRE on Kickstarter it was more understandable; the game is simply huge.
No game company in their right mind would publish a game of that size as a consistent product.

But Car Wars? I'm not convinced.

As for what it offers this is reasonable on every level if you are into Car Wars.
That and there is no issues when it comes to fulfillment.


'Five Tribes' Review by 'DarKHaZZl3.'



012 Five Tribes Review Opening

Google - Fu.

Five Tribes is a game designed by Bruno Cathala, with artwork by Clément Masson and published by Days of Wonder in 2014.
The game utilises the worker placement mechanic, but with a unique twist that mixes in area influence and control with card drafting and bidding mechanics.

The game is fairly simple to learn but devilishly complex to master.

If you'd like to know more, check out the Five Tribes page on the Days of Wonders website.
Alternatively head over to the Five Tribes page on Board Game Geek.


Contents and Impressions.
  • 12 wooden palm trees,
  •       30 game board tiles,
  • 10 wooden palaces,
  •       90 wooden Meeples (yellow Viziers, red Assassins, green Merchants, blue Builders and white Elders),
  •       4 player sets with Camels and Minaret turn markers,
  • 22 Djinn cards,
  • 54 market resource cards,
  • 96 victory coins,
  • 1 scoring pad,
  • 5 Djinn & turn order summary sheets,
  • 1 betting order track,
  • 1 turn order track,
  • Rulebook.
013 Five Tribes Contents

Another issue, another game with fantastic box art.
Unlike Samurai in the previous issue the fantastic artwork is everywhere in Five Tribes.
Everything in Five Tribes just 'pops' visually, and is all very well tied together.



014 Five Tribes Game Tiles


Components that can be forgiven for being fairly dull, such as the game board tiles, are surprisingly aesthetically pleasing. Especially when considering that, for the large part, the tiles are desert scenes.
As you look at them you can see all the information clearly and the artwork really helps tie them into the theme of the game.

Even the wooden player pieces manage to be more interesting than your average component.

015 Five Tribes Player Pieces



Each player has a number of Camels to mark areas they control and a Minaret to act as a turn marker.
Most games stick with the standard primary colours but Five Tribes picks bold colours that are very distinct from each other, and from the Meeples that represent the Five Tribes.



016 Five Tribes Meeples


And while not my favourite pieces in the game, the Palm trees and Palaces are different enough for you to tell the difference at a glance.

017 Five Tribes Palms and Palaces


The gold coins are pretty basic, but as with the wooden tokens they use colour to help differentiate them from each other.
018 Five Tribes Gold


In this case; silver for the lower values, and gold for the higher values.

This clarity continues with market resource cards.



019 Five Tribes Resources Cards
 

Each card is not only bold and colourful but entirely different from one another visually.
In addition all the information you need are on the card.

Now my favourite part; the Djinn cards.

 
20 Five Tribes Djinn Cards


They are simply fantastic.
The art work is magnificent. I don't think there are enough superlatives to describe how much I enjoy these cards.
  
021 Five Tribes Djinn Cards Close Up


Not only do they look fantastic, but they each do different things adding a great deal of flexibility and depth to game play; something we will touch on later.
Looking at them you might not be able to figure out what they do, but the summery sheets have everything you need to know about them, as well as summarising the entire game.

 
022 Five Tribes Rules and Reference


Detailed, clear and concise. This sums up not only the summary sheets, but also the rule book and scoring pad.
Everything is simple to understand and well laid out in a logical, approachable manner. 


Days of Wonder in a nut shell.

Continue to part two for the Gamplay segment, as well as all the rest of our other content for  this issue!
Part two can be found here - Five Tribes issue 3 part 2