Aaron Sturgill
United States
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For our complete review with pictures and original format intact, please visit http://wyldgaming.wixsite.com/news/single-post/2016/09/22/Ha...

"Little orphan child, what fuels your hope at night
As you peer into the rainy sky looking for some sign of light?
What future can you wish for in the dark of Condoyle Cove
Where horrors tug upon the threads of the blanket that you've wove?
Maybe the only thing to keep you warm is that when the day ends,
Your aspiration is the asphyxiation of all the other orphans,
For the boogeyman is the kingpen here, and he'll line your sackcloth pockets with lead,
And your fortunes will rise as others meet their demise, for you've kept the boogeyman well fed."

--Shamefully, Aaron JD Sturgill, WYLD Gaming

Perhaps you've used Kickstarter before, or maybe you're somehow just hearing of the service, but among it's versatile and numerous categories, it is literally loaded with ambitious board game creators looking for people willing to toss in their support by basically preordering their games in an effort to help fund production so that it can hit the market and get in the hands of consumers. One of the perks of backing such projects early is that you are generally given more value (and often times more content) in exchange for your patronage and patience. One such project that has been extremely popular on Kickstarter since it's debut, a big part of which we personally attribute to the awesome marketing style, is Endangered Orphans of Condoyle Cove from Certifiable Studios.

A quick look at the campaign itself, as well as a peak behind the curtains at the comments section, lovingly nicknamed the "Comments Cove", will show you just why the campaign has had the success it has. But we here at WYLD Gaming, just like the game's ever lurking Boogeyman antagonist, wanted to peel back the skin on the project and get a taste of what was inside, and so we were somehow able to convince Certifiable Studios to send us their baby which we quickly and ravenously dissected. So, our question, posed over the dinner table where the three orphans included in our demo copy lay, was simply "Does the game live up to the hype?" Our resounding answer was... well... mostly silence at first. Even if we're talking about eating orphans, we have manners, and we simply do not talk while chewing our food. Besides, dessert comes later, first the meat!

Endangered Orphans of Condoyle Cove is a 2 to 3 player (4 player maximum upon actual release) strategy card game. I don't believe there is a suggested age limit yet, but it should be noted that this probably isn't a great game to play with your child if (A) they were adopted by you, (B) they were adopted by someone else and you're their birth parent and are having a board game get together night to get to know each other, or (C) you want them to grow up with innocence and heart intact. The game can be cooperative at times, but it is one of those where, if you want to win (and thus save your orphan), you're going to have to inevitably destroy your friends, family, or significant other(s?) playing with you at the table. Yes, you can also read this as destroy the other orphans. It's a hard knock life, after all.

The game utilizes a modular format where certain cards represent the locations of the titular cove where your orphans reside. At the start of the game, the "Cul-de-Sac" card, Kiddie Corner, must first be placed in the center of the table, and then the youngest player draws the top four Cove cards and places those on each side vertically and horizontally around Kiddie Corner thus forming a plus sign. You can imagine that plus sign to be like that of a medical cross if it comforts you, but while it can grant life, immediate death is also a very likely risk of visiting the center card.

The players then place their orphans on any card in that plus sign as their starting point. Each card has it's own special rule that alters the main rules of the game therefore making some spaces more covetous than others. It should also be noted that more than one orphan can occupy a space together, although there are Options cards that can harm players sharing spaces and others that harm players who are residing on certain spaces. So really, you're not safe anywhere. The Options cards are split among all of the players and dealt out to form each player's Options DECK. The top two cards of those decks are picked up and looked at by their respective players and thus form the player's HAND. These collective Options are representative of your orphan's life. Run out and the Boogeyman eats you. Incidentally, one of the most effective ways to keep from running out of Options is to get your orphan to Kiddie Corner and choose one of six Acts of Desperation cards. Choose the wrong one, and the Boogeyman eats you. Acts of Desperation cards that are NOT the Boogeyman stay flipped up therefore making Kiddie Corner more and more dangerous to visit as the game presses on. We like to view the Boogeyman as the real winner of the game.

The phases of every player's turn is as follows: Move, Play, Draw. In the Movement phase, the player can choose to move one or two spaces either vertically or horizontally. Cove Cards can not be placed diagonally therefore there is no diagonal movement option. In the Play phase, the player can choose to play one or more Option cards from their hand. Option cards can be stacked to form combos and can be played in any order the player chooses. In the Draw phase, a player absolutely MUST draw two cards. In the beginning of the game, these cards can come from a player's Options deck or from the stack of Cove cards or a mixture of both. If they pull a Cove card, they have to place them immediately into the game either beside, above, or below an existing card just so long as it never touches two corners of another Cove card. Any Options cards drawn go immediately into the player's hand. A player CANNOT have more than four cards in their hand at one time. If during the Play phase a player has three or more cards in their hand and know they will be drawing two cards on their next phase, they MUST play the necessary amount of cards that will allow them to draw the next two options even if those cards are completely ineffective or even detrimental to themselves. Every player has their own pile in which both played and discarded cards will go. Played cards are face up while discarded cards get discarded face down so know what knows what they are. There are ways to obtain cards back from this pile and increase your pool of available options again. There are also ways that players can take from each other's decks and/or hands respectively.

Thankfully all rules contained upon the cards within the game are literal meaning there is little room to question the intention. If the card states that YOU can do something, it only affects you. If it says ALL PLAYERS, then it affects everyone. If it says ANOTHER player, then it cannot affect you if you are the one who played it, and it must be used against an opponent. If it says ANY, ANY PLAYER or ANYONE, then it may affect you or other players depending on the additional details of the card. This makes it easier to hate each other for the right reasons rather than mere rule disputes.

Dessert time! Did it meet expectations? Absolutely! This game is an absolute blast to play! The art is phenomenal, the different cards and their rules give the game a lot of variety, it is genuinely fun to draw and play your Options strategically to come out on top, and there is an entertaining tension involved when your Options start to run low and you know you're going to have to risk a visit to Kiddie Corner. We give it a 10 for enjoyment, a 7 for the simple but highly original story/concept, a 7 for replayability, and a 10 for mechanics/rules. That's an 8.5 overall score from WYLD Gaming.

Anyone can pick up and play this fairly quickly with ease, and we absolutely love that the creators took the time to make the rules as clear as possible in interpretation. The final product will look even better with fully molded character pawns, player mats where options decks and discards will go, and the fourth player expansion included, and if you get involved in their Kickstarter campaign, you can get that and even more as a backer! If you'd like to visit their campaign and check it out for yourself, you can find it at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/certifiablegames/endang....

Please note, this is a review of a game that is in pre-production meaning some mechanics, appearances, rules, and other components may change. WYLD Gaming was provided this copy for review purposes but was not otherwise compensated in any manner, nor were their words, results, or review scores influenced in any way by anyone outside of the author's own opinions and perspective. If you've enjoyed this review, we encourage you to share it with others to help WYLD Gaming get similar opportunities in the future while also helping the game being reviewed get more attention for their Kickstarter campaign. Thank you!

Aaron JD Sturgill
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