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Subject: Story Board reviews The Blood of an Englishman rss

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Angelus Morningstar
New South Wales
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Originally published here, do not replicate without permission or attribution:


Synopsis: You are the fabled Jack of legends. You will steal the three treasures out from under the grasp of the terrible giant. You are the giant, you’ll grind Jack’s bones to make your bread.

As Jack, you win should you ever collect all three treasures on three consecutive trips up the beanstalk. As the giant, you win if ever you capture Jack by lining up the four giant cards: Fee, Fi, Fo, and Fum.

As Jack, you’ll need to form three beanstalks, tall enough to reach the clouds and steal one of the golden treasures all while avoiding the giant. As the giant, you must corner Jack, and trap him with your giant works.

The castle begins as four columns of cards. Most are beanstalk cards, numbered 1-9, but among them are two copies of the three treasure cards, and two copies of each of the giant cards. . Both of you will alternate taking turns, until one of you achieves your victory.

Gameplay is asymmetric, with Jack’s actions allowing him to be more agile and responsive, but with the giant’s moves being more direct and powerful. Jack must manoeuvre the beanstalk cards out of these piles in specific sequences to create a pile of cards, in increasing order. The giant must manipulate the same cards such that one of each of his giant cards are lined up adjacently; either in the same column or across the front of each column.

Commentary: Once again, it’s truly enjoyable to see a distinctive theme from the designer of Arboretum. Cassar has once again captured a unique feel through a high concept melded expertly to gameplay. Playing Jack feels nimble and quick, while playing the giant feels ponderous and powerful.

The game shows its elegance towards the end game. There is an excellent tipping point to the game where the giant is weak at the start but suddenly becomes incredibly powerful. For each card that Jack takes to form a beanstalk, it is one fewer cards in the castle, giving Jack less room to manoeuvre in. The smaller playing field makes the giant’s powerful actions more significant. By the end, Jack is typically scrambling with his actions trying to keep the giant at bay, all while hoping to snatch that final treasure.

The artwork for this game is also quite wonderful. There are little details here and there that contribute to the game’s ambience: the zooming in effect between the giant cards, creating a sense that the giant is moving closer; as well as the illumination effects around the bottom and top of the beanstalk.

Verdict: This is a clever little two player game featuring the wonderful design of Cassar. If you liked Arboretum, you should enjoy this offering.
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