tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
So this year at GenCon I got in my first Math Trade. I did terrible in the sense I traded more expansive games for cheaper games, but on the other hand I got rid of games that will never see table time. My one friend said he would rather flip a coin and call it a game verses playing Witch's Caldron again - so getting rid of games that will not be played for games that may be played is a good thing. I figured if nothing else I would learn more games.
photo thanks to
I am a dice person so I went for this game even though it has not really seen any love around here. My first thought on seeing it was this is a weird game. It comes in a plastic tube with a cloth matt, 2 different style D6 ( one is black and has numbers on it, the other is white and has pips on it ) and some crystals ( think ascension scoring crystals and you have the same thing here, but in 4 colors ). Here is a picture of the matt you play on.
photo thanks to
So it is very transportable and light. To be honest this would be such an easy game to make yourself with 2 dice and a homemade board.
So each person gets 14 crystals, 2 large and the rest small. The rules actually say the person who looks most like a Gnome goes first. You then roll 2 D6 and you place a crystal on any of the sguares on either row. If you roll doubles and place it on the intersection of the double number you get a free turn. If someone else is on the intersection of your roll, then you can contest that spot and their is a roll off with the D6, highest number winning, ties going to the defender. So that is all there is to it really. You get a point for every 3 crystals in a row you get, and 2 points for if you have a big crystal in that row. So 4 crystals in a row makes 2 sets of 3 in a row and would be worth 2 points if they are all small crystals. The game ends when someone starts there turn with no crystals left. If you are contesting the spots a lot and losing your crystals then you can fall behind and not get as many crystals on the board, which will usually hurt you in the long run.
Not a lot to this game, and yet it is a lot of fun if your a dice person. To me it is similar to Coloretto in that they took a simple mechanic and nothing else really and got a good game out of it ( this plays nothing like Coloretto, just that it is a simple game at heart with interesting decisions to be made ). Sure luck is involved since it is all dice, but since it is all dice it makes sense to me and the luck is not really an issue, just part of the game. I do not see myself ever saying, man I lost cause my dice rolls sucked. Your not really trying to out roll the guy, your trying to outplace him based on the rolls you get. Contesting spots is the big risk and game changer that is lucked based, and since it is just who rolls higher on a D6 that part of the luck is just pure luck so deal with it. I can see people not contesting spots as much as they could for fear of a bad roll. But being a dice person I love this part and always fight for the spots just to screw the other player over.
A lot of the decision making is deciding if it is better to help yourself or hurt the other person. You want to get as many of your crystals grouped together so you get the 3 in a row going on all the different directions you can ( up and down, sideways, and both ways diagonal ). A lot of spots will be crossroads for a few places to score so blocking the other guy from a spot where he scores 2 or more rows and sets him up for more combos is usually worth blocking.
This is a fast game being billed as 5 - 15 minutes, it is 2-4 players and to be honest I have only played it with 2 people so far. My friend Matt went with me to see another friend today hoping to try it out with 3 &/or 4 people only to find our friends where not home ( which lead us back home to play Summoner Wars: Master Set ). But I have a feeling it will be even better with more players. I wonder if 3 person may be its sweet spot just cause 4 player may be to much down time, but I doubt it since the turns go so fast. But 4 players may get to many crystals on the board making it way harder to score, but again till I play it that is just all guesses on my part.
A game half luck, half strategy, half "gotcha". and 2 halves fun.
Yea that's too many halves. Gnome don't worry too much about descriptive stuff like that as long as they're having fun...
That is on the rules - which are very short, but very well written. You can teach this game in well under 3 minutes, and after a few turns you totally understand it. It took me 3 games to fully grasp it, but we where throwing a few back and partying so it probably only should have taken me half way through the 2nd game, whistle.
I can see this being a go to game for non-gamers I play games with, or the light game you want for the end of the night or when waiting for more people to arrive. I am surprised that a game that is only 4 years old does not have a designer credited for the design? Being a dice person person and game geek I am already thinking of how to incorporate the base of this game into a deeper game where this is just part of the fun and not the whole game - never going to amount to anything, but that is just how my brain works.
To be honest I was not expecting much out of this game, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find a game I enjoy and one that I am sure will be seeing some table time, so watch for my Session Report on this one sooner then later...