Conspire by Cherry Picked Games

Greetings All,

Today we get to bring you a quick review for a deceptively fun game called Conspire.

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Conspire

4-12 Players

30-60 Minutes

Cherry Picked GamesCherry Picked Games

In Conspire all players create a or act out a situation from any time and place they choose, in this world you’ll be dealing with conspiracies and debating on different topics, essentially trying to sell your beliefs or complete your hidden objectives. Everyone creates characters with hidden objectives and those characters shuffled and passed out to players. You can choose to tell people what your objectives are, however, it is much more fun to keep them hidden. This game can end after you accomplish whatever you were going for or you can keep it going. You can literally play this in “chapters” of your story or you can completely start fresh and I think that is a vert cool concept. The replayability here is just insane.  I’m including a hyper link so that you can see this fun little 3 minute video of game play instruction from Alexander Jerbek (Cherry Picked Games), I found it very helpful and very entertaining.

This is a storytelling game that is so relaxed, we literally sat in the living room instead of around the table. There are so many topics I thought about using, I didn’t even want to make up my own story… do you have any Idea how many fun debate topics and conspiracy theories you can pick up from pop culture? things you’re reading or watching right now. I personally wanted to do this set in the Gravity Falls universe or The Time War from Doctor Who and if I’m being honest, it’s going to happen eventually. It’s too fun to pass up. Instead we ended up going with Mutants as our topic, please check out my husbands take below. 🙂

Imagine that you’re a regular, standard, mundane, innocuous, run-of-the-mill human.  Now imagine, that you exist in the USA.  Alright, now…imagine that you are all of those previous things, except that you exist in the Marvel Comics Universe.  One equipped with superheroes, super villains, space aliens, demigods, and all manner of general calamity.  Now, imagine that medical science has evolved to the point where humans can isolate every wrinkle of the human genome, and alter it whilst in utero…and that frightful humans in political office are seeking to utilize this technology to end one of the largest domestic scourges their great nation has ever seen: “MUTANTS.”  As private U.S. citizens in this reality, you’re tasked with voting for an upcoming bill that would allow mutation to be classified as an unwanted birth defect that can be permanently removed during pregnancy.  Do you believe that mutants should be permanently removed from existence via medical excision, or do you believe mutants are a natural byproduct of a human birth and should be protected?

The Husband’s Quick Take –
This was a lovely RPG experience!  There’s a certain elegance and simplicity to it that is just so appealing to anyone, regardless of their opinions on tabletop gaming.  This game could honestly be practiced in debate clubs across the country, to excellent effect.  It favors an almost contrarian outlook, so long as you have the charisma to back it up.  The added wrinkles this game provides when matched with people you’re extra familiar with can be very interesting, and certainly can provide a very engaging, very social experience.  I very much so recommend this game to anyone…so long as they don’t require their tabletop experiences to come with an actual board and pieces.
I hope you enjoyed this quick review, I promise there will be more frequent topics after Tabletop has ended. 🙂 Until next time… Live by the Board.
-Livingbytheboard

Catalyst – Cherry Picked Games

Greetings All,

Today I get to talk about a game from Cherry Picked Games, a company that I actually have three games on my review list… so you will be hearing quite a bit about them over the next few posts. At first I thought I’d do one giant post for all three games, but I feel more comfortable doing three mini posts. Enjoy!

catalyst

Catalyst

4-6 Players (GM Needed)

1+ Hours

Cherry Picked Games

This is a post I’ve been dragging my feet on and oddly enough it’s not because of the games quality. This is an RPG and although I enjoy RPG’s, I am just awful at expressing my thoughts on RPG’s. Here it goes folks.

Catalyst is an RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world in which demons have taken over the earth. Ever since the demon uprising humans have manifested magical abilities. With the persons specific powers they also have vitae and vigor. Vitae in a sense is a person’s health points and helps you to heal wounds and such. Vigor on the other hand is a person’s ability to push themselves past their normal physical abilities. Both of these have limits that are based on the traits of the character you’re playing such as willpower, strength, and fortitude.

Even though the character traits are similar to other games such as D&D, the characters themselves have so many more creation possibilities. Instead of placing these characters in classes (mage, bard, etc) and races (human, elf, etc.) you simply make up a back story for your character and what ability they manifested. I think that this is wonderful, there’s a never-ending pool of possibilities with this and that’s a great feeling for both the creative mind and replayability. There are example characters in the book and to start I chose one of them. Her name is Gianna Marchetti, a woman with a rough past whom became a fantastic pizza chef. Her ability is transmutation and she uses it turn her pizzeria tools into weapons and armor. She can be seen holding her pizza spatula which I think is great and adds a bit of humor to the whole thing. Her story tells of a past of drug abuse and this piece of her comes out after the proverbial “hell breaks loose”, she begins using what knowledge she has to create medicine for the survivors. How neat is that? The creators of this book took something so negative and gave it a helpful positive twist, I love it.

I played another story where I created a character that is an artist that has suffered from depression and anxiety her whole life, when her powers manifested she found that she had a type of telepathy – the ability to project images in people minds. The more upset she feels the more physical her projections become. Her projections can go from destroying the minds of these demons when she is calm to physically harming and chasing the demons when she is feeling manic. It was great fun to play around with.

The thing that really sets this game apart from others I’ve played is the combat. The combat is done with action cards chosen by each player privately and in turn flipped over simultaneously. The actions have an order that is followed. The reason I like this is because once you chose your action, that’s it. It is set in stone and you have to find a way to make it work for you. You also need to be able to read to group well in hopes that you do not chose to attack a demon and get stuck fighting alone while they ran away (yes that happened to me… jerks). This mechanic takes a great deal of pressure off of me, as this is a part of RPG’s I find to be hard. I have anxiety in real life and it gives me RPG stage fright. This is an RPG that I would highly suggest someone new to the genre playing because it eases you into the combat/action situation.

The book is a hefty 270 pages long, but all of it is needed and helpful. The  142 cards are nice and thick. My largest complaint is the box that this all came in. It reminds me of one of those old school VHS card board boxes. It’s thin and was damaged almost instantly. Other than that, I genuinely enjoyed this game.

Cherry Picked Games created two apps for this game on Android. One for the player and one for the GM. Both of them work really well and do not feel like an unnecessary extra like some of the other board game companion apps are. These are really worth getting and help keep track of your information. On th player app you can create your character and use battle mode instead of using the physical cards. The GM app also lets you create opponents and keep track with the battle mode. There are multiple campaigns for sale on the website. Lastly, Catalyst has a wiki page and it’s nifty… so check that out too. 🙂

I want to thank Cherry Picked Games for letting take this game for a spin. I hope I did well with this review. In the future I may put up some posts with actual playthroughs of the game, I just didn’t want to overwhelm anyone right away. 🙂 Thank you everyone for reading! Until next time… live by the board.

-livingbytheboard

CATS – DPH Games

 

Greetings All,

Today it is my pleasure to bring you a “punny” little card game that I actually really enjoyed called Cats. Over the winter break our household had quite a bit of unfortunate distraction and we are still trying to get caught back up on our requested reviews. That said, this month we will be skipping the “Industry Interviews” segment to try to get caught up. Our next review will be a super sized one as it will feature three games from one company! Anyhow, please stick around the review!

CATS a sad but necessary cycle of violent predatory behavior.

3-5 Players

15-20 Minutes

DPH Games

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CATS is a fun little card game in which you and your tablemates are playing as neighborhood cats trying to capture and subsequently eat the neighborhood birds. This is done by utilizing actions like: catch, stalk, steal, taunt, and eat. Smaller birds can be easily caught, however, larger birds will need to stalked first. Eaten birds will give you enjoyment points and at the end of the game whichever cat has the most points wins. Upon catching a bird, people can attempt to steal the bird from you, so you have to be careful. The actions I mentioned above are all played in order after everyone at the table simultaneously flips their cards. Sounds simple right? Especially because the eat option get played before the steal option, so if you’re quick enough you can keep the cards you’ve captured for the most part. This is where it gets interesting, taunting a bird allows you to double your enjoyment points and possibly give you one heck of a lead at the table, but doing this action does leave you open to having that bird stolen. This is where bluffing comes in handy. If you’ve got a good enough poker face, the other cats may very well not bother you.

The largest part of this game is trying to anticipate what moves the other “cats” will make and bluffing your way past their guesses. I will be honest here, I am not much for bluffing games or social deduction games, but this game is quite fun. Between needing to be quick on your feet and the amazing puns in this game, it’s a keeper. So if you haven’t noticed from reading some of my husbands posts, we are big pun fans and I believe that is how this game won its permanent spot on our shelves. I’m including some pictures of the punderful cards, make sure you also take a look at their scientific names as well.

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Some of you may be looking at this and thinking I swear I’ve played this before, but it wasn’t called CATS. Well you’re probably right. Originally this game was named ‘FLIP’ the Bird (pictured above). Another delightfully fun name, right? I do feel that the new name (CATS a sad but necessary cycle of violent predatory behavior) fits waaay better with the over all feel of this game. I hope you all enjoyed this mini review and I’d like to thank DPH Games for letting me review CATS. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard

 

Planetary Strike

Hello Readers,
Recently, the Wife and I came in to a copy of a space themed indie game called: “Planetary Strike.”  Upon asking Claim to Fame Games to review it, we received a copy for free for our unbiased honest review. At first glance, this game seems very minimal in its presentation, and difficult to immediately critique.  But, once you dive into this title, you’ll find that it’s just a thrifty abstract game…not exactly what I expected.
2-6 Players
10-20 Minutes
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Planetary Strike plays like a mix between chess and checks played out on a circular (but checkered) board.  Your goal is to utilize your pieces to capture another player’s “planet” piece, not unlike a king piece in chess.  Pieces move in different patterns and for different lengths dependent upon the pieces chosen to move.  For instance, pieces with “1” and “3” symbols on them move diagonally, and pieces with “2” and “4” move in straight lines.  Also, pieces can only move the amount of spaces as are indicated by the numbers listed on them, with “4” being able to move 4 spaces, et cetera.  Not reinventing the wheel here, just solid abstract game mechanics.  It should be noted that I only played this using 2 factions, with just a single faction per player.
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I’m gonna be transparent and direct here readers, the actual gameplay itself was “okay.”  It felt very much so like I was playing a modified game of chess while I was reviewing this…and that’s not a compliment.  Abstract games typically aren’t my taste, I enjoy a few quite a bit but not many, and this did not thrill me in the slightest.  Don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here, this is an adequate game at its core, it’s just very “vanilla.”  It doesn’t stand out in any major way, it doesn’t really utilize it’s theme, the gameplay itself feels antiquated…none of it evokes any feeling other than “meh.”
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Let’s touch on the pros.  Easily the biggest pro in the whole game for me was the rulebook.  It was really well done, and clearly articulated everything it needed to EXTREMELY well.  This was a digest sized, FOURTEEN page rulebook that was a breeze to read and understand. It contained rules, tips, online information, company information…this might be one of the best rulebooks I’ve ever encountered. Also, the game board itself contained a number of diagrams on it to help remind players of the rules regarding how to move specific pieces.  Always a nice feature to see in any game.
Let’s move onto the cons.  First, and easily the most apparent knock against this game: the packaging.  The game and it’s components come in a what I can only describe as a shipping box, that is 12×12 inches, while being 2 inches thick…it almost looks like a hard pizza box.  Beyond it’s cardboard exterior, it possesses a single (albeit large) sticker on the front with its logo.   I’m not going to lie readers, this is not an ideal setup…it’s woefully aesthetically compromised.  It’s difficult to properly articulate, it’s just all very underwhelming, and certainly not something I’d accept from other companies.  Now, let’s discuss the components of the game…they too suffer from a similar problem to the packaging.  They are sturdy pieces of plastic that all have individual shapes, with numbers on them.  Nothing to really knock here, just nothing to phone home about either.  I only found one part of the game itself to be lacking: the game board.  I’m being very nitpicky here I admit, but the board itself is relatively thin and needs bent into shape in order to flatten.  I just found it slightly peevish, but definitely enough to mention.
Alright readers, this is a tricky situation.  Part of doing reviews of anything (in my opinion) is to be objective.  To view, evaluate, and convey information without any sort of framework to the best of your estimation.  But when is an evaluation supposed to account for the totality of a product, from its mental conception all of the way to its final production?  I’ve yet to do that with any other games that have come across my table.  I’ve not taken a copy an Asmodee game and said: “This game is good, but with their vast resources, they could’ve done even better!” as I fiercely spike the game into the Earth before scurrying off to some internet message boards to bemoan how the sky is falling and how woeful my existence has become.  No, what I do is attempt to critically comb over a product to distill out it’s better qualities…and not so better qualities.  That’s the hitch with Planetary Strike, if Level 99 Games, or Asmodee, or Fantasy Flight Games released this game…I’d not recommend this game.  But this game ISN’T a major company release, literally EVERYTHING is done at the creator’s home.  That’s a serious endeavor, and one that deserves merit…serious friggin’ merit.  But, if we’re being objective and I’m keeping my integrity, I wouldn’t recommend Planetary Strike to anyone except for hardcore abstract gaming enthusiasts.  That said, I hope to see more independent games like this in the future, it’s a great sign for the hobby as a whole and gives me hope for the future.
Perhaps I’ve become a cynic, but I simply cannot recommend this game guys.  But, I can highly recommend you keep an eye on this company.  Just because some hypercritical jerk online doesn’t like a product doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means a difference in taste, and I hope this negative review doesn’t sour you on this plucky little company. There is a review page on the company site with plenty of positive reviews, so please make sure to stop by there before making your final decision. Livingbytheboard is very much so hoping to an interview with this company, because we loved their story so much. Hopefully this review hasn’t stifled this plan. As always, we’d like to thank Claim to Fame Games for the chance to review this game and for a look into their neat little company. Thank you for stopping by readers.
-The Husband

MetaCheckers – Kangaroo Edition

Greetings All,

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and I do apologize about the break in posting. Let’s just say that the end on 2017 was not the best for me and I am hoping 2018 is much better!

Today I get to bring you a mini review for a game called MetaCheckers – Kangaroo Edition by DREAMGAMES. I received this game for free in exchange for the chance to review it in an unbiased fashion. Enjoy!

MetaCheckersTube1

MetaCheckers/MetaCheckers – Kangaroo Edition

2 Players

20 Minutes

DREAMGAMES

Let me start off by being honest here. I am awful and chess and sadly it makes me not want to play chess very often with the exception of games like The Duke. I was super uncertain about this game upon looking at it and reading the rules. It is most definitely a game that you have to play to appreciate it. My son and my husband both like Chess so I figured if nothing else, I’d have two great playtesters.

MetaCheckers is  a chess variant using checkers and dice. The board is set up like a checkers board, but you do have your “King” exposed at the start of the game. You roll the dice every turn, should you roll a King on your first roll you can actually turn your King over to play in “Stealth Mode”, which obviously makes it harder for your opponent. It is possible to for both players to be in Stealth Mode. In the original version you get a D6 and a Chess die with chess symbols on it. You roll the die and based on the symbol rolled you can choose any of your pieces to move and act as that particular character would in chess (King, Queen, Rook… etc.). In Kangaroo Edition another die is added, the Kangaroo die. This die can be accessed by rolling a 6 during your turn and choosing the Kangaroo die instead of the Chess die. The Kangaroo die has 6 fun variations for moving. You have your Joker which serves as a wild meaning you can choose which standard chess move you’d like to use. The other pieces are non standard moves, for example – The Kangaroo symbol allows you to hope and land anywhere on the board, capturing any piece except for the King.

Now for the aesthetics. The board is actually made of a rather thin cloth and the pieces are contained in a thin cloth drawstring bag. The checkers pieces are good quality – one set tan and the other brown. The King pieces are engraved on the checkers. The dice are also nice quality with thin engraving. The rulebook is small and simple. Now here comes the part I’m not too fond of. The actual container for all of this is like a little Pringle can. The bottom and top pop can both act as lids, they are both removable, and the pop in and out.  I am not fond of this style. I didn’t like it when Steve Jackson Games used it for Zombie Dice and I don’t like it now. I have issues in the past with these type of containers being easily damaged and the lids just popping off in transit causing me to lose pieces. I am not saying this games container will have these, but I am saying that it does worry me.

The verdict… I actually really enjoyed the game. Much more than I thought I would. This is going to sound awful, but I think part of my problem with chess is that I get too flustered at the options, I second guess myself tons, and in the end I’m not having fun because I’m too worried about what the right move should have been. With this game there was less stress, I didn’t have worry about all of the options… just the option I rolled. I played both versions and I prefer Kangaroo Edition more. It didn’t add any stress, just fun. I think this is a great little game and would be a great addition to anyones travel collection.

Thank you DREAMGAMES for the chance to review this game! Thank you everyone for stopping by and until next time… Live by the board.

-livingbytheboard

 

Anniversary Homebrew: Wife Edition

Greetings All,

If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know that my husband and I made our own little versions of games we love for our anniversary. And if you’re just now tuning in… you might want to check out the other anniversary posts. Anyhow, between being ridiculously busy and sleep deprived I’ve been dragging my feet on this post. Also small disclosure here, the picture I’m adding is not an original. My husband cropped it together, but it is not his art.

I didn’t like my end product. Even though I will admit that I am adorable and my little Above and Below parody game followed suit, it just felt extremely lacking. I’m not a great storyteller (No clue why I have a blog) and I knew I wanted to include playable scenarios for every year of our relationship, but doing that made it where I could not actually use my stories in the game Above and Below. My characters can totally be played in the actual game though.

On to my husband’s game. He was going to make three chapters for Mice and Mystics centered around my favorite character Filch. He was only able to finish one because he had been working so many extra hours at work. Luckily he assures me I’ll get to play the other two for Christmas. I really enjoyed playing the first chapter. Filch is wonderful and I’ve always been upset by how little love he gets in the game. My husband was able to capture the right attitude and speech patterns for Filch and it made the story sing. I couldn’t stop smiling. He is so good at storytelling and has charisma for days, his theatrics made the experience that much better. My husband was a bit upset because his game wasn’t anniversary themed, but I loved it. I suppose he could have made a cute love story between the characters or something, but instead he chose to write a story for a character that I demand to play with every time we play. It means more to me that he is writing these chapters for me to go on an adventure with my favorite character than it would have to just make a random love encounter between characters that I have no interest in. It appears that Mice and Mystics is over with Plaid Hat and that saddens me, but because of my husband I still get to enjoy a new story and that’s absolutely wonderful. It makes me think of all of those television series that were abruptly cancelled and I never got closure, I’d kill for some new content for them. At least I get two more chapters this month! 🙂

So now that I’ve rambled and have made everyone bored… I promise I’ll get caught up with my overdue content. I have several game reviews half written and several interviews in progress. Thanks for reading and until next time… Live by the Board.

                                                           -livingbytheboard

Anniversary Homebrew: Husband Edition

Hello,
This was such a wildly personal topic, that I didn’t know how to approach it.  It’s as though the blog readers would be flies on the wall for a private moment in my life that I wanted to keep all my own.  But, after some thought on the matter (and insistence from my wife,) I decided to go ahead and write review of my wife’s anniversary game.
Let’s address the elephant in the room now, her game was vastly more “anniversary themed” than mine.  In fact, my first words upon seeing the bit of the game were: “…Were we supposed to follow a theme? Was I not paying attention again???”  Well, evidentially, I was paying attention…I just even fathom the pantheon of cuteness that wife operates at.  It was as though the entirety of her project was tailor-made to elicit “d’awww” sounds at virtually every impasse.  With every turn of the page, I felt as though I was CHRONICALLY UNDERPREPARED.  But enough of my (deserved) self-criticism, let’s talk about her game.
The game itself was like a separate, mini module for the (excellent) game: Above and Below.  Although, the entirety of the gameplay fixated on one mechanism in that game, the exploration.  During the exploration phase of Above and Below, you’d assign two or more characters to go below ground and “explore” for treasure.  Upon selecting these characters, you choose a card from a deck with six, seemingly random numbers on said card (with each number having a corresponding number from a die face on it.)  At which point, you roll your die, and that selects a scenario from the Scenario Book that comes with Above and Below.  These scenarios consist of anything from: “An old man is sleeping, what do you do to him?” To: “You stumble upon a pack of ravenous under dwellers, how do you proceed?”  And you usually have at least two or three options on how to proceed, that require higher dice rolls to accomplish more daring (or dastardly) feats.  It’s a really fun mechanism.
The moment she presented the game to me, I could tell that I was gonna cry like a baby.  The game presented scenarios that actually occurred in our real lives, segmented into the last six (often tumultuous) years of our relationship.  Let’s be totally frank about two things right off the bat:
1 – This was less a game, than a storytelling mechanic.  It was LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE to lose.
2 – These scenarios were designed to tear my soul asunder, leave my anima nothing but cinders, and leave me in a blathering, bawling state…she succeeded.  …that she-beast.
Characters in Above and Below are usually obtained by procuring them from an open pool where you can (more or less) purchase them.  In my wife’s version, they were obtained automatically, just as they came into our lives.  And were often introduced with great fanfare, and in a beautiful (if albeit romanticized) way that made all of the scenarios feel cohesive.  The one revolving around an old pet of ours was particularly wonderful…and heart rending.
I’m gonna be honest, readers…I am not comfortable discussing this at any more length.  This was special…and it means a lot to me.  But, I’m simply not comfortable sharing anymore of it with you if for no other reason than this: You couldn’t feel it the way I do.  No amount of felicitous vernacular, or intensive description, or several thousand characters of text could properly convey how this made me feel.  And that would rob you of much of this experience.  Imagine the first time you saw a movie that really resonated with you, now imagine showing it to someone who doesn’t particularly care for it.  How would you react?  Would the intensity of the love you had for the movie effect how that other person’s indifference (or possible disdain) affected you?  I’d hazard to say it would.  So…I’m gonna keep the finer points locked up in the porous colander that my brain, and the steel trap that is my heart.
Sorry for a particularly meandering post, readers.  I appreciate anyone who had the fortitude to stick it out and finish…lord knows I barely did.  Either way, thanks for reading, and (ideally) I’ll be back soon with some indie gaming reviews.
Thank you for reading and please keep an eye out for my Anniversary homebrew: wife edition.
-The Husband