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!

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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