Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review of: Bemused from Devious Weasel Games, by PaladinElliott Productions

Review of: Bemused from Devious Weasel Games, by PaladinElliott Productions


Game Design: Jim Felli

Game Artistry: Tani Pettit & Naomi Robinson

Published by: Devious Weasel Games

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Number of Players: 4 to 6

Time of Play: 15 to 30 minutes

Age recommended: 12 and up

Year of Release: 2017

The story so far: You are a Muse, battling other great Muses to see who is the most inspirational. You have chosen a human to inspire and help excel above others. This Virtuoso must be more famous and have more influence than anyone else. To achieve this you must eliminate the rivals by creating doubt and dread amongst them! If you can do this well enough, you will first drive them insane, and then eventually they will become a Fantasma that will haunt others, maybe even you!

Our final thoughts on the game:  So after several 4 player games we found that this is now in our regular rotation of games. This is for two reasons. First, this is a "take that" kind of game; you will need to judge and decide when you should gang up on a player, or help a player out in order to achieve your goals. Second, the artwork in this game is exceptional. The Art Nouveau style illustrations on the Virtuoso cards is amazing, and we couldn't help talking about it each and every game that we played.

What makes this one stand out as far as "take that" games, is that a player is never truly out. If you are knocked down to the point of being a Fantasma, you get to haunt players in the game, and continue to dish out the dread cards on other players. So, if you get someone to this point, they will remember who did it to them, and be able to pay you back in the game. This is definitely a point to consider in your strategy of hurting the other players, so as not to make yourself a known target.

Another aspect we really liked was the secret objectives; you might want to help one person while trying to take down the others. It creates an atmosphere of intrigue as you don't know everyone else's agenda. Trying to figure that out and to influence how players are going about bringing everyone down while maintaining themselves is a hard balance, which makes the game more thoughtful. We would have surprise moments when you could see that people thought a certain player would be sane or insane a lot longer than they were, and that moment when people would realize the balance had shifted against them.

This is a game where taking the time to go over the rules really makes the difference. I used two ways to teach the game, reading excerpts from the rules, and utilizing dummy moves. I would read something, and then play it out, so everyone got to see. Having good rules, good summary cards, and having a few things filed to memory really sped up the teaching process.

It is a great game, that I would play 90% of the time when brought up. Yes, a 9 out of 10, and that is only because after awhile (especially after I lose) I sometimes like a small break from the "take that" games. If you have players that enjoy this style of game, then this , might be a 10 for them. If you have people that enjoy phenomenal art, and/or the ability to keep going on and affecting a game, and that you are always in the running for points, then you want to play this game!

Mechanics and concepts found in this game: This is a game where, as I mentioned, there is plenty of "take that", even so that you are never truly out. Even as a Fantasma, your lowest form, you go on affecting other players and bringing them down. As you can see in the pictures this is a card game, that has a fantasy flavor to it, and the art kicks that into overdrive. You are free to negotiate with other players, maybe gang up on someone, or I help you and you help me. There are different powers for the different player cards, so that is variable. You will have hand management with your cards due to draw, play, and discard phases on your turn. You will even use some bluffing, or maybe try, so that you appear stronger or weaker, as different uses of strategy on the other players.

The game components:

-1 Game box
-1 rules book
-6 Virtuoso Cards
-6 Gemina Cards
-66 Doubt Cards
-18 Dread Cards
-12 Secrets

and we managed to receive two player aid cards.

Winning conditions of the game: The game is going to immediately end when there are less than two Virtuosos that are sane left in the game. Everyone will calculate their scores at that point. There are points for you whether you are sane, insane, or a Fantasma. The highest points win. In the event of a tie sane wins over insane, and living wins over dead.

Game setup: Each player receives a random Virtuoso card. This is who you will try to elevate. You will only use the Doubt cards that match the Virtuosos in play. If there are six players you use all of the Doubt cards. Each player will have a Gemina card (random), this is a Virtuoso you are connected to by dreams; it could be another player's Virtuoso, or possibly your own. Who your Gemina is starts the game as a secret. You will give each player a random Secret (keep this to yourself) and this speaks to the relationship you have with another player, maybe that you want to keep them sane, maybe you want them to be worse off. Each player will receive 1 Dread Card (black skull card).  Take the rest of the Dread cards and have them face up in a deck that everyone can reach. You will then shuffle the Doubt Deck and deal out 4 random Doubt cards to each player, and then place the remaining Doubt cards face down on the table.  Make sure the Doubt and Dread decks are in reach of all the players. The Doubt deck will be face down, while the Dread deck will be face up. You will refer to the Doubt deck as the Well of Doubt, and the Dread deck as the Well of Dread. Everyone should have their Virtuoso, their Gemina, their Secret, and five total cards. Determine by your own means who shall go first. This means everyone is ready to play!

The Virtuoso and Gemina Cards are from the following:

-The Poet
-The Singer
-The Musician
-The Dancer
-The Painter 
-The Thespian

The Secrets will deal with:

-someone being sane
-someone not being sane
-someone being insane
-someone not being insane
-someone being dead
-someone not being dead

The Special Powers of the Characters will be:

-removing doubt
-moving doubt to another player
-turning doubt to dread
-removing dread
-moving dread to another player
-turning dread to doubt

Why is that important?

-If you have 5 total cards played on you a mix of Doubt and/or dread- You turn INSANE
-If three of those 5 total cards are Dread Cards you turn into a FANTASMA (you die)
-You can go back and forth between SANE and INSANE, but you cannot cross back once you are dead!

How to play: Let's start with playing as Sane, because this set of steps becomes altered when you become Insane, and then a Fantasma.

Sane (your character is Vertical and color side up) 
-Draw Two cards from the Well of Doubt (must do this).

Now choose one:
1. Play a Doubt Card ( you must play it on the Character the card says and you can't play this on anyone who has five cards on them).
2. Play a Dread Card ( you can play this on anyone, except you can't play this on anyone who has five cards on them).
3. Use your special ability (you do this by playing a card with your name on it. You can target whoever you want with the ability as long as it is applicable).

If you are Sane then you can choose this option as well...
4. Play any pair of matching cards and take a Dread card from the Well of Dread and play it on a Sane player. If you choose this option you will then change your future hand size.

If you are Sane at the beginning and end of these choices you may make another choice...
5. Make an additional play from the previous options.

At the end of this you discard one card. You may never skip the Discard step. So if you have any cards at this point you must discard one.

If you don't have a legal play, you still must discard one card.

If you are Insane then... (character is turned horizontal, color side up)
-Draw two Doubt cards.
-Then take all the cards you have and shuffle them, draw two at random, you play one, and discard one. You can never play both.
-If you don't have a legal play you still must discard one card.

If you are a Fantasma then... (character is Vertical, black and white side up)
-Get rid of your hand.
-Get rid of the cards played on you.
-Draw one Dread card.
-Play Dread card either on another living player, or replace a Doubt card with your Dread card on a living player.

If Doubt cards are replaced they are placed face down in the discard deck.  If the Well of Doubt runs out, just reshuffle all of the Doubt cards back in the deck.

Gemina explained:

These connections to other players grant you another player's ability, but there are certain rules to be observed.

-They start face down.
-They turn face up either by:
1. You willingly choose to flip it and place a Dread card against yourself (as if it had been played against you). This is a free action.
2. You become Insane, and then you must flip the Gemina.

Once flipped, the only way the Gemina flips again, is if you hit the Insane step again. Example, you were made Insane, and the Gemina flipped and is showing. If you become Sane, and then Insane again, your Gemina will flip again (it does not flip when you become Sane again).

You can only use the Gemina power if the Gemina is face up.

Endgame: There is no specific end game phase, but you will constantly need to watch how well everyone is doing, because you want to keep yourself better off without making yourself stand out as a target. The same applies if you bring someone down, you don't want to do so to the point that you make yourself a target. You will find that there are surprise moments, even to the point that some games are brought to an abrupt end!

Here is how the scoring works at the end:
-If you are Sane, then start at 10 points, -1 for each Doubt played on you, and -2 for each Dread played on you
-If you are Insane, then start at 9 points, -1 for each Doubt played on you, and -2 for each Dread played on you
-If you are a Fantasma, then this...
4 player game = 2 + # of other Fantasma in the game
5 player game = 1 + # of other Fantasma in the game
6 player game = 0 + # of other Fantasma in the game

Thank you so much for reading my review of Bemused from Jim Felli and Devious Weasel Games!

hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or 

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Stellar Armada Skirmish from Jerason Barnes, Reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions

Review of: Stellar Armada Skirmish from Jerason Barnes, by PaladinElliott Productions

Stellar Armada Skirmish

Game Design: Jerason Barnes

Game Artistry: Jerason Barnes

Published by: Self Published, copy was printed by Ad Magic

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Number of Players: 1 to 4, 

Time of Play: 10 to 20 minutes

Age recommended: 13 and up

Year of Release: 2017

The story so far: You enter this microgame of space combat by commanding a space battle cruiser. You will have to monitor your ship's shields, armor, engines, and repair systems, while at the same time using your energy beams and missiles to destroy enemy player's battle cruisers. You will need to balance your resources, while making sure to commit the right amount offense and defense to win this all out space brawl.

Our final thoughts on the game: This is a quick game, with easy to learn rules, packed into pocket sized boxes, that let you avoid getting into large hex based space campaigns. We found that we had the rules down in about 10 minutes. We have played games that run about 20 minutes, so this plays quick, serves as a filler, and makes it easy not only to jump into, but to pack up and take with you.

You will have to deal with the luck of dice rolls, but they are mitigated by how much energy has been spent by the reactors on shields. You will always be faced with the issues of over committing versus under committing your resources. Everyone is presented with the same battle cruisers, but it will be everyone's personal playing style and strategy that will separate what happens in the game.

We are currently teaching the children to learn how the play this game, which we suspect that it will take a little bit of time for them to grasp the nuances of resource management, but once past that, they will be able to blow up other people's ships. We would rate this a 10 out of 10 in the category of quick games, it is a filler that easily can be inserted in between larger and longer games. We would give the same score if you are looking for easily transportable games. If you are looking for meaty games, looking for more in depth space battle games, this will not be it, and the score becomes more in the area of 5 out of 10 if that is what you are looking for.

All in all, this does not pass itself off as a deep game, it knows exactly what type of player it caters to. If you want a game that is light on time, easy to transport, and puts you right into a space battle then look no further. If you are looking for more in depth battle, where you are building up your ships, or dealing with fleets, this may be less to your liking.

Mechanics and concepts found in this game: First and foremost, you have a space battle taking place among battle cruisers. You have elements that you see with almost any space battle; missiles, energy beams, and using your engines. You have combat between the ships, and you are seeking to completely destroy the other players. You have resource management, as you will have to decide how you spend the energy from your ship's reactor. You have dice rolling for the combat, where you will have some addition taking place due to modifiers from how many engines you are using (the faster your ship is moving, the harder it is to hit). You will have action management, as you can decide how far to push your ship, possibly leaving yourself wide open for your opponent. You will need to always balance risk versus reward.

The game components: We purchased the Kickstarter Exclusive Edition, so this list is based off of that.

-1 Stellar Armada Skirmish Box
-1 Stellar Armada Skirmish Kickstarter Exclusive Edition Box
-12 six sided dice (3 red, 3 blue, 3 green, and 3 black)
-28 cubes (12 red, 4 blue, 4 green, 4 yellow, and 4 white)
-2 baggies
-4 Skirmish Cards (these have rules on one side and the battle cruiser mats on the other)
-2 Four Player Instructions Card ( on the other side is Artificial Intelligence rules so that you may play against bots in the game (explaining how you can have one human player games)

Please note: We printed out larger rules to make it easier to read, and we needed two boxes to have up to four players.

Winning conditions of the game: You simply need to be the last ship that hasn't been destroyed, or has surrendered. Other considerations are an enemy ship's reactor is reduced to zero, so their power core is destroyed, or other ships are simply unable to fight.

Game setup: Be sure to hand out a Cruiser Play mat card to each player. They will need at least one cube of each color to denote how much they have or are using of a system, weapons, and so forth. An example of this would be assigning a red cube for your reactor, blue for your armor, green for your shields, yellow for your engines, white for repair, and red again for your missiles, and your energy beams. You are given enough cubes for this. You will need to choose a color of six sided dice to use. One player could take red, and another could take blue. Finally determine who will go first, by whatever method works, and you are ready to play!

How to play: Each player will spend Reactor cubes as Action points. You can choose from the following until you have exhausted your cube spots for the turn for the turn (as long as your Reactor isn't damaged you will have 6 Action points per turn because your Reactor replenishes each time you take a new turn):

Each one of these choices is from spending one Action-

-Fire a Missile. With no modifiers you must roll a 2 or higher. If it hits an enemy ship they must adjust their cubes downward by 5 across their ship. Shields must always take damage first, after that, you can allocate the remainder of the damage across your ship. You are limited to a maximum of launching two missiles on your turn.

-Fire a Energy Beam (Maser). With no modifiers you must roll a 2 or higher. If it hits an enemy ship they must adjust their cubes downward by 2 across their ship. Shields must always take damage first, after that, you can allocate the remainder of the damage across your ship. You are limited to a maximum of firing three Masers on your turn.

-Armor. This is what protects your Missile Batteries. If you lose all of your Armor, your Missile Batteries go off line, and your Reactor becomes exposed. You must repair your Armor to at least a value of 1 to bring your Missile Batteries back online. If the Reactor takes damage through a gap in the Armor, it is limited to taking two damage per turn through this gap.

-Shields. These always start the game at maximum (5). All damage to a ship must first be routed through the Shields. Once the Shields collapse, then you must decide how to allocate further damage. Choose wisely, as you spread out damage other systems become hindered and/or knocked offline.

-Engines. You can spend up to 3 Action points here to set your Ship's speed until your next turn. This is very important as each 1 point of speed acts as a +1 modifier against someone attacking you. It is harder to hit a moving target! If I have spent 2 Action to increase my Engines to value 2, then you have to add +2 to try and hit me. So, instead of rolling 2 or higher to hit, it is now 4 or higher to hit. For the first round of the game all players except the player going first have their Engines set to value 3, to offset the first active player. Any damage taken to Engines reduces the overall speed you can have. You must repair your Engines to bring yourself back to the possibility of having higher speeds. If your Engines go offline then you have a gap. If the Reactor takes damage through a gap in the Engines, it is limited to taking two damage per turn through this gap.

-Repair. For each Action point spent for Repair, you can raise the level of a System by 1. You can't raise Missiles for they are limited to 10. You are limited to the number of Repairs through your Repair System, and the Action cubes you have. The maximum amount of Repairs you can perform with a full Repair System is 3. If you take damage to your Repair System, then you will lower the overall maximum number of Repairs you can perform. You can raise your Repair level, and then perform a Repair for that level as long as you have the Action points to spend. If your Repair System goes offline, then you will no longer be able to repair any part of your ship. If your Repair System goes offline then you have a gap. If the Reactor takes damage through a gap in the Repair System, it is limited to taking two damage per turn through this gap.

-Reactor. This starts at value 6, and provides you Action Points to use each turn, this and the Repair System are the most critical to shield from damage. If your Reactor is damaged, you are then limited by that damage for subsequent turns concerning how many Action Points you will get to use. You can only damage the Reactor by having a gap in a surrounding system. One possible way to lose is having your Reactor hit zero. You could consider this your Energy Core exploding, or that you are completely adrift. Choose whatever Sci-Fi framework that feels appropriate to describe what is happening at this point :)

Endgame: This is one of those games that really doesn't have an Endgame. In multiplayer battles, players may decide to gang up on a ship that is weak, and take them out of the game. It could also be that players decide to keep the game going as long as possible so that many weaker ships are easier to deal with then one strong ship.

Overall, this was a great pick-up game that is easy to transport and play on the go.

Thank you so much for reading my review of Stellar Armada Skirmish from Jerason Barnes!

hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or 

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review of Spoils of War from Arcane Wonders, Reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions

Review of: Spoils Of War from Arcane Wonders, by PaladinElliott Productions

Spoils Of War

Game Design: Jason Medina and Bryan Pope

Game Artistry: Nick Deligaris and David Kegg

Published by: Arcane Wonders

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Number of Players: 3 to 5, 

Time of Play: 45 to 60 minutes

Age recommended: 14 and up

Year of Release: 2017

The story so far: You and your Viking Clan have finished some very successful raids! You have brought that treasure back to the Chieftain's tent, but now who gets what? In the heat of the moment it is decided that a game of chance will be the only way to settle this. Get your dice ready, and make sure you are ready to have the skill to bluff, bid, bet, or to publicly challenge those you think are bluffing! All of that wonderful treasure is at stake, so you must be ready to claim your share of the Spoils Of War!

Our final thoughts on the game: So after several plays, I have concluded that this is a game that many people love, or are very frustrated and still love it. I am joking here, because my wife, and myself on more than one occasion have said things out loud in frustration as we picked the wrong side of a conflict. In this game, the conflict happens when someone has challenged a bid. The other players choose to support either the Declarer or the Challenger. You can hear much cheering or sounds of anguish during this game, especially if larger bids have been made and/or there are really valuable treasures out (such as the final three turns of the game).

We love that this gives us a little bit of that gambling scratch, you are rolling dice, bluffing, and trying to be the one that comes out with the most. This is a game where the tides could turn on one single round, it could jockey back and forth between players, it is never decided until everyone reveals all they have at the very end of the game.

Scores can be across the board, so be prepared for trying to read other people correctly, and seeing if you can choose the correct side. Was that bid that said there is a total of ten 4's on the table actually right, or should I call him/her out on it? This game has that fun tension that is going on when people are trying to figure out if the others are bluffing. On top of that, you may be able to sway the outcome through the use of Artifacts.

No one is ever left out in this game, as you have to decide what you are doing every step of the way. Do you go for the straight points from your cards, and work on getting set bonuses? Do you go after as many artifacts as you can for those special powers (some are one time use, others for as long as you have them)? I have to say this is a game I will play every time with people who enjoy the gambling and/or bluffing aspects. If you have gamers like that then this is 10 out of 10, and should be played 100% of the time it is mentioned. If you have gamers that shy away from those mechanics, then this is a good way to introduce them to it, and show them it can be highly entertaining. For those who don't normally enjoy such things, this will be a 9 out of 10, as it doesn't get to much better to show them a richly themed, super enjoyable experience that involves this type of interaction. You have to remember that you have great people who have helped push this game even further, such as Tony Gullotti (who is Director of Sales for Arcane Wonders, a father and husband, and a family man) along with Kevin Burkhardsmeier (who is President of Game Toppers, also father, husband, and family man).  These are highly talented people who help the gaming industry everyday, who put a lot of their talent into the promotion of this game. In other words, great people came together to create, develop, promote and support this wonderful game. You must play this at least once, because you will very likely come away with a highly enjoyable experience.

Mechanics and concepts found in this game: We found that you need to pay attention to set matching. This refers to the cards you have won, as you can get additional bonuses from partial or complete sets, and having complete Conqueror Hoards (one of each color type of card). There is tons of dice rolling, so if you enjoy that, this game has plenty of it! You will have lots of bidding, betting, bluffing, and challenging those who are employing the same tactics, so get your poker face on! Being able to confuse others and bluff is an advantage, because that makes it all the more fun! This is Liar's Dice ramped up to a new, more fun, better themed, and more treasure filled level!

The game components: 

-126 Treasure Cards (Weapons, Jewelry, Armor, Artifacts, and more- these will be marked as levels 1, 2 or 3)
-1 Viking Chief marker
-35 six sided dice
-5 Viking dice cups
-5 Viking player screens
-93 Gold coins (18 that say 10, 40 that say 5, and 35 that say 1)
-5 Betting Disks (red side says Challenger and the blue side says Declarer)
-4 Markers (1 saying Copy, and 3 that say Cancel)
-1 set of instructions
-1 game box

You can try to track down the limited Gold dice cup that was offered for obtaining the game at conventions, along with some promo cards. These are NOT required to play the game in any way, but just mentioned as a note to those who are completionists with their games.

Winning conditions of the game: Having the most victory points at the end of the ninth round. These points come from the gold you have: from coins and from your treasure cards. Every gold is 1 to 1 as a victory point. In addition, you will need to check on Conquerer's Hoards(one of each type-color) along with partial and complete sets (3 different cards of the same color is partial, and 4 different cards of the same color is complete). If there is a tie, then whoever has the most treasure cards wins, if it is still tied then whoever has the highest single valued treasure wins, and if it is still tied, keep comparing treasures (who has the second highest single valued treasure and so on).

Game setup: Each Viking player will need 1 screen, 1 Declarer/Challenger disc, 1 dice cup, 70 gold (as each player gets 5 of the 1 coins, 7 of the 5 coins, and 3 of the 10 coins) Dice depend on the number of players-

-3 Viking players each get 10 dice
-4 Viking players each get 8 dice
-5 Viking players each get 6 dice

One person will always be the money handler (Purser) and will handle giving the money, and making change with the bank (Treasury). The cards get shuffled by level, and there will be 3 stacks of each level (3 stacks of level 1, 3 stacks of level 2, and 3 stacks of level 3). The number of cards in each stack breaks down the following way-

-3 Viking players mean each stack has 7 cards
-4 Viking players mean each stack has 9 cards
-5 Viking players mean each stack has 11 cards

All remaining cards go back to the game box. Make sure the stacks make one continual row so that it is easy to track how far along in the game you are (1,1,1,2,2,2,3,3,3). Elect who will be your first Viking Chief, and he or she takes the Viking Chief token. You can decide how to do that, maybe by who last held treasure, who was last dressed as a Viking, etc. You are ready to play!

          (the talented Kevin Burkhardsmeier dressed as the Viking Chieftain!)

How to play: Here are the 7 steps that make up each game round.

1. Treasure- Whoever is the Viking Chief takes the current round Treasure stack and deals them out for the players to see. Artifacts (denoted with a crystal ball) stay face down so nobody knows what they are until they are picked, while the remaining Treasures are face up so everyone can see them.

2. Roll Dice- Everyone uses their cup to roll and flip the cup down to keep your dice together and hidden.

3. Bidding- The current Viking Chief decides who will start the bidding. Remember with Bidding you are using all the dice rolled, not just yours! You will then proceed in clockwise order, and you can do one of three things

-raise by using same number of dice but higher pip ( I raise your five 2's with five 3's)

-raise by using a higher number of dice ( I raise your five 2's with six 1's)

-Challenge, you lay out your chip on Challenger side, the person who made the last bid lays out their chip Declarer side up. You are basically saying I think the table doesn't have what you bid.

4. Place Bets- The Declarer and Challenger will secretly bid gold, while the remaining Vikings will secretly bid which side they think is true along with gold.

5. Reveal Bets- Everyone reveals simultaneously how much Gold they bet.

6. Reveal Dice- Starting with the Declarer, and then in clockwise order, everyone will reveal the dice they rolled.

7. Divide the Spoils!- If there are at least as many dice as bid or more then the Declarer wins. If there is less than the Challenger wins.

-the bid was ten 5's, so if there are at least ten 5's rolled total the Declarer side wins, and if there are nine 5's or less then the Challenger side wins.

The amount you bid is important for a couple of reasons. If you are on the correct (Winning side) your Gold will come back to you, while the losing Vikings will give their bid Gold to the Treasury.  On the winning side, whoever bid the highest amount becomes the Viking Chieftain, allowing him or her to pick 3 Treasure cards, while remaining winning players will pick two Treasures in clockwise order.

Treasure Card sets: 

-Jewelry has Crown, Armband, Ring, and Pendant
-Armor has Helmet, Chain Mail, Shield and Bracers
-Dragon Eggs have Dragons in the Mountain, Fire, Storm, and Sea types
-Weapons have Battle Ax, Longbow, Great Spear, and Broadsword

Having three of the four in a type will give you 6 bonus gold, having all four will give you 12 gold.

-Conquerer's Hoard will be for having one of each type (Jewelry, Armor, Dragon Egg, Weapon, and Artifact)

Having this Hoard will give you 8 bonus gold. You can repeat these sets more than once if you have enough of the correct cards.

Each card will tell you how much Gold it is worth in the bottom right of the card. Artifacts will also have a symbol depicting if it can only be used once (showing 1x) or stays in effect as long as you have it (a circle that is a continuous arrow).

You will also have Copy and Cancel effects from these Artifacts, so just place the corresponding tokens wherever they are needed.

Endgame: The ninth round is the final round. It will be the 3rd round of level 3 treasures. Once this round is completed, everyone should total up everything they have to see who has the final score.

Thank you so much for reading my review of Spoils Of War from Arcane Wonders!

hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or 

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review of Himaya from Imperial Seal Studios, Reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions


Game Design: Jackson Portnoff

Game Artistry: Alessio Alonne, Felip Cekic, Carlos Pozo Jardon, Roman Jircik, George Patsouras, and Ash Rivenai

Published by: Imperial Seal Studios

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Number of players: 2 to 6

Time of Play: 30 to 40 minutes

Age recommended: 10 and up

Year of Release: 2016

The story so far: You enter this game as one who can drift through the sands of time, using the most famous and brightest Scientists, Explorers, Generals, Builders, Artists, Historians, Rebels, Spies, and Merchants to create and hold the best Theatres, Paintings, famous Buildings, Museums, famous Ceilings, Literary works, Songs, and Plays. You will need to control well known cities to hold many of these things that will be important to your nation as you strive to make it the most valuable (highest amount of victory points) amongst your fellow players.

Our final thoughts on the game: So this was surprising fun for what some expect as a heavy Historically based game. The game played in about 45 minutes due to teaching new players, and came across as a build up your nation, while trying every so often to use some "take that" to the other players. We had a lot of moments going "I didn't know this person" and "I just learned" along with looking online afterwards to read and learn more about some of the people and works that are represented in this game.

The Historical accuracy and artistic depictions in the game are very high, so if you were looking for a way to teach players some history, whether it would be historical figures, locations, or famous creations, this game would serve as a great teacher, especially to young adults who might be learning such things from in school.

We found one ambiguity in the rules, that we needed to make a house rule on, but otherwise we have not had any other issues in our play sessions. One of our good friends (looking at you Lorenz!) made the comparison that this game has some Fluxx-like moments, and we would completely agree. You will be assigning cards, sometimes removing cards by choice or by random, and you will also have battles between Generals that are settled with dice rolls while adding modifiers (a simple battle mechanic similar to Risk).

Everyone has come away saying they want to play it again, with games where first place to second place is only a matter of 1 or 2 points. You will need to balance whether or not to assign certain cards to certain locations, or use cards to dump out your entire hand for a new hand. The game has strategy in the cards you choose, and how you play some of them, and has luck in what is drawn, and how the dice rolls go.

While the game says 10 and up, I think this would be best with kids that age who have some interest in the theme of the game.  With kids my rating on the Board Game Geek scale is 9 out of 10, as I would want to play this with kids 90% of the time it is mentioned, if for no other reason, it is a good way to teach them about some of the mentioned people, places, and things of history. With just adults I will give this a 7 out of 10, because the game is fun and engaging and I know I can play an entire game in 30 to 45 minutes.

Mechanics and concepts found in this game: You will have decision making throughout the game. You have some card drafting depending on the cards you play, such as dumping your hand and drawing 5 new cards. There are some moments where you can mess with your fellow players with cards like the Spy which allows you to look at another player's hand and then play a second card. If you couple that with the Assassin you will be able to remove a card of your choice from an opponent (if you do this without the Spy it would be random). You can have alliances and betrayal in this game, but it is all casually done and you are not bound to any of this, and could break it upon a whim. You will need to take card placement into account as you can use Generals to attack other player's cities, and then to decide whether to loot the city or destroy it if you are victorious. All in all there are several things at work in this game when you play giving it a nice amount of complexity while still keeping it quick.

The game components: What is listed and what I received varied, but this is also a review copy, so please keep that in mind.

-150 playing cards comprised of 114 Time cards (Normal backed cards with no picture), 18 Artwork cards (back side has a picture of the Statue of David), and 18 Building cards (back side has a building with a rotunda). This deviates from the 152 cards listed in the rules.

-Game box

-I needed to print the rules, and then later reprinted a second version of the rules

-4 six sided dice, different from the rules listing of 2 six sided dice

Winning conditions of the game: Highest score at the end of the game wins. You must follow the agreed upon conditions for when the endgame goes into effect, and pay attention to each and every card, as some will only score points if they have been assigned to the proper type of card, and others will be worth victory points on their own.

Game setup: Separate the three decks (Time, Artwork, and Buildings), shuffle each deck, leave room for a Ruins pile (discard pile) and deal out 5 Time cards to each player. Each player needs to lay out one City card simultaneously to start, if a player does not have a City in their first 5 cards then they need to declare a mulligan, show the cards to the players, and draw 5 new Time cards. Keep doing this as necessary until every player has a City on the board in front of them. Now you are ready to play Himaya!

How to play: On each turn you will draw 1 card. You will then choose to play 1 card or pass. You can assign floating cards as a free action. Depending on the card played many things could happen. Let's highlight each card's role by type:

Cities- 1 victory point each, and are essential to the game. Cities hold Prophets, Buildings, Museums, and Theaters. If you ever lose your last City (by being destroyed from an attacking General, on your next turn you keep drawing from the Time Pile (Normal Deck) until a City comes up, you immediately play it and end your turn. Everything drawn that is not a City is placed in the Discard pile (Ruins Pile). If you lose your last City, you must discard all of your Literature, Songs, and Scientists.

Generals- When played on your turn, you choose an opponent's City to attack, follow the text on the card. Any defending player must use a General card out of their hand to defend that City or Cities, or automatically surrender any City that is undefended by a General. If a City is surrendered in this way, the attack can choose to loot or destroy the City. Any attacking or defending General must add all attacking/defending modifiers (from Buildings, Generals, and Scientists) to a d6 roll. If the attacker wins, then the attacker can either loot the City and take everything in it for their own, or destroy the City and everything that is in that City along with the City card are destroyed. If the defender wins the attack is stopped and the turn is over. In a tie, nothing happens, both attacking and defending Generals go back to their players hands and the turn is over. Otherwise, attacking and defending Generals are always discarded at the end of a battle, regardless of who won and who lost.

Scientists- Gives you 1 Technology point. A Technology point is a +1 modifier to attacking and defending with Generals. Each Scientist is worth 1 victory point. Example, if you have two Scientists, every General can attack or defend with a +2 modifier to their roll. Scientists float, and can't be taken by another player. Scientists have to be discarded if player loses their last City.

Merchants- Once played, you are allowed to draw two cards from the the Time Pile (Normal Deck). You can't play cards this turn that have been drawn by the Merchant.

Explorers- Choose any one card from the Time Pile (Normal Deck). Shuffle the deck afterwards.

Historians- Choose any one card from the Discard Pile (Ruins Deck).

Spies- Choose one opponent and look at their hand. You then may play another card on your turn.

Assassins- Choose one opponent's card at random and discard it. The exception is if you play an Assassin after you play a Spy card, you are allowed to choose which opponent's card is discarded. The Spy and Assassin must be played on the same opponent for this effect to take place.

Rebels- Once played you get to discard your entire hand (except Artwork cards), and draw 5 new cards.

Prophets- Must be played in a City. That city now has a Religion. It is 6 victory points. It gives you a +1 Defense modifier when defending that City. A City can have more than one Prophet, more than one religion, and Modifiers stack to defend the City.

Builders- Allows you to draw the top card from the Buildings deck. If you can't build the Building card drawn for any reason, then you must immediately discard it. This is a play immediately or lose it card.

Buildings- Must be played in a City unless card says otherwise (Great Wall and The Pyramids are considered floating and can't be taken). Once played, effects on the card are immediate. Must meet requirements if listed. Can be taken by a General who captures a City, unless stated otherwise.

Artists- Allows you to draw the top card from Artwork deck. If the card can't be immediately played then hold it until it can. When it is able to be played, it is a free action to do so (doesn't count as your 1 card played).

Literature- Gives you 5 victory points. Only played as floating, can't be taken. Has to be discarded if player loses their last City.

Songs- Gives you 4 victory points. Only played as floating, can't be taken, allows an additional card to be played that turn. Has to be discarded if player loses their last City.

Paintings- Gives you 6 victory points. Can be played floating but isn't worth any points until assigned to a Museum. Can be taken by a General who captures a City if assigned.

Museums- Must be played in a City. Can hold any number of Paintings. Can be taken by a General who captures a City.

Ceiling- Gives you 6 victory points. Can be played floating but isn't worth any points until assigned to a Theater. Can be taken by a General who captures a City if assigned.

Plays- Gives you 10 victory points. Can be played floating but isn't worth any points until assigned to a Theater. Can be taken by a General who captures a City if assigned.

Theaters- Must be played in a City. It can hold one Play. Can be taken by a General who captures a City.

Endgame: You will need to choose with your fellow players and agree upon a final endgame condition. It could be when the Time deck runs out, it could be the first person to a set number of victory points, it could be a time limit (in actual time or a number of rounds), or something else entirely that everyone agrees to. This game allows for that type of flexibility. In our games we have always played until the Time deck runs out.

Thank you so much for reading my review of Himaya by Imperial Seal Studios!

hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or 

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review of Ugh! from Calliope Games, Reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions

Review of Ugh! from Calliope Games, Reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions


Game Design: Jim Reichert and Lori Reichert

Game Artistry: John Kovalic

Published by: Calliope Games

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Number of players: 2 to 5

Time of Play: 20 minutes

Age recommended: 8 and up

Year of Release: 2012

The story so far: Go back to the Stone Age as Cave Dwellers who are pressing their luck to survive. You will collect sets of cards in this game, needing one of each color to create a set.  The cards have humorous depictions of daily life for your Cavemen and Cavewomen. Be careful though, because if you press your luck too far you will encounter a natural disaster and cry out UGH! as some of your cards go away, or you lose your turn! You will flip cards, choose how far to press your luck, and strive to have the highest points at the end of the game by the sets of cards you lock in.

Our final thoughts on this game: First, we have been playing this game with our children (Arnold 8, and Talia 6) as we wanted a fun way to keep them sharp with their numbers as they go into 3rd and 2nd grade respectively. It has been summer break, and having them using addition and multiplication in a card game that we all can enjoy is awesome!

We have a fun theme here, with the Cave Dwellers trying to survive without having an Ugh! moment. These moments can be a volcano eruption, a tornado, a great fire, a great flood, or being frozen. The cards have numbers from 1 to 5 and there are three different colors. You need to make a set containing one card of each color and you multiply the numbers on the cards to determine how many points your set is worth. This is a fun way to get your kids doing some math!

We love seeing the kids decide what cards they have to get rid of with Ugh! cards (decision making) along with them doing the math in their heads, on their hands, and talking it out, as they figure out the best way to lock in a set of cards. They picked up very quickly that a set is 1 purple, 1 green, and 1 orange card, and they had to deal with this game of press your luck in a fun and engaging way!

In the scope of playing with are children I would rate this a 10 out of 10 from the Board Game Geek scale. I will always play this with the kids whenever it is mentioned. In an adult only setting this game becomes a 7 where I would play it 70% of the time when it is mentioned. This game plays quickly, is easy to teach, and serves as a great travel and/or filler game for adults and one that I think all families with kids in elementary school should have.

Mechanics and concepts found in this game: The players will be using addition and multiplication to come up with their scores. There is a card drafting mechanism as you will draw cards to safe piles, and have to decide to keep going and risk getting an Ugh! card, or play it safe, and stop when you can. You have to manage the cards you obtain, when to place them in a set, or leave them out to make a better set. If you go too far, you will get an Ugh! card and possibly lose several of those cards that you have not locked in.

The game components: 

-1 game box
-1 set of instructions
-4 wild cards
-28 Ugh! cards
-78 Number cards

Winning conditions of the game: You will calculate your sets through multiplication, and add them all up, along with adding Ugh! cards that are gained through positive means. The highest points at the end wins!

Game setup: Shuffle all the cards together to make one deck. Make sure there is enough room for everyone to have a card area in front of them, and for the deck to have a discard pile to one side, and three safety piles to the other side. The youngest player gets to go first, then proceed in clockwise order.

How to play: The first player must draw a card to get the game started. If on a player's first draw they pull an Ugh! card they ignore the penalty, flip the card over and place it in their locked in score area. An Ugh! card that comes up on your first draw is worth 3 Victory points at the end. Otherwise, you will have a Numbers card, that will have a value of 1 to 5, or a Wild card. These cards will be in Orange, Purple, Green, or in the case of some of the Wilds a mix of color. You will decide after your first draw on whether to keep the card, or press your luck. You do this again for a second safety pile, but if it is an Ugh! card you must suffer its penalty. If you are safe, and are holding out for a better card, then you draw a third and place it on the third safety pile. If you still don't like what you see, you can draw a final fourth draw from the deck, but you must play that card to your area, regardless of what it is.

The idea as you do this is to try and get a set with a high value. A set is comprised of 1 green card, 1 purple card, and 1 orange card. The values on the cards get multiplied when the set gets locked in for final scoring. So, if I had a 2 green, and a 1 purple in my play area, and I choose from the third safety pile a 3 orange, then I can take those cards and declare that as a set, and I will score 6 points at the end of the game for that set (1x2x3=6). You will add up all of your sets and Ugh! cards that you acquired on a first draw to give you your final tally of points.

Wild cards come in different colors. You can either use a wild card to steal a card of that color from another player (it can not be a card they have locked in) or you will use the wild to finish a set. If you use the steal, then the Wild card is discarded, and you can only use it on cards that are not locked in. If you use it as a card to finish a set, you use it as the color it has on it (if it has more than one color then you choose which one you are using it for) and the value is one less then the lowest number in the set it is a part of. So if I have a green 4, and orange 3, and I use a Wild purple to complete the set, the Wild purple is worth 2 (the lowest number -1), so my set is 4x3x2 equaling 24 points.

So remember, every turn you can draw/claim a card, and you can lock in sets, so make the highest/best sets that you can!

Endgame: The end of the game is reached when the last card of the deck is drawn. All the players get one chance to lock in sets before this last card is drawn. The last player must play the last card drawn, no matter what it is. Cards that are not locked into a set are discarded and the Ugh! cards that were drawn as the first draw of a turn are worth three points each.

Thank you so much for reading my review of Ugh! by Calliope Games!

hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or 

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)