Monday, June 27, 2016

My game review of Hylaria, made by FableSmith and game sessions included.

Hylaria Board Game made by FableSmith, and reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

SPECIAL NOTE: This is all based off of a prototype copy with prototype rules!!!

About this game: The Game Design, Illustrations, and Graphic Design all performed by Joost Das. Joost was kind enough to provide me with the files to build a print and play prototype copy.

The Goal: In this game, players form up into teams of two, and using a secret code they develop right before the game starts, try to communicate to their team members on whether or not the team member should pick up a tile that the player has in front of them. Each tile is one point, and the first team to 22 points wins. There is a story line going in the center area, which starts as two placed tiles, and players take turns adding 1 tile each to the story. When a 3rd tile of the same picture is laid down, then the tile just placed is taken along with the second matching tile (going backwards) along with any tiles in between.
There are expansions that have you count how many human tiles vs monster tiles there are in play, along with the total count of tiles being odd or even, or the feast or famine where what happens depends on their being 6 or less tiles versus 7 or more tiles. All of this gets played out to determine which team will reach the 22 point goal first and win.

Setup: You will have everyone sit down at the table, and members of teams should alternate in their seats (you don’t play right after one of your teammates). You take the base tiles (and expansion tiles if you have agreed upon using them) and shuffle them up into face down piles. Deal out 2 tiles to each player, and you are able to look at only the two tiles you have been dealt. You then deal out 2 tiles and flip them to the face up position in the center to start the storyline(this is where players will play their tiles to).  To figure out who will start, the players agree upon who most looks like the character in the first tile.

Play the game: You have your teams set up, and you have your secret code set up. Then you have your 2 tiles in front of you, so you need to communicate (and continue to do so through the game) whether or not your teammate should pick up one of your tiles or grab from the other team. This is an ongoing process; because another player may draw from the 2 you have in front of you, and once played (and checked for scoring) you will replace the missing tile and communicate once more to your teammate information concerning the new tile. SPECIAL NOTE: You can only communicate about your tiles during your turn. When playing with our children, we modified this rule due to their ages (7 and 5).  Once a tile is placed, check for scoring (is it the third copy of a picture), if it isn’t then go on in the turn order. If it is then take from the 3rd copy to the 2nd copy and all tiles in between (if there are any) and count them. Pull them from the story line and add that number of tiles as points to your score. In the expansions, tiles can add an additional point, or automatically be worth 3 points. If the draw pile runs out, then allow everyone one final round, and the highest point value team wins! In the event of a tie (very unlikely) then the tie stands, and you should play again to see who would truly win!

Final Thoughts: This is a game that makes for a great stress relief filler game. Young ones can get into the game as it promotes memory development along with improving communication skills. Like all games there is a degree of patience, and decision making that must be demonstrated (referring to younger players), but the very fact that you are forced into these things makes for a great team bonding exercise. I would recommend this game for parties, for teaching little ones, and getting them around the table. I would also recommend this game as a warm up to heavier games, or if someone is taking a break or bowing out, then this is a great game to play in between other games.  Please feel free to look at the session reports below.

Origins Game Fair Session 1:
John and Nancy (team one) versus Nathan and Jason (team two). A very close game 22 to 20, and John and Nancy (married couple) sneaked out a victory. I would say their time together gave them the slight edge, and there was some frustration for team two, as one miscommunication looked to cost them the game.  Comments from players included that this game was very different from others they had played. They felt the game would be a great party game, possibly with drinks, and that could change the dynamic of effective communication, and that they all felt it was a game they could play again.

Origins Game Fair Session 2:
Shawn and Danielle (brother and sister) decided to be a team against Sharon and Scott (mother and son). The brother and sister team had a solid 24 to 16 victory, where they seemed to have both gaming experience and that their ages seemed to be both in the early 20’s. The mother I will not speculate on, but the son was 12 years old.  Lots of laughing during this game, and several moments where the mother and son team felt they could have made a better code.

My family Session 1:
I am 38 years old, my wife Stephanie is 42, our son Arnold is 7, and daughter Talia is 5. In this game I was teamed with Arnold, Stephanie with Talia. Arnold and I won 22 to 12. Arnold had some initial problems with the code, but straightened it out, and we were lucky with every expansion tile going our way. Most of the difference in points was based off the expansions.

My family Session 2:
This time I was teamed with Talia, and Stephanie with Arnold.  They won 22 to 14, where all except one expansion tile went for them. They also had a string of turns that things lined up for them nicely, and in this game they were able to make the most of it, as they felt at a certain point the game was going their way. In this session, and the previous one, we felt this is a great family game that we can go back to and play easily as it was about 25 minutes a game.

Thank you so much for reading my review on Hylaria, and I 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 Itunes:

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

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A review of Kitty Paw by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

So what is it?

Kitty Paw by Renegade Game Studios is an one to four player game that runs roughly fifteen to thirty minutes for an entire game. It is a fast paced kitty tile and kitty card grabbing game. This is what happens when kitties run into boxes playing hide and seek in board game form.

So what comes in it?

You receive the game in its box, with 28 kitty tiles (4 of each kitty type, and there are 7 kitty types). There are 8 kitty box cards, showing a box on one side, and the other side will have a kitty or a chihuahua (yes you read that right, it makes it a little crazier). There is then 4 box cards that are presenting in different orientations empty. You have 48 Kitty Cards that come in Levels One, Two, and Three. The game rules book, which has the rules in English, and Japanese, comes with it, along with a starting/winning marker.

So what is the goal of the game?

In this game of grabbing fast and grabbing correctly, you try to be the first to correctly build the kitty combination showing on your level card. The kitties face a certain way, and you copy everything you see on the card. The first one to do this receives the victory points on the card (top right value), while the other players flip the card over to receive the kitty penalty. This penalty is minus whatever the level card is, level one is minus one, level two is minus two, and level three is minus three. 

How does the game end?

When one player has scored five level cards positively (count ones that are not flipped for their penalty), or when the kitty card draw pile is empty after a round. You add up your points, positive and negative, and the person with the highest amount wins! In the event of a tie, the tied players play an extra round, by shuffling and using the removed kitty cards, and the winner of this tie round wins the game.

How do I set the game up?

Each player places a set of kitty tiles ( one of each type, there are 7 types) in the center, and mix them up! Next, shuffle the 8 cat box cards with their box side up and place them around the center pile. Make sure all of this is in reach of every player. Each person playing takes one box card and places it in front of them (this is the empty box card for clarification). You will set up your kitty card draw deck. There will be Level 1 cards in blue, there will be Level 2 cards (some are off yellow, some are off green) and you will use one color set only of Level 2. The Level 3 cards are pink. You will shuffle each level of cards then place Level 3 cards on the bottom, then one of the Level 2 sets on top of it, and then the Level 1 on top of it. You will then draw as many cards as their are players from Level 1 cards to the side of the draw deck, You will draw these cards to the side every turn, as they serve as the available pool to try to score from. 

What happens during a game turn?

All the players will place their paws (hands) on top of each other in one pile and shout out "KITTY PAW!" You do not have to do this though :)  Each player from the designated turn order (we used who pet a kitty last goes first) in clockwise fashion chooses a kitty card to attempt to score on. Then it is a free for all, where you are only allowed to grab one tile at a time, and you grab the correct kitty tiles, and kitty in the box card, to duplicate the pattern on your card. When a person believes they have correctly done this, they yell out "MEOW!", and play stops to check to see if the player has correctly done this. All other players must perform the "Lucky Cat" gesture (have your hand up and fingers curved down) and touch the player's paw (the one who called the Meow). If you are the last one to perform the Lucky Cat, you must flip your card to the penalty side. If you incorrectly called Meow then you must flip your card to the penalty side. You sit out while the other players who have not scored or flipped resume play. You play until someone correctly scores their card. If you are the only person left other than the scorer then you must flip to the penalty side (as you are the first and the last Lucky Cat Gesture). Continue to this process until someone has reached the five positive scored cards, or the draw deck runs out. In each new turn, place the kitty tiles back in the center, along with the cat in the box cards as a reset to prepare for the turn. Draw 4 new cards for players to choose from. Once everyone is ready, call go, or start, or meow to start the madness over once more.

Does the game allow for variants?

Yes, you can mix all the cards together, so levels are mixed together. You could also add the additional level 2 cards, or mix the different level 2 sets (though these options are not expressed in the game).

How has it played for us?

My wife, myself, and our children (Arnold 7 and Talia 5) played the game, and found that as parents we would hold back on our speed and reach to compensate for our two little ones. We found that the game promotes pattern recognition, and very quick decision making for the children. With these things being taken into account it was a very unique experience (as the only other game I could think of like this was Pit), and shines more as people of higher ages with higher dexterity, and greater development can take greater advantage of what the game has to offer. I would stress that more patience and more explanation are needed as the players ages are lower in the recommended range. 

This being said, we see the game being played more in the future, We based this off of our son winning the game, and our daughter fuming, wanting another chance to beat her brother at this game. We will continue to use our personal methods of holding back and slowing down the game to allow our children the time to prepare, and have a couple extra seconds to assist in what avenue they shall take in completing their cards. The nice thing is that the game allows for parents to make modifications at their own discretion to help create a friendlier environment for the kids to play.

Final Thoughts:

The game takes a unique turn away from many other games that are available to families and players out there. As I mentioned I could only think of Pit as the only game similar to this. The kitty theme is very strong, and the kids really enjoyed that. If you want a game that brings a little bit of chaos mixed in recognizing and fulfilling pattern recognition, teaching how to make not only quick decisions, but trying to physically position yourself into grabbing the correct pieces to complete your puzzle if you will, then this is a game for you. It plays quick, you learn quick, and its size lends to easy clean up and storage!

Thank you so much for reading my review on Kitty Paw, and I 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 Itunes:

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

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The latest after a Ten Day Trip

Hello everyone,

Thank you for your patience as my family and I are now back from seeing family and spending time out on the West Coast.  I can't say that the gaming was plentiful, but I managed to get some in. Most of it came in the form of ios games and the Nintendo 3DS, but I did manage to teach my son and my nephew-in-law two games (Junior Labyrinth and Welcome To The Dungeon). I managed to play Tanto Cuore, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Splendor, Ticket To Ride, Lost Cities, and Pathfinder all on my Ipad.

At Disneyland it was mostly about rides, even though Arnold and I got to ride on the Toy Story Midway Mania where it is an all-out shooting competition where you pull back a ball on a string to fire type of cannon. Arnold had finished with 59,900 points to my 129,900, but it was only on the last two events that I was no longer losing to him. He performed amazingly well for a seven year old!

I found that I made some new connections in the way of gaming out there, as I now am part of Team Artana for the Origins Game Fair this month, and I can't express how truly excited I am to be working with them! I hope if any of you reading this can go, then please be sure to visit all of Artana's Booths as I will be demoing Tesla vs Edison: The War of Currents along with its new expansion Powering Up!

So, here it is a lazy Sunday back in Ohio, it has been raining on and off, but wonderful none the less. It is nice to be home after ten days, along with resting from roughly 5,280 miles of air travel alone. All of you should expect several game reports this week as I get back into the swing of things. I have a lot to catch up on.

Hopefully, I can get to everything very quickly and bring all of you much more in the way of gaming.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned,

I am always Ready To Game.

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott