Last week was an amazing week for me and First Time Through. I wrote my first two board game reviews with help from my lovely and super talented editor. Yes, that would be my wife and she hated every minute of it! So for that I greatly thank her. She is not a big board game player to begin with and since my writing is not the best she had to give up quite a bit of her time. This is also why I am winging this blog without editing but, for me, it was worth it! Both games I reviewed, The Lords of Rock by SolarFlare Games and Temp Worker Assassins by David Newton, were fun light games that I enjoyed playing. Temp Worker Assassins ends in less than a day so if you want the game you better hurry over to Kickstarter and back it. The Lords of Rock starts August 1st so mark it on your calendars so you don’t miss it!
On Saturday I got to enjoy three games I have never played before: The Networks, The Grizzled at Your Orders, and the ever popular Scythe. The Networks was a great medium game with lots of choices and humor. I loved it! I found out that I am not cut out to be the CEO of a television station but I had fun anyways. If you love television or board games with lots of choices then this one is for you. It wasn’t hard to learn, the turns went quick, and I was engaged the entire game. The Grizzled was the first game I have ever played where my heart was pounding out of my chest. Trying to keep your soldiers alive is so intense. We lost on the last card played. So close to surviving! The game is simple to learn, plays fairly quick and yet it is very engaging and there is a lot of strategy, and consequences, in your decisions. The last game I played was Scythe. I was super bummed I was not able to play a full game but the hour and a half I played it went by so fast. The game is absolutely mind blowing. It felt like you were playing a massive conquest game yet played super easy with quick turns. Your choices for each turn are simple: produce, trade, move, or bolster. Each one of those actions also has an alternate action such as deploy a mech, upgrade your player mat, build buildings, or enlist which gives you bonuses. You randomly pick one of five factions and randomly pick one of five player mats to give you a different combination each game. I felt that the combat might be slightly weak but there were only two battles so I didn’t get into the entire experience. There is a Tiny Epic Kingdom feel to combat where you have to secretly select how many points you want to commit to a battle. The player that commits the most points wins but both players then lose the points they committed. I thought that was ok. The light combat mechanic keeps the game moving nicely without having to focus on combat heavy rules. The reward for combat can be a nice amount of unspent resources from the other player. So combat is definitely important but is not the focus of the game. I will be adding all three of these games to my collection for sure as each one scratched a different gaming itch. What a day of gaming!
Temp Worker Assassins Review
Do you think you have what it takes to infiltrate an office as a temp worker assassin? Well, for starters, the office workers are not your normal shirt and tie types. They are Barbarians, Orcs, Gorgons, Halflings, Sorcerers, Ninjas, and even the Devil himself. Oh, and you can only use pencils and items you find in the stationery cupboard such as rulers, staplers, protractors, and clipboards as weapons. Security is pretty tight when you have Zombies walking around so there is no way to sneak in daggers or death potions. To make matters worse you are competing against other temp worker assassins to claim the lucrative bounties set on each “regular” worker.
Temp Worker Assassins by David Newton is a quick game featuring deck building and worker placement that pits assassins against each other to claim the most bounties. The game is played through five rounds simulating Monday through Friday, to be the top assassin by the end of the week, you will have to successfully raid the stationery cupboards of different office departments to arm yourself with a deadly enough arsenal of office supplies to acquire the bounties of the most brutal office workers. Still think you have what it takes to be the top assassin? Let’s look into a week of being a temp worker assassin.
Every player is given a starting deck of pencils—a combination of fairly sharp and relatively blunt, and then draws the appropriate amount of those cards to begin the game. Hand size is dependent on the number of players. The first player places one of his assassin meeples in a department and performs the action stated on the department card. Actions include gaining a card from the cupboard—which adds new, deadlier office supplies to your deck, draw one or more cards from your player deck giving you a bigger hand to assassinate better targets, or some other action which can help you or hinder other assassins. You can also choose to attempt an assassination on one of the workers that are face up in the target pile, you just have to make sure your card attack value is greater than or equal to the defense value of the target. Play continues with each player placing an assassin and performing the appropriate action. Once all players have placed all their meeples the day is over. All meeples are returned to the player and the next day (round) begins. Game play continues until five rounds have been played. The first player to successfully perform an assassination each day gets the bonus card for that round. The bonus cards are helpful in making your deck better for assassinating the big guys.
Picture of the R&D Department Card.
The true strategy of Temp Worker Assassins is deciding which department to place your meeples on. Each department’s actions and benefits vary greatly and there is even an occasional bonus for occupying all spaces in one department. I was often torn between trying to get better weapons, making my current hand bigger, or going after weaker targets to get the daily bonus. In the end my strategy of quantity over quality failed miserably. I obtained the bonus every day and assassinated the most targets, but my targets were weak, and didn’t produce much in the way of bounties.
The repalyabilty of this game is amazing. There are so many departments—currently 37 to choose from, and since you only play with 10 each game the different combinations are…well…a lot. The deck building aspect really reminded me of Ascension, which I truly love, having cards that let you permanently get rid of weaker cards, cards that let you draw additional cards, and even cards that let you attack and draw.
Along with great replayability and amazing strategy, Temp Worker Assassins sets up quick and plays fast. I love games that can be played in about a half hour to forty-five minutes including setup and tear-down and Temp Worker Assassins is right there. David Newton managed to fit a very strategic game in a small package. Kudos!
Check out Temp Worker Assassins on KickStarter:
Tony’s Pros and Cons
PROs: Quick Setup, fast game play, depth of play for a small game, humorous art
CONs: variety of weapons (we can always use more weapons)
Tony’s Epic Scale: 1 (Plays fast with few pieces and easy setup)
Value: 8 ($27 dollars on Kickstarter - $25 would be better!)
Art: 7 (Humorous and consistent but the department cards are a little blah.)
Setup/Teardown: 10 (fast, fast, fast!)
Re-playbility: 9 (maybe a 10 with a bigger variety of weapons and attacks.)
Fun Factor: 8 (Come on, you’re attacking Barbarians with pencils people!)
The Lords of Rock Review
Games about mythological gods battling it out for control of the universe are nothing new, however, gods settling the score through a battle of the bands is very unique. This is exactly how The Lords of Rock by SolarFlare Games spins the classic quest for supreme power. Players create bands based on gods of a certain pantheon (the religion of a specific culture such as the Greeks or Norse) and then battle it out over two rounds. Players select face melting rock and roll songs in the form of set lists to boost their standings or sabotage the other bands by playing cards with negative effects. The band with the most fans’ souls at the end of the game is crowned ruler of the universe. Easy enough right? Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to win an epic universal battle of the bands.
Every god has a primary and secondary skill. A complete band must be made using four gods with a primary skill of singer, guitarist, bassist, and drummer. The secondary skill comes into play in smaller venues where a primary skill may not be active but the secondary skill is, so the god can still contribute to the band’s score. Once everyone has their bands in order, venue and set list cards are dealt out and play begins. It is easy to get a game going and the quick setup is a major plus for The Lords of Rock. From opening the box to rocking out at the first venue can literally take five minutes!
Venues come in four sizes; small, medium, large, and extra large. Each venue has highlighted skills, one for small and up to four for the extra-large. Only gods with the highlighted skill can contribute points, so picking a venue that benefits your god’s skills while limiting others is very important. Once your base score is tallied up it is time to start rocking your band’s set list. Players take turns playing set list cards that either give your band a bonus or sabotage another bands performance. This is the heart of the game as players try and outwit each other with their set list cards. There is a decent amount of decision making here as you choose how many and which set list cards you want to play. Do you give your singer a +1 bonus this round or wait and hope you can use its +2 bonus at a different venue. Oh, and there are roadies you can pick up along the way to negate those negative effects! I love the fact that SolarFlare Games included roadies. After all, what is a rock and roll show without roadies?
Once everyone has played, the scores are added up and each band is awarded fans’ souls based on their standing at the venue. That’s it! The game ends when every player has selected two venues. The bands total up all the souls they have collected with the title of rulers of the universe going to the band with the most souls.
I love that The Lords of Rock is quick to setup, easy to learn, and fast to play, yet still gives you the feeling that each card played is meaningful. Add in a little bit of back stabbing as you sabotage other bands and it really starts to feel like a true battle. There isn’t much depth to the game but that is part of the appeal; it’s a light game that plays quick. It can be played by gamers of all ages and the strategy behind the play will be enjoyable to more than just mythological or rock and roll buffs. The art is fantastic and it really fits with the theme of the game… gods, power, and rock and roll. The art really nails it, and brings the whole thing together. I had flash backs to 80’s cartoons such as He-Man, which is totally awesome! The mythological spin on classic rock songs adds humor to the game, be sure to have Google at the ready to look up some crazy mythological names and places. I found out I was a little lost with Norse and Aztec mythology. My favorite venues to play were the small and medium sizes as it seemed there was a little more strategy involved in choosing the venue. Using a small venue where say only guitarists are scored is a great way to limit other players who went light on guitarist as their secondary skills. In contrast, in extra-large venues everybody’s main skill is used so secondary skills do not come into play, and the set list cards seem to have more of an impact. The strategy when picking the venue was fun because you can put some bands in a hole at the start of the round by using the gods they choose against them. Of course, it was also fun to see all the cards played at an extra-large venue. Prepare yourself for the massive set lists that come out in the final round!
The Lords of Rock hits Kickstarter August 1st and at a base pledge of $20 this game should be must on your lists of games to back. Stretch goals for the campaign include adding more gods and other content to ensure The Lords of Rock will be forever battling on your table top.
Follow these links for more information about The Lords of Rock and SolarFlare Games:
Tony’s Pros and Cons
PROs: Quick setup, fast game play, price
CONs: lack of depth
Tony’s Epic Scale: 1 (smaller numbers are games that play faster with fewer pieces: 1-5)
Value: 8 (Bang for your buck: 1-10)
Art: 7 (looks, consistency, theme: 1-10)
Setup/Teardown: 10 (1 - More setup time than play time. 10 – fastest setup/teardown ever)
Re-playability: 7 (1- never hitting the table again. 10 – never leaving the table again)
Fun Factor: 7 (How much fun I personally had playing the game: 1-10)
A software developer by day and avid game player by night.KickStarter has recently rekindled my love of board games. Now I am looking to help the little guys of KS get their games noticed and funded as well as demonstrate how easy or difficult a game is played its first time through.