The hardest aspect of reviewing games is determining the values for each of my five rating metrics. I ventured back into the boardgame hobby this year after a long hiatus and I don’t want to give a perfect 10 knowing there are a ton of games I haven’t seen yet. Is it fair to compare each category to another game? How will I honestly know when a game is a 10? Florenza answered my questions upon opening the box and seeing all the components for the first time. The game is about works of art but the game itself is also a work of art. Not only was the art amazing but the quality of the components were outstanding. I was in awe. Without a doubt Florenza was the most gorgeous game I have seen. This is what a 10 in the art category looks like! However, thick fancy cardboard and the most beautiful bits in the world don’t guarantee a great game. Let’s see if Florenza’s game play and theme match up to its incredible art.
Florenza is a worker placement resource management game where players control one of five Italian families and attempt to make them the most prestigious family in Florenza. The game is set in Italy during the Renaissance period and each family must commission the greatest painters, sculptors, and architects to create the most valuable works of art. The family with the greatest amount of prestige at the end of the eighth round is crowned the winner.
Each player starts with a limited amount of resources; four workers, and two workshops in their district (player boards). Players place their workers one at time choosing from several places on the game board or their player board. Choices include:
Build a workshop: Select a workshop to build and place it face down in the next available workshop spot with the worker token on top. A player can only build a total of eight workshops so careful consideration must be given to which shops to build.
Operate a workshop: Place a worker either on your own or an opponent’s workshop. The workshop must not be occupied by a worker and a fee must be paid to use opponent’s workshops. The benefit from the workshop is not collected at this time.
Give to Charity: Place a worker in the alter area and hire an available priest from the character cards. Giving to charity will allow the player to gain extra workers that can be used in the same round. If a priest is not available then this option can’t be chosen.
Hire an Artist: Place a worker on a work of art either on their district board or main board and hire the necessary artist(s) to complete the work. Artists’ requirements must be paid at this time.
Go to Market: Place a worker in the Market area of the main board to sell, trade, or buy resources.
Send to Work: Place a worker on the Banco Zone of the main board to immediately collect 50 Fiorini.
Once all players have exhausted all their workers the round proceeds through the next phases. These phases include collecting the benefit from the market, gaining benefits from completed workshops, flipping workshops from their building side to finished side and collecting any bonuses, placing a family tile in completed works of art spaces and collecting any bonuses for completing the work of art, collecting prestige certificates for current prestige level, and calculating Captain of the People and Bishop for the next round. Any workshops or works of art that can’t be completed by a player will result in the loss of prestige points.
Captain of the People is decided by the player that obtained the most prestige in the round. The perks of obtaining the Captain of the People are the Captain always goes first and can detain (take out a player’s worker or a named artist for a round). The Bishop is obtained by having the most influence (over 3) at the end of a round. The perks of obtaining the Bishop are the Bishop goes second in the round and can convert an opposing player’s worker (remove one of their workers from play and add one worker from your worker pool to the district board), or expel a named preacher. Both titles are key to having success in Florenza.
Without a doubt, Florenza is one of the most visually appealing games I have played. The character and workshop tiles are beautiful and made of thick cardboard. The game board itself is elegant and could pass as a work of art. The character cards are detailed and look like mini paintings of the artists. The artwork and components represent the theme of Florenza perfectly. Having beautiful components in a game about creating masterpieces is essential in allowing players to immerse themselves in the theme as opposed to just placing generic wood bits to score points.
The beauty of Florezna is not limited to its art though. There is superb depth and strategic decisions in each round. In fact, I was overwhelmed my first few rounds comprehending how the workshops, artists, and works of art all relate. Planning ahead is the key to success in Florenza. Since you don’t pay the construction cost when selecting which workshop or work of art you want to construct, you have the entire round to secure the needed resources. Unfortunately, that leads to lengthy downtime for new players. There are 29 workshops that can be constructed, each having their own unique building requirements and benefits. Then, there are an additional 25 works of art that can be completed, each with their own unique completion requirements and benefits. On top of those choices there are anywhere from 6 to 9 artist tiles that must be selected to complete works of art and each artist has their own unique hiring requirements and benefits. With only eight rounds to gain the most prestige, each round must be used as efficiently as possible. Needless to say, the first few rounds are spent frantically flipping over the workshops/works of art cheat sheet comparing requirements to benefits. Once the initial panic subsides and your strategy is put into motion, game play becomes more fluid with less downtime. Once you get a feel for the game, the gameplay is as amazing as its beauty.
Florenza is a fun and challenging worker placement game. I loved it! Even when you have all eight workers available the struggle between resources and money is difficult. There are so many aspects to this game which will appeal to a wide variety of gamers: city building, worker placement, resource management, economic, and historical. There are only two issues that stood out when playing. First, Florenza’s resource pools are not labeled with the resource name. They are color coded the same as the resource cubes. So instead of saying I need one iron and two spices we would just say I need one brown and two green cubes. This slightly detracts from the elegance and beauty of the game. If the resource pools had labels on the game board then it would be easy to remember which color cubes were which resources. Second, it took longer than I thought it should to setup and play through the first round. Even after reading the entire rulebook, setup and playing through the first round required a lot of stoppage to reference the rulebook. I think the rulebook does a good job explaining the rules but a nice l quick start, or first round example would be beneficial. Give yourself a couple hours to read the rules and play a mock game before breaking Florenza out the first time at game night.
Tony’s Pros and Cons:
Pros: Gorgeous art, high quality components, deep and strategic gameplay.
Cons: Long playtimes with 3+ players.
Tony’s Epic Scale: 3 (Rules, reference cards, character cards, and lots of tiles!)
Value: 8 (Under 50 dollars on Amazon is an amazing deal for this much game!)
Art: 10 (I challenge you to find a better looking higher quality game!)
Teardown/Setup: 7 (After your first game, setup is easy. An insert would be nice.)
Replay ability: 8 (Random artist selection and 29 workshops will keep the game fresh.)
Fun: 8 (As long as you’re looking for a challenge and a game with some planning.)
While scrolling through Facebook back in April of this year I stumbled upon a post from CMON that was promoting their latest game on KickStarter called Masmorra. Up until that point I never knew there were board games on KickStarter, let alone board games where you get a crazy amount of extras and exclusives for helping them fund the game. Needless to say, I was hooked…more like addicted. I pledged for Masmorra then I late pledged for Arcadia Quest: Inferno, I will talk about those experiences in another blog in case you are not familiar with my displeasure with those experiences. Then I spent hours drooling over which game to back next. This is when I came across a unique dungeon crawler called Ravingspire. I love dungeon crawlers so I was in heaven scrolling through all the game videos and content. What pulled me in was this guy, Cory, who was so excited to bring you his game. A unique game that is part board game, part puzzle, part deck builder, part RPG, and all kinds of fun!
My KickStarter excitement slowly faded away as delay after delay pushed Arcadia Quest: Inferno well into next year. I was bummed. Here I had backed several games and at this point I’m starting to realize the downside of KickStarter...delays. Massive delays! My 4th game backed, Ultra Tiny Epic Kingdoms, announced a two month delay. Ugh! I feel like I am never going to get my games! Through all these delays though Vorpal Chainsword Games kept releasing positive updates about Ravingspire. Pictures of expansion cards which were never promised to be ready for the launch but ended up arriving in every KickStarter game, plus production updates kept backers in the loop. Through these constant updates Cory assured us backers that delivery was still on schedule. The estimated delivery date was October, and on October 8th Ravingspire was delivered to my door! I was in awe. My first KickStarter game ever! My faith in humanity, well Kickstarter, restored! Could it be that there are still designers and publishers out there that truly care about their backers? I was nervous opening up the package. I had high expectations for Ravingspire and I didn’t want to be let down. I can honestly say the game exceeded my expectations! It was beautiful! There in the box was this beautiful looking wood book. The game box is actually made of wood and designed to look like an ancient tome. I didn’t know a board game box could be such a beautiful work of art. The components were high quality too with amazing detail and art. The battle mats are awesome. There it is, Ravingspire. Now it is time to play!
The insert for Ravingspire is well done and designed to make setup very quick and easy. You pull out the game board, select your character and corresponding battle mat, and retrieve the foe battle mat. All the different cards; tower, encounter, loot, and starter, have their own area in the insert so creating the initial decks takes very little effort. You create an encounter deck, loot deck, tower deck, and starter deck for your character, then shuffle the foe cards and place them on the foe mat. You are now ready to play Ravingspire! It takes about 15minutes from the time you open that sweet box lid until you are wandering the tower. I guarantee five minutes of that time will be deciding on what character to use. Each character has unique abilities, battle mats, and starter decks.
Each level has room for five encounter cards. On your turn, you draw an encounter card and either try to acquire the card just drawn or another card on the encounter ring. If you can’t acquire any of the cards then you lose sanity. Sanity is the life of each character. Each character starts with ten sanity points. Madness is tracked as a group. Madness starts as the number of players plus two. Each time a player’s sanity drops to zero the madness track drops by one. When the madness track reaches zero the game is over and all the characters have gone mad. Adversaries must be dealt with accordingly when encountered in the encounter deck. Players will lose sanity if any adversaries are in the encounter ring at the end of the round.
The player rolls for movement, draws and deals with an encounter card and then has a chance to rotate the board. Rotating the board and aligning the steps with the doors is how the players advance to the next level. The goal is to reach the locked door on the spire, which is the top level, but to open the door you will need a key. How do you obtain a key? You defeat a foe. Foes are powerful enemies who are out to stop you from escaping the tower. They are brought to the board through chaos cards in the encounter deck. You must acquire better cards than what is in the starter deck to defeat a foe. Defeating a foe is a dangerous task but the rewards are necessary to defeat the final boss. Defeating a foe not only gets you a spire key but allows you to gain valuable loot from the loot deck. Acquiring new cards is not the only way to strengthen your deck. You can use the “well of souls” to banish weak cards in your hand. You need a card equaling 1 skill, 1 charm, or 1 fight or a total value of 5 to banish a card. A strategic combination of gaining strong cards and banishing weak cards is the key to success at Ravingspire.
Once a player has made it to the locked spire door with a key, and a strong hand, he is ready to battle the final boss. A sealed spire card is selected and revealed. Hopefully a combination of skill and luck will allow a victory. If not, well, better luck next time!
Acquiring item cards and defeating foes is done through a battle matrix. A battle matrix consists of a skill value, charm value, fight value, and a brute force value. This is a unique system, and I love it. If a card in the encounter ring has a fight value of 4 and a charm of 5 then you must use the cards in your hand and/or what is slotted on your battle mat to equal or exceed those values to acquire the card. The value and associated matrix icon is located in the upper right hand corner of the card. Battling adversaries and foes uses the same battle matrix logic. If a foe has 11 skill and 4 fight then you need to equal or exceed both of those values to defeat the foe. Foes can’t be beat with brute force making them very dangerous to encounter. Encounter cards have brute force values which allow the player to use any of the matrix types to win. If a player encounters a card with 2 fight, 2 charm, 4 skill, and a brute force of 12 but doesn’t have enough fight to acquire it he can use the brute force value. He will play 1 fight card, a 3 charm card, a 2-charm card, and a 2 skill card from his hand and a slotted loot card with a value of 4. Loot cards have a gold number and no associated matrix icon signifying they can be used as any of the matrix. All the cards used are placed in the discard pile.
I’ll be honest, I love dungeon crawlers. I really love dungeon crawlers, especially ones which don’t require a ton of time to setup, don’t have a million extra tokens to keep track of, don’t require a PHD to learn and explain, and don’t have so many rules that you are constantly flipping through the rule book. Ravingsire is all that and more! I will say, the rule book isn’t the best and leaves a lot of unanswered questions. However, the videos on www.vorpalchainswordgames.com are amazing, and are a must view before playing the game. Watch the videos first! Trust me, watch the videos and have the rulebook by your side for the first play through and all will be smooth. In case you didn’t catch that, watch the videos first!
Ravingspire holds a place in my heart since it was my first fulfilled KickStarter game. Cory ran an amazing campaign, and he was in constant communication. I always knew the status of this game and I never went more than a few weeks without an update. He delivered all four expansions packs with the game which was something he wasn’t sure he could do during the campaign. If there was an issue he addressed it immediately. I can’t emphasize enough how awesome Vorpal Chainsword Games ran this campaign.
I would label Ravingspire as a medium/light dungeon crawler with the focus being on the deck building mechanic. The battle matrix is a fantastic concept. You can’t focus on just one or two of the matrix types and expect to succeed unless you select a character that has an ability to let you use one type for another. The game sets up fast and plays under an hour for solo and under an hour and a half for 2 to 3 players. The replay-ability is huge on this one. The encounter deck has so many cards that you only use about half each game. There are nine characters to choose form and plenty of foes to keep games fresh. The deluxe edition was shipped with four expansions that included more characters, foes, and encounter cards. Three of the expansions add new settings such as steampunk, Wild West, and a Goblin Queen story. For those of you buying retail you will be getting some expansions in the future. The rotating game board is a nice touch and keeps the board game aspect of Ravingspire in touch with the theme. You will go mad trying to get the die rolls you need to align the stairs and the doors.
I would easily say this is my current favorite dungeon crawler. I love the game. Using the battle matrix to build your deck is fun and challenging. The characters and the foes are unique and all have different abilities. The boards and battle mats don’t require a lot of room. A small kitchen table will work fine. Ravingspire sets up quickly and doesn’t have any fiddly components. I highly recommend this game!
Tony’s Pros and Cons
Pros: Quick setup and teardown. Unique rotating game board. Unique battle Matrix for acquiring cards and battling foes. Awesome game box! Battle Mat lets you save cards. Everything has a place and is well marked. Great fantasy art. Fun! Fun! Fun!
Cons: Foe and character cards have inconstant art. Rulebook is not very good at explaining everything needed to play the game.
Tony’s Epic Scale:3(Lots and Lots of cards!)
*Epic Scale is on a scale of 1 to 5 and is a combination of number of components and complexity of rules)*
VALUE: 9 – KickStarter edition was a bargain!
ART: 8 – I love the encounter cards, battle mats, and box, but character cards are a little weak.
SETUP/TEARDOWN: 8 – Fastest of all my dungeon crawlers.
RE-PLAYABILTY: 9 – This came close to being my first ever 10! Probably a 9.5. I may have to introduce decimal scoring after this one.
FUN-FACTOR : 9 – I can’t stop playing it but I may still be in the honeymoon phase.
Ark & Noah By Eagle-Gryphon Games
Until I started reviewing board games I never gave much thought to the impact of a game’s theme. I never cared why certain board games had more appeal than others. I just bought the games I thought were cool and never paid attention to why. Was it the theme, mechanics, components, play time or some combination that was the decision maker? Reviewing board games is completely different. I am playing games outside of my normal selections and so I pay closer attention to what I like and dislike. An energetic designer will want you to review their new worker placement game that takes place in an orchard. Um, I like worker placement games, but how fun can picking fruit be? Suddenly a game you wouldn’t even spend 10 seconds looking over in a store is sitting on your table. Theme can really excite me or turn me off. So when a worker placement game about building Noah’s Ark came along, well, let’s just say the theme didn’t really excite me. Can building Noah’s Ark really be fun? How much variety or strategy can you incorporate into this very specific theme? As it turns out, you can create a very fun and strategic game. For those of you, like me, who would normally pass on a Noah’s Ark theme game, please keep reading!
Ark & Noah is a semi-cooperative worker placement game where the players take on the roles of Noah and his sons trying to complete the Ark before the great flood. Worker placement, action selection, resource management with an element of set collection drives Ark and Noah. You must work together to build and fill the Ark with animals, but only one player will win. You can only select one of the seven actions each round, with two actions for a two-player game, and penalties for holding resources at the end of the game, make each decision meaningful.
Game setup is simple. The board is assembled according to the number of players. Each player picks either Noah or one of his sons, gathers the starting resources, and then places their workers on the completed action space of the action board according to the rules. First player puts his worker on the left most space followed by the next player placing his worker on the next space and so on.
Once the game is setup the first round starts with phase 1: choose actions. The player with his worker on the left most space selects the first action followed by the player with the next worker in order. There are seven actions to choose from and once an action is selected by a player another player may not use that action. The actions to choose from are: Make Pitch, Collect Animals, Gather Food, Exchange, Cut Wood, Build the Ark, and Load the Ark. Although only one worker can be placed on an action space everyone will benefit from each other’s workers. For instance, the player that selects Cut Wood will get four wood boards and all the other players will get two wood boards. The only action that does not benefit everyone is the Exchange action. This allows only the player with the worker on the Exchange action space to perform this action. Let’s look at the actions in more detail.
Make Pitch: Allows the player to take three brown pitch cubes from the supply. All other players will receive one cube. Pitch cubes are used to help build the outer frame of the Ark.
Collect Animals: Allows the player to draw animal tiles. The player draws animal tiles equal to the number of players. He keeps the one he wants and then the other players select the remaining tiles.
Gather Food: Allows the player to take three food tokens from the supply. All other players gain one food token.
Exchange: Allows the player to choose either a victory point, food tile, wooden board, or pitch cube, plus make an exchange of either animal tiles or wooden boards on the Ark. This is where a little “take that” can come into play as players can swap out other player’s boards for their own. This could stop a player from loading animals on the Ark.
Cut Wood: Allows the player to take four wooden boards of their color from the supply. All other players get two wood boards of their color from the supply. Wood is used to build the Ark and corrals inside the Ark.
Build the Ark: Allows the player to add up to eight wooden boards /pitch cubes to the Ark. All other players can add five wooden boards/pitch cubes. This action is where the corrals that hold the animals are built. One victory point is scored for each wooden board/ pitch cube placed on the Ark.
Load the Ark: Allows the player to have eight loading points to load the Ark with food and/or animals. All other players get five loading points. Each animal tile has a loading value and corral size number on it. A corral the exact size of the corral number must be built and have food in each space before animal tiles can be loaded. For example, the lions need a corral of exactly three spaces. If there is a corral of three spaces already built with food in each space, then you can load the lions. This is assuming you own one of the lion tiles, and the other lion tile is either owned by you or another player. You can’t load animals on the Ark if you don’t own at least one of the animal tiles. If you own both tiles then you will score points for both tiles but if you only own one tile, and another player has the matching tile, then you only score points for your tile. In the case of the lions, you would get 6 points for owning one or 12 for owning both the male and female. You may also load food in completed corals. Placing one food costs one loading point and results in gaining one victory point.
After every player has chosen an action by placing their worker on the corresponding action space the second phase begins. The Action Phase starts with the worker on the left side of the board and works its way to the right. One at a time, each worker is placed in the action completed space and the corresponding action is resolved. Once all actions are resolved the round is over. The round tracker is advanced by one and players select their actions for the next round starting with the player that has the left most worker on the Action Board.
The game ends any time after 10 rounds once the entire outside of the Ark is completed. Score is kept during the game by the score tracker located on the Ark board. Besides scoring during the game, there are three end game scoring modifiers. The player with the most boards on the outside edges of the Ark receives five additional victory points. Players also lose one victory point for each wooden board, pitch cube, and food tile they are holding at the end. Players lose victory points equal to the animal’s corral size for each animal tile they hold at the end of the game. The player with the most victory points wins.
I really enjoyed playing Ark & Noah. It is an easy game to setup, learn, and play. It has more depth to it than I originally thought after first reading instructions. I like the fact that you lose points for unused resources, and extra animal tiles you are holding at the end of the game. While it may look like getting resources on another player’s turn is beneficial, and sometimes it is, it can be a strategy that affects the other players. There is a fine line between the cooperative aspect and the competitive aspect of this game. You need help building corrals to load your animals, but completing a corral at the wrong time will usually end with your opponents loading his animals into it. Every round is a mind game filled with trying to guess your opponents plans and deciding the right time to perform each action. There was nothing more devastating than watching my opponent load my high value animals onto the Ark because of my lack of planning. Anticipation is the key to winning Ark & Noah.
As great as this game is it was difficult to get my boys to play it with me. 16 and 20 year olds aren’t really interested in building an ark. They want to conquer the world (Attack! and Scythe), slay monsters and find loot (Ravingspire and War Hammer Quest ACG), or just about anything else that isn’t building an ark. I kept thinking to myself…if we were building a spaceship headed to Mars with these exact same mechanics this game would never leave the table. Ok, so maybe it would leave the table, but it would get tons of play time. It truly is that fun! While it may not resonate with young adult male gamers, Ark & Noah is a great family game. An alternative simple rule set is provided which is geared toward playing with children, and beginners. If you like worker placement, action selection, resource management, or games that will boggle your mind guessing your opponent’s moves, then I highly recommend Ark & Noah...if you don’t mind building an ark! This game would be wonderful for families with tweens, or perhaps to have on the shelves for church lock-ins, or other events where the theme would be more relevant.
Tony’s Pros and Cons
Pros: Easy to learn and quick to setup. Games take under an hour. The competitive/cooperative aspect keeps you guessing your opponents moves and motives. Good replayability. Lots of player interaction with a nice little “take that” aspect. An instruction book that was clear and concise!
Cons: The theme was hard to sell to my boys. We would rather be building a spaceship, submarine, or 15th Century exploration ship.
Tony’s Epic Scale:2 (Easy to learn. A handful of components for each player. Small game board.)
*Epic Scale is on a scale of 1 to 5 and is a combination of number of components and ruleset)*
VALUE: 6 (If you can find it under $50 then this goes up to 8!)
ART: 6 (The game board and pieces serve the theme well but are a little bland.)
SETUP/TEARDOWN: 9 (The game time to setup/teardown time is phenomenal! Close to a 10!)
RE-PLAYABILITY: 7 (I don’t see this game stale after 10 or 15 plays.)
FUN-FACTOR: 6 (A solid 9 with a better theme!)
Attack! Deluxe by Eagle-Gryphon Games
War, 4X, and civilization style games are big hits at my house with Scythe and Mare Nostrum topping our current play list. Axis and Allies is another favorite but the time commitment usually keeps it on the shelf and away from the table. Loving the World War II area I decided to buy Attack! when my boys were young so we would have an easy World War II game to play until they were old enough to play Axis and Allies. Well, at 20 and 16 they are definitely old enough for Axis and Allies, but we still find ourselves not having the time to break it out. So, when I discovered Attack! had an expansion that added depth and naval miniatures to the base game I was excited. I loved the base game but the lack of cool little naval miniatures and sweet custom attack dice which accompany them was a bit of a downer. In fact, the naval ships being represented as cards is the biggest reason we didn’t break out Attack! more often. Hey, I was a sailor in the United States Navy, I have a soft spot for miniature ships. With naval ships, governments, and action cards added to the base game we were ready to conquer the world again Attack! style!
Upon opening Attack! Deluxe I was ecstatic to see they added a nice plastic insert to neatly organize all the miniatures, dice, and cards. Speaking of dice, the first component I pulled out was the green custom naval dice. We can finally fight naval battles in the same manner as land battles which consist of chucking a ton of custom dice. There is something I love about rolling the custom dice for battle. I actually prefer the Attack! custom dice method compared to the Axis and Allies method of a six-sided die with each unit having a defend and attack rating. A balanced force comprised of all the units is needed in Attack! as opposed to Axis and Allies where you can stock up on only infantry to defend your capital city.
Ok, enough about my obsession with dice…let’s look at the additions of governments. There are now four different government types; fascism, communism, democracy, and monarchy. Each type starts with a different bonus technology card. Along with a starting bonus, the government type will dictate the cost of taking over a neutral territory. During setup all the neutral territories (territories not occupied by a player) will have a government marker placed face down. These markers are drawn at random and are kept secret until revealed through a successful Negotiate action or a successful battle as a result of a Move or Blitz action. When a player uses the Negotiate action he secretly looks at the government marker. If the government is the same type as the players he can claim the marker and place an infantry unit on the territory. Markers are used for scoring at the end of the game. If the marker is a compatible government (there are two compatible governments for each government type) then the player must pay four productions to claim it. If the government type is an opposing government (one opposing government for each type) then the player must pay eight production points to claim the territory.
Some of you are probably wondering about the actions I mentioned when talking about the government types. Actions are another new mechanic added to Attack! and they add a lot of strategy without adding complexity. Each year (rounds simulate years) you get four actions, one each for spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Of the eight actions; Move, Blitz, Negotiate, Navigate, Build, Research, Transport, and Burn, only one can be used each year, so each season you must select a different action. To gain an action in the winter you must either select Burn and pay five oil certificates or give up one oil field, then you can select an action that was not selected in a previous season during the year.
The last difference between the base game and the Deluxe version I’ll mention is the inclusion of Action cards. Action cards grant bonuses for each action. Each card has two bonus statements with the bottom bonus being granted to the government type specified on the card. For instance, the Tank Production Action card allows players to gain one extra tank during their Build action but players with the Monarch government gain two tanks during their build action. A player gets an Action card for each successful Negotiate action as well as when a player uses the Research action on Population. The maximum amount of Action cards you are allowed in your hand at one time is five but you are allowed to discard any Action card when acquiring a new card.
Now that I have highlighted some differences between the base version and the Deluxe version it is it time to start playing! Setup is simple. The first player chooses a government board and the associated technology bonus card, then takes three corresponding government markers, followed by the second player, third player etc. We are fans of the blind draw when choosing our governments. Once governments are selected the players are ready to place their forces. The first player places his capital city followed by the second player and so on. Then, in the same format as placing the capital city, the players place their land forces followed by their sea forces. Woohoo again for the naval miniatures! They are finally on the board! Any region without a player’s miniature on it is considered a neutral region and receives a face down government marker.
You can play for 6, 9, or 12 years. I found that 6 years is a little too quick and doesn’t allow time for much research, or a lot of military actions between players. 9 years is a decent game and plays in approximately one and a half hours with a good amount of player to player combat action. If you have time though, approximately two to two and a half hours, then 12 years is the way to go! We usually play the 9-year war because time tends to be a factor, but a 9-year war is plenty of time to get a good World War II war game fix.
The game then proceeds with each player taking one of the actions each season. After 4 seasons the year tracker (the included blue dice) is advanced one year. Usually, you will have only three actions per year so performing actions in the winter can be quite costly but can be vital to winning. The strategy of Attack! is less about building a massive army and more about gaining the most end point scoring conditions. Let’s take a look at each action:
Move allows the player to move at least one land unit from each region he controls to an adjacent region.
Blitz is a concentrated attack on one region. A player may move tanks and planes from three spaces away (with some restrictions) to attack a single region.
Navigate is basically the Move of the sea units. Each sea unit can move to an adjacent sea territory. That’s right—this is when we finally get to move those sweet new ship miniatures!
Negotiate allows a player to peacefully claim an adjacent neutral territory. Be careful, an unsuccessful Negotiate action is a waste of a valuable action for the year. Make sure you have the funds for a worst case scenario.
Build is how new units get placed on the board. Players count their current collection of government markers and get one production point for each, plus one oil certificate for each oil field. The player can then spend their money on new units or hold on to it.
Research is how a player’s nation becomes more efficient. Players can research: Rail Transport to move troops farther per turn, Oil Tech to acquire more oil fields, Factories to place new units farther away from the capital, Minerals to build more advanced units per turn, or Population to gain extra money each Build action without taking over a new region and to guarantee extra victory points at the end of the game.
Transport allows the player to eventually move land units greater distances than the Move action but research in Rail Transport is a must for this action to be effective.
Burn can only be used in the winter season. The player pays five oil certificates or discards one oil field to perform an action that has not yet been performed in this year.
The game ends after the set number of years is completed or one of the players’ capitals is captured. Players score points for each region and sea zone they control, each tech level they have researched, and each population card they have acquired.
I love that Attack! Deluxe sets up just as fast as the base game. In less than 20 minutes the box can be opened, setup completed, and the game started. The box is heavy duty and will survive many more battles than the original box. My original base game box is destroyed. The insert included keeps all the components organized making setup and teardown a breeze. The gameplay features implemented on Attack! Deluxe are fantastic. The Action selection gives Attack! Deluxe depth and makes it more strategic than the base game without adding complexity or compromising the easy to learn and quick to play mantra. If you are a heavy war gamer or looking for a war simulation game then Attack! Deluxe is probably not for you. However, if you are looking for a lighter or quicker playing war game then this is a good fit. This is a perfect gateway war game, as well as a war game that can be played by younger boardgamers with ease. I can honestly say, as a fan of much heavier war games, I love what Attack! Deluxe brings to the table. My boys and I love that we get the strategic world domination feel in less than two hours!
Tony’s Pros and Cons
Pros: Quick to setup and easy to learn. Naval Miniatures and Dice! Action selection and governments add a nice layer of depth. Nice, heavy duty box with a great plastic insert. Fun World War II area war game. A full war game feel in less than 2 hours.
Cons: Rulebook wasn’t clear on what to do with the Action cards once played or Coastal Attacks. The price seems a little high considering you still need the base game.
Tony’s Epic Scale: 3 (The amount of miniatures when combined with base game raises score from 2.)
*Epic Scale is on a scale of 1 to 5 and is a combination of number of components and ruleset)*
Value: 7 (Kind of pricey considering you still need the base game. Great new components.)
Art:7 (Nothing fancy but fits the WW II theme.)
Setup/Teardown: 8 (Awesome new insert helps setup tremendously!)
Re-playability: 8 (New game board and addition of governments ensures lots of re-playability.)
Fun Factor: 8 (The feel of a massive war game without complexity and time commitments.)
Pictures of my old box. Attack! Deluxe box is much thicker and the insert is awesome!
I will start off by apologizing for not reviewing and play testing a few Print and Play versions of games coming soon to KickStarter. I found out the hard way that I do not have the resources to properly play PnP versions. My current printer is a color ink hog and at 40 dollars a cartridge PnP’s can get quite costly. My other option is to have them printed at OfficeMax but that usually sets me back 20 to 30 dollars. As a startup reviewer I don’t want to get into the habit of spending a bunch of money to do reviews. That leaves me with less money to buy boardgames on my wish list. I have made one exception to this rule but those details are for a blog at a much later time. I am not saying I will never do a PnP review again but I am putting a hold on them for the time being.
I can say I am very excited to be reviewing four Eagle-Gryphon games in the near future: Attack Deluxe Expansion (the boys and I are very excited to get to review this expansion), Florenza, Florenza the Card Game, and Ark & Noah. I am so appreciative to get the chance to review these games. This should probably keep me busy for at least two months.
That brings me to my last thought which is about KickStarter. I will be getting my first KickStarter game, Ravingspire, within two weeks. It will be the first KickStarter game I receive despite being about the 4th game I backed. I am looking at you CMON about my first two. This game looks like a great deck building dungeon crawler where you work your way up the spire to face off against the final foe. I will be doing my own little review on this one.
Since going on a KickStarter binge upon first discovering it, again looking at you CMON and all your KS exclusive goodies, I have severally cut back on my pledges. In fact, I have cancelled my pledges on several games before the campaigns have ended. I have come to realize I am not a patient enough person to use KickStarter as a means to add to my boardgame collection. Project delays and GenCon pretty much broke my KS addiction. I will probably limit myself to somewhere around one to three campaigns a year. This will allow my instant gratification flaw to spend more money at my local game store. You’re welcome The Summit Games in Fort Wayne. I love that when I buy 4 boardgames there I get my 5th free. That kind of deal also makes it hard for me to order games online. Plus I like actually having a game to play when I drop 50 to 100 dollars. Maybe as my game collection grows I will find myself backing more games again. Don’t get me wrong. I love KickStarter. I think it is great so many games get funded and produced that normally would have no chance of ever seeing a table. I will continue to do reviews for any designer or publisher that wants a KickStarter preview. I just won’t be backing as many games until I can get some therapy to help with my neurotic impatiens.
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.