Monday, June 30, 2014

Love Letter, a game you’ll love.

Love Letter
2-4 players, 30- 45 minute play time, Casual Gameplay
By Ray Snyder

In the game of Love Letter you are trying to send a love letter to a Princess that has recently became old enough for marriage. The other players are attempting to win the Princess’s affections too, so you’re each trying to stop the letters of the other players from getting to the Princess. The game play uses a deck of 16 cards that represent the different characters that are near the Princess or the Princess herself. Each round players starts with a single card and when it’s their turn they draw a card and secretly choose a card from there hand to play. The cards give you some way to oust a player from the current round of gameplay. 


In the game of Love Letter you are trying to send a love letter to a Princess that has recently became old enough for marriage. The other players are attempting to win the Princess’s affections too, so you’re each trying to stop the letters of the other players from getting to the Princess. The game play uses a deck of 16 cards that represent the different characters that are near the Princess or the Princess herself. Each round players starts with a single card and when it’s their turn they draw a card and secretly choose a card from there had to play. The cards give you some way to oust a player from the current round of the game. 


Each round is over quickly as cards are played and players are eliminated until one player wins the round and gets a letter to the Princess. Rounds play out quickly but not without skill as each card played in a round gives you a better idea what cards your opponent could have. Some cards allow you to secretly compare the card in each player’s hand in a duel to see whose letter continues it journey to the Princess, other cards allow you to force a player to trade cards with you or let you look at their cards. Another card lets you guess the card they have, if your guess is correct they are eliminated. Normally I’m not a big fan of games with player Elimination, but in Love Letter the rounds are so quick you're never out for long. 


Love Letter is also very inexpensive costing $9.99 or $10.99 depending on the version. Love Letter is available with several different backgrounds and Flavors. The Tempest Edition is set in a European Kingdom, while the Legend of the Five Rings editions is set in a fictional version of Feudal Japan. The Kanai Factory Edition is the original version of the game and it’s art has an anime feel to it. 

I just found a press release for at least three new versions of the game, Adventure Time, DC Comics, and the Hobbit. Additionally Steve Jackson is creating Lewt Letter a Munchkin themed version of the game. So if the game mechanics work for you, if you haven't found the theme for you, chances are you will sometime soon. This game is fast, fun, and very affordable. I can't recommend it enough.

Mage Wars, Mastering the Mana!

Mage Wars, Mastering the Mana! 
2 Players, 45 to 90 minutes, Deep Gameplay
By Ray Snyder

Mage Wars is a game of Battling Wizards that is an evolution in gaming, combining the styles of a collectable card game and a tabletop battle games to create something new and wonderful. The short version is that it’s like a card game that plays on a map and you get to pick the cards you want to play each round. You can play Creatures, attack spells, Equipment or even Conjure buildings, walls, and war machines. Your mage and creatures move around the map attacking and being attacked, as you try to defeat the opposing Mage.

You build a spell book of cards, based on the Mage you’re playing and your strategies of choice. The game supplies the spell books, card binders that hold 4 cards to a page in clear plastic sleeves and you have a budget of spell points to spend to buy cards. Each card has a price based on it’s level and the school of magic if belongs too. There are currently 12 different mages that all operate differently but all have access to most of  the spells in the game, but the spells from their school of magic are the cheapest.

The only luck of the game is in the Dice rolls and you can build strategies that rely heavily or lightly on dice. Quick aggressive game play often tries to throw lots of dice, while a slower less luck-oriented strategy will see the opponent enchanted with curses and poisons that slowly but surely pave the road to victory.

Mage Wars is a deep game that can take some time to learn all the nuances off, but the core game play is simple and straightforward, It has incredible replayability, even using the same two spell books over and over, because the players can and will learn from the previous games and try different tactics or try to predict your opponent’s plays and play the perfect response. When you know the opposing mage is going to do something, and can pick the counter from your spell book, it’s great, but it can also be a wasted turn or worse if he picked something you didn’t expect. It’s very compelling and when your start learning all the tricks your mage can do and how cards work together. It’s one of the best two player games out there.

Deadzone: The game I've been waiting for, what about you?


DeadZone
2 Players, 45-60 minutes, Requires Hobby skills, Deep gameplay
by Ray Snyder

Deadzone is a game of Sci Fi skirmish combat on a Plague-infected world that has been quarantined from the rest of the Galaxy. Players control small strike teams of Plague Victims, Corporate Enforcers, Marauding Orx, or Rebels looking to steal supplies and equipment from the abandoned World. The Starter box set includes the Enforcers and the Plague. The Enforcers are the best soldiers the Corporations could buy or create, they are Clad in full enclosed power armor that protects them from the plague. The Plague Victims are horrible mutations of the citizens that live on the infected world. Some are huge monsters that have lost all their humanity while others still retain some idea of who they are and how to use technology.

The Game itself is part board game and part Miniatures game as it combines aspects of both to make very satisfying but quick gameplay. All most all  dice tests such as shooting or fighting are handled with a dice pool of three dice rolled against a target number list on the models unit card. If the test is easy you add more dice to the pool, if it’s harder you remove dice, it’s fast and easy. Additionally most tests are opposed by the opponent, so you both roll a dice pool and see who gets the most successes, ensuring both players are always engaged in the game. The map you play on is a two foot by two foot square, so it will fit on most tables easily, it’s broken down into three inch cubes that are used to count range and movement. The thing that’s really neat about the squares are they are much bigger they your figures and you get to place your figures any where your want in the square, so your could place a figure behind a barrel for cover or on top of some crates so he could see better, or maybe hidden behind a wall. True Line of Sight rules mean you can only shoot what you can see, so careful positioning of your figures could be the difference between victory and defeat.

The Game also uses secret victory conditions, a deck of cards that can be used to boost your character’s effectiveness and exploding dice (if your roll the max number you get an extra dice to roll) so you never know for sure how things are going until the game it over. That plus very cinematic details and effects make for an very entertaining game. If your like skirmish level games or want to play a game that also feels like watching a movie unfold, I recommend you give this game a try.

However: one warning, this game requires a lot of assembly, it’s what some might call a Hobby game, in that constructing and painting the pieces can be a hobby in itself. If you have no desire to spend a few hours gluing plastic figures together and then possibly painting them, this may not be the game for you. That said, I highly recommend this game, it’s great fun and tends to create awesome moments when a grenade explodes and threw the opposing team’s leader off the top of a building and down into the Plague Hounds below it. Or your Sniper manages to thread the needle and get a head shot on the approaching Plague beast that was about to eat your Enforcer Sergeant.