There are a number of 2-player fighting games out there, and a lot of them are really good. However, I’ve never come across one as accessible and beautiful as Bushido. I’m not exactly talking about the art when I say it’s beautiful (although the art is nice); rather, I’m speaking in terms of the game’s flow, the back-and-forth actions and reactions of the players. It’s silky smooth, almost like you’d expect a river to flow around rocks and other obstacles in its way, forging ahead regardless of what’s around the next bend.
Welcome to Bushido.
Dump out all the components and separate them into piles/groups according to the tokens and dice. (The armor and torii tokens are double sided, so you can just group those together.) Each player gets a D12, with 12 showing. This is your life. If that die goes below 1, you die.
If you’re playing with the beginner decks, each player chooses one and takes the cards as described in the rule book. If not, be prepared to draft (which is technically part of the gameplay, but that’s fine).
When drafting, shuffle the deck of technique cards and draw four. One player takes one, then the next player takes one. Discard the remaining two. This happens until each player has five cards. Then, they each choose a weapon from their set of weapon cards (which just so happens to be the same as their opponent’s set of weapon cards). Place your weapon on its place on your player boards, block off any token slots (right side of the player board) according to how many tokens your weapon says you’re allowed to have, give yourself as many armor tokens as you’re allowed, and you’re ready to go.
One health left and going to take one damage. *sigh*
The first player chooses a guard. In other words, will they decide to go on the defensive, offensive, or something in between? There are benefits to all, including bonuses prescribed by the chosen weapon. When in high guard, you get two attack dice (red) by default. If you’re hoping to dodge or block hits while in high guard, you’d better have some good technique cards in your hand that grant you evade (blue) dice. It’s quite thematic, actually.
On a turn, the active/attacking player must either play a technique card or change guard. Technique cards also grant dice, as well as special abilities and bonuses. You’ll start to get a feel pretty early on how balancing guard and technique cards is of the utmost importance. The way the game plays out is quite interesting as well.
Say the first attacker is in mid guard (not to be confused with a game by the same company that sounds oddly similar...), and plays a technique card (Rock Slide; see image on the right). The mid guard grants one attack (red) die and one defense (grey) die. Plus, you also get dice from your Rock Slide—in this case, two attack and one defense. Now that you’ve played your technique card, you roll all dice you’ve collected. Got it?
At the beginning of the game, you’re more or less stuck with what you roll. However, there are certain results called torii (the gate-looking icon) which allow you to re-roll that die plus another unrolled attack die from the supply. Not bad! But that’s not all. Instead of rolling again instantly, you can activate the torii to gain a token of the same name and symbol. (All tokens gained during a turn are placed in the holding area, so you can’t use them until your next turn.) On your next turn, you can use the torii token to re-roll any amount of dice you’d like (that you just rolled). So the torii is a great way to mitigate that luck of the dice.
Likewise, armor tokens can be spent to block a hit. More on hits in a moment.
So, back to the dice roll. Activate all dice can and for each stick/hit result, increase your opponent’s hit track by one. Now, a hit doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be taking damage, since damage is resolved at the end of each player’s turn for that player. And this right here is what I love about Bushido.
This player is at 3 hits, which will deal 6 damage (to health) at the end of his turn unless he manages to bring the hits down through dodges or armor tokens.
Let’s say I dealt my opponent three hits. My turn is now over and it is his turn. His hit marker is still up at 3, but if he can’t move it down by the end of this turn, he’ll take 6 damage (which is half his starting health!). Unfortunately for me, he rolls an evade and activates it to move the marker down one, and then plays an armor token at the end of his turn to move it down one more. He still takes one hit, which deals 1 damage. Not as good as 6, but I’ll take what I can get.
Speaking of taking things, during my opponent’s turn, he dealt me five hits! Lame. If I can’t move my hit token down at least one on the hit track, it’s an insta-kill. Fortunately, I have two armor tokens ready to use after my turn, so I’m not too worried. But, I’m worried enough that I play Graceful Cut, which gives me an attack die and two evade dice. As I’m still in mid guard (ha ha, Midgard..), I will get an attack die and a defense die, but odds of me rolling an evade on the defense die are low—and I can’t use armor tokens from dice on this turn—so I hope the two evade dice on my technique card are enough.
I rolled two evade, so I obviously use them, which brings my hit token down to 2, which will still give me 3 damage. I activate my two attack dice as well, dealing two hits to my opponent. I end my turn and pay two armor tokens, bringing my hits down to 0. Phew! And, I collect the armor token I just gained from this turn and it is now ready to be used on my next turn.
And so it goes, back and forth, until one player is defeated.
And it feels great! The back-and-forth action is so, so smooth. In fact, Bushido feels more like the capoeira martial art and dance form. One turn, the attacking player deals hits and gathers tokens. The player who just got hit must then roll to attack and decrease the hits assigned. Return to the other player, who must attack, dodge and defend, and gain any bonuses possible. Hits come in sweeping mounds at times, but the dodges mixed with attacks keep both attacker and defender on their toes.
If you’ve ever played Street Fighter or other similar fighting games, the action there is pretty choppy (as in karate chops - hiya!). It’s a constant barrage of beat, beat, beat, one player wailing on another until the other player manages to counter and in turn begins wailing on the other guy. That’s not what Bushido feels like. Like I said, Bushido is smooth.
I was impressed at how easy it was to learn the rules and get into the game. Starting off, both players may use a pre-built deck (each consisting of five cards, plus a weapon). Alternately, a draft is encouraged so you can build your strategy according to what gets drawn. It’s a great way to mix up the cards and thereby strategies of the players.
Theme and Mechanics:
The theme of martial art combat is sogood. It’s not one of those tacked-on themes you find in other games, but the theme and mechanics work so well together. Through the cards, the weapons, and the dice, everything is awesome.
I know some people aren’t a fan of dice and the luck factor they bring, but hear me out. The dice can be mitigated in so many ways. Through dice rolls themselves or the abilities on cards, the dice are just a part to the whole machine. And, with the various schools (indicated by the icon on the top-left each card), you can “boost” your attack by playing one or more cards of the same school underneath the technique card you’re playing, and you gain an extra die of your choice for each boosting card laid down that turn. Your weapon, too, can help mitigate these rolls.
This player played Calm Mind with a boost (Wind Dancer). Being in high guard, this player will get 2 attack dice, plus one die of each type from Calm Mind. Because he boosted (by playing another card of the same school--Air--underneath), he gets to choose one extra die of his choice.
Sure, there’s some luck to the game, but what part of combat doesn’t involve a bit of luck? Slipping on loose gravel is unlucky - that could be considered rolling a blank. See? Thematic.
Artwork and Components:
The art is very well done and definitely conveys the theme of the game, from the player boards to the cards and everything in between. The components are great, too. If you’ve played Champions of Midgard, that’s pretty much what the dice are like (just with different symbols, of course). The tokens are thick cardboard and everything is nice.
Beautiful, thematic art
Easy to learn yet lots of great strategy (cliché, but true)
Scratches that drafting itch without getting too crazy
Back-and-forth gameplay feels oh-so good.
Luck aspect (I guess?)
Only for two players
Let me stop you right there. So, yes, it is technically a two-player game, but with two sets of the game (for player boards—I’m sure you could make do with just one set), you can play a 2 vs. 2 team game. I haven’t played it that way, but it’s possible. Is it any good? Hard to know without playing it. If you do so, let me know how it went in the comments!
Don’t even get me started about Bushido. It’s a new favorite. I thought it might be a good game going into it, but I really couldn’t quite grasp how wonderful I found it to be until after I’d played it. The first time was really good, and subsequent plays were even better! The drafting mechanic really gives this game that highly sought after replayability (I know, it’s not even a real word..), since you can build a lot of variations with each draft.
Sometimes we started thinking that the other player had a distinct advantage because such-and-such card is super OP, but by the end of the game, it was usually neck and neck, and more often than not, the player with the “OP” card lost. It’s very well balanced.
Going into Bushido, I thought this game would be one of those, “Hey, neat! That’s fun!” type of games. Instead, it launched itself into one of my top picks. Now, the question I have of you is…
Why haven’t you played this yet?
Players Who Like:
If you like 1 vs. 1 duels, martial arts, or fighting games, you really, really need to give Bushido a try. If you like drafting mechanics, dice chucking, and smooth back-and-forth action, I give you…Bushido! Also, if you just really like rolling the dice from Champions of Midgard but want to branch out from Vikings, here you go. You’re welcome.
Check out Bushidoon:
Benjamin Kocher - Editor and Reviewer
Benjamin hails from Canada but now lives in Kentucky with his wife and kids. He's a certified copyeditor through UC San Diego's Copyediting Extension program. He's a freelance writer and editor, and covers everything from board game rule books to novels. An avid writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes as no surprise that his favorite board games are those with rich, engaging themes. When he’s not writing or playing games, Benjamin loves to play ultimate Frisbee, watch and play rugby, and read the most epic fantasy books available. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and Instagram @Kocherb, and read his board game-inspired fiction at BenjaminKocher.com.
Quick Look: Designers: Janice & Stu Turner Publisher: Wren Games Year Published: 2020 No. of Players: 1-2 Ages: 8+ Playing Time: 10-25 minutes
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com WARNING: This is a preview of Sensor Ghosts. I was provided a copy of the game for my review. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.
You escaped. Somehow, against all odds, you escaped. You built the spaceship, broke the computer's clutches, and escaped. Now all that's left is to make it home to Earth. All that stands between you is a meteor storm, the self-preservation of Earth's scientists, and this weird glitch in the navigation system that you're sure wasn't there when you left the station... In Sensor Ghosts, you and your companion must navigate a deadly asteroid field to return to Earth. Along the way, you must retrieve a sample of a deadly virus that overtook the space station you fled, while also avoiding interruptions by the computer. This game is an interesting case in that, while it functions as a standalone game, it is in fact a sequel to the board game Assembly, continuing the story where it left off (see my review of that game here). However, while certain elements are the same, Sensor Ghosts is an entirely new game, with different mechanics, goals, and variants that make it stand on its own with ease.
I'm digging the small-box, three-word-tagline theme. Let's keep it going!
Review: Rules and Setup:
The basic order of play goes as follows: players take turns simultaneously, choosing to play one card (or three at once, for a "wild" card) face down at the same time. Then, players reveal their cards, choose whether to use up an already-gathered sample to gain a little extra shield, decide the order of how they want their cards to be played, then execute each action, draw cards, and re-scan the environment. Let's attempt to break these down a bit:
Each player has a hand of Navigation cards that are used to help them reach the other end of the meteor storm. These cards come in three types: "Fly/Peek," which allows you to traverse the storm OR to loom ahead at potential dangers; "Deep Scan," which grants you the ability to flip over one Sector card of your choice OR rotate a row to the left; and "Shields Charge," which... well, I feel like that one speaks for itself. Once both players have played their card of choice (or thee cards at once, as a "wild"), they reveal them and decide together how best to use their cards. One important note is the "Fly/Peek" cards must take the ship's orientation into effect, meaning that unless you pause in between movement, you cannot turn your ship quickly (unless both players use a "Fly/Peek" card to do so). One both players' actions have been used, they draw cards and "re-scan" their environment. This is done by moving the row directly ahead to the left, wrapping the furthest-left Sector card over to the right. Then, each player chooses one Sector card in the row that is to spaces ahead of your shift and turns it over, revealing a different sector.
While the ultimate goal is to reach the exit, players must also collect samples of the virus that they can eventually hope to use to develop a vaccine. Players can collect these Sample tokens by passing over the Sector cards they're placed on, but there are also small meteorites that are mixed in with the viruses, bringing an extra layer of strategy and risk to the game. And, if you're in a bind, a virus can be sacrificed for a charge of shield (though this means you'll have to find another virus to make up for the one you lost).
A great many components. But how do they all fit together, I wonder?
Sector cards make up the game board. These are the sections you'll be traveling through on your way to Earth. "Empty Sector" cards (green) are safe zones that you can navigate without worry. "Meteoroid" cards (yellow) are potentially deadly, and will immediately remove two shied charges from your ship, meaning if your ship isn't fully charged when you enter it, you're dead. "Boost" cards (purple) are sectors where the computer's abilities get a bit stronger. Your ship continues through a "Boost" into the next section (so beware if it's the last card in the line...), and a Disruption card is immediately drawn and resolved. Disruption cards act similarly to the Malfunction cards in Assembly, creating single-use challenges that can royally muck up your plans. Finally, "Obstructed Sectors" (red) are the worst of the bunch. Avoid these at all costs; if you enter one, you're dead. No amount of shields and luck will save you.
There's a few extra things to be aware of, along with these core parts. Each player will get a Role card, which grants them a single-use ability to get them out of a jam. Players will also have access to memory tokens, which they can use to keep Sector cards from getting flipped over. Finally, as with Assembly, there are rules to what players can say and how they can say it, as the computer is actively listening to the players and will interfere with their plans if it knows their intent. However, these rules are voluntary, and can be tweaked or removed entirely, depending on player preference.
A sampling of tokens.
Players begin by placing the "Starting Sector" cards (blue) in the bottom right, then shuffling and placing the remaining Sector cards, white side down, to build a 5 x 7 grid. The "Finish" Sector card (blue with Earth in the distance) goes next to the card in the top right. The ship is placed next to the "Starting Sector" cards facing them (as is the escape pod, if you choose to play with that variant). The shield tracker, shield tokens, and memory tokens are placed within reach. The Sample tokens are shuffled and placed face down on the board in rows 3 - 7. Then, players remove three Sector cards that are adjacent to any Sample tokens. After each person chooses a Role card and the Navigation deck is prepped and shuffled, deal three cards to each person, and let the stress begin!
Space... the final coffee table...
Theme and Mechanics:
As with its predecessor, Sensor Ghosts does a wonderful job of integrating its fleshed-out story with the game mechanics and objectives. Each task has a real reason behind it, and each nail-biting decision feels right at home in the sci-fi/horror genre, almost like a darker reboot of 2001: A Space Odyssey where Bowman escapes the ship with HAL in pursuit. As with its predecessor, Wren Games has meticulously detailed how, and why, each and every rule works within the world. I doubt this game's theme could easily be swapped out for another without some major overhauls to the core design.
Disruption cards act similarly to Malfunction and Glitch cards from Assembly. In a word, rudely.
Mechanics wise, this game has done a really good job of being a unique creation while still retaining elements of the game that came before it. There are definitely some core elements that have carried over from Assembly - the cooperative, tight gameplay, the modular board, playing your hand in tandem with your teammate - but it uses these in new and interesting ways. Instead of simply rotating rooms, the board is literally changing in front of you as Sensor cards are flipped, revealing certain danger or a glimmer of hope just ahead. Instead of pressing your luck with dice rolls, you're gambling on which Sample token to chase down, and whether it's worth risking the Sample you DO have for a shield, in case a meteoroid shows up next round. Instead of the constant dread that running out of cards means your death, you're now risking it all if you find yourself face-to-face with an Obstructed Sector. How this game manages to be a wholly unique challenge, while also connecting so well to Assembly, I can't quite explain. You'll have to try it for yourself.
Navigation cards get you from point A to point B. Though probably not as straightforward as you'd like.
In a word? Challenging. In two? Surprisingly challenging. I thought I was adequately prepared the first time we sat down to play, but I had to relearn everything I thought I knew from Assembly. Keeping your shields charged is such a necessity in this game, to the point that we sometimes had to risk getting too close to a Boost card just to keep ourselves away from Meteoroids and Obstructed Sectors. If Assembly is like a Rubik's Cube, then Sensor Ghosts is Russian Roulette. Each move is made to keep you alive, but each move could also kill you if you're not very smart about it.
As with Assembly, this game comes with a variety of suggestions to make the challenges easier or more difficult. The high difficulty of the base game can be a turnoff for some, but I would personally recommend trying out different rules to see what works best for your table, and possibly building up to more challenging rules over time. It really is fun, even though it's a beast of a game at times.
In case you want an added challenge, there's also an Escape Pod variant which tasks you with getting the escape pod token to the exit alongside your ship. The escape pod moves each turn, based on which Navigation cards you play, and will be destroyed if it enters an Obstructed Sector.
As in Assembly, each Role card has one side with its description, and one side with a handy infographic.
Artwork and Components:
As with most prototype games I receive, I don't focus too heavily on artwork and component quality, as they may change over time. However, I would say that I like the direction this game seems to be taking. While the tokens, Role cards, and Disruption cards are streamlined similarly to the designs in Assembly, the Sector cards are something else. Each one is vibrantly designed with a strong color and visual, making it immediately obvious where you're going and what lies ahead. The subtle color changes on either side of the cards, the lines of binary, the symbols to further remind players of each card's function - if this game had a stand-out piece, it would be the Sector cards.
Seriously, LOOK at these things!
All told, the game comes with 30 Navigation and Sector cards, seven Role cards, ten Disruption cards, a Shield Tracker card, two Player Reference cards, and several tokens to denote the player ship, escape pod, samples, shields, and memory cubes. A rulebook is also included, and while this may not have much bearing on the gameplay itself, I do like how they added a scoring system to the back of the book, as a way for players to try and improve over time. It's a fun little addition that shows they want people to come back again and again.
Notice the white coloring around the image, detailing the back of a Sector card.
Continuing the story of Assembly, Sensor Ghosts provides a new style of gameplay while still retaining elements that will be very recognizable to fans of Assembly, like Roles and Command (now called Navigation) cards. The constant threat of death looms over each attempt, and its tight gameplay means that every win feels well earned. And, as with Assembly, there are extra variants that allow for even more ways to play once you've mastered the basics. Altogether, Sensor Ghosts feels like a well-developed sequel that can stand on its own, as any good sequel should.
As with Assembly before it, this is not an easy game by any means. It's a sharp learning curve at times, which may discourage some from picking it up at all.
This is the most intense version of Asteroids I've ever played!
Players Who Like:
Assembly and its expansions, puzzle games, and co-op games.
Ahhh, my favorite... player reference cards...
Check out Sensor Ghosts on:
David Jensen - Editor and Reviewer
David has tried his hand at everything from warehouse work and washing dishes to delivering pizza. Now, he's trying his hand at writing creatively and working as an editor for a start-up literary magazine. When he's not busy procrastinating, he's running tabletop game sessions for friends and family.
Quick Look: Designer: Brian Suhre Artists: N/A Publisher: Elf Creek Games Year Published: 2019
This preview was done in the earlier stages of making the game. Changes very well could have been made already. This was a prototype copy played with Brian during Geekway to the West.
Getting the Game: I decided to sign up to "check out" Brian Suhre's new game coming out called Merchants of the Dark Road. I signed up on BGG on a Geeklist that was posted by Brent Dickman of Elf Creek Games. I was expecting a game similar to Coldwater Crown and Freshwater Fly which you can click on those links to check out, as they are wonderful games. I was surprised to realize during rules explanation that this game was different from his previous games that I knew. This game is a heavier worker placement type pickup and deliver with a Tetris style puzzle to manage your goods that you are buying from the market to deliver to heroes or using to deliver to certain towns that are in need of those certain goods. Let me explain further.
Playing the Game: Warning - I only remember what is in my head and what is on the pictures that I took. My memory might not be the 100% best, but I wanted to give you a good look at the game and describe as much as I can remember.
You will start with a "Pegasus" card that shows how many dice, which types of dice (orange and black do matter) you will start with, a certain end game scoring condition (mine was each group of blue, purple, and red cards--contracts or heroes from a guild--would score 3 points, and bonus actions available when using a pendant(?), and starting items. Dice are placed on the bottom of you player board and you start with 1 lucky horseshoe that can be used for a couple different things, but we used them mostly when we traveled (in the travel section of the board). I will touch more on that later. Everyone rolls their dice so that they are random.
Plan On your turn you will select a number shown on at least 1 of your dice to activate. If you activate the 3's, then you will need to use every die that shows a 3 on it. If you activate a 6, you activate all 6's. Before you activate your number you can use the black dice to visit the courtyard located in the middle of the board. Select one of your dice to exchange for the die located in the area you want to swap out. You can not swap out the same number that you are placing. When swapping out, you will take the newly acquired die and place it on the top part of your player board labeled "Action." You will then take any dice of the same number from your other dice on the bottom of your board, and move them to the top. If you only want to use one die, then don't swap out a die with a number on it that matches any of your other dice. You will take the accompanying action from the place you swapped from. Actions consists of: take 2 money, take 2 points, take a good located in the "2" section of the market and place it in your backpack. Orange dice can not be used to take the courtyard action, but will be used to enhance some board actions.
Craft Decide if you would like to take any of your dice in the "Action" section on the top of your board and discard it for the good listed to the top right of your player board.
Move The number of dice you have in your "Action" section will dictate how many spaces your worker will move, and also which actions you can take. For this reason, you might want to craft so you can move your worker to a certain spot on the board to take the wanted action.
You will moved around the board only using 5 spaces. You can only take the actions of the areas the touch those spaces where your worker is located. For example, the green would be able to use their die or dice for the travel, dungeon, and/or black market actions. Purple can perform the black marker, mystic, or guild actions. Blue is kind of in a "special" place, and can perform the guild or market action. You can take your actions in any order, and the market action is free, so in this space you essentially could buy whatever is in the market and use it to give to a guild member and collect that card. Yellow can perform the market, lighthouse, or contracts action.
Act Use your die or dice to perform any of the actions of the surrounding areas from where your worker is located.
Market: Five dice will randomly be rolled and placed in the sections shown on the dice. These are the goods available at this time. You can buy any or all of these goods. If more than 1 die is located in the section, you will pay the number shown for all the dice located in that section. The market action is free and doesn't cost a die, but if you wanted to manipulate the market a bit to either make something cheaper for you to buy or making something more expensive for when you drop off these goods to the guild you can use a die. A die of any number will turn the market wheel once clockwise. Everything gets 1 cheaper, while the lowest goes from a 1 to a 5. The other spot lets you change the die face of any chosen die. You would do this if you really needed a certain good and there was none available in the market at that time. After buying these goods you will move the dice off the wheel to the sides and collect them to place in your backpack. Remember, you need to have enough room to fit everything in the Tetris-like backpack. For each die that was removed, when done with their turn they will re-roll those dice and place them again on their matching icons to make a new market.
Lighthouse: Change one good from the normal side to the enchanted side and gain 1 point. Each good can be flipped over to show that it is enchanted and will give you a bonus when used at the guild.
Contracts: Collect a contract you would like to fulfill. You will need to collect the listed goods on the card and deliver them to the location shown in the "Travel" section. When delivered you gain 2 points per good.
Harbor: Collect a good that is not available in the market place at that time. You will take a good that doesn't have a die on it in the marketplace and place it in your backpack.
Travel: You will be taking your contracts and delivering them here. You also can drop off any of your guild members here to gain a little extra shown differently for each pair of locations. But first before you make it to whatever location you will need to make sure that you actually make it there. There is a deck of 10 cards. The player to your right will shuffle them and place one out for you one at a time. The top locations require 2 cards, the next pair requires 3 cards, and the bottom cards require 4 cards. There are "good" cards and "bad" cards in the deck. The card will also provide you will options or decisions you will need to pick from. If you have any lucky horseshoes you can use them to avoid the "bad" cards and keep going.
When performing this action with an orange die, you can gain an extra 2 points plus the points shown on the contract card. If you used a black die, you will only gain the points listed on the contract card.
If you had another die, you could travel again. If there is a pendant or perhaps money left on a location, you will gain it. Each location starts with a pendant token located on it.
Dungeon: Use your black die to choose one of the goods shown on the enchanted dice and place it on its enchanted side in your backpack. If you use an orange die, you will take the 2 enchanted goods. For whatever good that was claimed, re-roll the die or dice of that good.
Black Market: There are 4 different options on a wheel. You will have to pay a minimum of 1 coin to move the meeple once and take the goods located on it. You can pay 2 or 3 or 4 to move it twice, three times, or four times if you would like.
Mystic: (I actually never took this action myself during the game, so I am a little fuzzy on this action) My best guess would be you move the market wheel clockwise once and gain 2 horseshoes.
Guild: Here you deliver the goods wanted by each hero, and they are then added to your player board. When delivering the wanted goods they pay you for them for whatever the prices are listed at the market at that time. (Remember, you can go to the market first, when located on the space between the market and the guild, to manipulate the market a little to benefit you when you "sell" your goods to the heroes in the guild.) If you used an orange die you will gain an extra 2 coins. For each enchanted good you delivered, you will gain a pendant for it.
These extra guild members are placed on your player board and become part of your group. Each one of them can hold 1 of your items. You can have 3 of them at a time, and they really make it easier to hold more stuff. I would advise that they always hold the huge musical instruments if they can.
Cards: You will eventually use the 4 dice you start with, when this happens you will take your animal cards and choose which one you will continue with. Each card provides different number or types of dice, unlocks potential bonus actions used by your pendants (explained below), as well as end game scoring possibilities (explained below as well). You won't use every card, but you do have options. When someone plays their 5th total card, the game will end letting each player play at least 1 last card, and then finishing the round letting everyone have the same number of actions. (I'm a little fuzzy on specifics of how the game actually ends, but know that its something similar to above.)
Pendants Whenever you would like, on your turn, you can spend a pendant to place on one of your animal cards to gain the listed bonus. Remember you are eventually choosing which of these cards you would like to use, so you will be choosing those cards to know which possible extra pendant actions you can take as well. At the end of the game, if you put both pendants on a card it will be used for final scoring. Each card has different actions you can take. At the beginning of the game, tokens will be randomly placed to set how final scoring of these cards will occur. If you have 2 pendants on a card, it will be used for its final scoring ability.
What's the goal? At the end of the game, you will count your points, and you will count your money. Whichever is the lowest is your final score. For this reason you need to balance your money and your points when playing the game. There are many different actions that allow you to balance this. You will then place your score marker on whatever you final score is and then perform final scoring. You will look at your animal cards to see which ones will be scored by seeing which ones have the 2 pendants on them. The board was setup with a random token showing which card would score what, and you will add those points to your final score to make it your final final score.
The only goods available in the market are those that are rolled.
If the 1 space had 3 dice in the market, you will be paying 1 coin for the 3 items, not 1 coin for each. So when they are grouped together, they become cheaper, even if they are on the higher number.
The number of active dice determines your movement.
The black die is used for the courtyard.
The orange dice are used for extra points in the guild and travel sections.
It doesn't really matter how fast you use your dice by using doubles more often versus moving slow and using just 1 at a time. Everyone will take the same amount of actions, which makes me wonder if using doubles actually benefits you as you might move further but you have more dice to use each turn.
After playing your first game you will realize a better strategy like using double to move faster.
Beware of the "bad" cards when traveling in the travel section. Come prepared with lucky horseshoes to counteract those cards.
The Good: Such a great game! I felt like it was polished already and nothing felt "unbalanced." I feel like everyone I played with tried to use 1 die at a time because you want to take every action and don't want to pass over any. But, looking back, I think the more you use doubles the more actions you can take on your turn even though you might move further to a location. Really, it comes down to planning. I like how you collect guild members which allows you to gain money due to selling goods to them that they want. Then you can use them to hold goods while they are traveling with you in your party. Then you can use them to help balance your money or points by delivering them to a location in the travel section. The choices of using the orange dice vs the black dice makes it hard. Orange dice give you 2 points when using them in the travel section and guild section, but you can just as easily use the black die in the courtyard to score 2 points. When I played I seemed to think the orange dice were better and used to score me more points, but I think it all depends on how you plan and organize your dice actions. You can use a black die to swap out another die to gain the 2 points in the courtyard, then if that new die matches the number of one of your orange dice, then it will be moved up and you can then use the orange die to take the guild action and gain 2 coins extra. This is a hard concept to understand on your first play, but after thinking about it, I know that doing more complicated actions that use more than 1 die might benefit you more.
The Bad: The only bad thing was that the art and components in the game are not yet set, and I believe this would help with the theme and touch of the game.
Final Thoughts: I always seem to like a game when I win and feel like everyone was fighting to win. The game score from my memory and notes was 35-36-37-48. I believe when I balanced my money with my points I was only 1 off from the other. Plus, I did 2 sets of my pegasus that gave me 6 more points, and some more with my other animal cards.
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Brody Sheard - Reviewer
Brody Sheard played board games with his large family growing up. He continues with his love of games by teaching his family, local gaming guild, and friends about new and exciting games. Brody believes that board gaming keeps your mind healthy while also having fun interacting with others.