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Kickstarter Preview: Pocket Ops

Grand Gamers Guild

2 Players

10-20 Minutes

Ages 6+

Pocket Ops is a board game that took me by surprise. It is, essentially, an updated version of Tic-Tac-Toe. This was clear from the get go so I have to admit that I was hesitant to even play the game. How good could it possibly be?

Well, to be honest, it turns out that it can be pretty good. Pocket Ops takes the Tic Tac Toe formula and adds a few simple mechanics to make things more interesting.

We played a LOT of games of Pocket Ops over the course of our testing. Part of this was because games were fast. But, more importantly, we kept playing games because we could teach everyone that was interested how to play. Everyone knows how to play tic tac toe, so teaching a few more rules takes literally seconds.


Note: The component list is not final because this game will be coming to Kickstarter.

1 Facility Board

14 Spy Tokens (7 red, 7 blue)

10 Specialist Tokens (5 red, 5 blue)

18 Predictions cards (9 red, 9 blue)

1 Doomsday Device Token

2 Power Crystal Tokens

1 Start Tile


As I said earlier, Pocket Ops plays like an upgraded version of tic tac toe. The  biggest difference is that as each player selects where they want to place their spy on the 3×3 grid their opponents have a chance to guess a square too. If the second player successfully guesses the same square, then no one gets to place a spy in that square and play continues. This turns what was a simple game into a more complex game of deduction and probability.

If this were all the game had to offer then it might have been too light. Fortunately, there is more.

Each player has a selection of specialists that each have unique powers. These specialists include things like the Assassin that can remove enemies from the board and the Hacker that lets players choose two different squares on their next prediction attempt.

Is it a family game?

Yes. Sure, players take on the role of super spies attempting to infiltrate a secret base, but there is nothing here that is not abstracted.


This is an easy recommendation to make. The game is inexpensive, fun, and easy to teach. I would recommend this to just about anyone.


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Kickstarter Review – Gruff: Rage of the Trolls

Rage of the Trolls is a standalone expansion to the Gruff game system coming to Kickstarter on 05/30/2017.

Gruff is a tactical card game that has been around for a few years now. The game puts an interesting spin on the Billy Goats Gruff bedtime story. If you recall the three Billy Goats Gruff used their wits to outsmart an evil troll so they could cross a bridge. In the game’s universe this victory was noticed by the shepherds nearby. They decided that they would use selective breeding, magic, and technology to help turn the goats into an army of … very weird soldiers.

Gruff: Rage of the Trolls expands on the franchise by giving players a chance to cooperate against monstrous trolls for the first time. The mechanics themselves are simple. Players set everything up as normal and place the troll in between the two players. The troll acts using behavior cards that are drawn and played during each player’s turn. Each card has a series of actions and effects that are triggered based on the trolls “rage” stat.

The troll’s rage stat increases on each players turn and this has an impact on the damage it deals and the number of actions on its behavior card that it will take. The troll gets very dangerous quickly during each game as its rage meter increases. Players who aren’t careful will have their gruffs taken out quickly.

These mechanics do make for an interesting cooperative experience. Our playtesting team felt challenged and encouraged to really study their shepherds, gruffs, and cards to make sure they were playing with optimal strategies. Its a great feeling to be forced to make adjustments between games like this because the thrill of victory is a great payoff for experimentation.

With all that said, the troll mechanics were a bit difficult to follow because they added several steps to each round ,compared to the main Gruff games, that kept our team from ever really feeling comfortable. This wasn’t enough to keep us from playing, but it was frustrating until we were able to get the rhythm straight.

Is it a kids’ game?

While I don’t think there is anything in particular about the game that is questionable, I do encourage parents to take a look at the art for the game. The battle goats are beautifully drawn, but they are definitely weird. Parents will know if a particular character would be problematic. The only time I would imagine this to be the case is if your child has an odd or unexpected phobia. These critters are definitely dark, but they are not gory,

There is nothing in this game, outside of maybe the artwork, that is any more objectionable than Magic: The Gathering or Yu Gi Oh. Your family can play this game with confidence.

Can kids play it?

Rage of the Trolls is slightly more complicated than the base game. The addition of the troll “boss monsters” add several different steps to each turn that made it harder for out play testers to keep track of things. This added complexity could have a negative impact on the experience for some younger players.


We may have had our difficulties with the cooperative aspects of the game, but this is a must own expansion for fans of the Gruff series. It includes two new Shepherds and six new battle goats that are fully compatible with the rest of the Gruff games.

clen headaches
rematore bilanciere
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