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Kickstarter Preview: Rise of Tribes

Publisher: Breaking Games

Age Rating: 10+

Players: 2-4

Timeframe: 30-60 minutes

Style: Light Strategy Game

You are a nomadic, prehistoric people. Your tribe prospers by growing in population, moving across a variety of lands, gathering resources, and by having a strong leader. Be the first to victory by scoring 15 points! Will your tribe rise above the rest?


Rise of Tribes is a much anticipated game designed by Brad Brooks (creator of Letter Tycoon) that will be available as a Kickstarter on June 6, 2017. The artwork and component design is striking and extremely dialed in to the overall theme of the game. While this game uses some familiar mechanics such as resource gathering, dice rolls to determine actions, and quest completion, it puts them together with a unique twist that makes the game simple to play while adding some advanced strategy and technique for experienced gamers to really sink their teeth into.

Contents (The Standard Edition)

  • Complete Rules Booklet
  • 80 Meeples (in 4 player colors)
  • 15 Hex Tiles (the game board)
  • Action and Score Keeping Board
  • 4 Scoring Discs (1 for each of the4 player colors)
  • 60 Goal Cards (15 for each of the 4 player colors)
  • 14 Custom Dice
  • 24 Wood Tokens, 24 Stone Tokens, 24 Food Tokens
  • 12 Event Cards
  • 6 double sided Leader Power Cards
  • 6 Player Boards (1 for each Tribe)

The artwork on the box, the player boards, and  the rules booklet all help to evoke the tribal feel of the game. The cards and dice are of high quality and the cardboard components are of higher quality than most board games. The Kickstarter promises a Deluxe Edition with wooden components that definitely seem worth paying a bit extra for to really keep players immersed in the theme.


The object of game is simple – be the first Tribe to score 15 Victory Points. At first the rules and mechanics look intimidating, but if you dive in and play through a turn or two the mechanics become much easier to understand and play starts to move very quickly and competitively.

After laying out the hex grid for the terrain and setting up the Action Board and dice according to the rules booklet, the players put meeples on the board to start the game based on turn order. 

The first player rolls 2 dice and then chooses where to put them on the action board. The player must take 2 actions on their turn (each action must be different). The player can choose to GROW their Tribe, MOVE their Tribe members, GATHER resources, or LEAD their Tribe. GROW allows the player to add more tribe members to the board. MOVE allows you to expand your tribe to more hexes and different terrains. GATHER helps the player get resources to build villages or complete goals. LEAD allows a player to get goals to complete which give the player additional Victory Points and some fun benefits.

When they player rolls their dice and chooses an action, they add the first of their die rolled to the first die slot of an Action, pushing all the other dice along to the right. The end die gets placed on the bottom of the Action Board and will be rolled on the next turn. The result of the 3 dice on the top of the Action Board determines the power of the action chosen. This mechanic adds quite a bit of strategy to the gameplay and adds the ability to influence future turns for opponents. This helps balance the fact that your initial actions are determined by chance dice rolls. Once the first Action is fully completed, the player follows the same steps for their second Action. The dice also have another function. If doubles are rolled, a game wide Event is triggered. These Events become active immediately and get resolved by following the directions on the card. Events cards resolve at different paces and can change play positively or negatively depending on the directions.

After the Actions or any Events are completed, Conflicts get resolved. Conflicts occur when more than 5 tribe members occupy a hex. Villagers are removed until only one Tribe occupies the hex. After Conflict gets resolved, players can Build villages or reach Goals.

Is it a Family Game?

Because the game has so many different mechanics to work with, we think the age of 10+ is accurate. A savvy gamer of a younger age may be able to play with some adult coaching. There is also reading involved in the Event Cards and the Goal Cards, so that also adds to the minimum age that a player must be. 

This is a light game that requires strategic thinking, planning and forethought, as well as some advanced logic and critical thinking skills. Players really need to have the ability to make independent decisions and the ability to understand long term consequences. Our adult players found both the theme of the game and the actual gameplay enjoyable. They loved the fact that there were so many different ways to achieve the objective of the game.


The first few turns we played through moved fairly slowly, but as we continued, meeples and villages quickly filled up the board and players became much more aggressive, searching out conflict and rushing to pick up Lead cards. The more we played through the game, the more we saw that there were many different strategies to get to 15 points.

We were super impressed with the thoughtfulness that went into game balance. All of our games were close matches and the dice movement mechanic really required players to think a few steps ahead. This game was extremely playable by players of all types. Our 11 year old quickly taught his friends and they each jumped in with their own style of play. Our experienced players found that the pace of the game kept everyone involved until the end of the game. You couldn’t predict who would win, because the score could change drastically in one turn.

We really loved the fact that this game can be customized to play at a more advanced level with the Leader Power Cards once players have gotten the basic game strategy down pat. We also see many expansion possibilities for the future in this game (5-6 players, perhaps)!

Overall, it’s a tightly designed game with a beautiful theme that uses familiar mechanics in a unique way that really allows players to tailor their strategy and use their own personal style to achieve victory and rise above the rest! Replayability is high, and it is more than worth the MSRP.

FCC disclosure: A copy of this game was sent to us by the publisher for the purposes of this review.

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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.

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