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Episode 128: Darryl Jones and Dobbers: Quest for the Key

Hello and Welcome to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast! This is episode 127. This week we are talking video games and Stephen pitches Jonathan his favorites of PAX East

Host:

Stephen Duetzmann @EFGaming

Co-Host:

Rob Kalajian, A Pawn’s Perspective

Linda Wrobel

Darryl Jones, Dobbers: Quest for the Key!

 

 

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Most fire fighting games are cooperative, but in the game Fire Tower, you compete with other players to protect your fire tower from the fire and spread the fire to your opponent’s tower. There are components of hand management and area control incorporated into the game. Fire Tower is for 2-4 player ages 13 and up. Game play takes approximately 15-30 minutes. Fire Tower launched on Kickstarter April 24, 2018.

Setting the Stage

Smoke rises on the horizon. A fire rages somewhere in the heart of the forest. From the height of a fire tower, you command the efforts to defend your tower and take down your opponents. With each turn, the inferno grows. Harness the power of the wind to push the blaze towards the other towers, clear tracts of land to fortify your tower, hinder the plans of your opponents with torrents of water, and unleash an arsenal of fire cards upon your foes. Each card has a unique pattern with its own tactical advantage. You must effectively direct the resources in your hand and use sound spatial planning to deploy them.

Game Components

  • Folding Board with grid
  • 50 Action Cards
    • Fire Cards
    • Water Cards
    • Fire Breaks
    • Wind Direction
  • 4 Bucket Cards
  • 1 Firestorm Card
  • Custom Eight-Sided Die
  • Rule Book
  • 24 Wooden Firebreak Tokens
  • 135 Fire Gems

Gameplay

First, each player receives one bucket card, which is kept face up.  Next, 5 cards are dealt to each player as their starting hand, and finally the weather vane die is rolled to determine wind direction.   

Player Turns

At the beginning of each players turn they must add one fire token in the direction indicated on the weather vane die.  The fire token must be adjacent to an existing fire token or the eternal flame. The fire occupying four squares in the center represents the eternal flame. The second portion of their turn each player can either play a card and draw a new one or discard as many as they want and redraw to 5 without taking any actions.  This option comes in handy when there are no viable options in your hand.

Player can take  a range of actions depending on the card they play. There are Fire cards that spread the fire regardless of wind direction.  Water cards put out the fire in a small area. Fire Break cards create areas the fire is unable to burn, but may not be added to adjacent spots with a Fire Break.  One exception is that they may be placed diagonally to an existing Fire Break.

Players are working to defend their Fire Tower, the nine squares in the corner of the board, and to breach their opponents. In the Fire Tower squares fire can spread, but water and fire breaks can not be used. This is where the bucket card comes into play.  Players can use it once per turn to extinguish 3 fire tokens in a row, as long as one is within the tower. Once fire reaches the orange square in the corner that player is eliminated.

Eliminated Players and Victory

Eliminated players give their cards to the player that eliminated them. That player adds the cards to their hand, and discards down to six cards. All remaining players in the game add a card to their hand.  The eliminated player rolls the weathervane die to exact their “revenge” and causes a Firestorm. A Firestorm add one fire token in the wind direction to all existing fire. There is also one card which causes the same effect. Play continues and if there is another elimination the hand size increases to seven. The last player without a burned Fire Tower wins.

Family Gaming Assessment 

Fire Tower is enjoyable and accessible. I think that players far younger than the recommended age can have fun with this. The rules and game play are easy to learn and the game play is intuitive.

Fire Tower has core mechanics that are easy to grasp by younger players and novice gamers.  Additionally, it also incorporates a depth of strategy which veteran players can find engaging.  The variety of mechanics and strategy makes this game a good choice for mixed ages and various skill levels.

The theme, while about a spreading forest fire and burning a Fire Tower, is not graphic.  If anything the more the board fills with fire tokens the prettier it gets.  The cards incorporate a description and a grid representation of the effect making them easy to understand.  This is another great way the game scales down to both younger and less experienced gamers.

Conclusion

Fire Tower is a awesome addition to any family game collection.  I have played the prototype and . I was able to teach the game to new players on my second play through. The Kickstarter funded in only two hours, and there is a lot of excitement for this unique games. This is the your chance to get unique and family friendly game though Kickstarter.

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Dobbers: Quest for the Key is an encounter building, deck building, strategy game that is currently live on Kickstarter. It was designed and is being brought to Kickstarter by Darryl Jones. He took the time to answer some questions for us about his campaign. Take a look below and check out the campaign!

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc.

Dobbers: Quest for the Key is a whimsical, high-fantasy, family game for ages 8 and up.  It is a 2-4 player game, which usually takes about an hour to play.

What is the elevator pitch?

Dobbers: Quest for the Key is a whimsical, family friendly board game for 2-4 players. It is an encounter building, deck building, strategy game. Create surprise encounters for your opponent while building your deck and equipping your hero. The mechanics are simple enough for children to enjoy with engaging strategies for adults. It has a high fantasy theme, with comic-book style, bold illustrations. There are two basic strategies essential to winning the game:  Placing challenging encounters on the board, preventing other players from being able to advance along their chosen path. Equipping your hero and building up your personal deck so that you can more easily overcome any encounters that have been placed along your path.

When is your Kickstarter going live?

April 16th

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete?

The game mechanics and testing are complete. There will be refinement with Kickstarter feedback of course, and there is still quite a bit of illustrations to complete for cards.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game?

Clank and Legendary are both deck builders that use a game board, but I’ve not seen any other deck builder that allows you to build encounters for your opponents. I believe it’s a very unique process.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

When I was younger, my Grandpa would say, “Keep your dobbers up!” when I felt down. I never really knew what a Dobber was, so I decided to create them. Inspired by the legends of fantasy creators, they became little gnome-like creatures living in the forest. Later, I decided to write and illustrate a comic book. I self published it in 2001. My career as a designer took over shortly after that, and it sat dormant for a while. Marriage, kids, work, all those things progressed.

A few years back I got into gaming in a big way once again. I wanted more games that could “thread the needle” between challenging strategy and young player engagement. The Dobbers never left the back of my mind. I started talking about it with my son and inspiration struck! We were going to make a board game! I focused on mechanics and design while he helped flesh out a lot of theme ideas. He also had a lot of input on what would make the game fun for him. There’s a lot of story involved, though all of it may not come out in our first board game, the story will unfold as we publish more games in the series.

What was your design process like?

It started with index cards for the cards and graph paper for the board. Next I laid out a card template in Illustrator, printed and cut out a bunch. There were blank spaces for each of the stats needed, so I could fill them out, test, replace and do it all again. This made for a quick way to iterate testing and balancing. Slowly I began working on illustrations, icons and other common design elements that would be necessary. All the while, continuing to test and brainstorm with my son. After a few months, we got our first set of cards printed at Staples. They looked pretty bad. My colors were too dark and the difference in groups were too subtle.

I redesigned the borders, frames and color schemes. We took it to GenCon in 2017 to play test with strangers. It went really well. Almost all positivist feedback. I’ve done a little more refinement on the frames and other common elements. Now, in addition to finishing illustrations for the individual cards, I’m working on graphics for the rules, promotional items and box. I expect the process will go through another round of refinement as I get feedback and suggestions from the Kickstarter community.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

As mentioned before, the goal was to create a game that was engaging for kids, but still something an adult could sink their teeth into. I think we’ve done that. Kids will enjoy the art and be swept away by the idea of equipping their hero while putting cool monsters in front of their opponent. Younger kids will get to practice basic addition and subtraction. My hero’s = 1 +1 for her sword +1 for her armor and she is facing a location that totals 4, who wins? And adults will enjoy finding the perfect card combination to over come even the most challenging encounter. It’s got it all!

How long has this game been in development?

A little over a year.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

For Dobbers: Quest for the Key, I am the Game Designer, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, R&D, Marketing, Web Development and everything else guy. Wow, there is so much to do! Apparently most people have a team to publish a game. I completely underestimated it all. I expect to have a little more help for my next game.  I’ve found that the number of individual illustrations to create is a huge time investment. I might have changed a few concepts earlier if I thought there was a way to make some illustrations reusable.

What did your first prototype look like?

Just note cards and graph paper. 🙂

Why did you get into making games?

I’ve been a gamer of all kinds since the mid 80’s. It’s been my goal to be a published creator since high school. I let that goal lie dormant for a while, but now I’m glad to have it back as a passion.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

A little more about me in the gaming industry. I’ve done a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Now it’s time to move a little more into the forefront. I was the designer and illustrator for a lot of classic Dwarven Forge resin sets, Realm of the Ancients, Den of Evil, the Medieval Building set and more.  I Illustrated all of the walls and other assets needed for True Heroes. A True Dungeon event was sponsored by Upper Deck at GenCon several years ago. I continue to work with Jeff on True Dungeon and have designed the logos and ads for TD for the last 10 years. I run a D&D 5 game on the ExplodingDice channel based in the world I created in 2001, the Dobbers.  And the big one – I have a board game coming to Kickstarter also in the world of the Dobbers on April 16th.

You can contact me here:  darryl@splatteredink.com. I share much of my illustration on these social media platforms, including streaming my illustration process on twitch.

Twitter.com/splatteredink,

Instagram.com/splatteredink

twitch.tv/splatteredink

facebook.com/splattered1.

The official website can be found at splatteredink.com and dobbersquest.com.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The Exorcism at the House of Monkton Falls is a worker movement game that is launching on Kickstarter April 13th.   It was designed by David Tepfer and is being published by The Screaming Brain They took the time to answer some questions for us about their campaign. Take a look below and check out the campaign!

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc.

The Exorcism at the House of Monkton Falls is a cartoonish horror worker movement game for 2-4 players age 10+, and takes 60-90 minutes to play.

What is the elevator pitch?

Something is terribly wrong with the rural town of Monkton, Vermont. A deep colorless fog has swept across the hillside, members of the community have gone missing, and once lush farmland is dying. Locals believe that an ancient spirit haunting the old manor house of the hill is to blame. And they’ve asked you and your team of paranormal investigators to check it out, and save the town! The Exorcism at the House of Monkton Falls is a cooperative board game for 2-4 players. Takes on the role of paranormal investigators an exorcise a powerful spirit from an ancient home in Monkton, VT. Explore the haunted manor, search for tools, complete tasks, and most importantly of all avoid the spirit and exorcise the house before dawn!

When is your Kickstarter going live?

April 13th 2018, which is Friday the 13th!

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete?

The game is currently in extended blind testing to complete the rule book but has already been through production samples with our manufacturer.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game?

The Exorcism at the House of Monkton Falls is comparable to Flash Point, a Coop version of Lords of Waterdeep, or Euro Betrayal at the House on the Hill.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

I love the horror genre. Horror movies scare me, but I love the unique way the horror genre tells stories. It was that style of storytelling I wanted to emulate on the tabletop. I found that many horror themed games are just that, Horror Themed” with no effort made to tell the story using mechanics. So, I wanted to make a horror game that did things differently.

What was your design process like?

I started with a premise. Which was to make a cooperative horror game that could give players real feelings of dread and suspense. Once I knew what the emotional reaction I wanted for people playing Monkton Falls, I started to craft mechanics that would fit that goal. Monkton Falls is an incredibly thematic game, so each mechanic and design choice was to tailor a very specific thematic feel. And through development I worked through a “check system”. Each time I would make advancements in the design I would look back and make sure whatever change met the essential intent of the design.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

Cooperation! Monkton Falls is designed to be a game that can only be won through intensive communication and cooperation. We spent countless hours in testing to balance out the puzzle like nature of the game to the amount of in-game time players have to win. Consequently, wasted or misused actions could seal the groups fate. The decisions players make have to be made together otherwise players are sure to fail.

How long has this game been in development?

18 Months

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

Our biggest obstacle was balancing the difficulty level of The Exorcism at the House of Monkton Falls. Since cooperative games rely on a randomizer to determine what the game “does” it can be very tricky to balance for every given scenario while also creating the level of challenge I wanted for the players.

What did your first prototype look like?

Hand written slips of paper sleeved with old Magic the Gathering cards. Monkton Falls was originally fully card driven with no board. Ghosts were drawn from a deck and would attack players on each of their turns.  Meanwhile, players tried to fend them off and complete tasks with tool cards from their backpack (hand). It was fun and a step in the right direction, but it was very one dimensional and random.

Why did you get into making games?

I got into making games because I want more people playing games. Playing tabletop games has been a hobby for over 13 years. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was actually open about it. I was often called a “closet gamer” by my gaming friends because I was so afraid of the stereotypes of being a gamer. I want to make games that are easy to learn and have themes that resonate in our larger pop culture. To bring people, who have shunned this hobby in the past, to table and ready to play.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

My company, The Screaming Brain, also produces a weekly blog and monthly podcast all about getting the most out of the board game hobby. We don’t do reviews or news. We focus on whatever we can do to get you into the hobby, or how to enrich your experience with tabletop games.

 

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Engaged Family Gaming podcast image

Hello and Welcome to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast! This is episode 126. This week we are talking board games.

Host:

Stephen Duetzmann @EFGaming

Co-Host:

Rob Kalajian, Pawn’s Perspective 

Special Guests:

Andrew and Anitra Smith, The Family Gamers

 

Around the Horn

Fireball Island on Kickstarter

Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart

Heads Will Roll

Sumer

Topic

Big ticket Kickstarter Campaigns


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Check out this episode!

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Fire in the Library is a press your luck board game that is currently live on Kickstarter. It was designed and is being published by Weird Giraffe Games. They took the time to answer some questions for us about their campaign. Take a look below and check out the campaign! It is currently funded and a copy of the game is only $24 shipped.

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc.

Fire in the Library is a Press Your Luck game that takes about 30 minutes to play.  Players age 8 and up can enjoy this game making it great for the whole

What is the elevator pitch?

Players are heroic librarians rescuing books to accumulate knowledge and earn bravery all while avoiding the flames before the library collapses! Fire in the Library is easy to learn, simple enough for kids to play and enjoy.  It has a depth and strategy that will keep serious gamers coming back. The game progresses with increasing Intensity. The books increase in value all the way until the end but no one knows who will take the last turn. Players must decide if they should save tools for an epic late game point swing or grab points now to take an early lead. Additionally there are alternate variants which include the ability to experience the excitement of Fire in the Library on your own with the solo game or spice up a multiplayer match by adding new challengers. History is burning—take chances, be brave, SAVE BOOKS!

When did your Kickstarter go live?

Monday, March 19th

 

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game?

Fire in the Library is like Incan Gold or Can’t Stop, in that those are also press your luck games.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

I actually worked the development on this game, and I signed it because I really love the theme.  The game is very thematic. I wouldn’t normally design a press your luck game, but this one is strategic and you can mitigate your luck, unlike the typical press your luck game. It has a depth to it that has kept me coming back for more! I have played this game repeatedly and I love it every time I play.

 

What was your design process like?

I have a lot of ideas and there’s only so many that you can actually test out, so I have to go with the one I think will work the best and playtest. Initial design is usually writing down all my ideas for the game. From there, I try to go right to spreadsheets to determine what will be on the cards and other components. Having a spreadsheet and using nandeck means that once I start playtesting, I can figure out what works and what doesn’t and easily generate a new set of cards. Most of my design time is spent playtesting, as that’s when I ultimately find out what works, what doesn’t, and usually when I think of all my ideas.

 

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

It’s easy to learn and kids can play and have fun with it.  It also has a depth that adults and seasoned gamers will also love with a unique theme and a small price tag!

 

How long has this game been in development?

Two years

 

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

The biggest obstacle was making sure that everything was really understandable, since games have to be able to be learned just from the rules and cards. The process of blind play-testing is always longer and more involved than I think it will be, but it’s all for the best, as I get to learn so much from each blind play-testing session.

 

 

Why did you get into making games?

Initially I was told it was really easy, and it seemed like it’d be fun. Making games did turn out to be really fun, but definitely not as easy as I was told it would be!

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

Fire in the Library will be on Kickstarter from March 19th until April 12th. If you want any other information, send me an email at contact@weirdgiraffegames.com.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Taco vs Burrito

Taco vs Burrito by Hot Taco Enterprises is our Kickstarter Campaign of the week! No joke… this is a card game designed by a seven year old boy named Alex Butler. It is the ULTIMATE food fight on game night!

Game play is straight forward. Players draw cards and add wacky foods to their taco or their burrito to earn points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins. There are gotcha cards that can mess with your opponents strategy so it isn’t THAT simple. I think the theme is funny enough and the cards are cute enough to keep me interested regardless.

I still can’t get over the fact that this game was designed by a 7 yr old. This kid is less than two years older than my daughter and he has already designed a successfully Kickstarted card game? That’s just crazy! I’m looking forward to playing this game just to see where this kid’s head was during design.

Taco vs Burrito launched on Kickstarter with a modest goal and reached it in three hours! This is a cool looking filler game at a low price.

 

 

Take a look at the campaign video below! If for nothing else… do it for the Taco costume!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Subatomic Genius Games

Subatomic by Genius Games is our Kickstarter campaign of the week! Genius Games focuses on designing and publishing strategy games based on hard science concepts. They create learning tools that are genuinely fun. Subatomic is a deck building game themed around the intersection between particle physics and chemistry.

Players start with a basic hand of Up Quarks, Down Quarks, and Particle/Wave Duality cards. Players will spend their turns combining those cards to form protons, neutrons, and electrons. They can then use THOSE resources to create elements or buy more powerful cards for their deck to help later in the game.

The feature about this game that attracts me to it the most is the art. The Neutrons, Protons, and Electrons are all bursting with personality and all of the different cards use bright colors that help keep players engaged.

Genius Games has been at this for a while. We interviewed John Coveyou (the lead designer and founder Genius Games on our podcast during the campaign for their last game Cytosis.

It was awesome listening to the passion in John’s voice as he talked about the intersection between game design, hard science, and fun.

 

The campaign video is below:

The game will have an MSRP of $40, but backing the Kickstarter will net you an $11 discount. The campaign has already funded (at the time of this writing the campaign has $170,000 in funding on a $12,500 goal) so this amounts to a pre-order, but if it looks like a game you might be interested in, then be sure to back it. The campaign is coming to a close soon!

 

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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gamewright logo

GameWright Games was at New York Toy Fair  this year, just like normal, and it was my pleasure to take a look at their 2018 games. Their full 2018 slate was there, with the sole exception of the cooperative game Forbidden Sky.

I was treated to brief demos of most of their games this year. All of them are cute and many of them will do very well, but my attention was drawn to two specific games that I think you need to hear about.

Trash Pandas

Trash Pandas - Gamewright Games

Trash Pandas is a push your luck card game where players take on the role of raccoons digging through a neighborhood’s trash.

The first part of the game involves rolling dice in order to collect tokens that determine what actions are available. There are six tokens representing possible actions that you can take on an turn. You roll a die and claim the token that matches the symbol that comes up. At that point you can either move to the next phase and spend your tokens to take those actions or roll again to try to earn more tokens. If you roll a symbol that has already come up, then you bust and your turn is over. Taking actions will allow you to draw cards, bank them for points, or mess with your opponents. The game ends when the deck runs out of cards.

This is a game that is firmly nestled in Internet meme culture. Trash pandas is a term for raccoons that showed up on Reddit. It has just been almost universally adopted by users across the Internet. Its funny, its vaguely descriptive, but most importantly, it gives you an idea of the sense of humor that this game is built around. It is juvenile, but not crass. This lighthearted fun is involved in every part of the game from the artwork all the way to the terminology used on them. It even influences the box art. Trash Pandas will be releasing sometime in early 2018 and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.

 

Squirmish

Squirmish - Gamewright Games

Squirmish is a a card combat game that we reviewed before it was launched on Kickstarter several years ago. The highlights of the game at that point was its square cards, the quirky art design, and interesting combat. This is a new track for GameWright to take because normally they don’t focus on games that involve combat. Instead, they favor games that focus on either cooperation or gentle competition.With that said, this game fits perfectly with GameWright’s other offerings by being lighthearted, silly, and fun.

Combat in Squirmish involves playing square-shaped cards onto the table creating a spiraling battlefield that is referred to as a Squirmish (shocker. I know.).We had our issues with the game initially before the game went to Kickstarter, but most of them were about game balance. GameWright has come through and smoothed out the design. They redesigned the game to make it faster and more aggressive.

Squirmish will be released sometime in 2018 and we cannot wait to get our hands on this new and improved game. Keep your eye on EFG for more information.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Shadow Strike Melee: Ninja Card Game is a fast paced bluffing game for up to nine players! It is currently live on Kickstarter, but we were fortunate enough to be given a prototype copy for review purposes.

Gameplay

Shadow Strike Melee puts its players in the shoes of a group of overconfident ninjas in a wild battle. The goal of the game is to outlast all of your opponents as players deal “strikes” to each other using numbered attack cards.

Combat itself plays out like War. Higher valued cards defeat lower valued cards. Ninjas never let things remain that simple though. These ninjas are cocky. Players represent that by playing with their three combat cards facing away from them. This means that everyone else knows more about a players hand than they do!

This information mismatch is the driving force behind the game. You really have to look at your opponents cards and make careful decisions. It might seem safe to attack someone with a hand full of ones and threes, but you don’t necessarily know that your hand isn’t worse! Fortunately, you also have a trio of equipment cards that help manipulate fights in your favor, or rescue you if your cards aren’t helping.

Shadow Strike Melee can be played individually, but our family preferred to partner up and play in teams. This gave us the option of using our equipment cards to help rescue our friends, and take advantage when our opponents get aggressive.

The biggest highlight of the game for us so far has been how fast the games are. Players are eliminated, but no one sits idle for long. The box says that games last around ten minutes, but I think that might even be too long.

Can Kid’s Play The Game?

The short answer is “Yes.” It does involve number comparisons and the equipment cards do have a small amount of text on them. But, this is not a challenging game to play.

One problem that young players MIGHT have is with their hands. You have to hold your hand in a very specific way to make sure that your opponents can see your cards. Younger players might struggle with that and drop cards a bit more often than they normally would. I don’t think this is a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination, but it is worth keeping an eye on.

The Campaign

The Kickstarter campaign has a little less than three weeks to go and is more than halfway to its goal. You can get yourself a Standard edition of the game with a $20 pledge.

Conclusion

Go for it. This is a great game to get things started on family game night and makes a great party game for larger groups.

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