Posts Tagged ‘ Review ’

CRASH GOES TO THE BEACH: A PARADISE FALLEN PREVIEW

I have never been to Hawaii, but if it’s anything like the post-apocalyptic vision from Crash Games’ upcoming title, Paradise Fallen, I think I’d rather stay away. The beauty of the islands call out to me but the lack of supplies, savage tribes, and disruptions in the natural order of time and space doesn’t make for the type of quaint vacation spot I’d hope for. While I’d be too much of a sissy to visit this fallen version of paradise for a little fun-in-the-sun, it does make a great theme for a board game! And a good one at that!

Box art mock-up for Paradise Fallen. Now on Kickstarter!

Box art mock-up for Paradise Fallen. Now on Kickstarter!

In Paradise Fallen, from Crash Games and first-time designer, Andrew Wright (II), players assume the role of tribesmen seeking to explore 9 islands in search of the mystical powers they provide in a not-too-distant-or-friendly-future. Think Lost meets The Hunger Games meets Indiana Jones…kinda.

Set-Up

Game set-up is a cinch. Shuffle the 9 island cards and place them in a 3 x 3 grid in the center of the table. Shuffle a deck of cards and deal 5 to each player. Place your player piece on the corner island closest to your seat. Dump the Kanaloa Tokens near the board. That’s it! You are ready to explore.

Boats on an island. (Not final components)

Boats on an island. (Not final components)

Game-play

Learning how the game works is almost as simple as the set-up. On a player’s turn they can move around the islands and play cards from their hand as much as they want as cards allow.

Movement

To move to an adjacent island you must play Ration Cards (Island Cards may also be used for 1 ration) that are equal to or greater than the cost specified on the island you wish to enter. Any rations above the specified amount are lost so it is necessary to plan your movement carefully and efficiently.

Play Cards

Discover an Island: A player can Discover an Island they are stopped on by playing an Island Card with a matching name, placing the card in front of them and placing a Kanaloa Token on the card that can be used one time to activate that island’s special ability. You can only spend one Kanaloa Token per turn but they can be very helpful if you time it right.

Aptitude Cards: Aptitude Cards are special action cards that breaks some of the basic rules and can be played to either help you help yourself or hinder your opponents. Each card is used once and discarded when you play it.

Aberration Cards: Aberration Cards are played on the island grid either on an island or in-between islands and can also help you or hinder your opponents. They can even hinder your own plans since the effects are applied to the player who placed them as well. So be thoughtful about where you decide to play these cards. Aberrations are cumulative so the more cards placed on a location the more the effect are amplified.

Winning The Game

Play continues until one player discovers a certain amount of islands. The number of islands is determined by the number of players in the game. Once someone discover the set amount of islands all other players get one more turn. The player who discovered the most islands wins. Ties are broken based on who has the most unused Kanaloa Tokens.

Sounds pretty simple, eh? But don’t let this simplicity of set-up and game-play fool you. There is a lot of game here. At it’s core the game is a medium-weight, hand-management game that involves luck, tactics, and strategy. At times the game feels very puzzle-y as players will have to figure out how to use their cards to optimize movement and make the most of the rations available. All of this works very well in a 30 minute time frame where the experience feels different with each game.

Little game. Big punch. (not final components)

Little game. Big punch. (Not final components)

Conclusions

My wife has this rule about the time of day that is acceptable for learning new games. On weeknights, if the sun looks like it’s thinking about going down in the next hour or two, she doesn’t want anything to do with anything new. But when I suggested giving Paradise Fallen a try a little after dark this week, she accepted my invitation when I told her it would only take a minute to learn the basics and be done in thirty minutes. After cruising through our first play she told me she really liked the game and was looking forward to playing it again. That is considered a huge win for me!

I’ve also got a soft spot for small games that pack a big punch. So much so that this was one of the design goals for my own game, The Great Heartland Hauling Co. I’d happily place Paradise Fallen in this category of games. Using a few simple components and a deck of cards, Crash Games and Wright have delivered a portable game that can be learned and played quickly. I can definitely see myself taking this game along when I am taking off for vacations to much less fallen paradises than the one explored in the game.

And what about the art and design? This game is gorgeous! Artist, Jason Carr, and designer, Darrell Louder (of Compounded fame!) have created a visual experience that captures the beauty of the islands with the chaos of the theme in a very functional way. This thing looks HOTT! The iconography depicted on the cards to illustrate special abilities allows the art to shine without being covered by an excess of words. The icons work but will probably take a couple plays to get all the details stuck in your head but once it clicks, it really clicks.

Paradise Fallen is a fun, quick game with an interesting, unique theme. It’s on Kickstarter, so get on board now. Just remember to be on the lookout for rogue tribes trying to get in the way of you harnessing the power of this fallen paradise…or something like that. Just do it. It’ll be fun.

A prototype of Paradise Fallen was provided for the purpose of this preview. I’m also friends with Patrick Nickell (owner of Crash Games) but I would tell you if this game sucked, which it doesn’t, so there.

PATHAGON: ABSTRACT FUN WITH A CLASSIC FEEL

Last November, during my annual trek to Chicago with my wife for the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, Lisa and I came across a booth that really grabbed our attention. Tucked away in the back corner of the exhibit hall, my wife was drawn to the Maranda Enterprises booth like a magnet. And, you know, I’m happy to go where she wants to go, especially when something gaming related peaks her interest, so I followed along.

The Maranda Enterprises booth displayed 6 wooden, bookshelf/heirloom quality abstract games that were designed by Mark Fuchs. Fuchs and his company are known mostly for introducing the world to Ladderball, the popular yard game involving a PVC pipe target and two golf balls connected by a string and flung through the air toward said target. In 2011, he expanded the company to include a unique line of board games that deserve some attention, especially for fans of abstract games.

After talking to Mark’s wife for a few minutes, she told us that his true passion was classic strategy games. She told us that he spent a lot of his free-time in his workshop, lovingly crafting his own wooden games. When you see these games, you can see Mark’s passion shining through. After trying out most of the games, we wished our budget would have allowed us to take home all 6 games but we settled on Pathagon.

To be honest, I’m generally not a huge fan of abstract strategy games (maybe because I rarely win!) but there is something about the visual appeal and big chunky octagonal pieces that draw me to the game. The simple rules help, too.

In the game, each player takes turns placing one of his pieces on the board trying to complete a connected line of his color from one end to the other. Once all of the pieces have been placed, players take turns moving one piece at a time. If your opponent happens to capture one of your pieces between two of her own, that piece gets removed from the board. It’s quick to play, easy to learn, and nice to look at.

From my experience, Mark’s games stand up to many to the classics. Fans of Corridor, Othello, and Cathedral will find themselves on familiar ground while gaining a unique and challenging game experience. I know I enjoyed the experience enough to share it with you guys more than a half year later. I hope that Maranda Enterprises’ line of strategy games, stick around for a while as they scratch a unique itch in the gaming world.

What’s your favorite classic board game?

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