Posts Tagged ‘ Tabletop ’


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.


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)


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.


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)


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.



This past weekend I was able to get away to Columbus, Ohio to spend a few days at Origins Game Fair. Origins is one of the biggest tabletop gaming conventions in the United States featuring a slew of special events, a large exhibit hall, and a gigantic open gaming area.

I attended the convention, along with a handful of friends from Ann Arbor, on behalf of Cambridge Games Factory to demo and peddle their games in the exhibit hall. CGF had a slew of new releases available at the convention this year, including a few advanced copies of Glory To Rome: Black Box Edition, Montana, Pala, and my personal favoriteof the bunch Plato 3000, a rummy game where each meld gives players a special ability.

It’s always a blast demoing new games to people and getting to share a little love for my favorite hobby. Cambridge Games Factory has really turned a corner visually this year so it was neat to see people’s reactions to some of the new games and more specifically the art and design.

Aside from my time working the CGF booth here are a few more highlights:

Pirate Dice

On the first night we ran into some friends we met last year at Origins. One of these friends, Clint Herron, was rooming just across the hall from us in our hotel and getting things finalized to launch his Kickstarter campaign for Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas on Thursday morning. It was super excited to have a friend getting ready to take such a big step with one of his game designs. I was able to test the game last year and was stoked to hear that the game had since been picked up by Gryphon Games. The game is a neat race for treasure with, well…dice and pre-programmed movement that leads to a lot of chaos and fun. The Kickstarter for the game was fully funded before the close of Origins on Sunday! What a cool thing to watch unfolding for one of my new friends.

My First Math Trade

One of the cool things going on in the gaming scene for me has been trading. On you can post a trade list and a want list and let a program match them up so you can strike up deals for games from gamers all over the world. I have had some fun trading away nice thrift store games for other games on my wishlist. A cheap way, to feed the hobby hunger, to be sure. But what’s cooler than trading your games with someone?

Math Trade!

Someone way smarter than me developed a computer program to connect people’s trade lists and want lists to maximize trades between a larger group of people. You might not even give anything to the person who is giving you a game because you gave a game to someone else who gave a game to someone else who is giving another game to you. See, it’s math…I don’t get it either, it’s just cool. And cheap since we had a big meetup at Origins to avoid the shipping costs normally associated with trading games. I ended up trading away 10 games I didn’t really care for to get 12 or 14 new games to try.  Sounds sweet, eh? My wife is stoked that I spent less money at this convention than the others I’ve been to. Thank you math trade for keeping my family happy!

Gaming with New Friends

One of the best part of gaming conventions, for me, is getting to meet new people. I played some late night Werwolves with a big group of folks one night. We all went out to dinner together the next night where we all talked about relationships and the things about ourselves that annoy our significant others. It was nice, un-game related, and made me feel all fuzzy inside.

I also got to hang out for a bit in the Cartrunk Entertainment UNPUB area where folks were testing our unpublished and/or not-yet-published games. It was awesome feeling the energy surrounding all these new ideas. I even had the chance to sit down with the Dice Hate Me crew to show them one of my games. Cherilyn was flowing with creative ideas and Chris’ accent was contagious. I’ve been pretending to be from the South for days.

Wil Wheaton Got Knighted

They also occasionally have celebreties at these sorts of things. Wil Wheaton, of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Big Bang Theory, and the Geek and Sundry Network’s new gaming show on youtube called Tabletop, was one the special guests. He’s a big gamer and fellow nerd so it was cool to see him roaming around the exhibit halls when he wasn’t signing autographs in the lobby.

When I stopped by the Mayfair Games booth to pick up a present for my daughter (I’m working on a complete set of Catanimals for her by purchasing one at each convention I attend), some of the Mayfair bigwigs pulled out a big wooden sword and dubbed Wil Wheaton a Knight of Catan. It was super nerdy…and awesome.

It was a great weekend getaway for me. It was filled with lots of fun games and friends, new and old. There is something special about connecting with real people around something you love. It doesn’t take long to find out that it’s the people, as much as the thing that brought you together in the first place, that makes anything really worthwhile. I am grateful for the opportunity and especially my wife for taking on the task of single motherhood for a few days to allow me to get away. Can’t wait to drag them along to Origins someday.

What do you love to do that brings you closer to people that you care about?

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