Category Archives: Reviews

Gambler x Gamble!

Good bluffing games provide suspense, surprise, buckets of table talk and a little problem solving – pretty much everything great about tabletop games. And bad bluffing games? An impenetrable mystery none of the players can possibly solve.

That gets boring quick.

The secret is providing just enough information and mixed incentives to get the players talking… and no more.

Gambler x Gamble! by Cosaic does just that. It’s also one of those rare titles that stretch from family night to a table of hardcore gamers.

So grab a chair – we’ll deal you in.

Theme

Players must bankrupt a particular casino by winning all 1.5 billion(!) dollars from the bank. To do so, they’ll hire different gamblers to form rival teams, with the player whose team holds the most chips ultimately winning.

By the way, this is where the strange wording of Gambler x Gamble! comes from. As the rulebook puts it:

Gambling with gamblers – the start of a curious bet.

Just don’t look too closely at that premise, or it begins to fall apart. All you really need to know is a bunch of gambling archetypes are descending on Vegas to break the bank (and maybe each other).

The illustrations also have a strong anime flavor, so naturally each character can be flipped to engage ‘Super Mode’ for extra winnings.

Gambler x Gamble! packs a lot of quirk into a small box, and I found myself playing with characters just to see their alter-egos. Who could resist the charm of (a character I’ve taken to calling) Mild-Mannered-Dad-Holding-a-Burger?

Mechanics

Characters in Gambler x Gamble! have three features: the cost a player must pay to hire then; the winning number required for that character to pay off; and how much that pay off earns.

For example: Mild-Mannered-Dad-Holding-a-Burger costs 1 to add to your team, and wins 3 chips when the round’s result is 1. Super Mode simply increases the winnings to 5.

But how do we know which characters pay off?

Every round, each player places a single Luck Card (numbered 0-3) on the table – the first player face up, the rest face down. The first player then gets one last chance to alter the round by paying to skew the final result up or down.

These Luck Cards are added together, determining which characters pay off in the round. It’s a simple system with the added benefit of sharing the focus point – as the start player changes, everyone takes a turn being center of negotiations.

Players use winnings to add more gamblers to their teams, eventually breaking the casino by winning all the chips.

There are a few extra wrinkles – one particularly expensive gambler with a payoff that instantly wins the game, and a catch up mechanism that penalizes the lead player if no characters pay off in a round – but that’s pretty much it.

Gambler x Gamble! is a solid design that builds to a satisfying conclusion.

I can’t guarantee it isn’t ‘solvable’ in some mathematical sense, but really you’re playing with the wrong attitude if you reach for a calculator…

Components

Gambler x Gamble! is a modest game – a deck of cards, a bag of plastic chips, a well-translated rules sheet.

The character cards are undeniably cool. The stock is fine, and the graphic design spacious enough to allow English and Japanese characters without too much crowding.

Unfortunately, all the other cards (First Player, Luck, the ‘Fumble Stock’) are generic, while the chips… I’m sad just thinking about the chips.

They should be poker chips. Maybe miniature poker chips for the sake of size – but definitely poker chips!

Instead they’re thin, generic plastic counters from any number of children’s toy boxes. Obviously there are cost implications, but it’s hard to feel like a big-shot casino shark without real poker chips on the table.

But I have a solution. For an instant upgrade, just crack open the dusty poker set you haven’t used for 18 months, and put those components to use! Now you’ve got a game worthy of 1.5 billion dollars…

What do others think?

Gambler x Gamble! hasn’t gotten a lot of traction internationally, and there are only a handful of  comments (not full reviews) on BoardGameGeek. However, the feedback is generally positive:

Very unique bluffing game.

miriku

Surprisingly good bluffing game for 3-4 players.

Cartmenkid23

This is a marvelous little gem and I’m glad I imported it… If possible, use real, chunky poker chips – for me, they make a big difference in the game experience.

matthulgan

Conclusion

The best games are those that actually get played.

In my house, I know Gambler x Gamble! will be played. In different contexts, with different people, accompanied by different beverages, I can see this coming out for a long time to come.

Take a look if you’re in the market for something social that won’t put your brain to sleep.

4.5 lucky dice out of 5.

Number of Players: 3-4

Playing time: 15-30 min.

Age: 10+

Country: Japan

By: Cosaic

Price: 19.99€ at NiceGameShop

King’s Pouch

I was a little hesitant to pick up Korea Boardgames’ King’s Pouch after last week’s review of Burano.

They’re both fairly weighty worker placement games, and I was worried about covering similar terrain. Do we really need more talk about pushing cubes?

However, King’s Pouch really is quite a different machine – and not just the bag building.

Wait, what’s bag building?

To answer that, we need to travel back to 2014. Dominion was a smashing success, deck building was beginning to show its age, and publishers were looking for the next big variation.

This is the best way to understand King’s Pouch, and why it became so overlooked.

Theme

After the king’s death, our realm has fractured into competing fiefdoms, each ruled by a would-be successor. Like you!

From the rulebook:

You will use your citizens to develop your lands, muster armies and amass wealth. You may even try to secure the goodwill of influential public figures, like the remainders of the royal family.

But never forget to keep the dishonest parts of your society in check: Excessive corruption may lead to your downfall sooner than you think.

It’s stock-standard medieval material: knights, taverns, lots of concern for wheat crops.

However, there’s also an emphasis on corruption, represented by good-for-nothing, layabout officials who stink up your kingdom with their greed. Corrupt officials are lazy so can’t be placed anywhere useful – a big problem in a worker placement game.

I love ordering the city watch (manned by my finest red soldier cubes) to throw them out!

City construction is also satisfying, with a little tableau reflecting each player’s strive for commercial, religious, or military might.

There’s a real sense of accomplishment in placing the Festival Plaza or sending your armies to (extremely abstract) victory. Unfortunately, almost all of this theme is conveyed mechanically.

You’re hiring workers, training them, setting them to work in various businesses – everything makes sense. But the artwork places that action in a generic medieval Europa.

With a little more effort, King’s Pouch could have been its own place in the world.

Mechanics

 So, what’s a bag builder? It’s deck building with a bag.

At the beginning of their turn, players draws five colored workers from their own pouch. These could be generic common citizens, soldiers, merchants or clerics – or despised corrupt officials.

Workers are placed on constructed buildings to generate resources (such as money or military strength), alter workers (such as upgrading common citizens to merchants) and trigger various unique abilities.

For example, the School building requires a cleric to activate, at which point it generates 5 victory points and converts a common citizen into a specialist. Makes sense, right?

Players generally construct a building each turn, and can also use military strength to conquer and re-conquer land representing the wider kingdom.

All drawn workers are set aside and replaced with new workers at the end of the turn. If there aren’t enough in the bag, old workers are returned and randomly re-drawn.

Like I said, deck building with a bag!

For newer players, there can be a strong ‘multiplayer solitaire’ vibe, but over time the strategies and interactions become clearer. The military struggle is particularly tense with two players, and adds some nice take-that to the mix.

Components

King’s Pouch runs with the noble Euro tradition of wooden blocks.

Interestingly, specialist workers are cubes, while common citizens and corrupt officials are hexagonal prisms. This means they can be identified (with a little work) when players are pulling from the bag – allowing for some control and strategy in the draw.

This isn’t something I grok as a design choice, but many players enjoy the mini game, and it certainly leverages the bag building mechanic.

Otherwise, there’s not a lot to say about the components. The graphic design is functional but a little generic, and small cards reduce the overall visual impact on the table.

So King’s Pouch is all about the gameplay. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it is a missed opportunity.

What do others think?

King’s Pouch  had a fair-to-positive response, and is rated 6.8 on BoardGameGeek.

However, the game was unlucky enough to be released at the same time as the more thematic Hyperborea and Orléans, which dimmed its appeal.

Three completely different games all meshed together to create one experience that just flows really smoothly, really quickly – very quickly.

Rahdo Runs Through

 

There’s a lot of interesting things. It just doesn’t gel together as well as I’d like it to.

Tom Vasel

 

King’s Pouch has some clever ideas and everything just feels well thought out. Well, nearly everything…

Alex Singh

Conclusion

King’s Pouch draws a lot of different elements into a cohesive whole, while building on the (then) novel mechanic of bag building.

Everything flows incredibly smoothly – the listed play time really is much quicker for experienced players – and even when you’re being completely thumped you can see how to do better next time.

If you can look past the vanilla theme, King’s Pouch is definitely a game that deserves more attention.

4 grand banquets out of 5.

Number of Players: 2-4

Playing time: 60 mins

Age: 10+

Country: Korea

By: Korea Boardgames

Price: 24.99€ at NiceGameShop

Burano

After reviewing a few lighter games, I thought it was time for something weightier.

Designed by Yu Chen Tseng and Eros Lin, and released by Taiwan’s EmperorS4 Technology, Burano is that weighty game in every sense.

At 2.3 kilograms, the box includes:

  • 1 rules book
  • 1 action board
  • 48 roof tiles
  • 1 main island board
  • 18 dock houses
  • 4 season markers
  • 120 cube houses
  • 12 lace workshops
  • 6 action color markers
  • 1 round marker
  • 4 merchant ships
  • 33 coins
  • 48 fish cards
  • 16 building cards
  • 4 player boards
  • 16 schedule ring pieces
  • 52 worker tokens
  • 1 starting player marker
  • 4 time wheels
  • 4 fishing boat tokens

So heat up that pizza and pour yourself a tiny cup of strong coffee. We’re going to Italy!

Theme

Burano is a ‘colored island of lace‘ in the Venetian Lagoon.

During the Middle Ages, the city’s men spent long seasons fishing on the outer islands while their wives skillfully repaired nets at home. Those expert fingers turned to making lace, which became famous across Europe.

From the rules:

Making a good living and making Burano become world famous, you have to figure out how to organize family members to their suitable work. It depends on you to earn the glory for your family and lead them to be outstanding from other families.

So the menfolk head to the fish traders and outer islands, while the womenfolk work at the lace factory (with pleasingly higher incomes if they form a union).

In carrying out these actions, the players collectively construct a multicolored and multilevel display of wealth – the city of Burano.

Mechanics

As the above suggests, Burano is a Euro-style worker placement game.

Actions are somewhat-programmed at the beginning of each round using an innovative if slightly baffling ‘cube pyramid’ system. Every turn, only exterior blocks from each player’s pyramid of colored cubes can be added to the city board and thereby trigger events.

This is a difficult moment for those prone to analysis paralysis, so the rules suggest a 60-second timer.

Surrounding this central mechanic is a series of interlocking subsystems, each presenting its own problems and rewards without overshadowing the other parts. The puzzle is constantly in flux: sometimes you’ll need resources, other times area control or even set collection.

Workers are sent from and return to each player’s schedule ring, which rotate throughout the game, constantly shifting the tactical equations being made – sometimes significantly.

Despite a few random elements that could upset the best-laid plans, my hunch is the better player usually wins.

Burano is a hearty meal for serious gamers.

Components

Pictures on a screen don’t reveal just how vibrant Burano looks on the table. With bright colors and acres of cardboard, this is a beautifully welcoming game.

Part of that appeal stems from the 3D elements.

Each player’s cube pyramid is a small monument to their tidiness (or lack thereof, in my case) while the city of Burano rises into the sprawling chaos you’d expect from city planning during the Middle Ages.

Be warned: all that chrome adds to Burano’s set-up and pack time, particularly during the first play. But if popping cardboard is your thing –  which it probably is – opening that box is a joy.

And if the gender stuff seems weird, there’s no mechanical reason you can’t send the women fishing, while the man make lace. They’re literally two sides of the same token.

Same-same!

What do others think?

Burano is rated 6.9 on BoardGameGeek, with positive reviews highlighting the depth behind that colorful facade.

Just a lot of neat things here, and it just feels so meaty and enjoyable. And it’s not meaty for the sake of being meaty – it actually seems to all fit together in a very cohesive whole.

Tom Vasel

 

Burano is a deceptive game; it looks like a happy, colorful, family-friendly romp through a Venetian vacation. It is not. It is a heavy game of clever planning and tactical maneuvering.

Milena Guberinic

 

I loved this game. It was stylish, compelling and engaging in turns.

Angelus Morningstar

Conclusion

Burano is that strange beast – the beautiful Euro.

Don’t be fooled by the bright facade. This is a deep game and it can take a few plays to really understand the strategies.

The raw mechanics, however, are relatively easy to understand, and new players will be up and fishing with a minimum of head-scratching and confusion. For this reason alone I can definitely recommend a ticket to Burano.

4.5 yards of lace out of 5.

Number of players: 2-4

Playing time: 90-120 mins

Age: 12+

Country: Taiwan

By: EmperorS4 Technology

Price: 59.99€ at NiceGameShop

Birdie Fight

A lot of games make their way through the Sweet Lemon office; unfortunately, we can’t try them all.

However, the moment I saw Birdie Fight’s exquisite box art, I knew it had to be one of those lucky games we cracked open.

While the mechanics spring from designer ゆお (Yuo), the immediate star is illustrator ことり寧子 (Kotori Neiko). The pair have worked together on other projects and I’m a big fan of the results.

But is it more than just a charming theme?

That may depend on your tendency to analysis paralysis…

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Theme

Strap yourself in because this gets (moderately) quirky.

There is a place called “mysterious forest” in the depths of the mountain. This is a paradise for small birds. But these small birds don’t get along well!

The players are forest spirits secretly guiding their favored species to victory in the battle of the birds. Also: there’s an owl.

Okay, so there’s not much of a backstory, and this is essentially an abstract game – but the illustrations do carry a charming sense of place.

Because favored species are secret, motivations can seem mysterious and indirect as players delicately nudge the forest in different directions.

If this seems superficial or light… don’t be fooled.

Mechanics

Birds of the mysterious forest come in four species: blue, white, red and green. They’re also ranked in strength from 1-7, making a total of 28 cards.

Ten scoring chips of various values are randomly distributed to form the top and side of an invisible 5X5 grid. These chips represent spoils of war for the bird species that control those columns and rows at the end of the game.

Each turn, players select a card from their hand and play it to the grid. The only exception is the vicious owl, which attacks and replaces a previous card, permanently altering the grid.

The overall visual effect is something like Sudoku, only far prettier.

Play continues until the hands have dwindled to a single card. This final bird determines which species each player scores, revealing and crystallizing motivations for the first time.

Points are carried into the second round, when a final winner is declared.

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Components

28 dainty little birds, each unique and each awash with loving detail, plus the coolest looking owl this side of Twin Peaks?

Yes sir, Birdie Fight sure is beautiful, but there’s a caveat.

Those point chips are horrible: faded colors, bubbled plastic wrap, and random industrial markings stretched across the flip sides.

Okay, they’re literally home made, and such quirks are common for indie games in Japan, but it’s such a shame when everything else is so polished. I mean, the strength values even subtly illustrate life cycles from youth to adulthood and nesting!

It doesn’t ruin the game by any means, but if you have anything else around the house to replace those chips, you’ll want to do it.

What do others think?

Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothin’.

I haven’t found a single English-language review.

Leave a comment below if you’ve tracked down something elsewhere, otherwise I’ll check periodically to add to this section.

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Conclusion

Let’s be clear: this is a very well designed game.

Birdie Fight takes about a minute to explain and 20 minutes to play. However, a lot of intricacy emerges from these simple rules.

Competitive players will quickly find their brains burning up, while for more casual players it’s a… more casual experience.

This makes Bird Fight a classic couple’s game. The cooperative mode in particular begs for repeated play over the coffee table, rules long-since internalized to the point you barely mention the game itself.

But – every now and then – that high score increases a little.

If only those chips were better!

3.5 red breasted robins out of 5.

Number of players: 1-4

Playing time: 20 mins

Age: 8+

Country: Japan

By: Kocchiya

Price: 24.99€ at NiceGameShop

Tokyo Highway

The hotness (noun): a game generating buzz and excitement, capturing the zeitgeist of a convention.

“Do you have the hotness? Shut up and take my money.”

Yes, every convention has a hotness, and at the recent Tokyo Game Market that hotness was (fittingly) Tokyo Highway, an elegantly abstract dexterity game for two players.

Despite having early access to the hall and heading straight to the publisher’s stand, we barely managed to snatch one of the last copies.

Why so popular? Partly because this photogenic little game is social media gold; mostly because it promises a fresh twist on a tired genre – and actually delivers.

Tokyo Highway is bottled lightning for Itten Games.

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Theme

Two rival construction companies compete to build grey, minimalist stretches of highway – like a city skyline refined and reduced to its bones.

Sound dull?

Fortunately, the rulebook provides a Rosetta Stone in beautifully eccentric style:

“Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway was formed conspicuously complicated design with many curves and multiple grade separations. Today, 310 kilometers of highway network has been built and became very unique urban expresway, with no similarities seen in the world.”

Those columns and connecting beams could be anything – trade routes, jungle bridges, whatever – but somehow they are precisely one thing. We’re building Tokyo’s spidery highways!

It all clicks into satisfying place with that description and a moment’s play.

Without a single character or ‘zany’ mechanic, Tokyo Highway pulsates with its own distinct tone and sense of place. It’s elegantly abstract: it cuts to the heart of things.

Mechanics

Players have a bunch of thick grey disks (pillars), thick yellow disks (junctions) and very thin wooden beams (roads). They also have tiny, brightly colored cars for scoring.

Each turn, a single stack of pillars of variable height is placed anywhere on the table, free-form style, so long as a linking road connects it to the rest of the player’s network.

Points are scored each time a road crosses above or below the opponent’s highway. This is where those cars come in handy, and are carefully placed on the beams to keep track.

Tokyo Highway gets tangled and knotty fast, so there’s a penalty for accidentally knocking over your opponent’s highway.

In practice, you’ll pick it up in about a minute. There are a few more rules that force conflict and implement junctions, but Tokyo Highway is basically about spatial awareness and steady hands.

The game finishes when one player runs out of building material (mostly because they keep knocking stuff over) or manages to score all their cars.

That’s it – everything emerges organically from these constraints.

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Components

Despite (or because of) their minimalist design, the components bring Tokyo Highway to life.

Words really cannot convey just how tiny the cars are, or how satisfying it is to place them in just-the-right-place with a pair of tweezers.

That’s right – each player has a set of plastic tweezers that narrow to a fine point and feel medical in their precision. They’re funny at first, but you soon realize they’re vital for tricky plays.

Everything in the box gives an impression of attention to detail, from the restricted color palette to the slightly rough ends of the wooden beams.

Tokyo Highway is not an expensive production, but it is a quality one.

What do others think?

This is fresh from the factory, folks!  I can’t find a single English review of Tokyo Highway anywhere.

Leave a comment below if you’ve tracked one down, otherwise I’ll check periodically to add to this section.

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Conclusion

Personally, nothing scares me away from a game like the word dexterity.

That’s because: (a) this usually means thrashing about the table as quickly as possible, like button-mashing in real life; and (b) I’m really bad at these games.

But Tokyo Highway is a dexterity game like Operation is a dexterity game, which is another thing entirely.

It’s a bento box filled with miniature food – careful, precise and inexplicably satisfying.

5 tiny cars out of 5.

Number of players: 2

Playing time: 30 mins

Age: 8+

Country: Japan

By: Itten Games

39.99€ at NiceGameShop

Shephy

Shephy (pronounced ‘Sheppie’judging by the reimplementation) is quite simply a modern classic.

Released in 2013 by veteran Japanese tabletop / RPG publishers Bouken – also charmingly known as Adventure Planning Service – it was both designed and illustrated by Pawn (ポーン). This light, surreal solitaire balances between whimsy and meaningful choices.

But Shephy isn’t going to drive you insane with agonizing dilemmas.

It’s a meditative exercise. Protect the herd when you can; sacrifice it when you must. I think I’m in love.

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Theme

It’s not often that quoting directly from the rulebook is a good way to convey theme. In this case it’s perfect:

Be fruitful. Multiply. Fill the earth.
Flourish in every part of the land and let the tread of golden hooves resound.
Let calamity be inspiration and have a plan for any purpose.

This poem continues for some time, sketching out a gentle yet fragile post-apocalyptic world. Sheep – the meekest of creatures – have inherited the earth, and are filled with hereditary urges to populate its vast, empty fields.

As both designer and illustrator, Pawn has complete control of this vision.

Every woolly fatality by lightning strike, falling rock or asteroid feels tragic. There’s just something touching about the noble ambitions of these sheep married with their plump, round, woefully impractical biology.

Mechanics

The game’s population is represented by 49 sheep cards of ascending value (1, 3, 10, 30, 100, 300, 1000 – seven of each). These are moved around seven play slots, representing the land available to grow and expand.

You’ll start with one sheep, and from there things can only improve, although that first expansion is never quite explained…

Manage your hand of event cards to guide this flock through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Duplicate, subtract, divide and combine your furry citizens in a glorious march to outproduce the game’s timer – the black sheep.

Players win by reaching a population of at least 1000 by the end of three rounds.

Although it’s possible to lose in the first round (even the first hand), there’s usually a path to victory once you understand the different cards. The challenge then becomes beating your previous score.

Choose a card; do the thing. Simple.

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Components

There are no chips, counters or dice here – only cards on nice, premium stock.

But just look at those sheep! Each card has a unique illustration, from the weird acrobatics of population markers to the grim portents of the event cards (what exactly is a Shephion?).

It won’t be to everyone’s taste but clearly I’m a fan.

If there’s one complaint (I’m contractually obligated to have at least one) it’s that Shephy isn’t quite as portable as it feels like it should be. At 72 cards, it’s a fairly substantial deck, and won’t exactly fit in your back pocket.

This is probably the inspiration behind the previously mentioned reimplementation, which is the same game in miniature.

What do others think?

Shephy is rated 6.8 on BoardGameGeek and reviewers generally approve – although rarely with the same enthusiasm I feel.

If you are looking for a light, fast solo game, that won’t burn your brain, Shephy could be just what you baa-gained for.

David Harding

I play this game as a kind of restful, self-imposed exile from other min-maxing, heartier games that my group loves.

Michael C

If the idea of sitting alone on a tea break and indulging in some hot sheep on sheep action while defending your flock from all the worst bits of the bible does it for you, then I urge you to give this a try.

Mike B

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Conclusion

Shephy is a gateway game.

Don’t take that for the insult sometimes suggested. This is a gateway to solitaire play, a field I’ve previously associated with fiddly World War Two simulations and big boxes that you could – technically, if you really wanted to, we suppose – play on your own.

With Shephy, I’m finally able to game over my morning coffee. And doesn’t everyone deserve a moment of zen?

4.5 sheepskin rugs out of 5.

Number of players: 1

Playing time: 15 mins

Age: 12+

Country: Japan

By: Pawn

Price: 19.99€ at NiceGameShop

Goblins Vs Zombies

Goblins Vs Zombies is Jack Darwid’s second published game (after the baroque Adventure of D but before the far more streamlined Soccer 17) and reflects a designer honing his craft.

The crowdfunding campaign launched back in 2013 promising a “fun Tower Defense card game for 1-3 Players.” It delivers tower defense in spades, with plenty of mechanical touches familiar to anyone who happily wasted their youth playing flash games.

What about the fun? That may depend on your tolerance for pain. Goblins Vs Zombies is a tricky nut to crack, overflowing with hordes of zombies that ruthlessly punish poor decisions – in other words, exactly what you want in a coop game.

Beneath some rough edges and a few quirky design choices, there’s clear love and affection for the genre. It’s an impressively deep game just looking for the right group of players.

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Theme

This is a game about goblins and zombies and the crazy things they do.

In the default cooperative mode (solo and competitive variants are also included), players control goblin villages facing a zombie outbreak in the local graveyard. But these aren’t Tolkien’s goblins or George A. Romero’s shuffling undead.

This is a zany, cartoon battle with more than a passing resemblance to the sprawling Plants vs Zombies universe. Attacking zombies come in a total of 24 flavors – such as monk, ninja, pirate or thief – while defending goblins wield firecrackers, slingshots and rockets.

So is it a game for kids? That depends. Are you willing to handle the (significant) bookkeeping for them?

Mechanics

For such a small game, Goblins Vs Zombies comes with a lot of rules to consider.

A typical zombie card includes: name, image, health points, unit type (flying, ground or invisible), a couple of opaque keywords for unique actions, and maybe a few icons representing other qualities – as well as a dice symbol that interacts with other units once it’s discarded.

It’s all very simple after the first few rounds, but you’ll need to keep the instruction manual handy for those keywords. For example, the Wizard Zombie –

Grave / Forest: {Ambush + Flee) / {Wait}

Seem like a programming language? With so many different units, this allows for a lot of interesting interactions, but it also makes for a non-intuitive learning curve.

Once you’re at the top of that curve…

Goblins Vs Zombies provides a tense, fast-paced little battle with tough, meaningful decisions all around. Despite a paucity of direct player interaction, the fact every turn really matters will generate plenty of table talk.

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Components

Goblins Vs Zombies isn’t (quite) ready to play straight from the box. There’s about a dozen clip art tokens that need to be cut out and seem to have no visual relationship to the rest of the game. This budget vibe touches everything – it isn’t a premium product.

The artwork leans on Plants vs Zombies in a way that seems daring given the game’s mechanical similarities. And the iconography would also benefit from a few weeks with a more experienced graphic designer (something that would smooth out the learning curve, incidentally).

However, in my view, none of this is a problem because (a) the game itself actually is cheap and (b) it’s designed and printed in Indonesia. After three years living outside Jakarta, I can confirm Indonesia does not have a booming tabletop industry, so anything that fosters the country’s community should be applauded.

Terima kasih, Pak Darwid!

What do others think?

Goblins Vs Zombies is rated 6.6 on BoardgGameGeek, and seems to have been received favorably by reviewers.

Despite all those things the game has great charm and with few small tweaks I enjoy it a lot and will definitely keep it.

Georgi Dimitrov

 

After my first play, I can safely say this is a keeper.

Rudy Van den Broecke

 

Goblins vs. Zombies is a neat, unique little game that is a fulfilling addition to the underutilized tower defense genre.

Scott Coggins

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Conclusion

Goblins Vs Zombies is a difficult, hectic, deeply thematic game. It delivers a lot of fun at the expense of some persistent bookkeeping issues (move the cards, check the cards, don’t-forget-that-thing) but manages to rise above its clear video game lineage to stake out its own space in the tabletop world.

3.5 severed zombie heads out of 5.

Number of Players: 1-3

Playing Time: 15 mins / player

Age: 7+

Country: Indonesia

By: Jack Darwid

Price: 17.99€ at NiceGameShop