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Monday, 18 August 2014

Magic Labyrinth

Magic Labyrinth is a great game for kids and families to play together. In my review of Magic Labyrinth I will take a slightly different approach from normal. I will cover the rules and how to play from two different angles. The first and most obvious is Magic Labyrinth as a kids/family game but we recently discovered how it makes a fantastic drinking game.



Setup:
Have someone build the wooden maze below the game board, if it is someone not playing the game that happens to be around the house or wherever you are playing that will make it even better.

After it is constructed place the game board ontop of the maze so that everything is sitting as 1 component inside the game box.


Place all of the various token/markers in the cloth bag and shake them about.


Each player takes a wooden magician, places it on a corner of the board and connects the metal ball to the magnet so that the game board is separating the two pieces.

How to Play:

How to Play Kids Version

Pull a token out of the bag and place it onto the matching symbol on the game board.

Roll the die and move the number of spaces indicated, you cannot move diagonal.

If you bump into the Labyrinth your metal ball will disconnect and roll back to the nearest corner, simply reconnect it to your wooden magician at the same corner of the board you started at and end your turn.

If you touch the wall but do not bump it you have committed and must push your magician the direction until your metal ball falls from the magnet.

If you manage to reach the space on the board that contains the token, pick it up and create a scoring pile for yourself containing all the tokens you have obtained.

Once a token is collected a new one is placed on the board, if someone is under the space where the token would be placed they get to collect it instantaneously and add it to their score pile.

Once all the tokens from the bag have been collected the player with the most tokens is declared the winner and second place is the player who has the second most tokens and so on.


How to Play Drinking Version

Pull a token out of the bag and place it onto the matching symbol on the game board.

Roll the die and move the number of spaces indicated, you cannot move diagonal.
If you bump into the Labyrinth your metal ball will disconnect and roll back to the nearest corner, simply reconnect it to your wooden magician at the same corner of the board you started at and end your turn. When you hit the maze and lose your ball you must take 1 drink. 

If you touch the wall but do not bump it you have committed and must push your magician the direction until your metal ball falls from the magnet.  If you are sober enough to touch a wall without disconnecting your ball and magnet you have to take 2 drinks.

If you manage to reach the space on the board that contains the token, pick it up and create a scoring pile for yourself containing all the tokens you have obtained. If you successfully collect a magic token you get to give out drinks and all other players must take 1 drink. Then before placing the new token the board must be spun to add to the confusion. 


Once a token is collected a new one is placed on the board, if someone is under the space where the token would be placed they get to collect it instantaneously and add it to their score pile. No one gets freebies in Drunken Labyrinth, if a token would be placed where someone is standing they must have been too drunk to notice and it is lost forever. The master magician gives everyone a drink and all players must take 1 drink. 

Once all the tokens from the bag have been collected the player with the most tokens is declared the winner and second place is the player who has the second most tokens and so on.


Components: 
It is very cool how the game board is constructed and not many games make use of magnets. The wooden pieces are also a great touch and feel very nice in your hands while you steer your magician around the board. It is really very nice when the components are as much a practical part of the gameplay as they are an aesthetics piece. After a couple games is also gets really easy to quickly find the right spot where tokens go, you will start to remember which ones are by which ones which speeds up the game time without making it any easier to win.


So is it a drinking game or a kids game, who should buy Magic Labyrinth?

Family Gamers: The main thing I love about Magic Labyrinth is how well it plays with just the kids. You do not need to play with them and if you do there is no dumbing down your strategy or long winded explanations, you just play and enjoy the moment. That is not to say that Magic Labyrinth plays itself or there is no skill involved, you will improve your memory and learn when it is best to push your luck. Magic Labyrinth is even a fun one to play with the relatives or anyone who only observes and says your games look too complex to try. I think Magic Labyrinth is a must own if you consider yourself a family gamer.

Casual Gamers: Is your night more about the socializing than the actual gameplay? Do you sometimes have a few beers or other delights with your gaming sessions? Do you ever game with your kids or older relatives? If you answer yes to any of those questions then I think Magic Labyrinth is a no brainer, it s one of the best duel purpose games in my collection and out of games that can be played more or less "by everyone" I think Magic Labyrinth is king.  I love the amount of table talk that comes with the gameplay and if all else fails you can use ML as an excuse to get shit faced.

Gamer Gamers: How many games do you own with solid quality wooden pieces? Then how many do you own that make use of magnets? Your list is probably shrinking fast, if you are serious about our hobby then chances are you try to share your love with new members who may or may not have played board games in the past. Magic Labyrinth will not only serve as a unique game in your collection but will be a great way for you to show some newbies what our hobby is all about, that social experience of finding the time to sit down with family and friends. Magic Labyrinth is also a great game to test the wits of you and your "hardcore" gaming friends, just add alcohol.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Online Game Review - Stone Age

This is my first attempt at reviewing an online board game. I see a lot of people wondering where they can play board games online and I think there is a lot to be gained out of the experience. But this is not a post to try and convince you to get your gaming fix online, instead I am going to review Stone Age on BoardGameArena and talk about the pros and cons to playing Stone Age online vs in person.



Objective:
Be the player with the most victory points at the end of the game. There are two main ways to score victory points:

Acquiring buildings during the game for either a fixed or variable amount
Acquiring Civilization cards during the game that give extra points at the end of the game

How to play:
Stone age is played over a series of rounds, each round offers a set of buildings equal to the number of players and 4 civilization cards available for purchase. At the start of a new round any purchased cards/buildings are replaced with new ones from their respective draw piles.

On your turn you simply hover over the area you wish to send your workers to and click once for each person you wish to place.

stone age place a worker


You can only place workers at one location per turn but you will have the chance to place all of your workers each round.

Once everyone has had the chance to place their workers you will take turns activating your workers at each location. You activate your workers by clicking on the location they were placed.

Once you have chosen a location you will see the results of your roll and then have the option to use any tools to increase the total value of your roll before gaining your resources.

stone age tool mechanic
Should have gotten a damm tool already


Pros to playing Stone Age online vs in person:

Lots of the mathematical calculations are done for you allowing you to spend more time thinking about your overall strategy and what your best move is.



The time required to play is cut in half, on BGG Stone Age has a length of 60 minutes, and on BGA they list 27 minutes. This is mainly a result of no set up time, dice rolls done instantly and the resulting calculation is done automatically telling you how many resources you gain.

Your opponent's stock of supplies is listed clearly to save you from either not knowing, not caring and doing an uncomfortable lean over the table to count their wood / clay / food etc.

Less fiddly, in any game where you gain resources and then have to hand them back in in order to pay for things there is going to be a lot of fiddling. You won't have to reach across the table to grab from that pile of wood, instead all your resources are automatically counted and added to your supply.

Easy way to play an old favourite.

Cons to playing Stone Age online vs in person:

Overall less satisfying feel, throwing dice is one of my favourite parts of board games mostly because of the touch/feel they give but also I appreciate the anticipation caused once they leave your hand.

Also less satisfying to collect things online. Civilization Cards, Buildings, Resources are all collected in stone age and build towards your sense of accomplishment. I find this feeling doesn't translate well from most board games to their online counterparts but I find Stone Age translates even worse than other games.

Much easier to do things in the wrong order when playing online than it is when playing in person, partially because most people allow a take backs as long as it is still your turn, an online portal does not. I find myself activating workers in the wrong order, resources before tools and cards and have seen lots of people place on hunting (food) before other resources.

Whenever the card comes up that gives everyone the opportunity to gain something I find there is a fair amount of table talk and interaction, when playing online this is entirely lost and rarely does someone say "darn I really needed that gold" or "dam another free agriculture level you sure are lucky"

Conclusion 

I have found after playing Stone Age at least 10 times online that it is a solid substitute for playing the physical game with your friends around the table.

Most of the cons are also pros which to me means it still scratches mostly the same itch although it is a bit less satisfying. The main reason I can see to playing Stone Age online is it cuts the time in half. Considering the game gives mostly the same feel when played online, I find it is a great way to satisfy the itch to play this light euro in a time space where you might not usually be able to even fit in a game.

If you are a fan of Stone Age and have trouble talking people into playing, or if you were not apart of the hobby when Stone Age was more loved or any other reason you haven't tried Stone Age before I would recommend giving it a play on BoardGameArena.