On Board Processing

We Look at King Of Tokyo | On Board Processing

Tokyo never had it easy when a monster (aka Kaiju) attacks it's shores, it's a really bad day when up to 6 invade and battle between each other over the the land. That is the premise of King of Tokyo a board game for 2 to 6 players competing for victory points using dice and cards. Earning 20 victory points wins you the game, however if earning points is not to your liking then being the last monster standing also wins you the game.

The basic setup on the game is as follows each player takes one of the 6 monsters, choosing from classic monsters such as The King (a version of King Kong), Giga Zaur (Godzilla's cute version?) and the Kraken (whom does not need releasing), along side more different monster designs, Alienoid, Cyber Bunny and Meka Dragon. Once selected the players take their corresponding character card setting their Life to 10 and Victory Points to 0, and everyone places their monster outside the board. All other tokens for effects and power are set aside the board as well as shuffling the Special Cards and placing three next to the board in a sort of shop style.

The player's turn order is as follows

  1. Rolling then re-rolling the dice

  2. Resolving the dice result

  3. Buying cards (which is optional)

  4. Ending their turn

The game starts by rolling 6 dice, players then choose which if not all dice to re-roll, doing so twice more, after the third roll or if the player chooses to keep the dice on the other rolls scores whatever is on those dice, those players with the concept of the game Yatzee would find this familiar, although throughout the game cards can change the amount of dice and how many re-rolls can be made.

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As the main source of influence in the game the dice are not your standard D6, instead these come with their own faces. The numbers 1, 2 and 3 represent the number of Victory Points earned, rolling three of the same number nets you those points, rolling extra will only net you an extra point, for example rolling four 2s will net you 3 points, however rolling five 1s will net you 3 points. The Energy symbol represented by a lighting bolt earns a player one green Energy Cube, these are normally used to spend on the cards, but have other uses too depending on certain cards, and in later expansion's powers.

If the player wishes to defeat opposing monsters by taking them out of the game the Attack face (represented by a paw) is a good choice, the way this works with each Attack scored a player outside Tokyo attacks the player or players in Tokyo, where as those in Tokyo attack everyone outside the board. Taking a player's monster down to 0 knocks that player out of the game, as stated the last monster standing wins. To counter damage the Heal face (represented by a heart) heals a monster by one Heal scored up to the maximum of 10, although cards can extend that.

The key objective of the game is to control Tokyo, the first player to score an Attack in their final roll (or choose to hold one over from other rolls) gets placed within Tokyo City, this automatically scores them one Victory Point just by moving there. The point of holding the city is that if the player is inside Tokyo at the start of their turn they gain 2 Victory Points, however the trade off is that they cannot heal by scoring on the dice, although healing by other means is allowed.

This sets up an interesting situation for the players to either play passively and score their own Victory Points via dice rolls or directly attack the player in Tokyo. By doing so gives the player in Tokyo the option to give up Tokyo to the attacking player scoring the attacker the Victory Point and quite possibly the game their next turn, or hold out in the hope they play well on their next turn and keep control of Tokyo. To further things in the game for 5 or 6 players Tokyo Bay opens up allowing a second player to enter Tokyo, under the same rules as normal, as stated before both players will be attacked at once within Tokyo, allowing the players outside to try and bait one player to drop from Tokyo and keeping the other vulnerable for a possible defeat on the next players turn. Once there are 4 players or less in the game only Tokyo City is used reverting to normal play.

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What can turn the game from a losing situation to a monster on a roll is the Special Cards, these cards are the powers a monster may have during the game, ranging from Giant Brain which allows for an additional re-roll, to more cunning powers Fire Breathing which both players left and right of that player take damage, despite not being that players target. Most powers are permanent to the player until the die, but certain cards labelled Discard happen with immediate effect, such as Gas Refinery with awards 2 Victory Points and deals 2 damage to all other players, but these are normally a high cost to use compared the the general powers. To pay for all these powers the Energy cubes are used, a player can buy as much as he or she wanted during the end of their turn but there is also a second option of paying two cubes to clear the current selection and end on a new set of three, this is extremely useful in preventing a person hoarding Energy to buy a select power.

Currently there is one expansion and one collector pack for the game, the expansion, Power Up! adds not only a new monster to select Pandakai, but also personal monster powers called Evolutions, these either come in a permanent power or discard the card at any point to effect your current roll and/or another player in the game. These powers are drawn from the player's own personal deck on a score of 3 Heal dice, which also heal if not within Tokyo, which again give another opportunity for a comeback, Evolutions can also be gained within Tokyo making the Heal score useful within it.

The collector pack, Halloween, is more of a theme pack, adding Pumpkin Jack and Boogie Woogie to the game as monsters (each coming with Evolution cards to support Power Up!) and orange Halloween dice, although this could also be deemed a mild expansion with the inclusion of 12 Costume cards, these are themed Special cards which can be stolen during the game by rolling Attack dice. Both Power Up! And Halloween offer several rule variants to their own game additions customising play dependent on the group.

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King of Toyko as a whole is not only a good introduction game for either families or people new to board games but still a great 'appetiser' game while waiting for others to start a night of gaming. The game is simple enough to understand the basics but offers enough complexity to offer a bit of a challenge for veteran gamers. The game and monster design is colourful and the image quality is a great family friendly design but not so much it detracts from adult players, all the tokens are well made and the cards are a normal size with slightly larger print then normal but those with vision problems may still have issues. The dice themselves are larger then a standard D6 but are barely noticeable, one suggestion I would make is have either the game box or a 'dice wall' for players to use as the dice can be rolled off a table and/or into the game area itself, something not included in the box but is more a personal thought then a major issue.

The rule 'book', more of a sheet really, is well laid with just enough balance between written and visual content is describe the game, with the terminology and notes breaking up sections as you read, examples are highlighted and an overview of some more complex Special cards are given at the end of the page.

With the additional content personally I would choose to buy Power Up! as soon as possible after a few games have been put under the group's belt as personal choices of monsters will add a new flair with the Evolutions and a mild meta-play will start to form. The Halloween pack is still optional, but it doesn't change the game as much as Power Up! did.

The game RRPs around £25 with both additional packs around £12-15

We look at Pandemic iOS | On Board Processing

Pandemic is a co-op based board game in which the group is tasked in treating and eliminating four diseases around the world before they become out of control. This seems simple enough until an Epidemic occurs filling the board with more disease tokens, and risking an outbreak spilling over to the point it looses the game for the players. This review although focuses on its iOS conversion, there are practically no differences in gameplay between board and app.

The game is built for 2-4 players (5 players with expansions) which starts with players picking roles between dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher or operations expert, each with their own abilities to help the team progress through the game. The players then begin in Atlanta, the real life location of the Centers of Disease Control and are given cards from the Player deck depending on how many are playing (2 players get 4 cards, 3 players 3 cards, 4 players 2 cards).

The different roles keep the replay value high

The game then moves to the Infection setup where the Infection deck is then shuffled and 3 cards are flipped over placing 3 disease cubes on each of those cities, 3 more cards are flipped placing 2 cubes in them and finally 3 more have 1 placed to make a total of 18 diseases in play. Each block of cities on the map has a set disease type, London for example has blue and Sydney has red. Depending on the cards you could end up with one disease not present during setup which can change the tempo of the game early on to a more focused play style then each player tackling one disease each.

Finally the Epidemic cards are added to the Infection deck, depending on the difficulty set this will be 4, 5 or 6 cards. If drawn these cards heavily hinder the players by increasing the Infection Rate Track, which controls how many cards the players will draw to infect each city at the end of each of their turns but also automatically adds 3 disease tokens to the city drawn from the bottom of the deck and reshuffle the discarded Infection cards on top of the Infection deck which then two are drawn increasing the chance the same cities are drawn again in the next few turns.

Epidemic Cards push the Track forward

Outbreaks happen when there are 3 diseases in a city already, disease then 'infects' the adjoining cities with one disease cube, if that city already has 3 cubes it then chains to its adjoining cities with a chain reaction. Each Outbreak that happens fills the Outbreak Track once filled, the game ends and the players lose, the game also ends if no more disease cubes of that type can be played or a player cannot draw two cards from the player deck at the end of their turn.

Players have 4 actions during their turn which can either be a type of movement, such moving to the adjoining city, discarding a city card to fly to that point or moving between research labs. Other actions are treating one infection of the city they are in by removing one cube, building a research lab by discarding the current city card that player is in, trading the current city card with another player in the same city, or finally after obtaining 5 cities of the same colour and trade them in at a research lab to cure the disease of the same colour. At the end of their turn two player cards are drawn and cards from the infection deck are drawn dependent on the Infection Rate Track adding one disease per city drawn, and hoping not to draw an Epidemic.

Between the Outbreaks and Epidemics it does seem the deck is literally stacked against the players, Pandemic is a hard game to win. The way the players win is working as a team and using player cards effectively at times of need, like Airlift, which moves a player to any city or 'One Quiet Night' which skips the next Infection step, at critical times this is a powerful card. The player's role also can be a great help during the game, for example the Medic removes all disease cubes from a city instead of one at a time, and the Scientist who only needs 4 cards of the same disease type to discover its cure, not the normal 5, this makes team composition at the start very important.

The right team at the right time can win the game

As stated the iOS app is basically a 1:1 conversion of the board game in terms of gameplay, the interface itself works extremely well displaying all information required such as remaining disease counts and both tracks at the top of the screen while having actions and player hands at the bottom. Tucked away in a pop out menu on the right our the players and cards they hold and on the left will show information of the role in play and both discard piles for both decks.

The rule book is complete and informative, plus during the game pop ups will appear explaining what is going on. Another useful feature by pressing on any location or play will automatically highlight itself on the map which can be dragged and zoomed to show as much as the map as you need. The animation quality with card flips and events as well as the music boost a pretty fine product overall.

The UI fits neatly on the iPad with the menus sliding in and out

The core product on the app is great however it lacks a few features, there is no online multiplayer aspect to the game limiting you to either solo play or pass and play, not that isn't a real negative it's just a preference, however this game doesn't have an AI to it so solo play is strictly that. The game only has the first expansion, On the Brink, as an in app purchase however I would not recommend it as it lacks the core reason to buy, the Bio Terrorist and the Mutation card are missing from the pack.

Pandemic itself is a great, if not hard, co-op experience, as an app it's not that bad as an 'on the go' portable version or if you just wish to try it out with friends before committing to the actual tabletop version, I would still recommend the board game as a whole. You can find the app for £4.99 on the iOS store and the board game retailing at £29.99 at any stockist.

Zombicide - Bloodthirsty Kicks

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Zombicide Fast paced, action packed board game with a lust for blood will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Crazed zombies, vicious weapons and chance all lead to a blood splatteringly good time, whether you achieve all objects or just die all guns blazing.

The Characters: Each character has different strengths and perks to help you through the game. Traits such as slippery (can exit a square which has zombies easily) and lock pick (can open doors silently without a weapon) can help you progress through the game easily. Traits can also be earned and chosen as you gain experience by killing zombies and picking up objective markers. Each character has different traits so pick according to your playing style. Do you want to go in all guns blazing? Then pick + 1 to weapon range. Do you want to attack with a chainsaw? + 1 dice roll to melee weapons. It's all about tactics, and everyone plays differently.

The Zombies: There are two expansion packs for this game, however I will be focusing on the original kickstarter to keep it simple for this review. There are three main types of zombie - the walkers, the runners and the fattys. The walkers: only move one space at a time and only need 1 damage to kill. The runners: move two spaces each turn but need 1 damage to kill. The fattys: only move one space each time but need 2damage to kill. Then there is the abomination. It may only move one space each time but it takes 3 damage to kill and for that there is only 1 weapon -The Molotov Cocktail. After each player takes their turn it is the zombies turn, for each spawn point you turn over one zombie card (yellow) to see what types of zombie and how many you will get. They will always move towards noise and visuals if they can see you.

The Weapons: There are a variety of weapons. Some awful (cue frying pan) and some fantastic (chainsaw!) but each are found by chance. Every character is given a weapon at random to start to game (normally rubbish ones) and others can be found by searching in empty rooms. You have 3 actions to complete each round (until you unlock more) and one of these can be a search. You must be either inside a building or car and there must be no zombies. You simply turn over a card (red) to see what you have found. The more dice it instructs you to use the better your chances, and the lower you need to score shows how easy it is to use. One dice and only 6+ (frying pan) is more difficult than 3 dice with 4+ (sub machine gun).

The rules may be complex and make take time to understand, but once understood they are quick to implement and is great fun to play. Though I would recommend a full afternoon or evening to play...it often lasts for hours -especially if you play with the Blast Process gang who love to talk tactics! All in all a fantastic game for a Sunday afternoon! (Or any other day of the week!)

Figures painted by James Brewerton

Mel

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On Board Processing is back! | Pass The Pigs

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Who doesn't like Board Games? Has it really been that long since we first launched On Board Processing! We decided to root through our cupboards and attics to find some old Board Games and bring back this feature.

So why not join us every Friday night at 8PM GMT where we will be taking a look at some classic Board Games with a few odd variety's thrown in!

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This week's On Board Processing episode sees Matt and Mike play Pass the Pigs. A game of skill or luck?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFU8hUEOWLs&w=560&h=315]