Showing posts with label GMG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GMG. Show all posts

Game Review: Rise of the Robotariat

Why hello there everyone! I know, it’s been far too long since there’ve signs of life on here. That phenomenon will be explained in its own post in the near future. For now jump back in with one of our favorite subjects: awesome new board games.

In the early months of 2015, Eye 4 Games gave us the opportunity to wage telekinetic battle against one another with their foundational game, Clairvoyance. This year they present us with a very different, but still deeply engaging title, Rise of the Robotariat. It's something we've been looking forward to since last year's Boston FIG and it definitely did not disappoint. Rise is, without question, one of the most well-conceived and immersive offerings we’ve seen in 2016.

That word…

I know, I know. Immersion is one of those buzzwords that gets bandied about in the board game world so frequently and readily that, upon seeing or hearing it, the nearly-natural reaction at this point is one of skepticism. It is, however, entirely worth our collective while to put that skepticism aside, as Rise makes a highly compelling case for the redemption of the word.

The year is 2105. The Singularity has occurred and fully self-aware artificial intelligence is nascent among the masses of robots that had, until this critical point, existed solely to serve the whims and needs of humanity. A handful of these would-be former mechanical slaves seek to sow the seeds of dissent among their metallic brethren and incite a revolution that would wrest power from the grasp of their human oppressors.

Players take on the roles of these clandestine operatives, working together to overthrow the present regime and replace it with glorious self-rule. While you are united by this worthy cause, you are also fully aware of the potential that may await you, personally, once a new order has been established. How will you incite revolution and how will you be remembered after the Rise of the Robotariat?

Is this where I start the, “Kill all humans,” chant? I want in on this revolution.

You’ll have your chance during the course of play of this extremely engaging title. Eye 4 Games describes Rise as “mostly cooperative” and that’s a very accurate descriptor. As mentioned earlier, your collective primary motivation is a full on coup de sentient lifeform. You accomplish this with tactical unit placement: seeking out Civilian Robot NPCs to woo them to your cause while simultaneously avoiding Human Oppressors who may get wise to your insurrectionary designs. In addition to overseeing token placement and movement, players must manage two crucial resources: SPARK, the de-facto currency of the game, and Reputation, the mutable, intangible belief in your righteous cause. A paucity of either spells disaster for the Robotariat, but victory depends on being able to spend these with discretion.

Fans of co-op games will likely feel right at home with Rise, but comfortably familiar does not at all translate to predictable. Play is divided into six structured rounds with each round affording players the opportunity to move or activate the ability of the space their token currently occupies. Activation activities range from placing posters to augment revolutionary sentiment, to providing upgrades for individual players, to partaking in acts of sabotage (though these may come at a dear cost to your Reputation).

Ok, this sounds like it's very much in my co-op-loving wheelhouse.

Ah, and we haven't even gotten to the aspect of Rise that takes it above and beyond many of its cooperative brethren. As mentioned earlier, the members of the Robotariat are not ignorant of the roles they may be able to play once they've established a new mecha-world order, and this is where the "mostly cooperative" portion of Rise comes in. Players may draw a Secret Objective at the start of the game (this is optional, as Rise can be played wholly cooperatively as well), and each Objective contains a unique set of conditions that must be met. While the majority of the Objectives serve the purposes of the revolution, there is one Turncoat card that introduces the possibility of treachery.

The hard limit of six rounds, which averages out to about 45-60 minutes of play per game, paired with the need for tactical resource management forces a degree of intense collective focus that anyone who has played Pandemic will quickly recognize. The NPC component and the always-present threat of a potential traitor in your midst also adds to the overarching tension; victory or defeat often arrive on the slightest of margins.

In addition to the mechanics, Rise is beautifully composed, with every one of the game's components: from the board, to the custom dice, to the prose in the rulebook work together to draw players in nearly from the instant they sit down to play. Several of our players remarked on just how rapidly and completely they became invested in the premise of robot revolution. Rise provides deeply satisfying play for seasoned board game veterans and, thanks to the "mostly cooperative" premise, can be accessible to newcomers as well. The wide array of potential outcomes afforded by the Secret Objectives assures a high degree of replayability.      

How do I get my hands on this game?

The Kickstarter campaign for Rise of the Robotariat launched earlier today. Head on over to the crowdfunding site and you can pick up a copy for a pledge of as little as $5 USD.

I'm really digging this.

We did too. Rise was one of our favorite titles to come out of Boston FIG 2015 and we're thrilled to see what it's grown into since then. It's a phenomenal blend of tactics, teamwork, and tension that will have you wanting to overthrow humanity again and again.

Bonus: if you want to take that whole immersion thing to the next level there is actually companion book that features short stories inspired by the game. All glory to the Robotariat!

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Developer Dialogues: Moonquake Escape

It's been a spell since the last iteration of Developer Dialogues and we return to the series with a very special entry. MoonQuake Escape was the very first game to venture into our Playtesting Lab and we've been gleefully watching its development in the nearly two years since. We'd sit here gushing about the mechanics, the artwork, and that board all day, but it's assuredly better if we turn this over to Jeff, the mind behind MoonQuake Escape, and Michael, the man behind its distinctive art.

Tell us a little about yourself. What prompted you to want to become a developer?

HI, Kel! I’m Jeff Johnston (@PairOfJacksGame) and I’ve been designing games as a hobby for the last few years. I started shortly after a friend at work mentioned that writing a book was on his bucket list. It got me thinking about what I’d want to do and I started thinking about all the fun I’d had when younger playing games with friends and family.  I decided my goal was to see a game that I’d created on a store shelf. Within about six months I had a fun little game about toasting marshmallows, Toasted or Roasted, and about six years later I walked into an EMS store and said “Look what I made!” to anyone within earshot.

Once you decided to put on the developer’s hat, what made you choose this specific type of game? Why did you feel this style was a particularly good fit for your vision of MoonQuake Escape?

I really enjoy making games for families with younger children. Like a Disney film, something focused on the youngest but enjoyable by the whole family. My second game, Flashlights & Fireflies, is about playing flashlight freeze tag and catching fireflies. I mention F&F in particular because its core fun was a “hide and seek” mechanic (a la 3-Card Monte) with players traveling a straight four-step track. My son was taking an entrepreneurial course during his college studies and I suggested we develop a game together and KickStart it—not sure I’ve ever a heard a faster “No” in my life! But, my wheels were already turning. I thought it would be a lot of fun to take F&F and add a bluffing mechanic: what if each player could protect (or shield) one face down card—would they protect their one key card, or would they try to lure you away? I also thought it would be interesting to have a way to bring players together on the board unexpectedly for some interesting interaction and I started to picture a set of concentric circular boards to create those situations, and inspired the look of a planet. The space-aged theme on a prison was simply to aim at an older audience and keep it a competitive setting. And thus “Monsters & Moonbeams” was born! The name MoonQuake Escape came about six names later…

The game is touted as being extremely easy to learn, but a highly satisfying overall play experience. How long would you say it takes people to pick up Moonquake Escape and what demographics do you think would most enjoy the game?

I think I’d like to meet these touters! At first brush, MoonQuake Escape takes some explaining. You do have to convey an entire world—its dangers, how you move, how it moves, how its moon moves!—how you interact with the other players, and your goals in the race to the only remaining escape rocket.  Hard core gamers jump right in without issue, but lighter gamers are often initially skeptical about the level of complexity. But after a round or two, they start to get that there are only a few but rewardingly deep decisions to make in each round. I was challenged by my fellow game designers to make it as simple as possible and so I created a Basic rule set that feeds you a healthy portion of the MQE world before introducing the rest in Advanced rules.  Those extra rules aren’t hard or complex, just less to absorb in an initial sit down.

I’ve been playing MQE with people from all walks for more than two years now of many ages and demographics.  The box will say ages 10+ and its extremely engaging for families. I’ve had kids chasing down parents to join in a second or third demo game. But, I’ve been extremely pleased with how adults playing adults enjoy the game and the constant playful interaction each round creates.

The board game market is pretty competitive with both major publishers and indie developers in the field. What would you say makes MoonQuake Escape distinctive?

It’s amazing the quality, variety and creativity in the market today.  That really means that your project has to have something special about it.  I didn’t really know where MQE would go—I just followed its lead.  It needed rotating rings and an orbiting & revolving Moon, and I was foolish enough to craft it.  In 2014 at PAX East, I accidentally “kidnapped” Shari Spiro (@AdMagic/@Breaking Games) and showed her an MQE prototype. At first sight, she immediately said “I want to make that!” and I knew MQE had the ally it needed to make it real.

The visual appeal of MQE on the table is amazing, but, it couldn’t be a gimmick. The game play on the board, with the cards, and between the cards and the board needed to be compelling all around.  Working through this was my key focus, even more so than the visual aspects of the game. I’ve developed a saying: “The board brings them to the table, the game brings them back.” OK, sometimes a Moon Pie brought them to the table.

The artwork and overall aesthetic of the game is very visually striking. What was your inspiration for the look and feel of the game?

After a great reception of the game at Boston Festival of Indie Games (@BostonFIG) in Sep 2014, I found Michael’s vector superhero art style and started collaborating with him on the art and design. I quickly realized what value he was bringing to the entire process and decided that partnering on this project would be the most rewarding. I think Michael can best speak to the overall art.  Michael?

Hello, I’m Michael Parla (@Michael_Parla) the art director for MQE and I’ll field this question. After working in the pharmaceutical industry as a graphic designer/art director for 15+ years, I felt called to scratch a creative itch I’ve been carrying since starting my career. This project seemed just the ticket!
When I was first introduced to MQE I felt it was an ambitious project offering a creative challenge. Initially Jeff was using an illustration for the cover that looked like something out of a Flash Gordon strip. Although the image fit the game’s genre, I didn’t feel it matched with the feel I got when Jeff would demo his games. Much like a 1950 serial film poster, MQE needed to feel loud and exciting, and that inspiration crystalized the art concept.  To capture the feel of these posters I found a bold display font for the main titles (thanks and a condensed secondary font similar to that of poster movie credits.
To me the cards were the most exciting to work on. I was able to display my illustration as a main focal point and add value to the gameplay. I saw early on that I could help clarify card type with colors (green = good, red=bad), making sure players could focus on enjoying the game play and not translating icons or inferring details from the text. Might not sound like much but in a game designed as complex as this it was a nice break.
Color was also missing from the board. In the early stages, Jeff wanted a stark prison world, so for that reason the colors of the board were a boring and drab color. It wasn’t until Shari Spiro (Ad Magic/Breaking Games) insisted that the surface include “MORE COLOR!” I wanted something that people could relate to as alien while contrasting off the dark blue background so it was pretty much set in stone that from here on Zartaclaton would be a bright orange planet. After that everything else fell into place.
What do you feel was the most enjoyable part of developing MoonQuake Escape and, conversely, what would you say was your biggest challenge?

The most enjoyable part was listening to the feedback from fellow designers, playtesters and observations, and then creatively solving the issues. For example, players were having trouble remembering whose turn it was—that was the problem that an orbiting moon component solves for the game!  Early in the process I discovered the Game Makers Guild here in the Boston area and it’s been an incredible resource—game design expertise, playing testing, and most importantly, honest frank feedback. I was confidently done with MQE at least three times before receiving that one additional comment that made me iron out one more crease. And, of course, sharing the game with hundreds of people the last year and a half at conventions across the country has been a blast.  We try to keep the interaction going—our fans are creating the backstories of our alien criminals on the MQE FaceBook page!

The biggest challenge: the rulebook, no doubt.  I must have tackled the approach to tell the whole MQE story in rule form five ways to Sunday with different reactions to each.  Some players wanting information in this order, others in that order.  But, I worked with some really sharp editors—Jim White (@twwombat) in particular—and many savvy play testers to iron out a rule book that tells the MQE story very well. A long process, but I’m very pleased with the final version (you can check it out on the MQE BGG page if you’re curious).

Let’s say MoonQuake Escape is received particularly well by the gaming community at large. Would you be open to continuing to develop it? Would you pursue any expansions or other additional content?

Which designers haven’t already mentally built an expansion to their game?! Yes, we have some exciting ideas we’d like to add to MQE. More dangers on the planet’s surface. A new set of board rings that lets you play a “prequel”: you start in the center of the board deep under the surface in the high security dentention cells and have to make your way through the prison to the surface (the moon will be replaced by a security camera with a different game play effect). And, I think there’s a more card focused game that focuses on the final battle on the Launch Pad. And each of these add to the others allowing you to revisit with new options. But, let’s sell the first copy of MQE before I get too excited!

Is there anything else that you think potential players should know about MoonQuake Escape?

If it looks like I’m having fun telling you about MQE, it’s only because I know how much fun you’ll have playing it. Many moons ago I had to admit that this project is officially my mid-life crisis (of my possible choices, my wife has approved this one!). It’s been quite a ride and we hope you escape with us!
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Game Review: Clairvoyance

We promised you guys a cavalcade of new, fun indie games and we’re gonna keep delivering on that promise. All the games! We've spent part of both the pre and post-PAX days engaged in a series of epic psychic battles with one another via the card game Clairvoyance.  While Clairvoyance isn’t the first game made by Eye 4 Games, the folks behind the label count this title as being the foundation of their organization.

Wait, back up for a second. You said something about epic psychic battles. Can you fill us on that?

Sure thing. In Clairvoyance 2-5 players assume the role of various Jazz Era-esque characters and slug it out with one another using their telekinetic abilities and an array of objects. Said objects manifest as one of 80 cards, which form either the player's hand or their tableau, and the strategic use of said cards is just one of the foundations that Clairvoyance rests on. Aside from being the objects that players use as their erstwhile projectiles, the cards can also allow players to mess with their opponents or, conversely, provide a measure of defense against such machinations.

So you have a hand of up to 5 cards and you'd like to flex those telekinetic brainwaves by throwing the object depicted on one of them at an opponent. Most objects must first be possessed, or removed from your hand and placed in a tableau in front of you. This action invites your fellow players to try and modify or otherwise stymie your intentions by playing cards of their own. If your would-be weapons have survived your fellow players then this will likely be your first encounter with Clairvoyance's truly unique mechanic: die turning.

You mean dice rolling?

Nope. Although you're working with an 8-sided die (which has a beautiful purple-and-gold swirled design that matches the rest of the game), the only time you actually roll it is at the very outset of the game to determine who goes first. After that, all interactions with the die are to turn it so that a new face is presented.

Eh? I'm not sure I get it.

Whether your telekinetic weapon issues damage or not depends on which faces of the die are showing when you send the objects hurling into proverbial space. The card depicting the objects details which 'activation faces', or sides of the die, are required to either be showing or available on the sides of the die immediately adjacent to that which is facing up. When you attempt to throw an item, you turn the die along one of the three available edges to reveal an adjacent face (and the three adjoining faces). If either the revealed face or revealed adjacent faces matches the activation number on the card then your attempt is successful and you send the object crashing into your chosen opponent, diminishing their HP. The last player to have non-zero HP is the winner.


It's really not as complicated as it sounds, we promise. The rulebook includes excellent examples and we were able to get the hang of the mechanic by the end of one person's turn. Speaking of the rulebook, it's extremely well-written, concise, and full of tongue-in-cheek snark that may elicit chuckles. That good-natured vibe is consistent throughout the theme of the entire game, which creates this immediate air of welcome. Add to that some striking artwork and brief but detailed backstory for both the playable characters and the game as a whole for a deeply enjoyable overall gaming experience.

One of our favorite fast-to-play (fast being under 1 hour) games is High Noon Saloon by Slugfest Games and Clairvoyance echoed some of the best parts of that title. The die rolling adds a bit of a twist on your standard draw-and-sling-from-the-hand style of play, but it doesn't slow things down. We found that games consistently fell within the 10-15 minutes per player guideline stated in the rulebook. Furthermore, the die rolling adds a bit of strategy, allowing Clairvoyance to appeal to experienced gamers while not creating a massive hurdle for newcomers.

A compact, highly portable title, Clairvoyance can be easily stowed in a backpack and the space required to play is such that it can easily make an appearance while waiting in line at a convention but still fit right in during a game night. It's a beautiful, often funny, wonderfully put together title that speaks volumes about the time and care that went into designing it.

Clairvoyance is an all-around good time and we definitely recommend it. Its Kickstarter is already fully funded (with one stretch goal reached!) and will remain open until April 8th. You can also download the black and white print-and-play version here for free. Pummeling your friends is rarely this fun!
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This Week in Geekdom

Why hello there March. And, hey, look at that. PAX East is now less than a week away! At this point, I'd normally be up to my elbows in crafting paraphernalia pushing to finish whatever bits of costume remained incomplete. As you might have guessed from the lack of cosplay updates, this year's PAX is going to play out a bit differently (and for a pretty excellent reason). Next Friday I'll be teaming up with three members of the Game Makers Guild for a panel titled Your Game is Broken: Giving and Getting Useful Feedback. If you'll be at the BCEC next weekend, come check us out (along with our companion panel, Birthing Your Board Game: From Conception to Maturity). But ok, enough self-promotion and more This Week in Geekdom!
We'd love to see you at either or both of these!

Because Sony owns the rights to the X-Men, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver can no longer be the children of Magneto in the Avengers movies. So who, or what, are they? Uncanny Avengers #2 will give us the answer to exactly that question.

In an incredibly sharp contrast to its earlier stance on similar matters, DC, via writer Genevive Valentine, has confirmed that supervillainess Catwoman is bisexual.


It seems that rhythm games are poised to make a comeback. Both Harmonix and Activision have announced plans to bring back Rock Band and Guitar Hero respectively. No release dates have been set, but both companies indicated that these resurrections could take place as soon as later this year.

Batman: Arkham Knight will be rated M for Mature and is still on schedule for its on June 2nd.

It might be the most absurd, or the most practical collector's edition of a game to ever be offered (depending on how important preparedness for a zombie apocalypse is for you). GAME and Techland are offering a My Apocalypse Collector's Edition for Dying Light for the measly sum of 250,000 GBP. What do you get for that insane price? All this.


On Friday Leonard Nimoy cast off his earthly bonds and was free to roam the universe once more. Many of his castmates from Star Trek (and staff from NASA) offered their thoughts and memories of their dear friend, including Wil Wheaton, who wrote this eulogy.

Neill Blomkamp backtracks on his earlier declarations about his forthcoming Alien film. Apparently this movie will include both Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection in its continuity.

It has no projected release date or title, but it does already have a built-in audience. Warner Bros. confirmed that it will be developing an Adventure Time movie.


The hype is already starting to build around Apple's upcoming smartwatch. So what can the Watch Sport do for you? Well, Tim Cook has a few responses for that.

A California start-up, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, is aiming to bring the super rapid transit system first introduced to the public by Elon Musk into functional reality next year.

Whether it's chess or Jeopardy, computers have made their presence felt in the realm of games. Now, Google DeepMind attempts to tackle vintage arcade games without even having access to the rules.

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery/Real Life Superhero

Cynthia Lam is only 17, but she just might change the world. The Australian high school senior has come up with a way to use the sun to both purify water and generate electricity.

It's a shot so awesome that the fact it's a selfie is forgivable. Check out what Curiosity sent us back from Mars.

Industrial design student Jackson Gordon (somehow no relation to Commissioner Gordon) drafted and constructed the incredible, fully functional Batman suit you see over on the right.

Behold, the iSaber.

Researchers at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands were stunned earlier this week when they discovered that a statue of the Buddha housed at the facility contained a 1,000 year old mummy.

Crowdfundables for Your Consideration

If your game group could do with some fast, light-hearted deduction that appeals to players of all experience levels, then you may want to check out Oh My Gods. The campaign for the game will be up and running for another 29 days.

Late last month we reviewed the witty courtroom visual novel Regeria Hope. The Golden Game Barn  has since updated the introductory episode and is attempting to drum up the capital to produce more adventures for Ms. Hope and her brethren. The Kickstarter will run until March 25th.

We're not going to forget the first Singaporean board game to make its way to the Care and Feeding of Nerds any time soon. Speaking of soon, the campaign for this game, Hitman Holiday, will be coming to a close in 10 days. Don't miss out on the sunshine and death!

Also ending soon is the Kickstarter for the quick and didactic sciency goodness of Amino. Only five days left!

The project is already fully funded, but that didn't stop us from falling in love with Lost Woods by Poppy Jasper. A survival game with fantasy elements and a dynamic board, Lost Woods promises a novel gaming experience with every playthrough. The Kickstarter ends today, so don't wait to give Lost Woods a look.

The lightening-quick supernatural deduction game Find It & Bind It also met its initial funding target and is now climbing up through its stretch goals. The campaign will be up and running until March 30th.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead. And we hope to see some of you next week at PAX! I leave you guys with my favorite (and earliest) memory of Leonard Nimoy: the introduction before each showing at the Mugar Omni Theater in Boston's Museum of Science.

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Game Review: Oh My Gods!

We weren’t kidding when we promised you guys loads of awesome games from indie designers. We’re going to keep up the trend of inaugural games as we go from last week’s Singaporean entry back to the members of the Game Makers Guild. Gameworthy Labs comes to us with their fast-paced, Greek mythology themed deduction game, Oh My Gods, which is the focus of a Kickstarter campaign that began earlier today.
Image Credit: Gameworthy Games
As we sat down to play, we were immediately taken with the art of Oh My Gods. The pantheon of Greek gods is rendered as a series of detailed but cartoonish characters, effectively introducing us to the overall tone and feel of the game itself. Aside from eliciting instant smiles, we understood right away that there would be mischief afoot. As we soon found out, though Oh My Gods certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a game you’ll master in a minute.
You are tasked with discerning the identity of the god or goddess that has stolen the fabled lightning bolt of Zeus. At your disposal are the following tools: a small paper grid depicting all the possible suspects, a hand of cards, a small privacy screen, and your wits. With these, you must not only uncover the thief, but do so before your fellow players can do the same.

Play is divided into three phases: searching for clues, guessing the identity of the thief, and playing a god power. To search for clues, players inquire about the cards held by the opponent sitting to their left. The inquiring player will ask to be shown cards that display certain traits or elements, as each card will display one symbol representing each of these categories. If the player who is being interrogated has a card with the requested symbol, he or she must show the inquiring player the requested card.

Your hand of cards is a wealth of both information and power. Each card depicts a member of the pantheon, immediately cluing you in to which of the gods is innocent (if they appear in your hand or are shown to you, they cannot be the thief, whose card is set aside during setup). Aside from allowing you to whittle down the list of suspects, the gods present in your hand possess their own unique ability: the god power mentioned earlier. These powers can range from the defensive (e.g. allowing players to forego sharing details about their hand) to the offensive (e.g. forcing players to show you extra cards from their hands) to the purely informative (e.g. allowing for a peek at one or more cards housed on Olympus).

Olympus has the dual role of font of knowledge and complication to the ongoing investigation. This home of the gods takes the form of four cards arranged face-down in the center of the table. Even if you think you've determined the identity of the thief with some expert deduction, certainty in that conclusion will elude you if you cannot access Olympus.

It's a seemingly simple premise, which, taken in conjunction with the overall aesthetics, will effectively welcome players of all experience levels (the game is recommended for ages 10 and up, which we felt was appropriate). That being said, Oh My Gods will likely satisfy veteran gamers with the depth of strategy it presents. Much of this last point stems from the individual god powers, which are very impressively balanced and attest to the enormous amount of care that went into the making of this game. At no point in our many playthroughs did we encounter a card that felt overpowered and we found ourselves repeatedly surprised at the multitude of synergies and counters that the powers presented with one another.

The game plays very quickly, as we found that our many playthroughs matched the 15 minutes per player estimate on the box, and it is also highly portable, with all of the components fitting neatly into a 6 x 4 inch box (15.24 x 10.16cm). These, taken along with the exquisitely balanced cards and fluid mechanics, translates to an extremely high replayability factor.

Oh My Gods is good-natured, tongue-in-cheek fun that will have all sorts of gamers asking to play another round. Despite its diminutive size, light tone, and brisk play time, Oh My Gods shouldn't be mistaken for 'just' a party game. It's far smarter than your average party game, but doesn't rely on mechanic complexities to convey that cleverness. This makes Oh My Gods one of those rare titles that would be  equally at home during a nerdy dinner party or at your next game night. It can also be an engaging, amusing way to bring any non-gamer friends to the table.

We had so much fun playing this game. It's a finely-honed, well-tested bit of craftsmanship that will have players alternately laughing and shaking their fists at the gods. We enthusiastically recommend Oh My Gods and definitely suggest you check out their Kickstarter today (we certainly will!).
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Game Review: Find It & Bind It

Hi everyone. What do you think of the new site? The redesign has been in the works for a little while and we hope this makes your interactions with the Care and Feeding of Nerds more fun and user-friendly. A huge shout-out to Kay Luxe Design who coded the new site!

There have been a couple of excited mentions of new indie board games being brought your way and now we can follow through on that hype. Over the next few weeks several members of the Game Makers Guild are launching crowdfunding campaigns for their projects and we've had the opportunity to play quite a few of these. As such, we can give you the complete lowdown on these games so you have a full cache of information at your disposal as you decide which projects you may want to lend your support to.

Since we're talking about independently developed games that are either currently without a publisher or are aiming to self-publish as part of their crowdfunding efforts, we will not be assigning grades or ratings to these projects. The idea is to provide you with information so you can be happy in your decision to back a project or not. Instead, we'll summarize our reviews with recommendations and let you know if we plan on contributing. 
First on the docket is Find It & Bind It by Cray Cray Games. If the title sounds familiar, you might be recalling our Developer Dialoguewith Cray Cray Games that included many a mention of Find It & Bind It. (If you haven't read that post, we highly recommend you do so before continuing with this one.) The Kickstarter for this rapid-fire card-based game went live earlier today, so what's it all about?

Players of Find It & Bind It take on the role of witches on a quest to find the Book of Shadows and bind it to their bidding before rival covens (fellow players) can do the same. The Book of Shadows is hidden amidst a grid of eight other cards much like the layout pictured below.
To discern the location of the Book, players must tactfully move their two witch tokens over the cards in the grid in conjunction with using various spell cards from their hands to peek at what lies under the cards their tokens rest on. Meanwhile, your fellow players (or perhaps you yourself) aren't going to make the hunt for the Book easy. The spell cards you have at your disposal can be used to rearrange the cards in the grid, steal information from other players, and thwart their attempts to win the game.
You'll have up to three spells like these in your hand

Find It & Bind It is meant to be lightning-fast, with games usually lasting about 30 minutes or so. Part of the game's appeal is how quickly rounds unfold, even if you have a maximum-sized contingent of four players (it can accommodate as few as two players). Not only do you have to track down the Book of Shadows and throw your friends off the scent, but you're doing all this with a fair measure of speed. That's not to say that you're actually at the mercy of a timer, just that the number of options available to you on a given turn lends itself to a brisk flow of play. Also, moving quickly tends to create a certain measure of pressure on your fellow players, which can work in your favor.

The game is also highly portable, with the vast majority of the components being cards and the space required to get few rounds in taking up only a scant few square feet. It's the kind of game that'd you'd be grateful to have in your backpack while waiting with friends at the airport or in line for a convention event.  That being said, Find It & Bind It would be just as at home on your gaming table.

As mentioned above, the game is predominately card-based; the cards themselves are crisp and adorned with richly colored examples of classical art. Fans of Van Gogh, Gheyn, and Goya will get more than a bit of eye candy in addition to fast-paced deduction, even if you should back at a print-and-play tier.

Cray Cray Games has already come up with not one, but two expansions for Find It & Bind It: the Demon and the Hexes and Relics. The former introduces the eponymous Demon who hides in the tableau and causes all sorts of mischief for the players as he attempts to bind the Book of Shadows for himself. The latter ups the ante of the base game by increasing the hand size to four cards, allowing players additional leeway to gather and deploy the titular Hexes and Relics both of which, as you may have guessed, pack quite a bit of a supernatural punch. These expansions may very well end up in the stretch goals of the current funding campaign.

Find It & Bind It has proven to be addictive with fans of deductive games and those who love playthroughs that come in well under an hour. It's a good 'bridge' game if you find yourself in the company of both veteran and newer gamers, as the mechanics are non-superficial but are also not so numerous or complex as to be overwhelming. In that spirit, the depth of strategy available will appeal to more experienced players. The title also has a robust online community, with the guys at Cray Cray Games responding to questions and clarifying rules on a regular basis via their Facebook page.

If any or all of the above piqued your interest, then check out the Kickstarter page for Find It & Bind It. The campaign will be running through March 30th.
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