Wilderness

You have been robbed and left with nothing in the middle of no where! Wilderness is a game where your goal is to survive long enough to reach the safety of a nearby town. In order to live long enough to make it to the town you will need to satisfy your hunger and thirst, and be sure not to push yourself too hard or you could die from exhaustion. But be quick because only the first person to arrive at the town will be the winner.

Setting up the board: Wilderness splits the game board into 4, 6 or 8 sections depending on the desired length of your game.Other than the first tiles, the game board will remain hidden until a player moves adjacent. Note that it is possible to explore 2 sections of terrain by moving into one space.




How do you get to the nearby town? On every turn you are allotted energy based on your level of exhaustion. Where you move dictates how much energy you spend, there are 6 different terrain types, some are deadly while others are there to assist in your travels.
Here is the Exhaustion track, it is broken into sections that determine the
amount of energy you will receive at the start of your turn.

These are the different types of terrain and what they do:

Mountain - Energy cost 4, you cannot search for food here.

Forest - Energy cost 3, you can search for food here

Swamp - Energy cost 3, when you enter a swamp area you must draw 1 sickness card.

Desert - Energy cost 2, if you move into a desert area during the day time you must increase your thirst by 1.

Rocky - Energy cost 2, you cannot search for food here.

Grasslands - Energy cost 2, you can search for food here.

You cannot cross lakes without "The Raft" Event Card, you may cross rivers
by spending 2 energy points in addition to the regular movement costs associated
with the space you are moving to.


You probably have a few questions at this point like, what about the thirst and hunger tracks? How does your exhaustion go back to normal after you have overexerted yourself or gone a day without food? The desert only increases your thirst during the day, how do you know if it's day or night? All these will be answered shortly so please keep reading.

Hunger&Thirst Tracks

As each of these tracks move to the right you will see the numbers in them increase. This number represents how far you will need to move the exhaustion track. Each "nature's turn" you must move your thirst, hunger and exhaustion 1 space to the right. Sickness cards often drastically affect your thirst/hunger tracks. After all players have taken their turn it becomes "nature's turn", this is when players will increase their hunger/thirst and THEN increase their exhaustion accordingly (1 Plus the numbers indicated by your thirst and hunger).
It is important that you move the Thirst and Hunger tracks before you move
your exhaustion track.


Satisfying your thirst: Drinking costs 0 energy and can be done at any point on your turn as long as you have passed a body of water (A river or lake). Note that if you want to cross a river it costs 2 additional energy, but in order to drink you must only move adjacent to the body of water.

Satisfying your hunger: On your turn you may spend 4 energy to search for food as long as you are in an area of terrain that allows it. These areas are the grasslands and forests. After you have decided to search for food you will roll 2 d6 and subtract the number from your hunger track. You can also reduce your hunger by killing an animal. If you win an animal attack you roll 2 d6 and subtract the number from your hunger track.

Satisfying your exhaustion: There are 2 basic ways to reduce your exhaustion and if you are not careful you may find yourself getting more exhausted then you can sleep off, it is important to stay on top of this track!

Resting - This action takes 2 energy but restores your exhaustion by 1 space.

Sleeping - This action takes up your entire turn but restores your exhaustion 4 spaces.

Sickness Cards: Certain Event Cards, Weather Cards and Entering a Swamp territory can all result in you drawing a sickness card. These cards impact you negatively, some are discarded after their effect is resolved while others stay in front of you as an ongoing effect.


Day and Night:

At the start of the game you will shuffle the 'weather' cards and turn one face up, on that weather cards there are instructions that happen immediately as well as 6 small squares. The squares represent day and night, every time a new weather card is turned up you place a marker on the first square and move it one space to the right on every "nature's turn".



These are the basics of Wilderness and actually sounds like an alright game, but then there's more! Every player starts the game with 3 event cards, and every time a new weather card is drawn players will draw new event card(s). These event cards are different from most games and definitely spice up the game play  Each event card has a beneficial effect and an effect harmful to your opponents, the dilemma is which half of the card to use.


Components:

This is where wilderness suffers, while the game is great mechanically and flows magnificently, the aesthetics are quite haggard. The map / terrain itself is quite nice, it is thick enough, not super high quality but decent, the player markers and animal markers are just a wooden block that you have to sticker yourself. The character sheets with the 3 different tracks on them are thin and flimsy, I really dislike game pieces made like this, but the character sheets are not the worst component! The markers you use to track hunger/thirst/exhaustion/day/night are probably the most fiddly game piece I have ever encountered. They are tiny, stick to your hand, move around if you breath to heavy and don't really stay where you want them in a nut shell these markers are atrocious and really take away from the game because you have to use them so much every turn. Every turn you will be moving your hunger/thirst and most turns you will move your exhaustion as well as the day/night card moves every nature's turn. There is one positive other than the terrain boards and that is player distinction, where most games simply use the same pieces just in different colours to differentiate between players, Wilderness goes a step further and gives you different colours AND stickers for your wooden block, these stickers match your character sheet.
The spinner is used for random movement for both players
as well as wild animals. I was pretty impressed with the spinner
it's good quality and a nice way to handle random movements.


Who will enjoy Wilderness?

Family Gamers: Wilderness has some fairly basic mechanics if you don't count in the event cards that I think could be picked up by children easily. The theme is alright for families, indirect violence with event cards / animal attacks and the back story  The game reminds me a lot of a book I read way back in middle school called Hatchet and little fingers might be able to handle those markers better than my sausages combine all these factors and Wilderness will be enjoyed by families, just not for super young kids.

Casual Gamers: Playtime is between 30 minutes and a 1 1/2 hours depending on how many are playing and if they know how. The rules are simple enough but leave room for strategy, because the terrain tiles are shuffled and not all revealed at the start there is a lot of replay value. The event cards are one of Wilderness' strongest features and each one has a screw your buddy ability...I see this going over very well with casual groups of friends.

Gamer Gamers: For a lot of the same reasons casual gamers will like Wilderness, gamer gamers will too. Players who enjoy deep strategy and making that perfect turn will really enjoy Wilderness, there is a lot going on and for me it filled this void that I have been looking for since I first played Kingdom Builder...a much better use of the different terrains.
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Eco Fluxx

Eco Fluxx is a quick to play filler game. How you play is in the cards, they let you add or change existing rules,  change the objective of the game and help you complete that objective. Eco Fluxx is always changing the 'goal' can change at any minute and one players game winning cards can become complete junk in one play. If at any point a player completes the current 'goal' then he/she immediately wins (unless someone plays a card that stops him/her from winning).

Game Start:

You begin the game with only the 'Basic Rules' card in play and 3 cards in each player's hand. The basic rules force each player to draw 1 card and play 1 card but this can change on any player's turn as there are a lot of new rules that can be drawn.

Components: Eco Fluxx is entirely card based and I would definitely recommend sleeving them so none get ruined, they can be a pain to pick up off some surfaces without sleeves. There is some pretty cool artwork in Eco-Fluxx if you are a fan of animals. Eco Fluxx also brings creepers that stop ALL players from winning instead of just the person who draws them, this way someone in your group doesn't get sewered and draw a creeper every game.

Card Types:

New Rules: Rules cards act the same as rules from a rule book, all players must obey unless a card says otherwise. There are lots of different rules but there can only be one of each type in play for example if the current rule is draw 1 card and you play a card that says draw 3, you would then pick up 2 more cards since you already drew 1 this turn you would not draw an additional 3 plus the 1 card, the original rule is replaced. Hand limit cards do not force you to discard down to that number until the END of your turn.


Keepers: These are your bread and butter they are how you complete the goal and win the game. Keepers can be stolen, traded and destroyed by another player's action card and a rules card might limit the number you can possess.

Goals: Goals make up your objective, the problem is there can only be one goal and any player can change it on their turn. This makes it hard to really make a plan, but thats not to say fluxx is all luck its just about timing and when to play your keepers/goals.

Creepers: These work like keepers in the sense that you keep them in front of you, the difference is they stop you from winning instead of helping you win. Eco Fluxx adds an interesting twist from other Fluxx games, the creepers actually stop all players from winning while they are in play.

Actions: These cards spice up your game with all sorts of different actions from drawing new cards to stealing keepers to mixing up and redistributing all the keepers on the table. Action cards are what make Fluxx more interesting.



Who would enjoy Eco Fluxx?

Family Gamers: All the rules are on the cards and they are pretty easy to follow, but being a card game it is a little text heavy. The Eco theme is very family friendly and I think this version of Fluxx could be a great hit with a lot of families.

Casual Gamers: Eco Fluxx takes roughly 15-25 minutes to play. Because it is a card game every game is different and Eco Fluxx costs less than 20$ all these elements combined make for one great filler game. If you ever go to games nights you know that at least a couple solid quick easy filler games are a must, Eco Fluxx can easily be that game for you and your group.

Pets: Cats are especially fond of Eco Fluxx and should be kept far away or given a hand to play or else...

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Aurora: A Colonizing Mission


The following is a short story created from a session of the board game Alien Frontiers. If you would like to know how this game is played or more about it you can read my full review of it here.


Todd’s life has been a mess over the past few years. He was born on a backwoods planet with little to no work and certainly no way off or to escape his daily grind of working in the mines for far too little pay. That’s why when the Quantum Legion landed and was looking for recruits he jumped, Todd has always wanted to be part of something bigger, make something of his life or at the very least not have to struggle every day just to get by. It was finally here his ticket off this rock and in just a few days after signing up they were departing Todd’s homeworld and on route to Aurora a mysterious new planet. Once aboard The Exodium the reason for the rush became apparent, the Quantum Legion was not the only faction seeking to colonize this new planet. Since the Green Baron overthrew the United Governments tons of these once forbidden planets are now up for grabs but that won’t last long. Aurora is a planet rich with alien technology and it is in a crucial location to serve as a trade hub for other nearby un-colonized planets that are rich in resources.  Whoever colonizes Aurora first stands to become very rich. Todd is part of an advance scouting and colonizing team that left almost right away, because speed is important they did not have time to wait for the rest of their fleet to catch up and they had to move towards Aurora with only three ships and one of their fleet’s alien technologies. 

A few months and many training missions later the Exodium arrived at Aurora but what Todd first saw was not what he expected, they are already behind!  Both the Green Baron and the Queen’s Loyalists arrived ahead of them and some of the orbital facilities around Aurora were full. the Quantum Legion would need a new plan, the communications team quickly discovered where there were some open docks and the Quantum Legion fleet split up to begin their work. 

Todd’s ship; The Exodium and the Quantum Legion flagship headed to the shipyard where they would use some spare parts to piece together another vessel. “It doesn’t have to look pretty it just has to work” Todd was told and in 3 weeks time their work was completed.  It was hard work, Todd started to think back to his old life, the simplicity, the familiarity he even started to miss it. The com next to his bunk rang calling Todd to report to his team leader, he snapped back to reality, this is his new life now. 

Todd’s new mission is simple, The Exodium along with the newly constructed ‘Raven’ are to head to the Alien Artifact drifting around the planet and secure a new piece of alien technology. Their mission is pivotal to the Quantum Legion’s success, the fleet’s scientists can easily figure out how the alien technology works, they worked with similar objects back on their homeworlds and can use it to gain the upper hand over the Green Baron and the Queen’s Loyalists. Todd ventured onto the artifact not knowing what to expect, there is a ship already docked there and as The Exodium slows down for a smooth dock Todd notices the Loyalist ship starting to get ready to leave. Odds are the Loyalists found something and will be back to pick it up, luckily the Quantum Legion already has two ships here and once the Raven docks they will both send parties aboard to retrieve the technology. That’s what they were told anyways but as they boarded the artifact Todd felt something he hadn’t in a long time…Fear. Perhaps the Loyalist ship left in such a hurry because they found something threatening, why else would they leave empty handed? Todd snapped to it and his party located what the Loyalists had found. It took both crews to get the resource cache on board the Raven, why had they left all these supplies here? Todd tried not to wonder, all the reasons he could come up with were bad.

Six weeks had passed and after resupplying and a quick mining mission The Exodium was heading back to the artifact. Upon approach they noticed the Green Baron had ships docked there….and one looked armed, they MUST have found something worthwhile if they brought this much firepower Todd thought. Once on board the artifact the boarding party of the Raven quickly engaged the Green Baron’s troops, since it was his second time on board the artifact Todd was put in charge of the team protecting the scientists. They had to work quickly, there’s no telling how long until the Green Baron’s men found them. Luck was on his side Todd found a long corridor that lead behind the Green Baron’s troops, they snuck past and secured the Orbital Teleporter. They were just about to leave when Todd realized the Green Baron’s ships were departing, did the Raven’s crew manage to scare them off? Or did they get what they came here for in the first place? Either way Todd quickly lead the scientists and the secured Teleporter down a faster route back to The Exodium. Todd was awarded a medal for his quick actions and courageous efforts, and was promoted to captain of his own ship. 

Three weeks later Todd’s ship was finished, he named it the Windrazor. While Todd adjusted to his new role as captain the Windrazor was only to run light missions to secure resources for the fleet. The Orbital Teleporter they found aboard the alien artifact was even built into the Windrazor and Todd’s crew began to master this new technology. The resource cache Todd helped secure months ago finally depleted and the Raven had room on board again, the Windrazor teleported to dock with the Raven at the alien artifact once again. This time it was a ghost town and with no other ships to slow them down they easily secured the Polarity Device and installed it in the Raven. 

With things on Aurora really heating up the Quantum Legion had to do something, every Colony they built on the planet was overrun by Green Baron troops and colonists. With the Green Baron harassing the Loyalist fleet so frequently they are an easy target. In Just another 6 weeks things on Aurora had drastically changed, the Quantum Legion managed to beat the Loyalists out of the Pohl Foothills and the Heinlein Plains. 
The Green Baron still controlled the majority of the planet and was only a few weeks from claiming the entire planet as his own. The Windrazor once again raced to meet at the Alien Artifact, their ship’s orbital teleporter is completely burnt out. The scientists aboard the Windrazor figured out a way to teleport an entire colony but it trashed the teleporter. Luckily for Todd there was another teleporter aboard the Alien Artifact and with no competition they easily secured the teleporter. 

Meanwhile the Quantum Legion’s fleet has been multiplying they are now 6 ships strong. The Green Baron just built his last colony on Aurora giving the other factions one week’s time to fight for dominance of the planet before the Green Baron has everything locked down. 

Todd awoke not knowing what the plan for the day was, had everything he worked towards been for nothing? Would they really have to pull out from the planet? Todd just received his instructions, he was to lead 3 other ships on an expedition to the Alien Artifact one last time, while the other 2 ships landed the Quantum Legion’s last 2 colonies onto Aurora. Todd’s mission was a bigger success than they had hoped. Not only did they secure a Data Crystal but one of the newer ships also found the location of an Alien Monument. Todd received word, the fleet was successful they managed to get both their remaining colonies onto Aurora. It is all up to the scientists now, they used the newly found data crystal to place a Positron Filed onto the Pohl Foothills and they used the new orbital teleporter to teleport a colony aswell as the polarity device to swap colony locations. They did it, the Quantum Legion managed to beat the Green Baron out of Aurora and claim the planet for their own! The Green Baron’s troops were so scrambled by the Alien Technology that they cut their losses and fled and the Loyalist troops were beaten so badly that they didn’t even stick around to see how things played out. 

For the key role Todd played in the colonization of Aurora he was offered a job as planetary mayor but turned it down and decided to remain captain of the Windrazor and continue with the Quantum Legion fleet on their journey for galactic conquest.  




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Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a game that helped open the doors for Euro Games for many people, it was one of the first games I started with and in the beginning I made sure to get the latest expansion. However there are so many great games that come out every year and my life got so busy that I forgot all about this wonderful game and my copy ended up...well I actually have no idea where it ended up.

I borrowed a copy from my local gaming store and showed it to a couple friends last night. Other than scoring details I didn't have to even look at the rules it all came back to me fairly quickly but much to my surprise I ended up placing last? This is one of the greatest intro games around and this review is going to explain why.


Gameplay:

The gameplay is really very simple, you turn over a tile, place it somewhere so that all of its edges match up (a road cant run right into a field and your castle cannot have a field for a wall, etc) and you then have the option of placing a wooden man on the tile or not. Where you place the man determines how you will score points. Here are the options for placing your workers:

Castle: A completed castle is worth 2 points for every section as well as 2 points for every 'shield' or pendent. Only the player with the MOST workers will score points, if there is a tie players will split the points. Completing a castle results in your men inside being returned to you. At the end of the game every incomplete castle tile and pendent is worth 1 point.


Road: Each section of road is worth 1 point to you, if you complete the road your men on it are returned to you. At the end of the game unfinished road sections are worth 1 point each.

Farm: A well placed farmer can turn the entire game around. Your farmer is not returned and once you place him you cannot get him back until the end of the game. However at the end of the game every castle inside your farmer's field will score you 3 points. Fields are separated by roads, other tiles and non existent tiles. You simply trace the field around and any castle inside of it scores you 3 points, I recommend scoring farming last and using your wooden people that you are not using anymore to mark castles so you make sure to score them all and make sure not to double score one.
The sideways men mark which castles are inside the farmer's


Monastery: When you place a monastery you are trying to form a 'cluster' that is all the areas adjacent to the monastery including diagonals. If you finish your 'cluster' your man is returned and you score 9 points. At the end of the game unfinished clusters award 1 point for every adjacent tile and 1 point for the monastery tile itself. It is a good idea to hold 1 worker back in case you draw a monastery tile.
Components: The tiles are solid quality as are the wooden men that have become a staple for euro games. The base game comes with a free 'river' expansion. If you want to expand your Carcassonne collection there are mini expansions that include a few tiles and meeples and expansions that include a wheel of fortune, a tower, a catapult. Although the artwork seems a little outdated and does look a little old Carcassonne is more than 10 years old now, its a classic and remains a great starter game.

Who is going to enjoy playing Carcassonne? Simple. Everyone.

Family Gamers: There is no conflict or adult themes in this game, you are simply placing tiles to complete different structures and placing wooden men to claim the structures as your own. The mechanics in the basic game are simple enough that anyone can play so its fun for kids and adults. There is no text involved so simply explain the different ways to score and I can almost guarantee Carcassonne will be a hit!

Casual Gamers: Carcassonne hits a number of points on the head for casual gamers. It is light (there are not a ton of rules) it is fast playing (our game was about 30 minutes with 2 people having never played) but there is still enough to the game that it leaves you wanting to play again. Even with the simple mechanics there are still a ton of choices to be made and different ways to score this gives options and options get people hooked. Carcassonne is a great game on its own and can be used as a great bridge to get into more advanced games.

Gamer Gamers: There are tons of expansions out there for Carcassonne and adding a couple of the right ones can make the game more complex for advanced gamers. Plus for people with strategic minds there is a lot more going on, you can look at the number of tiles left and plan if you should try to finish your castle or bother starting something new, you can use your pieces to block other players and if you play your tiles right you can sneak into a castle that someone spent the last 10 turns building. There are a ton of options and if you add the expansions you can turn Carcassonne from an intro game into something much much more.
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Pirate Fluxx

Pirate Fluxx is a fast paced light filler game. All of the rules are on the cards and during the game you change, add and remove rules. Pirate Fluxx evolves as you play it, your goal is to play a 'goal' card and then obtain the 'keepers' that the goal calls for. If at any point a player completes the current 'goal' then he/she immediately wins (unless someone plays a card that stops him/her from winning).

Game Start:

At the start of the game the 'basic rules' are placed on the table and each player is dealt 3 cards. The basic rules force players to draw one card and play one card. You must always draw and play the number of cards determined by the current rules it is not optional. Now you're ready to begin the evolving game of Pirate Fluxx.


Gameplay:

In a game where the rules and objectives are written right on the cards there is not much that needs explaining so instead I will just go over the different type of cards and what they do.


New Rules: These change the rules for all players they range from a hand limit, play all your cards to drawing extra cards if you can talk in a pirate accent. When you play a card that makes players draw new cards you draw the difference, when you add a new rule that makes you play more cards, playing the rule itself counts as one of your 'plays' and when if there is a hand limit rule you discard down to the limit at the end of your turn.


Keepers: These make up the core of the game, you need keepers to win the game but be careful because they can be stolen or destroyed and the goal can change on any player's turn! When you play your keepers is a very important part of Pirate Fluxx.
Goals: You objective in Pirate Fluxx is always changing, there are many different goals, but all will require you to possess certain 'keepers'. When any player meets the criteria for the goal they win the game.

Creepers: Creepers work similar to keepers except instead of brining you a step closer to victory they hinder you. You cannot win if you have a creeper (Unless you have a goal that says otherwise) and you have to discard a specific card in order to get rid of the creeper. The worst part about creepers is that as soon as you draw one you MUST play it in front of you and it stays there until you can get rid of it.


Actions: Actions are what make Pirate Fluxx more interesting. They let you steal, discard, draw new cards, trade hands, swap keepers and a ton of other crazy actions. These are what make flux a fun exciting game, you never know what someone has up their sleeve and playing your actions at the right time can steal a victory from someone who did all the work for it.
Surprise: In addition to regular action cards, Pirate Fluxx adds new surprise cards, these can be played on your opponents turn or your own and give a different effect depending on when you play them. They are extra useful to stop a player from winning or for giving yourself the win.




Who would enjoy Pirate Fluxx?

Family Gamers: It really depends on the age group, pirates are a big hit with some kids while other families find them violent and stay away from them. Pirate Fluxx however has no violence and surprisingly no adult themed cards. There is a fair amount of text on the cards so be prepared for some reading, however all the text is there to add / clarify rules and once you've explained the card types Pirate Fluxx is a really easy game that almost anyone can learn and enjoy.

Casual Gamers: With playtime averaging around 10-20 minutes you can't go wrong with this game. Pirate Fluxx is a great filler game you can play while waiting for friends, beer, pizza or a nearby game to finish. It is cheap and most importantly every game is different so as long as you don't burn out playing too much.

Gamer Gamers: Even though you are at the mercy of random card drawing and there are no serious strategic moves you can still find the most serious gamers enjoying a game of Pirate Fluxx. Why? Because it is a fast paced, light filler game and when you know that going into your game you tend to enjoy it more and relax a little. Fluxx doesn't try to disguise itself as anything other than a filler game but that's okay because all types of gamer groups need a few filler games.
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