Monday, April 28, 2008

Cat Attack - Review

I picked up Cat Attack on a Car Boot sale for less than a pound. I think I got a bargain. Here's the review...

The game is themed around cats that are hunting around their local area searching for food. They want to get one of each food type before they run out of lives.

The game is box is roughly the size of a standard Monopoly box.

The board depicts houses and shops seperated by walls, with a road running around the circumference of the board. Each house and shop has a garden in front of it with a number of spaces leading to the door. The Walls between the buildings are marked with spaces. The road is also marked with much bigger spaces, meaning it's a quick way to get around the game.

Each player starts with a "Cat". This is a really nicely moulded plastic mini of a fat cat sitting. Other playing pieces include cute mice and birds. There are also a number of abstract plastic pieces representing bowls of milk, salmon, tin of food and a vitamin supplement. There is also a car mini that will be roving around the road. You also get 9 plastic counters for each cat that represent its lives.

There are two decks of cards. One is a like a set of playing cards where the suits are cats, mice and birds. Amongst this deck are a number of special cards such as "Cat Attack" and "Speedy Cat". The values of the suits run from 1 to 6.

The second deck of cards are called the "Curiosity" cards. These are a series of random happenings. They open or close shops and give you extra go's or allow you to play extra cards, that sort of thing.

So at the start each player takes a cat and the house that matches his cats colour becomes that players house. Each player is given a hand of six cards. From that point you have to move around the board collect 1 of each of the following. Mouse, Bird, Salmon, Vitamins, Milk, Tin.

On your turn you play a card from your hand. If you play a "Cat" you can move your cat a number of spaces equal to the value of the card. If you play a "bird" then you can move any of the birds in play the indicated number of spaces. Likewise with the "mouse" cards. thus you can move your cat towards a mouse or shop or bird etc.

Then you take a card to replenish your hand. Next you roll the die and can move your cat the indicated number of spaces.

If you land on a space containing a bird or mouse you gain it for your cats larder. If you land on another players cat you can initiate a fight. If you land on the entrance space of a shop you can gain one of the items supplied by that shop ( if the shop is open ). If you land on the home space of another cats home you can steal one of the items from that cats larder and add it to your own.

This simple set of rules has a number of factors that make it more complex and fun.

For instance, every other space on the walls is a "Curiosity" space and you have to draw a "Curiosity" card. As these cards open and close shops, you'll often find yourself deliberately trying to land on these spaces to open the shops you need open and close shops your opponents want.

I've not really mentioned the road but this is a major factor. There is a plastic car that sits on the road. Some of the "curiosity" cards move the car. If your cat is in the path of the car when it moves, your cat loses one of its lives and goes back to its start space. This risk is often worth taking as the road allows you to move around much more swiftly than along the walls.

If your cat is in its own garden then opponents can not steal from your larder, so moving into your garden is a valuable defensive technique.

When the cats fight its a simple case of the attacker choosing one of the suits and playing a card from his hand of that suit. The defender does the same following the suit. Players continue playing the suit until one player runs out, that player loses. The loser of the fight, is sent home. loses a life and the winner gets to choose one card from the losers hand and swap it for one card from their own hand. This makes the collecting of cards doubly interesting. You not only want a good set of cards for moving things around the board, but you also want to be able to win fights by having a good strong suit.

The special cards are really fun to play with. The "Cat Fight" card allows you to attack another player by simply getting close enought to them, the "Cat Burgler" card lets you steal an item from a shop if its closed and the "Speedy Cat" allows you to turbo across the board by rolling extra dice. Clever play of these cards allow you get ahead.

So if your cat runs out of lives you out of the game. This does not happen very often, but if you insist on raiding other cats larders you will find they tend to gang up on you and lives WILL become an issue.

The game ends when someone gets all of the food items or is the last cat standing.

So how does it play? Very well actually. It's a good family game we had a lot of fun. It can stretch a bit long if everyone keeps raiding from the leaders larder. The rules booklet gives you a few options for making the shorter game and I would reccommend you try them right from the start. These include reducing the number of lives each player has, or fixing the play time and at the end of that time counting each players food and lives as victory points. I actually favour using both of these.

How do I rate it? Better than Monopoly, not as good as Dune, and well worth picking up as a family game.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Killer Bunnies Session Report

We have just completed a cool game of Killer Bunnies. Myself, my wife, daughter and "him" my son. The usual pattern of these games is that we get going then a minor war develops between myself and "him" but today things turned out different.

My hand was quite interesting. I started with a Red bunny and the HALO, so these went straight into the run. The rest of my hand was specials, so I mentally queued these up for saving.

So the game proceeded, I started stacking up my specials my wife managed to bring out a couple of bunnies and "Him" did likewise. My daughter however was having a bunny glut and rolled out a constant stream of the furry critters. "Him" noticed her huge pile of bunnydom and pointed out that she was close to getting a couple of sets.

Up to this point the game had been quite friendly. I'd even noticed my wife and daughter dropping a couple of weapons into the discard rather than attacking. This is relatively unheard of in our games!

So it came as a bit of a shock when "Him" broke the loving peace that was our game. He layed in with the Cheeseballs, wanting to knockout out a few of my daughters bunnies, but in order to avoid his own bunnies he focused the attack on one of my bunnies. I looked him in the eye and we both knew it was "war".

The Cheeseballs killed my bunny but didn't infact hurt any of my Daughters. I had been holding bunnies in my hand and decided to bring them into play as a war was about to start. "Him" made another attack at my daughter, he closed the shop, then hit her with a "feed all of your bunnies" card. A clever move as she didn't have any cabbage or water. When her turn came round she made a deal with my wife and managed to swap bunnies for the required nutrients. She lost all but two of her bunnies but stayed in the game.

I launched my revenge attack taking out one of his two bunnies. He put his other bunny into Area 51, a couple of turns later I took Area 51 away by putting my bunny in there. He was prepared and fired some rockets that killed my bunny in Area 51.

The daughter rightly feeling hard done by after losing all her bunnies to "Him", decided to attack "Him". I stood by and watched this unfold, attacks were swapped between them until "Him" ran out of bunnies. My wife started to feel all of the motherly instincts and moved into help him out ( the available carrots were running low and she didn't want him be left out of the end game ), she swapped a bunny for a carrot.

He realised what was happening and made a play that put 4 carrots back into the market. We played on for a while, the knives were out along with the Laser, that killed by Holo bunny, leaving me with just the Red Bunny under the HALO.

"Him" had a single bunny in play, there was only one carrot left in the shop and I turned over my top run card that was a serious weapon. I was about to send it towards "him" when I caught a glance from my wife. She had "that" look. "That" look tells a husband many things, but at this time I knew exactly what it meant. I threw the card at one of her bunnies instead, leaving "Him" his single bunny.

I looked at my hand as I lost another bunny to "him", two Feed cards and three weapons, I giggled.

My turn came around again, I flipped over the Feed card. The look was given once again. I giggled and gave the card to one of my daughters bunnies. I drew another card, a Weapon, the pressure was getting to me I was giggeling again.

Then fortune shined on me, "Him" took that last carrot before I had to hit him with a weapon and suffer the wrath of wife. Phew!

When all was said and done, we had a great time depite the evil that is meta gaming.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shrek Road to Royalty, Review

This game is one of those simple "license" games that comes out after a film hits the silver screen. However it is better than some I have come across.

This is a youngsters game, indeed the box says that its for players aged 5 and up. Older gamers are not going to get much enjoyment out of this except "what they make." As often is the case with simpler games, it's who you play with and how you approach it that decrees how engaged your going to be.

The objective of the game is to move along the single track of spaces and be the first to reach the end. There are no alternate paths.

The components are especially good for a "licence" game. The board is filled with images of the characters from the films and its main feature is the track which weaves backwards and forwards across the board from starting space to ending space. The spaces on the track come in a variety of types with different effects.

White spaces have no special effects.

Green spaces that have a Red "S" mean you have to draw a Shrek card and carry out the instructions.

"Potion" spaces mean you draw a potion card.

"Merlin" spaces mean you have to use the games dual purpose spinner on its Merlin side and carry out the instructions resulting from it.

The board itself is heavy weight and is especially nice.

Unusually no die is included in the box. Instead of rolling you use the double sided spinner. This is a high quality spinner. Like the board it is fairly heavy and double sided. One side is marked with numbers from 1 to 4, and is used to determin how many spaces you may move this turn. The other side of the spinner is marked with four possible effects that come about after landing on a "Merlin" space on the games track.

There are four playing pieces. These are pre painted plastic minis of the characters Shrek, Fiona(Ogre), Donkey and Charming. Once again I was pleasantly surprised to find such high quality components is such game. They stand about 2-3 inches.

There are two decks of cards included. One is the set of "Shrek" cards and you draw one of these when you land on a Shrek space. The cards are an unusual shape not easily described. They all include the rendered art you've seen in the film. Each cards art is differn't but there are some duplicates. Each card describes an effect. Examples are "Move forward three spaces" or "move back three space, or "spin again".

The second set of cards are "Potions" and these cards are shaped like the classic potion bottle. These cards are where the real game-play, such as it is, comes from. These cards allow you zap other players so that they miss a turn, take a second go, double a move or even bounce a potion attack back at the attacker.

All of the cards in the game are a little thinner than standard playing cards, but this is not really a problem as this game is not likely to see the sort of use that a standard deck of cards get. These cards are perfect for what they do. They are colourful, clearly written and do the job.

The rules for the game are a single A4 side of well spaced text. They are clearly written but do fail in a few minor ways. For instance some definitions of card types are a little woolley, but when playing with kids this is rarely an issue and you can just roll with it.

The game is fundamentally snakes and ladders with a nice level of chrome, but the chrome does make the game much more enjoyable and the games I've played with my family have been a great success.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Holiday Games

Well tonight I'm getting ready to go on holiday and of course I have to look through my game collection to try and decide on what games I take with me.

We're taking a cottage by the sea for a week, so of course I'll NEED a gaming fix.

After a quick look around the collection I've settled for Killer Bunnies and Treasures and Traps.

I'm also taking a few print outs of the play-map for Malta Convoy. I recently reviewed Malta Convoy on the Print and Play podcast. I gave it a "poor" rating because it wont stand up to many replays but is interesting once in a while. It will certainly fill a few half hours.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Podcast Problems

Yesterday was a big day in my Podcasting career.

The podcast hosting company who had been hosting my Gaming podcast had become unstable. For instance the podcast I uploaded Sunday didn't appear until Wednesday, and they wern't answering queries during that time either.

So I bit the bullet and bought a URL and set up a blog that I'm now using for the podcast. I also had a brief struggle learning how to do RSS feeds. Now I know how much effort they were saving me. Still it will be worth it.

My podcast can now be found at

On another note, I made up a new expansion board for Hour of Glory. The board and a few suggestions can be downloaded from Board Game Geek.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Malta Convoy session report

The following is a session report from my last game of Malta Convoy.

Once again it was time to relieve the besieged people on the island fortress of Malta, and only the Royal Navy could do it.

The fleet was assembled, numbering, 5 Cruisers, 30 Destroyers, 6 Tankers, 9 Cargo carriers and unfortunately only 1 Aircraft Carrier. The lack of Air cover was going to cause some fatalities. But as they say, if you cant take a joke, you shouldn't have joined up.

The bozos over at intelligence checked out the sub situation and we had to initially divert from the direct root, and spend an additional 5 watches sailing around the threat. Fortunately the first two watches would be safely under air cover.

We set off waving to the air crews as they flew over during the first two watches, then the air became quiet.

The next four watches passed quietly with no sign of the enemy. Unfortunately that was about the last rest we had.

During the next watch an enemy Recon' plane passed by and we knew the trouble was about to start. Sure enough during the next watch in they came, both Italian and German aircraft. They sank a Destroyer and a Cruiser.

During the next watch they targeted the aircraft carrier. They sank it. A couple of our flyboys were in the air at the time, they choose to crash into the sea rather than land on enemy controlled land. Poor fools, we dare not stop to pick them up.

The trouble just continued. A pack of subs hit us during the next watch, we were caught off guard, they damaged a tanker and one of the cargo ships but worse luck, they also sunk another of the cargo ships.

The brass decided to try and shield the cargo ships from the further Uboats attacks and formed a screen. It must have done some good, because during the next three watches we only saw a couple of recon' planes.

Then it started again. This time it was just the Italian aircraft and I even saw one of them brought down but it wasn't enough. We lost another Destroyer and one of the other Cruisers looked damaged, at least there was smoke pouring out of it.

I slept straight through the next watch, not a peep out of anyone. The Italians tried it again, only a couple of them this time, they got in close but missed, oh joy!

They must have gone to sleep then, as the next two watches were quiet.

When they woke however they all came in. The Germans must have sent every aircraft they had. We had a Destroyer damaged, another Destroyer Sunk and they also managed to send another cargo boats down to Davy Jones'.

A brief lull during the next watch was followed by another UBoat attack. It wasn't a whole pack this time, just one boat on it's own. He managed to hit and damage one of the cruisers before the Destroyers chased him off.

Then came the LuftWaffer. We managed to bring another of them down but they damaged a Destroyer and another of the Cargo boats. I saw it taken in tow.

During my next watch the alarm was raised when we spotted another recon' plane. We watched like eagles, and it paid off. During the next watch that lone UBoat appeared again and the Destroyers caught him on the surface and sunk HIM!

Then finally Malta came over the horizon and the convoy slunk into the harbour under the pitiful protection of the Maltese air force, but that is another story.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Looks like I'm onto a winner...

My lunchtime game at work is going very well. It looks like I'm going to win! YeeHar!!

It's not that surprising though, we're playing DOOM:The Board Game and I'm playing as the Invaders.

We're on the 4th scenario and I managed to get a couple of very quick frags in the second room, and a couple more since then. This level is very hard. There are a lot of invaders even considering that there are only two marines. Looking as th emap, if there had been three marines, most of the rooms would have been literally clogged with the evil beasties.

I'm one frag from winning and they still have a way to go.

One of the marines fragged and choose to spawn forwards into a room very full of zombies so that he could appear on top of an armour token. He then unloaded with the minigun. The bullets were flying but unfortunately he wounded about 6 of them but only managed to bring down 1.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to our next session, when I fully expect to be doing the "dance of the winner".

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Game Design

I've started working on a new solo game design. A while ago ( over a year I think ) I created a game called Solo Dungeon Bash. That was themed on a fantasy monster killing mission.

This new game is Sci Fi themed. For theme inspiration I've taken a combination of a Role Playing Game called "Traveller" and an old computer game called "Elite".

My game mechanic inspiration has also come from a number of sources. Imagine if you will, a game that has similarities to Island of D2, Zombie in my Pocket and Pocket Civ.

The objective is to trade, make money and pay off the space ship your using to do the trading. Adventure is provided at present by the depredations of stringent Police and Pirates.

I've been working with "tiles" and "cards" made with paper and hand drawn scribblings, but I'm now working on creating a PDF suitable for reading by others. Once it's done I'll put out the word on Board Game Geek for playtesters.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

UNO - Review

At a recent car-boot sale I finally got round to picking up a copy of UNO. This game has been around for years and I've seen it numerous times and always bypassed it. This time however the games had been rather thin on the ground at the car-boot and so out of desperation I picked up UNO.

This is a vanilla version, that is it is not one of the 30,000 themed versions of the game but rather a plain set. It is copyrighted 1999 and produced by Matel.

It is a card game of 108 cards and comes in a small box about the size of two normal decks of cards pushed together.

The 108 cards inside come in four coloured suits that are numbered 0 to 9 with many duplicates. Each suit also has a number of special cards which I'll get to shortly.

In addition to the coloured suits there are a bunch of black or as they are described "wild" cards.

Objective : Get rid of all of the cards in your hand.

Play is simple and straight forward. The Player going first lays out a card, players have to follow suit or match the number on the card. If you cant play a suitable card, then you must take a card into your hand.

So far the game sounds rather dull, but wait ... it gets more interesting.

You can play a "Wild" card, it has no colour of its own and can follow any other card. When you play it, you declare the colour that must follow. Also, some of the wild cards, force th next player to take additional cards and miss thier turn.

Some of the coloured suit cards have special effects. These can force the next player to take two cards and miss a go, another changes the direction of play and another forces the next player to skip their turn.

Special Rule : When you play your second to last card, you must shout "UNO" before your card hits the discard deck. Sounds straight forwards, but often as you get caught up in the speedy game play you will forget, and if anyone notices you have to take two cards.

Scoring : As soon as someone empties their hand they win the hand and score points for the cards in everyone else hands. Suit cards are worth thier face value with special cards scoring much larger numbers.

The rules state that you should keep playing hands until someones score reaches 500. In my games, a single hand scores from 40 to 150 points.

In my family, playing is fast and furious with laughs and cheers which is a good thing because the game itself is abstract and rather bland. I suspect that a pasted on theme can make quite a difference.

The set I have here also included a number of blanks which I suppose are for use as replacements should any get damaged. Yet the Grognard in me wants to mark them up as "+2 to Charge" and "+1 Defensive Bonus"... :D

Friday, April 04, 2008

Another Hour of Glory

This week I played in my first three player game of "Hour of Glory : Stronghold Kit". I took the part of the Germans, and the two other players were the British and American sneaky spying agents.

One player (Harris) came into the stronghold quietly and went into the central room.

The other player came in noisey (Link) and went left,he was heard by the guard.

The commander exited his room and headed towards the noisey agent.

Harris spyed out the first room, exitied the room and went west to spy out the corner room.o

Link popped round the corner opened up with his gun and blew the sentry away. The other sentries turned towards the sound, and one of them spotted him, fired but missed.

Harris spyed out the corner room and Link moved though the door that had been guarded.

The commander was coming down the corridor towards the open door.

Harris moved north towards the next room. Link spyed out his room and then leaped out in front of the Commander. Bang Bang Bang, commander killed.

The new Commander was not roused from his bed for a couple of turns allowing Harris to continue his sneakyness. Link moved up to the crossroads and started trading fire with the two guards who could now see him. Eventually Link went down and the new Commander came to see what was going on and collect a few alert tokens.

Link came back up shooting, the alarm was raised three guards burst into the corridors and headed for the constant gun fire. Meanwhile Harris was sneaking into another room.

Link was turning the corridor into a bloodbath. Sentries bodies joined that of the Commander and then the Guards joined them. Finally Link went down again, but was up immediately. He dived round the corner heading for the western corridor and then headed north the the first door he could find, pusued by the last remaining guard.

The Commander turned his attention to the sneaking Harris. Unfortunately for the commander Link spyed out his room just before the Guard came in, this meant the spys had all the information they needed.

Harris turned noisey and started heading towards the exit. Link turned his gun on the guard and the guard was forced to lay down for a rest. Link started sprinting for the exit.

There was now an agent running down both opposite corridors. The commander headed towards the exit as well. The clock ticked down to 3 minutes as Link hopped out of the door. Then Harris moved across the corridor in front of the commander. The commanders pistol blasted him, he went down, and the last three minutes ticked away to zero.

Commander = Winner ( But only just ).