Board Game Review — Wavelength

How hot is coffee?  On a scale from hot to cold, it would probably call on the left side of that spectrum, right?  But how far to the left?  There are definitely tings that are hotter, like molten metal or the sun.  And what if you wait for your coffee to cool down before drinking it, or (god forbid) like iced coffee?  In Wavelength, these kinds of discussion and debates are commonplace, as each round one player is trying to get their team to guess where something falls on a scale between two extremes.  You have to put your psychic powers to the test to guess what they’re going for!

Game Play

The premise behind Wavelength is pretty simple — get your teammates to guess within a range on a scale between two extremes.  Each turn, a player from one of the teams is the active player and draws a double-sided card with two different scales to choose from (e.g. “important/unimportant” or “easy to spell/hard to spell”).  Then, that player closes the screen and spins the wheel. This randomizes the target somewhere on the scale between those endpoints. The middle of the target is worth 4 points, scaling to 3 and 2 points further from the center.  The clue giver looks at where the target falls, closes the screen back up, and gives a clue to their team. The team then has to turn the dial to try to guess where on the spectrum the clue giver is trying to indicate. Once they’ve given their guess, the other team has a chance to guess if the actual target is to the left or right of where the dial was placed.  Then, the screen is opened and the target is revealed. The active team gets 2-4 points if the dial falls within those ranges from the target, and the other team gets a point if their left/right guess was correct. Then play passes to the other team, where someone else takes a turn to be the clue giver, and the process repeats. Play continues until one team gets 10 or more points, in which case they win!  Are you able to get on your team’s wavelength? 

Amber’s Review

I’m always on a lookout for good party games for our game group. There’s substantial satisfaction with easing your way into your game session with something lighter or ending the evening with a bit of a laugh. So when I was doing my biannual perusal of Kickstarter games, wavelength caught my eye. I was excited about the playtime, the ability to play with a lot of people, and of course, that sweet game wheel.

Opening the box to the game for the first time was a real treat. The main component of gameplay is the wheel and screen, which are expertly crafted and are a thing of beauty. I hope my pictures do them justice; they were so lovely to look at and have an excellent hand feel. We did have minor technical issues with the wheel during gameplay; a few times, when we tried to open the screen, we found that the dial behind it had moved as well. We were able to make it work during gameplay, so overall, it’s a minor issue, but something to watch for during your games.

As for gameplay, we had a blast playing the game. Ethan and I ended up on the same team, so it was a real test of our relationship to see if we could get on the same wavelength. Trying to tap into other people’s minds, trying to figure out how hot coffee is hot on their cold-to-hot spectrum, is an exciting way to get to know your friends (or strangers!). However, in playing by the rules of the game, once someone hits the max points, the game sort of just ends. There was a “that’s it” feeling when the game was over like we were expecting something more. When we get more plays in of this game, I expect we will likely house-rule the ending of the game instead of using rules-as-written.

Ethan’s Review

Wavelength definitely caught my attention as soon as I saw it announced.  We play a lot of party games with our gaming group, and are always looking for fun new entries in the genre.  Wavelength has some elements in common with other team based clue-giving games like Codenames, but the sliding scale mechanic is unique as far as I know.  The big wheel is certainly a highlight of the game — it’s intriguing to look at and fun to play with. They probably could have made the game differently, but component quality here is top notch.  Game play is very easy, and most people should have no problems picking up the concept in a matter of minutes. I think this game would be great for gamers and non-gamers alike, and the discussions and conversations that it engenders are great as an icebreaker, or a way to start off game night right! 

I think that my biggest issue with the game’s rules as written is that it can be incredibly short.  If a team is extremely in sync, they can win the game in two rounds (correctly hitting the 4-point target and correctly guessing left/right on the other team’s turn).  When we played with our gaming group, everyone was doing well for both giving and receiving clues, so there were a few 4s to be had. Ultimately this isn’t a huge deal, as you can easily play to any target, play multiple games, et cetera, so this is more of a minor nitpick.  I’m sure there are plenty of people for whom this game will turn into more of an activity or icebreaker, playing without keeping score until people get bored. The beauty of the game is that you can keep playing, because while there are a finite number of clue cards, the clue giver and target will always be changing, so there are many possible variations to be seen.  The other small caution I can offer is that the screen on the clue wheel closes a bit too snugly, so it can jostle the target wheel if you’re not careful when opening it. From what I’ve read online, this seems to be pretty common, but there is a strategy in flicking the screen open so that it doesn’t shift the target — we will have to try that next time to see if it helps.  Plus I’m sure that with repeated plays the wheel will loosen up a bit and not be as much of an issue. I’ve seen that in the very rare instances where there is an actual issue, the game designer/publisher is eager to offer replacements, which is always appreciated. 

So, if you are a fan of party games, particularly those where you need to be in sync with members of your team (such as Codenames or Dixit), check Wavelength out!  On a scale from “not fun” to “fun”, the target is definitely towards the right end of the spectrum! 

Preview – Roll Player: Fiends & Familiars Expansion

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review or sponsored content. A friend of the blog is a demonstrator for Thunderworks Games and brought an early copy of the new Roll Player expansion to a game night at a local meetup so we thought it would be an excellent opportunity for a mini-Roll Player review as well as a preview of the new expansion content! If you’d like to check out Thunderworks Games on twitter, you can find them here.

Roll Player is a game about creating a fantasy roleplaying character (à la Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder). Players start with a race, which determines bonuses or penalties they may receive to specific abilities, and a class, which provides the target ability scores the player wants to aim for. Players also get a background which gives points for placing dice of certain colors in specific spots on their “character sheet” and an alignment card, which will give (or take away) points based on how well the player satisfies it. Throughout the game, players will draft dice to build their characters, placing each one in one of the classic fantasy RPG stats (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma). Each round players can also buy something from the market, whether it be a weapon or armor, a unique ability, or a trait which provides additional end-game scoring opportunities. Once players have drafted 3 dice to each of their abilities (giving each one a range from 3-18, plus or minus any racial bonuses), they earn points for how well they were able to satisfy their class, background, alignment, and trait goals. It is a fun dice-drafting puzzle, and the theme is sure to entice any tabletop roleplayer!

Last year’s Monsters and Minions expansion added on to the base Roll Player game, and let players do something with their characters besides just building them. Each round, players have the option, instead of buying something from the market, to fight a minion. Every minion will give you combat dice based on some condition — for example, get a combat die for every completed column you have on your character sheet. Then, gain rewards depending on how well you fare in combat against the minion. At the end of the game, once characters are fully built, they will face the final monster. This is similar to a minion in that it gives players combat dice, and the better result they get upon rolling them, the more points they can earn (or lose if they do poorly). I thought this expansion made a ton of sense with the base game since in roleplaying games creating the character is only half the fun and it provides an incentive for drafting different dice and making sure your character will survive against the final boss.

This new expansion, Fiends and Familiars, adds… well, fiends and familiars. Fiends are penalties you get for drafting higher-valued dice each round, while familiars provide characters with an animal companion that gives a unique ability as well as three extra slots in which to draft dice. It also adds split dice that are considered 2 different colors, making it easy to complete backstory and familiar color goals, but only range in value from 1-4, making getting higher attribute scores more difficult.

Last night, I got an opportunity to try out Roll Player with just the Fiends and Familiars expansion. We had a three-player game with a new player, one who had played just the base game before, and me, who had played both the base game and the game with the M&M expansion. It seems like the new expansion would’ve integrated well with Monsters & Minions — the most significant difference there is removing more cards from the market deck to keep it the same size. But Fiends & Familiars keeps the “hunt for a minion” action, the final boss monster, and includes new enemies to fight. There are also new classes to choose from, so I was able to play the Conjurer, who actually (somewhat) benefited from taking Fiends by gaining XP, along with the ability to use XP to banish fiends. Otherwise, the initial setup is similar to what players with experience playing the base game are used to. The other new part added is choosing a familiar. Everybody gets two familiars to choose from, and they add a small board above your player board to draft familiar dice to. All of the familiars have power range targets, similar to attributes from your class card, but they look to be generally lower (e.g., 5-7 or 8-9). This gives you an excellent place to draft lower-valued dice without worrying too much about messing up your attributes (which generally want values of at least 14). Familiars also have an ability you can activate when placing a die in their row. As an example, my Ancient Tortoise familiar allowed me to take either an INT or WIS action when I set a die there, so being able to get a choice of what power to use made the familiar doubly helpful!

The other titular mechanism in the game, fiends, added a new challenge. Since we were playing a 3-player game, there were 4 initiative cards available to draft dice from each round, and a fiend was placed on the two higher-valued initiative cards each round. So, as a penalty for drafting higher-valued dice, you must take a fiend, which has a negative effect. Some of the fiends aren’t too bad: for instance, I had a fiend that made weapon cards from the market cost double, and another which prevented me from using weapon’s special abilities, so it was easy enough just to not buy or try to use weapons. Other fiends were more troublesome, preventing you from gaining gold from initiative cards or completing rows and otherwise mucking up the game for you. Fortunately, there is a way to get rid of them: by paying 5 gold or a charisma token, you can banish one of the fiends that are plaguing you. I really liked that this gave another use to charisma tokens, because the discount at the market isn’t always useful, especially when you can choose to hunt for a minion rather than purchase something.

Finally, besides the split dice, there is one other change added by the new expansion. For about the first half of the game, two dice are placed on each initiative card. This makes the start of the game go faster, and it balances getting early fiends a bit by giving you two higher-valued dice for them. You get to place both dice but only activate the attribute power for one, which makes for some pretty exciting decisions. I know there are some powers I rely on more than others (like the STR power of flipping a die over or the CON power of incrementing or decrementing a die by 1), so having to think about the placement to be able to maximize the use of those powers was pretty neat. Then, after a few rounds, the “Call to Adventure” card shows up in the market deck, and you’re back to the usual one die per initiative card.

Altogether, I really liked the Fiends & Familiars expansion to Roll Player! If you’ve played and enjoyed the base game and/or the Monsters & Minions expansion, I think you’ll definitely want this one to round out your collection. I really like what it adds, and I believe the fiends provide an exciting new challenge in balancing what dice you draft, while the familiars give you a few extra spots to dump dice you might not want elsewhere while still providing a benefit! And if you’ve never played it, if you enjoy puzzling out the best place to be able to use dice to meet as many goals as you can, and especially if you enjoy the tabletop RPG character-creation theme, give Roll Player a try!

Board Game Review — Welcome To . . .

In the upcoming series of review, you’ll see us review our top 5 games of 2018! Why didn’t we do this before?! We don’t know!

As seen in our Top 5 Games of 2018, Welcome To . . . has made a big splash with Two Board Meeples. Want to know more about the game? Let’s take a look below!

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Escape Room Games – A Comparison and Review

As you may have noticed from our “Meeples Weekly Recap” posts, we’ve been playing a lot of “Escape Room in a Box”-type games. In fact, I think we’ve played all of the major series in this genre: Exit, Unlock!, Escape Room: The Game, Escape the Room, Deckscape, and Escape Room in a Box. This post will compare and contrast these different games as well as give a brief review of what we felt about playing each of them.  Please note that pictures and reviews many have spoilers, though we tried to minimize this as much as we could.

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Board Game Review – Food Chain Magnate

Overview

Quick Facts

Designer: Jeroen Doumen, Joris Wiersinga
Genre: Economic, Manufacturing
Players: 2-5
Time: ~45 minutes per player

It’s the 1950s, and fast food is the latest craze.  Nothing gets the families of small-town suburbia out of their houses like the promise of hot food and cold drinks, served almost instantly.  You can see this new market starting to form and decide to start up your own restaurant chain, planning on making bank selling to hungry (and lazy) people.  However, you’re not the only one with this brilliant idea, as several other competing chains have started up in your very same small town!  Now, you must out-produce, out-advertise, or out-price your opponents out of the market and make your way to the top of the food chain!

Food Chain Magnate is a very heavy strategic game where players build up a fast food franchise starting with just one restaurant and a CEO.  You will then need to hire more employees to begin producing food and drinks, advertising your products, and selling to the customers in town.  The player who makes the most money by the end of the game can truly call themselves a food chain magnate!

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Solo Board Game Review – Deep Space D-6

Overview

Quick Facts

Designer: Tony Go
Genre: Solitaire, Dice Placement
Players: 1
Time: 30 minutes

Exploring the deepest reaches of space can sometimes be a lonely job, and when a fraudulent distress signal leads your ship into an ambush, you’ll have to survive by yourself until backup arrives!  As the captain, you’ll need to tactfully assign your crew to deal with both internal and external threats, maintain the shields and hull, and take care of crew members that have been put out of commission.  Can you survive all of the threats that will be constantly plaguing your ship?

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Board Game Review -Fisticuffs!

Disclaimer: We were provided a review copy of this game by The Nerdalogues.  This has not influenced our review.

Overview

Quick Facts

Designer: The Nerdalogues
Genre: Take That
Players: 4-6
Time: 1530 minutes

In the 20s, an eccentric billionaire flies his airship around the world in search of pugilists willing to fight each other in order to claim the incredible prize of any wish granted.  You are one of the eight participants in this year’s bout, ready to take on your opponents one-by-one in a gentlemanly sporting match.  What you discover, however, that these Fisticuffs bouts are free-for-all brawls where almost anything goes: from the simple jabs and kicks to uppercuts and haymakers, and even spitting on your opponents is allowed in the ring!  Do you still think you have what it takes to knock out all of your opponents and claim the title?

Fisticuffs is a veritable free-for-all of a Take That game, where each turn players will instigate combat against another participant, who can block and counter, or throw in the towel and allow others to tag in and join the fray.

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Board Game Review – Tides of Madness

Overview

Quick Facts

Designer: Kristian Čurla
Genre: Card Drafting
Players: 2
Time: 20 minutes

The sky have begun to darken; waves continue to lap on the shore, crashing harder and harder as time passes.  Collecting the artifact will bring you closer to the great Old Ones, but send you spiraling slowly into madness.  The chanting begins to fill your head and you began to chuckle against your control.  Will you be able to find the most artifacts before your foes?  Or will you descend into madness long before then?

Tides of Madness is a sequel to the 2015 game Tides of Time.  Like its predecessor, Tides of Madnessis a quick 2-player card drafting microgame, consisting of 18 cards and three short rounds.  However, it adds a new element, Madness (it is a Cthulhu game, after all), and some additional ways to score.

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