Card Games

Saboteur: The Game of Mining, Sabotage, and Gold

Saboteur | Board Game | Rules of Play

Card Game Review: Saboteur

Rating: 8.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

What I hope to accomplish with my card game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Saboteur is a fantasy bluffing game that uses hand management and hidden roles. It also has a notable take-that mechanic. Players play as dwarves mining for gold–except at least one of them is a hidden traitor!

It’s a game for 3-10 players that is supposed to take 30 minutes. (In my experience it takes at least 45 minutes.) It is meant for ages 8+, but I could see it being difficult for an eight-year-old the first couple of times. I think it would work best for ages 10+.

Gameplay (8 out of 10 stars)

A Saboteur and Gold Miner

Basically, in this game you play either as a gold miner or a saboteur. The objective for the gold miners is to place find the gold, while the role of the saboteur is to prevent the gold miners from reaching the gold.

The way you do that is by using path cards, shown above. Most path cards can be used to get closer to the goal, but there are some dead end path cards that saboteurs use. The three brown cards at the top of the picture have either coal or gold under them.

Throughout the game, players can check what’s under one of the brown cards by using a map card. A map card is an example of an action card. Action cards can be identified by their white border.

Anyone is free to tell the truth or lie when using a map card, so it is generally good to have a second person verify the location of the gold or coal if possible.

There are also attack cards among the action cards. Saboteurs can use them to sabotage miners, and miners can use them to sabotage saboteurs. When a player is attacked with one of these cards–breaking their lantern, pickaxe, or cart–they cannot play any path cards.

Broken supplies can be repaired using the cards shown below, matching the type of equipment. After the equipment is repaired, the player can use path cards again.

There are is also a type of card that removes a path tile from the board–a tunnel collapse card. This can be helpful for the saboteur or the miners.

There are three rounds in the game and there are two ways to end each round. One way is for one of the players to find the gold. In that case, the miners win, and the player who put down the last path card gets first pickings of the spoils.

The other way is for the saboteur(s) to win the round by making it impossible for the miners to reach the gold. Once cards run out in the decks, they are not reshuffled, meaning the miners have a limited amount of time to reach the gold before they run out of useful path cards.

If the saboteur(s) win the round, they receive 3 gold each. This is because it is harder to win as the saboteur.

After 3 rounds, the player with the most gold wins.

(As always, for a full rules explanation, read the actual rulebook because I just provided an overview.)

Design (9 out of 10 stars)

Close-up of details on cards

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art was created by Andrea Boeckhoff and is generally pretty simplistic. However, as shown above, the artist included details in some of the path cards that are playful and creative.

This is a card game that fits in a tiny box, so don’t expect anything fancy. The components include path cards, action cards, gold nugget cards, gold miner cards, and saboteur cards.

The rules are included on a single page and yet sufficient.

The advantage of the components in this game is that they fit in a really small box that is shorter and more compact even then most books.

Strategy (10 out of 10 stars)

Strategy is cooperative for most players and consists mostly of teamwork and knowing what cards are best to use when. The game requires a lot of attention on the part of the gold miners to be able to realize who the saboteurs are and stop them.

Also, since the last person to place a card before the gold is revealed gets first pickings of the loot, there is a tiny bit of competition and cooperation is still very self-focused.

There is more strategy for the saboteur(s). For one thing, they want to find out who the other saboteur (or saboteurs) are without blowing their cover. Saboteurs also have to decide whether to act decisively at any point in a way that reveals their wicked intentions, but it is more effective.

Originality (9 out of 10 stars)

The originality is high in this game. Using cards like tiles to reach a goal is interesting, as well as the bluffing aspect allowing you to get away with being the saboteur for as long as possible.

Unlike in some games, you don’t lose if someone finds out the saboteur–you just get to keep on playing.

Replayability (8 out of 10 stars)

Replayability is decent. You go through the same pack of cards every time, but who is the saboteur and the number of saboteurs is pretty random and makes playing it multiple times still enjoyable.

Conclusion

I would certainly recommend this game. It is low complexity and functions perfectly as a gateway game for those just starting out in the board game hobby. Yet it is challenging enough to engage more serious board gamers as well.

Board Games

Ganz Schön Clever: A Strategic Roll-and-Write Game

Board Game Review: Ganz Schön Clever

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Intro

What I hope to accomplish with my board game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Ganz Schön Clever is a competitive roll-and-write game for 1-4 players. The game takes about 30 minutes to complete and is recommended for ages 8 and up.

Gameplay (9 out of 10 stars)

Dice Rules

There are six colors of dice in this game that each allow you to mark off different parts of your game sheet (shown above).

The yellow die allows you to cross off the corresponding number in the yellow-bordered section. Completing a row or column in the yellow section gives the bonuses indicated on the sheet (for example, 20 points or the chance to add a 4 to the orange section.)

The blue die is added to the white die to cross off the corresponding number in the blue-bordered section. Once again, completing a row or column provides a bonus.

The green die must be greater than or equal to the number in each spot in the green-bordered section to mark it off. Green spots must be marked off from left to right. The bonus under a green spot is gained when it is marked off.

The orange die allows you to take the number on the dice and write it in the orange-bordered section. Orange spots must be marked off from left to right. The bonus under an orange spot is gained when it is marked off.

The purple die allows you to write a number in the purple-bordered section. Numbers do not have to be consecutive, but each one has to be greater than the last until reaching 6, after which you can start the cycle over. The bonus under an orange spot is gained when it is marked off.

The white die is a wild, standing for any color.

Player Actions

At any time in the game, each person is either an active or passive player.

Active players first roll all the dice. Then they choose a numbered die and mark off what they chose on their sheet. All numbered die of lower value are then placed in the Silver Platter (shown above). The remaining dice are then rolled, and the active player picks another die. Those dice of lower value go into the Silver Platter. This cycle repeats one more time.

Then the passive players choose one dice from those in the Silver Platter and mark the corresponding spot on their sheets. More than one player can use the same die.

If these actions are available, the players can use rerolls or add +1 to a die.

Scoring

The points from the blue section and the yellow section are calculated based on what columns and rows are completed.

The green section gives the amount of points indicated above the last marked spot.

The orange and purple sections both are calculated by adding the numbers in their respective rows.

Each fox obtained during the game is equal to the number of points in the lowest scoring out of all the categories.

Design (7 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art is simple and minimal. The components will need replaced if used frequently because of the limited number of sheets and limited ink.

Paper sheets are fine, but it would have been better to have small dry erase boards instead of paper, such as those used in the game Wits & Wagers.

The markers running out is inevitable for this kind of game. Just buy more small markers if you run out, or use pens or even pencils.

The instruction manual was very well done. There are specific examples of what a turn would look like, as well as a chart to see how good at the game you really are. My whole family consistently scores in the lowest bracket–I can’t imagine how someone would make the highest bracket and qualify as clever.

Strategy (9 out of 10 stars)

Sure, the game utilizes luck, but there is so much strategy involved. Luck is minimized anyway due to the actions such as rerolls and adding +1 to rolls.

Focus too much in one area and your foxes will be worth next to nothing. Generalize too much and none of your categories will reach their potential. The whole thing is a balancing act.

Even which dice you discard must be strategic because your opponents can use what you rejected to their advantage.

Originality/Creativity (8 out of 10 stars)

Many consider this game to be one of the best roll-and-writes. The concept of the foxes is pretty unique, and so is the fact that passive players can use dice rejected by the active player.

Replayability (7 out of 10)

This game is fun and has a thick pad of sheets for gameplay, so it is conducive to replays. However, this is a game I would personally not want to play more than once in one day. It’s a good, light game to play anytime.

Links

To learn more, I recommend visiting Board Game Geek.

To learn how to play with a video, I recommend this video by Meeple University.

Board Games

Board Game Review: Wingspan

Wingspan Cover Artwork

Rating: 8.58 out of 10 stars

Intro

What I hope to accomplish with my board game review is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Wingspan is a competitive game where your goal is to collect diverse species of birds on your wildlife reserve.

There are two variations of the game.

One of the variations is more “friendly,” allowing all players to receive end of round points for meeting the round objective. Round objectives vary, but an example is receiving one point per bird in your water habitat.

The other variation is more competitive, and only the players who get first, second, and third place for the end of round objective get points. For example, if the objective provides points for birds in water habitats, only the players with the most birds in the water habitats would get points.

Personally, I prefer the “friendly” variation of the game because it rewards you for how much you have achieved rather than based on how you measure up to other players.

Gameplay (9 out of 10 stars)

Gameplay offers a lot of options for each player’s turn even though you can only take one action per turn.

One action you can take is playing a bird card in one of your habitats by paying its food and egg costs (if applicable.)

A second action allows you to obtain food from the dice rolled in the bird feeder. If there is only one food type left in the feeder, you can reroll all the dice and then choose.

A third action allows eggs to be laid by the birds in your habitats. There are restrictions on the number of eggs each bird can lay in its nest, which vary based on the species.

A fourth action is drawing more bird cards to put in your hand. These can be played in future turns after paying the cost of the card (in food and eggs).

The resources you get from completing the second, third, or fourth action increase based on the number of birds in the habitat. You always get the resources indicated on the space to the right of the last bird you placed in that habitat.

Birds that are placed have powers that occur either when first played, when activated, or between round. They are indicated at the bottom of the card.

Furthermore, it is worthwhile to note that sometimes you can convert resources to other resources. Two of any one resource can count as one of a different resource. Also, when taking the second, third, or fourth action you can occasionally convert an egg, a food token, or a card to a different resource indicated on the space to the right of your bird.

It is also interesting that each round of the game is shorter than the last, because it puts more pressure on the players to take the most efficient actions.

Design (9.9 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art in Wingspan is phenomenal. The bird images remind me of the watercolor paintings by John James Audubon, though the lines are bit crisper in Wingspan.

The components are beautiful as well. I especially appreciate the colorful eggs, the custom wooden dice, and the dice tower bird house.

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My only complaint is that on the end-of-round bonuses are labeled by round from right to left instead of left to right. Since English is read from left to right, I have accidentally prepared for the wrong bonus and failed to gain points as a result.

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The player boards are also designed to look like worn journals on the outside.

Strategy (9 out of 10 stars)

This is a game where you can take on a variety of strategies based on your preferences. For example, you can try to broaden the species of birds on your reserve, accumulate eggs on your cards, or try to achieve your secret goals. Of course, it is best to do all of these things, but often one of these becomes the focus of your game.

Originality/Creativity (8 out of 10 stars)

The concept of a game where you are building a wildlife reserve for birds is unique. Except for Wingspan, I have not come across a game with a theme like that. The closest are maybe a few zoo-building games like Zooloretto.

The mechanisms of the game are not unique, but the combination of them was creative and provides for a unique experience overall.

Replayability (7 out of 10 stars)

Replayability is decent because of the number of cards in the deck. You get a different experience every time. Because there are a bunch of strategies, playing repeatedly can be enjoyable, allowing you to change your strategy each time.

Links

To learn more: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/266192/wingspan

To learn how to play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgDgcLI2B0U&vl=en-US

Card Games

Card Game Review: Coup

Coup Cover Artwork

Rank: 6.2 out of 10

Intro

The card game Coup was first introduced to me by my cousin Elyse while my family and I were on vacation in New Hampshire. I thought I would not like it because I am not skilled at bluffing. However, since first playing it, Coup has been one of my favorite card games.

Coup is #5 on my list of top five favorite card games.

This is my first full card game review. What I hope to accomplish with these reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you to determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Coup is a bluffing and risk-taking game. Your objective is to manipulate others and take control of the court.

There are 5 different types of cards, each of which have a different ability. These cards include an Assassin, a Captain, a Contessa, an Ambassador, and a Duke. Each player has two cards at the start of the game. These cards represent influence you have over the court.

You can use the abilities on the cards in your hand, or pretend to have a card with a different ability. Other players may challenge you if you are bluffing. If they are right and you are bluffing, you lose influence (in other words, lose a card.) If the other player is wrong, however, he or she is the one who will lose influence.

When you use a card to complete an action or block an action, you should not reveal it. No one should ever know what cards you have.

Once you gain 7 coins, you can launch an unblockable coup, forcing another player to lose influence.

Once you lose two cards (influence), you are eliminated.

Gameplay (7 out of 10 stars)

Gameplay is prettystraightforward. The first player takes an action, everyone has an opportunity to challenge them, and then the next person takes their turn.

There are three actions you can take without using cards – as a result, they are actions that cannot be challenged. (Although they can be blocked by some abilities.)

The first option is taking income, which allows you to take one coin. This cannot be blocked, but it’s such a conservative move that using it repeatedly won’t get you anywhere fast.

Foreign aid lets you take two coins, but it can be blocked if one of your opponents has a certain card (or claims to).

Coup lets you pay seven coins to assassinate another player’s character, causing them to lose influence. It is unblockable.

The available cards to use are the Assassin, Captain, Contessa, Ambassador, and Duke. Remember, you don’t have to have these cards to use these abilities if you pretend to, but you run the risk of getting challenged and losing influence.

With the Assassin, you can pay three coins to attempt to assassinate another player’s character, causing them to lose influence. Unlike a Coup, an Assassin is blockable.

With the Captain, you can steal two coins from another player. You can also block people who are trying to steal from you.

The Contessa blocks another player from assassinating one of your cards.

The Ambassador allows you to exchange the cards in your hands with the Court Deck. The Court Deck is a deck of the remaining cards not in the player’s hands. This is useful if someone is beginning to suspect you are bluffing, but hasn’t dared to challenge you yet. He also blocks stealing.

The Duke allows you to take three coins from the supply, and to block Foreign Aid.

Design (Rank: 7 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The artwork is creative and futuristic, an almost sci-fi rendition of court life.

The components are sparse but adequate. 15 influence cards, 6 summary cards, 50 coins, and a rulebook.

Strategy (6 out of 10 stars)

This game is less about strategy than about how good you are at lying and detecting the lies of others.

There is strategy involved in how much risk you are willing to take, and whether or not to play it safe.

Originality/Creativity (6 out of 10 stars)

The artwork is pretty original.

As bluffing games go, it is pretty creative. It’s court life theme and game based on influence allows you to feel like you are really an ambitious courtier seeking dominance of courtly life.

Replayability (5 out of 10 stars)

This game is fun to play multiple times, don’t get me wrong.

But because there is not much variety, it does get old eventually. That’s why it’s good to play once or twice every couple of weeks or so. Any more than that and it will start being boring.

Links

To learn more: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/131357/coup

How to play: https://boardgamegeek.com/video/78506/coup/coup-quick-rules-explanation-350