Card Games

A STEM-Themed Game that Makes Learning Fun

Card Game Review:

STEM: Epic Heroes

Rating: 6.5 of 10 stars

Intro

I played this game five times with my sister as a learning opportunity for both of us, with and without the additional challenge cards. I found it to be educational even though the game is simplistic and highly luck-based.

Objective

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

STEM: Epic Heroes is an educational card game for 2-4 players. It has set collection and take that! mechanics. The theme is centered around figures from STEM history.

Gameplay (6 out of 10 stars)

The objective of the game is to acquire all the steps to the scientific method while acquiring as many points as possible.

Hero cards can be paired with discovery cards to build the scientific method. Heroes each have different special abilities. Hero types (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) must match the color and type of the discovery card.

Inspiration cards can be used at any time during any turn or between turns to thwart your opponent’s efforts or protect yourself. They sometimes let you steal something or block stealing, for instance.

Enhancement cards include locations and items. They can power up your heroes and are worth points. They can be played with the hero or later can be added to the hero. Only one location and one item can be played per hero and the type and color must match.

Challenge cards are included for a more complicated variant of the game. Challenges are set out and whoever completes them gets the points and the card when it is done. Honestly, that doesn’t add much to the game.

Design (9.5 out of 10)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art on the cards looks great and really makes figures from history look like epic heroes. The components are of good quality. The instructional manual layout is not the best for learning the game, but it is highly informative when it comes to describing historical figures. I appreciate the diversity of figures included in the game, and that they did not overlook the achievements of people of various races and genders.

Strategy (4 out of 10 stars)

Strategy is low because what matters most in this game is who gets what cards first. A lot is up to chance, so the only real strategy is choosing when to make the game end and which one of limited actions you choose.

Originality/Creativity (7 out of 10 stars)

Creativity when it comes to the theme is high. I have not played an educational game that teaches about the scientific method and historical figures from STEM history before. I enjoyed it more than expected as well. There is nothing super original about the gameplay, honestly.

Replayability (6 out of 10 stars)

My sister and I played it a few times in a row one day because it is short, but I could see this game getting old over time because it is so luck-based.

Conclusion

I admit I’m not a huge fan of card games compared to board games, but I found this one to be an easy and fun one. This is not a game for really serious gamers, but may be appealing to those new to the hobby, those who appreciate educational games, and those who just want a simple game to play with friends and family.

Pictures

Links

Card Games

Bohnanza: The Bean-Planting Card Game

Card Game Review:

Bohnanza

Rating: 7.2 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

Bohnanza is a hand management and negotiation game for 2-7 players. The play time is about 45 minutes, which seems about accurate based on my experience. The suggested age for players is 13+ years.

Gameplay (8 out of 10 stars)

Bohnanza is a game where the objective is to plant and harvest beans to gain coins.

In the beginning, each player receives five cards. The order of the cards matters in this game, so you cannot organize the cards in your hand.

On your turn, the first action you must take is to plant bean cards from your hand. The first card you must play on one of your fields. The second is optional, but can only be placed if it matches one of the beans you already have in your fields.

The cards you place must be the first (and second if you decide to place two) card on the right side of your hand.

Next on your turn, you turn over two bean cards from the top of the deck. You can then decide if you want to keep and immediately plant those two cards, or get rid of them. The only way to get rid of them is by trading with the other players. If no one is willing to trade, you must plant those beans. The active player can also trade cards in their hand along with the two beans from the deck.

A player can also give bean cards for free. This may happen because they want to get rid of cards they would otherwise have to place in their fields.

The third part of your turn is planting the turned-over cards from the deck if you haven’t traded them, and/or planting the traded cards. If you plant a bean that doesn’t match either of your stacks of beans in your fields, you must harvest your largest bean crop and then plant the bean.

You can harvest beans at any time, whether during your turn or someone else’s. When you do, you look at the beanometer at the bottom of the card that says how much different amounts of beans are worth. Then you gain coins matching the amount listed on the bottom for the number of beans you have.

The game ends when the draw pile is emptied and shuffled for a third time.

There is a variation that includes several more types of beans: the cocoa been, wax been, and coffee bean.

There is also a variation with slightly different rules for the two-player game. (For example, the game ends when the draw pile is emptied the first time.)

Design (4 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art is just plain ugly. The green bean above, who is standing next to a pool of vomit, is a prime example of how horrible the artwork is.

The player mats are flimsy, so thin and easily to damage that my dad laminated ours.

Strategy (9 out of 10 stars)

There is a lot of strategy of the game, but most of it is bargaining to get the beans you want and get rid of the beans you don’t want.

Knowing when to harvest your beans is also strategic, as is choosing which beans to focus on since some are worth more than others but are less common.

Originality/Creativity (8 out of 10 stars)

I would say this game is pretty creative. I have never played a game before where I was so desperate to give away cards for free. Having a game where you can’t organize or reorder your hand is also very unique.

Replayability (7 out of 10 stars)

The game has good replayability because of its variation and how fun and easy it is to play. I would even be willing to play it more than one time in a row if everyone at the table was enjoying it.

Conclusion

I admit I’m not a huge fan of card games compared to board games, but I found this one to be interesting and engaging.

Card Games

Saboteur: The Game of Mining, Sabotage, and Gold

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.

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