Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Major Fun Got'Em Review

Major Fun
Filed Under (Family Games, Thinking Games) by Major Fun on Oct 26, 2011 

As I’ve written before, the best strategy games (in terms of fun) arise from simple, elegant rules and game mechanics. Games of this sort provide an accessible portal into a contest that requires the players to make short term and long term plans based on…
Sorry about that. Got some verbosity lodged in my keyboard. Major Fun games like Got ‘Em! are easy to learn and you wanna play ‘em again and again and again.
This one is even reversible!! (I’ll come back to this in a second)
The basic premise is simple. Each player has a pawn on a seven by seven grid. On a turn, each player moves his or her pawn and places a plastic section of wall. Walls prevent movement in that direction. A player is eliminated if his or her pawn is ever surrounded by walls.
I mentioned the game is reversible, right? I meant reversible in the sense that some jackets are reversible. The board has two sides and each side has a distinct flavor of play and slight variations on the basic rules. One side is for the Bright Rules and the other side is for the Brainy Rules.
Bright Rules involves some random elements and utilizes a deck of 55 cards. The grid of squares on the game board is divided into four colors: red, green, yellow, and blue. Opponents still move their pieces and place walls, but their movement and wall-placement are dictated by the cards. Each player is dealt three cards. Each card has instructions for how to move your pawn and how to place a wall. For example: “move up to 2 spaces and place a wall on any GREEN square.” Not only must players work to avoid being boxed in, but they must also decide what cards will be most useful in later stages of the game.
Brainy Rules does away with the cards and the colorful grid. Players move their pieces and then may place one piece of wall anywhere on the board. Movement is based on the number of walls that currently enfold a player. Each pawn can move one space, but if your pawn is on a square that has a wall touching it, you can move your piece an extra space for each piece of wall. In some cases it is to your advantage to place a wall next to your own square. Doing so gives you one extra space of movement. That can mean the difference between scurrying frantically at the whim of your opponents and breaking into a clear space so that you can take the time to push your opponents around.
It is amazing how quickly the board fills with walls. What seems like a wide-open field of play turns into a series of dead-ends and shrinking courtyards. Especially with 4 players. Who knew that claustrophobia could be Major Fun?
Calliope has done a wonderful job of packaging the game, designing the pieces, and conveying both sets of rules. I appreciated the way each set of rules (complete with illustrations and hints) had its own tab on an ingeniously folded sheet of instructions.
Not since enacting Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado” in middle school have I had this much fun walling someone in. Well, there was also “The Black Cat.” And “The Fall of the House of Usher.” And “Buried Alive.”  Come to think of it, I remember having more students in that class at the beginning of the unit on Poe…

2-4 players. Ages 8+
Got ‘Em! by Zach Weisman. © 2011 Compound Fun, LLC. Produced and distributed by Calliope Games.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Giveaway – Calliope Games ~ Tsuro: The Game of the Path – Ends 11/1/11


October 21, 2011    |   more 

Tsuro: The Game of the Path

Description: Create your own journey with Tsuro, the Game of the Path. Place a tile and slide your stone along the path created, but take care! Other players’ paths can lead you in the wrong direction — or off the board entirely! Find your way wisely to succeed. Stay the path — your journey begins here.

Tsuro is an enjoyable game that uses a combination of chance and skill.

The game has a fun look that makes it feel as if you’re going on an adventure instead of just playing a game. It includes:

  • Gameboard (folds up inside a convenient to store square box)
  • 35 path tiles
  • 9 marker stones
  • 1 dragon tile
The instructions are very clear, so it’s easy to figure it out the first time. Once you know how to play, basic logic skills will help you figure out your strategy. Since there is some chance involved, you never know exactly what’s going to happen.

It’s recommended for ages 8 and above and can be played by 2-8 players. Some younger children may enjoy it, but 8 is a good guideline.

This is a fun game and I like the idea behind it. We never know exactly what life will bring us, but we can use our minds to help us stay on the path and enjoy the journey!

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PRIZE - Tsuro Game – ARV $30

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Giveaway ends November 1, 2011 at 8pm Pacific Time. Giveaway is open for residents of the US and Canada only. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to notification with shipping info and claim prize – if no response, another winner will be chosen . Subject to the official rules. No purchase necessary – void where prohibited by law. Disclaimer/Disclosure: Review sample and prize provided by the giveaway sponsor.

Tags: calliope games, holiday gift guide, tsuro

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Come Play With Me!

When my daughter Nicki was born back on Dec 22, 1998 my wife and I put a lot of thought into the nursery. We wanted Nicki to be comfortable and entertained. We dismantled a Peter Rabbit alphabet book and mounted the pages as a border all around the room. We all loved the images and the story that went with them. We also set up a desk for Nicki to play at… on the top I wrote this poem:
Come Play with Me. The more I Play, the more I Learn. The more I Learn, the more I'll Earn. The more I Earn, the more I'll Play. Come Play with Me.

This year Nicki will turn 13… how time flies! I can’t tell you how proud I am of her. Being challenged most of her life with an autoimmune disease (ITP) she always wears a smile. She reads a novel a week and excels at the top of her class. She is my hero and why I always want to play. (OK, one of the many reasons I always want to play : )
Play Games, they’re a lot of Fun and you’ll be surprised how much you can learn. Calliope Games Supersized Family Fun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Got’Em!: A meaty little filler game.   

Got’em is a game where you attempt to trap your opponents pawn using walls, while trying to keep your pawn alive.   The game has two styles of play, one of which is very strategic, and the other has a bit more luck.  I found the two different styles of play to be an interesting idea for appealing to two different demographics of players.  And how they accomplished this felt natural, rather then very “after the fact” and “forced” like in some games.

The game starts out with four pawns on their predetermined spaces on the board, denoted with a white dot.  Each player has a hand of three cards, these cards say things like “place a wall on a red square, then you may move up to two squares”.   You pick one of these cards from your hand and play it into the discard pile, following what the card says.  Then you draw back up to a hand of three cards.  That’s it for the easy version of the game.  It’s very straight forward but can still have a fair amount of strategy, as you scamper around the board trying not to be trapped.
The harder version of the game is very similar, however, it requires you to flip the board over.  Instead of all the colored squares, this side is all white.  The cards can go back into the box, they are not needed for this style of play.  This time, you may play your wall on any square you like.  Movement however is slightly more complicated.  You may move your pawn a number of spaces equal to the number of walls that surround it at the beginning of your turn.  So if you have a wall to the left of your pawn, and a wall to the back of your pawn, your pawn may move two squares this turn.
I do have two major complaints about this game, one about the components and one about the multiplayer game play.
First, the components.  The walls in this game are a pain to make stay on the board.  Essentially the walls are nothing more then thin strips of white plastic that have been cut to the appropriate length.  As a player, you need only wedge this strip of plastic into it’s snug little groove on the board.  But have you ever experienced trying to “wedge” something into a small hole as being easy?  Of course not, and I haven’t either.  Trying to get the walls in the proper spot on the board, without accidentally taking out half the board was trying.  All of my players struggled with this, which takes some joy away from the game.
My second complaint is really a plea for mercy for whoever goes last.  It becomes extremely easy to gang up on the fourth player, and they have very little recourse.  My group of players can be pretty competitive and thus when they see a weak link in someones’ defenses, it’s like piranhas smelling blood in the water.  On average our fourth player only got two to three turns before they were toast.  This seems like a design flaw, but maybe this game just doesn’t play best with this many people.
Despite these two complaints, my players and I enjoyed this game.  It’s simple, but thought invoking, and is a short game, which makes it a nice little filler.  It’s hard to find filler games that have some meat to them, because meat usually takes time, but this game did a pretty good job of accomplishing this.

One Response to “Got’Em!: A meaty little filler game.”

The following is a message from the designer of Got’em. I thought that the information conveyed here would be of interest to our readers. Enjoy!
Thank you for doing the review! We are excited that you like the game : ) I would like to Address you concerns you do have… the first and foremost in my mind is the 4th player complaint. In reading your review, on the “Brainy Side of Got’Em!” the movement rule is not be relayed correctly and if you played the way you outlined the rule, the 4th player may be at a disadvantage.
In the review, the movement rule is explained as
“You may move your pawn a number of spaces equal to the number of walls that surround it at the beginning of your turn.”
The rule actually reads:
“A pawn my move 1 square plus a number of squares equal to the number of walls on the square it occupies.”
If the game was played as written in the review each player is playing at a disadvantage as the “Number of walls plus 1 rule” greatly helps in negating the piranha issue. Also, in the first round of gameplay, no pawn can end the round with more than a single wall on it. Between the 2 rules, the game plays very balanced for 2-4 players : )
On the “Bright side of Got’Em” the issue is addressed in the cards by allowing players to “Move through walls” or “Remove walls” from the board. It is true that this is a luck of the draw, but the odds are reasonable (1:8) w/o destroying the “skill factor” in the game.
Regardless of which game players choose, it’s very important that they understand the need to always occupy a space that has a number available slots equal to the number of players… and that’s the real challenge to Got’Em!
As far as the insertion of walls into the board, we tried extremely hard to get that right. We had versions that the walls were loser in the board… they fell out much more often and made the game almost unplayable. Providing a snug fit (assuming the wall is completely seated in the slot) prevents walls, for the most part, from being knocked down. I do agree though, if you have larger hands like I do, it can be challenging to get the wall to seat properly.
Thanks again : )
Ray Wehrs
Calliope Games
I hope this sheds some more light on the game for everyone!