Adventure Time Card Wars: Twelve Minutes to Make a Game

By: Timothy Mattes

The premise of the show is simple, the last human boy and his brother a magic shape-shifting dog are heroes in a kingdom made out of candy that is threatened daily by a demented King that controls Ice and another King that is Anarchy incarnate.  Simple stuff.  So when an episode came out that features Finn the human playing Jake the dog at Jake’s favorite card game, Card Wars, everyone took it for what it was.  That being a twelve minute filler episode that shows you that you don’t always have to win to have a good time.  Nobody expected an entire collectible card set to be produced from it.  But that is exactly what Cryptozoic has done.

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Adventure Time: Card Wars is a two player card combat game that uses prebuilt decks based on the characters controlling them.  It is played over a series of rounds where the player builds up their characters or attaches buildings to specific combat lanes.  The first player to lose 25 life loses the game and is crowned the Dweeb.  The game uses mechanics present in almost every well-established magic based Collectible Card Game.  Using spells and creatures to clear a path to be able to damage your opponent while flooping(turning a card ninety degrees) cards to gain a special effect for the turn.

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The game is not the easiest to learn or even understand.  Complicated turn structure and confusing rules make interpreting the game a bit of a bear.  That said, I love the game.  I love the fact that none of the cards are from the show other than creatures played during the one twelve minute card wars episode.  I love that the show has not revisited the game and that the game is still successful on its own.  Card Wars is not a great game, however it manages to be an ok game and does that incredibly well.  The strategy and depth are not intense and the overall experience can be miserable yet I still find myself buying the next set and playing it all over again.  I cannot explain why I feel this way but I know that I enjoy playing Card Wars even when I’m not having fun playing Card Wars.  It is a bizarre phenomenon.

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There are currently four Two player collectors sets released for Card wars as well as a booster pack set called For The Glory and a Heroes pack that comes with oversized hero cards that give your deck a boost (similar but not quite to commander in the collectible game from Wizards).  Deck construction is fun but can become broken if you try too hard.

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Overall the game is a pass, if I’m doing my job as a proper reviewer and not injecting too much of my own personal emotions into the suggestion.  But I must say if you are even a little bit intrigued by the Idea of playing this game just get one of the two player sets and try it.  You might very well feel the same way that I do.

Final Score: 6.5/10

Episode One Hundred and Thirty-Four: TablePunk

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Resource management and a weird worker placement mechanic? Empire Engine from AEG is right in Tim’s wheel house, and Jeff hates it. Will this mini game be as engoyable as Tim will inevitably hype it to be?

 

Live Store Episode Thirty-Eight: The Squire of Gothos

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Jeff and Tim plow on with the demos at the Portal with Castle Panic.  Jeff’s first go at this co-operative tower defense game was good and there is a rule variant that allows for the game to be played like Swarm!

Boss Monster: or how I learned to hide princesses in another castle

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By Timothy Mattes

When one thinks of side scrolling castle/dungeon crawlers Mario and Castlevania stand out as the staples of quality gaming.  The boys at Brotherwise Games have quite literally stumbled onto the quintessential side scrolling tabletop game.  Boss monster has you take on the role of an epic boss from an 8-bit world.  You slowly build your dungeon to lure in heroes from the local town. Some are after loot, others magical spells, some practice the dark arts, and some just want a fight worthy enough to make them leave their local tavern.  Each turn you build a room in your dungeon and carefully kill the heroes that come through it. If you fail to kill them before they reach you then you get a punch in the face.  Get too many punches and your boss gets killed and you see the Game Over sign flash before your eyes.  If you get ten heroes to meet their untimely demise within the walls of your dungeon you have harvested enough souls to earn bragging rights amongst your boss brethren.

Boss Monster proves what Munchkin could not, a game can be funny and satirical of a genre without being so complicated that it misses a wider audience.  Boss monster boils down to a draw one play one tableau building game.  At its core it is a simple numbers and probability game, but nobody cares about the core of a game.  Where Boss Monster shines is in the theme, something that was applied in the thirteenth hour of design.  A stylized 8bit world full of Movie, Tv, Comic and video game references that will make even the most fringe fan of nerd culture squee with delight.

My first play through of Boss Monster left me with a feeling of contentment in a non-cooperative game that I hadn’t felt since Alhambra.  The game itself has funny screw your neighbor plays and an uncanny ability to allow you to set yourself up for failure.  Overall the game offers a large variety of choices and combinations that will make each game different.  It also has something that many games strive for and fall short on delivering, the people you play with become a mechanic of the game.  If you are playing with aggressive players you are more inclined to play defensively, if everyone at the table is a pacifist then you can go for big combos that won’t hurt anyone.  If it is a blend of the two then you have an intense struggle for dominance.  All said and done I enjoy Boss Monster. It is not in my top ten games of all time due to the fact that the game play can become stale for my tastes. But the merit of a game created by two brothers that filled a niche that appeared to be dominated by Steve Jackson is not something to take for granted.  Boss Monster is a fun light game that can be the beginning or the end of an epic night of gaming.  If you play Boss Monster and you feel it is too simple of a game I recommend adding the Tools of a Hero Kind expansion.  It makes the heroes harder and adds a few extra tricks to your dungeon.

If you are a fan of old school video games, or if you are a fan of the bad guy, then Boss Monster is probably right up your alley.  If you are tired of Munchkin and want something that is a little easier on your gaming group then go for it.   This game truly transcends the tabletop gaming genre and is the first true cross-platform game.  We have been given a real gift from Brotherwise Games, Put down the controller, take off the headset, and play face to face.

Final Score: 9.5/10  I cannot get enough of this game.

For more information on Brotherwise Games and the future of Boss Monster please listen to Episode 42 of Sorry Man, I Farted or visit their website at www.Brotherwise games.com

 

And with that, this has been a review from your humble moderator.

Episode One Hundred and Thirty-Three: The Samir Effect

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World travelers love to tell stories of their exploits. Antoine Bauza has provided the agoraphobic with a way to have their own tale of world travels. We sit down and play Tokaido from Funforge publishing. Tim plays his own game again and Matt explains why Tokaido is better than Takenoko and how it became his favorite game of all time.

Zoneplex or Progressive Concept Rock: The Board Game

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It is the late 70’s, a group of friends are sitting around a poker table in the basement of a bi-level home in Anytown, USA.  Hanging on the walls are various Rush, Yes, and Velvet Underground poster. The walls themselves are wood paneling. The carpet a disgusting mix of green, yellow, and orange in a calming shag.  The room smells a little musty and it is never quite dry.  Along the walls are various bookshelves full of Dungeons and dragons rulebooks, a series of spiral bound notebooks containing multiple campaigns, comic books, and records.  On the floor is a console TV with an Atari attached to it.  On the wall opposite the TV is a stereo, the warm glow of the green light signifying that the receiver is on and the turntable just above it is spinning hypnotically.  Through the large wooden housed speakers you hear it, two sharp chords and what sounds like a space ship. Three more sharp chords followed by one that echoes.  Three repeating chords that give way to a cacophony of sheer ecstasy and you hear him, the voice of our people. The mouthpiece of the weird, the socially outcast, the cool kids.  “And the meek shall inherit the Earth”.  The group at the table cannot be bothered with the growing intensity of Rush’s 2112. They themselves are in an epic battle fighting for control of the universe.  As the table comes into focus you see a pyramid full of the manifestations of all of mankind’s fears, and among them are a handful of monks.  You behold as this group guides these Monks deeper into the pyramid banishing their fears as they go, every so often being reminded that fear itself can be downright terrifying.  One of them sees an opening and takes it. A light at the top of the pyramid shines, so bright that the room, the records, even the music disappears into it.  When reality comes back into focus the leader of the group has transformed and you see that they control all of everything. They have conquered the Zoneplex and have been deemed worthy to control the Universe.  A series of high fives culminates in this group of heroes cracking the last few cans of soda. The night grows darker, swallowing them all.

Zoneplex is one of those games that a description of gameplay does not justify it in any way.  It actually detracts from the magic that is the game.  A build as you go game board provides avenues of strategy and discovery that ultimately lead to the pinnacle of the game, the top of the pyramid.  As you travel through the pyramid you are met by monsters that attempt to stop you.  Defeat them and claim their essence as proof that you have conquered that fear.  Three different types of fear await you. If you can defeat all three then you are worthy to enter the pinnacle.  The first to achieve this wins.  Zoneplex is played very similar to Munchkin, it starts out cooperative and after the pyramid is completed it becomes a free for all.  This game is the epitome of basement table top gaming in the dawn of the genre.  It is a board game version of epic DnD campaigns, too many snacks, and Mountain Dew.  I fear that if I go too much into the game play it will scare you away from this game, I do not want to do that. If you are a gamer and you love the strange nostalgia of older games, then Zoneplex is for you.  If it were created in the late 70’s or the early 80’s we would be holding this over our heads screaming “THIS is what a game should be!”.  Too often these days a reviewer will latch onto a game and say that it is what a game should be and all other games fall short because of its existence.  Zoneplex is not that type of game.  It transcends all of that bullshit and presents a snapshot of an era long forgotten in a way that anyone who at least knows of that time can see.  It opens a world of nostalgia if you allow it to.

Zoneplex is a beautifully crafted masterpiece created by Mysterion Games and released by the Game Crafter and it is magic in a box.  If you ever have the opportunity to play it with a group of friends that you genuinely love to game with please do.  Otherwise get a copy for yourself find at least two other people and give it a spin.  See if you can reclaim your piece of history and capture the snapshot that our parents have forgotten.

Final Score: 9/10

And with that, this has been a review from your humble moderator.

 

 

Episode One Hundred and Thirty-One: Chicken People

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Backers of The Majority Complete Edition had the opportunity to pick up designer Muneyuki Yokouchi’s newest game Triks and Deserts. We take this trick taking game for a spin and realize that Jeff is the only one at the table that understands it.