Image: 妄想ゲームズ☆ (via Amazon)

The gluttonous Demon Lord has kidnapped the Princesses of the Land of Sweets! Save the Princesses from the Demon Lord’s clutches and take back our sweets! One player is the Demon Lord, and the rest of the players are rescuers (players take turns being the Demon Lord). Line up Princess cards equal to the number of players +1. The Demon Lord places ◯ and ☓ cards below the Princess cards face-down. When a rescuer reveals a ◯, they successfully gain a Princess card; if they reveal a ☓, they fail to do so.

Purchase: Official Website / Booth

English Rulebook: PDF (via Google Drive)

This is an unofficial/fan-made English rulebook translation of Tasukete Princess (Save the Princess), by me. Tasukete Princess is a light drafting/bluffing card game for 3-5 players. It’s quick and breezy, and involves a simple and intuitive set of incentives that enables a rich bluffing game. Recommended for fans of games like Skull and Cockroach Poker.

What is this?

Enmity Engine is a 2-player fighting card game that adapts the battle system of the Pokemon video games to tabletop. Both players have 3 Fighters and a deck of Poker cards, which are used to activate their Fighters’ moves with the goal of defeating their opponent’s Fighters. It is now available for purchase via DriveThruCards.

Check out its page on this site for more info, rules PDF, and free print & play!

To celebrate Enmity Engine’s release today, I thought I’d put up a design diary detailing how I went about adapting Pokemon to work as a physical, analog card game. For the most part, I’m going to assume that anyone reading this is at least somewhat familiar with Pokemon’s battle mechanics, but if not I recommend giving at least one of the games a go. They’re pretty fun.

Continue reading “Enmity Engine Design Diary: Translating Pokemon’s battle mechanics to a physical card game Pt 1”

The game plays like this: Each player chooses a faction and grabs that faction’s components. Factions come with 7 unit cards that act as their army. Players pick and remove one of their units from the game, replacing it with a more powerful upgraded version of it, their Lion card, which acts as their quarterback/anchor.

During play, players take turns activating effects and setting unit cards on the board face-down. Each player has three battlegrounds to contend with: two that they share with the players on their left and right respectively (like Between Two Cities but angrier), and a Thunderdome in the center where all players engage in a battle royale. These lanes are where your units are placed. Since the units are face-down initially, you don’t quite know what players are putting down, but you know where they’re putting them, and you can react accordingly.

Once everyone has put 4 units down, or all players have passed in succession, all the cards are revealed and all battles are resolved, with the player with the highest total Strength in any given lane winning the battle in that lane and dealing damage to their opponent (or opponents, in the case of the Thunderdome). The wrinkle is that the order that the battlefields are resolved in matters due to various card effects, and that order is decided by the player with the first player marker (which rotates after each round). The first player has a distinct disadvantage during the Planning phase since they act and take turns first, meaning everyone else gets to react to and plan around what they do, but during the Battle phase, everyone else is at the first player’s mercy. Depending on how things shake out, they can seriously hurt someone by sequencing the battles to be as inconvenient to them as possible.

 

Once the round ends, all units are sent to a cooldown pile, and players don’t get them back until the next round, but units that don’t share the same lane with any allied units are returned to their owner’s hand immediately. It’s easy to just drop a bunch of units into one lane to overwhelm your opponents, but you only have 7 cards, so it’s not a sustainable strategy to just plop them down willy-nilly. Sometimes, you want to win a lane by Just Enough using a single card.

Something that consistently amazes me about this game is how much it gets done with so few cards. You’ll be seeing the same cards over and over again throughout the game, but the way they interact with each other won’t necessarily be the same from round to round. It wants you to familiarize yourself with your opponents’ capabilities so you can try to predict and outmaneuver them.

 

Gamers that are familiar with fighting card games like Exceed, BattleCON, Yomi, or SGS’s own Pocket Paragons will feel at home here with its premade factions and its bluff-heavy, double-blind, simultaneous reveal gameplay. At the same time, its rich cardplay and hand management scratches the ever-present Magic/Yugioh itch, while the multiplayer lane-based combat somewhat reminds of light skirmish games in the vein of Kemet or Inis.

Something that gamers might not like is the player elimination element: once your life hits 0, you drop out from the game. Personally, I find this preferable to letting players that aren’t in the running sit around and king-make for the rest of the match, but I can understand why it’s such a dealbreaker for players. That said, Space Lion usually plays tight enough that by the time a player gets eliminated, the game ends soon after.

If you’re looking for a deep & punchy card game that sets up and packs up quickly or a skirmish-y filler that you can squeeze into a lunch break, you can’t go wrong with this one.

I first played Heart of Crown during Anime Expo 2017, and I was pretty enamored with it. I usually don’t like sitting around the tabletop area during AX since there are usually better things to do (lot of friends fly in from around the world and it’s a rare opportunity to meet anime creators), but that year I actually spent the majority of my time there. I even entered (and won) a tournament that was held for the game. During the weeks following the convention, the game was in heavy rotation. I played the hell out of it with a friend who also picked it up during the con. We got a few dozen games in before we got tired of seeing the same cards over and over, since none of the expansions were released at that point, so we had the idea to play the game using cards from Dominion, which has way more expansion content. Here’s how we did it (but updated to work with the most recent Heart of Crown and Dominion sets):

Continue reading “Heart of Crown x Dominion – A fan variant”

Thought I’d make a list of beginner friendly games. Simple rules and on the cheaper end of the spectrum (generally $10-$25). I think the problem with too many of these lists is that they tend to recommend “gateway” games or games that people are supposed to use as a jumping-off point and get bored of once they start getting into “real” games so they sort of end up recommending a lot of bad games, without any sense of real curation (if they aren’t outright shills or Amazon affiliate link farms). They’re part of a board gaming culture where people regularly have monstrous collections of hundreds (if not thousands) of games, that on average end up getting played like once or twice, if at all. I think that mindset kinda sucks, so all the games that I’m recommending here are ones that I have personally played several times that I think you can get your money’s worth out of.

Don’t just take my word for it though. Look up reviews and discussions/comments on any given game (BoardGameGeek is a good source) and read the rules and see for yourself if it’s something that you’d enjoy (I understand this might be hard to gauge for newbies but it is a good habit to form if you decide to continue playing board games). Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a board game group, cafe, or even a public library that stocks board games, so you can try before you buy. If you can’t find a place, there’s always Tabletop Simulator, which is basically a universal board game piracy engine. Also, consider buying games from a local game store or specialized online retailer (like Miniature Market or Coolstuffinc) instead of just buying from Amazon or Target.

Continue reading “Recommended games for fledgling gamers”

Intro

Since I mostly plan on blogging about board games, I figured a good way to introduce myself would be with a list of some of my favorite games and a bit on how I got into boardgaming. I got my start playing tabletop games around high school when I got into Yugioh. We had a small group of like 3 people that met up at lunch and after school, until we started growing and ended up with around 2 to 3 dozen people on any given day. After a while I and a couple others became more interested in the competitive aspect of the game and ventured outside of our little group. A lot of the cards we needed to be competitive were prohibitively expensive (we were high school kids) and became obsolete almost as soon as we were able to acquire them. In an effort to be able to afford them, I got pretty invested in the whole stock trading aspect of the game, and even started selling cards to the other kids who played at lunch (at fairly outrageous markup to be honest, but they didn’t know any better). Ultimately, I didn’t get very far.

Fast forward a couple years, at Anime Expo 2011, I walked into the tabletop area. It was a relatively small, poorly lit, and poorly trafficked room, with about a couple dozen bodies, in stark contrast to the rest of the convention, which was teeming with energy and people, tens of thousands of them wandering around with long lines everywhere. Wanted to get some games of Yugioh in but couldn’t really find anyone to play with but a couple boardgamers saw that I was just standing around idly and invited me over. I was hesitant to join them and my first thought was “what the fuck is this nerd shit and why is there so much shit all over the table” but they insisted it would be fun so I gave it a shot. The game was Tanto Cuore, a maid-themed deck-building game, and that was my first taste of a designer board game. I had a lot of fun. I loved its fast pace and combo-tastic card play. And you could have a complete game with all the cards for just $50 and you only need one copy of the game to play with up to 4 people? (I realize now that $50 was highway robbery for this game, especially in 2011, since you can get it via online retailers for like $30 but I didn’t know any better) I was pretty enamored with it. I immediately bought my own copy and spent the rest of the con playing it in that poorly lit dungeon.

Around the same time, I was becoming increasingly aware of Yugioh’s issues as a game. At one point games would be decided before the person going second had a chance to even play their first turn (Inzektor format, for those familiar). Balance issues aside, the game had a bunch of unchecked rules problems, like how the damage step had 7 substeps, while being itself a substep of combat, as a consequence of various poorly planned card effects, and this resulted in a strain of players who would try to rules-lawyer their way to victory by having effect interactions ruled in their favor. In general, I wasn’t a huge fan of the culture. Cheating and theft/mugging were rampant, I’ve run into actual rapists and people who beat the crap out of other people to take their cards, and seen children interact with the financial side of the game in ways that are frankly disgusting. All good reasons to quit.

I didn’t immediately jump into board gaming after that. I played around with other CCGs but never found myself all that invested in them, and got in some Tanto Cuore with people that I managed to temporarily pry away from their CCG of choice. Meanwhile, I picked up a couple board games here and there, like Gravwell and Coup, and before I knew it, I’d amassed a fairly sizable library and found a consistent group that wanted to play them at my university. Eventually, I dropped all my CCGs and jumped into board games full force, becoming more involved in my uni’s tabletop game club, getting into game design, which I even ran a workshop for, for the uni’s game development club. My tastes have shifted quite a bit over the years. Had a phase where I was mostly interested in light games, then went on a deckbuilder binge, then got into mid-weight euros. This is where my tastes have landed on:

Continue reading “Intro + My Top 5 Board Games”