Review: Coup

pic16395322-6 players, 15 minutes

Coup attracted some attention after it’s first limited release, and so Indie Boards and Cards picked up the game, ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign, and transplanted the game from its sixteenth century European setting to the far-future dystopia of their popular game The Resistance. So, what do these two settings have in common?

As it turns out, a lot of lying to your friends.

At the start of the game, every player gets two coins is dealt two cards in secret, representing two characters the player can influence. You might be chummy with the duke and have the contessa keeping an eye out for you, or you might have a couple of thieving captains owe you a favor for services best left unspecified. Functionally, it’s a game of hidden roles, but unlike most of those games where you are what’s on your card, it wouldn’t make sense for you to be the duke and the contessa, or, for some reason, a double captain.

Your goal in the game is to eliminate the other players by taking away their influence—you want to be the last one standing with any political clout. The most straightforward way to do this is to pay seven coins to launch an eponymous coup, which automatically forces a specified player to give up one of their cards. You could use an assassin for less than half the cost, but they can be blocked by the aforementioned contessa.

Then there’s the exciting way—lying.

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Review: Android: Netrunner

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There’s a sense of ownership that comes with customizable games like Netrunner. Sure, you can play with the prepared decks that come in the box, but most of the fun comes in designing your own kit to bring to the table and play against your friends.

And, hopefully, absolutely destroying them.

Netrunner is a card game set in a cyberpunk future where giant corporations have amassed near total power over human interests, and hacker run against their computer systems for diverse (if generally shady) reasons. One player plays as one of these megacorps, trying to advance their secret (and generally shady) agendas, while the other plays a runner, trying to steal those agendas—if they don’t die trying.

Each side has tools available to help them. The corporations, for instance, have Ice—short for Intrusion Contermeasures Electronics, they’re security programs that try to slow down, stop, or punish the runner for daring to approach their servers. The runners, meanwhile, has a selection of handy icebreakers, which do just what they say on the box. And that’s just the start—the corporation also has assets, upgrades, and operations, while the runner has hardware, resources, and events.

All of them cleverly designed to beat your friends and have fun doing it.

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Review: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

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The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game—ACG to all the hip nerds—is a cooperative fantasy card game spun off from the massively popular Pathfinder Role-Playing Game.

It took a lot of steps to get to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Dungeons and Dragons begat Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, which begat a second edition, which begat a *third* edition, which begat Pathfinder, mostly because people got a bit tired of all the begetting that continued to a fourth edition of the world’s most popular role-playing game.

And finally, here we are with the acclaimed card-based offshoot. Let’s see if it lives up to to the hype.

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Review: Bruges

function get_style13 () { return “none”; } function end13_ () { document.getElementById(‘bobwig13’).style.display = get_style13(); } pic1652004Board game designer Stefan Feld had an eventful year—Bruges is just one of four of his board games released in 2013. In it, the players take on the roles of ambitious residents of the titular city with the ultimate goal of… well, it’s not exactly clear. Being the most esteemed landlord, maybe?

You get the feeling that the theme isn’t all that important. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins, but the rules never bother to explain what that represents. In fact, some rules make absolutely no sense considering the theme—did you know that canals can catch on fire and burn down?

But that’s the thing about board games—they’re not simulations. The theme can add color and make give a framework for what happens in the game, but there are abstract games out there. Games don’t have to be models of the physical world—they just have to be fun.

Let’s see if Bruges succeeds.

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Review: Love Letter

function get_style7 () { return “none”; } function end7_ () { document.getElementById(‘bobwig7’).style.display = get_style7(); } LL_tempest-cover-759x1024It’s hard to imagine a rewarding game can come of sixteen cards and a handful of cubes, and the little red velvet pouch it comes in certainly doesn’t help.

But trust me on this one.

Love Letter is a card game designed by Seiji Kanai, and the rules are dead simple. You shuffle the deck and remove the top card, face down. Each player is dealt exactly one card. There are eight different types of card, each with their own rank and effect. During their turn, a player draws a second card and picks which of the two to play. The player with the highest ranking card at the end of the round wins, but more often then not it comes down to the last man standing.

And that’s it for the rules. Brutal, isn’t it? Well, maybe not at first glance, but hear me out, because the game unfolds from these very simple mechanisms.

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