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Board Game Review: “Four Taverns” with a bonus quick review of “X Marks the Spot”

Rather Dashing Games

Rather Dashing Games is a new, up and coming board game company co-owned by game designer Mike Richie and artist Grant Wilson.  Mike and Grant are both really great guys and the games are really great games so I wanted to take a moment to post a review and help spread the word.  Also, I dare say, they’re both rather dashing.

“Four Taverns”

I think I can honestly say “Four Taverns” is my few favorite game.

Things that rock about “Four Taverns”

  • It can be played with only 2 players (fun 2 player games are very hard to come by)
  • Although only a 4 player game, it lends itself well to future expansions to allow for a greater number of players.
  • It is brilliantly simple and very easy to teach and learn.
  • Fast game play.  It’s only about a 30 minute game so easy to play while setting up another game, waiting for another game to wrap up, etc.  Plus short games are nice when it’s getting late but you really want a rematch.
  • It consists of only a couple decks of cards and some coins, so its a game you could easily carry in your purse or backpack for impromptu games.
  • Very little set up / tear down required.
  • It’s really fun.

Things that kinda suck about “Four Taverns”

  • I’ve got nothing.  I really love this game.

Game play

“Four Taverns” is a strategic card game wherein players complete quests to gain gold and renown for his or her respective tavern.  The object of the game is to be the first to achieve 20 points of renown.

The rules are surprisingly simple and the game can be taught with just a short explanation.  In fact, Andy and I learned it by demoing it with Mike and Grant and taught it to Marley, all without ever having read the directions.  You set up three potential quests and players decide which to pursue using hero and champion cards from their hands.  Multiple players can compete for the same quest so you have to use strategy to decide which to pursue and when to bow out.  You lose a quest, you lose all the cards you played on that quest, so questing is risky business.

There are also several cards that let you do things like duplicate another player’s card, take additional cards, etc.  And of course, like many of my favorite games, there are “screw your neighbor” cards that make the game more cut-throat and interesting.  You can kill another player’s champion, steal their questing party for your own, or take half their loot when they win a quest, stuff like that.  Unlike some other games though, the strategy cards aren’t so harsh that your whole game can go to crap in one or 2 hands.  They add a fun and interesting element and occasionally cause one of your close friends to call you a douchebag.  You know, the way games should be.

So basically, game play looks a little like this:

OMG you guys, I am kicking your butts so hardcore right now.  You should be ashamed.

Awwww we’re lame and fail at life.  Well, maybe not at life but we definitely fail at questing.

I demand a rematch!

… 30 minutes later, it’s neck and neck between Marley and Andy.  I’ve been a target the whole game thanks to the hardcore butt-kicking I delivered in the previous game so I was behind.  Marley only needed to play 1 card to win when Andy pulled 2 champions and won a quest, winning the game.

NOOOOOO!!!!

I’ll get you next time, Beardy.  Just you wait.

So that’s “Four Taverns” in a nutshell.  It’s a great game with solid mechanics, quick play, and easy instructions.  Like I said, I really can’t say enough good things about it.  It’s totally my new favorite game.

“X Marks the Spot”

“X Marks the Spot” is a strategy tile placing game featuring the artwork of Nigel Sade.  “X Marks the Spot” is a game of high seas piracy where you play one of 4 real life pirates.  The goal is to strategically place tiles to be the first to form 3 “X”‘s on the board.

Marley likened the game to “extreme Connect Four” and that’s not really a bad description.  You are trying to configure your tiles while also preventing your opponents from successfully configuring theirs.

Things that rock about “X Marks the Spot”

  • Can be played with only 2 players.
  • fast game play, again about a 30 minute game
  • Parlay!  we loved this dynamic.  It allows you to barter to trade cards with another player.  We liked that it’s an open dialogue trade but also that it can lead to forced trade or open up negotiations with other players.
  • Simple and easy to teach
  • Easily transportable
  • No set up
  • history lesson – we really liked the use of real pirates with little bios.  It was a nice touch.

The only negative thing I have to say about “X Marks the Spot” is that it could use a few rule clarifications.  This is pretty commonplace with new games and most games have online clarifications.  It’s also not uncommon for games to have revised rules sheets on subsequent printings, so this is to be expected with a new game.  As it stands though, the game is definitely fun and very playable.  We were just confused about a few points (which I will also send to Rather Dashing Games for their FAQ page)

As a disclaimer, I can’t guarantee these questions weren’t answered somewhere in the published rules.  We started this game late and were getting pretty tired.

  • Can 1 tile cover 2 separate tiles at the same time?
  • Do action cards (cannon, parlay, etc.) count as one of your 2 actions?
  • If you “scuttle your ship”, do you draw back up to 4 or to 6?  It seems like if you can draw back up to 6 (if you choose to scuttle after you drew) that you’d have an unfair amount of time to strategize your next move.  Or is that an added bonus of scuttling?  Lose a turn but get more time to plan?
  • Can you play action cards at any time, or only on your turn?

These are all little, nit-picky questions but playing a game where there is any uncertainty as to the rules can put a damper on game play.

Overall though, I’d say “X-Marks the Spot” is a solid game and one I look forward to playing again.

So there you have it folks: “Four Taverns” and “X Marks the Spot”, 2 fun, solid games by Rather Dashing Games now available at ratherdashinggames.com and coming soon to GenCon.

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EPIC Weekend (part 2) More gaming con shenanigans

The second installment in the story of my epic weekend at Origins Game Fair.  If you missed part 1, we revese photo-bombed Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day, played board games with Grant Wilson, and drank rum with a modern day pirate.  You should check it out… but you don’t have to.  This posts does fine as a stand-alone.

Wherein I peddled some wares…

Sleep was fail.  I had to be at the vendor hall early because I had a load of my friend Kace’s patchwork skirts in my car and had to get them to Journeyman Leather so they could be sold.  If you’re in Ohio this fall you should come see us at Silver Squirrel at the Ohio Rennaisance Festival.  You should also buy a skirt while you’re there because they are beautiful, you can wear them year round, and they’re guaranteed to match everything in your closet.  (Can you tell I’ve been doing that pitch for 7 years?)

Wherein I was nearly exterminated …

While delivering skirts I discovered there was a Doctor Who booth run by Who North America which is semi-local (within a reasonable drive if I have other plans in the area type deal) and I was like how could practically everyone I know have been here for 3 days already and nobody thought to mention this?!?!  And then I was all like HOLY CRAP A DALEK! How did nobody think to tell me there was a Dalek here?!?!  … and also a Tardis but who doesn’t have a Tardis these days?

Wherein my cheese curds were disappointingly not squeaky…

After that it was off to lunch at North Market with a few friends.  Good food and good times were had by all.

Wherein my friends totally geek out …

While at lunch my friends Steve and Ofelia asked what I had planned for the day.  I said I had promised to go by and demo “Four Taverns” so I needed to go do that but otherwise I was free.  They said they’d like to demo the game too and could they tag along.  I said sure and off we went.

Turns out, Steve and Ofelia are huge Ghost Hunters fans and were hilariously star struck over meeting Grant Wilson.  They couldn’t stop grinning and taking pictures the whole time.  It was fun though and Grant was an awesome sport.  He even agreed to talk to Steve’s sister on the phone.

Look at Steve cheesin,! He was just a little excited. haha

While we were demoing “Four Taverns” no less than 15 people came by to see me.  It was awesome and I was reminded that at least once or twice a year I am surrounded by people who find me more awesome than awkward, and I am totally okay with that.  As for the game, it’s great and I’m going to post a review today or tomorrow. Please check it out. If you can’t wait that long, here’s a link to Rather Dashing Games. I was originally going to post the review here but this post is already a bit too long and Mike and Grant would probably rather have a review in which I’m not also geeking over Daleks and talking about nipple juju anyway.

Wherein Ofelia loves you, man …

Moving on… Saturday was also Ofelia’s birthday and you can’t have a birthday at a con without your friends getting you drunk.  Con’s, however, aren’t like Vegas.  What happens at cons ends up photographed, videotaped, blogged, and otherwise spread all over the interwebz.  That said, here’s Ofelia drunk dialing everyone she knows while her husband videotaped it.  I’m not sure what she was talking about because it was loud where we were, but at one point I was put on the phone with her sister-in-law to explain why I was being mean to her in our game.

Wherein I discover the awesome evil power of my left nipple …

The game was Risk and I always think I want to play Risk but then I remember that I totally suck at rolling dice.  I don’t care what anyone says, dice rolling is a skill and it’s a skill I don’t possess.  I even got personalized dice with my name on them.  It didn’t help.  Those dice hate me the most of all dice and it makes me sad.  I also suck at playing green no matter what the game.  I don’t know why, I just suck at green.

Anyway, we were playing Risk and Steve’s teenaged nephew was kicking my butt and I was about to die and be out of the game when it came to me.  Andy does this thing where, when he needs a good roll he rubs his dice on his nipples.  The sad thing is, it works.  This is like the whole sucking at dice and green thing.  I don’t know what weird forces rule the gaming universe.  I do know, however, that nipples are like little portals or beacons of power or something that link the gaming forces to our mortal world.

For reasons I won’t go into my left nipple is evil.  It occurred to me that if I could properly harness this power, I could sabotage everyone else’s rolls and catch back up in the game.  So, before the child could attack me again, I grabbed his dice and rubbed them on my left nipple while singing the evil nipple song (which I made up as I went).  I then made weird jinxing hand motions from my left nipple to the board and handed Michael back his dice.  He rolled all 1’s.  It was doubly awesome because 1’s totally look like nipples.  Maybe that’s why nipples are beacons through which game powers are channeled?  hmmmm

The amazing thing was, he couldn’t stop rolling 1’s.  Roll after roll 1’s kept coming up until the poor boy screamed “What have you done to these dice?!?!  Take it back!  You have to take it back!”  You don’t want to mess with my evil nipple.  It’s bad news.

So you might be thinking there’s a flaw in my bad nipple juju strategy in that I will eventually have to roll those same dice to defend my dudes.  Not so.  You see, the universe must remain in balance so for every evil nipple there must also be a good nipple.  I’m pretty sure that’s a Taoist principle.

good nipple

Believe it or not the powers of the gaming universe being channeled through my nipples was so powerful that not only did I not die, I came back and won the game!  and then I wrote “nipple” on the board.  True story.

So that’s how I spent day 2 at Origins.  I saw lots of other people and did lots of other things but it wasn’t any of those people’s birthdays so whatever, they got left out.

Please tune in tomorrow for my review of “Four Taverns” and a few more pics from the con.  G’night everybody.

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Wherein I have an EPIC weekend… (part 1)

The following took place Friday night from roughly10 PM to 3 AM.

One of the nice things about where we live is that we’re just a couple hours drive from several awesomely nerdy annual conventions.  We go to at least 2 and sometimes as many as 4 conventions a year.   Gaming cons, comic cons, anime cons, they’re all fair game because cons are nerd paradise, especially after hours.

Of all of the cons that we go to, Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio is my favorite.  I’ve gone every year for 6 years running and have amassed a large posse of awesome friends from all over the world.  Thanks to social media we all keep in touch.  We continually look forward to next year when we’ll all see one another again and inevitably add a few more folks to our entourage.  Origins is smallish as far as cons go but that’s what makes it so much fun.  You can actually hang out with people and shop and game and it’s all very relaxed and groovy.

Given the awesome time I always have at Origins I was expecting good things, but what I got was a truly epic weekend.

Andy went up on Wednesday and I joined him there Friday night.  I found him sitting in the back of Big Bar playing Shadowrun with some friends.  As soon as I got there, all the guys began not so subtly saying “look behind us” and then started passing me cameras.   Gaming at the table directly behind them were Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day.  There are pics, so it’s true.

Don't look, but Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day are at the next table.

This is Andy. Oh, and that’s Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day behind him. Author Pat Rothfuss was sitting directly behind Andy but wasn’t in his seat when I took this pic.

Epic Photo Bomb
We call this one “EPIC PHOTOBOMB”!

Then I played a game at a con for the second time ever.  I lost.  Badly.

Amusingly, the only other game I had ever played at a con before Friday night was a game of Munchkin that I played with Steve Jackson. Sorry Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day, I beat you to that one by about 4 years. 😛

Here’s a link to TableTop featuring Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day playing Munchkin with Steve Jackson.

That went on until well past midnight. When we finally departed the back room, we immediately ran into some friends from Chicago. While talking to them, Grant Wilson, formerly of Ghost Hunters, and Mike Richie, game designer and President of Rather Dashing Games, came over and hung out with us for a while.  Turns out they had gotten to know Andy a bit over the few days before I got there.  Man, what a great couple of guys!  They did a game together called “Four Taverns” that I’ll review in tomorrow night’s post.  Our friend Nigel did a game for Rather Dashing as well but I’m going to get to him later and I haven’t played his game yet.

I’m throwing in a plug for Rather Dashing Games here because and Grant and Mike are both really great guys and tomorrow you can read about how it’s a really great game.   Rather Dashing Games  Go to the site.  Buy things.

I look like a huge (literally) dork here because Mike tried to steal a sip of my drink, I caught him, we both laughed and then Andy snapped the pic while we were still recovering. This is why there are never any pictures of me. Andy fails at pictures.

Andy with Mike and Grant, hanging out in Big Bar.

After that we ran into our friend and wonderful artist Nigel Sade and his adorable girlfriend Sarah and super fun cousin Steve. Well, any time we run into Nigel we can pretty much plan on hanging out all night.  So that’s what happened.  In fact, that happened every night… and that’s why all the rum’s gone.  Nigel’s a really cool artist who does a lot of sci-fi and comic themed stuff in addition to more serious artwork.  He just finished a Darth Maul that I must have and we’re currently bartering for a Daredevil tattoo design.  🙂  Check out his work.  He’s a great guy and a great artist.

Andy and Nigel

This is a pic I took of Andy and Nigel talking at like 3 AM because I was getting tired and bored. Mostly tired. Also hungry.

That ALL happened Friday night.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2, wherein I play and review “Four Taverns” while looking rather dashing, finally win a game of Risk thanks to my bad nipple juju, and encounter a Dalek.

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