Category Archives: Card Games

Exploding Kittens, Original Edition

Exploding Kittens, Original Edition

Name: Exploding Kittens Original Edition
Type: Card Game 
Publisher: Exploding Kittens
No of Players: 2-5 (2-9 with any 2 deck combined)
Size: 16.2cm x 11.3cm x 3.8cm
Weight: 225g
Age: 30 and up?
Price:  £16.99
Playtime: 15 mins
Rating: [usr 3.0]

A while back I reviewed the NSFW edition of Exploding Kittens (you can read about that here) and since I recently picked up the original SFW edition I thought I’d write a little something on it. I’m not going to go into a great amount of detail, it’s essentially the same game as the NSFW Edition and so you can read my thoughts on how it plays on the other post, instead I thought I’d just look at a few of the cards.

Exploding Kittens, Original edition, Contents

So, a quick look at what you get in the box-

  • The Rules
  • 56 cards

Just like the NSFW Edition the list of contents is pretty damn short, but that’s fine, it makes for a nice and simple game.  You get exactly the same number of cards, with exactly the same ratio of the 8 cards types in either edition.

So, what makes the Original Edition different from the NSFW Edition? Simply put, this version is a little more kid friendly than the NSFW Edition, the cards don’t have references to anything sexual or otherwise inappropriate and instead tends to rely on the absurd or the gross like this-

Rainbow-Ralphing Cat

or this-

NOPE- Exploding Kittens Original Edition

As with the NSFW Edition all of the art here is done by The Oatmeal and all are a little offbeat and odd but that’s part of the charm. If you aren’t amused by the idea of someone being force-fed a sandwich while having a sauce bottle with NOPE written on it then this game probably isn’t for you.

The whole point of the game is to avoid the Exploding Kitten cards and they are probably some of the most amusing of the set, especially if you own a cat.

Exploding Kittens, Original Edition, Exploding Kitten Cards

I can see my own cat being responsible for any of the catastrophes, from walking over a keyboard (which she does ALL THE TIME) to randomly chewing on some TNT and all with a casual nonchalant look on her face as the world burns around her.

So should you buy this version if you have the other (or vice versa), that comes down to whether you like the other and whether you routinely need to cater to more than 5 people, which I do. Ultimately it’s no different in play style to the other version and the only reason it’s scored a point lower is because I identify with the humour in the NSFW Edition a little more. Exploding Kittens is fun, it’s easy and none gamers can play it while having a few drinks and find it funny and stupid, which counts for a lot.

Making Foil Alt Art IDs for Netrunner

Netrunner Foils, Complete

I really like making things, I’m not particularly skilled at it but I get immense satisfaction from creating things to improve my games. I also really like alt art cards for games, anything that sets my collection apart from the norm. So, it should come as no surprise that when I saw this,  I wanted to give it a try.

First of all I needed to figure out if it was at all possible, based on my very limited skills. The descriptions and tutorials on the above link prove some details on the process, based on US materials and items, and explain most of the process for making the cards but I even so, it seemed a tall task.

Materials

The materials required are-

  • Magic the Gathering Foil cards
  • Acetone
  • Printer acetate
  • A printer (obviously)
  • Spray mounting glue
  • Some Photoshop software
  • Hi res images of the cards you want
  • A rolling pin
  • Some kitchen roll/towel
  • An old toothbrush
  • A ceramic tile or other clean and flat surface
  • Low tac masking tape or plumbers tape
  • Lots of newspaper to protect your work area

Going through the above list-

Cards– I got my MTG foils from my local game store, they had some in their penny card bin and let me have them for nothing. I had to search for about 20 mins through a few thousand cards but free is free. You can also pick these up on eBay or from any MTG card seller online but, as you are stripping the artwork anyway, get the cheapest you can. The sets you use do seem to matter, for me I’ve found that the cards from Shadows over Innistrad and Eternal Masters work the best.

It’s worth pointing out that not every single card in those sets works, some just don’t for some reason but, in my experience, most do and they certainly work better than any other sets I tried.

Acetone– I got this from eBay. Just search Acetone and buy the purest form you can, likely 99.9% pure. Try to avoid any that is specifically marketed as a nail polish remover as it won’t be strong enough and may have other particulates which dilute the purity. It makes sense to try and look for acetone that is specifically marketed to the scientific community as that is the most likely to be lab grade. I tried a few different types and in the end this is the best I found and it was £7.99  for a litre, posted-

Acetone, Netrunner Foils

Acetate– I actually had some acetate at home, from another project making stained glass windows for a model base but it wasn’t suitable and my first test print on it didn’t take. I went online, again to eBay as it seemed to be the cheapest source, and and after trying a couple of variants I ended up with a pack of 20 sheets for £7.89 posted.

Make sure you get the right kind for your printer, ink or laser jet (laser seems to be much cheaper) and you are looking for one that has a white strip on one side that indicates the side to print on. The thickness of the acetate also matters as thicker acetate may cause you printer to snag the sheets and smudge the images, I went for 100 mic thick. This is what I got-

Acetate, Foil Card Making

Printer– Pretty self-explanatory really. For my initial run I was using a HP Envy 120 and it was perfectly suitable for the job but i’ve recently changed to a HP Envy 5640 and it does appear to make slightly cleaner images.

Spray Mounting Glue– You need to be careful with this, it needs to be one that gives a very light coat without being blotchy or patchy and it needs to be 100% clear. I’m using 3m Photo Mount which I got from Hobby Craft for £10.00-

Foil Card making, Photo Mount

PhotoShop software– I actually used PhotoShop CC but MS Paint can be used to achieve the same goal. The downside of Paint is that it compresses the image and so it might not print at a high enough resolution.

Hi-Res Images- this was actually by far the most problematic part of the process for me, mainly because the cards I wanted to do, the alt arts of the core set ID’s for Netrunner, are all highly sought after and so people don’t want to scan and release the images in case they get counterfeited and sold online. Since FFG have never released the official images either, this took some work and I only managed to get good enough images when a person who has already been through the process sent them to me.

An alternative method is to find the artist on Deviant Art and find the original art, which will likely be good enough resolution, but then you’ll have to add all the game stats yourself, which is a significant amount of work and almost certainly requires Photoshop or some equivalent. A final option is to make foils of some of the fan made alt arts, like the Wayland one I’ll be showing, as hi res images of these are much more readily available and some of them are absolutely fantastic (just stay away from ‘Sexy Chaos Theory’).

You want the highest quality you can get. At the low end my files are about 600kb and they seem to work fine but the really good ones are around 38mb and that’s what you want if you can find it. Ultimately as long as it prints cleanly at 300dpi you should be good.

All of the other items are things I have in my hobby cupboard and so I didn’t have to go looking for them. Pretty much everything is readily available with the low tac masking tape probably being the least commonly available but, even so, virtually any hardware store should carry it and I got mine from B&Q as it’s used in the painting and decorating trade.

The Process

Hi Res Images

First up is obtaining the hi-res images and assuming you’ve done that they need to be loaded into your Photo editing software and resized to the necessary size for the card, in my case 63mm x 88mm, which is the size of a Netrunner card and, fortunately, a MtG card. Then you need to reverse the image so you have a mirror image of the card. This is because you will be printing on the acetate and then reversing it so the ink is protected between the acetate and foil background of the card. When that’s done, test it on paper, and it should look something like this-

Foil Card Making, Low res Gabe

As I said above, not how the text on Gabe is slightly blurry, indicating that this isn’t a high enough resolution image.

Cleaning the cards

Next you want to scrub the cards. To do this tape them down to a clean flat surface like a ceramic tile with something like low tac masking tape or plumbers tape. This will make sure you don’t get the acetone onto the edges of the card which will cause pealing and that you don’t end up denting the card when rubbing the ink off.

Card Making, Card Taped Down

Then dip an old toothbrush into a pot of your acetone and use it to scrub the visible card clean. The ink should come off nice and easily, as you can see below, and if you need to scrub any more than this then the card probably isn’t suitable. Try not to scrub too hard or you’ll scratch the card and it may become unusable.

Once the middle of the card is clean give it a wipe with a clean piece of kitchen roll and then carefully peel away the tape. If you are gentle and using plumbers tape you can actually reuse it for a number of cards. Then, using a clean piece of kitchen roll, carefully clean away the borders of the card. It’s worth using only outward motions so as to avoid getting any acetone under the edge of the card which can cause the foil to peel away. Again you can see what I mean in the video below-

If you get acetone under the edge of the card and the foil peels away it’ll end up looking like this-

Foil Card Making, Damaged Edges

But ideally your stripped card will look like this-

Foil Card Making, Clean card

Printing the images

As I said at the start you need to do a do a little prep work in Photoshop. This entails resizing the images to the size of a Netrunner card, reversing them so the writing is backwards and placing them all on the same page so you can print them out in a bulk lot and save wasting acetate. Once you are ready and you have set the files to print at 300dpi then print the sheet and make sure it’s dry before you start the next step.

Putting the Pieces Together

There are probably better ways to do this but this is how I did it. First I printed the images onto acetate, as I mentioned above you can fit a number of cards onto one page and so printing them all at once prevents wasting acetate. Give the page a couple of minutes to dry, just in case, and then CAREFULLY cut out the cards. Don’t bother being exact here, you just need to make sure each car dis on a separate piece of the acetate for the next step and so it’s worth leaving a clear boarder around each.

Once you have separate images cut out then tape one, face down (the writing should be backwards as you look at it and the printed side should be exposed), onto a sheet of paper being sure to not put tape over any part of the image. This will hold it firm while you attach the foil. Next line up a couple of pieces of card with the 2 edges of the image to form a corner boarder. This will help you line the foil up correctly and get a neat final card. Test this by placing the foil against the edges of the card guides like this-

Foil Card Making, Placed Card Test

Doing this will make sure that all of the relevant parts of the image will end up on the final card. Once you are happy remove the foil and carefully spray the printed acetate with your spray mount. I found that doing this from a height of 18-24 inches gave me the best final result but you are looking for a clean and even coating on the acetate that looks like a light mist. Any large blobs of glue will ruin the final foil and so the lighter the coating, the better.

Once you’ve applied the glue you need to work quickly. Apply the foil firmly but be careful to make sure it lines up with the guides you’ve put in place as this will make sure it’s straight. Most spray mount won’t allow for re-adjustment after applying the foil so you get one shot, be careful but quick. As soon as you’ve applied the foil then you need to apply pressure very quickly to remove any air from between the layers and reduce the chance of spotting. The easiest way I found to do this is to use a rolling pin. I applied all of my weight to the rolling pin and rolled it over the card in firm motions for a couple of minutes after placing the foil. The quicker you do this after gluing the foil and the more pressure you can add, the better the chance of a clean, spot free, foil.

Hopefully, if you followed the steps, you should end up with a foil that looks something like this-

Foil Card making, Finished Cards

This was quite a long process for me, I’d say probably 1 in 3 of the correct foils was good enough to use to make a card (you can cover a few small flaws with some cards because of very dark spots on the art, but it’s a bit hit and miss) and it took me several printings to get the art to the correct size and resolution to be good enough to use. From start to finish refining the process took me about 2 weeks, obviously that’s not working all day every day but I did some work on them most days during that period.

Patience was the key for me, something I don’t have in abundance, and the biggest thing I learnt was just how critical the right kind of foil can be. I went from spending over an hour trying to clean the wrong foils, with very limited success, to it taking just a couple of minutes with the right kind and getting a fairly good result most of the time, even if they weren’t all usable.

It was a really fun process though, I enjoyed seeing the evolution from my first attempt with a poor foil stuck down with Pritt-Stick, to the finished versions I have now, which look absolutely stunning. Going forward I’m going to scan a few more of the alt arts I have and see if I can make foils of them and I’m very keen to see if I can make a Scorched Earth that will be usable in a deck (provided it’s not noticeable when sleeved and shuffled in, something I’ve yet to check). Making the foils is quite time consuming and can be fairly costly, especially once you have to buy the base foils, but the overall effect is worth it, at least to me.

I have an alternative to MtG foils that I’m researching at the moment, that will reduce the cost and time per card significantly if it actually works and I’ll update the article if it does to give some further details. All in all making the cards isn’t for everyone but I enjoyed it and playing with a foil as my ID is always a talking point in games.

 

Star Realms Colony Wars Review

Name: Star Realms Colony Wars
Type: None Collectable Deck Building Game/Expansion
Publisher: White Wizard Games
Players: 2-6 (2 per box used)
Age: 12+
Size: 9.7cm x 7.1 cm x 4.6 cm
Weight: 255g
Playtime: 20 mins
Price:  £12.99
Rating: 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Star Realms, Colony Wars, Front of Box

 

Star Realms Colony Wars is a stand alone game and an expansion for the Star Realms Card Game. It is produced by White Wizard Games and was released in December 2015. Colony Wars is the first boxed expansion for the Star Realms game. As with the rest of the Star Realms line, Colony Wars follows an LCG style model and so every single Colony Wars deck has exactly the same cards in it, unlike CCGs like Magic the Gathering.

Colony Wars comes boxed in a standard trading card game style cardboard tuck box with the front decorated by the Mech Cruiser card art and the back of the box giving some general flavour text about the game and the designers. As with the original Star Realms game, Colony Wars was designed by MtG hall of Famers Rob Dougherty and Darwin Castle.

Star Realms Colony Wars, Contents

Inside the box you get-

  • 80 x Trade Cards
  • 10 x Explorer Cards
  • 20 x Starting Cards (comprised of 2 decks of 2 x Vipers and 8 x Scouts each)
  • 18 Authority Cards (12 x double sided 1 and 5 cards and 6 x double sided 10 and 20 cards)
  • 2 x Rule Leaflets (1 x Standard and 1 x Multiplayer rules)

Star Realms, Colony Wars, All card types

The cards come cellophane wrapped in two decks, within the box, and the rules leaflets sit between the two. The cards are of reasonable quality, not quite the premium cards of FFG but better than the ones in Shadowrun Crossfire. They are laminated for protection but still feel a little flimsy and so probably wouldn’t stand up to the spill test all too well, which is worth bearing in mind.

I won’t go into a huge amount of detail as to how the game work, thats covered on the original Star Realms Review, but in simple terms each player starts with 50 Authority (life) and the same starting deck of 10 cards (2 Vipers and 8 Scouts). Players have a hand of 5 cards and take it in turns to play them, using any Trade (yellow coin symbol) to buy cards from a shared Trade Row made from the main deck and using any Combat (red circle symbol) to cause their opponent damage and to loose Authority. The first person to reduce their opponent to 0 Authority or lower wins.

Star Realms Colony Wars, Faction Cards

Each of the cards in the Trade deck falls into one of the 4 factions from the original game, being the Blobs (green), Machine Cult (red), Star Empire (yellow) and Trade Federation (blue). As with the original game the abilities and bonuses that these cards provided are broadly defined by faction. For instance the Machine Cult generally allows you to scrap cards from your hand and discard, so reducing the chance of drawing weak cards late game, while the Star Empire tends towards forcing your opponent to discard cards from their hand, limiting what they can do on their turn.

The card art is a further improvement on the original game and Crisis expansions and is now more defined, brighter and more action packed giving the cards a greater impact on the table. While the standard of the art, in terms of complexity, isn’t exceptional, I don’t feel that this detracts from the game at all and it certainly helps keep the game cheap to buy and play.

Star Realms and Colony Wars Power Comparison

Looking more closely at the cards it seems that there is a little power creep in play, the card on the left, the Trade raft is from the original Star Realms game while the Solar Skiff on the right is from Colony Wars. As you can see, it’s immediately better since you get 2 Trade and the ally ability or drawing a card on the Skiff for the same cost as 1 Trade and an ally draw on the Raft. I’d generally be concerned but as the Trade Deck and Row is shared between players, both are equally aided or hampered by it.

Colony Wars expands the base Star Realms game beyond the 2 player game it was out of the box. Sure you could have bought multiple boxes to play with more people but  generally don’t like buying the same game more than once when I know it’s not going to add content and so the introduction of Colony Wars gives me another way to bring the game to the table for my wider gaming group.

Colony Wars is a great stand alone game and an even better expansion to the base Star Realms set. I hope White Wizard look to make more boxed expansions for the game in the future as it’s a simple great with depth and replayability, making it perfect for a casual evening. The only downside for me is that it’s now too big to fit in my Star Realms Deck Box, meaning i’ll probably need to buy a second one, or the larger one.

 

Star Realms Cosmic Gambit Review

Name: Star Realms Cosmic Gambit Expansion
Type: None Collectable Deck Building Game
Publisher: White Wizard Games
Players: 1-2
Age: 8+
Playtime: 20 mins
Price:  £7.95 approximately
Rating: 3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

http://www.starrealms.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Screen-Shot-2015-12-06-at-5.56.28-PM.png

The Star Realms Cosmic Gambit Expansion is booster pack style expansion for the Star Realms Card Game. It is the 6th such booster pack style expansion and it contains a further 16 Gambit cards for use with the Star Realms and Star Realms: Colony Wars games.

As with all of the Star Realms sets the Cosmic Gambit pack resembles a booster pack for collectable card games such as Magic The Gathering but unlike collectable card games each Cosmic Gambit pack contains exactly the same cards and, in this, resembles the Living Card Game model that Fantasy Flight Games uses for games such as A Game of Thrones and Android: Netrunner.

As with all of the other booster style expansions this set comes in a foil pack that tears open, much like any other trading or collectable card game. The art on the front is bright and neat and depicts a mining station on a volcanic planet akin to Mustafar at the end of Revenge of the Sith. I find the artwork to be extremely eye-catching and I’d certainly take a look at what it was if I saw it on the shelf of my FLGS.

Star Realms, Cosmic Gambit, cards

You get 13 Cards in the pack and they are all Gambit cards, aside from the Secret Outpost and the rule cards. Of those 13 cards there are 10 unique cards with 3 having multiple copies in the set. The full card list is-

  • 1 x Rules
  • 1 x Secret Outpost Base
  • 1 x Acceptable Losses
  • 1 x Black Market
  • 1 x Hidden Base
  • 1 x Triumphant Return
  • 1 x Two Pronged Attack
  • 1 x Veteran Pilots
  • 1 x Wild Gambit
  • 2 x Asteroid Mining
  • 2 x Exploration
  • 2 x Rapid Deployment

The art on these cards is exceptional, a real step up from any of the previous releases. As you can see from the Hidden Base and Secret Outpost cards below, they’ve really improved the overall visual style, making the cards more action packed and the art cleaner and more dynamic. Star Realms cards have generally had a fairly high standard for the artwork but these surpass any previous offerings.

The rules for these Gambit cards are slightly different from the original Gambit set. Whereas previously you dealt out Gambit cards and they were revealed by all players simultaneously at the start of the game, Cosmic Gambit cards are dealt out and remain secret until a player chooses to reveal and play them, adding previously unseen ‘secret’ element to the game. This is the only circumstance in Star Realms when a player won’t know what cards his opponent has available since all Trade Row buys and hand/deck discards are public.

The new cards work slightly differently to the first Gambit set with each card providing a single discard bonus that tents to allow additional drawn on top of a small amount of a resource. The exception is the Hidden/Secret base as this Gambit allow you to put the hidden base card straight into play, which could be a significant advantage early in the game. This base is one use though and doesn’t go into the discard pile after it is destroyed so it needs to be deployed wisely.

ic Gambit, Hidden Base:Secret Outpost

As with the last Gambit pack the Cosmic Gambit pack is a nice addition to the game of Star Realms but it’s far from essential and, of the two, I prefer the original Gambit pack, although that is decidedly harder to source nowadays, especially in the UK.

It will add an interesting element to your games, especially the secrecy of what Gambits people are holding since you can’t be sure as to how strong your opponent is, right from the start, but you aren’t loosing anything by not picking it up either. With that said, I’m a completionist and for the minimal cost of the expansion it hardly seemed worth missing and that that reason enough for me, as it will be for others but I wouldn’t prioritise it over Colony Wars or indeed most of the Crisis sets.

Hacker Premium Token Set Review

Name: Hacker Premium Token Set
Type: Gaming Accessory
Publisher: BSD Hobbies
Weight: 115g
Price:  £25.50
Rating: 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

BSD Hobbies, Hacker Premium Token Set

 

BSD Hobbies recently sent me a pack of the Hacker Premium Token Set for review, a set of tokens for use with the Netrunner Living Card Game made by Fantasy Flight Games. In the interest of disclosure this was sent to me free of charge. This pack is BSD Hobbies entry into the field of token sets for the Netrunner game and, to my knowledge, they are the only UK based company to do so, being based in Swansea in South Wales. I have to say, I think it’s great whenever any UK company steps into the gaming market as we simply can’t get enough home grown gaming companies.

BSD Hobbies, Hacker Tokens, Full Premium Set

The set comes with a significant number of tokens, 112 in total according to the website although the pack I received had a couple of extra 5€ and Link tokens, and these come in 13 different designs. In total you get-

  • 24 x 1€ Credit Tokens
  • 6 x 5€ Credit Tokens
  • 10 x Virus Tokens
  • 6 x Tag Tokens
  • 6 x Advancement Tokens
  • 10 x Link Tokens
  • 6 x Bad Publicity Tokens
  • 10 x Memory Tokens
  • 24 x Tracking Tokens (12 x each of Red and Orange)
  • 6 x Brain Damage Tokens
  • 2 x Action Tokens
  • 2 x Click Tokens

The tokens come bagged all together and my set had an example of most of the tokens attached to a piece of card, showing what was in the bag. BSD Hobbies have advised me that this is no longer the case when the ship orders and that this just happens when they send them out to stores, reviewers or send them to shows so people can see what’s included in the pack.  All the tokens are laser cut from acrylic and all have laser etched designed on the surface. The level of detail varies from token to token with some, such as the Memory Tokens being fairly elaborate and others, like the Tracking Tokens being more basic.

BSD Hobbies, Memory Tokens

BSD Hobbies Tracking Tokens

 

 

 

 

 

The quality of the etching also varies a little but this is to be expected given the price for the whole set, and the imperfections aren’t noticeable unless you closely inspect each of the tokens individually. Having looked at them pretty closely i’m confident that taking a couple of hours to add a touch of paint to the etched areas would effectively remove any of the imperfections and generally add an extra bit of wow factor to the tokens as a whole and thats something I may well do one rainy afternoon.

While the Memory Tokens are probably my favourites looking ones in the set others, like the Virus, Tag and Link Tokens are also very well designed, interesting and would certainly look much better on the table than the generic card tokens that FFG provide in the core box.

BSD Hobbies, Virus Token

BSD Hobbies, Tag Token

BSD Hobbies, Link Token

 

When the tokens arrived some of them needed a bit of cleaning to get the most out of them as they had a little bit of plastic dust on them as a result of the cutting and etching process. It wasn’t a huge amount of effort and just took a few minutes with a cloth and some nail polish remover to tidy them up and have them looking nice and shiny.

BSD Hobbies, Credit Tokens

I wanted to mention the Credit Tokens. These are in denominations of 1 and 5 with the currency used being the Euro, represented by the € symbol. I think using the Euro symbol is a nice choice, it’s a bit more unfamiliar than the pound £ symbol and less generic or obvious than dollar symbol $. If I was brutally honest I would prefer that a ¥ yen symbol were used, as it fits a Neo-Tokyo Cyberpunk style game a little better in my mind but thats personal taste.

BSD Hobbies, Brain Tokens

My pack came with 2 different version of the Brain Token, used when a runner takes Brain Damage. There is a version with a stalk and one without and when I reached out to BSD about this they advised that it’s because some people prefer one version and some prefer the other but packs will only contain one or other other, rather than a combination of both.

Having considered it, I prefer the version without the stalk as it looks more brain like to me but I like the fact that there is a choice available. There isn’t an obvious way of opting for one or the other on the website but i’d suggest dropping them a line if you have a preference and i’m sure they’ll do their best to accommodate you.

This set provides just about all the tokens you would need for both a Runner and Corp deck in a standard game of Netrunner. There are exceptions, certain virus heavy decks might run out of Virus Tokens and you might need more Advancement Tokens if you plan on using Government Takeover or if you plan on advancing several Agenda or Traps at once but, in either case, you could just use the Tracking Tokens to make up for them, so it’s not really an issue but it’s noteworthy nonetheless.

Don’t get me wrong, there are more elaborate Token Sets out there, but you pay a premium for them and again to get them shipped to the UK. For comparison a similar collection of tokens from the widely known Team Covenant in the US would set you back around $90, before postage to the UK and thats a significant difference for something that doesn’t actually effect play in anyway beyond proving a nice aesthetic.

BSD Hobbies have produced a great set at a fantastic price that covers everything you need to play the game, getting 13 different types of tokens and over 100 in total for this kind of price is excellent value for money, even if a few are a little rough around the edges.

My first Netrunner Tournament 

Netrunner Logo

As I posted a couple of weeks back, I have decided to get into the Netrunner LCG and, about two weeks after starting to play I decided to attend my first tournament, hosted at A Fistful of Dice in Portsmouth by the Portsmouth group Netrunner and Ales. It was a FFG supported Winter kit game (although the kit hadn’t arrived and so the prizes were sent out when it arrived) and it was billed as a beginner tournament meaning that decks had to be built from just the core box and one deluxe expansion. On the day there were only a couple of actual beginners there but it was a wonderful learning experience.

Netrunner 2015 Winter Kit

The fact that it was limited to the core set and a single deluxe expansion helped me, since I only actually had one deluxe expansion when I bought in, Creation and Control and despite picking up Order and Chaos just prior to the tournament I stuck to Creation and Control simply because I’d had the most experience with cards from those decks and so was comfortable using them, something I wouldn’t have been if I’d switched over to a Wayland corp deck.

The decks I took where a Noise Anarch deck and a Haas Bioroid corp deck, using the Core set and Creation and Control. I realise that that is a bit counterintuitive, since Creation and Control focuses on HB and Shapers, rather than Anarchs but I greatly prefer Anarchs to Shapers and I was determined to use them so that’s what I went with. Additionally, I tend to use Shaper cards with my Anarchs so access to Creation and Control helped.

My decks were-

Haas Bioroid deck

Agenda (9)

3x Accelerated Beta Test (Core Set)

3x Priority Requisition (Core Set)

3x Efficiency Committee (Creation and Control)

Asset (9)

3x Adonis Campaign (Core Set)

2x Snare! (Core Set)

3x PAD Campaign (Core Set)

1x Haas Arcology AI (Creation and Control)

Upgrade (1)

1x SanSan City Grid (Core Set)

Operation (12)

2x Archived Memories (Core Set)

2x Biotic Labor (Core Set)

3x Beanstalk Royalties (Core Set)

2x Shipment from Kaguya (Core Set)

3x Hedge Fund (Core Set)

Barrier (6)

2x Heimdall 1.0 (Core Set)

1x Wall of Static (Core Set)

3x Heimdall 2.0 (Creation and Control)

Code Gate (6)

1x Tollbooth (Core Set)

2x Enigma (Core Set)

3x Viktor 2.0 (Creation and Control)

Sentry (5)

3x Ichi 1.0 (Core Set)

2x Hunter (Core Set)

14 influence spent (maximum 15)

21 agenda points (between 20 and 21)

48 cards (min 45)

 

Noise Anarch Deck

Event (11)

2x Déjà Vu (Core Set)

2x Demolition Run (Core Set)

1x Special Order (Core Set)

3x Sure Gamble (Core Set)

3x Dirty Laundry (Creation and Control)

Hardware (8)

3x Cyberfeeder (Core Set)

1x Grimoire (Core Set)

2x Akamatsu Mem Chip (Core Set)

2x Clone Chip (Creation and Control)

Resource (10)

1x Ice Carver (Core Set)

2x Wyldside (Core Set)

1x Aesop’s Pawnshop (Core Set)

3x Armitage Codebusting (Core Set)

3x Daily Casts (Creation and Control)

Icebreaker (10)

2x Corroder (Core Set)

2x Mimic (Core Set)

2x Yog.0 (Core Set)

1x Ninja (Core Set)

1x Gordian Blade (Core Set)

2x Crypsis (Core Set)

Program (9)

2x Datasucker (Core Set)

2x Djinn (Core Set)

2x Medium (Core Set)

3x Parasite (Core Set)

15 influence spent (maximum 15)

48 cards (min 45)

I managed to refine my decks a little before the event and I was fairly happy with the way that they played, although my inexperience was definitely showing through. The day was fairly standard, with 5 rounds of 70 minutes each, with each player playing both the runner and corp in that time. My games were actually quite varied, with me playing against Shapers, Criminals, Anarchs on the runner side of things and then NBN, Wayland and Haas Bioroid on the corp side. The only faction I didn’t get a game against was Jinteki.

My first game was against another Bournemouth player, Ben (of Breakthrough Assault), who I’d travelled down with. Much to my surprise I won my first game of the day, as the runner, but that was muted fairly quickly when he beat my corp deck to take me to 1-1. Ben player a Kate Shaper deck and a Haas Bioroid corp deck similar to my own.

Game 2 saw me loose at the corp in turn 2, on the runners 7th click due to having too many agenda in hand and no IC. I’d originally started with 2 Agenda, 1 IC and 2 Operations in hand and taken a mulligan to try and improve my position only to be left with 3 Agenda, 1 IC and an Operation which was made worse when my mandatory draw was another Agenda. There was little I could do here and my opponent just ran my hand repeatedly and won very easily.

From there my day went very much the same throughout, I was hit by Scorched Earth and blown to meaty chunks in three of my runner games and just utterly outplayed in the other. From the corp side I won just one game all day after managing to build up a pretty brutal and intimidating scoring server and fast advancing a couple of Agenda. My day ended on a rather disappointing but not unexpected 2-8 score, leaving me in 17th place out of 18 players and the fact I wasn’t last only came down to strength of opposition.

With that said, it was a really fun day and it was great to play people outside my general group. Having a beginner tournament made it significantly less intimidating for me to learn to construct a deck and has given me a much better idea of what I want in a deck and how I want it to perform, which will make it much easier when I attend other, full card pool events, next year. I also learnt that that Scorched Earth can seriously ruin your day and so having Plascrete Carapace in any runner deck is a bit of a must.

The staff and tournament organisers were great on the day and every player was given a corp and a runner card from a Polish core set, with me picking up a Magnum Opus and a Beanstalk Royalties. The Magnum Opus is particularly useful as you only get 2 in the core set so I now have a full set of 3 and the limited text on both means that they are easily useable by an English language speaker.

Polish language Netrunner Cards

As there were only 18 players I still picked up a participation alt art card for Ice Wall, which was sent to me once the kit arrived, as promised-

Netrunner, Ice Wall alt art card

It was a fun day and I met great people who helped me learn the game. If you are new to Netrunner and interested in competitive play then I wholeheartedly recommend seeking out a beginner tournament as it’ll make the transition from casual play a whole lot less daunting. For stores and clubs out there I also recommend running a tournament with this format occasionally, to help new players get used to the game without expecting them to understand the full card pool and associated tactics.

This was my first Netrunner tournament but it won’t be my last. Some local stores are looking at running regular competitions next year (2016), starting in early January and I’ll be looking to attend those and improve my position on the standings.

 

Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition

Name: Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition
Type: Card Game 
Publisher: Exploding Kittens
No of Players: 2-5
Size: 16.2cm x 11.3cm x 3.8cm
Weight: 225g
Age: 30 and up?
Price:  £16.99
Playtime: 15 mins
Rating: 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition, front of box

I’m not a big fan of Black Friday, what with being English and it basically being transposed onto us as a way to try and persuade us to spend a little more in the weeks leading up to Christmas. With that said, I’m not an idiot and so I generally browse the Amazon deals to see if anything on my wishlist is coming up and, this year, something did and that something was Exploding Kittens.

Like so many offbeat games Exploding Kittens first appeared on Kickstarter where it, and its sister game the Safe for Work edition, managed to accrue $8.5 million in funding in February 2015, making it the most funded game on Kickstarter at the time. I’d heard good things from people who had backed it and, honestly, I couldn’t see how wouldn’t enjoy a game for people who like Kittens and Explosions and Boob Wizards and sometimes Butts and so, when the deal rolled around, I decided to pick it up.

Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition, contents

In the box you get-

  • 56 cards
  • Instruction leaflet

The box is nice and small, being around the size of one of the Tiny Epic game boxes and perfect to just throw into a bag at the last minute. The box is matt black with the title in big letters on the front along with the tag line about boob wizards and this very much set the tone for what you’ll find inside the box. On the front of the box is an illustration of a cat with it’s nether regions pixelated out and this pretty much says everything you need to know about the game.

The box is made from a nice, thick, sturdy card, showing evidence of the upgrades it received during the Kickstarter campaign and although the cards themselves are printed on a card stock that is a little thin, they still seem well made. That said, I’m not convinced that the cards would survive the beer test that well and for a simple and comedic game, thats not a good thing.

As for how it plays, it’s pretty simple, as you’d expect for a 56 card game that plays in 15 minutes. The instruction leaflet very much advises you against reading it, claiming instructions are boring and telling you to watch the video at this link instead.

All told though, it’s a very simple concept. You remove the Exploding Kitten  and Defuse cards and deal one Defuse to each player before shuffling the rest back into the deck and dealing 4 more cards to each player, for a total hand of 5. You then add Exploding Kitten cards to the deck equal to the number of players minus 1 (to guarantee a winner).

After that decide who goes first and I like using the ‘who has the shortest spleen’ method. On their turn players can play as many cards as they like before drawing one card from the deck and adding it to their hand unless they draw an Exploding Kitten card. Drawing an Exploding Kitten card means a player is out, unless they can use a defuse card and last player out is the winner. If a player Defuses an Exploding Kitten then put it back in the draw deck wherever they choose, allowing them to try and force it upon another player.

Cards played before drawing can allow the active player to miss their draw, make another player draw twice, look at the top card in the deck etc. All of which can help minimise the chance of drawing an Exploding Kitten.

The game plays with a real air of suspense as turns are quick and frantic and the further down the deck you go the higher the level of tension as the games turns into a game of Russian Roulette with Kittens but in a good way, not in the pet the belly and have your eyes scratched out way that Russian Roulette with Kittens ends with.

I buy and play a great many mini games as I like simple mechanics that allow for endless play. Sure I like deeper and more involved games like Arkham Horror, Battlestar Galactica or Pandemic Legacy but it’s hard to ignore how much fun a simple mechanic can be, especially one that lets you attack a friend by growing a magnificent squid tentacle and slapping them like a fat baby.

Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition, Attack Card

As fun as the game is, it’s the art style and comedy that really makes the game and this comes from Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal webcomic. Aside from the aforementioned squid tentacle cards such as Cat’s Schrödinger-

Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition, Cat's Schrodinger

A rather upset kraken-

Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition, Upset Kraken

The Pope of Nope-

Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition, Pope of Nope

Boob wizards-

Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition, Boob Wizards

And, of course, the eponymous Exploding Kitten-

Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition, Exploding Kitten

Exploding Kittens is a very fun game, in the same way Cards Against Humanity is fun, however, unlike Cards Against Humanity, you actually care about winning in Exploding Kittens and the game has a tense feeling to it, not just an air of hilarity (although it certainly has that too). I found that Exploding Kittens works best with a bigger group, 4 or 5 players so as to maintain the tension and feeling that everyone is out to get you. As a 2 player game it’s not that good, you don’t feel that constant threat of drawing an Exploding Kitten as there is only one in the deck.

In addition to the NSFW edition, which was originally just an expansion for the basic deck and it was only the massive overfunding that it received on Kickstarter that meant it was produced as it’s own game, there is a child friendly edition (which you can read more about here) and both sets can be combined to allow the game to support up to 9 players, which I imagine would be extremely frantic and nerve wracking.

If you are after a quick, fun game to play with none gamers or during drunken evenings you could do a lot worse than to pick up Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition. It’s not going to satisfy the hardcore gamer’s urge for complex and time consuming games, but thats not a bad thing, you can’t play Pandemic Legacy or Twilight Imperium while waiting for other gamers to arrive on a games night or as a bit of fun to round out an evening.

Exploding Kittens is silly, it’s funny and it’s dumb and all of that works in it’s favour. If a game can force players to collapse in fits of hysteria when playing a card (and I wholeheartedly recommend that all players read out the text on their card when playing them to make sure that happens) then it’s a winner in my book and one i’d suggest to anyone.

 

Jacking into Android Netrunner

Netrunner Logo

 

Before I get into my experience I should probably explain what Netrunner is. Netrunner is a Living Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games that is based in their Android Universe. Android is a dystopian cyberpunk setting and Netrunner pits runners against megacorporations in a hacking battle in the digital world. It is based upon the WoTC Collectable Card Game of the same name (from the 90’s) but as opposed to being set in R Talisorian’s Cyberpunk 2020 universe it is set in FFG own Android setting. Those familiar with Cyberpunk 2020s Netrunners or Shadowrun’s Decker/Hacker/Technomancer concept will be immediately familiar with the idea of the setting.

I recently decided that Fantasy Flight Games don’t get enough of my money, what with my ever growing X-Wing collection, Arkham Horror, Mistkatonic Horror, Elder Sign and the other, innumerable board games they produce that I seem compelled to buy. So I decided to get into Netrunner, I’m not sure how that happened as I’ve vowed for a while not to, as it’s not exactly cheap to buy into for a completionist, I’m guessing I’m feeling a lack of Cyberpunk in my life since the conclusion of my Shadowrun campaign last year.

Now, under normal circumstances I won’t just buy into a game, especially one with so much content, so with that in mind I figured I should play a couple of games first, having only really played it once or twice before and not really understanding it then. I got in touch with a friend of mine who has been playing and collecting since release and arranged a couple of intro games, just using the base decks from the core box.

Netrunner, Core Set, Front of Box

It goes without saying (because I’m writing this) that I was hooked pretty hard, pretty fast. I loved Collectible Card Games when I was a kid (one day I might do an exploration of my Blood Wars, X-Files and Mythos collections) but as I’ve grown I just can’t buy into something with a blind booster element and FFG have gotten around this with the Living Card Game mechanic. Living Card Games work almost exactly like a collectable Card Games (like, say Magic or Pokémon), but they don’t have the blind element, every core box, every datapack, every expansion comes with the same cards as the others of the same name. This means that if you buy a copy of the Datapack Opening Moves you will get exactly the same cards as everyone else who bought it and this means that there are no rare or chase cards and there is little to know secondary market for cards.

So, within 24 hours of those first games I bought into the system. I was pretty fortunate to find someone on Facebook who was selling a core set, 4 datapacks and the first deluxe expansion for £50, which is about 50% off retail. This seemed like a solid entry point and so I went for that. I also, almost immediately started playing games on Jinkeki.net as this meant I could play at a moments notice, without leaving the house or even the sofa.

My first thought was to try to find the factions that most suited me. Netrunner has 2 different sides, Runners and Corporations and both players will play both sides as part of a normal game. There are 3 Runner factions, Shapers, Criminals and Anarchs and each seeks to win the game in a different way. For me, I was immediately drawn to Anarchs since they seemed to be very close to the traditional Shadowrun Neo-Anarchist although I’m advised that Shapers are probably the easiest to use to learn the game.

Netrunner Core Set Runners

Corporations are split into 4 factions, each representing a different megacorporation in the Android Universe, Wayland, Jinteki, NBN and Haas Bioroid. Like the runners, each of these play differently but Haas Bioroid is certainly the easiest to learn Corporation play. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to Shadowrun megacorps here with Wayland being Mitsuhama, NBN being Horizon, Jinteki being Renraku and Haas Bioroid being Saeder Krupp. Despite being strongly drawn to NBN and Jinteki I started playing with Haas as I wanted to learn the game quickly.

Netrunner Core Set Corps

I’m not going to go into the mechanics, there are dozens of video’s on YouTube demonstrating play and the rules can be found here . Needless to say both sides work differently and utilise different rules for how they play. Victory is determined by the first person to score 7 Agenda points or when the Corporation has to draw a card and can’t, as they have run out or the runner has to discard more cards than are in their hand. Both sides, as well as each separate factions, have different ways and means to achieve any or all of those conditions.

My introduction to the game was pretty straightforward after those first games. A friend, who ‘d also convinced to buy in, and I agreed to first use basic core decks, then with decks constructed from the core set and finally decks constructed from the core set, plus a single deluxe expansion. This latter condition is because I’ve signed up for a tournament, 2 weeks into playing, and it’s designated as a beginner tournament and so players can only build decks from the core set and a single deluxe expansion. As we’ve been playing I’ve gradually learned what different cards and builds do, how to refine a deck, and how to try to win via specific means. A runner deck that mills the corporations draw pile to win via them not being able to draw is very different to one that wins via stealing agenda.

Netrunner is quite an easy game to get into. The rules are complex by necessity, since both sides work differently, but there are very few situations that reading the rule book won’t quickly and easily resolve. When buying in just a single core set is enough to get you started and give you a feel for what you like. After that I’d suggest this Reddit Thread for what to buy to expand upon your chosen factions, it’s a little out of date now but it’s a fantastic resource for new players.

Buying in to play competitively is a completely different matter. To compete at a fairly high level you basically need to buy everything, including multiple copies of the core set (2 or 3 depending on your build). Fortunately you only ever need 1 of any expansion, since each gives you 3 copies of each card, the most you can include in a deck, but the core is a different matter, with only 1 or 2 copies of some key cards being included.

The longer you wait to buy in for competitive play, the more it will cost, to a point as FFG have confirmed that a cycle rotation system will take place once a sufficient number of cycles (sets of 6 datapacks) have been released. When cycle 8 is released, cycles 1 and 2 will be rotated out from legal combative play and then every 2 new cycles thereafter will result in the two oldest being removed.

I do have a couple of criticisms of the game. Firstly, the core set, it needs to have 3 copies of every card or 1 copy, so you either get everything you need or you aren’t wasting money on duplicates by buying multiple copies. My understanding is that the Game of Thrones LCG 2nd Edition has actually gone this route, with 1 copy of each card in the core set. Second is the complexity that the game has reached now, which makes it very hard for new players to break into the competitive scene. All games have this to a degree, my other FFG obsession, X-Wing, certainly has that same issue and it’s not one that’s easy to combat, since existing players will always want more depth and it’s needed to keep the game fresh but that doesn’t make it easier for new players.

My last couple of criticisms are personal. Firstly, I’d love the game more if it was set in the Shadowrun Universe, not Android, I cannot express how awesome I’d think that would be and, honestly, I have a hard time not thinking it in those terms already. Secondly, the cards should be printed on acetate, like Gloom, with circuitry around the edges as this would make them look 1,000 times more awesome.

With those small niggles aside and the only one that’s actually a real problem is the core set one as it does actually lead to a very minor secondary market on the cards you only get 1 or 2 of in the core set, Netrunner is a fantastic game. It plays quickly, it has amazing tactical depth and it takes real skill to properly craft a rounded deck and make it work well, there is an art form in making a deck that guarantees you can do something with any given combination of cards.

I’ll keep with the game. The Mumbad cycle of cards is due out shortly and so I’ll start buying them as they release while rounding out my older collection. I’m looking forward to my first tournament on 06/12 at A Fistful of Dice in Portsmouth and I’m going in with low expectations fully assuming that I’ll come dead last. I have my decks ready, an Anarch Deck and a Haas Bioroid Corp deck and they’ve been tweaked enough that I’m happy with how they should play (even if I can’t quite get it to work yet). I’ll post them up over the next few days, as reference, and I’ll write something on how the day went next week, so check back then

Pick the Lock, Kickstarter

Name: Pick the Lock
Type: Card Game 
Publisher: Portal Dragon
No of Players: 2-4
Age: 8+
Price:  £8.50 on Kickstarter
Rating: 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Pick the Lock logo
© 2015 Portal Dragon

This week I was sent a print and play copy of Pick the Lock, a game by Portal Dragon that is currently live on Kickstarter until 07/12/15. Pick the Lock is a simple and quick game that mixes luck and skill to determine which player is able to acquire the most treasure and therefore win the game.

My copy was just a print and play so I can’t comment as to the production values of the game, however the cards and box have both received an upgrade through unlocked stretch goals as part of the Kickstarter. The art is simple with the Players and Communal cards being different colours for each player and just displaying numbers with some light decoration around the outside. The Treasure cards are clean and bold with strong images of the various treasures, including crowns, gemstones and more.

In the 52 set I got-

  • 4 x player decks (4 x 7 cards numbered 3 through 9)
  • 1 x communal deck (9 cards number 1 through 9)
  • 1 x Treasure deck (12 x treasure cards)
  • 3 x Rules Cards

I know things have moved on a little since the print and play was produced and the rules have been trimmed down and refined. All references in this review are to the print and play I was using to just bear in mind that the player and combination decks have different numbers of cards in the final version. In the final Kickstarter set you’ll get-

  • 4 x player decks (4 x 5 cards numbered 4 through 8)
  • 1 x Combination Deck (8 cards numbered 1 through 8)
  • 1 x Treasure Deck (21 cards)
  • 7 x rules cards

You don’t need anything else to pay the game, no tokens, no dice, nothing, which I like as many smaller games often require a dice or a few coins or beads as tokens but Pick the Lock is entirely self-contained.

In terms of rules, these are fairly simple. Each player takes a player deck and a number of treasures are placed in the middle of the table, which acts as the vault. The exact number or treasures varies based on the number of players but, in a 3 player game, it’s 5.

Pick the Lock, Player Cards
Player Cards

Players then take it in turn to try to steal treasure from either the vault or, if they have treasure, another player. Stealing is simple, you pick a treasure and then place one of your cards, numbered 3-9, in front of you and the player to your right choses 3 cards from the combination deck (numbered 1-9), none higher than the card you played. You then guess a number and if guess one of the numbers on the 3 combination cards then you have guess the combination correctly and stolen the treasure and you place the treasure card in front of you and discard your own number card (so you can only use each number once).

Pick the Lock, Communal Deck
Communal Deck

If you want to steal from another player the same process is followed except that they only pick one card from the combination deck and the individual treasure abilities may come into play (I’ll talk about those shortly). The game ends when all players have run out of cards in their own decks, which is 7 turns each. At the end of the game the player with the most treasure wins and, in the event of a tie the two players go into sudden death just using the number 3 from their own deck (I assume this will be 4 in the final version).

Treasure Cards
Treasure Cards

Treasure cards each have an ability which the thief can use when trying to steal from another player. Some are mandatory and increase the number on the card the thief plays (so you play a 3 but it may count as a 4 for purposes of picking cards from the combination deck). Others benefit the thief by allowing a second try at stealing or restricting the combination cards to just odd or even numbers, narrowing down the potential choices. Treasure cards add an interesting dynamic to the game because they make it a little more tactical and allow you to devise a strategy for what you plan on stealing and with what cards.

Pick the Lock is a cheap game, it’s $13 (£8.50ish) to back and that includes postage to the UK and it’s already funded. It’s almost impossible to get any game for that price, Love Letter, my other go to simple game, is around £6-£8 and so that makes Pick the Lock remarkably good value for money. Not only that but it’s quick to play, I played it with 2 groups of people, teaching the rules both times and the games still only took around 15 minutes, which makes it perfect for a game to pull out while waiting for folk to arrive on games nights.

Pick the Lock might not be to everyone’s tastes, while it has some tactical aspects regarding the different treasure abilities it’s still fundamentally down to luck much of the time and so people who prefer skill based games probably aren’t going to like it. That said, I consider myself a pretty hardcore gamer and I played it with other hardcore gamers and with people who only really dabble and everyone enjoyed playing it. They found it simple, fun and light, which is exactly the kind of game it is and unashamedly so. Personally I also think it’d make a great intro game for children, especially if you don’t use the treasure abilities, as it would help them learn numbers and number values in a fun way and then treasure abilities could be slowly introduced later, as they become more confident with the mechanics.

It’s nice and cheap to back Pick the Lock anywhere in the world and if you want to throw down some more money they have some truly beautiful looking handmade wooden deck boxes at higher pledge levels. I was sent the Print and Play for Pick the Lock for free so I could review it but I’ve backed it with my own money because I think it’s excellent value for money. It’s simple and fun and I like the fact that I’m helping a small company make a game and try to make a living doing something they love.

 

Paper and Pixels a Boss Monster Mini-Expansion

Name: Boss Monster- Paper and Pixels Mini-Expansion
Type: Card Game Expansion
Publisher: Brotherwise Games
No of Players: 2-4
Age: 13+
Price:  Free with Boss Monster 2
Rating: 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5) 

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, front of packet

Paper and Pixels is a 14 card booster style mini expansion for the Boss Monster and/or Boss Monster 2 card game. It was available in Q4 of 2015 in limited quantities and was given away with copies of Boss Monster 2. The basis for the expansion comes from cards that are in the PC and mobile app version of the game.

This expansion is the sole reason I bought Boss Monster 2 now, rather than waiting. I like getting limited edition releases and cards and so the inclusion of this gave me an excuse to pick the game up. As with all of the cards in Boss Monster the art on the cards is just excellent, portrayed in fantastic 8-Bit style and with little nods to classic console and tabletop gaming.

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, contents

The pack consists of 14 cards for the game and a rules card detailing the new rules in the pack. They come packaged in a booster style pack but unlike boosters for games like Magic The Gathering, every Paper and Pixels pack contains exactly the same cards. The art on the pack is pretty cool and very representative of the game. Inside the pack you get-

  •  1 x Rules Card
  • 1 x Epic Hero
  • 2 x Spells (Both the same)
  • 3 x Boss Monsters
  • 8 x Rooms (2 x each or 4 rooms)

The new rules are quite interesting and mean you need another couple of components for the game, specifically a D6 and a few tokens or glass beads. The Die is because the spell does variable damage and the tokens are because the rooms increase in power when certain conditions are met.

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, BossesJPG

You get 3 new Bosses in the set, Greg, Chase and Explodo. Explodo I like, he kind of reminds me of the Kool Aid mascot combined with a Bob-omb. The level up abilities of all 3 utilise the new rules in this set.

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, Spell Card

You get 2 copies of the Fireball spell in the set. Fireball does variable damage which is a nice touch and I think that feels like another nod towards D&D, especially as variable damage is the a D6. Combined with another spell card for discarding there is a good chance that Fireball could win someone the game if played at the right time as it’s pretty power.

Boss Monster, paper and Pixels, Epic Hero

You get a single new Epic Hero, the Princess. Like the Fool the Princess isn’t lured by any particular type of treasure. Her bait is the player with the most cards in their hand. She is tough though, with 16 health and so will prove to be quite the challenge. It’s a shame she doesn’t look a little more like Princess Peach though.

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, Rooms Cards

You get 8 rooms in the set, which is 2 copies each of 4 rooms. There are 2 Monster rooms and 2 Trap rooms, with no Advanced rooms. The rooms are-

 

  • Elder Portal (Trap)
  • Clock Tower (Trap)
  • Spellslime Incubator (Monster)
  • Hydra’s Mire (Monster)

All of the cards utilise the new rules in the set as well. The effects vary between the rooms with the Clock Tower getting weaker each round and the Spellslime Incubator getting stronger as you cast spells. All in all they are a nice, fun addition to the game. On first examination I thought that the Clocktower had the time from Back to the Future on it but I was disappointed to find that it doesn’t.

Paper and Pixels is a fun little set and if you have the opportunity to get hold of it then you should. I’m very pleased that I managed to get a copy and I think it’s a nice step from Brotherwise to give it away as a seasonal promotion though I hope some existing players can also get hold of copies. The downside of these kind of promotions is that it’s very hard for existing players to get their hands on it, meaning that they can’t have a complete collection. It tends to lead to an expensive secondary market on Ebay and so I hope Brotherwise do some kind of other release for these cards so everyone can get in on the fun, not just new players.

It’s a good set but I think that a couple of little tricks have been missed, like the time on the Clock Tower clock, things that would have elevated the set a little bit more. If the set sees a general release for existing players I’ll up the review score to a 4 since the set itself is good but the difficulty that existing players will have getting it detracts from it’s overall appeal to me.

UPDATE- Brotherwise Games have confirmed that Paper and Pixels will see a general release in 2016 and so I’ve updated the score to 4.