Flamme Rouge

Marco's Game of the Month (January 2018)

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Silence has fallen over the crowd. Tension is felt in the air as all eyes are gazing upon the horizon. It has been hours since the start and the sun is now setting behind the hill ahead. A flare of light comes peering over the crest of the hill, echoed shouts in the distance come cutting through the quiet streets. 

"They're coming! They're coming!"

The first silhouette emerges followed by another. No one can make out who's the leader, but the cheers and howls begin to swell louder and louder. Closer they come, exhaustion no longer an option as the last leg of the race is in sight. People run along the side of their their favorite riders towards the finish line shouting words of encouragement. The racers climb up out of there seats and push to the end. It's neck and neck, but only one can win!

Flamme Rouge is a fast-paced, hand management game where each player controls two riders; a Rouleur and Sprinteur. Each rider has a set of cards that players choose from for movement. The decks deplete as the cards are used. Take advantage of slipstream to prevent exhaustion and be the first to cross the finish line to win.

Gameplay

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At the beginning of the game, players will pick a stage card and build the track according to the picture and letters given. Then each player shuffles their Rouleur and Sprinteur decks of the color they chose separately and place it on the corresponding area on their player board. Starting with the first player, they place down both riders in any free lane behind the start line. The first round is ready to begin.

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Simultaneously, players will draw 4 cards from either energy deck and pick one to place face down beside the same deck. This is the rider's movement. The other 3 cards go face up underneath the deck. Then draw 4 more cards from the opposite deck and repeat the same process. Only draw and pick from one energy deck at a time. Once a card is placed faced down, it can not be looked at again until the movement phase.

After all players have picked their cards, everyone reveals the cards chosen for movement. Starting with the frontmost rider, move forward the exact number of spaces printed. There is no additional cost to change lanes or move through opposing riders, but if the movement ends where two riders are already placed, then the rider stops in the spot behind them. If a rider ends movement in an open space, place them in the right most lane. This continues until everyone has moved.

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Once movement is done, players will remove the used cards from the game, apply slipstream, and assign exhaustion cards. To apply slipstream, if there is only one empty space between riders then riders move up to fill in the empty spot. This starts from the back and moves forward. Riders can take advantage of multiple movements during the apply slipstream effect as long as there is an empty space between the "pack" and another rider ahead of them. Once slipstream has been applied, any riders with an empty space in front of them will become exhausted and draw a card from the appropriate exhaustion deck. These cards will go face up on the bottom of the deck. 

In the advance games, there are exceptions to the movement rule. If ever your rider starts or enters an ascent (red) space during movement, the max a rider can ever move is 5. Even if a 7 or 9 movement card is played, the moment the uphill section is hit, if it is on or past the 6th or higher count the rider stops right before the first red ascent space. If a rider is starting in a descent (blue) space, then the minimum speed a rider will travel is 5. This is a great opportunity to use exhaustion and lower number cards since all movement with be 5 or greater.

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Why is this my pick for game of the month?

I have had an absolute blast with Flamme Rouge! This is a type of game that I can take to a gaming group and use as a filler game or bring to my family and play with them. While it is on the lighter side of gameplay, it does take a bit of tactics and memory to win. There is very little downtime between turns which will keep even the most casual gamer entertained. With the modular board, each game is different and exciting.

The best compliment I can give this game is that my father, who HATES board games, calls me up asking me to bring this with me when I come over. He is an avid cyclist who has the carbon road bike, the different types of wheels depending on wind and road conditions, the spandex riding wear, and has to do every century ride in Texas during the season type of guy. As you can imagine, not one to take the time and sit down for a game or two. But this game tickles that cycling itch just enough that it has changed his mind about board games. That's a HUGE win in my book. 

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Dianna's Game of the Month (October 2017)

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Betrayal at House on the Hill is a mystery themed tile placement game by Bruce Glassco.  Betrayal is played both co-op and competitively in each game.  You start the game as a team and in each turn uncover a room in the haunted house.  At some point a haunt is triggered where one player betrays the group, and the game now becomes a competitive fight to the end.  The end sequence of each game will differ depending on the theme of the haunt, but usually ends with the group killing the betrayer, or vise versa.

Gameplay:

Gameplay begins with 3 (or 4) landings designating a level of the invisible house.   At the start of each player turn, the character may reveal an unexplored room in the house, or travel to already explored areas as needed.  Each room has a unique design and effect on the characters.   Some room tiles have lasting effects and some are resolved immediately.  Rooms may give a character an item, initiate an event, or contain an omen.  An omen usually involves an item that can be used later for the end of game sequence.  The omen will also initiate a haunt roll performed by the unveiling player.  The player must roll a certain die result or the haunt will be revealed.

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Once the haunt roll is failed, the instruction book will designate the betrayer depending on which room the event was initiated and which omen object was involved.  The betrayer (the traitor) and the rest of the group (the heroes) will each have their own instruction book with end of game details corresponding to a unique theme and how to win their game.  Usually the heroes will convene in a separate room to discuss strategy while keeping certain details secret from the traitor.  There are certain details that will be kept secret from each party, and certain details that are known to both sides.

There are many different elements to each scenario.  Some may involve a chase, or casting spells and attacks, while some may include a scavenger hunt or persuasion tactics.  The game will end when either the traitor or the surviving heroes accomplish their unique end of game criteria.

Why is this my pick for game of the month?

So, just to preface this, I will divulge a little info about myself as a gamer.  I feel relatively new to this gaming community and I’d like to say that my first advanced gaming experience was just about a year ago.  Before then, I had always been a retro video gamer and party board game kind of girl.  I’m not sure exactly what my first strategy board game was, but I know one of the first was Mansions of Madness.   I was sooo into the heavy mystery theme and creepy character saturation.  I’d volunteer to read all the dialog and even offer to read multiple character voices. 

After playing Betrayal for the first time, I realized that there was much more opportunity for this kind of behavior. 

So, easily put, Betrayal lets me act dramatic and silly while completing a fun objective and/or competing with my friends.  But the primary reason why I really like this game so much is that it’s never the same board or the same game twice. 

There are 12 characters to choose from, each with a variation of physical and mental traits (speed, strength, sanity, etc) that are used in game play. Although I tend to stick to the same character each game, this doesn’t always end up being the best strategy for each haunt scenario. 

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Betrayal has an expansion that adds rooms, another floor to the house, more game cards, and more haunt scenarios.  There are about 100 different haunt scenarios total, which makes repetition scarce.  It even offers the option to change the scenario if you have already played the one revealed. 

Exploring the house is great because the layout of each game depends on where you choose to explore, which orientation you place the room tile, and the randomness of the room tile deck.  Some rooms give you action options or change your trait levels.  Some rooms may even change the already existing layout or your character position.

The haunt/betrayal is a lot of fun and is very exciting, but can also be clumsy at the same time.  I find that many times there is ambiguity of the rules for either the traitor or the heroes, or even both.  This can lead to confusion and possible misplay, as well as elongated game play.  And sometimes the sides may be forced to let in on some secret details in order to understand what is a legal or intended move.  Although I always wish there are more details in the scenario instruction book, I also understand the need for some mystery regarding the opposing side.      

The game recommends at least 3 players, most likely in order to have at least 2 heroes and a traitor.  Although there is no way to solo play, my husband and I routinely play with just the two of us.  We each start with 2 characters, and once the betrayer is revealed, the opposite player will take on the other’s hero.  So the end of game haunt scenario is played with one of us controlling the traitor and the other controlling 3 heroes.    

Overall, super fun game!  Easily a game for beginner or young players, although I’d recommend they not be the traitor first time around.  I’ve played this game with many advanced gamers, and all seem to highly enjoy. 

Happy gaming!

Suburbia

Marco's Game of the Month (Sept 2017)

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Suburbia is a city building tile placement game by Ted Alspach. Each turn, you will draft building tiles to expand your borough’s income and reputation. During each game, players compete for unique goals for big population boast. By the end, you will have turned your small town into a busy metropolis. The goal of Suburbia is to have a higher population than any of your opponents.

GAMEPLAY:

In the beginning, each player starts with one suburbs, community park, and heavy factory tile. Starting with the player with the building marker, you have a choice to either draft a tile or place an investment marker. Any player can draft a tile from:

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Real Estate Market

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Basic Tiles

When you draft a tile from the real estate market you will pay the cost printed on the tile plus the cost on the market above the tile. Once you pay for your new building/infrastructure, place the tile adjacent to any one of your existing tiles. Follow the steps to increase/decrease your income/reputation and any other bonus on your new tile. If any other tile is affected by this placement, make the appropriate adjustments. What if you don’t like anything on the market or you’re strapped for cash? Instead of purchasing a building, you can take any tile on the real estate market and turn it into a lake.

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When you do, you will pay only the market cost and place it adjacent to any one of your tiles.  Any tile other then another lake tile will give your 2 coins instantly. The last tile you can draft are the starting tiles. These tiles are limited and once they are gone, they are gone. You may ask yourself, “Why would I draft another basic tile?” Well, when you draft a tile from here, you will pay the cost of the tile itself then discard any tile from the market. Remember, any time you affect the market, you have to pay the cost above the tile. But, this allows you to garnish the bonus from the starting cards, while at the same time strategically removing other tiles that would otherwise help your opponents.

The other action you can take during your turn is buying an investment marker.

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Investment Tiles

Each person will have 3 they can use each game. Instead of buying a tile from the real estate market or basic tiles, you will choose an existing tile in your city and spend its cost again. When you do so, you will take your investment marker and place it over the cost. The investment marker will double the effect on the tile it placed on. One example is if you were to put it on the parking lot, you will get +1 revenue for the tile itself, then an additional +1 for each adjacent building or civics tile next to it. Once you have applied all of the effects of the investment marker, you will pick a tile within the real estate market and discard it. Again, paying any cost that is on the market.

The game ends once the 1 more round tile is revealed and everyone takes their last turn. Add any additional population gained from the unique goals that you won and any from your hidden goals.  Lastly, add 1 population for every 5 coins you have and the player with the highest final population wins!

Why is this game my pick of the month:

I absolutely love Suburbia. It’s a fast paced game that requires strategy in not only building your own city, but hindering your opponents. You’re constantly observing the market, your opponents boroughs, and goals to best tailor your own end game.  I like that I can adjust my strategy mid game without risking major lose to population growth.

Another thing I really love about this game is its replayability. Each game, every stack (A,B,C) is randomly drawn from 32 tiles (36 for stack B) and shuffled together. Then you randomly choose the visible goals to be placed on the market and 1 hidden goal for you to accomplish. With this constant change each game, I have yet to find that one set of tiles will always give you a win. Nothing feels overpowered, and it comes down to getting the right synergies that best fit your play style and goals.

Solo play is also a blast. In the base game there are two different solo modes you can play.  Either against yourself where you will be discarding an additional tile each turn or against ‘Dale’ the bot. When you’re playing ‘The Lone Architect’ you set it up just like a two player game, but with no goals. You also will lose 2 reputation and 2 income every time you cross a red population line. This increases the challenge of the game. So you better keep an eye on your reputation and income. When you play against ‘Dale’, he will always purchase the leftmost tile each round and will always have it’s placement to give the most reputation. After he goes all remaining tiles are removed and only 4 more come out. This limited draft is an increased challenge and not for first timers.

There is only one fault I have experienced with this game, but it’s more about a players memory then the game itself. Some tiles have an ongoing effect that occurs not only in your own borough, but all boroughs. When you play one of these tiles, you have to constantly remember when a certain action or tile is played you get a benefit. There has been a few games where I completely forgot about these effects late in a game.