Game Review: Summoner Wars

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Ages: 9+
# of players: 2
Length: 30-60 minutes
Nerd skills:

  • Hand Management
  • Tactics
  • Risk/Reward Management

Ever wanted to summon goblins from thin air to do your bidding?  How about orcs? Or magical dwarves?  Summoner Wars is the best light war game for 2 players on the market.  Nothing compares to the easy, but enthralling and internally complex gameplay.  

Summoner Wars is a fast-playing, tactical card game for 2 players in which they take on the role of the summoners. A Summoner is both mage and general, and must combine their wizardly might with clever tactics to defeat the enemy Summoner on the opposite side of the battle. One chooses from a variety of different classes: Deep Dwarves, Sand Goblins, Swamp Orcs, etc. and duke it out in a 8×6 arena in a battle to the death.

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The game is actually rather simple when compared to most other games in its genre.  First, you draw until you have 5 cards.  Then, you “summon” monsters next to your “wall” by playing cards out of your magic pile.  You get cards in your magic pile by defeating your opponent’s monsters and by discarding your own cards.  Then you can play special event cards, like freezing an opponent in place or stealing their magic!  After the event cards, the most important steps take place: moving and attacking.  You can move up to 3 of your cards up to 2 spaces and then attack with up to 3 units.  In last phase, you may discard cards in your hand directly to your magic pile, if you want. The first one to destroy the other summoner wins the game.

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Because of the limitations on movement and total overall attacks, the game is deep on a tactical level, but easy enough to learn and play in minutes.  With several factions – each with their own unique play style – this game offers a wide arrange of tactical styles and match-ups.  For a quick two-player game, this game is surprisingly deep and fulfilling.  I absolutely adore this game, and I give it a 9.5/10.

-Alex

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Game Review: Tsuro

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Ages: 8+
# of players: 2-8
Length: 20 minutes

Nerd Skills:
– hand management
– forward-thinking
– strategy

Tsuro is one of the first games I learned when I joined the 3&Up team. It is also one of those games that completely took me by surprise. The board looked…weird, and during my first turn I did not understand how this game could be fun. However! Not only is this game very easy to learn and play, it involves a surprising amount of strategy, especially if you’re playing with more than three people.

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The board consists of a grid of squares in which the path tiles sit. The tiles have four different paths on them, with two entry/exit spots per side. To begin the game, each player places their marker on any tick mark along any side of the grid and picks up 3 tiles. Once a player places a tile in front of their marker, they move it (and any other affected markers) immediately to the end of the path. (Note: you may not make a “turn” while moving across a tile. Basically, just follow the line you start on and ignore any intersecting paths.) At the end of your turn, draw a new tile. Hand size is limited to 3.

The object of the game is to be the last one remaining on the board. This is the fun part: if you–OR ONE OF YOUR OPPONENTS!–place a tile whose path leads you off the edge of the board, you’re out! You don’t want to meet another player on the same path, either. You will run into each other and explode or something. Both of you are out. (This is why I recommend playing this game with a crowded board; the more players there are, the more likely your tiles are to affect their paths and vice versa, and the riskier every placement gets). Trust me, it’s fun like that. It’ll make you want to keep playing “one more time” until you’re the winner.

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This game might not look very exciting but it definitely has a way of drawing people to it, gamers and non-gamers alike. It’s a great filler game or perfect for when you’re looking for a bit of strategy and don’t have a lot of time. Tsuro has an extremely quick set-up, and even though it’s such a simple game, it will take you on a journey as you try to evade your opponents and manage your hand in a way that won’t lead you off the board on a later turn. This game gets an 8/10 from me.

-Lauren

Game Review: Loopin’ Louie

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# of Players: 2-4
Ages: 4+
Length: 5-10 min.
Nerd Skills:

  • Dexterity
  • Good timing!

A lot of people know this one, but if you don’t, they’ll all tell you it’s worth knowing! In this exciting game, kids get to protect the chickens on their ‘farm’ by bumping Louie, the pilot, with their colored bumper while he flies around the circle. Each player gets three chickens in their ‘coop,’ and the goal of the game is to be the last player with a chicken (or chickens) left. The best part? even if you’ve lost all of your chickens, you can still play! Use your bumper to help Louie steal everyone else’s chickens too! Overall, this electronic-driven game earns a 9/10 from me.

-Alyssa

Game Review: Spot It!

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# of Players: 2-8
Ages: 7+
Length: 5-10 min.

Nerd Skills:

  • Concentration
  • Matching
  • Quick Reaction Time

In this fast-paced game, players race to find the picture that matches between the card in front of them and the card in the middle of the playing space. There are a few ways to play this quick and easy game, keeping us entertained for quite a while. To play the classic version, everyone will get a card, the rest of the cards will go in the middle of the playing space.

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 1.02.16 PMEveryone races to find their matching picture first! The first to find it calls out the picture (carrot!) and takes the middle card and places it on top of the card that was in front of them. This then becomes the card they play from, which means new pictures to try to match! This game is great for kids with a lot of energy and a short attention span 😉 I give this one a 10/10!

-Lauren

Game Review: Sleeping Queens

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# of Players: 2-5
Ages: 8+
Length: about 20 min.
Nerd Skills:

  • Hand management
  • Basic math
  • Memory

Fun Fact: This whimsical card game was created by six-year-old Miranda Evarts and her family!

This game, great for all card players, involves a wonderful world of fantasy, where kings wake up slumbering queens, knights try to steal them, and potions put the lovely ladies back to sleep! Luckily, Miranda also provided our kingdoms with defenses to protect our fair royalty. A dragon can be played to stop a knight and a magic wand will immediately reverse the effects of a sleeping potion. The Jester allows you to take a card from the pile: if it’s special, like the cards mentioned above, add it to your hand and take another turn. If not, then count out the number on the card, starting with yourself and moving clockwise around the circle of players. Whoever it lands on gets to wake up a queen, and your turn is over. The queens themselves are a lot of fun too! They all have a ‘value’ places in the upper, right-hand corner. The first player to 50 points in queens, or 5 queens total, wins the game. But there is one last thing about these lovely ladies to note: the rose queen is oh-so-lonely, so when you wake her up, remember to wake up a second queen to keep her company! Finally, number cards don’t do anything, you simply discard it, pick up a new card, and end your turn. But, if you can make a math equation with any, or all, of your cards, you may discard those involved in the problem, and replace them with the same number of cards from the pile. Just make sure there is always five cards in your hand. I know these rules sound a bit overwhelming, but I promise upon playing, you’ll pick them up pretty quickly and get lost in the whimsy along the way! Solid 10/10 from me.

-Alyssa

Game Review: Croak!

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# of Players: 2-4
Ages: 6+
Length: 20 min.

This is a great game to teach kids about strategy games! Croak! is like a tile version of chess. Start by setting the tiles ‘pond side up’ in an 8×8 grid. Pick your color, then place your queen on a corner tile, with two of her servants on the tiles right next to her. When it’s your turn, move one of your pieces in any direction (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal). Flip over the tile and follow the rules for the picture on it. There are seven types of tiles:

1. Water Lily—you must bounce off a lily onto an adjacent tile. You cannot stay on a water lily.
2. Mosquito—works like an extra turn. When you land here, either move that same piece again, or leave it on the mosquito and move another frog.
3. Mud—this tile is like a ‘lose a turn.’ Here, flip your frog upside down; he’s now stuck in the mud. You must use your next turn to flip him right side up again.
4. Pike—these fish are vicious! If your frog lands on a pike, it’s eaten and is out of the game. Be careful: if your queen lands on a pike, you lose.
5. Reeds—these are a safe place. But they also don’t do anything special.
6. Logs—can hold 2 servants (even if they’re different colors), or one queen. If a queen is on a log, and someone moves their servant or queen onto it also, the queen is captured and the player she belongs to is out of the game.
7. Males—there are six different males, with two tiles depicting each. When a queen reaches one of these tiles, he gifts her with another servant, who is then placed on the tile next to the queen. On your next turn, you must move either the new servant, or the queen to a new tile.

Note: you have little circle pictures of each of the males, one set in each color of the queens. These are so you can keep track of which males’ kingdoms have gifted you a new servant. You may only accept one gift from each kingdom, so your queen cannot land on both tiles depicting the blue male and gain a servant from both.
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The goal of the game is to eliminate the enemy’s, or enemies’ queen(s). To do this, simply land one of your frogs on the opponent’s queen’s tile. Yes! That means even a servant can take down a queen! But wait! There’s more! The tiles have three different backs—they depict the shallow section of the pond and the deep section. The backs with just reeds are the shallow side: you won’t run into any pikes, but you might find yourself stuck in the mud or stopped by reeds. The other backs, the deep end of the pond, contain the same types of tiles. You might notice that both of these have fish on them, that’s because you might find yourself nose to nose with a pike in the deep end of the pond. However, you won’t get stuck in the mud here.

The rules may seem a bit tricky, but once you get playing, it comes pretty easily. So come by and ‘dive in’ to the ponds of Croak. It gets a 9/10 from me!

-Alyssa

Game Review: Timeline/Cardline

20151129_131236# of Players: 2-8
Ages: 8+
Length: 15 min
Great for: History buffs, anyone who likes Wits and Wagers and trivia
In these card games, players try to determine the order of the events on the cards in their hands. Each player takes a turn placing one card into the “timeline”, working off of the first card flipped after cards are handed out. When they guess correctly, they don’t have to do anything, but if they’re wrong, they discard the incorrect card and pick up a new one from the deck! The first player to run out of cards wins.
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We have two versions of Cardline here at the lounge: Animals and Globetrotter. The versions of the Timeline games we have are Science & Discoveries, Inventions, American History, Historical Events, and Diversity. Clearly, you could play these games for hours. They’re all a blast to play, and you learn a little bit every time you do!
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Great for kids is the Cardline Animals game, which works the same way, but instead of the year it occurred or was invented, players can play based on the animal’s weight, size, or lifespan. I give this series a 10/10!
-Alyssa