Friday, April 30, 2010

Review: Last Night on Earth and Expansions

My biases first: I am a big fan of theme in games and do not mind reaching through piles of chits if the theme and game play is good enough. While I do favor confrontation, chits, bits and polished pieces of AT games, there are still a large number of Euros that I'll build my farm on or attend auctions at and be quite content at the end of my experience. Also, I've never been a big fan of zombie flicks other than Shaun of the Dead, but I do have over twenty years of D&D experience under my belt, so I know to use slashing instead of blunt weapons and that zombie bites don't turn you into a zombie; it's an Animate Dead spell that will transform you.


The Overview:


A bunch of zombie goodness in a fairly standard box size. And, with every LNOE expansion owned, I am still able to fit everything in this box (minus the insert). 



Box contents (though the cardboard bits are not visible here). Ditch the insert and you can lug all of the expansions around in just the one box. 



Last Night on Earth:
Last Night on Earth is a survival horror game in which divides the players into teams. One side controls the Heroes, who are ordinary townsfolk who have risen to the challenge of the dead rising in their small town. The other side controls the slow-moving, endless horde of zombies bent to devour the flesh of the living. For each game, a scenario is chosen which defines each side's victory conditions and any special rules in the game, including how many Turns the game will have.

The game is for 2-6 players and plays in about 60-90 minutes. New players may take a little longer than that and games can run shorter if either side gets lucky and achieves their victory conditions early. More players can bring about more discussion and planning and may add to the play length as well.

The game set up begins with the Hero players either picking or randomly choosing the characters that they will control. There will always be 4 Hero characters divided between the Hero players. After that, a Scenario is either picked or chosen at random and the board is set up.

The board is modular and starts with a large square. Four "L-shaped" additions are placed around the center square to expand the board outwards. These modular pieces are chosen at random. The Hero characters are then placed in their starting buildings (usually on the outer L-shaped boards). If their starting location is not on any of the boards chosen, they begin in the center of town instead.

The Zombie players then place their zombies from their pool. In most scenarios, there are a maximum of 14 zombies that can be out at any time. Either one Zombie Player controls all 14, or if there are 2 Zombie players, then each controls 7. The 14 zombies are in 2 colors (7 of each), which makes it easy to tell who is controlling which zombie. Each of the L-shaped outer board pieces has a "Spawning Pit" on it. These are start locations for the zombies in the beginning of the game and whenever new zombies are added to the board. The Zombie Players roll 2 six-sided dice and place that many zombies on the Spawning Pits to start, dividing them as equally as possible among the Pits. The Sun Track is set up to count down the number of turns remaining, as per the specific Scenario instructions.

Each Round is broken into two turns, a Zombie Turn and then a Hero Turn.

The Zombie Turn starts with the Zombie Players moving the round marker down one space on the Sun Track. They then draw up to their hand of 4 Zombie Cards (if there are 2 Zombie Players, then each Zombie has 2 cards). These cards are secret and can be played for a number of detrimental effects against the Heroes. Zombie events are cards that can be played at specific times for specific effects, while Fight cards can be used only in combat. Some cards require you to play them immediately and immediately resolve their effects.

The Zombie Players then roll to see if they will spawn more zombies at the end of their turn. The Zombie Player rolls 2 six-sided dice and if it is higher than the number of zombies they currently have on the board, they will spawn new zombies at the end of the turn. If there are 2 Zombie Players, each rolls 1 six-sided die and they spawn new zombies if the number rolled is higher than the total number of zombies of their color on the board.

Zombies then move. Zombies move 1 space each (as they are the lumbering slow moving zombie kind), and if a zombie is adjacent to a Hero, the lure of the taste of flesh is too much and they must move into the same space as the Hero (this gives some tactical opportunities for the Hero players to draw the zombies out somewhere).

After all zombies have had the chance to move, and zombies in the same space as a Hero must fight. Combats are simple. If multiple zombies are in one space attacking a Hero, the combats are resolved one at a time. The zombie player rolls 1 six-sided die (though this can be modified by Zombie Cards). The Hero player rolls 2 six-sided dice (this can be modified by Hero Cards). If the zombie rolls higher on his die than any of the Hero's dice, he wins and inflicts one wound on the Hero. If the Hero rolls higher than the zombie on any of his dice, then he has fended off the zombie for the time being and neither side takes damage. If the Hero has rolled higher and has doubles on any of his dice, then the zombie he is fighting takes one wound. In most cases, this will kill a zombie (they have one health each). Zombies win on ties, so if both players tied for the high roll, the zombie inflicts a wound.

After this, the Zombie Players spawn their new zombies if their previous spawn roll was successful. The Zombie Player rolls 1 six-sided die and places that many new zombies on the board from his pool. If there are 2 Zombie Players, each one that successfully spawned places 1d3 of their zombies instead.

The Hero Players then take their turn. The four Heroes can take their turn in any order, but each must finish his or her move before the next Hero can act. It starts with their Move Action. The Hero rolls a six-sided die and they can move that many spaces, though they cannot move through walls and must immediately end their movement if they go through a space with one or more zombies in it. After rolling, but before moving, if the Hero is inside of a building, they can opt not to move and instead Search. Searching lets the Hero draw the top card from the Hero Deck. If it is an Event, they place it in their hand to use later. If it is an Item or Weapon, they place it next to their Character Card face up. Each Hero can carry 2 weapons and 2 items. If they draw any more, they need to either discard the card they drew or one of their current items to carry the new one. Certain buildings have special actions available when Searched, and the Hero can draw a specific item, if that item is in the Discard Pile.

Heroes may then Exchange Items with any other Heroes that are in the same space with them.

Heroes then may make a Ranged Attack if they have an Item which allows them to. The Item lists the range of spaces and the Hero can attack a zombie in that range. The Item lists what needs to be rolled to see if the zombie is hit and the effects of it. Most Items then specify if another roll needs to be made after the attack, whether successful or not, to see if the Item is out of ammo and is then discarded.

Finally, any Heroes who end their turn in the same space as one or more zombies must fight them hand to hand. This is resolved the same way as the Zombie Fights.

This continues until either the Sun Tracker runs out, signifying that there are no more Rounds left, or one of the sides have met all of their objectives listed on the Scenario.

Growing Hunger:
Growing Hunger is a large box expansion that offers little to change the rules of the game, but it includes another 4 Hero Characters and figures, 3 new Scenarios, 2 new L-shaped Outer Boards and 25 new Zombie Cards and 25 new Hero Cards to offer a lot more variety to the base game. One of the Scenarios introduces a new kind of zombie opponents and there are 7 new colored zombie figures to accompany that Scenario. Despite being the same sized box as the base game, it is not a standalone game.

Hero Pack 1:
The first Hero Pack is a small expansion that includes 4 new Hero Characters and figures, 1 new Scenario and 5 new Hero Cards and 5 new Zombie Cards. There are no real rules changes presented in this small expansion pack.

Survival of the Fittest:
This small expansion provides the most direct rule changes in any of the expansions. Included are 8 new Hero Cards and 8 new Zombie Cards, as well as 4 new Scenarios, 3 twenty card Decks and a bunch of new counters and components to use. The rule changes are seen most in the new decks. The Zombie Player now has access to Grave Weapons, which are cards which empower individual zombies on the board and give them a host of new abilities and powers. Whenever the Zombie Player spawns new zombies, he can forgo placing 2 zombies and instead draw a Grave Weapon card to give to one of his zombies. The Heroes now have access to powerful Unique Items and Survival Tactics. Now, when a Hero Searches a building, if he rolled a 5 or higher on his movement, instead of drawing a normal Hero Card he can draw from either the Unique Item deck or the Survival Tactics deck, depending on which building he is in. These decks complement one another in power, so that the new Hero decks can be added to any existing Scenario as long as the new Zombie deck is also added to it. Finally, the expansion also adds a means for Heroes to barricade the walls in the buildings they are in to try to keep the zombies out, which adds a bunch of new rules, though this is only present in certain Scenarios.

Zombies with Grave Weapons:
This is a supplemental pack really designed to supplement the [/i]Survival of the Fittest[/i] mini-expansion rather than the base game itself. It comes with sculpted miniatures that show zombies using some of the weapons and powers listed in the Grave Weapon decks of the SotF expansion. It does include 2 copies of a new Grave Weapon card not in that set, but it is really useless without the SotF expansion.

Radioactive Grave Dead:
This is more of a supplement than an expansion. It is a new Scenario (which is not printed on the cardboard) and comes with 7 translucent green Radioactive Zombie figures. There are no real rule changes, except for those specific to this Scenario.

Revenge of the Dead, Stock Up, Zombie Pillage:
Each of these three mini-expansions are really just supplemental releases that each include 5 new Zombie Cards and 5 new Hero Cards, as well as including a new specific Scenario, printed on the same thick cardboard as the original Scenarios. None of them present any real rule changes other then minor things tied to their specific Scenario.


The Theme:

Last Night on Earth is designed to be a schlocky B-movie about a zombie invasion on a small town. Each of the Heroes have a minor back story and some have relationships with one another that really do nothing in the game other than enhance the flavor. In this regard, this game really succeeds on many levels on creating that zombie/horror feel.

Some of the Scenarios seem to be pulled from movie plots and the way the event cards play out, you really can see how it tells a greater story. Now, it requires the right kind of player to really get into it, but this, more than many other board games out there, sets the stage to create a light roleplaying experience.

I would suggest that the "Dungeon Master" in your group handles the zombies in your games, however, since that player will really be setting the stage, playing to antagonists and really adding to the plot for what is the Heroes story. Personally, I don't have any problem with that. I've been a DM, GM and ST in any number of systems, but that is probably more accurate of a depiction of the role that the Zombie Player will be setting as far as the thematic and story portions of this game.

Now, the theme of horrific desperation can be tricky to maintain in some of the Scenarios. It can happen where lucky die rolls, card draws or otherwise can result in situations where the Heroes run rampant over the town, doing whatever they need to succeed with little impediment from the Zombie Player. If you play often enough, you'll see it happen. However, the games where the die rolls and luck stays roughly equal result in some of the most memorable stories of desperate horror and edge of your seat tension up to the very end.

Each expansion and supplement gives you a bit more to add to the theme, but mostly from either new characters and stories to include, new Scenarios to build your stories around and new cards and powers that really build the action.

However, what is sorely missing from the Last Night on Earth series is a big box expansion that gives new starting tiles and L-Shaped Outer Boards to build a suburban mall. True, some of the existing cards might not mesh that well with a mall theme, but the game is desperately crying out for it and I am very surprised that Flying Frog has not answered that cry yet.


Learning the Game:

The base game's rules are presented in a full color, 24 page rule booklet of large type interspersed with numerous illustrations and pictures. The game also explains the rules in depth for a starting scenario for the first game. However, the game is quick and easy enough to learn that really the "advanced" Scenarios can be played the first time out of the box as long as at least one of the players has ever had any experience with any game more complex than your standard Milton Brady fare.

The game really is easy to learn and can easily be used as a gateway game as well. My non-game playing, construction worker father-in-law joined me and my wife for a game and had absolutely no problem adapting to the rules and strategy. Sure, it was a little uncomfortable for me when I played the "It Could Be Our Last Night On Earth" on his and his daughter's characters in the same space, but that wasn't because of any rules confusion.

The supplements do not make the game much more complex. Growing Hunger adds only the mildest of potential confusion with two-handed weapons. Survival of the Fittest is probably the most advanced of the expansions as it adds a number of new rules and situations, but also starts to add a bit of confusion with possible combinations. These aren't overwhelming, but can be a bit much for newer gamers, so it should be added only after the base rules are really understood.


The Components:


The modular board, and a view of a couple Hero figures and some of the Zombies. 



Card artwork. The artwork theme of the game is modified photo art, which works well, in my opinion. However, others have differing views. 




The Radioactive Dead figures from the Radioactive Grave Dead supplement.




Some of the zombie figures included in the Zombies with Grave Weapons supplemental set. 



The components of the game are well produced and sturdy. The Scenario and Hero Character sheets are all printed on thick cardboard, making it easy to choose them at random. Some people may not like the modified photographic art used on the graphics, but personally I think it fits the feel of the game portraying a B-movie zombie flick.

The figures are really well produced and look very nice. Without painting them (and I am also surprised that Flying Frog has not released painted minis), the Heroes can sometimes blur together as just grey figures without standing out individually, but that is really a minor issue since there are only four Heroes on the board at any time.

The game also includes extra heavy cardboard components to be used in later expansions and for players to build their own Scenarios around. In fact, much of the game is set to be expanded upon (and Flying Frog has done well in setting up a number of future expansion elements).

The only problem that I have with the components on the whole is that the cards are too thick of a stock with a gloss over them that really makes it difficult to shuffle them.

It Fell From the Sky is a little disappointing in that the Scenario is not printed on the thick cardboard like the other supplements, but rather just on a sheet of paper. This makes drawing it as a random Scenario a little more tricky.

Zombies with Grave Weapons really is nothing more than a miniatures set to supplement Survival of the Fittest. My only problem with them is that some of them really don't stand out well enough to really stand out that they are your grave weapon zombies. I use these figures, but still put the counter beneath them to illustrate the point better, which kind of defeats the purpose of replacing the miniatures to begin with.


Playing the Game:

Game play is simple and intuitive. It does not take much to really get a feel for the game and how it plays. Strategies are really rather obvious as well. What makes the game different with every play is the randomness of it.

This may be a turn off to some players. Heroes move from 1 to 6 spaces a turn, so that's a huge range in movement. Combats are essentially a dice fest and "unlucky" players can be bogged down by bad rolls. Still, the game isn't looking to be a deep strategic monster, so the randomness does not take away from the game in my opinion.

The Scenarios themselves are relatively balanced, though a couple do tend to favor one side or another a bit. In particular, the Scenario of "Zombie Pillage" from the Zombie Pillage supplement has its balance completely dashed if the board section containing the Antiques Shop is in play. But these are minor problems, since it isn't a game that you feel like you've accomplished a great victory if you've won or are dashed and frustrated if you've lost. You are telling a story. That is what the game is about.

Some Scenarios do feature the potential of character elimination for the Heroes. Others have rules where "Heroes Replenish", meaning if their Hero dies, they draw a new one and start again. The latter Scenarios are probably best for situations where each Hero player is only controlling one Character.

Finally, one of the ways the Zombies could win in the base game was by depleting the Hero Deck. If they every forced the Hero Players to the point where there were no cards in their deck, they automatically lost. Since the base game had 60 cards in it, it was feasible. However, with all of the expansions included, the Hero Deck is now at 113 cards, that probably isn't going to happen. So it makes some of the Zombie cards kind of pointless (there are cards that force the Hero player to immediately discard a number of cards from their deck and if they run out of cards, they immediately lose).


Scalability:

The game plays from 2 to 6 players, but definitely has some "sweet spots". Personally, I think the game isn't as interesting for the Zombies if there are two zombie players. The Zombie Player really has much fewer options than the Hero player and halving their input to the game makes it feel even less fulfilling. In 2 player games, there is 1 Zombie Player and 1 Hero Player playing all 4 Heroes. In 3 player games, there is 1 Zombie Player and 2 Hero players each playing 2 Heroes. In five player games, there is 1 Zombie Player and 4 Hero player, each playing 1 Hero. Any other combination results in 2 Zombie Players which kind of weakens the zombie role.


Does the Wife Like It?:

The most important category. I play games without her, but she's an integral part of my core gaming group and my most frequent game partner. She's not a fan of horror movies and even less of a fan of bad zombie movies. However, the game really hits the right spot for her, provided that she is playing the Heroes. The role of the Zombie Player does not appeal to her at all, but I don't mind this because I am used to the DM role in all of our roleplaying games anyhow.

The thing that makes the game for her is the characters and the stories built in the game. Now, each character has their own preset backstory, but I've noticed from repeated plays that my wife has created more storylines in her head. I know which characters are dating or have secret crushes on the other characters, as those two characters become near inseparable, standing by one other to help protect one another (Apparently Billy is no longer dating Sally, but instead clings to Amanda, who does give benefits to being the same space as her. But that's okay, because Sally is a strong-minded and brave young girl who rushes out and is independent, taking on most of the fights herself. Of course, Billy's father, Sheriff Anderson is around to also act as bait and almost invariably becomes a Zombie Hero that Billy needs to take down and kill himself to overcome his father-son angst.).

So, yes, the wife loves this game. It is a great game to play during an weeknight evening and it works well with casual gamer friends and as a fun, lighter filler for our heavier gaming friends.


The Pros:

*A light fun game that tells an interesting story that is fun to play through.
*Great components and figures.
*Easy to learn and very easy game play where rule ambiguity only starts to comes into play once all of the expansions are added.
*It works as a gateway game.
*It plays in 60-90 minutes.
*A lot of variety and options to change up the games, especially once the expansions are added.
*Very easy to create user Scenarios and user Heroes.
*Expansions seem to hold the same level of component production value as the original, blending in well.
*Each expansion is well balanced, adding cards and components that balance one another out. So an expansion that adds 5 new Hero Cards also adds 5 new Zombie Cards of roughly the same power level.


The Cons:

*Two Zombie Players really reduces the effectiveness of a role that is already just a storytelling rule.
*Some players may not even like the feel of the seemingly more limited options of the Zombie Player.
*Some players will be turned off by the luck factor of card draws, dice movement and dicey combats.
*Some expansions feel overpriced for what they include.



Overall:Last Night on Earth:
Last Night on Earth is a fun, light game that tells a fun story. The Zombie player and Hero player roles differ in their feel and options present, but combine to give an overall presentation of a fun, exciting story. Dice and luck sometimes throw off the balance, but the Scenarios are inherently pretty balanced. We played this game a lot when we first got it, and after some new games came out, it sat on our shelf for a while. Recently, we brought it out for a light, quick game to play with some new players and had a blast and it had my wife and I talking afterwards and wondering why we stopped playing it. Ever since that weekend, it's been finding its way to our table again for our weeknight games and it has been a refreshing, fun blast from the past.

8/10


Growing Hunger:
Growing Hunger is a big box expansion and really the only "must-have" expansion of the group. It adds more Characters, cards and Scenarios. The only thing that counts against it and lowers its score overall is that the cost is close to that of the base game, but it really does not have the same sheer number of components as the base game. It really is needed to make the play fully rounded, but is priced a little high for what it physically includes.

7.5/10


Hero Pack 1:
Hero Pack 1 is a smaller supplement that includes some new characters that give more variety to the game in the sense of characters that can be played for the Heroes. Since the game really is more about the Heroes than the zombies, that isn't a bad thing. It's a bit expensive, however, for just a few new Heroes selections and a handful of new cards.

7/10


Survival of the Fittest:
Survival of the Fittest adds the most complexity to a rather simple game, but it still is not that difficult to learn. Out of the small-box supplemental expansions, this one offers the most variety and changes to the game and is the one that I would suggest to purchase after Growing Hunger if you are looking for the most variety in the game itself. The fact that it adds four Scenarios is a strong enough reason to get this expansion and it feels like the best value of money for playability and components for the small box expansions in my opinion.

8/10


Zombies With Grave Weapons Miniature Set:
Zombies With Grave Weapons really isn't a supplement to the main game, but rather for Survival of the Fittest. The miniatures are well sculpted and visually pleasing, but ultimately do not stand out quite enough for me to justify the price and usefulness of them to purchasing this instead of just using the Grave Weapons counters that came in SofF.

5/10


Radioactive Grave Dead:
Radioactive Grave Dead is really nothing more than just a single Scenario with extra zombie miniatures. Since Growing Hunger includes a third color of zombie figures, the Scenario here could have simply used them instead of producing green crystal zombies. The Scenario is printed on paper, which is disappointing, but the crystal zombies do look nice. But, it is unnecessary. This is really just for the collector or completist.

5.5/10


Stock Up:
Stock Up is one of three supplements that include 10 new cards and a cardboard Scenario. Personally, I think this is probably the dullest of the three Supplement Scenario packs, with the objectives being a little mundane and offering little new.

6/10


Revenge of the Dead:
Revenge of the Dead is another of the three supplemental Scenario packs that includes a cardboard Scenario card and 10 new cards. The Scenario isn't anything too sensational, but is rather just a slugfest between the zombies and Heroes.

6/10


Zombie Pillage:
Zombie Pillage is probably the most interesting of the supplemental Scenario packs and adds another cardboard Scenario and 10 new cards. The Scenario sets up an interesting variation to the game's objectives, but ultimately can be unbalanced if the Antiques Shop is in the building mix. Still, it is probably the strongest of the supplement packs.

7/10

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: Cyclades

My biases first: I am a big fan of theme in games and do not mind reaching through piles of chits if the theme and game play is good enough. While I do favor confrontation, chits, bits and polished pieces of AT games, there are still a large number of Euros that I'll build my farm on or attend auctions at and be quite content at the end of my experience. Also, I grew up reading all kinds of mythologies and loved the Greek mythos, which led me into Dungeons and Dragons where I became familiar with a host of mythological creatures on another level and I am still attracted to items with those themes. Plus, ever since seeing the original "Clash of the Titans" when I was nine, I've spent the rest of my life waiting for an appropriate and accurate context to shout, "Release the Kraken!"


The Overview:


The box is a bit larger than it needs to be (better map folds could have alleviated this), but the final size isn't that bad. Besides, the larger box lets you see more of the dramatic artwork on the cover.



Box contents, more or less. These are the components from the Essen release. Subsequent releases replace the wooden meeples with plastic army and ship figurines, lose the dice bag and five colored dice for two grey ones, and includes five beautiful sculpted monster minis. 



Cyclades is a game that combines elements of civilization building, area control/warfare, bidding and card drafting that is designed to be played in about an hour. Each player controls a small portion of the non-unified Greece, raising troops and navies and erecting buildings to be the first to build or conquer and control two great Metropolises.

The game is for 2-5 players and plays in 60-75 minutes, but after a few plays and people are familiar with the game, the play time should hover around 60 minutes. More players may add a bit to the game length, but ultimately not too much.

The set up is balanced, though slightly asymmetrical as far as resource layout and placement. Each player starts with two armies and two navies, spread out over two isles. Certain isles are worth production revenue and certain naval locations represent commerce revenue if one of your navies is placed on it. The revenue is determined by how many Prosperity Markers each isle or sea space holds.

As a turn begins, turn upkeep and maintenance is performed. This includes drawing a new Mythological Creature card and sliding the other ones down to fill up the empty spaces so that three are available. The most recently drawn creature costs 4 gold, while the next most recent costs 3 gold and the oldest costs 2 gold. Then, each of the available god tiles (Poseidon, Ares, Zeus and Athena) are shuffled and laid out to be available that round in a randomized order. A fifth god, Apollo, is available every round, but is never shuffled. It is always the last god in the order.

Each player then earns their revenue for the turn and receives a number of gold equal to the number of Prosperity Markers he controls from his isles and sea spaces he controls. The gold received is kept behind a screen , so that the other players may not necessarily know the exact amount of coin that you possess at any time.

After revenues are distributed, players make offerings to the gods in the player order for that turn. A player moves his Offering Marker onto the offering track of the god whose actions they wish to perform that turn. Players make a single bid and cannot bid more than the gold that they have. Then the next player chooses a god to make an offering to. They can either bid on a new god or outbid a previous player's offer. For example, if Player 1 has bid 3 gold to Ares, Player 2 can then bid on another god with no bids, or bid 4 or more gold on Ares. If he outbids another player, that player takes his Offering Marker and must place is on a different god. The displaced player may outbid a different player if he so desires, and then that player must choose a different god to bid on. Each god can only have one player's Offering Marker on it, except for Apollo, who is free to bid on and may house more than one player's marker without displacing them.

Each god allows the player to take a specific set of actions, which will be performed in the order that the god tiles were laid out. So if Ares was the third god drawn in the order, the player who wins the bid will take their turn third. With the exception of Apollo, each god lets you pay to use one or more Mythological Creature cards that are available on the Mythological Creatures track. Each Creature has a different ability that range from receiving your revenue again, destroying a building, swapping out an enemy navy for one of yours, flying armies from one isle to any other isle, to calling upon the Kraken to destroy naval fleets on the board.

The gods also allow specific actions that can be performed in any order and as often as they can be paid for. The gods each allow actions as follows:

Ares: Gives the player a free army and places it on one of his isles. Up to three additional units may be purchased by the player (at increased prices per unit) who controls Ares and placed in their territories. Ares also allows the player to pay gold to move armies from one isle to another if they can follow a "bridge" of ships to the new isle. Ship bridges are created by having one of your naval fleets in every ocean space between your isle to the destination isle, so that you can trace a complete path, or bridge. If your armies move onto an isle with enemy armies, then a battle is fought. Finally, Ares allows the player to purchase Fortresses, which give a defensive bonus to battles on the isle.

Athena: Gives the player 1 free Philosopher. They can also spend four gold to purchase one additional Philosopher. Once a player has four Philosophers, he must immediately discard them to build a Metropolis. Athena also allows the player to purchase Universities, which offer no bonuses, but are needed to build a Metropolis (except if the player has built it through having 4 Philosophers).

Poseidon: Gives the player a free navy and places it on a sea space adjacent to one of his isles. Up to three additional navies may be purchased by the player (at increased prices per unit) who controls Poseidon and placed in their territories. Poseidon also allows the player to pay gold to move navies up to three spaces. If your navies move onto a sea space with enemy navies, then a battle is fought. Finally, Poseidon allows the player to purchase Ports, which give a defensive bonus to naval battles adjacent to the isle.

Zeus: Gives the player 1 free Priest. They can also spend four gold to purchase one additional Priest. Each Priest that a player has reduces the amount that he needs to pay for his offering bid by one, to a minimum of one. For example, if you bid 6 gold on Ares and have 4 Priests, you only pay 2 gold. Zeus also allows you to spend one gold to discard one of the current creatures on the Mythological Creature track and replace it with a new one from the draw pile. Finally, Zeus allows you to purchase Temples, which reduces the cost of purchasing Mythological Creatures by 1 per Temple, to a minimum of 1.

Apollo: Apollo is always available and is always the last god in the order. Multiple players can choose Apollo and there is no bidding for him. Any player choosing Apollo cannot purchase creatures from the Mythological Creatures track. Each player who selects him receives 1 gold, or 4 gold if they only control 1 isle. However, only the first player to choose Apollo gets a Prosperity Marker that he may lay on one of his isles. This will increase the revenue generated by that isle starting the next turn.

Since only one person can control each god (except Apollo) each turn, that means on any given turn, no more than one person can build and move armies or build or movies navies, and they will only be able to do it in the turn order of the gods for that turn. Once a player finishes his god's actions, he places his turn order marker on the last open area for turn order, so that the first player to act this turn will make his offering last next turn and the last player to act this turn gets first choice next turn. After all players have gone, the process repeats again until someone wins.

Battles are fought whenever there are opposing units in the same space (either armies on an isle, or navies in a sea space). Each player rolls a die. The die is a six-sided die with the facings of one "0", two 1s, two 2s and one 3. Each player adds the number of armies or navies they have in the battle to their die roll. The defender adds any building bonuses (Ports or Fortresses). The player with the lower number removes one unit. If both players tie, each remove a unit. This is continued until the space no longer contains opposing units.

The game is won at the end of a turn when one player controls two isles with Metropolises on them. Metropolises are gained in one of three ways:
• Once a forth Philosopher is received from Athena, the player discards them and places a Metropolis.
• When a player controls isles that contain one of each building type (Fortress, University, Port, Temple), he discards them and places a Metropolis.
• A player can conquer another player's isle that he has built a Metropolis on.

Each Metropolis offers the same advantages of each of the building types. And, finally, a player cannot attack and conquer a player's last remaining isle (and thus eliminate him), unless they can prove that conquering the isle will win the game for them.


The Theme:

Cyclades is a small-scale civilization building and conflict game that has a strong mythological setting. In fact, it was the mythological theme of the game that drew me into it. Each of the creatures cards is beautifully illustrated and has a power or ability that seems consistent with their mythological stories. The tie in to the Greek gods is also rather favorable to me. I enjoy the idea of battling over different gods and having their unique powers available to me each round.

That being said, the civilization building portion of the game doesn't really feel that strong. Really, the game moves quickly and isles can change hands often and rapidly that you don't really get a feel of building an empire. For me, that isn't a problem, but I would say that if you are going into the game feeling that you will be building a massive civilization, you may be disappointed.


Learning the Game:

The rules are laid out in a full color 8-page booklet. Three of those pages really just illustrate the game set-up, so the rules only actually take up 5 of the pages. They are fairly well-written and pretty clear with few ambiguities. Overall, this is a quick, easy game to learn and teach.

Once players start playing, everything is very intuitive and easy to figure out. The only piece of the game that will require multiple references in game is the Mythological Creatures. This is just because they are language independent cards with icons representing the abilities they grant. After a couple of games, these symbols are fair enough reminders so that you do not need to look up what they mean, but your first couple games will have you going over the reference sheet and explaining that creature's abilities to the group whenever it is first drawn.

The mechanics (though not necessarily the best strategies) should be almost completely understood by most players by the end of their second turn.


The Components:


A beautiful board, which does change in size and layout a bit, depending on the number of players. 



The blue player's army and navy figures. Each color has its own unique army and navy figure molds, each as highly detailed as this one. 




Philosopher and Priest cards.




Polyphemus is one of the five Mythological Creatures that are represented by a card, as well as a sculpted figurine to place on the board. 



The components of this game are absolutely beautiful. Each player color has army figures and navy figures that are of a sculpt that is different from the other colors. The artwork on the cards is absolutely gorgeous and the artwork of the board is beautiful, while being completely functional and easy to understand and use. There are five Mythological Creatures that are placed on the board and they have beautiful plastic figurines to represent them.

That being said, there is no need for all of that. The game is over-produced. But I don't care. Honestly, everything is so beautiful that the aesthetics almost become a part of the game. The Essen release of the game had wooden army and navy pieces (meeples) and used tokens for the five Mythological Creatures that are placed on the map. The game would be completely playable with them, but I am glad that I have the overproduced pieces that I have.

My only complaints with the components of the game come from the thickness and fold of the game boards. Personally, I think that they could have been a bit thicker. It would help them lay a little better. As it stands now, I put my map under Plexiglas, but that's because I'm a hardcore enough of a gamer to have a few sheets of Plexiglas laying around for such an occasion.

The other issue I have with the boards is the folds of them. Each board is about 21 inches in length, and the fold is at about the 15 inch mark. This odd fold causes two minor problems. First, it means the box is larger than it needs to be. Boards folding at the 10.5 inch mark would result in a smaller box. But also, it displaces the weight of the smaller side of the fold and the less weight of it is part of the reason for it not laying completely flat.

Again, these are minor complaints, however, on an otherwise amazingly well produced product.


Playing the Game:

Game play is quick and intuitive, with minimal downtime since no more than one player will be moving armies and no more than one player will be moving navies in a single turn. This minimizes the combats each round if you are not involved in them. That isn't saying that there aren't concerns about analysis paralysis, but that is a player issue, not a game issue.

Since it only takes two Metropolises to win the game, gameplay is quick and the game very quickly becomes a game of watching and blocking other players. One of the innate designs of the game is that truly any player can win. There is no elimination (except in one very, very rare possible combination and instance) and even if you are reduced to one isle, you can gain more money than other players by taking the Apollo action, so you can potentially amass money and outbid everyone on Ares on a later turn to rush and take over other isles.

Another thing that I enjoy about the game is that there are so many ways to win. Two Metropolises is not a lot and you can get them through any combination of conquest, building and amassing Philosophers. The game really starts to get interesting once a couple players have their first Metropolis. A good attack on an isle with a Metropolis will give them the win. Or perhaps they are trying to discretely take Philosophers. Or maybe they have a fortress, port and temple and only need a university to get their forth building to get their Metropolis and can either try to build it or conquer another isle with it.

This creates such an interesting method of blocking in the mid to late game. You need to be wary and ready to block the bidding of a god to outbid them, or defending an isle that they need or even removing a Mythological Creature that would give them an ability to do what they need to win.

Still, some players may be turned off by the randomness of both the luck of the die rolls and the random order that the gods come into play. The randomness of the die rolls, however, is mitigated in the fact that only 0, 1, 2 or 3 can be rolled with 2-sides for the 1 and 2. Also, the number of units you bring in add to your roll, so if you outnumber an enemy by enough, it will be mathematically impossible to lose the battle. As far as the luck of the random god order? That is fate, my friend. And if your strategy cannot stand against the chance that the god you need's order is lower, giving your opponents a chance to counter with Mythological Creature buys, then it was your strategy that was not that sound and relied only on luck.


Scalability:

The game plays from 2 to 5 players and scales surprisingly well due to a rather smart way of building the map. The map segments are two sided and depending on how many players you have, you use specific sides of the map to form the right size and number of isles to best fit the number of players. The two player game plays a bit differently, with each player bidding on two gods, but even this works well.

In games with less than 5 players, not every god is available to bid on every round. This can create other interesting results as well. If you are in a three player game and are set to outbid everyone and win with taking control of Ares, but he does not come up in the shuffle that turn, the other players have a chance to prepare against you.

That being said, the randomness of what gods are available may turn off some players because of this additional luck in games with less than 5 players. Gods not available in one round are automatically available in the next round, but it is still a possible concern.


Does the Wife Like It?:

The most important category. I play games without her, but she's an integral part of my core gaming group and my most frequent game partner. I wasn't sure how she would like this game, since she does like civilization building, but is usually turned off by too much direct conflict. And this game has tons of direct conflict, either through battles or outbidding one another for gods. Ultimately I think the theme won her over a bit. She's a hardcore D&D player as well and I think it did just enough to turn a game that she would have been cool towards to one that she is lukewarm to.

She's probably never going to suggest it when she throws out game titles that she'll play, but I think the theme and the short game play length will mean that she'll play it rather than using her allotted game-night vetoes on it.


The Pros:

*Absolutely gorgeous game, from the artwork to the board to the sculpted minis.
*Quick game play. It truly plays in an hour.
*The game does a great job in creating conflict and interaction in a way that feels authentic and not forced.
*Great use of theme to really pull in a game that may not have the depth of other games that have similar mechanics.
*No player elimination, while at the same time naturally keeping the trailing players in the game and offering a possibility to come back and steal a win.
*Twenty-nine years since the release of Clash of the Titans, I finally have a context to shout "Release the Kraken!"

The Cons:

*Bad map fold positions and thinness of the cardboard makes it lay a little awkwardly.
*Some players may not like the randomness in the game.
*The game is quick, perhaps too quick for some to really enjoy some of the mechanic themes in the game.
*Unlike the miniatures in the original Clash of the Titans, these are not stop-motion animated and just stand there.


Overall:

Cyclades is an absolutely gorgeous game that combines elements of civilization building, area control/warfare, bidding and card drafting that is designed to be played in about an hour. That may seem like it is a lot to cram into a small game and it is. However, Cyclades doesn't exactly delve as deep into any of these elements as other games, but it succeeds nonetheless in pulling them together for a very engaging game. The hour play time means that this can easily be a filler game, but it has the weight and interaction to make it feel more like a main course. Player interaction is natural and not forced and it creates a setting where any player can win. The randomness of the gods creates varied replayability from the first turn even with the static set up. This is a great game that scales well enough with a short enough play time that it can either fill the time waiting for others to arrive, or be played as a deeper main event once everyone one has arrived.


8.5/10

Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Nuns on the Run

My biases first: I am a big fan of theme in games and do not mind reaching through piles of chits if the theme and game play is good enough. While I do favor confrontation, chits, bits and polished pieces of AT games, there are still a large number of Euros that I'll build my farm on or attend auctions at and be quite content at the end of my experience. However, while I am not very religious, I do harbor one bias against nuns: Whenever there is a comedy with men dressing up as nuns, precious little hilarity will actually ensue.


The Overview:


The box is a bit deeper than it needs to be, but it is ultimately smaller than standard box sizes such as Agricola. 



Box contents. They may seem rather sparse, but considering everyone in the box has taken a vow of poverty, the contents are not too shabby. 



Nuns on the Run is a game of stealth and detection, played with two directly opposing sides, although other than the 2 Guards in an 8 player game, there are no real cooperative elements. The game really is just a nun's story wherein one player takes the roles of both Guards (the Abbess and the Prioress), except in 8 player games in which two players each take one. The rest of the player take on the role of one of the Novices. The Novices each have a "Secret Wish" card dealt to them and they have to try to sneak through the church grounds to get the key to their item, then collect their item and return back to their cell undetected. The Guards are trying to detect their hidden movement and find and stop the Novices who should be in their cells and not wandering around the church.

Because of the hidden movement mechanics of the Novices, the game is almost an inverse of Scotland Yard and Fury of Dracula, but with multiple stealthy characters avoiding detection. Still it falls very closely in the spirit of these games and probably falls somewhere in between the two games as far as depth. There are definitely more options and more to do in the game than Scotland Yard offers. But while both games may have crucifixes, there is significantly less mortal combat going on in this game than in Fury of Dracula.

The game is for 2-8 players and takes about 30-60 minutes to play, depending on the number of players and their familiarity with the game. Since the Novices take their turns simultaneously, their number doesn't necessarily add to the length, but invariably, it causes more opportunities for the Guards to overhear and may cause more opportunities for the Guard player to pause and consider their moves.

Each Novice is dealt a Secret Wish card at the start of the game. These wishes range from collecting a letter from your mother to stealing a bottle of brandy. Each of the Secret Wishes is locked away and the Novice will have to get the correct key before they can retrieve their item. Keys and Wishes are each on a preset location on the board.

The Novices do not move their character token on the map. Instead, they use a movement log sheet to record where they are on the map at any time. Each turn on their movement, a Novice may Stand Still (0 movement), Sneak (move 1 or 2 spaces), Walk (move 3 or 4 spaces) or Run (move up to 5 spaces). However, the faster they move, the noisier they are. At the end of their movement, the Novice rolls a six-sided die and modifies it by the type of movement they took (Stand Still -3, Sneak -2, Walk -1, Run -0). The resulting number is the distance that they can be heard. So if the Novice rolls a 3 and there is a Guard within 3 spaces of them, they must alert the Guard that they heard a noise by placing a Noise Token on the board. This allows the Guard to deviate from her predetermined route that turn and investigate the noise. This sometimes forces a slower play by the Sister. Act too quickly and you may end up getting caught.

Similarly, if a movement places the Novice within a Guard's line of sight, they must put their Novice token on the board to show where the Novice is. If they move out of the line of sight, they put a Vanished Token on their last seen location. On the Guards' turn, they can deviate from their path to investigate.

If a Novice is caught, she loses her Secret Wish if she has it (it returns to its original location instantly, apparently flying; none-the-wiser is the Guard who caught the Novice, as she does not get to discover which Secret Wish was returned), she keeps the keys if she has them, and she must take her next move to Walk back towards her cell. Once she is out of sight, however, she can decide to sneak off again.

If a Novice returns to her cell with her Secret Wish, she declares it at the end of her turn and she wins.

The Guards each choose a predetermined path card at the start of their movement, which is public knowledge for the Novices as well. They are then committed to following that path on their turn. Their movement options are a little more limited. They can either Walk (move 3 or 4 spaces) or Run (move 5 or 6 spaces). If the Abbess or Prioress has Walked that turn, they get to roll the six-sided die to try to listen in from their ending space. They roll the die and the Novices need to modify it based on their last movement played and let the Guards know if they are in range and overheard. If so, they place a Noise Token on the board.

As stated, the Abbess and Prioress follow a predetermined path. However, if either a Novice is overheard or one has crossed their Line of Sight (line of sight is anywhere from an 180 degree arc from the front of the Guard, up to six spaces forward, but blocked by walls and doors), they are allowed a change of habit and deviate from the path and move freely in an attempt to investigate and catch the Novice. After their movements, however, if the Novice is no longer seen or heard, the tokens are removed from the board and the Guard and on their next move, they will have to move back to their chosen path and continue on their way again. Once the Guard has reached the destination of their chosen path, they must then choose another path heading out from their new location.

Guards can catch the same Novice multiple times in the course of a game. Ultimately the Guards win if they catch a number of Novices equal to the total number of players (not just number of Novices) or 15 turns have passed and none of the Novices have claimed their Secret Wish and returned to their cell.

The last thing is each Novice and each of the Guards receives a Blessing card. Blessings cards can be used once per game and allow you to do anything from adding one to your movement, rerolling a die roll, modifying the noise roll by +1 or -1 (depending on if you are a Novice or a Guard) or placing a false Noise Token. The false Noise Tokens are very useful. If a Novice plays it, it can draw a Guard off of their path as they investigate something that isn't really there, giving you a chance to slip by them. If a Guard plays it, it counts as a Noise Token being on the board and gives that Guard a free turn to deviate from their path. So each blessing from an angel granted to a Novice may also be in the hands of a Guard. But I suppose that is the trouble with angels; in a game where both sides are playing spiritually devoted, they help out both sides equally.


The Theme:

Nuns on the Run is a stealth and tracking game that seems to have the odd setting of being placed in a church ground. However, it works. True, the theme of playing nuns might turn some people off, but it really does work in a cute way. My wife was hesitant at the game's theme at first, but after a play, it won her over.

Honestly, the church grounds/nun theme is kind of a pasted on. This game could just as easily be rethemed to appeal to a different audience and be a World War II stalag in "the Great Escape". However, the nun theme keeps the feeling light and fun and if you have that hard of a time getting into the theme, play some Gregorian chants in the background. I'm sure that the sound of music playing out in the room will help everyone focus on the setting.

Really, the theme comes down to how the game makes you feel in the roles in a more generic sense. And as the Novice, you really do feel the tension of trying to remain hidden. Your movements are recorded secretly and there will probably be a few times when you hold your breath as you roll the die, knowing that anything higher than a 3 will make enough noise to let the guard know that you are just beyond that door to their right. And as the Guard, you do feel the rigidness of your role as you patrol a set path, modifying your movements just enough to try to position yourself in the best place to either listen in down a corridor or be able to position yourself to see throughout the entire Chapel.

So in that sense, the theme works. You do feel like a Guard on the hunt, not trusting that any room or corridor you pass isn't actually occupied, or you feel like someone on the run, paranoid of making too much noise, but knowing that you have to take a risk and make a mad dash behind the Guards back. If the nuns theme bothers you too much, just replace the Abbess and Prioress markers with a couple of German infantry figures from Axis and Allies, rename Novice Celeste to "The Cooler King", and replace the Secret Wish of stealing a slice of the Abbess' birthday cake with cards for Wire Cutters, a Shovel or a Ham Radio.


Learning the Game:

The rules are rather easy to learn. There is an illustration in the rules that shows how to fill out the Novice's movement log sheet, and I would recommend that you leave the rulebook opened to that page as a reference to the Novice players on how to fill out their logs on their first game. However, after a couple of turns, it becomes pretty intuitive. Then, for any new Novice players in the future, just hold onto any of the old log sheets for them to refer to.

Really, this game is quite easy to pick up. It is probably a little complex for non-gamers, but interested causal gamers should have no problem picking up the rules of the game.


The Components:


The very effective and very pretty board for the game. 



The Guards. Pictured left from right are the Abbess and the Prioress. Though we've affectionately renamed the Abbess to "the Penguin" from the movie, the Blues Brothers (that reference was a free one). 




Here are the tokens representing the Novices. They are only kept in their cells and placed on the map when they are spotted. So, with a few lucky die rolls and stealthy moves, you might be able to get by without anyone overhearing the song of Bernadette as she sneaks through the chapel.  



The components are very good. There is nothing too elaborate, but considering the vow of poverty that the characters in the game have taken, you might lose the feel if you were playing with ornate figures. The board is beautiful and surprisingly very good at creating a field with a lot of dangerous open areas while still containing a number of corridor junctions and side rooms to let the Novices to hide in. The map is superbly crafted from a playability aspect and is also very beautiful from an artistic one. In fact, when looking over the fine details of the board, you can almost see the lilies of the field.

My only complaints with the components are with a single useless piece that was included and one obvious one that was missing:

First of all, the game comes with a "Line of Sight" straight edge. At first you might think that this is a good idea, especially since the Guards cannot see through walls and if you are standing at a corner, you might not actually be able to see the Novice around the corner and further down in the Chapel. A good idea, you say? I mean, determining if there really is line of sight is actually very important if you want to avoid being spotted. However, let us say that a Guard moves onto space 112 in the Chapel and your Novice is on space 61. You pull out the line of sight ruler and lay it down, on space 112 and run it directly to space 61. You see that the Guard's sight is blocked by the corner wall and you smile to the Guard player and tell them that they don't see anything. Well, that's fine. However, they saw you line up space 112 with space 61 and could easily deduce where you are despite the fact you just told her that she cannot see you. So it really is a pointless tool and its inclusion probably makes things a little worse than just referring to the line of sight chart at the back of the rules.

Secondly, the board is big and it is rather obvious when you are the Guard and you see where the players are looking at on it and counting their moves. You may not know exactly, but you can usually tell roughly. This is even more obvious after a Noise roll and the players have to look at the board and silently count out the spaces. As the Guard player, I try my damnedest to be looking away from the board during the Novices' movements, but even glancing over at it for a moment gives you the awareness of which quarter of the board they are looking at. Fury of Dracula, which has hidden movement for the Dracula player, includes a smaller version of the map that Dracula's player can look at to determine their move without obviously looking at the map and giving away his general location. Nuns on the Run would very much improve from having small reference cards with the map on them for each Novice player. Including cards like this would be great to ensure that the Guards still have reason to doubt.


Playing the Game:

Game play is easy and intuitive. Both the role of the Novice and the role of the Guard have very different feels to their play. However, the game mechanics rely on the Novice players both being fully aware of what is going on and adhering to the rules.

Since their movements are hidden and tracked only on their own Novice logs, it is up to the Novice player to know when she is in line of sight of one of the Guards and notify them. It is also up to the Novice player to track and modify all of the Noise rolls and determine if they are heard and where to place the Noise Token on the board. Without the full awareness of the player, either a Novice could accidentally go unnoticed when they should have been spotted or heard, or they might reveal themselves, only to backtrack as they realize that they weren't actually in line of sight, or they were looking at the wrong Guard when counting Noise rolls, effectively giving themselves away. The game is pretty easy to handle without threat of either of these situations, but they are there for the distracted player.

And because it is all hidden movements and it is up to the Novice player's honor to admit when she is heard or seen, the game mechanics are set that it could be intentionally abused. However, if you are playing with someone who would intentionally cheat while playing a nun, you have bigger problems on your hands than simple issues with game mechanics.


Scalability:

The game plays from 2 to 8 players and it scales surprisingly well for each of the ranges. Eight players gets a little trickier with two people playing one each of the Guard roles. However, that really does not change any mechanic whatsoever.

Two-player games give the potential of a dull game for the Guard player. With more Novices running about in different directions, you are more likely to stumble onto one of them and take your chances of free movement off your path. However, in two-player games, there is only one Novice running about, and there is more of a chance of never succeeding on a Noise roll or spotting them and having the Guards spend much more, if not all of their time walking along their paths with no opportunities to run around freely investigating. However, I've played a handful of two-player games already and we have had less chances to move freely, but just enough to still make it interesting and challenging for both sides. But the potential is there.

I would say that the sweet spot for this game is probably around 4 or 5 players. It gives the Guards just enough opportunities to deviate from their paths more often while still giving the Novices enough of a chance to succeed with a few lucky catches by the Guards.


Does the Wife Like It?:

The most important category. I play games without her, but she's an integral part of my core gaming group and my most frequent game partner. When I first got this game, the theme was a tough sell on her. She blinked when I suggested the game and said, "Nuns and running. Two things that I don't care for. And you expect me to enjoy this?" Fortunately, I was able to get her to play by pointing out that she would be making the nuns do something that she doesn't like by forcing them to run. With that, she gave it a try. And, despite the theme, she enjoyed our first two-player game to learn the mechanics (She's also enjoyed games with more players as well since then).

My wife usually is content with whatever role she first learns in a game. Trying out a new character or role would mean learning more rules or learning new strategy. Thus my wife has played the Bene Gesserit non-stop in our games of Dune until we had to finally force her to try a new faction in a four-player game where she reluctantly played the Harkonnens. Still to this day, she has never played a different faction in Dune beyond those two. But, that being said, my wife surprised me by asking me unsolicited to try the role of the Guards after playing her first games as a Novice. She also enjoyed it and appreciates both roles. You might not think that this is that big of a deal, but this is really such a huge thing for someone who is perfectly content never exploring a game beyond the Bene Gesserit, Kennedy, Mina Harker, the Defender, Obama, the Genestealers, Jenny LeClerc, the Elves, Marcus Licinius Crassus, Sam, Amanda the Prom Queen, Beravor, Runewitch Astarra, Caprice Nisei, Rita Young, the purple meeples and selling to Howard every turn.

So if it gets her to explore the game in different ways like that, I think it is a definite win for my wife.


The Pros:

*Roles very well designed and each feels like either a watchful hunter or a paranoid hider.
*Well designed board with plenty of risks and plenty of nooks and crannies to hide in.
*Fun, light and quick.
*Can be taught easily to causal gamers.
*Fairly scalable.
*Plays in an hour or less.
*It really does create some tense moments ( especially for the Novices), which are fun to laugh about after the game (though a prison camp retheming would change funny tense moments to tense tense moments).


The Cons:

*It is too obvious for the Novices to be looking at the board and determining their movement or counting spaces to see if they are heard.
*Line of Sight straight edge is probably worse for the game by including its usage.
*Any game that has pads of game specific log or scoring sheets disappoints me slightly because they are a usable finite resource in the game.
*Two-player games have a potential of leaving the Guard player with little option or mobility during the course of the game.
*Nun theme may turn off some gamers who are either stuck up about religious themes or only being able to play girls. It may also turn off some gamers who are religious and unhappy with the idea of Novices sneaking around and breaking the rules.
*"Nuns" and "Run" is technically a false-rhyme. However, considering the only alternative I could think of is "Nuns with the Runs", I think the false-rhyme theme may be a Pro.
*It was actually a bit harder than I thought it would be to hide the title of 12 nun related movies in this review.


Overall:

Nuns on the Run is a very fun and entertaining game that has enough charm to it to win over both casual gamers (who will not be bogged down with mechanics) and veteran gamers( who will see the fun in it, even if it isn't as complex as some of their other games). The nun theme itself is pasted on and the setting could be easily changed without altering game play. However, the real theme is how each role feels to play, and the game captures each mood perfectly. The two roles also play differently and have a very different feel to them. With a play time of an hour or less, this game could easily be a fun filler, but might even work itself into more of a main course with repeated plays.


8/10