From:  Acumen Board Games
Reviewed by:Ron McClung

Triagonal is a new Board Game from Acumen Board Games.

There was a silly pen-and-paper game that my wife use to play with her son when he was like 9 or 10 years old, and she is now teaching our 4 YO daughter.  In the game one draws lines trying to form as many boxes as possible along a grid of dots.  When you made a box, you put your initial in it.  Count up the initials and the one with the most wins.  I was never really any good at that game because it required a lot more look-ahead ability than I was willing to put into the game.  It was a little less mindless than something like tic-tac-toe while you wanted for food at the restaurant but I never really had any interest in getting involved.

From the back cover :
“We have created for your pleasure – not just one – but multiple game options in this super value game.”

Triagonal is a game like that pen-and-paper game that I remember.  Instead of squares, the goal is to form triangles.  However, there are at least seven (and more if you go to their website) ways to play the game.  On the back are rules for seven different ways to play.  The basics of the game are first explained.  In the game you have the triangle board with 49 triangle spaces.  Each are defined by groves in which the “black sector formers” (lines) fit.  84 of these sector formers come with the game.  There are also 120 triangular colored tiles in 4 different colors (30 each color).  You form triangles by placing the sector formers, and you score points by forming triangles and bonus points for forming hexagons.

Pure Strategy:  This version gives the players a reward for forming a triangle by giving them another chance to place a sector former.  Towards the end, this could end in a chain of triangle formations.  This is a fairly mundane way to play it, much like the pen and paper game I remember.  It is always a case of figuring out a way to force the other player into making a bad decision.

More Chance:  This version uses the die with the number on it – the Value die.  This die has the numbers 0 through 3 on it, with three 1s, and one of each of the others.  You roll the die and place the number of formers as the die tells you.  It doesn’t say it either way, but I guess you do not get a free placement after making triangle.  This is generally minimal strategy and leaves more up to chance, as the name implies.

A Quicker Game:  In this game, you use the other die – the one with the colors of the tiles on each side – to determine who’s turn it is.  At the start of the game, all players must agree on a number of sector formers that will be played on a players turn.  When that player’s color is rolled, he may play the number of formers agreed upon, placing colored tiles in the completed triangles.  This is not all that much different from the strategy play, except in the number of formers.

Confusion:  In this version, you use both dice.  Special rules are given for each different color possibility and the value die dictates the number of sector formers you place.  This is a fairly chaotic way to play.

Place Your Bets:  In this version, you use both dice and the players bet on the color that will win the most sectors before starting play.  Place the number of tiles based on what is rolled on the value die, and the color of the tile(s) is based on the color that is rolled on the other die.  This seemed kind of silly to me.

First One Out:  Using the first, second, third or fourth option, at the start of the game, the players decide how many tiles each person gets and the first person out wins.

Marathon:  This simply plays a set number of games of any of the above versions.

In conclusion, this to me is more a fun game for kids.  It is not really all that fun as an adult game.  It is a good game to use to teach your kids to look-ahead and general strategy, however. It does have replayability value in that it has so many different ways to play.  I personally did not find the game satisfying, however.

For more details on Acumen Board Games and their new Board Game “Triagonal” check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.


From: Acumen Board Games

Type of Game: Board Game/Abstract Strategy

Game Design by: Dave Barnes

Developed by: Acumen Board Games

Game Components Included: Type List of Items

  • 120 x Marker Tiles moulded in 4 colours. 30 each of red, blue, yellow, green
  • 84 x Sector Formers moulded in black.
  • 1 x Custom printed numeric die.
  • 1 x Custom printed colour die.
  • 1 x Game Board moulded in white.
  • 1 x List of Playing Options.

Retail Price: £9.99 (UK)

Number of Players: 1-4

Player Ages: 5+


Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Ghostowns & Gunsmoke

From:  Crucifiction Games
Reviewed by:  Ron McClung

Ghostowns & Gunsmoke is a new Roleplaying Game Expansion from Crucifiction Games.

Some time ago, I reviewed Horror Rules, which is an outstanding product.  Since then, Crucifiction Games has released several expansions, one of which is Ghostowns & Gunsmoke (G&G) – their western horror setting book.  It is available in both PDF and softback book.

From page #1:
“Welcome to the Wild Wild Wicked West – Free Pine Box Fittings Every Thursday”

Assuming  you are familiar with Horror Rules (which you would have to be to play this game), G&G brings to the game new Character Types, new Western Skills, new Special Traits, new rules for Western Mayhem, new Western Bad Guys, new Western Weapons and Gear, Ghostown & Gunsmoke Character Sheets, background and source material, and a complete Ghostowns & Gunsmoke adventure, “A Fistful of Livers.”

Part One of G&G covers the additions it brings to Horror Rules.  The new Character Types include City Slicker, Doc, Gunslinger and Indian.  They each have their own unique character powers like the Gunslinger’s Dead Eye and the Doc’s Patching Holes. Character skills include some new skills as well as skills from the core book that are renamed “to sound more Old Westy.”  Of the skills, several are new, including Bows n’ Arrows, and Cowboy.  Some name changes include Hackin’ n’ Whackin’ (Melee Weapons), Shootin’ (Gun), and Sawbones (Medicine.)

G&G also adds a new set of Special Traits.  These include Deathwish, Gamblin’ Man, and No Speak’um English.  Like in the core rule book, these are used to spice up the character and give them more depth.  New Weapons & Equipment covers the obvious – guns, ammo and stuff for the Wild West setting.  This is a fairly comprehensive list, giving the players enough to work with.

G&G also brings something new to the game of Horror Rules.  Now a player can Take a Gamble, using a special set of rules presented in G&G.  These are used at a point when a player wants to take a gamble.  Any situation is applicable – attempting a task without a skill in it, trying something risky with an NPC, or trying something heroic. When the player wishes to use this option, he must state that he wants to “take a gamble that…” and state the gamble he is going to take.  For example, the player may say “I’m taking a gamble that there’s a back door to this saloon…”

The key part of any gamble is the Wager. Wagers can be any in-game commodity from weapons and gear to health, Grip, Second Thought Points or even character powers.  Once the wager is agreed upon between the GM and the player, then comes the moment of truth – Laying Down Your Cards.  The player makes a roll against his Gamblin’ skill.  If the player succeeds, he keeps his wager and succeeds at the task in question.  Otherwise, he loses the wager or he can Double Down – try again against his skill only by doubling his wager.  This in my mind, is brilliant.  It is a very cool and fun mechanic.

Another interesting mechanic is the good old-fashioned classic Wild West Quickdraw.  Players may find themselves in a situation similar to the classic Western face-off.  In this case, the game provides a quick and easy way to perform them in-game.  It gets quite comical when two Gunslingers with the Dead Eye power face off.  One option to determine who goes first in that case is whoever calls Deadeye out first wins the draw.

Setting the Scene is a short section on the Western setting, with a few historical references as well as few facts of life about the West in that time.  There is not a lot of detail but enough to give you an idea.  This game is not about historical accuracy and reenactment, it’s about having fun.  One area I think they did well in is the sensitive area of Native Americans and their role in the old West.

“During the Wild West era, Native Americans were largely misunderstood, mistreated, mistrusted and generally given the shaft. While we can’t be proud of how we treated our brothers, we can’t overlook or sanitize it either. Native Americans played an integral role in the settling of the West, and to fully embrace this epic time without including them would be a disservice.”

It shows guts that they did not sanitize it and kept it real.

This section also gets into the superstitions and supernatural of the West, a little.  It introduces a short description of the Society for Supernatural Inquiry, a group that can serve as an enemy or a ally to the players in their G&G adventures.

The Ruleskeeper section, like the core book, supplies the Ruleskeeper with all he needs to “scare the pants off people.”  The Ruleskeeper is reminded that the Old West was a violent and dangerous place and to make sure the players know it.  It sets the scene of a gritty and dark place that most everyone should be familiar with through movies or books, and then asks the Ruleskeeper to throw in the creepy and strange, the alien and weird.  It also encourages the use of player cards for a game a poker or blackjack if the adventure calls for it, to set the mood.  It also gives you general guidelines as to how to create a good Western Horror adventure, reminding the reader that they don’t have to know Old West history to have a good adventure.

At the end there are three creatures supplied (the haunting Buffalo Spirit, psychopathic Coyote Jack, and undead Miner 49er), and an adventure called A Fistful of Livers.  This adventure opens in a small town in Core Butte, Wyoming, where something dark and sinister is taking place.  It is a fun little introduction to the game of Horror Rules and the G&G setting.

The layout is fairly basic and nothing to go crazy about, but it is well written and a fun read.  The art is on par with the rest of the Horror Rules line, which is basic black and white sketches.  The art is better than some but not as good as most.  However, you are not buying this for the art, you are buying this for the fun.

In conclusion, I enjoyed Horror Rules because if its simplicity, its focus on ease of play and fun, and its general fun nature.  Ghostowns & Gunsmoke is not any different.  Old West cheesy horror is as much fun if not more than modern cheesy horror.  One of the things I like most about this and their other supplements is that it is very entertaining to read, especially from a gamer point of view.  These guys have a fun and goofy sense of humor.  It is a great expansion to a great game.

For more details on Crucifiction Games and their new Roleplaying Game Expansion “Ghostowns & Gunsmoke” check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

Ghostowns & Gunsmoke
From: Crucifiction Games
Type of Game: Roleplaying Game Expansion
Authors: Chris Weedin, Kelly Staymates, Christopher Staymates
Editor: Kimberly Weedin
Artwork: Chris Caprile
Number of Pages: 68
Game Components Included: 68 page PDF or softback book
Game Components Not Included: Horror Rules Core book
Retail Price: $ 6.00 (US)

Reviewed by: Ron McClung
Date: 9/5/2008

I Drank What?

From:  Empire Games
Reviewed by:  Ron McClung

I Drank What? is a new Card Game from Empire Games.

A small gaming company is making a lot of noise in my local area.  Empire Games rose out of a group of friends who simply have a lot of gaming ideas they want to share.  In the interest of full disclosure, I know these guys and went to college with some of them.  Some I used to game with quite a bit.  When I found out that they were starting a gaming company, I was surprised they had the guts to do it, but not surprised because I know these guys love games, know games and know how to make games.

The noise they are making is around the table playing their first game – I Drank What?.  I have had them at two of the conventions I coordinate games for – MACE and ConCarolinas – and both times, their tables have been surrounded by laughing and screaming players having a great time with this game.  It is bordering on a phenomenon, so I had to take the opportunity to review it and see what it was all about.

Also in the interest of full disclosure, they put my name in the “Special Thanks” section of the rules.  I did not know they had done that.

From page #1:
“A game of Wine, Poison, & Comedy”

The game setting, if you will, is a social party where all players are participants.  Like at any high society party, wine is being passed around and secretly someone is poisoning the wine.  The object of the game is to use the cards to avoid being poisoned and be the last person standing.  The game comes with two sets of cards – the Wine Deck and the Play Deck.  There are 20 cards in the Wine Deck – 5 Poison and 15 Wine.  Cards from the Wine Deck are played face down until either a card instructs you to or you are forced to turn it over.  There are 60 cards in the Play Deck – 36 Action and 24 Reaction cards. Actions cards can be played on your turn, and Reaction cards can be played as per the instructions of the cards.

After shuffling the Play Deck, players start with 4 cards from it.  The Wine Deck is formed by taking a number of Wine cards equal to one less than the number of players plus one Poison card.  The remaining Poison and Wine cards are set aside and used later.  One card from the Wine deck is dealt to each player.  Therefore, someone is going to have the poison card.  The remaining Wine and Poison cards that were set aside are then shuffled and form the Wine Cellar Deck.

Play starts with the Toastmaster, who usually is the owner of the game, and goes around the table to the left.  On a player’s turn, he may either play an Action Card or pass. Action Cards can include cards like “Oops” (shuffle any player’s Wine card into the Wine Cellar Deck and deal another), Inhale Deeply (look at any player’s Wine Card without revealing it to other players), or Inept Somelier (exchange Wine Cards with the person of your choice without revealing) as well as a few others.  There are 12 varieties of different actions that can be taken, with 3 cards of each in the deck.  This makes for a good variety of options.  If a player decides to take an Action Card, he can play up to two of his Actions cards face down on the table.  If he passes, he may discard up to two cards and replace them immediately.  If the player has no cards, he may pass and take two cards from the Play Deck.

Once the player has played an Action Card or passed, he can then issue a Drink Challenge.  In this case, the player picks an opponent.  The opponent may refuse but in either case, the challenger must drink.  If the opponent accepts, he too must drink.  You drink by flipping over your Wine card.  Any player with a Poison Card is eliminated from the game.  Any player that does not have a Poison Card draws one card from the Play deck. Play continues until there is a winner.

From the back cover
“It is the party of the year and all your worst enemies are invited.”

Reaction Cards are played whenever the conditions explained on the card are right.  There are 8 varieties of Reaction Cards, with 3 of each type.  These are the little surprises that your opponents might have hidden that can really ruin your day.

One interesting aspect of the game is called a Toast.  There are 3 Toast Cards in the Actions, but that is not the only way to call a Toast.  The second way to call a Toast is just after a player is poisoned.  Only the Toastmaster can call a Toast in honor of the fallen and if he is already out of the game, the person to the left is the new Toastmaster.  After a Toast, the Wine Service is reset, meaning the Wine Deck is reshuffled and people are given new cards from the Wine Deck as described in the set up.

The cards are of reasonably good quality and should stand up to regular playing.  The art and photography on the cards are pretty good, very appropriate for the game, and do not take away from it.  There are a few small editing issues I found in the rule book, but otherwise these guys know how to explain a game well.

In conclusion, one thing I liked most about this game is that the number of players is from four to ten.  With this game, the more players you have, the more fun you have.  It is a blast to play.  It is one of those “screw your neighbor” games.  It is very imaginative and surprisingly intuitive.  It also plays fast, but of course the more players you have, the slower it will go.  I enjoyed the game very much and can see why they attract so much attention at the cons they go to.

For more details on Empire Games and their new Card Game “I Drank What?” check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

I Drank What?
From: Empire Games
Type of Game: Card Game
Game Design by: Scott Messer
Developed by: David Pendragon, Jason Davis, Wayne Delisle, Jr.
Card Photography: Altered Aperture
Number of Pages: 1 page rule book
Game Components Included: 5 Poison cards, 15 Wine Cards, 36 Action Cards, 24 Reaction Cards, Rules
Retail Price: $ 18.95 (US)
Number of Players: 4-10
Player Ages: 13+
Play Time: 30+

Reviewed by: Ron McClung
Date: 9/1/2008