Justus Productions

Think Again!

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Reviewed by: Marty Connell

Think Again! is a party game from IELLO games. Originally released in French in 2012, the English version was made available in early 2014.

This is a trivia game where you are almost certain to know the answers to all the questions. That’s good, right? Well, not so fast. The twist in this game is that sometimes you need to give an incorrect answer.

Each card has six questions, and players take turns reading a question of their choice from a card. They take the deck of cards into their hand, flip over the first card and read a question. Then, they show the back of the next card of the deck. The back of the cards contain one of six symbols. Three indicate you need to give the correct answer (green circle, “Right,” or a drawing of a professor); the other three mean you need to give an incorrect answer (red square, “Wrong,” or a drawing of a dunce). The player who answers first will be given a point if they answer as indicated by the image. Otherwise, they are given a negative point.

For example, if the question is “What color are Smurfs?” and the image on the next card is a dunce, any color other than blue would be a correct response and thus a point would be awarded. If a person answers blue or a response that is not a color, they would be given a negative point.

Each player asks 5 questions and once that is done the player with the most points win.

As with any good party game, the rules are very straightforward and players can jump in and play immediately. The fun in this game is trying to be the fastest at giving a response. As said earlier, everyone knows the answers to these simple questions. The trick is how fast can your brain process an answer based on whether you need the right answer or the wrong answer. Blurting out a nonsense word doesn’t help either because the incorrect answer must be a valid answer type.

For example, if the question is “We hear with which body part?” and you needed to give an incorrect answer. Something like ‘waffles’ wouldn’t work. It would have to be an actual body part that’s not the ear.

Personally, when I first read over the rules I did not think the game would go over well with my group. However, I was pleasantly surprised how much fun everyone was having as we played. Trying to blurt out the correct response as fast as you can is tougher than it seems. Once we were done playing a game, everyone immediately wanted to try it again.

As a party game that only takes around 15 minutes to play, it’s a nice filler for game night when you are waiting for others to show or fill in gaps between games. The only downside is that as the number of players increase, many times people will answer at the same time and thus it’s hard to judge who responded first. In those cases, the question-giver threw out that question and gave another.

For more details on IELLO and their new party game Think Again! check them out at their website http://iello.miiduu.com/new/think-again, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 13

Product Summary

Think Again!

Type of Game: Party Game
Game Design by: Bruno Cathala
Cover Art by:Dominique Ferland
Additional Art by:Tony Rochon
Game Components Included: 50 question cards, 6 rules cards
Retail Price: $14.99
Number of Players: 3 – 10
Player Ages: 10 and up
Play Time: 15 minutes
Item Number: 00031
Email: http://iello.desk.com/customer/portal/emails/new
Website: http://iello.miiduu.com/think-again

Reviewed by: Marty Connell

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Garden Dice

Garden Dice

From: Meridae Games

Reviewed by: Marty Connell

While the mere mention of the Facebook game Farmville causes most gamers to roll their eyes and grimace, Doug Bass has created a game entitled Garden Dice that shed any negative feelings towards gardening games.

From the rulebook: In Garden Dice, you are gardeners toiling to coax the best crops from a  shared plot of land. You’ll take turns rolling dice and using them to perform actions such as buying, planting, and watering seeds; harvesting vegetables and moving hungry critters to gobble up your opponents’ hard work. When there are no seeds left in the supply, you’ll compare the fruits (well, vegetables) of your labors to see who’s got the bumper crop!

The heart of this game is around buying seeds, planting them, watering them and harvesting them for points. The game board consists of 36 squares (6×6) that are used to plant seeds. All the players share the same garden and thus are vying for space to plant their seeds and harvest their vegetables. However, there are six spaces on the board that have very rich soil and produce bonus points when vegetables are harvested from those locations. As such those are the spots everyone is working towards. In addition, each player has 9 wooden discs in their player color and these are used to mark their tiles so management of the seed and crops is very important.

At the start of your turn, roll all four dice to form your dice pool. You then can spend one or more of your dice to perform one of several possible actions. Spent dice are put aside and the remaining dice are used to repeat the process. This continues until you are unable to perform an action. At that time, the next player takes the 4 dice and begins his turn.

The following are the available actions during a player’s turn:

  • Buy a seed tile – Spend one die to buy one seed from the stacks with a point value equal to or less than the number on the die. Place the tile in front of you and put one of your wooden discs on the tile.

  • Place a tile – Spend two dice to place one of your special tiles (sundial/scarecrow, bird/rabbit) or a purchased seed tile. Use the numbers on the dice as coordinates (one die for the row and the other for the column).

  • Water a seed – Spend one die to water one of your own seed tiles that is equal to or less than the value of the die. When this is done, flip the seed tile over to the vegetable side.

  • Harvest a Veggie – Spend one die to harvest a veggie that is equal to or lesser than the value of the die. Remove the veggie tile from the board, put the tile in front of you, score the number of points it us worth and put your player disc back into your pool.

  • Flip a special tile – Spend one die with the result of six to flip one of your special tiles from one side to the other.

  • Move a critter – Spend one die to move your own critter in a straight line a number of spaces equal to or less than the value on the die. Birds can move onto opponents’ seeds and eat the seed or a rabbit can move onto an opponent’s veggie and eat the veggie. The only exception to this is that a rabbit can not eat a veggie if that veggie is adjacent to that same opponent’s scarecrow. When eating the seed/veggie you can remove the tile from the game or spend a die of equal or greater value of the eaten tile and take the seed tile for yourself.

  • Remove a critter- Spend three dice to remove a critter from the board. Two of the dice must correspond to the coordinates of the critter and the third die must be a six.

As mentioned earlier, placement of tiles is very important not only in bonus scoring but for chain effects that can occur during watering and harvesting. If a seed is watered or veggie is harvested and adjacent to that tile is a lower point tile, that tile gets the benefit of being watered or harvested as well. For example, if a 4-point tile is beside a 3-point tile and that is beside a 2-point tile, when the 4-point tile is watered, so is the 3 and then so is the 2. Thus, strategically placing lower point tiles besides higher ones can save you having to spend turns to water them. This even occurs when you are adjacent to an opponent’s tile!

The special tiles add some flavor to the game. The birds and rabbits can be used to attack opponents’ tiles which is a good way to try and keep them from scoring points. The sundial is very useful when it is in play. Each time you want to use two dice as coordinates you can either add/subtract 1 or 2 from one die or add/subtract 1 from two dice. This helps reduce the luck of the dice when wanting to place tiles in certain areas. In addition, each player has a sun token that can be used once during a game to re-roll all four dice on his/her turn.

The game is over when the last remaining seed tile is taken from the last supply stack.  Scoring is then performed as follows:

  • Deduct 5 points for each purchased seed tile not planted

  • Gain 15 points  for each complete set of the 5 veggie types

  • Earn points  from collecting like tiles. 3 of the same types of veggies is worth 10 points, 4 of the same is 15 points and 5 of the same is 20 points.

  • Gain 5 points for an unused sun token.

From the website: Garden Dice uses simple rules but delivers an unexpected element of strategy. Clever dice usage and tile placement are rewarded and the game features opportunities for symbiotic play. Even seasoned gamers will find something new in Garden Dice.

At first glance, Garden Dice looks very light-hearted. Roll dice, buy some tiles, place some tiles then take them off the board. However, the game is deeper than that. Placement of tiles on the board is critical when considering bonus scores and chain effects. The type of seed you buy is critical at the end of of the game as you are trying to make complete sets or make large collections of certain plants. Thanks to the rabbit and bird, there is a cutthroat aspect to the game that may appeal to more serious gamers. The drawback to the game for experienced gamers may be the luck of the dice themselves. However, the use of the sundial can help eliminate some of the chance aspect of the game.

For more casual gamers and kids, this is a really good game. The theme comes across very well as it never feels like you are just placing tiles but it does feel like you are buying seeds, planting them, and harvesting the vegetables As a result, the one with the best crop at the end is going to win. Another variant of the game for kids is to remove the bird/rabbit tiles from the game. This will remove the cutthoat aspect of the game that might frustrate kids or casual gamers alike.

So whether you have a real-life green thumb or not, take a chance on developing your boardgame green thumb and plant Garden Dice in the middle of your gaming table.

Codex Rating: 14

Product Summary

Garden Dice

From: Meridae Games

Type of Game: Board Game

Game Design by: Doug Bass

Graphic Design by: Kalissa Fitzgerald

Number of Pages: Rulebook: 8

Game Components Included: Game board, 50 seed/veggie tiles, 4 Bird/Rabbit tiles, 4 sundial/scarecrow tiles, 4 player aids, 4 dice, 36 wooden discs, 4 sun tokens, 2 rock tiles, Rulebook

Retail Price: $ 39.99 (US)

Number of Players: 2 to 4

Player Ages: 10+

Play Time: 60 min

Website: http://www.meridaegames.com/

Reviewed by: Marty Connell

Smash Up!

From: Alderac Entertainment Group
Reviewed by: Marty Connell

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you take ninjas, pirates, robots, aliens, wizards, leprechauns and zombies and throw them all together? Well now you can find out in the hot board game Smash Up.

The premise of Smash Up is pretty simple. Take two of the eight faction decks and shuffle them together to create a 40-card deck. Use minions and actions from that deck to attack and destroy bases. The first player to accumulate 15 points from the destroyed bases wins the game.

From the website: Smash Up, designed by Paul Peterson, is the all-new Shufflebuilding game from Alderac Entertainment Group.  In Smash Up players take two factions, such as pirates, ninja, robots, zombies, and more, and combine their decks into a force to be reckoned with!

At the beginning of the game, place the eight faction decks on the table (Aliens, Dinosaurs, Ninjas, Pirates, Robots, Tricksters, Wizards and Zombies). Determine who is going to be player 1 and that player selects one of the eight decks. Proceeding to the left, each player then selects a deck. The last player to select chooses his/her second deck and each player does the same going in reverse order. Each player then shuffles their two decks together. The base deck is shuffled and then one card is drawn for each player plus one. These base cards are placed on the center of the table. Play is now ready to begin.

Each player gets the opportunity to play the Minion card and one Action card in any order. When playing a minion, choose a base and place the card beside the base so that it faces towards you. Resolve any abilities/effects of the minion card. When playing an action card, show the card to the other players and do what it says. Most action cards are one-time actions, such as destroy a minion, play an extra minion card or action card, or move minions between bases. Some action cards have ongoing abilities which will affect the game as long as the card is in play.

After each player finishes his or her turn, the strengths of all minions attached to each base are added together. If the combined strengths exceed the bases Breakpoint Value then that base is scored and players receive their Victory Points. Each base card has three victory point values. The player who had the most combined minon strength gets the winner victory points, the player with the second highest combined strength gets the runner up victory points, and the third highest strength gets the third place victory points. After any scoring, the player draws two cards and then play passes to the player on the left. Each time a base is scored, check to see if any player has 15 or more victory points. If so, the game is over and that player is the winner.

From the rulebook: The Shufflebuilding Game of Total Awesomeness.

At its heart, Smash Up is a simple card game along the lines of Fluxx. You play an action, play a minion and draw two cards. From that you try to gain victory points by destroying bases. The strategy of this game comes in trying to synergize two faction decks with each other as each faction plays totally different. For example, dinosaurs are very powerful and have high strengths, zombies are weak but keep coming at you by special actions that allow additional zombies to be played from the hand and discard pile, and pirates can easily move from base to base. As such, this adds to the replayability of the game since you can mix two different factions each time you play. However, one drawback is that some combinations seem to be stronger than others which leads to some balancing issues.

For more experienced gamers, Smash Up is great quick game for when you are waiting to start a more serious game. This game is really more a filler for a game night as you are waiting for others to show up or need a break between longer games.

For more casual games, it is a great game to teach because it is easy to learn and easy to play. There is enough strategy to keep people interested but it is not so deep that it will lead to long periods of analysis paralysis.

One group where Smash Up is a hit is with children. Kids are drawn towards dinosaurs, wizards and aliens. So right out of the box, they are very intrigued by the game. The art style is very cartoony and child friendly so there is no need to worry about images of scary zombies. As stated before, the rules are simple and as long as the kids can read and understand the cards, they can play the game. Highly recommended for this group.

Smash Up is a game that tries to answer those questions us geeks have asked at one time or another. What would happen if you mix aliens and zombies? Wizards and robots? It’s a pop culture mashup. Don’t try to reason why these factions would play together; just do it and enjoy it. Who knows, maybe the old age question of Pirates vs. Ninjas will finally be answered. Unless they play together….hmmm.

Codex Rating: 15

Product Summary
Smash Up
From: AEG
Type of Game: Board Game
Game Design by: Paul Peterson
Graphic Design by: Kalissa Fitzgerald
Number of Pages: Rulebook: 12
Game Components Included: 8 faction decks (20 cards each), 16 Base Cards, Rulebook
Retail Price: $29.99 (US)
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Player Ages: 12+
Play Time: 45 min
Website: www.alderac.com
Reviewed by: Marty Connell