Justus Productions

MACE 2018 Featured Board Game Designers: Meridae Games & Garden Dice

Doug Bass is the Award winning designer behind Meridae Games based locally in the Carolinas.  He will be at MACE 2018 on Saturday running demos of their fun game, Garden Dice.

See our review here

About Garden Dice

Garden Dice is a family strategy game that combines dice rolling, tile laying, and set collection. The game board depicts a garden as a 6×6 grid in which seed and vegetable tiles are placed using dice rolls as coordinates. Players take turns using the dice to plant, water, and harvest five different types of vegetables with differing point values, from the lowly squash to the mighty eggplant.

The game’s chaining mechanism allows players to water or harvest multiple tiles using a single action, enabling players to build upon each others’ chains. Players can also use bird and rabbit tiles to eat other players’ seed and veggie tiles, but not without paying a small penalty. Two other special tiles – the sundial and the scarecrow – allow players to modify dice rolls or protect their own tiles.

The Gnome expansion included in Garden Dice can be added to the base game to give players the ability to adjust the dice rolls for purchasing, watering, and harvesting their vegetables, leading to a more strategic experience.

Bonuses increase the values of tiles as they are harvested, and additional points are awarded at the end of the game for collecting sets. The player with the most points when the last tile is taken wins.

2014 Games Magazine Game of the Year Winner
2013/Spring Parents’ Choice Recommended

MACE 2018

November 09-11 2018
The Best & Most Organized Carolina Gaming Con
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

MACE 2016 Featured Board Game Designers: KnA Game & Space Movers

Kevin & April Cox are the heart and soul behind KnA Games and creators of Space Movers, based locally in the Carolinas.  They will be at MACE 2016 on Saturday running demos of their fun cooperative game, Space Movers.

About Space Movers

Are you ready to go on an adventure? Space Movers is a cooperative science fiction board game adventure. As a player, you become a crew member of the spaceship Liberty. Together, you and your fellow crew mates will complete a series of objectives to win the game. Sounds easy, right? Well, there’s a bit more to the game. Every turn, you lose a resource from the Resource Bar on the board. If this ever reaches the bottom, you will lose the game. The way to replenish resources is to deliver cargo. You’ll be burning resources as you travel around the board to make this happen. Still, not so hard. But…quite often the evil UO Scout ship will appear to chase you across the system in an attempt to interrogate one of your crew members and temporarily remove them from the game. Each time they show up, a UO Eye Marker is added to the planet the Liberty is located on and these are tracked by a UO Presence bar on the board. If this ever reaches the top, you lose the game. Now things are getting interesting. Just when you think you have everything under control, you draw an Event card that prevents you from being able to move Liberty or one that doubles the UO Scout ship’s movement on the board. So if you can manage all that and a few other surprises while completing those objectives, you win Space Movers!

Players: 2-7

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Ages: 14+

Space Movers

MACE 2016

November 11-13 2016
The Best & Most Organized Carolina Gaming Con
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

Space Movers 2201

Space Movers 2201

From: KnA Games

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

The free trader sub-genre of space travel science fiction is one largely unfamiliar to mainstream audiences. Much of this has to do with how, aside from Firefly, it has not really been employed in the film and television media (where there’s a preference for more epic storylines). However, this more blue collar approach to science fiction has been a mainstay of Traveller campaigns for decades. Space Movers 2201 continues the sub-genre’s association with tabletop gaming.

From the rulebook:
Movers specialize in getting cargo to its destination as efficiently as possible. As you deliver cargo, you are rewarded with resources that are needed to keep the Liberty flying. But you must do this without drawing too much attention from the Universal Oversight.”

Unlike many pick-up and deliver games, Space Movers 2201 employs co-operative gameplay. The premise is that you are the crew of the Liberty, a free trader vessel (referred to in-universe as Movers), trying to keep their ship in operation as they attempt to complete a series of objectives. Meanwhile, they’ll try to avoid attracting the attention of Universal Oversight (UO), a corrupt government agency that regulates space travel.

A player’s turn starts by drawing a card from the deck. Depending on what type it is, the card either goes to the player’s hand or is immediately put into play. Movement may then be conducted by moving the Liberty one space and/or placing your crewmember in a different section of the Liberty. The player may then perform an action. The sort of actions that will be available depend on factors like what section of the Liberty the active player’s crewmember is in, which cards are in play, and where the Liberty is currently located. The turn ends with the player discarding down to five cards (if necessary), adjusting the Resource bar down one notch, and moving the UO Scout one space towards the Liberty (if it’s in play).

Skill checks are handled in a very different fashion from other games. The common wisdom in gaming is that rolling more dice is better. The exact opposite is the case for Space Movers 2201, where all the dice rolled must be five or higher for the skill check to succeed. But while it may sound punishingly brutal, this is not really the case thanks to a dexterity element. A skill check will show which ten-sided dice (each a different color to indicate which crewmember they’re attached to) are to be used. Assuming they’re all available, each die is rolled one at a time. If a die comes up with an undesirable result, you can try to hit it with your next die roll and hopefully alter it to something better. Players may wish to get in some practice rolls (a marble shooting technique is the most effective one I tried) before the game starts to get the hang of it. To prevent the dice from flying off the kitchen table and getting wedged under the refrigerator, skill checks are conducted in the game box top. Once all the ten-siders have been rolled, a blank six-sider is employed to make any needed final adjustments. An important feature of the dice is that a caduceus takes the place of the ten. Should a die display a caduceus when a skill roll is completed, the crewmember associated with the die becomes injured. Until a successful Medical Bay action is performed, that crewmember’s die will remain unusable except for Medical Bay actions by that player.

From the box front:
Remember what it was like to go on an adventure.”

The game deck consists of four different types of cards. Cargo cards are the bread and butter of the Liberty’s livelihood. On his turn, a player can play a Cargo card from his hand as an action to load the cargo, so long as the Liberty is at the indicated planet. When the cargo’s destination is reached, the active player can deliver it as an action and increase the Resource bar by the indicated amount. Reaction cards can be used to give the Liberty’s crew a boost. As the name implies, Reaction cards get played based on the action during another player’s turn. However, only one can be played per turn. Event cards introduce complications when drawn. While in play, the listed effect is applied and the card can only be removed by successfully performing the indicated skill check as an action. A UO Pursuit card brings the UO Scout into play. This also increases the UO Presence bar by one and places an Eye marker on the Liberty’s current location. The Scout can be removed from play in the same fashion as an Event card. It’s not necessary to immediately complete the skill checks on the Event and UO Pursuit cards. However, neither is it advisable to let them go unattended. Should an Event or UO Pursuit card be drawn when another is still in play, it replaces the old one. Replacing an unresolved UO Pursuit card immediately moves the Scout one space, while replacing an unresolved Event card reduces the Resource bar by an amount equal to the number of unresolved Event cards (one the first time, two the second time, etc.). To prevent a rapid succession of these two types from occurring, the deck is subjected to a stacked shuffle during set-up. This involves distributing each of the different types of cards evenly between five piles. These are then shuffled separately and placed one on top of another.

Universal Oversight is a constant hindrance for the crew of the Liberty. Once the UO Presence bar reaches a certain point, skill checks are penalized while at a location with a UO Eye marker. The bar can be reduced using a Communications Room action, but this requires the expenditure of resources the Liberty may not be able to spare. Then there’s that persistent UO Scout. While it may at first appear to be easy to evade, an incautious crew can find themselves boxed in if they don’t pay attention. Should the Scout catch up to the Liberty, a die is rolled to determine which crewmember is taken in for questioning (with an eight, nine, or caduceus meaning they get off with a warning). As long as a crewmember is detained, the associated die cannot be used in skill checks. Plus, if the crewmember in question is being used by a player, he cannot perform movement or actions on his turn, nor play Reaction cards. To get the crewmember back, the Liberty must go to UO Headquarters and perform the listed skill check to bust him out.

There are multiple ways to lose, but only one way to win. The most common way to lose is when either the UO Presence bar tops off or the Resource bar bottoms out. Certain cards will also indicate automatic loss conditions for when they’re in play. To win, the crew of the Liberty must successfully resolve a series of five Objective cards. This can either involve randomly drawing five cards during set-up or using a pre-selected set (more of which will be available in future expansions). The former method has the advantage of greater replay value. However, the latter guarantees a balanced series of Objectives, as well as possessing an overarching theme. The first objective is revealed once the crew has successfully delivered a cargo, while the other four are revealed after the preceding Objective has been completed.

In conclusion, what had the potential to be an exercise in frustration is avoided thanks to the stacked shuffle and the dexterity gameplay. The Resource bar is also an effective abstraction with considerable appeal for anyone who doesn’t like keeping track of multiple assets.

Rating: 17

Product Summary

Space Movers 2201

From: KnA Games

Type of Game: Board Game

Game Design by: Kevin & April Cox

Cover Art by: Jon Hrubesch

Additional Art by: Jon Hrubesch

Game Components Included: Rulebook, Finding Liberty comic book, Game board, 1 Roll mat, 2 Ship tokens, 7 Character tokens, 1 Drone token, 1 UO Coin token, 7 Character cards, 20 Cargo cards, 20 Reaction cards, 10 Event cards, 10 UO Pursuit cards, 5 Adventure A Objective cards, 20 Random Objective cards, 7 ten-sided dice, 1 six-sided die, 1 Liberty Resource marker, 1 UO Presence marker, 9 UO Eye markers, 20 Cargo markers

Retail Price: $60.00

Number of Players: 2-7

Player Ages: 13+

Play Time: 60 minutes

Website: http://www.spacemoversgame.com/

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

Interview with April & Kevin Cox, of KnA Games

April & Kevin Cox make up KnA Games and are currently Kickstarting a board game, Space Movers. They took a few minutes of their time to answer some questions about his Kickstarter.

Thank you April & Kevin Cox for taking the time to answer a few questions. Tell us a little about yourself and your gaming experience.

We are a couple of reluctant adults that remain kids at heart. For fun, we love to watch movies and play games. Kevin probably has about 10 more years of gaming experience, but we’ve been playing board games together for over 20 years. He grew up playing games like Stop Thief and Dark Tower. I grew up playing Monopoly and Life. He introduced me to Magic and Eurorails in the early 90’s and I was hooked!

How did the Space Movers come about ?

Space Movers is something we began working on about 3 years ago. Kevin initially came up with the idea of the theme and basic structure of the game. Over a couple of years we spent a little time developing the game. Late last year we learned about Kickstarter and went into high gear polishing the game so that we could release it this year.

Could you give us a brief description of the game and why you are so passionate about it.

Space Movers is a cooperative adventure that incorporates story, strategy and balance. You work as a crew to complete 5 objectives to win the game. During play you will have to deliver cargo from planet to planet to gain resources that allow you to keep flying. There are several other things you have to juggle during gameplay, like events that can alter the rules of the game and the evil UO that will chase you across the system in an effort to interrogate one of the crew members. Space Movers is the type of game that has you feeling like you have complete control in the beginning and like you’re barely hanging on by the end!

Honestly, we are passionate about the game because we really believe it is good. Not that we can take all the credit for that. Since we began demoing the game over the summer, we have had great feedback that has resulted in changes to improve the game tremendously.

How does the comic book tie into the game?

The comic gives you a backstory for the characters and helps you to connect to them. We developed a small bio for each of the characters to help us determine what their special abilities would be in the game. That led to the idea of doing a more complete story that explained why the characters ended up together on the Liberty. The added benefit is that you feel as if you know these characters and inevitably identify with one or more of them, even though you’ve never met them before.

The art for the game and comics is phenomenal. Who does the art and what inspires it?

Kevin did the graphic design for the game board, game box and the cards. All the illustration of the characters and ships in the comic and the game were done by Jon Hrubesch. And phenomenal is a great way to describe his talent! We have been so fortunate to have him involved in this project.

What do you feel separates it from other cooperative games of its nature?

Probably the most unique thing about Space Movers is the dice mechanic that is used to complete skill checks. Each player controls a die specific to their character. To complete skill checks, dice are rolled one at a time on a roll mat inside the game box lid. Multiple players can be involved in each check and they are able to try and change the result of previously rolled dice.

What do you see for the future of Space Movers?

The possibilities for expansions are endless. We will be releasing more Objective card sets and Random Objectives like we have in the initial game, along with more roll mats. We would like to also release an expansion with miniatures for the ships and characters. Eventually we hope to release a new game with a new location for our crew to explore along with another comic book to continue their story.