Showing posts with label boardgame. Show all posts
Showing posts with label boardgame. Show all posts

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Boardgame - Cryptogram Puzzle Post

Beauty and the Braaaaaaains...


 


Publisher:
None (Self-published)
Author:
Jack Fallows
# of Players:
1 (perhaps a couple more)

Game Design & Mechanics
 
  • The Cryptogram Puzzle Post is an ongoing subscription project that's been running since 2017. Through the author's Patreon page, people can subscribe to a monthly puzzle envelope.
    Note that even though I marked it as a "board game", each envelope could better be viewed as a small, unbound puzzle book. The format of this review reflects that.
  • Each game envelope is magnificently illustrated. Said cover illustration is not typically part of any puzzle. (But then again, you never know, I guess.)
  • The envelope contains a set of eight A5 sheets. The first sheet always show the same stuff: a short paragraph explaining what the CPP is, a poem 😮, and a suggested playlist of indie music to accompany your puzzle-solving 🤯.
  • The following seven sheets tell an ongoing story, and hint at a series of puzzles. The initial puzzle is stand-alone, but its solution will be needed to tackle the second puzzle, and so on. Sometimes the solution will be inserted directly in that puzzle, sometimes it will provide a vague clue as to what now needs to be done.
  • The final puzzle will always yield a textual answer (a single word, or a few). You can then email Mr Fallows directly, and ask for confirmation that you've solved that particular month.
  • Some puzzles will expect you to write on the sheet, maybe even cut it down into pieces.
  • Every 3-month "season" has a connecting theme, meaning that combining all the answers make a longer phrase. Validating that phrase with Mr. Fallows entitles you to a bonus prize, while supplies last. (There are also meta-puzzles that require owning a full year's worth of envelopes, but I don't really know about those.)
  • After a certain time, hints and solutions become publicly available.
  • The entire first year (2017) can now be purchased as a digital download.
Pros
  • It's pretty. Very pretty. Can't quite describe it, but you can check out the website and see what I mean. There is a strong artistic vibe coming from this series, and it will certainly strike a chord with the "artsy" types.
  • It's also quite clever. Having played through 4 envelopes, it seems that a lot of efforts have been put into ensuring the puzzles would be varied and well-thought.
  • Ironically, as much as I hate having to "destroy" components, I had no qualms with the CPP model. The small detached sheets are super-easy to photocopy and manipulate.
  • Soooo... puuurty... 😵 (Am I repeating myself?)
Cons
  • The subscription model can feel a bit pricey when you're, say, a Canadian dealing with steep exchange rates. 🙄 It's clever, it looks good, but is it 10 GBP worth of gorgeous cleverness? Only you can decide.
  • Although you can theoretically start the subscription at any point, I suspect it just won't be as enjoyable as if you start at the very beginning of a given year.
  • Sometimes the process by which a "result" is used into the following page is really part of a single puzzle, so ultimately you don't necessarily get 7 puzzles per envelope.
Additional Considerations
  • The very first issue (March 2017) can be downloaded for free. There's your opportunity to try it for yourself.
  • If you end up purchasing digital files for 2017, let me point out that one of the initial puzzles cannot be completed as-is. Something's missing from the file. I won't say which one (and I already pointed it out to Mr. Fallows), but you've been warned.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Boardgame - Escape Room The Game: Jumanji - Spin Master

Easier to escape than the real thing





Publisher:
Spin Master (US/Canada)
Designers:
Unknown (boo!)
Artist:
Unknown (boo!)
Languages:
English
# of Players:
3-5 on the box (2-4 on the website?!)
Age:
10+
Duration:
60 min

BoardGameGeek References:

Game Design & Mechanics

Game Components
  • Let's cut to the chase here: this game is basically a stand-alone expansion that works exactly like the original. You can pretty much read my review of the original box, and you'll know how the game works.
  • One notable change is that there are only 2 hour-long scenarios in that box. And instead of being referred to as Part 1/2/3, the two scenarios are presented as Levels 1 through 6, suggesting they're all part of a single storyline. That doesn't change the game per se - you still play Levels 1/2/3 on a single 60-min timer, then the last on another.
  • There's also a "Level 0" in there. It's a 15-min introductory game that requires using the ERTG app (available on iOS and Android) instead of the real-life Chrono-Decoder.
Pros
  • The things I generaly enjoy about this game are still there.
  • You can see a definite willingness from the makers in trying to find new ways for players to interact with the components.
  • Having an extra Chrono-Decoder around could be seen as a bonus (especially if you keep sharing your games with others).
Cons
  • Some of those "original interactions" can be rather frustrating. In one case, even after reading the walkthrough, we haven't been able to get the result described. 😠
  • The game seems to be selling for the same price as the original box, while having over 40% less gameplay.
  • Paying for that extra Chrono-Decoder is annoying if don't care for it.
  • It's not explicitly mentioned anywhere, but the game is heavily based on the new "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" movie. People who have only watched the original movie will likely be confused (and possibly disappointed).

Scenario Results

The Drumming Closet (Level 0)
Official difficulty: 2 / 5
Played with: 3 players
Made it? YES

The Search for Jesse (Levels 1-2-3)
Official difficulty: 3 / 5
Played with: 3 players
Made it? YES

Break the Curse (Levels 4-5-6)
Official difficulty: 3 / 5
Played with: 3 players
Made it? NO

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Boardgame - Escape Room The Game: Virtual Reality - Spin Master

"♫ You spin me right round, baby, right round... "





Publisher:
Identity Games, Spin Master (US/Canada)
Designers:
Unknown (boo!)
Artist:
Unknown (boo!)
Languages:
English, German, Dutch, Spanish, French and more
# of Players:
3-5 (3-4 in my opinion)
Age:
16+ (10+ in my opinion)
Duration:
60 min

BoardGameGeek References:

Game Design & Mechanics

Picture from the manufacturer's website
  • The gist of the game, in style and in structure, is very much akin to the "Escape Room: The Game", which I reviewed a while ago. Here I'm going to focus on what's different about it.
  • This version of the game is coupled with a free (and mandatory) app running on iOS and Android phones, using Google Cardboard. Such a device (the cardboard, not the phone, obviously) is included in the box.
  • While the original game used a "Chrono-Decoder" icon on some of its components, this time it's "VR" icon. Whenever you see that icon on a paper clue, it implies that you'll need to access the VR environment in order to solve that puzzle.
  • What does that VR environment feels like? With your phone running the app and tucked inside the Cardboard box, you gain access to a 360° scenery that one player at a time can explore.
  • The scene can be interacted with, to some limited extent. A cursor is middle in the middle of your field of vision, and it changes shape when you're looking at something that can be interacted with. The Cardboard has a button you can click on to toggle an interaction.
  • Those interactions, albeit limited, means that the VR environment can eventually "change state". Even though the "main game" happens in the real world, elements might allow you to make progress in the virtual world, hence gaining new clues to assist you in the table game.
  • I've already mentioned the "Chrono-Decoder" that was a staple of the original game. So let's be clear: this game does NOT include it! Even though the core game mechanic is still all about finding which 4 keys need to inserted into the 4 slots, 3 times, you'll have to either 1) use the Chrono-Decoder from another ERTG set, or 2) use a 2nd device running the same app, but this time to be used a virtual Chrono-Decoder. We tried both modes, and I felt that not having "real" keys is just not as enjoyable.
Pros
  • The VR works well enough, providing an exciting type of interaction that other boxed games don't have.
  • The overall format (with the Chrono-Decoder, the 3 successive "gates" and the disposable paper components) remains one of my favorite for playing with others.
  • If you own a Google cardboard device of your own (or any compatible phone-based headset), there's nothing preventing you from running multiple VR headsets at once, so that more people can enjoy the 360 display. However, keep in mind that the VR does track "state", so you could technically "move on" within the game in one headset while remaining stuck in the other.
  • The game has a print & play scenario that can be downloaded and played for free. However, it's only 15 min long, which means a 2nd device is necessary because it's not compatible with the Chrono-Decoder.
Cons
  • As mentioned above, if you play without the Decoder (and its physical keys), the experience just isn't as nice.
  • Depending on your teammates (especially younger players), you might have to regulate the usage of the VR headset, so everyone can have their go.
  • The game suffers from the same problems I've seen in other ERTG expansions: the scenarios just aren't as good as the first ones. There's absolutely no reason for that - the game system should be adaptable to all kinds of scenarios and settings. Yet somehow, the folks at Identity Games seem to struggle at making a scenario that's both "hard" yet "fair". Likewise, they seem to struggle coming up with "investigative"-type scenarios.

A Word of Caution

In the past, the publishers have done a great job at providing PDF replacements for all the "disposable" components. In "Submarine", however, they current only provide a replacement for one side of a piece of paper. 🤨 You might want to scan the other side and reuse it. (Or see my own humble attempt here.)


Scenario Results

Down Below (print & play demo)
Official difficulty: ? / 5
Played with: 5 players
Made it? NO

Submarine
Official difficulty: 3 / 5
Played with: 6 players
Made it? YES - 1 single second (!) remaining

Behind Enemy Lines
Official difficulty: 4 / 5
Played with: 3 players
Made it? NO

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Boardgame - Escape Tales: The Awakening - LockMe



Publisher:
LockMe, Board & Dice, KOSMOS
Designers:
Jakub Caban, Bartosz Idzikowski, Matt Dembek
Artists:
Magdalena Klepacz, Paweł Niziołek, Jakub Fajtanowski
Languages:
Polish, English & many others
# of Players:
1-4
Age:
12+
Duration:
3-5 hours (can be broken into multiple sittings)
BoardGameGeek References:

Game Design & Mechanics

  • Although it definitely qualifies as an "escape room board game", Escape Tales also pushes the envelope into new territories, with game mechanics reminiscent of "adventure board games" such as T.I.M.E. Stories, Tales of the Arabian Nights or The 7th Continent.
  • First of all, there's no time limit in the traditional sense. Instead, the players have a pool of "action tokens" they spend whenever they want to investigate their environment.
  • Furthermore, said environment is made of multiple locations that you'll visit in sequence. So instead of being "stuck" in a proverbial room, you'll be exploring several.
  • Image from the rulebook
  • Each location is made of 1 or 2 Location cards. Those cards are placed over a game board with a grid and a system of coordinates. Players must look carefully at the location, and then decide which parts of the location are worth spending your precious action tokens on.
  • Once you've made your choice, the card gives you a paragraph number to look up in the Story Book. You might get some info, some new cards to draw, or you might even be asked to make a decision as a group.
  • Game cards come in two main flavors: clues have a red symbol that corresponds to a puzzle you'll have to solve, while items have a white symbol that is typically used to refer to it elsewhere without spoiling what the item actually is.
  • Image from the rulebook
  • Every time your group runs out of action tokens, you need to draw the next Doom card out of pre-arranged deck. The card will give you some more tokens, but will also make the story move forward - and not in a good way.
  • The game has an associated "app" available on the web. Using that app is mandatory in order to validate whether or not you've solved a given puzzle, but it can also be used to get a hint, or even just to confirm whether or not you've got all the cards needed to even bother solving it.
Pros
  • Simply put, this game has given me the best "tabletop escape" experience thus far. The heavy emphasis put on the story line made this game experience quite unique. A stark contrast with real-life escape rooms and their paper-thin plots.
  • The game includes pretty much every element of a real-life room: you "search around" by looking at the Location cards and choosing your spots. You manipulate objects, solve puzzles, and the action tokens do a great job at keeping pressure on you and your fellow players.
  • I'm not sure if it was due to the nature of the puzzles, the use of the Story Book, or both, but my team of 4 didn't feel the usual "crampiness" associated with card-based games.
  • While the game can easily fill up a whole game night, it can just as easily get paused and resumed in a follow-up session.
  • The game has multiple endings, and due to its mechanics, it isn't easy to figure out if a choice you made earlier was the right one or not. After reaching the end of our game session (on a rather sad ending), we tried backtracking just a bit, and ended up with a slightly better one. So we backtracked some more... and got an even worse ending than the first. Now we can't wait to see what other endings there are in there.
Cons
  • As tech-savvy players will notice, the "app" is really just a stand-alone web page. 😞 Fortunately, the rulebook says that internet access is not needed once the page has been loaded, and that seems accurate - in fact I was able to use the "Save Page As" feature to get myself a local copy of the "app" (although a bit of extra tweaking was needed).
  • When we played (a couple months ago), some puzzles weren't adequately clued in the app, going from hints we didn't quite understand straight to the solution. Perhaps this will improve (or already has) over time.
  • For this first offering in the "Escape Tales" series, the theme seems a bit dark. Perhaps something a bit more "traditional" could have been used in order to balance the innovative mechanics?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Boardgame - Deckscape - dV Giochi




Publisher:
dV Giochi
Designers:
Martino Chiacchiera, Silvano Sorrentino
Artists:
Alberto Bontempi
Languages:
Italian, English & many others (French announced)
# of Players:
1-6 (5 max in my opinion)
Age:
12+ (10+ in my opinion)
Duration:
60 min

BoardGameGeek References:

Game Design & Mechanics

Images from the Print & Play demo
  • Of all the Escape Room simulations I've seen, Deckscape is probably the most straightforward. It's a deck of cards (hence its clever name), nothing more. No app for your phone, no extra components.
  • The game typically works like this: you read what's on the very top of the deck, out loud. If it's a puzzle, the whole group can look at that card, discuss, and try to figure it out.
  • Once you think you've figured it out (or you've just given up), you can flip the card and validate your answer. If you've failed to figure it out, you add an "X" marker to your game tally. You then move on to the next card.
  • Some of the cards you'll encounter along the way are "items" that you put in a separate pile. Items might be needed to solve future puzzles, and if at some point you try solving a puzzle for which you're still missing the right item, you'll get an extra "X" and won't be able to proceed until that item has been found.
  • Images from the Print & Play demo
  • "But wait!", astute readers might object, "How could we be missing an item if all we do is digging through a deck of cards?!" Well, at some point in the game you'll have to split that deck into several. (For instance, you might be instructed to make cards 15-20 into a pile without looking at them, then 21-25 into another, and so on.) That allows for concurrent paths and non-linear puzzle solving.
  • Upon reaching the end of the game, you'll be given instructions on how to combine your play time and all those Xs into a final score. The final assessments are usually lumped into three buckets (great, good, not good). Clearly this is meant to be more about the journey than the destination.
  • The deck also includes a couple cards with hints. You look up the card number you're currently stuck on, and a hint message is written in reverse lettering. There are no specific constraints or penalties regarding hint usage.
Pros
  • Obviously, these games are the easiest to carry with you. Their Dutch name is "Pocket Escape Room", and indeed they can easily fit into a pocket.
  • They can also be played pretty much anywhere. It's the only escape game I could picture being played in the car, at the beach, and so on.
  • They're also the least expensive, at least based on their MSP.
Cons
  • My major complaint against Unlock! can pretty much be reused verbatim here. Even though the Deckscape cards are oversized, much bigger than Unlock's or EXIT's, it's still hard for players to huddle around the same card.
  • The puzzles' difficulty seems to be fluctuating a lot. This is especially true in "Fate of London", where some puzzles are a lot harder than others. "Test Time" seems more evenly calibered.
  • In spite of the "sub-deck" method I described above, the game still seems a lot more linear than it needs to be.
House Rules & Suggestions

Should you play this and want to compare your performance with friends, I suggest you do the following:
  • 5 players max 
    Six is a bit too much to fight over a few cards.
  • 2 minutes per hint
    Every time you look up a hint, add some marker (say, an "H") along with your Xs. At the end of the game, every H adds another 2 minutes. If you get an ending that lets you remove more Xs than you got, you can remove Hs instead.
  • 15 extra minutes in "The Fate of London"
    That one's just too hard. Even with that proposed bonus, my own team still fails.

Scenario Results

Test Time
Played with: 5 players
Result: 50 min + (1X - 1X) * 5 = 50 minutes - No hint used

Deckscape Demo (Print & Play scenario)
Played with: 1 player
Result: 8 min + (0X - 1X) * 5 = 8 minutes

The Fate of London
Played with: 5 players
Result: 90 min + (6X - 2X) * 5 + 2H * 2 = 114 minutes

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Boardgame - Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment - Mattel






Publisher:
Stay at Home Werewolves (KS), Mattel
Designers:
Juliana Pattel, Ariel Rubin
Artists:
(unknown)
Languages:
English
# of Players:
2-8 (I recommend 4-6)
Age:
7+ (the KS edition said 14+)
Duration:
60 min

BoardGameGeek References:

Game Design & Mechanics

Original prototype box
  • This game began its life as a Kickstarter project, at a time where very few "room in a box" wee available on the market. By the time it shipped (late, but then what KS isn't?), things had changed considerably, but that didn't prevent it from getting very positive reviews.
  • Furthermore, almost as soon as the game was released, Mattel announced they had acquired the rights to it, and the 2nd edition of the game is indeed available for purchase as I write this review. Please keep in mind that I played the first edition, so it's possible that the Mattel version has changed a few things (but nothing major).
  • Prototype sent to reviewers
    Credits: I Play'd It
  • Now, on to the contents... In this section, I typically describe the different components that can be found in the box, but this time it's trickier, as there are no standard components per se: as you as you lift the lid, a cardboard pane tells you to stop, and not proceed further until you're ready to play. Searching the box is an integral (and exciting) part of the game, so I don't want to spill the beans...
  • Likewise, this is usually the part where I explain how the designers of the game managed to simulate the opening of a lock. Well, here's the kicker: in this game, locks... are locks. Actual locks. There's one padlock, and 2 combination locks, holding small containers shut. This is a game where you get to manipulate real, physical components.
  • Kickstarter edition components
    Credits: Room Escape Artist
  • In spite of those constraints, I guess it's ok to mention a few things. The instruction booklet found at the top of the box will instruct your team to gather some extra pen and paper, a time-measuring device of some sort, and one glass of warm water (Oh?), which players are immediately warned is not meant to put any piece of paper in. (Oh.)
  • Inside the box are a number of paper sheets with codes such as "A1" and "P5". I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that the "P" sheets are puzzles you will typically solve with a pen or pencil, while the "A" sheets are meant to hold the final answers. For replayability, I would suggest you don't write on any components beyond those sheets.
  • Mattel 2nd edition components
  • There are downloadable files available on the web, allowing you to replace those Ps and As.
  • The new edition comes with another gimmick: if you own an Alexa home assistant, you can install a custom app for it. The app will take care of "hosting" the game, keeping track of time, providing clues, and so on.
Pros
  • I can't understate how nice it is to get real locks in there. Having actual components always provide an extra thrill.
  • The puzzles are numerous, and can easily be split and shared among team members.
  • They're also well designed, and pretty varied (with one caveat, see below).
  • The "replacement" instruction package make it fairly easy to reset your box for another play. There's even an "hosting guide" that gives suggestions about hosting the gave for a group, spreading the box' contents across a room, acting as a referee, and so on. It even includes invite templates. A nice thought.
Cons
  • A significant chunk of the puzzles are word puzzles of one form or another. Fans of more traditional "puzzle hunts", popular in the US, will feel at home here, but players used to the other boxed games might find it unsettling.
  • If you're like me, and English isn't your first language, you'll likely find these puzzles significantly harder than usual. Even though you're discouraged from using outside sources, you're probably better off keeping a dictionary within reach.
  • The very materials that I keep lauding also happen to be rather flimsy. After just two games, I had to replace one of the locks, one physical component, and one metal box had to be fixed (thanks luv!).
  • Likewise, the KS combinations locks have been known to switch their combination by accident. That happened to me once... but then that's the lock that broke, problem solved! 😉 Provided that you can find the new combination through trial-and-error, you can follow the intructions below (from the designers) to set it right.
  • I have mixed feeling with the price. Paying the Kickstarter price for those components seems like a bit too much, especially when you realize that with the "refill downloads", it wouldn't be that hard to get your own components and create your own custom copy from scratch. At least the Mattel pricing fixes that.

Results

The Werewolf Experiment
Played with: 7 players
Made it? YES - 25 minutes left (after getting a time bonus) - 1 clue used


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Boardgame - Spy Code: Operation Escape - Yulu




Publisher:
Yulu
Languages:
No language needed
# of Players:
1+
Age:
6+
Duration:
120 min
BoardGameGeek Reference:
None (Guess it's considered more like a toy than a board game)

Game Design & Mechanics

Picture from the manufacturer's website
  • The game is made of 4 main components, each of them being a stand-alone toy in its own right.
  • First, there's a "ticking time bomb" belt that you can set to a number of seconds of your choice, lock around your favorite hostage's belly, and set off. From that moment on, you need to insert a small key in order to stop the clock and unlock the belt. (Alright, let's clear that matter right away: the game comes with three keys, and they're all identical. Using the first key to get the two others is just part of the rules.)
  • The next toy is a puzzle box with each side shaped like a maze. A key is placed inside it, and a player will try moving it out of the box using two plastic hooks.
  • There's also a cryptex of sorts, with 3 dials sporting digits and one with A-B-C-D. It requires a key to operate, and stores another key inside it. To figure out how to open it, players can look a cards of increasing difficulty (green-yellow-red) showing a single, wordless, multiple choice puzzle. You enter the card number on the small dials, you pick your answer on the big one. If you guessed right, the key slides out a bit, but if you made a mistake, it slides fully back in. You'll need 3 consecutive good guesses in order to retrieve that key.
  • The final device is a "guessing wheel". You unlock it using a key, give it a spin, and then you're allowed to open 3 of its doors, hoping to find the one with the last key (the one meant to go into the bomb). Some doors will show you an arrow pointing clockwise or counterclockwise, so the game is sort of a visual variant of the classical "high-low" number guessing game. After 3 attempts, the player must close all the doors, and re-spin.
  • The game can be played competitively (with every player taking a turn and trying to get the best time) or cooperatively (with players splitting tasks and trying to get out in time).
Pros
  • The game is highly customizable, which means you can calibrate its difficulty any way you see fit. An adult could be forced to used to toughest side of the maze box, 3 red cards, and have less time, while a younger child can pick a random side, 2 green cards and 1 yellow, a have more time to proceed, for instance.
  • Instead of seeing this item as a game with strict rules, you can treat it just as a set of individual kid-proof components. A couple days after getting the game, my son designed a slightly more complex escape room that used the game parts coupled with some original puzzles and room-searching.
  • The components are wordless (the puzzle cards are visual-only), which means even pre-school kids might be able to play the easiest puzzle cards.
Cons
  • Even though the game marketing is definitely focused on the "Escape Room" angle (the game was even sold as "Operation Escape Room" at some point), I don't think it really qualifies, hence the infamous "notquite" tag on this entry. If you play the game as-is, there won't be any room searching, nor any "figuring out what needs to be done next", two staples of escape rooms in my mind.
  • The game, on its own, won't keep adults entertained for more than 2 or 3 games... which means, in total, less time than most escape rooms.
  • The "explosive belt" is rather small, unlikely to fit most adults. Sorry, pops - you likely won't be the one tied down to a chair. (But then, is that really a drawback? 😈)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Boardgame - EXIT: The Game - Kosmos




Publisher:
Kosmos, Thames, Iello
Designers:
Inka & Markus Brand, Ralph Querfurth
Artists:
Silvia Christoph, Franz Vohwinkel, Michael Menzel, Martin Hoffmann
Languages:
German, English, French
# of Players:
1-6
Age:
12+ (10+ in my opinion)
Duration:
120 min

BoardGameGeek References:

Game Design & Mechanics

Picture from the manufacturer's website
  • At first glance, you might think that EXIT ripped off some ideas from both ThinkFun's "Escape the Room" and Space Cowboys' "Unlock!", since it features both a code wheel and a deck of cards. Ironically, though, EXIT is the oldest of all 3 games, having been released in Germany 2 years ago.
  • Let's start with the cards. They come, in fact, in several types. Riddle cards are pretty straightforward. They're identified by a single letter on their back. If told to "get clue X", you fetch that card. Riddle cards typically show a clue of some sort, but they can also have a picture of game scene, a new room you just got access to, etc.
    • The "hidden object" mechanic found in Unlock! isn't present here, although it's possible to see a picture of Riddle card inside another picture (meaning you should pick up that matching card).
  • Every "lock" in the game is associated to a pictogram, and it's always "solved" by combining 3 icons found on the code wheel. The wheel then gives you a number, and you check out the matching Answer card. There's an interesting twist, however - the card might simply tell you you're wrong, or it might show you an array of small pictures. You find the image depicting the lock you're trying to open, and you consult the matching card number.
    The neat thing about this gimmick is that, in addition to providing two-tier validation, it prevents the players from opening a lock they haven't found yet. You see, the pictures shown on the Answer cards don't have the logos on them, so even if you figured out how to solve the "star" lock, it can't happen if you haven't got to that lock yet, since you wouldn't know what it looked like.
  • Help cards come in sets of 3, one for each lock. The first card tells you what you need in order to solve the lock. The second card gives you pointers as to what needs to be done, and the third gives the solution outright. The more cards you use, the lower your final score.
  • When the game starts, all you have is the code wheel and a booklet. Somewhere in that booklet will be a picture of the room you're in, with the first locks you'll have to deal with.
  • Once you've read the final Answer card, the time it took you to finish and the number of Help cards used are tallied to give you a score, going from 10 stars (less than an hour, no help) to 1 (over 2 hours, over 10 cards).
  • The last but not least of the game's features is the fact that the game is meant to be played once. And I don't mean "once" as in "a player can't play the same scenario twice", but rather as in "the box is meant to go in the garbage". Players are encouraged to write on things, tear them out, cut them off, and so on.
Pros
  • These games are especially "meaty". Difficulty-wise, they're on par with their competition, and the 2-hour duration advertised on the box is the real deal. After playing most other escape-room-in-a-box games, I always feel like playing another. With these, I always felt fully sated. 😋
  • The price point is pretty good. There are plenty of escape room that cost more for one single player than an EXIT box.
  • Using a scoring system means that players can actually choose between taking their time and not taking hints, or using multiple hints to finish quickly.
  • The fact that cards and components can (and will) be teared down allow for a number of clever, original puzzles.
Cons
  • For people like me, the biggest turn-off is definitely the "single use" angle. In recent years, there have been plenty of "Legacy" board games, which are meant to played by the same group over a few sessions, and eventually thrown away. As much as I can agree on the principle, I find it a lot harder to cope with the destruction of a single-session game. In the past, I've enjoyed lending my games to other people, and even watching them try their best at solving it. Being unable to share that experience with others without buying a brand new box is, to me, a big issue.
    That being said, there are ways to circumvent the single-use aspect - see my notes below.
  • Although I didn't notice it at first, it seems the puzzle sequence is pretty linear - you open lock A, then lock B, etc. Nothing in the game mechanics actually prevents concurrent puzzles, but it just happens to be that way.
  • According to the scoring system, you can flip through Help cards like crazy, read every single puzzle solution, and still end up with 4 stars...

UPDATE - Spring 2018
  • With the second batch of scenarios, two small-but-nice improvements have been made to the series. First, every game now has an official difficulty setting. Second, Kosmos has come up with a companion app that can act as a timer while playing some background music.

Gilles' Guide to Sparing your EXIT box

Alright, so you've decided you'd rather keep your copy of EXIT in a good enough state so you'd be able to have it played more than once, even if that means some of your friends will tease you for being such an obsessive-compulsive freak. (Word up, Marc-Antoine! 😎) Here are my tricks for you:
  • Keep an All-in-One printer close by
    Without a doubt, this is the most straightforward way to get quick copies. Many printer/scanner combos have a "Copy" button that makes the device work like a copy machine. If yours doesn't, you can still scan a page then print it back - just make sure you disable any "Fit to Page" setting and print at the exact same size as your originals.
  • Snap a picture and doodle over
    A friend of mine took an overhead photo of a page using his tablet, and began doodling directly over the picture. If that's something you have experience with (say, for work), it can get good results pretty fast.
  • Keep blank sheets nearby
    Tracing paper can be expensive, but most printer paper is "light" enough to be see-through. You can place one such sheet over the booklet and trace lines on it using a pen or pencil.
  • Use baggies/sleeves and fine-point sharpies
    Kudos to my wive for thinking about that one. Another effective way to write over a page or a card without permanent damage.
      

Errata

  • In the first printing of The Secret Lab, the 2nd clue of the "six-pointed star" lock could be misleading (the puzzle was simplified but the clue wasn't updated). So if you have an older box, the first paragraph of the card should read:

Scenario Results

The Pharaoh's Tomb
Official difficulty: 4 / 5
Played with: 5 players
Result: 3 Stars. Finished in 105 minutes. 7 Help cards used.

The Secret Lab
Official difficulty: 3.5 / 5
Played with: 4 players
Result: 9 Stars. Finished in 85 minutes. No Help cards used.

The Abandoned Cabin
Official difficulty: 2.5 / 5
Played with: 7 players
Result: 7 Stars. Finished in 80 minutes. 2 Help cards used.

Le Mystère de la Première (Free Print-and-Play mini-scenario)
Official difficulty: 1 / 5
Played with: 5 players
Result: 10 Stars. Finished in 9 minutes. No Help cards used.

The Forbidden Castle
Official difficulty: 4 / 5
Played with: 4 players
Result: 3 Stars. Finished in 100 minutes. 6 Help cards used.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Jeux de table - Unlock! - Space Cowboys



Éditeur:
Space Cowboys / Asmodée
Concepteurs:
Alice Carroll, Thomas Cauët, Cyril Demaegd, Arnaud Ladagnous, Fabrice Mazza, Sébastien Pauchon, Billy Stevenson, Arch Stanton
Artistes:
Florian de Gesincourt, Arnaud Demaegd, Legruth, Pierre Santamaria, Sergio
Langues:
Français, Anglais, Allemand, Grec, Italien, Japonais
# of Joueurs:
2-6
Âge:
16 ans et + (10 ans et + à mon avis)
Durée:
60 min (pour la plupart)

Références sur le site BoardGameGeek (grosses boîtes seulement):

Concepts et mécaniques de jeu
  • Ce jeu se dénote de par l'utilisation obligatoire d'une appli (offerte gratuitement pour iOS et Android, et publiée quelques semaines avant le jeu lui-même). L'appli connait chacun des scénarios existants, garde le compte du temps restant, fournit des indices sur demande, et permet aussi d'entrer une combinaison, ou d'obéir aux instructions d'une carte.
  • Pour ce qui est de la boîte du jeu, vous n'y trouverez qu'un paquet de cartes - rien d'autre. Ces cartes ont un contenu très varié, cependant. Certaines d'entre elles montrent un casse-tête ou un cadenas, d'autres un objet (souvent une clé, mais pas obligatoirement). Certaines cartes vous présenteront une vue aérienne de la pièce, ou l'image d'un objet trouvé dans ladite pièce.
  • Les cartes ont toutes un code unique (un nombre ou une lettre) à leur endos. Ces codes permettent plusieurs mécaniques telles que les "combinaisons d'inventaire" (comme si vous étiez en train de jouer à un jeu d'aventure sur ordinateur), la résolution de casse-têtes visuels (comme dans les livres-jeux de jadis) ou même la fouille (si vous découvrez un nombre caché dans une image, vous pouvez révéler la carte portant ce nombre).
Pour
  • Comme certains me l'ont fait remarqué (et avec raison), de tous les autres jeux publiés à date, c'est celui-ci qui évoque le mieux l'incertidute que l'on sent habituellement dans une vraie Escape Room. Où en sommes-nous? Est-ce bientôt fini? Combien d'autres énigmes encore? Toutes ces cartes non révélées ne sont-elles que des diversions et des pénalités? Impossible de savoir tant que l'appli ne vous l'annonce pas.
  • Avec des énigmes non linéaires et toutes ces cartes imagées que vous voudrez prendre et inspecter scrupuleusement, le jeu offre plusieurs moments "multitâches". Votre équipe de joueurs ne devrait pas avoir à se battre pour les cartes, sauf si vous êtes nombreux.
  • Puisque chaque scénario tient à un paquet de cartes, ce jeu devrait facilement être le plus abordable. Encore plus si (comme en anglais), les futurs scénarios se vendent à l'unité.
Contre
  • Et ben, vous savez, ce sont des cartes, quoi. Des cartes quand même petites, ce qui les rend pratiquement impossible à (bien) regarder à plusieurs. Même si je comprends le principe et les raisons qui l'expliquent, j'aurais vraiment, vraiment préféré l'inclusion de quelques "plans à déplier" parmi toutes ces cartes.
  • Si vous êtes familiers avec des jeux tels que T.I.M.E Stories (aussi de Space Cowboys) ou Sherlock Holmes Détective-Conseil (un jeu de 30 ans récemment réédité par - je vous le donne en mille - Space Cowboys!), vous serez peut-être en mesure de deviner ma prochaine critique: ce jeu est difficile. Et je ne parle pas ici d'un "défi de taille" où on vous encourage à vous dépasser et à faire de votre mieux. Je parle plutôt d'un "piège à con" où le jeu semble prendre un malin plaisir à vous faire sentir inférieur. (Ceci étant dit, ces jeux sont tous parmi mes préférés, alors force m'est de conclure que je suis un masochiste. 😧)
  • Après avoir essayé la plupart des scénarios offerts, j'ai remarqué que le jeu affichait une certaine tendance qui va à contre-courant de ses pairs. Voyez-vous, le jeu vous punit sévèrement pour essayer des trucs, mais vous gronde légèrement si vous demandez de l'aide, ce qui est essentiellement le contraire de toutes les Escape Rooms du monde entier. Pensez-y: avez-vous déjà joué un jeu d'évasion qui vous enlevait 5 minutes au chrono parce que vous avez osé essayer la mauvaise clé sur la mauvaise porte? Oh, bien entendu le jeu va vous expliquer (avec enthousiasme) que ladite clé n'était clairement pas faite pour ça, mais plusieurs de ces situations m'ont semblé très arbitraires. Jetez un oeil à mes résultats ci-dessous. Vous voyez la nette amélioration entre La Formule et S&S, joués avec le même groupe? Je crois que c'est parce que nous avons appris de nos erreurs et sommes devenus beaucoup plus prudents - mais je le répète, je n'y vois rien d'amusant.
    • En fait, plus j'y pense, plus je me dis que la mécanique de "combinaison de cartes" aurait dû être éliminée. Je ne serais pas surpris d'apprendre que cette idée date de la conception originale du jeu, possiblement avant l'idée d'avoir une appli.
      Mais là, il y en une, une appli, et elle nécessaire au déroulement du jeu, alors pourquoi ne pas s'en servir pour valider chaque tentative de combinaison? Pourquoi gaspiller toutes ces cartes juste pour écrire "Mais non, pauvre abruti, ces deux choses ne vont pas ensemble, dis à l'appli de vous enlever 5 minutes!"
      Je sais que je râle plus qu'à l'habitude (surtout pour un jeu que je vais acheter à tout coup), mais je crois sincèrement que ces quelques changements pourrait changer un très bon jeu en un jeu génial.
MISE À JOUR - Automne 2017
  • Une catégorie entière de cartes - les machines, auxquelles je faisais référence ci-dessus comme étant des "casse-têtes visuels" - a été sévèrement revampée. Au lieu de montrer des nombres à additioner pour résoudre une énigme, on vous demande dorénavant d'entrer le numéro de la carte dans l'appli, ce qui vous permet de résoudre le casse-tête dans cette dernière. La deuxième vague de scénarios utilise ce système, et il semble que les anciennes se font rétroactivement modifier de la même manière.
MISE À JOUR- Printemps 2018
  • La plus récente fournée de scénarios ("Secret Adventures") a commencé à intégrer des éléments autres que des cartes. L'aventure dans Oz, à titre d'exemple, inclut une carte pliée que vous obtenez en cours de route. Je dois dire que j'ai été impressionné par le talent des Space Cowboys à rendre chaque nouvelle mouture meilleure que la précédente.
Les suggestions de la maison

Lorsque vous jouerez à ce jeu, et en particulier si vous souhaitez comparer votre performance avec la mienne ou celle des autres, je propose de faire ce qui suit:
  • 5 joueurs maximum
    Sinon on risque de se disputer pour avoir les cartes.

Mes résultats avec chaque scénario

(NOTE: Quand j'ai commencé à jouer à Unlock!, j'ai vu que l'appli nous donnait un score (sur 5 étoiles) mais j'ai pris la décision de l'ignorer et de m'en tenir au succès global et au temps restant. En rétrospective, ce n'était pas une bonne idée. Certains scénarios ont une durée variable, plus d'une fin possible, et ainsi de suite. Je vous suggère donc de focuser sur votre score, cher lecteur.)

Tutoriel
(Version auto-imprimée)
Difficulté officielle: 0 / 3
Joué avec: 4 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Moins de 5 minutes restantes

L'Élite
(Scénario auto-imprimé gratuit)
Difficulté officielle: 2 / 3
Joué avec: 4 joueurs
Réussi? NON

La Formule
Difficulté officielle: 2 / 3
Joué avec: 5 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Un peu plus de 10 minutes restantes

Squeek & Sausage
Difficulté officielle: 2 / 3
Joué avec: 5 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Un peu plus de 25 minutes restantes

L'île du docteur Goorse
Difficulté officielle: 3 / 3
Joué avec: 7 joueurs
Réussi? NON

La 5e avenue
(Scénario auto-imprimé gratuit)
Difficulté officielle: 1 / 3
Joué avec: 4 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Avec un peu plus de 11 minutes restantes
Une anecdote, par contre. Nous avons d'abord joué une partie avortée où nous avons passé 12 minutes totalement coincés, avant de comprendre que la mauvaise qualité de l'impression rendait certains nombres cachés totalement invisibles. On a donc repris avec le PDF à portée de main.

Le Donjon de Doo-Arann
(Scénario inclus dans le magazine Ravage, maintenant disponible gratuitement en auto-impression)
Difficulté officielle: 2 / 3
Joué avec: 3 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Avec environ 3 minutes restantes

Le Temple de Ra
(Scénario auto-imprimé gratuit)
Difficulté officielle: 3 / 3
Joué avec: 5 joueurs
Réussi? NON

Le Trésor de Tonipal
Difficulté officielle: 3 / 3
Joué avec: 5 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Avec un peu plus de 15 minutes restantes

Les Pièges du Nautilus
Difficulté officielle: 2 / 3
Joué avec: 5 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Avec un peu plus de 6 minutes restantes

La Maison sur la Colline
Difficulté officielle: 1 / 3
Joué avec: 4 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Avec un peu moins de 15 minutes restantes

Tombstone Express
Difficulté officielle: 2 / 3
Joué avec: 3 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Avec un peu moins de 4 minutes restantes

A Noside Story
Difficulté officielle: 1 / 3
Joué avec: 3 joueurs
Réussi? OUI - Avec un peu moins de 12 minutes restantes

Les Aventuriers du Pays d'Oz
Difficulté officielle: 3 / 3
Played with: 3 players
Réussi? OUI - Avec 3 secondes restantes - quêtes secondaires complétées

La Nuit des Croquemitaines
Difficulté officielle: 1 / 3
Played with: 5 players
Réussi? OUI - Avec un peu moins de 10 minutes restantes

Boardgame - Unlock! - Space Cowboys



Publisher:
Space Cowboys / Asmodée
Designers:
Alice Carroll, Thomas Cauët, Cyril Demaegd, Arnaud Ladagnous, Fabrice Mazza, Sébastien Pauchon, Billy Stevenson, Arch Stanton
Artist:
Florian de Gesincourt, Arnaud Demaegd, Legruth, Pierre Santamaria, Sergio
Languages:
French, English, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese
# of Players:
2-6
Age:
16+ (10+ in my opinion)
Duration:
60 min (typically)

BoardGameGeek References (big boxes only):

Game Design & Mechanics
  • This game sets itself apart by its mandatory use of an app (made available for free, on iOS and Android, weeks before the game came out). The app knows each of the available scenarios, tracks the time remaining, provide hints on demand, and is also used whenever a numerical combination needs to be entered, or when a card instructs you to do something.
  • As for what's in the box, every scenario is made of a single deck of cards - nothing else. Those cards have very different content, however. Some of them will show a puzzle or a lock, others an item (often a key, but not always). Some cards will show you a small map, or an image of an object found in the room itself.
  • The cards have a unique code (a number or a letter) on their back. This allows for a number of different mechanics like "combining inventory" (as if you were playing a computer adventure game), visual puzzle solving (reminescent of some gamebooks of yore) and even room searching (if you see a number hidden in a picture, you're allowed to reveal the card of that same number).
Pros
  • As others rightly pointed out to me, of all the other boxed games out there, this one is the best at conveying the uncertainty of standing in a real Escape Room. How far have you gone? Is this really the last puzzle? Are those remaining cards red herrings and penalties? You can't know for sure until the app tells you it's over.
  • With some non-linear puzzles and all those scenery cards you'll want to pick up and scrutinize, there are plenty of opportunity to "multitask". Your players shouldn't have to fight over cards, unless there really is a lot of you.
  • Since each scenario is essentially a deck of cards, this might be one of the cheapest offer out there. And with the English scenarios being sold separately, it's even easier to give in.
Cons
  • Well, you know, they're cards. Cards are small, and two people can't really look at the same card at once. Even though I understand the whole rationale, I really, really wish they had included a few foldable maps along with those cards.
  • If you're familiar with games like T.I.M.E Stories (also from Space Cowboys) or Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (a 30 year-old game which has just been reprinted by - guess what - Space Cowboys!)  you might guess what my next complaint will be: the game is hard. And I don't mean "fun hard", where you feel challenged yet encouraged to keep trying your best. I mean "cocky hard", where the game almost seems to take pleasure in making feel inferior. (Then again, those games are among my favorites, so I guess I'm a masochist. 😧)
  • After playing most of the available scenarios, I noticed that the game has an "anti-pattern" of sorts. You see, it punishes players harshly for trying, but scolds them lightly for asking for help, which is the downright opposite of pretty much any Escape Room out there. Think about it, when was the last time a real-life room took 5 minutes off your chronometer just because you tried the wrong key on the wrong door? Oh, of course the game will (vehemently) explain that the key clearly wasn't meant to go in there, but many of these cases seemed quite subjective to me. Check out my personal results below. Notice how the same group performed way better in S&S than in The Formula? I believe that's because we learned from our mistakes and became more cautious - but once again, I don't see any fun in that.
    • In fact, as I keep thinking about it, I believe that the whole "card matching" mechanic should have been dropped. I wouldn't be surprised if it was one of the very first game mechanic the designers came up with, possibly predating the use of an app.
      But there is an app, and it's a mandatory part of the game, so why not use it to validate all the players' attempts at combining stuff? Why waste all that cardstock just to write "No, these things don't together, you're a moron, lose 5 minutes!"
      I know I'm ranting a bit more than usual here (especially for a game that'll keep getting my money for sure), but I believe a few changes could make a great game even better.
UPDATE - Fall 2017
  • A whole category of cards - machines, the cards I mentioned above as "visual puzzle solving" - have been heavily revamped. Instead of showing numbers that you must add up to solve a puzzle, you're now being asked to enter the card number in the app, which lets you play the solving part directly in there. The 2nd wave of scenarios have this from the get-go, and it looks like older ones will be retroactively made that way.
UPDATE - Spring 2018
  • The latest series of adventures ("Secret Adventures") starts including some non-card components. For instance, the Oz scenario has a folded map you acquire at some point. I must say I've been impressed at Space Cowboys' talent at making every iteration better than the last.
House Rules & Suggestions

Should you play this and want to compare your performance with friends, I suggest you do the following:
  • 5 players max
    Otherwise there's too many of you fighting over a dozen cards.

Scenario Results

(NOTE: When I started playing Unlock!, I saw that the app would give you a score (out of 5 stars) but I decided that I wouldn't care for those, and would focus only on the overall success and the completion time. In retrospect, it was a bad idea. Some scenarios have variable duration, multiple endings, and so on. I suggest you stick to those scores, dear reader.)

Tutorial
(Print & Play version)
Official difficulty: 0 / 3
Played with: 4 players
Made it? YES - Less than 5 minutes remaining

The Elite
(Free Print & Play module)
Official difficulty: 2 / 3
Played with: 4 players
Made it? NO

The Formula
Official difficulty: 2 / 3
Played with: 5 players
Made it? YES - More than 10 minutes remaining

Squeek & Sausage
Played with: 5 players
Official difficulty: 2 / 3
Made it? YES - More than 25 minutes remaining

The Island of Doctor Goorse
Official difficulty: 3 / 3
Played with: 7 players
Made it? NO

The 5th Avenue
(Free Print & Play module)
Official difficulty: 1 / 3
Played with: 4 players
Made it? YES - More than 11 minutes remaining
One anecdote, though. We first played an aborted game where we spent 12 minutes completely and utterly stuck, until we figured out that poor printer quality had made some hidden numbers completely invisible. We kicked off another session with the PDF sitting nearby. Seems the recently updated version of this module isn't nearly as bad.

Doo-Arann Dungeon
(From Ravage magazine - Later released as a Print & Play)
Official difficulty: 2 / 3
Played with: 3 players
Made it? YES - Less than 3 minutes remaining

Temple of Ra
(Free Print & Play module)
Official difficulty: 3 / 3
Played with: 5 players
Made it? NO

The Tonipal's Treasure
Played with: 5 players
Official difficulty: 3 / 3
Made it? YES - More than 15 minutes remaining

The Nautilus' Traps
Official difficulty: 2 / 3
Played with: 5 players
Made it? YES - About 6 minutes remaining

The House on the Hill
Official difficulty: 1 / 3
Played with: 4 players
Made it? YES - More than 12 minutes remaining

Tombstone Express
Official difficulty: 2 / 3
Played with: 3 players
Made it? YES - Less than 3 minutes remaining

A Noside Story
Official difficulty: 1 / 3
Played with: 3 players
Made it? YES - Less than 10 minutes remaining

The Adventures of Oz
Official difficulty: 3 / 3
Played with: 3 players
Made it? YES - 3 seconds remaining - side quests completed

William and the Boogeymen
Official difficulty: 1 / 3
Played with: 5 players
Made it? YES - Less than 10 minutes remaining

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Boardgame - Escape Room: The Game - Spin Master




Publisher:
Spin Master (US/Canada)
Designers:
Unknown (boo!)
Artist:
Roland MacDonald
Languages:
English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish & many more
# of Players:
3-5
Age:
16+ (10+ in my opinion)
Duration:
60 min

BoardGameGeek References:

Game Design & Mechanics

Picture from the manufacturer's website
  • The central piece of this game is a custom electronic module called the "Chrono-Decoder". The Chrono-Decoder fills multiple roles. In addition to being a timer, it provides nicely irritating sound effects 😇, it sports multiple code cyphers on its sides, and it only acts as the physical manifestation of every single lock you'll encounter in the game.
  • The game also includes a series of plastic keys. They come in 6 different designs, and each of them sports some characteristics (a letter, a digit, a roman numeral, a geometric shape, etc). Depending of the scenario you're playing, one of these characteristics will help you find which 4 keys to put in the Chrono-Decoder. Put in the wrong keys, and 1 minute of your remaining time will be taken away.
  • Each scenario (there are 4 included in the game box) is made of envelopes clearly marked "Part 1", "Part 2" and "Part 3". Players read the introductory text, start the timer, then open Part 1. They're not allowed to move on to Part 2 until they've entered the right keys into the Chrono-Decoder. Then it's Part 3, and getting the third set of keys will result in a little victory fanfare.
  • At some specific time, the Chrono-Decoder will let out a little chime to let you a new hint card is available to you. Those cards use a classical "red filter" decoder to give a bit a nudge. Be warned, though - if the hint you get is helpful, then you're kinda running late. 😎
Pros
  • Let's cut to the chase here: as write this, this game is my favorite. Each scenario does a great job at recreating the same kind of puzzle-solving, visual inspection and logical deductions you see in real-life Escape Rooms. UPDATE: See the Comments section.
  • Every part of every scenario is non-linear to some extent. A couple players can easily "search a room" while others work on more menial tasks.
  • Speaking of room searches, every scenario includes at least one "room map" that unfolds into something big enough for a few people to inspect simultaneously.
  • Some scenarios will include "disposable" clues that meant to be written on / folded / cut off during your playthrough. Replacements can then be printed off the game's website.
Cons
  • In many instances, the storyline feels a bit "tacked on", and it becomes hard to feel a connection between the keys we're looking for and the supposed events happening in the background. Then again, that's something that can be said about most of the Escape Rooms I've played...
  • The price is pretty steep, especially knowing that this single purchase will provide you with 4 hours of entertainement, at best. As a possible workaround for this, consider reselling / joining a group purchase / renting the game from a boardgame library or club.
  • It's not something I personally felt, but a couple fellow players pointed out they didn't like the fact that, due to the game being split into parts, they knew exactly how well they were doing. It's true most escape games will keep you guessing until the last minute.
House Rules & Suggestions

Should you play this and want to compare your performance with friends, I suggest you do the following:
  • Every player must pause while hints are being read
    You're encouraged to use the hints (like I said, if they're helpful you're already struggling in my book), but I like the idea of them having a (tiny) cost.
  • Alternate hints for "Nuclear Countdown"
    The Nuclear Countdown scenario, while one of the most entertaining, has a few bits I don't find quite fair. When you play that scenario, I suggest you consider the following:
    • Replace the 45-minute hint with the following:
    • At the 35-minute mark, add this extra hint for Part 2:

Scenario Results

Prison Break
Official difficulty: 2 / 5
Played with: 5 players
Made it? YES - Less than 10 minutes remaining

Virus
Official difficulty: 2 / 5
Played with: 5 players
Made it? YES - Over 25 minutes remaining

Nuclear Countdown
Official difficulty: 3 / 5
Played with: 4 players
Made it? NO

Temple of the Aztec
Official difficulty: 4 / 5
Played with: 4 players
Made it? NO

Welcome to Funland (Expansion scenario)
Official difficulty: 3 / 5
Played with: 4 players
Made it? NO

Murder Mystery (Expansion scenario)
Official difficulty: 4 / 5
Played with: 3 players
Made it? YES - A little more than 10 minutes remaining