Don’t Get Outfoxed!

My daughter got the game Outfoxed published by Gamewright for a present, and she loves it. What surprised me is that I like it as well. Don’t get me wrong, this is a game for kids, and it doesn’t really offer up a meaningful challenge. However, there is a good variety of play, and it teaches kids some important board gaming skills. I won’t be playing it with my crew, but it is what I will be asking my daughter to get out of the closet if she wants to play a game.

The rules are simple. You roll dice and try to get clues and suspect cards to find who has stolen a chicken pot pie before the thief escapes. There are three dice. Each with a 50/50 chance of having a paw/paws or an eye. You need all three dice to have either the paw/paws icon to move your token to get clues, or all three to have the eye icon to flip over a suspect card. You get to re-roll dice that do not match two extra times, so three rolls total. If you don’t match all three dice, the fox moves three spaces. If the fox gets to the end before you figure out who did it, the players lose. To check the clues, at the beginning of the game a thief card was randomly selected and then put in a plastic case. The clues fit in an insert and then you can see if the fox in question is wearing or has the item in the clue. Find all three clues, or narrow down the suspects to one, and the players win.

So essentially it is a modern take on Clue Jr., but the push your luck element with the dice, and the deduction of whether a suspect is the thief help this game feel more “gamey” and less an exercise of seeing who can roll or spin or flip the highest numbers. Which are what most kids games amount to. Plus, the plastic case for the clues and the thief cards just feel good. It is fun to put in a clue and then slide open the little panel. It is a thrill when you get one that matches, but it is still fun when it doesn’t, so you can eliminate a bunch of suspects. Like I said, there is not a lot of thinking going on here, but for a kids game this level of gameplay feels like a breath of fresh air, and that is not even the best part! Check out this insert:

Oh man! That is a good insert. Everything fits in its place and doesn’t move around, and it is so well laid out my five year old can set it up and put it away by herself! Look, this game is under $20 US on Amazon right now, and it has an insert that puts games that cost three times as much to shame. I still don’t get why this can’t be the standard for board game manufactures. I know they say it is expensive, but a lot of games can’t even be bothered to include enough plastic bags let alone inserts. Let’s just say it is a pet peeve of mine that games force me to do arts and crafts to put them away.

All that being said, Outfoxed is a great game for kids. It is much better than the standard roll and move games or dexterity games they usually get. It is reasonably priced, and it may have won insert of the year (for whatever year it came out). If you have kids that like to play board games, and you don’t think you can handle another game of Life, give Outfoxed a try. You will be glad you did.

Unpacking PAX West 2017!

PAX West was a blur this year, I did so much, and I had so much fun that it is hard to talk about anything in particular.  I enjoyed most of the panels I went too.  Two of the funniest featured Kris Straub: PAX Rumble 2017 (video game wresting at its finest) and the live version of his internet radio show 28 Plays Later (two guys talk about stuff).  Of course the Telltale group play of Batman: The Enemy Within was as fun as always, and even though it has changed to a bunch of random ads, I still love going to the Gearbox show.

I didn’t have time to play a lot of the games on the show floor or elsewhere, but I am going to say that Forza 7 is the default game of show for me.  I played it twice, and it is simply stunning on the Xbox One X.  It truly shows the craziness the X will be able to pull off this Christmas.  Board game wise, I am not going to name a game of the year.  The ones I played were all fine, but I didn’t play a game I had to have.  Though Dwarves: Dig, Delve, Die at least had some sweet dwarven shaped dice, and I won, which is always a bonus.

PAX West is always an experience, and there are some moments after all the walking and waiting in lines that make me wonder if it is all worth it, but every year I can’t wait to do it all over again.  If you like geeky things and hanging out with geeky people, try to get yourself to a PAX.  There will be something for you.  Even if you have to weed through the three hundred “how to make your stream successful” panels.  Though I can help you out with that: be funny, talented, have good screen presence, and self promote like crazy.  Until next year PAX West!

Shmee Gets Covert!

Look at me giving another board game review!  Hey I get away from my TV sometimes… Anyway today I am going to review Covert by Kane Klenko and published by Renegade Game Studios.  Covert is a worker/dice placement game, so kind of like a mashup of Pandemic and Lords of Waterdeep, but still nothing like those two games.

In the game you are in charge of a spy ring, and it is your job to move the spies where they need to be while finding the equipment they need to complete their missions.  Other players are of course doing the same thing.  While you can’t outright attack other players, you can block them from being able to make the moves they want to make thanks to Covert’s clever dice placement system.

Much like Lords of Waterdeep you will have Mission Cards, and on these cards will be the things you need to get/do to complete your mission, like a shoe-phone, a spy camera and a spy in Minsk.  To move your spies and try and get those resources you place dice in the areas with the actions that you would like to do.  To help you visualize this let me give you a shot of the board:

As you can see along the top of the board are action wheels with the numbers one through six.  At the beginning of every round players roll five dice, and then take turns placing the dice in those wheels.  The trick is that once one person has placed a die in that wheel, the next person that wants to do that action must place a die next to the existing die, so if one person places a six in the ‘Take a Card’ area the next player would have to put down a one or a five.

Now we can see each other’s dice, so if I see you only have fours, threes and a one, and I have a one and I get to go first.  If I put my one down somewhere you will not be able to place in that area unless I or someone else plays a five or a two.  Luckily this game offers a lot of ways to get things done, so you should never get too stuck.

That gray grid on the side of the board pictured above will have numbers in it from one to six.  It is the code cracking area.  Every player will get to use the code cracker once per round.  If you can crack a code, you get a resource you can use for your mission or hold on to for two victory points.  Also the main cards of the game, ‘Agent Cards’, have multiple uses.  Each card has not only an item like a shoe-phone on it, but a plane ticket to a city, or a random little ability, like to perhaps change a die number by one, or take a discarded card.  Can’t get in the ‘Take a Card’ action wheel? You can earn Agent Cards by picking up intel cubes the other players leave behind while moving around the board.

Don’t have any cards, and none of your dice work?  You can buy ‘Special Operations’ with extra dice, and they have the special abilities from the cards, so they let you alter the game.  Not to mention every spy leader has a special ability, like being able to move the code cracker twice,  move agents for free, or look at cards before drawing them.  All sorts of good stuff.  To give you an idea of what this all looks like, here is a shot of the back of the box with a fully setup game:

Now, I got more in to game mechanics then a I wanted to with this review, but I think it is important that you realize that there is a lot going on with this game.  It is not just place a worker and get a thing.  It is a puzzle, but none of the puzzle pieces are hard to understand or explain.  To people who play a lot of board games, they can start playing this game in ten minutes.  Others who don’t understand the worker placement genre, it may take a little longer, but not much.

I love how crunchy and think-y Covert is.  Every round you are trying to make sure you are not missing an avenue to get what you need or delay another player from getting what they need.  The only downside is that some people may think too long, dragging this game out.  I have only ever played Covert two player, but I could see four players being a bit much.  Anyway, I think this a great game to have, and a good take on the worker placement genre, so if you find Lords of Waterdeep too shallow, you can dive in to the deep end with Covert.

Shmee Rides Some Trains In The Land Of The Rising Sun!


Did you know that I play board games sometimes?  Well I do, and I recently won a great one at PAX West: Trains: Rising Sun.  It is what happens if you take a progressive deck building game like Dominion and mash it up with Ticket to Ride.  If that sounds at all fun to you let me assure you that it is.

The game is pretty simple to follow.  Train cards have a basic value, and you use that value to either buy more cards that do all sorts of things or build your train empire on the game board.  No matter what you do you seem to take on waste cards.  How you manage all those waste cards generally determines if you win the game or not.  Whoever has built the best train or got the best cards to give them the most victory points at the end wins.

The game is easy to learn, and there are enough card combinations that I am sure that I will not master it for a while.  Trains: Rising Sun is technically the sequel/expansion to Trains, so if you already have Trains and you are just looking for more boards and cards, Rising Sun will give you more gameplay options.  As someone who just has Rising Sun, I don’t feel like the game is incomplete without the original Trains.  Though I am thinking of picking it up because I like Rising Sun so much that having more cards and boards sounds great.

If you like progressive deck building games or Ticket to Ride, but you are looking for something new Trains: Rising Sun gets my highest recommendation.  It is a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to play it again.  If you already have Trains, but you just want more, Rising Sun will do that for you.  All in all AEG did a great job with Trains: Rising Sun.