Developer: North Star Digital Studios | Publisher: North Star Games || Overall: 7.5/10
Bucking the trend of “free to play collectible card games,” Evolution: The Video Game is a throwback to a simpler time of card games. Pitted against other players with the same cards and same luck of the draw as you, strategy becomes the name of the game and you’ll have to use the tools available to evolve your species into the dominant player on the board.
In an odd way, the title reminds me of diving into a cereal box and finding the new game you’ll play for the next two weeks. Though, it’s no Who Want’s To Be a Millionaire CD-ROM — it isn’t a title that invigorates the senses. While the art is good, there’s nothing really ever exciting happening on screen, and there’s definitely no Regis Philbin. I suppose this is to be expected since a title that has “The Video Game” in its actual name must have some sort of other prior adaptation to it. Originally a “The Board Game,” which I’ve never heard of before playing The Video Game, “The Board Game” seems to be popular enough to have a digital version. “The Board Game” seems to be one of those convoluted-to-set-up and convoluted-to-play games that you’ll only want to pull out once a year since it takes so damn long to take it all out of the box and put it away. So, in that sense, The Video Game is a lot more appealing for casual or quick play. Granted, it’s not as useful for Nerd Board Game Night, though.
The actual goal of the game itself is to earn as many points as you can in five rounds. Cards that are drawn can be used for multiple things, such as food in the waterhole, adding population, adding body size, or using the text on the card itself to “evolve” your species into a more formidable point-gatherer. In the end, all of the above uses serve the main goal of “earning points.” There’s several layers of strategy that can be mentioned, but there are nearly six tutorial levels to explain how it all works — it isn’t really worth getting into the weeds here. Generally, there is plenty of strategy to be had and you’ll have to be quite knowledgeable in how everything interacts with each other to excel. There is definitely a lot of thought put into the design of it all.
There are a couple of ways to play the game, either with AI or Online. To reserve your username, you’ll have to register for a North Star account rather than just using your Steam account, but you can bypass the requirement. I used “davepoobond” the first couple days I was playing, but was all of a sudden re-assigned the user name “CarniMan43.” Seems that the game bugged or something and I was unable to use my name anymore. But it could also have been because it has “poo” in it and flagged some sort of profanity filter… but who really knows. There’s also not much to note when it comes to the music, and the interesting art is mostly replications of “The Board Game’s” art.
If this sort of game is something you enjoy playing, I can see that value being there, especially at the very modest price point of $14.99. “The Board Game” starts at $30-ish, plus all of the expansions that are released. I’m assuming they will also integrate the expansions into The Video Game, so that $14.99 works as an introductory price.
Developer/Publisher: League of Geeks || Overall: 9.0/10
The Kingdom of Armello is in peril. The unifying King of the diverse clans has gone mad and peace is decaying into war. How to deal with the King and counteract the instability is the issue at hand as the fate of your home allegiance rests with you. This is the scenario that the tabletop card-based strategy game Armello presents.
A very appealing art style is the first thing I noticed. Armello is a beautiful game with charming characters and world-building card art that gives you glimpses into the society that exists in the Kingdom of Armello. In the fantasy setting, animals are the primary characters, representing races and clans that rally against one another in the impending breakdown of society. The main characters of the game are represented by (male and female) wolves, rats, rabbits, and bears, each with their unique buffs. The art of the cards you eventually begin to play with show other types of animals like badgers, weasels, dogs, and the like, with a lion being the king. A great amount of care is put into the art, and the animation each card has gives the game a lot of life. The Day and Night cycle of turns also makes the world feel lived-in. The soundtrack is very delightful and fits in perfectly with the game.
After a light and fun Prologue, you learn a bit about each of the major clans and the stake they have in the conflict. The Prologue primarily focuses on teaching you about fundamentals of the information you see on screen, most of which is actually very simple. Where the complexity enters is when all of the aspects integrate together.
There is a lot of terminology to learn, and how each individual thing affects you. Gold, Prestige, Magic, Rot, Wits, Body, Fight, Spirit, and Action Points are the primary values you’ll need to be aware of. Each of these are manipulated in a multitude of ways by yourself and enemies alike, and each are used for specific purposes. Most are used as resources to be able to play cards, while Fight, Spirit, and Rot give you dice to roll while attacking — each have multiple uses and can be very powerful depending on your overall goal.
You’ll draw cards that layer on to the complexity of Armello. Like many other card games, the order in which you play them matters a great deal. You can also burn cards you don’t want to use to assure certain dice rolls, and at the beginning of your next turn you can pull cards up to your maximum. Your maximum cards held is dictated by your Wits stat. An example of a card is spending three Magic to give yourself a +1 Action Point buff for two turns.
Starting from your Clan Grounds, you’ll move your hero across the board with objectives in mind. If you encounter a town, you’ll gain one Gold per turn as long as it is held under your banner. If you run across a Stone Circle, you will heal one Body (the health stat), while entering a Swamp removes one Body. Dungeons offer a chance to gain one of many possible rewards or spawns a Bane, which is a creature born of the Rot corruption plaguing Armello. Your overall objectives come in a few forms. A personalized objective, given as a quest, offers permanent buffs to your stats and a chance at obtaining a piece of equipment or another useful buff. Using the board to your advantage is required to be able to accomplish the game-winning objectives. Deaths will also occur over and over, and you’ll respawn at your Clan Grounds if you die or are killed.
To win the game, you are able to do a number of different things that everyone is competing for. A Prestige win is considered a political win; killing other Heroes gains one Prestige, as well as completing quests. At the end of a turn, the Prestige Leader gets to choose a King’s Declaration which is a per-turn decision that affects the game’s flow. As the Prestige Leader, you can choose the one that is most convenient to you or will help you keep your Prestige Leader status. Dying or killing the King’s Guard loses one Prestige, allowing others to catch up. The Prestige win is a long-game win, as you’ll have to wait until the King expires from the Rot, which is typically at most ten full turns. If any other objectives are completed before then, the Prestige win will be defeated.
Another way to win is by collecting Spirit Stones to hand over to the King to cure him of his Rot. You can also gain as much Rot as you can so you can defeat the King in battle and rule the lands yourself as a corrupted king. Gaining Rot can help you if you have more than your enemy, as during the attack phases you gain bonus dice to roll. However, Rot can lead to Corruption and with it come instant death on Stone Circle plots. As a result, you are unable to heal without using cards and Rot subtracts one health at the start of every turn if you have any.
A single game can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on how slow plays are. Tactics will shift several times during the game depending on others’ progress. The game board’s setting always takes place at the foot of the King’s castle, and is shuffled at every new game, so the plots will be in different places each time. As of now, there is also a “winter theme” of the board where snow covers the entire board, and it seems like other themes could eventually be developed. While there are no alternate locations to play, they wouldn’t make much sense in the context of the existing story conflict unless something new were set up. They could easily expand on the game with more cards, and extra story to set up new maps would also be a nice addition. As you play the game you’ll unlock more pre-game perks which can customize your play style. Finding all of the cards (there are around 130) is also very satisfying as you try to complete your card gallery.
While the story of Armello is interesting and there is a lot of world-building, it isn’t very deep. The majority of the story comes in the Prologue you play to learn about the game, and whatever you can glean off of the quests. There isn’t really a resolution to the story other than the eventual ending of the King’s corruption, by death or otherwise. A single player mode is included in which you play with AI, but the game is clearly built for a multiplayer environment. An online mulitplayer mode is available that allows you to jump right in and play with other people, as well as a Ranked mode due to be released with free patch v1.1. An assortment of free and paid updates are planned for the game, so it will be interesting to see what comes about from the developers.
All in all, Armello is a diverse mash of several different objectives, quests, resources, and characters. Using all of it to your advantage and learning the order in which you should play certain cards is very important to completing the objectives you have at hand. People who enjoy tabletop board games will certainly enjoy this game and being able to play with their friends. Armello is available on Steam and PS4 at $19.99.
Released on August 30th, the Usurpers Pack DLC adds on four unique heroes into the Armello mix. There are also an assortment of new buffs that are available for selection before entering a new game. While new players may not necessarily understand the benefits the new heroes or buffs provide, know that it adds a new layer of strategy on top of the diversification of the hero roster. The main addition, of course are the heroes:
Magna – a shieldmaiden. My personal favorite of the four new heroes. Can reflect attacks.
Sargon – a “veil gazer.” The top card on the deck can be seen during draw card phase.
Ghor – Magic spent is more efficient on forest tiles, and can cast globally on any forest tile
Elyssia – Permanent fortification of settlements if a turn is ended on one. Good for taking a defensive approach against your enemies.
If you are an avid fan of Armello, it will be worth the entry price to enjoy these new heroes. On account that there are no new game modes in this DLC pack, there isn’t anything that will change your opinion of the game; in my view it is still a great time. All of the new characters fit right in with the others and while a couple are plainly a better choice to pick, any of the new heroes hold a viable path to victory.
Bilton Scraggly specializes in entertaining board games for the modest homosexual. These are just a few of the many fun adventures waiting on the shelves at your local retailer!
This simple yet surprisingly fun game is the one you’re more likely to see being played by young ones. This checkered board will make you checkered with joy and make you scream out your darkest fantasies when you reign supreme!
Game rules: The two teams consist of rainbow colored and pastel colored pieces. Enemy pieces are not jumped, they are humped, forcing the enemy piece to live in their lavish gay community. The player must giggle and smile at the opponent before taking his turn. When a player’s piece reaches the opposite side of the board, that piece gets gay rights and gets the honor of having a second piece stacked on top of it (every man’s dream). The game ends when all of a player’s pieces are trapped in the other’s gay community or when Will & Grace comes on, whichever comes first.
Teapot Tap – When the player moves a piece with their pinky.
Head & Shoulders Solution – When a player attempts to distract the other by complimenting the volume of his hair.
Intermission – When the players take a time out to brush each others’ teeth in the middle of the game.
Elton John Backstroke: When a piece with gay rights humps a piece behind itself.
Don’t ask, just yell – Alternate term for winning the game.
Ahh gay chess, the gay thinking man’s game. This strategic masterpiece will test your wits and patience in a skimpy fight to the death!
Game rules: There are no kings in gay chess, only queens, so each player gets two of them. No piece is allowed to move in a straight line. The game ends when one player admits their secret carrot cake recipe to the other.
Piece types before and after:
Bishop – Gay clergyman
Knight (horse) – Richard Simmons on a pinata
Pawn – Catholic boy
Rook (castle) – Neverland Ranch
Cross-dress – When the player’s piece is switched for another on the opposite side of the board.
Geisha confidence – When the player bows after moving.
Paris Hilton Position – When the player sits cross-legged during play.
The original buying and trading properties game, only this one is gay! Let Rich Aunt Penny Bags lead you through a journey of building houses and hotels, showing off your country’s gay capitalism.
Game rules: Kisses are the only currency used in Manopoly. If a player lands on the income tax space, they must kiss a close male relative. If the player passes Joe, they get a helpful pat on the rear. If the player lands ON Joe, every player sticks their finger in his belly button. Community’s Chest and Glance cards are drawn and performed down to the smallest detail.
Go to mail – Do not pass Joe. Go to the post office and make all postal workers uncomfortable.
Take a ride – On another player, then proceed to the Reading Railroad.
Gender error in your favor – Turns out you’re half woman!
The big tease – When a player blows on the dice before rolling.
Homoerotic barter – Alternate term for a trade.
Free parking – When a player sits in another’s lap.
Imagine this–you’re on a gigantic warship in the middle of the ocean, firing artillery at any boat that comes by. Then you wake up in a bathtub with a man. Welcome to Bodyship!
Game rules: The players divide their body up into sections. When a section is guessed, the player wipes that section of the opponent’s body with a moist towelette. The game ends when the player “hits the spot,” or until the players run out of moist towelettes/licked toilet paper.
Frosty – When a player breaks out into a cold sweat.
Mowing the lawn – When hair accidentally comes off with the towelette.
Honk attempt – When the player tries to wipe something that makes noise.
Other family friendly games available from Bilton Scraggly: