Last year, the Level 99 Minigame Library came out featuring six small games in one package. Following in the same trend, Dice Hate Me Games is currently Kickstarting a batch of six 54-card games for their Rabbit line (which they define as small quick games). These were all winners in the 54-Card Challenge issued by DHMG last fall. I really like the concept of releasing several smaller games as part of one package – it gives a lot of variety, and you get six games for what you might spend on one more component-heavy experience. With the Kickstarter ending Sunday, I wanted to give this one a quick look.
Diner (Matthew O’Malley) was actually the grand prize winner of the 54-Card Challenge. It’s a 2-4 player game where players are waiters trying to make the most money in tips. The game is kind of a real-time experience, with players taking actions simultaneously. Each player begins with one action token (the player to the dealer’s left starts with two), and when the game begins, everyone can take their actions, then pass their token. There are no turns, and you can only take an action if you have a token. It’s possible one AP-prone person will accumulate all the tokens, which means others will be waiting and probably yelling at him to hurry up.
There are four possible actions. You could draw, taking a plate to your hand from the Kitchen stacks. You could seat in your section by taking a table from the Lounge area and putting it in your section. You can have as many tables as you want, but every one you don’t serve costs you money at the end of the game. You can seat at the counter, which basically means you’re discarding a table from the Lounge to the Sink (discard pile). Finally, you can serve by giving the table all plates they ordered. The plates go in the sink, and the table goes into your tips pile.
When two Kitchen stacks are empty (for the first time in a 2-player game, and for the second time in a 3-4 player game), it’s closing time. Whoever has made the most in tips wins.
This one looks pretty cool. I really like the idea of the real-time aspect as players need tokens to take actions, and have to pass them once the action is taken. There’s nothing to prevent you from hoarding tokens (though there is a variant where players can take them from you if you get all of the tokens), but I would imagine that you want to keep the game moving so you can get more points. This seems like a game that someone with AP can ruin, but it seems quick enough that I can’t see it being too much of a problem. This is one that I would really like to try sometime.
Brew Crafters Travel Card Game (Ben Rosset) is based on the big box Brew Crafters game. In the game, 2-4 players are trying to brew different types of beer to earn Rep. On a turn, a player will first draw two cards, either from a face-up array or from a face-down stack. You will then either play a card for its brewery effect, brew a beer, or pass. Brewery effects are played in front of you where they will remain for the rest of the game. To brew a beer, you simply discard the required ingredients and score. If you don’t want to do one of these, you pass to end your turn.
Once a player gets to 21 Rep, the game ends once everyone has had an equal number of turns. You apply bonuses and see who won.
I have to say that, just from a theme standpoint, I am less interested in this game than any of the others. The theme is definitely unique, and kudos for that, but it doesn’t interest me at all. I was aware of the Brew Crafters Kickstarter when it was on, but I didn’t look into it at all. I don’t know how this game compares – it seems like a pretty light set collection game, with the added twist of cards that can serve as two things – brewery effects or ingredients. Using a card as a brewery effect effectively takes its potential ingredient out of the game, so I’d imagine that that’s something to look out for. The game seems solid enough, I just don’t like the theme.
Pie Factory (Bryan Fischer) is a game for 2-4 players where you are working in…well, a pie factory. Everyone is trying to get a promotion by building and boxing pies. The game is played over two days, or two times through the deck. In each round, players will each take an action – draft an ingredient from the assembly line, play a card from your hand, box a pie (score a completed pie), or draw an ingredient from the deck to your hand. According to the prep time for each player, turn order is adjusted, then cards that were played are placed in pies. When the deck runs out the first time, each player must discard one unboxed pie (it goes stale overnight) and the deck is reshuffled. The second time, the game is over. The player with the most points wins the game.
I don’t like pies either, but I find this to be a better theme than Brew Crafters. At least, it’s more family friendly. It’s another set collection type game as players are trying to build the best pies. This one has a time mechanism that adjusts the turn order much the same way as a time track game – each action takes you more time, meaning that you may have to go later next time (cards at the back of the assembly line cause you to discard in order to draft them). I’m still unsure of the rules for building pies – you need a crust, but I don’t know if there are rules for the ingredients. Still, it looks like a pretty good game.
Easy Breezy Travel Agency (J. Alex Kevern) got first runner-up in the 54-Card Challenge. 2-4 players are travel agents working in Sheboygan in 1974. Your job is to get people to New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and Miami via planes, trains, or buses. In the center of the table, there will be a ticker consisting of four money cards (1-4), as well as one destination card from each city. This destination card tells you where you’re going, the method of transportation, and how many passengers can go there.
On your turn, you can recruit passengers (draw two cards from the face-up row or face-down stack), execute a departure (turn in the required passenger cards and earn money based on the position of the destination card on the ticker), or reorganize (exchange cards from your waiting area with another player’s waiting area). When a destination stack runs out, the endgame is triggered. You get extra money for bookings in your most common city, as well as in your most common transportation type. The player with the most money wins.
This game features a variable market that is at very simple, but provides some interesting decisions. I can imagine that it’s important to weigh the option of trying to get the fare up, but hoping someone doesn’t snatch it from you in the meantime. Also, the ability to trade with waiting areas is kind of cool – you have a hand limit of four, so anything beyond that goes into your waiting area, which can then be ransacked by an opponent. I think you have to keep a careful eye on what others are doing so you don’t inadvertently help someone else out. This is one I’m really interested in knowing more about.
The Fittest (Graham Russell) is a game for 4-6 players about competing in a reality show. Each player gets a random contestant, each with different skill numbers. They’ll then take turns being the leader. The leader reveals a game card, which gives them a challenge. There then follows a negotiation game where the leader is trying to recruit help because it’s doubtful they’re going to pass a challenge on their own. Players can ask for a share of prizes for their participation, and all deals are binding. During this time, anyone can play cards for their effects. In the attempt phase, players involved in the challenge may play boosts to try to get their skills up, and one bonus flip can be used to add some more help to the attempt. If the attempt succeeds, the leader collects the prizes and distributes them as agreed. If the attempt fails, no prizes are awarded. Anyone who did not participate in the challenge draws a card.
The game ends when someone needs to draw a card and can’t. Prize values are totaled, plus players get a bonus two points for each prize that matches their highest skill. The player with the most points wins.
I think reality competitions are ripe for games to be made about them, and I’m glad to see this theme here. The game is kind of abstracted out, however. There are names for the effects of cards, but no description of the challenges – that’s just comparing skill values. I guess players are left to their own to decide what a challenge represents. Nevertheless, this does look like a pretty interesting negotiation style game. Players can hold out for more prizes if they are necessary for victory, but they can also try to con their way into getting better prizes. That, at least, is just like a reality competition. Definitely one I’d like to try.
Isle of Trains (Dan Keltner and Seth Jaffee) is a 2-4 player game where players are trying to build the best train and deliver cargo. The island is created with six cards, and each player begins with a level 1 engine and five cards in hand. On your turn, you take two actions. You could draw the top card of the deck. You could build a card from your hand by paying its cost in cards. You could load a card from your hand onto any player’s train car that can hold it – this gets you a special benefit. Or you could deliver cargo to fulfill delivery contracts and receive cards. If you fulfill a contract (one of the island cards), you claim it and flip it over, revealing two secondary contracts. You can only fulfill one of those.
When the entire deck (draw pile and discards) is exhausted, or when a certain number of contracts have been claimed, the game is over. Players get one more turn, then add up their points from train cars, completed deliveries, buildings, and loaded cargo. The player with the most points wins.
It’s another train game! And while that is not something that excites me, I was initially drawn to the game by the art and the idea of having an island of cards. I like the idea of stripping down a pick-up-and-deliver game to its basics. It has the Race for the Galaxy concept of spending cards to pay for cards, and I like that you can use other player’s trains to load goods. You do need to watch out as that gives your opponents goods to complete contracts. Looks pretty good.
Overall, this looks like a pretty good project. I think most of the games look pretty good, and they all have something different to offer. It’s more of a Euro set than the Level 99 Minigame Library, and that’s a good thing – keeps it separate and scratching a different itch. The only ones that seem a little generic are the Brew Crafters game and Pie Factory, as they are both collect ingredients and make stuff games. But everything seems pretty solid.
The Kickstarter campaign has three reward levels. You can either get Diner, Brew Crafter Travel Card Game, and Pie Factory for $25, or you can get Easy Breezy Travel Agency, The Fittest, and The Isle of Trains for $25. The other option is to get all six for $50. There’s no way currently to mix and match. I think the second set is probably stronger, but it’s probably worth getting everything – it’s less than $10 per game. The campaign ends on Sunday, so go check it out – they are funded, but there’s always stretch goals. Thanks for reading!