Lockup: A Role Player Tale

Components: Good components with some nice touches like the “glass” cubes for power and suspicion, and the jail cells on the tile holder. Good, fitting art.

Game Setup: Setup was easy – 5 minutes.

Mechanics: Resource management, hand management, area control, hidden auction, bidding, variable player powers, set collections, bluffing.

Game Play: Bid for control for areas that give rewards. Some bids are hidden and some are not. Use resources to craft items for points. Variable end-game scoring. Be careful not to attract too much attention when bidding or lose points.

Last Word: A clever bidding game with a fantasy RPG theme. Everything works well with this design and we found it to be very fun – so much that we wonder why there isn’t a bigger buzz around this game. Its probably too much for a gateway game but for any hobby gamer this is a easy play that returns a lot of fun if you like player interaction. For us this peaks out the gaming ROI meter and we’re keeping our copy in easy reach for when we have a quick hour to play something that hums along nicely but is still big fun. Also good any any player count – its hard to get a 2 player auction/bidding/bluffing game to work this well. Thunderworks has a solid title on their hands with this one!

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Deep Madness

Components: Good-quality components with good art that fits the theme. The vast number of monster sculpts are varied and interesting. The tile art is a bit dark on some tiles and the small tokens can get lost visually sometimes. The extra big box for components is super fantastic!

Game Setup: Like most games this big setup is not a quick thing. 30 minutes for our first game though subsequent games went much quick, say 15 minutes.

Mechanics: Action points, hand management, variable player powers, dice rolling, cooperative game

Game Play: Your characters are activated one-at-a-time with monsters taking their individual activation between each character activation. This is a fairly clever mechanic and we found it enjoyable. Search for items, attack monsters, complete mission goals while managing to swim through flooded areas and areas that are “devoured” by the monsters.

Last Word: Deep Madness is a very hard game. It is also a very fun game. The initiative system provides a clever new twist that we really enjoyed. In fact, instead of a set pattern that predictably rotates we house-ruled that each round the entire tableau of character cards is shuffled and laid out randomly so initiate is never known ahead of time. We enjoy games where we don’t have to count spaces or activation where it turns action and adventure games into a logical puzzle game. We may have made it harder on ourselves doing this but the fun of the randomness works for us.

This game was so nice we played it twice in a row – not the norm for us!

In a nutshell, this is Doom underwater on steroids. The missions are fun but hard to complete but that is as it should be for a game like this. If you enjoy more tactical games like Descent, Doom, Gears of War, etc this is a must-have. See https://www.facebook.com/deepmadnessgame for more!

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Rurik Dawn of Kiev

Components: Good quality components. Art work is *amazing* if you like the classics. And there is a great amount of non-repeating art.

Game Setup: Our first game took 10 minutes to setup but it was very straight forward.

Mechanics: A unique worker-placement, resource-management, area-control, bidding.

Game Play: Calling this a typical worker-placement/resource management game is an injustice. The power vs initiate worker placement mechanic is as slick as they come. There are so many *options* for scoring points but only a few ways to score points so scoring is tight. The subtle ways to attempt to outwit your opponents in this game provides many paths to victory but you have to be that much more wary of letting your guard down in those same areas. This is not a “victory point salad game’.

Last Word: In Rurik you are rewarded for having a strategic vision and executing it correctly like no other game we can easily think of. This game will see our table many, many times and has the potential to be one of the best games of the year for us. PieceKeeper Games has a fantastic game here!

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Components: Good components. Nice, fitting art work.

Game Setup: Ain’t a thing – few minutes at most.

Mechanics: “Tile” laying, drawing.

Game Play: Scores like Isle of Skye but instead of auction mechanics players draw shapes of different types (shown on revealed cards) on their “map” trying to achieve the goals highlighted on the scoring cards. Each turn a new card is revealed which gives players a choice in what type of terrain they need to add to their map and what shape.

Last Word: Super simple, super fun. Some players may experience AP but the game isn’t long enough for it to be a really big deal. Great little game that is different than most anything out there. Its easy to see why Thunderworks Games has a hit here.

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