Monday, 31 March 2014

If Wishes Were Fishes.... You wouldn't find these at the supermarket!

If Wishes Were Fishes by Rio Grande Games

Published in 2007 by Rio Grande Games, and designed by Michael Adams and Pater Sarrett, If Wishes Were Fishes is a hand management game where the 2-5 players are competing to be the greatest fisherman/woman and bring the biggest catch to the market.
The game itself is squarely in my Fiancées portion of the collection as I don’t really like the artwork throughout the game and that detracts from the experience for me when I don’t like what I’m looking at for over an hour!
One of the best, most useful box inserts I have seen!
The board and box are well made, the box itself has one of the best inserts I have seen, taking the shape of a fishing boat with two foot wells giving ample room to store all of the components. The board features a bird’s eye view of the fish market which shows a stall for each of the different species of fish you can catch, a rubbish dump beside the market (hygienic) and the Euro standard of a score tracker around the perimeter.

For the player pieces we first have the markers used to track the score and show what you’ve sold. These are small wooden fish-meeple. These are pretty good quality as most wooden components tend to be, can’t really go wrong with some wood (insert innuendo at your leisure!) There are also five traditionally shaped Meeple in white (x1) grey (x2 and black (x2) these are the ‘Buyers’ and confer a bonus to the market stalls when selling fish.

All the flavours are here! Strawberry, raspberry, lime, lemon and orange!!!

Guest starring Liz' favorite fish, the wounded blue with his deformed tail!
The cards used to show what fish you have in your boat are pretty good quality and feature the eponymous fish and the odd varieties they come in. The names are all normal fish but they are more literal than their real world counterparts, for example, the Monkfish is wearing a monks Habit and sporting the Tonsure haircut, the Angel fish comes replete with flowing robes, wings and a halo. Most of the fish also have an icon showing what ‘wish’ they can grant but more on that later. There are five different coloured boat cards for the players to begin with and four ‘market limit’ cards also which essentially time the game (later).

(Top left to bottom right) Swordfish, Angelfish, Starfish, Catfish, Kingfish and Monkfish
(wishes) Extra boat, Money for Worms, Move buyer + sell multiple fish, Move fish from rubbish and sell one.
Double Monkfish, counts as two.
With the cards I can easily see that this game is geared more to appeal to a younger audience but with an age rating on the box at 10+ I can’t help but feel they’ve put a rather small margin for said appeal on the game as much older and the style will become less appealing to the average child.


Finally comes the oddest part of the contents. The currency in which you deal to get the fish you want is worms. Big, rubbery, odd feeling worms. These will invariably garner a chuckle from a player the first time they see them, even a squeal or two from those inclined to do so and ALL players will find themselves playing with them for the entirety of the game. Twanging them, wiggling them, squishing them, stretching them, It’s almost worth playing the game just to fiddle around with them!
They are a very weird thing to put in though. It feels as though someone at the office said “This game isn’t silly enough...... Make something out of purple rubber, that’ll do it!” It certainly adds to the whimsical appeal of the game though I will admit.
These are bloody weird!

This is where the game puts in some legwork and redeems itself in my eyes.
In the set up each player is furnished with a card showing two boats in their colour, each boat capable of holding one fish, and six worms for fishing. The fish cards are shuffled and four cards are dealt out in a line leading away from the deck. This forms the ocean, the card furthest from the deck being the shallows and closest the deep sea.
On a players turn they may take ONE of the following actions:

The ocean in play
1)      Take a fish from the ocean and put it in one of their boat.
To do this they can take one of the four fish visible in the ocean, the first being free and having to pay one worm to each fish they pass over if they wish to take one from deeper afield. The ocean is then moved up and a new fish is dealt into the deep ocean. If you take a fish with worms on the card, paid by previous players skipping said fish, you keep the worms. One way to gain new worms if you find yourself running low.

2)      Take a fish from the ocean and throw it back.
This may sound like a waste but as I mentioned before, most of the fish have a wish they can grant. Freeing a fish, to the haven of the discard pile, allows you to use the wish and there are quite a few different ones to use from selling multiple fish at the same time (very useful as you can normally only sell one) gaining an extra boat, awarding you cash equal to your worm stock and moving the ‘buyers’ around the markets.

3)      Sell a single fish to the market.
If you do not want to take a fish from the ocean, nor have any use for a wish, you can take one fish from your haul and sell it to the relevant market stall to score some cash.
Each market has a base value of two ‘money’ (there isn’t a defined currency, just notes with numbers!) so the managing of the Buyers locations comes in here. The small black buyers confer a +1to the price of each fish sold to a market they are stood on, grey a +2 and white a +3. It is possible, through clever use of wishes, to stack multiple buyers on one market stall to greatly inflate the value of the fish, this combined with a ‘sell multiple fish’ wish can really give you a massive cash injection!

Starting set up for five players
For each fish sold to a market the selling player places one of their wooden fish markers on the stall to show the total that market has bought. Once a stall has reached the topmost amount shown on the ‘Market Limit’ cards, which start at 4 fish then 5,6 and finally 7, that market is closed and the players with the two highest amounts of fish there get a monetary bonus. Any other fish sold there above the limit are thrown n the rubbish pile. Starting with a lower amount means that one stall WILL close quite soon into the game, I really like this as it means you have to be careful what fish you catch and sell. Too any in the rubbish pile and it’s game over! And not all of the fish have wishes to grant meaning sometimes selling to a closed market is necessary if you don’t want to permanently clog up one of your boats!

The game ends when either all four Market Limit thresholds have been met, in which case the player with the most money wins, simple! Or the Rubbish pile has ten or more fish present. If this happens the top Market limit card is applied to the pile instead of a market stall, but the players LOSE the bonuses instead of gain them, meaning the players with the two highest amounts of fish thrown away will take a pretty hefty hit to their score. The player with the highest score after this deficit is applied is the winner.

As I said earlier, the game redeems itself somewhat with its gameplay. The tactical choices used in deciding when to use a wish, selling a boat full, chipping away a single fish at a time and the use of the worms for better fish cards make this a pretty good hand management game and surprisingly deep at times. Forward thinking is key for planning your sales.
I still can’t get past the look though! I really dislike the art direction.
I give If Wishes Were Fishes 5/10. Recommended mainly for groups with a few casual gamers in the mix as it’s one that anyone can get into and enjoy, just not really one for the hardcore heavy gamer.

As a side note, for those put off, as I, by the art, it may be worth looking at a game called Morels by Two Lantern Games. It features a similar play style and gameplay mechanic but is themed around gathering mushrooms! Again, not one for the hardcore but I prefer the look of that one!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Kickstarter Preview.... Pleasant Dreams

 Pleasant dreams – Kickstarter Preview

Currently doing the rounds on Kickstarter is a game that caught my eye immediately!
Pleasant Dreams is a two player tactical card game from the mind of Aerjen Tamminga and the beautiful artwork of Wayne Dorrington.

The art was the first thing to catch my eye with its dark, creepy-cute appearance (the bear with spider legs erupting from its eyes and mouth is my current favorite!)

Based on this first impression I looked further into the game and found a great card game in which the players (or player if you play the solo variant) are children striving to stay asleep in the face of encroaching nightmares!

To play the game each player faces a deck of 19 ‘Dream Fragments’ which are double sided, tarot sized, cards which can either increase or decrease your ‘Wakefulness’, pushing you further towards waking up screaming, in a cold sweat, the victim of a nightmare!
The wakefulness is tracked on a player card with a track from 0-5 with 0 being a deep, peaceful sleep. Players also have two, one use, bonus help cards in the forms of Premonition, allowing you to view the next three cards to help you decide how to deal with the upcoming turn and the Barrier card which allows you to return a drawn card to the bottom of the deck, just in case you pushed a little too far!
The game info on the cards is perfectly balanced against the artwork, neither of which pushing the other out of the way.

You can download a PDF of the rules to peruse at As well as visit Aerjens site to look at Pleasant Dreams and some other games that may be in the pipeline in the future.

The Kickstarter, at the time of posting this has 26 days remaining and has already met its funding goal, just the stretch goals to push for now and the money from the stretch goals goes towards the ‘Lucid Dreams’ expansion that Aerjen is working on which adds six new cards that are used to expand the gameplay of Pleasant Dreams. The first goal card ‘Deep Sleep’ has already been reached. If this looks to be up your alley get yourself over to Kickstarter and prepare for a rough nights sleep!!!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Luchador!.... Roll 'em. Suplex 'em and pin 'em!

Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice by Backspindle Games Ltd.

Before I start I feel I should warn you, I LOVE this game. This will essentially take the form of a love letter to a small box of cardboard and plastic.

Starting with the box, while smaller than I expected, is perfectly sized for the contents. Space wastage has been kept to a minimum for once. The box, as does all the card elements, has a linen finish to it and has a realy high quality feel. The cover art features a very stylistic Luchador, and this is the style throughout, and it seems to fit perfectly. I feel that if the designers went for a more realistic appearance it would not have gelled as well with the game.

The players character cards feature six Luchadors, four male and two female, all of which feature the same game related info (the damage/results of the Luchador dice when rolled) but all have individual flavour text describing each of the grapplers signature moves as they sail around the ring kicking their opponents squarely in the mask!

Each player also has a strength tracker (essentially a health bar) with a track beginning at 21 and descending to K.O. (0), the progress of which is marked using small wooden discs. These cards also have a quick reference guide showing how uch damage the basic attacks deal to your opponent.

The board is my second favorite piece of this game. A really high quality feel, four-fold board resplendent with an aerial view of a wrestling ring complete with ropes, turnbuckles and bingo hall floorboards on the outside. Two of the opposing corners are decorated with red and blue padding indicating where the two teams roll from.

Finally (deep breath) the dice (swoon) These are the best proprietary dice I have. I have some awesome standard d6’s but for a handful meant for one purpose these are fan-fricking-tastic!
They feel great and are the perfect size, the printing looks well done and looks to be able to stand up to many games.
Each player is equipped with four ‘Wrestle Dice’ in their corners colour, showing the results of Hits, misses, blocks, counter and pin. One green ‘attack dice’ to determine how you assault your rival Luchador and one yellow ‘Pin Dice’ for when you feel you can make an attempt to win. Finally there is one black ‘Luchador Dice’ which is 50% larger than the rest, used as a gamble to go for a high risk signature maneuver with the risk being a miss or a fail, injuring you and depleting your possible attacks later.
Hit x2, Block, Counter, Pin and Miss

Pin x2 and No pin x2
Viva Luchador! and Stun

For the components alone I am leaning heavily towards a perfect score. There is no unnecessary gubbins, everything is used well and I can find no fault with any of it. Great quality throughout.


To begin a round each player simultaneously rolls all four of their ‘Wrestle Dice’ into the centre of the ring, with any of the dice coming to rest off the board being discarded and not counting this round. This is where one element of dexterity and strategy come in as a sly attempt to jostle your rivals dice with your roll, knocking them from the board can be a tactical risk worth trying, just be sure not to be too over-zealous and send your own die flying out of play!
Players then pair off the dice in play, hoping for some hits to make it through. A hit can be blocked simply negating it, Countered which turns the attack back on you. Misses are simply discarded.
Pins when rolled can be dealt with one of two ways.
If your opponent is not weak enough to succumb to a pin or you simply do not wish to go for one you may re-roll any Pin Dice once each.
If you wish to attempt a pin you set them aside until the attacks have been dealt with.

Any successful attacks and counters now allow you to roll the Attack Dice to see how you assault your rival. These attacks are a Backhand Chop, Forearm Smash and Drop Kick each dealing one damage, A Choke Hold and Chair Smash dealing two damage and a Table Slam for three. When taking damage you move your wooden disc down the track.
If you have two matching attacks or counter attacks you can trade them for a roll of the Luchador dice giving you one chance each of dealing 4,5 & 6 damage, two misses and a fail which means you are stunned and lose a dice next round.

Once your opponent is below 14 strength and you rolled a Pin result you can now roll the Pin Dice and go for the win.
The Pin Dice has four Icons. 2 Pins, which forces your opponent to face a three count. 2 No pins, essentially a miss. Stun, the pinned opponent suffers a loss of one dice next round instead and lastly ‘Viva Luchador!’, you pose for the crowd and regain one health/strength.
To answer a three count when pinned you have three re-rolls to gather a mix of three blocks or counters, saving your successes and re-rolling the rest. If you gain three blocks/counters you kick out, if not. you have been pinned and you lose.
If you are lucky enough to roll three matching successes, blocks or counters, on the first count you reverse the pin attempt, forcing your rival to face a three count regardless of their remaining strength. (I did this just last night for a cheeky win after my Fiancée battered me for the entire game and almost K.O’d me!)

If at the end of the round no-one has been pinned or KO’d you gather and roll your wrestle dice again and lock up for another round. The first to score a pin fall or KO their opponent wins and gets to parade around the table playing their theme music (Wolfpack for me, N.W.O 4 life!)

Being both a lifelong wrestling fan and a man with a big thing for dice I had to try this game. The hobby is poorly stoced with wrestling themed games save for some card games, only one or two worth even looking at let alone playing.
I was a little unsure as to how the dice mechanic would fit but I was pleasantly surprised with how well it plays and all comes together.

This game isn’t going to float everyone’s boat but, personally, I love everything this game brings to the table. Theme, components, gameplay, replayability, ease of tutorial, everything. This game is going to see the table a phenomenal amount of times as it makes a stonking start to a game night or a halfway palette cleanser to put in between heavier games. Quick, easy and a fun as hell game that has already become a favorite.

10/10.... Viva Luchador!

Android Netrunner - Blog plug goodness

Android Netrunner

I am aware of the popularity of Android Netrunner but not being the biggest fan of the game, or for LCGs in general I feel ill equipped to tackle a review as I believe I wouldn't do it the justice it deserves.

That is not the case with JD's blog. If you are looking for a well written review/opinion/overview/update taking place throughout a players journey from day one - game one this is the blog you need to look at.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Witches - Trying not to get yer cackle on!

The Witches: A Discworld Game

Designed by Martin Wallace and published by Mayfair Games The Witches is a semi co-operative dice rolling/set collection (it’s not as confusing as it sounds) game in which the players take on the roles of a cadre of Lancre witches as they roam around the region dealing with the usual trials and tribulations of their kind such as sick pigs, deaths and the occasional outbreak of supernatural nastiness!

With the artwork being handled by the Discworld Emporium, home of the official merchandise for Mr. Pratchett’s workings, the look of the game is fantastic. The box art features a group of the Discs wise Lancre ladies and a few of the Nac Mac Feegle hidden thereabouts (small, blue, Scottish pixies who think they are already dead and in heaven for those of you who are not readers of the series)
The board is drawn beautifully and shows a birds eye view of the region of Lancre and all of the locations made famous (or infamous in some cases) in the books, from Lancre Castle and Granny Weatherwax’s Cottage to The Place Wher The Sun Does Not Shine and The Long Man (a rock formation in a VERY suggestive shape.... cue close up!)

 The board itself is great quality and suffers from no warping, ours has had quite a few games and is still box fresh!

The player boards each feature a portrait of one of the four Witches you play as and a description of their special ability...
Tiffany Aching can become invisible, passing through otherwise impassable spaces.
Petulia Gristle has the ability to cure one sick pig event free.
Annagramma Hawkins has a free use of magic but starts with a cackle token.
And Dimity Hubbub always goes first.

Each has a coloured border and matches the player pieces which are four coloured wooden witches hats which look really good on the board, I would have preferred some miniatures of the witches themselves to play with but there are companies who make them anyway so they can easily be bought later.

The dice are nice even though they are wooden, I’m not a fan of wooden dice, and have 2-6 as usual but the one spot shows the face of a cackling witch. You do not want to roll this in the game too often.

The problem tiles, in two colours green and purple, are really well printed, have great little images on them and have a great finish to them as do the cackle tokens, showing a laughing hag and the Crisis Counters with worried villagers. The tokens you never want are the Black Aliss tiles as they decrease your end game score if you have any, and you cannot rid yourself of them.

Lastly the cards. They are the best cards in a game that isn’t all card focused I have. They are standard poker sized and finished with a quality coating meaning no sticking and easy shuffling. The pictures on them are of equal quality to the box art and feature many denizens of the region featured in the books as well as one or two specials, like invisibility or Tiffany’s frying pan (useful for dealing with faries apparently)

The components are really good, as I said I would have preferred some mini’s for the player pieces but I’m very happy with the rest of the parts.


During your turn you start with placing a problem tile. You draw the top card from the deck and place the next tile from the holding area (bottom right of the board) in the location shown on the bottom of the card. If there is already a problem there it gains a crisis token, which increases its difficulty by 2, and you draw a new card to try and place it. Continue until it is placed.
Next you move your Witch for the first time. You may move your witch up to two spaces along the paths on the board, or to any space if you use a card with the broomstick image at the top. If you encounter another witch or a problem tile you must stop and take action. If you are on a space with a witch you can stop and ‘Have Tea’ which enables you to discard up to three cackle counters, and your fellow witch(s) up to two. If you are on a problem you have to decide whether to try and deal with it.

To deal with a problem first check the difficulty of the problem shown in the bottom right of the tile, then you roll the first two of the four dice. If you roll a witch icon at any time you gain a cackle token unless you can play a reroll card to negate it. If there are no cackle tokens in the pool to take you take one from the player with the most, and if that’s you you have to take a Black Aliss tile which are worth a permanent -1. If after this first roll you are confident that you can take the problem out you now have the chance to play any modifier cards, either for the effect in the text box or the icon on the top (see picture) and roll the second set of dice. If you succeed you claim the tile and add it to your player board where every two of each colour provide a bonus (+1 hand size for two green and +1 to rolls for two purple) if you fail you have to retreat to the next space on the path and taking a cackle counter, if the space is not empty you take another cackle counter and continue in this fashion until you are alone on a space.

The purple tiles, which remain face down until encountered, are the hardest problems and feature some of the supernatural elements the witches face and some have extra effects if you fail them such as forcing you to take Black Aliss tiles or even for the game to automatically end and the witches to lose if you have three or more elves face up.
You then refill your hand to the maximum, starting at three cards and then adding one for each green pair you have up to a maximum of seven.

Once all of the problem tiles are out of the holding area the game ends and the scores are counted, shown in the lower left of the tiles you have collected, and the witch with the highest score wins. But there are two ways that the board can win. As mentioned before, if there are three or more elves face up on the board, you lose also if you have to place a crisis counter and there are none to place you lose, meaning taking care of the problems made harder by crisis tiles is important as is not revealing too many hard problems unless you are confident you can defeat them.

The game has a semi co-op play style to it as you need to work together in a sense to stop the board from winning, but you are all competing to be the best witch so you find yourself swooping in and nabbing a couple of the easy tiles your opponents are headed for just to bolster your hand for later.

The game is a brilliant, simple to learn and teach game for most ages, the guideline says 13+ but the only thing I can see that would be unsuitable for younger people is the ‘Long Man’ on the board being a tad suggestive. I will give The Witches 8/10, if there were mini’s I would give it a nine, it is SO close to being my perfect idea of a quick, fun game and I would ask any player to give it some consideration.