Gon from Thundergryph Games gives an overview of Spirits of the Forest and how it is played.
Gon from Thundergryph Games gives an overview of Spirits of the Forest and how it is played.
To order a set of tokens, visit Heather’s Etsy Shop: Just The Nerdy Bits
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has been releasing expansion after expansion for the game Smash Up. Quickly, Smash Up is what is called a shuffle building game where players take 2 different factions shuffle them together to form their deck and they play competing for points by winning bases.
A couple of years ago, AEG released a storage solution called the Big Geeky Box that was large enough to hold the content that was released up until that point. It also included a bonus faction called The Geeks. But with the continual release of expansions, the Big Geeky Box has now become a bit too small, especially if using sleeved cards. Enter The Bigger Geekier Box.
The Bigger Geekier Box is the new storage solution that holds everything that has been released for Smash Up up to this point, including any promo factions.
By comparison the shape and dimensions of the boxes are completely different. The Big Geeky Box is a lot smaller and is a rectangular shape, whereas the Bigger Geekier Box is a large square-shaped box. The dimensions of the Bigger Geekier Box are 13″x13″x7″, having the same dimensions as Thunderstone Quest.
Inside the box there is a removable tray that has a separate tray to store all of the tokens.
Inside of the box there are 4 different rows to store the cards, opposed to 3 from the Big Geeky Box, complete with foam blocks to keep cards secure.
Also, there are dividers that come to separate each of the factions. The new dividers have the set name printed on them to make it easier for sorting the factions according to expansions as well.
There are also 2 factions that come with the Bigger Geekier Box: The Geeks for those who missed them from the Big Geeky Box and the Smash Up All Stars that is basically a best of set that was a foil pack that was given out at organized play events.
Finally, there is a comprehensive rulebook that comes with the box that has clarified rules, errata and card clarifications. There is also a section that describes how each faction operates and there is a cross-reference on the back page that makes it easier to get the appropriate bases to play with the factions in play.
WHERE DOES THIS HIT?
WHERE DOES THIS MISS?
THOUGHTS AND IMPRESSIONS
The Bigger Geekier Box is a useful accessory for Smash Up owners who are heavily invested in the game. The box certainly is bigger and it is geekier with the addition of a lot more faction artwork that graces the box. The quality of construction is good, but I found some of the foam blocks did not fit firmly in the card lanes, so they may not hold the cards securely. This may vary slightly from block to block. I also like the divider tray for the tokens, to separate the tokens from each set. I don’t find it necessary and the tray adds to the overall size of this box, which may be an issue for some people.
I like the new dividers. I like that the set name is printed on the lower part of the divider so users can identify what set each faction came from. The Sheep promo faction divider has improved coloring on it opposed to the original divider that was shipped with the faction cards. I found it a major oversight with the dividers in the fact that there were no new dividers included for the Munchkin Smash Up set. So I had to use the original dividers that came with the set, but they do not have the set name printed on them.
I like the fact that the Smash Up All Stars faction is included for people who may not have been able to get it from an organized play event. The inclusion of the Geeks faction is good for fans who did not get in on the Big Geeky Box, but it becomes a duplicate faction for owners of the Big Geeky Box.
The comprehensive rulebook is great. I like the errata and card clarifications that help straighten out any issues with card abilities. There is also a section that explains how each faction acts so players can know what to expect when playing them. The best part is that it eliminates having to hold on to multiple rule books.
I am not 100% sure where I stand with The Bigger Geekier Box. I think there are some cool things that the Bigger Geekier Box offers, but I already have the Big Geeky Box and have all of the expansions except for 2 of them. I am not sleeving the cards so I still have room, so to me this is not really necessary. So I am not saying this is a must buy accessory if you already own the Big Geeky Box; maybe if you sleeve your cards because this will give you that extra room.
There are things I like about the Bigger Geekier Box. From an aesthetics point of view, I love the new box with the artwork having LOTS more factions represented. I like the new dividers that have the set names printed on them. I also like the comprehensive rulebook that has the errata and card clarifications. I also like the cross-reference guide that makes sorting factions and grabbing bases for play easier. I appreciate the token tray, but I don’t find it necessary. Before, I just threw mine all in a ziplock baggie and that worked for me. The removable tray that has the token tray in it adds 2 1/2″ of depth to this box. To me this is 2 1/2″ of space that could have been saved.
I have one major issue with this box and it is its overall size. The original Big Geeky Box is 9″x14″x4 1/2″. The Bigger Geekier Box is 13″x13″x 7″. At this point, if you are not sleeving the cards, there is going to be a lot of wasted space, unless there are a LOT more expansions planned for Smash Up. With a 7″ depth on the box, this is a Kallax Killer. What I mean is that if you are using cube storage for your games, this one box takes up about the same space as 2 board games. If you own both the Bigger Geekier Box and Thunderstone Quest, the two games will not fit in the same cube.
A minor issue with this box is the fact that there were no dividers included for the Munchkin Smash Up set. I know that there were dividers included with Munchkin Smash Up, but they do not have the set name printed on them. All of the other sets for Smash Up had the upgraded dividers provided in the Bigger Geekier Box, so to me this is a bit of a miss for quality control.
I think that many owners of the Big Geeky Box are going to pass over this since they already invested in the original storage solution. With an MSRP of $40 that is a lot of money that would be invested in storage solutions, since the previous storage box would be pretty much obsolete.
If you are heavily invested in Smash Up and have not gotten a storage solution yet for Smash Up and you have a lot of extra shelf space, then I would say, yeah pick it up. It does a nice job of organizing the game with its growing expansion collection. If you are not sleeving your cards and already own the Big Geeky Box and have everything released up to this point, I think there is still enough room to hold several more expansions, so I can’t recommend it, Use the $40 to buy 2 more expansions for Smash Up as they are released.
I appreciate the effort from AEG to support Smash Up players with a storage solution that holds everything together. This Box is specifically aimed for those who are heavily invested in the game. Players who own the core set and maybe an expansion or 2 are better off with a 3rd party insert from either Go7 Gaming or The Broken Token.
Disclaimer: This copy of the Bigger Geekier Box was provided by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) for the purpose of review.
Game: Stuffed Fables
Designer: Jerry Hawthorne
Published: Plaid Hat Games
Players: 2-4 players
Playtime: 1 hour- 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Play Type: Cooperative, Story Driven, Dice Rolling
The day has finally come. Your little girl has grown out of her crib into her big girl bed. It is now time for you to step into your real role in the bedroom, defending her from the monsters in the night. You are a Stuffie, charged with the protection of your little girl while she sleeps. However, Crepitus is lurking in the shadows ready to jump at any chance he gets to give the little girl nightmares. Will you be able to adventure the realms, defeat the crawlies and save your little girl?
Stuffed Fables is played out of a book, on which one side will give the players background story and game play mechanics, the other side will be the playing board for that specific page. When the game begins, players will read through the first section on the first page of their story. It will give instructions for how to set the play board up, and if there are any Stuffies that cannot yet be played by players.
Once everything is set up according to the story, then players will take turns starting with the book keeper. There are six steps to a turn: Draw Dice, Find Stuffing, Place Threat, Perform Actions, Discard Dice and Check Threat. Each action must happen in that order, so players will start by drawing dice. Each dice has a different color, which signifies a different special action that dice can take. White dice represent stuffing, black dice represent threat, red dice are used for strength tests and melee combat, green dice are used for agility tests and ranged attacks, yellow dice are used for perception checks and searching the room, blue dice are used for resistance but have no special action, and purple dice are wild and can be used as a substitute for other colors.
Now what does all that mean? Lets take a closer look at the turn phases and that will help clear up any confusion.
Draw Dice: Players will draw five dice from the black bag. If there are no dice left, return discarded dice to bag and then draw five dice.
Find Stuffing: Roll any WHITE dice that you picked when drawing dice. If the number you roll is greater than or equal to the number of stuffing (health) on your player board you gain a new stuffing. Players start the game with five stuffing.
Place Threat: Place any black dice pulled from the bag on the threat tracker, located on the side board. Do not roll these dice until the story tells you to do so.
Perform Actions: There are seven actions that can be performed during this phase, and you can do as many as your remaining dice allow you to do.
Discard Dice: Players must discard all remaining dice into a discard pool, not back into the bag.
Check Threat: Players must look to see if there are black dice on the threat tracker that are great than or equal to the number of minions in play. If there are, then the minions get a turn to attack. If not the next player goes. In the case where there are no minions, players still check threat. In this case, if the threat is equal to or greater than the number of Stuffies in play then a surge happens. The outcome of a surge is dependent on each story page, but it always has a negative impact on the players.
Once a player has completed these six actions, play transfers to the next player. This continues until players have met the page goal or until they trigger an event on the board that gives them a new task. After completing a page, the book keeper will pass the token to the next player who will then become the first player.
However, if the threat goes off then the minions get a turn. In order to do a minions turn, players roll the black dice by the minion on the tracker. They will then check the number, and do the series of events listed next to that number. Most of the time this includes movement, and either a melee or ranged attack. Players will do this for each minion until all have gone. If a minion manages to deplete a Stuffie of stuffing during an attack, that Stuffie collapses. If all Stuffies collapse players lose the game. When a Stuffie is collapsed it must return all hearts, buttons and condition cards. Then on their turn they may only roll for stuffing and check the threat level until they gain stuffing or until another player encourages and give them stuffing.
Play continues like this until the story is completed or until players lose.
Stuffed Fables comes with a variety of components, including miniatures, colored dice, several decks of cards and a bound storybook. The production value in this game is very high, with the components looking visually stunning but also being sturdy and well made. Aesthetically, the game is colorful with a lot of components that will draw the eyes around the board. The components also support the theme flawlessly, from the stuffing health to the button money.
If you enjoy miniature painting, this game comes with 23 miniatures to paint. This includes six cute Stuffies, and seventeen creepy minions. The quality of the miniatures is good for painting, with enough detail to make them a quick and enjoyable paint session.
Stuffed Fables is the spiritual successor to Mice and Mystics, which is also a wonderful family friendly game. Stuffed Fables presents the fighting and adventuring in a way that is appropriate for young children and the story is engaging for very young children. However, the rules set is probably too complicated for children until six years old without heavy guidance from parents. This becomes a problem, because the theme of the game may not connect as well with older children. They will not be as engaged with a little girl going from a crib to a big girl bed. Arguably children will be most thematically engaged with this game between four and seven years old. Rules wise children will probably not be able to play semi-independently until seven or eight years old. This of course depends on your child.
Another struggle families may face is the language driven focus on the story throughout the game. While the game may at some point be translated into other languages, it is currently only available in English. This can be a major roadblock for parents teaching this game to their children who do not speak English. There would be too much text to translate and still have an enjoyable game play experience. That being said, this is a wonderful choice for children learning to read, as the text is simple enough that with parental help the child should be able to read along in the story and participate as the book keeper.
My final concern for Stuffed Fables would be the time that it takes to complete one scenario. Each story has several pages of game play for players, which is wonderful. Within each story there are several paths that players can take which will change how the story unfolds. This adds a lot of replay ability, as no two stories will be exactly the same. This variability is great, however with those several pages also comes a long play time. Some stories may take as long as two and a half hours to complete. This is often too long for young gamers. I would love to see a save feature in this game, similar to Time Stories, that would allow players to pause where they are and pick up at another time.
Despite those three minor but valid concerns, Stuffed Fables is an enjoyable game. As an adult, I was still able to immerse myself in the story and enjoy the outcome to taking various paths and making different decisions each game. It requires both strategy and luck to complete the game efficiently. The game provides an immersive and thematic experience with an interesting take on the dreamworld theme. I would enjoy seeing this game continue to expand into other stories, as its charm has ensured that it is consistently played at our house.
I would suggest checking out Stuffed Fables if you enjoyed Mice and Mystics, as it plays very similarly. The heavy focus on story still comes through, and you’ll have the opportunity to explore a new world. Additionally I would suggest Stuffed Fables if you are a fan of either Above and Below or Near and Far. Stuffed Fables has a similar “choose your adventure” feel to it.
I often think about the games I used to play when I was growing up and one of the games I really enjoyed was Pay Day, which was then published by Parker Brothers. The game was designed by Paul J. Gruen from Massachusetts and the year Pay Day released, which was 1975, it outsold Monopoly. Quite an accomplishment I would say! I was born in 1971 so, the game was still pretty new when I got my first copy when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old.
I remember the game….rolling the die and moving through the days of the month and either getting money or having to spend money. Bills piling up, opportunities to make deals, and then if you got lucky, hitting the jackpot!
Unfortunately, as I grew up and moved on with my life, some of my games and such did not make the move with me. I think they were victims of my parents cleaning out their house many years ago.
Fast forward to about 5 years ago. I happened to be in Target and was in their toy and game section and they happened to have the game Pay Day on the shelf. It said Classic Edition on it and a number of memories about this game filled my head.
I decided to purchase the game so I could share some experiences with my kids, seeing it is a family game. I wasn’t sure what to expect either from myself revisiting this classic game, or what my kids thought of “old” games.
So…. let’s take a look at this new version of Pay Day and get my thoughts along the way. If you are not familiar with this game, here is a brief summary of how it is played:
The game simulates money management, with the game board resembling a calendar month. Pay Day is played on a one-month calendar with 31 days. During the game, players will have to deal with various bills and expenses, but will also have the opportunity to make deals on property and earn money. At the end of each month, players are paid their salary (the same for each player) and must then pay off all outstanding bills, taking out a loan if necessary. Most money (or least debt) wins after a certain number of months decided by the players (3 months usually takes 30 minutes to finish).
One of the things that I vividly remember is the paper money used in the game. And yes… it is still here.
Looking at the board, the month has quite a bit of activity going on.
Each day there is something that is happening that has the players doing something. There is only 1 space on the board where players get to take a breath and that is on the 7th day…..It is a day of rest. Interesting… a subtle Biblical reference in the game taken from the Ten Commandments.
As I was playing the game, I realized that I was pretty much along for the ride. 95% of the game is based upon the luck of the die rolling. Movement is based on the die roll, so players have no control over what spaces they move to and have to endure whatever bonus or penalty is associated with that space. And based upon the roll of the die, my opponents can have a better or worse opportunity on the very same space that I occupy.
The game leaves players with only a few decisions to make: buy a deal, take a loan out, and making payments on a loan. As I have been playing more of the modern board games that put players more in control of their destiny during the game, I felt a bit restricted in what I could do to make optimal moves. The main decision to make was how I was managing my money.
In making deals, I really need to think about how I am managing my money. Do I need to take a loan out to pay for this deal? Will I get lucky and land on a space that allows me to sell that deal? If I take out loans, they are tabulated on a loan pad and on Pay Day, I have to pay interest on those loans, much like in real life. But, I do get an opportunity to pay down these loans so that is a good thing. Other aspects of the game that remind me of real life is the mail call.
Bills piling up, junk mail, etc. fill our mailboxes every day and during the game, every piece of mail we receive is a mystery. The bills that arrive are completely unplanned and so we are again at the mercy of the luck of the draw.
One last thing that has to do with luck: Rolling a 6. If I roll a 6 when I am rolling for movement, I hit the jackpot! and take all the money on the jackpot! space in the lower right corner of the board. Sometimes it can be a lot of cash, other times not one red cent.
Well… There are certain things that Pay Day does that is a good thing and that is challenges players to manage their money. Nothing is guaranteed in this game except the monthly salary. So you need to be prepared for anything. This is a good life lesson for today because it is always important to have a handle on finances.
Being able to adjust the length of the game is a good thing as well. It makes the game adaptable to different situations in which players a playing. Do I want something quick or do I want to play for 6 to 12 months? Length of play is a very big issue when it comes to being able to bring a game to the table to play it, and bringing a game to the table to play it is just a tool for being able to spend time with others in their physical presence.
I had fond memories of Pay Day when I was a kid, and in a way I am glad the game has gotten back into my collection. Looking at the game in today’s gaming standards… is Pay Day a good game? Well, it is still for sale and I just saw a retro edition of the game at Target recently. So the game is still being played 40+ years after it’s release. I would say overall, yeah the game is good. It has survived this long in a market where games come and go all the time. For me, do I think Pay Day is a good game? The short answer is no. It is more of an activity where I am rolling a die each turn and moving to a space and doing what it says. In fact the rules state, your turn ends when you are finished doing what you are told to do. For most of the game I am not involved in making a decision. I land on a space and roll the die. The die result determines the outcome of what happens, or the amount of money that will be affected. Since the game is played in 1 month increments, the same board is used repetitively and so it gets boring rather quickly. Maybe now our brains are constantly looking for more and this game doesn’t have that “more” to offer.
Will Pay Day stay in my collection? The answer is yes. There are only a few of the classic games that I have that have a permanent place in my collection because they are part of who I am, because they were a part of my past, and still part of my present. More than anything there is a sentimental value attached to the game. Plus, some of these classic board games have laid some initial foundation work for the games we enjoy today. We need to see where we have been before we can see where we are now. Mostly, this game doesn’t take up much space so it can easily be stashed somewhere. Unless the kids want to play it, I don’t see the game returning to the table any time soon. However, I would not refuse to play it despite it being a game that I would not seek out today.
Some things seemed better in the past, and for me Pay Day is one of those things. Decades later what I once thought was a fun game to play, translated into an activity that sort of felt flat. I still have those memories of Pay Day being fun as a kid, so I will hold on to those.