Ode to Courtier


Shawn sings a song about Courtier, from AEG, from our episode 4 Courtier review.

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Cody & Shawn discuss good and evil Korea and the card game Koryo


Shawn: Hey, Cody! I've got to tell you, I really like Machi Koro. Thanks for reviewing it in episode ten. It's a great game from our friends in Japan.

Cody: That it is Shawn, that it is. Say, would you like to hear about another great game from Asia, this one from Korea?

Shawn: Would I? Of course I would- wait- is it from the good Korea or the evil Korea?

Cody: The good... I think. In any event, I can't imagine joyless communists coming up with a game like Koryo.

Shawn: Koryo?

Cody: Koryo.

Shawn: Okay, so the name of the game you are going to tell me about is Koryo?

Cody: Yup. Koryo.

Shawn: Please proceed.

Cody: Koryo, from Asmodee, is a card game for two to four players that is part of the micro-game movement, packing big games into little packages like Coup, Love Letter, and the aforementioned Machi Koro.

Shawn: How does it play, this Koryo of which you speak?

Cody: First of all, there are eight season cards. Each round a new season card is revealed which denotes how many cards each player receives, as well as how many cards a player can keep in front of him at the end of his turn. As the game goes forward, players receive less and less cards, but they can keep more and more cards in front of them.

Shawn: Wait, wait. Back up. I want... No Cody, don't literally backup. Step forward. Okay, I want to know why you're putting cards in front of you? What's that all about.

Cody: On your turn you can only lay down sets of the same card- never different cards. But you can lay down as many of the same card as you have- and you'll want to. There are nine numbered cards that denote special characters, each with a special ability- if you posses the most of them in front of you. For instance, if you have the most banker cards (sixes), you gain a victory point. If you have the most spies (twos), you can steal victory points from other players. If you have the most broadcasters (eights), you can get dealt an extra card at the beginning of the turn. And there are many more special abilities.

Shawn: So if I lay out the most of one card, I get that special ability, but no one else, right? What about ties?

Cody: In the event of a tie, no one gets the special ability, unless they have the most omniscient cards (ones), which break ties.

Shawn: Wow! So that's it? You just try to lay down the most cards of a set in front of you every round?

Cody: Not quite. In addition to the character cards, there are also event cards- the barbarian card and the lobbyist card. Both cards are listed as negative one. If you play a barbarian card, you can destroy one of your opponents' cards. If you play the lobbyist, you can force two players, including yourself, to swap two cards.

Shawn: The swine! Is there any defense against barbarian and lobbyist cards?

Cody: The Guardian (sevens) and spies (twos) block the barbarian and lobbyist cards respectively. But the player who plays that card has problems, because that event card remains out in front of them until they gain the power of the priest (fours), which allows them to get rid of the event card.

Shawn: Oh- I see, you are limited by the number of cards you can have out in front of you by the season card, and the event cards take up space. I assume you have to discard excess cards in front of you.

Cody: Exactly.

Shawn: Wait a second Cody. You said the game lasts eight rounds, but how do you win?

Cody: At the conclusion of the eight rounds, players gain points for having the most cards in a set before them equal that set number. For instance the player with the most merchants (nines) in front of him at the end of the game gets nine points, the player with the most broadcasters (eights) in front of him gets eight points, etc.. etc.. It is possible to have the most of multiple sets. Also, victory points scored from the banker are factored in, and all event cards count as a negative one to the victory point total.

Shawn: And if players are tied the player with the most omniscient cards (ones) can break the tie, no?

Cody: No! Only omniscient cards can only break ties during the rounds, not in final scoring!

Shawn: Cody, there's no need to yell at me!

Cody: Now you're yelling!

Shawn: I'll be the bigger man and stop yelling. So what do you think of Koryo?

Cody: Koryo is a fun game. It is very reminiscent of those other micro-games, and it's generally engaging. I like how it forces players to guess what other players are going to attempt to do, and I like the event dynamic, where you can really screw over another player, but you'll pay for it in the long run. I also really like how quickly this game can turn. You're in the lead one minute, then one bad round can completely change the game's balance of power.

Shawn: I sense a “but” coming...

Cody: It is a fun game, don't get me wrong. The problem I have with Koryo, however, is that as the game goes on, players become more and more limited. Their choices gradually disappear. Your strategy gets locked in fairly quickly, and it can be difficult to switch gears by mid game.

Shawn: Did that increasing stagnation ruin the game for you, like it nearly ruined our friendship?

Cody: In fairness Shawn you lacked spontaneity in 2006. Just saying. The answer is no, because Koryo is a relatively quick game. It plays in about 15 to 20 minutes, so that even though you may get bogged down in a strategy, it's over so quickly you don't really have to brood on it. It's not an evening long epic game where you screw yourself over early and have to live with it for two hours. If Koryo were a longer game, I don't think I'd like it much, but given its length, it's a pretty fun little game.

Shawn: So, what is your recommendation, Mr. Excitement?

Cody: I'd have to say try it before you buy it. It's a fun game, but not an amazing one.

Shawn: For your sake, I really hope that game came from the good Korea. Evil Korea has gone to war over less!

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S1E10 The Downfall of Pompeii & Machi Koro


In this episode, Cody meets the delightful 19th century street urchin Tolliver Whist, and together they look at Downfall of Pompeii, from Mayfair Games, and Machi Koro, from IDW Games. But can Tolliver charm his way into Cody's ice cold heart?

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Cody & Dracula check out The South Shall Rise Again


Cody: Dracula! Hey there, Dracula.

Dracula: Blah! Blah! Blah! Oh, it's you Cody. I thought I warned you kids to stay away from my home!

Cody: Sorry, Dracula. The fact is, Justin and I really enjoyed reviewing Fury of Dracula with you in episode six. I just played a new game, and I thought you'd be really interested in it.

Dracula: Oh, what game is that? Fury of Dracula Part II, where my brother Fredo betrays me, then I pretend to make up with him, before having somebody bite him on the neck and drink his blood during a fishing trip?

Cody: Er... no. I want to talk to you about The South Shall Rise Again, a new zombie war game from Victory Point Games.

Dracula: Zombie war game! Why do you think I'd like that?

Cody: I just thought that... well... since you're a vampire... and...

Dracula: Oh, oh, I get it. You thought because I'm undead, and zombies are undead, that I must like a zombie game! Seriously, Cody, that's the worst kind of prejudice! Vampires and zombies have nothing in common.

Cody: You both bite people.

Dracula: ….tell me about the game.

Cody: The South Shall Rise Again takes place during the American Civil War, where Union troops find themselves having to battle vengeful Confederate zombies. One to four players take on the role of Union troops who must work together to survive the Confederate zombie onslaught. First, each player selects a specific Union soldier to play like Thomas Williams or Jim McPherson. Each soldier has six pistol shots, indicated by a special marker on his card. Next, each player randomly selects a rifle, as well as a unique skill marker.

Dracula: Skill markers! If I was playing the game they'd be Kill Markers! Get it? Cause I kill people. I'm Dracula, you know. Just saying.

Cody: Uh-huh. These skill markers contain special traits like Lucky, which allows a player to re-roll a dice once per turn; Slippery, which allows a player to ignore the cold hands of a zombie attempting to grapple him; and Pugilist, which gives the player an advantage in melee combat. Each player then gets dealt one heroic action card, a card with a special ability that can be used only once during the game. Then, players must select a scenario to play.

Dracula: Oh, good. I like scenarios. That way it doesn't feel like I'm playing the same game over and over again. That's a pretty crappy way to pass the centuries. Then what happens?

Cody: The scenario instructs players how to place the various zombies on the board.

Dracula: Various zombies? What'cha talking 'bout? A zombie is a zombie!

Cody: Not in The South Shall Rise Again. You have the Zeb units...

Dracula: Ha! Zebs! A play on Zeds and Rebs! That's fantastic! Don't matter if the game is good or not, I am buying it on the strength of that pun alone! Continue.

Cody: So the Zebs...

Dracula: Ha!

Cody: The Zebs are your typical zombie shamblers, not too bright, not too fast. Then, you have the Revenants, just like the Zebs but faster- they can move two spaces per turn instead of just one.

Dracula: Okay. Now I'm a little scared.

Cody: A little scared?

Dracula: Let me put it this way, it's not raining and beneath me is a puddle.

Cody: Right. Anyway, the third and most deadly category of zombie is the Glorious Undead. They're tough, they're fast, and, oh yeah, they can shoot a rifle at the Union soldiers.

Dracula: So the game controls the zombies, I take it? So the game is cooperative?

Cody: You can play cooperative or competitive, with players competing to reach the highest score. During a player's turn, he can take several actions like move, fire, reload, or move and fire. After all of the Union players have gone, it's time for the zombies to move. Using the game's AI, the Zebs move first, the Revenants second, and the Glorious Undead last. If zombies get too close, melee combat ensues. Turns alternate until either all the zombies are dead....

Dracula: You mean really dead, not the somber mockery of death that they enjoy at the beginning of the game.

Cody: ...right, really dead. Or, the Union players win if they fulfill the conditions of their scenario. The zombies win if they kill all of the players, or if the Union players cannot complete their victory conditions.

Dracula: Oooh, but are there event cards, Cody! I love events cards.

Cody: There are. Whenever doubles are rolled with the dice in ranged or melee combat, an event card is drawn and it states whether it needs to be played immediately or kept to play at the player's leisure.

Dracula: That sounds like a pretty straight forward game, Cody. What are your thoughts?

Cody: First of all, the components and hex board are all just great. I'm constantly amazed at just how good looking and functional Victory Point Games' games are. The artwork too is a lot of fun, and succeeds in placing you in this nightmare world of a uniquely grim Civil War.

Dracula: As though the Civil War wasn't grim enough already... Am I right? Am I right, folks? Seriously, is this microphone on?

Cody: A lot of the mechanics and concepts are likewise cool. I really like how you randomly pick your weapons and traits. It gives a lot of variety to this game. The same goes for the scenarios, they're quite different, and they bring more variety to the game. The event cards and heroic action cards likewise put fun spins on this game every time you play it.

Dracula: So, you really like this game?

Cody: I do, but there are some problems with it. For instance, though the game comes with several scenarios, there is only one game board. All of the other mechanics work really hard to make sure that this game doesn't become “samey,” yet that same board out there really gets old fast. One wonders why Victory Point Games didn't include modular terrain tiles, or overlays to mix things up a bit.

Dracula: Yeah, that is kind of weird. Not new Darren mid-season on Bewitched weird, just Donald Trump hairpiece weird.

Cody: There is something else. This game is a bit light. Lovers of great strategy may be a bit turned off by The South Shall Rise Again. The mechanics and game play are pretty simple. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but those expecting a heavier experience will be a tad disappointed. That said, this game is perfect for gamers who enjoy light wargames.

Dracula: So... what is your recommendation?

Cody: The South Shall Rise Again generally succeeds in creating a fun, creepy experience that meshes two genres quite well. It's a quick, engaging game, and I like it quite a bit. It's designed by John Welch, the brains behind Victory Point Games' brilliant Cruel Necessity- see episode three. With the above caveats however, I'm gonna recommend that you try it before you buy it.

Dracula: Zebs! Ha! That will never get old!

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Ode to Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game


Here is Shawn's timeless "Ode to Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game," from our Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game review:

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S1E1 Intro & Twilight Struggle


In our first episode Cody and Shawn talk about their love of board games, then review GMT's "Twilight Struggle." Justin, however, tries to spoil their fun.

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