Tag Archives: card game

Just Desserts is the sweetest, tastiest card game

I’ve been on a real solo board/card gaming kick as of late, mostly because I’m used to playing by myself and I can probably only convince Melanie to join me on these larger-than-life games, such as Fallout: The Board Game or A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, so many times. I know it is not her thing, and that’s perfectly fine. However, when I saw Just Desserts in my local gaming store, I thought this might be a good one for us to play. It’s all about eating yummy food, specifically desserts. The game is recommended for two to three players, but I think three or more is the best way to go. Two players is fine, but less cutthroat.

Just Desserts comes from Looney Labs, which is the company that makes five thousand and thirty-two Fluxx variants each year. That’s an estimate. I have a copy of Zombie Fluxx from years ago and tried to play it once or twice, not really enjoying it all that much. Or maybe I just didn’t understand all the rules swapping around. I also have a copy of Retro Loonacy from them, which has yet to be played, but I love the artwork nonetheless.

Anyways, Just Desserts is a sweet, delicious card game all about serving some very picky guests at the cafe you work at. No soup, no salad, no main dish… all they want is dessert, and I can understand where they are coming from. I mean, over the Christmas holiday, I probably ate more cookies than anything else, along with a few peanut butter trees from the good ol’ boys at Reese’s. You’ll have to compete with your fellow waiters to serve guests their favorite goodies before someone else gets to them first.

The rules are relatively simple and easy to explain. Each player starts with a hand of three dessert cards while three guest cards are placed in the center of the table; each dessert card shows one to three tastes that it satisfies, such as chocolate, fruit, or pastry, while the guest cards show what they crave, as well as what they refuse to eat, such as veggies or peanuts. On your turn, you draw a dessert card, add a guest card to the table from the deck, then take one of three following actions:

  • Serve (and claim) one or two guests by discarding one or more dessert cards to give them what they want (while avoiding what they don’t want); also, if you give a guest their favorite item, which basically meets all their desires, you get tipped with an extra dessert card.
  • Draw one more dessert card.
  • Discard as many dessert cards as you want, then draw that many cards from the deck to refill your hand.

At the end of your turn, discard guests from the table so that only one guest of each “suit” is still waiting to be served; however, you can consider this guest heading out the door, but still in play to be claimed…until another guest card is discarded on top of it. You win Just Desserts if at any time you’ve served three guests of the same suit or five guests of different suits.

I absolutely love the art in Just Desserts, which is done by…I’m sad to report, I don’t know. I’ve tried searching online for the artist, but am having no luck. Please, if you know, let me know, and then we can all know. Each dessert card looks delicious, even if it is a dessert that I don’t want to eat. The guest cards are goofy and fun to look at, and each person looks unique and truly stands out from one another. My only quibble is that the font on guest cards for their favorite treat is small and hard to see from a distance when you have them in the center of the table. The gameplay is loose and casual, but fun, and there are variants you can use to make it more aggressive, such as stealing other player’s claimed guests, but we haven’t tried these yet.

I’m excited to play more Just Desserts in 2019 and have even ordered copies of the two tiny expansions–Just Coffee and Better with Bacon. They don’t seem to mix up the gameplay too much, but rather add more dessert cards and characters to please in your cafe. Fine by me. I love both coffee and bacon.

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Boldly push your luck with Dungeon Roll

I was not conscious of the Dungeon Roll Kickstarter back when it was spinning its fundraising wheels in early 2013, but that’s okay. Everything worked out thanks to 10,000+ backers, and I still stumbled upon the game later in life, in its natural habitat, sitting side by side other various board and dice games in my local Barnes and Noble. It’s one of the sections I gravitate towards first, followed by the new book releases in science fiction and fantasy. Naturally, competition is fierce, but I was drawn to Chris Darden’s Dungeon Roll for two reasons: one, it can be played solo, and two, it came packaged in a tiny treasure chest.

Let me put on all of my DM accessories and tell you all what you ultimately do in Dungeon Roll. This is bite-sized dungeon-crawling adventure with all the traditional D&D wrappings, such as battling monsters, gaining experience points, and grabbing loot. The player’s goal is to collect the most experience through these main actions, and each player randomly selects a hero avatar card at the start, such as a mercenary, half-goblin, or enchantress, which provides unique powers and abilities that will definitely affect how far you can go into the dungeon in each run. My personal favorite is the knight/dragon slayer. Players take turns being the main adventurer, boldly entering the dungeon in hopes of fame and fortune. Or you can play by myself and see how far you can push your luck.

However, before you enter the dungeon proper, you need to assemble your party by rolling seven Party Dice. Your party can ultimately include clerics, fighters, mages, thieves, champions, and scrolls, all depicted appropriately on the dice via painted debossed faces. Another player (or you can do it yourself when playing solo) takes on the roll of the Dungeon Lord and rolls a different set of dice to create oppositions in each level of the dungeon, based on the respective dungeon floor, and these can be monsters, potions, treasures, or dragons. You then use your Party Dice to defeat the monsters or take treasures and potions and decide if you want to push forward to the next level, knowing you won’t get any more dice for your party (unless an ability helps with that) while the Dungeon Lord gets to roll more. If you can’t go any further, you return to the tavern to rest. At the end of three delves, you add up your total amount of experience points to see who won, or, if playing by your lonesome, just feel really good about how you did regardless.

The tricky part about each delve and deciding to go further or retiring to the pub for some mead and meat off the bone is dragons. Each time you roll the dice and a dragon comes up, you put that dragon die aside in an area called the “Dragon’s Lair”. Once you get three dragon dice in there, you must fight the dragon after dealing with the main set of enemies. To take down the dragon, the player needs to use three different types of companion party dice; if they can’t, they are forced to flee back to the tavern and end their turn, gaining no experience points. Generally speaking, most teams aren’t able to deal with a dragon until their third and final run, so it’s best to avoid early on.

Dungeon Roll is at once both a simple and straightforward game, but also confusing and unclear in spots. I re-read the instructions several times and even watched a YouTube video or two before playing once, but still don’t feel 100% confident I know what to do rules-wise in every scenario. I’ve played it solo and competitively against Melanie, and both formats are enjoyable and come with their own strategies for success. I do wish the rulebook elaborated more on some of the rules or provided example scenarios of what to do and when. For instance, I still am not sure what the point of sacrificing a party die for a potion that brings back a single party die. I guess that’s for if one really wanted a champion before on to the next dungeon floor. Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable experience that is easy to travel with and full of replayability. The art on the hero avatar cards, done by Ryan Johnson, is stylish and cool, easily standing shoulder to shoulder with other card-based fantasy games like Magic: The Gathering and Lords of Waterdeep, and there is a good breakdown of genders and races across all the classes.

If you know of any other single-player board/dice games similar to Dungeon Roll, please, by all means, leave me some recommendations in the comments below. I’m up to try anything, so long as the game itself isn’t made up of a thousand tiny individual pieces that need to be hand-painted to provide personality and the rulebook is not longer than Bone‘s total page count. Oh, and I already have a copy of Cthulhu Dice. Otherwise, suggest away.

Regency Solitaire’s prim and proper patience playing

I first fell into a Solitaire hole back in college, when I was working at Rowan University’s art gallery, which basically boiled down to me making sure nobody stole any pieces of art. Occasionally I had to throw down spackling paste to cover up some holes in the wall when an exhibition was over and we were prepping for the next one, but I mostly sat at the desk next to the front door, did homework or studied, and played time-killing games to kill time. Namely Snood, the board game Life with a co-worker, and…well, Solitaire.

No surprise here, but I have no memory of when Regency Solitaire from Grey Alien Games appeared in my Steam library, but that’s okay. I’m sure it came from a bundle. Anyways, after somewhat playing through Dark Heritage: Guardians of Hope together, I was on the search for something similar that my girlfriend and I could play together and thought this would be a good fit because it is both traditional enough for her tastes–a card game–and have modern videogame mechanics for me–buying upgrades, stacking combos. Plus, there’s a story. Yup, Solitaire with a story. That’s something you don’t come across every day.

Here’s that story, as best as I can sum it up–help Bella take charge of her own destiny, create the ballroom of her dreams, and fall in love with the better chap who is not named Mr. Bleakley. You’ll tour historic London, Brighton, and Bath in hopes of *ahem* playing your cards right and earning money to purchase vital upgrades, like fancy window curtains or a new fan to wear with that stunning blue dress. Also, you need to reclaim your family’s fortune or something. I don’t know. You play Solitaire with some twists, watch a static cutscene full of posh dialogue that isn’t too far off of a Downton Abbey episode, and repeat the process several more times. It’s not the most captivating tale ever spun, but I appreciate it being there nonetheless.

The Solitaire part of Regency Solitaire isn’t exactly one-to-one with the standard version everyone’s either played in real life on their bedroom floor or on computer, just killing time. Also, it’s not three card, spider, yukon, or any other crazy spin-off style. Instead, you have a small deck of cards and one card revealed to you. You can then either match it with the card above or below based on what is shown in the level, and the levels vary in terms of card placement and other issues, like some being hidden beneath a lock that will only go away if you find a key card first. If you can continue the string, say matching a six to a seven to an eight and back to a seven, go for it, because combos mean multipliers, which affects both how you do in the level and how much gold you earn at the end. To help with this endeavor, the game provides multiple power-ups, such as cupid’s bow, which can eliminate a single card on the playing field, and “wild” cards to help fill the gaps in combos without breaking your streak.

Each chapter is a total of ten hands long, and there are always specific goals to try to hit by the end, such as uncovering a hidden item, hitting a large combo chain, or getting three stars in a number of hands. Thankfully, if you aren’t happy with how a hand went, you can hit retry at the end and give it a go, something Melanie did often in her journey for perfect rounds. Oh, right–did I mention that she loved playing this? I think she might even go back through it later on the harder difficulty. Fine by me, because it’s on my profile, so I’ll get to enjoy all those hard-earned Achievements.

Look, Regency Solitaire is not going to blow your mind, but it’s a fun, often relaxing, often tense experience wrapped around some high-class dialogue from a stereotypical cast of opulent characters. It’s easy to just get lost in the Solitaire aspect, trying to keep those combos going and immediately jumping into the next ten hands to do even better or see what new twists are thrown your way. A glance at Grey Alien Games’ other titles show that they are mostly match-three puzzle games, so if you want something unique, by all means, start here. Just be prepared to lose several hours trying to find a six or four to clear out that final five in your hand.

Munchkin Apocalypse to cause frenzied fun with new card types

Last week, I got to go to Barnes & Noble. Now, this used to be no big thing, as I went to the bookstore a highly frequent amount when living in Clifton, NJ, nearly every other day, especially with the given that I had two brick-and-mortar locations within five minutes of my apartment–in either direction. A beautiful thing. I’m not bragging, really; I’m saddened on reflecting this, as there are no bookstores near us in the Pennsylvanian woods. There used to be a Borders about 20 minutes down the road, but that place went under and is being replaced with a Michael’s, not a BAM. ::insert the sound of a toddler crying::

Right. All of that was to say that I was in B&N recently, and so I got to check out their stock of geeky board and card games. My eyes bulged and brightened at all of these desirable gaming experiences, such as Game of Thrones: The Card Game and Game of Thrones: The Board Game–love the originality there. Sadly, no copies of Gloom, a quirky social card game Tara and I are interested in after seeing Wil Weaton and friends play it on a recent episode of TableTop. However, I did get to see what was new and kewl with Munchkin these days, because really, it seems a new product or expansion is launched each month, and if you blink too much you’ll miss it all. I saw a copy of Munchkin Conan, which looked tempting and is so not easily confused with the 15-card booster pack called Munchkin Conan the Barbarian, but I passed for the time being. Right now, I have one Munchkin core set in mind, and one only. It comes out this fall, it’s based on the end of the world, and it’s called Munchkin Apocalypse. Let’s take a look at a few preview cards…

Here are some sample doors:

Oh man. Doesn’t everyone know that bloggers have no class? ::zing::

And some sample treasures, with a first look at the new Seal card type:

Don’t know much yet how these Seals work–I have to imagine like Portals and Dungeons from vanilla Munchkin and Munchkin Cthulhu–but I have read a rule online that says if seven Seals are currently open, the game is over. Kind of like when everybody becomes a Cultist rule. Hmm…

You can’t see them all, but these are the cards you get if you buy some Radioactive Dice for your next round of Munchkin Apocalypse:

Not satisfied yet? Want more? Wow, y’all are a demanding bunch. Okay, okay…I’ll scour the Interwebz for more previews. Just give me a sec.

And I’m back! Only found one decent image. Here, here:

So, yeah. This is looking good. I hope there’s references to the following items: A Boy and His Dog, Fallout 3, and The Walking Dead. Guess I’ll find out in a few months, and I hope I can squeeze a group game in before the Earth cracks open and we all kiss each other goodbye.

Munchkin 8 card previews take over the Internet

Yesterday, March 8, was deemed Munchkin 8: Half Horse, Will Travel preview day, which should be in or heading to stores right around now. I’ll let you figure out the clever connection between the two. But either way, this meant previews of the newest expansion to original Munchkin, and while I am growing tired and running out of room for more fantasy-based Munchkin antics, I am always excited to see new cards and gameplay mechanics. But before one could feast, one must find, and the preview cards went up all over the Internet: Twitpic, Facebook, Dork Tower, Wired GeekDad, and so on. It was like a little treasure hunt, and if you’re a true Munchkin then you know how fun getting treasure is.

I think I found them all and have collected them together nicely in this preview post for y’all to devour. We’ve already seen what Lizard Guy and Centaur look like, but check out some of the new cards below cut, because all the cards are super large…

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Lizard Guy and Centaur knocking down doors in Munchkin 8

Another year, another mass of uncountable Munchkin releases. I think that should be printed on a banner and hung in the atrium that leads to the Steve Jackson Games sweatshop. The group just got done having a jam-packed 2011 with Munchkin Axe Cop and Munchkin Zombies. Just off the top of my head, for 2012, we have the following pieces coming out: Munchkin The Guild booster pack, Munchkin Skullkickers thingy, Munchkin Conan the Barbarian core set, the most anticipated number of them all Munchkin Apocalypse, and lastly Munchkin 8: Half Horse, Will Travel.

I’m sure there’s more, but speaking of that last one, I just saw the first spoilers of the new expansion set and they have magically got me excited for original Munchkin, a core set that keeps growing to numbers that are basically unplayable, making me like it less and less as time goes on. In case you don’t know, I dislike having to shuffle 1,000 cards.

Ya ready? Feast your eyes on these new Races then:

I apologize for the teeny tiny images, but that’s all that’s out there currently. Here are the cards in raw text format:

CENTAUR
Two Left Feet: You may use two footgear.
Leader of the Herd: You may have any number of steeds in play.

LIZARD GUY
Cold-Blooded: “Usable once only” Items that you play to help the monsters count double.
Drop Your Tail: You get +1 to Run Away from Level 10-15 monsters and +2 to Run Away from Level 16 and higher monsters.

In short, Centaur is surprisingly boring, but LIZARD GUY IS FREAKING SPECTACULAR. Like, if this was Magic the Gathering, I’d totally construct a deck just around him. Both his abilities are stellar, and both seem to have the potential to be game-changers, whether it is truly screwing over a fellow Munchkin-er with a +20 enhancer or getting the heck out of Dodge when Cowthulhu shows up. I don’t yet have all the expansions for vanilla Munchkin–I really do need to make a checklist at this point–but this latest one might have join in on all the fun. I totally want to be a High Lizard Guy Thief with the Dagger of Treachery and maybe the Kneepads of Allure. Mmm, yes. That’s exactly what I want to be.

How to play Caravan in Fallout: New Vegas

Currently on my third playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas, I’ve logged somewhere around 120+ hours in the Mojave Wasteland, and, amazingly, I only won my first game of Caravan last night. Now, this wasn’t my first time trying to earn some extra bottle caps in a friendly card game between strangers, but each time I did try I’d end up throwing cards down misinformed, losing quickly without any notion as to why. I even looked up a few videos and tutorials online, and the dang thing still did not click. Until, without warning, it did, and then I won three games in a row against NCR ambassador Dennis Crocker, unlocking this pretty gem:


Know When to Fold Them (10G): Won 3 games of Caravan.

Unlike other Caravan players, Crocker will continue to play even when he runs out of caps, and each win still counts as a win. So far, I’ve beat him 11 times. Just need to do so another…uh, 19 more times to unlock the Caravan Master Achievement.

Right. How to play Caravan. The point of the game is to create three stacks of cards equaling 26. Your opponent is also trying to do this so the speedier you can get there, the better. This is why it’s important to have as many 10s, 9s, and 7s in your Caravan deck because 10 + 9 + 7 = 26 exactly. A Caravan deck must consist of at least 30 cards, and many online tutorials suggest taking out everything from your deck that is not a 10, 9, or 7 before playing; however, this can be very time-consuming, and I found it fine to just hit “random deck”. Once a match begins, before you play your first card, you have the opportunity to discard as many cards from your hand as you want, and I did this until my hand was mostly filled with 10s, 9s, 8s, 7s, and 6s. Face cards like Kings and Queens won’t help you, same with Aces despite what you might assume, so drop those like they’re laced with cazador poison.

After you’ve discarded enough to get a good handful of desired cards, try to place a 10 (of any suit) in each of the three rows first. Next, try to place a 9 beneath each 10 (it has to go below as cards can then only be played in descending order). Lastly, aim for a 7 below the 9 in each column to make for a perfect 26; more than likely, your opponent is still struggling to build strong Caravans on their end, and then you’ve won a match in a matter of a few turns. Rinse and repeat.

It sounds simpler than it first appears to be, and the biggest problem for me was that I kept trying to place cards next to the first card I played, only to have them turn up red and “unplayable.” I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, and decided that Caravan was not for me despite my love for many in-game card games like Triple Triad, Tetra Master, and Xeno Card. I’m glad I went back to try again, and now I’ve got some grinding to do for that “win 30 games of Caravan” Achievement, with victory match #30 being the last match of Caravan I’ll ever play.