Game Review: PANIC!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle Panic, 2009
Munchkin Panic, 2014
Star Trek Panic, 2016
Fireside Games, USAopoly

Don’t Panic! It’s just a game, or game(s). In this series of games, (which includes “Dead Panic” and lots of expansions which I do not own,), you must defend your castle/ship from invading armies of bad guys. The basic premise of the panic games is that you have a tower/ship in the center of the board. Castle and Munchkin Panic have a set of walls to protect the tower while in Star Trek Panic, you have cool acrylic blue shields to protect the Enterprise. The board consists of concentric rings spreading out from the center tower/ship, and is divided into six sections. Enemies will come onto the board in the outermost ring in a section determined by a roll of the die. The enemies will move closer and closer, eventually taking out the walls/shields and towers/ship unless they are killed first. To win the game, you must destroy all your enemies before they destroy your castle/ship.

Players have a hand of cards (the number of cards depends on the game and/or the number of players). These cards will be used to attack enemies, repair walls/shields, or other game effects. The order of play for each person’s turn is mostly the same for every panic game. Draw up to your full hand, discard one card and re-draw (optional), some sort of traiding or “charity” (Munchkin), play cards, move enemies, and place new enemies on the board.

I won’t go into too much more detail about the game mechanics since each game has it’s own fiddly bits that would take too long to go into here. If you are trying to determine which Panic is right for you, I’d recommend basing it on the theme of the game. The game play isn’t different enough, in my opinion, to pick one over the other based on the rule set. Munchkin has treasure cards and a charity phase, which will only make a difference to someone who plays Munchkin. Star Trek Panic has the players go on missions while they are fighting, which plays a little differently, but if you don’t like Star Trek, you probably won’t care. I haven’t yet played Dead Panic, but as the title suggests, its theme is the Zombie Apocalypse. If this is your thing, I can with some surety say that you probably won’t go wrong picking up Dead Panic with, or instead of one of the other versions.

The Panic series also can be played in several modes, cooperatively, competitvely and solo. So there is a way for almost anyone to enjoy these games. We will generally play the games cooperatively. They all seem to be well balanced so that you won’t always win, and the tension can run pretty high when you’re down to a few last monsters, but only a couple of tower/wall/shield/ship points.

Monsters are placed with a random die roll. This can be good and bad. I have lost games based solely on the fact that we couldn’t roll anything but a 4 on the die, so all the mosters came in on one side, and we couldn’t get enough cards to take them out. Most of the time, we get a fairly even distribution. This can make the game really tense when you get an area that is starting to get more enemies than another.

The Panic games aren’t terribly strategic, mostly based on luck and die rolls, but savvy play can make the difference between a win and a loss. They are filled with humor and fun thematic bits.

If you like games like Forbidden Desert or Forbidden Island or are looking for a good cooperative game that is a little lighter than Pandemic or Dead of Winter, then pick up a version of Panic and give it a try. It’s a good family game. They are recommended for 10+, but in cooperative mode, I believe that younger children could easily enjoy them as well.

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Game Review: Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars
Stronghold Games, 2016

In Terraforming Mars, you take on the role of a corporation working to make Mars habitable for humans, while competing with other corporations to make the most money (mega credits) doing so. To do this, you must manage your resources (mega credits, steel, titanium, plants, energy and heat.)

You will use your resources to raise the temperature and increase the oxygen on the planet, and to place ocean, greenery, city and special tiles on the board. You will also play project cards, which you must purchase each round. These cards do a variety of things. Some cards will give you continuing benefits, some will give you a temporary boost, and others may hurt your opponents. Some cards have requirements, like being above a certain temperature, that you must meet before the card may be played. You need to keep tabs on what your opponents are doing as well to make sure that you don’t give them something they need.

You may also claim milestones or fund awards. These tracks will give you additional victory points at the end of the game. To claim a milestone, you must be the first to reach and pay for those points. Only the first person to claim the milestone will get the points, and only three of the five available may be claimed. There is a lot of strategy to get to these, and they can be easy to forget, but very important at the end of the game. When you fund an award, you guarantee that points will be counted for that award at the end of the game, but only the first and second place players will receive the points, regardless of who funded the award.

Although there is a lot to manage in this game, it all flows very well and is fairly intuitive. There are many different strategies and all are valid ways to win. The cards are easy to understand and though the game tends to start a little slow, once the momentum gets going it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement.

I have been lucky enough to play every game with the insert from the Broken Token. I HIGHLY recommend getting an insert for this game, especially one with player trays. I would hate to have to keep track of all the different cubes on my player mat without them. With many of the board game inserts, I am ambivalent as to their necessity, but with Terraforming Mars, I believe you will find them a huge asset to game play.

This game has had a lot of hype, and it is all well-deserved. It is a strategic, exciting game, sure to give you many hours of enjoyment, and doesn’t seem to lose its luster with repeated game play.

On to Mars! Recommended.

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June 2017 Minutes

June 7th, 2017 7 pm Iowa City Public Library Room E

  1. Call to Order
  2. Minutes – posted online, reading waived.
  3. Treasurer’s Report – we have more money than last month but lots of big bills coming up in July.
  4. Convention Reports Read More »
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Game Review: Dimension

Dimension
Kosmos, 2014

Dimension is a fast-paced puzzle game where each player has three balls each of five different colors. Six rule cards are dealt into the center of the table, then all players must attempt to build a stack of balls on their player board that follows all of the rules on the rule cards.

Rules may be: Certain colors of balls must or must not be touching other colors, you may need to use a specific number of balls of one color, or colors may or may not be stacked above or below others. Players have one minute to complete their stack of spheres. Once time runs out, each player receives a point for each sphere they used, and a bonus token if they met all the rules and used at least one ball of each of the five colors. You lose two points for each rule you didn’t follow correctly.  Bonus tokens are very important becuase you receive negative points at the end of the game if you have less than two bonus tokens. Players play six rounds to determine a winner.

This is a fun, fast-paced, brain burner of a puzzle game. It’s best for quick thinkers. I really like puzzle games and enjoy this, but have some difficulty with keeping similar card types straight when trying to build quickly. The rule cards are symbols and I am most often tripped up by the above/below cards.

 

 

 

 

In the example on the left, blue must not be placed below any other spheres, so all blue spheres must be placed on a top layer. In the example on the right, orange spheres must not be placed above any othere sphere, so is only placed correctly if placed on the bottom layer. The white triangle in the background makes sure that you know which way is “up” on the card. I find it takes me extra precious time remembering which rule I am looking at. Players who play this game a lot will probably overcome this. I see this problem a lot since I am usually playing with people unfamiliar with the game.

Also, it is very difficult to watch the timer and play at the same time. I wish they could have included more of an egg timer, rather than a sand timer. I tend to use my phone’s stopwatch feature instead of the included timer. So quick play makes this game exciting, but very similar looking rule cards make it somewhat thinky and frustrating. If you like puzzling fast-paced games, give Dimension. Recommendation: not for everyone.

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