Admittedly, only one game. And then won that too. That only gives a little feel to the game. But up to three times a year, we always meet bigger strategy games, and this time Rising Sun by Eric M. Lang (CMON) came on the table.
A Kickstarter project whose game plan is already quite impressive. Clear and not overloaded, plus finely modeled figures. The monsters have turned out to be very large, so a large game plan is necessary. Everyone gets a clan screen on which all important data are printed and the personal abilities of the clan to be played represent.
Because every clan has different advantages that need to be used skillfully, the game then runs over four rounds in each of which five phases are played. During the preparation, the provinces that earn points are laid out, and the expected season cards are laid out. These are cards that we can get and that they bring us benefits. Then everyone gets their income, and the game starts with the build-up phase.
Alliances over tea – to the point of betrayal …
At the tea ceremony, the next phase, the first thing we can do is make alliances to enjoy the same benefits. These are represented by covenant discs that resemble Jing and Jang. These alliances can be terminated in the game through betrayal – so be careful. Only, at Rising Sun, alliances never war against each other.
In the political phase, the player with the greatest honor can choose one of ten action cards and carry out this action. As a candidate, you still get a bonus, which the alliance partner also gets. After everyone has selected this action, it continues clockwise, and the next person chooses the desired action for himself and his partner.
There you can set up more warriors, march with your warriors to other lands, upgrade (purchase season tickets), harvest (get a bonus for the ruled countries) or reveal what leads to a loss in the honor bar. That means: we lose our playing position. Everything is available twice on tiles.
Politics and war
In this political phase, the selected actions are placed on the board, and there are three interruptions on this row of discarded tiles. At the top of the board, there are shrine cards occupied in the course of the actions. These are dealt with after each interruption. Again, the one with the most strength points on the shrines receives additional options, victory points, or other advantages.
This is followed by the warm phase, in which fighting takes place in the provinces. The battle for the province tile always takes place where opposing warriors meet. Because many different province tiles give us victory points. During a fight, these fights take place behind our screen on an action tile.
There we have the choice to distribute money and ronins over four different actions and thus to get the coveted province tile. Then the screen is raised. The various actions involved are very versatile and can be used skillfully.
Because even if you lose, you can earn a lot of victory points. The coins used are always lost. The winner distributes his coins to the losers – a fine trick. In the final phase, everything that is superfluous is then put down and rebuilt. The one with the most victory points is then the new ruler and, in the event of a tie, the one with more honor.
How does Rising Sun play now?
It all plays really smoothly after one round and reminds me of old Shogun times. The game cannot deny some similarities, but you can tell that several years have flowed into the country since then and the games have developed further.
Interestingly, I won with a strategy of constantly losing and then getting victory points for it. But there are many possibilities in this game, and they have to be explored in other games. If it only happens three times a year. But the first impression of Rising Sun convinced me that I had a good Kickstarter project in my hands.
Bravely Default, a welcome love letter to the golden era of the early Final Fantasy in 2013, has now become a fixture in the Square Enix lineup, which is now looking for a new home on the Nintendo Switch after the departure of the 3DS.
However, the developers have not set themselves any big goals for this first appearance in HD: Bravely Default II continues where Flying Fairy and End Layer left off, and no move whatsoever to develop itself in any way. Of course: Traditions need to be cherished. But there is a risk that classic will eventually become boring.
There is no second chance for a first impression. And how important, how valuable first impressions can be, is demonstrated so well by some games that we dedicated our own podcast to them almost two years ago: Five games … the introduction of which will be remembered.
Fittingly, by the way, the text began with the same sentence as this review. The importance of first impressions and starting the game can also be illustrated by looking at a negative example. Bravely Default II, for example. I’ve rarely had a worse and more boring start than this – and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was downright appalled at how Square Enix can bring such an ugly game to market with a clear conscience. Have a look at this:
Once the initial shock has been overcome, things can only improve
The good news is that after that, it can only go uphill and that fortunately, it does in four ways. Because Bravely Default II is a very strange game in which the budget seems to increase as the playing time increases. It begins in an environment that could have sprung from the 3DS, without real cutscenes, without interesting narrative, without playful depth. But the longer you play, the better it gets.
The desert city in the first chapter, after the approx. A five-hour prologue is not only extremely chic, but it is also where exciting stories are suddenly told. In chapter 2, the job system finally opens and invites you to experiment.
And from chapter 3 – here we are already in the game for around 20 hours – not only the most beautiful scenarios follow, but also high-quality cut scenes. It is downright paradoxical, absolutely wrong in its order, and yet motivating in this respect that you can almost feel how the game slowly but surely unfolds in all its depth. But you have to get to this point first. And I can well imagine that not everyone has this patience.
Old but not yet out of date
It pays to stay on the ball – especially as a fan of classic JRPGs, the really classic ones before Final Fantasy moved into the third dimension with VII in 1997. Like its two predecessors, Bravely Default II pays homage to a bygone era, whose milestones still have their charms today. The similarities to Final Fantasy are not by chance, and not only because both games come from the same company: The first Bravely Default was originally planned as one of many FF spin-offs.
The fact that it would turn into a whole series, in the end, suggests that turn-based battles, job systems, and minimalist dungeons have not yet fallen out of time despite their age. And it is good that Bravely Default not only recreates the past but also tastes it with modern and original elements: the eponymous Brave and Default, for example, part-time jobs with passive bonuses or the practical option of simply fast-forwarding in combat. The mixture is right, even if the amount of grind required is, in my opinion, a braid that could also have been cut off. The biggest catch: I’ve played all of this twice. Two and a half if you count Octopath Traveler.
Bravely Default II Bravely Default II
By default you can “save up” laps, with Brave you can perform up to four actions in one move.
It all sounds familiar to me …
In essence, Bravely Default II remains not only very classic but also remains true to itself for my taste because it’s pretty much exactly the game you expect if you already know Bravely Default: Flying Fairy and Bravely Second: End Layer – Unfortunately, this time it wasn’t enough for a subtitle.
This loyalty also means that the overarching story is easy to forget that I had to look up the characters’ names. Four doll-like heroes – Seth, Gloria, Elvis, and Adelle – embark on a journey through the continent of Excellent to secure the four crystals with which the villain can be stopped – it couldn’t be more creative; please forgive my sarcasm. It’s a shame that Square Enix rests on these age-old clichés.
After all: every chapter and every place tells their own well-done little stories, and it is interesting to see how the crystals have changed the different regions of the world with their power. The magnificent desert metropolis is almost completely underwater, while Wiswald, the city of knowledge, looks like a gigantic treehouse after an explosive forest growth. The game shows itself from its most beautiful side with its hand-painted dioramas, while the rest, especially the character models, cannot hide the 3DS roots.
“Save yourself BP, then it will really hurt!”
Bravely Default II is a game with ups and downs that babbles for long stretches and makes no effort to advance the genre in any way – not even the innovations that started with the first part in 2013. traditional formula.
The tactical fights in which you can “save up” additional actions, together with a highly open job system, are still the highlight of the game, although this has not changed much compared to its predecessors.
Once you’ve unlocked nine or ten jobs, the completely free combination of main and part-time jobs results in insane depth, especially since the classes are not limited to classics such as monks, black and white magicians, berserkers, or beastmasters. Again, there are extraordinary jobs such as painter or gambler with their own and sometimes extremely powerful strengths and qualities.
Experimenting with this pool of possibilities is what is once again the most fun about Bravely Default II, even if it has lost its wow factor in the third game in the series. And the old problems are also on board: At first, it takes too long to unlock enough jobs, then later the balance tilts because you have become too strong too quickly.
So Adelle quickly became an overpowering fighting machine for me, which, thanks to a combination of warrior and berserk class and passive bonuses on strength and speed, plowed away entire groups of opponents at the first attempt. The most exciting is and will always be the boss fights, which reward a hard-fought victory with a newly won job – here, you often have to ponder a little longer to find the right strategy.
I would be lying if I said that Bravely Default II did not give me any pleasure with its (too?) Long runtime of almost 50 hours. My enthusiasm is still very limited. This is mainly due to how predictable, how ambitious the absolute bulk of this adventure is conceived, how little effort Square Enix and Silicon Studio – who are currently working on the tactical role-playing game Project Triangle Strategy – have made to deliver more than the bare minimum – and on all levels: playful, technical, narrative, even musically.
I’ve also had enough of the minimalist dungeons, which some still seem to be celebrating, and I would have loved to skip them all. In this respect, you should be fully aware of what kind of game you are getting into with Bravely Default II before you buy – and be honest with yourself as to whether you will really repeat the Final Fantasys from the past, which you loved so much back then, today want to play. I’ve now found my answer to that.
The world of Thalara is facing the abyss. Therefore, artifacts must be brought to safety in which the magical powers of Thalara can be bound. This is the story of the game Thalara, which we have as a prototype.
In Thalara, two to four players fight for artifacts that are on the table between the players. The game is designed primarily for two players. The round can be expanded to up to four players using several card sets.
Thalara – The battle for artifacts
All players have matching card sets (reminder cards). A set consists of five times four cards of one color with differently distributed strength values between 1 and 5. The players must choose seven cards from their memory cards and place them next to the artifacts on display during the round. At the end of a round, a player wins an artifact on display if his strength values are higher than that of the opponent.
Each player embodies a character who also gives him four individual spells. They affect his memory cards or those of the opponent. In this way, certain reminder cards can be reinforced, cards that have already been laid out can be “destroyed” (discarded), or combinations of cards laid out can be given additional strength points. However, to play a spell, a certain combination of cards (colors) must already be on display. The players get their spells back at the end of the round, while all used memory cards must be discarded after being used once.
If you have won artifacts, they will be played like memories from now on. Although they have a strength value of 0, they contain victory points. This is why you get them back because the goal is to be the first to collect seven artifacts and thus to have the most victory points possible.
The prototype of the game does not yet include the finished artwork for all of the cards, so not much can be said here. In the final version, however, the finished reminder cards should visually stand out better from the artifacts so that they are not confused. There are still a few gaps in the rules of the game, but they too are not finished yet.
Asymmetrical magic distribution
Thalassa definitely has its charm when it comes to playing. In the beginning, the placement of the cards on the artifacts seems a little arbitrary. But after a few rounds, you will find out which tactics you should use because it is by no means arbitrary.
On the one hand, it is important to use your magic cards sensibly and as often as possible since you can achieve more than just obvious effects with them. You also put pressure on your opponent, even if it later turns out to be a bluff. The secret lies in the fact that each player has different spells available, which may be contrary to each other.
How is the playing feel at Thalara?
And this is exactly where the real potential of the card game lies: Depending on which spells the players have, you have to use your memory cards and the spells skillfully. You try to elicit spells from your opponent by cleverly placing the memory cards. You can also bluff excellently because it is not said that a player can play a certain spell at all. And even if he can do it in one round, it can be different the next. You can only play magic if you can also interpret the colors that the former require.
The balance of power between the characters may seem unevenly distributed at first, but the spells are very balanced as a result. At least with the combinations, I’ve played so far. This increases the replay appeal considerably.
What would be the perfect moment in the “Corona moment”? To play in a large group and to capture that moment for a long time. That seems to take a while, but we can at least re-enact this reunion in large groups.
And the first games have already been played, both in pairs and in three and four. So let’s try to portray the perfect moment with The Perfect Moment by Anthony Nouveau (Corax Games) for now. Everyone gets an identical set of people, a table with accessories, and a screen. Behind that, we try to catch the perfect moment.
The perfect moment – step by step
The perfect moment – construction – Photo by Jörn Frenzel
42 wish cards, which represent the wishes of the people, are divided into folders. We find the people to be represented on these folders and fill them with the three wishes of how and where they want to be. Depending on the number of players, everyone receives a certain number, and the remaining portfolios are also placed in the middle.
Then the same system runs for six rounds. You look at your own portfolios and try to fulfill the people’s wishes so that you set them up appropriately. Then you draw the top one from the trading cards on display and then have to swap portfolios. It goes from swapping other players’ portfolios to revealing the middle portfolios. That is then carried out again. Then the exchange card is discarded, and the starting player changes.
In between, everyone can put a favorite card in any folder. Their points then count twice at the end. After six rounds, the perfect moment should be reached because then the game ends. As a gag, you can also take a photo to check the guests’ wishes because everyone wants to stand in a certain corner with certain wishes.
If you fulfill all three wishes, six points are awarded, with two wishes, three points, and one point. If we do not meet them, we will deduct three points. Favorite cards double the points achieved, and if the person is not positioned, there are no points.
The perfect lightness of being?
Here we experience the lightness of being, at least in the family version. There is also an auction variant, but I haven’t played it yet. As a first impression, I have to say: The game knows how to please. The presentation alone is appealing, and it is fun to regroup people at the table again and again and try to catch the perfect moment with the most points.
The perfect moment – box – Photo by Corax Games
It is not a complex multi-player game, but exactly what makes a family game. Entertaining, easy to use, and with a healthy dose of fun. Because everyone tries to put their people in a suitable position without knowing what is coming, so far, this has been fun for everyone.
In my opinion, you can save yourself the expansion with the movie stars; it does not bring any significant changes. I will continue to test the rest on one of the next perfect game nights. Because the game has potential, and I would like to explore that as soon as we all sit together again. For me, the perfect moment at least belongs on a recommendation list because it is somehow different but enchanting.
Introducing opulent works requires frequent gaming, and Game Brewer’s Fuji Koro is something that takes time. After playing both variants, here is a brief first impression of Jerome Demeyre’s game.
A truly great game structure makes the player’s heart beat faster. However, this takes time, as does the game. In this epic, you try to collect all possible resources, holy scrolls, magical weapons, and the best possible equipment to ultimately – depending on the game mode – defeat dragons and escape the erupting volcano.
At the beginning alone, we have three temples at the edge of the crater that allows us to build magical objects. Each player is entitled to exactly one of each type. Helmet, shoes, and weapons. Getting there is not an easy task because, in the beginning, we stand inside the crater and do not know what is lurking around us.
Fuji Koro: three actions on the way to the longed-for victory
Three actions are available to us in the game. Exploring them allows us to place more tiles around the field we are standing on. New things are revealed that we can collect. There is everything from resources to monks who unlock new actions, adventure tokens, and dragons to discover in the new field.
The second action enables us to move: Two fields can move onto the discovered fields. Then the third action follows collecting. There are resources here that we need to build our equipment, scrolls that give us advantages, monks that give us new possibilities on our own tableau, and a lot more. We have a rucksack available for collecting, which only contains six free collection points and can be expanded by monks.
Basically, there are only three actions, but the fourth action is resting. You collect the action chips again and build equipment on the side. For example, we need sandals to cross the lava fields. The crossing always leaves five damage on the sandals.
The helmet protects us in combat and absorbs damage, and we need weapons in combat. To escape in the end, we have to find the exit and build magical objects in the temples on edge. In competitive mode, we have to fight each other, and the first to reach 30 victory points begins the final battle: the escape from the volcano. Every round field is covered with lava, and our samurais have to escape from the exit. In the cooperative mode, you have to fight dragons of different strengths and then flee from the lava.
Works fine, the game Fuji Koro
And that was what worked pretty well. In the cooperative mode, you have to defeat the dragons according to their strength; in the competitive mode, you avoid these dragons to get to the exit as quickly as possible.
Fuji Koro – Box – Photo by Game Brewer
With a playing time of over two hours, the tension in the cooperative mode contributed significantly more to the fun since partners are required in the dragon fight. So you are always in action. In the game against each other, the game can have its lengths. But that’s just a first impression. For me, Fuji Koro offers more fun and excitement in cooperative mode. It is a full-length task in both cases, and afterward, you slip into bed like a tired hero rather exhausted.
The whole process is fun; only the German instructions are more than unsatisfactory. Entire paragraphs are missing, so you have to read the English instructions again and again. Without knowledge of English, it becomes an ordeal. Otherwise, Fuji Koro can hardly be played correctly and remains incomplete. Just like in my case, the dragon chips were missing. But I got this on request from the publisher. A lot of small mistakes in this crowdfunding project have to be fixed first, but you will be rewarded with a great full-length cooperative game afterward.
Keyforge: Call of the Archons is the new cracker from Fantasy Flight Games and comes from the pen of none other than the master himself, Richard Garfield. For all readers for whom this name means nothing: He is the man who invented the trading card game Magic: The Gathering in 1993—a milestone. Magic made trading card games known around the world. Of course, the expectations of the players were high, and everyone was looking forward to the day Keyforge saw the light of day!
Keyforge is not a trading card game …
Many players were surprised when they heard that it was not a trading card game. It’s about a unique (one-of-a-kind) card deck game! The difference here is that no two decks are alike in trading. For a better understanding, I will first explain what exactly is meant by this. So, the so-called starter basic game is available for purchase.
There are two identical decks (in each starter) and two unique decks. The same two decks are designed to help players familiarize themselves with the rules and mechanics. The two unique decks are put together differently in each starter. This means that even these two decks are unique in their composition.
Playing cards Keyforge: Call of the Archons – Photo by Fantasy Flight Games
Speaking of composition: There are seven different groups at Keyforge. Each faction represents certain people with their strengths and weaknesses. A deck consists of 36 cards: three randomly determined factions with twelve cards each.
A computer uses an algorithm to randomly select these from a pool of around 370 cards. He pays attention to a certain measured value so that the decks do not become too weak or too strong! So every deck you buy is unique in itself! In purely mathematical terms, this results in
Keyforge: unpack and start playing …
This is exactly what makes Keyforge so beginner-friendly. You basically learn the game while playing! The two starter decks are designed so that many terms such as B. “Archive” do not appear at all. Because there is simply no card in the deck with this ability.
So you get to know the basic mechanics and the playful process with the starter deck. If you have internalized this after a few games, you can now start with the two unique decks. With these decks, the Keyforge horizon expands and brings even more strategy into the game.