Level99Games

President and Lead designer for Level 99 Games

Apr 202014
 

During December last year, we had a number of interested friends get involved in the day-to-day operations of Level 99 Games. We’re currently training these new additions as interns.

As part of the internship program, I’ve asked our interns to take home and review a game. The goal of this exercise is to get them familiar with a larger selection of games and to form critical analysis skills of what makes a game good or bad in terms of play, production, and presentation. The reviews will be published both here and on Board Game Geek. Enjoy!

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Rampage review by Josh Van Laningham (Ithry)

Rulebook:

The rules for Rampage were a delight to read through. Besides it being very short (only 8 pages!) it was also very bright and colorful, something that I don’t see every day in other  rulebooks. Everything is laid out very nicely: contents, game objectives, set-up, and turn overview. All of these sections also have very nice examples of how mechanics work, as well as a lexicon of items for the board set-up phase. All of the icons are fairly self-explanatory, though there’s a great section near the back that lists all of the abilities of the characters and powers if needed. The back of the rules also has clarifications for some game mechanics and a variants section for those of you that can’t get enough destruction.

Box art:

The front shows three monster terrorizing Meeple City. The sides sport the game’s name as well as a few more monsters. The back shows a game in play, with some of the cards as well as a list of components (something I haven’t really seen on a box back before.)

Gameplay:

The gameplay is very involved compared to some other games, as it is a dexterity game. You can move around the table to position yourself better for attacks and movement. Attacks and movement themselves involve flicking discs, physically dropping your monster piece, or even blowing other meeples off buildings with a breath like weapon. This, along with how the board is physically set up (meeples are used as actual building support) adds a large element of randomness and luck to the game. Since you can only swallow meeples in the section of town you are in, you can attempt to have them land where you are with attacks and movement, but usually they will end up everywhere else, hopefully not off the board though. Powers and superpowers are also random, so this is a luck element also. Also, while some of these powers are very good, many are not so great, and can rely on something you may not be that great at (like blowing for breath weapons). Depending on the game mode, specific colored meeples may be more advantageous point-wise, so at least you can attempt to go for those. Since this seems to be intended as a party game though, I will not fault it much for these things.  It still delivers well enough on what I assume it intends, which is causing wanton destruction to a city full of people. 3/5

Target audience:

The colorful art and cartoonish looking monsters can make this game appeal to a younger crowd (the box says 8+), though its involved style of game play and luck based mechanics make it great for a party type of game for any age, really. Fans of monster movies or just monsters in general may also like this more fun take on destroying a small city.

Replayability:

Quite a bit. With a large number of powers and secret superpowers, all of which are random, this ensures many new games can be had. Add to this the variants listed and the fair amount of luck and randomness involved and you have a game that could be new every time you play it.

Fun:

If you like party games, interesting powers, and terrorizing a city with a large monster this game may be for you.

Personal Opinion:

At a glance, this game seemed really fun, but when I actually played it, it was less so than I had thought. The large amount of randomness and luck involved took away a lot of the fun for me. The powers I had either were never relevant or just not very useful. One player that happened to get their teeth knocked out quickly realized they had nothing to lose, and since they were already winning, just went on a destruction-spree, damaging monsters and meeples alike, to the point where the other players didn’t have a chance. Having teeth to eat more meeples is nice, but in any given situation there was only about 3 meeples in a given block, so having extra teeth never mattered much.

The only real fun I had (and the main thing that I think the game prides itself on) is destroying the city and seeing meeples fly everywhere. I don’t need to play a game for this though, I can just set up a meeple tower and knock it over. The game and its elements didn’t seem to facilitate much more fun than this, so I wouldn’t see the point in playing it much. Powers are cool, sure, but only when you can use them effectively (or at all). Eating meeples is fine, until you realize that only one person actually has a color set for scoring and  the rest of the players have eaten almost all of one color, making it basically impossible for anyone else to score. While this may not happen all the time, it certainly can be an issue. I can definitely see other people having some fun with this game, unfortunately I am probably not one of those people.  2/5

Apr 062014
 

During December last year, we had a number of interested friends get involved in the day-to-day operations of Level 99 Games. We’re currently training these new additions as interns.

As part of the internship program, I’ve asked our interns to take home and review a game. The goal of this exercise is to get them familiar with a larger selection of games and to form critical analysis skills of what makes a game good or bad in terms of play, production, and presentation. The reviews will be published both here and on Board Game Geek. Enjoy!

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Godzilla: Stomp! review by Josh Van Laningham (Ithry)

Rulebook:

A short rule set for a short game. Components are laid out up front, with setup and how a turn works following. Special cards like power plants and rampage are explained in detail, which is nice. It would have been nice to see pictures of the cards alongside descriptions, though saving space for rules is fine too, it’s not like there’s much to look at on the cards anyway. There’s also credits and advertising on the back, something I don’t see much in rulebooks. I suppose it is an efficient use of space, and don’t see much of a problem with it here.

Box art:

A terrified man runs for his life as cars are thrown up behind him. Godzilla’s giant foot descends on the poor guy who may not escape in time. The sides are standard logo fare and the back standard as well, with some card pictures and some text to hype you up about the product.

Gameplay:

Very simple, which is fine considering how short the game is. You play numbered cards and try to have the highest amongst the other players to gain higher point building cards first. The problem here is only having access to 6 cards that do not return to your hand doesn’t allow for too much strategy. This strategy also depends on what buildings are on the board, so if there’s only low points, it isn’t likely for high cards to be played, same for low cards with a high point board. Power plants are the only interesting type of card in the deck, and I feel the game would be better if there were more cards like this. While normally I would think that the lack of strategy and simple gameplay would make this game not so great, it plays so quickly I found I didn’t have time to care much about it. 3/5

Target audience:

The branding makes it clear that one of the audiences is fans of Godzilla, or monster games in general, though if one takes time to look, it is obvious the branding is in name and pictures alone, and doesn’t add anything to the gameplay itself. The simple gameplay can make this game cater to younger crowds and the fast playtime makes this game good for most people really during a break or some other like time.

Replayability:

Not much. The game is basically the same every time, with the only thing changing being what points of the cards that come up are. As said earlier, with only 6 cards in hand it is not likely that player strategy will change much either from game to game. It is fast though and repayable in that sense so you can play many games in a short period.

Fun:

If you like fast gameplay, monsters, and destroying as much of the city as you can, this game may be for you.

Personal opinion:

With this game being so fast, it was hard to tell if I actually had any “fun”. I’m not a Godzilla fan or monster fan in general, so I didn’t gain anything from the branding. I enjoy that it is a fast game though, in that I wouldn’t mind playing it if I had some time to kill. This game just left me wanting more from it, whether that be more types of building cards, different play mechanics, monster powers…anything more really. I feel this game has a lot of potential, but as it stands right now isn’t something I would be too interested in coming back to in the future. 2/5

Mar 292014
 

During December last year, we had a number of interested friends get involved in the day-to-day operations of Level 99 Games. We’re currently training these new additions as interns.

As part of the internship program, I’ve asked our interns to take home and review a game. The goal of this exercise is to get them familiar with a larger selection of games and to form critical analysis skills of what makes a game good or bad in terms of play, production, and presentation. The reviews will be published both here and on Board Game Geek. Enjoy!

——-

Carcassonne review by Josh Van Laningham (Ithry)

Rulebook:

Pretty standard rulebook, starting with contents, overview, and preperation, followed by a very detailed gameplay section. Playing tiles is explained in detail as well as the many ways to deploy followers, along with picture examples for all of these. Scoring is also discussed in detail, as this can be more in-depth for some of the scoring methods (such as farming). Again, picture examples are seen along with the text. The full rules are also only 4 pages, so it is a quick read, getting to the point of the game and not being bogged down with long introductions or variants, etc.

Box art:

A worthy knight and his faithful steed approach the grand city of Carcassonne. The sides sport the game’s title as with most games, and the back shows a tile layout with some descriptions. While the art is good, this is one of the few games I’ve seen that doesn’t really show what the player is getting into on the front of the box. It is interesting and eye-catching for the right people to be sure, but unless you’re going to be putting all your meeples in cities all the time the cover is not as accurate as it could be, not that this is a bad thing.

Gameplay:

Straightforward and simple, though there is much strategy to be had, even with the base game. Players place tiles one at a time that they draw from the box randomly. Tiles can have many things on them: roads, cities, farmland, etc. When a tile is placed, you can put a meeple on any of these places to try and score points when certain parts are completed like cities or roads. The bigger the cities, roads, farms, etc. the more points you score. The strategy comes into play when you decide not only what to do with your meeples, but where to place tiles as well. You cannot usually count on opponents finishing things for you unless there is something in it for them so planning ahead is important. For such a straightforward game there is a lot of depth to it. This combined with the great replayability of the game makes it a keeper for sure.

Target audience:

While the theme is a standard medieval setting and as such can attract fans of this, the gameplay is easy to learn so people of all ages could play this. The many expansions this game has adds all kinds of new flavors and tiles, so if you aren’t a fan of the base game, perhaps one of the expansions might interest you more.

Replayability:

As mentioned before this game has a lot of expansions and add-ons, but as the tile gaining is random an placement is up to the players, the base game has lots of replay value as well. No two games could be alike as people can try out different strategies to score more points.

Fun:

If you enjoy strategy games, tile placement, and trying to be the most prosperous meeples in the land, this game may be for you.

Personal opinion:

I had a lot of fun with this game. Deciding what to do with tiles and meeples was fun and interesting, as was just seeing the strange land unfold before me, full of 2 tile buildings and strange roads with seemingly no function. While I thought the game was going to be everyone for themselves, many players tried to work together so they could finish projects and both gain points. It didn’t work out for everyone though, as a player and I tried finishing an over ambitious road project too close to the end of the game and couldn’t quite make it. The only real problem I saw (and it may have been contained to our game) was that farms seemed like a really powerful way to score points, possibly too much so. That aside, I had too much fun with this game to be put off by possibly over powered scoring or even losing for that matter. 4/5