Thank you Passport Game Studios
for providing me with products to review, free of charge,
and for sponsoring this giveaway.
These are my own honest opinions.
Passport Game Studios offers many exciting table games. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to review 7 of their games including the brand new Samurai Spirit, Kingsport Festival, and Provincia Romana.
To jump specifically to the review of a game, click on the title of the game you like:
Board games: Samurai Spirit – Kingsport Festival – Provincia Romana – Tokaido
Card games: Dungeon Raiders – Nox – Voodoo Mania
The premise: We are dedicated samurai trying to protect a village and its crops againt the attack of mighty raiders from the Oni-musha clan.
Specs: 1-7 players, 10+ years old, 20-45 minutes
What I like: It’s a collaborative game which I really like (it’s also my husband’s favorite game of the bunch). It allows us to plan together for the best course of action and support each other. Being Samurai, we also have consider making the ultimate sacrifice to protect the peasants which would unleash our special Animal spirit. Each Samurai (and its spirit) have a special talent and a special Kiai (which is a boost). The challenge of this game is that we have to find the perfect balance between confronting the raiders and defending our village. If we don’t balance it out well enough, we’ll end up with too many intruders, the farms will be destroyed, etc. This isn’t an easy game to win: given the fact that raiders have different values and are randomly arranged, you can easily find yourself overwhelmed when just a couple cards ago, you felt you were in total control of the game! Also, they become increasingly difficult so you may think you have things under control after 1 or 2 rounds but don’t claim your victory too soon… Don’t worry, it’s a short enough game that you’ll have time to take your revenge and hopefully successfully protect the village.
The premise: We are members of bizarre cults who try to invoke terrifying Elder Gods from another world. We try to take control of the city before investigators can stop us. The world in which the game takes place is inspired by Howard Philips Lovecraft’s mysterious universe.
Specs: 3-5 players, 13+ years old, 90 minutes
What I like: In this game, we are the bad guys! We’re not trying to save the world or eliminate the ennemy, we’re trying to seize control of a town and wreck havoc by unleashing the powers of evil beings to become the best cultist there is. This game revolves around diceplacing: depending the dice you roll, you are able to invoke certain Elder Gods and gather different resources. The resources allow you to cast spells and gain buildings. Players also have to keep a close eye on the Sanity and Magic tracks. I love that each game is different based on the scenario that is chosen and the investigators that you will have to fight. The dark theme of this game is carried very well by the beautiful illustrations but I will say that some of the writings could have been a little bigger or easier to read (especially in the rule book) even though it might have deviated from the theme. Given that it’s based on H.P. Lovecraft’s writings, the game creators were able to add a lot of background and details about the investigators and Elder Gods which makes the game even more enjoyable (it’s my favorite game of the bunch with Tokaido)!
The premise: We are Imperial legates assigned to rebuild and develop Roman cities following the raids of Vercingerorix in Gaul. Only the most prestigious legate will be chosen as the Proconsul of the province and declared the winner!
Specs: 2-6 players, 13+ years old, 90 minutes
What I like: This game revolves around resource management. You need to collect clay, wood, and stone in order to build a variety of buildings. You also have to manage your money, consider your citizen’s morale, and build your defenses. I like that instead of each player choosing his cards from the deck, 6 cards are drawn by a player who then reveals 4 of them and keeps 2 face down. He proceeds to choose one card for himself and then each player in turn choose one card. It forces players to make interesting strategic decisions: do I take the best card for my city or do I take the one that would benefit another player just so he can’t get it? I also like that we are only allowed a certain amount of each resource so we have to carefully plan how we spend them because they will quickly run out. I only wish there were more ways to harm other players but given the fact that we are all Romans, it wouldn’t make sense for us to destroy each other’s buildings.
The premise: We are travellers on the Tokaido road, in Japan, around the 11th century. The player who has the richest experience (explore panoramic sceneries, taste delicious foods, purchase souvenirs, visit hot springs, and have unique encounters) wins.
Specs: 2-5 players, 8+ years old, 45 minutes
What I like: First off, this game is stunning! The board, cards and tokens all reflect Japanese art and culture and I love that the theme is actually based on a true historical tradition. It’s made by the same game designer as Samurai Spirit, Antoine Bauza. This guy is all about well-balanced, easy to understand games. In Tokaido, we go through 53 stages including villages, farms, panoramas, hot springs, temples and encounters. Each one allows the player to earn/do different things: a souvenir, coins, a panorama card, a hot spring card, a donation to the temple, an encourter with a merchant, a guide or a samurai. Along the way, we also have to try different culinary specialties. The challenge of the game is that we all move on the same board but only 1 or 2 people can go on the same stage at a time. This means you may not be able to stop at the temple like you planned to make your donation. Along the way, we all try and collect as many points on the Journey tract as possible and ty and collect achievement cards (bonuses). It’s a fairly simple game that everyone will enjoy. There is a bit of strategy but not so much that an inexperienced player wouldn’t be able to compete and hope to win. It’s one of our favorite go-to game with our friends and family who aren’t as avid board game players as we are. Everyone is sure to have a great time with Tokaido and it’s actually my favorite game of the bunch (with Kingsport Festival)!
The premise: We join an eclectic party of adventurers to explore the 5 levels of a dungeons in a quest to discover amazing treasures.
Specs: 3-5 players, 8+ years old, 20 minutes
What I like: This game is a unique combination of a competitive and a cooperative game. There is in fact only one winner at the end but, througout the game, we explore each room of the dungeon together and have to fight monsters together and trigger traps together. We have to collaborate or else someone will get wounded and it could be you… Each player is a different character with unique characteristics: how many treasures, items, and life tokens you begin with. The challenge of this game comes from the fact that for each of the 5 levels of the dungeon, you only have 5 power cards, valued from 1 to 5 (plus any item cards you begin with or collect during the game). It means that at some point, you have to play your low value cards and you’ll have to be strategic about when to do so or you could end up wounded or lose treasure. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to collect valuable items to help you on your quest. This game is easy to set up and play. There’s a bit of strategy and it’s a lot of fun because you never quite know what the other players are planning and you yourself could be trying to sabotage your opponents. Also, there are enough cards in the deck that each game is different (you only need 24 rooms out of 30 cards and 1 boss out of 11 cards).
The premise: Who is the master trickster?
Specs: 2-6 players, 8+ years old, 20 minutes.
What I like: Each player has 3 cards in the hand, each a different color and a different value. The goal is simple: build 6 piles of bones (stacks of card) in front of you, using the highest valued cards you can and making sure you have at least one pile of each color. Problem is, people can play on each other’s bone piles so your pile that was worth 15 could lose its value and be worth only 1 point after an opponent plays his card on your stack… Even worse, if you have 2 piles of the same color, your opponent could play a card that would make each pile of the same value which would force you to combine them (ex. You have a pile worth 9 points and a pile worth 12 points, your opponent plays a 9 on your 12 and now both piles must be combined into one and the whole pile is now worth 9 points). Each stack has the value of the top card only so even if there’s a 10 in your pile somewhere, if the top card is a 6, then this pile is worth 6 points. The challenge in this game is to know when to build your own bone pile and when to harm your opponent. You can’t ignore them for too long but if you only focus on them, chances are a player will manage to collect 6 piles of bones before you do. Good news is, as long as you have a pile of each color, you still score points. The winner is the first player to reach 150 points. This is a quick, fast-paced game. It is a great family games that everyone will enjoy because it mixes a bit of strategic with a bit of luck.
The premise: Find a way to use all your ingredients to cast a curse, quick before someone else does!
Specs: 2-6 players, 7+ years old, 10 minutes
What I like: This game requires that you have a sharp eye and can think quickly! In this game, there are 5 ingredients and 5 colors. Each card only has 4 ingredients, each in a different color. Players have 3 cards in their hands plus a pile of cards to use up. In the center of the table is the Voodoo card. The goal is to quickly identify which ingredient + color is missing (ex. the green mask) and locate it in one of the cards in the hand. When they do, they announce which ingredient + color was missing. The game continues immediately and now we have to find the ingredient and color combination that is missing on the top card of the Voodoo pile. Again, you have to identify as quickly as you can what is missing and then find it on your cards. Oh, did I mention that cards are double-sided? As if it wasn’t already a challenge! If you have a sharp enough eye, you may be able to find a card this is missing the exact ingredient and color combination as the top card of the Voodoo pile. If you do, you quickly play your card and say ‘Voodoo’. All other players must add a card to their stack of cards. This will quickly become a classic at our house with other fun card games. It will take a few games for new players to get up to speed but then it’ll be fair game for everyone.
Giveaway: Passport Game Studios is generously offering one of our lucky readers a copy of one of their newest game: Provincia Romana. The giveaway is open to the US and will end December 4th. For your chance to win, enter the Giveaway Tools below. Good luck!
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