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Monday Brews 4-21-14

Welcome back to Boards & Barley! I hope you all had an enjoyable Easter weekend. It was a VERY slow week in terms of enjoying Boards & Barley. So today’s Monday Brews will be very short. Let’s start with the Barley…

The Barley:

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: St. Bernardus Abt 12 Quadrupel

I enjoyed this fine beer on tap from a new local establishment that has an outstanding list of beers on tap. Most of them are European beers. Many of those are beers I haven’t ever seen on tap. I will definitely be going back there to enjoy more awesome tap beers!

The Quadrupel was quite exceptional. But weighing in at 10% abv means it should be a slow drinking beer. I didn’t drink it slowly. It was too good to drink slowly.

The other beer I enjoyed last week was a Belhaven Scottish Ale on tap at the same establishment (another reason I should have enjoyed the Quadrupel a little slower!). I’ve enjoyed Belhaven from a nitro can in the past but to have it on tap (nitro tap!) was awesome. It’s such a smooth beer with an excellent flavor. Yum!

I did happen to have a New Glarus Spotted Cow while I was working on my garden bed last week, but Spotted Cow is not close to those other two tap beers.

The Boards:


Tessen was the only game I played last week. The rest of my free time was spent on building my garden and reading Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, which is amazing.

I taught Tessen to my brother-in-law who after the weekend was over mentioned that he wanted to play it more. It’s such a fun, light, and quick battle game that has you feeling tense as you are trying to collect sets of animals. If you’ve never played it, go pick it up from Van Ryder Games.

Designer’s Corner:

Since the garden and Words of Radiance were so prevalent last week I didn’t really do much game design. However, I did sit down for a while and put together some good ideas for Brooklyn Bridge. One of the things I’m working on is how to make the tower more appealing to build.

In the playtests that I’ve run so far it seems like it is VERY slow to develop. Players don’t seem to be incentivized enough to build the towers. And the whole point of the game is to build the bridge. SO I needed to come up with a better way to incentivize the actual building of the bridge. I think I figured that out last week. I’ve got a much better system in place that I’m hoping to try this week. Instead of having scoring bonuses for “area majority” in each section of the bridge I am switching it to physical rewards like an extra brick, money, or perhaps an advance token. This will also make the game move along more quickly. People will build. People will earn rewards. Rewards will help people build faster. And so on.

Hopefully I can revise my prototype this week and get it to the table.

And then I also hope I can work on Armada Galactica. I think this game has a potentially larger audience and it would be fun to design an awesome space-themed game. I’ll keep you posted.


So those are the very few Boards & Barley I enjoyed last week. What did you enjoy?

Board Game Preview: Tessen

A bright idea from Cardboard Edison and Van Ryder Games!

A bright idea from Cardboard Edison and Van Ryder Games!

It’s time for another board game review. But this is more of a board game preview. On Monday I had the privilege of meeting Chris and Suzanne Zinsli, the designers of Tessen. They happened to be in town on a drive halfway across the country. I didn’t have much time with them, but I was able to learn Tessen. And I was able to beat Adam Buckingham at it! So today I Review/Preview the game and I recommend you back the project on Kickstarter!

Normally I provide 3 “likes” and 3 “dislikes” and then an overall rating. I’m not doing that today since this is more of a preview. Ultimately you should decide for yourself if you think this game is worth backing. Though if you continue reading I’ll tell you that it’s worth backing. So I guess I’m a bit of a hypocrite. Oh well.

Disclaimer: I was not contacted to provide a preview. I am previewing the game because I really enjoyed it.

Akita or Nambu?

Tessen is a fast playing, real-time card game for two players. One player will represent the Akita clan and the other player will represent the Nambu clan.

The object of the game is to gather sets of animals. To do that you’ll be playing cards quickly from your hand. If you can stack three or more of a kind of animal then you can “save” them into your save pile. The player with the most cards in their save pile at the end of the round wins that round.

The player decks are composed of eight different animals and two different warriors. There are 4 of each type of animal, 9 warriors, and 1 super warrior.

Here are some examples of the cards:

Tessen Card ExamplesThe animal cards each have a different color in the corner which helps you to see which animals you have in your hand. Now that we’ve seen the cards, let’s learn how to play…

Battle Ensues!

Each player shuffles their deck and places it face down in front of them. When both players are ready they’ll say, “Tessen!” and the battle will begin. Players will draw cards from their deck into their hand and begin laying them on the table. There is a 5 card hand limit, so be sure that you don’t draw too many. I made this mistake a few times and I’m sure Adam will want a rematch where I don’t accidentally cheat.

When you’ve got cards in your hand it’s time to start playing them to the table. You have five spots you can play cards in front of you. Each spot can only hold one type of animal. So you’ll be playing sets of the same animals on each spot. If any pile gets to three or more cards, then you can say, “Save,” and move that pile into your save pile.

The Warrior cards allow you to attack or defend. If you’ve noticed the other player stocking the same animal type, you might want to attack their pile. To attack just announce that you’re attacking and play your warrior card at their pile. They cannot take any other actions until they’re resolved the attack. If they want to use a warrior to defend and repel the attack they may do so. If they don’t have a warrior then they must let you take the cards. You can add those cards to your pile. If you cannot add the cards to any of your piles, then they go into a discard pile that your opponent can use to draw from.

The super warrior card basically counts as a double warrior. So to defend against a super warrior attack would take two warriors or your own super warrior.

Once one player has reached the end of their deck they announce, “Tessen,” and the round is over. Whoever saved the most animal cards to their save pile wins the round. They will then have to start the next round without one of their warrior cards. The game winner will be the first player to win three rounds.

My Thoughts…

I am always looking for games that I’ll be able to play with my wife. This is definitely one of those games. This game is very accessible. It is also very fun.

I was trying to play my cards as quickly as possible and I think I did alright at that. The fact that individual rounds only take a few minutes means this game plays pretty quickly. It’s a really solid game design that is really enjoyable to play.

What I liked the most was the emotion it brought up in me. I really felt like I was battling against Adam. I was trying so hard to beat him. And when I heard him saving a bunch of cards I got anxious. I think to have a game draw out such emotions from a player is really cool.

What I disliked the most is that since this is a real-time game I think it suffers from player’s abilities a little. You have to be quick to draw cards. You have to be quick to comprehend cards. You have to be quick to play cards. And you have to be quick to see what your opponent is playing. So I think that as players play more and more they’ll be able to hone their Tessen skill’s such that new players may not stand a chance against them.

Overall this is an excellent game. I really enjoyed playing it and I highly recommend it. For the low price of $12 you can receive a copy and help Van Ryder Games produce the awesomeness. Go and back the project on Kickstarter today!

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