Monday, 27 January 2014

27. It's complicated, or rather, it isn't.

Taken from 'It's Complicated' - A Day To Remember
'Here we go again, another night of being bummed
I'll keep to myself, avoid the sun and cancel plans with everyone
I know 'cause this is how it always ends
Our bond will break 'cause you can't relate to anyone, to anything at all

You brought your worst and I'm right here
Now I've seen it all and it's never been so clear

I feel so incredibly crappy.
Despite everything I'd give anything to get back what I've lost.


Friday, 24 January 2014

26. 'The Great Dalmuti' review. The Cardboard Cartographer Issue 3

Welcome to Issue 3 of my apparently weekly board/card gaming blog here at 'The science of selling yourself short.'

This week sees me reviewing a favourite game of mine called 'The Great Dalmuti.'

First though, a notice on scheduling.

The Cardboard Cartographer will not be weekly forever.
At some point I need to research and play some more games to review and talk about.
 There will be at least 1 post per month, and this may not always be a review.
Future Issues may focus on up and coming games, kickstarter campaigns, 'top 5's' and so on.

But for now, sit back and enjoy the show.

The Great Dalmuti

  The Great Dalmuti is a family and party card game designed by Richard Garfield and published by 'Wizards of the Coast' in 1995.
The game features some great art work by Sandra Garavito, Margaret Organ-Kean and Christophe Swal.
For more information you can head over to Board Game Geek's page on the game -

  Dalmuti is game for 4 - 8 players that is part bluffing and luck, and part strategy and scum-buggery.

  The game represents life in feudal society.
You have the peasants; the most numerous of folk at the bottom of the social order, working your way up to the King or 'Dalmuti;' a single entity of divine standing.

The object of the game is to be the first player to discard all of his or her cards wins the round and secure the title of 'The Great Dalmuti.'

 The twist in this game is what other players do on their turns; whilst you agonisingly wait for it to be your turn, can make or break your bid for victory. A few advantages and disadvantages depending on your social standing also give some gravity to which position you finish in.

First Impressions.

Since I have been playing this game for almost a decade now, it is safe to say my 'first impression'  will be slightly rose tinted. I will try to remain as objective as possible (if you have read any of 'The science of selling yourself short,' you will know this is less than likely).

The game is small and compact, like all good party card games.

The contents are;

  • The box
  • A small rule book
  • 80 game cards

 I do think that the game is very nicely put together.
The cards are simple and colourful, with wonderful mural style artwork that adds to the feudal theme.
   The box is simple enough, but a bit lacking in substance; it isn't something you'll want to move around often in, say, a bag. I suggest getting some form of deck box.

Game Play.

 Like all good card games, Dalmuti is simple, fast paced and has very little down time (more players = more downtime).

 Before starting each player picks a card. The number will denote your rank for the first round of the game.
 The lowest, and thus rarest, number (ignoring the jokers) will be the original Great Dalmuti, the highest, and thus more common will be the Greater Peon. If a game has 6 players the second lowest/rarest and second highest/numerous will be the lesser Dalmuti and Lesser Peon respectively. Every other player is a merchant.

The players should then find a way to identify each player accordingly. (The game suggests switching seats; the Greater and Lesser Dalmuti having the best, while the peasants occupy the floor. In our games we have found this a little arduous, so we use hats. The more glorious the hat, the better the rank!).
 These different classes play a small, but important role at the beginning of the game. 

Before each round begins the lowest ranked player; the Greater Peon, shuffles and deals all of the cards out to each player.
Then the Greater Peon must then give the Greater Dalmuti their best two cards; that is to say, their rarest/lowest number (No lying!). The Greater Dalmuti then hands any two cards of their choosing back to the Greater Peon.
 The Lesser Peon must then give their best card to the Lesser Dalmuti and receive a card in return.
Everyone else; the merchants, may trade cards between each other for as long as the Greater Dalmuti permits.

When this phase is over the round may begin.

Game round.

Starting with the Greater Dalmuti, players go around in a clockwise direction playing cards face up in the middle of the table.
Subsequent players must match the quantity of the cards first played, and be of equal or lower/rarer value.

An example to illustrate this would be as follows.
The greater Dalmuti starts the round, and plays 5 Masons; valued at 8 (There are 8 of them in the deck).

The next player; player A, must then place down cards. These cards must ; a) match the quantity of the cards played. In this case, player A must play 5 cards; b) be of equal, or lesser value than the cards player, in this case a mason (8) or lower, and c) b) be all of the same value.

In this instance, player A plays 5 Knights; valued at 6

This move is fine. The cards match the number of cards put down initially (5) and are of a lower/rarer value than a mason.

Player B then tries to play 4 Abbess; valued at 5. 

This move is incorrect Whilst the cards are of a lesser/rarer value than the previous players cards, they do not match in quantity.

Player B then tries to play 5 peasants; valued at 12. 

This is also incorrect. Whilst player B now matches the quantity of cards put down (5), they are not equal to/lesser/rarer than the value of player A's cards (6 < 12).
Player B therefore decides he cannot go.

(A note on the Jester card. This card has no value and therefore is not the best/worst card and does not have to be given in taxation. This card may be played in conjunction to any other cards instead of an appropriate number. Example. If player A played two Archbishop cards he would usually win, however, if player B plays The Great Dalmuti card and a Jester card, that would count as two cards of a lower/rarer value, thus player B would win the hand).

If a player cannot go, or doesn't want to go, they are out of that particular hand and cannot go again until the next hand starts.
A hand ends when a player cannot be matched or bettered by any remaining player in that hand.

The winner then starts the next hand.
This continues until each player runs out of cards.
The first to do so is the greater Dalmuti, the second the Lesser Dalmuti and so on. The player who still has cards remaining when no one else does is the Greater Peon.

The game continues in this fashion... well... forever?

You can find the rules here if you fancy reading them yourself -

Personal Opinion.

I love this game.
Every time I go to a person's house I take this just in case there are enough people.
It is a great, quick game that isn't too serious and is laid back enough to enjoy at any pace whilst maintaining enough strategic planning to keep you focused on the game.

The game becomes more engaging the more you get into it.
At the back of the rulebook it explains the 'additional rules' about seating, symbols, scoring and the merchant trading (which really should just be a core rule. The game isn't as strategic without it).
But there are other rules such as revolutions (having two jokers = reverse roles) and rank related perks (ordering the peasants about and so on).

Whilst I enjoy the game immensely, I do have two gripes with it.

Firstly, without setting a score the game never really ends. This can lead it to grow stale and/or drag on and on and on...
 It is probably best to set a score limit, a time limit or a round limit. First to 'x' points, or the last person to be Dalmuti after 'x' hands or 'x' time is the winner.

Secondly, you don't really need to buy the game.
 The rules are readily available online (and up in the game play section), and the card set up can be made with three decks of regular playing cards for a fraction of the cost.

That being said I really do encourage you to buy the game.
It isn't massively expensive, there are no crazy expansions and due to its simplicity and random draft nature, the replay-ability is pretty high.

Have you played 'The Great Dalmuti'?
What did you think?
Any suggestions on other board/card games I should look into?

Feel free to comment here, or hit me up on Twitter @DarKHaZZl3

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

25. 'Love Letter' review. The Cardboard Cartographer Issue 2.

The Cardboard Cartographer banner

Welcome to the former home The Cardboard Cartographer.

The Cardboard Cartographer has moved.
The reasons for this decision can be found here in this post

Because of this, when a review for a game that was once hosted here is covered on The Cardboard Cartographer it is removed from this site.

But have no fear!
If you wish to read the new and improved review you can follow the link bellow!

Love Letter Review.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

24. 'Firefly: the Game' review: The Cardboard Cartographer Issue 1.

Welcome to my new feature; 'The Cardboard Cartographer.'

The Cardboard Cartographer will be an blog series focused around table top reviews.
I'll be mapping out my encounters with the world of war games, miniatures games, board game, card games and others of like.

Having played quite a few board games in my time I thought I could easily start with something from my past experience. However, I thought I'd save those for later (when I have nothing to write about :P).

So today I'll be talking about a relatively new game (new in terms of board games anyway).

FIREFLY - The [Board] Game.

For those of you who are not aware of FireFly's existence I'll fill you in.

   FireFly was a TV series first aired in 2002 written by Joss Whedon (Known for Buffy, Angel and the Avengers to name a few). It was cancelled after one season, which by and large was the biggest travesty committed by Fox entertainment. Ever. (Except for their news services... really? They try to call that trash news?).

  Firefly is what can only be described as a Space Cowboy/Western Drama.
Set in the year 2157, it follows the story of crew of Serenity; A Firefly class spaceship and their various encounters and adventures in a generally unforgiving Galaxy.
  For more information WATCH THE DAMN SHOW!! It is one of the best TV shows I have ever seen.
 If you don't have time/ have severe taste issue, you can read more about it on Wikipedia

  The Firefly board game is set in this setting.
Whilst prior knowledge of the TV series makes the whole game more engaging, it is far from necessary. The theme has only a marginal bearing on how the game is played, and therefore prior knowledge of the show will not grant one player any noticeable advantage.

So, back to the game.

  Firefly was published in 2013 by Gale Force Nine LLC in conjunction with Battlefront Miniatures ltd, and designed by Aaron Dill, John Kovaleski and Sean Sweigart. For more of this general information, check it out on Board Game Geek -

  The game is for 1 - 5 players and takes around 90mins according to the box. The reality is at least 3 hours. The game is competitive in nature, and while it is possible to interfere with other players, it is not a large part of the game (even if you try really hard to make it that way).

 The object of the game is to be the first to complete the Goals on the Story card; of which details vary.
To do this players must take turns traversing the Galaxy ( the Game board), in search of jobs; both legal and illegal, to make money to fund their escapades, thus making life easier in the long run, hire more crew to make lighter work of jobs, and buy equipment and ship upgrades.

  Ahh. Board games always sound so simple. But as always there are obstacles in the players way. These vary from the Alliance; the big bad government trying to stamp out any illegal activity within their 'safe' sections of space , The Reavers; the cannibalistic, homicidal and generally horrible folk, trying to... well... eat you, and all manner of scum and mechanical problems in-between.

 Overview done.


First Impressions.
  First thing you notice when you get this game is that is pretty big!

While this doesn't put me off playing a board game (far from it in fact!), it does make the logistics of playing it problematic.
This only gets worse the further you get in the game.

  There are 11 decks of cards (Your standard trading/ playing card size) and each deck requires its own discard pile.
Very shortly that will result in 22 piles of cards.
These cards make up your missions, crew and equipment. These; as well as your ship, need to be stored in your playing area.
Needless to say, it gets quite crowded.

  Space issues aside the production quality is very nice.
The cards are straight forward, clear and visually appealing.
The game pieces are made of good card stock and the resources are plentiful.
The in game currency is probably my favourite form of currency ever!
The board is pretty. Who says board games are dull!
The only issue I have is that the ships themselves are a bit flimsy. However, they are considerably more intricate than your standard player marker, so I guess that is the price you pay.

  As previously stated, this game is very heavily themed.
While this doesn't really effect game play in any meaningful way, it is far more enjoyable being a fan of the franchise and sci-fi. Seeing cast from the show pop up adds a bit of awe to proceedings.

To the important part - Game play.

  As with many big box games it is very easy to be put off but the rule book.

Yes, it is quite page worthy, and yes, it does really all need to be read in order to play the game efficiently.
In spite of its relatively large and badly organised rule book the game is fairly straight forward.

 A player can take 2 of a possible 4 actions per turn. These actions are (in no particular order);
 You can only take an action once per turn.

Put simply, you can either move, buy equipment/fuel/parts/crew, Deal (get a job/ interact with job giving folk) or work (do something required by your job).

 Players take it turns doing these things until someone wins.

 While that sounds repetitive, the game throws enough spanners into the works to keep this interesting.
For example; travelling short distances is much safer than travelling long distances... regardless of where you are.
If you are doing illegal business you might need to avoid the Alliance, which requires you risking Reaver territory.

Completing jobs isn't straight forward either; each job has a requirement in terms of skill, and more often than not, requires a player to complete numerous skill checks or suffer the consequences (failing the mission, losing crew members or being issued a warrant for your arrest!).

   If you are interested in learning more about the game you can download the rules here -

Personal opinion.

Now, I wouldn't be me if I didn't pick it apart a little, so...

  The game is relatively easy to be introduced to, and the mission based mechanic ensures that experienced players will not have a major upper hand over newer players. This is, and its low down time between player turns makes it a nice game for new players to jump into (assuming someone knows the rules).

   The only issue that arises in the experienced vs new area is knowing where certain crew members/equipment resides in the market.
Knowing which 'shop' provides you with the 'good' characters does give a slight advantage to the experienced player.

However, this is offset by the random nature of the market and the need to continually earn money to fuel such endeavours.

  Another point I should note is that  I often find that games with no player vs player mechanics to be quite...dull.
Co-operative games seem to lack a sense of urgency; a sense of jeopardy.

Firefly is in-between the two.

   While playing the game you exist in between co-op and competitive; you are not working together directly, but you're not directly involved in each other fortunes; except of course, by winning the game first.
    In this sense the game has managed to hold on to a sense of jeopardy; the missions can be quite dangerous depending on your crew and equipment, and the risks are ever present.
However, because you have no player vs player interference on a meaningful scale, you can easily amass the resources required to make most skill checks an automatic pass.

   Player vs player mechanics grants a game a killer edge; gaining the upper hand or a way to sabotage your opponents plans to claw back time/ advance further.

Firefly lacks this.

 So unless your opponents are rushing around trying to complete the GOAL first; in which case they'll likely fail, you can take your time. The sense of urgency, and therefore jeopardy, is lost.

  This I feel is my biggest gripe with the game. For something so intricate, it is quite casual. This can make games drag on. What is meant to take 90 mins can take between 3-5 hours.

So, overall I enjoyed the game, and I'd recommend it to fans of the franchise, and to board game players looking for something a little different. However I feel that the game could do with a little more incentive to get players to take risks sooner to get into the 'lead,' as opposed to players taking their time and tanking resources.

    So there you have it. Firefly down
If you've played Firefly, what do you think? What do you feel are the best/ worst aspects of the game.

Feel free to drop me a comment, or tweet me @DarKHaZZl3.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more reviews from The Cardboard Cartographer!