Promoters Need to Promote More…. WTF?

One of the great lies I hear from bands that haven’t made in the music business is that promoters don’t promote enough for their shows. Really? A PROMOTER whom by title and definitions job it is to promote isn’t promoting enough? I call a serious BS to this excuse that musicians use to not be accountable for their poor numbers. I have yet to meet either as a musician or a business person a promoter that didn’t promote. We are talking 30 years of playing or working in the business and I have never seen this. Even the small promoters work their fingers to the bone, pay the bands with what little came in and always go home with nothing while the bands bitch and complain and pretty much did no promotion what so ever.

It is my contention that most musicians don’t know what promotion truly is and wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it and they have no idea what is going on in the background. Is this harsh? Yes, but it is my experience dealing with musicians.

So let’s get this out of the way early. Yes, there are exceptions where maybe a promoter is new or doesn’t know what they are doing or maybe doesn’t have a budget but this is not what you normally deal with. Even still people who are promoting an event are usually very excited about their event and will promote it the hilt to the best of their ability which I can not say about musicians. Yes there are a few musicians out there that get it, but the majority don’t and they make excuses as to why they there are no people at their shows.

First and foremost, promoters are not in the business of losing money. Promoters are in the business of making money. They aren’t into taking chances and throwing away hard earned dollars by throwing an event and not promoting it. That is just plain stupid and not even close to reality. If you as a musician have met a promoter that is into throwing money away and you worked with them, then that is your fault for making a bad business decision. Hopefully you have learned form it and know what questions to ask next time.

As far as promoters taking advantage of local bands again a load of BS. If you are a local band, and you were lucky enough to get a spot on an event that has money behind it, you are already getting more than you are worth in advertising and promotion alone. It builds your brand, your credibility and if you actually drew in the minimum of 30 paid tickets you should be drawing in, then you will be remembered and brought in again and again as long as your work your butt off and keep brining in numbers. This does lead to getting paid and much better opportunities for you. If you are a local band opening for a A level or B level band, you are getting paid by getting in front of the audience that paid to see the headliner not you. This is a crowd that would never normally come see you. Understand the opportunity that it is, the opportunity you couldn’t normally afford to pay for yourself and make the most of it.

I can’t tell you how many times I stood in front of Bridgestone arena during a big concert by myself handing out promo cards while not one of the band members helped or how many times I was out ever day hanging posters and no help from the bands. 3 times I had a tiny bit of help hanging posters from 1 musician who did one small area of town with me and 2 others where a model and a friend helped me to 2 square blocks. Everything else was me every day hanging posters and hitting a previous area again every third day. The bands always had an excuse as to why they couldn’t help.

Promoters have their events listed on all the known event websites. They get their events in all the local entertainment rags. They set up radio interviews and advertising. They do email blasts over and over again. They have social media accounts that they promote on. They hang posters all over town over and over again because posters are always pulled down. This more promotion per event then most bands will do in a year for themselves let alone for just one event. What do musicians do? Maybe a couple Facebook posts or tweets and call that promotion.

In a perfect world, each event will be promoted to the hilt by the promoter, venue and bands. Will this happen? Maybe, maybe not. The reality is this. Each musician or band is responsible for their success and the success of each event no matter what anyone else does. You can never rely on someone else’s promotion for your business. YOU have to kill it each and every time. YOU cannot let excuses creep into your thought process. People pay to see bands that are good, the pay to see an experience. If they aren’t paying to see you, it’s not because of a lack of promotion by the venue or promoter. It’s because you aren’t giving them what they want yet. They don’t see anything worth paying for. YOU as a band have to learn how to separate people from their money. YOU have to learn how the become the EVENT that makes them put other things off and come see you instead of a movie or handing with friends.

As a promoter we have to do the same thing however, promoters learn quickly usually and bands seem to languish in poor work ethic and lack of creativity.

Bottom line is this. YOU have to toot your own horn and not expect anyone else to. YOU have to learn the skills to make this happen. YOU have to have a band that is dedicated to putting together a strategy to promote effectively. This means everyone in the band has to participate and quit using the “that just isn’t my thing” excuse. If you are in a band and you find that you don’t have the drive or the time to make this happen, then it is time re-evaluate your business and maybe step aside or just be comfortable with being a local band. There is nothing wrong with that. Getting up and playing music for any number of people is it’s own reward.

The music business isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago. There is very little money it, especially for bands that haven’t made it. Musicians wanted control of their careers so they could make more money and not get screwed. Well guess what, you got it. Now it is all your responsibility. The real work, the hard work is now up to you and you live and die by the sword.

Now you know why, bands had contracts that paid other people so much. They were the ones making you successful. They did all the hard work, the grunt work. They were the ones taking the risk and fronting the money so you could be a rock star.

Time to make a decision. Either you want it and will do everything as a unit possible to make it or you won’t, but quit blaming others for what you are not willing to do for yourself.

To all the bands that are doing it, keep it up! Never give up! Take the reigns of your business and do your best to dictate your success!

Good luck!

Why Aren’t People Coming to Your Shows?

The entertainment business is incredibly tough to be in. We all think we are amazing talents and think we should be paid for all of our hard work and what it takes to put on a show of any kind but that isn’t the reality. The reality is it’s hard to separate people from their hard earned income and with all the entertainment being thrown at them from every angle now days, it’s very hard to capture their attention.

This is why is so incredibly critical that word of mouth spreads about your show the entice people to your future shows. It almost always takes lots and lots of shows before you start to see the crowds you want but there is a strategy to doing it and most importantly, it has to be an experience they will remember and always talk about.

The other day, Dana White of the promotions company UFC came out and said “If you want to get paid, you don’t want people doing the wave during your fight.You want them talking about you on Monday and Tuesday and that isn’t going to happen if they aren’t paying attention to your fight” (paraphrased.) This is completely true of any form of entertainment. If you can’t get people to talk about how completely amazing your show or performance was, you are not giving the audience the experience they are paying for and hence, you don’t deserve to get paid no matter how hard you worked nor should you expect them to. This isn’t an hourly paying gig based on the hours you put in. Lot’s of people work hard (most likely in the wrong areas) but may not be talented enough, visionary enough or a good enough producer to put on the entertainment experience of a life time.

This is the truth. Hard work doesn’t determine getting paid. Buying gear doesn’t determine getting paid. Nothing determines getting paid other than your show putting butts in seats no matter how hard you work or talented you are. This can be a very long and arduous process for any entertainer but it is usually the most common road. Time, effort, talent and an amazing amount of patience are absolutely necessary in the entertainment business. If you aren’t giving the public something that makes them want to part with their money, then you have no one to blame but yourself. You don’t deserve to get paid just for showing up.

Along with talent, planning, intense amounts of practice and the vision to make your dream happen and to also deliver something the public finds value in comes the actual real work that most entertainers don’t want to do and hope others will do for them before they are big enough for anyone to want to. The promotion, booking and business end of things. Somehow the entertainers have to be able to do all of this. It’s obviously very hard and if it was easy, every one would be doing it but they aren’t. However it can be done and there are plenty of examples in the business to prove it. It comes down to will, determination and talent not only to perform but design a show that will provide and experience, not just another so-so show that the public usually gets. They deserve much better than average if they are going to spend money on a ticket plus any other expenses such as drinks, dinner, parking or babysitting etc.

I would estimate that about 95% of what entertainers are putting out there in their performances or shows is completely average or below, yet all I see are entertainers demanding that they should get paid. Paid for what? Mediocrity? I won’t pay you for that. When you send in your material and tell me how amazing you are then that is what I expect. If you aren’t that, if you don’t deliver on your words of your live show, if you don’t put butts in seats or increase your crowd on average over time, then you simply are not as good as you say you are. That is reality. That doesn’t mean give up though. It means you need to re-evaluate your show. Take the time to make adjustments, improve in the areas that need it and learn to put on the show that people wan’t to see. If you don’t, you can’t complain about people not wanting to pay ticket prices. You aren’t providing the value to make it worth the price to them.

You want to sell tickets? Provide the experience that people can’t stop talking about. This means the most well rehearsed, professional dedicated performance you can deliver and it must keep getting better. Until then, you will be mired in mediocrity and low ticket sales and letting the business jade you for your perceived slights. No one owes you a living. In this business, talent, hard work, creativity and vision are all you have. Bring it or go home. Don’t complain about people not coming to your shows when you aren’t giving the very best for them to see.

This is the reality that haunts us all. You and me alike.

Good luck!

Thoughts after the ASTRA Toy & Game Convention in Nashville, TN.

Monday morning I was on Facebook to see if Mayfair Games had posted my review of Star Trek Catan which they did because (thank you) they understand social media much better than just about all the rest of the of the board game publishing companies and I noticed in their social media posting that they were at an ASTRA Toy & Game Convention in Nashville just one block away from the Starbucks I was sitting at working so I jumped online and registered and high-tailed it down there to check out what was going on!

It was a great event with lots of fun toys and board games which is of course what I was interested in and a great energy with very friendly vendors, store owners, reps and staff. Granted most of the product is aimed at children but some of the games were amazing no matter what the target market was and real credit is due to the designers on their originality and the ability to put together games that allowed for different levels of playability at the same time so any age can play the challenge will better fit each player without the parent or adult having to throw a game for the children to win. There was some great solo player games, a few original party games that looked like a blast, one being Donkey from Cleveland Kids and Spontuneous from Spontuneous Games Inc. It was amazing to see so many great educational, fun toys and games. Things have come a long way since I was a kid.

As mention earlier Mayfair Games had a booth there demoing Catan Jr. which is my daughters favorite board game and a game more for adults called Five Points that looked very interesting. Asmodee Games had a presence there as well for both kids games like Timeline, another of my daughters favorites and 7 Wonders which is a great gateway game for the older crowd. I’ll have reviews of many of these games out soon so stay tuned for that.

Like any sales convention, you can tell who is experienced by their booth personality and who isn’t. There were a handful of people who didn’t try engage anyone as they walked by and others that were all about demoing their product which is the whole reason they are there. Creating interested and sales is the whole point of the convention. There were some very talented sales people there and that was fun to watch!

I spent many hours talking to reps and publishers and for the most part across the board whether it be through my normal connections or just talking with this crowd, many really don’t understand or utilize social media to even a 10th of its potential. Sure many of them have witter accounts and Facebook pages but most publishers just post once a day whatever the product that day is and they never engage their fans, reviewers or anyone. Social media is about engagement. This industry has got to learn to embrace this medium and utilize it before board games become passe again. All these companies have a marketing person who might have to do it all, but that is no excuse. Mayfair Games is great about posting their reviews (thank you from all of us reviewers,) Catalyst Game Labs is the best that I have come across so far that understand social media in this industry with email blog updates that are constantly engaging and interesting, Twitter posts with replies to their followers, constant Facebook updates and most of it isn’t a sales push, it’s an attempt to engage their customer base.

Learning to use social media properly is critical to any business today. If the manpower isn’t available, there are of course options like interns to help run it, but there just isn’t any excuse any more. Social media has been around to long to not have put a plan in place. Remember, it’s not about how many likes are on a Facebook page, it’s about how many people are talking about you and engaging with you. I can’t wait for the day with publishers engage with their customers and help blow the door of our favorite hobby.

Batman Arkham City Escape The Board Game Review by David Lowry

Batman: Arkham City Escape The Board Game

Batman Arkham City Escape The Board Game

 

Alarm klaxons are blaring across the Gotham City night. A light cuts through the dense terror consuming the city. The people are panicking, as they know what those alarms mean, a jailbreak from Arkham Asylum. The one place all of Gotham City’s worst, most dangerous criminals are being kept off the streets from terrorizing its citizens. Across the night sky, the light is the beacon of hope for Gotham City as the signal calls for the criminal’s worst fear…. Batman.

Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment

Game Designer: Matt Hyra

Players: 2

Ages: 15 to adult

Playing Time: 30- 45 minutes

Contents: 126 Game Cards – 40 Villain Cards, 40 Batman Cards, 8 Utility Belt Cards, 10 Ally Cards, 10 Gargoyle Cards, 18 Setup Cards, 1 Batman Character Pawn, 8 Combat/Action Dice, 1 Batman Experience Die, 1 18” x 33” Game Board, 1 Utility Belt Board and 12 Charge Counters

Suggested Retail Price: $45.00

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Batman: Arkham City Escape The Board Game Components

Batman: Arkham City Escape The Board Game Components

Batman Arkham City Escape The Board Game is a two player that pits one opponent as Batman and the other as the criminals that Batman must face and recapture before escaping the walls of Arkham City Prison. The first player to 10 points either by Batman capturing 10 Victory Points worth of Villains or the Villains escape with 10 Victory Points of Villains and Hostages is the winner in this board game based on the wildly popular Batman Arkham City video game.

 

 

The game board is two sided to give a bit of variety to the movement and cards placements available to both players. Side A is the side recommended for use the first couple of plays. Each player then shuffles their 9 set-up cards (there is a set of nine for Batman and the Villains) and deals out 5 cards. Both sets of 5 are then shuffled together and randomly put face down on the board over the spaces marked by the The Riddler Trophy Symbol.

 

The player who is playing Batman takes the Utility Belt Board and chooses 4 Utility Belt Cards from the 8 possible and secretly and places them face down on the board in any order.

Batarang Utility Belt Card

Batarang Utility Belt Card

 

Remote Electrical Charge Utility Belt Card

Remote Electrical Charge Utility Belt Card

Each player then shuffles their deck of 40-cards and deals them selves 5 cards. There is no hand limit for either side in this game. Batman’s deck is full of combat maneuvers and the Villains deck is packed full of Villains and Action cards.

Strike Combat Card

Strike Combat Card

 

Two-Face Villain Card

Two-Face Villain Card

The Villain always goes first in this game. The villain starts every round rolling 4 dice to see how many actions they will have this round. Each A (Arkham City) sided die is a success, every Batman symbol is a failure so each turn the Villains will get between 0-4 actions unless card texts determine otherwise.

Hush Villain Card

Hush Villain Card

The Villain Actions:

  • Place up to 5 Villains from your hand onto the entry row of the map, face down.
  • You may perform this Action once per turn.
  • Move all facedown Villain cards 1 space in any direction.
  • You may perform this Action only once per turn.
  • Move 1 face-up Villain up to 2 spaces in any direction.
  • You may perform this Action multiple times during your turn, but not on the same Villain.
  • Move 1 face-up Villain holding a Hostage 1 space in any direction.
  • You may perform this Action multiple times during your turn, but not on the same Villain.
  • Draw 1 card.
  • You may perform this Action multiple times during your turn.
Counter Combat Card

Counter Combat Card

Batmans Actions:

  • Move Batman once per turn using one of the following 3 options
  • Move Batman 1 space in any direction
  • Grapple to a Gargoyle up 2 spaces away from Batman. Batman may move to any number of Gargoyles as long as they are no more than 2 spaces away.
  • Move from one Sewer space to the other Sewer space (2 on the board). Batman must currently be on one of the spaces to use this option.
  • Flip any number of Utility Belt gadgets face up. In order to use the gadgets they must be face up and have charges left on them to use.
  • Fight any number of Villains that in Batman’s space. Batman must fight when either he or a Villain move into the same space. If Batman starts a turn in the same space as a Villain he can chose whether or not to fight that Villain.
  • When Batman is in a fight, the player may play any number of Combat cards to aid Batman in capturing that Villain. These cards can becombined for Combo points or Batman may chose to not play any combat             cards unless a card text says other wise.
  • Each Batman symbol is a success so if Batman ties or surpasses a Villains Capture Rating, Batman is successful in capturing that Villain and adding them to the Victory Point pile. After a successful capture, Batman get to roll the XP die and receive the reward shown on the die.

 

Batman can’t fight the same Villain in the same turn. If Batman is able to clear the board of all Villains and all facedown cards including the Setup cards, Batman instantly wins the game. If at anytime either player runs out cards to draw, reshuffle the discard pile.

 

Combat cards have a combo point value up in the left corner. Each point is worth 1 die to Batman during his combat roll. There are only 8 dice in the game so while Batman may play more that 8 combo points worth of cards, he will never role more than 8 dice. Many of the Combat cards have a text to resolve.

 

If Batman doesn’t roll enough Batman symbols to capture the Villain, many of the Villains have a retaliation text on their card to have a negative effect on Batman.

Mayor Quincy Sharp Ally Card

Mayor Quincy Sharp Ally Card

Security Guards Ally Card

Security Guards Ally Card

When the Villains move around the board, if they stay facedown, they have a better chance of making it to the other side and escaping. However, if they land or pass over a space with a facedown setup card, then they and the setup card are flip over and depending on what that setup card is, its text may activate almost immediately. Batman has some allies that get revealed this way, which give Batman a benefit. The Villain also has half of the board covered in their setup cards with give them bonuses.

 

Batman: Arkham City Escape The Board Game is a quick romp that really doesn’t feel like the video game it was based on at all. Batman is a bit trickier to play than the Villains and it requires a few plays to get the turn sequence down and see what the different Utility Belt gadgets really do and how to best use them. There is a bit of strategy to this game but it is not heavy by any means. It is a decent enough game especially for kids that are really into Batman or die hard Batman fans, but it doesn’t scratch that Superhero itch that needs to be scratched. While I enjoyed playing the game more after a a couple games, it isn’t one that make have to have it in my collection. I wouldn’t turn down a game, but there are much better 2-player games out there that give you that satisfied feeling of having really just been challenged. This is just another fun game that is decent to play but doesn’t really knock it out of the park.

 

The components on this game are well done. The cards are good weight; the board is large with plenty of room for the cards to be played on it. The artwork on the board is ok, but not amazing. The box art on the other hand is visually eye catchy and well done. The rulebook sticks with Cryptozoic Entertainments usual format and is easy to read. The game is easy to understand but the rulebook could do with a bit more examples or details to better understand how a few of the situations work out. The box itself is big and if no expansions are forthcoming, it is to big. But if expansions are forthcoming then there is room to spare to hold extra cards.

 

I am not sure that what you get is worth the $45.00 you have to spend to get this board game compared to others as there isn’t that much to it component wise except for understanding how much the licensing might have to play into that cost.

 

All in all, Cryptozoic Entertainment has put for a solid effort and made a game that is enjoyable for a light gaming session as long as you aren’t expecting a major Batman fix.

 

I will give this game about a 6.5 out of 10 stars as it does lack depth and doesn’t quite live up the game it is based on. However, for a quick game it definitely has its moments of providing a bit of that game excitement and stress we all love. [rating=6.5]

I was not provided a review copy of this game.

[amazon asin=B00ASX2WDM&template=iframe image]

What Musicians Can Learn From UFC Fighter Chael Sonnen

Sometimes it amazes me some of the stuff I read on social media. Musicians complaining about other musicians “being posers” on Facebook or wherever trying to act bigger than they are or cooler than other bands. Well #1 that is their job and #2 just because someone takes it that way doesn’t mean that is what they are doing. They are simply trying to build excitement with their fans and followers.

 

Musicians are many times so eager to tear each other down, especially other musicians that seem to be having more success then they are and they don’t understand why or think their band is better and the world just isn’t fair. Of course the music business has very little to do with talent and everything to do with a budget, work ethic and marketability. If talent was the key than most bands have no shot at ever making it and jazz, fusion, classical and opera would reign supreme as that is where most of the worlds best talent truly lies.

 

What musicians have to learn is the art of promoting themselves and some people really struggle with this. They might feel funny about tooting their own horn but unless you have a major PR budget no one is going to do it with out getting paid. Musicians need to quit expecting someone to just help them out on a spec deal as there is no real money in this business anymore for people to work on the “hopes” of a band making it. Learning the art of self-promotion is extremely vital to making it and developing a new audience, gaining advantageous spots on tours etc. This is where they could learn from the UFC fighters.

 

Chael Sonnen was a middle of the road UFC fighter. He was always a very good wrestler but he wasn’t winning the big ones and certainly not all his fights. He was a quite, respectful fighter and never caused any controversy then suddenly there was a transformation. Chael came back after some time off and was a completely different media presence. All the sudden he was a smack talker. He learned the art of self-promotion and has talked himself into title fights he didn’t deserve necessarily. Now I am not taking anything away from his talent, but looking at rankings and records, he probably normally wouldn’t have been the one picked for these fights.

 

However, Chael learned to promote himself in the media to such an extent he became a major Pay-Per-View sell. Chael also never backs down from a fight; he doesn’t care what anyone else says about him, what the other fighter’s think of him or anything except for accomplishing his career goals. Now some people have said that behind the scene Chael is nothing like his smack-talking persona, he is a nice guy and an extremely hard worker, not the hard worker part. Chael has proven himself to be ready to go to his promoter the UFC by always being prepared not only being in shape to fight at a moments notice but that he will kick the shit out of the media schedule. He is a marketing machine and that is exactly what promoters want and look for. Their job is to sell tickets and the talent needs to understand that and me a major presence in making that happen. It keeps Chael employed and bumps up his paycheck quite dramatically.

 

You see, musicians need to quit worrying about what their local musicians buddies say and think. It’s not their goal or dream, it’s yours. It’s not their image; it’s yours to worry about. Who the hell cares what band ABC says about you online or behind your back. This business is nothing but shit talkers talking behind your back. It is your job to put out the very best show, product every night and to somehow get people to notice you, talk about you and most important bring more people to your next gig.

 

Whether or not you chose to be as controversial as Chael Sonnen is not my point, my point is Chael learned what he needed to do to separate himself from all the other UFC fighters looking for their shot beyond his fight skill which was already considerable. Chael talked himself into positions he probably shouldn’t have been able to be in because he created those spots by his selfless self-promotion. Chael has now secured himself a very good future outside of fighting as he now also a very popular TV host due to his self-promotion efforts. This is every band or musicians job period, to separate your band from the mass of white noise from the millions of others bands vying for a spot in the limelight.

 

Let me warn you though, do not do this if you can’t back up your talk. If your band isn’t as good as you say or your live show is just average, don’t even bother. Work your product to be the best, most creative and original thing your fan base will experience and then go out and self-promote the hell out of yourself. Don’t worry about anyone else but you and your goals.

 

Pull up your bootstraps, dig deep in the trenches and become a self-promotion powerhouse. You owe yourself that much in order to achieve your dream. Anything else is a waste of time.

 

Good Luck!

Gaming Resources

Reviewers:

Board Games:

The Dice Tower

Shut Up & Sit Down

The Esoteric Order of Gamers

Board Game Quest

Role-Playing Games:

G*M*S Magazine

Publishers:

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)

Arcane Wonders

Asmodee

Bandai

Cryptozoic Entertainment

Days of Wonder

Evil Hat Productions

Fantasy Flight Games

Fireside Games

Game Salute

Gamelyn Games

Gamewright

Green Ronin Publishing

Hans In Glueck

Iello Games

Mayfair Games

Out of the Box

Paizo Games

Playroom Entertainment

Privateer Press

Queen

Rio Grande Games

Stronghold Games

Upper Deck

Wizards of the Coast

Wiz Kids Games

Ystari

Z-Man Games

Miscellaneus:

Board Game Geek

David Lowry Interviews Gamelyn Games about Dungeon Heroes

Dungeon Heroes Box Top

Dungeon Heroes Box Top

In our very first video interview for the board game column, I am interviewing Michael Coe of Gamelyn Games in a Google+ hangout. In this interview we talk to Michael about releasing his new game Dungeon Heroes in July as well as the expansions “The Dragon& the Damsel” and “Lords of the Undead” that are being released at the same time. Also discussed is some of the things that a small publisher and designer have to know to get their games out there.

Gamelyn Games

Gamelyn Games

Geek Eccentric will be reviewing this game upon it’s release as well as doing a random drawing for a copy of Dungeon Heroes so make sure you stay tuned on Geek Eccentric for the details.

 

Please leave comments on what you thought about the interview and what other content you would like to see in our video series.

 

Please make sure to follow Michael and Gamelyn Games at the following social media sites:

Facebook

Twitter

This interview was originally posted on Geek Eccentrichttp://www.geekeccentric.com/david-lowry-interviews-michael-coe-of-gamelyn-games-about-dungeon-heroes/

Arctic Scavengers Review by David Lowry

Arctic Scavengers Box Top

Arctic Scavengers Box Top

The year is 2097 and the earth was transformed from a climate shift of cataclysmic proportions plunging the earth and all its inhabitants into an ice age. An estimated 90% of the earth’s populations was decimated forcing the survivors to join together in tribes. Does your tribe have what it takes to survive? Will your tribe be able gather enough resources, medicine and tools to make it? Can you combat rival tribes for these incredibly scarce resources? In this battle for survival the largest Arctic Scavengers tribe wins!

 

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Game Designer: Robert Kyle Gabhart

Players: 2-5

Ages: 13 to adult

Playing Time: 45-60 minutes

Contents: 1 rule booklet, 1 rule summary mat, 1 junkyard mat, 1 contested resources mat, 1 initiator card, 149 play cards including 20 refugees, 69 mercenaries, 46 junkyard cards and 14 contested resources.

Contents: HQ Expansion – 1 expansion rules summary, 1 engineering schematics mat, 1 storage cover, 49 playing cards consisting of 12 buildings, 10 tribal leaders, 8 junkyard cards, 8 medics, 8 engineers and 3 gangs.

Suggested Retail Price: $34.95

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

 

Rio Grande Games originally released Arctic Scavengers back in 2009 but with the release of Dominion and it being the hot game of the moment, Arctic Scavengers really took a back seat to its counterpart. With the new re-release of Arctic Scavengers, it is very possible that you are getting a better game at least from the visual point of view.

In Arctic Scavengers, each player works to grow their tribes as large as they possibly can. They do this through hiring mercenaries, scavenging through the junk pile and winning in player skirmishes against the other competing tribes. The player with the most tribe members at the end of the game is the winner.

Scavengers Card

Scavengers Card

The card anatomy is as follows:

The upper left corner is the card type. The upper right corner is the cost of recruiting this card to your tribe. Down the left side you have in order; draw cards, digging, hunt and fight. If any of these spots are empty, then this card does not that have ability as in the card below as it does not have the draw or dig abilities. Finally the bottom left corner is the amount of people represented by the card. This is where you total your victory points at the end of the game as well as it has its part in the player skirmishes but we will cover that later.

 

Thugs Card

Thugs Card

Every card has some ability to it. Some have medicine (+) not shown or sub-type actions such as +modifiers to certain abilities. All these are needed to recruit better people to your tribe or to dig deeper in the junkyard or be stronger in the skirmish.

 

PIlls Card

Pills Card

Each player starts with 4 refugee cards (these water down the deck) 3 scavenger cards, 1 brawler card, 1 spear card and 1 shovel card. I should note that one person could only handle one tool such as a spear or shovel at a time. You can’t combine both a spear and shovel with a scavenger for instance.

 

Shovel Card

Shovel Card

Each round of Arctic Scavengers is broken up into 3 phases:

 

The Drawing Phase: Draw 5 new cards and discard any old cards from the previous round. After round 3 begins, the starting player (this rotates each turn) gets to peak at the top card of the contested resources deck that players will skirmish over to set the tone for the bidding war.

 

The Resource Gathering Phase: Each player uses any resources to gather resources to accomplish the main actions during this phase.

 

– Draw – Take one or more cards from the deck and add them to the players hand depending on how many draw resources have been played that turn.

 

– Dig – Here the player digs as many cards out of the junkyard as resources have been played that turn. For instance if 3 resources were played, the player can then draw 3 cards from the junkyard pile, keep 1 of those 3 secretly and put the other 2 back under the pile facedown so no one can see what they are.

 

– Hunt – This allows the player to produce one or more food for use in recruiting a new member to the tribe.

 

– Fight – This action is used during the Skirmish. The players commit cards secretly to the table to be revealed during the Skirmish Phase. These cards can not be used for any resource gathering during this turn. Highest score wins the skirmish and collects the contested resource and discards it secretly.

 

The Skirmish Phase – (following round 3)

 

– Once all the players have gathered their resources and put down cards they committed to the skirmish (they can’t be used for gathering resources), they then reveal their cards and the winner is determined.

 

– The winner puts the card in their discard pile and the first player moves to the next person.

 

Field Crew Resource Card

Field Crew Resource Card

There are additional free actions that can be taken as well.

 

– Hire – Select on mercenary from the table and pay its cost with food and medicine.

 

– Trash – Select one or more cards from the players hand and place them on the bottom of the junkyard pile.

 

There are special action cards as well such as the Sniper Team and Saboteur cards. The Sniper Team cards allow a player to snipe another players tribe member and can be played from a players hand or in the Skirmish phase. The Saboteur cards allow a player to disarm another player’s tool and can be played the same way.

 

Saboteur Card

Saboteur Card

Some the key ideas to think about while playing Arctic Scavengers are that a player wants to take all unused cards in their hand to the Skirmish and bluff their opponents into thinking they have played more fight than really has been. Each player may also make multiple actions per round as well as playing multiple cards for single action as that can make the action much stronger. A player may also only perform any given action once per round. Once a players has used one card for once action it cannot be used for a separate action. In order to use a tool, group leader or any card with a modifier to it, it must be paired with a card that has the base ability even if the base ability is 0. If there is no icon in the spot on the card, it does not have that ability. Once again, only one tool per tribe member card.

 

The game ends when the last contested resource has been taken from the pile. At this point, all players go through their decks and up all the people in the bottom left corner of their cards and the biggest tribe wins!

 

Arctic Scavengers also comes with the HQ Expansion for free! The expansion is 4 different modules that can be used any combination in play. The basic premise is a basic headquarters or base camp for each tribe leader as well as being able to construct buildings that can be used during play for strategic use. This introduces new victory paths, new mercenaries and tools. The engineering schematics deck are also included. The basic game is basically the same when the modules are added.

 

Module #1 – Medics, Tools and Gangs

 

– Medics have a draw of 1, can be played to represent medicine to recruit new mercenaries or they can be played from the hand to save another tribe member from a sniper attack.

 

– Save – a new action to protect a tribe member from or leader from a sniper attack.

 

– Rifle – A tool for hunting and fighting Skirmishes. This gives you a +2 in 2 categories.

 

Rifle Card

Rifle Card

– Toolkit – This helps digging for both junkyard and engineering schematics or can be used by another tribe member to speed up building. This also allows for cards to be removed from one building that is under construction.

 

The Pharmers  Gang Card

The Pharmers Gang Card

– Gangs – There are 3 new gangs introduced here for a new concept. These gangs hide back until all the contested resources have been gathered and then try form an alliance with whichever tribe best meets its needs. The gangs are “The Gearheads,” “The Pharmers” and “The Masons.”

 

The Masons Gang Card

The Masons Gang Card

Module #2 – Engineering and Buildings

 

– Engineers may dig in the junkyard but their main purpose is to dig in the engineering schematics pile as they are the only card that can do this. This is of course how you go about building the buildings as well.

 

– Buildings – Players use engineers to construct buildings at the player’s HQ. These buildings take time to build but offer strategic advantages once built. Buildings are normally used during the players turn and never during the Skirmish.

 

– Building Types – Amory (stores 2 tools for later use,) Bunker (stores 3 tribe member cards for later use,) Hydroponic Gardens (generates 1 food per round, which does not accumulate) and the Pharmacy (Enables 2 medicine cards to be stored here for later use. Not including medics and not during the Skirmish.)

 

Hydroponic Garden Building Card

Hydroponic Garden Building Card

Armory Building Card

Armory Building Card

– Store – a new action that allows the player to take one or more cards of a particular type from their hand and place them, face-down, under a building.

 

– Retrieve – a new action that allows the play to take one or more cards from an active building and place them in your hand. This can be done anytime except after the Skirmish has started.

 

Module #3 – Tribal Leaders

 

– Tribal Leaders – The concept is to give unique capabilities that no other player will have. Every player picks one leader from the two provided at the start of every game. This will impact the players strategy and game play.

The Fanatic Leader Card

The Fanatic Leader Card

– Butcher/Cannibal/Fanatic – Cards that are removed from play cannot be brought back.

 

– Butcher/Cannibal/Sergent at Arms – Leaders can use special abilities without the need for a refugee.

 

– Excavator/Fanatic/Gangster/Mentor/Organizer/Peacemaker/Ranger- This requires the use of a refugee to utilize the leader.

 

– Butcher/Cannibal/Fanatic/Mentor/Organizer/Peacemaker – Abilities can only be used once per round.

– Excavator/Gangster/Ranger/Sergent at Arms – Leaders grant abilities that are always activated and can affect multiple cards in any given round.

 

Sergeant at Arms Leader Card

Sergeant at Arms Leader Card

Module #4 – Dirty Deeds

 

– New Saboteur ability – The Saboteur may attack a building and disable it. This makes it unusable. No cards can be played to or from the building until it is repaired. This requires the player to discard a card their hand.

 

– New Sniper Team Ability – The Sniper Team may now attack a tribe leader, wounding that leader removing their advantage until a medicine is played against the leader to heal them.

 

Obviously there is a lot I couldn’t put in the review and there is a good amount of depth for this deck-builder. Arctic Scavengers while being a deck-building game offers a fair amount of versatility in it’s game play and separates it’s self enough from other games of the genre to make it a must have game. I really enjoyed this game and highly recommend it to people who love the deck-building genre or who may be on the fence on this since it’s original release in 2009. The interaction with the Skirmishes alone makes it fun.

 

The components are well done and the artwork is fantastic. The box isn’t to big and it is designed to break the cards down easily although I am not sure it accomplishes that. I prefer slots for starting decks myself to make game set up easier and quicker. Also, if you sleeve your cards, this system will not work as the slots are not big enough. This part could have been better thought out.

 

All in all, a very good deck-building game that is worth the price and should give you enough of a different feel that you don’t feel like it’s just another deck-builder.

 

I will go out on a limb and give this game about an 8 out of 10 stars as it achieves the depth I like in a deck-builder especially when the expansion is added. [rating=8]

 

The review was originally posed on Geek Eccentrichttp://www.geekeccentric.com/arctic-scavengers-review-by-david-lowry/

 

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DC Comics Deck-Building Game Review by David Lowry

 

DC Comics Deck-Building Game

DC Comics Deck-Building Game

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Martian Manhunter, the world’s greatest hero’s join forces to vanquish the super-villains and archenemies. Each bent on the destruction of the Justice League. In the DC Comic Deck-Building Game, you get to pick the role of one the famed heroes and compete with fellow heroes to defeat all the super-villains lined up to take you out.

 

Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment

Game Designer: Matt Hyra and Ben Stoll

Players: 2-5

Ages: 15 to adult

Playing Time: 30- 45 minutes

Contents: 214 game cards including, 36 punch starting cards, 16 vulnerability starting cards, 114 main deck cards, 16 kick cards, 12 DC Comics super-villain cards, 20 weakness cards, 7 oversized DC Comic super hero cards and 1 rule book.

Suggested Retail Price: $40.00

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

 

In the DC Comics Deck-Building Game you are randomly dealt a Super Hero to play. If you are dealt The Flash, you always go first. The Flash super Power allows for you to go through your deck quickly which makes sense, as he is the fastest man alive. Other heroes have benefits like Batman gives you bonuses for playing equipment cards, Superman likes super Power cards, Wonder Woman lets you draw more cards for every super villain you defeated each round.

Aquaman Super Hero Card

Aquaman Super Hero Card

You start with a hand of 7 Punch cards worth one Power each and 3 Vulnerability cards worth nothing. These effectively water down your hand and need to be purged as soon as possible. Each of your Punch cards comes with 1 Power, which is the currency in the game to either buy additional cards or defeat Villains and Super-Villains. You shuffle and draw 5 cards for each hand. Once you have played your hand any cards used or drawn are discarded and then 5 new cards are drawn for your new hand.

Punch Card

Punch Card

The main deck comprised of 114 cards (not including Super-Villains, Punch, Kick, Vulnerability or Weakness cards) is shuffled and placed in the middle of the table. Place 5 cards out in a line for the line-up. This is where most of your deck will come from.

Aquaman's Trident Card

Aquaman’s Trident Card

Green Arrow Hero Card

Green Arrow Hero Card

The Super-Villain stack is set off to the side of the main deck on the table. The Super-Villain deck can be comprised of 12 different cards but usually 8 cards are used unless you prefer to play a longer game. The Super-Villain card Ra’s Al Ghul is always the top card to start any game. All the other cards are placed facedown underneath the Ra’s card. Make sure to shuffle this deck and randomly draw out the cards not being used so that the deck is unknown to the players.

Ra's Al Ghul Super Villain Card

Ra’s Al Ghul Super Villain Card

The Kick and Weakness cards are also place at the end of the Line-Up with the Super-Villain cards. The Kick (+2 Power) cards are always available for purchase at the cost of 3 Power if the cards in the Line-up are either to expensive to purchase or the players doesn’t like the current cards in the Line-Up. Weakness cards are given to the players in the form of an attack either played by the Super-Villain cards being revealed or a player invoking the attack of a villain they put into play. Weakness cards again water down the hand and provide a -1 victory point per card at the end of the game.

Kick Super Power Card

Kick Super Power Card

Once play begins you can purchase cards from the Line-Up to improve your decks and can purchase as many cards as your total Power allow. The purchase or defeat cost is on the bottom right corner of the card in the Line-Up or Super-Villain stack. Once you purchase a card, the space in the Line-Up is left there until after that players turn is done, then the Line-Up is refilled back up to 5 cards.

 

Cards are played in any order and the text on the cards is resolved immediately. This makes it very important to know what is in your hand and what order to play the cards in. Villain cards played may have an attack against the other players, Equipment cards may give you bonuses or allow cards to be destroyed, and Location card text may be triggered as well as your Super Hero Card. You may purchase cards from the Line-Up at anytime during your turn even if you haven’t already played all of your cards. During a players turn, if they defeat a Super-Villain and completed all their actions, they draw back up to 5 cards and then the next Super-Villain card is flipped up and the First Appearance text is resolved against all players in the game.

Bain Villain Card

Bain Villain Card

If during an attack be either a player or a Super-Villain, a player may have a card in their hand with a defense. They can then play this card if they chose to ward off the attack and resolved the text on the card for defense. Once the player has finished their turn, all cards purchased or defeated go face-up in the discard pile to be redrawn later, this includes all Villain and Super-Villain cards.

Joker Super-Villain Card

Joker Super-Villain Card

Lasso of Truth Equipment Card

Lasso of Truth Equipment Card

Once all of the Super-Villains have been defeated the game immediately ends and the players count up their victory points on the bottom left corner of the cards in their deck.

 

Cards my have certain benefits such as Location cards once played stay out in front of the player the rest of the game and may be triggered each and every turn. Super-Hero cards like Superman for example, have their abilities triggered every time a Super Power (orange) card is played.

Heat Vision Super Power Card

Heat Vision Super Power Card

There are quite a few variants of the game that can be played as well:

 

Two Heads are Better Than One – This variant is a 1 on 1 game, where each player plays two different Super Heroes at the same time. This allows for game text to apply to both Super Heroes.

 

Team Game – This 2 on 2 variant has one team working together to defeat the opposing team. Teams alternate turns and are free to discuss strategy. Attacks do not affect your teammate but if you are attacked, you may defend your teammate. Once the game is over, both players add their totals together and the team with the highest total wins.

 

On Patrol: This is basically the standard game except you may immediately fill any holes in the Line-Up on your turn after a purchase or defeat of a villain. If any attacks appear during the refill of the Line-Up they affect you and only you.

 

The game cards are good quality and weight and the artwork is extremely well done. The rule book is laid our fairly well and easy to understand making the game easy to pick up quickly and get playing immediately. The Super Hero cards are of a much larger size than the playing cards and unfortunately don’t fit well into the box. The space provided makes it very difficult to get them out and could lead to damaging the cards. The other cards slots leave a lot to be desired as well. If you decided to sleeve your cards to protect them, the current box will provide major fitting issues for putting away your game. Good box design is critical for deck building games and this is one area where the game fails but I am glad to say the only area.

Fastest Man Alive Hero Card

Fastest Man Alive Hero Card

The DC Deck-Building Game is really a lot of fun. It’s a very easy game to learn and teach. It’s playing time make it an easy filler while waiting for other people to show up or something you are able to play several times in one sitting for those that really get into it. While not as strategic as some deck building games it really fills the void for those looking for something that keeps the action going and this game will suffer a lot less from those people with analysis paralysis. While the theme is DC Super Heroes, the theme isn’t really a factor in the game. When you are supposed to be a Super Hero like Batman, but yet you are playing villain cards that you previously defeated, that really doesn’t make sense but it’s okay. The game delivers on many levels while any little nit picking things really don’t matter or take away from the game play. After playing this game at many different game nights and teaching it to other people who don’t normally play board games or usually only play Magic: The Gathering, the response has almost been very favorable and the game store it was played and demoed at sold all their copies to these people.

 

I will give this game about a 7.5 out of 10 stars as it does lack depth but it is certainly worth the price and wins in the fun department. [rating=7.5]

 

This review was originally posted on Geek Eccentrichttp://www.geekeccentric.com/dc-comics-deck-building-game-review-by-david-lowry/

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Forbidden Island Board Game Review by David Lowry

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island is a co-operative board game designed by master game designer Matt Leacock and published by Gamewright (www.gamewright.com.) In this game you join a team of adventurers trying to capture 4 sacred treasures on a perilous paradise that is sinking into the ocean. Will you have enough time? You and your team must race against the rising waters to accomplish your mission before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!

 

Players: 2-4

Ages: 10 to adult

Playing Time: 30 minutes

Contents: 58 playing cards, 24 island tiles, 6 pawns, 4 treasures figurines, 1 water meter, 1 water level marker and the rules of play.

Suggested Retail Price: $17.99

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Awards:

Mensa Select

Creative Child Magazine Game of the Year

FunFare All Star Award

FamilyFun Magazine Toy of the Year Award

Parent’s Choice Recommended

Games Magazine Top 100 Game

BoardgameGeek.com Golden Geek Award

MTV Geek, Top Board Game of 2010

Benefits for children: Cooperation, strategic thinking and problem solving.

 

In Forbidden Island your team of adventurers must work together to try and keep the island from sinking long enough to gain the 4 treasures and then get out alive by flying off the island at Fool’s Landing. To do this you will pick from a team consisting of an explorer, pilot, engineer, diver, messenger and navigator. Each team member has its own special ability to use in the game, which allows for greater teamwork and cooperation.

 

You start the game by shuffling all 24-island tiles and randomly placing them face up (non blue & white side) in a 4×4 square and then adding two tiles each side in the middle. Then you place your 4 treasures, The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire and The Ocean’s Chalice on the outside of the corners of the island.

 

Then you take your flood deck and shuffle it and place it face down on one side of the island. This forms the Flood draw pile. Draw the top 6 cards and flip over the tiles to the flooded (blue & White) side they represent to start the island sinking. Now place your pawns on the appropriate start tiles for each player.

 

Shuffle the Treasure deck and deal 2 cards to each person. Each person lays their cards face up in front of them so all team members can see what everyone has and how to best trade cards later in the game.

 

Now set the Water Level Meter to difficulty you wish to start at for the game. By no means think that this game is easy so if it’s your first time playing, set it the Water Level Meter to the novice level.

 

The order of play is as follows. Take up to 3 actions, draw 2 treasure cards and then draw Flood cards equal to the current water level. During your 3 actions you may move, shore up (sand bagging,) give a Treasure card to another player or capture a treasure. Moving allows you to move vertically or horizontally. You many never move diagonally unless you are the Explorer. That is the special ability of that card. The Pilot may move to any tile once per turn. The Navigator may move any other player up to 2 adjacent tiles per turn and the Diver may move through one or more adjacent flooded or missing tiles for 1 action. Shoring up allows you to flip one tile over to prevent it from sinking and obviously transferring cards to another players allows that player to capture a treasure on their turn in they have 4 of the same treasure card.

Forbidden Island Main

Forbidden Island Main

 

In order to capture a treasure, one player must get to a tile with a treasure symbol on it and turn in 4 corresponding treasure cards in for once action before that tile sinks. Each treasure has two tiles in the game.

 

After a player has taken their actions, they then draw 2 treasure cards into their hand. Draw one card at a time because if you draw a Waters Rise card you then follow the instructions on the card and this is when tiles either get flooded or sink. Move the water level marker up one on the Water Level Meter and then shuffle the discarded Flood cards and put them on top of the Flood deck. Now draw the number of cards indicated by the Water Level Meter and flip any tiles over that you draw. This will with flood a tile or sink it. Once a tile is sunk, there is no brining it back so it is critical that you manage shoring up properly in certain areas and also that players don’t get stranded where they can’t get back to the Fool’s Landing. If any player gets left behind you lose the game.

 

In the game you have special action cards that can help the team. You have Helicopter Lifts and Sandbags cards. Playing one of these cards does not require and action.

 

If the team recovers all 4 treasures and all players are able to get back to Fool’s Landing while playing a Helicopter Lift card, they then win the game. There are 4 possible ways to lose the game. If Fool’s Landing sinks, you automatically lose the game. If both of one treasure’s tiles sink you lose the game. If a player is on an island tile that sinks and they can’t swim to an adjacent island tile you lose the game. If the water level reaches the skull and crossbones on the water level meter you also lose the game.

 

Component wise, the game has incredible pieces. The tiles are thick and don’t fray on the edges, the cards are of good quality with a texture feel and the treasures are nicely done as well and could look even better for those that like to paint their minis. The game pawns are simple colored pieces of wood which actually work perfect so it doesn’t distract from the art on the tiles or the treasure pieces. The artwork is amazing which makes the overall appeal of this game even higher. My only complaint is the tin box. Although the box art is awesome, a tin box is hard to stack with other games and many times the lid comes off very easily causing major spillage. Fortunately, both of my copies of this game the lid holds tight. The box fits all the components perfectly so when you open the game it is nice and neat and easier to get set up.

 

Forbidden Island is an outstanding gateway game to teach new players about co-operative games and for children. It has simple mechanics but also adds a good amount of tension and fun interactive game play between all the players. This game is not easy by any means and you will be stretched with basic strategy and challenged every time you play it. The ability to switch different levels of difficulty from the start also gives it replay value. This is also accomplished, as the tiles are never the same at the start of the game so you basically never play the same game.     If you are looking for a good family game or a gateway game to either get in the board game hobby or to teach other new players, this is a great one to start with. Obviously it has won many awards and although it’s not a “deep” game for experienced gamers I still feel is extremely enjoyable and offers enough challenge for just about any level of gamers. The fact that it is so good for kids is a real bonus.

 

Forbidden Island Back

Forbidden Island Back

Although my star rating may not show it based on the level of difficulty , depth of play and tin box, that in no way should reflect negatively on this game. It is a solid effort and a great game for people who love to interact, be social and want a challenging game that isn’t a brain burner.

 

I give it 7.5 out of 10 stars. [rating=7.5]

 

You can find the original review posting on Geek Eccentrichttp://www.geekeccentric.com/forbidden-island-board-game-review-by-david-lowry/

 

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