Sunday, August 25, 2013

Carmarace Funded!

A big congratulations to Luca for getting his game Carmarace funded which has been my Featured Kickstarter! If you missed out on the opportunity to help fund the project, don't worry, you can still order it at their website ( Can't wait for a little Carmarace action come December! Upcoming on How Lou Sees It, a new Featured Kickstarter, review of AEG's Guildhall: Job Fair, and much more!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sushi Anyone?

Samurai Sushi

So, I enjoy a good California Roll every now and again, but I have never really had good sushi before and nothing other than the plain California Roll each time. Tonight changed that! I sat up to the Sushi Bar at Samurai and told the chef that I hadn't really had anything other than a California Roll and asked if he recommended anything. He said that he would make up one special for me. I felt like I could trust him, and it payed off for sure! I ended up getting a California Roll as well just in case the sushi roll he had in mind for me was a bit too much. The specialty roll he ended up making was really delicious! It had tempura shrimp and spicy tuna inside, wrapped with the normal rice and seaweed, and on top was some salmon, avocado, salmon pearls, and bits of tempura crisp on top as well with a nice sauce. It was really good and I was very full. The chef insisted that I have some dessert and after the delicious sushi roll, I decided to trust him to order me desert too. The result - fried cheesecake. Yes, you read that correctly. Amazing fried cheesecake. It was divine, but alas I couldn't take one more bite after the first one (it came with two of them), so I gave the rest to a family next to me and I was on my way. Very nice atmosphere and great food! If you are ever in South Lake Tahoe, check it out! And that is How Lou Seas It (pardon the pun, but I couldn't pass it up)!

Sushi Bar

You can reserve this private room...looked pretty cool.

California Rolls are delicious, especially when made in front of you.

Close up of the California.

Specialty roll with tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, salmon, avocado, salmon pearls, tempura crisps, and specialty sauce. 

Close up of specialty roll.

Cross-cut view of specialty roll. Mmmmm.

I sat right in front of this guy. Good fortune may be headed my way!

Inside Samurai.

Fried Cheesecake!

Mmmmmm. A great way to end the meal!

Thank you chefs of the Samurai, you were great!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Love Letter Review

Love Letter
Designed by Seiji Kanai
2 to 4 Players
20 Minute Play Time

Background / Introduction
Let me start out this review by asking you all a question. Have you ever received or written a love letter (or maybe e-mail/text/IM etc.)? There is a certain excitement that comes from receiving or writing words that express your love to another. Now, even though the excitement and perhaps anxiety isn't the same, the game Love Letter really creates a fun anxiety and excitement and it does it all with just 16 cards. The theme I think fits really well into the game play and one other interesting thing to note along with the theme, is the fact that this game is actually game 4 in an AEG series called the Tempest series. All of these games use the same characters and build off of previous games in story and development of that realm or world. A really cool idea to link games together and truly make a "series" out of it. While I have not played any of the other games in the series, I look forward to the opportunity!

Love Letter fever has spread fast and furious around the world like a disease outbreak chain in Pandemic folks. If I was tasked with squandering and curing the world of this fever, I would fear the task too great. Love Letter has become very popular for good reason. Now, I'm not saying that means that it is a game for everyone, but there is just too much good things happening with the game not to ignore it. Some of you out there who are used to judging a book by its cover, may dismiss this game just by the name alone. I hope you don't. Trust me, something that Love Letter is definitely not, is one of those teen dating games. Love Letter is a simple card game consisting of only 16 cards and a few counter pieces. Keeping the game simple allows for a greater age range of players who enjoy the game, and in this case, the game price is minimal as well (all of our budgets can appreciate a great game cheap). The game really doesn't take that long at all to play (assuming you don't have people who take 5 minutes to decide one simple choice). Today we will look at two different versions of the game (artwork of the cards is really the only thing that changed along with the names for the cards).

Components / Rules
Not much to discuss here as I have already said that the rules are really simple and with only a few cards and tokens to keep track of game progress, everything is well put together and great quality. The artwork for the cards is really well done for both versions although very different from one another. The rules are clear and taught very easily. The wooden cubes or tokens in the game represent "tokens of affection" from the princess and these are basic wooden cubes. I would have liked to see something like little metal wax seals as tokens in the limited edition version, but they stuck with the wooden cubes. The velvet bag for the original version is nice and I actually like it as it contains everything for very easy transport.

Goal / Gameplay
So, in this particular Tempest game, everyone is trying to court or win the heart of the beautiful Princess Annette (in the limited edition version, one of the fun things included in that is actually 3 different cards that take this role, you can choose the princess with or without glasses, or you can even change the gender to a prince). It is a simple thing, but offering 3 different choices for this card really helps with the theme of the game, especially having the option for a prince when playing with an all female crowd (yes, girls love this game too!). Players play rounds and the winner of each round obtains a token of affection (a red wooden cube - really princess? I'm worth a red wooden cube to you?). The winner is the first to a set number of these cubes (player dependent). So, how do you obtain these precious cubes?

Players are all dealt one card each. Players on their turn then perform two actions. They draw a new card from the stack and then they play one of the two cards from their hand. Each card has a point value and special action or constraint on them and the player must abide by those. You can win a round by being the last person still in the round, or if all the cards are drawn having the highest valued card at the end of the round. So, that brings up the question, well, how does one get eliminated from the round? This is done by using the actions of the card you choose to play for that round (this card gets played in front of you on your play stack).

For example, the guard allows a player to guess what card a player has. If they are correct in that guess, that other player must reveal their card and is out of the round. If the guess is wrong, then nothing happens special for this round (the player doesn't need to reveal the card - no bluffing either!). There are 8 different types of cards total and actions include looking at other peoples cards, protection from other cards for the round, and one of the most important ones - the princess card can't be discarded or played from your hand or you are out of the round. Yes, the princess card is the highest value card (you obviously would like to deliver your love letter in person if you can), but others (or other cards) may make you discard it pushing you out of that round. I won't go through each card, but they are all very easy to understand and are all pretty interesting. Some of the name changes in the limited edition version were really interesting. I thought that the change from priest to clown was particularly interesting. The other thing on the limited edition cards that you will notice, is that they provide little symbols that represent the action of those cards as well as the little dots along the side remind players how many of that type of card are in the deck.

Thoughts / Conclusion
Let's start with a few key points and some short discussion, and then I can hopefully close this review up like a well written letter and seal it with my stamp of approval.

  • The game is short (or at least each round). - Depending on each round, the game can be really short. I know that when I played for the first time with just me and my wife, there were multiple occasions that one using the guard guessed the other players card the very first card of that round. Sometimes the fact that you can get out of the round so fast can be very frustrating, especially if it happens the entire game. There is a lot of luck to the cards you are dealt and this can fluctuate the length of the game. The choices you make really are not too complex and so it shouldn't take people long to play on their turn (but there seems to be always one player in a game group who over thinks things and takes forever no matter what game - you know who I am talking about - you may even realize that that player is you).
  • The game is simple. - 16 cards, 8 different ones, be the last one standing or at least the "highest" one standing. Draw a card, play a card. The simplicity is one of the big bonuses of this game and it really allows younger kids or inexperienced gamers to get into the game.
  • Low Strategy, Higher Luck, Lots of Fun. - So, with the great simplicity of the game, the game is pretty heavy on the luck side (don't get me wrong, there is also a great deal of strategy when playing to bluff and know when to play what as well) as you are relying on what cards are dealt to you and to others. When you guess someone's card without really an inclination if that is what they really had etc. happens and can happen a lot in a single game. You only have two cards in your hand, so there isn't a lot of complexity to strategically playing what you have. I know some struggle with the game because they feel that because of the limited cards and game play that the choice is really obvious or really the cards force you to play one or the other to still stay in the game. So while the game is simple, you do loose a lot of your strategic game play. You do not however, in my opinion, loose the fun factor. Some of the funnest games can be complete luck.

This is a great game for those looking for a light card game that all ages will enjoy. The game is a great filler type game for those more strategic gamers who need a little something to cleanse their gaming palate before that next 2 hour game of Risk or Power Grid. The game shares some similarities with the card game Coup (which I backed on Kickstarter and should receive in the next few months). The game will appeal to a great majority of people. Just remember that the game is meant to be light and quick and that the luck to the game is all part of the fun! I give this game 3 fingers up or 8 out of 10 stars. Happy wooing and may you win the affection of that beautiful princess or handsome prince you are looking for or be lucky enough to have already won that affection (as I have) and that is How Lou Sees It.

A big SHOUT OUT to AEG games for making this review possible! Also, keep checking back for my next game review on AEG's Guildhall Job Fair and many more! I will eventually be updating the look and rating system of my blog soon too!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Q and A with Carmarace Game Designer Luca Caltabiano

Luca Caltabiano founder of Board to Death TV and designer of the featured Kickstarter project Carmarace provides some As to my Qs.

I am very excited about today's post as you get to see the results from my very first interview (or Q and A) session. And since that interview was with someone as talented and well known as Luca, I feel very honored to have this opportunity. My purpose in interviewing Luca was to get some inside scoop on Luca and his new game Carmarace which is currently on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter 101
For those who don't know, Kickstarter is a great website that allows people to gauge how well received some new product or project will be by asking the world to pledge a certain amount of money that will help them complete their project. Board games can be very expensive to publish (or so I have been told) and this is a way for people to say, "Hey! This game looks awesome...of course I will pay in advance for a copy so that the entire gaming population may partake in its perfect mayhemness!" If the project doesn't get funded (people don't pledge enough to meet the minimum goal) then no money is actually given and the project doesn't get too move forward. Frown Face. But, if the game does meet the minimum goal, all money will be taken from the people who pledged and this money will be used to produce the product. Stretch goals are usually then given to encourage continual growth of the pledged amount which usually enhances the quality of the game or adds really other cool rewards (I really hope Carmarace can meet 30k - foiled cards and box...sweet!). So, with that being said, check out my currently featured Kickstarter - Carmarace and enjoy my interview with its creator.

Interview with Luca

Q - As founder of Board to Death TV, can you briefly give us a little background about yourself and what inspired you to start making videos about board games in the first place?

Well I never intended on making video reviews, it happened by accident. I was a film student making short films for film festivals and then started a video production company. One night, during game night, I thought I would try out my new camera and film our game. I then posted that video online to show people the quality of the camera and other specs, but most people actually just commented on the Boardgame istself. They wanted more, and we got plenty of emails telling us to make reviews. So I emailed companies asking them to send us review copies to start off the website. Some companies jumped right in like Rio Grande, Gamewright, AEG, and others. Fantasy Flight however did not want to support us. But now that we have grown to what we are today, we do not send emails out anymore, luckily, the companies come to us. I saw how many people loved our videos, so I just continued doing them.

(I think I can speak for the gaming community when I say that we are all grateful that you have continued doing them and we are all excited for this new game of yours.)

Q - What is your all time favorite board game?

Oh man...nice question. Um...I would have to say my First board game. Fireball Island. Why? Well, because it's the first game that always comes to mind when people ask me that question. If I would get that game for Christmas, I would probably cry a little. No other game would do that to me. It's probably the game I have played the most too. I must have played 'till it broke.

(Very cool! I have never actually heard of this game before, but after checking it out online - I can see why it would be a favorite. It looks like any of our readers could be the proud owner of a copy if you win the bid on e-bay for $150 plus. Check out info on Fireball Island at Board Game Geek.)

Q - Give us a little background on how you came up with the idea for Carmarace. What games would you say influenced your design of Carmarace the most? 

Well, I love racing games and there isn't that many out there. I play lots of video games too and my favorite games are the Need For Speed ones. I wanted to make a simple card game at first, which anyone can play, even children. But then as we play tested, the guys said why not add abilities to some of the cards? And so, we did. Once we play tested that for a while, we thought, man, it would be cool to actually visualize the race. So, we made a board and play tested that until we knew we had a really fun game.

The Karma aspect of that game came to mind when I accidentally hit a cat with my car. I went back for it, he was still alive, so I picked him up and brought him to the side of the road and called the SPCA to pick him up. I waited 1 hour there with him, he was always starring at me, as if to thank me or something for not leaving him on the road. This was at 2 a.m. and I might have been seeing things, but he really looked like he was thanking me.

The next day, I went to pick up my fiance and in front of her house there is a bus stop. Someone had left their bag under the bus stop bench. I went to go check if it was school stuff or something I could return, but when I opened it, there was a camera in it. I brought it in and tried to see if there was any info or footage that I could use to bring it back to the owner but there was nothing. I told my fiance and she said it was Karma for what you did for the cat. I waited to see if anyone would come back for it, but saw no one.

(I know that I enjoy racing games. Mario Kart anyone? A friend of mine hit a dog once. He really just grazed it I guess, because it seemed to be just fine. There was a terrifying yelp though that caused us to look back and see the dog run off back into its yard. Karma. A nice theme for this sort of game. I hope if that person out there missing their camera is reading this that they will now know where their camera ended up. It is in good hands.)

Q - When I learned about the game, I immediately thought of the card game Milles Bornes taken and made much more interesting! I loved playing that game growing up, and this game looks like a really fun improvement on that. Would you mind comparing the two games? 

I have a confession to make, I never played that game. A lot of people told me about it and if I take a quick glance at the game, the artwork is very different and I think CarmaRace has more abilities and will be easier to Expand with new maps, new cars, and new mechanics. I will have to try that game one day.

(For those who don't know, Milles Bornes was a French card game where players are racing to travel 1000 km before anyone else. Playing speed limits, giving each other flat tires or stop signs, etc. This definitely takes that concept and improves upon it greatly - very excited!)

Q - Have you ever hitchhiked before?

No, but I have traveled a lot. I've been to Japan, Italy, France, South America, and more... I've taken all my experiences from those travels and incorporated them into this game. Actually, we have over 50 cards that are NOT in this game which are reserved for expansions. If my artists were required to make these cards too, we would have to wait longer for the game to come out. So we are launching with this and then expanding it with card packs.

(I haven't either. Heard some interesting stories though... One in particular, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Expansions, nice.)

Q - I love Kickstarter. The only thing I really struggle with is being patient for delivery of the game. This Kickstarter seems to have a pretty quick turnaround on the game relatively speaking and getting it just before Christmas is a brilliant idea. Where are you currently in the game making/publishing process?

The game is ready for print. The day we get the funds, we ship the artwork to china for print. Once printed, they will ship out to AMAZON and from there we will ship them to the backers and distributors.

(Music to my ears.)

Q - I really like the artwork for the game. How did you decide to work with Squish Image?

She is a local artist who is exploding in popularity. She does all the conventions I can think of and mostly works with pins, prints, t-shirts, etc. When I approached with the game, she was on board and took a HUGE risk making all the art for it with no pay. She believes in it so much that she knows it will be a success and she will get something out of it for sure.

(That is really cool that you can incorporate a local artist in this process. Readers, you can check out here webpage here: Squish Image)

Q - If you had to describe yourself with one word, what word would that be?


Q - If you had to describe Carmarace with one word, what word would that be?


Q - Open mic! What would you like everyone to know about Carmarace and why they should click over to the project page and back it now?

As a reviewer, there are some things I've learned to love about games. Fun artwork (Dark Humour), great player interaction (You never WAIT for your turn), awesome bluffing mechanics and quick gameplay.
The strategy is there for hardcore gamers and the fun of gaming is there for the noobs as well. Not to mention that it's customizable and expandable. We play tested with a panel or reviewers, and the play tested with my little cousins, and then play tested with my fiance's girlfriends and they all had a blast and played more then once. I think you should back this game because it's something that you'll pull out more then once from the shelf. You'll WANT the expansions, you'll want the new maps, and you'll want to customize the decks to make you gaming group happy. It's just an awesome, growing, game that you don't want to miss out on.

(I can echo you on that. I think we are all excited about this project and will be ready for more expansions before you can say "Road Trip!")

A big thanks to Luca for taking the time to answer these questions. Check out the video trailer for the game below and check out the Kickstarter page for Carmarace to pledge now and secure your copy of this sure to be a "hit and run" game that you will be sure to enjoy and the game will sure to continue expanding and that is How Lou Sees It!