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Where Creatures Hide
Where Creatures Hide
10
10.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
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My rating: ?????

Review:
I was sent Where Rogues Hide to read and review for my honest opinion but I only got about 20 pages in when I realized that I needed to read Where Creatures Hide (which is book 1 of the series) and Where Puppets Hide (book 2 of the series). So I rented them off of Amazon so I can give them a quick read through and review. Here is everything that I have felt throughout my read through of Where Creatures Hide.

The story starts by introducing the "Chant of Creatures." This then leads to the opening of the story where there are a bunch of lab technicians doing tests on a girl that is frozen in a tomb of ice. They decide to melt the ice so they can carry out other tests that would lead to the girl's puppet soul being released.

A note on puppet souls:
Puppet souls are the darkest part of a creature's mind. The part of the mind that tells you you're not good enough. That voice that can break you down until you're nothing. They are extremely dangerous because they are numb beings that enjoy killing for pleasure, even if it costs them their own life. <i>"Now what I mean here is that when you give into your dark thoughts, you forget about everything around you. Your family, your friends, the people who love you, the people who matter most. You don't see them, all you see is a shadowy haze of darkness, nothing else. The sun doesn't shine, rain pours thicker than it ever has before but you don't care because you're falling. Falling into that endless bottomless pit of ebony nights. You're not scared because everything you see means nothing. Everything you hear means nothing. The people who call your name, mean nothing... Falling into your puppet soul is like ecstasy. You crave for silence, bliss, happiness and you think the only way you're going to get it is if you truly allow it to overcome you. Even if it means hurting the people around you, and yourself."</i>

The girl's puppet soul ends up releasing for only a short moment before she passes out. This is where Alex comes into the story as he was the only one to survive the release of the girl's puppet soul. Where Creatures Hide follows that girl's story. Her name is Dawn, she is a creature with a puppet soul and has no recollection of who she really is but she's determined to figure that out, even if it means hurting others around her.

"Because love thrives so much more than fear and darkness. Loyalty lies so much deeper with family than it does an army."

Characters:
Alex - the leader of Europha and one of Titan's sons. He is light in a dark and cruel world.
Dawn - the main character with a puppet soul. There is a twist that I can't reveal about her because it's a spoiler, but it was amazing!
Xavior - my baby, my smol cinnamonroll, my love. Xavior is by far my favorite character. He's just so innocent and loves to eat - I can get down with that!
Aziel - a god sent from higher up gods to find and protect the princess, eventually he must... wait, I can't tell you that cause it's a spoiler!
Luna - this little girl right here has my heart wrenched into a million pieces. I want to smother her into my arms and protect her from the world but at the same time, she's strong and independent and doesn't need any protection as long as she has her violin.
Titan - Alex's father. A gruesome man who wants to control all
Inaya - the princess that is to save her people from Titan's grasp
Tremayne - a phoenix lady who is cursed with not being able to touch anybody. Raised Alex after he lost his mother.
Ava - a vampire who doesn't come in until roughly the halfway mark of the book. She ends up standing close with Uma and Susi to protect them.
Uma - a bad ass little cat girl who I just wanted to cuddle in my arms!
Susi - wolf sidekick and protective of Uma

Reasons why I rated it 5 stars:
1. The plot:
I've never read anything by PJ Sheperd and I honestly have no idea why. PJ is an amazing human being with great storytelling skills. Where Creatures Hide packed a punch that I was not ready at all for. I bawled my eyes out, I fell in love, my heart raced at the twists and turns that littered throughout this breathtaking novel. There was an aura of mystery across the entirety of the novel and it honestly added such an appeal to the plot that left me craving more.

2. My enjoyment:
I absolutely 100% enjoyed reading Where Creatures Hide. The execution of the writing was amazing and the amount of background, development, and story that was packed into this little novel was a whirlwind of a roller coaster ride that I will gladly take over and over again.

3. Character and story development:
Guys! The character development within Where Creatures Hide is some of the best I've seen. PJ Sheperd does an amazing job and it was honestly a lot better than quite a few popular authors that have great editors. The story development was a little slow at first but with how the story ended up laying out, it made total sense the way that it was written.

4. Grammar and spelling:
PJ Sheperd has had a lot of hardships finding a good editor as each one has screwed her over. So I am not rating her on grammar and spelling as she is a new-ish indie author. There weren't many grammatical and spelling errors, just a few that could be overlooked but I happened to notice. She knows all about them already.

5. The overall story:
I absolutely am in love. I cannot express how much I've come to love this story-line just know that it's a lot. I can't wait to get my hands on some physical copies so I can reread the story. I'm already ready to do it!

"When you have strength, you fear nothing, and when you fear nothing you overcome the darkness with a blazing beacon of light."

There are three (3) different covers for each book in the Where Creatures Hide series. Each cover has a bit of extra stuff added to either the story or at the end of the book.

OG paperback cover - original PG-13 storyline
Special Edition paperback cover - smut filled storyline
Hardback cover - smut filled storyline + artwork
  
Deckscape: The Mystery of Eldorado
Deckscape: The Mystery of Eldorado
2018 | Adventure, Card Game, Puzzle, Real-time
Who out there has ever gone to an escape room and not enjoyed themselves? I know nobody (though if that’s you, it’s okay). I have only been to one in my life (eek!) and I absolutely loved it! I have watched videos of celebrities tackling escape rooms and have been riveted. I like the shows you can now find streaming of similar type activities and am always glued to the screen. Heck, I have played the EXIT and Unlock systems of board games and enjoyed them as well. So having the experience I have and never having played the Deckscape system, how did it fare for me? Decent. Read on.

Imagine yourself trapped on a jungle island after your plane crashes. Or being locked within a pyramid whilst visiting Egypt. These are the settings for the pair of games we reviewed and I really cannot and will not be going further into a lot of detail so as to avoid any spoilers as best I can.

DISCLAIMER: We were provided a copy of both The Curse of the Sphinx and The Mystery of Eldorado for the purposes of this review. These are retail copies of the games, so what you see in these photos is exactly what would be received in your boxes. I will describe the overall game flow and major rule set so that our readers may get a sense of how the game plays. For more info, you may purchase a copy online or from your FLGS. -T

To setup a game of Deckscape, open the box and take out the cards. You are now ready to play. Seriously. No rules to read. Nothing to teach others. Just read the top card and do as it says. You have now begun your adventure!


Playing the games involves players (or a solo player) encountering cards in the 60-card deck in order to solve puzzles and use items found to best finish the scenario. There are no turns in these games, and players are encouraged to discuss possibilities before committing to answers to the puzzles. Randy from Dora and the Lost City of Gold would be so happy to be figuring out “Jungle Puzzles” and “Pyramid Puzzles.”

Each card is either a puzzle or an item and each card will more than likely be encountered throughout the game. Players are trying to figure out the puzzle clues and best solve them. Incorrect guesses will result in costly errors that affect endgame scoring. Sometimes correct guesses will allow the players to erase errors or give other positive clues.

Once the players have made their way through the game solving puzzles and riddles they will consult the table at the end to see how well they scored. Usually time is of the essence, and finishing the games sooner is better than later. Once the game is over and the score tallied the game owner may gift the game away as the final result is known and replaying is kinda cheating.

Components. Okay, these games are small boxes full of large cards. There are 60 cards in each game and the cards are beautifully illustrated and laid out well. We had no problems reading anything or deciphering any part of the games, so thumbs up on components from us.

Gameplay is a little polarizing, we found. I like the flow of the game and puzzles within. My wife, however, couldn’t stand them. But she later admitted to now understanding that she just does not enjoy escape room styled board and card games. That said, these games play more like Choose Your Own Adventure games than the typical EXIT/Unlock style games, as most (if not all) cards in Deckscape require players to complete them before moving to the next card in numerical order with either a success or penalty. This can rub players the wrong way if they are used to the other style of escape room games. It was no problem for me, and I enjoyed my plays.

What I liked most about these games is that the story is easy to follow and the puzzles mostly make logical sense. A few of them stumped me, but luckily players may find helper cards to give clues to puzzles in the game. We relied on these helpers a few times, but I did not feel like we were consulting them for every puzzle. So that’s a definite positive. I also liked the thematic immersion. For a card game I felt drawn into the stories and wanted to complete them as well as I could.

What I disliked most about these games is the fact that you end up encountering every card or nearly every card. The intrigue of other escape room games I have played is wondering what was on some of those other cards. Or what did I miss on a card that I should have noticed? While you get SOME of that here, I found Deckscape to be more entry-level in difficulty. That is certainly not a bad thing for most gamers. We were expecting something different than what we played, and I think that unfortunately immediately put us off at first.

However, I played the second game solo and I liked it quite a bit. I think I mostly liked it because I didn’t have my wife around to figure out the puzzles with me and I was truly all alone. This added to my anxiety to finish well, or finish at all! I definitely cannot see myself playing these games with the full compliment of six players as I feel I would be too overwhelmed with people shouting out their guesses and trying to parse everything. But that’s just me. I prefer these with low player counts.

All in all these games are pretty good, and a decent something different from the other games in the same style. If you have yet to try Deckscape and like escape room games in general, I reccomend you give them a try. They are quick (and even quicker as your goal is finish in a short amount of time for the best scores), easy to play with zero teaching and setup time, and gives a great amount of puzzles to decipher. Purple Phoenix Games gives the Deckscape system of games an unsure-but-you-seem-confident-about-your-answer-so-let’s-just-go-with-yours 6 / 12. If you see them on the shelves pick one up and try it out. Add these to your growing collection of escape room games for show, or play them and pass them along, as I intend to do.

(Note: I usually add a messy components photo at the end of my reviews, but I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just throw some cards down that won’t really ruin anything at all.)
  
Cinderella is Dead
Cinderella is Dead
Kalynn Bayron | 2020 | LGBTQ+, Young Adult (YA)
10
7.5 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
Contains spoilers, click to show
Thank you to Netgalley and Kalynn Bayron for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy of Cinderella is Dead in exchange for an honest review.

With such a strong title to a novel, it’s easy to predict that an author would struggle to maintain the sense of danger and mystery that is immediately evoked. However, as Kalynn Bayron opens on the revelation that Cinderella has been dead for 200 years and introduces us to two young women hiding from those who are sure to kill them, I think it is safe to say that she has the drama side of things covered!

The kingdom of Mersaille was once ruled by none other than Prince Charming and Cinderella. After her untimely death, Cinderella’s tale is held in almost biblical stature for generations, with young girls reciting it each night in preparation for their own chance to attend an annual ball once they turn 16 and wishing for their own fairy godmother to grant their happily ever after.
However, as the reader enters the town of Lille 200 years later, we witness that life within the kingdom is far from that of a fairytale. The balls that act as a tribute to Cinderella are mandatory meat markets with lecherous “suitors”, domestic violence and the suppression of women is commonplace and the ruler, Prince Manford, thrives on the power, fear and violence.
 
The reader witnesses this abysmal society through Bayron’s use of a first-person perspective: that of our protagonist Sophia. Sophia is everything a modern protagonist should be: she questions the unjust world around her and, having just turned 16 is preparing to attend her first ball, not with excitement, but with trepidation.
Sophia reveals to the reader that a girl only has three chances to be chosen by a suitor at the ball, after that she is considered forfeit, taken away from her family in disgrace and placed either into a workhouse or service. Men, however, are under no such conditions: they can attend balls when they wish and can choose a number of girls if they want to. Many girls’ singular hope is to be chosen by a good man at the ball, one who will not beat her, perhaps even one who will take them away from Lille. This is not enough for Sophia, she wants more for her life and, as she says herself:
“I don’t want to be saved by some knight in shining armor. I’d like to be the one in the armor, and I’d like to be the one doing the saving.”

At the beginning of the book, Sophia’s main gripe with the society she lives in is that it will not allow her to be with Erin, the girl she loves. As the book continues, the underlying theme of the rights and treatment of women strengthens, along with Sophia, but the first few pages at least are centered on the teenage relationship between Sophia and Erin.
What I absolutely adored about Bayron’s writing style here is the complete lack of shock or awe in this relationship: it is mentioned right from the start and at no point in this novel does Sophia “come out”, there is simply no need. All those around Sophia, who know her and care for her, are aware of her feelings for Erin and, although Sophia is occasionally referred to as “different”, the author chooses to abolish any unnecessary labels within her novel.

Unfortunately, Bayron does not have an easy ride in store for Sophia: reeling from a firm separation from Erin, Sophia is cast a lifeline, an “easy way out” in the form of a local boy who is also “different”. Sadly, this option is quickly and dramatically ripped away from her: forcing her to find her strength pretty damn quickly as she begins a life as an outlaw.
Along her path, Sophia meets two strong female characters: Constance and Amina. Although, wildly different, both these women play a significant role in Sophia’s self-discovery.
Amina is as far from the traditional fairy godmother image as you can get and, although she feels guilt for her previous actions, it takes meeting Sophia for her to recognise her previous denial and to help change the way of the world. Amina is a protector to Sophia right to the end, in her own unique way.
Constance, what can we say about Constance? I defy anyone to read this book and not fall in love with this girl! Constance possesses the strength that Sophia does not yet recognise within herself; she is fiery and, as a descendant of an “evil stepsister”, leads a resistance movement to uncover and publicise the truth about the real tale of Cinderella. Despite, technically saving Sophia towards the beginning of the story, Constance is not Sophia’s saviour: nor is Sophia the saviour; however, the power that they find together is monumental.
Constance is a complete juxtaposition to Erin: whereas Erin accepts the rules of society out of fear for herself and her family, Constance actively rebels against them. It is almost as if they represent the paths Sophia has to choose from. Nevertheless, along their adventure, Sophia and Constance’s relationship strengthens into love. This is no fairytale, love at first sight deal though! If anything, the slow-burning romance between the two made it more believable and I really appreciated that Sophia didn’t just rebound due to Erin’s choices: she had been burnt and she was still unsure of her own feelings never mind anyone else’s.

At the hands of Bayron, Sophia experiences heartbreak, friendship, murder, love and conspiracy: she is on the brink of danger too many times to count and is constantly second guessing who she can trust. Yet, it is clear that the author adores her main character: Sophia’s journey to realise that she is enough is incredible and the strength that she finds within herself is inspirational. Sophia is also surrounded by a cast of strong female characters: there are no Prince Charming’s in this novel that’s for sure!

I wasn’t that far into this book when I decided I need to read more of Kalynn Bayron’s work. I love how there are no chapters in this novel, we are taken on this relentless journey with Sophia: the reader is not given a chance to stop and take stock, reflect or rest until it is all over and this creates the tensest experience. Even we don’t know who to trust towards the end!
‘Cinderella is Dead’ is powerful, thought-provoking and is constantly leaving the reader guessing. On a basic level the novel deals with violence, love, politics and a little bit of necromancy thrown in there for good measure. However, the intelligent writing as well as the massive plot twist and the subjects of LGBTQ love, women’s rights and domestic violence lifts this novel from that basic level into, what I predict could be a bestseller.
  
Tales of Evil
Tales of Evil
2020 | Adventure, Horror, Miniatures, Murder & Mystery
It is no surprise that following the enormous success of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” that creators would begin developing ideas borrowed from the show’s setting or characters. Of course we have seen games in this “80s kids Goonie-esque adventure game” genre before, and I have to say that I love the setting. When I saw the Kickstarter campaign for Tales of Evil I was immediately drawn to it. Did my investment pay off or is this one a gnarly bust?

Tales of Evil is a cooperative, horror, storytelling, adventure game that uses a unique new “Fusion System” throughout the game. Players will be taking on personas of kids from the 1980s who belong to a club named “Pizza & Investigation.” I do not wish to reveal too much in this review, so I will be covering this as a Solo Chronicles using one character going through the introductory tutorial mission.

DISCLAIMER: We are using the Kickstarter Deluxe version of the game. We do have the expansions from the KS campaign, but will not be using those for this review. Also, we do not intend to cover every single rule included in the rule book, but will describe the overall game flow and major rule set so that our readers may get a sense of how the game plays. For more in depth rules, you may purchase a copy from the publisher directly or from your FLGS. -T


To setup, well, just follow the setup instructions in the rulebook. There’s too much for me to explain here. For one character playing the tutorial scenario, the game setup should look similar to what is pictured below. Maybe. The rulebook does not specifically state WHERE each item should be placed, so players will have ultimate freedom to setup items where they see fit to be most efficient for themselves.
Players in Tales of Evil will have no real “turn structure” as most games do, because all players will be adventuring together as a group. So characters will be moving as a group and never splitting the party (RPGers breathe a sigh of relief… maybe). However, as with many adventure games of this style, once players explore into new areas certain markers will placed on the board (Clue, Darkness, Mystery, Search, etc). These markers signify different actions that can be taken, or entrances to areas that are blocked or found, or something that could be traced from one area to another. The leader of the group for the time being is in possession of the Walkie-Talkie and will make all final decisions for the group after any discussion (for solo players, it is just a nice prop). Usually searching for items will result in a card draw and upon the card will be a test to pass using the stats on the player character mat to roll dice for successes. Of course, the other side of that are horrible losses as well.


Players will be traipsing through the area and reading passages from two actual books: the Story Book and the Event Book. Most of the action happens in the Story Book and it will guide players through the story and once choices are made or tests succeeded/failed, the book will instruct players what to do next and to which section to turn to further the story (a la Tales of the Arabian Nights). The game continues in this fashion until the story ends with victory or defeat.
Components. Why yes, that is a real spoon in the photo above. No, it does not come with the game. I will explain in a bit. The components in this game are great. Each character has their own mat for organization, action cards, equipment cards, and status cards that dictate the difficulty of the game and how the character degrades over time in the horror-filled mission. Some components are even glow-in-the-dark! A nice touch, but certainly unnecessary. I find everything to be wonderful quality, even the cards that are kind of polarizing on the KS comments are nice (people are complaining that they are not linen-finished, but I believe the publisher made the right call to make them matte finished if the linen obscured the look and art on them). Thumbs up for components from me.

I wanted to wait until my final thoughts to explain the whole “Fusion System” that is in play here. Tales of Evil uses the catchphrase, “You will get into the game and the game will get into you!” Now, I’m not sure exactly how this game is getting into me, but I’m certainly digging the game and this Fusion System. You see, some cards (in the tutorial, remember, so I’m not really giving much away here) will give players 60 seconds to grab a kitchen spoon for some benefit and a debilitation if they are unable to find one – hence the spoon in my photos. Another card relies on the character (and also then the player) removing their shoes. Still yet another deals with fire or people smoking in the vicinity. If there is fire nearby in real life, it affects the effects of the card drawn. It’s ingenious and I love every little bit of it! I can’t wait to see how the Fusion System will work in this game more and how it can be applied to other games in the future.

All in all I love everything about Tales of Evil. The setting is great, the Pizza & Investigation kids are awesome, and the game itself is incredibly engaging and makes you really think about the choices you make within. Perhaps the haunting feeling of doubting some choices is how the game gets into you, because I did find myself wondering what would have happened had I chosen a different course for some instances. I am very drawn to this game and I want to tackle all of the scenarios. Even solo! And another great thing about Tales of Evil is the fact that a player (or players) can join a game already in progress! So if I am exploring solo and my wife decides she wants to hop in, she just grabs a character mat, sets up the character, and dives right in with me. I LOVE games like that. So versatile.

While I should probably stop gushing at this point I just can’t. This game is so much fun and worth every penny spent on it. I implore you, if you are a fan of exploration adventure games in this vein you definitely need to snatch up a copy whenever you see one. And if you love it as much as I do let me know. We can swap adventure stories.

Oh did I mention the designer is even created a way for us normies to create our own scenarios and upload them to other Tales of Evil players? Yeah, I’m fascinated by that as well…
  
40x40

Bob Mann (459 KP) rated Roma (2018) in Movies

Sep 28, 2021  
Roma (2018)
Roma (2018)
2018 | Drama
“Siempre estamos solas”
Alfonso Cuarón‘s “Roma” has been lauded with praise and award’s hype, and I must admit to have been a little bit snooty about it. A black-and-white Spanish language film with subtitles that – to be honest – looks a bit dreary: can it really be that good? Having now (finally) seen it on Netflix I can confirm that’s a big YES from my point of view. It’s a novelty of a glacially slow film that grips like a vice.

A primer on 70’s Mexican History.
This is a film about ordinary life set against tumultuous times. Set in the Colonia Roma district of Mexico City (if you were puzzled, as I was, where the title came from) it is an “Upstairs, Downstairs” tale of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a maid and nanny to a middle class family in the early 70’s.

There are two intertwined stories here: Cleo’s personal story and that of the family background in which she works.

Cleo has a pleasant enough life working as partners in crime in the household with Adela (Nancy García García). Life is about getting the work done (well, more of less), keeping the four children happy – to who she is devoted – and scraping enough by to spend her downtime with her martial arts boyfriend Ramón (José Manuel Guerrero Mendoza).

Meanwhile the lady of the house Senora Sofia (Marina de Tavira) has an affluent and cosseted lifestyle amid her loving family.

But times are about to change for all of the players, as events – not just the events of the ‘Mexican Dirty War’ of 1971 going on in the background – transpire to change all their lives forever.

A masterclass in framing.
It’s criminal that I wasn’t able to get to see this in the cinema. Since every frame of this movie is a masterpiece of detail. There is just so much going on that your eyes dart this way and that, and you could probably watch it five times and see more. Even the opening titles are mesmerising, as the cobbled floor becomes a screen and an airliner lazily flies across it.

Even major action sequences, that other directors would fill the screen with (“Do you KNOW how much this scene is costing for God’s sake??”), are seen as they would typically be seen in real life – second hand, from a place of hiding. This is typified by the depiction of the Corpus Christi Massacre of June ’71, where the military, and more controversially the elite El Halconazo (The Hawks) of the Mexican army, turned on a student protest. Most of the action is seen as glimpses through the windows by the characters during a shopping trip to the second floor of a department store. How this was enacted and directed is a mystery to me, but it works just brilliantly.

A masterclass in pacing and panning.
One of Cuarón’s trademarks is the long take (think “Children of Men”) and here he (literally!) goes to town with the technique. An incredibly impressive scene has Cleo and Adela running through the streets of the City to meet their lovers at the cinema. It’s a continuous pan that again defies belief in the brilliance of its execution.

Even the mundane act of Cleo tidying up the apartment is done with a glorious slow pan around the room. Some of this panning is done to set the mood for the film (“Get settled in… this is going to be a long haul”) but others manage to evoke a sense of rising dread, an example at the beach being a brilliant case in point.

The cinematography was supposed to have been done by the great Emmanuel Lubezki, but he was unavailable so Cuarón did it himself! And it’s quite brilliant. So, that’s a lesson learned then that will reduce the budget for next time!

A personal story.
Cuarón wrote the script. Of course he did… it’s his story! He’s the same age as I am, so was nine years old for the autobiographical events featured in the film (he is the kid who gets punished for eavesdropping). Numerous aspects of the film are from his own childhood, including the fact that his younger brother kept spookily coming out with things that he’d done in his past lives! It’s a painful true story of his upbringing and of the life of Liboria Rodríguez: “Libo” to whom the film is dedicated.

Where the script is delightful is in never destroying the mood with lengthy exposition. Both of the key stories evolve slowly and only gradually do you work out what’s really going on. This is grown-up cinema at its finest.

It’s also a love letter from Cuarón to the cinema of his youth, a passion that sparked his eventual career. We see a number of trips to the local fleapit, and in one cute scene we seen a clip from the Gregory Peck space epic “Marooned”: the film that inspired Cuarón’s own masterpiece “Gravity“.

A naturalistic cast.
Casting a large proportion of the cast from unknowns feels like a great risk, but its a risk that pays off handsomely, particularly in the case of Yalitza Aparicio, who is breathtakingly naturalistic. Cuarón withheld the script from his cast, so some of the “acting” is not acting at all – specifically a gruelling and heartrending scene featuring Cleo later in the film. That’s real and raw emotion on the screen.

Marina de Tavira, although an actress with a track record, is also mightily impressive as the beleaguered and troubled wife.

Final Thoughts.
This is a masterpiece, and thoroughly deserves the “Best Picture” awards it has been getting. It’s certainly my odds on favourite, as well as being my pick, for the Oscar on Sunday. Will it be for everyone? Probably not.

There are some scenes which feel slightly ostentatious. A forest fire scene is brilliantly done (“Put out the small fires kids”), but then a guy in a monster suit pulls off his head-wear and starts singing a long and mournful song. Sorry?

There will also be many I suspect who will find the leisurely pace of the film excruciating; “JUST GET ON WITH IT” I hear them yelling at the screen. But if you give it the time and let it soak in, then you WILL be moved and you WILL remember the film long after you’ve seen it.

I remain cross however that this was released through Netflix. This is a film that deserves a full and widespread cinema release in 70mm format. It’s like taking an iPhone snap of the Mona Lisa and putting the phone on display instead.
  
TT
The Taken (Celestial Blues, #1)
2
2.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Even though I'm not especially fond of angels, I decided to try out this new series based on my previous experiences with Vicki Pettersson's work. Sadly, after an intriguing first chapter, any enjoyment I may have expected never came knocking (guess it was too busy knockin' on heaven's door).

Meet one of the two main characters, rockabilly girl Katherine "Kit" Craig. She's an eternally optimistic and peppy reporter whose best friend and co-worker, Nicole, was just murdered while following a lead. Our other MC is a haunted Centurion angel named Griffin Shaw who ushers the newly murdered into the afterlife, otherwise known as the Everlast, while bemoaning the murders of both himself and his wife Evie back in 1960. After making a mistake concerning Nicole, he's been sent back to earth as a human with some angelic senses still intact. Kit and Grif soon meet up and begin investigating the circumstances around Nicole's death, whilst Griffin seeks out any details involving his own.

Problem Number One:
The Cardboard Characters
Character development is supposed to unfold over the course of a book, in this case it actually appeared to deteriorate as the book went on. Kit never developed into anything but one of those annoyingly chipper people you just want to hit with a sledgehammer, while Grif started promisingly enough but then stagnated. They were both very shallow characterizations, and on top of that, I never understood Kit's actions or reactions to just about anything. I never felt her sadness about her best friend's death, whom she rarely gave a passing thought, believed she was smart (by the end, I thought her a dolt), or seem in any way human with nary a rational thought in her head. About mid-way through the book, Grif tells her he's an angel after they kiss, so what does she do? Does she a) run away screaming, b) think he's a few feathers short of a goose and tell him to get hell out of her house and life, or c) have a calm Q&A session followed by giving him a whatfor that consists of "I won't kiss you again" and "you're watching me walk out that door (in her own house) because you can't handle any emotion blah, blah, blah by pretending you're an angel" and then proceed to attend a charity event wherein she acts and converses normally, like nothing happened? If you picked "c" *ding ding ding*, you're a winner! Because as we all know, any sensible guy will pull out the "I'm an angel" trick and expect a woman to believe him. *rolls eyes* Never was it ever crystal clear if Kit thought Grif was either crazy or a liar. It was all a bit hazy, but what can you expect from someone we're never allowed to know? All we discern is she dresses and lives (somewhat) rockabilly, but it's all a veneer to her hollowness inside, which led me to dub her Rockabilly Barbie.
<img src="http://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj183/piscesrain/reviews/RockabillyBarbie.jpg">;
Because that's all she is and nothing more. The only character that I found a little more well-rounded was the secondary character Bridget Moore and the two Centurions introduced close to the end. Everyone else was either forgettably two-dimensional or they were a caricature, a la Caleb Chambers and Paul Raggio.

Problem Number Two:
The Relationship(s)
I'm expected to believe in a possible relationship between Grif and Rockabilly Barbie, err I mean Kit, but there's not much there to believe in. Like the characters, it was shallow with the same descriptions reiterated over and over again. Basically it's a case of telling instead of showing. I felt no love, maybe some attraction, but that's all she wrote. Likewise I never bought that Kit and Paul could ever have gotten far enough to be married, they were just too different. Most people don't do a 180 after they get married, the seed of who Paul really was deep down inside would have already been there and if Kit was even a fraction astute, she should have caught that. All this served was to be a plot point in the book.

Problem Number Three:
The Plot(s)
The main plot involving Nicole's death and Chambers had a "been there, done that" quality to it. The plot didn't shock me or seem like anything new, I've come across the same before or at least plots that were very close, and it wasn't even told in a fresh way. So I wasn't as affected by anything in the book as I probably should have been, partially due to the indifference I felt and the fact that I figured out everything long before the author dropped, what I guess she thought, were informational bombshells.
The book had three major plotlines: Grif and Evie's deaths, Nicole's death/prostitution ring, and Grif and the Pure Anas' philosophical moments. They weren't juggled well at all. Ms. Pettersson should have picked only one and paid more attention to developing that specific plot and the characters. The scenes with Anas (or Anne) especially didn't mesh with the other stories and felt as if the author was overreaching the boundaries set up by the book. One scene in particular was extremely bizarre and pointless to the book as a whole.
Where was the noir? I've seen enough film noirs to know it ain't here.

Problem Number Four:
The Ending
What happened at the end is what I'd expect in a book that's exclusively romance and not in a mystery/urban fantasy hybrid, which made the rushed ending seem even more ridiculous and sappy. It was incredibly unbelievable to the story and didn't seem to set up the next book in any way. Also, one of the plotlines was all but left dangling with no foreshadowing or anything. Poor, poor, poor execution. Don't expound on a storyline if you're not going to finish it up or at least leave it dangling in a way that makes the reader want to come back. All that boring set-up for a completely stupid and cheesy ending. I expected rainbows and unicorns to pop out at any moment.

Overall the book felt more like a rough copy than a finished one and definitely could have used a few more goings over. Several descriptions were rushed and chaotic or simply poorly done so that I was scrambling to picture what was going on. The book is almost 400 pages and it is simply too long. With so many storylines, I'm not sure how they managed to both crawl and have very little action at the same time. I was going to give this two stars because I didn't hate the book, that would imply that it elicited any feelings what-so-ever, but the truth of the matter is that there isn't one thing I really liked about the book either. The only way I'd read a sequel to the bafflingly-named Celestial Blues series is if it featured different leads like the aforementioned Centurions, and even then I'd cautiously dip my toes into the book.

Originally reviewed: June 29
Received: Amazon Vine
  
The City of Kings
The City of Kings
2018 | Adventure, Exploration, Fantasy, Fighting, Puzzle
Great artwork (2 more)
Tons of content
Great for solo play
A bit fiddly (1 more)
Some scenarios are incredibly hard
A new take on the adventure game
The City of Kings is a tactical fantasy adventure, with procedurally generated monsters and some neat Euro mechanics. Frank West, the designer, has come up with a game that is massive in scope while being really simple to play and offering tons of replayability.

Set in an as yet unknown land, you take control of a hero (or, as this will be a solo focused review, a minimum of 2 heroes) to try and free the lands of the evil armies of Vesh Darkhand. The main story plays out over 7 stories, each with 4 chapters and 2 optional endings (Heroic & Legendary). There are also a bunch of stand-alone missions not tied to the main story.

The game is nothing less than stunning. The components are all top quality and the artwork is luscious. If you spring for the Deluxe version, you also get shaped wooden components for the resources as well as storage trays and some really useful plastic overlays to keep your character's stat cubes in place.

The game plays really smoothly. The rulebook is well laid out and gives the main rules in easily referenced sections. There is also a separate glossary which lists all the different creature abilities, location types, quest types and special tokens. This keeps the rulebook free of clutter and lets you learn about the different things as you play, giving the game a sense of mystery as you will be finding new things for many games to come. It's also really easy to open up and look up a skill.

The character sheets look intimidating but are wonderfully functional and quite intuitive as you start playing. Each character starts off the same, but as you kill monsters, complete quests and progress through the chapters, you will gain experience which lets you upgrade one of the several stats on your character sheet. This lets you customise your character and will make each play subtly different. You could go for attack and become the party's "tank" or you could focus on boosting your workers and be the one responsible for gathering the resources needed to buy better weapons or armour.

Each character also has a skill tree where you can gain different abilities unique to that character. With 12 different abilities and the restriction of only being able to pick up to 3 each game, it will take a good many games to try out the different combinations.

You get to perform 4 actions each turn and as well as being able to move your character across the map, you also start with a little worker that you can send out to the various resource locations on the map (when you have explored and found them) to gather the resources needed to purchase better equipment.

All (or most) of the map tiles will be face down at the start of the game, so you will be moving out of the city and exploring as you go, but when you flip over a monster spawn tile, you get to the meat of the game.

Unlike every other fantasy game, this is not your usual hack and slash, stand there and kill everything affair. This is more like a game of chess, you will need to be cunning and tactical to be able to survive and win.

You won't be facing the standard fantasy monsters, rather you will draw an enemy tile which will give you a description of the mob (yes, you are fighting groups at a time) you have encountered and then you will draw a stat card. These are numbered so after a couple of games you will know the basic stats of the next monster and be ready for it.

This sounds like it would become terribly repetitive, but each time you spawn a monster, you also have to assign abilities to it. these abilities are drawn from one (or more) of 3 bags containing Easy, Medium and Hard abilities so while you may know that the monster will do 4 damage and have 16 health, you won't know if it will spit poison at you, pull you into it's clutches or make you flee in terror. Or any number of other nasty things.

Line of sight, movement and combat is only done orthogonally, so as long as you are not in a straight line of the creature's range, you can leave him alone while you go about completing quests to either complete a chapter or to get the skills and equipment needed to defeat the beast.

On the whole it works very well. As is the nature of random token draws, you occasionally come across something that is just way too much to deal with and you will struggle to beat it, but that's all part of the fun.

I keep mentioning quests and equipment. There are two massive decks of cards, one you draw from when you interact with the quest location on the map. This will give you a quest that could be killing a monster, gathering a specific amount of a certain resource or, if you have the Deluxe upgrade, a dexterity quest. These are cool, you have to stack the wooden shapes in a tower without them falling :) and if you succeed you will gain XP and sometimes equipment.

The equipment deck is not quite a big as the quest deck, but still contains a load of cool tems which will be set out ready for you to purchase from the town or any discovered shop. To buy these you will need to have your worker running about the map harvesting the various resources scattered about the land and once you have enough, you can equip your heroes with mighty weapons and armour.

Be warned though, you can't just amble about the land at your leisure as each chapter has a strict time limit and if you have failed to complete your objectives by the time the clock strikes midnight after however many days you have been given, then the city will lose hope and you will fail. This makes for a very challenging experience where you need to work as a team and harmonise your skills to get the most efficient party.

Playing solo, you have to control a minimum of 2 characters, but it is not a complex task unlike a lot of other fantasy games. You don't have stacks of cards to shuffle through or tons of abilities or special rules to remember, just two character sheets with all the information easily seen and remembered. Depending on whether you play a single mission or a full story, the game will take between 1 and 2.5-3 hours and will offer a challenging tactical experience and a great narrative adventure that will be different every time.

This is such a good game and plays brilliantly as every player count (1-4) with different enemy stat bars to balance the threat against the number of players. Back on Kickstarter for a second printing along with some new expansion content, this should be on every gamers' shelf if you are a fan of great story driven fantasy games.
  
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5 Minute Movie Guy (379 KP) rated A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) in Movies

Jun 28, 2019 (Updated Jun 28, 2019)  
A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)
A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)
2014 | Action, Drama
4
6.5 (6 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Liam Neeson puts in a commanding performance and is a natural as a detective. (2 more)
The film has great visual flair and creates an effectively dark and moody atmosphere.
The solid supporting cast strengthen an otherwise dull and derivative film.
The heavy graphic content of rape, mutilation, and murder is extremely off-putting. (1 more)
There's not a single likeable character to be found in the whole movie.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is unsettling but never really all that compelling. It's a decent detective movie, but your enjoyment of it may depend on how well you can handle its grimy setting and extreme violence.
After watching A Walk Among the Tombstones, I literally felt like I was going to puke. This mystery-thriller, based on Lawrence Block’s popular novel, is a gross and grisly foray into the criminal underworld in search of sadistic kidnappers. Director Scott Frank paints a portrait of a dark and twisted 1990s New York City where women are disappearing, only to later show up chopped into pieces. The film is grim without remorse or reason, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be eager for it to end so you can wash your hands of it entirely. It stars Liam Neeson as an unlicensed private detective named Matthew Scudder who leads an investigation to find the people responsible for these horrific murders. While it may appear from the trailers to be another entry in Neeson’s growing lineup of ass-kicking action-thrillers, it’s actually far from it. A Walk Among the Tombstones plays out more like a brooding, slow-paced horror film. If you’re expecting Taken, then you’re walking right into the wrong movie.

Neeson’s character Matt Scudder is a former alcoholic and an ex-cop turned personal private investigator who works in exchange for favors. Since he’s no longer affiliated with the police, he’s an appealing person to turn to for those who need help but want to keep the cops out of the picture. When a drug dealer’s wife is kidnapped and savagely murdered, he seeks out Scudder for help. What follows is in an investigation into the murder that links up to the murder of another drug dealer’s wife. With the killers still at large, Scudder is determined to catch them before they can strike again.

Being that Scudder is working with criminals to find even worse criminals, the characters in A Walk Among the Tombstones are quite despicable. In fact, I would argue there’s not a single likeable character in the whole film. Even our protagonist Scudder is a shady person with a corrupt past. It’s hard to care about anyone here except for the poor abducted women, and yet we never get to know any of them. They’re reduced to the point where it’s hard to see them as anything more than the killers’ unlucky victims who have no chance of surviving. We follow Scudder through this twisted investigation not because we care about him, but for their sake of these women, with the hope that our detective hero can put an end to these killers’ unspeakable crimes. The film’s dreadful cast of characters give an incredibly bleak and hopeless outlook on people as a whole.

Liam Neeson gives a suitable performance as Scudder, fitting into the role of a detective quite naturally. As usual, he has a great presence and commands your attention any time he’s on screen. In A Walk Among the Tombstones, he’s not nearly the unstoppable action-hero he has been in his other recent films, but he’s still an intimidating guy you’d be wise not to mess with. He does actually have a couple tense conversations with the killers over the phone that are reminiscent of the famous scene in Taken, but certainly not as memorable.

The killers in the movie happen to be far more appalling than interesting. We don’t ever get to know much about them or their motives. They’re sick, demented people that aren’t given much more depth than being bad for the sake of being bad. However, there’s no question that they’re believably haunting and deranged. Despite their limited screen time and lack of complexity, their actors put in truly unnerving performances.

The film is well-acted throughout, with a few especially notable performances from supporting characters. Olafur Darri Olafsson is terrific as the creepy cemetery groundskeeper, and Eric Nelsen does a commendable job as the drug addict younger brother of the drug dealer who sought Scudder’s help. There’s also Brian “Astro” Bradley as a homeless teenager named TJ that Scudder befriends, who volunteers himself to be his crime-solving partner. Astro at times lightens up the moody film with his charm, and while he’s truly the only character that offers any sense of hope in the film’s gritty world, I think his character largely feels out of place as an unnecessary inclusion.

Scott Frank effectively creates a dark and sullen atmosphere in his movie that is also visually striking. He turns New York’s underbelly into a stylishly gloomy city where its seedy citizens can run rampant. He demonstrates proficiency behind the camera, building eeriness and suspense. However, he goes too far with the film’s graphic sexual content, which includes rape, torture, and mutilation. While he never gives you a very clear look at these heinous acts, he puts you right there in the moment and lets the camera linger. It’s sadistic, cruel, and very disturbing to watch. In a bizarre directorial decision, he has the 12 steps to recovery from Alcoholics Anonymous narrated over the climax of the film. Considering Scudder regularly attends AA meetings to celebrate his sobriety, I can understand why it was included, but it just doesn’t work and ends up detracting from the film’s most heightened sequences. He also disappointingly finishes the movie on a bad note with a conclusion that is drawn out far too long and which contains a weak, conventional ending that is completely forgettable.

A Walk Among the Tombstones raises more questions than it answers, but in a movie this morbid, maybe it’s best not to know. While the movie excels at being unsettling, it’s never really all that compelling. Filled with plenty of bad dialogue and characters that are hard to relate to and care about, I was yearning for this one to end so I wouldn’t have to endure any more of its vileness. Even with all the disturbing content aside, I would argue that the film is still only average at best. While I’m sure there are plenty of people with a penchant for the macabre that will enjoy the film, I am certainly not one of them and I left the theater feeling completely disturbed by what I had just watched. A Walk Among the Tombstones is a decent detective movie, but your enjoyment of the film may depend on how well you can handle its grimy setting and extreme violence. One thing that I can assure you is that I personally don’t have the stomach for it.

(This review was originally posted at 5mmg.com on 9.20.14.)
  
Spy Club
Spy Club
2018 | Card Game, Deduction, Murder & Mystery
You guys have heard of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” The globetrotting super-spy who is hard to pin down? Well imagine what she may have been like as a young person. I bet she had her own spy club. And now we have a game to play to emulate what it may have been like in such a club. **This game has nothing to do with Carmen Sandiego.


Spy Club is a cooperative memory and deduction card game utilizing an action point system and sharing of resources. It is set in any neighborhood where kids can gather in groups and snuff out a mystery. The goal is to whittle the clues down to the correct Motive, Suspect, Location, Crime, and Object of the Crime. Are you intrepid youths up to the task?
To setup, place the main board on the table, and the Escape Marker upon it at the bottom of the track. Shuffle the Movement Deck cards separately by backs, remove one from each differently-backed set, and place them in day – sunset – night order in its space. Each player receives a play board according to the number of players and a spyglass in their favorite color to go upon their play board. The Idea markers can be in a rough pile near everything else. The Clue Deck is to be shuffled and placed face-down (or face-up, whichever you prefer; they are double-sided) and each player is dealt a number of Clues equal to the number of spaces on their play boards. Clues will also be dealt to an “Incoming Clues” area (an offer row or “market”). DO NOT LOOK AT THE BACKS OF THE CARDS. Like, EVER. Unless you use an action to do so. The Suspecteeple will be placed on the right-most Clue Card of the starting player’s board. The game of sleuthing may now begin!

A player’s turn will consist of three main steps with different phases in those steps. Step 1 is Use Actions. Players will be able to use three Actions on their turn. These Actions are: Investigate, Shift Focus, Confirm, and Scout. To Investigate the active player will flip a Clue Card from their collection to its back. They may then continue flipping their cards or stop at any time. To Shift Focus a player will simply move their spyglass to a different Clue and collect Ideas equal to the number of Clues whose aspects match the newly-focused one (two Ideas if moving to a Location and a player has two Location Clues). Skipping Confirm, to Scout simply means purchasing a card from the Incoming Clues area to a player’s board, with a discard of an existing card already there.


Confirming is where the main action in Spy Club lies. Players will be attempting to Confirm five Clues of matching aspect (Location, Motive, etc) in order to hone in on the correct aspect. To Confirm, a player can submit a Clue from their collection (hand) to the main board. The cost, in Ideas, depends on where the spyglass lies. If the spyglass is directly under the Clue to be submitted the cost is nothing. However, if a player wishes to complete three Confirm actions and they have matching Clues on either side of their spyglass, they would need to spend two Ideas for each Clue resting one space away from the spyglass.
There are also rules for taking “Teamwork Bonus Actions,” but I will let you discover those on your own.

After these Actions are carried out, Step 2 is Refill. Firstly the active player’s hand will need to be refilled from the Incoming Clues row, and more Incoming Clues come out to fill that row.

Step 3 is Move the Suspect. Drawing from the Movement Deck the active player will match up the Movement cards from the previous round and the current round to find out how many spaces the Suspecteeple will be moving through players’ cards. Depending upon which aspect Clue the Suspecteeple lands a negative action will be levied against the players. In some ways the Suspect could land on cards that trigger no negative action, but I will leave that for you to discover as well. I am a bit… distracted.


Play continues in this fashion of players Using Actions, Refilling the Clue cards, and Moving the Suspect until players win by solving all five aspects of the crime, the Suspect escapes, the players run out of Idea markers, the Suspect escapes due to running out of Movement cards, or there are insufficient Incoming Clues to refill a player’s hand. So there are four ways to lose and one way to win.
Components. I find the components in Spy Club to be good overall. Nothing really stands out as amazing, either in design or quality. The art is very good, though. One thing I will say about the components as a whole is that once the game is setup and in play it looks fascinating on the table. I love the way it looks and certainly assists with full immersion. Always a plus in my book.

There are so many things I love about this game. And there are so many things I didn’t even explain here! Ok I’ll tell you one. Spy Club can be played as a one-shot game night medium-length (60 minutes) game, or can be converted into a campaign game where players will play five connected scenarios using a giant stack of cards that are not in use for the one-shots. That is simply fabulous! I can play one game of this to get people hooked, then reel them in by offering to continue this as a campaign to see what the main story arc is really trying to tell us. Oh man, that’s just special and I love it!

I feel like I have been playing a lot of really great games lately, and Spy Club is certainly a GREAT game. In fact, I told the rest of the team that this one is a contender for my Top 10 Games of All Time list. It has everything I love in a game: it is difficult (my first game I would have lost had it lasted one more turn) without being too heavy, it is inviting me to play more games (especially with the campaign mode active), I just like looking at it on the table, and creates a stunning amount of tension as we race against the game clock to figure out the crime aspects.

I have had this in my collection for too long without it being played, and I am so sorry that it took me so long to get into it. I will certainly be playing this a LOT more, and introducing as many people to it as I can. I think in the gaming world it is flying under the radar, but I will be one of its champions and suggest it as much as possible. If you like certain aspects (hehe) of Clue, 13 Dead End Drive, Carmen Sandiego, and even Jaipur, then take a look at Spy Club. Purple Phoenix Games gives this a super-sleuth 11 / 12. I actually might go play it right now. Yes, at 11:07pm.
  
Tiger Stripes
Tiger Stripes
2021 | Animals, Card Game
So it was one of those days when I was checking my email and noticed something odd. I had a random tracking number sitting in my inbox for a game arriving soon. I didn’t recall requesting this game, so why was I having one shipped? A mystery still to this day. However, I recognized the designer’s last name, but could she be related to the designer in mind that I particularly enjoy? And would this game be any good? I was cautiously hopeful.

Tiger Stripes is a set collection, hand management, drafting game for two to four players. In it, players are young tiger cubs just earning their stripes (a fact I did not know prior to playing: that tiger cubs aren’t born with stripes). Each cub will earn their stripes by drafting the best available cards and utilizing them to the fullest in order to collect sets of prey.

Oh fact check: tigers are born with stripes already, so this game is not based fully on facts.

DISCLAIMER: We were provided a copy of this game for the purposes of this review. This is a retail copy of the game (I think), so what you see in these photos is probably what would be received in your box. I do not intend to cover every single rule included in the rulebook, but will describe the overall game flow and major rule set so that our readers may get a sense of how the game plays. For more in depth rules, you may purchase a copy online or from your FLGS. -T


To setup, each player will choose their tiger avatar cards and also receive seven Stripe tokens. The card deck is shuffled, and each player is dealt two cards for the starting hand. The remainder of the deck is placed on the table as a draw deck, but five cards are dealt to the table as an offer row. The youngest player goes first, and the stripes are ready to be earned, like Boy Scout badges… but for ferocious tiger cubs.
Turns are taken in three steps. The player must make a choice of one action for the first step of their turn: Draw a card, Take a tiger card, or Capture Prey. A player may choose to blindly draw a card from the top of the deck and add it to their hand as their action. Alternately, the player may instead choose to take a tiger card from the offer row and add it to their hand. Both of these are self-explanatory.

The third action that can be taken is to Capture Prey. A tiger may capture prey from the offer row by discarding cards from their hand with matching symbols to their target cards they wish to capture. Each card in Tiger Stripes has one or more symbols printed in the upper left hand corner. By discarding cards from hand to the discard pile, a player may use all the symbols provided by these cards to match with cards’ symbols from the offer row. For example, a player may discard two tiger cards and a snake card, noting the symbols now provided. By using the purchasing power of these symbols, the player may then draft cards from the offer row by paying their cost in symbols. It is entirely possible for a player to be able to draft cards from hand in order to purchase all available cards in the offer row to be added to their hand. An explanation of the significance of this is coming.

The second step of a turn is mandatory only if the prerequisites are met: every set of three like cards in hand are discarded in return for Stripe Tokens. So, for every set of three matching monkey, snake, deer, and boar, the player will receive one, two, three, or four Stripe Tokens to be added to their avatar card, respectively, with any tiger cards discarded to be treated as wild cards to complete a set. Therefore, a player may wish to purchase all cards from the offer row in an attempt to score multiple sets during this second step to earn as many stripes as possible.

Finally, the third step of the turn is to Replenish the Jungle (the offer row). For any cards drafted in the turn, the player will replace with cards from the draw deck to setup the next player’s turn.


Play continues in this fashion of grabbing cards, discarding cards, and scoring sets for stripes until one player has earned their seventh stripe and won the game!
Components. This game is a deck of cards and a bunch of Stripe Tokens. The cards are all nice quality, with linen finish, but are a bit on the thinner side as far as flimsiness is concerned. I think if players are all somewhat careful this will not pose problems. If so, consider sleeving your copy. The Stripe Tokens are oblong octagons with stripey art. Speaking of the art, throughout the game the art is very cute and cuddly… except for the boar. He is crotchety. I do enjoy finding the stalking tiger somewhat hidden on each card’s art. A great nod to the noble tiger’s hunting ability.

Now, as I was typing the rules breakdown I felt like I was typing quite a lot for as light as the game actually is. In fact, though it says on the box that it is intended for ages 7+ I just couldn’t leave out my little 5-year-old gamer son. He grasped the rules really well, and though he hasn’t developed the best strategy-focused brain skills yet, he is still able to play and enjoy Tiger Stripes. In actuality, he and I had a blast playing through this several times. Yes, it is a resource optimization card drafting game, but to him, it was more like procuring a veritable zoo of cute animals that then offered his tiger the stripes needed to win. And win he did. Several times. This certainly isn’t a game of high strategy and multiple-minute turns, but rather a quick and easy card game with a great little theme.

Is the designer, Isabel duBarry, a relative of the great Philip duBarry? Perhaps. And that is a great thing, because one of our favorite games across the board is Revolution! Perchance game design just runs in the family. I am not sure, so maybe someone can chime in on this here.

When my son adds a game to his rotation, that is a sign of a great little game for us. He has added Tiger Stripes to this rotation and we will be playing the mess out of it here over the next several weeks/months. While this is by no means a gamer’s game, it is absolutely perfect for a game day with kids. My child loves it, and I quite enjoy playing as a tiny tiger out on the prowl for their stripes. If you have littles at home, parents who haven’t quite converted fully into game partners, or newbies you are inviting into the hobby, Tiger Stripes is a good little game to get the party started. It’s quick, easy, features great art and theme, and introduces simple mechanics to hook people on gaming. Go grab a copy and just keep it in your back pocket for those times you need something like this for that one special group in front of you.