Review of: Bemused from James Felli and Devious Weasel Games, by PaladinElliott Productions

Review of: Bemused from Devious Weasel Games, by PaladinElliott Productions


Game Design: Jim Felli

Game Artistry: Tani Pettit & Naomi Robinson

Published by: Devious Weasel Games

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Number of Players: 4 to 6

Time of Play: 15 to 30 minutes

Age recommended: 12 and up

Year of Release: 2017

The story so far: You are a Muse, battling other great Muses to see who is the most inspirational. You have chosen a human to inspire and help excel above others. This Virtuoso must be more famous and have more influence than anyone else. To achieve this you must eliminate the rivals by creating doubt and dread amongst them! If you can do this well enough, you will first drive them insane, and then eventually they will become a Fantasma that will haunt others, maybe even you!

Our final thoughts on the game:  So after several 4 player games we found that this is now in our regular rotation of games. This is for two reasons. First, this is a “take that” kind of game; you will need to judge and decide when you should gang up on a player, or help a player out in order to achieve your goals. Second, the artwork in this game is exceptional. The Art Nouveau style illustrations on the Virtuoso cards is amazing, and we couldn’t help talking about it each and every game that we played.

What makes this one stand out as far as “take that” games, is that a player is never truly out. If you are knocked down to the point of being a Fantasma, you get to haunt players in the game, and continue to dish out the dread cards on other players. So, if you get someone to this point, they will remember who did it to them, and be able to pay you back in the game. This is definitely a point to consider in your strategy of hurting the other players, so as not to make yourself a known target.

Another aspect we really liked was the secret objectives; you might want to help one person while trying to take down the others. It creates an atmosphere of intrigue as you don’t know everyone else’s agenda. Trying to figure that out and to influence how players are going about bringing everyone down while maintaining themselves is a hard balance, which makes the game more thoughtful. We would have surprise moments when you could see that people thought a certain player would be sane or insane a lot longer than they were, and that moment when people would realize the balance had shifted against them.

This is a game where taking the time to go over the rules really makes the difference. I used two ways to teach the game, reading excerpts from the rules, and utilizing dummy moves. I would read something, and then play it out, so everyone got to see. Having good rules, good summary cards, and having a few things filed to memory really sped up the teaching process.

It is a great game, that I would play 90% of the time when brought up. Yes, a 9 out of 10, and that is only because after awhile (especially after I lose) I sometimes like a small break from the “take that” games. If you have players that enjoy this style of game, then this , might be a 10 for them. If you have people that enjoy phenomenal art, and/or the ability to keep going on and affecting a game, and that you are always in the running for points, then you want to play this game!

Mechanics and concepts found in this game: This is a game where, as I mentioned, there is plenty of “take that”, even so that you are never truly out. Even as a Fantasma, your lowest form, you go on affecting other players and bringing them down. As you can see in the pictures this is a card game, that has a fantasy flavor to it, and the art kicks that into overdrive. You are free to negotiate with other players, maybe gang up on someone, or I help you and you help me. There are different powers for the different player cards, so that is variable. You will have hand management with your cards due to draw, play, and discard phases on your turn. You will even use some bluffing, or maybe try, so that you appear stronger or weaker, as different uses of strategy on the other players.

The game components:

-1 Game box

-1 rules book

-6 Virtuoso Cards

-6 Gemina Cards

-66 Doubt Cards

-18 Dread Cards

-12 Secrets

and we managed to receive two player aid cards.

Winning conditions of the game: The game is going to immediately end when there are less than two Virtuosos that are sane left in the game. Everyone will calculate their scores at that point. There are points for you whether you are sane, insane, or a Fantasma. The highest points win. In the event of a tie sane wins over insane, and living wins over dead.

Game setup: Each player receives a random Virtuoso card. This is who you will try to elevate. You will only use the Doubt cards that match the Virtuosos in play. If there are six players you use all of the Doubt cards. Each player will have a Gemina card (random), this is a Virtuoso you are connected to by dreams; it could be another player’s Virtuoso, or possibly your own. Who your Gemina is starts the game as a secret. You will give each player a random Secret (keep this to yourself) and this speaks to the relationship you have with another player, maybe that you want to keep them sane, maybe you want them to be worse off. Each player will receive 1 Dread Card (black skull card).  Take the rest of the Dread cards and have them face up in a deck that everyone can reach. You will then shuffle the Doubt Deck and deal out 4 random Doubt cards to each player, and then place the remaining Doubt cards face down on the table.  Make sure the Doubt and Dread decks are in reach of all the players. The Doubt deck will be face down, while the Dread deck will be face up. You will refer to the Doubt deck as the Well of Doubt, and the Dread deck as the Well of Dread. Everyone should have their Virtuoso, their Gemina, their Secret, and five total cards. Determine by your own means who shall go first. This means everyone is ready to play!

The Virtuoso and Gemina Cards are from the following:

-The Poet

-The Singer

-The Musician

-The Dancer

-The Painter 

-The Thespian

The Secrets will deal with:

-someone being sane

-someone not being sane

-someone being insane

-someone not being insane

-someone being dead

-someone not being dead

The Special Powers of the Characters will be:

-removing doubt

-moving doubt to another player

-turning doubt to dread

-removing dread

-moving dread to another player

-turning dread to doubt

Why is that important?

-If you have 5 total cards played on you a mix of Doubt and/or dread- You turn INSANE

-If three of those 5 total cards are Dread Cards you turn into a FANTASMA (you die)

-You can go back and forth between SANE and INSANE, but you cannot cross back once you are dead!

How to play: Let’s start with playing as Sane, because this set of steps becomes altered when you become Insane, and then a Fantasma.

Sane (your character is Vertical and color side up) 

-Draw Two cards from the Well of Doubt (must do this).

Now choose one:

1. Play a Doubt Card ( you must play it on the Character the card says and you can’t play this on anyone who has five cards on them).

2. Play a Dread Card ( you can play this on anyone, except you can’t play this on anyone who has five cards on them).

3. Use your special ability (you do this by playing a card with your name on it. You can target whoever you want with the ability as long as it is applicable).

If you are Sane then you can choose this option as well…

4. Play any pair of matching cards and take a Dread card from the Well of Dread and play it on a Sane player. If you choose this option you will then change your future hand size.

If you are Sane at the beginning and end of these choices you may make another choice…

5. Make an additional play from the previous options.

At the end of this you discard one card. You may never skip the Discard step. So if you have any cards at this point you must discard one.

If you don’t have a legal play, you still must discard one card.

If you are Insane then… (character is turned horizontal, color side up)

-Draw two Doubt cards.

-Then take all the cards you have and shuffle them, draw two at random, you play one, and discard one. You can never play both.

-If you don’t have a legal play you still must discard one card.

If you are a Fantasma then… (character is Vertical, black and white side up)

-Get rid of your hand.

-Get rid of the cards played on you.

-Draw one Dread card.

-Play Dread card either on another living player, or replace a Doubt card with your Dread card on a living player.

If Doubt cards are replaced they are placed face down in the discard deck.  If the Well of Doubt runs out, just reshuffle all of the Doubt cards back in the deck.

Gemina explained:

These connections to other players grant you another player’s ability, but there are certain rules to be observed.

-They start face down.

-They turn face up either by:

1. You willingly choose to flip it and place a Dread card against yourself (as if it had been played against you). This is a free action.

2. You become Insane, and then you must flip the Gemina.

Once flipped, the only way the Gemina flips again, is if you hit the Insane step again. Example, you were made Insane, and the Gemina flipped and is showing. If you become Sane, and then Insane again, your Gemina will flip again (it does not flip when you become Sane again).

You can only use the Gemina power if the Gemina is face up.

Endgame: There is no specific end game phase, but you will constantly need to watch how well everyone is doing, because you want to keep yourself better off without making yourself stand out as a target. The same applies if you bring someone down, you don’t want to do so to the point that you make yourself a target. You will find that there are surprise moments, even to the point that some games are brought to an abrupt end!

Here is how the scoring works at the end:

-If you are Sane, then start at 10 points, -1 for each Doubt played on you, and -2 for each Dread played on you

-If you are Insane, then start at 9 points, -1 for each Doubt played on you, and -2 for each Dread played on you

-If you are a Fantasma, then this…

4 player game = 2 + # of other Fantasma in the game

5 player game = 1 + # of other Fantasma in the game

6 player game = 0 + # of other Fantasma in the game

Thank you so much for reading my review of Bemused from Jim Felli and Devious Weasel Games!

hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or


and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Review of Dwar7s Fall from MAGE Company by PaladinElliott Productions

Review of Dwar7s Fall from MAGE Company by PaladinElliott Productions

Dwar7s Fall

Game Design and Artistry: Luis Brueh

Published by: MAGE Company, Vesuvius Media, Mysterious Island Games, Mosigra, Mandala Jogos

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Edition: First

Number of players: 2-4

Time of Play: 20-60 minutes

Age recommended: 12+

The year of release:2016

The story so far: Winter is coming, and the Dwarves need to be prepared. You will need to deal with Frost Giants and Dragons as you collect Gems and Food, and build your Castles.

Our final thoughts on this game: This is a game that I felt has tremendous theme. Your Dwarves must prepare for winter, while trying to hinder other players. All the things you think about with Dwarves are here, you have your Mining, Gems, Dragons, Castles, Kingdoms, etc.

We like that fact that you are laying tiles, and that placement is key. Players of Carcossone will recognize this and will probably feel at home in this regard. Meeple placement is big, and  you will have lots of options to place your Meeple for maximum effect. You will have Trading Goals (publicly known Victory points that you trade your resources for) and Secret Goals (privately known Victory points to attempt to accomplish by end of game). You will be able to send Ogres to remove Meeples, move Dwarves, steal Gems, steal other Ogre cards, and swap opposing player’s Meeples.

The biggest drawback encountered is there is no mechanism in place for players to gang up on someone. If that happens, rest assured that the player will ultimately be knocked down and in far worse shape then before. The game plays quick once it is taught, and the rules were in good, straight order. The game is very colorful, and it is a lot of fun to have Dwarf Meeples to use!

You have to be able to see how your Kingdom is progressing versus the other player’s Kingdoms. You may at one point being sharing two Kingdoms, then stack a card and close off one Kingdom, or some other type of manipulation. You will need to focus on how to best increase, strengthen, and solidify your Kingdom, while at the same time hindering the other player’s Kingdoms as best as you can.

Overall, if I were asked how often I would play it out of 10 times the game is mentioned (my interpretation of the BoardGameGeek scale) I would give it a 5. I would play it roughly half the times it was offered. It is a solid game, that pulls a strong theme with recognizable mechanics to make the game easy to teach, and fun to play!

Mechanics and concepts found in this game: You have your fantasy setting that you will want and expect to be true for Dwarves. You will be building territories and using tile placement. You will work on set collection to purchase Victory points. You will have some “take that” moments through the use of Meeple placement, and the using cards you have collected.

The game components: 

36 Kingdom Cards

10 Trading Goal Cards

7 Secret Goal Cards

34 Gem Cards

13 Ogre Cards

7 Dwarf Meeples of each color (Red, Blue, Green and Yellow)

1 Rule Booklet

1 Game Box

Expansions you can add:

Dwar7s Fall: Empires

Dwar7s Fall: Royal Decrees

Winning conditions for the game: You will need to have the highest amount of points by collecting the following:

-Your Kingdom size, where cards will either give or take away points from your Kingdom. If your Kingdom is not in play you will receive no points for this.

-The Gem cards in your hand, monsters you have defeated, and your completed Goal cards.

Game setup: 

1. Shuffle the Trading Goal cards, make a deck and reveal 3 of them

2. Shuffle the Secret Goal cards, and deal one to each player. Keep it secret, keep it safe.

3. Sort the Gem cards by type, and have them face up.

4. Sort the Kingdom cards by color. Each player will choose a color, and get 9 cards that correspond with their color.

5. Each player takes the 7 Dwarf Meeples that correspond with their color.

6. Shuffle the Ogre cards, and place the deck where the Booklet shows. 

7. Make sure you leave enough area to lay the Kingdom cards on.

8. The youngest players starts the game, and clockwise turn order to follow.

How to play: 

Each round will have three phases.

1. Perform Actions

2. Resolve

3. Discard

Perform Actions: You can perform 3 a turn, or 4 if you have your Castle in play. These are repeated as long as the situation allows. You can use any combination of them in whatever order you believe to be the most beneficial.

1A. Play a Kingdom card– You will place a card(s) adjacent, or on top (stacking) if applicable. You can orientate the cards however you want (walls matching or not, connected to your Castle or not)

Special Notes- During the first turn the first player places the first Kingdom card anywhere on the table. You can only stack a Kingdom card if it has a shield with either a homeplate icon, a house icon, or a tree icon.

1B. Place a Dwarf- You can place one of your Dwarves on any free space on the Kingdom cards out on the board. That means it can go on any player’s Kingdom. You can use another player’s Kingdom to dig. You will need as many Dwarves as the card says to complete a task on that card.

1C. Move a Dwarf- You can move any Dwarf you have on the board to one adjacent card. You can’t pass through walls, and there must be a free spot on the card for the Dwarf to go there. This also applies if you are moving more than once, each card you move through must have at least one open spot for you to pass through.

1D. Play an Ogre card- Playing an Ogre card is a FREE ACTION. You can play more than one of these during the Action Phase.

2. Resolve-This is where every card that has the correct amount of Dwarves for completing a task goes into effect. All the Dwarves completing a task MUST HAVE THE SAME COLOR. You will move Dwarves that completed tasks back to your Dwarf pile. If they do not complete a task they stay out on the board. If something forces your Dwarves back, but the task is not completed (such as a Dragon) you get your Dwarves back in the pile, but with out receiving anything for the task you were trying to accomplish. If you have more Dwarves on a card when it completes versus how many you need to complete the task then the extra stay in place on that card.

3. Discard- You may never have more than 9 cards in your hand. Any moment that would put you over you must discard. The cards that you count towards this hand limit are:

-Kingdom cards

-Gem cards

-Ogre cards

The types of Kingdom cards are:

-Castles: Having this out allows you count connecting cards as your points for your Kingdom. Having your Castle out also allows you to take a bonus action every turn that it is in play.

Special note: You can dig a stacked card, but you will need two of your dwarves placed on any Castle in play. If you do so, then take one card that is a top of a stack and place it on the bottom of the stack without rotating it. You can only choose a top of a stack if it has no dwarves on it, and the card you are choosing can not be a Monster card. You can only dig if there are no Monsters in your Kingdom.

-Mines: You need these to mine for Gems. You need the Gems to trade for Goals that award you Victory points. You will need the correct amount of Dwarves to complete this, and if there isn’t any more of the Gem card then you will not receive anything for Mining there.

-Monsters: Dragons and Frost Giants make it so you can’t stack where they are, Dragons stop all mines in a Kingdom from working while Frost Giants cancel the extra action given by a Castle. To defeat this monster, you will need 5 Dwarves of the same color on that tile, and the tile is removed. It will count as Victory points in the end (3 Victory points each at the end of the game).

-Taverns: This is where you can get Ogre cards, and they do bad things to the other players! If the Ogre deck runs out, just reshuffle the used cards back into a deck.

-General Stores: This is where you trade your resources for Traded Goals (Victory points). Once taken, you draw the top card from the stack to replace the one you just selected.

Endgame: When any player has completed at least 3 goals at the end of his or her turn, then you are in the last round, and any players who have not taken their turn get to do so before the round, and therefore the game, ends. You can have any combination of Traded Goals and Secret Goals to make a grand total of 3 total goals.

Thank you so much for reading my review of Dwar7s Fall by Luis Brueh and Mage Company!

hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or


and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

A Review and Commentary with ordering from Roxley Game Laboratory

A Review and Commentary with ordering from Roxley Game Laboratory

By: Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

So, I was very happy with Roxley up until a recent order. I backed their Santorini Kickstarter back in March of 2016. It is an amazing game, with all of its Stretch Goals, and I could not speak more highly of how they run their Kickstarter projects. So it has came as a complete shock in how they have been handling a order from their website.

On July 1st of this year, I placed an order for a Promo package (several different promos for different games), and I acknowledge that the Origins-GenCon time frame of summer can be not only hectic for myself, but for the Gaming Industry at large. That being said, if you expect any sort of delay in an order being fulfilled and shipped it should be marked as such on your website.

Two weeks after the order, I made a general inquiry on the status of fulfillment, and was told that shipping was on hold for an event know as Stampede Week. I was also told that most of their day jobs were crazy at that point. I am sorry, but many of us do more than one thing, we work more than one job. Yes, I am Retired from the Army, but along with running everything for PaladinElliott Productions (other than editing), I also drive for Amazon, so I get it. You need to be up front about such things, as I am a paying customer, I should not have to track you down to find out what is going on, and then be given a list of things (that could be viewed by anyone as a list of excuses) as to why the order hasn’t been fulfilled, let alone shipped.

So, trying to be patient, I give it a few more days, and a week later (July 21st) I receive a notification that my order will ship soon. It doesn’t say when, it doesn’t say it has shipped, it doesn’t have tracking. So as of today July 24th, I still have no idea it has shipped. I contacted Roxley on the 21st to make note that I would leave this as a review of ordering from them, and that it is my belief that they have been very unprofessional in how they handle orders from their online store.

I received a message from their Community Manager of Logistics (Paul Saxberg) acknowledging they messed up, and that this is not the level of service they strive for, so an apology was given. That being said, I still don’t know if and when I am going to see my order, and I only have the words to go on that in the future, these delays will be reflected in new shipping estimates on their website.

So, in closing, be warned when you order from Roxley Game Laboratory, that if time is an issue, as it has been in my case, you might want to contact them first before sending any money, and know there are better companies out there when it comes to placing internet orders.

Roxley Game Laboratory: Great at Kickstarters, Terrible at web store orders.

Wishing everyone out there the best,


RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott

Creator & Owner

PaladinElliott Productions

Century Spice Road by Plan B Games reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions

Century Spice Road


Game Designed by: Emerson Matsuuchi

Artistry created by: Fernanda Suarez

Published by: Plan B Games, Abacusspiele, Asmodee, Broadway Toys LTD, Mandoo Games, Devir, Cube Factory of Ideas, and Piatnik

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott of PaladinElliott Productions

Review Editor: Stephanie Elliott of PaladinElliott Productions

Edition: First

Number of Players: 2 to 5 Spice Merchants (we have played 2, 3, and 4 player games so far)

Time of Play: 30 – 45 Minutes

Age recommended: 8 and up

The year of its release: 2017

The story so far: You come into this game as a Spice Merchant.  You are leading your Caravan across the Mediterranean Sea, heading east, and trying to accumulate more wealth than the other players do. This will come in the form of four different cubes representing four different spices (yellow=Turmeric, red=Saffron, green=Cardamom, and brown= Cinnamon). You will need to work your way up and down through acquiring and trading these spice cubes to accumulate point cards, and coins (the points on the cards you have + the coin values you have = the victory points you have), and strive to have the most.

Our final thoughts on this game: First, it must be said that we here at PaladinElliott Productions love Splendor, and heard that this was going to be similar. That was a great way to spark our interest in the beginning, but this adds a unique twist to that game. There are similarities in the way that you select resources, are limited in the number you can hold and how you use those resources to purchase point cards. However, there is an increased level of complexity as some of the spice cubes are easier to obtain.  In order to gain cubes of the most valued spice, Cinnamon, you would have to trade multiples of lower level spices. The more valuable your spices, the more valuable the points cards you can purchase with them.

That being said, this is a very easy game to teach, both to children and to adults. It also plays quickly, especially if everyone has one game under their belt. The game is highly colorful, with the colors being clear to see, and comes with great components. It is clear the game was thought out very well in what comes with it, how to teach it, how it looks, how it plays, and how it is stored. The only thing I would say is that after playing it you might want to acquire the game mat that is made for it, but must be purchased separately. The mat really ties everything together nicely, but some may find that they don’t want to spend the extra money as it is not necessary for the game to be played.

I have played this game with several different players, and different numbers of players, and everyone finds it highly enjoyable. This is a game that I recommend to show to non-gamers as this is as good of a game to introduce people to gaming as you can get. After one game play, players will find themselves truly considering how they could have played better and moved faster in acquiring higher points before their opponents do.  It is a truly wonderful game, tying its theme with a brilliant color scheme, solid mechanics, and quick play. I would place this on the Board Game Geek scale at a 10 out of 10, as I would play this every time someone asked me to.

Mechanics and concepts found in this game:  This is a game where you will collect sets of cubes to help score points cards. The game has card hand management, and you will want to acquire what you believe to be the best card choices, and then decide when the best time is to use said cards. It has elements of deck building but the card pool is constantly changing and you have to make decisions about whether or not you want to spend resources to get to cards further in the pool faster than your opponents do. You will need to decide between settling for an ok card and paying for a card that is further down in the pool; or you may get lucky that others do not want the card you want, which can happen.  The game requires strategic thinking around cost and benefit analysis as you think about the best way to get the cubes needed to acquire a point’s card. You might have to trade down, trade up depending on the cards you have in order to bring yourself to the right cube combination to purchase the point card you are after. When it comes down to it, this is a game of card collection and card use for cubes to be acquired and spent.

The game components (what is included, and what you can add):

1 Game box

1 Rule sheet

4 Cube Bowls

35 Yellow Cubes

30 Red Cubes

20 Green Cubes

20 Brown Cubes

10 Silver Coins

10 Gold Coins

5 Caravan Cards

53 Resource Cards

36 Points Cards

-You can purchase separately-

1 Century Spice Road Mat (it comes in a nice box that is good for storing the mat)

Winning conditions for the game: Having the most points at the end of the game. Points are added from point cards, along with Gold coins being worth 3 points each, and Silver coins being worth 1 point each. The ending game turn is when any player acquires their fifth point card in a four to five player game (sixth point card in a two to three player game). Any players that have not went during that turn are allowed to finish (you finish the current round of play) and then total everything up. The highest amount is the victor, but in the event of a tie, the last player to take a turn amongst the tied players wins.

Game setup: You want to shuffle the Point cards (Orange back) and draw five cards from this deck, and place them in a row to the left of the deck. You will then take the Gold coins and place them above the first from the left of these five Point’s cards, and then place all the Silver coins above the second from the left of the cards. Place coins equal to 2x the number of players. As players claim the point cards below the pile of coins, they will take one of the coins. You will then take the Merchant cards (these have purple backs and I think of them as resource cards) and shuffle the deck, draw 6 of them and place them in a row to the left of the deck. The deck of Point cards should be above the position of the deck of Merchant cards.  Please note there are 10 cards that have a purple border on the face up side and each player will start with two of these cards. The two cards each player should have are the Create 2 yellow cubes, and Upgrade 2. If any of these starter cards are not being used, then set them aside in the box. You will want the cubes sorted by color in the four bowls and have them within reach of all the players.  You will need them in order, so starting from left to right (or bottom to top) yellow to red to green to brown (Turmeric to Saffron to Cardamom to Cinnamon). Each player will need one Caravan card (grey back) as this is the card to hold your cube inventory. Shuffle these and hand one out to each player, and make sure you have dealt out the card that has the little flower icon on it, as it designates the first player.  Finally, you hand out cubes depending on turn order, the 1st player gets 3 yellow cubes, 2nd player gets 4 yellow cubes, 3rd player gets 4 yellow cubes, 4th player gets 3 yellow cubes plus 1 red cube, and the 5th player gets 3 yellow cubes plus 1 red cube. Set up is now complete.

How to play: The game will be played over a series of rounds that could be different every game. Each player plays one turn in a round, and you will only perform one action during that turn in a round. You can choose from the following:

Play: You choose one card from your hand and play it face up, and perform its action. You might play a Merchant Spice card where you immediately grab the cubes the cards indicated on the card. You might play a Merchant upgrade card, you start with an Upgrade 2 in your hand. You are allowed to upgrade one cube twice (yellow to red to green for example) or upgrade two cubes once each (yellow to red, and then a different one, such as a green to brown for example). You are never required to take all of your upgrades, you just need to choose what is most advantageous for you.  The third Merchant card is a Trade type, such as trade two yellow cubes for a green cube. You will simply trade as the card dictates, and you are allowed to perform this trade more than once on that turn as long as you have the resources and space in your Caravan to do so.

Acquire: This is where you will choose a Merchant card from the Merchant row. If you pick from the furthest left spot of the row, the card is free. If you choose anything to the right of the first spot, you must place a cube for each card (each step) to get to it. So, if you want the third card from the left, you will place a cube on the first and second from the left, to purchase the third. You choose what cubes to use from your Caravan. If you choose a Card that has cubes on it, you take the cubes and add them to your Caravan. If this would put you over your limit of 10, you choose the ones you want, and place the remaining back in the bowls. Once a card is acquired, move the remaining cards over to the left, filling in the gap, and draw from the deck to bring out the next card in Merchant’s row.

Rest: Through this action, you take back all of the cards you have played, thus renewing your card hand. Don’t be afraid to do this whenever you deem it necessary, and you will have to call this action if there are no cards in your hand (unless you are claiming a Point card).

Claim: This is where you declare that you are taking a Point card, and you must spend the correct cubes dictated on the bottom of the card. Once you have done this, the knowledge of that card is private until the end of the game. You move the cards to the left in Point’s row to fill in the gap, and draw one new Point card to come out. If you claimed from the furthest left then take a Gold coin. If you claimed from the second from the left, take a Silver coin. Once the coins have ran out, there will be no more coins to be claimed for those spots. It is a limited bonus. If all the Gold coins are taken, then shift any remaining Silver coins over to the spot where the Gold coins resided.

Some reminders: Your Caravan limit is 10 cubes, if you exceed it; you choose at the end of your turn which ones to discard to come back down to the limit. The cubes in the game are not limited. So, if you need more cubes of a color, use whatever is appropriate and/or nearby to supplement what you need.

Thank you so much for reading my review of Century Spice Road by Emerson Matsuuchi and Plan B Games!

I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or


and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Dave & Buster’s: thoughts about it after going

A review (if you will) about going to Dave & Buster’s

     (what one of their locations look like)

By Jason Elliott of PaladinElliott Productions

So, I knew going into it that money would be spent, and from everyone’s experiences that I know, to avoid getting any food there (both for high cost and bad taste). I decided to take the kids (Arnold 8 and Talia 6) after being invited by a good friend. Needless to say, I am officially done in taking anyone there. It comes down to being nitpicked and dimed at every opportunity. Yes, I say again I knew I was throwing money away on this one, but the shear level that it reached was enough to break me of this once every 6-12 months trip for good.

It is an exciting place, loud, lots of flashing colors in the dark, a big bar for adults, but right from the gate, you are going to charge me two dollars a card, so I have to decide on the kids running back and forth to each other, or spend four dollars just so the kids each have their own card, shame on you D&B! I wanted to get a higher amount of points for the cards, but no no, you can’t split them, so this is the second way that they stick it to you and make you spend more money. So now you get in there, and no matter how much you say to your kids to try and make the cards last with their points, it just doesn’t work that way. The whole system is rigged.

So let’s break it down, each game, or prize machine varied from what I noticed to be 4.1 points a swipe up to 9.9 points a swipe. I spent $50 on the kids ($23 for each card, and a $ 2 fee for each card) to give them each 125 points. At best that is 30 plays on one of the cheapest machines. If that was 50 cents a play somewhere else (almost any arcade that I still go into these days) that would be $15. On the worst case scenario (which almost seems what Talia did) that is 12 plays. So D&B gets me on not splitting a package, on the card(s) on the games, and that is not including the degree of chance (the house always wins rule applies here) on these games, and how even with the tickets won, they have a little trinket or some candy to show for it.

                  (this is how I felt afterwards)

Yes, I will come out and say it, I might as well hand them the money to go spend at a store, or to get some movies or video games to be played at home versus this nonsense. Talia comes out and says she had a good time, but it was quick and she couldn’t get anything. Arnold, did better in making his card last on a shooting game, but you don’t get any tickets for that. I know no one was forcing me to do this, and that I could have said no at the beginning of this trip, which I should have. Yet, I was thinking for no good reason, that it won’t be that bad, they won’t nickle and dime you that bad. It will last for a little while, and in this case it was one hour and it was all done.

Again, yes they have what my be the latest video games, and some of the coolest prizes. They will let you order food, drinks, alcohol, and all of that, and have your kids parties there (I hate to think of what that would cost). It is a big place, with lots of excitement, and the rent, wages, games, maintenance, overhead, all of it must be paid for. If it isn’t then you don’t have a business like this there. I know I am going to bother some by saying this, I wouldn’t miss this place at all. Oh, that could hurt the local economy, think about the jobs provided, well I guess I would be willing to take that chance on this place.

This is why board games, video games, books, movies, trips, and almost anything else would be better. It is a lesson learned, that I thought I would share with you all today. Part of this sharing is to feel a little better about things, and the other part is to warn the rest of you not to go through with this type of activity. I get it, if this is your thing, you have money to burn, or you simply can see past the things I have mentioned, then by all means go for it. If you are like me, this trip will stick in your mind, and you will make better decisions in the future!

Wishing you all a very good Fourth of July holiday!

Jason Elliott (Father and Husband)

Creator & Owner

PaladinElliott Productions

My review of My Little Scythe

My Little Scythe


(our home made version of the print and play)

Variant Designed by: Hoby & Vienna Chou

Original Game of Scythe Designed by: Jamey Stegmaier

Original Game of Scythe Published by: Stonemaier Games, Albi, Crowd Games, Delta Vision Publishing, Feuerland Spiele, Fire on Board Jogos, Ghenos Games, Maldito Games, Matagot, Morning, PHALANX, and Playfun Games

Edition: Variant/Playtest

Number of players: listed at 2 -4, we have played games with 4

Time of Play:  listed 30-45 minutes, we had an hour in our first session due to teaching adults and children

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions


The story so far:

All of the players are whisked away to Hasbro’s My Little Pony and the world of Equestria. You will have control over one to three ponies that will endeavor to find, collect, and transport apples and magic gems to either their personal barn, or the communal barn,  Sweet Apple Acres. Along the way, they will find and complete quests, bake pies, engage in pie fights, and share pies with other ponies to win friends and allies. You will need to judge your movements carefully and think strategically about your strategy. You will need to collect gems, apples, pies and friends to be the first to complete four achievements and declare victory over the other competing ponies!


(a race to get those apples and gems to the barn)

Our final thoughts on this Variant/Prototype:

As many of you know, I am a husband, and father of two little ones (Arnold 8, and Talia 6) and I always give family games a look because of this. That being said, it does not get more family friendly then this. We all worked on putting this game together, from discussions on what to use in building the print and play, to choosing which ponies would be part of it. In fact, we built the stands in such a way, that we are still able to use our ponies in other games, adventures, and battles!

It is amazing to teach a game such as this to an 8 and 6 year old.  It is also phenomenal that everyone that hasn’t won still truly smiled and had fun because they are playing with My Little Pony in such a way that brings the adult world completely in harmony with the children’s world. Everyone, mom, dad, and kids, all had lots of fun. On top of that, the learning curve didn’t overwhelm everyone.  The printout had 4 pages of rules, and that was it!

This has been in high demand here since it was first played. Will I play it with just adults? Absolutely! Will I play it with my kids? Count on it! This game jumped up fast to number two for Sunday night games with the kids, in a very short period of time! In fact, this one might have set a record for how fast it won everyone over!

If you don’t like My Little Pony in any way shape or form, then you might want to pass, because it is chock full with My Little Pony goodness. People who are looking for a way to bridge simpler games to more complex games will find this as one that will fit that bill. If you are looking for games that can be played in under an hour, you got that right here, and again, we were just shy of an hour, game time and teaching time combined in the first session. I have to give it a 10 out of 10 through Boardgamegeek. Why? I think every single time someone says to me “can we play this?” I will say yes, whether its kids, adults, or both.


(the Elliotts having a great time)

Mechanics and concepts found in this game:

This is by far a very direct children’s game theme, using that of My Little Pony. You will have resource management with the apples, spells, friendship, gems, and pies. If you love strong themes, then you are in luck because it is all the My Little Pony you can handle. Cartoon and Fantasy connections are readily available, and if you have watched at least one episode, you will be right at home with the characters in the game.

The game allows for varying styles of play and competition.  There are achievements for resource gathering, battling other players and completing quests.  The pie fights are relatively simple with a blind bidding process and the ability to add special spell cards to increase your pie total.  The pony with the most pies in the fight wins, with the attacker winning ties. With the ability to use resources to make more pies and to add spell cards, there is the need for little ones to be able to do some simple math.

Building the print and play allows you to go out and choose/buy/print what characters from the Ponyverse you personally want to use (which we loved). Being a print and play you are free to choose how much you want to invest into it, so we went all out, miniatures from the stores, along with eraser miniatures, all kinds of tokens we had from our stockpiles to make up the apples (apple erasers), magic gems (from table topper decorations-Dollar Tree), Compass Faces and Arrows (Michael’s Craft Store), metal flat washers for the bases to adhere to magnets, glued within milk jug caps in the four colors needed (red, blue, green, and yellow), star beads (Michael’s), colored Chess pieces for action tokens, and generic pawns, for Friendship and Pie level trackers. You truly get out what you put into this print and play! You have dice you need to add, 3 d6’s- blue for Magic Gems being found through the search option.  3 d6’s- red for Apples being found through the search option, and 1 d6-gold for Quests being found through the search option.

You will have a degree of area control, and you choose where to go with two spaces of movement if not carrying anything, or 1 space if you are encumbered. Not one of these is overpowering in any sense, but you need to be aware of all of these playing into a truly wonderful themed experience.


(Arnold and Talia letting you know it’s good)

What components have to be built/accounted for:

-The main game board (ours as a 24 by 36 inch, covered with clear packing tape, and backed by foam mats)

-Player boards (printed out, covered with clear packing tape, framed with foam mats)

-Quest cards & Magic cards (printed out, cut out, and placed in sleeves)

-Pie Fight Dials (printed out, cut out, taped to cardboard, and used miniature plastic rods to hold them together)

-My Little Pony minis ( these were of the 2 inch variety, from the eraser packs and toy packs, which we got from a local Target store)

-We had the Blue Dice, Red Dice, and Gold Die, in a huge supply o’dice

-We had the action tokens and regular pawns in our huge supply of extra game pieces and pawns

-We had apple erasers, plastic gems, star tokens, and miniature compasses (like you would use for scrapbooking) in our home supply as well

This is a print and play where you could truly invest a little or a lot, depending on how far you wanted to take it. Yes, we wanted to take it pretty far!


(here you get to see a lot of the materials used)


(and another photo of the game in progress and materials used)

Winning conditions for the game:

You want to be the first player to claim four achievements. Play immediately stops when this has happened. Each Achievement is worth one point. Achievements can be earned as follows:

-If you raise your Friendship level to 10

-If you recruit your Third Pony

-If you complete your Second Quest

-If you deliver 4 Apples to either your starting barn or Sweet Apple Acres Barn

-If you deliver 4 Magic Gems to either your starting barn or Sweet Apple Acres Barn

-If you win one Pie Fight (this is the only achievement that can be done twice by the same player)

-If you reach 10 Pies on your Pie tracker.


Game Setup:

First: everyone picks their color from red, blue, green, and yellow (take your corresponding Action token, Friendship tracker token, Pie tracker token, 3 color bases, 4 Achievement tokens, a player board) and 1 pony to start with.

Second: everyone places their Friendship tracker tokens on 3, Pie trackers on 3, shuffle all the Magic Cards and deal one to each player. Place the Magic Cards and the Quest Cards (once shuffled) where they belong on the board.  Magic Cards you have are secret knowledge. Make sure you place your starting pony on your starting color barn.

Third: roll all seven of the dice, they will tell you where to place materials. So if one of the red dice says 5, place one Apple on the Apple 5 spot. If one of the blue dice says 3, place one Gem on the Magic Gem 3 space. If the gold Quest die says 6 you place one Quest Compass token on the Quest 6 space. The symbols are easy to see, and you do not add up the dice. Rolling the seven dice means seven tokens go out on the board to start the game. Finally, remember that every pony, even though they look different, are still the same for purposes of this game, so no special individual powers.


(you can see hexes with resource(s) on them in this picture)

How to play:

You will only be allowed to perform one action each turn. You will never be allowed to repeat the same action from one turn to the next turn, you must always choose something different.

Here are the choices:

Move- Pony or ponies, all that you have, can move 2 spaces if they are not carrying any Apples and/or Magic Gems. If they are carrying, then they can only move one hex.

Search- You choose four dice  (you could say, I want to roll 2 of the Apple dice, 1 Magic Gem die, and 1 Quest die) and you place materials out where the rolls dictate. Thematically you and Gabby the Griffon are helping find materials throughout Equestria. YOU GAIN 1 FRIENDSHIP for doing this.

Make Pies (Baking Pies)-You don’t move any ponies and spend two of the Apples you have collected on the board (a hex where you have a pony and there are enough Apples there) to make two Pies. It must always be remove two Apples and go up two Pies on your Pie tracker.

Make Spell (Conjure Spell)-You don’t move any ponies and spend two of the Magic Gems you have collected on the board (a hex where you have a pony and there are enough Magic Gems there) to draw one Magic Spell card. There are no  Magic Spell Card hand limits in this game.

Make Pony (Craft an Invitation)- You don’t move any ponies and spend two of your Pies from the Pie tracker to recruit a second/third (depending on your situation) Pony to your team. You must meet the Friendship tracker requirements as a prerequisite to perform this action. To recruit your second pony you must have a Friendship of  4 or higher, and for your third and final pony you must have a Friendship of 6 or higher. Going below these levels once you have recruited does not remove your pony. Once they are with you, they stay with you.

Things that can happen from these actions not yet mentioned:

Move into another occupied Pony space, this automatically starts a Pie fight. The losing pony or ponies (yes you can have more than one battle for your side) must go back to their starting barns, leaving behind any resources they have been moving along. You would do this to stop somebody from pulling ahead, or winning the game. You have a Pie Fighting Dial that goes up to 7, and you are allowed to use one Magic Spell card per pony in the battle for your team. Any Pies you throw in the fight are removed from your Pie tracker. You add up all of your numbers against your opponent. Attacker wins in ties. Example, I have Rainbow Dash and my Pie tracker is at 5. I decide to throw 3, (opponent doesn’t get to see until both players reveal at same time) and I added a Magic Spell card of 4 (values range from 2 to 5). So I have a total of 7 Pies (keeping 2 in my Pie tracker reserves). My opponent didn’t have a Magic Spell card and used 6 pies, so I win. They have to move their ponies back to their starting barn, and I get to stay there with all of the resources sitting there.

Move, or stand somewhere where Apples and/or Magic Gems are, then you have the option to say you are carrying them with you, or leaving them. If you carry them, you move them on the board with your pony. If you spend them, you spend them from the hex where one of your ponies is standing.

Move Apples and/or Magic Gems into either your starting barn or the Sweet Apple Acres Barn in the center of the game board. This will complete an achievement (you need four achievements to win). You must deliver 4 Apples at one time, or 4 Magic Gems at one time. Extra of these don’t move in with you, and stay in the last known space before going into the barn. 4 Apples is worth one achievement, and 4 Magic Gems is one achievement, so delivering both sets would put you half way to winning the game.

You may move or be standing somewhere when there is an available Quest Compass token. You, as a free action, can say that you go on the quest. Take the top card from the quest pile, and choose one option (as long as you meet the requirements, if requirements are listed). We describe it as each card has three options. One will be a freebie option, one will be choosing the light side, and one will be choosing the dark side.


(a shot of the game box with all that My Little Pony goodness)

In conclusion, the whole family had a lot of fun playing the game and are looking forward to playing more often.  There has already been talk of other characters we want to add (Spike the Dragon, in particular).  If you are looking for a great family game that helps bridge the gap from basic children’s games into the realm of games requiring more strategic thinking and competition/battle mechanics, this is the game for you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review of:

My Little Scythe 

hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:
check out some of my videos at:
and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or Itunes:
and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!
RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Drakkar: The Card Game from Spaceballoon Games, reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions

DRAKKAR: The Card Game

Designed by: Spaceballoon Games

Edition: Prototype

Number of Players: 3 -5

Time of Play: 20 to 30 minutes for us

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions


The story so far:

Each player is a leader of their own Viking village. You are the Earl who must lead your village in building ships, completing quests, gathering goats, storing beer, readying Vikings, amassing weapons, collecting gold, raiding villages, and boarding other player’s ships. You need to show you are the strongest Viking in the region, and to do this is to have the most points in the end and win!

Each player will use a deck of double sided cards to play during a round. In this you will be building parts of a Knarr (two part ship consisting of bow and stern) or a Drakkar (three part ship with a bow, stern, and mid region that supports a sail). You will store on this ship Viking(s) and they may carry the Spear of Odin (granting additional strength) into battle. You will need to supply these Vikings beer. You will need enough of both to complete quests and gain additional resources, which get counted as victory points in the end.

At the end, each Goat, each Weapon, and each Bag of Gold, count as one victory point. In addition to this, each set (one Goat, one Weapon, and one Bag of Gold) counts as an additional victory point.  (We have had scores that range around 13, 11, and 10 in three player games).


The mechanics of the game:

The game is only three rounds and plays roughly in twenty to thirty minutes. This is a card driven game, and works off of cards consisting of a color (Red, Yellow, or Blue) which determines turn order. A number system on the Red and Blue Cards lets you know in which order they are played, lowest number first. You will be collecting resources to score at the end of the game, and you will be able to attack other players as well as collect from the bank on completed raids and quests.


Our final thoughts on this prototype:

We loved that it plays quickly; thirty minutes included the learning time. The game has a high degree of luck, as you don’t know what most of the cards you will have during a round will be, but then skill comes in as you decide which to play and which to save. You also need to think ahead to determine which side of the various cards in your deck you will use.  In order to be successful, you need to find the right balance of offensive and defensive strategy. There is a high degree of sticking it to other players in this game, by stealing other people’s resources and cards and trying to sabotage their ship and quest.  People who don’t enjoy high luck should probably play this a couple of times first, and if you don’t enjoy sticking it to other players, then this might not be the game for you.

We felt that we really enjoyed the games so far as we have no problem attacking each other in games. We like how it is very portable and plays very quickly. We also love that the learning curve is not very involved, making it a good pickup game when you want something light and fun but with that added bonus of messing with your friends. On the Board Game Geek rating scale I would give this game a 8, it is quick, fun to play and is a perfect pick-up game for 3-5 players.


Components of the game:

-I rule book

-50 Double sided cards that cover equipment, fights, and special actions

-15 Double sided cards that cover quests, or that your Vikings and Beer our up for sale

-60 Loot tokens made up of 20 Goats, 20 Weapons, and 20 Bags of Gold

-1 Viking Meeple to denote the first player of a round

-The game box


Game Setup:

You have to adjust for the amount of players. You use cards that say 3+ on them for three player games. Add the 4+ cards for four player games. Play with all the cards in a five player game. You will find these designations on the top right of the card on a Viking shield. Separate the Quest cards into their own deck. You will know these cards as one side will have Viking group at a table, the other side will list how many Vikings and how much beer you need on your ship to go on a successful Quest.

Shuffle the other cards into equal decks for the number of players. For example, if there are three players there will be three decks of ten cards each (all saying 3+). Have the loot divided into their respective piles, and have all of this out on the game table within reach of everyone. Deal a Quest card to each player. This card is private knowledge, and won’t be public until the Quest phase of a round (part 3 of a round).

Now you are ready to play.


How to play:

Each round is going to be in 3 phases. The first phase is the Brawl, where all of you have one hand behind your back, the starting player of the round calls out “BY ODIN!” and each player takes that hand from behind their back, and points to the deck you want. You will not know what is in that deck, so you are making your best guess based off of the top card that you see.

Now to the second phase, where you play all of your cards one by one, simultaneously revealed, and then resolved in game order. The resolve order is Red cards first (lowest number goes first), then Yellow cards (they never have a number), and then Blue cards (lowest number goes first). You will be allowed to choose which side of these cards you want to play, so in essence you have twenty choices that are on ten cards.

This phase you will choose a card, which could be laying a part of a ship, storing a Viking or a Barrel on a ship card (being stored in that part). You could be playing a card to attack someone else,  you can swap out a card that you have played on the ship for a more powerful version (the card that is leaving must be discarded), or you may have no choice other than to discard a card. Every player will have 10 plays in a round. Three rounds and the game will be over, and you count of your total points.

Red Cards will denote Loki (the Lord of Deceit), where you will steal a token from another player, (your choice of player, and your choice of token). Red cards can also be the Thief where you can steal another Yellow card in play, the card chosen cannot be covered by another card (and I will explain that shortly).

Yellow Cards will be the equipment and Vikings you need. You will have Bow Cards (front of the ship), Stern Cards (back of the ship), the Deck (middle region with a sail and deck), Viking cards (their personal strength is listed in helmets at the bottom of the card), Barrel cards (the amount of beer is listed at the bottom of the card), Bardl the Brewer card ( he counts as one Viking and one barrel of Beer), Odin’s Spear (place on top of a Viking card to give that Viking +2 Strength that round), and the Yggdrasil Ship Card (where it has a Bow and Stern and be played as either because of the wood it uses from the World Tree).

The Blue Cards will have Raids where you need to have a higher Viking strength then the opponent you have chosen to attack. You do not have to have a ship complete in doing this, only Vikings that you have played on a part of a ship. If a player loses in a Raid they must get rid of one Viking card in play or an Odin’s Spear card in play. The winning player chooses one resource of their choice from the losing player.  You could play a Boarding card where you must have a complete ship and attack a player with a complete ship, and if your strength is higher you receive the rewards on the card. Whether you win or lose, you must discard a Viking card in play, as that Viking has died in glorious battle. Finally there is Sabotage, and this card will have a big red x on it. This will allow you to destroy one Bow or Stern card of another player (so long as they have not stored something on that card).

Thank you for reading my review of:

Drakkar: The Card Game

I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or Itunes:

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Please feel free to reach out to SpaceBalloongames at:

Facebook: /spaceballoongames

Instagram: spaceballoongames

Twitter: @SpaceBalloongames


Mageling: The Journey to the Cloud Chamber Begins Review

Mageling: The Journey to the Cloud Chamber Begins

Designed by: Joseph Butler

Produced by: Familiar Games

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions


The back story:


This is all taken from the Rulebook for the game…

“There have been whispers from the Great Evertree, of a deep magic that pulls like talons toward the darkness. It echoed in wizards dreams, as shadows rose from the nexus. Now the clocks have all but stopped ticking, broken by the ancient arcanum, and even goblins point to Ae’ruim, the sacred Sky Tower of the north. You must go! Leave all that you have learned behind and let five runes guide your path, into the forests of Grimthorn and onward toward the light of Rune City. Don’t forget to gather scrolls along the way…for this, my young mystic, is deep magic.”

The Oracle of the Purple Dawn

When the Evertree falls under a mysterious curse, the elders fear that without a rare potion it will surely die. Now an unlikely group of fledgling Mages must journey to the Sky Tower of Ae’ruim to recover the potion and heal the Evertree. In order to accomplish this seemingly impossible task, they must test their magic against four increasingly difficult locations before facing the evil that awaits within Ae’ruim’s spiraling chambers, in a final battle of arcane sorcery!

Thank you to Joseph Butler for this background.



Game Review:

This is my review of Mageling: The Journey to the Cloud Chamber Begins. One of the things we liked most about playing Mageling was that there is a really solid mechanism for keeping the game balanced.  For example, when a player is falling behind, they can get additional bonuses for successfully clearing a location. Psionic Vines, which is at location 1, is a good example of this.  It allows the player to gain one additional Mana for each location further on that has been revealed.  This benefits the last player who clears the location and helps them catch up to the other players and keep the game close and competitive.

We have played the game several times, and all of them have been close, including one come-from-behind victory by one of my opponents, Kyle. All the players report that every session has felt very close and no one ever so far behind that there was no point in playing.  This is a sign of a very well balanced game that will have good repeatability, as it will make it hard to predict early on who will win.  Players also think this game has solid mechanics and a great theme, it is clear that it was frequently playtested and well thought out.  Several of our games were so close that the players who didn’t win were one turn away, which keeps everyone engaged and invested in the game.

The game is light on offensive play, as there is not a lot of opportunity to attack other players and damage their grimoires.  If you are the kind of a player who likes to undermine your opponent more than you like building up your own resources, you might find this game a little light on the opportunities to mess with your opponent. The one offensive mechanism we did really like was that when you are doing damage to another player’s grimoire, you can determine where that damage is applied, so this does bring some ability to strategize on how to undermine your opponent.  However, the game is still primarily focused on determining an independent strategy for successful use of resources to achieve your goals.

There are only a few minor points of critique for this game.  The playtesting copy had a few minor spelling errors that we are confident will be corrected in the final printing.There are a few places where the instructions could be clearer.  There was some confusion with the cheat sheet for the Wizard and the use of the Spirit Crystal.  There was also some discussion of the Doomweaver card being too easy to acquire and use.  In addition, it could be made clearer that when you vanquish a spawn, you remove it from the game.



We here at PaladinElliott Productions strongly support Mageling and are excited about this game reaching its funding goal.  It is definitely worth backing as it is a solid game with great mechanics and theming.  The game works of combos with its spells and will remind players of games like Magic the Gathering and Ascension.  If you like planning on how to be the most efficient and effective in acquiring spells and tapping resources for greatest effect, you will like this game.  The mechanics are well thought out and keep the game close and competitive, keeping all players engaged until the very end. Mageling will make a great addition too many people’s existing collections as you race against the other players to be the first to beat the fifth location. You will need to use your mana and energy as efficiently as possible so as not to waste any time achieving your goals.




Mageling: The Journey to the Cloud Chamber begins! is being released by Familiar Games which can be contacted at If you have questions or comments about the game you can reach Joseph at


What Comes in the Game and How to Play:

There are five, six-sided, rune dice.  Five of the sides represent different schools of magic and the sixth is a focus.  The five schools of magic are Hedge, Dreams, Divination, Aether and Death. The hand symbol represents Focus.  You get a maximum of two dice rolls, unless you have a spell in your grimoire to override that. After you have finished rolling, you then use the dice results to assist you in performing actions.  You have a variety of actions to choose from, including: gaining energy, drawing Mana, activitate spirit, convert mana into energy, buy a scroll from the Nexus, activate a scroll, heal a scroll, spend energy to defeat the current location, spend Mana to reset the fice Nexus cards, or remove a small token from your area to gain energy. When you have taken these actions as many times as you can and/or want your turn ends.

The Spirit Crystal is basically your main playing area.  The top half is where you keep track of how much energy you have with a token to flip if you go over 20 energy. The next section down is Mana.  You must place two dice with matching magic symbols to get 1 Mana and you can do this a maximum of two times on a turn. The bottom area is for Focus.  You can place as many of the hand symbols as you want in this area and you can place multiple dice of any one additional magic symbol. For example, you could place two hands and 1 spiral, one hand and three crescent moons, 5 hands, or 5 aether. You can never exceed more than 2 icons being placed in Focus, and you can never have multiple schools of magic there. Depending on what you roll, it is possible to place all 5 of the rune dice in Focus.

Because Mana and energy can be carried over from one turn to the next, the energy tracking token has a single side and a + 20  side. There is no maximum for Mana and energy. This can be important in the game as a strategy that you hold back while other people move ahead and then expend large amounts of energy to catch up. There are crystals to represent different denominations of energy and mana to help you keep track.

There are four types of cards in the game, Spirit cards, Event cards, Scroll cards, and Location cards. Spirit cards can be activated by having the correct symbol on your turn in your focus area. This is an automatic, free action and you gain whatever ability or benefit is listed on that Spirit card. Event cards go into effect as soon as they are drawn and must be resolved immediately.  The only exception to this is if an Event card is drawn during the first turn of the game, at which time the card is immediately discarded. The Scroll cards match the five magical schools.  Green is Hedge, blue is Dream, yellow is Divination, orange is Aether and the red is Death. The top right corner of the scroll cards is how much energy it costs to acquire the card. The top left corner indicates the type of rune die you have to assign to the spell in order to activate it. If the top left is a yellow coin, that means you need energy to activate that spell and if it is a blue coin that indicates Mana that must be spent. Keep in mind that Mana can be converted to energy at any time as a 1 for 1 trade. However, you have to be careful about trading too much Mana as there can be certain game effects that will cause you setbacks if you don’t have enough Mana. The bottom right of the Scroll card tells you what type of spell it is and this is important because there are some combos where the type of spell you cast can give you bonuses or effect your energy or Mana. The final type of card is the Location cards. These cards represent the levels and bosses you must defeat. Each location has a title and a location number. On the middle right side of the card there is the amount of energy needed to beat the level.  Some cards will also have actions you must perform upon entering the location.  Location cards will also have actions to be completed once you have defeated the location.

The goal of the game is to be the first one to defeat all 5 locations. The moment this happens the game is over and the person who has done this is immediately the winner; you will not resolve the round.

For game set up, shuffle all cards together except the Location cards.  You will draw all five of those to the right of that deck and that will be the Nexus from which players can buy cards with energy. Once one of those cards are bought it is immediately replaced with another card from the deck. You then go to the Location deck and separate it into 5 mini decks (4 cards for each location #). Shuffle each of these mini decks and draw one card from each deck to represent your locations for each level. These will be the only locations used in your game and the rest you may put back in the game box; this is nice because it means subsequent games will be different based on possible locations. You will want to make sure your Mana crystals are nearby along with your Spawn/Damage tokens (flip to the appropriate side as needed). These tokens represent enemies that must be defeated before you can claim a location as defeated.You can spend two energy to remove one Spawn token. Damage tokens go on your grimoire when it is damaged by your opponent(s).  Any spell with a damage token on it is immediately inactive until it is healed.  Also, if you take damage on your turn, your turn ends immediately.  Your grimoire is also limited to 8 spell cards and can never exceed that number.  There are a couple of ways to heal spells.  One is to assign a die with the same symbol as the spell or to use a different spell that has the ability to heal.    The five locations will be above the Nexus.




The game also comes with a Cooperative mode allowing 1 to 4 players. Consult the rulebook for the changes  necessary to play this mode..

The game came with the following:

  1. The box
  2. The rule book (which did a great job of explaining terms, how to play, etc.)
  3. 20 Location cards (4 each per level 1-5)
  4. 40 crystals
  5. 4 Spirit Crystal Cards (your “playmat”)
  6. 4 Energy tokens
  7. 5 Rune Dice
  8. 4 Player Markers
  9. 32 Damage/Spawn tokens
  10. 84 Nexus cards (Scrolls, Events, Spirits)


Mageling is listed as a 1 to 4 player game, at ages 12 and up, and runs from 30 to 90 minutes. We finished most of our games around 60 minutes. That takes into account that at that point all the players knew how to play the game.



You can find the kickstarter here :


Thanks for reading my review of:

Mageling: The Journey to the Cloud Chamber begins!


I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or Itunes:

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Welcome to The home of PaladinElliott Productions. Let me introduce myself!

Hello everyone out there!

My name is Jason Elliott, and some of you are aware that on April 1st, 2016 I created PaladinElliott Productions. A company that would cover all things gaming. This would include Reviews, Teaching games, Demos, coverage of the Gaming Conventions I managed to attend, and much more.

I lost some friendships early on, as I was told that I was insane for even attempting this. I was told I wouldn’t last more than 1 month, I was told my friends were nothing more than playtesters. Well, 5 months later I have reached the point where I needed to have my own website, due to the amount of work that I have produced, which has been no small feat.

The name PaladinElliott came from my handle on Paladins were pretty much my go to class in games that included them. The Holy Knight that sets out to right wrongs, and deliver Justice. You all can guess the Elliott part of the name.

Whether is was board games, card games, dice games, live action roleplay, cartoons, books, etc. I always have loved all things Science Fiction and Fantasy. Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Battle Beyond the Stars, yep! A Wrinkle in Time, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, yep! The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Mega Man, Super Mario Bros., yep! Ticket To Ride, The Settlers of Catan, Risk, Axis & Allies, Yahtzee, yep! Ultima Underworld, King’s Quest, Baldur’s Gate, Colonization, Civilization, yep!

You have found a safe haven, one that welcomes Geekyness, Nerdyness, Cosplay, and a love of all points in between. You have found a person who gets to share this with his wife and kids, and now you!

It is dangerous to go alone! Take this knowledge with you!


RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)