Ruckus: The Goblin Army Game

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Image by GoblinArmyGames

I put a new game on our table along with all my other stuff from the day. My fifteen-year-old son was immediately drawn to the unwrapped box.

“What’s that?”
“A game I need to review.”
“Nice art. Can I open it?”
“Sure.” I smile. “You can figure out the rules for me…”

He happily spent some free time reading the rules and playing on his own before we found an evening where he, his dad, and I could sit down and play Ruckus: The Goblin Army Game. It was a successful Kickstarter project early this year by Matthew Papa.

(Full Disclaimer: GeekMom received a copy for review purposes AND Matt is someone I chat with at my local gaming store, plus, we went to college together waaaaay back when. He’s a great guy! Okay, back to the review.)

Ruckus has definite curb appeal with its adorable-looking creatures with amusing props and scenes on each card, plus silly names for all the goblins: Both “Jerry” and “Jerry’s Uncle Larry” can help you win. It’s strictly a fighting game, with the winner gaining the most victory points after multiple battles.

My son did my homework for me, and led our family in the first gameplay. There are three levels of play, and we did the first level. It was halting with rulebook checking, and I doubted the “eight years and up” on the box. But by the end of the game, we were getting it. My son and I played a few times on the second level, and game play was smooth and fun. He then taught my eight-year-old niece, who picked it up faster than I did, and quickly trounced me later that week. She loved the art.

So how does the game work? There are four Goblin Guilds: Fighters, Thieves, Clerics, and Necromancers. Each has their own deck with unique characters. The goblins in each army have an attack level, defense level, and special ability. Learning how to best use your army as a unit is your personal battle to win. The strategies vary depending on the guild and which cards you happen to draw each turn.

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Image by Rebecca Angel

Everyone sets up their army cards behind a battle screen for two or three lines of attack. After removing the screens, different card abilities are played, the top fighting guilds are determined, and damage is distributed. Eventually only one player is left standing, and they collect a card from a specific deck that usually comes with a Victory Token. There are other rules and ways to get VP points, and another deck of randomness that keeps the game beyond just a power-card fight.

Overall it’s well-designed, though we did have some sticking points, the main one being a power unbalance. After half a dozen game plays, no one in my family could figure out how to win with the Thieves. It may be we are missing something, but that guild seems to be underpowered. My son also felt the rulebook could have been clearer. He also argued that there was a snowball effect with how the cards are dealt back into the individual decks each round, but I disagree on that one.

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Image by Rebecca Angel and YES! I did get that token! Wooooot!

Ruckus is straight forward enough to keep play exciting for all, while the multiple strategies will make it interesting for many game nights to come. Check it out!

Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule!

Image By Rebecca Angel
Image By Rebecca Angel

“A card game of rhyme and reason for kids of all ages.”

Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule is a card game with delightful images, silly names, and rhyming fun. It’s been played about a dozen times in my household; a new popular pastime. This is interesting to me because I think the game has a kink to work out, yet the kids in my house won’t stop playing it, figuring out their own rules to get around any issues. Continue reading Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Don’t Turn The Lights Out.

 

Image: Quirk Books

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a enthralling tale of youth and peculiarity. Jacob has grown up listening to the “fairy stories” told to him by his paternal Grandfather. Dismissing them in his teen years, he is confronted with them again on the day his grandfather is killed by one of the monsters from the stories. Psychoanalysis and a journey to a small island off the coast of Wales take Jacob to places he could barely even begin to imagine. With a memorable cast of characters created from a collection of old photographs. Ransom Riggs has created a world unto itself in many ways. Some of the photographs were disturbing, others intriguing, mostly it was just interesting to know that the character came from a real photograph. It added an element of almost morbid realism to a fantastical story.

There were sections of this book that made me sleep with the light on, there were sections where I wanted to put the book in the freezer, but mostly I just couldn’t leave this book alone.

Elements of the story will seem familiar to any fan of time travel fiction or The X-Men, but there is enough ingenuity in story line, and such interesting character development, to make the familiar feel part of this story instead of the other way around. I had decided a while back, to give up on young adult fiction, but I’m glad I made an exception for this book. Yet like much YA fiction these days, this book ends with the promise of a conclusion, but no conclusion, and I found that frustrating.

I grew up daydreaming about discovering my grandfather was a spy, finding out I was really a mermaid or wishing to be an American heiress, so I really identified with Jacob when he finds out that he is something more than he seems. This book is for everyone who has grown up wishing that there was something hidden in their past that would spring out and make them un-ordinary. It is also for those with monsters hiding underneath their beds.

Of course the movie rights have already been purchased by Fox, and so we can expect a film version at some point.  I like to read the book first, so I’ll be in line for the movie when it comes out. Hopefully with Sean Biggerstaff as Jacob, before he gets too old for the role.

I received a copy of this book from Quirk Books for review purposes.

Review: How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters

halloween, books, reluctant readers, creativity, hands-on, projects, Dungeons and Dragons, Wizards of the Coast
Tools, tips, and techniques for aspiring wizards.

I think I love watching the imaginary play of children more than any other part of parenting.

When my kids spent time with a certain set of friends, I knew I could count on hours of uninterrupted time as they searched our property for props (usually sticks), choreographed elaborate scenes, and enacted their plan, taking prisoners, escaping, calling in the police. Hours.

Maybe that’s why How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters tickled me so much. This Young Wizard’s Handbook is like a map for pretend play. Hunting monsters is nothing new; kids have been doing that for ages. But with this book kids will move beyond “carry a big stick and look ferocious” in their monster tracking efforts.

Mind you, I’m no fan of adults telling kids how to play properly. But with very specific details about a variety of monsters, the book gives kids a chance to elaborate on their play and expand on their creativity. Because really? Do you think kids know that goblins smell like spoiled milk? Or that werewolves are attracted to circular food? With such details, kids can plan exactly the right attack!

How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters begins with a section on gathering supplies. There are complete instructions for projects like: How to Improvise a Wand, How to Make a Scroll Case, and How to Make a Monster Hunting Pack. A section on survival offers useful advice on finding food, constructing a shelter, drawing a map, and creating trail signs to help other wizards navigate the monster’s territory.

The final section of the book is my favorite, though. Set up like a field guide to monsters, it offers insight into each monster’s behavior, details about their traits, and specifics on how to trap each type of monster. Most of these pages also include a hands-on project that will help in catching – or distracting – the monster du jour.

“Don’t bother trying to fight a ghost. Instead, get it talking.”

“Goblins are greedy. They will stop in their tracks to pick up anything of value. Throw something at them that appears to be a bag of coins and they will fight among themselves over who can get to the bag first while you make your escape.”

Try “…crying, fake vomiting, and complaining of stomach pains” to disgust an ogre.

Illustrated in full color with diagrams, maps, and original art, this is the sort of book that even reluctant readers will pick up just because it’s fun to look at and the sheer number of activities will keep kids coming back for more.

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.