With the sheer amount of games released every year, it’s easy to miss out on a good majority of them, just because there are too many games to play and not enough time. That’s why today I am going to talk about two games, one released a few years ago and one released late last year. Both were released by R & R Games, play 2-4 players, and are good family weight games in terms of length and complexity.
In Touria, Princess Tara and her brother Prince Talan have reached marriageable age, and you and other suitors are trying to win the hand of the princess or prince. However, like all royalty, they are a demanding bunch. You are vying for the hand of the prince or princess. In order to even have a chance with them, you must ride around the kingdom proving your valor: defeating dragons, collecting gold and gems, and also having enough heart. Only once you have met the king’s requirements will you be able to enter the castle and open one of the nine castle doors in the hopes of finding your beloved.
At its heart this is a pick-up and deliver game with a press-your-luck element. What makes this game special is the movement mechanism. On the four corners of the board are four 3-D towers, with a location on each of the four tower sides. On your turn, you will be able to see one side on each of the four towers, thus giving you at most a choice of four places to move to. After you make your decision, you will then rotate the tower you chose and play will pass to the next person. They too will be looking at four towers, but their sides will be different than what you saw, and depending on the move you made, your choice might alter what they were planning to do.
The four towers in this game are where this game shines. Not only do they provide a good presence on the board, it’s a clever idea that is both fun and frustrating. In a game with two players, you can generally come up with a plan and a backup plan because your turn is next. With more players, you can plan all you want to: The odds of your move still being available by the time it cycles back to you are slim. Therefore, you have to be able to adapt and make moves with the future in mind and not get aggravated when you can’t do what you want to.
The end game of this is unfortunately a bit weak, as once you collect all the necessary items, it comes down to part luck and part resource hoarding. Do you get the bare minimum, rush to the castle and hope you get lucky picking the right door? Or do you spend a few extra turns, get a few extra items, and be able to flip open multiple doors by turning in extra resources? Clearly the latter makes more sense, but if you are short on extra resources, and someone has a stockpile, you’ll probably roll the dice and hope you get lucky. Overall, I’d say this is a good game, and one I’d play with my kids and casual gamers.
In Outback you are trying to help zoo animals escape and make it back to their habitat in Australia. There are kangaroos, koalas, emus, lizards, and even platypus, and some person is driving a Jeep around with all these different animals in them like some modern-day Noah’s Ark!
On your turn, you will take six dice and roll them up to three times. Your goal is to match the dice with the animals on the Jeep. You will then collect said animals and put them on your player board depending on the amount of dice that matched. If you rolled three kangaroos and three koalas, you can put them both in the three spot. If you rolled two of three different animals, you can take three animals, but you also made it harder for yourself on future rolls.
If this game sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s another spin on Yahtzee. Instead of going for small straights and large straights, you are primarily trying to get the highest amount of the same animal with each roll, as you don’t want to end a roll with nowhere to place animals and get negative points for a tile. Another way the game is different is that where you place your animals matter. You don’t want to just casually place your animals all over the outback. No, you want to group them together so that you can chain them together for more points.
In true Euro game fashion, you can’t neglect a certain group of animals. Don’t like lizards? Too bad! If you don’t save any lizards, then that is going to affect your score, as there are two scoring tracks. Make it to the top scoring track, and all those animal points count. Any animals left on the side scoring track may cost you as only your lowest three score here.
The game is not overly complicated, as my 5-year-old son played it and loved it. Did he win? Of course not, but he still loved it both for the animals and the dice rolling! I think with a few more plays he would get the idea and strategy behind which animals to pick and why.
What I like about this game is that the boards are double-sided and there is an advanced mode of play as well. Now, I can play the game with family, friends, or casual and strategy gamers alike. The components are nice, and the Jeep, while totally unnecessary, is a great statement piece on the board. Highly enjoyable!
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Copyright 2019 Stuart Dunn
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