Wednesday, May 25, 2016

CV and CV: Gossip (Passport Game Studios)

It's been a long time coming, but today I am finally going to review one of my wife's favorite games - CVCV is card and dice game for 2-4 players, ages 10 and up. It takes approximately 60 minutes to play and retails for $35. The expansion for this game CV: Gossip retails for $20.

For anyone who has ever had a job, you know that CV stands for curriculum vitae. In this game, you will be rolling dice and matching the symbols with cards off the game board to see what kind of life you end up living. Will you have a lot of different jobs? Will you value possessions more than friends? Only you and the dice will decide. Let's get to setup.

1. Lay out the game board.
2. Deal 1 card from the Life Goal deck to each player. Then, place several more face up on the board equal to the number of players minus one. (In a two player game, it'd be one card.)
3. Take the Childhood cards (yellow back with a baby carriage icon) and set aside enough cards so that each person gets three (In a two player game, that would be six). One of these cards has the bicycle card as that indicates who will go first.
4. Deal three Childhood cards to each player and then do a standard card draft. (Pick one and pass the remainder to your left. Repeat this action until you have three cards).
5. Shuffle each deck of cards - Early Adulthood (green back with motorcycle icon), Middle Age (blue back with car icon) and Old Age (pink back with glasses icon) and place each pile on its respective spot on the board.
6. If you are playing with the CV: Gossip, you will shuffle the Gossip cards into those decks as well. 7. You will also shuffle the Fate cards and put two face up near the board with the remainder in a face down deck.
8. Deal out five cards in their respective spots on the board (going left to right) from the Early Adulthood deck of cards.

Game Play
1. The player with the bicycle card from the Childhood cards lays the card down face up and goes first. He will roll four dice up to a maximum of three times (Yahtzee rules) and try to match the symbols on the dice with symbols on the cards on the game board. The symbols on the dice are a plus sign (Health), a light bulb (Knowledge), two people (Relationship), a dollar sign (Money), a smiley face (Good Luck), and a frowny face (Bad Luck).
2. You can lock in dice at any time during your roll, but you don't have to unless you roll a Bad Luck symbol. If you roll a Bad Luck symbol, the die is automatically locked in place and cannot be re-rolled. If you roll three Bad Luck symbols, you lose a card you previously acquired.
3. After you have rolled three times or decided to stop rolling because you like your results, you can purchase a maximum of two cards from the game board, and place them in your player area.
4. The seven types of cards are Event (Grey), Work (Blue), Possession (Yellow), Health (Orange), Knowledge (Green), Relationship (Purple), Gossip (Pink), and Fate (Also Blue). The last two cards are only found in the CV: Gossip expansion. Event cards are one time use only. Work, Possession, Gossip, and Fate cards must go on the top when placing them in your area. The other types of cards (Health, Knowledge, and Possession) can go on top or behind similar cards in your player area, depending on which card bonus you want to benefit from).
5. Shift cards from right to left and reload the empty spaces from the current age's deck. Also, reload any Fate cards if you are playing with the expansion and play passes to the next player.
6. Continue taking turns until all three decks run out, and the player with the most points wins!

I'm sure it's been said before, but this game is like a mixture of Yahtzee and The Game of Life. Instead of going for 5 of a kind or a Full House, you are trying to get the right combination of light bulbs, dollar signs, etc. to grab a card and improve your life. For example, if you want a job as a Freelancer, you need a relationship, a light bulb, a smiley face, and a dollar sign. If you can get all those symbols, then each turn you are rewarded with a smiley face, dollar sign, and relationship. Or what do you need to have a child? A relationship and dollar sign, of course! But beware, a child will provide you with a relationship and smiley face every turn, but it will also cost you a dollar sign every turn. And therein is the beauty of the game, the cards just make sense thematically and in real life. Not to mention that the artwork in this game is very unique and makes you laugh every time you look at it.

As for the expansion, I thought it brought two new things to the game. First, the Fate cards can be bought with smiley and frowny face dice rolls, so it gives you a mechanism to negate bad rolls and avoid losing cards you previously acquired, which is a HUGE plus! The Gossip cards add a nice "take-that" element to the game in that you can give one to your opponent (or yourself) and make it harder for them to acquire cards. However, don't give them too many as each Gossip card is worth two points at the end of the game and can add up quickly. In a two-player game, my wife hated the Gossip cards, because they either lingered on the board too long, or it just felt like one person (me) kept buying them and giving them to the other person (her). However, if you are playing with more players the Gossip "love" is spread around and generally no one person gets picked on. Hopefully! I personally don't mind them, but if you aren't the type to attack your opponent, you probably won't like them either.

This game hits all the right notes. It is quick to set-up, easy to learn, and simple to score. There is a bit of strategy mixed with luck of the dice and a press your luck element as well. It is inviting enough for people new to the hobby, but will also appeal to the seasoned gamer. My wife and I have already played this game scores of times with friends, family, and just ourselves. It is a game that will remain in our collection and one that we will introduce to our son when he is slightly older. I cannot recommend this game enough, and I hope that there is another expansion or simply just more new cards added to the game!

These games were provided to me for free by Passport Game Studios in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Risen (Affirm Films)

Today, I am continuing Carmel Communications blog tour to promote the film Risen, which is being released on DVD and Blu Ray tomorrow May 24th. Since this blog was created to review, that is exactly what I am going to do today.

The film Risen is a flashback told through the eyes of Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) a tribune of Pontius Pilate. It begins with Clavius recounting a Zealot revolution led by none other than Barabbas, the very man that Pilate set free instead of Jesus. I will go ahead and warn you. It is pretty barbaric and bloody, and this is part of the reason the film is rated PG-13. After squashing this rebellion, Clavius is summoned by Pilate to go to the scene of the Crucifixion. This is the other scene that caused this PG-13 rating. However, as bloody as these scenes were, they still paled in comparison to Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. In addition to overseeing the end of the Crucifixion, Clavius is given a new right hand man, who is the son of one of Pilate's friend. His name is Lucius, and he is played by Tom Felton. (Yes, you read that right Draco Malfoy is answering to the brother of Lord Voldemort. Back to the review though!)

At the Crucifixion, we see different people who were affected and how they responded to it. We see the anguish of Jesus' Mother Mary. We see the doubt of the centurion at Jesus' death and his wondering if they killed an innocent man. We even see how it troubles Clavius and Lucius at the death of this man called Yeshua (Jesus Christ). The body is removed by Joseph of Arimathea and sealed in the tomb. The Resurrection occurs and the city is abuzz. Did Yeshua really rise from the dead? Was the body stolen? What really happened? This leads to the central plot of the movie. Clavius and Lucius are tasked with solving this mystery. In this movie, you will see the change and growth of Clavius and his search for the Ultimate Truth.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie honestly. Christian films generally go one of two ways in Hollywood. They are either overly preachy with less than stellar actors (Facing Giants and  Facing the Giants), or they have big name actors which are so far from the truth, you wonder why they even bothered (Noah). This movie, thankfully, did not go to either of those extremes. It managed to convey Biblical truths while adapting a little bit of creative license with some of the story. What impressed me most is that a movie called Risen managed to keep Jesus at the center without Him being the main character. Instead, we put ourselves in the searching shoes of Clavius. About the only thing I didn't like about the movie was the character of Pilate. I confess I admit that I am a bit of a Pilate apologist and feel like he is not as much a villain as he is made out to be. Could he have stopped the Crucifixion? Yes, but others could have as well. Some Christian traditions (not many mind you) think he later converted. I like to hope he did, but its impossible to prove. 

Back to the movie review. The main two messages of this movie are one of searching and one of conversion. Just like Clavius, all of mankind is searching for the Truth. Some people will never find the Truth. Others, if they are humble and honest with themselves, will eventually find it in Jesus and experience true conversion. If you are looking for a brilliantly acted religious movie that is historical but timeless, then pre-order a copy of Risen!

This movie was provided to me for free by Carmel Communications in exchange for an honest review. If you would like to see a preview of the movie, check out the video below.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Story of Kullervo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Story of Kullervo is the most recent release from the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. It is considered one of his earliest works and was never published until very recently. The book is approximately 200 pages long, but the actual story is only 40 pages. The remainder of the book is a lengthy introduction, notes and commentary, two different essays on "The Kalevala, and an essay on Tolkien and "Kullervo" by the editor Verlyn Flieger.

The actual "Story of Kullervo" was one of Tolkien's darker tales. His uncle was evil and murdered his father, before Kullervo was born, which sounds a bit like Hamlet to me. To make matters worse, his older siblings are also wicked towards Kullervo and try and kill him as well. In typical hero fashion, Kullervo plans revenge, but before he can exact that revenge, he is sold off and again horribly mistreated. Unfortunately, Kullervo is no hero. The story doesn't finish, but we are left with notes on the conclusion of the story. In a nutshell, Kullervo becomes more evil than his uncle ever was. There is a lot of killing, and Kullervo finally takes his own life "and finds the death he sought for."

You can definitely see elements of Tolkien in this writing, but reading through the story itself, you can see why it was never finished and took so long to be published. The essays by Tolkien and Flieger are something that should be read before reading the actual story. It provides background and context that will make you appreciate the story more. So should you buy this book? If you are a hardcore Tolkien fan who wants to own everything of his, then you'll buy this book regardless of what I say. If you are merely a semi-casual fan, wait until the book is around $15 (like it currently is on Amazon), because the book is not worth the list price of $25. Overall, I am glad I own this book, and I recommend it with reservations, but I am left wondering how many more unfinished stories of Tolkien we are going to see after this one.

This book was provided to me for free by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!