Thursday, June 1, 2017

Lost Woods (Poppy Jasper Games)

Some people absolutely love being outdoors. There's the sun, fresh air, nature, etc. I am not one of those people, nor is my wife, but somehow my son is. (Go figure!) For me, I'd rather be indoors without the bugs, the pollen, and the dirt. Therefore, when I heard about the game Lost Woods, I wondered if I would like this theme. After all, I have only ever been camping once, (It was miserable) and being lost in the woods and trying to escape seems like something I would hate in real life, so why would I like it in a game? However, the art drew me in and I decided to give this game a shot! Lost Woods is a game for 1-6 players, ages 12+. It takes approximately one hour to play and is currently on sale for $39.
1. Place the Camp in the middle of the table.
2. Have each player select an Adventurer Game Piece and set it in the center of the Camp.
3. Place the four decks (North, East, South, and West) of Map Cards where everyone can reach them with each card marked "Bottom of the Deck" on the bottom of their respective decks.
4. Remove D12 Weapons from the Weapons Bag, depending on the number of players.
5. Give each player a Player Mat corresponding to their Adventurer, one gold piece, and one D6 Weapon.
6. Starting player is the person who went camping most recently.
Game Play - A turn is composed of three basic steps:
1. Move - On your turn you can move 0, 1, 2, or 3 spaces in the Map that has been explored. (Note: Each face up card represents one space.) When moving, you may pick up any dropped items (Magic, Gold, Potions, and Weapons) that you move through.
2. Explore - Choose an open direction from your current location. Draw a map card in the direction you want to go, placing it in the open spot. Draw a tile from the bag. (Note: You can only have three items/potions in your inventory. If you have more than three, drop one item in the new new map card.) Move your Adventurer to the new map card.
3. Attack - If you are on the same Map Card as an enemy, you may choose to attack the enemy or not. Attacking is done by rolling a die corresponding to a Weapon or Magic you have. Attacking can have three results. Win by rolling higher than the enemy. Claim the enemy's gold value. Tie. Nothing happens. Lose by rolling lower than the enemy. If attacking with Magic, drop one Gold. If attacking with a Weapon, drop the Weapon used or one Gold. After the failed roll, you move back to Camp.

The end of the game is triggered when the Guardian (found at the bottom of one of the decks of Map Cards is revealed. The Guardian rolls three dice separately. Thus, the player battling them must defeat them in each dice roll. The game ends when someone explores or moves past the "exit" marked on the Guardian's Map Card or when there are no more places to explore. The winner is the player with the most gold at the end of the game. If there is a tie, the two Adventurers fight like they would fight an enemy.
I have played a lot of tile-laying games, and this one provided a fun and unique experience. For starters, there are a lot of components in this game, which provide unique experiences each play through. Sure, you'll see the same map tiles and weapons from game to game, but the order in which you see them will be unique, and since the game primarily revolves around dice rolls. Some times the dice are in your favor and other times, it seems like you only roll 1s.

The game's theme has a nice flavor as well. I personally hate camping, but this game made it seem like an exciting experience. The artwork on the map cards is simple in that it is clear and not distracting, but there are little nods to other media at times, which make you smile when you see it. My particular favorite is the card with the wardrobe and the lamppost, which pays homage to C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Speaking of the art, I really love the weapon tiles. The art on them has a cartoonish feel to them (I say that in a good way), and the weapons themselves are equal parts thematic and silly! You have stuff you would find around a campsite (paper towel roll, flaming marshmallow, cast iron skillet, and a fishing pole) and off the wall stuff (unicorn horn, elephant gun, and nunchucks). This mixture of weapons adds theme when you need it and tension-breaking hilarity when you need that. "I defeated that monster with a smelly sock on a stick!"

The game play itself is simple to learn, making it a good choice for children and families. What is especially nice is that the game can play six players, a win for those with a large family (or large game group)! More serious gamers may not like the random feel of the game with the monsters that show up, the dice rolls, and general luck feel of the game at times, but there is a Big Map variant to the game, which increases the play time, but also adds more spells and caves to the game. This will give you a few more ways to employ some different strategy into amassing the biggest stockpile of gold. There is also a Survival cooperative variant for people that don't like to compete with others, but it can only be played with 1-3 players. Overall, I found the game to be enjoyable and appreciate the detail and care that went into the creation of this game. From the game play to the art to the components, it was clearly a labor of love. Be sure to check out the second game from Poppy Jasper Games - Gnomi, a quick little card game you can play anywhere!

This game was provided to me for free by Poppy Jasper Games in exchange for an honest review.