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Game review: 3 quick, fun titles from Renegade Game Studios

Posted February 22

Games that are quick to play are often called fillers. Even though these games are short doesn't mean they lack in fun or depth. This review covers three excellent filler titles from Renegade Game Studios: Fuse, Lotus and The Blood of an Englishman.

Imagine the gamers at the table are a crew of a spaceship. Intruders have somehow snuck on board to destroy the ship and blow the crew into smithereens. Multiple bombs were planted on the ship and the crew must diffuse them. Fuse is a tense, frantic and suspenseful game for one to five players.

This game is unique in that it happens in real time. Players can use a 30-minute timer or download a custom Fuse app for the game that includes a timer. The game is over when the timer expires in real time. That knot in the throat is real.

Using custom-colored dice (red, green, blue, black and yellow) with numbers from one to six, players try to diffuse cards depicting bombs. The cards are ranked in six levels of difficulty and show players what they must do to diffuse that bomb.

For example, a level two bomb card shows players that three dice must be used for diffusion but the first die placed must be blue, the second die must be any colored three and the last die must be a green six.

On a turn, a player takes the bag of dice and grabs out a certain amount depending on player count. These dice are then rolled and each player must grab one and place it on a bomb card in front of them in an attempt to complete it. When a bomb card is complete, it is diffused and a new card is taken from the center of the table.

Depending on the difficulty level, players will need to complete a preset amount of bomb cards. It can be adjusted based on difficulty. When the deck of preset bomb cards is depleted, the gamers at the table win.

Fuse is fantastic and a highly recommended pick. It's tense, fun and plays so quickly. It is the quickest 30 minutes many gamers will experience. At $30, its accessible to many players and even plays solo. It is well worth it.

The first thing that pops to mind with the game Lotus is how lovely it looks on the table top. It's like building a beautiful garden every time it's played. Players will play the role of gardeners and try to build beautiful flowers to score points.

To start this two to four player card game, each person grabs a specific colored deck of cards and the guardians (little wooden insect tokens) associated with that color. Each player takes four cards from their deck.

Each deck of player cards contains petals associated with five different flowers in the game. The goal is to build flowers. Some flowers take four petal cards to build and others take five or more.

On a turn a player can play cards to form flowers, draw cards or use a guardian token to try to win majority on a certain flower. Majority is counted when a card is completed. Two things happen when a flower is completed.

First, the person who played the last card to complete the flower collects all the cards of the flower to score points at the end of the game. The second thing is to determine who scored a majority. Each petal card shows a symbol on it based on the player who played it. Some cards have one or more majority symbols. The player who played a majority of symbols to a completed flower scores a bonus.

For example, a flower is completed and it's time to score it. First the cards are examined and the green player has five majority points from three cards and two guardians. He chooses what bonus to receive. The red player played the last card so she collects all of the cards for later scoring.

Bonuses for majority are cool. A majority winner can take five victory points or a super power. Three different super powers are available such as being able to play extra cards, having a hand of five cards instead of four or getting an extra guardian that can be played on a flower that counts as two majority points when played.

Also at the center of the table is a set of gray neutral cards depicting petals associated with the five different flowers available to build in the game. Players can take these when they get stuck in order to complete flowers and keep things moving. However these neutral cards do not have any type of ownership symbols. They are used to help complete flowers for scoring but don't alter the majority count.

When a player takes the last card of his or her personal deck, each player takes one more turn and then the game ends. Players count up the cards they've collected and the victory points tokens they've earned. Whoever accumulated the most points wins.

Lotus is more than beautiful, it's fun and contains unique gameplay mechanisms. True, there is a lot of luck in the game based on what cards are randomly drawn, but there are many choices to be made that mitigate the luck. It's a good card game with a complement of strategy and luck. Definitely give this game a look.

Good two-player games are hard to come by. They must be balanced, offer solid play and be clear to understand. In The Blood of an Englishman, players play as Jack and the giant from the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk.

A deck of 50 cards is used containing 36 beanstalk cards, eight giant cards and six treasure cards. The "board" is created by creating five face-up stacks of 10 random cards each to form the castle stacks.

The five castle stacks show only a small portion of the top of a card except for the first card in the stack. This card is considered to be in front. Gameplay revolves around the giant and Jack manipulating the stacks of cards so certain cards can be accessed, placed in different piles or gathered.

Jack's goal is to get his hands on cards representing a sack of gold, the golden hen and the golden harp. But to get a gold item card, Jack must collect a set of six cards in ascending order (beanstalk cards have numbers on them). The giant has to stop Jack by destroying beanstalk cards or aligning giant cards in a specific order either horizontally or vertically in the castle.

For example, Jack can make three moves a turn. Cards can be moved within certain limits to different stacks on the "board" to make it easier to access needed cards. Jack can take cards from the top or bottom of a castle stack and place them on his own beanstalk stack to create a set of six ascending cards to capture a golden item. He needs to complete three beanstalks, thereby collecting three different golden item cards to win.

The giant can take one action a turn. He can discard a single beanstalk card from any position in any castle stack on the board. He can move four cards to the front of any castle stack or he can move a card from the front of one castle stack to the front of a different one twice. The giant can win three ways: he can discard enough cards that Jack can't complete beanstalks, he can bring giant cards to the front of four out of the five castle stacks or if he can get four giant cards back to back within a castle stack.

The Blood of an Englishman is very well-balanced and very strategic. The design that went into this game is top-notch. Each turn requires concentration and plotting to make sure the right cards end up in the right places. If two-player games are attractive, this is one not to miss. Find out more about this game and the others reviewed here at Renegade Game Studios.

Email: rmorgenegg@deseretnews.com

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