Cheap Smokes’ Thrifty Game Reviews!

In which, using only the theater of the mind and the official synopsis, I review a game without playing it.

Game: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch 

Cheap Smokes: 

Unboxing Ceremony: Ok when, I first got this game the unboxing ceremony was wild. I got like, 8 stuffed animals and 4 Ghibli logo tea cups before I even made it to the instruction booklet. Then, where I thought the game should have been, there was a huge head of cabbage. It was super fresh and healthy looking. After I cut that baby open I realized the disc was somehow perfectly wedged in between two cabbage leaves. Weird. Anyways, I’m so ready to make Oliver’s mom proud and become a master magician.

10%: First few minutes into the game and I already have 10 level 5 Totoros and 3 level 2 Mononokes. I still have yet to get the bike, but I’m figuring maybe I’ll get an antique Italian fighter plane at some point so I’m not going to worry. The art style is amazing. Sometimes I just push pause and look at the TV like it’s a painting. I’ll find a great spot to pause it, put out a bowl of Doritos on the table, and invite my friends over – just have the game going on in the background all night for atmosphere. If anyone asks I’ll just smile and say “Ni no Kuni” under my breath like it’s a Picasso. It’s no big deal because I’m rich and, whatever.

55%: Halfway through the game I have 3 evolved level 50 Totorokings. They can beat almost any creature in in the game. However, I keep wasting my time on the ‘heart-warm’ mini-game because it’s too damn fun to play. Oliver bakes all these cute cookies and shares them with the animals in forests. I get tons of extra magician points, but I’ve already maxed out my heart magic like crazy. I’ve baked 150+ different recipes and I’m starting to have to other things to ‘warm-hearts’, like visit houses and look at old people’s family photo albums because the adorable forest animals stopped spawning. But still I can’t stop! I already got the platinum ‘fuzzy feeling warm tea’ trophy. Time to get on with it and find the White Witch. Wait no, got to make 1 more blueberry oatmeal pancake with apple, poppyberry, and banana compote warmed in a mix of bourbon maple syrup and blood orange juice 

87%: “The world of Ni no Kuni actually runs parallel to the real world.” They weren’t kidding! The realistic game mechanics are starting to get to me. I don’t understand how they do it. I’ll get calls from my mom and I swear she is trying to tell me secrets on how to revive her. I’ll just say, thanks mom, but how does getting a girlfriend help revive you? Plus, there isn’t a dating-sim feature in this game, so maybe she’s just being cryptic on purpose.

92%: My apartment ‘mail lady’ is the White Witch. I figured it out. I befriended her on facebook and started asking her questions about the game. Pretty sneaky stuff. My mom keeps calling at all hours asking me if I’m ok. I’m trying to save you mom! I tell her. I cried a little, no big deal. It’s pretty immersive game play. The mail lady knocks on my door and gives me electric bills. I know these are just missives to remind me to finish the bread delivery quest in Ni no Kuni. I play and play. The White Witch gives me more and more clues. Can’t stop now. 

100%: The electricity is out and I’m alone in my apartment and it’s raining. I’m eating saltines in my bed and calling my mom. I think I beat the game, but I want to double check. I can’t tell because the power went out during the White Witch boss fight. It must be her final spell. The mail lady stopped knocking on my door. The water doesn’t run either. Oliver, pull yourself together!

A stray cat showed up at my window with a dead mouse. I think this is my reward for defeating the White Witch. This is important to note. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be hard to write an FAQ. 

Score: 28/30 stars.

Team Dominion

Dominion is awesome deck building game that is always different. With 2 standalone sets and 5+ expansions, the game is ever-changing. The best part of Dominion is that you randomly choose 10 decks (sometimes more depending on cards chosen) from any of the sets, which ensures that every game is slightly different.

While playing with my friends for months, we decided to take this game to the next level. We incorporated the team element to to what is usually a single player game. This new paradigm required new strategy and team work.

Let’s lay out the added rules and how scoring works.

Additional Rules

  1. You must have an even number of players (4 or 6 players)
  2. Teams consist of 2 players
  3. Seating must alternate members from teams (Two people from the same team must not sit next to each other)Example Team Layout
  4. The number of Provinces = players x 3
  5. The number of Curses = (players – 1) x 10
  6. The game ends when either when 4 piles are exhausted or the Province or Colony pile is exhasted
  7. Players on a team exchange 1 card, without looking, before the beginning of the Action phase of a member on the team.

Scoring
This is where the strategy comes in. The simple way would be to add the Victory points of all the members of a team and the highest team total would win. However, we decided to complicated things a little more.

  1. Calculate your score for each member of your team
  2. Take the lowest score for your team and that becomes your team score
  3. The highest scoring team wins

This is a fun variation, that adds a little bit of team play to this great strategy game.

Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice is an awesome game by Steve Jackson Games that my friends and I have enjoyed playing.

This is a great game that combines Zombies, Brains, and Gambling. The basic premise is to collect Brains and avoiding getting shot by your dinner. A turn starts with grabbing 3 random dice (potential dinner) out of 13 (6 Green, 4 Yellow and 3 Red) out of a cup. On each dice has 3 symbols: Shot, Brain and Footprints (runners). Gambling comes into play, since each color has different proportions of these symbols.

  • Green: 2 Footprints, 3 Brains, 1 Shot
  • Yellow: 2 Footprints, 2 Brains, 2 Shots
  • Red: 2 Footprints, 1 Brain, 3 Shots

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