Blog Archives

A Thinking Man’s Game Review: Koryo – Order and Action in 8 Seasons reviews a new release from Moonster Games and Asmodee.Koryo2“Koryo” may be the fastest card game we have ever played.  A typical game lasts from 10-20 minutes and it plays just as quickly whether you have 2, 3 or 4 players.“Koryo” is a strategic card game, suggested for ages 14 years and up, that includes 45 character cards (representing 9 different families), 10 event cards, 8 season cards, 8 victory point tokens, a turn token and a rulebook.

Koryo1According to the publisher, Moonster Games, “Koryo takes place in an uchronic and politico-steampunk universe, rooted in the lands of 10th century Great Korea.”  Wow, the Toys Bulletin staff was not sure what that really meant, but we sure wanted to play.  The object of the game is to build the most influence with the nine families during 8 turns (seasons).  The player with the most influence, measured in points, is declared the winner.

We have to admit that the rules are written in such a way as to make “Koryo” appear to be much more complicated than it really is.  The game is basically decided based on collecting more family character cards than your opponents, thus accumulating more influence and winning the game.

The game is played in 8 short turns or seasons.  Before each turn, a season card is turned over which reveals how many character and event cards are dealt to each player, and how many of these cards can be played and displayed at the end of each turn.  Each subsequent turn reduces the number of cards dealt and increases the number that can be displayed.

Koryo3To begin play, the character cards and event cards are shuffled together, and dealt to each player according to the instructions on the first of the eight season cards, as described above.  There are 4 phases on each turn for every player.  First is Card Distribution, which is basically turning over the next season card and dealing the cards to each player.  Second is the Order Phase, in which players can play one or more cards face down in front of them.  In most cases, only identical cards can be played.  Third is the Action Phase where each player turns over their face down cards and takes actions if desired.  The Fourth Phase completes the turn by having players discard face up cards to meet the display requirements set out at the beginning of the turn and returning all unused cards in their hand back to the deck.

The character and event cards have names and numbers.  For example, a Banker is a number 6 character card, which means there are 6 Banker cards in the deck, and it has an influence of 6 points.  The player with the majority of Banker (#6) cards on display can use the Banker’s special power, which enables that player to take one of the victory point tokens from the bank during his turn.  An example of an event card is the Barbarian, which is a negative 1 card.  Although it can reduce the number of influence points at the end of the game, it also has the ability to destroy another player’s character card.

Players with the majority of any specific character card on display in front of them are allowed to take the action or power attributed to that character.  The powers of various cards include obtaining or stealing a victory point token, receiving additional cards during Card Distribution, displaying more cards at the end of a turn, playing two different types of cards in the Order Phase, destroying an event card or providing protection from a Barbarian attack.  There is even a character card (The Omniscient) that can be used as a tie-breaker to gain the majority of a specific character and use its special power during the game.

After 8 turns (seasons), the player holding the majority of each card gets the points assigned to that character.  For example, if one player had three of the Banker cards (#6) on display and two other players had two of the Banker cards in front of them, the player with three would receive 6 points.  If two players are tied for the majority of a specific card at the end of the game, neither player receives the points.  The Omniscient card cannot break a tie when totaling points at the end of the game.  Event cards with a negative value are deducted from a player’s points, if still on display at the end of the game.  The highest point total wins the game.

Koryo4A small drawing in the center bottom of each card depicts the power given to each character and event card, but we have to admit, newer players may have difficulty interpreting the meaning.  As an alternative, we actually found several sources on the Internet that provided a player’s aid card with an easy to follow description of the special powers associated with each numbered card.  With that information in front of every player, there were far fewer questions and the game did not stop, while players looked in the rules to determine the powers of various cards.

This game plays much easier than it sounds, and actually became quite addictive around our office.  Even if you lose a game, you can play another and redeem yourself in just 10-20 minutes.  Each time the game is played, you get a better understanding of how and when to play various cards to gain maximum advantage, especially as relates to the all-important point total at the end of the game.

“Koryo” retails for $22.99 and can be purchased at

— RJ Cullen


Posted in Card Games

Card Game Review: HeartSwitch – A Great Alternative to Hearts takes a look at a new card game from U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

HeartSwitch1“HeartSwitch” is the perfect game for those who love the game of “Hearts.”  Ken Fisher, the co-creator of “HeartSwitch,” is also the author of an old favorite of ours, “Wizard.”

In “HeartSwitch,” there is a 60-card deck, including a regular 52 card playing deck, 4 witch cards (one in each suit) and 4 magician cards (no point value or suits).  The rank of the witch cards falls above the 10 of the suit and below the Jack of the suit.   There is also a cleverly designed scorepad and a short instruction booklet included with the game.  “HeartSwitch” is generally a game of winning and losing the right tricks and carefully following suit.  The game can be played by 3-6 players, with a suggested age of 10 years old and up.


Posted in Card Games

A Cooperative Card Game Review: Celestial Rainbows – Colorful Card Placement takes a look at the first product release from Griggling Games, Inc.

CelestialRainbows4Griggling Games, Inc. is a brand new game publishing company located in Woodstock, New York.  They have plans to release several new games over the next year or so, and the first one is a beautifully executed card game called “Celestial Rainbows.”

The game contents include a deck of 55 cards, consisting of 49 Rainbow cards (7 in each of 7 different colors), five Magic Power cards and one Double Rainbow (wild) card.  There is also a short set of rules, including several helpful diagrams.  The artwork on the cards themselves will immediately catch your attention, as they have been designed by artist and illustrator Aurora, using her own original hand paintings to create the rainbow effect on the cards.


Posted in Card Games

A Card Game Review: Sloop – It’s a Numbers Challenge looks at an engaging card game from U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

????????Mike Fitzgerald and U.S. Games Systems, Inc. have come up with a very creative card game called “Sloop.”  It is a numbers game based on the classic Italian card game “Casino.”  Although “Casino” was generally played with a standard deck of cards, “Sloop” introduces several new twists, including special action cards.  “Sloop” can be played by 2-6 players, with a recommended age of 8 years old and up.


Posted in Card Games

Game Review: Stop It – Play Fast and Take No Turns reviews a new card game from Winning Moves Games.


“Winning Moves Games” has a nice track record of successful games including “Pass the Pigs” (see our review on 23 July 2013) and “5ive Straight” (see our review on 24 May 2013).  Another recent release is a card game called “Stop It,” which is intended for ages 8 years old and up and requires 3-5 players. 


The game contents include 54 cards, with five different colored suits, green, black, yellow, red and blue.  In addition to 4 special “Stop It” cards, each suit contains 10 cards numbered from 1 through 10.  There is also a pair of score pads.  The object of the game is to get rid of your cards first, keeping in mind that there are no turns, simply fast sequential play... 

Posted in Card Games, Games

Game Review: Out of Control – A Rummy Type Game With a Twist reviews a strategy game from Talicor/Aristoplay

Talicor and Aristoplay were originally two small independent game companies.  They merged together because they had similar philosophies regarding their desired customer and the type of game/puzzle experiences they wanted to create.  Today, they have combined those resources and produce a wide variety of board and card games, along with a full line of puzzles.  Their entire product line is both entertaining and educational...  

Posted in Card Games, Games

Educational Card Game Review: Flag Frenzy USA – Do You Know the Flags of the USA? looks at a flag matching game from Geo Toys.

Back on 20 November 2012, Toys Bulletin reviewed “Flag Frenzy,” a terrific flag matching game, which included flags from countries all over the world.  By the time you were done playing the game a few times, you were suddenly an expert on recognizing and identifying a wide assortment of flags.  It was great fun and educational too.


Now, “Geo Toys” has taken things a bit further, and released “Flag Frenzy USA.”  If you are like me, you have lots of friends who watch the Olympic opening ceremonies and try to name the country as soon as they see the flag bearer.  Do you think those same friends could name the state in the USA simply by looking at its flag?  If the answer is “no,” it might be time to check out “Flag Frenzy USA,” which features the flags of all 50 states plus USA territories... 

Posted in Card Games, Games

A Spooky Game Review: Ghooost! – Rid the Mansion of Ghosts reviews a new game from Richard Garfield and Iello.


We opened the game box for “Ghooost!,” looked over the contents and thoroughly read the rules.  We did not see a need to reread the rules, which we usually do, as the game seemed simple enough, and we were fairly certain we were ready to play.


We quickly found that although “Ghooost!” was easy to play, there was more to the game than we first realized.  This was not just a game of luck, but instead required some strategic thinking in order to consistently win.  Card management was very important, and we got better by playing multiple games, and yes, we did go back and reread those rules...

Posted in Card Games, Games

Follow Toys Bulletin on Twitter

Get the RSS Feed

ToysBulletin Archives