Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Beasts of Balance

Game: Beasts of Balance

Publisher: Sensible Object Games

DesignerGeorge Buckenham & Alex Fleetwood

Beasts of Balance was a successful Kickstarter in early 2016, originally called Fabulous Beasts. We weren't interested in Kickstarter at the time, but this year's Kickstarter for a new edition, new beasts and a competitive expansion caught our eye. The first edition did well and hit mainstream retail in the UK at John Lewis so we were able to pick up a base game before committing to the Kickstarter campaign. At an RRP of £70, is Beasts of Balance a good game for kids, families or adults or is it just a very high price tag for a cool looking gimmick?

Beasts of Balance is a cooperative dexterity game for 1-5 players, although there is technically no upper limit on player numbers. Although in concept it is a very simple stacking challenge, the sleek integration of technology, with an interactive app, makes this game stand out from the crowd. The base game comes with three small beasts and 3 large beasts as well as a collection of land, sea and air elements, all of which you need to combine into a tower to get the highest point score possible.

As soon as I received this parcel I was excited to play, so I downloaded the app and started a solo game. My initial response was negative because it didn't really feel like a game. However, Amy encouraged me to give it a chance and it has become a really addictive, relaxing game for us to play with a spare 15 or 20 minutes in the evenings. Beasts of Balance is a very simple stacking game - each turn you scan a piece and this registers on the app - you then balance this on the base which registers the piece and interacts it within the app. If you add a new beast it registers a small number of points. If you place a cross, then two animals are crossed together. If you place an arrow, then the targeted animal migrates to a different land type. There are then elements which can increase the point value of the animals on each land type. Finally there are two special pieces which create a challenge, but combat the effects of jealously when smaller beats lose points because they're envious of their larger counterparts.

The 6 original beasts from the base game.
We have particularly enjoyed trying to find strategies to beat our high score and trying to create different hybrids that will add to our collection in the Bestiary. There is definitely some strategy there in terms of accessing the high scores, but there's also an element of luck because of the random land selection when you migrate and the random selection of the secondary beast for cross-breeds. Sometimes we'd like a bit more control for our bestiary, but on the other hand, if you had full control it would be too easy to create maximum high scores. We spoke with the designers recently and apparently people have got lucky and achieved high scores of 1000 - presumably benefiting from the additional beasts and the fact that you achieve double points if you use every piece in the box.

Although we love the game, I do still have some issues with it. Firstly the price tag - £70 is a high price to pay for a game which doesn't last very long - although its very obvious why the price tag is so high with technology in every piece and great quality plastic parts, I can imagine this will be off-putting for a family market and equally not that enticing for heavy gamers that view Beasts of Balance as more of a filler game. Secondly, I don't like the fact that there are no rules, either in the box or on the app. You need to figure out how the point combinations work which we weren't 100% clear on for many games and which I think a younger audience might not figure out, thereby missing out on some of the educational value of the game for arithmetic etc. Thirdly, we found that with my parents, the fact that you were just playing for a high score wasn't a good enough reason to play, they needed a fixed goal for a cooperative game or a competitive mode. I suppose a high score challenge is only good if you have the same players for repeat plays of the game and the same is true for building out your collection of different beasts in the Bestiary.
A screenshot of the app after a Warthog and Octopus have been played and then crossed to make the 'Waterhog' - predicting the cross-breed names becomes a game all of its own!
As I relaxing, couples game I have to give Beasts of Balance a big thumbs up, we've easily played it 20 times and we find the need to collect all of the different beast combinations and beat our high score super addictive. I can't wait for our expansion content to arrive! If you have the money to spend on a luxury dexterity game then Beasts of Balance is definitely worth a look, but if you just want some cheaper stacking fun then Rhino Hero still wins for me every time!

From the Yellow Meeple, Beasts of Balance gets and 8/10.

No comments:

Post a Comment