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.

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Friday 4 May 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Rising 5: Runes of Asteros

Game: Rising 5: Runes of Asteros

Publisher: Grey Fox Games

Designer: Gary Kim, Evan Song

Year: 2017

Rising 5 is a cooperative deduction game for 1-5 players, developed from the simple concept of the classic game Mastermind. Mastermind is a game many people know from its iconic box cover which would be anything but iconic by modern standards! I used to love playing Mastermind as a child and also enjoyed the later digital incarnations on the PC, so the idea of a board game which elaborated on this with beautiful Vincent Dutrait artwork and an integrated app was an exciting prospect for me.

Rising 5 combines many elements we enjoy. It's cooperative, app-driven and is based on a game I have fond memories of. I have a love hate relationship with deduction games though, typically not enjoying hidden movement games, but, recently I really enjoyed Sonar and we've enjoyed Alchemists in the past, so I was interested to see what we would think of Rising 5. We have had the chance to play the Kickstarter edition, but here we'll be taking a look at the retail edition, released in an English edition by Grey Fox Games.

The colourful art-work makes the Sci-Fi theme really appealing, bringing to life quite an abstract game.
In Rising 5, there are five characters but everyone controls all of the characters - each player does not take their own character. On your turn you activate one character based on your hand of cards - the number of cards you commit is the number of actions you will take to move, interact with a card or attempt to solve the puzzle. At the end of your turn you must draw at least one card from the deck, but you can draw more, however this acts as a timer for the game, resulting in the frequency of negative events and eventually a loss condition for the game when cards run out. 

Ultimately you are trying to solve a logic puzzle - determining the location of 4 coloured runes in the code. You are only allowed a 'guess' when you have four green 'silk' cubes activated, which you gain by defeating cards by rolling and manipulating the dice. Being in a location with other characters boosts you dice value by one and other players around the table can contribute cards to boost the value too. When you have four green cubes and you've used Orakl's character ability to swap around some runes, you scan your code into the app which reveals how many are the correct location and symbol and how many are the correct symbol in the wrong place.

What is really striking about Rising 5 is how it combines very traditional deduction with a very luck-heavy cooperative dice rolling element. At times it wouldn't matter how good you are at the deduction puzzle if you just kept rolling failures on the dice. This will definitely be off-putting for some gamers, but for me this is just a part of cooperative gaming. In all cooperative games you need something to compete against an more often than not you're competing against luck, either with dice, in games like Flash Point Fire Rescue, or drawing from a deck in games like Pandemic. In Rising 5 there are plenty of ways to mitigate this luck, although if you don't have the artifact that gives you a re-roll, there's always the chance of a complete failure.

This big monster gives you a hint as a reward, which will tell you the corresponding astrological symbol for one rune colour. However, you need to roll a 5 on a combat dice with a max value of 4 to defeat it, so you'll need a combination of luck as well as the cooperation of other players and the other character on this spot to increased the value you roll.
The deduction puzzle is quite simple and may not be enough to satisfy those with a desire to really challenge their mind. In some ways it's tougher than Mastermind because there's a second layer of information hiding the rune colours - you need to determine which astrological symbol matches which colour as well as which colours belong in the puzzle in which location. However, on the flip side, each colour only appears in the puzzle once, so there's limited possibilities and we've found that the puzzle is often solved in three or four guesses. However, the simplicity of the puzzle does make this a family weight game and the fact that you can compare back to Mastermind when teaching gives me hope that I might even be able to introduce this to older family members.

Rising 5 is a unique cooperative deduction game in our collection. I love how it integrates with the app, allowing for the fully cooperative experience and relies on good communication to plan together and support each other, especially at harder difficulties. The drawback for me is that the base game is a bit of a one-trick pony and the expansion content I've seen in the Kickstarter edition didn't appear to change the game up significantly. I imagine we'll play this game a few more times and then we'll need a game-changing expansion to bring more life to the game. For the Yellow Meeple, Rising 5: Runes of Asteros is a 7/10.

Rising 5: Runes of Asteros was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £43.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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