Tag: Gaming

Under The Microscope – Drop Site by Bellwether Game

Welcome to Go Forth And Game. Under The Microscope today – Drop Site from Bellwether Games.
This review is long overdue.  I received a review copy of Drop Site from Bellwether Games some time back and just have not gotten around to posting it.  I apologize because this is a pretty good little card game.

Abstract:  Drop Site is a quick, fun card game for two to four players.  It’s theme of disaster aid workers dropping aid packages into stricken areas is unique.

Materials and Methods:

Materials – Components

This is a card game that comes with 52 cards and a rules sheet.  The card art is simple and clear depicting crates parachuting to or already on the ground.  Most have a card value on the upper left side as well as in the border at the top right.  The main body of the card holds the art and a number for scoring.  Card values range from 12 to 0.  Zero cards represent on the ground aid.  When a zero is played on a Drop Site, that Drop Site is turned on its side and a new Drop Site may be started on top of it.  The rules sheet explains the game well.  It is clear and concise.  The cards come in an industry standard card box with nice art.

One of Drop Site's cards

Methods – Game Play

Game play is fairly straight forward.  The cards are shuffled and five cards are dealt to each player.  The deck is placed in the center of the play area and the top card flipped to form the first Drop Site.  The players then take turns playing a card to either face up to the Drop Site(s) or face down to their Debt Bank.  They then draw a new card from the deck.  If a player chooses to play to a Drop Site the played card must have a lower card value than the face up card on the Drop Site.  Players may choose to start a new Drop Site with their play by playing any card next to a current Drop Site. The face down pile in front of each player is the Debt Bank.  Cards are played here and remain until the end of the game.  Then they are used for scoring.  Play continue until the appropriate number of Drop Sites is reached.  This number varies with the number of players.  The round then ends.  Exhausting the draw deck also ends a round.

At round end scoring begins.  Points are scored for each card in your Debt Bank.  Players receive points equal to the big blue plus number on the cards if the card’s value matches a Drop Site’s value.  Players lose two points for each unmatched card in the Debt Bank.  Drop Sites with zeros can be matched for both the zero and the current top card.  Debt Bank cards can match more than one Drop Site and a single card can match more than one Drop Site.  Game play continues until one player scores 100 points.


Drop Site was designed by Dennis Hoyle and won the Carda Mundi award of the Premio Archimede in 2010 for best card game.  I can see why.   I like Drop Site.  Bellwether Games has produced a quality game with its first effort.  It is a fun, quick filler game with a unique theme and clever scoring mechanism.  It is easy to learn but takes a bit of skill to win.  The scoring mechanism is the heart of the game.  Being able to remember what you placed in your Debt Bank and being able to match it to the Drop Sites is not as easy as it might seem.  Scores escalate quickly making the game quick fun.  Drop Site is not a deep game nor does it pretend to be.  It is exactly what it wants to be – a small, fun game with enough thinky-ness to satisfy.  This game is a hidden gem filler game that needs more notice.

The Verdict:

Three Microscopes

You can get your own copy of Drop Site here at the Bellwether Games website.  Drop Site is normally $10 + shipping. That is a deal for real!  Rush on over there and get your own copy.  Thank you to Bellwether Games for providing a review copy.
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Under The Microscope – Eruption by Stratus Games

Under The Microscope – Eruption by Stratus Games

I’m examining Stratus Games latest release Eruption this time.


The volcano explodes in fire and pyroclastic flows. Lava inches closer and closer to your village! What will you do? Fortunately you can direct the flows away from your village. Using ingenuity, walls, and good luck, you can choose to shunt the lava safely away or toward your rivals’ villages.

Stratus Games’ Eruption is a fun tile laying game of ‘take that’ that will please gamers as well as families.

Materials & Methods

Game Bits

The production of Eruption is fantastic. The game board is divided in a hex grid and depicts an island with the volcano in the center, lava flowing out from it, and jungle all around it. There are six villages evenly spaced around the edge of the island, on the beaches. Each village has a different colored border and icon as well as several huts, trees, and canoes. Scattered around the

The beautiful game board

island are icons for the various wall types. The ‘score track’ encircles the island and divided into ‘degrees spaces’. The track is a thermometer to marks the increasing temperature of each village. And it has zones that give the player in that zone special actions. There are about 40 lava tiles that depict lava flowing to several of the tile edges. Walls are small wooden sticks in yellow (straw), brown (wood), and grey (stone). There are 36 action cards that give the player either a special action, such as ‘Volcanic Bomb – discard any wall on the board’. Or the card can be turned in for a wall section. There are two dice – an orange lava die and a white wall die and 6 player tokens. The graphics are beautiful and clear. The rules pamphlet is colorful and attractive. Overall the graphic design is exemplary.

Game Play

Players are villagers trying to save their village from the lava flowing from the exploding volcano. At the beginning of his turn, a player evaluates the condition of his village. If there are any lava flows touching the village, that player’s token is moved forward on the temperature track. If the lava is not blocked or removed the temperature of the village will rise each turn and eventually burn up. Players direct lava by placing tiles that have flows in different directions on the board. Flows must connect to an existing flow.

Some Action cards

Action cards are another way to direct flows. The cards enable players to rotate tiles, replace tiles, and/or remove tiles completely.

Players can build walls to block a lava flow. Walls can be made of straw, wood, or stone. Walls are obtained either by exchanging a card for one or by placing a tile on one of the wall icons on the board.  When lava reaches a wall, players roll the two dice. The orange die is the lava die and the white die represents the wall. If the orange die is higher, the wall is removed. If the white is higher, the flow does not enter remove it. If the wall in question is wood or stone, a bonus is added to the white die – +1 for wood, +2 for stone.

Game play continues until either a village burns up or when all the tiles have been placed. The player whose village has the lowest temperature is the winner.


I like Eruption a lot. It is a fine blend of a family game and a strategy game. It is seeped in its theme and the game play reinforces that volcano/village in danger theme. There is real tension as your village’s temperature rises. And relief when you are able to play that card that removes that flow that is burning up your village. We have not had a game where there was not at least one ‘HA! Got ya!’ moment when someone placed a tile that caused a flow to enter a village.

I really am impressed with the graphics of this game. Even the print and play version I received is beautiful. The final game is a gorgeous produced game. Kudos to the graphics team.

Chris James has done a fine job on the design. The game is balanced and play is fluid. It has depth, particularly as the game board fills up with tiles. The choices of where to place your tile each turn gets more and more difficult as the game progresses. I like that.

The game is easy to learn, making it open to younger players. It is fast to play. I’d call it a super filler in this respect. And as I mentioned, it has a strategic and tactical aspect that will please gamers. This is a fun game and I highly recommend it.

Microscope Scale: 4.5 of 5 Microscopes

You can get more information about Eruption at http://www.stratusgames.com/games/eruption or BGG.

I would like to thank Stratus Games for providing a print and play copy of Eruption for this review.

Join me again soon for more reviews and interviews at Go Forth And Game.