Aviary Attorney – Compatibility

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

System Requirements

Windows

Operating System: Windows 7, 8, or 10
Memory: 3 GB RAM
Hard Disk: 500 MB

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.7 and above
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Hard Disk: 500 MB

Windows 10

This game was designed for and works flawlessly in Windows 10.

Aviary Attorney – Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.11 Game First Impressions

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

Aviary Attorney was developed and published by Sketchy Logic and released in 2015. When I was reading up on this game to determine if I wanted to play it, I read a review by PC Gamer that billed Aviary Attorney as a visual novel. As I played it I did receive a choose your own adventure vibe, but as the game’s title indicates, this is a light legal sim set in 1840’s France.

The player takes the role of Monsieur JayJay Falcon. At the beginning of Aviary Attorney, Monsieur Falcon is greeted by his apprentice Monsieur Sparrowson who reads Falcon his daily mail. The letter they received is from Seigneur Purrtoir Demiaou requesting legal services on behalf of his daughter, Dame Caterline, who had been charged with the murder of Monsieur Grenwee at a dinner party they all had attended the night prior.

Black Jack Mini-game with Sparrowson

Black Jack mini-game with Sparrowson

Many role-playing games have a mechanic by which the backstory is told at the beginning of the game and then the player is greeted with a dialog asking them whether they would like to accept the quest presented to them. I have never understood this mechanic since selecting the negative option indicates the player would rather not play the game, and choosing the affirmative option is really the only logical way in which the game progresses. Aviary Attorney employs this same mechanic. Sparrowson asks Falcon if he will take on Dame Caterline’s case. A dialog greets the player. The player may choose “Of course!” or “Nope.” I chose “Nope.” to see what would happen.

Monsieur Sparrowson chided me briefly for not taking the lucrative case, but when I stuck to my guns through another presented dialog he offered instead to play a game of cards with me. Apparently I had unlocked a mini-game of Black Jack that I played briefly with Sparrowson playing as the computer player. Once I had confirmed that I understood the rules of the card game, Sparrowson made a wager with me. If he won, I would have to take Dame Caterline’s case. If I won, I could choose from a list of three mildly devastating scenarios to happen to Sparrowson. I made the wager and then handily lost the next round of play. It appears that once the wager is made the card game is rigged such that the player will always lose and be forced to then take Dame Caterline’s case – a clever use of this traditional role-playing game mechanic.

City Map Screen

City Map Screen

Each case taken on by the player in Aviary Attorney is broken up into a number of days. In the first case there are three days prior to the beginning of the trial. Each day, the player is greeted with a map of the city along with a series of known locations relevant to the case. Locations with a watch face next to them indicate a location that will take a full day to visit. Locations without a watch face may be visited prior to a location with a watch face without time passing to a new day.

I spent my first day visiting the Conciergerie Prison to meet with my client Dame Caterline and get all the information I could for the case. From there I received two additional leads, to the studio of the photographer who was invited to take photographs at the party in which Monsieur Grenwee met his untimely demise, and to the scene of the crime at Baron Rorgueil’s manor where the party took place. Both locations showed a watch face beside them on the map which seemed perfect since I had two days prior to Caterline’s trial.

A Dialog Menu

A Dialog Menu

I decided first to visit the photographer, Monsieur Robittio de Robinio, to discuss the photograph he had made on the night of the crime. Upon arriving at his studio, I found a note on his door indicating he had left for the day. I knocked on the door anyway, but there was no answer. Falcon and Sparrowson had a bantering dialog back in forth in which they were debating what to do. If they left, a day would be wasted in which the player would not be able to return. Provided in the dialog was the illegal option of breaking into the photographer’s studio and snooping around. I chose that option to see what would happen, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Aviary Attorney is a fantastic repository of clever quick witted humor and terrible puns. Sparrowson is the primary source of such comedy, but all of the players are well drawn and play their parts marvelously. This game is comedic through and through, I laughed frequently had couldn’t stop smiling throughout the initial time I have played it.

Investigation Mode - Searching for Evidence

Investigation Mode – Searching for Evidence

When the player visits a location, they are able to search through the environment looking for clues and evidence relevant to their case. These items are then compiled and written down into an evidence folder that may be used later in the court room. On the final day before the trial, I examined the grounds of Baron Rogeuil’s manor and talked to him and his housekeeper. It was discovered that his housekeeper was a kleptomaniac and had been stealing the Baron’s silverware. This led the dinner guests to have to eat without utensils on the night of the murder. These details helped me later at trial to inform the jury why Dame Caterline had blood on her hands and mouth when she had eaten a rare steak at the dinner party.

The player may choose which statements from the witness to cross examine.

The player may choose which statements from the witness to cross examine.

When the trial day had arrived, not only did my character Monsieur Falcon feel overwhelmingly unprepared, but I did as well. Aviary Attorney had already by this point in the first case remarkably immersed me in the world presented. The trial began in which using the evidence I had gathered the previous two days I daftly struck down the accusations presented by Rupert Rabbington, the prosecutor. After a witness has given their testimony on the stand, the player may question them based on that testimony. It is up to the player to decide how to proceed, and there is a great deal of dialog that won’t go anywhere. The jury will get frustrated with the defense if their time is wasted, so attempting to match the evidence to the testimony and questions asked will achieve the greatest results. Each time a biting piece of evidence is presented by Falcon that refutes the claims of the prosecution there is a pause and then the evidence is delivered with beaming rays shooting from Falcon across the screen. It was a comical and satisfying moment each time I did it.

Ate a Bloody Rare Steak! (Plot thickens.)

Ate a Bloody Rare Steak! (Plot thickens.)

Now that I have won my first case and Dame Caterline has been pronounced not guilty by the jury in her case, I am excited about playing the remaining cases in Aviary Attorney to see if I can complete the game. Aviary Attorney seems to be a good game to play after a long day. It will make you laugh and doesn’t require too much thinking. However, there is a decent bit of potential intellectual challenge when entering the court room to keep the player engaged. The background music chosen for the game is on point with the 1840’s setting, along with the drawn animations and artwork and the fonts used for dialog. Aviary Attorney is thus far a stellar game; I’m happy to have it in my collection.

Codenames – Card Game Review

Codenames game box.

Codenames game box.

Codenames is a party game for two teams consisting of at least two players on each team. The best game I have played so far is one where there were five players on each team and the team member playing spymaster rotates within each team on each round. Codenames was developed by Vlaada Chvatil and released in 2015 by Czech Games.

Codenames Key Cards

Codenames Key Cards

Players divide into two teams: blue and red. Each team selects one person on their team to be spymaster. The codename cards are shuffled and 25 of them are drawn and placed into a 5×5 grid in the middle of the table. The key cards are also shuffled and one key card is drawn at random by a spymaster. The border color around the key card indicates which team will go first. The key card shows which codename cards provide points for the blue team and red team, and which codename cards are for the innocent bystanders (white) or for the assassin (black).

Codenames initial card setup.

Codenames initial card setup.

On each turn a team’s spymaster will say one word out loud as a clue and a number referring to the number of cards on the table that relate to that clue. For instance, given that the key card was chosen where the red team goes first, the red team’s spymaster might say, “Gamble 2.” The players on the red team might then select the codename “Play.” The red team’s spymaster would then place a red card over the codename “Play.” Since the spymaster said there were two related cards, the red team might continue guessing and choose “Game.” The codename “Game” belongs to the blue team. The spymaster would then place a blue card on the codename “Game” which would award a point to the blue team. When a team guesses a codename wrong, their turn is over and play moves to the other team.

Codenames gameplay

Codenames gameplay

On the blue team’s turn their spymaster might say, “Jurassic 2.” Then players on the blue team might point to the codename “Dinosaur.” At that point the spymaster would place a blue card over the codename “Dinosaur” and the blue team will have scored a point. Given that the spymaster stated that there were two cards corresponding to the clue “Jurassic,” the players on the blue team might want to choose again. If they were to choose “Hollywood,” the assassin would be revealed. This is kind of like knocking the 8-ball in a pocket at the wrong moment when playing pool. When a team reveals the assassin the game is over and they lose the game. If instead the blue team had chosen “Screen,” an innocent bystander card would be placed over the clue and the blue team’s turn would end. Play would then go back to the red team. Once a team has correctly guessed the number of codenames their spymaster has given them, if they are bold they can continue guessing. This is helpful when a team is behind and wishes to make a Hail Mary effort to catch up and win the game.

The first team to guess all of their codenames correctly wins the game. The codename cards have codenames written on both sides of them. To quickly set up a new game, simply flip all of the cards over and then choose another key card. Codenames is a fun game for parties as it can be played with nearly any number of players and its easy to learn. I would recommend that this game be in any serious board gamer’s collection.

Minecraft: Card Game? – Card Game Review

Minecraft: Card Game?

Minecraft: Card Game?

In order to capitalize on the success of the best selling game of all time, Minecraft’s license has been used extensively on a host of in real-life products. One of these is the Minecraft: Card Game? card game. Despite the question mark on the cover, it is undeniably a card game. The cards are square instead of the typical rectangular cards you would expect in a normal card deck, but they are cards nonetheless.

The game is designed to be played by 2 to 4 players. There are two types of cards: resource cards and craft cards. Resource cards are used to craft tools: 24 wood, 9 stone, 8 iron, 7 gold, 6 diamond, 11 wild cards, 5 creepers, and 5 TNT cards. A player turns in resource cards to obtain a tool card and with it the number of points that particular tool card grants. The player with the highest point total wins.

The rules are not very well written. It’s almost like the person who wrote the rules never played the game to check that the rules made sense. Most notably there is no mention of how to determine which player goes first. I realize it should be simple enough to roll a die to determine who goes first, but this is a game where turn order actually matters. In a 2-player game, the first person to 24 points is the winner. In a 3-player game, it’s the first player to reach 20 points. And in a 4-player game, the first to 16 points. This potentially gives the first person to play a distinct advantage.

In a similar card game, Splendor, the rules state that if the player who was first to play reaches the winning point total first in her turn, all other players may play to complete the round. This allows every player the same number of turns to get to the winning score. In the Minecraft: Card Game? game I played, the final scores were so tight that using this method only favored one player over another and was seemingly unfair. Another option might be to play multiple games where each player takes their turn as the first player. The player who has won a majority of games is then declared the winner.

Minecraft: Card Game? is set up by shuffling all of the resource cards and then dealing them out into a row of 5 equal piles in the middle of the play surface. Then the craft cards are shuffled and also dealt into a row of 4 equal piles in the middle of the play surface above or below the resource card piles. After distributing the craft cards, you will be left with one remaining craft card. This card is placed into a discard pile, and discarded cards will be placed on top of it.

Minecraft: Card Game? Setup

Minecraft: Card Game? Setup

When a player takes a turn, they may mine a resource card, craft a craft card, or reserve a craft card. A player is typically afforded two actions per turn. When a player mines a resource card, they pick a wood, stone, iron, gold, diamond, or wild card off of a resource card pile and place it in front of them. When a resource card pile becomes exhausted, the cards in the discard pile are shuffled and used to fill in the exhausted resource card pile.

When a TNT card is mined from a resource card pile, the player who mined the card chooses two cards to keep, and then discards all remaining cards from the top of all other resource card piles. When a creeper card is shown when drawing from a resource card pile, each player must discard a card from the resource cards in front of them. What if a creeper happens to be the top card in a resource card pile when the game begins? This scenario is not mentioned in the game rules. When this happened in my game, I just placed the creeper in the discard pile and drew the next card as the top card in the pile. No player may draw a TNT or creeper card as a resource.

When a player crafts a craft card, they place the number of resources shown on the craft card into the discard pile face down. They then take the craft card and place it tool side up in front of them. (Once again, the official rules don’t make this very clear.) Each tool crafted has a special ability that can be used only once for the remainder of the game. Once the tool has been used, the player will flip the craft card back to the craft side to show the tool has been used. The player receives all of the points for crafting the tool, whether or not the tool is used during the game. A resource card may only be used on one craft card. If you have a resource card that states it is worth 3 diamonds, it cannot be used as 1 diamond for one craft card and 2 diamonds for another craft card.

Using a tool does not count as an action, and can be done at any time during the game even outside of a player’s turn. There are five tools which match up to the five basic tools which can be crafted in the Minecraft open world multi-platform game that we all love: sword, shovel, pick axe, axe, and hoe. The sword allows you to forgo discarding a card when a creeper card is exposed in a resource card pile. The shovel allows you to force one player to have one fewer action on their next turn. The pick axe gives you an extra action on your turn. The axe can be used to provide two wood as a resource. The hoe can be used to take the resource card off of all of the resource card piles directly into the discard pile thereby exposing all of the resource cards underneath.

Finally a player may reserve a craft card to be crafted later. The craft card is placed off to the side into that player’s card holder. As far as I can tell, there is no limit to the number of craft cards a player may place in reserve.

Like I said before, Minecraft: Card Game? is a lot like Splendor perhaps crossed with aspects of Monopoly Deal. It’s not in any way a bad game, but it does lack polish. It is a fun little game if you don’t take it too seriously, but experienced card gamers such as myself might expect something more balanced coming from an experienced game maker like Mattel.