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Escape Master Kickstarter Review

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Quick Look: Escape Master


Designer: Zac and Lily Taw
Publisher: Zily Creative Works
Year Published: Coming to Kickstarter (Link at the bottom of Review)

No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 30-60 minutes.
 
Find more info HERE.
 
From the Publisher:

Can you master the art of ESCAPE? Escape Master is a fast paced, action-packed game that requires mental speed and agility. Whether you are a Mouse, Teen, Lumberjack, Vapor Ninja, Robot, or Average Joe, be the first Escape Leader to guide your party to freedom while committing the fewest blunders and dodging the traps laid out for you by other players. Fantasy and classic Speed game mechanics combine to create a thrilling and competitive game experience you won’t soon forget!

 

Disclaimer: The publisher provided the prototype copy of Escape Master. The opinions expressed in the review are completely my own. Note: This review is based on an advanced demo copy of the game and may not accurately reflect the final version of the game.
 

Review:


Overview:

Have a set of rambunctious friends? Well then, you will want to present Escape Master to them. Escape Master is a real-time active card game. You play cards on stacks in the center of the table in a particular order, but with everyone playing at the same time rather than in turns. But wait, it gets even better, there are special cards that can mess with the other players. If you’re the first one to play all the cards in your hand, you are the winner. If you play multiple rounds, you can keep score and whoever has the lowest score at the end is the winner. Real-time games are better when everyone is in a playful mood, and I had fun playing Escape Master with a few of my friends. Escape Master is well worth your time … your real-time.

 

Rules & Setup:

The rule book is what you would expect for a smaller card game. The rule book is put together in a booklet form with a few illustrations. A few examples are included where needed. The rule book starts with a Rules Summary which introduces you to the game. Then it presents a Rules Overview, a good enough description of the rules of the game to let you jump right into the game. And then it finishes with Rules Details for those who want all the rule details with explanations.

Note:  Since this was a demo game, the rule book may not be in its final form.

The setup of the game is fairly simple. The Escape Leaders cards are shuffled and each player takes one. Players determine how many rounds to play and roll a d12 with the highest role being the Start Dealer. The Start Dealer shuffles the cards, deals 10 cards to each player, places the remaining cards in the center of the table as a draw pile, and when ready announces the Start of the round.

Theme and Mechanics:

In Escape Master you are playing as an Escape Leader trying to get all of your group (the cards in your hand) to escape by being played to one of the piles on the table. The player that can get their group to escape first is the winner.

The mechanic of the game is the real-time play of cards from your hand. Some cards are played on stacks and some cards are played on other players. When you can’t play a card, you can either wait until you can or draw a new card to see if you can make a connection.

 

Gameplay:

In Escape Master you have to play your cards in ascending or descending order to stacks of cards on the table. To start a stack a player must play a 7 or a Wisdom Card (7). Cards may then be added by anyone in ascending or descending order, but ascending or descending from the last card played to the stack. So, 7, 8, 9, 8, 9, 10, 9 is valid. Cards must be played using one hand and essentially one at a time, meaning you have to play quickly before someone else beats you to a stack. In certain situations, multiple cards may be played at once, but only at those times.

There are also special cards in the game you can play on other players or the stacks. Some cards cause other players to draw cards or have to play cards only in ascending or descending order. Some cards cap a stack of cards so no one else can play cards on that stack.

If at any point you can’t play a card, you have a couple of options. You can either wait until you can play a card or you may draw a card from the draw pile. If at any point all players are waiting to play, any player can announce “Draw” and all players must draw a card.

Play continues until someone has emptied their hand of cards and declared themselves the “Escape Master” or all cards have been drawn from the draw pile. At that point every card in your hand counts as 1 point. At the end of all the rounds (if playing multiple rounds), the player with the lowest score is the winner.

 

What is done well:

The designers understand the use of real-time gameplay, making this game better than a turn-by-turn game. If this game were turn-by-turn it would be rather boring and I wouldn’t like playing it as well. Since it is real-time, there is a bit of luck involved, but mostly it is quick-witted skill that will win you the game.

 
What some may find issue with:

The game can be very chaotic. Since it is real-time, everyone is playing everywhere on the table and some may find it a bit overwhelming to keep track of everything that is happening. Those who like examining things to find the best move to make will have a hard time playing this game since the table will change so quickly.

 
Final Thoughts:

Being a real-time game, gameplay can get chaotic at times, but to me that just adds to the fun of the game. You have to think quickly and play quickly as the table will change rapidly. I also like the fact there are special cards in the game that affect other players, and when used effectively, can prevent someone from running away with a round. It sucks when they get played on you if you’re about to win, but oh so satisfying the other way around. If you like real-time gameplay, you will enjoy getting Escape Master to the game table.

 
Players Who Like: Real-time gameplay, constantly changing game play, card games
 
After reading Thomas Shepherd’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting Escape Master will be launching on KICKSTARTER on June 25th. Check it out and follow it HERE so you can back it on day one.
Did you back it based on our review? Please comment below letting us know!
 

 

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Thomas Shepherd- Reviewer

I grew up loving to solve puzzles, play games, and have fun.  In my younger years I had fun playing pencil games, enjoyed the creativity of playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, and generally hanging out with others. My favorite thing to do was to make puzzles of all kinds, mazes, word games, picture games, etc.

Sadly my career took me in a different direction, solving computer problems rather than gaming problems.

Gaming came back into my life, though, in a big way about 15 years ago, and I have held onto it since. I still enjoy designing games and have 9 published titles, which I did through my own game publishing company, Toresh Games, prior to the Covid pandemic. Sadly I was not able to sustain the company through the pandemic.

I highly encourage people to play games, make friends, and have fun. As a game enthusiast, I would love to see a return to games as the best social media platform for the masses.

All of Thomas Shepherd’s reviews can be found HERE.

 

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