Let's jump in shall we?!
CommissionedCommissioned is a group cooperative board game based upon the first 150 years of the growth of the Church. It is designed for 2-6 players, ages 14 and up, who play the part of various Apostles and work together to grow the church. Along the way they encounter various trials, including imprisonment, persecution, and false teachers.
The end goal is to collect all of the books of the Bible while simultaneously spreading the Gospel, and thus the church, to every city on the map. This goal must be reached before the group runs out of trial cards (turns) and the game ends. Your growth is tempered by the need to have members remain in each church to keep it alive. If all the members in a church are removed through the various trials, the church is extinguished. If five churches are extinguished your group fails in its mission.
Commissioned is designed for ages 14 and up. We found that a good age cutoff because while older players can certainly help younger ones (around 10 or so)play the game, the strategy needed to accomplish the goals and win the game are harder for younger players to fully grasp. If your 10-13 year old children or friends have experience playing other strategy games, then I would say you can easily include them in Commissioned. Know that no matter how good you are at other strategy board games, there is a learning curve to Commissioned and the growth versus sustaining goals. Once you have mastered the basic game of Commissioned, there are four other scenarios that cover 2 difficulty levels. This is one you can pay again and again and not get bored with!
Emily, Arlene, and I played Commissioned a handful of times before they invited their friends over to join them. Adrienne and Anna have quite a bit of strategy game experience so we thought of them first. The four girls had a good time together as they worked together on the game. In one of the more difficult levels, the players cannot talk during play...we are not to that level yet, so the girls had time to catch up as well as play Commissioned.
As the girls pointed out, sometimes a particular spot on the board just does not want to receive the Gospel, so sometimes the church candles get extinguished rapidly. Since there are only five of them, you can sometimes tell early on that you are not going to win the game. I think that is a skill that improves as you play more and more board games. One of the great things about how Commissioned is designed is that you do NOT need to know anything about the Bible or the early church to play. This allows you the opportunity to share the game with all of your friends, as even the non-Christians should appreciate the skill level needed for the strategy. This can also be an opportunity for you to share your faith while you play the game. Besides the game and instructions, the box also includes a Theme Appendix that helps by explaining the various trails and faith cards and their Scriptural references.
We enjoyed playing Commissioned, and now that cooler weather is here and the girls and their friends will be having more game nights, and less park nights, I am sure it will get a lot of use. One part I particularly liked is that because the number of turns is limited by the number of trial cards, it only lasts about an hour. Please tell me I'm not the only one who hesitates to play a strategy board game when You know it will probably last three hours?! While those long games can be fun in smaller groups, as a parent, I like having options for the teens who would rather play more than one game each night!
Chara Games was founded in 2014 by Patrick and Katherine Lysaght. They used a KickStarter campaign to raise the production money for Commissioned, and another KickStarter campaign funded production of 3 Seeds. Their time and effort were well spent! The production quality of both of these games is excellent! The graphics are superb, the boxes are sturdy, and the final products are top tier compared to other comparably priced strategy games widely available today. Our girls and their friends have played a wide variety of board games, and having talked with other parents, we are all looking for a good entertainment value return for our dollars. Because of the five different scenarios and two difficulty levels available in Commissioned, I would rank it high in value at a medium price point. Five game scenarios without needing to purchase any additional add-ons is a rarity.
3 SeedsFor those of you looking for something a little faster-paced, or with a little less strategy required, 3 Seeds is an excellent choice. This is a card game that only takes about 30-45 minutes to play. Since we received one of the first copies of 3 Seeds to come off of the production line, we have not had as much time with it as Commissioned. Arlene and I have been the only ones to play it so far. We will post a more thorough review next week, but for now, here is sneak peek!
3 Seeds is a light-strategy card game for 2-5 players, ages 12 and up. Right up front I'll let you know that this game should fit in fine with groups aged 10 and up that play card games regularly. Even if they lack the strategy to win on purpose, they should have fun playing, and may win on accident with bonus points.
Each crop in 3 Seeds needs an investment of time, money, and labor. Technically, there are one or two that don't require a money investment. Each player has Seed cards that are marked with time, money, or labor that the must choose to invest wisely. Players can invest their resources in their own crops, or in the crops of other players. There are benefits and drawbacks to either choice. Once a crop is harvested (and the point earned on it recorded) another crop card is drawn from the pile to replace it. When there are no more crop cards to draw, the game is over and you add up bonus points and see who won. While you might be ahead at the end of play, those bonus points can really affect the end score...just ask Arlene about that.
While learning to play Commissioned takes a while, the basic premise of 3 Seeds is fairly easy to learn. Since it is a faster moving game, it would be a good option for new gamers, as well as family get-togethers. Having a game that only takes 30-45 minutes gives players at game night more time to socialize. Have teens? Then you know exactly what I mean!
We really enjoyed both Commissioned and 3 Seeds. They will both get a lot of use from our girls and their friends. Of the two, I will be more inclined to play 3 Seeds simply because it is simpler and faster, but still entertaining. 3 Seeds will be available for purchase later this year, while Commissioned is available right now.
On the Chara Games website you can view videos of the basic play for both 3 Seeds and Commissioned. Watch the video, play the game, then watch the video again. That strategy will help you get the most out of these two terrific games. Do not worry if you watch the video the first time and are still scratching your head a bit. Once you get the game out of the box and start playing, what the video showed will make much more sense. The video for 3 Seeds is short, while the one for Commissioned is 24 minutes. Take the time to watch the whole 24 minutes and you will be much, much better equipped to play Commissioned.
Get your copy of Commissioned today and be ready for Game Night!
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