Monday, November 14, 2016

Commissioned from Chara Games (A Homeschool Crew Review)

There's something to be said about family game night.  It's a tradition we've tried to implement into out family on Saturday nights as a way to turn off all our electronics and just spend time having a good time as a family together. Over the years, we've managed to put together a pretty impressive game collection and we're always on the look out for a new game to add that we can all enjoy.  When given the opportunity to review the co-operative play board game Commissioned by Chara Games, I was pretty excited to add it to our collection.

About Chara Games

A newer company in the board game market, Chara Games was developed in 2014 by Patrick and
Katherine Lysaght who wanted to produce table top games with a Christian theme.   Following a very successful Kickstart campaign that raised more than 254% of the production cost, Chara released their first board game, Commissioned, this year.  A second game, a strategic card game named 3 Seeds, is currently in production and will be released at a later date.

About Commissioned

Commissioned is a table top co-operative board game for 2-6 players ages 14 years and up.  (Because of the amount of smaller pieces used in the game, it is recommended that this game be kept out of reach of children three years and younger due to choking hazards).  Unlike many board games on the market, this is a co-operative style game, meaning that all players work together to complete a common goal, as opposed to pitting players against each other.

This historical themed game takes players back to Jerusalem in 34 AD.  Jesus has walked the earth, been crucified and Resurrected.  The followers of Christ have begun to spread the Word to the rest of the world but are being targeted by the Roman empire.

In this game, players take the role of early Christian Apostles and work together to spread the word of Christ, grow the Christian church and collect the books of the New Testament.  While trying to accomplish this, they must overcome the many trials and tribulations that the Apostles faced while trying to grow Christ's church.

At first sight, this game can be fairly intimidating, especially for those unfamiliar with table top role playing games.  Contained in a very hefty box, the game consists of 1 double sided game board, 5 scenario cards, 6 Player boards representing one Apostle (Paul, Peter, James, Andrew, Barnabas and John), 96 faith cards, 27 trial cards, 4  missionary meeples, 75 church member cubes, a wooden elder staff, 6 colored player pawns, 37 punchboard tokens, and an 8 sided game dice.  Also included are a rule book and a theme appendix.  All pieces are of high quality and the meeples, member cubes and player pawns are wooden instead of plastic - which I thought was a nice touch.   Luckily, Chara Games has provided a 23 minute video to explain both basic board setup as well as basic game play to help explain gameplay.

Before we even attempted playing Commissioned, Charles, Alyssa and myself all sat down together to watch the provided video.  The video was very helpful with explaining how all of the various components of the game should be set up and demonstrating how the game play works.  Once we had the board set up, we each selected which Apostle we wanted to play (Alyssa played Barnabas, Charles selected James so he could say he was Jesus's half brother and I was given Paul because I am the oldest and wisest) and got started.

We elected to play out the first scenario card (The Acts of the Apostles) for our first try with the game.  For this scenario, we were given a list of "Victory Conditions" that we had to achieve in order to win - we had to have a church in every city on the map and we had to collect all 9 New Testament word cards (these are cards with books of the New Testament printed on them).  This card also informed us that failure would mean that The Roman Empire never adopts Christianity.

With cold drinks and snacks in hand, the three of us began working our way through the game.  Game
play is fairly simple once you get the hang of it. One at a time, players take their turn.  Each turn consists of the same thing - the player pulls a Trial Card which gives a situation that all players must work to overcome. Trial cards contain scenarios such as Apostles being placed in prison, churches being destroyed or some other situation that would hinder the play of the game.  Once the Trial Card has been played, the game moves on to the Pray and Show phases: each player selects two cards out of their 6 card faith deck in the hopes to neutralize or diminish the effects of the Trial card.  The player who's turn it is then selects two cards from the cards that were "prayed" and use them against the Trial (or if there's a New Testament word card, they can select that card and use it to complete the task).  After, the player can then move his pawn, church cubes or meebles around in order to work towards the final task of bringing the church to neighboring areas on the map.  This is followed by the Grow phase, which adds church members to each existing city with three or more markers on it. At this point, the players turn is over and the next player then takes their turn following the same process.  After this second turn, the game enters the Mature Phase, which allows each player to tally up the "points" left in the cards in their Faith Deck that was not played during the past two turns and allows them to use those points to buy another Faith card to add to their deck.  Then, the next player starts their turn.

Kenny Decided He Wanted to Play Too
The gameplay itself can be slightly confusing when first starting to play.  It took us about four turns to really start feeling comfortable about how the game mechanics worked. Once we had it figured out, we all really enjoyed playing Commissioned.  There's no Bible knowledge needed to play (which was really good since Charles has very little) and with all honestly, this is a game that even someone who is not a Christian might still enjoy.

I could easily see this being a great board games for families who enjoy strategy games but maybe want something a big different.  The co-operative play of this game really helps to temper down any competition that might arise during normal game play since players need to work together for the common goal.  I also think this would be a wonderful addition to any church youth group.

Overall, I'm really happy to have added this board game to my collection and I think Chara Games has done an absolutely WONDERFUL job both with the concept of the game and the quality of the game itself.   I also absolutely LOVE the fact this game can accommodate up to 6 players, which is always an important thing for our family of 5 (nobody wants to have to sit out).  It has quickly become a new favorite for us and I can't wait til both Ashleigh and Garrett will be old enough to join us.

For more information about Commissioned and Chara Games, be sure to visit their website or one of their social media platforms:

Twitter: @Charagames

Commissioned {Chara Games}


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