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Review: Heart of Crown:: Heart of Crown is a majestic triumph!

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 07:09:20 +0000

by rantinronrevue It’s been about four months since I got this game for Christmas, and I’ve had a chance to play it about seven times since then, which is not usually enough for me to consider doing a review. This would have had many more plays except for the fact that I’ve been inundated with 5 other new games during that four month period also. But consider that there are 30 different ‘common’ cards in the Heart of Crown base set, and each game uses 10 of them, so we haven’t gotten a lot of exposure to each of the cards in this deck-buikder. And about half of those games were two-player games in which we didn’t use the two ‘rare’ cards in the set. But I have played it enough to know this: I LOVE THIS GAME!!! Before putting this on my Christmas list, there were some questions about whether or not I should buy this because I already had several deck-builders. Having only played a half of one game previously, I checked around the internet for some answers, and realized some other answers I could only get by playing the game and judging it for myself. So instead of reviewing it in a standard format, I’ve decided to do a Question and Answer format. Q. Comparisons to Dominion are inevitable, so let’s get that out of the way first. Are there many cards that are basically the same as Dominion?A. There are some, of course. Drawing cards and getting coins can only take so many forms. Your territory and succession cards equate roughly to the treasure and victory cards. But there is also some new stuff here, such as cards that deal specifically with cards in people’s domains, face up cards in your draw pile, benefits of certain princesses, etc. There are only 5 copies of each card in the market, and they are shuffled together to form a deck. The way the marketplace works, showing only 8 of the 10 cards at a time in the is a substantial change, as is the concept of building a ‘Domain’, which is where you place your Succession (Victory) point cards, only after you back a Princess requires a completely different strategy than simply trying to get the most Provinces (or Colonies. Q. Can Heart of Crown coexist with Dominion in your collection? A. Definitely. Heart of Crown definitely has a different feel to it overall, and I think it’s a bit stronger thematically. It coexists not only with Dominion, but also with Trains, Star Realms, and Baseball Highlights 2045 – all deck builders. But then again, it’s not unusual for a game collection to contain multiple worker placement games, dungeon crawlers, or resource management games, so why should deck-builders be any different? Q. How’s the artwork? A. If you like the anime/manga style of artwork (which I do), then you’ll love the artwork here. As with many deck-builders, the artwork on some cards will be better than some others, but stylistically the artwork is pretty consistent throughout the set. And unlike a few other offerings by Japanime Games – most notably Tanto Cuore - none of the cards (at least in the base set) feature scantily-clad females. One can only hope that the same can be said of the expansions. Given the fact that I play the game with my wife and my grandson (among others), that’s pretty important to me. Q. It seems that the price is a bit high considering the number of cards you get when compared with other deck builders. Is it worth it?A. The base set contains 300 cards, and the suggested retail was $50 the last time I checked. Yes, that’s what I consider a bit high. I will say that the cards are of an excellent quality, which is a good thing. The cardboard separators and the tokens are nothing special. The box, though a bit smaller than the ‘usual’ size, has enough extra room to fit several expansions comfortably. (And I WILL be getting expansions, I’m sure!) Q. How long does it take to play? A. Most of the games I’ve played have been in the 40-60 minute range. The 60-minute time has been against players that I’d have to explain the game to [...]

Review: Saber & Blood:: Saber & Blood. XVII’th centurys settlements in the eastern borderlands. Rewiev

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 03:10:04 +0000

by Thorkiel Wildbret informationSaber & BloodPublisher: Kazrak StudioAge: due to the subject matter, 15 years +Number of players: 2 - possible 3-4-person versionGame times: from 30 minutes"The Anno Domini 1665, border of the Polish-Lithuanian Union was set on fire, there have nothing left but ruins of villages and towns. The air was full of the smell of war, human misery and burning debris. Old people said that ghosts has returned to their former abodes, and the hungry wolves has begun to prowl the villages. Some said that the witches, emboldened by the overwhelming evil, has begun preparations for the Sabbat. Bandits, groups of Cossacks, and ordinary cutthroids mercilessly robbed and murdered unfortunates who were so unwise to travel these dangerous times. Only those who did not part with the saber at their, the gun at the belt and the prayer, had a chance to survive. Strange times were - lawlessness, bribes, and at the same time full of honor and desire adventures ... Those who had the courage to venture on this damned land, they were looking for either fun, or revenge, or redemption."Saber & Blood is a quite interesting project, which has a chance to appear on the tables, if you only have will to support it on the Kickstarter platform.It is some kind of asymmetric game of Kazrak Studio publishing, amazingly atmospheric, with a rather unusual subject - a tavern brawls. It involves performing actions, by playing cards and using dice. One of the players impersonates Polish noblemen , the other impersonates a shaggy Cossacs.Elements of the game.I received a copy of BETA from the publishing house, so I do not know yet how the box will exactly look like, but judging by the graphics on the cards and board, it would have be amazingly climatic.The manual already has a target appearance, although the one you will have in your copies will be colorful, but this is not the most important. It has been written very carefully with examples. The rules have been described according to pattern: each phase is described separately, along with a detailed description of the cards and dice, then describe the rules about how to move on it, as well as rules on fighting. The next part describes key words, Characters and faction abilities, which are slightly different because the game is asymmetrical as I said. The final part contains the scenarios. The game contains six very detailed minis. Unfortunately, the photos do not reflect their actual appearance - they are metal and specifically refract light, although I suspect that using professional photographic lighting can show their actual appearance better. I can assure you about one thing, I have not seen plastic figures or even resin, so detailed in such a small size. In the basic version of the game, we got two different faction. Each additional faction from the campaign that would have been unlocked would have its own deck. There are descriptions of actions or events on them, as well as very interesting illustrations, in my version in a characteristic dark shade, but the authors intend to use a light print to make the details more visible. Graphics, in my opinion, perfectly reflect the nature of individual actions that we will be able to play.The board is small, but graphically maintained in the atmosphere of the interior of a seventeenth-century Inn. It presents a bar, benches with tables, and other utensils characteristic of the epoch.The set also includes tokens - markers: two-sided action markers, and one-sided: hastle, weaken, bolster, stun, slow, wound, poison, wounds, special points - value 1 and 5.The set of dice also looks nice.Because Saber & Blood is an asymmetrical game, each player has a different set of cards. To win, you need to take the most cost-effective tactic, depending on the cards that will appear in your hand.Preparation for the game is very fast. After choosing the faction, the player receives the character cards and the appropriate decks of orders. The tokens should[...]

Review: Diplomacy:: No one wants to be the middle man...Diplomacy

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 02:28:30 +0000

by KingArv

In a game that starts off with a quick land grab and expansion, it pays to be on the outside. Of the 7 different powers, Italy, Austria and/or Germany are often in rough shape right off the bat.

But, Diplomacy is all about negotiation. Setting up a firm trusting alliance against the outside powers, England, France, Russia and/or Turkey from the start can help. It really comes down to the knowledge, skill and persuasion of the players involved. Diplomacy is really a simple game with simple moves, but it’s the decision making that can be difficult. Who to trust and who not to trust, it’s almost like it is the original Survivor reality show. When to make the move (to backstab your ally) is almost more important than where. It only takes one misstep to totally lose the trust of an ally and taking one of their centers on “accident” is probably not going to fly as an excuse. So, choose wisely and choose when correctly and it could catapult you to the power player status in the game. Then, it’s a lot easier to conquer the smaller nations because you do not need other player’s armies or fleets to help you as much since your army will be large enough to mostly support itself.

Diplomacy creates great armistice lines though. It’s difficult to dislodge certain spaces or along certain lines of the board, if you know them or can figure them out) where an armistice is basically reached and players cannot conquer the other player, so diplomacy wins out in the end, and often the last remaining weakling helps the winning player become king.

Some players might dislike this aspect of player elimination or kingmaking, but this is classic and epic board gaming at it’s best.

Probably the coolest reason to dive into Diplomacy is all the variants created over the years! There’s hundreds of variants, programs that can create maps and software to help facilitate PBEM games over the internet. See here:
Rules can be added too which make the generic powerless units powerful and add to the player count depending on the map.

So if you find the base map unbalanced, try a different setup (even make your own!), gather a group of friends who are willing to lie, cheat and backstab without taking it personally and use Realpolotik (software for diplomacy) to explore the greater world of Diplomacy.

Review: Zombie Tsunami:: ERRORI ZOMBIE TSUNAMI (versione italiana)

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 02:26:02 +0000

by Rickydj86

Ci sono alcuni errori da segnalare per quanto riguarda la traduzione italiana delle istruzioni e delle carte:

• Sulle regole italiane c’è scritto “rivela questa carta se ti trovi nella squadra PIÙ numerosa” ma è sbagliato; corretto è “...nella squadra MENO numerosa.
• Non è menzionato il fatto che, oltre a non eliminare nessuno zombie causa spinta, se ne guadagnano pure due (come nella versione inglese e in tutte le altre lingue). Quindi corretto è “+2 zombie e nessuno zombie muore”

• Sulla carta italiana l’obiettivo è “possiedi un civile a fine round” ma è anche questo un errore, la versione giusta è “bombarda un civile con successo” (vedi infatti la carta Mecha della versione originale inglese).

• Nella scatola ci sono due carte bus, una è da eliminare definitivamente perché è in più (io personalmente la tengo a parte di scorta). Comunque alla fine devono essere 19 carte strada togliendo un bus

• Sulle istruzioni hanno invertito la descrizione di quelle che vanno usate subito e di quelle che vanno usate durante il round; per farla breve, così è corretto:
_ Carte evento da usare subito: hanno un punto esclamativo (!) come logo
_ Carte eventi da usare durante il round: hanno una freccia che va da sinistra a destra ( —-—> ) come logo.

• Sulle istruzioni che scritto che la si deve usare durante il round ma sulla carta c’e stampato il punto esclamativo (!) che significa invece di doverla usare subito.

Spero di essere stato utile

Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Rock Paper Wizard:: Piedra Papel Hechizo, reseña por Dr.Cheno

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 02:26:02 +0000

by Cheno Publicado con imágenes en Papel Hechizo es un juego inesperado. Tomar una mecánica de críos como el Piedra Papel Tijera, añadirle una capa de objetivo y significados y redondearlo con una sobreproducción con gusto.De esta forma se consigue un filler redondo, divertido y caótico. Sabe a fresco.Piedra Papel Hechizo es un filler que te va a sorprenderReseña en formato cuestionario: rápido de leer, entretenido de hacer.FichaPiedra Papel HechizoDistribuidora: SD GamesEditora: WizkidsAutor: Josh Cappel, también responsable de obras como Wazabi.Cuestionario¿Qué?Somos magos en una cueva con una salida y un tesoro. Al final de cada ronda, los dos magos más cercanos al tesoro recibirán monedas. El primero en alcanzar 25 será el ganador. Al inicio de cada ronda habrá varios hechizos disponibles para todos los jugadores sobre la mesa, descartándose uno y añadiéndose otro al final de la misma. Cada uno tiene asignado un gesto con la mano. En cada ronda haremos el gesto/hechizo señalando a otro jugador a la de ¡Piedra Papel Hechizo!Estos hechizos son de tres tipos: ataque, defensa y económicos.Los hechizos de ataque buscar retrasar a los contrincantes hacia la salida y acercarnos al tesoro. Los de defensa evitarán que nos afecten, como, por ejemplo, haciendo que un hechizo que se dirija hacia ti rebote y afecte a otro jugador. Por último, los económicos buscarán fastidiar las bolsas de los demás y mejorar la nuestra.¿Quién?De tres a seis magos podrán dispararse hechizos. Se recomienda que cuanto más jugadores mejor, aunque será más caótico.¿Dónde?Piedra Papel Hechizo nos introduce en el tema de Dungeons & Dragons empleando hechizos auténticos del universo fantástico. Las ilustraciones en el cartón nos meterán aun más.¿Cuándo?En 2016 sale este juego sin hacer mucho ruido. Llega ahora de la mano de SD games. Es un buen signo que juegos de Wizkids lleguen a España traducidos.¿Por qué?Como si fuera un duelo en el oeste, en este Piedra Papel Hechizo dispararemos hechizos a la vez, eligiendo cuidadosamente nuestro adversario. El resultado, ejecutado en orden de las agujas del reloj, tendrá consecuencias variopintas: puede que tu demoledor hechizo de cambiar tu sitio por el que va en cabeza sea desviado por otro mago que actúa antes que tú, haciendote aparecer incluso más atrás. Todo esto lleva a un caos relativamente controlable, pero ante todo divertido.Destacaré una regla añadida: si dos magos se disparan exactamente el mismo hechizo el uno al otro, se verán forzados a coger un hechizo al azar y ejecutarlo. La casualidad de tal hecho genera risas y tensión. Piedra Papel Hechizo invita a pasar 30 minutos caóticos pero con estrategia.ExcitaciónPiedra Papel Hechizo es un baile de gritos y risas. De miradas de odio y burlas constantes. Durante la partida estaremos emocionados por saber el devenir de la ronda de hechizos.Estética y temaSiendo un filler tengo que destacar la calidad de componentes. ¡Madre mía! Qué cartonaco, grueso y brillante. ¡Una vez destroquelado en la caja habrá el espacio justo! Las cartas de hechizos, con un excelente diseño: ENORMES, con iconos para aclarar las acciones y texto para las dudas. Sensacional este apartado.AtracciónPiedra Papel Hechizo trae frescura a un juego corto, con una mecánica con la que todos estamos familiarizados. Las partidas serán épicas a nada que los jugadores piensen un poco qué hechizos les benefician más o menos. Un acierto es la lenta rotación de las cartas: poco a poco te vas haciendo a las mismas, no dependiendo de estar leyendo las cartas sobre la mesa repetidas veces.RejugabilidadPiedra Papel Hechizo tiene un mazo de hechizos algo limitado. Sin embargo, las combinaciones que hayan sobre la mesa en ese momento conllevarán decisiones totalmente diferentes. Creo que tiene más que suficientes para todas las partidas que le quiera[...]

Review: Ravage: Dungeons of Plunder:: Ravage: Dungeons of Plunder - a 5-Minute Review

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 00:03:37 +0000

by Ddlagarry Ravage is a fun little dungeon romp for 1-5 players with a theme that is a bit different than what we have come to expect from this type of the game. Rather than the usual band of dwarves, humans and elves... the characters are orcs from the nearby Blackroot Mountains. Their plunderous behavior is encouraged by the Chieftain as a means to toughen up his clan warriors. The Chieftain might in fact send the group on specific missions to obtain an item or kill a specific target.First, players will choose their game mode: Solo, Cooperative, Evil Overlord (1 vs. Many), or Treachery. Solo mode has your single orc attempting to explore and survive for 10 rounds before being faced by a random boss (out of 6), then he must escape. Cooperative and Evil Overlord follow the provided quests (there are 11) with the difference being in Evil Overlord a player controls the dungeon and monsters instead of using the basic AI. Treachery mode is a free-for-all with all players sending their monsters to kill other players, a mode that reminded me of a typical death match video game.Players each take their turn in several phases, revealing a new random dungeon tile and a threat (such as a monster or trap) before taking two hero actions. (side note: Can an orc be considered a hero?) Dungeon tiles are printed on standard size cards with descent card stock. There are a variety of passageways, rooms, alcoves, etc plus some special areas that provide an interesting bonus or threat.Actions include moving, attacking, picking up an item, trading... what you would expect for a dungeon crawl. Attacking and defending use some nice chunky 6-sided dice of different colors and power levels. Skill cards chosen at the beginning of the game for your character provide additional benefits such as attack or defense bonuses, creature summoning, healing etc. Using your skills requires expending "energy" which can accumulate through special dungeon tiles and dice rolls. Leveling up is interesting: when you use a skill, the energy expended is accumulated as XP. Once you have maxed out your XP (it does not take long... maybe one or two turns) you can then level up a skill of your choosing. In my solo playthroughs my character is nearly maxed out by the end of the game. My multiplayer playthroughs have been less so, usually because each player has fewer turns per game than solo mode.There is also a deck of items (the "Sneaky Goblin Deck") that give your character one shot bonuses, buffs and de-buffs which you purchase with "teef" (that is orcish for "teeth") you have been awarded for kills. I like that certain creatures give you no bonus because, well, they have no teeth.Boss battles are a lot of fun and can be difficult. Bosses have unique attack cards and interesting dungeon tiles that define the encounter area. Meanwhile new monsters are still spawning (in some cases), making the climactic end battle a real nail biter.My playthroughs have been entertaining. In many cases though we were forced to make on-the-spot decisions not necessarily spelled out explicitly in the rule book. This does not bother me particularly (I have encountered this many times in dungeon crawls) but it does slow down the game flow a bit initially as we all acclimate to the game vibe. By the end of the first scenario turns were proceeding at a good pace.The Good> The feel of this game is a fun, thematic, light dungeon crawl. It has a small footprint and a lot of content plus a short set up time.> The art style is top-notch. While I agree that art can be subjective, I feel the art style fits the theme perfectly.> The game flow is exciting and engaging. I also very much like the variety of game modes provided.> The standees are well designed. I really appreciate the bases which are snug yet do not damage the standees in any way.> The orc fiction, both in terms of the characters and the quest line provided, are [...]

Review: Lifeform:: LifeForm - An Alien Survival Horror Game - First Impressions

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 19:07:43 +0000

by Preston Gamers Guild I spent this afternoon at Fan Boy 3 in Manchester for a demo game (or two) of Lifeform - the new game by Mark Chaplin and Hall or Nothing Productions (makers of Gloom of Kilforth).I am already a backer of the Kickstarter campaign and was really excited to get to try this out.So, what is the game?Basically, it is Alien: The Board Game. A highly thematic one against many survival game where some of you play the crew of the mining ship Valley Forge trying to escape the clutches of an unknown alien killer before the ship self-destructs. Sound familiar? You bet, and it captures the tension of that well-known film perfectly.I arrived part way through a game and Tristan kindly gave up his seat to let Me jump in. I basically new nothing about how to play, having only watched a couple of demo videos earlier in the week but with a crib sheet in front of Me explaining the card icons and a quick run down of what you can do in a turn, it didn't feel overwhelming and I was able to take over quite seamlessly. The game was close to the end and the alien player had already taken out most of the crew and was set up very nicely to ambush the rest of us. It wasn't long before the ship was adrift with just one deadly occupant...After a brew and a quick bite to eat, the game was re-set and I got to experience a full game.How does it work?We played a basic game, so some of the more meatier options were not included and we just had the simple task of gathering enough equipment and escaping in the shuttlecraft.In the full game, players will be assigned personal objectives like downloading the ship's log from the data core or gathering specific equipment. This will add much more depth to the game as each player will be striving to achieve these goals as well as trying to avoid the alien and reaching the escape shuttle.In the simple game however, we just had to focus on escaping. To do this, you need to collect the equipment tokens that are arranged in various rooms on the board. These are then placed on a track at the side of the board in various slots for coolant, energy cells, weapons, space suits and halon canisters. Most of these tracks have a minimum number of tokens needed before you can attempt to escape and any extra will grant bonuses like drawing extra cards or gaining a flame thrower.In your turn, you get to perform one action so the downtime is minimal and the turns fair zip around the table, often before you've had a chance to take a breath and plan your next move.All the actions are played from the cards you have in your hand, so you feel the tension of needing to get somewhere but having to wait until you draw a card that lets you run through multiple rooms.Drawing cards. Now there's a thing. The ship's self destruct has been activated (naturally) and you only have 30 minutes until the ship blows up. Each time you choose to draw more cards into your hand, you slide the marker up the track, closer to the big bang.I can't say too much about what the alien player can do as I didn't get to study that side of things too much but it certainly has some devious tricks up it's sleeve.The alien player starts with two standees on the board. They look identical besides a little coloured sticker (this will be a set of symbols in the final game). He also has a corresponding set of tokens next to his player board and he will choose one of these to be the alien. The other standee (or standees, as later in the game there is the chance to get a third standee out) is a decoy so the crew, essentially seeing these as blips on their trackers, never know which is the real threat until it's too late.There is a nice twist here, as, after making a kill, the alien player get's to reset his tokens and choose again which one will be the decoy and which will be the real killer. The alien player can also choose whether the kill was silent, offing the victim quickly and clean[...]

Review: Aeon's End:: The World Has Ended And Nobody Brought Nachos

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 19:05:39 +0000

by VixenTorGames The world has ended. The bad guys have won. The world is mostly destroyed and evil walks unhindered through the hills and valleys and abandoned fast-food restaurants.But in the last holdout city of Gravehold, humanity fights back. Well, maybe not back. Mostly they just fight to survive. Because even though the bad guys have destroyed the entire freaking world, and there’s just one city left they haven’t turned into wood pulp and rock dust, they’re not happy until all of humanity is destroyed. Because, you know, good enough isn’t.So the otherworldly monsters keep assaulting Gravehold, doing the damnedest to break in and eat everybody like party tacos at a happy hour buffet. And the only ones who can stop them are the breach mages.That’s you. Well, I mean, obviously that’s not you, you’re a cardboard-loving nerd with asthma and bad knees. But when you play Aeon’s End, you play a breach mage, who can harness the power generated by tears in the fabric of reality and use it to cast all kinds of wicked magical mayhem. You’ll use that power to break your foot off in the bad guys who keep showing up to blow your house down.Aeon’s End does a lot of stuff you don’t usually see in deck-builders. For starters, it’s cooperative - every player gets a breach mage, and the bad guy you fight is a deck of cards that keeps doling out pain until you can shut it down. You’re not trying to build a better deck than everyone else, you’re trying to get a deck that will get better faster than the bad guy gets meaner.Another interesting thing about Aeon’s End is that you don’t shuffle your deck. I know, I was like ‘WHAT how does that work?’ Well it works awesome. There’s a particular order you discard, and when you run out of cards, just flip over your discard pile and make it your deck. You can seed you deck, plan your purchases so that the combos you need pop up at the same time, and otherwise make long-term strategies that pay off big.One more thing that Aeon’s End throws in there is an unpredictable turn order. Everyone will get to go, and the bad guy will get to go, but you won’t know when. Sometimes you’ll wail on the big bad because he just can’t get a turn, and then the evil overlord will take four turns in a row and leave the heroes looking at cartoon birdies.The cooperative part is better than I expected. For instance, the Lead Dick syndrome, where one player just tells everyone else what to do, is cut way down simply by having hidden hands of cards. Sure, you could still tell everyone what to buy and who to kill, but then you would be an asshole, so you won’t do that, right? And even if you did want to do that, it’s very hard to drive everyone at once. Not to say it can’t be done - I tried one game full solo, and ran two decks at the same time, but it’s a little confusing. I had a lot more fun playing with friends.Another reason the cooperative part works so well is that there’s always a lot of pressure from the evil overlord deck. The deck means that you’ll never know what unholy mayhem the villain is going to bust out - minions, direct attacks, or powerful blows that take a couple rounds to take place are just a few of the fun ways the villain will kick you in the privates. So you’re never given a whole lot of information, and the game could spin on a dime, and it’s too much for one guy to do himself.There are several expansions for Aeon’s End, and I think that’s a good thing, because it won’t take a whole lot of games before it gets a little repetitive. Once you figure out how to reliably beat down the four villains in the main box, and you work your way through the various breach mages you get, you’re probably getting a little bored. That just plain can’t happen before you get four games deep, but if I really like a game, I want more than four plays out [...]

Review: Vengeance:: Vengeance Review - 4 player and several solo runs

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:42:03 +0000

by Bickwick

TL;DR Cool game, not without issues, long setup, slow pacing to learn, will continue bringing it to the table.

I entirely missed the Kickstarter and I stumbled across Vengeance in my local game shop. The price tag turned me off the first couple times I checked it out but it kept catching my eye so I did some research. I am a fan on revenge movies and I like dice games and games with themes engrained in the gameplay vs layered on top so ultimately I took the plunge. So far I am glad I did.

My first solo game was confusing to get the flow and my group also took several rounds to get a hang of the pacing and how the many components worked together. By the end of the game everyone's review was, "Cool, but I need to play again now that I understand how it all plays out." I would anticipate your first game to be similar.

Our first game of four took 3 hours but we were drinking and not necessarily in a big hurry. I did find I coached them along so when we play again it'll be a tad more competitive and I can focus on my own stuff more. I'm sure y'all can relate if you're the one bringing new games to your crew. Mine are more casual gamers so it can sometimes take a little extra exposition.

I've played 5 solo games. I read or heard in another review that the combat can become a little too 'rinse and repeat.' I don't disagree but the context of the quick combat doesn't bother me. I like the narrative context in which everything is happening and I liked that I was becoming a fine tuned Vengeance killing machine.

I thought there was some interesting decision making to be had. I like dice games, as I mentioned, and thought there was a balance between randomness and mitigation. The abilities selection can really help but you still might just roll crap that can't be changed based on your active abilities. I think dice fits the theme. You never know what could happen in a "real" den brawl but you try to be as prepared as possible to kill everyone. Sometimes the game won't go your way so you may just have to tell yourself a compelling narrative about your character's demise. Setup takes a while and may limit how often I play but it overall was a gratifying experience. Eurotrash except for direct player interaction. Even if you are playing super aggressive against your fellow gamers, you're really just keeping them from gaining abilities and going after bosses that could help them. I'm also not a very picky player and can accept what others may consider shortcomings about the nuts and bolts because again, I think it's a really cool theme.

Overall, I'm into the game. I did have minis that needed the hot water treatment to straighten things out but everything seems to be good otherwise. I'll for sure play again solo and will make a point to get the group back on it in the future.


Review: Imaginarium:: Sigh. A review about expectations and disappointment

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:40:08 +0000

by joelbear I am a big Bruno Cathala fan. Abyss and Five Tribes are way up there on my list of favorite games of all time. I also love Yamatai, Dice Town and Mission Red Planet.I really was looking forward to a Steam Punk themed game which this is kinda, at least the artwork could be argued to be steam pinkish. Its very esoteric and some people will love it and some people will hate it. We had fun making up names for the creatures on the cards.Some have said it is kind of like Century Spice Road. I tend to agree. You buy machines which create cubes or sets of cubes which you use to activate the machines, fulfill goals and are worth quite a few points for majorities at the end of the game. There are Production machines which make coal and cubes (coal is basically the currency of the game), Transformation machines change this cube into another kind of cube, Attack machines which we avoided but which could really make this a take that game to a degree since they are one use machines, Protection machines that keep you from being attacked and machines that produce victory points for you. You can combine machines to make them more powerful which is one of the new and neat mechanisms in the game.There are agents which give you special powers such as buying things for less, making more points for certain achievements, use other people's machines, etc. These are all pretty cool but they cost a lot unless you are cranking out coal. There is one agent which allows you to build two extra machines and the person in our game who bought this doubled the scores of the other players. I admit this is one play. But boy does that card seem to break the game. It broke it for me in any case. The goals were a disappointment. Goals such as get 2 purple machines, green machines, etc. get 6 machines, get 3 agents, produce 3 goods of one kind, 1 of each, etc. I found these rather dull and they produce the majority of victory points in the game.The actions are build a machine, wreck a machine (for goods or victory points), get coal, buy an agent, combine or uncombine sets of machines, go to the market to exchange goods and coal back and forth or to buy victory points (3 transactions per turn). These were somewhat interesting and caused some tension in making decision. However if you only have 4 spaces to play with (not the extra 2). These take extra turns to accomplish what the guy with 2 extra spaces can do in one turn. Again, extremely frustrating for those of us who didn't have the extra space.So, let's leave that one card out of it. What else do I think.I like the assembling of machines that create cubes. However, again what I'm making them for is static throughout the game, everyone can do them (I would have them one time fulfill only and bring out more goals to keep the game more interesting (maybe some of the goals I didn't see are more engaging). So.Artwork *****I loved it. It was fun, creative and colorful.Gameplay **It just wasn't much fun and if I want to produce cubes to buy stuff I'll pick Century Spice Road over this anytime.Theme ****The theme is really fun. Crazy machines making stuff. The stuff they make, not so exciting. I remember the first view I had of the game with a pile of cubes in the middle, I got nervous. But if you want a game with a steampunk game with gameplay that matches many other games, this you'll like this.Replayability **I really can't see me playing this game more than 5 times. (Of course Bruno will bring out an expansion in 6 months that people will need to buy to enhance the replayability. I really hate that game designer trick. While the expansions for Tribes and Abyss add to the game they are not needed to sustain replayability. [...]

Review: Covil: The Dark Overlords:: The Purge: # 1753 Covil: The Dark Overlords: A quick look at the solo experience

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:32:00 +0000

by william4192

What changes are made for the solo experience?

The major change is you are playing against a dummy player rather than human players. Yes, you will have to play against a dummy working on AI rails.

What are the game flow changes?

The dummy player(s)do not purchase cards during the game. Instead, they start the game with two 2 value cards, two cards valued between 4-6, and one card valued at 10. They also will not use power relics but instead acquire them to score VP.

Morning: The dummy player will spend coins to purchase as many relics as possible at 3 coins each.

Afternoon: They will also perform actions in the following order: Ranged Attack, Melee Attack, and then move (you flip a relic card over from the deck to find which area they move to).

Night: No changes.

How do you win?

Score more VP than the dummy player(s).

Do you recommend this game as a solo game?

Yes, I do. I normally do not like dummy players. I mean at all. Ever. Yet, in this respect it does work. It is less a dummy player and more of an AI that is making decisions. If the game gets too easy with a single dummy player you can just add more dummy players. This makes the matrix more complicated so you cannot see through the actions and see the design.

The AI isn't complicated at all; in fact, it is quite simple. There isn't a lot of book keeping for the AI which makes the system much more pleasurable. I don't want to play a solo game with a lot of book keeping for the AI.

Overall, I find this to be a very good solo game that feels like you are playing a multiplayer game. This is a great feeling when you are playing. The challenge is there also. I would have guessed that an area control game would not work as a solo game, but I am so giddy and excited that I was wrong. Check this one out and have a great time at the gaming table!

Review: John Company:: Good God, Man -- A review of John Company

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:27:02 +0000

by Bankler (This review originally appeared on my blog, the Tao of Gaming, at -- this year’s Gathering, the big game for me was John Company, which I played four times.Containing a descriptive taxonomy of the gameplayJohn Company is the latest title from Sierra Madre Games, but not by Phil Eklund. (Cole Wehrle is the author). The game focuses on a single company but it is definitely not cooperative … there’s a winner and many, many losers … but the player’s all have an interest and multiple positions inside the British East India Company (EIC). The board depicts the positions in the EIC and players will move cubes (representing family members), ships, barrels (representing guns or goods) and the cards that depict the eight Indian regions around the board to indicate the situation in India and “The Company.” At it’s heart, John Company is the Principal Agent problem distilled into a few hours: Each player controls one extended family. The families run the company, but not necessarily for the company’s benefit.John Company is not particularly complex, certainly nowhere near the difficulty of other SMG titles, and its also shorter, but that doesn’t mean the game is easy. Part of the difficulty comes from the vague rulebook — which does look beautifully like a 1700s tract but doesn’t exactly show how to layout some aspects and may be ambiguous, but the game is not difficult. You have four phases:1. The Family Phase — Player’s send their latest generation into the company in a variety of positions (shipbuilder, factory owner, back office writer, captain, officer, shareholder). These have a variety of costs and limitations. A player may also buy a manor, which is simply 2 Victory Points (VP).2. The Company Phase — Each position has a function and the family currently in control of that position makes it. For example, the Chairman fills any vacant executive position(s) (and the China Office, if it is open) and controls the budget. The Director of trade fills non-executive positions from the writers and assigns ships and goods to the Presidencies. Purchasing officers spend the company’s money according to reasonable rules — they must buy cheaper goods first — but can direct money towards the family of their choice when all else is equal (and it usually is). The various presidents can try to subjugate regions, send out trade shipments, or open new regions to trade and appoint regional governors, who in turn can invest in regions to improve them.3. The Trade Phase — Players generate their family revenue through what I refer to as “honest graft,” (the game does not use that term). Governors can divert tax money towards themselves, Presidents get bonuses for successful trading, Captains earn a steady income. (Officers do not get money during trade, but a successful offensive campaign earns plunder). Each player’s family has a special power and some of them generate revenue for certain conditions. The company will have (hopefully) collected money from trade routes, and now it has to pay its expenses — guns, captains, debts. If there’s not enough money, the Company can take out emergency loans granting £5 but costing £1/turn for the remainder of the game (the Chairman can take out one non-emergency loan each company phase, as well). Assuming there is money left over, the chairman can pay out dividends — which go to the family members in the shareholder box. If no dividends are paid, the share price falls. If they are paid, it rises. If it falls too low, the company collapses and is bailed out. (A bailout removes all but one of each family’s shareholders, or one if they only had one). 4. The Event Phase — Those pes[...]

Review: Feudum:: Feudum First Impressions

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 13:03:40 +0000

by Sprayoncrayon Let me preface this by stating that I ran a four-player simulation, meaning that I was doing action selection for all four players.BriefFeudum is a complex game of area control, action selection, and some take-that mechanisms. Players all have a hand of eleven identical cards and must choose four of them to act on (five if paying a particular resource). Players will use cards to place or move pawns, influence territories, gain majorities in guilds, collect resources, and improve the landholdingsGame DetailsComponents: I have a copy of the core box with the Kickstarter exclusives. The component quality is top notch with nice, thick cardboard pieces, loads of resource cubes, and a phenomenally detailed game board map. The Kickstarter exclusives include a different first player token, a gold-colored die, and foil print wooden tokens for boats, submarines, and airships, along with some foil Royal Writ cards. While the exclusive wooden components don't change the gameplay, they are very nice to hold, but the cards are significant game changers.Set Up: There are a lot of bits involved in set up, but the manual does a good job of explaining and illustrating how to set up for the game. Players are all given the same starting resources and are allowed to seed the board with their first pawns, which will also start them with influence in the guilds. Many resource-collection games give additional resources to the players later in turn order. Feudum does not, but that does not seem to put them at a significant disadvantage.Gameplay: Action selection games are some of my favorite, although I do prefer worker placement over area control. That being said, there is a lot of consideration and interesting player choice that goes into choosing which actions to take each round. Given that players have to ensure they have enough food for their pawns at the end of each round, there can be a scramble for resources at the beginning. Players will also have guild actions that only the player with the most influence can do, and actions that only a player with the second most influence can do. Majorities in guilds count for points each epoch, so jockeying for position is a big factor in the game. This influence is gained by having either pawns or feudums aligned with the particular guild, as well as landholdings that guild favors. These holdings only count if players already have influence from pawns and/or feudums, though. The player with the most influence will have the action that can score the most immediate points. The second player has less scoring value, but can get cards that will either gain resources, other immediate advantages, or end-game points, so these positions can't be neglected either.Feudum relies on these actions in order to cycle resources through the economy, which is one of the unique factors about this game. Each guild can pull from one adjacent guild and push to one different adjacent guild, or can trade directly with players, both with guild affiliation and without.Each round, players can gain special marker tiles by improving their landholdings, either turning such tiles into production places or using them as any one resource they require. Improvements can only be done on landholdings where the player has the most influence; however, production can only be placed where a player has the second most influence, which is another way in which the game rewards players who come second. As these tiles are claimed, it (along with a special die) speed the game towards the end of the epoch.Points are scored for guild majorities and control in different areas of the map, so it is important to spread out your holdings as well as guild influence. Production facilities with unspent resource[...]

Review: Aeon's End:: Cooperative Deckbuilding Done Right - A Best With 2 Review

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 00:20:35 +0000

by line0042 This review was originally published at Best With 2, a boardgame review blog focusing on 2 player gaming. Check us out at www.bestwith2boardgames.comI’m going to be upfront here: I am a huge Dominion fanboy. Not only do I think it’s the best deckbuilder ever made, it’s easily in my Top 5 games of all time. Over the years I’ve amassed a frankly silly amount of expansions and have spent far too much time scouring the internet for storage solutions that will actually, you know, let me play the dang game.Now, like any good boardgame addict, loving Dominion doesn’t simply make me sit back and actually play the game. That would be a far too rational use of the investment I’ve made. No, instead I’m always on the lookout for new deckbuilders that might iterate on Dominion’s design and provide some new and interesting ways to enjoy the genre. I’ve tried several such games over the years and have been routinely disappointed. Most of them don’t make enough changes to Dominion’s core formula to feel distinct, and the ones that do change it in ways that I feel detract from the experience.Still, hope springs eternal, and when the second edition of Aeon’s End came on my radar, I had reason to be excited. Aeon’s End keeps some of the core components of Dominion, but adds interesting gameplay twists and one major difference – it’s a cooperative game.Aeon’s End casts you in the role of one of the stalwart defenders of Gravehold, humanity’s last refuge after a relatively vague apocalyptic scenario. It would appear that otherworldly rifts have opened up, letting through all manner of tentacled and toothy nasties who would like nothing more than to use the cowering remains of the human race as a convenient protein source. As a Breach Mage you can harness the power of these rifts, fighting back the encroaching darkness with fire and fury.What’s the gameplay like?The gameplay of Aeon’s End will be immediately familiar to anyone comfortable with other deckbuilders, and very easy to pick up if this is your first game of the genre. You start the game with a basic deck of cards, made up of simple attacks and the weakest currency, as well as a special card and ability tied to the character you choose. On your turn you are given a variety of options, all of which serve to either improve the quality of your deck, power up your mage in other ways, or strike against the game’s Nemesis.The deckbuilding portion of game uses many concepts seen in other designs, but puts its own twist on them. There is a central market of nine cards, which are randomly selected from a sizable assortment before the game begins. These provide you with ways to thin your deck, deal damage, and amass more wealth and purchasing power. The main way Aeon’s End distinguishes itself in this area is that you never shuffle your deck. Each turn you get to choose the order in which you discard your cards, and when you run out of cards in your deck you simply take your discard and flip it over. Not only does this speed up gameplay, it adds an additional strategic consideration for players as you essentially get to stack the deck with certain cards that work well together.The Nemesis system is another major way Aeon’s End separates itself from other deckbuilders. Instead of racing other players for victory points you will all be contributing in the fight against a unique boss monster. The core set comes with 4 different Nemeses (Yes that is really the plural of nemesis. Weird, I know.), each of which have drastically different powers and playstyles. One game may see you fighting the Rageborn, the hulking monstrosity who graces the box art and likes nothing more than bashing players [...]

Review: The 7th Continent:: The Curse of the 7th Continent

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 22:10:27 +0000

by charlest This review was originally posted at Player Elimination, my weekly board game editorial site.You couldn’t miss it. As I walked up to my front porch, slouched and tired from not enough sleep and more than enough work, the large package was sitting there. This isn’t an unusual sight as cardboard shipping boxes containing cardboard gaming boxes arrive weekly at my suburban dwelling. This one was different because it was unexpected.I hurried inside lifting with my legs instead of my back, and laid the thing out on my dining room table with a pietistic moment of silence.A careful slice of the knife and there it was, that sleek black and gold cover staring me in the eyes with all the atmosphere of an Ingmar Bergman directed game of chess.This happens often. I toss a wad of cash into the pot of a Kickstarter campaign and several years later a game arrives unexpectedly. It’s like a subscription box that delivers once a year and takes your arm as recompense.You may have heard of the 7th Continent (cue church bells, doves, and Matthew Fox). It raised eight million dollars over two crowdfunding campaigns and has received much acclaim. As an experience it abandons players on an island and has you working together to lift a cryptic curse. And everyone absolutely loves it.For good reason too. In many respects this is the ultimate exploration game as you cut through jungle, stumble through snow, and snarl in the face of the weirdest of beings. It’s captivating and overwhelming in the sheer amount of content you can discover over the course of play. One could literally set fire to the rest of their collection and dedicate themselves to the 7th Continent for the rest of the year. Probably the rest of all of your years.Although I don’t actually recommend that.[record scratch]Never have I so thoroughly committed myself to a game and felt so conflicted. This monstrosity in a box has provided me with double digit hours of wonderful discovery and adventure. It’s provided some really standup moments of shock and it continually surprised me with the elegance of its core ‘push your luck’ mechanism. In short, it’s a beautiful piece of design and an unparalleled experience – for 12 hours or so.The 7th Continent thematically exists as a sort of heartbreak simulator. It accomplishes what Fog of Love couldn’t in that it presents a genuine emotional journey of courtship, love, consummation of that love, comfort, annoyance, aggravation, hate, and eventually divorce. Yeah, that’s quite a bit of steps to unpack and work through. Relationships are complicated, yo.The problem with a design predicated on exploration is that you need something to explore, something that will eventually be fully discovered and lose its purpose. Think about that for a moment. When the premise of your creation’s fun is in the process of discovery, the lifespan is outright limited. You’re working towards something, and that something is likely an unsatisfied ending. The damn finish line is the knife that’s going to kill you, not the 20 mile long trek.People like to throw around that special phrase ‘it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey’. Usually to sort of couch disappointment in a revelation that’s not up to snuff. I watched Lost, I know disappointment.The 7th Continent’s solution for this problem of terminus is to throw it all at you. Not just the kitchen sink, but the loofah, the hand towel, the tiles, and even the blackened grout between them. What feels like the entire run of Dominion, Legendary, and Thunderstone is all crammed into a single box where you must meticulously curate and file each card so as to make retrieval dur[...]

Review: Assembly:: Assembly: a BSoMT playtedt review

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 21:52:44 +0000

by BSoMT This is the entire review but for a fully formatted version with supporting photographs visit Space the final frontier…to boldly split infinitives where no man has split them beforeI have always had an interest in space and the ships that sail within it. Elegant, ugly, implausible, all carrying with them their own unique (and in some low-budget movies, not so unique) personalities through the endless void. A thought occurs to me, though. How o they make the bally things/where and who makes them?..and is it actually any fun making them?Prototypical, Analytical Playtestical!…well fear not intrepid space enthusiasts, I have discovered the very place where said structures are conceived, created and…built!Assembly: A real life story about real life luxury spaceship builders and fabricators by Wren games (Janice & Stu turner) is the very place.Elements of the Larger Whole:There are only a small-ish number of components to the game and in its current playtest form, most cards are Euro sized. This makes for a handy small footprint and as the majority of cards are icon based, it is simple to discern what each card’s function is. The four bay cards have a small amount of text on (each with a special game condition)but as this is a simple sentence, all text is legible, fitting the space well.There are 12 Bay cards, 4 Player Aid cards, 5 Role Cards, 16 Command Cards, 3 sets of 4 Bay Number Cards, 12 Room Module Tokens and 1d12What’s What?The premise of the game is quite simple. Complete the incomplete spaceship and leg it from the Assembly station before the mad computer vents all the oxygen. We draw action cards from a Command deck and play these action cards. These action cards are …well our actions, but also double up as a timer for the game. Each card has a specific function/action and we choose how to apply those functions to the game.The aim is to introduce Room Module tokens to the circle of room cards (each at a random location. These then require rotation until they are positioned on their corresponding room. At this point the room can be locked and job’s a good ‘un!… Locking all rooms obviously wins us the game as this ensures the completion of the partially constructed spaceship and, consequently, allows us to get the hell off the station. Simple? Sadly no! There is a total lack of time, oxygen and, just to flick a nasty little fly into the ointment, we have a glitchy computer that is just not on our side ….so making optimum use of action cards is paramount for us to complete this ship in adverse conditions. Talk about tense, nail biting sci-fi movie plots!Being able to do multiple room locks, I found, is vital in order to sabve time, but seriously tricky to manipulate the Room Module tokens to facilitate this. If things weren’t bad enough, certain Bays also have spacific conditions attached to their room locking ability and there is an expansion being worked upon where Glitch cards (events caused by the dodgy computer) that get introduce as the action deck is recycled. These can undo carefully planned strategies so beware. Room For One More:The game is designed as a cooperative venture for two players and the use of penalties for employing key words during player interaction looks to be a nice touch (there is even a page dedicated to a series of hand signals to aid strategy planning) I have been playing with the solo game which means that his interaction/penalty element is lost but, as the last remaining personnel on the Assembly line, there are minor adaptations to the game that make this an equally challenging prospectAs a solo game there is very little difference in actual gameplay[...]

Review: Barbara Cartland: A Romance Boardgame:: Hands-On Review: Barbara Cartland

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 18:31:44 +0000

by Paradox Games Barbara Cartland was released in 1985 by Mayfair Games, known for their iconic Settlers of Catan. This game has a mix of role-play elements and conventional gaming elements: movement, money management, twists on drawn cards, etc. The game is for 1-6 players, and has a high solitaaire playability.There are 12 women to choose as your character for the adventure, all characters from romance novels by the late author (who was living at the time of the game's production and release). The characters are called "Heroines" for the purposes of the game. There is a rough trade-off between a character's annuity (earnings per turn) and traits that can aid the heroine in the adventure. Thee traits can be additional, optimum options when making decisions, or perk that can derive from "Fate" cards.A map board, approximately 16x24 inches, depicts a map of Regency era Europe, where Heroines spend a great deal of the game visiting exotic locations in search of true love.We had a play experience. Each heroine is immersed in her own story and the players' goal is to be the first to complete a story with a happy ending. On your turn, a player reads a paragraph (if they are at the proper location), makes a decision, draws a fate card, pays travel fees, moves around the board, then collects her annuity. It plays out like a "create your own adventure/ find your fate" books that were popular at this time, only more involved. Things that can slow down your progress include lack of money, poor decision making, and drawing fate cards that affect you negatively.Paradox and Angela played a game together. Angela played as Rowena Hanson, who has a large Annuity (8), but only one character trait: resourcefulness. Paradox played as Utta Kindschi, whose annuity is a more moest 6, but she has two special traits: Charm and High Society. Traits usually give you additional, more optimal, choices to make during the adventures. And, there is a considerable amount of adventure. Some of the situations the heroines find themselves are tense, nail-biting, and dramatic. This is a romance game, but there's an equal amount of intrigue and suspense. Angela felt like she was Rowena, and making every possible decision that could avoide conflict. Still, she went through much of the adventure quickly. This was facilitated by drawing a pass to ride free on the next turn and take a free trip across all of Europe to Athens. This allowed her to keep her considerably-sized annuity. Paradox had less money to work with, drew costly fate cards, but made cdecisions that advanced his Heroine quickly into romantic situations.Both players considered this a solid game with moderate playability; there are 12 adventures, and each could be played twice with differnet path choices before becoming redundant. Keep in mind the stories are from a romantic (in a literal sense) setting, and male and female roles and attitudes were much different, so people who can't learn to appreciate the historical context of the period being painted may have issues with the sometimes forceful men, and women who are thrilled and overwhelmed with ecstacy at some of the aggressive men in the stories. We encountered one use of the Lord's Name in vain (so far) in the text. Perosnally, I have a problem speaking such, so I just read, "Curse you."The components include six standard pawns, 56 punch-our cardboard shillings, 56 cards including 44 fate cards and 12 heroine cards, instructions, solitaire instructions and player aids, a 6-piece map, and the Adventure Book. I receently acquired the copy udes to write this review, and the cards and shi[...]

Review: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure:: Clank! vs. Every Other Deck Builder...FIGHT!

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 15:47:07 +0000

by DrHenryArmitage In which I compare this excellent deck builder to every other deck builder I know.There’s a lot going on in Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure, and in our family's experience, it is a reliable crowd pleaser. This has quickly become our most-played game of 2018.The GameYou play a dungeon thief, and your goal is to compete with other thieves to delve as deep as you dare, into a dungeon to nab artifacts and treasure. The one who gets in, gets the most cool artifacts and treasure, and gets out alive, wins the game. However, there is a complication: this dungeon is the lair of a dragon, who is none too thrilled about you taking her pretty things. If you make too much noise down there, the dragon will find you and roast your behind. So don’t make noise, don’t overstay your welcome, and make sure to have most points at the end of the game to win. That’s Clank!Starting Deck and ResourcesEach player starts with the same 10 low-level cards. Each card will generate one or more of the following resources:Skill — used to acquire new cards to upgrade your deck. Analogous to Ascension: Deckbuilding Game's Runes, or Star Realms' Trade.Swords — used to fight monsters in the Dungeon Row. Just like Ascension’s Power or Star Realms’ Combat.Boots — used to move around the dungeon. Closest analogy to my mind are the Expedition Cards that allow you to move across the board in The Quest for El Dorado.Clank! setup with the Dungeon Row and Reserve Cards at the bottom of the imageDungeon Row and Reserve CardsThe top six cards of the Dungeon Deck are dealt face up to form the Dungeon Row, which is just like Hero Realms’ Market Row, Star Realms’ Trade Row, Ascension’s Center Row, or the Hogwarts Deck in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. You use Skill to purchase upgraded cards from the Dungeon Row, and/or use Swords to vanquish monsters from the Dungeon Row to gain the benefits listed on the Monster card. While purchasing cards from the dungeon/center/market/trade row is a standard feature of all deck builders I’ve played, the ability to fight monsters that appear in the row, I have only seen in Ascension. The Reserve cards are a row of slightly upgraded cards that are a decent default Skill purchase if you can’t afford cards in the Dungeon Row. This is most similar to the Mystics, Heavy Infantry and Cultists cards in Ascension. Reserve cards are comprised of Mercenaries who provide Swords (like Heavy Infantry in Ascension), Explore cards which provide Skill and Boots, Secret Tomes that provide victory points at the end of the game (but nothing else, thus cluttering up your deck during play), and the ever-present Goblin that you can always fight if there are no more interesting or attractive opponents in the Dungeon Row (reminiscent of the Cultists in Ascension).The Game BoardHere’s where Clank! starts to differentiate itself from other deck builders. It has a game board that represents your path down into the dragon’s dungeon. The only other deck builder I’ve played with a game board is The Quest for El Dorado. The game board really does add extra strategy to the game. Do you take a direct path to a single chosen Artifact, then hightail it out of there as fast as possible? Or do you burgle as many rooms as possible, earn enough gold to buy a backpack or two, and spend extra time collecting multiple Artifacts, even though this exposes you to more time underground, and greater risk of death by dragon attack?While the Artifacts are placed in designated rooms (the further from the entrance and harder to reach, the higher value the [...]

Review: Face Off Duels:: Hands on review at convention

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 15:45:16 +0000

by 69stalker First off, let me say it was nice to meet one of AGdR team. And to play a game with him and watch a handful of others play at a recent board game convention in Lafayette, La. And I would like to support a local designer. But this game is far far from being anything worth playing more than once or twice. It has some interesting concepts but needs more. The game consists of 21 Victory cards, 13 Ninja cards, 13 Cowboy cards and 14 power cards. You either pick Ninja or Cowboys. Each deck has 7 personality cards and 6 equipment cards. Each deck is the same, just different pictures. You play with all your cards in your hand. The Power cards are placed to the side, it contains 7 personality and 7 equipment cards. 7 random Victory cards are placed down the center of the table. These cards are colored either red, blue or gray. They have a Value on them and 1 to 3 puzzle pieces on them. You try to win these Victory cards for end game scoring. The person with the most puzzle pieces for each color scores the full points of the cards. If not, you get one point per victory card of that color. You win a Victory card by placing one of your personalities at each Victory card face down. You take turns, play an ability on a card, swap unrevealed cards or dueling (face off). There are only two cards with abilities in your personalities. One of them reveals itself and makes opponent reveal a card of your choice. Another one allows you to replace it with the top card of the power deck. But everyone pretty much just faces off. Both players flip over their personality. Compare their strength, highest strength (or attacker if tied) decides if he wants to add an equipment card. These add to your strength. Then the other player decides to add or not. Highest player wins. You either add the victory card to your point pile or discard it to draw from the power card deck and add it to you hand. Discard the used equipment card. The Power cards have some powerful cards in it and it can add needed varity to your hand. But you are giving up points, so certain Victory cards are more likely to be discarded (eg 2 point/1 puzzle piece). Rinse and repeat. After those 7 Victory cards are finished, players pick up their personalities and 7 more Victory cards are placed. Then again on the last round. The entire game lasts 10-15 minutes.As there is a lack of abilities on your cards and you both have the exact same cards. It turns into a game of "War" but with fancier cards. The only variety is added when someone discards a won Victory card and draws from the Power deck. There is some strategy as to when to play your equipment cards as they are discarded. And with only 6, it's easy to run out in the first two rounds and your opponent can win locations at will. Design & Packaging: 5, Can't say much about the card stock or packaging as the cards were sleeved and set-up to demo. The card art varies from really nice to simplistic. And a decent amount of humor thrown in, come on it IS Cowboys vs. Ninjas! The game is lacking in variety. You know what your opponent has left in his hand. In the last round and probably most of the second it is simply, do I want that Victory card or let my opponent have it. Rules: N/A There wasn't any shown at the convention. But anyone can learn it in a few minutes. Their instructional video on Kickstarter is 3 minutes long and describes everything.Fun: 3 If you ever played war with a deck of cards as a kid, then imagine a slightly more advanced version. Value: 2 61 cards for $25? Overall: 3 out of 10. Maybe if they took it back to design a[...]

Review: Covil: The Dark Overlords – The Outposts:: The Purge: # 1751 Covil: The Dark Overlords - The Outposts: A tuck box full of goodness

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 15:44:26 +0000

by william4192

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Covil was a Kickstarter game that I bought because of the art work and the game was much better than I thought it would be. The Outposts! was the first expansion I got for the game.

This expansion adds very little. First is the extra cards. You get extra Overlords and Mercenaries which a game like this really needs. You can just shuffle everything together or if you want the exact same balance you can take out a 2 for every 2 you add (and so on).

The outpost are a fun addition. It is an extra wrinkle to the game, but one that may not be worth tracking down. It is a nice option to build an outpost and summon new troops from other places on the board. The closer you are to an enemy the more incentive they have to attack you. The outpost cannot defend unless a person is there so you may want to hold someone back (or maybe not).

This expansion isn't as good as Chaotic Evil. I would only purchase this if I was trying to complete everything as there isn't anything in this expansion that is a must have (well, other than Inspector Gadget of course!). I like the addition, but cost will depend a lot whether you should pick this up or not. If you do have it, there isn't any reason to not add it to all your games even on a first play.



The components are good. You get 2 new wooden outpost per player color. The cards all match the base game as they were printed at the same time. I love the finish on the cards and I think they will last a very long time. I just shuffle all the new stuff in.

Rule Book:

The only rules included is on a single card and explains the outpost. This is really clear, simple to read (30 seconds?) and will not require you to read it more than once.

Flow of the Game:

1. Out post: This is the main addition in this expansion. You can lie down a troop and spend a gold to build an outpost. These count as 1 troop toward control. During morning, you may summon new troops at an outpost. It cost 3 damage to destroy an outpost. Each is worth 2 VP at end of game.

2. In addition, you get some variety. You get 8 new Dark Overlords and 20 Mercenaries. Nothing new; just variety.

Should I buy this game?:

Out of the two expansions, this is the one I would get second. I like the addition variety and the outpost, but it is something different to do and not something that must be added. With that said, it is a cheap expansion and one I do like, but not love.


Review: Okanagan: Valley of the Lakes:: Canadian setting a plus for Canuck gamer

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 15:43:22 +0000

by Talisinbear

Tile laying games are by their nature generally easy for players to get into, and are engaging because players stay focused on the best placement of the tile.

So anytime a new tile laying game comes out, it’s worth a close look by most gamers.

Which brings us to Okanagan:Valley of the Lakes released last year by publisher Matagot.

“The Okanagan Valley, with its huge lakes and fertile meadows awaits anyone willing to exploit it! Shape the land and expand your wealth in this tile gathering and territory building game. The players arrange tiles to design the landscape along with its natural resources. You’ll place in turns one of the three available buildings to obtain and secure these resources and complete your secret goals,” details the company website

The thing that I like is that the game is based in Canada. While little in terms of game play, or aesthetics, would suggest the famed Okanagan area of British Columbia, the background at least suggests game designer Emanuele Ornella had the region in mind, which as a Canadian is pretty cool.

But a pasted on theme, interesting, or not, does not a game make.
There is a solid tile laying game here, one with some interesting feature that offer interesting play which at times exceeds the tile laying classic Carcassonne, a game that sits solidly in my top-25 games of all-time.

Still there are things I like better with Okanagan.

To start with players initially are dealt seven cards, each with goals to achieve through the game which will score points. Generally they focus on collecting certain things; furs, fish, ore etc. You select three and discard the others.

Since goals change game-to-game there is a freshness to each outing.
Of course you can get stuck with cards that do not match how the game plays out. Fear not at the halfway point there is a mechanic to toss some cards in favour of new ones.

Next comes tile selection. Three tiles are shown face-up, so players can select the most advantageous one. It is a better option than the blind pull of a single tile from a bag.

The downside here is that piece placement, they are nice wooden ones, is a bit confusing especially as you are learning the game. With three different types of pieces, each with a different point value, determining majority in a controlled area of the board takes some calculating.

What a player earns with area majority, and what is left for the players with influence but not majority to collect will necessitate referring back to the rulebook quite a lot.

The game also has a quicker end mechanic. Players have a set numbers of wooden pieces and once those are played, a piece is placed each turn, the game ends. That is a nice aspect of Okanagan.

Whether Okanagan gets to the table often enough to just know the rules automatically will depend on how individuals like this one. For our group we saw some elements we liked a lot, as mentioned above, but in the end this one came out average. It would never be a game to pass on playing, but not likely to be a first pick either.

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

- This review appeared in Yorkton This Week

Review: The Game:: Solo Review: The Game

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 15:41:09 +0000

by BeyondSolitaire For a fully-formatted version of this review, click here: a complete catalogue of my solo game reviews, click here: is this game about? To be totally honest, The Game isn't really about anything. It has a vaguely threatening skull/death theme going on, but the theme has absolutely no bearing on gameplay at all. In The Game, one to five players will cooperate to lay down as many cards as possible before a someone is unable to make a legal play. You can play each card onto one of four stacks. Two start at 1 and go up to 100, and two start at 100 and go down to 1. Cards must be played in strict ascending or descending order, so if you aren't careful, you may lose your chance to play several cards in the deck. The one exception is the "backwards" rule, which allows you to play a card that is exactly ten numbers higher or lower on a stack. In other words, you can lay a card on an ascending pile that is 10 less than the top card on the pile (e.g. you can go from 57 to 47 on a 1—100 pile), or a card on a descending pile that is 10 greater than the top card on the pile (e.g. you can go from 20 to 30 on the 100 —1 pile). That's literally it. You can teach this game to anyone. How does it play solo? When you play this game cooperatively, you have imperfect information because you aren't supposed to discuss the numbers on your cards. In the solo version of the game, you lose that element of mystery/frustration, but The Game is so simple and highly engaging that it plays nicely as a solitaire card game. It also does scale for one player, so it's a breeze to solo.Overall ThoughtsThe Game seems like such a goofy thing to spend your time with. The name alone is absurd—trying to Google it is a huge pain, and your friends will look at you like you're crazy if you open up a conversation with "Hey guys, want to play... The Game?" (In fact, its full English name is, The Game: Are you ready to play The Game?)Its rules are almost ludicrously simple, and while you can play strategically to an extent, The Game is so luck-based that you will rarely win. You will often have games where you do terribly. In spite of that, The Game is shockingly addictive. When I do pull it out to play, I find myself playing it 3–4 times in a row without giving it a second thought. There is an app that is even more addictive, and that comes with a HILARIOUS "scary dude" voiceover that makes me grin every time I hear it. Its irresistible simplicity captivated enough people to earn The Game a Spiel des Jahres nomination the year it was published, and that is nothing to sniff at. (For the record, it was nominated alongside Machi Koro and Colt Express.) ​Do I recommend it? If you're looking for a basic solo filler, or even a very easy solo gaming app, I think The Game is a good choice. It's not deep, it's not thematic, and to be brutally honest, it isn't all that strategic either. But you'll find yourself playing it again and again, trying to do a little better than you did the last time. Overall Rating: 3 starsRating Scale: 5 stars — I love it!4 stars — I really like it. 3 stars — I like it. 2 stars — It's ok. 1 star — Meh. ​ [...]

Review: Saber & Blood:: Saber & Blood. XVII’th centurys settlements in the eastern borderlands. Rewiev

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 15:39:09 +0000

by Thorkiel Wildbret Game informationSaber & BloodPublisher: Kazrak StudioAge: due to the subject matter, 15 years +Number of players: 2 - possible 3-4-person versionGame times: from 30 minutes"The Anno Domini 1665, border of the Polish-Lithuanian Union was set on fire, there have nothing left but ruins of villages and towns. The air was full of the smell of war, human misery and burning debris. Old people said that ghosts has returned to their former abodes, and the hungry wolves has begun to prowl the villages. Some said that the witches, emboldened by the overwhelming evil, has begun preparations for the Sabbat. Bandits, groups of Cossacks, and ordinary cutthroids mercilessly robbed and murdered unfortunates who were so unwise to travel these dangerous times. Only those who did not part with the saber at their, the gun at the belt and the prayer, had a chance to survive. Strange times were - lawlessness, bribes, and at the same time full of honor and desire adventures ... Those who had the courage to venture on this damned land, they were looking for either fun, or revenge, or redemption."Saber & Blood is a quite interesting project, which has a chance to appear on the tables, if you only have will to support it on the Kickstarter platform.It is some kind of asymmetric game of Kazrak Studio publishing, amazingly atmospheric, with a rather unusual subject - a tavern brawls. It involves performing actions, by playing cards and using dice. One of the players impersonates Polish noblemen , the other impersonates a shaggy Cossacs.Elements of the game.I received a copy of BETA from the publishing house, so I do not know yet how the box will exactly look like, but judging by the graphics on the cards and board, it would have be amazingly climatic.The manual already has a target appearance, although the one you will have in your copies will be colorful, but this is not the most important. It has been written very carefully with examples. The rules have been described according to pattern: each phase is described separately, along with a detailed description of the cards and dice, then describe the rules about how to move on it, as well as rules on fighting. The next part describes key words, Characters and faction abilities, which are slightly different because the game is asymmetrical as I said. The final part contains the scenarios. The game contains six very detailed minis. Unfortunately, the photos do not reflect their actual appearance - they are metal and specifically refract light, although I suspect that using professional photographic lighting can show their actual appearance better. I can assure you about one thing, I have not seen plastic figures or even resin, so detailed in such a small size. In the basic version of the game, we got two different faction. Each additional faction from the campaign that would have been unlocked would have its own deck. There are descriptions of actions or events on them, as well as very interesting illustrations, in my version in a characteristic dark shade, but the authors intend to use a light print to make the details more visible. Graphics, in my opinion, perfectly reflect the nature of individual actions that we will be able to play.The board is small, but graphically maintained in the atmosphere of the interior of a seventeenth-century Inn. It presents a bar, benches with tables, and other utensils characteristic of the epoch.The set also includes tokens - markers: two-side[...]

Review: Planecrafters:: Paisley Board Games Takes Wing with a Winning Debut

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 15:36:02 +0000

by smrvl

Planecrafters took me by storm! I expected a straightforward, old-timey engine-builder, but what I found was something so much more. This game is stuffed to the rafters with theme, fine-tuned in service of excellent mechanics. Learning this game is a breeze, and any small details you might be inclined to forget are immediately at hand on player aids.

I found myself able to make meaningful strategic decisions almost immediately, and enjoyed watching those decisions cascade through the game. It's that rare game that neither ends too soon nor outstays its welcome—the competition ramps up smoothly as play progresses, and crescendos at just the right time for final scoring.

My only critique centers around one of the game's strengths, which are the employee cards at the heart of the engine-building: by late game, a huge chain of abilities can be set off by clever play. This can be both tricky (it's easy to lose sight of how to pull off exactly the right combo) and incredibly satisfying. I don't think it's a design flaw at all—rather, it's the kind of system that rewards multiple plays and deeper study of the game.

Whether you play Planecrafters once or countless times, you'll be delighted with the first play and the meta of constantly evolving strategy as you trade off the strengths of various employees, plane parts, and paths to victory. When a game this charming hits the table, everyone wins.

9/10, Can't wait to play again.

Review: At Any Cost: Metz 1870:: Blood And Irony

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 14:47:22 +0000

by Besty Setting the scene     Red sky at night, France is alight. No, not the annual muslim youth festival of torching thousands of cars, but a return to the unhappy days of the Franco-Prussian War. A time when Frogs’ legs were on the surgeon’s table rather than the dinner plate, and brooding Wagner was supplanting the jollity of fife and drum as the soundtrack of military history.     Specifically, we are treading pastures green to the west of the great Lorrainian fortress city of Metz, pronounced ‘Mess’ by the French and ‘Mets’ by everyone else. Here on the 16th of August, 1870, and again on the 18th, Monsieur Chassepot and Herr Krupp exchanged unpleasantries in two mighty jousts of war, Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte-St.Privat. The home team had the better of the tactical exchanges, but, with these being reverse-front battles and the French unable to get back to the Meuse, the strategic laurels would hang from the pickelhaube. (I’m guessing from his name that our designer isn’t too unhappy at that outcome.)      The pageantry and landscape are vaguely Napoleonic, but the hardware is industrial. A foreboding presence, for we know what the participants did not: that the technological arms race, with its intriguing asymmetry of comparative advantage and concomitant tactical differences, was turning 1870 into a milestone towards that civilisational catastrophe in which man would yield to machine (and ‘sweet sister death [go] debauched’). Yet though the subject matter is sombre, the gameplay need not be, and in At Any Cost the latter renders wonderful service to the former.Roads Less Travelled     Before Hanford broadened the repertoire, and smaller print runs reduced the risk, there were large lacunae in the hobby’s back catalogue. One era still too sparsely populated concerns those conflicts separated from the ACW by an ocean or a decade. The Franco-Prussian War, though long popular with miniaturists, has hitherto been poorly served by boardgames. That the subject is a tough sell was anticipated here by some skimpiness in production - unmounted map, thin counters - and confirmed by its snail-paced ascent of the pre-order board. On To Paris! (Compass), with its hefty rulebook and vomitory colour scheme, is unlikely to have improved things; perhaps AAC could. Certainly it has an engaging freshness you won’t find in your 28th version of Barbarossa or the Bulge - she is chaste who has never been chased.     GMT has visited this neighbourhood the once before. Risorgimento 1859 adopted the same multi-focused approach seen in Cataphract, offering a point-to-point campaign game together with two really interesting battles: Magenta (nowadays memorialised in extortionately priced ink cartridges) and the more famous Solferino. Alas, it proved to be the only volume of the Age of Bismarck series it was meant to inaugurate. Could AAC be destined for a similar fate, parked in the dreaded cul-de-sac marked ‘Non-Series Games’? One hopes that the persuasion of glowing reviews and scorching sales, or possibly blackmail photography, will compel Mr G to approve a sequel.      Let those wavering with topical reservations be assured that they’re in safe hands: a design and development team with a track record of producing games which are well researche[...]

Review: Smash Up: That '70s Expansion:: The Broken Meeple - Smash Up: That 70's Expansion Review - Look At My Trucker Hat!

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 14:47:13 +0000

by farmergiles Smash Up: That 70's Expansion Review - Look At My Trucker Hat!When will it end?............when?! Probably never as there's still plenty of room in my Smash Up Geeky Box! This is one of the longest running game systems ever giving even the likes of Fantasy Flight Games a run for their money when it comes to expansions. I will obviously never use every combination ever, in fact some factions may barely see any play from me after their reviews, there's just simply too many. Smash Up WIKI states that I should have 60 factions (subject to promos) and 120 bases making 1,770 possible combinations. . . . oh boy!It saddens me therefore that I have to work at it to get people to play it with me - the fact it's best with only 2-3 players doesn't help. Hopefully one day the girlfriend will progress to this game so we can play it, but I don't know if this will be her theme really.......we shall see. Anyway, we got another expansion full of 70's themed factions - how do they fare? I'll just don my white suit. . .Designer: Paul PetersonPublisher: AEGAge: 10+Players: 2-4Time: 45-60 MinutesRRP: £24.99From AEG:Can you dig it? We’ve put Smash Up into the not-so-wayback machine and set the controls for “GROOVY!”That 70s Expansion celebrates all the greatest pop-culture memories from the Age of Aquarius! Put on your mood rings, bust out your leisure suits, spin that disco ball and put the pedal to the metal good buddy! The streets are mean, there’s a bear in the air, but the music is fantastic and everyone is Kung Fu Fighting!THE WAY I USE MY WALKDISCO DANCERSI'm certainly not a disco fan! Disco Dancers are based on duplicating the effects of standard actions (i.e. actions that aren't attached to any card), therefore increasing the number of minions the action can normally affect. These guys make for some creative combos when paired up with other factions. They work by having extra benefits when someone or something affects one of their minions be it your own or an opponent's. It can get crazy trying to fathom all the different effects that you could gain and so this definitely rewards a player with experience.They have a mix of good card drawn and extra plays and even some means of gaining benefits depending on whether their opponents are tempted by the offer - though the VP one is a little odd as most opponents aren't going to be desperate to kill off their own minions. They're a cool faction in mechanics, even if they're not cool in terms of theme! #subjectiveTRUCKERSNow I didn't know Truckers were a 70's thing - the more you know! Truckers use play-on-base actions to move themselves and the base actions around and gain power. Naturally as you'd expect, mobility is their key strength given that they all have giant trucks carting them around. Combine them with an equally mobile faction like the Bear Cavalry or Pirates and it just gets sick in a fun way!They can also mess with other base actions to screw up your opponents plans. If mobility isn't your key concern, then consider Steampunk as an alternative pairing for all their action love. It's an ok faction, not one of my favourites so far even if it is funny to use the DBZ Abridged "Look At My Trucker Hat" quote whenever I can, sadly few people will get that reference.VIGILANTESVigilantes are only composed of 4 power minions, each with a very oppressive and reactive effect to cards played by[...]

Review: Hànzì:: [Cardboard East] Hanzi Review (2017) Do you even Chinese, Bro?!?

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 14:47:08 +0000

by evilpanda Hanzi Review (2017) Do you even Chinese, Bro?!?Hanzi is a lightning fast 2-5 player memory card game that only takes 20 minutes to set up, play, and put away.  It's a light family game that celebrates Cangjie, the legendary creator of Chinese characters. A Quick WordHANE-ZEE? HON-ZEE? HAN-ZII?Normally I try not to unleash the grammarist deep inside me. Yes, Stannis Baratheon became my hero with his "fewer" comment. However, in this case I believe it is warranted.  The purpose of this game is to celebrate and learn 漢字, so we might as well, at least try to, say it properly.   It is two syllables.  In "Han" the "an" sounds similar to "on" as in "turn on". "Zi" sounds similar to the end of the English/German word "blitz".  Hanzi. Should be simple, right?A VERY Brief History of Chinese CharactersLearning Chinese isn't easy. Trust me; the struggle is real. Even for native speakers.  You could create countless mnemonic devices to help you memorize the characters; however, there really is no way to escape the necessary rote memorization to be able to read, write, and say all 10,000 plus characters.  There are shoe boxes of flash cards in my living room.  Chinese characters of today don't look the same as they did thousands of years ago.  The characters evolved over time.  Before there was a unified writing system, there were even several schools who all wrote characters differently.  So there feared character of turtle 龜 had several versions in circulation.  Eventually Emperor Qin, yes that guy with the terracotta army, conquered China and forced the country to use one unified writing system. Now Taiwanese children and students of Chinese everywhere run in fear from only one turtle 龜.  (Taiwan still uses traditional characters, while China uses simplified characters as an effort to increase literacy.) Turtles in Time!It's important to briefly understand this history in order to grasp what's going on in this game. Hanzi is a memory game. Memory games work with paired cards or tokens.  If you flip over Mario and Luigi, you lose your turn and have to wait.  Unfortunately Daisy saw your mistake and flips over two Luigis and scores the cards. Hanzi is no different. However you're not flipping over pictures in search of video game characters.  You're looking at ancient Chinese characters that hopefully have the same modern Chinese character equivalent.  Hanzi excels here because it's not wild guessing that's driving this game. There's known researchable knowledge being tested here, so with some due diligence, you should be able to improve with every game--tipping the sides in your favor.The fiercest opponentMemory Game BiasI have to admit something.  I tend to not like memory games.  It could be that I'm not good at them, so I don't like them. It could also be I don't like them, so I'm not good at them.  However the cycle starts, it begins and ends at the same place.  I tend to not like memory games--not so much for me, but for other players.  We have all gotten fatigued in a game before; however I've seen memory games take their toll on players faster than others.  It's your turn. You make two guesses--educated or not. You fail. Your turn ends. You wait. It's your turn. You guess. You fail. You wait. It can become quit defeating and I have seen players, especially kids, become discour[...]

Review: Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients:: Shadow of Brimstone - My thoughts about expanding the game and what not

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 14:47:04 +0000

by Tezrek Hi there!Before I purchased the game and went mad, I made a lot of research on it, and saw that many people were wandering what expansion to get first, and some repeating complain like simple enemies AI and easy difficulty pass the third lvl.The answer to the first question was often ''Buy the other core box, best bangs for your bucks!'' and while it may be true, I feel it doesn’t more core stuff doesn't address the main complaint with the game that many might have after playing it for a while.That is why I would like to share my thought on expanding the game with you :-)First, I must say that I was not one of the original KS backer, but I did purchase an Outlaw Pledge from one and several expansions since. It was last month.I will do a rundown of all the expansion I have and my though about them, but I will like to start with my general theory on the whole thing:So, you have one of the core box. You've played for a while, and things start to look same-y. Your character have outgrown the core difficulty; you have mastered the ''blocking rushing enemies'' part of combat.The Goliath has shed many tears because of the coldness of you iron.You read that the other core box. For less than a 100 bucks, I'll have 4 new heroes, another otherworld, a bunch load of new enemies, sure sound like a deal, since XL enemies, single XL enemies, are half that price.To me, both core set are different, but not that much, as they are both intended for a similar, beginner experience (Some heroes are similar, exact same number of enemies by size, some similar classes (I'm thinking lawman/Marshall here same six Mine missions).Okay, so what about an Otherworld? They are similarly, but still lower, priced, in the case of Trederra and the Derelict Ship, Cynder been lower priced but also packed with less stuff.New tiles, new monsters, new mechanics, new missions: sound like a blast!Again, yes, please do, but don't forget that Otherworld are kinda ''optional'' in most adventures, and while you may stack your deck or use Otherworld specific missions, you still have the (mostly)same old mine to show.Okay then. Everybody is excited over that Frontier Town thing, what about that? Expanded Town Stay, shooting bandit enemies and a whole new location for adventure with 6 Town missions!Great idea, as far as I know, BUT again, the meat and potatoes of the game (Adventuring in the mine) will remain pretty much the same. This is an expansion for the Town phase of the game, mostly, although the bandit can be seen in the mine and are definitively ''Advanced'' in term of difficulty.So what now? Where more than a page in this fake discussion of yours and we’re running out of options, aren’t we?I would strongly suggest a Mission Packs for you my friend, and here’s why:Missions Pack come with a new type of enemy, enemy traits, one Epic Threat (a stronger version of the base enemy), themed Gear, Artefact, Missions, Encounter and a ‘’Theme’’ card.The theme card basically means that you will draw themed Encounter and Threat more often to help you use your new content, without having to stack the deck or do any other modification. You can use it on any ‘’old’’ Missions, and the Missions included in the set, usually 4, all use it.This basically mean new enemies behavior, ruckus in the Mine AND Otherworlds and ju[...]

Review: Imhotep:: That's certainly a lot of stone

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:41:29 +0000

by hist The complete review, with more pictures, can be found on my Dude, Take Your Turn blog.I really seem to have an affinity for Ancient Egypt. I’ve played around with burying things and trying to earn the regard of the Pharaoh. But now I want to become an architect! It’s always been my dream, since I couldn’t become a lumberjack.What better place to be an architect than Ancient Egypt?In Imhotep, players are architects vying to build the most prestigious buildings and monuments in that desert area. They do this by getting stones, loading them on ships, and then shipping them to one of the five different sites where they can offload them.Let’s see how this works.Imhotep is a game for 2-4 players where you are shipping stones and building stuff with them.Each player gets a sled in their colour (very earthy colours of brown, white, black, and grey) that can hold up to five stones.The game goes over 6 rounds, and each round a ship card is revealed from a stack that uses a group of cards based on the number of players. These are the available ships for this round.At the start of the game, the first player gets two stones on their sled, the second gets three stones, third gets four, and fourth gets five.During your turn, you can take one of four actions:1) Take up to three stones from your supply to your sled2) Place a stone on one of the available ships for that round. You can place the stone in any slot on the ship. It doesn’t have to be the first available space3) Send one of the ships to a site and offload stones in the order from front to back of the ship. You can only do this if there are at least as many stones on the ship as shown on the front of the ship (the 4-stone ship shown above can only ship if there are three stones)4) Play one of the blue cards that you may have taken from the Market site.So where are you going to send these ships and offload stones?That’s where the sites come in.There are five sites where you can dock the ships. Each site board is double-sided, but the “A” side is the one you should probably start with and is what I’ll be talking about.At the Market, you will be able to take one of the available cards in the order that your stones are offloaded from the ship (front to back).At the Pyramid, stones are placed in order in the available squares and each player earns those points immediately. The columns are filled left to right, so in the picture above, the first stone offloaded would get two points, the second would get one point and the third would get three points.At the Temple, stones are placed left to right to fill the squares, but when those are filled you go back to the beginning and put new stones on top. At the end of each round, the stones visible from above are scored.At the Burial Chamber, columns are filled left to right. At the end of the game, each player earns points based on the number of connected stones of their colour.At the Obelisk, you just keep track of the number of stones placed here. At the end of the game, the player with the highest number of stones gets 1st place points, second-highest gets 2nd, etc.The thing about the shipping action is that you don’t have to even have a stone on a ship to send it on its way. Thus, there is a bit of “take that” in that you can send a ship that one playe[...]

Review: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – To Fight the Black Wind:: A Book of Carolyn - The Psychologist

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 10:23:48 +0000

by Carthoris

This Arkham Horror novella is the one trained on psychologist Carolyn Fern, and it takes her from Arkham Sanitarium to the Dreamlands, a milieu that H.P. Lovecraft highjacked from Lord Dunsany, and which has featured occasionally in Cthulhvian gaming over the last few decades. Author Jennifer Brozek handles the story nicely, composing it in the form of Carolyn's journal, as she moves through the events that demonstrate to her that it's not her patient that's pathological--reality is!

Despite the incidental presence of Arkham Horror characters, this story has less in common with the other novellas in its series than it does with The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, a short novel by Kij Johnson published a couple of years earlier. In both stories the protagonist is a woman and there is an important focus on the heroine's relationship to a younger woman who helps to define the heroic task. Johnson offers a little explicit commentary on her own feminine appropriation of the Dreamlands, relative to their prior status under the domination of masculine authors and characters, while Brozek simply tells a story centered on women in the Dreamlands. (Both books pass the Bechdel test with flying colors, of course.)

The "Black Wind" of the title turns out to be a cover-name for an Elder God of great notoriety and familiarity to readers in this genre. Lovecraft's Cats of Ulthar are conspicuous in this book: they talk, and they have individual names reflecting attributes that they embody or foster, such as Comfort and Foolishness. Brozek also uses the notion of "Ulthar" as the deity worshiped in Ulthar--a scarce conceit evidently not original here, but originating in the Sussex Manuscript of mythos votary Fred L. Pelton.

The glossy trompe-l'œil scrapbook pages at the back of the book (a standard feature of this series) are for the most part fairly continuous with the body text, since the larger part of them are just more of Carolyn's journal. Foolishness the cat turns out to be one of the alternate signature cards for the Carolyn Fern character in Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Like Norman Withers in his novella, these cards are for a character not yet otherwise available for the game. She is a healer who gets bonuses whenever she restores sanity to herself or another character, and I suspect she will be most useful in games featuring three or four investigators where she can play a useful and focused supporting role. Still, I suspect that my daughter will want to try Carolyn out in one of our two-player games; the dream cat is likely to prove irresistible.

Review: Lords of Hellas:: Lords of Hellas - Killing a Minotaur, building a Monument for Zeus, conquering land and going into missions; a Hero's task in a technological Greece - quick review

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 23:08:07 +0000

by tiagoVIP Lords of Hellas reminded me of Cyclades - and not only because of the mythological theme. The participants control one Hero and armies of hoplites, and seek victory by achieving one of three winning conditions, any of each ends the game immeditately: active by the third time a complete Monument, control fully two regions or killing three mythical monsters.During play, the Heroes go into missions, lead their troops or just go about; heir armies move to take land, control cities and temples, and as constantly killed by monsters; while the priests call for the help of the Gods. Is an eventful time to live and die.With this you get a race to the end goal marked by opportunism, contention attacks and a constant feeling of tension among everyone. Each step forward is marked by a "hey, hey, look what he is doing and/or going". No one have a break nor can wasting turns - time is tight, and so is the room. Since the race is the first to a goal, any mistep or lost opportunity can mean losing the game.Combat isn't as prevalent as in Kemet (another title that came to mind while playing Lords of Hellas) nor is as damaging: the losses of soldiers isn't, usual, too severe and recruit is easy enough, specially when holding two or more cities - for instance, there were several times in which some players had all their troops on the board. This, of course, can vary by the agression route of some players and the dispute of territories.Still, since two of the three winning conditions don't require battling others, the tendecy is to not see fights all that often, usually used to conquer key places and/or to prevent someone from reaching a goal.Unlike Kemet, and more close to Cyclades, a play of Lords of Hellas can run longer than it should, as there is no limit of rounds, and the can be complicated to give the final step to win. Yet, even if slower than I would want, the play is, one way or another, going forward.The production value is amazing: the art is well done and thematic, with excellent miniatures: each army have unique minis, the Heroes are quite nice, but the attention goes for the really big Monuments, with is construction in parts being represented by the miniature itself. A notable achievement.Replay value, when considered the different paths you can take, the unique Heroes, and the variety coming from the combat, monster, events and blessing decks, is robust to say the least.In the end, Lords of Hellas is a game that looks very pretty on the table, but isn't just shine: its mechanics are solid, allowing for varied plays with a high level of interaction, with a good quantity of decisions - many of them quite tense -, in a reasonable amount of time. The combat may not sit well with everyone, as there are several different effects, there are cards much better than others, meaning is hard to predict - but much of the excitment comes from this imprevisibility. Lords of Hellas isn't just a pretty face.Regards,Image credit: Rodrigo Neves [...]

Review: Dungeon Alliance:: A Detailed Review of Dungeon Alliance

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 23:07:59 +0000

by HuxleyJP OverviewDungeon Alliance by designer Andrew Parks and published by Quixotic Games is a fantasy-themed game of hand management and tactical combat. 1-4 players may choose to compete or work cooperatively to clear out the denizens who inhabit a series of randomized dungeon tiles. Each player controls a party of four heroes, and each hero comes with a set of three unique cards that form the basis of the player’s deck. During a round of gameplay, each player will activate one of the four heroes and play cards in order to move around the game board, fight enemies, and interact with other players. Then, the player may spend earned experience points to purchase upgrade cards from a common offer. The round concludes with an enemy activation—in competitive games, players choose to activate monsters to thwart their opponents; in coop games, enemy activation is handled by a deck of AI cards. The game proceeds over four rounds at the end of which players tally up their scores to determine victory. Optionally, players may also draw quest cards that present new goals and may also introduce powerful end bosses.The strengths of Dungeon Alliance include the following: (1) core gameplay mechanics that consistently create interesting problem-solving opportunities, and (2) the amount of variety offered through the different characters and upgrade cards. The game’s weaknesses include: (1) a generic theme that is often inconsistent with the elegant gameplay mechanics, and (2) some awkward and ambiguous design elements that surface primarily in the co-op and solo game. I will detail each of these aspects of the game below. Excellent Tactical CardplayAt its core, Dungeon Alliance is a tightly-designed tactical card game that provides compelling problem spaces for players on every turn. The options available to a player are both versatile but also clearly-bounded. The player’s deck is treated as a primary resource. Once it runs out, it will not be redrawn until the end of the round. Thus, every turn constitutes an effort to meticulously maximize the impact an activated hero can have on the gameboard while also ensuring that the right cards are left available for the remaining heroes to also have efficient activations over the course of the round. The distribution of different types of enemies with different abilities compounds these decisions as players also have to assess threats and balance their efforts toward both killing enemies to earn precious experience points while also ensuring the preservation of their heroes. In the early rounds of the game, these decisions are especially tough and almost always involve some degree of risk/reward analysis. In later rounds, with a larger deck size and more cards available, it evolves into more of an effort to deploy the most effective combinations of cards to achieve devastating effects. This gradual development of the nature of the problem spaces over a relatively short time exemplifies a powerful and deeply engaging game design.Yet, despite the complex challenges presented to a player on each turn, the game still manages to move forward at a good pace. In part, this is because the complexity of the player’s decisions is bounde[...]

Review: Flamme Rouge: Peloton:: An Review: Flamme Rouge: Peloton

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 23:07:38 +0000

by grummzaire This review of Flamme Rouge: Peloton originally appeared on Check us out for more in-depth reviews!You’ve made it hundreds of miles, weeks of racing. Legs pumping hour after hour, keeping up with your team, keeping up with the pack. With strategy, strength, and pure human will you’ve blazed ahead. Now it’s the last leg of the race, the ride home, and you’re up front with the best riders of the best. Hope you’ve got your second wind – or maybe your third or fourth – because it’s time to make a break for the finish line and win that coveted yellow jersey.Breaking AwayLet’s assume you’re familiar with Flamme Rouge, and you’re here to see if the expansion is worth adding to the mix. If not, I’d start here with my review of the base game.Peloton adds a slew of new tracks, riders, and variant rules, but as there are no significant gameplay changes I’m going to forgo the usual rules rundown and jump right in.A great day for a high speed bike ride!First and foremost, Peloton allows you to play with a whole lot more people. Two new riding teams allow up to 6 human players in the standard game. Yes, that would be quite crowded on a normal track, so you’ll be pleased to hear that the new track tiles have sides with 3 spaces per square, allowing more cyclists to fit in a tight pack.I don’t always have a group of six players, but these new riders and tracks are a welcome addition. When I’m playing more casual games like this, I tend to have at least 5 people. Since play is simultaneous, adding 2 more people hardly extends the length of the game, although it does make the outcome of each round harder to predict. You’re more likely to run into a crowd and lose out on a few movement points, even with the wider tracks included, making the game feel more chaotic. Still, it doesn’t prevent you from playing strategically. You just have a few more elements to consider. Arguably, it’s worse to get stuck at the rear of the pack in these larger games; on the other hand, I’ve seen people gain 3 or 4 spaces via slipstreaming more frequently, so there you have it.Pink and white, start off… right… um, I don’t knowIn case you want the bigger crowd but don’t have 6 players, Peloton includes rules for NPC players, with two variants on how the teams are driven. The “Peloton” team runs off a single deck, meaning the two riders always move the same number of spaces, with two exceptions: two special cards are added that drive the rear-most Peloton rider 9 spaces forward, and the front-most rider 2 spaces. Alternatively, the “Muscle” team uses the two standard decks and shuffles in an extra 5 to the Sprinter deck. While you can only add 1 Peloton team to the mix, you can include up to 5 Muscle teams. For either NPC team, you simply reveal the top card of each deck to determine movement.I thought it was actually pretty enjoyable to throw these in with a group. They add a bit of unknown to each turn, sometimes helping and sometimes hurting. I wouldn’t use them every time given the random nature of their outcomes, but sometimes you just want to see that big crowd of bikes on the table.New tracks and NPC cards[...]

Review: Favelas:: Favelas - Tile laying, remastered ?

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 23:07:21 +0000

by sardonic wolf In Favelas, you’re attempting to beautify the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to appease the city’s council. Favelas is a tile laying game, a mechanic that can be widely hit and miss. Take Cottage Garden for example, it doesn’t feel like a game more like a gentle garden building exercise without the sweat and hardwork. And the only reason I keep cottage garden in my collection? Because it close to a four player ‘patchwork’, now Favelas is not 4 player patchwork, far from it. But it ousts Cottage Garden from my collection.Like Cottage Garden and Patchwork, Favelas is a tile laying game in which you never extend your play area, your choices are only upwards, and the restraints? As unlike Carcassone in which you create a sprawling tabletop engrossing game area and the restraints are the tiles you draw or your fellow players, Favela presents you with a limited play area, but the main restraint to your success is yourself. There’s still a tile draw area, but choose unwisely and you’ll be restricting ONLY yourself in future turns. The game itself is simple, it takes places over three rounds or years as the game calls them. In each round you’ll be jousting to have the most of certain colours as the council changes it’s decisions on which colours it favours. At the start of each round 6 dice are rolled to determine the councils favour, which can later be altered by the players. This ‘Beautification Council Guidelines’ will display a die of each colour and the number of points a player may score at the end of the year if they have the most favelas of that colour (in the case of a tie, you’ll both be rewarded). The clear dice, will give every player a bonus if they have at least one of each colour in their favela at the end of the year. On your turn you’ll be presented with several choices, do you take from the face up tiles, or one of the face down stacks, you can’t pass, you must take something. As your favela only grows vertically, tile placement because mighty important as you can quickly reduce your own play area down to a single option. But combine the ability to influence the council’s decisions with careful tile placement and the decision of tile placement becomes even more important. If you match colours when placing tiles, you’ll be able to alter the face of the dice you just matched by +1 or -1.By placing purple onto purple for example, you’ll be able to disrupt the scoring of that player who’s got the monopoly on purple, while by placing blue on blue, a colour which you have the majority of, you can increase your end of round scoring. The round continues until the Year End tile is revealed, whereby scoring then takes place, and you suddenly realise how you’ve given yourself problems for the next year ahead, as the tiles you’ve placed this round remain. After three years, the player with the highest score will be the winner!Favelas, is a beautiful abstract tile laying game, that challenges you to focus on what you are placing and what you are covering up, as you vie for control of the colour majorities. Although it quickly becomes apparent that you won’t be able to win all the co[...]

Review: Vampires Vs. Unicorns:: Everything Board Games Vampires Vs Unicorns Review

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 22:32:03 +0000

by Dt92stang Quick Look: Designer: Jim DuBois and AttaboyArtist: TRAVIS LAMPE and TRAVIS LOUIEPublisher: YumfactoryYear Published: 2017No. of Players: 2Ages: 7+Playing Time: 10-20 minutesReview:Rules and Setup:Setup takes about two minutes, and half of that is shuffling cards.Separate the floor tiles into Vampires and Unicorns, then place each faction's tiles on the floor, in a pyramid shape as specified in the rulebook. Each player takes one of the decks of cards and shuffles them. Lock the cat in another room unless you want to play the catpocolypse variant.I liked the catpocolypse variant, but several components were mauled. It should look something like this.The book actually mentions the feline affinity for this game. Lana immediately sided with the Unicorns. She proved a formidable foe, completely immune to card effects and able to take down the entire Vamp army with a single pounce.Once both players have taken their positions behind their castle tiles, play can begin.Theme and Mechanics:The theme is simply that Vampires and Unicorns hate each other. You command an army. Do your best to destroy your opponent's defenses and reduce their castle to rubble.VvU is a dexterity game where you throw playing cards at your opponent's tiles in order to eliminate them. Each faction has various types of cards ranging from your basic (throw one card, and your turn is over) to ones that allow you to throw cards until you miss, or throw multiples at the same time, or pick up errant cars and throw them again. The only difference is the card art and the number of cards you throw on your turn.When a card lands on an opponent's tile/s on the first row, even partially, the tile is removed. The second row takes two hits, flipping after the first. Unless all its defenses have been removed, a card must land completely on the Castle tile to remove it.A player wins by eliminating all their opponent's tiles.Game Play:You toss cards so they land on your opponent's tiles. It's really hard to aim playing cards. If you've spent a lot of time tossing cards at targets, this is the game you've been waiting for to finally legitimize your skill.Unless you have a cat.This is going to happen over and over until you lock them away.Nobody I've played with so far has any aptitude for aiming cards. You're not throwing them that far. Chance should make at least one-out-of-four hit, but it's like the cards veer away on purpose. Like paper airplanes, there's a trick to it. I assume. I haven't figured it out yet, but this site claims to teach you how to use playing cards as weapons. It might be a good place to start.Artwork and Components:I love the art in this game. I've been a fan of both these guys for years.The detail and depth of Travis Louie's work is staggering.Travis Lampe's adorable hellscapes are a hybrid of Hyronimous Bosch and Betty Boop. I don't know how anybody could not love that.If you like the art, this is definitely worth getting. It's a fantastic print set. The tiles are nice and thick with excellent print quality. The cards are high quality with a linen finish and custom tuck boxes that fit perfectly in a nook at the bottom. [...]

Review: Maximum Apocalypse:: This is How the World Ends... (Kickstarter Backer Review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:02:17 +0000

by smorpheus Maximum Apocalypse is having an astounding second printing/expansion run on Kickstarter this week, so we took our recently-arrived copy, and took it for a spin. We fought Aliens, Zombies, and Mutants, and we survived! (Well not the Aliens, the Aliens got us.)MA is a Post-Apocalyptic adventure game. You pick a hero, grab their deck, and work with the other players on the board to explore tiles, scavenge for items, and fight various apocalypse-causing baddies. But, what makes the game standout?Standout FeaturesCustom Decks For Characters: Each playable character has their own 40 card deck that contains unique powers and items that character can use in the game. This means the strategy on each playthrough evolves based on the characters picked. Additionally, picking the right heroes for a scenario can make it significantly easier to accomplish your mission. If you have an exploration task, the Hunter with her Motorcycle and reveal special ability is the perfect pick. If you have to kill a lot of enemies, the Gunslinger is perfect. Each deck plays very differently than others.Shifting Settings: What's brought on the Apocalypse changes based on the scenario. In the base game this includes Zombies, Mutants, Robots, and Aliens. Each of these enemies has different abilities that you'll need to be aware of to overcome. Zombies are good at hitting multiple heroes crowded together, Aliens make you Burn (mill) cards off your deck. Mutants have a lot of poison effects. Additionally, each setting a series of scenario missions that tell a simple story about the post-apocalyptic devastation. The shifting settings, encourage strategy that changes quite a bit game to game. If there's no incentive to explore or fight to win a scenario, it's better to just focus on scavenging the right cards. You can use the objective card to determine which kinds of tiles you should focus on scavenging.What We LikedWe really enjoyed switching between character types, and pre-formulating a character strategy based on the mission's objective. Each mission's objective did have an extensive setup time (about 10-15 minutes), but putting the map and decks together is actually kind of fun, as you can talk about what cards are in which deck and which tiles are present so you can mull over your strategy.The artwork in the game is fun, and is reminiscent of a contemporary comic book, with good line art and good color. There's also a lot of art. There are repeated cards in all decks, but the sheer variety of monsters and player cards is impressive.We also liked the number of Actions you can take on a turn. You always have a lot of good choices on each turn. Even if your hand is full of non-useful items, you can dig in your deck for an extra card, or dig through the scavenge piles for an always-useful can of food.What Could Be ImprovedBy far the biggest problem with the game is the rule book which is thin, and leaves quite a bit to be puzzled out by the players as they stumble through their first couple of games. Most of these rules questions can be figured out by piecing together the rules in the book with t[...]

Review: The Red Dragon Inn:: A Take-That Social Classic!

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:02:13 +0000

by Jvandereck I first played Red Dragon Inn at an independent gaming convention with a group of hardcore gamer friends. Some in the group had heard of it. None had played it before. Most of us were seriously grizzled boardgame connoisseurs with thousands of hours of tabletop experience under our belts. After just one game, three of us rushed to buy Red Dragon Inn and subsequently actively competed over who would be the first to collect all of the expansions...Red Dragon Inn is a boisterous take-that style social fantasy game that morphs seamlessly into a role-play experience, a drinking game, and a good ol' fashioned tactical free-for-all.The game takes place in a tavern in a middle-earth style fantasy world after the conclusion of an adventure. The heroic adventurers have gathered together to drink, gamble, boast, and let off some steam. Each player takes on the role of one of the adventurers, adopting a unique deck of cards that is stacked with flavorful abilities that reflect the strengths, weaknesses, and personality of the given character. Players then compete to see who will be the last adventurer to retain any gold while still remaining conscious after many rounds of gambling, drinking, and aggressive horseplay. It is a relaxed and flexible game that encourages character immersion, does not punish shyness while promoting active social interaction, is easy to teach, and still rewards thought and care.That said, Red Dragon Inn does have some definite weaknesses.The game was initially designed for four players, and while expansions have enabled it to scale up to accommodate greater numbers, at anything much beyond 6, gameplay can drag. Tactical nuances of the rules are not always super intuitive or clear, and arguments over sequencing of effects, in the spirit of Magic: the Gathering, can become tedious. Essentially, while Red Dragon Inn can accommodate extremely technical players, it assuredly was not designed with them in mind. Not all of the characters feel perfectly balanced. This would perhaps be a bigger issue in a game with fewer random elements or less emphasis on take-that tactics, but in Red Dragon Inn, players quickly adapt to dynamics and readily counterbalance by attacking the leader, so it's not all that problematic. It is a game with player elimination, which can occasionally be frustrating if somewhat gets knocked out early. Finally, references to the cocktail waitress as "wench," taken together with an occasional bit of trope-mocking art, might vex some players, but unlike with some other games that share tavern themes, this is really not a meaningful issue in Red Dragon Inn.On the plus side, Red Dragon Inn offers some wonderful art, a genuinely unique array of characters who play and feel very different from each other, solid component quality, and vibrant and amusing gameplay.Red Dragon Inn is not the sort of game that I feel inclined to play over and over in succession, filling whole nights. Instead, it's the sort of game that I feel comfortable introducing to virtually anyone, irrespective of their level of gaming interest. It's[...]

Review: Azul:: Quick Review

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:02:09 +0000

by jedichrism

As of writing this review, Azul is probably the hottest game around. Last month at my local Connecticut Convention, Azul was the most talked about game. It was difficult to buy a copy for some time but now can be found in stores. All the praise for the game is well deserved. So far as of April 2018, Azul is the game of the year.

The components are top notch. If you were impressed by Plan B Games' Century Spice Road components, then Azul will raise the bar of what to expect from future games by Plan B. The tiles are shiny, have excellent artwork, and have a good weight to them. I suggest you purchase an additional draw bag to help with gameplay. As you play, you will be creating a discard pile and having to add all the tiles back to the draw bag when empty. Having a second draw bag makes keeping the table more organized.

I have played Azul with all player counts, and it is perfect with every count. I have only played with the basic side of the player mat and looking forward to trying the advance side. The gameplay is simple, you pick a tile type from the factory plates and add to one of your rows on the player mat. The goal is to group tiles adjacent to each other in both the horizontal and vertical positions for max scoring. The unique aspect of the game is that you must have the exact number of tile willing filing a row to score. If you have extra tiles, they end up being negative points.

To win the game, you must have at least complete multiple of the end game bonuses. The bonuses are to collect five of one type of tile for ten points and complete columns for seven points.

The one thing to keep in mind is that there will be times when you have to take extra tiles for negative points. In multiple games, I have seen people fill the entire negative point row due to hate drafting and players not needing certain types of tiles. A few players have said they will never play the game again because of being on the wrong side of the drafting. I have had to fill the entire negative point row and came back to come in second in a four-player game. So don't think one lousy turn stops you from performing well in the game.

Azul is my favorite abstract game. The great components help but the mechanisms are excellent making the game stand out. I think every gaming group should have a copy.

Rating is 9.

Check out my blog for more reviews: Ramblings of Connecticut Gamers

Review: Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery:: Yesteryear: The Angle of Jupiter’s Dangle (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:02:06 +0000

by The Innocent Yesteryear: The Angle of Jupiter’s DangleSpartacus? Didn’t that game come out six years ago? In board game time, that’s at least forty years! True enough. But this is the first entry in a series about the games I’m still playing even though their cardboard scent has worn off and the cards are starting to look frayed around the edges. Not the classics, exactly, but the good stuff that’s never lost its appeal or lost its place on my shelf. This is Yesteryear.Before his unfortunate passing in late 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting Sean Sweigart exactly once. I had no idea who he was. He was happy to keep it that way. When I asked whether he was the designer of the game he was demoing, he responded that, no, he wasn’t, he was just a guy who enjoyed sharing good games. And with titles like Spartacus, Firefly, Sons of Anarchy, Homeland, and Star Trek: Ascendancy under his belt, he wasn’t entirely fibbing.When it first landed in 2012, Spartacus was more of an odd duck than it is today. For one thing, it reveled in the juvenile “maturity” of its source material. It said words like “cock,” implied forced prostitution in its gameplay, and didn’t hesitate to codify the magic circle into its rulebook when it admonished its players to “bribe, poison, betray, steal, blackmail, and undermine one another… but don’t be an ass about it.”It was also, other than Battlestar Galactica and the odd game about hobbits, one of the few good licensed games ever made. That was Sean Sweigart’s talent, one that he would mine over the next few years. If you handed that guy the keys to a TV show, he could tease out what made it tick, build a delightfully straightforward system around it, and then throw you into whatever role he wanted you to inhabit.In Spartacus’s case, that was the role of the bad guys, the jerks who casually frittered away countless lives in gladiatorial arenas, then tossed those same lives into even grimier gladiatorial pits when they didn’t behave. It was a game about the inherent dangers of unchecked ambition, only it didn’t seem even slightly interested in commenting on that sort of thing. Which, hey, was fine. Everybody was too busy commenting on the girth of Jupiter’s manhood to notice.Already I’ve mentioned two of the three things that make Spartacus such a captivating experience. The first is its simplicity, which was reflected in every one of its phases. Want to earn some scratch? It’s as easy as hiring slaves, making sure you aren’t paying the grocery bills for too many thousand-pound gladiators, and selling off unwanted scheme cards. Want to ruin someone’s day? Trick them into backing one of your schemes when they don’t have the guards to counter it. Bully the market? It’s a closed-fist bid, so you’re free to bid high or skip out entirely. Win in the arena? It’s essentially a dice game, don’t get too heated about it.Not that there isn’t anything to get heated about. That’s where its second strength comes in, because very l[...]

Review: Crystal Clans:: Goodbye Summoning Stones, Hello Crystals (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:02:01 +0000

by The Innocent Goodbye Summoning Stones, Hello CrystalsI have a great fondness for Summoner Wars. Six years ago it became my most-played game of all time, prompting me to assemble custom tuckboxes for each of its factions, pen over twenty articles both here and elsewhere, and at one point I even designed a custom faction based on Central European serfdom and manor-dwelling therianthropes. No, you can’t see it.That said, Summoner Wars had a few problems, many of which only became apparent over time. Its units grew more complicated and text-heavy with each new set, pro-level strategies became increasingly counter-intuitive to ordinary play, and it never sat right with me that one of its premier opening strategies was to cannibalize your own units.Crystal Clans, from Summoner Wars designer Colby Dauch, plus J. Arthur Ellis and Andrea Mezzotero, in many ways plays like an antidote to some of that game’s biggest errors. But is it enough? Let’s figure that out together.For fans of Summoner Wars, the broad concept of Crystal Clans will be immediately familiar, even as it takes a few careful steps in the other direction. Two clans stand on opposite ends of the field, their home bases separated by rows of rectangles. On your turn you’ll summon units, march them out, and execute attacks. As expected, each of the game’s clans are colorful and distinct, bringing their own approaches, abilities, and weaknesses to the field.Perhaps the most immediate change-up is that there are no phases in Crystal Clans. Where Summoner Wars straitjacketed players with a highly regimented procession of steps — first summoning, then moving, shooting and thwacking, and finally managing your magical economy — here you’re free to do whatever you like whenever you like. Want to open your turn by throwing some units into battle? Go right ahead. If the melee doesn’t go in your favor, you’re free to summon a new set of troops or move someone else to replace their fallen comrades. Even the act of replenishing your hand is an action, letting you decide when to pick up new options.This allows players quite a bit of latitude in how they choose to prosecute the battle. The sole limitation is the board’s initiative track. Every action incurs a cost that pushes a sky-blue crystal along the track. Summoning a lone soldier or moving a weaker unit might only push the track by one or two pips, while pounding an entire squad onto the table could cost eight or more. Your turn ends whenever the crystal reaches your opponent’s side of the table, but your current action gets to finish in its entirety — for instance, by summoning three guys at once. This gives Crystal Clans a powerful sense of tempo, one where you’re allowed to choose between minor actions that will severely limit your opponent’s next turn or big splashy moves that give them the ability to mobilize in force.But what really cranks up the tempo to prestissimo is your ultimate goal. Rather than emulating Summoner Wars’ tendency to b[...]

Review: The Grimm Forest:: Four Little Pigs, Roasted and Stuffed (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:55 +0000

by The Innocent Four Little Pigs, Roasted and StuffedAllow me to indulge in my inaugural Old Man Moment by saying, hey, fairy tales used to be better. No, not back in my day. I’m talking way back, when the forests were thick and uncut, the sun only peeked through the pestilential clouds once a fortnight, and taking a wrong turn while returning home from the well might get you eaten by either wolves or Visigoths.Strangely, Tim Eisner’s The Grimm Forest comes within an inch of evoking these older, more ominous stories, and all because this fairy tale’s got bite.There’s a certain cheery naiveté to the opening of The Grimm Forest, not unlike the beginning of many of the best fairy tales. A girl delivers a meal to her bedridden grandmother; a mermaid fantasizes about love; a servant pleads with her fairy godmother to underwrite her trip to a fancy party; and four little pigs — the younger relatives of the original and more famous three — are tasked with being the first to construct three houses in order to be named as their kingdom’s royal architect.Every play of The Grimm Forest is similarly carefree, at least at first. In order to build those houses, you need to gather the appropriate materials that any pig worth his salt knows how to work with. There’s straw, wood, brick, and — if you’re playing with all four pigs — a market where a combination of all three can be found.In order to gather these materials, everyone selects a location in secret, then flips their cards for all to see. If you’re a lucky pig and the sole inhabitant of your chosen destination, you get everything there. If not, you parcel out everything so that all parties walk away with an equal amount. From there, you get down to the work of setting up those houses. Each stage of construction costs a little more than what was built before it, and there are some benefits to building a wall or being the first to slap the roof on a particular house. First pig to three wins.And, well, taken like that, The Grimm Forest could almost be a kid’s game. It’s got some light guesswork. Planning, as you measure out what you’ll need in advance. Arithmetic, since you must total up how many materials you’ll need. Patience. A playful heart. Everything a growing girl or boy needs to succeed at second grade.But then, like the best fairy tales, The Grimm Forest takes a turn. Then it gets dark.Okay, not dark necessarily, but this is certainly where it gets interesting.In addition to all that location jumping and material gathering, these pigs are also engaging in a protracted campaign of sabotage, diversion, and theft against their house-flipping rivals. Property will be smashed, resources will be stolen, and pigs will be spun around, flummoxed, and taken advantage of.There are two sources of ammunition for your would-be vandal to draw from. The rarer and simpler option is the ally card, interlopers from other fairy tales that are usually rewarded for reaching the second sta[...]

Review: Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Northern Theater, 1775-1777:: Cubes of the American Revolution (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:50 +0000

by The Innocent Cubes of the American RevolutionIt’s appropriate that Benjamin Franklin’s chopped-up snake should emblazon the box front of Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Northern Theater, 1775-1777. Historically, Franklin’s 1754 political cartoon JOIN, or DIE represented the fragmentary nature of the colonies chafing under British rule. In designer Tom Russell’s hands, the image takes on a second, more immediate meaning. It’s one of transmitting biscuits and bullets from one place to another, of connecting or severing the head from the tail, of your own winding snake and its integrity.Here, the image communicates the need to string together your logistics. Everything in Supply Lines of the American Revolution is about the all-important distance between your supplies and the soldiers who need them. Join them together, or die. After all, as Jesus of Nazareth once uttered, “Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics.”Before we get into anything else, let me give you an example of the sort of crisis Supply Lines of the American Revolution sees you facing at nearly every turn.Playing as the Crown and hoping to put down this silly little insurrection before it grows out of control, you begin with tenuous command of Boston. You’ve got a good number of soldiers there, plus a leader — which means that army can actually attack — but the Patriots have significant forces in nearby Cambridge and Providence, and a leader in the wilderness west of Cambridge who might very well wheel around, gather his forces, and march straight down the throat of your one toehold in the colonies.Worse — and thanks to this game’s focus on logistics this really is a lot worse — there’s only one wilderness spot adjacent to Boston. These are problematic for the Crown. For one thing, the Patriots can skirmish in open ground, potentially inflicting hits before disappearing into the trees, and while Crown troops are hardy they are most certainly not expendable. Better to stay dug in within the city to avoid getting bushwhacked, right? Well, it’s possible that you won’t have any choice. Without that wilderness spot next to Boston remaining either under your control or at the very least neutral, the city can’t produce supplies.Supplies. These are the central quandary of Supply Lines of the American Revolution, crucial to every aspect of the design. Want to march an army? That costs food. The larger the army, the more food it will eat, though plenty gets lost when the army you’re marching is too small to ration it out correctly. Under ideal circumstances, four battle groups will consume one unit of food when they move from one place to another. Three battle groups, though? Two? One? They’ll still consume that one unit of food. One can almost picture the way a handful of soldiers will gorge themselves when there isn’t anybody around to shame them into sharing. Then, once all those fighting men are[...]

Review: Imperius:: The Wheel Turns Again: A Look at Imperius (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:44 +0000

by The Innocent The Wheel Turns Again: A Look at ImperiusRemember Solstice? It would be forgivable if you didn’t, since it’s one of the few games I’ve featured for Best Week that nobody actually played.But here’s the thing. Imperius — which is Solstice but with some significant polish, expanded artwork, and a way more generic name — is coming to Kickstarter tomorrow, and I want to tell you why it should be the target of your latest machinations.Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The ruling family of a galactic empire is undergoing major restructuring, and a bunch of noble houses have their eyes and aspirations on the throne. Unfortunately, planting their leather-clad buttocks on the royal rocker won’t be determined by a round of musical chairs. Instead, they’ll have to engage in a bunch of backstabbing, intrigue, and wheels-within-wheels-within-wheels scheming to claim their birthright.Business as usual for interstellar empires, right? Well, what sets Imperius apart (and Solstice before it) is that it doesn’t waste your time getting to the good stuff. It reads like the fluff for what will be a five-hour game with a few huge battles at the end, then instead veers into some very interesting territory. It’s fast, hard-hitting, and lets you get up to no good within about thirty seconds of setup. From the very first draft of the first hand of cards—Now just hold on and let me get to the twist.Yes, this is a card drafting game. But it’s unlike any card drafting game you’ve played before. Unless you played Solstice, in which case you’re one of five people who are already fully aware how solid this thing is.Here’s how it works. Before you on the table are some imperial worlds, each of which is just begging to be brought under your thumb. In order to secure their loyalty, you need agents. Ambassadors and assassins, which are basically the same thing but with different uses for their pointy ends. Fragile nobles and hardy commanders, maybe the odd elder with their own peculiar set of connections, perhaps some manipulation of galactic events. All are essential tools within the rucksack of the galactic spokesman.The twist, though, is that some of these agents are already in your employ, while the others belong to your rival houses. And when you draft your hand, the very same hand you’ll be deploying onto planets in order to bring them to heel, you’ll be picking from everyone’s pool of available talent. Picture any other drafting game, except that in addition to the cards that will benefit you, you’re also selecting cards that can only be used by your enemies.Yeah. It’s nuts.That’s what makes Imperius unique. What makes it shine is that you’re never without options, even when the game conspires to make it feel like you’re drowning. Once everyone has picked their hand, the last undrafted cards are the first wave sent to each planet. The game has already b[...]

Review: Battle for Rokugan:: Ro Ro Ro Your Rokugan (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:37 +0000

by The Innocent Ro Ro Ro Your RokuganHalf a decade ago, I pronounced A Game of Thrones: The Board Game to be the good version of Diplomacy. All the intrigue, shorter playtime. The ability to outwit your friends without losing your friends. Dragons in place of Prussians.Battle for Rokugan is proof that history repeats itself, because after some hefty miniaturization, this is the good version of A Game of Thrones. Plenty of intrigue, takes a third as long. You’ll still piss off your friends, but at least that knife you’ve lodged between their thoracic vertebrae doesn’t take five hours to still their wiggling. And in place of dragons, this one has, I don’t know, shadowy barbarian lands or something.Look, I’m not sure what a Rokugan is. All I know is that this scorpion has got some sting to it.Battle for Rokugan wears its principal joy right on its sleeve, and it’s what sets it apart from so many of its kin. Set in the hazy territory between Sengoku Japan and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period of China, it makes some noise about honor but encourages constant betrayal, backstabbing, and general pettiness whenever an opponent’s soft spot reveals itself. The result is an oppressive atmosphere of setbacks, reversals, bluster, and outright fury, without ever letting those moments become entirely rote.It’s one heck of a feat, balancing the frequency and impact of its dramatic reversals in that sweet spot between infuriating and tedious. You’ll capture territories and lose them, swapped out with a pawn shop’s sense of constancy. Armies will be cleverly deployed and wasted, and often both at once. And narrative twists will come and go, prompting groans before smoothing right into the game’s ongoing struggle for supremacy.A lot of this has to do with the way Battle for Rokugan unmoors its players from the notion of permanent ownership over, well, pretty much anything. Geography has value — quite a bit of value, considering that land is the only thing that will grant points once the game’s five rounds are over — which takes shape over the course of your victories and defeats. For example, conquering matching sets of territories will earn special bonus cards that can shape your strategy. But while taking and holding territory is what drives the action, there’s no such thing as a linchpin holdfast. Those special cards I mentioned? They’re single-use, almost never turn the tide of war in favor of a single player, and it’s incredibly rare to see all of them claimed before the game crashes to its conclusion. Instead, land comes and goes as quickly as the tokens you’re using to seize or defend it — swiftly, disposably, and easily replaced.This sense of impermanence is baked right into the setup. Everyone gets a single province that belongs to their faction, then picks a bunch of extras that can be placed wherever they like. No ancestral hom[...]

Review: Illimat:: Illuminati House Party (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:33 +0000

by The Innocent Illuminati House Party One of the best things about this hobby is the possibility of stumbling across something entirely unfamiliar. Illimat, which was designed by the creator of Gloom and has something to do with a band I’ve never listened to, never fully crosses the line into alien territory. Instead, it steps up to the barrier and then moves sideways, somehow feeling familiar and forgotten both at once. Otherworldly, you could call it, as though it fits within some alternate dimension or half-recalled dream, only penetrating into our world at oblique angles.That or it’s a card game that knows how to put on a good show. It’s tough to tell.At the very least, Illimat knows how to make a good first impression. Between its monochromatic aesthetic, the bottom of the box standing above the cloth mat like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and sharp-as-buttons brass tokens, it draws the eye much the same way a black hole draws everything. Even the game’s lore gives it an edge of coolness, a secret society’s plaything of which you, the privileged few, have been granted a glimpse. The first time I showed it to my Dad, he noted that it looked like we were about to summon a demon. Perfect.Even the rules have a mystical tint to them, as though they’re common sense in a dimension where every game features a rotating illimat. In general, your task is so simple that it’s downright earthy. Harvest as many cards as you can, in particular summer cards and less in particular winter cards, while maybe grabbing some brass tokens or luminaries along the way. There are only three actions, letting you sow cards into one of the mat’s four fields, stockpile to pile cards together into higher-value cards, or harvest everything from a single field that can sum to the value of whichever card you played — as in, playing a 10 can grab a 7 and a 3 and a 10. As long as you can count to fourteen with no significant degree of error, the basics of Illimat are within your grasp.Of course, that’s like saying digging a few inches into the soil puts a subterranean fairy kingdom within your grasp, because Illimat is the sort of game that seems straightforward right until the moment it doesn’t. And it has to do with two of the game’s most peculiar digressions from the workaday process of sowing, stockpiling, and harvesting.The first is the illimat itself, that raised platform where the brass tokens are stored. Whenever a face card is played onto a field, the illimat must be wheeled around to align its season with that of the card. Three of these seasons block an action — it’s impossible to sow in autumn or harvest in winter, and spring provides one more reason to avoid stockpiling — and this dictates much of what passes for strategy in this game. Preparing a massive harvest in a field blocked by winter or being forced to first rotate th[...]

Review: That Snow Moon:: That Snow Moon (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:27 +0000

by The Innocent That Snow MoonJust in case you didn’t get it, the wallet for Dave Chalker’s That Snow Moon comes in that ascending-text style where the S connects to the next letter, as even someone who doesn’t know anything about Star Wars would recognize as originating from Star Wars. The rules pamphlet and card titles are similarly loaded with references, expounding (briefly) on the galactic struggle between the evil Dynasty and the plucky Liberation, smugglers of the scruffy variety and princesses with peculiar hairdos, and galaxies “too far away or too long ago.”I’ll spill this right now: your appreciation for this one may be directly proportionate to how much you enjoy Star Wars references. While one member of our group laughed his Bothan ass off, the rest of us stared in blank numbness as we discovered that this is a game about throwing cards across the table.To give credit where it’s due, at least That Snow Moon is trying something different with its card-throwing formula. One team, the Liberation, is trying to toss their cards face-down onto the table, clustering the Snow Moon plans into a single archipelago, then sending a pilot to land upon the Snow Moon and put an end the Dynasty. From the bad guys’ perspective, they’re flipping their cards over to pin the Liberation cards, gradually revealing and then crushing their enemies.The best part of the whole thing is its devotion to asymmetry. Not only are the Liberation and Dynasty each chasing after their own goals, but their methods of getting cards onto the table are also distinct. While the Liberation tosses its cards into clumps in order to scrape together those plans, the Dynasty must hold their doomsday weapons and evil armadas above the table, then flip them onto its surface, with anything other than a full rotation becoming lost. As you might expect, this usually sends them fluttering under the couch.It’s not a bad notion, and even manages to one-up certain larger card-throwing games by at least being interesting. Then again, that interest quickly wanes as you realize that there isn’t enough to That Snow Moon to keep you coming back.Final Verdict: Star Wars PunThis review was originally published at Space-Biff!, so if you like what you see, please head over there for more., I suppose I ought to plug my Geeklist of reviews: [...]

Review: John Company:: Graft Company (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:22 +0000

by The Innocent Graft CompanyIn many ways, John Company feels like it might be Cole Wehrle’s magnum opus — which is one heck of a thing to say when you consider that it’s only his third published game. It certainly has the scope of a life’s work. Where Pax Pamir and its expansion Khyber Knives dealt with a British Empire willing to do anything to preserve their trading monopoly over India, and An Infamous Traffic got grimy up to its elbows with the business of the drug pushers who would collapse the Qing Dynasty for profit, both might pass as single-action blips in the course of John Company.It’s appropriate, then, that Wehrle’s tale of the East India Company — the joint-stock enterprise that boasted an army twice as large as the British Army, grazed its grubby fingers over half the world’s trade, and still ultimately squandered its supremacy — should be one of accomplishment, failure, and biding your time. And often all three at once.The most immediate question about John Company is also one of the trickiest to answer. What is it that you do in this game?Put blithely, you haggle. Negotiate. Make promises that you might not be able to make good on. Anything and everything you can to promote yourself, your interests, and ultimately your legacy.Rather than controlling the East India Company outright, players in John Company are tasked with filling any number of company offices, ranging from the solemn chambers of the chairman all the way down to the lowly writers who keep minutes in meetings and double-check sums.You’re a family man, or more accurately family men, spread across the course of up to ten rounds, each of which spans perhaps some fifteen years. As such, your fortunes are carried or collapsed by more than one set of shoulders. To elevate your family name, it will take a trade mogul here, a director of purchasing there, a pair of gallivanting officers or grim-faced ship’s captains, a few shipyards along the Thames or factories for pickling anything that hasn’t yet been pickled, and maybe even a sticky-fingered governor in Bombay. It isn’t just about shoving your thumb into multiple pies. It’s about doing so while juggling the pies.Let me give you an example.One of your family members is a company veteran, granted control of the Madras Presidency. This posting comes with a number of responsibilities, such as the security of certain trade partners in India, oversight over the ships and goods that will hopefully turn a profit there, and command over one of the company’s three armies.For the past couple decades, this family member has been the sort of quiet, reliable president who raises neither controversy nor any particular interest. He doesn’t make the papers. Now, though, he wants permission to transfer some guns from another of the company’s p[...]

Review: Vast: The Fearsome Foes:: Vaster Than Ever (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:18 +0000

by The Innocent Vaster Than EverI dug Vast: The Crystal Caverns back in 2016. More than that, I still dig it. Just a couple weeks back, I called it “the king of wild asymmetry that actually works.” And I stand by that. The beauty of Vast isn’t just that each of its five roles is fiercely different, it’s that they work in near-perfect harmony, breaking apart to pursue their own objectives only to come crashing back into one another’s orbit time after time.With that in mind, does a game with five asymmetrical roles really need three more? Or worse, six more?Vast: The Fearsome Foes displays three new roles on its cover. What you’re really getting is three roles that can each be deployed in two different configurations. The ghoul, for instance, comes in either vanilla Ghoul, an equal opportunity stalker and serial stabber, or Vile Ghoul, who fills in for the original Goblin tribes on their day off. Similarly, the Ghost can either chase down artifacts while possessing its opponents, or replace the Cave while still possessing its opponents. And the Unicorn either relieves the Dragon of duty or acts as an automated antagonist, trampling down the halls and generally pestering everyone.Did you get all that? Because I’ve played this thing a handful of times and I still had to look up the roles to remind myself what’s going on.Right from the beginning, The Fearsome Foes has the same problem as a food addict trapped inside the world’s grandest buffet. With so many roles to pick from, how do you choose who will be included? Where the original game was relatively compact (default: leave out the Thief), now it’s possible to bog down in discussion, and that’s before the rulebook gets cracked open. What if somebody wants to play as the Dragon while someone else is hankering to be a Unicorn? Not only did I never envision myself typing that phrase, but it’s also a hard no.The point is, it’s possible to have too many options, and Vast: The Crystal Caverns was already nudging into that territory. The number of roles has effectively been more than doubled. Workable asymmetry is one thing. Eleven sides, each with their own components, rules, tics, and optimal strategies? That’s something else.Okay, but here’s the thing. If that doesn’t bother you, you’re in for a real treat, because some of these roles are even better than the originals.My favorite example is the Ghost. Or maybe the Ghoul. Seriously, both of these are a delight.Let’s start with the Ghost. In its most basic form, the Ghost is all about haunting the crap out of the cavern, accomplished when players move artifacts — which begin in their care — into one of a handful of special tiles that have been mixed into the deck. As you might expect, this quickly leads to situations where yo[...]

Review: Empires of the Void II:: Empires of the Clutter II (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:13 +0000

by The Innocent Empires of the Clutter IIRyan Laukat’s original Empires of the Void was one of Kickstarter’s early success stories. It was 2011, long before everybody got jaded with underwhelming indie projects and enamored with the latest empty-headed box with miniatures in it. It pulled in somewhere upward of $35,000.Now it’s 2018, Ryan Laukat has been a staple of the crowdfunding scene for years — long enough to have witnessed “phases” in his career — and now we’ve got a sequel. It made seven times more than the original game during its Kickstarter run. Does that mean it’s seven times more enjoyable?Yes, that is how I think math works, thanks very much.For the three people who might actually be interested, I hate to disappoint you, but I won’t be comparing Empires of the Void II to the original. Why not? Because apart from being set in space, featuring Laukat’s characteristic anthropomorphic animals, and being set in space, there aren’t all that many parallels to be drawn.Instead of retelling the usual tale of empires stretching their fleets and colonies across the void, this entry trades in less generic fare. It’s the product of a Laukat with an interest in narratives, as we saw in his storybook-style games Above & Below and Near & Far, mingled with a hint of the movement concerns from Islebound, while bearing scant little in common with any of them. For one thing, this is the closest Laukat has gotten to crafting a sandbox game where anything goes, your journey might take you along any of a half-dozen star lanes, and victory in conquest doesn’t necessarily mean victory in the long term.Here’s the pitch. Each of the game’s five races have recently arrived in a fresh sector of space, borne on the wings of massive worldships. Rather than being uninhabited, the region is teeming with locals, each with their own developed planet and units, and it’s up to you to explore, build, and battle your way into supremacy over the stars. Oh, and manipulate the crap out of the natives, because all the best land always belongs to somebody who deserves it less than you. It would seem that the more things change, the more they stay the same.Right from the get-go, Empires of the Void II delights in tossing you into the deep end and letting you sink or swim. You’ve got some credits, a worldship with a paltry crew, and a whole lot of potential. Because everybody’s worldship begins in the thick of things, not even your first stop will be obvious.Even the game’s central action system conspires against an easy transition. Each round, the lead player picks what they want to do — maybe traveling, maybe interacting with the locals, maybe recruiting a band of mercenaries — and when they’re done, each other playe[...]

Review: Unicornus Knights:: As Alone as a Unicorn Horn (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:01:08 +0000

by The Innocent As Alone as a Unicorn HornIn recent news, scientists have determined that the worst thing in the world of video games is the escort mission. You know what I’m talking about. For whatever reason, mission command has given you the task of guiding a brain-dead moron from one spot to another, without the necessary equipment or manpower, along a route known to be infested with enemies who have a fanatical hatred of the person or vehicle in your charge.Unicornus Knights is a two-hour-long escort mission. With her kingdom recently annexed by the neighboring empire, Princess Cornelia has decided to inspire an uprising, march straight across the countryside, and win back her tenuous ancestral claim to other people’s labor. Unlike some of her lesser peers, she’s unperturbed by questions of practicality. How will she keep the troops fed? Trounce the petty tyrants standing between her and the capital? Marshal her troops in battle? It’s safe to say that she really has no idea. Birthright, maybe.That’s where you come in. As one of the Princess’s trusty knights, it’s your job to — well, to do everything the Princess is too important to do. Like prevent her from suicide-marching straight into an unwinnable fight.That’s strike one against Unicornus Knights. Strike two is the game’s anime aesthetic, which is so far beyond my taste range that I’m tempted to retake the classical art course that put me to sleep throughout that one semester of college. Strike two and a half is the word “unicornus.”Strike two and seven-eighths arrives after getting the thing set up. It isn’t the game’s size. It’s the quantity. On one side of the map sits Princess Cornelia atop her uni-horned steed. Nearby are your knights, each in their own starting region. Standing between the Princess and her destination are a full-blooded horde of enemies to defeat, dodge, or sometimes fall in love with. And every single one of them comes with their own abilities, combat behaviors, and terrain.It’s an intimidating sight, and not just for the Princess’s knights. Do I really need to know all these abilities? Will the necromancer in the Fields of Woe raise her zombies in between turns? Is that dragon really going to come down from the mountains to chase my armies? And what’s with that robo-girl in the ancient ruins?But the thing about Unicornus Knights is that you’re already playing it. Staring at that wall of generals, sorcerers, and monsters, assessing the threats they pose, sizing up the chinks in their armor or gaps in their defense — that’s the game.And what a game it is.Much like Darkest Night, Unicornus Knights revolves around its personalities. Your heroes are pleasantly distinct, an assemblage[...]

Review: Darkest Night (Second edition):: Alone on a Dark Night (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:49:15 +0000

by The Innocent Alone on a Dark NightDarkest Night was one of the first games I ever played solo. It arrived with a tiny board with jigsaw-puzzle connectors, smoky laser-charred wooden standees, and a napkin for wiping the soot off your fingers when you were done punching everything out. For months it retained that campfire reek, like summers up the canyon, like burning villages, like a necromancer’s grip tightening around a fantasy kingdom’s throat.It got its grip around my throat as well. With its thickly despairing gameplay, religion-gone-literal subtext, and smoke filling my nostrils, I defeated the necromancer time after time. More often, it was him who did the defeating.Sadly, Darkest Night was a flawed game, and it fizzled from my table as abruptly as it had flickered to life in the first place. Its central notion — that your heroes were waging a guerrilla resistance and would spend more time hiding than fighting — was undercut by the fact that it was relatively easy to defend a single hero chilling in the corner. This hero could spend every turn searching for keys, which would unlock relics, which in turn would slay evil once and for all. A to B to C to Dead Necromancer, all without leaving the comfort of a single space. So much for guerrilla warriors. More like renegade metal detectorists.But here’s the twist: while Darkest Night was designer Jeremy Lennert’s first published design, it has also become his latest, at least four times by my count. One expansion after the other continued to tweak the way the game worked. First came quests. Now, in addition to all that scrabbling around in the dirt for keys, your band of heroes could also follow up on various problems plaguing the kingdom, or treat them like distractions and ignore as they rotted the kingdom from within. Then came darkness cards, which bestowed new abilities on the necromancer and kept the later game from feeling stale. And, of course, in the meantime there were also new heroes, new events, new artifacts, all making Darkest Night’s original roster of heroes and terrible occurrences all the deeper.Like its necromancer ministering to a corpse, all these additions kept giving Darkest Night a few extra shambling steps of life. It was still possible to have a searcher sit in the mountains all game, but at least there was more going on elsewhere.But here’s what I missed by eventually ditching Darkest Night and its wood smoke stench right before the release of its fourth expansion — the game that not only fixes Darkest Night, but also transforms it into one of the finest solo offerings on the market. Even better, instead of picking up all those expansions and polishing the soot off their bits, ev[...]

Review: Fog of Love:: Haze of Love (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:49:03 +0000

by The Innocent Haze of LoveLook, whether or not we agree with it, we’ve all heard the refrain: why are so many games about war and violence? Why not love? Why not relationships?Fog of Love is why. This isn’t a ding on Fog of Love, per se — there will be time for that later — so much as it is a statement on just how difficult this love stuff can be. All’s fair in love and war? Baby, war ain’t got nothing on love.In its deepest heart, Fog of Love wants to be a romantic comedy generator. Two people sit down across from one another, pick a scenario with guidelines like “High School Sweethearts,” “We Give It a Year,” and “I Know What I Want,” then proceed to engage in some light role-playing to determine whether their star-crossed couple will make this thing work or swap their relationship status to “It’s Complicated” while their partner stinks up the bathroom.As a pitch, there’s very little wrong with the idea. Played out across multiple chapters, each scenario introduces a few basic guidelines, maybe adds a couple cards to its spread of decks, then releases you to dash your most romantic dreams against the rocks of reality.How does it accomplish this? By having you draw, pick, and play multiple-choice tests from one of three decks. As lovers do.I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you play the card “Switch Jobs.” One partner in the relationship raises a fascinating question: how about we just swap careers? It doesn’t matter that you’re an elevator inspector, the reincarnation of Elisha Otis himself, and I’m a drag queen. Easy peasy, we’ll just switch. I’ll go into the elevator inspector’s office of Salinas tomorrow, and you’ll head on into the dragporium.(As a side note, this happened. The cards allowed it. All names have been changed to protect the innocent).Now both players get to lodge a vote. Do you (a) want to switch jobs but keep doing your original work, (b) decide that you want to walk a mile in your partner’s shoes and go for it wholeheartedly, or (c) bring your partner crashing back down to reality by saying no? Both players pick the chip that reflects their answer, maybe engage in some of that light role-playing, and then depending on your answer and how it interacted with your partner’s, make some adjustments to your personality and satisfaction with the relationship. For instance, if you both picked the first option, you both get fired, which strains your feelings for one another. Because you’re idiots.To be clear, neither the plausibility of this scenario nor its outcomes are an issue. Fog of Love is chock-full of events mundane, silly, cute, stupid, mysterious, and even PG-13 eroti[...]

Review: Modern Art:: An Old Game About the New Thing (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:48:50 +0000

by The Innocent An Old Game About the New ThingModern Art is about so much more than just modern art. Oh, it’s about that too, and CMON’s latest edition of Reiner Knizia’s 1992 classic is lavishly produced with work by genuine artists, each with their own distinctive style that makes the identifying colors on each piece’s header almost unnecessary. Does it matter that Rafael Silveira is the orange artist when his portraiture is so unsettling? Or that Ramon Martins is designated by green when he has such a slick take on Asian traditionalism?Maybe. Especially when Martins defies his oeuvre with something from left field. That’s the thing about Modern Art. It’s a game about maybes and could-have-beens and taste-making and guessing the value of a thing before it’s a Thing.It also happens to be a sublime merger of play and theme.On the surface, Modern Art is a game about running auctions. As the curator of a hoity-toity museum, you begin with a smattering of artworks and a decent wallet of cash. Every turn revolves around a single auction, wherein a seller puts something up, everybody gets a stab at it, and most of the time the seller takes home the cash from the highest bidder. Sounds as boring as German Romanticism, right?The thing is, these auctions are immediately as disruptive to bog-standard game design as contemporary art strives to be to culture. First of all, there are five different types of auction, each accompanied by their own subtle strategies. Even the simplest, the fixed offer auction — in which the auctioneer announces a price and everybody gets the opportunity to cough up the cash or pass over the work entirely — is all about the gulf between the auctioneer’s perceived value of a piece and how much everybody else is willing to pay a premium for something that might not be worth that much. Or, if everyone is in a clever mood, passing just might ruin the auctioneer’s day, since now he has to pay that cash straight to the bank. So it goes. What did you think this was, art?The other varieties of auction are similarly cutthroat. The free-for-all is appropriately hectic for the first few moments, then grows tense as fewer and fewer bids come stuttering in. Hidden auctions are exercises in tricking an opponent into paying quadruple a piece’s value, while single-offer auctions are all about your place in the turn order and how much is too much when you’re trying to ensure that the next person in line won’t outbid you on a premium portrait.Then there are the double auctions. These babies are masterclasses in design. Not only do they splash two works onto the table — the auction type determine[...]

Review: The Manhattan Project:: Attack Your Enemies, See Them Driven Before You, and Hear The Lamentations of Their Scientists: The Manhattan Project

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:48:39 +0000

by DrHenryArmitage This is a sick worker placement game. Not just in the sense that it is about a sickening, yet undeniably glamorous and enthralling subject — the race to build the first atomic bomb. Not just in the slang sense that this game is sick — amazing, cool or awesome, which I certainly think it is. Primarily, I think the designers have a sick sense of humor, as shown in how they subvert the Euro trope of players serenely building their most efficient economic engine toward a victory goal. You can absolutely do that in this worker placement game, but a some point, you and your group are going to have to confront the reality that you can also totally bomb the living crap out of each other. It’s like a huge boatload of in-your-face player interaction just decided to belly-flop into the middle of a tranquil pool of idyllic Euro nirvana.Some years ago, I read a novel called Los Alamos, by Joseph Kanon. In that novel, an intelligence officer is sent to Los Alamos, New Mexico, site of the ultra-secret Manhattan Project, to investigate whether a murder committed near the base is a crime of passion, or somehow connected to the US military’s clandestine efforts to build the atom bomb. I loved the feel and the flavor of that novel. Which is probably why I’m so drawn to the theme of The Manhattan Project.The GameEach player takes the role of an unspecified nation-state, in a desperate arms race against other unnamed nation-states (The Nations expansion allows you to play as actual countries) to be the first to design and build The Bomb, and become the world’s first global nuclear superpower.The Bomb Cards, with their darkly humorous bomb namesAt the start of the game, shuffle the Bomb Deck and reveal X + 1 Bomb Cards, where X = the number of players in the game. Building bombs is the only way to score victory points, so your goal is to build enough high-value nukes before your rivals do. These are the first available atomic bomb designs, and also your first strategic choice: do you focus on building small bombs, or big bombs? Small bombs are easier to design and build, but score fewer victory points, so you’ll need to make more of them, which will require more time. Big bombs require far more resources to design and build, but just a couple of those could win the game. This opens up potential for last minute, come-from-behind, snatching-victory-from-the-edge-of-defeat scenarios.The well-designed Main BoardThe SetupThe main board is attractively designed to evoke a cork board from a WWII-era munitions factory. The board is divided into different sections where each player can pl[...]

Review: Charterstone:: Playing Forever with Charterstone (a Space-Biff! review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:48:10 +0000

by The Innocent Playing Forever with CharterstoneEven though it remains a fledgling subgenre, I think I can safely anoint myself a legacy game veteran. I’ve played ’em all. Like, all of them. Basically, I’m sick of legacy mechanisms at this point. The sole upside is that my time in the trenches has endowed me with Opinions.The first commandment of legacy games is simple. No, I mean that literally: the first commandment is simple. Be thou simple. If possible, build on something that was already there. Which is why Risk Legacy and Pandemic Legacy were so breezy to learn, while SeaFall was one learning game after another until you gave up and played its hidden game, which was opening all the boxes early and laughing with wild abandon while you sorted the pieces into recyclables and garbage.Charterstone is the simplest of them all. And when you get right down to it, it’s the legacy game that I’ve enjoyed the most.As it says right on the front of the box, Charterstone is about building a village. Each of its up to six players are granted a pizza wedge of land within the village, a character, and a handful of starting cards, and ordered to build, work, and refine their charter until it’s a bustling center of commerce and culture.There was no Charterstone: The Non-Legacy Game for Charterstone to spin off from, at least not in the way you might first expect. Instead, Charterstone plays like the streamlined culmination of designer Jamey Stegmaier’s work leading up to this point. Like Scythe, it features an inbuilt timer that also happens to be an objective that also happens to be a limited resource — in this case, influence, which acts as a gatekeeper standing between you and the game’s most potent actions. Even more pertinently, like Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia, it’s a worker placement game with a very different idea of what worker placement games should be about.Here’s what I mean. In most worker placement games, the primary form of interaction between players is the “block.” As in, because I’ve sent my grunting cavemen into the breeding hut, you’re just going to have to wait your turn. Or, because I’ve sent one of my magical students to pillage the library for spell scrolls, you’re going to have to light them on fire or teleport into a shadow dimension in order to make space for yourself. Whether it’s a stone age hut or a magical university, the placement of one worker means another can’t be sent to that particular space. Blocking.In Charterstone as in Euphoria, that cornerstone of worker placement has been roundly defenestrated. In i[...]

Review: Covil: The Dark Overlords:: The Purge: # 1750 Covil: The Dark Overlords: An area control game of variable powers with a ton of 1980's parodies

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:47:20 +0000

by william4192 Please check out my other reviews at: Covil: The Dark Overlords is the sort of game that I can get excited over but always, always lets me down. The art is attractive, the board looks inviting, and it is a Kickstarter game (so you can't try it out). This adds up to a game that can hype people but rarely follows through.Covil is the rare exception. While this game will never go down as the number one game on BGG, it should go down as one of the best area control games. While not a gateway game, this is a lighter area control game. The game is equal card play and timing which is really neat when combined with the area control.The art work is what initially brought me to the Kickstarter. It is striking, fun, and reminds me of my youth. I think I will buy any game with He-Man in it. They knew that and used that to sell me on the game. It was possible that I would get a game with great art and but nothing I would ever want to play. I'm so glad that isn't the case.The game can be fun and frustrating at the same time. When you activate a card, you must rest twice to be able to use it again. This could mean when you buy a card you only play it once (if you purchase it in the 3rd or 4th round). You need to find other cards that allow you to rest. You get only a few actions in the entire game and you really need to maximize those actions to score the most points.I think over time you will get better at this game. I find this interesting with this game. As you know the cards and know when to score and how to score, your scores will improve. Sometimes you need to hold back and be strategic about what areas you want to take. You will only be able to attack a few times and you may hold some cards back as defense but the battle never comes. Ugh! But Ugh! in a good way.Overall, I found I really like this entire package. It isn't a top ten game to me by a long stretch, but it is one of my favorite area control games. I always want to like area control games more than I do, but this is one that delivers for me. I highly recommend you try this game out and I highly recommend you purchase this game before it is gone (I think it is Kickstarter only). Even if you just like the art and sort of like the idea of the game, I think this game will be a happy surprise for you. Keeper. Components: The components are going to sell this game. We must start with the art work. The art work is cartoon-y, but oh so fantastic. All of the art is parodies of comics, cartoons and pop cultu[...]

Review: Sheep 'n' Sheep:: 2 Player Awesomeness

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:46:03 +0000

by RyanMoore I picked this game up late 2017 from the Board Game Geek store on account I was looking for a portable, filler card game. It's taken me a bit to get it played but I finally found a willing opponent. The theme is light but you are a shepherd trying to make their sheep happy by arranging them in like colored groups.RulesThe rulebook is a bit rough as this is a Japanese game and there are some translation difficulties. After a few plays, the rules became clear and were quite obvious. The main point of the game is forming groups of like color cards in a grid in front of you. You acquire cards to do this from a 4 column x 2 row grid of cards that are created from the draw deck. On a players turn, they have two options: pick a column of two cards or place cards. If you ever start your turn with six or more cards in hand you must place. If you ever start with zero cards in hand, you must pick a column. Card PlacementPlacing cards with the same number - Each card has two numbers at the top that are used for placement. You may choose a card in your own grid as a starting point and create a path of cards of the same number next to that card.Placing cards with the consecutive numbers - Again, you choose a starting card from your own grid and may place one or more cards either ascending or descending adjacent to that card. One difference with this placement rule is that you can utilize more than one edge of the starting card to create multiple paths.Placing a single card - If you choose to place a single card that is neither the same number nor increasing/decreasing next to a designated start card, you must also discard a card from your hand.ScoringIn addition to numbers at the top left and right of the card, there are also some symbols: bells, stars, hearts, victory point signs, and a green card. These will help determine the final score.1. Whoever has the most connected bells gets either 8, 4, or 2 points depending on if they 1st, 2nd, or 3rd2. Whoever has the most stars (adjacency doesn't matter) gets 4 or 2 points.3. Whoever has the most hearts (adjacency doesn't matter) gets 4 or 2 points.4. Each victory point symbol counts as 1 point.5. Sheep grouping will score if there are exactly that number of colors adjacent to each other. If you have more than the required number in a group, you do not score those points.6. Finally, you subtract the number of rows and columns from your score. E.G. a 4x4 grid would cost you 8 points.Final ThoughtsThe game comes in a 3"x 4" box. There are 108 cards in to[...]

Review: North American Railways:: A hidden gem about to be re-published

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:47:14 +0000

by morrigambist North American Railways had a limited distribution from Spielworxx and then apparently went out of print. Flying Lemur has proposed to reissue it, so it may soon be more readily available. The game, which consists of some cards, a few wooden train tokens, and play money, looks very ordinary. The rules, once learned, are very simple. However, the decisions involved can have very complex results. The game is for 3 to 5 players and takes 1-2 hours, depending on the players’ experience.The setup is simple. The first player takes the black train token. Each player gets money according to the number of players. Two shares (of the 30, six in each of five colors) are returned to the box and the rest are dealt out in four columns of seven. Similarly, the 36 city cards are dealt out in four columns of nine. (Variant: I prefer six columns of height six). Only the shares and cities at the bottom of each column are available. This introduces variety into the game and promotes jockeying for position. The five pairs of train tokens are set out, each starting with a card for Redwood, which gives an income of $100. Money in the company treasuries is open, while the players’ money is hidden. While these values are calculable, I have made up one-sided chips (see third image) to facilitate hiding them.Each round consists of three phases. In the stock phase, each player must choose an available stock card. If this is the first share of that color to be sold, the player chooses an amount to fund the railroad of that color, all of which goes into the company treasury, marked by a train token. The player then takes the other train token of that color and becomes the director. If the player chooses a share of a railroad of which he is already the director, he pays $1,000, of which half goes to the treasury and half to the bank. If the player chooses a share of a company of which another player is director, he must make an offer to that player. Offers must be in multiples of $100. If the director agrees to the offer, the offering player puts half the offered amount (rounding up to the next $100) into the company treasury and the rest into the bank. If this gives him at least as many shares as the director, he becomes the director and takes the train token. (The offering player must have at least as much money as the offer, but the director’s cash on hand is not relevant.) However, if the director rejects the offer, he must pay the same amount to the treasury but then pa[...]

Review: Love Letter: The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies:: 20X Reviews #87 - Love Letter: Hobbit Edition

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:46:30 +0000

by z10n x [BGCOLOR=#00CCFF]Check out a Geeklist containing all my other reviews here: 20X Reviews - A Geeklist [/BGCOLOR]Time to 20 Plays: 1 Year, 10 MonthsHow to Play: Love Letter: Hobbit Edition is a re-themed micro-game that takes the core gameplay of Love Letter and adds a few new elements to make it a bit more fresh. The rules are very simple: shuffle the cards and deal one to each player. The cards are numbered 0-8, and each one has a specific ability clearly marked on it. On your turn, draw one card and play one of the two cards in your hand. Do what the played card states when you play it. For example, the Smaug card (#1) allows you to guess another player’s card. If you’re correct, that player is out of the round. You can win a round by being the last player left, or you can win by having the highest numbered card once the deck runs out.I've played it so much because:1. It’s nearly a perfect micro-game. Micro-games should be pocket-sized, portable, easy to teach, have a small footprint, and play quickly. Every edition of Love Letter meets these criteria (besides the Premium Edition). You can knock out a single round in 30 seconds or a full game in ~10 minutes, and the deck fits in your pocket.2. It offers a nice variation on regular Love Letter. Some of the other iterations of Love Letter (Batman, Santa, etc.) keep the exact same numbers and player powers. Hobbit Edition actually adds several twists, like The One Ring (#0), which has no ability except that it counts as a 7 if the game comes down to the last card (in which the highest card wins). Additionally, the #3 cards (Legolas and Tauriel) have two different powers: one knocks out the player with the higher card, and one knocks out the card with the lower power. Original Love Letter only contained the latter.3. The re-theming is pretty effective. Love Letter has long since proven that you can paste almost any theme onto it. However, I love the cinematic artwork and the gem tokens they included with this game. I’m not sure if I prefer it or Batman Edition aesthetically, but they’re both great.I'd play it more if:1. There were more meat to the game. I’d still love to see an advanced variant or something similar, just because I’ve played the various editions of Love Letter so many times. They should never change the core gameplay because it’s so tight and simple, but additional play modes would be welcome for my game groups.2. The #1 card weren’t nerfed in this version. Smaug (#1) allows[...]

Review: Valeria: Card Kingdoms:: Cardboard Clash Review for Two - Valeria: Card Kingdoms

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:10:07 +0000

by dtwiley Thank you for checking review #48 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.**Note: A copy of the game was provided in exchange for an honest review. The below opinions remain our own based upon our impressions and reactions to the game.This review was originally posted at: Overview of Valeria: Card KingdomsValeria: Card Kingdoms is a game designed by Isaias Vallejo and was published by Daily Magic Games. The box states that it can play 1-4 players and has a 30-45 minute play time and a BGG weight rating of 1.95.The land of Valeria is under siege by hordes of monsters. You and your fellow Dukes must recruit citizens and buy domains to build up your kingdoms and slay the foul creatures that lurk in the surrounding lands.Valeria: Card Kingdoms is a tableau-building game for 1-5 players and will feel familiar to deck-building fans. The cards you buy can work for you on your turn and on all the other player turns, as well. On your turn, roll two dice and activate citizen cards with the result of each individual die and the sum of both dice. Other players will simultaneously activate their citizen cards based on the roll. Next, take two actions from the following: slay a monster, recruit a citizen, buy a domain, or take 1 of any resource. The player with the most victory points at the end wins the game.Setup and gameplay for 2 PlayersTo set up the game, players create a row of 5 Monster stacks, two rows of 5 Citizen stacks each, and a row of 5 Domain stacks. This forms the center supply, and when a number of stacks equal to 2x the number of players are empty (exhausted), that will be the likely trigger for the end of the game.Each player receives 2 Duke cards and selects 1 to keep. These cards provide end game scoring and should be kept secret. Each player also receives a starting Peasant and a starting Knight card.The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round follows the same pattern: Roll Phase – The Active Player rolls two dice. Harvest Phase – The dice activate citizen cards wit[...]

Review: Tiny Epic Galaxies:: Everything Board Games Tiny Epic Galaxies and Tiny Epic Galaxies: Beyond the Black Review

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:09:56 +0000

by Dt92stang Quick Look:Designer: Scott AlmesArtist: William Bricker and Benjamin ShulmanPublisher: Gamelyn GamesYear Published: 2015 (Beyond the Black, 2017)No. of Players: 1-5Ages: 14+Playing Time: 30-60 minutesReview:Coming from such a small box, Tiny Epic Galaxies and its expansion, Beyond the Black, packs a huge punch in gameplay. There are lots of decisions to make and dice to roll (without having to rely entirely on random chance), and the rules are quick to teach and easy to understand. Beyond the Black is a solid expansion for Tiny Epic Galaxies, and combined, the two make a wonderful game for players of both lighter and heavier preferences.This review discusses both Tiny Epic Galaxies (base game) and its expansion, Beyond the Black. The base game will be discussed first, followed by Beyond the Black, as knowing more about the Tiny Epic Galaxies will be beneficial in learning about Beyond the Black.Tiny Epic GalaxiesRules and Setup:Setup:Setup for Tiny Epic Galaxies is pretty straightforward (I’ll discuss the Beyond the Black expansion in a bit), which means less time trying to remember how to get started and more time playing. Each player takes a Galaxy Mat in their color, along with the corresponding ships and culture, energy, and empire tokens.Each Galaxy Mat starts with two ships in the galaxy, and two more on that card’s ship track (placed on the 3 and 4 that are outlined with a box). The two ships in the galaxy are the players’ starting ships. The other ships will become available as the game progresses. Each player starts the game with 1 culture and 2 energy. The empire token (the star) is placed on the star icon on the empire track. Increasing your empire’s level gives more ships, dice, and points. See the image below for how a completed Galaxy Mat setup looks like.Shuffle the planet cards and draw two more than the number of players (only 6 cards for a 5-player game), laying them out in the center of the table. These are the planets you will try and colonize. Place the Control Mat and Action Dice in an easily accessible spot on the table. Next, shuffle the Secret Mission Cards and deal two to each player. Each player keeps one and discards the other, face down, so nobody can see it. These secret missions are kept secret, and award bonus points at the end of the game if the mission’s condition has been met.Rules:While the rules are pretty easy to grasp, there are quite a few symbols t[...]

Review: Three Kingdoms Redux:: Three kingdoms, two designers, one game

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:03:42 +0000

by Ryaxs How I got itI've played a lot of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dynasty Warriors games so when I saw that this game existed, it got on my wishlist fast. When a friend made an order for boardgame from some online store I decided to chip in and order this. When it arrived I asked how much I owed him (he usually splits shipping costs based on how much you ordered), he told me "Happy Birthday!", so I got this game for free! Thanks a lot [user=Sanitee]Sanitee[/user]!Overview[From the rule book]Three Kingdoms Redux is a board game that seeks to recreate the tripartite between the states of Wei, Wu and Shu. You assume the role of one of the three lords – Cao Cao leading Cao Wei, Sun Jian leading Eastern Wu or Liu Bei leading Shu Han. Players start the game from asymmetrical positions, reflecting the manpower advantages Wei enjoyed in the early part of the period. The weaker states of Wu and Shu protect themselves by forming an alliance.As a feudal lord, you manage the different aspects of running a state whilst guarding your borders against both rebellious border tribes and external enemies. Managing each aspect well earns victory points for your state.But beware, for the balance of power shifts constantly during the game. Understand and take advantage of the power shifts, and you will fulfill your grand ambition of re-unifying China!Quick gameplay overviewIn this game you will mainly do these things :- Recruit generals (on setup and at the start of some turns) - Each generals have different stats and special skills- Select an action space with the Alliance token - The 3rd player in turn order is the one that place this token. On this space, both his generals and the ones from the 2nd player in turn order will work together against the 1st player.- Bid on action space using said generals- Resolve the action you won- Do some upkeep (feed/pay stationed army, feed people, move up/down the tribal relation track)- Repeat until turn 12 or one of the end game condition is metThis is a very raw description of the game, but each steps has its own subtleties to it. During recruiting, what kind of general will you recruit? Will you focus on its stats or its special ability?During the bidding on action space, where will you put the Alliance token? Will you overcommit to an action space to make sure you have it and allow your opponent to take more actions?There are a LOT of decisions [...]

Review: Table Battles:: Inner conflict at the Kitchen table; a single player review

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:03:26 +0000

by adam wilson I have been on a Hollandspeile binge recently, having played the excellent Argricola; Master of Britain. I passed on Charlemagne because I am a wimp, took one look at For-Ex, ignored the sage advice warning me of whats to come and printed it up. I also saw Table Battles and the thin blocks caught my eye. The cards looked ok but something about those blocks reminded me of the hours spent as a child moving army men around on a table or the floor. Simple and clean, low rules overhead and quick play-time sealed the deal.I will pnp any game that I can. I enjoy the process, even if my builds aren't as nice as a production copy. Table Battles is a fairly simple build but there are lots of cards. There isn't any bleed on the cards so there is little room for error when crafting them. I don't get weird about matching up card faces perfectly but if that kind of thing bothers you, go for the production version. I printed out the cards on plain copy paper and laminated them. I don't know if it's the lamination but it is difficult to tell the pink and red card bands apart. Again, I think this is a pnp issue, so if that scares you, buy the regular version like a normal person. For now I am using old risk blocks but I plan on making some nice longer blocks in the future.The rules are sparse and well written but I recommend watching a few how-to videos to get a better sense of how the game works. Set up time should only take a few minutes. I spent a few more minutes trying to figure out the "right" way to line the cards and blocks up before I realized orientation doesn't matter. My wonder increased when I started rolling and allocating dice. It's so simple a child could do it. I play most of my games solitaire and this one works well single player. There is no hidden information and most moves are telegraphed in advance. In spite of all the dice rolling there is a distinct puzzle-solving feel to the game. Correctly timing your attacks is more important than getting good dice rolls. I played several scenarios and each side won at least once over several games. The scenarios are scripted but there are several to choose from and there is an expansion.As far as historical simulation goes, I found myself forgetting the theme at times as I focused on the dice and blocks. There is a complete lack of game art or a map. That wasn't a draw back for me but I could see[...]

Review: Doctor Who: Exterminate! The Miniatures Game:: Geronimo!... (A Review)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:03:21 +0000

by RedMonkeyBoy This review, complete with pictures, is also available on my blog at AlwaysBoardNeverBoring. Stop by, if you have the time.Hey, everybody, I'm back! Did you miss me?Probably not. But I'm going to pretend you did, because it makes me feel better.Crikey, I've been busy. Arrival of child number two, combined with my wife having surgery, work commitments piling up, and my continuing efforts to get my YouTube channel off the ground have started to take a toll.It would be great to have a TARDIS, wouldn't it? Of course, I wouldn't use it for zipping around the universe saving planets. I'd just use it to squeeze a little more out of each day. You know... catch up on the ironing, finish an extra article for work, maybe paint a miniature or two. I'd invariably have to cross my own time stream, creating terrible paradoxes and probably destroying the universe in the process; but there isn't much I wouldn't do for an extra hour in bed on a Sunday.If I did have a TARDIS, I'd have written this review already. Weeks ago, actually. It wouldn't be old news. By the standards of the Internet, it would be ancient. Unfortunately, all I've got is a TARDIS made out of LEGO, and that's definitely not bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. I know. I checked.But that's all besides the point, because we're all here now... or then, if you're reading this in the future... which I suppose you must be, because I'm only just writing this now... which is then for you...Moving swiftly on..."Rule one: The Doctor lies."Before we begin; I know what you're thinking. Doctor Who is (some would say arguably, I would say undoubtedly) one of the most quotable shows on television. The problem with that is when it comes time to review a product relating to the Whoniverse, it becomes far too tempting to start dropping quotes. And that's always a bit cringey, isn't it? I'm not a fan of that kind of content, so I'm making a promise right here and now, I won't be using a ridiculous amount of catchy quotes and zingers within this review.I promise."First things first; but not necessarily in that order."Right. Here's the deal. Way back in the mists of time, when I was a wee lad, I loved Doctor Who. Due to my age, I started watching it towards the end of its first life, when Sylvester McCoy was at the helm of the TARDIS. Even then, I knew it was something spe[...]

Review: Human Era:: Human Era Thoughts

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 11:08:04 +0000

by SirHawkins Hey all,Well it has been a long while since writing a review. I have had so many games come into my life that it has been hard to sit down and play one enough times to give an honest review.Most recently I attended PAX East 2018 at the BCEC and had a fantastic time with friends who I hardly get to see enough of. Some of us get together weekly to play board games, while others are so busy we only get to see each other a few times a year. When we do all get together, it usually involves board games and a lot of them.Today I want to write about a game I played at PAX East and while it is not out as of yet, but can be pre-ordered online.Human Era will be out later this year and is a game of cooperation, deceit and deduction.  It was designed by Jake and Zach Given. The artistry is by Nick Nazzaro and published by Lay Waste Games. If this combination sound familiar, you would know that this is the same crew that worked and released the very popular game Dragoon. In that vein Human Era does not disappoint!The premise of the game goes as follows. The humans have finally been able to achieve their dream and create time travel. However, just like humans, we went and screwed it all up. There are Dinosaurs in the modern age and Cyborgs when the Neanderthals lived. It is the job of the team to go back and fix the anomalies.  Sounds easy, right? That is where the deceit comes in. When humans started messing up history, the machines want to take over and keep everything messed up, so they have taken up against the humans to keep anarchy in all Eras. At the same time cyborgs have also started their own uprising and want to set their own goals in motion. Oh... and another thing... the machine keeps malfunctioning and sending things to different Eras. Good luck humans!Sounds complicated? Let me break it down this way. The humans want to fix their mistakes. The Machines want to mess everything up. The Cyborgs want to keep it just chaotic enough to have fun.The game play is super easy and the game can take about 10 - 30 minutes depending how much laughing and arguing you have at the table. Human Era can handle about 4 - 10 players and like any party game the more people you have the better. As for the age, I would say if your child can play bluffing games, this one is pretty easy for them to pick up. While [...]

Review: Mystic Vale:: Why it's on My Shelf

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 11:08:03 +0000

by Redd85 Now, Mystic Vale was part of a Math Trade back in January 2016. I traded Specter Ops for Five Tribes (You already know how I feel about that one…. HAHAHAHAHA). See Five Tribes post for details. I traded TIME Stories with the Prophesy of Dragons and Marcy Case expansions for Le Havre. Terrible trade now that I look back at it. But hey, I was never going to play them again anyways. I basically traded $80~ for $50~. Then I didn’t even like Le Havre enough for its 2 hour play time, so I traded it for Dungeon Petz. Not the end of the world I suppose. Finally I traded Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card game for Mystic Vale. Oh this was a good math trade! Now, my first 3 plays of Mystic Vale I loved it, and my wife was like, “It’s okay”. Then it continued to grow on her, and I began to wane on it. For one, with the base material it lasts about 45 minutes which is getting close to my deckbuilding time limit, even though it does have a push your luck element added. And the game just started to feel kind of samey to me. The art and theme were not my favorite in the base set as well, which led me to want to play other games instead. But then, I took a chance and bought Vale of the Wild. And BOOOOMMMM!!!!!!! This one was back in the running. I’ll get back to that in a minute. First let me tell you what is cool about the base game.Basically, you have an interesting spin on a deckbuilder that allows for you to continue drawing from your deck on your turn with the possibility of you busting. You get to put up to three different cards in one sleeve which allows for unique decisions versus regular deckbuilders. And this is where the crux of the game sits. In a regular deck builder, you buy a card and put it in your discard pile. In this one, you not only have to make that decision, but you have to add it to a particular card. This allows for you to put together great combos within one card, or develop cards that you hope combo well with others. Finally, you get to purchase another set of cards that aren’t part of your deck, but can give you ongoing abilities or end game victory points. All this is done in a game that has a pool of 23 victory points for 2 players. That means it has a similar countdown to Race for the Galaxy. I got no complaints for Mystic Vale, but aft[...]

Review: Saber & Blood:: Saber & Blood. XVII’th centurys settlements in the eastern borderlands. Rewiev

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 17:43:58 +0000

by Thorkiel Wildbret Game informationSaber & BloodPublisher: Kazrak StudioAge: due to the subject matter, 15 years +Number of players: 2 - possible 3-4-person versionGame times: from 30 minutes"The Anno Domini 1665, border of the Polish-Lithuanian Union was set on fire, there have nothing left but ruins of villages and towns. The air was full of the smell of war, human misery and burning debris. Old people said that ghosts has returned to their former abodes, and the hungry wolves has begun to prowl the villages. Some said that the witches, emboldened by the overwhelming evil, has begun preparations for the Sabbat. Bandits, groups of Cossacks, and ordinary cutthroids mercilessly robbed and murdered unfortunates who were so unwise to travel these dangerous times. Only those who did not part with the saber at their, the gun at the belt and the prayer, had a chance to survive. Strange times were - lawlessness, bribes, and at the same time full of honor and desire adventures ... Those who had the courage to venture on this damned land, they were looking for either fun, or revenge, or redemption."Saber & Blood is a quite interesting project, which has a chance to appear on the tables, if you only have will to support it on the Kickstarter platform.It is some kind of asymmetric game of Kazrak Studio publishing, amazingly atmospheric, with a rather unusual subject - a tavern brawls. It involves performing actions, by playing cards and using dice. One of the players impersonates Polish noblemen , the other impersonates a shaggy Cossacs.Elements of the game.I received a copy of BETA from the publishing house, so I do not know yet how the box will exactly look like, but judging by the graphics on the cards and board, it would have be amazingly climatic.The manual already has a target appearance, although the one you will have in your copies will be colorful, but this is not the most important. It has been written very carefully with examples. The rules have been described according to pattern: each phase is described separately, along with a detailed description of the cards and dice, then describe the rules about how to move on it, as well as rules on fighting. The next part describes key words, Characters and faction abilities, which are slightly differen[...]

Review: Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment:: Presenting a Dissenting Opinion

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 16:09:22 +0000

by gallaghertm

I read a good chunk of the reviews for this game/experience and have noticed that quite a few people enjoyed the game. Here is my family's dissenting opinion.

This is a review of the Mattel version. If the main difference with the original Kickstarter is just component quality then I can't see that helping. In an actual escape room, your team begins scouring the room for objects, opening them, examining them, etc. In other escape room home games, the rules clearly block you from seeing/solving things out of order. Exit uses the symbols for each puzzle and Unlock! uses the summation of two cards. In this game, we opened the box and starting examining the items. We quickly discovered an item inside another obvious item and the pencil just tumbled out of the pencil. These two things made the first batch of paper puzzles completely unnecessary. Also:

[o]The printing on the periodic table of elements that is only visible under black light was ridiculously small and hard to read. I suspect our copy of the game had been sitting around for a while because the UV light didn't see too strong.[/o]

Overall, not a very stellar package of puzzles and materials. I cannot recommend this over the Unlock! series or the Exit series.

Review: Myth:: MYTH - A Retrospect

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 16:08:09 +0000

by nimmzwei IntroductionOver the years, I always wanted to do a review about MYTH, but the task to actually sit down and write about the game, that has taken up most of my gaming time over the last 4 years, seemed (and still seems) daunting. The reasons for that are manifold, but probably the most important ones are my personal relationship and emotional investment in MYTH and what the game has meant / become for me since I first played it at Spiel 2013.In order to tackle this very special quest of mine, I've decided to treat this thread / review more like a blog, adding new sections as I find time and focus. It is probably also a good idea to issue a warning at this point: This review will be a very personal, subjective piece of work. I want to be upfront about that and enoucrage you as a reader to take what I write here with a grain of salt - especially if you're looking for advice to buy into MYTH or not. There are plenty of reviews here on the geek and the sheer spectrum of opinions and the passion present in many of them can probably tell you more about MYTH and what kind of game it is, than I'll ever be able to.Who is nimmzwei?To allow you a better perspective on my opinions about MYTH, I will try to give you a rough overview of my gaming and MYTH history:My gaming historyMy gaming life started with D&D first Edition at the age of 8 and - needless to say - it never left me. I'm an RPG-player at heart, but time and opportunity to enjoy this hobby are scarce now and so I fall into the group of gamers which I call "Dungeon Hunters"... people chasing after that perfect sense of adventure, when weekends seemed like an eternity and the most important decisions in life were centered around D20 rolls.A few years later, a friend introduced me to a game called "Magic: The Gathering" and it instantly became my second, big gameing obsession. Even now, decades after I sold all my cards, I get that "itch" sometimes to build a "Zombie Deck" or unleash the "12/12 Dreadnought" on my unsuspecting opponent.About 10 years ago, I started to develop a serious interest for boardgames and went from avid player to collector. With the advent of Kickstarter a whole new world of wonder opened up and I started to back g[...]

Review: Mike Force:: Go Tell the Spartans: A Review of Mike Force

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 15:35:05 +0000

by clarkcramer About ten years ago, I read a book entitled “SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam,” by John L. Plaster. I found the book absolutely fascinating, as it covered a side of the war that is simply not covered in other histories. Major Plaster told stories of mixed teams of American special forces and locals (mostly Nung tribesmen) carrying out missions that ranged from the thinkable albeit harrowing, such as reconnoitering the Ho Chi Minh trail (yes, in Laos, although you didn’t hear it from me), to the unthinkable, such as planting forged documents suggesting political unreliability of high ranking North Vietnamese, smuggling in large caches of counterfeit money to cause dramatic inflation in the North, to (my favorite) Project Elder Brother, which involved planting booby trapped ammunition, supposedly of Chinese manufacture, in supply dumps on the Ho Chi Minh trail, to sow distrust among communist allies. I will say that again: small teams of men infiltrated the Ho Chi Minh trail to plant booby trapped ammunition in North Vietnamese supply dumps. I would call this frankly unbelievable, except that I believe it.Being a gamer, while I was reading this book, I couldn’t help but try and envision a war-game that would capture the amazing nature of these adventures, and the way they impacted the war as a whole. I abandoned the project eventually, because I felt that the unconventional nature didn’t lend itself to a traditional board war game. Fortunately for gamers, designers with more vision than me have begun to examine the role of unconventional warfare units in more detail (see the special ops detachments in GMT’s Next War Series, or, and more to the point, the way Project Delta is handled in Silver Bayonet). One such effort is Mike Force, the issue game in Modern War Magazine #35.Mike Force is a purpose designed solitaire game putting the player in charge of “Free World” special operations forces trying to prevent communist infiltration of South Vietnam. The game, designed by Joseph Miranda, has a single 24x32 inch map, 176 5/8 inch counters, and 16 pages of rules. Players must supply a six sided die. In a fashion similar t[...]

Review: Battle Sheep:: Easygoing family game

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:58:04 +0000

by raglor

Perfect family game for us, exciting for the six year old right up to the great-grandparents. Easy to setup, really attractive board and sheep tokens and a good competitive, strategic game for all to enjoy.

During the first phase, the players create the board using their allocated board pieces which means the game is different every time we play.

Then we stack up our sheep and off we go! The rules are simple; move any number of your sheep in a straight line as far as you can go before you reach another token or the edge of the board. But you must leave one token behind. Try to place all of your sheep tokens, or risk being "blocked in" by another player and "losing" a sheep.

It's a good "one last game" before bedtime for our kids on a Friday or Saturday night and a great Sunday afternoon with the extended family game too.

Easily recommended 6+, maybe even younger if you've got a particularly switched on kid.

Review: Sakura:: Paint by Fumblers (an iSlaytheDragon review)

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:41:47 +0000

by Goatcabin It is time for the emperor’s annual trip through the garden, and you are determined this year to paint the best portrait of him. Of course, this will mean a small invasion of his personal space, but if he doesn’t know, it won’t hurt.Unfortunately, your fellow painters are clumsy oafs with clomping feet and are sure to alert the emperor to your presence. But with a little skill (and possibly a few nudges and pushes), you are convinced that your portrait will be the best this year. As long as you aren’t too disgraced in the process.How It WorksSakura is a simultaneous action selection/hand management game for two to six players. Players are painters who want to be close to the emperor when he smells the cherry blossoms but not so close as to cause their own disgrace. The player with the most points after the emperor stops three times is the winner.Sakura set up for four players.To begin, players place the game board within reach, and each player receives a painter and the five starting points of a color. The cards are shuffled, and each player receives a starting hand of five. The game begins.Each round, players will secretly and simultaneously choose one of their hand cards to play. Each card has an initiative number, a garden action, and a player action. Once all players have chosen a card, cards are revealed, and they activate in initiative order. When a card activates, the garden action happens first. The garden action usually moves the emperor either forward or backward, although it can also move the player closest to the emperor or the player farthest away. Then the player action happens, which moves the player forward or backward a set number of spaces or moves the player based on the board state. Once all cards have been activated, the cards are discarded, and players receive new cards. A new round begins.Play stops whenever the emperor first reaches one of the three scoring spaces. The card that moved the emperor onto that spot is fully carried out (including the player action), and any remaining cards played that round are discarded. Points are awarded to players based on their position r[...]

Review: Shifty Eyed Spies:: Shifty Eyed Spies: How to Stare into the Souls of your Friends

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:41:30 +0000

by RPG1989 For a quick review, skip to the last paragraph.I bought this game on a whim (like I seem to do with most games lately), and this was a pleasant surprise! If you're like me and you're looking to get away from the drab that consists of the "Apples to Apples" or "Cards Against Humanity" structure of group/party games, then this is a fun addition to your repertoire. Very easy to learn, cringe-worthy at first attempt, but great fun each time after. Gameplay/Set Up: I will preface this by saying a bigger table or game space is better (isn't it usually though?). There aren't many components to this game, but it includes 4 small locations which you and your party will need to optically indicate throughout. This means that if the buildings are closer together in any way, there can be some miscues on which location your co-spy is attempting to meet you. Outside of this component, the set up is a standard draw/discard center combined with a 5-sided cardboard avatar for each player that participates. Very simple. Each player's avatar is represented in the game by the cards that you draw. You also have a 2nd draw pile which is the 4 locations aforementioned. You have two different responsibilities during gameplay, which is allocated by each of the draw cards. The avatar you draw is the spy that you have to get the attention of. This is done simply by winking at them (while they're paying attention of coarse). The other task you have is the location. If someone winks in your direction to notify you that they've drawn your avatar, you need to somehow indicate that you're currently at the location that you picked up from pile #2. In the entire game you will only have 2 cards total: avatar card, which is the spy you're currently trying to get the attention of, and a location card, which is your own responsibility to advertise your location when prompted by other spies who hold your avatar. These two cards cycle as you complete your winking and so on. This means you have two ongoing jobs during the game, which can be hard to monitor if you don't pay close enough attention to everyone. HOWEVER, th[...]

Review: Xia: Legends of a Drift System:: Tabletop Critic review of Xia

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:14:03 +0000

by Meat Muppet Tabletop Critic review - XiaI want to start out by saying I really dislike games like Talisman. I loved them when I was younger, so I understand the appeal. Now, I find the design elements to be dated and the game becomes a slog to see who is lucker. I also don’t look for a board game to tell a story. I am an active role-player and I find it a better outlet to be immersed.I’m an omni-gamer, but I usually favor towards euro games on the heavier side. I do like thematic style games, but only if the game itself has some substance.You would think I would hate Xia, but *spoiler* you’re wrong. I actually really like it. Overview:The best way to describe Xia is an open world space adventure where you decide how your ship and crew will make a name for themselves in the galaxy. You will do this by buying/selling goods, exploring the galaxy, completing missions, blowing your fellow players to bits, or just being really lucky. Almost like a Stefan Feld game, everything gives you points. How do you get somewhere? Roll the die and hope for the best. Want to perform a task? Roll a die and see what happens. See a trend.Don’t let the game mechanics discourage you. The game is bigger than the sum of its parts.Positive:#1 - The game is the perfect example of a sandbox game. There is no one correct path to play. You have the freedom to do multiple things in the game and all of them have an equal chance to succeed. It doesn’t steer you in any particular way to play. Want to play the game as a pick up and deliver? Sure. Want to start a galactic mining company and sell your goods for profit? Yep. Want to crush your opponents and see them driven before you? Damn you, but sure. Want to cruise the galaxy and see the sights? Zegema Beach is lovely this time of year and it gets you points too! The game does not steer or guide you on a preferred path. You figure it out each game you play.#2 - With the sandbox nature of the game, each session generates its own stories that you will remember and reminisce over in future games, or over drinks.#3 - You’re group will [...]

Review: Ulm:: Ulm - Review

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:13:48 +0000

by gschloesser Design by Gunter BurkhardtPublished by Huch & Friends2 - 4 Players, 1 1/2 - 2 hoursReview by Greg J. SchloesserNOTE: This review was first published on the Opinionated Gamers website.The German city of Ulm has many attractions, but quite likely its most famous landmark is its impressive cathedral.  Constructed in the 16th century, it became the social hub of the city and at one time boasted the tallest steeple in the world.  It remains an architectural gem to this day.Don't worry, however, as Ulm by Gunter Burkhardt is not another cathedral building game.  Rather, it is a game of gaining influence and prestige with the city's powerful guilds and patricians, hoping to rise to prominence and become one of the city's most renowned citizens.  To accomplish this, players must excel in various facets of the life of the city, including shipping, gaining influence with guilds, winning the favor of powerful citizens, and more.The extremely busy and cluttered board depicts eight districts of the city, separated by the Danube river.  Players may place influence shields into these districts to gain special favors as indicated in the districts.  Each district has limited space, however, and a player's boat must be adjacent to a district in order to place a seal there.  There are also spaces where players may gain additional influence (victory points) by placing their family crests.The northern section of the board houses the 3-D cardboard cathedral, which is mainly for aesthetic purposes.  It does, though, serve as a timer, as each round a new section of the tower is added, counting the passing of each round.  The most active section of the board is next to the actual cathedral and, appropriately enough, is known as the "cathedral" area.  It is comprised of a 3x3 grid of tiles, and manipulating these tiles will determine the actions a player may take on his turn.A player's turn consists of randomly drawing a tile from the bag, then pushing it into the cathedral grid from one of the 12 possible locations (3 tiles along each [...]

Review: Colourbrain:: Colour my brain and call me a rainbow - A Board, Deck & Dice Review

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:13:25 +0000

by NeddyF Big Potato Games are building a reputation for fun games that appeal to the gamer and mass markets. Whether it's taking a known game and bringing it to a wider audience, with The Gooseberry, becoming The Chameleon, working with 'celebs' for Dan & Phil's Truth Bombs, or putting out silly but fun fun fun games like Obama Llama, Big Potato know how to give us the tools to have a good time.In ColourBrain they turn they attention to a quiz with a difference, a quiz where you are given all the answers from the start.ColourBrainWeeeeeeeeelllllllll, that's not quite true. Up to four players or teams take 11 colour cards. These cards, or the combination of them are the answers to all the questions in the box. Helpfully for colour blind players the cards are not only the colour of the answer but also have the colour written on them. They also get a random card that has a number on it.At any point in the game you can play this card on another player or team to remove that many colour cards from their hand, as long as they are ahead of you on points.Also in the box is a bingo pen, score pad and lots of question cards. It has to be said the card quality isn't the best and the box, although not massive, is probably bigger than it needs to be. I sometimes thing that Big Potato could do with focusing more on the basic component quality than the extras like silly pens, but it is what it is.ColourPainPlaying the game is simple. A card is read out, without revealing the back of it. The question will be something as simple as 'The colour of the felt on a snooker table' which can be answered with one card, to something that takes more thought like 'The colours of Superman's suit' which takes more. Once everyone has chosen, answers are revealed. Any team that gets the answer right, scores a point for every team that got it wrong. First to 10 wins!The questions are a good mix of 'Oh that's obvious' to 'Wait this is definitely blue... or is it green. No it's blue... it might be red,' to 'I have no clue, does it even have co[...]

Review: Taco Party!:: Everything Board Games Taco Party Kickstarter Preview

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:12:50 +0000

by Dt92stang Quick Look:Designer: Matt BromleyArtist: Maria Alicia Balderrama, Matt BromleyPublisher: Wildbird GamesYear Published: 2018No. of Players: 2-6Ages: 12+Playing Time: 30-60 min.From the publisher:Taco Party! is a family-friendly game for 2-6 players and takes about 30-60 minutes to play. The goal is to make a taco then be the first to eat it. Perform a variety of dexterity and speed challenges with a handful of dice. Draw a card, dice ingredients and collect the necessary ingredients to make your taco. Then you must get rid of all your ingredients to win. Sounds easy but don’t flauta yourself. This game will test your physical ability, strategy, and luck. Plus, it just so happens that the other players will be jalapeno business. There will be steals, swaps, out-crunching, and messy food fights! Join the shellebration!WARNING: This is a preview of Taco Party! All components and rules are prototype and subject to change. Review:Dripping with salsa and cheese, Taco Party! is a family-friendly dice-and-card game that is full of flavor and a theme perfect for your next Taco Tuesday adventure. The rulebook is full of corn-y jokes that will keep you groaning as you teach your friends and family how to play.Components and Setup:Our preview copy of Taco Party! includes a set of 6 oversized taco character cards (Chalupacabra, Guaczilla, and other mashed-up names), a deck of action cards, 6 colored dice, and 30 chunky, angled wooden pieces in matching colors to represent the 6 ingredients: beef, chicken, fish, salsa, cheese, and avocado.Set up is quick and easy - put all the wooden ingredient pieces in the middle of the table to make the Platter, give everyone a taco character, and shuffle the action cards and deal each player one to start.Game Play and Mechanics:Taco Party! is an interesting mix of hand management, dice rolling, and party activities. On your turn, you have the option of playing a card from your hand to use its action, then you'll draw a new card and roll dice to [...]

Review: Morels: Foray:: Morels (Foray) and me.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:12:37 +0000

by wi1ky Morels: Foray a review.Hello there, you don't know me but write a Click blog (sometimes) in which I mostly write about games I play with my wife and sometimes about what life throws at me/us. Let me tell you a story about a boy meeting an box of cards and whittled sticks. I discovered the original Morels way back in 2013, it is to date the only game I bought from the US through Game Salute. When the 29 May 2018 rolls around that means that we will be playing Morels for 5 years. Last year [user=bpovis][/user] Kickstarted an expansion to the excellent Morels titled Morels: Foray. What follows are my thoughts on what the game means to us and what the expansion has added to the game over the last few months.Firstly I will mention that Morels: Foray adds the ability for Morels to be played with 3 or 4 players, this I will not cover as we only play 2 player games and we have not tackled the 3 or 4 player game. So this review will focus on the new cards added to the game. I will mention each card in order and give you my thoughts on these. This review will presume that all readers know and have played the base game. What is different in the set up for Morels: Foray is that each player receives an extra basket (removed from the day deck) bringing their hand limit to 10 for the expansion game. Also the Chanterelle night card is removed and the Lion’s Mane night card is added to the night deck. There are now also new cards to be added to the day deck, is using the new Panther’s Cap then remove 2 Destroying Angels and add these, if also using the Thief cards remove the other 2 Destroying Angels. You also remove a moon card from the day deck and add another Chanterelle day card and 4 Lion’s Mane cards to the day deck, now you are ready to play. The new cards added to the game which modify how you play the game are as follows:Rainstorm: this adds a second forest of 8 cards; this forest does not refill and decays to the same decay as the main forest. We h[...]

Review: Stuffed Fables:: Ronny reviews... Stuffed Fables

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 06:00:07 +0000

by ronjake11 Hey everyone, I'm Ronny from Co-op Board Games. You can also see this review here, which includes pictures of the game.GAMEPLAYAfter choosing one of the seven stories to play and picking your stuffies, you’ll read the intro to that story and then move to the first map. Each map will have multiple icons on it, including the stuffies’ starting location, enemy spawn points, special points of interest, and even places where you could run into some ‘lost’ toys. The page to the right of each map will give you story text, special setup instructions, and rules for that scenario.Each stuffy has one ability that they can use throughout the game, and they also have three “earned” abilities. Heart tokens, which you gain at random points during the game, can activate the earned abilities.Players will take turns performing actions and then the enemies could activate. On your turn you’ll draw five dice out of the bag and take actions based on the colors you have. You’ll first roll any white dice you to attempt to “find stuffing,” which is how you heal up in this game. You’ll place any black dice on the threat track, which could make the enemies activate at the end of your turn.All of the other dice can be used for movement, but most of them also have other special uses. Red dice can be used for melee attacks, green for ranged attacked, yellow to search for useful items, and purple dice are wilds that can be used in place of any color. You can also reserve a die on someone’s character sheet (including your own) for later use or even discard a die to give another character one of your stuffing. Items that you have can often give you bonuses for specific dice or they can allow you to reroll some dice.If you choose to attack an enemy, you’ll roll the appropriate dice and you’ll be hoping to meet or exceed the enemy’s health total. If you defeat the enemy, you’ll remove it from the board and gain a button[...]

Review: Shakespeare:: A Nice Game, Very Poorly Skinned

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 21:39:19 +0000

by Jvandereck I bought Shakespeare (based on strong reviews) to play as a diversion with my girlfriend, who is a theater pro. We're both well versed in the Bard's writings, and have acted in, staged, and watched many of his shows. Needless to say, we were very disappointed with this game from the first play, and have struggled to bring it to the table since.Shakespeare is a heavy Euro game about managing and juggling a range of simultaneous priorities to amass hard-to-come-by points. You hire actors and costume designers and so forth, while overseeing set-design and costume creation. On a technical level, it's a tight, well designed game... although the rulebook could assuredly have been clearer.Where Shakespeare breaks down is when it strives to bring about a genuine sense of theater, let alone Shakespearean theater. Because the costumes you make are just numbered tiles. The sets you construct are drab, colored squares, and the game includes none of the mishaps or core issues of a dramatic production. Where is the actor prima donna event? The ego clash? The communication breakdown between director and set designer? Moreover, when building sets and costumes, one should be building sets and costumes, laying out tiles with some sort of colorful and amusing representation of a set or a costume. A genuine "Shakespeare" game would be colorful and amusing, with random and surprising twists and turns. So... you fell behind on costume design, so you have a wardrobe malfunction mid performance, draw a card to see how it resolves. Were your actor selections sufficiently professional to ad lib the mishap as part of the show? Was it an embarrassment that drew an audience laugh and the show went on? Or did the peanut gallery commence flinging dung? Obviously, none of this is in the game...All of which is to say that while Shakespeare is a well-crafted game on a technical level, it completely faceplants as a game ab[...]

Review: Race for the Galaxy:: Race for the Galaxy exploded in the hangar

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 21:35:14 +0000

by tbrofromspace When you’ve got board game fever in the way that I do, you need to set up some serious guardrails to keep your collection from exploding out into full on hordelandia. Race for the Galaxy is a good game (possibly even great), and one I really enjoyed. Here’s why I traded it in.I mostly play games with my partner. When I’m browsing around on the Geek, I try to find and play games that are great with two people (according to the crowd). My rule is that if we both aren’t gelling with a game, it goes back to the trade in pile, especially if its a two-player game. I also religiously track my plays on here so I have a good idea of what I play and what I don’t. When I was reading the rules for the game, I got super excited, mainly because it has all these ways to utilize a simple deck of cards. Cards use as both resources, planets, and actions is an inspired bit of design, and I’ve yet to find another game that replicates this feature quite as well. I love reading rules, often more than I love playing games. Learning iconography is a fascinating exercise for me, and RFTG has a whole bunch to learn. This is really cool, and really exciting. But, even though we played it several times, my partner had difficulty keeping the language of the game inside her head. I did too, until I absorbed it all. But I think there’s something about this game, and others like it that is not particularly user-friendly. It has a design aesthetic, but not one that is welcoming or easy to understand at a glance. I would make a comparison to 7 Wonders and 7 Wonders Duel in that when you don’t play this game for a week or two, and then come back to it, you have to go back and re-familiarize yourself with symbols that are not intuitive by my measure. I think what it comes down to is if I’m willing to pay the cost of entry. In order to enjoy this game, you have to be willing to[...]

Review: Capital Lux:: The Capital Calls, How will you answer? With Math!

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 17:21:32 +0000

by sardonic wolf The Capital Calls, how will you answer? Is it with Math or Math? Capital lux is a hand management game for 2 – 4 players, that’s brutal, has you playing on a knife edge, where every decision feels meaningful and thematic. The Capital awaits.Capital Lux, is a game of careful hand management, bluffing, card drafting and area control. The game is incredibly simple to play but challenges you to balance the status quo of the Capital and growing your hometown.The game is played over three rounds, at the start of each round players are dealt a hand of profession cards, whereby careful card drafting allows you to create the foundations of your hometown. At each part of the draft you keep two cards and then pass the others around the table, as cards move around the table you’ll be able to keep four, but not necessarily the two you originally kept. Maybe the new hand offers a better foundation or allows you to answer the capitals call. You’ll then pass the remainder on, creating a hand of cards for each player. Although not as punishing as the drafting from 7 Wonders, the ability to exchange cards part way through a draft phase allow you to alter your plans as you see more cards at the table. Then the round begins, on your turn, your actions choice is to play a card, that’s it. But it’s where you play your cards that allow for skilful play. Each card you play in your hometown will score points at the end of the game, while cards played into the capital (the centre of the table) will provide you with the opportunity to use that profession special ability. Will you play a merchant, allowing you to take 1 gold Coin, meaning that at the end of a round you can ‘bribe’ the capital to increase your own limit for one of the professions. Or maybe you’ll hire agents, drawing you a secret modifier card that will affect the limit of th[...]

Review: Thunderbirds:: Thunderbirds - For fans and non-fans alike (with a couple of caveats)

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 17:21:14 +0000

by dravvin Review originally posted here.Publisher: Modiphius Entertainment# Players: 1-4 playersPlaytime: 45 minsThoughts:I’m going to be upfront and say that I’m not a Thunderbirds fan – my hubby, Stu is but I never liked it as a child and having recently watched it I still don’t enjoy it. In fact Stu is such a fan he went 'all in' on the Kickstarter, including the RPG even though we don't (yet) play RPGs. He even sourced a companion magazine to go with the game, just in case we wanted to look up the backstory behind the Disaster cards!That said, you don’t have to be a Thunderbirds fan to like the game, you just may be more forgiving if you are.When we first played Thunderbirds after receiving it as a Kickstarter backer, we played just the base game. And it was an okay game but overall it was a real disappointment – we were hoping for so much more; we love Pandemic, Forbidden Island and other Matt Leacock games and my hubby really wanted to like it because of Thunderbirds but it wasn’t an instant hit. Something was missing. The game felt flat (particularly for me), feeling like we weren’t really achieving anything. And the metal tokens? As lovely and tactile as they are, they are a bit hard to differentiate at a glance.We also felt that it didn’t work very well with just 2-players (assuming you play with 1 character each), which is our normal player count. Basically, 1 person needs to cover space (and the space ones are hard so you really need to be John or Alan every game as you’re not going to get much ground support), and the other person tries, as best they can, to cover rescues on planet Earth. Being totally honest, I don’t find the space missions much fun. You either spend your whole turn attempting (and usually failing) a rescue or moving to another one and getting one attempt at a rescue. T[...]

Review: Lost Cities: To Go:: Lost Cities: To Go (Game Review by Chris Wray)

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 17:20:47 +0000

by chriswray84 Designer: Reiner KniziaPublisher: KosmosPlayers: 2Ages: 8 and UpTime: 20 MinutesTimes Played: > 5 Lost Cities: Abenteuer To Go (a.k.a. Lost Cities: To Go) is the latest game in the award-winning Lost Cities/Keltis line of games. Released last month in the German market, Lost Cities: To Go is a mix between the original Lost Cities and Keltis: Der Weg der Steine Mitbringspiel. My family has several Lost Cities/Keltis fanatics, so I was excited to import the latest spinoff. We’ve been playing this quite a bit, and we’re already big fans. In fact, this might eventually replace Lost Cities for us.A Brief History of Lost Cities & KeltisBack in 1999, famed designer Reiner Knizia released Lost Cities, a 2-player card game that went on to win the inaugural two-player International Gamers Award in 2000 and sell more than 180,000 copies. Several years after Lost Cities was released, Knizia designed an offshoot called Lost Cities: The Board Game, which was picked up in the United States by Rio Grande. German publisher Kosmos wanted a more abstracted game than LC:TBG, and to accommodate that request, Knizia designed the game known today as Keltis, which is distributed throughout most of the rest of the world. Keltis would go on to win the 2008 Spiel des Jahres and sell more than 600,000 copies. Keltis itself spawned numerous other games, including another card game (Keltis: Das Kartenspiel), a dice game (Keltis: Das Würfelspiel), and a travel game (Keltis: Der Weg der Steine Mitbringspiel), plus expansions. If you’re looking for an overview of the series, I highly recommend Luke Hedgren’s article “The Evolution (Intelligent Design?) of Keltis", which you can find on The Opinionated Gamers via Google. Recently, Lost Cities: The Board Game made its way to the German market[...]

Review: Moongha Invaders Two Player:: An uphill battle for the Humans...Moongha Invaders Two Player

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 15:54:30 +0000

by KingArv I think the premise says it all with Moongha Invaders Two Player: The A Team is already dead, Monsters and Aliens are rampaging through the city, and The B Team is all that’s left to stop them...sorry humanity!Moongha Invaders Two Players, if you don’t know, is a stand-alone game contained within Martin Wallace’s Moongha Invaders: Mad Scientists & Atomic Monsters attack the Earth! That was released when Martin Wallace took his I believe first ever foray into the frustrating world of Kickstarter. The project took much longer than anticipated with problems coming from the plastic miniatures Martin Wallace is not known for. Let’s just say the production quality went up 100% from normal cardboard and wooden pieces (regardless, I love his games!).The playing field is basically a symetrical city with buildings scattered. Unknown weapons are hidden throughout the field of battle as the human heroes (Joe, Arnie, Billy, Skull and Jade) find themselves scattered in the streets. The Monsters are scattered too, but in typical world ending scenario fashion there are 7 of them: Kiddoo, Shaggoo, The Bloob, Spectoor, Drakoor, Moogre and Mechoor.So, for the humans to win they have to defeat the three biggest monsters: The Bloob (all 3 parts of him), Moogre Mechoor. The monsters win if they destroy all 12 buildings or defeat all 5 heroes.Doesn’t sound that hard right? Think again! The Bloob can only be attacked with area effect weapons, and they are limited. The Bloob is, well, a blob, if you didn’t pick up on that, and will absorb any hero foolish enough to run at it with an axe. Only a few weapons, including dynamite, flame throwers, rocket launchers and good old-fashioned air strikes work against him. Most of these are relegated to equipment counters scattered [...]

Review: Cat Rescue:: Cat Rescue - Preview from the Giant Brain

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 15:51:09 +0000

by ihmcallister This review is based on a preview copy provided by its creator for the Board Game Exposure group I am a reviewer for. The game is currently on Kickstarter and you can see opinions of the same game from other members on this facebook group.First things first. I'm a dog person. I have two dogs, Maddie and Gypsy and I love them to bits. I have no animosity towards cats, I just prefer dogs. That being said, I've had lots of nice times playing with cats and patting them and in Cat Rescue I get to make sure those kitties have a home to look after them. I'm sure my cat friends would be glad to know my brother and I did quite well rescuing cats first time out, but before we get to our feline rescuing heroics, let's have a look at the game itself.Good things in small packagesWhen I agreed to take on Cat Rescue for review I have to admit I didn't have high hopes for it. A small, very small, game in a little bag ala Love Letter. I hadn't even clicked what kind of game it is. Inside the velveteen bag are a few counters, though a couple had gone missing in transit (now found) but don't worry they are not really essential, and a bunch of cards representing some future feline friends.Essentially what you have in this little bag is a rather neat coop puzzle. Your aim, being the benevolent cat loving people you are, it's ok I won't judge you, is to rescue as many kitties as you can from the shelter, the central area of play. Starting with 4 kitties in a square in the middle of a 4x4 grid, the tokens are for marking the corners of this area, you will bring new kitties to the shelter in the hopes of some of them eventually being adopted.How do kitties get adopted? Glad you asked. In this particular shelter what you need to do is get your cats [...]

Review: Memoir '44:: Why it's on My Shelf

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 14:40:14 +0000

by Redd85 Now this isn’t the first time we have talked about the Command and Colors series. BattleLore 2 was discussed first due to its alphabetical word makeup. That said, go back and review that one if you want to know a bit about how I feel about this style of game.But concerning Memoir ’44, this was one of my first purchases back in 2015. I can’t remember what enticed me for this one, but I know Sam Healey was pretty big on it, and still is, and it was very high on his top 100 list. So that probably had a big part of it. I don’t think I was putting two and two together about my wife liking realistic themes just yet, but I could be wrong. But just know that Memoir ’44 came to my shelf early in my modern gaming career, and I found it to be pretty good. Really, the worst part of Memoir ’44 is the setup time, which isn’t terrible, but the game is only 30-45 minutes, so for setup time to be 15 minutes is getting up there proportionally. Setup is tedious, but it is also fun to build the terrain as well, so it is not a total loss. When you’re done you can appreciate your creation.This brings us to one of Memoir ‘44’s strengths, which is the historical aspect. Every scenario is a real historical battle, and they have a decent size summary of what the situation was when the current conflict began. Now I don’t spend any amount of substantial time studying military history, but any time I can learn something about anything historical I am always up for it, especially when I can do it while having fun! And when I get the chance to watch the occasional documentary or even a show like Band of Brothers, I am all about it. So the theme definitely makes this one better for me. The production is just fine s[...]

Review: The Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Wrench:: Wrench, the Broken Kobold

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 14:36:57 +0000

by Jvandereck

I have played my fair share of Red Dragon Inn. I have reveled in the base game characters, fought my way into accepting the various expansions, dealt with subtle imbalances and frustrations with the characters, and overall, had a good time with the game. I played my first game with Wrench this evening, and... I feel a bit perturbed.

Wrench is different from Lizwick, and Gog, and Wizgille... Unlike other character special abilities that add complexity and randomness to the gameplay, Wrench gets to do lots of stuff that is just plain good. Wrench is a kobold who makes contraptions that do stuff over continuous rounds--stuff like hurting other characters or absorbing booze or stealing money--with no negative consequences. He doesn't store cards like Lizwick or add additional random effects like Wizgille. He isn't just lopsidedly strong like Gog. He actually gets to do more stuff per turn than other characters. Admittedly, he gets this ability at the expense of having fewer out-of-turn cards to use to counter what other characters can do, but once he gets ramped up and going, he is simply more effective, efficient, and powerful than any other character I have seen. Sure, he can be beaten if players gang up on him, but that's not balance!

Wrench isn't the only Red Dragon Inn character that feels imbalanced, but he's the first one I've experienced that seems wholly insurmountable in simple one-on-one interaction, as inevitably happens when a game winds down. I would love to hear how other players have interacted with his cards and whether anyone disagrees with my perception and why.

Review: Rogue State:: Rogue State: a review

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 07:50:40 +0000

by omega_player ROGUE STATE is a solitaire Print ‘n’ Play game designed by Mike Mollineaux. Depending on the player’s ‘survival skills’, the duration of the game may be approx. 30 to 90 minutes (I trust the designer on this, I haven’t timed it).The player acts as the supreme leader of the state of North Korea, making sure the regime lives on and prospers from 1953 to 2030. ReviewArtwork and ComponentsThe graphic design of the board is clear, functional, and looks good too. A grey background accentuated with red, yellow, khaki and light blue areas succeeds in conveying the ideological and militaristic spirit of the game. The main four areas on the board represent the four pillars of the regime: the National pride, the Military strength, the Industrial development, and the Nuclear power. To successfully run the economy means that the state will be autonomous and self-sufficient, and Kim Il-sung’s Juche philosophy will find its embodiment in your wise handling. The board also features the turn summary and board reset guidelines, as well as a diagram that helps calculate the effect of your financial investments.Each of the three seasons (1953-1974), (1981-2002), (2009-2030) is complimented by a deck of event cards. The components required to play are: 1 D10, 6 D6s, 38 cubes, and 2 small chits.Rules and SetupThe rules are extremely clear and concise. The player, however, will need to constantly consult them for his/her first game. Considering that each turn is divided into 12 phases, one needs to ‘go by the book’ in order to be sure what to do every time. I admit that at first glance the gameplay seemed to me somewhat daunting, and I approached it f[...]

Review: No Escape:: The Purge: # 1645 No Escape: A run to the wildside and the only escape pod

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:53:23 +0000

by william4192 Please check out my other reviews at: No Escape is a game that plays up to 8 and it feels like a party when you are playing. I call a game like this a party game as you are laughing and having a good time throughout and it plays a good number of players. The idea of the game is there is one escape pod and you have to beat everyone else to it.The game is easy to learn and easy to play. You play a tile(s) and then roll and move. The mechanics are simple. Nothing complicated here. The game play is the meta game of blocking your opponents, making short term or long term alliances, and all the while running for that exit. You have a few decisions in the game: where to add tiles, who to block, who to help (on this turn!) and where to run to. This isn't intended to be a deep strategic Euro game. Instead, you get a light game that will have you smiling, laughing, and plotting while sitting across from people trying to do the same thing. This is a really fun experience and one that not every game can give you. It is a brilliant design to give people a simple rule set but allowing for tough decisions. That is a hard thing to accomplish.I would recommend playing this with more people instead of less. I think it really shines with the chaos of a full 8 with everyone running in different directions. Without a doubt, there is a bash the leader mentality, but with one tile laid that leader could easily change. Excellent! I like this game and I will keep this game for quite a while. I love the party game feel without being paper thin. Keeper. Components: I [...]

Review: Witches of the Revolution:: Singlehandedly... Save the Revolution!

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:53:08 +0000

by strieeyes This is a copy of a blog post, originally posted on April 10, 2018, from my blog that can be found, along with accompanying pictures at: review copy of Witches of the Revolution was provided by Atlas Games.  I would like to thank Atlas Games for supporting my blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are my own.I teach kids for a living, and in all the grades that I have taught, from time to time, we discuss the American Revolution.  It's kind of a big deal, and we usually go into great depth when discussing it.  It's a great story, a rag tag group of inexperienced soldiers takes on the biggest and baddest military in the world, and wins!  We all know the basics, right?  Wrong!  Recently I learned something about the Revolution that I never knew before, a great secret the textbooks and our Founding Fathers didn't want anyone to know... the balance was tipped in our favor... by witches!In Witches of the Revolution, designed by M. Craig Stockwell, and published by Atlas Games, you take on the role of a leader of one of these covens, helping this rag tag group overcome the tyranny that suppresses it, leading the way to eventual freedom.  To do so there will be many obstacles that you must overcome, in the form of an event deck.  Acquire too many events at one time or run out of time (events), and you will be overwhelmed, falling to the enemy!  The balance between liberty and tyranny must also be closely watched, for it you fall too far into the grasp of tyranny, the revolution is lost!  All is not bleak, your coven [...]

Review: Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares:: Everything Board Games Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares Review

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:52:40 +0000

by Dt92stang Quick Look:Designer: Shannon KellyArtists: Stephanie Gustafsson, Tyler Johnson, William WebbPublisher: Renegade Game StudiosYear Published: 2018No. of Players: 1-4Ages: 14+Playing Time: 20-30 minutesReview:tl;dr: Press-your-luck game with gorgeous dice, set in the land of nightmares and dreams. Fail to dream well enough, and you turn into a Nightmare - which is arguably more fun.Getting to the Game: Each player takes a Dreamer card and a glass bead. Each of the four Nightmare cards are set in the middle of the table, and all 80 (20 each of the four colors) dream dice are mixed into the felt bag. Setup is now complete. Lucidity is a pretty straightforward exercise in press-your-luck. The goal of the game is to fill your power track to 15 first. Each of the four dice/dream types has varying sides, and each type will also contribute different Shadow types towards your descent into madness. As you draw dice out of the bag on your turn, you will have the option to put two of them that you don't like back into the bag, but the longer the game goes, the more you're on the edge of losing your mind. You can stop whenever you want after you resolve a roll, but winning the game hinges on making some risky night moves.Playing the Game: When your turn begins, you choose one of the three options on the sleep track. This choice will dictate your first pull out of the bag, including three, four, or five dice. Whenever you pull multiple dice out of the bag, you return two of them. You then roll the remainder and place the results on the proper tracks on your card, resolving them one at[...]

Review: Smile:: Smile Review: Turn that frown upside down!

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:51:28 +0000

by Skombie Ever notice how the meanest games have the nicest names? Smile, Nothing Personal, Dead Last. OK maybe not Dead Last, but you get my point. Smile, is a new implementation of the hit game No Thanks! Which when played with a group adults quickly turns into a game of F**K You! It’s a 3-5 player, reverse auction game, designed by Michael Schacht and published by Z-Man games.How to PlayTo set up Smile: give everyone six fireflies (glass beads) and then shuffle the monster deck, placing as many monster cards as there are players, face up in a row on the table. These monster cards have point values and should always be sorted from lowest to highest. These cards will be called the offer.At the start, and throughout the game, if there are no fireflies on a card, then the player whose turn it is has no choice but to put one of their fireflies on the lowest card of the offer. Otherwise, if there are fireflies already on a card, then their choice is limited to either picking up the card – and all associated fireflies or adding a firefly to the card.The exception to this rule is if players need to add a firefly to a card, but don’t have any. Then they grab a firefly from the supply, and take a blue tear drop. Which counts as negative one point, at the end of the game.After a player picks up a card, they can no longer contribute to the round, and must wait until the offer is depleted before re-joining when the next offer is revealed. Also, if there are two cards left in the offer, then the last card immediately goes to the player who didn’t pick up t[...]

Review: Freedom: The Underground Railroad:: UMCR reviews Freedom! The Underground Railroad

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:49:51 +0000

by toothpickman I discovered Freedom! Watching some board game reviews online, and immediately was drawn to the theme and history integrated into the game. It wasn’t readily available, so I moved on to other games. After playing and thoroughly enjoying 1960 The Making of the President by GMT games largely because of the theme integration and flavor text, I remembered Freedom! So, I started doing my research and found a copy for trade on BGG nearby. A trade wasn’t going to happen, and the price was a little higher than I wanted, but then the kicker came that the upgraded catcher pieces would be included. I received the game, but the seller forgot the upgraded components. After considerable time he stated they had been lost in the mail and stated it wasn't his problem. While this was a negative experience, I must say it is my first negative experience after many positive ones buying used games through BGG and from BGG users. Unfortunately, I cannot review the wooden slave catcher pieces, but here are my thoughts on the rest of the game.ComponentsThe components are all of very good quality and have a nice look together on the table.-The Box conveys the sense and theme of the game. The art work is superior and gripping. The box is also an appropriate size for the contents which is also appreciated.-The Instruction Manual is easy to understand and includes a good number of illustrations that help to explain the game. It is relatively easy to learn and understand the game from the manual, this said I still recommend watc[...]

Review: Mouse Trap:: Turn the Crank

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:48:33 +0000

by Alixian

When you're 8 years old and have yet to develop a taste for board games this game seems to be amazing, and as an adult this is one time where nostalgia really is the best option.

The original game of Mouse Trap was, for a kid, an amazing game. Multiple kids in my school at the time loved the game because as you went around the board you go to build this huge contraption for the sole point of trying to catch your opponents's mice. However as you grow older you kind of grow out of this style of game.

The game over the years has seen numerous reinventions of itself; why bother reinventing the wheel because the newer versions are garbage. My daughter has owned 2 of them and compared to the original they are [insert expletive here]. They really don't stand up to the original, which to be honest isn't the greatest, it's only selling point is that it allows you for a brief moment to act out your Rude Goldberg fantasies

Play it with your children or grandchildren, just for nostalgia reasons

Review: Macao:: A New Review of an Oldish Game and maybe Felds Best?

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:20:48 +0000

by benme Macao existed as a grail game for me for a while. When I got into the board gaming hobby after playing Pandemic and Catan it was Feld who I first got most excited about.Castles of Burgundy was the first of his I played and my wife and I loved it. I then went on to acquire a good number of his games and loved them all. Even now I have played many more games by many more designers he remains my second favorite (after Knizia) game designer.When I started going to gaming groups Macao was a game I got to play once and I absolutely loved it. It was so full of tension, interesting choices and mechanics. Had it been in print or easy to get hold of I would have rushed and got a copy but it hasn't so it remained in my wishlist and I have bid on numerous copies of the game. I even once "bought" it through a Facebook group but the copy never turned up and I had to sort out a refund. One of my mates has a copy but its one of the few games in regular circulation with his wife so he is not overly keen on playing it in other situations.Recently Macao has been added to Yucata so I can play it whenever I want. There have also been rumblings that a new edition is on its way this year or next. Hopefully that will happen. So Macao has gone from a game played once and loved several year ago to a game I actually have played enough and recently enough to merit a review.Now onto the review...Macao is known for its innovative Wind Rose mechanic and this mechanic is excellent. Si[...]

Review: Sylvion:: Solo Review: Sylvion

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:20:38 +0000

by BeyondSolitaire To read a fully formatted version of this review, click here: see a complete catalogue of my solo board game reviews and videos, click here: is this game about? Sylvion is an Oniverse game designed by Shadi Torbey, which means it's set in the same universe as Onirim, Castellion, and Nautilion. Mechanically, however, Sylvion is its own game. In Sylvion, you command an army of forest creatures fighting to protect their home from a raging fire. As you mount your defense, several different cards come in to help you. Various animals will perform actions on your behalf. For example, whales allow you to reposition the fire elementals approaching your tree line, while elephants can spray water with their trunks and destroy oncoming blazes. Fountains act as your front line of defense, attempting to cool and hopefully even eliminate the flames. Trees don't do much during the fire itself, but you need them to pay for action cards—one of the game's most interesting mechanics is that you pay card costs by discarding other cards from your hand—and eventually to renew your home when there is nothing left but smoke and ashes. Your "forest" is represented by cards that create the boundaries of your play area and that act as your HP throughout the game. Every time a fire breaches your defenses and hits your treeline, you flip one ove[...]

Review: Hungry Hungry Hippos:: Memories

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:19:31 +0000

by Alixian

To every kid below the age of 8 this game is amazing, and what's not to like?

The game itself has very little rules, incredibly easy to learn, and incredibly fast paced. Which if you're a young child is an ideal game as the attention span of a child is relatively short.

There isn't much to say about this fast paced, four player game other than that the goal of the game is to collect the most marbles. That is essentially it.

It's a short game that really only needs a short review simply due to the fact that as a game it is simple

If you have a copy, keep it for nostalgia reasons. If you don't then get one, introduce your kids to the "stupid" games of you generation

In all honesty I'd rather play this than Doggy Doo Doo or Pig Goes Pop

Review: Visitor in Blackwood Grove:: A fun Game with Definite Flaws

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 19:26:32 +0000

by brotherjohn2002 This was fun for sure but def seemed to have some problems. We found that it was too easy for the Agents to take a guess after one time around the table. Idk if this is bad Visitor play or what but it is worth noting. In general if you flip 4 cards the odds seem to be that two or even three of them are obviously outside of the shield. And then it is taking an educated guess on the other two.The Rules are also written very poorly and we had to make several calls that just aren't covered. As an example there is a trust track that has a bunch of abilities for the kid on it...BUT...the only mention we could find of said track was that it existed. No clarifications on the abilities themselves. Which led to a couple of judgement calls.Lastly...I am not sure who the right group for this is. It is very punishing to the Visitor if you have a bad pass rule. On top of that there are a lot of judgement calls to be made as we found most things were a fringe situation. (One example...the pass rule was "Things that can fit in a cup", the Visitor showed me a box of cereal and classified it as in the forcefield. To me that was a box of cereal...but to him that was cereal in general. And of course cereal can go in a cup. That one play made the game impossible to win for me as I was the Kid, and the trust was high enough the card was shown face down to me only.) It is also really really hard t[...]

Review: Acquire:: An hour ‘acquired’ for this game is worth it.

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 19:05:54 +0000

by Septaron Yeah, it’s a corny title and that isn’t quite the right use of the word. But I hope you’ll have a read of why I think it’s worth letting this gem of a game is worth your time.1) SIMPLE MAIN TURNSAs a classic game of buying and selling stock, they made some bold moves. Your turn consists of putting down a tile (to create a company, add value, or do nothing), buying up to 3 stock, and drawing a new tile. Other than those actions, the only other main thing that happens is when ACQUIRING happens.Having such simple turns gives players time to easily think about the game- and not remembering the rules as well as ensuring no one’s taking too long.2) ACQUIRING, THE 'CLIMACTIC' MOMENTS, INVOLVES EVERYONEWhen one company ACQUIRES another company (when a tile connects one company to another one it gets acquired with exceptions) A lot of stuff happens. I won’t go into all of it (selling, trading shares, etc). It’s not such a problem when so much happens because it usually involves everyone. Even if you don’t have any shares with the two companies involved, it usually shakes up the overall situation (for example, the company you thought was the largest might not be anymore) and you’re thinking about what to do. When everyone’s involved/invested in the climactic moments of a game, it’s done something right.3) LUCK IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACESThe luck c[...]