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Right around a year ago I played King's Forge at a game night and I thought it was decent. One of the thoughts that really stuck out to me is how much my wife would enjoy the game. Thanks to the kindness of a friend, she finally got to play it. So was I right that this game would forge a spot on our shelves?
In this game players compete to build the most objects for the king. At the beginning of the game these forged items are selected at random and then placed so that the easier ones will be completed first. At the beginning of the game the 11 gather cards that are going to be used are also selected. Four of these are fixed in each game, but the the other seven are random. Each player beings with five black dice.
The first phase is the gather phase. During this phase players will be taking gather cards. A few of these might give free benefits, but the vast majority of them require assigning dice for what ever benefit the card provides. Each gather card has a top and a bottom that feature different abilities. The majority of the actions revolve around getting new dice or different dice. In addition to the starting black dice there are red, green, and blue dice (plus a couple of other more specialized colors). Getting these other dice will be required for some of the crafted items. Some of the other benefits are ways to buff rolls in the second phase.
Some of the dice assigned to a gather card might be destroyed and returned to the supply. Once every player has passed the gather phase it move to the craft phase. During the craft phase all players roll their dice, and starting with the start player they can attempt to craft items. Each item will show the dice needed to build the item. The players need a die of the matching color with a number that meets or beats the one shown. If they can they build the card. However, it is not quite locked in. If a following player is able to match the dice and numbers, with at least one being higher, than they can steal.
Once every player has had an attempt to craft built items are locked in, The gather cards are re-set and the start player passes. This continues until the game ends and the player with the most crafted items wins the game.
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.
My Rating: 4 (like it)
My Thoughts: One of the things that really sticks out to me is how unique this game is. I do not think I have played anything like it before. I like how this game uses dice in unique ways. It also has a clever resource management mechanism because the dice I will use to craft are the same ones I have to take actions. This game is pretty enjoyable to play.
Her Rating: 5 (love it)
Her Thoughts: I love this game. It uses dice in a fun way, while still having the fun of rolling dice and hoping for the perfect roll. I like how the strategy of this game is easy to grasp. I can see what craft items are coming and plan accordingly. The game also offers very interesting decisions from turn to turn, and as I said rolling the dice and hoping for the best is a lot of fun.
Combined Rating: 9
This game was a real hit for us, and it is absolutely one we will be keeping. I feel like this game is a bit under the radar, but we both think it is worth checking out.
My son is six and he has (of course) grown up playing games. However, only in the past year or so has he gotten to a place where he can start to really understand play games by the rules. We are going to review games together from the perspective for how well these games work as a game for parents and children to play together.
Over the past year or so, Miles from Tomorrowland has become one of my son's favorite shows (though in the past four months I think it got knocked out of #1 by Star Wars Rebels). In January, Target began marking this game down, and when it was roughly 66% off we got it. We bought this solely because of themeing. Just based on the box cover, I had a decent idea how to play, and I as a little dubious of the potential component quality. So is this game blast-tastic or does it makes us saw "Aww, craters."?
In this game a precariously balanced ship board is set up in the middle of the table. Each player gets a set of plastic pieces of various shapes.
On a player's turn they will spin a spinner, and this will land on either a space that corresponds with one of the objects or a color. If it corresponds with the shape, and the player still has that shaped item they can place it anywhere on the ship. If they no longer have that piece, then their turn is over. If they roll a color, then they must put any of their object in that colored area of the ship. There are five different colored areas.
If when placing a piece, they cause pieces to fall then that player gets all of those pieces. The first player to run out of pieces to place wins.
Age Level Appropriateness
I think that early elementary is a good age for this game. Placing items on the ship requires a very soft touch, to the point that big adult hands can easily mess it up. My three year old does not have the manual dexterity or fineness to gently place things well. However, my son can do it very well.
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale. I am specifically rating the game for how well I think it works as a game for families. To get my son's rating I asked him two questions. First, I asked "is this game fun?" and he circled smiley faces that corresponded with No (1pt), kind of (2pts), and Yes (3pts). The second question was "Want to play again soon?" and he had to pick from "no" (0pts), "maybe" (1pt), and "yes" (2pts). By taking his answers and adding them together, we get a rough idea of where he falls on our point scale.
My Rating: 3
My Thoughts: This game is not terribly unique. There are several family level games that are all about balancing things. The components are actually not terrible, they are probably about right for a mass market game. However, I will be shocked if we still have all of the little plastic pieces in the box two years from now. My problem with the game is that it is overly punishing. If a lot gets balanced on the ship then it will eventually tip and spill it all. The player that has that happen, will get so many pieces that they are effectively out of the game. This is not fun for adults and has melt down creating potential in younger children.
His Rating: 5
His Thoughts: Connor finds the balancing really exciting. He said he does not mind when it tips on him because it is still funny, and it just means he has more pieces to balance. He also really likes that it is a Miles game.
Combined Rating: 8
My son likes the challenge of balancing enough that it is an engaging activity in its own right. He does not need the trappings of a game around this concept to engage him. I am glad that we did not pay full price for this. However, even if a year from now my son has left Miles far behind, we will get our value out of this game.
I recently realized that we never wrote our thoughts about this Dice Masters set that came out in September of last year. In the past six months two other Dice Masters sets have been released, and the next DC set, World’s Finest, is just now coming out. I realize that this makes this set a bit of ancient history, and most people who want it probably already have it. However, I did see in the latest round of sales Miniatures Market did have gravity feeds on sale. They did not sale out, so perhaps when a sale rolls around again someone might be looking for some thoughts. This set is focused completely on the Lantern Corps, but as G’nort proved not all Lanterns are awesome. So how well does this set shine?
What This Expansion Adds
I realize that technically this is not an expansion in the traditional sense. It is a stand alone game that just happens to integrate with other stand alone games of the same system. However, for all intents and purposes this is an expansion of a system we are already invested in. With that in mind there are two ways to look at the set, what it adds in general to the game and then how it integrates.
As mentioned this expansion is focused on the Lantern Corps, specifically focused on the highly regarded Brightest Day and Darkest Night storylines. This means that the whole spectrum of Lantern colors are represented. This makes it one of the most colorful sets. I never got to rainbow draft this set, but I imagine the Rainbow, when put in proper color combinations looked really nice.
All of these different colors bring a lot of new affiliations, and many of these affiliations are really meant to play together. The Blue Lanterns for instance create combos with Green Lanterns. The Purple Lanterns are made to play together. Several of the cards are also built around making a multi-lantern team.
This set also added a new concept to the game with continuous abilities. The Lantern ring and power battery are action dice that stay in the field, but unlike D&D equipment they do not have to be attached to anyone. As long as the card is in the field it’s ability is constant. This set also gives the DC version of Marvel Zombies with the Black Lanterns. All of the Black Lantern cards are powerful but have a bit of scorched earth feeling to them. They will hurt the opponent, but the player fielding a Black Lantern has to be willing to take the heat as well.
Integrating with other Dice Master Sets
By and large, I do not think this set integrates terribly well with other sets. The focus on the Lantern factions means that often the cards in this set require other cards in this set to find synergy. I also found it odd that a couple of cards focus on counteracting Black Lanterns. There are four of them, and they are all Super Rares. This means the odds of them showing up are low to begin with.
That being said, this set has a few stand out powerhouse cards. Guy Gardner: Blinding Rage is a meta-defining card as he can be the core of a weenie rush team. In the same way The Lantern Ring rare is a card that an entire team can be built around. This card deals direct damage based on the number of energy type in the reserve pool that matches an attacking character. Combining this card with Professor X’s global ability to load sidekicks into the prep area, and Iceman’s global to change them all to bolts can result in a lot of direct damage quickly. Finally, Mera’s global ability to reduce damage is also a stable defense that can be splashed into all kinds of teams.
In the same way many of the basic actions in this set are unremarkable, but there are a couple must gets as well. Big Entrance is required for a fast weenie rush (and necessary if one wants to use Guy Gardner). Vicious Struggle is a card that an entire deck can be built around, and I know there is an infinite combo that exist using this card.
Worth Getting the Expansion?
My Answer: Probably Not
There are two types of people who should get this expansion. The first are Lantern fans. I am a regular comic book reader, but not necessarily a Lantern book reader. This is the first Dice Master set where I ran into characters I have never heard of. If I do not know the character, then a more casual super hero person will be clueless. The second are people who just love to have a lot of dice master stuff to explore and have (guilty as charged!) For more casual players who do not need to have everything, then this set is on that can be skipped as a whole. If a player wants to make a team with some of the stand out cards, then they can be bought individually. The price of those cards will be less than a gravity feed.
Her Answer: No
This might be my overall least favorite dice master set. I have no idea who any of these characters are. I guess it is nice having new characters but when I am clueless the cards might as well just be random emojiis. I have been frustrated often when we have played just inset. I felt like the things I wanted to do never quite worked right. With a couple of exception like the Parralax super rare I do not see myself wanting to use many of these cards very often.
We have played with these cards quite a bit, and I do not regret getting them because I love Dice Masters and I am more of a DC fan than a Marvel fan. Personally, I think it is kind of odd this was the second DC set. World’s finest which focuses on Batman and Superman would have been a smarter choice. If you do not already have this set, then we think it is one worth skipping unless the deal is just to good to pass up.
In the past several years my top games list went to 30, but this year I expanded it to 50. The first part of my favorite games can be found here.
There were several game that moved around, and several new games showed up here. However, I was also surprised with just how many games stayed in the same spot. I think this shows that my feelings about games might be solidifying. I have a lot of fun making this list each year. This is the second half and it contains my current top 30 games. As always, the game is in descending order for dramatic effect.
30.Washington's War (Same)
I suppose technically this is a war game, but it is also so much more than that. It is really neat how this captures the feel of the American Revolution, but it is not an exact simulation. I have played this game multiple times on both sides. It is asymmetrical and both sides are very engaging to play.
As previously mentioned I used a method where I picked one game at random and compared that game to see if I liked the other games more or less than it. This did really help get the games in an order, and I was a little surprised that this one ended up so high. My wife especially likes this game. We have several tableau building games on our list, but this this is more than just building a tableau. It has a strong hand management aspect, a lot of strategy to board placement-including area control, and it is possible to create some neat combos in the tableau. This is one of our 10 x 10 games, so it will be getting a lot of play this year.
28. Havana (Same)
I feel like this is a very under the radar game. It has some similarities to Citadels, except each player has access to the same roles and they have two out at a time. Each turn only one of the roles are changing. This creates a lot of trying to get in the head of the opponent and trying to anticipate their move. With four players it can be chaotic, but with two this is a wonderful game.
27. Discworld: Ankh-Morpork (New!)
In previous years this was another game that made my short list but never made the top 30. As mentioned in the last post to make the list this year I used a method where I took a random game and then compared it to every other game on my short list to see which game I liked more. Using the comparison method though caused this game to elevate. I really like how every turn offers great decisions, as I have to decide what card to play to further my objectives. I also like how everyone has a secret objective. Most of them are the same, but you never quite know what the opponents might be playing for. Most of my plays have been with two, but I think it is best wit more.
26. King of Tokyo (same as 2014)
In 2014 this game was #26 on my list, but it fell off in 2015. However, in the past year I have played a lot of this game with teenagers. I also got the expansions which add a little bit more depth to this game. I also qualified for the Gen Con tournament, and there I learned there is more strategy to this game than I thought. This is the ultimate game of king of hill with giant monsters.
25. Homesteaders (same)
This game has one of the lowest play counts of all the games on my favorites game list. This game is best with three or four people, so it is hard to get played. However, I love the combination of mechanisms in this game. It has auctions, resource management, trading, worker placement, and tableau building. If I had the opportunity to play this game a little more I think it would probably be higher.
24. Zeppelin Attack! (New!)
This is another game that I feel is under the radar, and I feel like my wife and I are some of the biggest champions of this game. This is a very unique deck building game that stands apart from other deck builders. I also love the steampunk/pulp theme, which is really brought out by the artwork.
23. Hammer of the Scots (Same)
This game entered my list in 2013 and it has not moved much. I love the Columbia block system, and if I got to play them regularly I would get more of them. Since I can not justify catching them all, this one is my representative game for that system. It helps that I find the Scottish theme to be very enticing and engaging. Like Washington’s war I have played both sides multiple times and I think it is a lot of fun either way.
22. Berserk: War of the Realms (-7)
This is yet another game that I think is under the radar (promise this is the last time I say this). This is a CCG style game, but it is radically different than every other game in that genre. I really love how this game begins with building an army out of cards from the deck. I like how the combos have more to do with how the cards are on the board. This game does have a bit of a downside in that sometimes the game is over before it begins just because of the cards that came out. I like this game so much that I even got a second copy so I can do some deckbuilding.
21. Roll for the Galaxy (-4)
I like this game. I think the dice management is fun. There is an engaging challenge in building an efficiency engine, and it is fun to guess what other players are going to do. Despite liking this game, I have a problem with it. Namely, I much prefer Race for the Galaxy, and I would probably prefer to play with the cards over the dice.
20. Glen More (+2)
It was a bit of a surprise to see this game move up, but it should not be. This is one of the more unique games that we have. When I look over this list, I realize that I tend to like games that have a spatial element. I really like in this game how the placement of a tile matters and can set up some very powerful scoring. I also think this game has some extremely unique scoring.
19. Empires of the Void (+2)
This game entered my favorite games list in 2013 at #19. It climbed up and the dropped down. This is my 4X game of choice. It is so much fun, the last turn always has some crazy moves and epic battles. The added bonus is that the game can be played in 3 hours or less. Sadly, my wife does not care much for this game so it only gets played occasionally.
18. Mysterium (New)
This is my favorite co-op game. I love that this game is all about trying to figure out how other people think. I find playing this game to be a fascinating experience, and even though I have played it enough times that I really need an infusion of new cards I still enjoy it. I am really looking forward to the expansion.
17. Suburbia (-1)
I have played several different takes on the “city building” game at this point, and this one is still the best. It has the mechanism of creating combos from how things are placed in relation to other things. This game has a ton of replayability as every time the city is different. Most of all I like thi game because it does feel so much like Sim City the Board Game.
16. Coup/Coup: Rebellion G54 (+4)
I suppose technically these are different games, but G54 is a direct sequel to Coup. I even have a copy of Coup in the G54 box to use as a teaching game before switching the roles up. I have played a lot of Coup, so adding G54 was much needed. Being able to change out the roles and having different combinations adds a ton of life to this game. This added variety to the rules system really upped my excitement for playing the game.
15. Bruges (-1)
This game fits with the theme of me really liking games where cards have multiple uses. What is nice about Bruges is it takes that mechanism out of card game territory and puts it in a full board game with euro-game trappings. This game has a nice mixture of strategy and tactics as well. The fact that everything produces points in this game helps take out the sting when something goes less than ideal.
14. Alchemists (New!)
I really like how this took a logic puzzle and then built a game around it. This truly is a euro game with a logic puzzle heart. I find it a blast to play, because even if I lose I feel like a winner if I solve the puzzle. The app integration also works wonderfully. Every play of this game has been engaging and immensely satisfying.
13. Thunder Alley (-2)
This is my favorite racing game. I really love the concept of players controlling a team of cars. This game is a blast with more players, and I appreciate that an added player count does not dramatically increase the game length. I have not gotten it, but I am very interested in the expansion because it contains a track that seems to be inspired by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
12. A Study in Emerald (second edition) (New!)
Last year when I played it a couple of times I was absolutely blown away by how amazing the first edition of Study in Emerald is. However, the huge price tag ensured I would not get it. I jumped on getting the second edition and I do not regret it. The first edition is probably the better game. It has more nuance, more depth, and more theme. However, the second edition is the one that I will get played. The streamlined rules also make it easier to get into and provide a shorter play time. I love the theme. I love the area control/deck building mix. I love the secret teams, and I love the unique scoring. I really love this game, and after a year of more plays I can easily see it going higher.
11. Small World (-1)
Since I made my first favorite games list in 2009, this is the first time that Small World has not been in the top ten. This is a game I keep coming back to because the variable races and players are so much fun. Every game is a new treat to see what gets created this time. If my wife enjoyed this game more I would totally get the the Realms expansion so that I could play with different map configurations.
10. Core Worlds(-2)
This is my favorite deck building game still. I like space games, and I like how this game captures the feel of building a space empire within the confines of a deck building game. I know the game eats up table space, and it can be a little long for what it is, but playing this game is always a very fun journey towards the core worlds.
9. Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game (Same)
If you look back to the first half of this list, Elfball was my #49 game. I mentioned I love the idea of a fantasy football, and that clearly plays into this game. It captures the feel without the tactical detail. It simulates a season in an hour or less. I find that I thoroughly enjoy myself every time I play this game. I have both expansions, and I hope someday they release a good guy expansion with High elves, Lizardmen, and Brentonians.
8. A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game(-1)
This game is a love it or hate it type of game it seems, and I am clearly on the side that loves it. We have everything for this game, so the set up can take awhile. When this is combined with the long play time, it means it only comes out once or twice a year. However, it is a grand adventure every time.
7. Star Wars: Imperial Assault (+5)
This is the only new game to break into my top 100 this year. In the past year I have watched a lot of the Star Wars Clone Wars and Rebels. While the spaceship combat has always been a big draw, most of the conflict in that game takes place on the ground. This game does a great job at delivering that kind of conflict. I find the campaign to be an engaging Star Wars story, but I am also fascinated by the skirmish mode. It is so good. I like the customization, and the game just inspires little “pew pew” noises. I am really hoping to play in an Imperial Assault tournament at some point his year.
6. Warhammer: Invasion (-1)
Last year for the entry of this game I typed: “I fear over the years this game will slowly diminish for me.” It looks like that might hold true. This is my most played game with 609 recorded plays, but I did not play it once in 2015. However, I did get several plays in at the beginning of this year and that helped remind me how much I enjoy this game. I have had it on my “to do” list to find some balanced casual decks so that this game can be a bit more accessible for others to join me. I should really get on that.
5. The Resistance/The Resistance: Avalon(+1)
After I first played this game it instantly jumped into my favorite games at the #5 spot. Since then it has fluctuated back and forth between the 5th and 6th spot. This year it is back at #5. I have played a lot of these kind of hidden role social deduction games, and this is still my favorite. The amount of information that enters into this game makes it possible to make deductions, but it is also possible for deception and social interaction to obfuscate that. This is a game that I never get tired of playing.
4. Race for the Galaxy (-1)
Speaking of games that I never tire of, this is a game that I have played over 250 times. This game is that we find so replayable. Every game is about finding a strategy in the middle of the game and then dealing with each tactically to find the best way to pursue that strategy or find another way to score points. We have all the expansions, and even if nothing else ever comes out for this game I think we could easily play this game more than another 250 times.
3. Memoir '44 (-1)
For three years I considered this my absolute favorite game. I still like it for all of the same reasons. I think the game system that uses cards and dice is a perfect combination of awesomeness. I love that the modular board and versatile scenarios create near infinite replayability. I love that the system is able to capture conflicts at different scales. I love that the game is flexible and works with two or with epic four on four team games. Playing a Memoir ‘44 campaign might be one of my most favorite ways to play any game ever. What is best about it, is that this is a game that my wife will consistently play with me.
2. Dice Masters (+2)
I really adore this game. This is a game I just do not want to stop playing. We just finished playing through a small tournament using themed teams, and that was a blast. Playing this game with a draft format is also incredible. I also appreciate that this can be approached like a more traditional CCG and be played at a high level full of killer combos. I can not get enough of this game, which is why it is one of my favorite games.
1. Federation Commander (Same)
There are 26 blogposts that this game has been tagged in, and 25 of them are mine. I love this game, and I talk about it whenever I can and I am ravenous to play it whenever I can. For me this is such a thematic game. This game truly does make me feel like I am in the captain's chair. Every scenario fits into the meticulously detailed universe and is part of the game’s collective history. A few years ago when I had to sale a bunch of Star Wars collectibles to make space for my daughter’s nursery, I used some of that money to buy everything for this game. This gives me hundreds of ship cards and counters. My wife insists that I will never play with them all. We will find out. Everytime I use a ship card for the first time I mark it with a star in sharpee. It might take a few years decades, but this will be one of my favorite games for probably ever, and I look forward to crossing off play with every ship off my bucket list.
This is my favorite blog post to make every year. This is my eighth time to go through and list out what my favorite games are. I started in 2009 with a top ten list. It then expanded to a top 20 and then top 30. For the past few years I have sought to keep the list so that it roughly reflect the top 5% of the games I have played. At this point I have played over 930 games, which is close enough to 1,000 that I felt like I could finally move to a top 50 list. Due to the size of the list, I am breaking it up over two posts.
The number the game lists how the position has changed from the last time I had it on a list. The number listed after the times played is how many times I have played the game since the last time I made the list. These are games 50 to 31 of my favorite games ever (at least for this year)
50. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1(New!)
I wonder how long this game will be on this list. I really enjoyed my experience of Pandemic Legacy, and we both really found it fun. There are very few experiences like this game. It is an unique narrative that is deeply engaging.
49. ElfBall (-38)
The last time this was on my favorite games list was in 2013, and after that it slipped out of my top 30. I do enjoy this game, but it does have flaws. I really love the idea of a tactical fantasy sports game. I know here are many to chose from, and I might possibly enjoy something like Blood Bowl or Chaos Ball more. However, this is the first one I played, and without having someone to even semi-regularly play these kind of games with it is hard to justify spending money on another one when I already have one I do enjoy.
48. Star Trek: Attack Wing (-29)
This took a big dive in my thoughts because I became a bit disillusioned with aspects of the game. One of the reasons why I got this game is because I was hoping it would be my next tournament game to play somewhat competitively. I got frustrated by the game’s balance issues and the fact that on more than one occasion I cleared a Saturday to play in an event only to get there and find it was canceled because wizkids never sent the kits. I do enjoy playing the scenarios of this game though, and it is a really neat combination of miniatures combat and CCG style combos. The biggest reason why this game is not higher is because if I am going to play a space combat game involving ships with nacelles there is a game higher on my favorites list I would rather play.
47. Catan Histories: Settlers of America – Trails to Rails (-20)
The last time this game appeared on my favorite game list was in the 27 spot in 2014. Incidentally, that was also the last time that I played this game. The Catan formula of rolling dice, collecting resources, and then trading for the resources that are really needed is a familiar one to most gamers. Of all the ways to experience a Catan game, this is probably my favorite. I like the feel of expanding out west, and the added wrinkle of delivering goods to other player’s cities elevates this game for me.
46. Saint Malo (New!)
In previous years if my list had expanded out beyond 30, then this game would have been somewhere on that list. This is an extremely unique dice game. It combines dice with efficiency which is not new. However, the neat bit is the efficiency is all about spatial relations. Players score their die rolls by drawing on their board and they maximize the placement in order to the most points.
45. Citadels (-19)
This game slipped out of my top 30 after 2013, but it is still one of my favorites. This is one of the first games we got, and it introduced me to how much I like hidden roles. It is fun to try and figure out what other people might be and who is who. Listening to podcasts like the Dice Tower this game still gets mentioned quite a bit despite being older, so that communicates to me there is truly something enduring about this game.
44. Lords of Vegas (New)
This is another game that always missed my top 30 games. I do enjoy this casino building game, but not quite as much as my wife. Like gambling, this game is a lot about managing luck. However, like actual gambling there are times when luck is a cruel mistress and really messes everything up. I also like this game with more than two players, which means it does not make it terribly often with just the two of us.
43. Kingdom of Solomon (-13)
This game was in the the #30 spot two years ago. One of the really helpful things to making an annual list is that it helps me see trends. One of the trends is that optimization euro games have been on a two year(ish) slide for me. I enjoy that this game is a potpourri of euro game mechanisms. Worker placement, resource management, area control, and building all mash together and it somehow works with a biblical theme to boot.
42. Bootleggers (-20)
I intentionally do not look at the previous lists before making my new one, which means sometimes abnormalities happen. In 2014 I said this was my 22nd favorite game, and then in 2015 it was out of the top 30. I think that this spot is about right for it. I really enjoy how the mobster vibe enfuses every element of this game. It is a lot of fun to play and the game draws people into the theme. The biggest downside is that it is really best with no less than four. That makes getting this game to the table brutally hard.
41. Yomi (-20)
This is yet another game that last made my list in 2014, only to not be in the top 30 in 2015. This is game that really benefits from repeated plays. For several years there was a youth at the church I was at who really enjoyed the game, but my plays have dropped a lot since we have moved. Since Yomi came out I have played a few games that try to capture the feel of a fighting video game, and I still believe that this game does it best. I know there is an app available. It is more than I want to pay, but I should really just get it.
40. Blood Rage (New)
This is the only game on the list that I do not own. I have played it multiple times though and I thoroughly enjoy it. I really like the card drafting, and I like how the clans develop their own unique powers and specialties based on how the player plays throughout the game. Despite enjoying this game, I am not sure if I will get it. The price tag is just too high, especially because I think my wife will only be so-so about it. I know the minis are great, but personally I would love a $40-50 version that replaced the plastic with cardboard. For me the gameplay is the appeal, so I would rather have it affordable over beautiful.
39. Two Rooms and a Boom(New)
I really like social deduction games. I really enjoy that this game works with large groups and has no player elimination. This game works best with more and using a lot of special roles. I especially like that the special roles create a game within a game.
38. Empire Builder Rail Games(-15)
At this point we have played six different crayon rail games. Admittedly, my wife likes these games more than I do. The downside to these games is that they are a little multiplayer solitaire, but it is really fun to watch a rail network expand and then run those rails with deliveries.
37. Fleet (New!)
This is another game that was on my short list last year but just did not make my top 30. My thoughts of this game have really gone up because the expansion greatly improves it. My wife and I both like card games where cards have multiple uses, which is the heart of fleet. The base game was good, but the economy was really tight. The expansion added a lot of variety and it also made the game a little more forgiving which helped a lot. Fleet on its own is good, but Fleet with Arctic bounty is great.
36. London (-12)
My thoughts on this game have not changed much in the past year. I enjoy the card play, and it is fun to run my city. However, the flow of the game, is kind of same-y. I think I would enjoy this game more if it was re-imagined to do away with the board and make it a straight card game.
35. Viceroy (New)
Again, we like it when cards have multiple uses. In this game I really like how the effect of the card changes based on where in the tower it is placed. I like that this game has a spatial element as well, since the way cards are placed in the tower can grant bonuses. Like Fleet the economy of his game is a little tight, but we still enjoy it. As a plus this game has some of the best artwork of any game we have.
34. Ninjato (-16)
This year in making this list I used what I have heard described as the Tom Vasel (of Dice Tower fame) method. I made my short list (of 71 games). I shuffled them up, picked one and then compared the rest to that game asking “do I like this game more or less than this one.” This created two piles and I just kept doing this. For whatever reason using this method caused this game to slide back. That is not to say it is bad though. This is one of my favorite euro games. The use of push your luck mechanisms adds a lot of excitement, and the game is very thematic.
33. Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game (-7)
Playing this game is just like playing a Zombie “B movie.” Just like B movies are not everyone’s cup of tea, not everyone will have fun with this one. I like it because I happen to like zombie movies, and this captures the theme so well. All of the expansions have added a lot of options to this game, but despite that it is still possible to have a play that falls flat due to bad luck.
32. Dominion (-20)
In 2011 I had this as my second favorite game ever. As recently as 2014 I still had this game in my top ten. However, this year it took a big drop, and it is my wife’s fault. For all intents and purposes she is just done with this game. Since the end of 2013 we have only played this game four times. I do like Dominion. I love the variety and I like the challenge of figuring out what the best strategy will be the best one when given a set of ten kingdom cards. However, the game just does not get played very much anymore which is kind of disappointing.
31. Glory to Rome(New)
For the past several years this game just missed making my top games list. Since for the past several years the list went to 30, it is fitting that this is #31. As previously mentioned (and will be mentioned again) we like it when cards have multiple uses. In this game every card has five uses. The game has a lot of combos. We have played this game many times, and I feel like we still see new interactions regularly.
We have too many games. There are some games that sit on the shelf unplayed for a while, sometimes years. We plan on playing every game we have not played for two years or more, and that one play will determine if the game stays or if it gets purged to make room for something else.
In 2012 this was game was making it's North American debut at Gen Con via Tasty Minstrel games. On Thursday morning I rushed to their booth to get a copy, and this was our big Gen Con purchase that year. The last time we played the game was at the very tail end of 2013 (as in we played it on December 31st). So is this a game that endures through the generations?
Brief Game Overview
Village is a Euro game where players will use workers and actions to get victory points. On a player's turn, they will take a resource cube (or a plague cube) and then they may take the associated action with that cube. There are a variety of actions. Some actions give points, others give resources, others are investments, and one allows goods to be sold for points. The idea is to use these actions in various ways to get points. One important resource in the game is time. Whenever a player's time track makes a "lap" then one of the player's workers dies. Depending where on the board they were placed when they died, they will go in the village chronicle if there is room. Meeples in the chronicle are worth points at the end of the game. If the chronicle is full, then the meeple goes to the graveyard. Once the chronicle or graveyard is full the game is over. There are multiple ways to get end game points, and the player with the most points wins.
What We Previously Thought
I thought the game had several engaging and deep mechanics. I especially found the concept of "killing off workers" to be unique. My wife thought the game offered too many disconnected choices and it was hard for her to zero in on a strategy.
My Verdict: Purge
My Rationale: This game is very clever. The mechanics all work wonderuflly, and there are some truly novel ideas. Playing the game is very engaging. . .the first couple of times. This game just does not hold up though. There are different strategies to explore, but it only takes a few plays to do that. I am not sure what makes some games feel timeless and others feel like they can be played out, but this is very much one that ends up in the played out camp. We could probably get a few more plays out of it, but our shelves are full and I am OK letting this one go.
Her Verdict: Purge
Her Rationale: It had been two years since we played this game, but it still felt very same-y and not in a good way. Playing this game was like watching a re-run of a TV show. It is an OK way to pass the time, but I feel like there is something more fun I could be doing.
We both agree this is not a bad game, it is just one that we are done with. I know this game has a couple of expansions, but I fear getting those will just inject a few more plays into the game before we feel the same way about it again.
I love Dice Masters and I like tournaments. Since the only organized play remotely close to me happens on the one day I can never make it, we are going to hold our own Dice Master tournament. We made eight themed themes and randomly organized them into a bracket. Each paring will be best two of three and we will switch back and forth so in each pairing we both play each team at least once. Which team will win the Too Many Games Dice Master Cup?
Justice League vs. X-Men
I started off playing the X-Men team and my wife took her much loved Justice League. Unfortunately, for the League I had about the perfect game. Turn #1 I rolled 3 masks, so I bought Beast and then used Professor X to move three sidekick dice to the prep area. On turn #2, I bought Wolverine, and moved enough sidekicks to ensure I rolled him on turn 3. On Turn 3, he rolled for on level 3 and I attacked for 12. On turn 4 I rolled Wolverine on level 3 used the relentless global to prevent attackers and won.
We switched teams, and my wife tried to rush with Wolverine as well. She did manage to use the Relentless global ability to swing through and hit with Wolverine on level 2. However, doing this killed her ramp and gave me some breathing room. I used that time to build up my wall. I got a Firestorm and began pinging away at her with his attacks. In response, she bought Stealth Ops, so I knew that I was on a timer. She did get a Namor through to do damage as well. Fortunately for me, I rolled my Green Lantern and attacked with 7 of my 8 Justice League members attacking. The direct damage combined with my character advantage gave the Justice League a narrow victory.
My wife wanted vengeance so we played the same teams. My wife was plagued with bad dice rolls. On turns three and four Wolverine rolled energy. By time Wolverine came out, I had a wall built up. My wife did manage to pay seven masks to use the Relentless global to get Wolverine through. However, she had very few characters out, so I also used the Relentless global ability and attacked for Lethal with the Justice League.
Going into this match up, I would have said that the X-Men was the favorite. The underdogs pulled it off, and I think that is great. When you include the Super Hero preferences of our kids, we are a DC household so it is good to see the Justice League get the cup.
This is my fourth year to make this list. I am closing in on close to 1,000 unique games played. Of those I have played approximately 340(ish) of them only one time. With all the games out there, and all the new games coming out it can be hard to get games played more than once.
I did not look at last year's list until I made this one. I was really happy that half of the games I put on the list last year were not eligible this year because they now have more than one play. Of all the games I have only played one time, these are the ten that I most want to play again. The list is in descending order for dramatic effect.
10. Ave Caesar
It has been a couple of years since I have played this game, and it made my list the past two years as well. What I remember liking about his game is how well it seemed to simulate the chariot race while still be extremely accessible. I do know someone who owns this game, so I suppose if I was a bit more vocal in my requests at game nights I could get it played again.
9. Star Wars: Star Warriors
This is one of a couple games on this list that my odds of playing again are much higher because I own it. This hex and counter take on Star Wars style starfighter combat is fantastic. It does have the trappings of a hex and counter game, complete with several tables to roll dice against. However, the mechanisms capture Star Wars really well. The defelector shields can be angled double front. Pilots can make a few maneuvers. Like Federation Commander, this is a game where the hexes fade away. When I play this game I can practically hear the Star Wars soundtrack playing.
8. Tammany Hall
This is the only game that has been on the list every time I have made it. I first played this game nearly three years ago, and I do not think I have really had a solid opportunity to play it since then. Since the play was so long ago, the details are starting to get a little fuzzy. I remember though having a really great time. I especially liked the social dynamic where people had to work together to stop one person from getting a majority in one area, while still trying to work their own angle. I have played several games of this style since 2013, so I am a little curious how this game will hold up.
7. Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game
This is one of the few Flying Frog games I do not own. When I got the chance to play it, the game was already a couple of years old. I really enjoyed it, but I played it at Gen Con and my gaming money went to shining new hotness. This has been on my "want" list for awhile but it consistently gets passed up for newer releases. I am not sure why though, because I had a lot of fun playing this game. I thought it had interesting mechanics that really captured the theme of being invading aliens trying to conquer earth.
I played this at Geekway to the West last year. However, I played it early in the morning after less than four hours of sleep. Also right in the middle of passing information part someone came on over the loud speaker and droned on. This made for a very sub-optimal play where I more or less messed it up for the whole group. I really liked the concept of this game though. I liked how it mixed memory and deduction with a story. The whispering aspect was a little gimmicky but it worked and made the game unique.
5. Lewis & Clark
Of all the games on the list this is the one that I am most positive will come off by next year because it has more than one play. This is another game that we own. A little under a year ago we played it for the first time in a flurry to play through all of our games before the Geekway to the West math trade. We both liked the game enough to keep it, but we both needed to play it again to get a better grasp of the game. We did not play the game in the following days, weeks, or eventually months. At this point I need to completely re-read the rules which is the main reason it has not been played again. We both liked how the game used euro-game mechanics in what was essentially a race.
4. Dark Moon
I really enjoy social deduction games. I especially liked this one because it was a game with a bit more depth to it than a game that finishes in 20 minutes or less. However, I appreciated that it was not a long drawn out game like Battlestar Galactica. There are copies floating around my game group. We tend to be a little cult of the new focused, but I hope late this year this game makes it back to the table.
3. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
I greatly enjoyed my one play of this game. I generally dislike co-op games, but this felt a lot less like a co-op and more like an adventure. I loved the open ended nature of it. I also like the mysteries in it. I know some people get frustrated at this game because it requires leaps of logic. The solution can not be solved by pure deductive reasoning. I liked that though. I liked that this game requires a little intuition. Since this game has limited replaybility it shows up in math trades, and getting a copy through trade this year will be a priority for me.
2. Terra Mystica
It has been over a year since I played this game but it sure does not feel that long. I can see why this is the third highest ranked game on BGG. It has extremely solid euro game mechanics where a clear strategy is needed, but that strategy has to be adaptable. Even though I only played once, I appreciate the game has multiple races. That means when I play it again the game will be a very new experience.
1. War of the Ring (second edition)
I have a friend who considers this his favorite game ever. For years he has said that this is game I will really enjoy. This past January I finally got to play it with him, and he was right. This is a remarkable game. I love that the mechanics and the theme work together perfectly. I wish there was a Star Wars game that captured the feel and essence of Star Wars as good as this captures The Lord of the Rings. Playing this game really feels like playing out the epic Fantasy story. What I love though is that it becomes my story. In the game we played, the Battle of Helm's Deep never happened, but a group of noble Elves were able to hold off an onslaught of dark forces. The game was an engaging conflict, a compelling narrative, and an all around engaging game.
I love Dice Masters and I like tournaments. Since the only organized play remotely close to me happens on the one day I can never make it, we are going to hold our own Dice Master tournament. We made eight themed themes and randomly organized them into a bracket. Each paring will be best two of three and we will switch back and forth so in each pairing we both play each team at least once. Which team will win the Too Many Games Dice Master Cup?
X-Men vs. Dungeons and Dragons Monsters
The X-Men team has one easy, go-to strategy which is use the Relentless global ability to let Wolverine in for massive damage. This is incredibly powerful, and has to be actively played against. This meant that the monster team had to get a lot of characters out to make it harder to get through. The problem is that the monsters are a team that build up to big hitters. It can be kind of quick to get there, but it still takes a few turns.
I started off with the monster team and my wife played the X-Men. By turn three Wolverine hit me for 9. From that point, I was able to get sidekicks out and make it hard to spend masks to prevent my people from defending. This meant my wife went to the back up plan and bought the Stealth Ops basic action. I used the Potion to slow her down by several turns, and I began to chip away at her defense. However, she was able to draw and do Stealth ops two more times which was enough to take me out.
We switched sides, but both tried the same tactics. My wife was able to wall up really quickly. So I moved to trying her stealth ops strategy. However, bad dice luck struck and I was hard pressed to get Wolverine and the action to roll the right side at the same time. I did it once for a lot of damage, but I needed it to go through again.
At the same time, my wife was able to get a Balor fairly quickly. The brought in an Orcus, and then Orcus got them on the field together both at level 2. I managed to used Cloud Kill to wiper out her wall and get through. However, on the next turn she used the Giant Spider to soak up my sidekick blockers and I just did not have enough to stop the fiend team from getting an upset.
The third game in this match up was about as optimal as it could be for the X-Men team. Wolverine attacked for 12 on turn 3. A couple of turns later I was able to roll all of my dice thanks to Professor X shenanigans, and I got enough masks to pay for Relentless and let Wolverine get through again for the win.
Justice League vs. Dungeons and Dragons Heroes
The big advantage that the D&D team had over the Justice League team was speed. Many of the characters had low purchase and fielding costs. It could have been possible to buy, field, and prep a die each turn. The plan for the D&D team was to get a big character advantage, that were all pumped up by the Unicorn and then used to overwhelm the Justice League.
The Justice League was mostly about sticking with the plan. Since there were not big blockers to trigger retaliation, the Justice League was going to be looking to direct damage via Firestorm and Green Lantern to be the difference makers.
In the first game I played the D&D team and my wife piloted the Justice League. I had a horrible game full of bad dice rolls. I could not get the characters out because I could not roll them. On one turn I rolled five character dice and they all came up energy on the roll and re-roll.
The Justice League had an easy, flawless victory.
My wife had much better luck with the D&D heroes than I did and pursued a similar strategy. IT worked for her at the start of the game and she had the lead in life. However, I managed to get several League members out on level 3, which means even the Unicorn boosted heroes could not KO the super heroes. I had a wave of Justice League members to hit with. My wife did use the Human Paladin global ability to shut down Green Lantern, but in the end Batman and friends just hit harder and they pummeled their way to victory.
Despite a strong showing, both Dungeons and Dragons teams fell out, and a Marvel vs. DC match up is set for the finals. The X-Men probably have the strongest combo in this tournament, but the record shows it either works or it does not. If the Justice League can survive past turn five, it's synergy and direct damage could carry day.
My wife and I have been long time listeners of the Dice Tower. For a few years now they have had a segment they do called "Tales of Boardgaming horror." I do not really have a gaming horror story that I could submit. However, in the past year or so they added Tales of Amazement. Then they added tales of treachery and finally tales of amusement. For those three categories I did have stories I could submit.
For the past few months I have been thinking that I need to do that, and I finally submitted them. I have no idea if they will ever get read on the Dice Tower, but since I took the time to write them up I figured I would post them here. If they never get read, my story still get shared, and if they do get read you will know whose story it is.
Tale of Amazement
A couple of times a year our game group organizes an all day Saturday game day. This gives us the opportunity to play some longer or bigger games that would normally not get played at our normal game night. At one of these we organized a full eight player game of Memoir ‘44 Overlord. Memoir ‘44 is a favorite game for both my wife and I. We had played some overlord scenarios with just the two of us, and we were both excited to get the opportunity to get the full Overlord experience. I arrived to the venue early to set up the Cadets of Saumur scenario, which was one of the pre-printed Overlord maps that Days of Wonder had released a few years ago.
All eight players arrived, and it was quickly determined that my wife and I had the most experience at Memoir ‘44 so we were selected to be the commanding generals. I took up the side of the French cadets and my wife led the German invaders. Things started off badly for my side. The special scenario rules stated the German side could use recon cards as air power cards, and my wife kept drawing recon cards for the same flank. My poor troops got decimated. A few turns in, the Germans had a sizable lead of 6 to 2. At this point, my usually reserved wife started doing a lot of trash talking. After I complained about unlucky dice rolls, she even offered to call the “waah-mublance.” A couple of turns later she asked if I wanted to concede yet. When I said confidently that we could still come back. She replied “want to bet on it?”
My wife threw down her terms. The loser had to wash dishes for a week. What could I do? I was in a losing position on the board, but I could not back down to her in front of my friends. I took her bet. At this point in the game, the French position improved. our troops were in good defensive positions, and the German soldiers crashed against them like waves against the rocks. Slowly we gained medals and even eked into the lead.
As the game entered the final turns, my allies side was one medal from winning, and the axis was two. My wife’s team took their turn. They attacked for the win, but bad dice rolls kept them from getting victory. It was my side’s turn on. I looked at the board and we were in trouble. Several of our units were down to one figure left, and all of her front line units were at near full strength. I knew this was our last chance to win, and then I saw my opportunity.
The Germans had a single infantry figure they had pulled back into trees. I had the “Behind enemy lines” card, which would allow one of our infantry to advance close enough to get a shot with a single die. The odds of hitting infantry are 50%. The whole game came down to a 50-50 die roll. I shared the plan with the commander of the appropriate flank and assigned him the command card. He played the card, and everyone saw his target. Everyone stood up at the gravity of the situation. He rolled the die. We all held our breath. It landed on a grenade, a hit. My side had won! I must confess, that over the course of the next week I dirtied as many dishes as possible.
Tale of Treachery
A few years ago, the AP government teacher of the local high school used Diplomacy as part of one of his lessons. The game got on like wildfire throughout the high school, and for that spring semester it was quite the fad. I work in youth ministry, and I knew several teenagers who had three or four games of online Diplomacy going on at a time. At the church we had a lock in that semester, and I had several teens who were really excited to play Diplomacy on a “real” board. We started the game at 1:00 AM.
I ended up playing France and I quickly formed a triple alliance with the British and Italian players. Given this alliance, our natural target was Germany and the German player knew it. He had allied with the Russian player, and he was really counting on the Russian player to help him keep my alliance at bay while he sought to work out deals with the skeptical and neutral Austria and Turkey players. Over an hour into the game, during the timed negotiation period the Russian player fell asleep. As orders were due, his German ally shook him awake and asked him to write down his orders for the plans they had already discussed. The Russian player somewhat angrily sat up, scribbled something on the paper, and then put his head back down instantly falling asleep.
We read through the orders to execute them. When we got to the Russian orders we read “Attack Germany with everything and then hold the rest of the game.” These were not exactly perfectly written orders, and it was the consensus of the group that Russia would just hold for the rest of the game. However, this meant that he did not assist Germany in that critical turn, and in the next one the German player was eliminated from the game.
Around 7:00 AM in the morning we finished the game, when I captured the last point I needed for the win. Shortly after this, the Russian player woke up and asked what had happened with the game. We told him and mentioned that his betrayal of Germany was what really opened up the path to victory. He looked confused and asked, “What betrayal?” He must have not been truly awake when he wrote down his orders, and claimed to have no memory of writing that even after digging the order paper out of the trash can and showing it to him.
Tale of Amusement
I volunteered to help lead a weekend long leadership event for teenagers being held at a local university. I have a reputation as the “game guy” so a big part of my responsibilities was running ice breaker games and providing some late night game options. I brought one of my absolute favorite games, The Resistance: Avalon. At first I just got five other brave souls to try it. However, that first game went so well that by the third game I had a full compliment of teenagers playing the game and I was just facilitating. After watching one round one of the teeangers, let’s call him “Josh” was excited to play.
I passed out the role cards and asked all of the players to close their eyes. I then asked the minions of Mordred to open their eyes. Josh, was a little too enthusiastic and not only did he open his eyes but he stood up. In doing so he pushed his chair back which made a loud sound across the tile floor causing several of the teens to open their eyes.
I emphasized the importance of being quiet, and we dealt the roles out again to give it another go. Once again I asked everyone to close their eyes, and I asked the minions to open theirs. Josh was once again a minion. When he opened his eyes and looked around, he let out an evil sounding snicker that must have found absolutely uncontainable. This caused several of the other teens to laugh, because they recognized who it was. Instead of re-starting we soldiered on, and the loyal knights got an easy win.
We started a new game. I once again emphasized how important it was not to make unneeded noise that might give yourself away. We went through the whole setup. This time Josh was Merlin. He was perfectly silent as he looked around to see who was a minion. I told everyone to open their eyes. As soon as I did, Josh leaned to his right and attempted to whisper to the player next to him. However, this was the loudest whisper that was not really a whisper that I have ever heard. The entire table heard Josh fail horribly at whispering as he said “I’m Merlin.”
That was the last game of The Resistance we attempted that evening. Everyone was too busy laughing.
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