I enjoy playing this with my grade school age children. It is a nice, light, rummy-style game which offers some meaningful decision making and also manages to introduce the players to basic African geography. Components are quite nice for the price.
Like its ancestor 6 Nimmt, this is a filler card game in which one is trying not to take points. There are decisions to be made as the game progresses but they are not terribly engaging. Still I think this plays better than 6 Nimmt with a larger group.
Wow. I really admire this game and would rate it higher if not for the length. I love the combination of stock market manipulation and track laying. The playing time is definitely edging towards my upper limit although I could see the game going significantly more quickly with more experienced players than I have experienced so far. I have also played and enjoyed the shorter game variant ($4500 in bank and no diesel trains). It cuts the time nearly in half and still offered a very satisfying game to me. Played the original version again recently and was really disappointed in the grind that the endgame became.
My rating for this game presents a problem. I have chosen to rate this a 6.5 because I like many things about the design but this is not a game I would like to play particularly often. It is a design that I respect for the richness of gameplay but I don't enjoy it as much as many others. I find the stock manipulation a little cumbersome and I have found myself screwed by my lack of knowledge of the tile manifest. I enjoy how the rules build upon the engine of 1830 and provide for some thematically variation with the government loans and possible state owned railroad company.
Very good, streamlined, simple 18xx with a reasonable playing time. The civil war is a very minor speed bump (which seems a little weak) and the map doesn't seem to resemble Tennessee (it's nearly square) but it is a solid game.
Excellent game that recreates a fascinating period in American history. The game is very well designed and every move has advantages and trade-offs. Z-Man has given the game top drawer production values as well. This game incorporates the historical feel and attention to theme of a wargame with the ease of play and tense decisions of a Euro.
Very good implementation of the Twilight Struggle system to a related (but greatly condensed) period of conflict. The "We the People" like battle card play for the Power Struggles made things interesting. I also like the idea of scoring the same countries multiple times and rewarding the communist player for holding out against the tide for as long as possible.
This is a decent light football game. The cards are an elegant way of getting the same results as an old fashioned results matrix and they also handle the question of timing nicely. My main problem with this and other football simulations is that they encourage you to play counter to conventional football strategy. Is third and twelve. If your opponent calls a pass defense you are almost completely sunk, you are probably better off calling a run. Yes, that does occur in real football but it is very rare. Often the defense expects play, the offense calls play and the play comes off perfectly anyway. This thus becomes an elaborate name of rock paper scissors rather than the amusing light simulation of football that it wants to be.
The track placement may feel like Transamerica and choosing company cards may feel like choosing tickets in Ticket to Ride but this game is quite a bit deeper than either of those. I like how the regional cards and the company cards interact and lead the player to develop rails in patterns that generally sketch out the history of railroad expansion throughout America.
Above average card game that can be played in a large group (up to 10). The game seems a bit overly luck-based to me but this might be a result of my lack of experience with it. Further play has shown me that it clearly becomes more strategic with fewer gamers but, unfortunately, not more fun.
Very cool card drafting Euro that allows for a variety of strategies in building up an empire. Decisions are neither obvious nor overly opaque and the game packs a lot of room for strategic manuever in a short time..
Nothing to write home about -- a cute little mini-expansion for 7 Wonders that gives you a unique starting monument that (on the B side) only has one stage to be built at great cost for great rewards. The fact that you start off the game with money rather than a resource is interesting. The free beer offered as a reward is a pretty lame joke in my opinion.
Interesting abstract game in which one masses power over intersecting lines to push 6 of your opponent's pieces off the board. The rules seem to encourage defensive play -- I even felt this a little in my very first game. The clicking of the marbles as they move is very nice.
I have only recently had the opportunity to play this game for the first time. It must have been outstanding in its day and it still provides an excellent gaming experience. In my one game, I've already had the experience of being shut out of the benefits of the early mergers by a poor tile draw. I don't consider the level of randomness a major problem, however, as I think the game has enough meat on its bones generally to balance the luck factor with opportunities for clever play.
Interesting combination of Settlers-like colonization with an order selection mechanic from Puerto Rico etc. The game is tense, offers interesting decisions each turn and comes quickly to its conclusion.
Excellent game and a true classic that lives up to its reputation. The major drawback for me is the length -- in fact, the length issue is so bad that I will probably only be interested in playing this game once every two years or so. As with many multiplayer strategy games, it is possible to become embroiled in unavoidable conflicts that prevent you from winning if the surrounding players are more aggressive than others.
Very fun, light, and quick Indiana Jones style adventure game. I enjoy the tension of fleeing the boulders and the press your luck elements involved in deciding to hold onto treasures or jettison them in the attempt to escape. Replay value is a bit limited.
A very good Euro game. The ability to structure your efforts towards a variety of different long term strategies (which seem to be equally potent), recalls Puerto Rico. The placement of tokens mechanic (similar to Caylus, Pillars and Leonardo) also encourages clever tactical play. All in all a well balanced, fun, meaty Euro game with an appropriate length.
Western US : An interesting map that plays well with six. Constraining early builds to track contiguous with one's own network is a big change and the continental linkage race adds some tension. Early money infusion is probably necessary because of the build costs in the Rockies and te building constraints.
Korea is an interesting map because of the major rule change which requires players to ship cubes to their destinations based on the goods currently in the target cities. A little more chaotic but still rewards both long term strategic planning and short term look ahead. Very good expansion.
I have played both sides of this map. The 1830's Pennsylvania map seems well designed. The coal bonuses are very tempting but it's tough to lay track over the mountains. The cities in the East make the track laid in that region very tight.
The Northern California map has several twists including a mega city in San Jose, the bridge from Oakland to Sanfrancisco and changing demand from Sacramento based on shipping into the coastal port. A map with some added spice but not radically different from standard AOS.
African Diamond Mines -- rewards efficient routes contrary to the usual order of business in AOS. MY first play was marred by a misinterpretation of the large white diamond in the center of the board which we used to accept cubes of any color. Obviously, this made the game strategically flat.
I have only played the America map from this expansion. I enjoy how the free 6 locomotive makes the game somewhat less tense and allows for a bit more creative goods shipping in the early/middle rounds. A good expansion for those who are looking for something that has the classic Age of Steam feel while simplifying the number of decisions per turn somewhat.
A very tight map in terms of goods production and building is expensive as well (the engineer option eases this a bit for someone each round). When played with three the brutality was softened by the fact that there was some elbow room. When played with 6, it was full-on nasty -- half of the players finished in the negative. An interesting a fun map overall.
St.Lucia is an interesting little map that makes for a tight two player game. Rules could use a little more explanation, I needed a trip to BGG in order to decipher exactly how the mechanic of delivering the cubes worked.
Barbados is an interesting experience -- my first solo game of AoS. The game loses much of the tension of real AoS when I am not paranoid about others stealing "my" big deliveries out from under me. That said it is a cute little optimization puzzle. My score for my single play was $53.
I have played both sides of this expansion. The bonuses and penalties on the Brazil map make for interesting end game decisions on shipping goods. The wide open terrain and the cheap early round builds also complicate things. Nice solid map. The Chicago map has some interesting twists. The all important four hex Chicago space draws a lot of competition and the strikes that threaten to cut off shipping options keep you on your toes.
This refers to the South America map only: One of the tamer Age of Steam expansion maps that I've played on. The major innovation here is the handling of the hub city Buenos Aires. It is the only blue city on the board (and there can be no urbanized blue city either). It also receives an extra cube each turn. The catch is that any delivery involving it requires a payment be made to "El Presidente" who is either the bank or an opponent (who selects it as his role for the turn). The geography keeps things interesting with the Andes on the West Coast and the broad plains to the center and east.
Portugal only: Interesting map -- I spent much of the game in the North with one opponent so the special cube generation at Lisboa was not a big part of my experience. A lot of mountains and the board was very crowded by the end of our 4 player game. Not much in terms of new rules here but a decent map.
Should be a tight, tough map but my one three player game had room or everyone to turn a profit relatively early and no shares were taken after round four or five. Would like to play a more tense gem of this with more players
I have only played the Holland side with three players so far. The polders added some interesting decision-making and effected both early game strategy and tactics.Being in the right place once the polders became available was a key to success in our game at least.
Have only played the two-player Jamaica map so far. Two-player Age of Steam definitely seems to lack something -- perhaps the tension of the competition for role selection. By doing away with the turn order auction in favor of a different mechanism and having only half a goods chart, this map streamlines things further. A decent map with high build costs and competition for entry to cities.
Very interesting expansion that offers three very different new games (assuming you have access to an extra copy of the board). The rules disallowing parallel routes and using others' track to move goods make the goods moving phase more easily to predict and significantly reduce the cutthroat nature of the game. The requirement of interstate delivery (if you don't choose the "Smuggle" option) makes for an interesting dynamic in the Central New England version. So far, I have only played Central New England (both maps at once with special rules).
I have only played the Washington D.C. expansion. Washington D.C. is one of those Age of Steam expansions that makes some rather radical changes to the game -- including a "ring-road" highway system that allows for virtual transfer of goods between routes and some unusual build costs. I played this with four players and found it to be a fun, tense map.
Played the Pittsburgh map only. This was a very tight map for three players with straight track build costs. This essentially forces the construction of odd loopy segments that crowd opponents out of key squares or force them to use complex track. The goods come out in bunches because there is not a light/dark side on the track. Weird but interesting three player map.
The Moon adds several new twists to the gameplay of Age of Steam. The Light Side / Dark Side flipping, building track off the edges to access the "spherical" surface, and using gravitational pull to commandeer a section of others' tracks all add up to a fresh new take on the game. While not a map that I would play to the exclusion of others, it is a nice variant to have in the mix.
This is the sort of meaty Eurogame that I prefer. The cards would seem to give this game a level of replayability that makes it even more impressive. Although I've only played a few times so far, I am very glad to say that this is one of those occasions where the hype seems well deserved. Played E and I, O and Z decks.
Excellent two player game that offers some of the feel of Agricola at a fraction of the time and complexity. A well-done "small" version of Agricola that shrinks the complexity and playing time while retaining much of the tension and tough choices of the parent game (albeit in a far less rich format).
Although this game has something that I usually consider a fatal flaw -- namely, a high degree of randomness in a relatively long game -- I enjoyed it. The "fare wars" mechanic is very fun and allows for some wrenching decisions that force you to balance risk and reward with a strategic assessment of the overall game position.
Decent stock manipulation Euro game. In my limited experience the board play is not as tense as the stock race. There are usually several routes that one can choose that are all beneficial with only slight differences. Only the four smallest companies actually have specific destinations to achieve. It is very rare that I feel pressure to build with a certain airline just to avoid being cut off. The stock portion of the game is much more tense.
A mediocre "dud" of an action point / engine building game with some tension added by the ability to mess with the plans of your militarily unprepared opponents. Kind of longish and boring for what it offers. Attractive components though.
Odd game in which one designs recipes to gain ingredients for other recipes and to score points. The difficulty arises in that one can only return to score others' recipes multiple times. There is also a hidden element in which one is trying to run a specific resource low in order to receive and endgame bonus. I have only played online at Yucata so far. The game is radically different when played with two or multiplayer and strategies are almost the inverse of one another.
Very well designed game which offers a large number of meaningful decisions without being too overwhelming to play with the family. It appeals to those who enjoy strategy (in terms of when to select buildings or draw cards) and those who enjoy puzzles (in terms of how to place the walled tiles of one's Alhambra).
Interesting Clue-type deduction game for a larger group (plays up to ten). Most of our info cam not from questions and genuine deduction but from passing cards but we did play with ten players so initial info was scant.
Well designed dice game that integrates elements of To Court the King and Kingsburg in a satisfying resource acquisition and building game. I may prefer the two player game to the full compliment of players as the colony placements of others can lead to odd kingmaking situations. Luck plays a role but alien technology cards can mitigate that somewhat. There is a choice of options each turn even with poor rolls and I enjoy the tradeoffs that those choices force you to make.
Very good train/stock game. Determing a company's value is an art and this game basically measures how efficiently you can master that art. The balance between developing companies and controlling the auctions is interesting.
Very interesting Euro which integrates the cube tower in determining the options are available each turn. The various phases of the game interact in clever ways. I am a fan of Feld's "point salad" games and I think this one is among his best.
Very good game that incorporates a unique bidding system with some civilization building mechanics to ensure that the players will have difficult decisions about how to maximize their victory points. I enjoy how the game changes between the old and new kingdoms. Great game on SBW that's even better face to face.
Very nice Euro game that integrates a number of mechanics nicely into a system that allows you to pursue a number of different yet viable strategies for victory. Nearly every action phases is tense with the struggle to maximize your resources, infrastructure and/or points.
Fun little battle game with a light historical veneer. The heart of the strategy (such as it is) lies in creating effective combinations so one needs to have a bunch of cards on hand (this is not a game that I would imagine plays well out of the starter pack). Games are very quick (five minutes) and often the die rolls will determine the victor. The cards are very well produced and have entertaining little historical details on them.
Solid Euro that reminds me of Settlers in the method of resource production and the way in which one uses those resources to build up infrastructure and earn victory points. The expiration mechanic sets this off somewhat and the race for key victory point objectives makes this a bit different but the lack of inter-player trading makes it significantly less interactive.
Excellent light civilization game that rewards several strategically diverse styles of play doesn't outlast its welcome. Warfare is difficult and costly but also has its rewards (temple destruction cards) and can be necessary at times to block a runaway leader. This game provides the tense decisions of a middle weight Euro and the negotation of a light wargame.
I enjoy the original Antike so it is no surprise that I also enjoy the two player version (only played online so far). The event cards are a slight negative in my opinion but their effects are mild enough.
My rating for this game is not so much a remark about its quality as I find it to be rather ingenious after my first play but rather about my desire to play it again. It is a rather brutal game and there is definitely the feeling that it is difficult to tread water and survive much less work toward the victory conditions. The grinding aspect of taking three steps forward and two steps back might give the game its epic flavor but it's not my preferred style.
Average kids' dexterity game as I recall from my own youth in the 1970's. I haven't played this with my kids so my rating is somewhat inaccurate compared to other children's games that I've had the opportunity to judge as a parent.
This is a preliminary rating based on a partial solo play of one game. I appreciate how the game allows for speedy resolution of play but I miss the enhanced detail and customization of Strat-o-Matic -- especially in regards to fielding and pitching.
Relatively quick and light tile placement game which offers the option of building springs or water for known gains or rolling the die and placing houses for possible immediate reward or future speculation. Ironically for a game about Aquaducts, I suspect this will get a little dry with further play.
My one play of this left me unsatisfied. It felt like night one of a werewolf game every round with nothing to base one's decisions on aside from gut feelings and trying to read one's opponents' faces. Werewolf just does the same sort of thing so much better.
Solid worker placement game with a lot of interactions available through the text on many spell, vault, and supporter cards. I could see this game being prone to slowdown because of AP. The sheer amount of information per turn on the board, on the available card tableaus and on the players' card tableaus is so overwhelming that I can only glance at the options and make the best choice based on my gut. It would be tiresome for me to play with someone who needed to calculate out each placement optimally each turn. Although I love heavy Euro games, this might be a game with a little "too much" interaction between cards.
Interesting abstract that can be played with a chess set. I like the four actions a turn format. I like using my Zman set with the animal theme. Feels a little more crowded/constrained than most chess style games.
I have only played this online at Yucata. I am not sure I fully understand all of the movement rules and the strategies remain opaque as a consequence. I am intrigued though and will hopefully revise my rating upward with more play.
A disappointment considering its heritage in the family of Hive. I have only played this against a single bot on Board Space though so my rating is provisional until I play it face to face with more than one opponent. It actually seems to distill the "freezing a piece" mechanism of Hive into an entire game. That was an interesting element of Hive but it might be a bit strained to carry an entire game.
An above average modern abstract. Uses an interesting area majority mechanic which players must use carefully in order to cause chain reactions that generally determine the winner. I have only played on Yucata but would love to try this live.
My older daughter used to enjoy playing this game at a local library (they had copies of a few children's games available to play). Although , it is only a simple memory game (and an advertisement for Marc Brown's books), the Arthur theme worked well for her and she always enjoyed playing this game.
I have played this both on the iphone (a very good implementation) and face to face. It strikes me as a rather run-of-the-mill deckbuilder with nothing radically different to separate it from the pack but the quick setup (because of the single central draw deck) is a plus.
Decent expansion that offers additional options but does not seem to radically alter the base game. The difference in the card backs from the original set is a negative (I don't want to have to sleeve cards) but not a complete deal-breaker. The fate mechanism is a nice addition.
Like its older brother EE, this game sits just beyond the upper limit of complexity for me. The gameplay itself often seems to flow nicely and suggests that with further play I may be able to forgive the dense 24 page rule book. I enjoy the modifications to the naval and air rules in this game and I liked the way in which the oil, supply and building limitations constrain the Japanese options each turn. I have only played the Tipping Point scenario so far but my enthusiasm for a longer scenario is seriously restrained by the fact that my opponent and I spend a good deal of time with our noses in the rulebook each session.
Probably the weakest member of the Harvest Trilogy but that's still impressive company to be a part of. Very multiplayer solitaire with only a few helper cards that encourage any sort of interaction. Probably best with two.
Although technically a trick-taking game, this is unlike almost all card games of its type because of the negotiation that goes on across the table. Further play has convinced me that this is an excellent game.
Decent Hex variant (oddly the description here calls Hex "a special case of Atoll" since the rules of Atoll allow one to play on a board with any multiple of 4 starting areas. Since the game of Hex far predates Atoll and Atoll would likely have never been imagined if Hex did not exist, it seems odd to list Hex as some sort of subordinated variant of it.
Very elegant two player area control game. I enjoy the difficult choices that one must make when allocating cards to the different cartouches. I also like the multiple victory conditions. Better short two-player game than anything in the Kosmos line that I have tried.
Interesting rather abstract tile placement game with many decisions to consider before each play. I have yet to experience the problems with multiplayer games that others have had but I have not played with four players yet.
I'm a fan of area influence games and rank this game with Louis XIV and just below El Grande and Web of Power. It is sufficiently different from each of the games above to justify purchasing it (although I haven't). I have only played with three and suspect it would improve with more players (although it might also become a bit more chaotic).
Very good economic game that involves managing money, inventory, r and d etc. I have the sense that my group plays too conservative;y as most cars sell with each turn (having played with both 3 and 5 players). I wish I knew how to how to maximize my profits in this game but I seem to be missing some strategic piece.
Axis and Allies was a game that I played often soon after its release when I was young. My rating, therefore, represents my sense of it as a classic. Although the gameplay was heavily unbalanced in favor of the allies, somehow it never seemed boring.
I played the old MB version of Axis and Allies quite a bit as a teenager in the 80's. I have always enjoyed the game and credit it with helping to introduce me to other wargames. The new version improves the game significantly in my opinion. The quest for victory point cities is a more sensible end game condition and helps curtail the game's unfortunate length. I like the new units as well. Although the map is definitely a bit uglier and the plastic pieces aren't quite as nice, the production values are still impressive. This update really has improved an old classic (albeit not a game I could play often).
Interesting Pacific theater Axis and Allies version. I have been enjoying the Axis and Allies Battle series (DDay,Guadacanal, Bulge) more than the original/revised games so I was curious about what I would think of this game. I find it a good deal closer to the original Axis and Allies format -- longer playing time than the battle games and it still has essentially the same cumbersome unit purchase phase each turn as classic A&A. Not a bad game by any stretch and the focus on a specific theater allows for a bit more depth than the world wide version but not a particular favorite either after a first (exploratory) play.
I am enjoying the specific battle series of A&A games very much. This game has quite a different feel from the A&A Bulge game. There is plenty of opportunity for clever manuever and dramatic swings of fortune. I happen to like the random casualty system provided by the much maligned Battle Box. The fact that units which attack in more than one sphere (land, sea, air) can make multiple attacks per turn seems a little odd but I suppose the units that are capable are also of higher cost. Airfields and carriers really play an important role in this game. Very nice job in creating a simple wargame that is not in any way simplistic!
I enjoy the level of complexity in this game. It hits the sweet spot for me in terms of offering some nice thematic touches to enhance the experience of recreating history while avoiding tons of exceptions and special cases. My biggest problem with the game is the initiative roles for combat as they seem overpowerful and a bad run on those particular rolls will sink your chances of winning (of course rolling poorly in any A&A game is not going to be good but the entire game seems to me to rest on only 7 combat initiative rolls (no role for round 1). My first play saw the battle come down to a struggle for Bastogne and exhibited a bulged front line that rather nicely approximated the historical front.
Fun,light wargame focusing on the invasion of Normandy. My one play of the standard (non-advanced) rules showed the game to have a remarkably easy flow to it. Very much the sort of game to introduce people to wargaming a specific battle with its programmed turn structure and relative simple ruleset.
Interesting two-player card game. It seems that the ability to look ahead and visualize long combinations is the key to success. I have enjoyed my preliminary explorations so far and expect my rating may rise with further play.
I am not a great lover of race games and have never thought this game worth the effort to really play competively but it plays fast, presents enough decisions to be interesting, and is very non-threatening to non-gamers.
Clever mass-market party/word game in which one attempts to compose faux definitions for obscure vocabulary words that could pass as legimate. The best rounds are those in which all of the players fool one another with their false definitions.
Intriguing two-player card game. Turns typically offer a number of interesting decisions with a good balance between tactics and the luck of the draw. UPDATE: I only play a modified form of the designer's original version now, forcing one to play all the cards of a color on one's own side of the hop before trying to screw the opponent and without the 3 for one trade rule (which leads to far too many "if I win this trophy, then I lose" scenarios).
Tricky dexterity game that challenges you to anticipate which piece will not affect the overall balance of the plate much upon removal. As much a perception challenge as a dexterity challenge I suppose. More difficult than most games of this type.
Excellent use of theme in a game that can be fun with the right group but runs the risk of being a bit boring with the wrong group. Decisions are a bit too obvious and the game is therefore a bit too light for my tastes. It also can run a good deal too long. Nevertheless, it can offer a diverting experience that is accessible to non-gamers.
Interesting trick taking game with some variety in the collection of sets and in the nature of the way trump functions from others of its kind. The balance between ducking tricks and taking them is delicate. I did not manage that effectively in my first play.
Cute components help this clever little abstract with a pasted on fantasy theme. Oddly enough, the basic game actually seems more strategic than the advanced which introduces a lot of luck to the tile draws and power chits.
Very intense strategy game. Despite the fact that it plays quickly and is only a deck of cards with a few pawns, this game presents you with more tense decisions and tricky puzzles than many larger and more complicated games. Update -- this game has become a huge hit with a bunch of people at the office; the cards are becoming worn from frequent play.
I have only tried the triple catapult and the battering ram so far. As might be expected, these additions are constructed fairly poorly and only work intermittently. Still they add some variety to the game and can be fun.
This may well be the best game of the Command and Colors system. The resource management aspect added by the war council and the Lore system is a welcome addition. I also appreciate the inclusion of battle back and moral boost rules from C&C Ancients. I happen to enjoy the (admittedly light) sense of historical recreation from the non-fantasy Command and Colors games and I also enjoy the rules for leaders and the additional units of C&C Ancients but on mechanics alone this game might really deserve the edge.
Scenarios Played: Crisis in Avignon, First Encounter (CtA), Burgos: Castille, Deeper in Castile, Free Companies on a War Footing
My rating for BattleLore is an 8.5. It is difficult to rate this expansion as I enjoy playing it about as much as I enjoy playing the original game. The problem is that it simply doesn't add anything significant to the experience. I will try to rate this expansion on the basis of my desire to play IT rather than simply to play the base game itself. "Take it or leave it" feels about right.
Well designed cooperative game with a traitor element. The theme is well integrated into the design in terms of the general structure of the game and the smaller details. The game can be a bit long though.
Adds three interesting elements to the base game -- Pegasus, Cylon leaders and New Caprica. I like Pegasus and the Cylon leaders quite a bit; the humans have not yet lasted long enough for me to explore New Caprica yet. I also like the new character choices. Solid expansion.
I genuinely enjoy short, light combat games that involve a certain amount of luck. This particular game though was sooo random and short that I cannot recommend it. The pieces are quite nice and the city exploration mechanic is well handled but the event cards, tile flipping, combat die rolls, loot card draws etc. just make the game way too random for anyone to care about the outcome.
Very cool dexterity game. The wild pieces force the players to imagine comstructing their towers in very interesting ways. There's nothing better than finding the perfect use for a wonky piece late in the game. Some of the rule sets seem prone to gamey strategies that reduce the fun.
Very dry, mathematical game with gameplay that feels like one is solving a puzzle. I normally do well, or at least respectably, at games of this sort but seem to have a mental block in figuring out how to maximize my payout options through multiple trades.
Good worker placement and area control Euro. The ramp up of powers in my five player game seemed to reach a peak about a turn too early and the endgame was a bit underwhelming. Meaningful decisions throughout but might play a bit slow for its relatively modest weight/depth.
I played this game extensively for a month when I was on an archaeological dig in Italy with a bunch of other college students (many of whom were French). A group of us would dhave a few drinks while playing Belote and occasionally poker late into the night before waking up at 5 AM or so to dig in the hot sun. It's amazing the stamina you have in your early twenties for things like that. An amazing summer and an above-average trick-taking game.
Fairly interesting game of resource management. The "risk" element adds some tension and the bidding elements are nicely integrated. Not terribly thematic but still provides some atmosphere with the artwork etc. The card play has much of the feel of the cooperative LotR game to me, although everyone is obviously out for themselves here.
I remember that one of my sisters owned this game when I was very young (preschool). I definitely remember enjoying using the cloud to eat up the ships but I have very little memory of the actual gameplay so my rating is an educated guess based on impressions that are over two decades old.
Fun, relatively light, Horror-themed dungeon crawl. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I've enjoyed this game. I can see how there could be significant game balance issues and replay might become a problem after frequent play but I appreciated the level of immersion into the theme that the game achieves with a relatively small ruleset. After several plays, I can say that all of the complaints about balanced gameplay and how one spends the first half of the game doing little but exploring rooms waiting for something to happen are true. Nevertheless I still enjoy the game very much and feel that it provides for a unique and interesting experience nonetheless.
Interesting game of drafting and then auctioning cards. It plays quickly, has some random elements and still allows for some strategic depth. I like how you seed the auction deck in part one of the game.
Interesting game of placement -- reminds me vaguely of Acquire and Chinatown in the numbered region placement mechanic but the building requirements and bonuses make the game interesting and the parks, factories and streetcars add tension.
This is a very solid hex and counter wargame. I have only played the shorter (tournament) scenario without the optional rules so my experience here is very limited. The game seems to model the Battle of the Bulge nicely with a minimum of complexity. It offers opportunity for creative manuever and rewards solid tactical play. On the negative side, it can run a bit long and it's a bit too tempting to try to "math" your way towards the optimal combat ratios.
This is a preliminary rating for this stock game. I have only played on Yucata and my understanding of the market mechanism is imperfect. I will need to play this game live to get a better feel for how the market manipulation actually takes place in real time.
Interesting Eurogame that fortunately has a unique feel and some different mechanisms. Apparently this is a remake of Giganten (which I've never played). It is a clever Euro with a few different areas of growth to manage. There are both tactical and strategic concerns that make each decision tense.
Fiddly pirate game that might very well play better on subsequent plays when everyone's heads are not in the rulebook constantly. I fear that the gameplay might be a little repetitive though -- attack a merchant ship, attack a port, rinse repeat. An interesting game about which I will hold off final judgement until I play it again.
We used to play this regularly as part of dealer's choice poker nights as a gambling game. It is of course more similar to knock rummy and blackjack than poker but it fit the spirit of the night as an opportunity to play a light card game over conversation for a few bucks.
Blokus is an interesting and successful example of a rare class of games that I enjoy -- the multi-player abstract. I have played both against people and the computer AI. My rating has improved after about 10 plays.
Fun, light combat theme with an engaging theme and an interesting NYC setting. The game is fun and is structured in such a way to encourage combat (which nicely discourages players from "turtling" -- which is often a problem in multi-player wargames of this type. I think the different types of combat units and different means of transportation (limo, helicopter and speedboat) offer interesting tactical choices. The major criticisms that I have are the relatively long downtime in between turns and the player elimination aspect.
Interesting card game with very simple mechanics. In enjoy the base decks and the additional decks but have not yet explored deckbuilding. It is one of a very select group of games that my wife will play (although she does hate the geekish artwork). UPDATE -- my rating has increased with further play and additional decks.
This is a very interesting game with an interesting and unique mechanic that drives the construction of buildings for rewards of various types. Choosing which building to make your offering is often difficult as it often forces you to weigh the benefits of several competing possibilities. Other tough decisions include whether to use a card for offerings or for its power, whether to discard at the end of a turn and whether to run to the obelisk to make an offering or continue making offerings at builings and gathering more crystals.
An expansion that adds two significantly different mechanics to the game -- bluffing and ships. I am not sure that I love the new mechanics but they certainly add variety to the system. There are a few more rules specific to this deck so this is not an ideal introductory deck.
I have played using the emissaries and the extra three cards for each race but I have yet to explore deck building and incorporate the inquisitors. The extra ten cards give the game a little more time to develop before someone runs out of cards. I rate this a bit lower than the decks for the different races as I always randomly select different people each game but I will not always use these extra cards.
I have played using the emissaries and the extra three cards for each race but I have yet to explore deck building and incorporate the inquisitors. The extra ten cards give the game a little more time to develop before someone runs out of cards. I rate this a bit lower than the decks for the different races as I always randomly select different people each game but I will not always use these extra cards. Also, as I only play individual games and don't count dragons, the presence of the crystal cards is somewhat imbalancing as only some emissaries include them and those cards have no real function in the style of game that I play. How can one easily restore balance to the Phar emissary for instance who has two (useless from my perspective) crystal cards and thus lacks others?
Interesting deck that encourages one to make extensive use of paired boosters and retrievable character cards. This deck has been particularly effective in games that I've played against my wife; I have no idea why others seem to think it is weak.
This is another unique deck that encourages a different style of play. The cards must be used in gangs to maximize their relatively low earth/fire numbers as individuals. There are a number of cards that can be used to increase one's chances of getting the right cards in combination. I find this a very interesting deck to play.
Interesting deck that encourages the efficient play of boosters. I like the caterpillar/butterfly theme to this deck's artwork. As a classicist, I have to say that I find the mock Latin names to be awful.
This deck is very high in earth power and relatively weak in fire. As such, it's bascially the inverse of the Vulca deck. I like the 3 Storm support cards which are dangerous if one can get them out in combination. Often the threat of having one on the table can lead an opponent to try to end the battle prematurely.
Cute trading game with an interesting fixed hand order arrangement that makes it sometimes necessary to offer trades just to clear one's own hand of useless cards. The theme is a little bizarre and I think the game would be easier to introduce to nongamers if the "humorous" artwork were abandoned but it still works very well for what it is. Runs a bit long for what it is if people keeping insisting on hyper-optimizing their trades every turn.
Excellent game -- VERY unique wargame that is elegant in both appearance and play. Decisions are tense and the fog of war effect works better even than in the Columbia Games I've played. I've only played as the Austrians so far but I enjoy the asymmetrical forces with different victory conditions. My only (slight) gripe is that the game lacks a certain intangible "fun" factor that is probably a result of the diceless combat.
Cute light bidding game and majority control game. Reminds me of Medici in that you bid your victory points (gold) each round to gain items that might score larger bonuses. Of course the random production element and the take that card play make this game much lighter and less fulfilling.
Very cool, fairly meaty Euro with a lot of moving interlocking parts. There seem to be a variety of different viable paths to victory. Dice keep the game tactical but there is some real scope for long range strategizing as well.
Very nice trick-taking game with a unique mechanism that lends some risk to playing lower trump cards. You can hurt yourself by being overly bold and you can be hurt by being stuck with unfortunate cards at the end of the hand. I love how the plot of the short story guides the principal mechanism of the game. This would probably be a game that I would enjoy more with repeated play among the same group of players.
Very interesting simulation of a fairly large scale American Revolutionary War battle. The conventional wisdom suggests that this game offers more scope for creative manuevering than the other titles in the series. Having only played Guilford and Eutaw Springs before this, I cannot really confirm or deny this but I would tend to believe that it's true as my first play saw fronts opening and closing all over the large map. In enjoy this series although I do find that the tactics chits can slow down the gameplay somewhat.
Another excellent Martin Wallace game. This may be the high point of the meaty Euro genre in terms of density of decisions and plenitude of options per turn. Very satisfying but it can be frustrating when one has a hand of nearly useless cards (admittedly this may occur because of a lack of strategic forethought). This game plays very differently as the skill of the players increases.
The best traditional card game I've ever played. The more I learn, the more interested I become. Along with chess and go, one of the few games that I take the time to study. The only problem with bridge is the demands that it places on knowing the basic rudiments of bidding. It is therefore difficult to play with people who are not already experienced players themselves.
Interesting, highly abstract game of placement, spawning and hopefully well-timed movement. There is a definite tension to each decision and determining one's opponents' most likely moves is critical. Of course, as with most perfect information multiplayer games I could see the possibility of there being kingmaker and bash-the-leader problems. The end game can also become a rather dry exercise in number crunching
Interesting civ lite game with a Small World / Vinci feel to it. Playing with fewer than six seemed to boil down to getting lucky enough to be in a part of the world where emerging civilizations were not drawn in the next year.
Absolutely brilliant multiplayer wargame that (lightly) simulates the settlement of Britain from the invasion of the Romans to the Normans. An absolute blast to play that infuses a huge amount of theme into a game that does not feel complex at all.
I enjoy Crayon Rail games. I found this map to be interesting as one has to decide exactly where one will branch off from the main North - South axis. Obviously, there is not enough time and money to branch off to every corner of the map.
Fairly simple abstract area control game. I found myself getting rather bored with it after only a round or two of gameplay. It might be possible to play error free moves after a few games but it seems like a decent introduction to strategy games for children.
Well done Euro that has a lot of meat on its bones for a short play time and an uncomplicated rule set. I like the opportunity for replayability that the rules for setting aside cards offers. The dice are used in an interesting way and give each turn a healthy dose of tactical choices while still allowing scope for long range planning.
Fun chess variant if you have four people. It must be played with with chess clocks under blitz conditions to prevent someone losing his game from waiting for help from his partner. Ultimately less satisfying than pure chess as victories feel like they are determined more chaotically and were not "earned" in quite the same way.
A decent two player Euro -- I tend to like multiplayer Euros but prefer my two player games to be more directly conflict driven so I am probably not the ideal audience for this. The game is solid and offers meaningful decisions but it left me a bit flat.
My rating here is provisional and based only on a single play online at SBW. I feel that I would have a better overall feel for the game if I had played face-to-face first. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to play over the board with an experienced teacher. My rating may well improve.
My only plays thus far have been with my family (including my four year old son who basically played a random card each turn) so I really haven't had the full experience of playing this against competitive gamers. I am giving my initial impressions though as I was able to get a sense of the gameplay from the experience and I feel that this is a very nice, although somewhat dry, Euro. The choices are significant and I could see some room for a variety of different strategic approaches depending on the cards in your hand and the actions of other players.
This is an above average word game. It is not as good as Scrabble but it plays better with 3 and 4 than Scrabble and is good for some variety. As a High School language teacher, I have played this in my class in Latin.
An interesting game that just doesn't seem to be one of Wallace's best efforts. The balance between Arab and Byzantine points lends the game its interest but often is irrelevant because of the Constantinople falling endgame.
The different loot cards (cash, diamonds, paintings) and their shifting values add portent tactical decisions and make the game a bit better than the first edition. Went over well with a mostly non gaming crew of Werewolf fans.
This is a good two player game that feels similar to Battle Line in some respects (playing number cards to win a row, using action cards to shift things in your favor) but has enough differences to make it an interesting game in its own right. A slight complaint is the small vote deck. The constant reshuffling is a pain and the cards are handled so often I'm sure they will show wear quickly. I guess adding two or three cards of each type would throw off the balance by allowing people to draw the same card type on successive turns but it seems there should be a more elegant solution.
Interesting concept for an abstract connection game. I find the identification of perimeters and their owners cumbersome on a crowded board and the "touching or not" issue to be an impediment. There may be a great and very original game in there but I'm not entirely convinced the rule set is fully cooked just yet.
Decent light betting game. Balancing short and long terms options on each turn leads to some tough decisions. I prefer Royal Turf for a game of similar length and complexity that scratches the same itch.
Nicely designed Arthurian-themed card game. The sheer amount of text on the cards probably makes this a game that rewards repeated play and increased familiarity with the different characters. I only played the two player "standard" game and would be interested to try the Advanced game with more players.
Played late at night at a bar at a con and this game was good for some laughs at how the events unfolded. Problem is the game basically plays itself and the players are largely along for the random ride. In its defense, it never claims or pretends to be a game of deep strategy but there are other highly thematic games out there where you feel that your decisions are more meaningful.
Lighter, quicker than it's older brother 1960 while still managing to offer a good deal of the tense decisions of its sibling. Some of the cards seem like they are fairly generic in effect and I worry that the decks might get a little "samey" in feel over repeated play.
Interesting Catan variant that feels more unlike the original than many of the others. There is a kind of RPG-like aspect that reminds me of Runebound, Prophecy and the other games in which one tries to "level up" during play. Grabbing low lying fruit and bonus points seems to be a key element to winning. The encounters add a large degree of randomness but the game is pretty light anyway. It might overstay its welcome somewhat.
Decent network building game. One must upgrade resources into other more advanced resources in order to buy and produce films, Can be a little bit of a grind but the game basically works. Graphics detract from the whole.
I have only played this online at Yucata and I struggled with the rules for the first few turns before getting the hang of it. An interesting little abstract game but it has little to recommend it over so many other worthy modern abstracts.
Carcassonne is an enjoyable, light tile-placement game that always looks very nice on the table. A number of people whom I play with have really taken a liking to it but I find it doesn't put me on the edge of my seat like some of my favorite games.
This expansion adds some more interesting strategic decisions (which are, in my opinion, welcome) to the base game. The inns make the road scoring a more significant part of the game and I like the depth added by the giant meeple.
Good implementation of Carcassonne mechanics with a few twists. The hunter scoring is probably a little more intuitive than the farmer scoring in regular Carcassonne and the huts on the river add an interesting element as well.
I have played with the king expansion to the main set only. Like several other Carcassonne expansions, I think it presents meaningful (and much needed) strategic decisions to the options available in the base game.
I give this game the same rating as the base Carcassonne game because I enjoy the additional tension of having to choose to remove meeples to score as your one action (after placing a tile) per turn and having to allocate fewer meeples but I miss the ability to outnumber an opponent in a region and steal control from him/her.
Decent fairly abstract game in which one manages leadership in the court vs. leadership on the board. I have only played online at Yucata so my rating should be seen as provisional until I manage to get in a play face to face.
Enagaging and different Euro worker placement game with an interesting duel mechanic. Balancing money, board position and victory points gives this game a good deal of tension. I have not explored the expansions yet.
Decent worker placement game with a bit too much unplanned player interaction for my taste which can lead to chaos and inadvertent kingmaking. The master builder cards and various reward spaces in the castle force people to choose whether to give players points or deny them and forgo their own plans. Although there is some art to predicting others' plays and playing your pieces accordingly, there also seems to be a fairly significant amount of randomness.
This is a fairly abstract path building game in which players try to maximize their forward progress toward delivry points based on their hands of cards. There are some interesting twists that allow players to target the leader with obstacles and alter the path by a die roll. Overall, a fairly bland Euro game in my opinion with a minimal integration of theme and mediocre components.
I enjoy Werewolf and like the secret identity mechanic generally. Deducing my allies was fun and trying to locate the necessary object proved challenging. There seemed to be something missing from the combat mechanism to me though. I think I would prefer a very small element of chance to the combat to give the combat a little extra "kick." Perhaps something like a die with 3 1's, 2 2's and a 3 that the attacker and defender could roll after the declarations of support were made. The game was also won by someone who had the coat of arms. Unfortunately, his teammates were hopelessly behind in the game as they essentially had an extra opponent.
This is a very clever game that, like many of Feld's offerings, allows players to score points in a variety of ways. Choosing the best option available is often not at all obvious and it is necessary to keep track of one's opponents as well.
While this game shares elements with Suburbia, they are more siblings than twins. The mechanic by which the master builder arranges the market this turn is quite unique and the interactions of the rooms is much easier to track here. The quest to complete rooms and the irregular geometry of the tiles provide unique challenges as well. A solid middle-weight Euro.
Very interesting and enjoyable 2 player game. In fact this game is so rich that it would be easily be among my favorite two-player Euros if it were not for the long playtime. Perhaps if further plays reduce the playtime (maybe in combination with the 10 victory point variant), this game will receive the 9 or higher that it seems to deserve.
Although I think that the 5-6 player expansion changes the game a bit by allowing players to build on other peoples' turns, the flavor of the original is retained. The extra tiles integrate neatly into the set-up and alleviate the cramped space nicely.
Excellent meaty Euro that develops the "Agricola" system in a new direction. Obviously this has some of the feel of Agricola but the exploration and cave development (building rooms) factors give the game a very different feel.
I can certainly understand why this game received so much attention after its release. It is a very well designed "gamer's" Eurogame. There seems to be an enormous amount going on and it's very difficult to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the different options effectively. The playing time is a bit longer than most Euros and it is certainly a brain burner but this game has enough meat on its bones to make it all worthwhile.
Interesting highly abstract two-edged game of area control wherein you seek majorities in certain areas and try to avoid them in others. The nature of the placement mechanics though make it difficult to accomplish both at once. Special circumstances allow for tricky plays through cards and special tokens.
Cool multiplayer light wargame with a robust Euro feel. The four sides seem relatively well balanced and have significant differences in the way they must be played. The dark theme is a negative for me but the gameplay is engaging and fun.
This rating is for the specific set mentioned. I discuss the actual parlor game under the entry "Charades." The original party game certainly never needed a board or a box of prescribed topics (not to mention the obnoxious timer).
This is my rating of the parlor game charades. I have rated one of the boxed sets "The Charade Game" under that entry. It is best played without regard for score by two groups with each group choosing the topics for the other group and putting the words into a hat. This can be a lot of laughs with the right group but it can also drag.
When I first played 18xx, I wished someone would design a railroad game that included the ability to manage track laying with buying share in the various companies without the very long play time. Chicago Express is the answer to that dilemma in some respects but the nature of the share always being subject to auction (rather than purchase) detracts somewhat from this game for me.
Best Children's game that I have ever encountered. My older daughter loves it. This game has been played in my house more than any other. The version we have is French and called Pique Plume. UPDATE: It's been several years since I returned from a trip to Paris with this game and it's still a family favorite. I've now become concerned about keeping all the pieces in order as I would like her to be able to share this game with her children some day as she has enjoyed so much. My son who was just born when I bought this now plays with me.
I love Web of Power and enjoy UberPlay's rethemed version. I miss the end of the first round house scoring in this version (in fact I may add it on my own) but I like the fortresses. Very tense and elegant game that plays quickly and always seems to produce close endings.
Good, simple quick abstract with a random element introduced by the die rolls. I have only played online at Yucata so this rating is provisional but it plays quickly and does not overstay its welcome despite not offering great variety of play experience.
Collectible Tile game based on Chinese Zodiac animals. The mechanics seemed unfinished in the one 2 player game that I played. There might be an interesting game in there somewhere but I felt like I was unduly rewarded for drawing the right tiles at the right time rather than for making particularly clever plays.
I have very vague memories of playing this as a kid. I don't think I owned it myself but must have played other people's copies. My rating is obviously an estimate based on recollections from 20 years ago.
I think that this is one of the more enjoyable "old school" Avalon Hill games. It has a lot of die rolling, too much downtime, a few too many charts and plays a bit long, but, unlike many games of its era, it retains the hard to quantify "fun factor" despite its flaws. The combat greatly livens up this racing game and raises it above most games of that genre for me.
Very well designed building game. Although I've played many building games, the mechanics here feel unique. The graphic design could use some improvement -- the tiles seem to have been drawn with more concern for their beauty than their functional purpose. The game is a little fiddly and late rounds can bog down in mathematical calculations.
Fairly generic Euro building game. Lots are acquired, people bid for roles, one competes for acquiring the most stars on one's buildings by exploiting combos with adjacent buildings and there are bonus cards for having the most of a variety of different objectives/statuses. Never seemed to have its own unique mechanism that had not been done elsewhere.
I have only played the Advanced Civilization version but I have logged this game as played since Advanced Civ. is an expansion that uses components from the original game. I would like to try the original Civilization rules and see if it improves my opinion of the game. The frequency of calamities in Advanced Civ. and the length detract from what I otherwise consider a pretty solid design.
Interesting variation on the Command and Colors system that gives more of a traditional wargame feel. My original fear that this might be too close to the C&C games to be worth owning was off base. This is another light battle game but the rules differences are sufficient to justify owning it as well.
Scenarios Played: Fort Duquesne, Bunker Hill, Lake George
The common criticism that this game is very light and involves a ton of dice rolling is absolutely true. However, it does offer some meaningful decisions (especially when assembling gladiator teams) and remains fun throughout its relatively short playing time.
I really enjoy this game as it has enough to interest a gamer while remaining approachable for families and non-gamers. The balancing of the relative value of corruption and victory points is the highlight. I like the placement of mosaics, the closed fist offerings for sacrifice and the way in which the market piles are half-visible and half-concealed. Very clever and beautifully designed game.
I have always had a soft spot for Clue among traditional American mass market boardgames. This version improves upon the original in several respects. It eliminates the roll and move tedium, it is playable with 2 players and the search/make a suggestion mechanic adds a new degree of decision making.
Like with most mainstream boardgames, you are probably better off introducing the kids to the original games which are not terribly more difficult or strategic than the Jr. versions anyway. That said, this game introduces kids to the deduction genre without a backstory of bloody murder (although the murder story in Clue was always tongue-in-cheek anyway).