I didn't like it very much. Note well - this is not me saying it's not a good game, this is me saying it's not my kind of game.
It's a tableau building game and probably the best way I could describe it is that it's RftG meets Neuroshima Hex (which is ostensibly the setting for 51st State).
At the start of your turn you draft cards. Cards have three aspects - a blue aspect which is a bar along one end of the card, a red one along the other, and a building in the centre. Each card has a point value assigned to it, say 3.
Each player has three sets of cards that contribute to the three colours - red are conquests, blue are cooperatives, and the buildings are incorporations. The number is meant to be a range, but what the units of range are is never clearly defined.
If you get a card by conquest, you tuck it under your home card with the red stripe showing. This will have something on it, say three stars which are victory points. You can cash this in at the start of the production round to take three VP and then you throw the card away.
If you take a card by cooperation, you tuck the card under your home card with the blue stripe showing. Whatever's on the stripe is something that you get every prodution turn, say a unit of fuel.
The incorporations do a variety of things, usually related to producing units of goods you'll need to activate your cards for conquest, cooperation, or incorporation. I played the mutants and conquest required 1 weapon to get 3 conquest points, my home card produced one weapon every turn, so that's easy. My incorporation required two resources (not important what they were), and so I had to figure out ways to get them.
You can use other people's incorporations to get resources by using one of the three people you get every production turn, and the nifty thing here is you are paying the other player that person token to use their widget factory and then they get to use that person themselves.
Some incorporation cards can only be used by you and the icon on the card will show that. Another interesting twist is that some cards generate VP if you feed them the right resources, but they can only produce three times before they're depleted at which point you'll need to upgrade them to something else.
Whatever resources you produce on any given turn must be used on that turn. Anything leftover gets tossed.
I'm not covering all the cards and interplays here. There are also leader cards that confer certain benefits.
The iconography takes some getting used to, but for whatever reason it clicked with me pretty quickly, unlike RftG.
My quick verdict based on one late evening play at BGG.Con is that it's well designed, it's thematic, and it's not my kind of game.
I'm not sure how to rate 7 Wonders. It's so much fun to play, and yet at the same time it's just not all that much depth to it.
And yet, I'm hard pressed to name any game that plays up to seven people in about half an hour that's actually interesting. I guess time is really the key point here; no matter how badly you might be doing, it'll be over soon. And you can just play again.
Or to paraphrase a friend of mine: I don't feel bad about losing; I can't imagine feeling good about winning; I make some decisions, am informed of a result, and go about my day.
This is different from the others in this series in that one is fighting from the ground and the other from the air. Suffers somewhat from having an easy move for the fighter pilot to shoot the balloon down right from the get go... (Left as an exercise for the reader)
An excellent multi-player game, but has two major flaws. First, it takes forever to play. Second, the random calamities can completely take you out of contention if you're unlucky enough to get several "complementary" ones in a row.
A decent little card game. The run of play is not difficult, and the only thing you need to remember is what your opponents still have in their hands. Works well as a kids game, light starter to a gaming night, or something to finish off your gaming night.
I've seen the prices this commands on eBay, and the only reason I'm interested in this over Pacific Typhoon is that Atlantic Storm can be played with 2. I was happy to find a good playing copy of this for a reasonable trade value.
I really enjoyed my one play of this game, but... I lost to what was essentially a kingmaking decision - i.e. the player before me could have blocked me or the player after me, and chose me, giving the other player the win. Ironically, it was unlikely I could have won anyways since I didn't have enough resource cards to place the final connecting tile, but that was enough of a taste to make me rate it as I did.
Bandu edition. There are several different games you can play with this set of blocks, but the basic challenge remains the same - try to make a stable structure out of not necessarily symmetric or even flat edged pieces. Quite a lot of fun.
I like this much better than the original Blokus - in part it's because it's harder to analyze the board position, and unlike the original, flipping a piece over or twisting it this way and that trying to figure out where it can go is a lot harder. I like abstract games in general, but I don't like pure abstraction - I like an element of "luck".
I love the concept of the shared infrastructure that everyone builds together, yet all being in it for oneself. I also really like that interest payments etc are baked into the loan rules as the system here is really streamlined.
Hard to rate it after only one play. It's a great game, no doubt, but do I rate it an 8 or a 7?
I understand how to play, and I agree that it's a marvellous card game, but this is the WorstGameEver(tm) for engendering what I call the "sore winner" behaviour that I loathe. Yes, I understand that you won this hand, I don't need the trick by trick analysis of the last hand. Let's move on. Next!
A lot of the tiles help finish cities/roads that you might not have been able to fit in the original. The added risk/reward of cathedrals and taverns, don't really add much to the game for me. Personally I'd take out the cathedrals and ignore the taverns (scoring wise).
I like this better than the original expansion - the addition of the goods tiles makes for a nice challenge for bonus points at the end, and the pigs are cool. This expansion essentially makes the River redundant.
I tbink this is one of the best, if not the best, in the Carcassonne series. Lots to think about, possibility of scoring on many levels, strategy and tactics both much more important in this one than the others. The city wall makes a very nice additional twist.
Update 26 Feb 2012: I think that my days of playing Citadels are over. I spent most of the last game I played hoping it would end soon. I'm actually sorry to say that as it's a game that I've had a lot of fun with over the years. Oh well.
Update 28 May 2012: I thought maybe it would still be ok 2-player, but I think the magic is gone.
A solid game - lots of tactical decisions to make each turn of the political phase, and a need to keep an overall stratgey going. The requirement to produce enough farm resources to maintain your citizen level (and thus not incur a penalty) is a nice added touch. Definitely a keeper in my collection.
Edit Feb 2012: that little electric tingle along my spine that something really exciting was about to happen is almost always there when I play. It's crossed the line from plain old great game to personal favorite whatever its flaws.
2015-01-17: in this thread, I said This is in great part why I like Combat "Why do I need a fire card to fire?" Commander so much. I can see those guys in the foxhole on the hill top with the mortar shooting at my guys. But the game is saying "yeah, you see them, Mr. Gamer Guy, but those poor SOBs in hex K4, they don't see sweet bugger all. And that's why I'm not giving you a fire card, because, well, f*** you!"
To quote my own review: What we really have here is a brilliant civilization building game with many of the core hallmarks of more complicated 4X games, wrapped in an attractive package absolutely soaking in well researched theme, plays in about 90-120 minutes, and plays equally well with 2, 3, or 4 players.
This is a great theme for a game - I really wish someone would make something similar today with a fresh set of mechanics (hmmm...). There's a simple winning strategy for the brew-your-own monster. No attack, super fast, fire breathing, rest into defense, and then you zoom around the city burning it down as you go. The humans can't keep up and can't hurt you. Monster wins.
Not a bad game - Scrabble it's not, but the timer and having to make the best of your letters is tense. It's too bad there's no special rule for the Q, because if you roll it without a U or a wildcard, you're in a lot of trouble.
My only beef is there's no set finish to the game (players determine what the end conditions are), so I don't know if the example of "play to 200" is really the sweet spot to make this game shine.
Of course, there's no reason to play this if you have Bananagrams.
As an aside, it's a classic game that has stood the test of time. However, it's a game not to be played with people who hold grudges as it perforce expects that you will be swindled, backstabbed, and cheated...
I have a like/dislike relationship to this game, and that sums up why I have the rating I do. I don't love it and I don't hate it. It's fun enough to play and doesn't overstay its welcome on the table, but on the other hand the game play itself isn't particularly engrossing or exciting.
I enjoyed this game quite a bit and although you can see the design compromises made to speed the game up, the sum of the parts work well together and it all makes thematic as well as mechanical sense.
It's essentially impossible to rate a book like this - I enjoy browsing it on a regular basis, but I haven't really tried the variants posted in it. That said, the variants that exist in this book run the gamut from compelling to bizarre to downright unplayable.
I've always had a fascination with the Spanish Civil War, in part because it was such an overtly political/ideological conflict.
This game beautifully captures the cat and mouse nature of the struggle, forcing you to carefully plan where you're going to place your planes and generals each turn. Then it kicks it up a notch with the events phase - although you can use your cards to help you in combat, the events are all so good that you want to conserve them as much as possible. It's, again, a lovely piece of design. Great game.
Fabula is kind of a cross between Dixit and Once Upon a Time. There are 10 large double sided art tableaus to give the flavour of the story, and then there are three storytelling rounds for each of the 20 stories.
There's also a deck of object cards of which 3n+2 are dealt out face up on the table. One person takes on the role of "Grimm". Grimm reads out of the prologue for the story (a few paragraphs), and then presents "chapter 1" (a short paragraph).
Players have a set of about 15 stand up characters to choose from and pick one to represent them in the game context and are supposed to take on the persona being presented, although the expression of that will be up to each player. There is, for example, a knight in armour, a sly looking fox with a cap and cloak, a big bad wolf, a fairy, a witch, and a bunch of others. There's wide room for interpreting these characters.
Each player then has the chance, by raising their hand, to propose a continuance to the plot raised in the chapter. They can be brief or more detailed, but must use one of the face up object cards - say a sword, or an hourglass.
Grimm will then reward each player who, in their opinion, has contributed a plausible story continuation with a quill token.
Do this two more times, with the second chapter and thurd chapter being worth 2 and 3 quill tokens respectively.
At the end, there will be two cards left in the middle of the table. The top two people with quill tokens then each have 30 seconds (there's a timer included in the game) to sum up an ending and must use both object cards left on the table. In case there's a tie in quill tokens, then the person with the most valuable objects (e.g. a sword has 1 star and an hourglass has 4 stars) gets to be in the final 2.
Then Grimm decides who has the best ending.
So, if you're playing with the "get rid of your cards quickest" group, it won't be a good experience. If you're playing with the "create a story together" crowd, it'll be great. Indeed, with last night's group we almost didn't care about the quill tokens, we were just interested in who had the best story ideas.
One of the built in limitations of the game is that there are "only" 20 story outlines to play with. However, with a little effort, one could generate several plots that fit the game either re-using the art included in the game or using any art one liked.
The challenge I think is that unlike OUaT and Dixit, this game requires someone to take on the role of Grimm and pass judgment on the other players' contributions (to give or not give quill tokens out) rather than everyone being full participants.
One of those games that if you play in the spirit of the game (i.e. the spirit schlocky b-monster monster movies), it's a lot of fun. If you have a serious gamer in the group who suffers from AP optimization ...
Pros: Easy to learn, quick to set up, and it can be played in less than two hours. The graphics are nice and simple and easily read, and the rules are well written. Also - fun!
Cons: The system doesn't have massive replay value - don't get me wrong - you *will* get your money's worth and then some playing this little game, but once you've played all the scenarios a few times and won them, then it'll be one of those "Oh yeah, I remember that game!" items in your games closet that hits the table out of nostalgia every five years.
Richard Pardoe kindly taught this to me at BGG.Con 2010, and I LOVED it.
Before I continue, this game is NOT Combat Commander. It's also not "just Combat Commander with tanks". It's a classic hex and counter wargame, but it has some very slick innovations. There's a set of order boxes numbered 1-10 on a track that are available for selection, and when you pick an order, you move the initiative that many points towards the opponent on a push-pull track. Initiative still on you side? Continue. On your opponents? They go. On 0? The player holding the fate card goes.
The more complex/involved orders have to be selected from on high, whereas simple things like playing an asset card, moving, and firing tends to be in the 1-3 range. The track differs depending on which side you're playing. After the first turn is complete, the order track gets refilled with 10 order markers, but they're assigned by die rolls, not a simple 1-10 ordering, so some order levels may not be available the next turn (I'll note for completeness that selecting a "5" order means you can execute the 5 order for your side, or any LOWER value order. If all that's available is a 5 order and you want to do a move, which is a 2 or 3 depending on which side you are, you can still do it, but it costs you 5 initiative)
The other thing I liked was the use of different dice types to resolve attacks. You typically roll 2d10 for shooting at another unit (say), but if you're in an adjacent hex, you roll 2d12. If you're too far away, you roll 2d8 or possibly 2d6. A nice way of making a KISS fire resolution system.
And lest anyone think that these mechanisms are a little too "gamey", let me reassure you that once the action got underway, everything save the fact I was trying desperately to advance my units along the road to capture objectives and the electric tension at the table as the melees unfolded in hexes completely eclipsed the mechanics of the game. In fact, the simple elegance of the system really made it transparent to the playing experience - I was focusing on what was happening on the board and not pausing to step out of my suspension of disbelief to figure out a CRT column shift.
I highly anticipated before BGG.Con, and do so even more now.
This is a gem of a light card game. It's mostly unpredictable and drives the analysis-paralysis crowd apopleptic - worth getting if only for that! As a friend of mine put it "It's like hitting your fingers with a hammer while you're on morphine - you know it hurts, yet somehow it doesn't."
With four experienced players, this game really shines. New players should never play Prussia (unless everyone's a new player). [2009-12-14]
Edit: [2012-01-25] Just received the new Jubilee Edition map in the mail. It looks really nice. The only significant change I noticed is the suits in the left hand "column" of the map have changed to club-hearts-club-hearts from what it was before. And one town name change.
A fun dice rolling game where you're trying to balance the resources you have to maximize the odds of collecting more resources and airships (and ultimately pieces of the Hindenburg). Plays in just under an hour with four players.
A surprise hit for me at BGG.Con 2010. Although there's nothing "new" or "innovative" here in terms of mechanics (it's all things we've seen before in Carcassonne and elsewhere), at the same time the game manages to charm you and become greater than the sum of its parts.
My favourite abstract - wish I were better at it, but I'd need to play almost nothing but to get really good at it... http://www.samarkand.net has not only great sets for sale, but also have a great description of the game for the uninitiated.
Finally had a chance to play this (30 Dec 2007) - exceptionally fun. The rules are a little murky, but using the play aids really helped. Playing a sample round really let it sink in. It'll take quite a few plays to really understand all the interactions, but there is a lot here.
This game is a classic Knizia brain burner, though I don't strictly mean it in the sense of a compliment. The idea is great, and the mechanism is clever, but it really takes a few plays to get your head wrapped around all the intricacies of the strategy.
A very fun game - its biggest appeal, aside from the fact it has penguins, is that a game will take about 15 minutes to play. This makes it great not only as a filler between games or to wrap up the evening, but also for when you don't have a lot of time to put something on the table.
I like abstract games in general, and this one is pretty good. The moving grid makes for some interesting game play. Plays well with 2 or 4, but with three, there's a definite skew in how the grid gets moved.
Too many fiddly powers to keep track of, especially when you have lots of players. It also just isn't as fun as the original. Rating also reflects my innate dislike of the "collectible" part of this CCG.
An entertaining card game that I've barely scratched the surface of.
This is a game that if you play it a lot, you'll really learn the subtle nuances and depth there is here. If you're a casual player, like me, then it's entertaining enough, but you quickly forget the synergies between plays so it doesn't get as much love and attention as it might otherwise.
Comparisons have been made between Java and Tikal and arguments abound as to which is better, but my summation is this - they're different enough to warrant playing on their own, and similar enough that if you know how to play one, you can play the other. Java is slightly more complex in strategy.
A relatively light game about a topic I'd know little about until I played.
I liked a lot of the ideas in the game, such as the Indian surrender based on colonial VP and the lack of inherent supply based on the razed villages. However, the supply issue only comes up once in the winter turn.
If I had a complaint, and this is reaching, it's that the Indian counters are all the same save for the background stripe. In poor lighting conditions it would have been easy to mix some of them up.
This is actually a huge deck of letters (well distributed quantities of them) with an associated book of games to play with them (from 1 to 8 people, varying by game). The games vary from fun to pointless, but it's worth buying if only to have a well distrubted letter deck for something else...
Once again I find myself in the interesting position that I'm not usually one to play solitaire games, but oddly compelled and drawn in by a VPG product. This is the first solo game I've tried from them since the very enjoyable Nemo's Way, and is my introduction to the States of Siege series.
Rating after one (incomplete) play. I've heard of Phil Eklund's designs, and this was my first experience with it. We were six and we didn't manage to finish out the first decade (for a whole variety of reasons, not all of which were related to time constraints).
I can see the rating going up, and I would play this again, but would want to do so with fewer players and enough time to grind it out. I can certainly see that it would go much more quickly once you got your faction built up - question is, given how dry it is to get there, do I want to invest the time?