As good as Africa and USA, not as brutal as the latter though. It's closer to Africa but without the cars, which makes it feel a little tougher. Very easy to get landlocked. An underrated series all in all.
While 10 Days in Africa is superior for geographic education, this one is far more challenging due to the one-tile-per-state setup and the 5 colors instead of 4. I definitely prefer this one as it's fun for the wife and offers more strategy for me. She still kicks my butt at it though.
Brilliant game. Elegance, strategy, tactics, table talk, brain burnage, and a short play time. This plays better with 4-5 than it does with other counts, but it's always fun.
This game is the shining example of how to make a game with big moments and an opportunity to fail. Too many modern games artificially keep things close. Acquire does just enough obscuring of the game state to make you usually not lose hope, while still allowing players to fail and fail spectacularly. Victory means so much more to me when a few big decisions I made would have cast be down far below where I finished.
I wish I could rate this an 11. We just started using the house rule that you must state what your company manufacturers when founding one. Hilarious.
Totally rad DOAM game from the '80s. Great art, awesome theme, some unique combat ideas. You have to balance between needing to swarm the amoebas and getting some real heavy ships against enemy fleets. Like Wizard's Quest, this could have been a solo game with a little more elbow grease.
I like this one much more than the newer 2005 Arkham Horror, which is just way too bloated for its own good. The only real downer is that managing the monsters can be a pain late in the game. I am toying with some monster limit rules as in the new game to help with this.
Have played the first training scenario twice on Vassal now. Takes some getting used to the new modifiers, but I am liking it. I wish the Russians could shoot... anything at all! It feels a little smoother with the new modifiers. I need to get the physical copy and play more of the armor scenarios before I can rate this.
Okay, the mixed infantry/vehicle scenarios on the big boards are just great. Wow.
Squad-level wargame that works great with non-wargamers such as myself. The rules are simple but effective and logical. The scenarios are tense and engaging, and the rules coerce you into trying tactical play. Read the designer notes in the back of the rulebook before you play.
You know that episode of Band of Brothers where Winters & Co. smartly lay down a base of fire and execute flanking maneuvers in order to oust the Germans at Brécourt Manor? What is incredible is how Screaming Eagles elegantly forces such tactical play. Taking potshots at a distance is very unlikely to eliminate or reduce an enemy force in BoB; instead, players must first suppress the enemy, then move in for the kill.
When a unit is suppressed, it is far less likely to be able to return fire, maneuver, or execute any number of actions. A fully suppressed unit (occurring when it takes very heavy fire or takes fire from multiple units) has a very, very slim chance of being able to move, and certain tasks like running & gunning are literally impossible for it to carry out.
The implication of this is that while charging gung-ho through the open towards a full-strength, unsuppressed unit is generally suicide (as I quickly learned in Scenario 1), smartly suppressing, surrounding, and then close assaulting a unit works brilliantly, just as it did in World War II--and all of this without a tome of rules and very few exceptions. While learning this game, these tactics simply naturally emerge from the players without their being forced upon you. It's really something.
The only caveat I have with the system is it's not extremely solo-friendly, but I overcome that by playing all enemy units as decoys and drawing chits or rolling dice when revealed to determine if it was real or not. Out of the box scenarios include 4-5 that I've enjoyed solo.
Update: We've started work on a card-driven AI system for solo play. It works well in pre-alpha so we're excited to see where it goes.
A very interesting game with more tactical options than most trick takers, but less control if you are in the lead (which means the lead gets passed around more often, I think). Scoring and play are totally unique, and it's surprisingly thematic with some sort of narrative. Nice and quick.
Rated after 2 solo plays. Even without the intrigue I'm told about in the multiplayer, the solo game is a brilliant abstraction of the show's dynamic, pacing, and tension. The jump/regroup/jump structure gives you a little room to breathe before another massive Cylon assault threatens to cripple the Galactica.
Played multi now. It is better multi, but a bit longer than solo. I do recommend this for both modes of play. Playing a Cylon well is hard.
A lot of dice rolling and table checking, and solo play is marred by having to control AI opponents. I think a better solo system could be implemented. It's okay but I think the grail pirate game is yet to be made
Very fun game with something of a rare theme. The AI rules are vague, but you've just got to play them to do the most damage to yourself. They could have used more fleshing out (but then of course it may be better that they are light and you can make the AI as hard or easy as you'd like). Tense scenarios with a bit of an exploration feel with the lock boxes, vehicles, civilians, and Intel cards. Neat!
Adds an element of risk to the game. In my first play it seemed to make competition stronger as cathedrals and inn roads were always worth fighting over. Nothing tops base Carcassonne in elegance, but this is a nice variant.
This will always be a favorite of mine. This is one of the few games where I feel that I'm playing the player more than the game, but it also makes it mentally exhausting and not fun if I'm outmatched.
While I think this only approximates a real ancients battle, it's a great system. Most of the strategic considerations are hard-baked into the system itself, so even a simple battle has lots of opportunity for clever tactical maneuvers. My opponent was up 4-2 in VP, and with some luck and desperation I managed to jump up 5-4 in the last couple of turns to steal the win in our first game.
Playing much more via Vassal. I really like this game, though the combined card and dice luck elements can frustrate from time to time.
Brilliant auction / card play hybrid that reminds me of Bridge in a weird way. Hand evaluation is essential, and multiple strategies can be pursued right from the start (1 car or multiple cars? Go for first or try to show?). Lots of depth here.
On a second play it continued to impress. There is definitely lots of tension in both the auction and the race.
Interesting abstract. It can be tough to perceive some of the solutions. Very cutthroat. But... while the idea is neat, it comes to a point where you can just try every solution on the board and either play the only one left or lose. Needs to be played with a timer or something.
Hardly a great game, but with kids it's unbelieveably good. They love turning the dials and they can quickly pick up on the strategy of denying opponents the candy while positioning them in a place to drop into their own scoring containers more easily.
For adults, there isn't a ton of strategy, but there is a light push-your-luck element. Since 25% of the turns, the containers will shift, you have to decide whether to drop a candy all the way next to your own container and hope your opponents don't shift or to play it safe and evenly distribute the candies until you can score in one move. Interesting enough for light filler to be sure.
I am happy to report this is light years better than AH '05, while being different enough from the '87 AH to keep both in my collection. It streamlines everything from the '05 version, expands the scope, adds a sense of adventure, shortens the play time, and gives you a goal to work toward rather than just a "put the fire out" motif. Setup can be a chore. Looking forward to playing more.
Winning with one investigator is a real challenge. You have to pay attention to everything at once, which is tough. I may look at extending the doom track for just one for those occasions when I want the story to play out a little more and not end so early.
Yeah so the only real downside here is the board is just too much to manage for one investigator. You have no hope of controlling the gates or monsters, so you just have to get lucky with the mystery cards and Mythos card draws to win.
Enjoyable enough as a social activity. As a game I think it's easily exploited as you can draw out the guessing so the next person has very little time, plus the difficulty can swing based on the question. It's still hilarious as a party game.
Executive Decision is hilariously dry (Sackson & 3M didn't even bother to theme it: you are buying materials X-Fine, Fine, and STD to produce goods A, B, and C). Though at first it was pretty confusing, and we even lost one player due to boredom, slowly the game's elegance showed itself. It's actually a very interesting player-driven economy which I've never really seen before in a game to this scale. Supply and demand fluctuate rapidly depending on your purchases. I would happily play this again.
Brilliant co-op with myriad options on a given player's turn. Little downtime is expected in multiplayer as you've got to pay attention for chances to follow or op fire. A touch too fiddly with all the decks upon decks and tokens upon tokens. I suspect lighter solo fare will come out more often, but when this one does it's a beast. It's Mutant Chronicles with a solo option and hand management.
Wow, this game continues to impress with the further on scenarios. Games are usually very tight, leaning toward the "difficult" side of the spectrum. It's thematic and yet mechanically very tight and, dare I say, elegant.
The downtime is actually a bit annoying with 4 but not bad under that.
Quite a pleasant little game for a quick, stress-free solo time. The multiplayer is fun but may be balanced to a fault. Though there are a couple different strategies and tactics you can use: camp a good tile and then bomb the big-VP spaces, or sprint around, use the special moves and hit the 1-2 pointers. The components are fantastic for a little indie company--very impressed.
This is a great game. I don't typically care for high score games, but I am strangely compelled to push for a perfect score with Hanabi. Interesting too how the two-player game is so much different from the multiplayer.
Fun abstract that I am no good at. The no-board concept is awesome and novel, but I still feel I'm doing something wrong tactically. I think there are two-player duel games that I much prefer, at least until I get a better grasp of this one.
Well I've increased from 6 to 7. It's just so dang short that you can cram 5 games into a 20-minute sitting, as long as you're not AP prone. That has to count for something.
Good weight, nice play time, good little production. I sometimes feel it's just a bit too abstracted though. I'm not sure why. The close combat doesn't feel dangerous for the attacker. So a unit can just charge gung-ho, and if you don't have the points or don't want to spend the points to respond next turn, your unit just stands there waiting for orders. It is a little odd.
After more plays, some of the other scenarios are really impressing. I think you have to add the optional close combat rule for this game to shine.
Wow, what a great, malleable system. It can be played quickly in a one-year scenario with the basic rules, or you can throw in the kitchen sink and play the entire ACW. Gameplay is fluid and quick, with multiple approaches being viable.
This game is pretty rad for what it is. Yes, it's luck-driven, but there is a level of strategy: pay attention to which hazard cards have come out already, adapt to the "word spreads" cards as needed, try to get to a city every turn if possible. As a teaching tool and a general overview of some of the hardships the early church faced, it's brilliant.
This is a good expansion that adds new tactical considerations for both sides. I only hesitate to recommend it to people who are just getting into Last Night on Earth. The beauty of LNOE is its simple mechanisms telling a story without a ton of setup or a long play time, and SOTF compromises that a little bit. However, if you've played LNOE 3 dozen times as I have, SOTF is a great way to eke more life out of this now-classic zombie game. For the first time in many, many plays, I have had to sit and think for a few minutes--as both zombies and humans--as to what the optimal play is.
Easily my favorite light, hour-ish thematic game. Players must develop and stick to an overarching strategy at the beginning of the game, or they will find that bad luck will dictate the rest of the session. For a game so dependent on dice rolls and card draws, it is amazing how many close games we have had over my 20-ish plays. It seems nearly every game ends on the very last turn or close to it. Highly recommended.
The setup time is a minus as is the teardown time. I really, really like the spatial elements that help contribute to the theme. It works fine with just one player/deck but may need some difficulty tweaks as your deck just gets too good too fast and starts to steamroll.
Great light auction filler. This can rely too much on a good hand draw, but you can always sit out a few turns and build up your hand before bidding. After more plays with lots of players, its simple design really starts to shine. Just lots of fun and a great filler every gamer should have on hand.
Fantastic level of tension and abstracted theme. Set collection strategy is a lot of fun. Very dramatic.
I thought this one might drop from the 10 ranking after many plays, but going on a dozen plays it has not let up. Brilliant design. How many games actually give a player an opportunity to remove himself from the game entirely as a sacrifice to keep the quest going just a little bit longer? I can't think of many.
Keeps impressing me with how tight of a design it is. I do think it is better for 3+ than for 2, because resources are just so abundant with 2.
I've grown to appreciate this one for a simple quest game with the kids. So many adventure games get bogged down in rules and exceptions, and this is one I can play with 3-5 year olds with little fuss.
The Confrontation is an excellent game, full of tension, bluffing, and strategy. Nearly every game session is packed with memorable moments, whether it's Frodo narrowly escaping through a mountain pass or Orcs cutting a swathe of destruction through the good forces' lines.
I enjoy Stratego very much, but LOTR TC has a couple unique advantages. Players are not engaged in a simple war of attrition with the first side to give up a high-value piece doomed from then out. Characters make meaningful sacrifices to clear a path for Frodo, while dark forces have to be very careful not to overextend, opening a hole for the enemy to slip through. This game is best played with a partner over a number of games, so the meta bluffing game gets more and more complex.
Great little lean 2-player game that I'm enjoying more and more with each play. Every turn feels like, "Should I shoot myself in the right foot or the left?" and "Do I help my opponent or hurt myself?". Very fun and more taxing than it has any right to be. Can vary play time as needed by playing more or less rounds.
Rating is for "kitchen table" MTG. I don't care too much for collectible games or competitive scenes in general, but man if it isn't fun to grab a Duel Deck pack or throw together a couple quick decks and play with friends.
As for the rules themselves, I like the mathiness of it all, and the bluffing element eliminates determinism. Facing certain defeat but somehow overcoming by pretending that last card in your hand is a counterspell is exhilarating.
And with the release of the first "challenge deck", Magic has hit the table again in my house. I really hope they keep releasing these.
Underrated as all get-out, Alturien is a great little gateway game that removes some of the hate from the Monopoly formula while adding fun. It is a fun prediction game, deciding where to build your stalls and whether to make one big developed property or a bunch of smaller ones. You have to read the other players as much as the board state, too.
A great, malleable system that is marred by balance, playtest, and rules writing issues. This should by all accounts be a 10, but it needed another few months in the oven.
If you're willing to invest some time in it, it's a fantastic introductory wargame that ACTUALLY introduces people to wargaming concepts. Too many of the "gateway" wargames are systems unto themselves, or fail to teach about CRTs, ZOCs, OOBs, and the like. This is an honest-to-goodness wargame that manages to simplify a lot of the concepts. Too bad about the rules.
Operation Mercury is brutal for the Allies, while Market Garden probably tips in their direction (though we've mainly seen Allied losses).
Predecessor to Hey! That's My Fish, complete with multiple player pawns, 2-4 player support, a heavy blocking element, and a quick pace as more and more pawns get eliminated. This one is a little less intense due to the random card draw, but interestingly the movement tiles actually add a bit of risk management and planning that wouldn't have otherwise been there. Far superior to using a die to move really. I wish I would see more games with this element.
One solo play. Though the rulebook is a little confusing, it's essentially a simple CCG-like system with a spatial element, which is interesting. In solo play, my hand was quickly clogged with cards I couldn't use so I lost with only 1/6 missions complete. I am now suspecting that I should have been spending the mission cards much more liberally, simply to flush my hand and get the spacecraft and launch vehicles I need. I am hopeful that my second play will prove more interesting.
Yeah so my second play was better. Definitely worth a few plays solo if you're a space race aficionado. What's interesting about this one is the strategy isn't quite obvious at first, but once you understand it there's a bit of card-counting and some risk management.
A bit abstract for my taste (I don't usually care for the big chess-like decision tree), but the card play adds flavor, uncertainty, second-guessing, and fun! Does not really simulate the War of 1812 except in the vaguest of ways, but there are some interesting things going on to be sure.
Every card can be used for something, which takes away some of the fun of the luck of the draw. But I think if I were to play this against an evenly matched opponent many times, it would elevate in my rankings a bit.
Many plays before BGG. A good hand-holding CCG for kids. At the top level there is a lot of interesting strategy and tactics, but it's still not super deep. Many cards are strictly better than others, so rarity and blind boosters are problems.
But there is something to be said for a reasonably thematic game that plays smoothly with no interrupts or "stack silliness".
A surprisingly good light family-style card game, borrowing many elements from Mille Bornes and Waterworks. But the spatial element here is more in-depth, and it's really satisfying to build the little cube pyramid.
We will start this at a 7. It did not blow me away as many Knizias have, but a lighter version of T&E should be able to get some table time at least.
Updated to 7.5. I'm really liking this, especially with 4. The game has a similar dynamic and pacing to classic Knizias like Battle Line and Samurai, where early setup moves pay off with thrilling finishes, when every move counts. I just had a newcomer beat me in a duel where I would have won on the next move, but a clever play allowed him to upgrade to a major province and steal a city in one and leapfrog to the victory. Lots of fun.
And updated even higher. Tough to think of a tile-laying game with this much conflict and interesting decisions that plays so quickly and with such a small rule set.
Aaand higher. I was able to eke out two victories after bad starts and with people ganging up on me, and it was absolutely thrilling. This is a classic game in the making.
Fun light sci-fi adventure game. Talisman with some bolt-on features that are mostly good. Corruption is interesting and power cards are cool. With the wrong crowd they would probably bog the game down considerably.
This is a fun deduction/hidden role game with the right crowd. The trouble with this one is it takes a lot of warming up the group, and you don't actually deduce anything conclusive until the final round--at which point the game is over. It is still a blast as a party type game.
I really like this game so far. There are a few rough edges in the rules, and the components are not the greatest, but it's a really unique little game that actually feels like Battlefield in a way. You get one free card draw at the beginning of your turn, plus you are granted a card for each control point you hold (air, weapon, or leadership). But you can only draw your free card from a given deck if your opponent doesn't have total control of all those points. This means if your enemy controls all the airfields, you can't normally spawn aircraft until you kick him out of there. Pretty neat and thematic.
Air support is handled well. Basically it's an abstract token that covers a whole tile's worth of zones, and air support cards let you activate it in interesting ways (strafing runs, rocket attacks, etc). The enemy can normally only get rid of your aircraft by countering with his own. Air support seems hugely important to turning the tide of the battle.
There is a lot of back and forth, with each side threatening victory even early on. One cool feature is the super-powerful Commander Tokens, 8 face-up special power tokens that either side can use once per turn at will--but you're limited to 4 of them per game. So you can start burning through your allotment to go for an early win, but if you fail, your opponent now can use up the other 4 at his leisure.
If I have any concerns they are that the game could run out of steam in certain situations, or get into a stalemate as neither side can gain control of victory zones. But I need more time with it F2F and with 3-4 players to get a better read on that.
Update: our first 4-player game actually had the opposite problem and ended way too early with an easy victory. I think the small rules we were playing loose with may have contributed to the outcome though.
So we're going to start this at an 8 and see where it goes with more play.
The metagame is brilliant while the gameplay is "just" great. Turtling is not a viable strategy as in Revised Risk. I'm also starting to "get" just how eye-opening the concept of permanence is in this game. It eliminates all sorts of problems and gives players a whole new wonderful course of strategy to chew on.
The meta-gaming element just adds a whole other level and subtly fixes some of the problems with classic Risk. Even if I get knocked out of the running for first place early on, I can ensure those who are in the lead or who are gaining on me in total games won over the campaign don't win, or go for a power, or try to trigger cool events or packets, and the list goes on. Brilliance.
I wish it soloed better with just one Samurai. I bet a variant could be done. But it is a ton of fun with the full 7. Samurai Ghost Stories Blackjack: The Game. The theme comes through nicely, with each Samurai trying to defend the people, the village, and his own neck, while fending off as many villains as possible.
Man. I do not think I have ever laughed as hard at a game night as I did during this game. It's kind of an Apples to Apples sort of experience, with a judge character. You combine two cards to create a specific product to sell to a character. Some of the memorable ones were selling a "Vomit Pocket" to a prom date, a "gun leg" to a soldier, and a "food storm" to a pregnant woman. Really exceeded my fairly low expectations.
I had played 2E before and really enjoyed it, but first plays can be a fluke sometimes. I got 4E and hoo boy it's just as good, with everything turned up to eleven. Great models and the thickest tiles and tokens you'll ever see.
Oh did I mention there's a fantastic 1 vs. 1 dungeon crawl in here as well? A little bit of Descent-esque move optimization but not too much, and arranging your dudes in the tight corridors is great. Lots of fun ideas here and one of the best games ever made.
Well we'll start this at a 7, with the possibility of going higher with more plays. I really enjoyed my first play: simple, just about the right weight.
Regarding the reality factor, I'd say it's definitely more "game" than "sim", even though there's lots of detail and granularity in the system. You feel more like you're playing the intricacies of the phases than WW2 tactics.
Still a remarkable achievement for its time and still highly playable today.
Fun game. Biggest problem with this one is piece overload. Losing a big piece doesn't seem to carry the weight that it does in chess or other strategy games. Most of my games end with both players only having 2 or 3 pieces left regardless of the rest of the gameplay.
HOWEVER, it is still a pretty intense game. The streamlined 2011 re-release is much better than the original.
Survive! is a wonderful, light game that works best with the maximum 4 player count. The rules can be explained in a couple of minutes, and yet it never feels too simplistic. The luck factor is high, but the fun factor is higher still.
A great amount of risk vs. reward decisions in a short, non-threatening package. A touch too long for some casual gamers, and probably a few minutes too long for the depth of play.
I must also note that I absolutely adore the blocking, and find it hilarious how many people complain about the blocking element. That IS the entire game: trying to reach your destinations without tipping off too early where exactly you're going for. It's like a game of Twixt in that regard. If you can't handle a little competition and only want to deal with your own little farm/economy/castle without getting your feelings hurt, this isn't the game for you
Deep, deep game. I do like these games that give you limitless options on a turn, but it can get overwhelming. At least it gives you some direction with the starting tiles, your hand, and the rivers--otherwise I'd be as lost as I am when I play Go.
The depth of strategy in choosing when to start conflicts, which to resolve first, how to build your civilizations, where to place your support tiles, when to use disasters, and how best to exploit opponents' unstable civs is insane. Brilliant game.
The theme is well done, and the ratings wars are a hoot. I wish the rest of the game was as well thought out. I don't mind roll and move games, but a few spaces are exponentially better than others, which throws the balance out of whack. A few house rules are also needed, as well as a short game variant if you don't want to be playing for 3 hours.
Very fun tactics, but you do need to use the terrain and objectives to get the most out of it. Army building is not really necessary, but you will need to spend a few minutes picking pre-builts out of the rulebook at very least.
Trivia game that eliminates most of the annoying parts about trivia games. Much less luck factor based on the questions asked than other games with an "I go, you go" format, a nice emphasis on the betting mechanic, and a round limit to keep things nice and short. Works great with the family.
Wizard is a great trick taker that scales well with different numbers of players. It has a great sense of pace as you progress through the rounds. Dropping a Wizard or Jester at opportune or inopportune times can be hilarious.
Some really neat ideas. I wish they had gone the distance and made some real solo rules, because it screams for it. I make do with house rules and variants. I think it could go long or have a lot of downtime with many players.