Cold Case: A Story to Die For
Intro: Cold Case is a series of murder cases that the police at the time were unable to solve. You take the role as investigators reexamining the cases and trying to bring justice to the
unknown culprits. In this particular case an ambitious young reporter was found dead in the forest with a wad of cash stuffed in his mouth. The small town hosts many possible suspects. It is up to you to read the interviews, inspect the evidence, and do the job that police couldn’t do 33 years prior. You must figure out not only who committed the crime, but why they did it, what weapon was used, and how they got away with it.
Components: In this thin box you will find a file with a lot of recorded interviews. Each with a photo of the person being interviewed. These range from one to four pages and make up
the bulk of the game. There are a couple letters, an autopsy report, some pictures, a flier, and a newspaper clipping. There is no answers sheet in the game, you will need to be able to get online to figure the answer out. There are definitely fewer components than other games of this style.
Pacing: This particular case follows a pretty linear path. You’ll have to read through all the interviews, and there is a lot of reading! It helps to trade off with each other and have a note taker as well. After each reading you can start to form a picture of the crime, who the true suspects are, what exactly had happened and what the motivations were. Also as you are reading you’ll be using the other bits of evidence as references. This case doesn’t have a lot of branching paths that players can take, or pieces of evidence to rummage through. It pretty much is just reading through and piercing together the story. Depending on your reading comprehension you can finish this case in about an hour to ninety minutes.
Difficulty: This was probably the easiest case I’ve done. There is lots of evidence to point you in the right direction. There are a couple things that may be missed. But with the minimal amounts of evidence in the box you can cycle through it enough to stumble upon it eventually. We did get stuck on one part, but that was more of a reading comprehension error.
How it compares: As I stated, this is a much easier and linear case. There is more reading and processing than inspecting. So if your group prefers reading to each other and then discussing ideas more so than piecing out clues on your own then this might be more for you. It doesn’t have the same amount of depth as the Hunt a Killeror Unsolved Case Files series. But there is a good story. Think of it as a Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective where you just read the appropriate passages.
I did enjoy my experience playing this game. The story was good. The characters were interesting. The mystery was intriguing. In the end, though, it felt a step back from other cases I have done. It was light on the components, so it never felt overwhelming, but it felt a bit too basic as well. I am glad to have played it and would gladly play another Cold Case game again.
Recommendations, reviews, and top 10s.
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Got a little surprise from my latest purchase from the Goodwill. Lucky me?
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Last time we had plenty of Zombie violence in Mall of Horror. In this video we will be entering the small town of Woodinvale and attempting to survive the Last Night on Earth.
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After getting Backstabbed at Betrayal at House of the Hill I figure everyone should be able to get in on the action. The food court is hosting an all you can betray buffet in Mall of Horror! Enjoy the video.
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I'll be doing a series of all my favorite games to play during Halloween. Starting at #5 is Betrayal. This has always been a favorite of mine. Enjoy the video!
I'm hoping next year I will be able to set up a regular enough game group to do the Legacy version. By all reviews I've heard it sounds much better. I do have the Widows Walk expansion but I don't feel it does a great job in expanding the game. Still it has some nice extra items and events. I've also tried the Baldur's Gate version bit it just doesn't hit the same way. Interesting idea though.
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Escape Room in a Box: Flashback
by Juliana Patel and Ariel Rubin
Overview: Flashback is a sequel to the Werewolf Experiment escape room. The story is more centered on the history of the situation as narrated in notes by Dr Lisa David, a childhood friend of the Werewolf antagonist, Dr Gnaw. You find yourself trapped in the doctors laboratory and have only 90 minutes to figure out how to reverse the ‘werewolfication’ before Gnaw returns and you are eaten.
Pacing: There are three distinct paths needed to escape the lab. They are based on linguistics, science, and childhood memories. Don’t get too excited, they are not as deep as they sound. This works well though as you can split up, or into groups and get at it. This is nice as everyone will be able to stay engaged and you won’t feel like you are looking over someone's shoulder. The three paths will come together at the end as you find your escape. In our play through this was nice, as we were able to trade off paths when we hit a snag, or help each other when we finished. The story that unfolds is coherent, if a bit childish. You do feel like you are figuring out more about the history of the characters rather than escaping a lab. So the name, Flashback, is fitting.
Components: This game’s biggest boon is its incredible amount of physical items that get to play with. The game hosts similar components to its predecessor. The most noticeable being the plastic locks and boxes. These are a little cheap but still work nicely. The labels, at least for me, are a little hard to read. There are several components that will be used to figure out puzzles, pieces you will put together to build items, and lots and lots of paper notes.
Difficulty: This was a bit on the easier side. We finished it in 45 minutes. I’m guessing the target audience was for the younger crowd. Many of the puzzles feel more like activities and it's just a matter of doing the work to get it done. The puzzles are all pretty linear and the game's notes keep you on track. Not to say this game doesn’t have its interesting surprises. Still, there were only a couple times we got a little stuck. Even with the trickier puzzles there is plenty of guidance to get us through. There is also both a hint book and an answer book.
How it compares: If you like the Werewolf Experiment you will like its sequel. I actually enjoyed our playthrough of Flashback more than its predecessor. It feels like a more finished product. It also has an edge over many of the other ‘at home’ escape rooms in the physical components. There is quite a bit to play with and the satisfaction of a lock clicking open just can’t be beat. The story was a bit more childish than other escape rooms I’ve played. Most will have a slightly darker or sinister tone. Despite the constant threats of being eaten, this game never hits that. Instead of saying ‘uh oh, what's next’ I was more along the lines of ‘cool, let's get to the next puzzle.” It is also one of the easier escape rooms I’ve played. You won’t find any crazy complex challenges. More so, it's like working on an activities book. Some puzzles are more arts and crafts than mental gymnastics. Not necessarily a bad thing, as it works well to keep all players involved.
Final Thoughts: First off, there were a few things that bugged me. Looking at the cover I thought this was going to have an 80’s techno theme. The lines and coloring really give of that vibe. Maybe it’s due to my playing of the Sega Genesis game of the same title. I also never got that trapped in a room feeling like I do in other games. Maybe it was the style of the puzzles, which kinda felt like I was working on the puzzle section of a Highlights magazine (I may have really aged myself there.) I just never felt stuck on anything. That being said, I enjoyed my time playing this game. The puzzles were unique enough. There were plenty of surprises. While the story was plenty cheesy it did have us laughing at parts. Most of all, as I stated earlier, nothing is more satisfying than feeling the click when you figure out a lock.
More hardcore gamers may want to sniff around elsewhere but otherwise this experience is approved!
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Hunt a Killer: Death at the Dive Bar
Intro: In the To Hunt a Killer series you take the role of private investigators looking into a murder. In this iteration the owner of a small town bar has turned up dead. The local authorities have ruled it an accident but an employee and friend of the deceased isn’t convinced. It is up to you to look through the compiled evidence and find which suspect has the means, motive and opportunity to pull off a murder.
Components: The components of the game are a little sparse but nice. There are some professional looking memos, dossiers that include photographs of the suspects, various other photographs, bar implements such as a menu and coaster, my personal favorite is always the newspaper clippings, and many other mostly paper clues. One big component is a locked bag. This adds a physical tactile component that is pretty cool.
Pacing: While much of the deducing can be done in different ways there are a few that follow a path. This makes it nice that several players can be looking into different areas. But are then drawn back together at some big ‘Aha!’ moments. This can be done in one to two hours. Though with the easier difficulty level some groups may finish it much quicker.
Difficulty: This is on the easier side. There are a lot of different clues and information that look to clear some of the suspects as well as some that point you into the right direction. It is not without its twists and surprises though. One of which is in the form of a cipher that you need to decode. The
game does a good job in giving you a tutorial on how to do this in the intro. This adds a little variety to the game and may be the hardest part. There is also online support to help guide players if they get stuck.
How it compares: This game works as a great introduction to this style of game. It won’t be as intimidating as a Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, or burn your brain as much and possibly tells a better story than some of the Cold Case or Unsolved Case Files. I do like how it adds some puzzle elements. This will feel familiar to those who have done some of the Escape room games, like Unlocked or the more tactile Escape room the game like The Werewolf Experiment. On the down side, as stated earlier, the components are more sparse and it is quite a bit easier than most cases. Also the price point may be a little high for a one time game. This is similar to all games of the genre though. I always suggest finding other groups that play and get into some trading.
Overall I do enjoy this style of game. This one is no exception. The game tells a nice story as you progress and the ending is satisfying. Sure there are a couple plot holes, but nothing that would completely derail the story. While the easy difficulty may be a turn off for some of the more hardcore players, I found it a nice change of pace while still having some challenging moments. It works well as an introduction to this style of game. The different escape room style puzzles don’t feel forced but fit in with the natural progression of the game. I would recommend this game to beginners and novices, or those that like Escape Room games as well. Veterans detectives may want to look for a challenge elsewhere
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While walking through a local thrift shop I almost passed this up! The cover is so bland and boring my brain just assumed it was a bad kids game. I was in a hurry though and wasn't able check it out. With that being said I was excited to see just what was inside, so I decided to share. Let's take a look.
I'd say I was pretty lucky this time. What should I do with this near perfect copy; shelf it, play it, or throw it into the market place? Lemme know.
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Deep Sea Adventure
Designed by Jun Sasaki & Goro Sasaki
Published by Oink Games Inc
20 -30 Minutes
Several divers are attempting to go deep into the sea in search of treasures. Over three rounds they will try and secure some loot before the air runs out of the submarines. Whoever’s lot is worth the most at the end wins!
How it plays:
Players will take turns rolling two 3-sided dice and traveling down a track of treasure chits. They then decide if they would like to like to take the treasure chit they are on and replace it with an empty chit. On subsequent turns players move a shared oxygen tracker based on how many treasures they have. Then decide if they want to push on or start their return to the ship. Movement is hampered by carrying treasures, minus one per each one held. Players must return to the submarine before oxygen runs out in order to keep their treasures. If they fail to do so they must drop them to the bottom of the track in groups of three. At the end of the round the points are revealed, the empty chit markers are removed, the oxygen is replenished, and play resumes. After three rounds points are totaled and a winner declared.
The game comes in a very small box. In it are six wooden diver meeples, several treasure/track chits, a submarine, and an oxygen marker. The components are all very basic. I do like the diver meeples. Everything else though is very minimalist and basic. Its doesn’t need to be flashy though, it gets the job done. The muted blue and sea foam green colors are pleasant enough. Don’t expect any big production or fancy artwork. Even the dice are made of a light wood.
Here is a theme that works perfect with a push your luck style game. I’ve gone scuba diving a few times and we are always tracking our air. It’s something you definitely don’t want to gamble with. When making your plans its perhaps the most important thing to consider. So it makes perfect sense to make it the driving force behind the game. True air is only shared in emergencies, but the idea that other peoples actions are affecting how you breath and what you can do is very true.
How it feels:
You have to really read the table and try and figure out what the other players are likely to do. Its not just a matter of what you want to risk but also what do you have to do to mess with the risks other players are taking. This may involve taking treasures you may not want just to use up the oxygen, messing up the other players who are going too deep. It may be anticipating that the other players willing be trying for those deeper, nicer treasures as well. Not knowing what treasures your opponents have till the round is over is a nice way to keep everyone guessing. You may want to keep it safe, but some of those top level treasure chits are worth zero points.
What I like:
I’m usually not a huge fan of push your luck. This, however, has a lot more going on with it. Reading the other players and deciding how much of a risk to take is great. There is a lot of tension in grabbing those treasures, then hoping the dice will be kind to you so you can get back. Trust me, you will always run out of oxygen the first time you play. You think you have more time but it creeps up fast. So there is a bit of a learning curve. Add in the fact that it will keep changing depending on who you are playing against and you have a lot of replay ability.
What I don’t like:
It’s a little too minimalist. While everything is still very functional, I feel there could have been a little more artwork added. Maybe some small pictures of treasures instead of just numbers. AS small as it is the box still could have been smaller, about half the width. It maybe could have had a bag in it as well, a la Love Letter.
This game is a keeper. I’m really happy to have a filler that isn’t just cards, a Roll n Write, or just a simple dice game. I’m thinking there will be a lot of replay ability. It is very easy to teach and understand. So this has made its way onto my game shelf, and will probably spend a lot of time in my backpack as well, as I will be taking it around. For those special moments when I get to break
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Monopoly is sadly one of the most popular games in the world. The dark stain it has put on our beloved hobby may never be fully erased. It has scarred us in our early years and destroyed many a family gathering. But mostly it has created barriers to spreading the greatness that is the board gaming world. Still, we can use this abomination of a game and twist it our purposes. Here are two lists of games that take something from Monopoly and do it better. Using the known name and concepts we can show our friends the light and guide them to better gaming.
Coach Troy: Machi Koro
This uses the idea of gaining properties and using them in combinations with each other. There is also dice rolling and money management. The biggest improvement I'd say is the player interaction in each turn. There is always something that may be happening so you have to pay attention. There is also the Bright Lights, Big Cityversion, which I prefer, and the Legacy version is great too!
Adam: The Game of Life
Not sure he is helping the cause with this one. His reasoning being that it has an ending that you can see. While that is true I'd still prefer to erase this game from the earth. We can keep the spinner though.
Coach Troy: Monopoly Deal the card game
This I would say is the best version of Monopoly. Mostly because it doesn't play like it older brother. Its set collection with a bit of take that and hand management as you try and get three sets of properties. Having the name makes it a little more welcoming and a solid stepping stone to better card games.
Adam: McDonald's Monopoly
Win a free small fry? Ok, so I may need to rethink which is the best version of Monopoly.
Coach Troy: Catan
This classic is easy to learn, looks great, and is an awesome intro game that for many has replaced Monopoly. These easily can take over as the family game night go to. There is dice rolling, property building, and lots of trading! Its very interactive as we are always looking for one more sheep or wood. The resource managment replaces the money management and is a lot more fun.
Finally a good pick! This is a very clean game of bidding, set collection, and money management. The game is played in two halves, starting with drafting all the cards. Trying to keep in mind what people have to stop them from getting complete sets. Then in the second round you will be using all the money you drafted to bid for cards to either solidify your sets or influence the point values of the sets. I would also put For Sale here as well. Very similar game that may have a bit more of a family friendly look.
Coach Troy: Quadropalis
There are many City building games. This just happens to be my favorite. So if someone likes the idea of building up their properties then a game like this is a perfect replacement. The properties all interact and score points in different ways. There are multiple ways to play. And there is some player interaction.
This is a quick card game that uses dice rolling, set collecting, and has a unique bidding system. The cards look great, the scoring changes from game to game, and it plays fast. This is another solid pick from Adam. He is really starting to up his picks. I'm exited to see his number one.
Coach Troy: Acquire
This is the ultimate money management game. This is the game that should be holding the position of most widely know family game. A Sid Sackson classic, this game is game has been around since the 60's and doesn't get the love it deserves. Maybe it was because it was in the 3M line of bookshelf games. Stiil, the building up of companies, deciding when to merge, what stocks to buy, how to manage all that money. This game is amazing. It still needs to get a good looking modern version made.
Sigh... I thought he was on the right track. But as he puts it. This is a known game that is better than Monopoly because you have control. All the chance and die rolls are gone and it is all up to your personal skill.
So any of these should be a suitable replacement for Monopoly. With these lists (well still not %100 sure on some of Adam's)you should be able to steer your friends and family to the brighter side of board gaming! Agree or disagree? Let us know and share your replacement games as well.
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