All the Meeples of the Rainbow.

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The Queen of Hadara Pathfinds her way to the Tower Dungeon in Paris...

Steph Hodge
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Hia Everyone!

Happy Monday to you!


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At Gen Con, there were a few Japanese games that were being released, and I was definitely excited to check out The Queen of Hansa. New to me!

Though this game comes from Japan, The Queen of Hansa is very much a Euro game. With artwork by Klemens Franz, anyone might have easily placed this as coming out of Europe.

In the Queen of Hansa, players are building up their card tableaus and claiming victory points by having the highest total values in each color. The points that are awarded are based on a fluctuating market. The game lasts 3 rounds and there is one big scoring at the end and the person with the highest score will win.

Each round, the active player will first play a card from their hand faceup to their tableau or facedown into a pile. If they choose to play faceup, they will then draft a card from the port of the matching color. For example, if they played a red card, they can select one of the 2 cards in the red port, if there are still cards left there. This card is added to the player's hand, so players always have a hand of 2 cards to choose from on their next turn.

If you play a card facedown, you can draft a card from any port and adjust one of the market tracks. The facedown pile will be used during the end game scoring.

After you draft a card, a card at sea will slide down and fill the empty port slot. The market will adjust when there are no more cards at sea for that port.

The heart of the game is in the card play and the drafting. You want to collect the right cards so you can win majorities and collect sets of same or different people for end-of-game bonuses. Some cards give bonus resources. You can keep resources from round to round if you have a boat card in play to store them on. The resources provide a +1 to that color when figuring out majorities.

I played a 2 player game and we found that the theme was a little off. The way the markets worked suggested that the faster shipments would lose their value and the longer shipments would be most valuable, but really, it should be that the first in to port should provide more value. Also, the boat card that holds resources could just as easily have been a warehouse card. Why would you store goods on a boat after they've reached port?

There is also this really weird scoring happening in the market, where sometimes having second in the majority would gain you more points than the player with the majority. We would often try to be tied in a resource color since neither of us wanted to get MORE of that resource, since it would only help the other player more. It just felt off and not like the correct way to play. There is a super easy fix, which is to ignore the top line of the marketplace which gives straight-up victory points. The 2nd and 3rd lines give multipliers for their total value in that resource.

He ended up winning since I was too confident with my facedown cards. I thought I would have a higher value among those facedown cards but he was able to get them and a full set of people for about as much as I was. It was still a close game, and he ended with 285 to my 277.

There is a lot to like about this game. I just wish the market values were handled differently. I will try again with more players to see if there is more manipulation of the market, but when I play after that, I feel like I will end up using my market variant, not scoring the top line of the market, since it just doesn't make much sense.

Other than that, I really liked everything else about this game. I love the art and the style of gameplay. Much to enjoy with this one and I look forward to trying again.
















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The vibrancy of Colors of Paris is really what drew me in to wanting to play this game. New to me!

My initial reaction was that it reminded me a bit of Pastiche because you are collecting swatches of paint to create paintings you have collected. Thankfully, Colors of Paris is more streamlined and a faster game to play.

In Colors of Paris, players are placing their meeples on the action board. Each round, the action board will rotate, causing some spaces to be unavailable and others will allow up to 2 people to occupy them. When playing with fewer players, even more spaces will be blocked off. The center spaces in the wheel are always available.

On three of the outer spaces, you can acquire primary color paints. If you have the right mix of primes, you can create the secondary colors by taking one of those spots on the wheel. There are also spaces for claiming paintings and adding paints to your claimed paintings. Perhaps the most sought-after spaces are the three that give advancements on your player board by paying 2 paints. These advancements will allow you to collect more primary colors, mix more secondary colors, or paint more blocks at a time. Advancing up each track can also give you extra workers or bonus points.

Perhaps the most interesting mechanic of the game is in the recovery phase when players take back their meeples except one, which remains on the board for the next round. This is important, since you are basically assigning your worker to a space for the next round, but you are also possibly denying another player the use of that space. It can be a bit mean, but there is a mimic space available, so it is possible they MIGHT not be denied. It really depends on turn order and meeple resolution. It is a clever mechanic and one I don't see frequently enough.

Michael and I ended up playing back-to-back games. We tried out different painter abilities to see how they interacted. Some painter abilities just seemed more powerful than others. In the first game, I was playing with Renoir and he enabled me to pay extra paints to advance my tracks further. I did it every chance I could so I could get more and more powers from my actions that I was taking. Yeah, I kicked butt that game. I ended up with 44 to Michael's 18. Seemed a little too good.

The second game was a lot closer and I didn't really get to use my powers as much. I think Michael was having an easier time of it since I was focused on something totally different. He noticed I was trying to rush the ending, so he worked on completing a couple of fast paintings. He won that time with 32 to my 18.

I think Colors of Paris is pretty good. It's so quick that I don't get caught up in trying to do too many things. It doesn't feel long, like Pastiche does. I really like the mechanic where you leave one worker behind. I would love to try all the different painter abilities, though Renoir might just be too powerful. Hard to say! Beautiful game. This is one I would be happy to play again.


























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Oh man, Michael and I have been playing a lot of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy's Mask – Base Set recently, but a new arrival of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set came and we were hooked. New to me!

We actually put Mummy to the side and COMPLETELY FINISHED the Core box, playing 11 games. We haven't started the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path expansion yet.

Pathfinder Core updates and clarifies the rules from the original system. Many of the characters have been updated to be slightly different. Of course, there is a new box and new graphic design for the cards, which I happen to really love.

One of the biggest differences is that there is now an adventure book. There is a lot more story woven into the game, which gives a lot of meaning to the locations we were visiting and what our mission actually was. Even though I am not really into the theme all that much, it was pretty cool to have that, and people who are into the theme will really appreciate it.

The Core adventure is shorter than the older box sets. Each scenario has only 3 levels to get through, so it's only 9 game process to complete all the scenarios. For an added challenge, you can play each scenario on easy, normal, and hard mode, a feature that seems to be pulled from the digital Pathfinder game, though I haven't ever played it. The expansions seem to have longer adventures and a few additional characters, but you will incorporate all of the cards from the core box with the expansions.

One downside to the new set is the proxy cards, which are generic cards that are used instead of having multiple copies of the henchmen cards. So those proxies will be used a whole lot! I worry that those cards are going to start getting nicked up and marked.

I wasn't familiar with the characters, but Michael has played them all in his time playing Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set, so he checked out the new character, Fumbus the Alchemist. I had NO CHOICE but to play with Lini, how could I not? SHE LOVES THE ANIMAL PUNKINS! She has a million ally friends who are all fluffy and adorable. Not gonna lie, it was a hard change from being the big badass fighter guy to being all about survival, having the total opposite skillset, basically. Learning all the cards is so hard for me. I can't remember everything that well, but playing game after game really helps me hone in on what to look for.

Since both of our characters are helper characters, we were often working the locations together and helping each other with the battles. This was a very big change from how we play in Mummy with Estra and Zadim.

Another change from the older sets is that you get to spend hero points to upgrade your character in whatever order you choose. We got to choose our own upgrades each time we won the level. Michael was afraid we wouldn't get Role cards because the adventure was so short, but we did!

I am glad we were able to play through it all and see how it played out. I can't really focus on being in 2 different Pathfinder games since I would just be confused with all of my checks and bonuses. Do I have Craft? oh no, that is in the other game. Blah, it is a mess in my brain.

"While I loved playing with Lini, I really miss my weapons and playing with Kadim," I said.
"You mean Zadim?" Michael suggested.
"Yeah, him."

Love the new look of the Core Set! I loved working through the adventure book. I want to finish Mummy before hitting up the Crimson expansion and getting neck-deep into a new character. I love what it is all doing and am excited to play more. Really enjoyable. Really loving these Pathfinder games!

















Failed this stupid easy check - I mean c'mon, for the rainbow bird!!












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Towers of Äm'härb had my attention when I heard their box cover glowed in the dark! What craziness is this!? I love it and I had to play it! New to me!

Towers of Am'harb is an abstract game that plays in about 30 minutes. In this game, players are trying to dominate the world by worshipping around altars and scoring points.

At the start of the game, you will draft an Ancient One that will give you a special ongoing power. Each turn, you will move a disc from a stack to another stack, never covering another disc that is smaller than the one being moved. You will then place one cultist anywhere in the region that you moved the disc to.

To place a cultist in a space, you have to pay one resource for each cultist in the surrounding 8 spaces minus the number of discs you have in that region. After you place your cultist, you will collect the resource from the space you claimed. You have 9 cultists so the game will end once everyone has played 9 rounds. You have 3 large cultists with an influence of 3 and 6 small cultists with an influence of 1.

The board changes depending on the number of players. I was playing a 2 player game so we had the smallest board. The rules suggests that resources are tight and that you will often be spending them to claim regions. Neither of us ever had that feeling or tightness at all. I am not even sure I spent more than 2 resources placing cultists all game. I really wish there were some other scoring mechanism for leftover resources.

You might use resources if you have a cool Ancient One power. I never used my ability at all which allowed me to relocate one of my cultists to an empty space. I always picked the best space for my cultists anyway, so I never had to move them.

I lost with 27 points to his 31. I don't think there was anything I could do without being totally AP, and I just don't like being AP in games. That's not my style.

I think the production in this game is awesome and I love the wooden discs and the glow in the dark cover. For me, the gameplay was pretty basic and not that interesting. I was always able to take the best available spot for me and I didn't have that tension of having to pay a ton of resources. It might be tighter if the tower didn't give discounts, but I would still just find the best and cheapest spot to place. I also want more bonuses to work towards for end game scoring. I want resource set collections or perhaps rare resources that are worth more points. I don't know, but for me, this game just wasn't enough to keep me interested, but it is harmless and fast. I could play again, if requested.






















Cover in the dark...


Cover in the light...


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Kosmos has a new line of card games coming out this fall that are like a choose-your-own-adventure type series. I got to check out the first part of Adventure Games: The Dungeon. New to me!

There is a spoiler element to this one so I won't get too deep into it, but the basics of the game are that there are essentially 3 parts to each box. You can play each part in the same setting for a longer game experience, or you can find a good stopping point and pick up the next part of the adventure later.

Each player will take turns exploring locations or trying to interact with the different objects they have collected. There is a book that will tell them what they have explored. It will often help them figure out what they need in order to get through. For example, a bronze lock will likely need a bronze key and not a silver key. You might find the exit pretty fast, but do you stick around to try and find more treasures and possibly get a better score?

There are some easter eggs to find, and it is exciting to think that I might have missed something. I like not having that certainty. It could mean that there's replay value. Simply playing with other players could mean a different experience.

Again, I am not very far into the first adventure, but I am loving the experience so far. I am excited to continue and see the 2nd and 3rd parts! Any fan of the Exit-type games will appreciate this one, I am sure! I can't wait for the app to be incorporated with the game so it will read the interactions instead of us having to fish through the lengthy book for our answers. Though I don't mind the book, it is rather humorous! Michael uses voices and it is fun.







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Michael and I broke out a favorite from 2019 called Hadara.

I wanted to make sure to get great pictures so I can select the best from the batch to add into my 2020 calendar. If you missed last year's calendar, here's a snapshot of the back page, showing all 12 months:



I am currently working on a website for pre-ordering my 2020 calendar. Send me a geekmail if you are interested in knowing when it is ready to go!


Hadara is a game I just love and will always play. I think we have both played it 6 or 7 times and we just keep coming back for more. I guess I should add it to my 10x10 challenge board!

I duno what happened this game, but we were both mismanaging our funds and getting really short on cash. We ended up with fewer cards and fewer points than normal. Michael still won with 172 to my 156. Maybe I was just too focused on getting some good shots.

I bought sleeves Hadara, so I need to take the time and actually sleeve it soon. These cards will be well-loved, I am sure!












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New to the Collection:
Adventure Games: The Dungeon
Adventure Games: Monochrome Inc.
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path






Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph




All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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Mon Sep 16, 2019 12:00 pm
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The Cartographers of the North Cry into The Void in search of the City of Gods!

Steph Hodge
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Hia Everyone!



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My unplayed shelf is forever long at this point. I have probably acquired too many games in the past year, and I just can't keep up! Yet I still love the challenge to play all the games!

In an effort to trim the unplayed shelf down a little, I pulled out Schollen Rollen. New to me!

Schollen Rollen has adorable artwork and reminds me of artwork by Doris Matthäus. This is a pretty simple push-your-luck dice rolling game where players are taking turns rolling and rerolling dice until they either bust or stop with the fish they have caught.

Michael and I played the quick game. I won since I was just rolling better than he did. It wasn't very exciting.

While I love all of the fish meeples and chucking dice, this totally fell flat. I wanted to love it, but there were'nt enough choices for me. It was cute enough where it was harmless, and I could play again, but it wasn't much fun other than stealing tons of fish from other people when the dice allowed for it. I would always request a roll n write instead of this.





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Next off the shelf, we pulled Knights of Crylail. New to me!

Knights of Crylail is an older dexterity game that involves flicking discs. I would go on a limb to guess that the majority of dex fans would pick Crokinole to be their favorite flicking game. Crylail doesn't even compare other than flicking.

Crylail is played over a number of rounds, based on the players' desired length. Each player has their own set of 6 discs. Each disc will score differently depending on how they are situated at the end of the round.

In our play, I wasn't shooting well at all. I think most of my discs ended up on the floor or not close enough to keep. I couldn't get the disc to be in range at all. I think I need to wax down my table a bit if I want to play it again. But probably not.

Michael absolutely destroyed me. I think I got negative points and he was definitely not sitting with negative points.

Eh, I am glad I tried it, and it wasn't the worst dexterity game I have played, but I didn't have that much fun with it either. Pondering... I bet Joe R would like it...
















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New games all over the place, and I was super excited to play Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North again.

Back in April, I got to try this game for the first time and had a wonderful time learning it. Back then, I was not optimal in doing anything. So I was ready to hone in this time and really figure out my faction's abilities and focuses.

I ended up choosing the Inuit faction because the little girl and her penguin friend are just too cute!! How could I not choose to play them every time?

I made a pretty big error almost immediately. I played an igloo card because I had a fish card that scored for igloo cards, thinking there would be more fish cards to score for igloos. Yah, not so much. So I never got the chance to score bigger for that one card.

I tried to be more focused after that. Ending it when I did allowed me to win the game with 49 points. I had to really push for the ending to trigger. Had the game gone another round, I couldn't have put a stop to Michael and his massive point generating engine he managed to build up. I got extremely lucky that game!

It was a long game that lasted 90-120 minutes because we had to relearn it and learn a new faction deck of cards. There is a lot of processing to do. While I think this is a better game than Imperial Settlers, it will still run the same length of time, which is not really an attractive length for me. I would much rather see it last 60 minutes or less. But still, I want to play it more and learn the different factions. I think this game has a lot to offer.



















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After Gen Con, I had a lot of awesome BGG items to improve my Teotihuacan: City of Gods, including the promo tile and the awesome bags to hold all the stuffs. It was also time to play with the new Teotihuacan: Late Preclassic Period expansion that was just released!

I have played with the expansion several times because I was able to PnP it and try it out prior to it being released. I am so excited to finally have the official copy with all of the roles and excellent quality. I hadn't had a chance to use my new custom pyramids yet, so I added those as well!

After setting up the game, Michael and I totally forgot to use the events for the first 2 epochs. Hahhaha! We wanted to use all the modules, but totally just forgot! This game just takes up so much space on the table and the event board was way off to the side. There is definitely a lot to keep track of nowadays. I love it though. I will always use the new boards mixed in with the rest of the boards, and I love the new Orange temple track and the bonuses it provides.

This game was a nail biter. I was getting a ton of in-game points. I nearly lapped Michael at one point. Michael, on the other hand, was collecting every favor token in the game. I had never seen someone collect so many favor tokens! It was insane!! We totally ran out of tiles near the end of the game. I just couldn't believe it!

In the end, we TIED!!! We both ended with 178 points! Can you flippin' believe that? We were doing totally different things and we ended up tied. I am still shocked about it. I don't even recall the tiebreaker at this point. What a game! I really love it. Such a great time. This expansion is a must-have for any Teo fan!
















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At BGG Spring, I got to learn Comanauts and it made a really good impression on me. I like the deep puzzle mixed in with some luck and character building.

I was excited to get this one back to the table with Michael. I figured we would have an easier go of it than the first learning game we played. Boy, was I wrong. We were digging in that rulebook over and over for lots of various details. We couldn't nail anything down fast.

In our first chapter, we were nearly certain we had figured out the final destination. So we went to that chapter and spent a good deal of time working our way through it. We reached the final stage only to learn that it wasn't the correct location. We were baffled and dumbfounded. We totally misread the clue we were given and took it for an entirely different meaning. The game is very tricky like that.

So we continued our journey in the memories and finally figured out the correct destination so we could defeat the prime emotion. We did it, and it left me totally drained.

We weren't close to losing, but we spent just so long playing I was ready to wrap it up at the end of the second chapter. Because of our bad detour, I think our game lasted 6 hours or something ridiculously long. I lost track. It was definitely a rough play, but I am hoping our third play will be smoother.

I find this game has a lot to offer with a variety of content. There is so much to explore in this box, which is a great thing. People who love long puzzles will be sure to enjoy this one. It is definitely clever.























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I was so excited that Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale was available for sale at Gen Con and there was an awesome playing mat to go along with it!! Oh man!!! Super pumped to play with that mat. So I suggested - ok, more like demanded - to play a game.

I just love playing Cartographers, and I will always want to play it. This is easily one of the best games in the roll/flip n write universe. I love creating colorful maps, and now I have a gorgeous mat to play with!

I was too focused on early goals and not focused enough on the final game goals. I was not well rounded, so I was left out cold at the end of the game with very few points to gain. Michael took home the victory this time with 65 to my sad 51.

This only means I need a rematch, asap! LOVE IT!












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MOAR from Aeon's End! This time we opened up Accessory Pack #2 and Aeon's End: The Void. New to me Expansions.

So the Accessory Pack basically contains the dividers we needed to finish organizing a few of our mages. There were also some extra sparks and crystals - not really sure we needed those, but I suppose they don't hurt!

The Void brings us a couple more mages and 2 new nemeses to defeat. Of course, there are a bunch of spells and gems to go along with it, and there are almost enough of them to fill the supply piles.

We ended up playing against the Maiden of Thorns and we got stomped. Many of these new cards gave link bonuses that allowed for spells to be cast together, but we could never build up to the point where we could make it work.

Before we knew it, the game was over and we were kaput! The Maiden just ruined us. I love a good challenge, and we put up a good fight. Until next time, Maiden!!!

I had an awesome time playing with the link cards. I am excited to try to make them work next time. Link cards will work with only 1 link card in play, but it seems like you would need a few different link cards in the supply for it to work well. Still, they are pretty cool. The MOAR Aeon's End, the better! Love it alllllllllll!

















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New to the Collection:
Schollen Rollen
Knights of Crylail
Comanauts







Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph




All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:00 pm
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Good Night, Little Dragons, let your Soul soar in the Air in Everdell.

Steph Hodge
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I had been looking forward to trying out an expansion for the very popular Everdell called Everdell: Pearlbrook. New to me Expansion!

In Pearlbrook, there are a bunch of new player pawns and cards to explore, because more cuteness is mandatory. There is now a new resource: the pearl, which is rare and valuable. Players are given 2 pearl cards at the start of the game that provide bonus points and abilities if they are activated.

The biggest change is the huge river sideboard that expands the already huge forest board. On this new river board, you will be able to take a special river action with a new frog pawn that each player will receive. The locations on the river allow you to gain pearls and resources if you meet their requirements. You will also want to save up your resources to construct wonders that are worth tons of end game points, and they all require pearls to complete.

Michael hadn't played the base game, but he was fine with adding in the expansion for his first time playing. I knew this would be a game he would love since he loves tableau-building games and creating combos.

Once we got going, it was clear that Michael had much better pearl cards than I did. He was able to collect pearls with ease and then use his cards right away for prompt bonuses. I think he was able to score 12 points from one of those pearl cards at the end of the game. Mine gave me only 2-4 points so it was terrible. I think I will just remove the pearl cards in my next play.

I like what the river board expansion adds, and I like the new pearl resources. I was trying my best to claim as many pearls as I could. But I kinda wish they could be converted into any other resource. Using pearls as wild resources would have helped me a bunch.

All game I was super far behind, and my cards never played in my favor. I tried to get a few extra points in exchange for giving Michael my extra resources, but those resources helped him more than the points helped me. It was just not working out for me.

I never planned to build a wonder, and I realize now that was my huge mistake. Those wonders were just an insane amount of points. Michael scored the biggest wonder for 25 points, and I had no hope to catch up. He absolutely crushed me by over 30 points. There was nothing I could do to stop it and it was painfully clear he would win this game even before he claimed the wonder. Well, perhaps I have learned and will do better next time.

Pearlbrook is a pretty smooth transition from the base game. There is nothing overwhelming or hard to adjust to, just more action spaces and cards and new wonders to shoot for. Again, I don't think the pearl cards are very balanced and I will choose to not play with them next time. But Pearlbrook is a beautiful addition and I think fans of this game will go crazy for it. I also love the big OPEN signs that are included in the game. They rock! I gotta get those googly eyes on my animals before the next game!





















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Michael and I decided to check out a quick new game called Shuffle Grand Prix. New to me!

I think it is smart for Bicycle to get into gaming a bit more. Obviously, the cards in the game are Bicycle quality, which is excellent.

In Shuffle Grand Prix, players are racing to be the furthest in the lead when the game ends. The game will end when the distance cards have all been drawn.

Each player will be in control of 2 characters: a main driver and a secondary driver. Each character has a unique specialty and a deck of cards that is custom to their personality type. For example, the red driver is reckless and will cause a lot of damage, even to himself. While a character is the main driver, they are able to use their specialty.

Your car will start with 4 wheels which are used as life points. If the car ever loses all of its wheels, the player will lose the top card of their distance track and the main driver will swap positions with the secondary driver. The person who caused the crash will gain a trophy, which might even be the owner of the crashed car. Trophies are used to break ties, to swap drivers, and to play extra ability cards.

Each turn, the active player will draw one distance card and add it to their track, which will be a value from 25 to 100. They will then play an ability card and draw a new one. Ability cards can be used to inflict damage, lay traps, add equipment to your car, or nerf an opponent's car. It is almost like Mario Cart.

The red Rocketeer and orange Musician characters were calling my name. So I shuffled their decks together to form my action draw pile. It was looking pretty good for me. I was drawing really large distance cards early. One of Michael's drivers had a pretty good specialty that allowed him to turn his 25s into 50s. But I think he used that ability only 2 or 3 times, so perhaps it wasn't that helpful.

We were running a close race and I was hanging on to a card in my hand that would cause 4 damage to the person in the lead, basically making them spin out, which would have been awesome. I just always managed to remain in the lead when it was time for me to play actions. So it worked out for me anyway! I won by 100 distance. But it could have been anyone's game!

Shuffle Grand Prix was easy to learn and offered more choices than I expected, which was great. I love how you can combine the character decks for a unique experience each time. I don't think it will be a game I will frequently play but it is light hearted and enjoyable, so I would be happy to play again.














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Spur of the moment gaming at James and Susan's enabled me to get a bunch of new family games played. We were able to easily convince the 3 kids to play a bunch of games with us. While Susan and the kids were playing another game, James and I learned and played 4 games of Soulaween. New to me!

What perfect timing, with Halloween just around the corner! I love the artwork in all of Play With Us Design (玩聚設計) games, so I was anxious to see how this game played out.

Soulaween is a 2 player abstract game. In Soulaween, you will be placing souls on the board either red side or green side up on an empty space. Each directly adjacent space will flip over. Your goal is to try to get 4 in a row of the same color. When you make a row of 4, you will remove the scored pieces from the game board. You win the game by scoring 3 times before the other player does.

That might seem pretty basic, but there are also player abilities that you can use and different ways to manipulate the gameplay. This is why I wanted to play so many times, but I also wanted to play more because James absolutely crushed me each and every time!

We first tried out the basic game and it was just okay. I was just getting a feeling for the game and James was already like, "Yep, I've got this," and totally crushed me before I could even score one row. Rly?! I clearly don't play enough abstract games.

Once we added in characters and abilities, the game became a new challenge. I first had the ability which caused the 4 corner tiles to flip instead of the directly adjacent tiles. I had to adapt to this new way of thinking, so I played this character twice in a row just to get the feel of it. James had chosen a character that had a SUPER POWERFUL ability. After James scored a color, I HAD TO score that color before I could score a different color. It was almost OP. I should use probably use that power on James to give him a handicap since James is just so good.

In the final game, James and I went head to head with the same power. That power allowed us to score the 4 pieces in different formations. We had to score 3 times, once in each formation on the card. It was cool playing the same power against each other because I knew he was going for the same patterns I was. It almost made it easier to block him. I was in the lead most of the time and really thought I would win that game. Yah, not so much. He still won! Doh! Maybe the 5th game would have been the charm.

I think this is an adorable abstract game. I love the production and artwork. Everything about this game is solid and any fan of abstract games will appreciate this one. Simple to learn and play and one I could easily play anytime.















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I was able to really capture everyone's attentions with the adorable animal art while I explained 1 2 3 Good Night. New to me!

This game plays up to 6 players, so we played with the whole gang. It is a speed set-collection game where one player, the Seeker, races to find specific cards in a deck while the other players search for matching animals on facedown tiles.

What is challenging about finding matches is that each matching animal will be in two different positions, one in the daytime and one at night. All animals have a unique item with them which will help you make sure that you have found the right match.

Each player will have a role card with a pose they have to make as soon as the seeker says "Done." If they don't, then the Seeker can call them out and make them lose their points for the round.

At the end of the round, players will get 2 points per set they have correctly collected and -2 if an incorrect pair was collected. The Seeker role will pass to the next player and all player role cards are also rotated. Every player will be Seeker for one round and then the game will end.

Everyone picked up the rules fairly quickly. We found that in each round, all the matches would be found before the Seeker would finish, which was sorta anti-climactic. Perhaps playing with fewer people would be better so that the Seeker can finish before all the matches are made.

Everything worked out in James' favor this time and he crushed us all. I think he was even pulling tiles out of Susan's hands at times. How Dare He?!

Hey, as soon as I saw the panda had a camera in his hand, I had to go for that panda every time. It was like a necessity! I am so driven by artwork and so totally biased towards photography! This is why I don't win games. Or so I tell myself.

This game is super cute with wonderful art and super easy to play with kids. I like that the images don't match exactly and it isn't always clear which image goes with another. It's fun. I would prefer playing with fewer players next time, but I would be happy to play again.













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Everyone was pumped to play a new baby dragon game called Little Dragons. New to me!

Little Dragons is a set collection game where you try to gain majorities in as many numbers as you can. Each card is an egg with a number from 3 to 9. There are three 3s, four 4s, all the way up to nine 9s. Trophies are awarded to the person who has the most of a given number. Trophies are worth 3 points and each individual egg card is worth 1 point. There are also broken eggs in the mix that are worth -1 point each.

At the start of the game, three eggs are turned face up. During each turn, the active player can reveal 2 facedown eggs or take 1 revealed egg. If they reveal 2 eggs and the numbers are different, they can take one of their choice. If the numbers are the same, they must reveal a 3rd egg. If the 3rd egg also matches, they get all 3 eggs; otherwise, they get either the pair of matching eggs or the 1 other egg. If a player ever reveals a broken egg, they must take the broken egg and their turn ends immediately.

Alternatively, the active player can take a single egg, either a faceup egg or a facedown egg. Then the active player can choose to shuffle the eggs.

In either case, at the end of the turn, the active player must flip cards so that there are only 3 remaining faceup. If only 6 or fewer eggs remain, the game ends.

I generally play these kinds of games where all the tiles I take are facedown. I don't like other people knowing what I know. It keeps the game interesting. But since we were with kids, I played on the nicer side and ended up taking only one facedown tile. No one else took a facedown tile at all. So there was pretty much perfect knowledge and everyone could do their math and deduction.

Susan had the lead, but I had forgotten the rule where the game ends when 6 or fewer eggs remain. So we had to backtrack her turn. So guess who ended up winning? James, of course. C'mon James!! Give other people a chance. That's what I get for checking the end conditions, but we had to play by the rules.

Super cute game. I mean, who doesn't love some baby dragons?! SO CUTE!! It worked well enough with 6 players. I still got a bunch of eggs and I didn't feel like I was missing out on too much. I do think it will play better with 4 players, though. Super light and family-friendly, so it is probably not for the serious gamer. But I am happy to play it again.







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Devon sat out during our play of Dekalko but the twin girls were totally into drawing games, so they were excited. New to me!

This is a super simple drawing game. Each player is given a secret picture card to place in their card sleeve. When everyone is ready, each player will start tracing the image on the sleeve window with a dry erase marker. When a player is done, they will grab the cover card with the highest value on it and place it in the sleeve so it hides the picture card.

When all players are done, the person who finished first will reveal their drawing. All other players get one chance to guess it correctly. The first person to guess correctly will get 2 points. The person drawing the image will get the points on the cover card they grabbed.

You will play a number of rounds depending on player count. The person with the most points at the end wins!

Since the girls are true artists, they were most excited to play this. It also meant they were very particular with their drawings and would often take more time than they should have, causing them to get lower numbered cover cards. Ideally, you want to draw just enough to make the picture known.

There was one round where I was too hasty with my drawing, and it was not clear to anyone what I drew! No one could guess that my drawing was of a bunk bed. I scored very few points that round, but I managed to get a ton of other guesses correct later in the game, enough to put me wicked far in the lead at the end. I won with 25, beating James for once!! It was epic!! It felt GUUUD. He only got 20 points. Good things come to those who wait.

Cute game, but I wish they would have added titles to the cards that tell you what the picture is. Generally it is clear, but we had some debates over the ballerina. It was clear it was a ballerina, but is dancer an acceptable answer? Well, we didn't really know. The rules are ambiguous on this point. If there was a title on the card that said "Ballet Dancer", it would be clear.

I had a good time playing this regardless, and I love that it will play 6 players easily. Dekalko is a fun party game for sure and one I would be happy to play anytime!









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I was itching to try out Pictionary Air again, and this was a great time to do so since we had teams of 3 and willing players! Since Red is not an option in the app, our group chose to be Yellow.

We basically had the game in the bag the whole time. The Blue team had really difficult words and were not using their bodies to animate enough. It didn't help that we were all using a phone instead of a tablet. I definitely think this game works better on an iPad or other tablet so you can have a bigger viewing area.

I still think the game went over well. Everyone seemed to have fun trying to draw the clues even if some were more frustrating than others. I had a pretty good round, guessing 3 clues. I call that a success!

We ended with 11 to their 4. Good times. I really like playing this one.








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New to the Collection:
1 2 3 Good Night
Dekalko
Soulaween
Little Dragons







Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph




All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:00 pm
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Kenny G Dreams of the Realm and Crown while the Funko Villain rides the Dino to Kanagawa

Steph Hodge
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At Gen Con I was excited to see the US release of Crown of Emara. This is a game I missed picking up from Essen last year but got to learn it in November. I remember liking it enough to know I was definitely interested in playing it more.

Michael was learning this for the first time. First off, I have to say I very much enjoy this as a 2 player game. I think it works a bit better for the length of gameplay.

Back in November, the cards I drew weren't ideal and caused me to fall really far behind early in the game. This time, I was interested in seeing how it would be for me, or if I would have the same issue. Fortunately, I never had that feeling of being trapped. I was able to use the cards I drew and I was able to make it all work.

Michael liked the cards being limited to 3 for each round, I still want to try the variant of having the full 9 cards available from the start.

I was trying to focus early on collecting nobles, but Michael beat me to it and managed to surpass me on that goal, so he was then collecting the higher valued nobles. I was busy making bread and he was finding other places to spend his resources.

It ended in a close race, but he had his lowest pawn ahead of both of my pawns for the win. Since you only score your lowest of the 2 pawns, there was nothing I could do to move both of my markers ahead of his in the final turns. I had a pretty sweet lead early on, but I wasn't able to maintain that properly!

Crown of Emara has a lot to love. I am excited to try it with the crazy mixed up boards to start seeing other opportunities. It has a quick playtime which is appealing to me and makes me more interested and inclined to play it. I am glad I finally got to play this one again!












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At Origins I picked up a SWEEEEETTTT Hero Realms mat, so it was time I finally played a match against Michael.

I have to say I almost didn't want to use the mat since it is so pretty. When you use the mat, you have to cover all of the faces of the people!! I went ahead and used the mat anyway. Michael said it was helpful for him to see the bases I had in play also.

Anyway, I am a big fan of Hero Realms and was happy to give it a whirl. I am really, really horrible at it too. Star Realms, no problem. I have played that game hundreds and hundreds of times using the app. Hero Realms shows up on the table and I am like, duh wahh?! I am dumbfounded and have no idea what I am doing. It is rather humorous!

Michael destroyed me with ease. He flicked me off the pier and I couldn't figure out how to swim. I definitely need more practice with this game. It is hard since I love Star Realms just a little bit more. Both excellent games though.














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Now was the time! The time to try out Welcome to Dino World. New to me!

MOAR ROLL N WRITES PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Several people had pre-warned me to play the advanced rules for this game from the get-go.
Psssh, I am a gamer, I know what's up, so I'll take on the advanced mode. No prob! So I did! Of course, they were right. The basic rules are for players who are really new to gaming.

In Welcome to Dino World, players are creating their own dino parks - AKA Jurassic Park, obviously. Players will use the rolled dice to perform actions and build up their parks. At the end of the 8th round, players will evaluate how many points they have generated from their dino park, and the most points will win.

Each round, 3 dice will be rolled and all players will use the same dice. The dice can be added together to form a larger value. For example, if you want to take an action that requires a 5, you can combine a 2 + 3 = 5. Players will most commonly use dice to place new dinosaurs and to create pathways. You can place only 1 dinosaur per turn. Some dinos require electric fences to keep them caged up, but generators take up space and cost points.

You can also build recreation and welfare facilities, which are randomized each game and provide end-game scoring depending on how they are placed in your park. You can also take a free action to use the three research labs that are on display, but they are limited in how many times you can use each one. Finally, you can decide whether to increase your security. Not increasing security can be risky, but adding security will cost you points.

After everyone takes their actions, a danger die will be rolled and the threat level will be checked. If you don't have enough security, you might have power outages, which can cause dinos to escape!

There are also a bunch of visitor cards to try to complete, which are basically common goals. During set up, there will be 2 visitor cards that are placed between each player (4 in a 2 player game), and you can claim only cards that are adjacent to you. It is a race between you and the other player to claim these cards first!

Michael and I played a 2 player game, and were extra AP during this first play. We wanted everything to look pristine in our park, optimizing every placement and every dino. It was pretty funny how perfect we wanted it to turn out. I love my little dino drawings, how cute!

I had big plans for getting the scoring cards while getting big dinos and more points. Yah, you really can't do it all like you want to. You have to plan for a few things and work towards getting those. I did manage to get a few big T-Rex cages, which was awesome because T-Rexs are the most point-lucious dinos. My T-Rex splurge at the end of the game helped gain me a bunch of end-game points, enough to keep me in a close race to the finish with 108 points. Michael was JUST above me with 112 points. It was super close and I let him get one too many visitor cards.

I had so much fun playing Welcome to Dino World. I loved the creation of my park and trying to build it around the many different goal cards and scoring opportunities. We saw only a small portion of the variety of cards in the game so there is still so much replay value to explore here. I was playing it very safe and didn't push my threat levels at all. Next time I might be a bit riskier and see what happens! Who knows how many points I missed out on because I was playing it safe? I love a bit of danger. So much fun!













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One of the hot new releases from Gen Con was a stand-alone expansion called Disney Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared. New to me Expansion!

This expansion adds 3 new villains including Scar, which is perfect timing with the Lion King film that has recently been released in the theaters. What is interesting about these 3 villains is that they are from films that are a decade apart from one another. I was really only familiar with Scar, but there is also the villain from The Great Mouse Detective (which I saw when I was VERY little and didn't recall much), and The Emperor's New Groove (which I haven't seen, since that was after my time). Regardless, having Scar as a villain made me happy since that is totally from my generation and I have seen Lion King more times then I would care to admit.

I was playing Scar, of course, and Michael chose Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective (even though he hadn't seen it). I was simply trying to figure out my objective and hardly paying attention to what he was doing the entire game. I needed to find Mufasa and defeat him as quickly as I could. After defeating him, I would need to defeat a bunch of other heroes for a total of 15 succession points in order for me to win.

I found Mufasa relatively quickly (with no help from Michael), which gave me 6 succession points! So I just needed 9 more. Here I thought I was sitting pretty with my crown and upcoming victory. But nothing seemed to go in my favor from then on. Once I started collecting those points, Michael made it super difficult on me by playing fate cards that forced my direction and giving me little reward. I then played a fate card on Michael that I thought would stall him, but it only ended up helping him out. He was able to stall me enough to complete his objective first! Doh! He got me this time. I was too cocky, I should have been more swift. I will have to get him next time!

The Evil Comes Prepared expansion holds true to the core game with the look and feel of the base game and is a perfect expansion for any fan of Villainous! I love how each expansion and each villain always brings something new. The new objectives are different enough from the old ones to be unique, but they still have the same general mechanics, so they seem to fit right at home. I really enjoyed my time playing this one.
















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Finalllllllllllllly!!!! I got to check out Kenny G: Keepin' It Saxy. New to me!

My box is freaking signed by Kenny G too! How cool!!! Hey, I have listened to Bedtime Magic (106.7 - Boston Area Soft Rock radio) since I was a kid. Smooth Jazz has always been something I have enjoyed, and I have been a fan of Kenny G for a long time. I can understand how I might be in the minority here.

It is pretty cool that Kenny G has been promoting this game on the news and at various events. He is a team player and knows how to laugh at himself a bit. The whole game is featured around the upsetting events in the daily life of Kenny G. Keepin' it Saxy is a cooperative game to try and overcome the day's events and make sure Kenny still has his groove at the end of the day. WE CAN'T LET HIM LOSE HIS GROOVE, PEOPLE!

Keepin' it Saxy is played over 6 rounds in which stressful events will take place. For example, in the morning, Kenny might have run out of hair product or lost his phone charger! In the afternoon, Kenny might have flight delays, or my personal favorite, in the evening, Kenny might lose a board game! Fortunately, there is a deck of sound cards which players will use to soothe Kenny with sweet sax melodies.

Each player will have 3 actions per round. They can play a sound card to an event, but sounds must be played in order. They can also play an action card from their hand. If they don't have a card to play, they can choose to draw 2 cards as their action. If there are still event cards in play at the end of the round, you have to roll a number of dice determined by each event card and lose some groove tokens. If Kenny G still has at least 1 groove token at the end of the day, you win!

I have had the chance to play this game twice now! Michael and I played the first game and we totally won easily. Maybe we rolled really well or had amazing card management. Everything was easy-peasy lemon squeezy in the world of Kenny G.

Brandon played with us the second game and nothing fell into place. It didn't help that Bran was just rolling the worst possible combinations of dice!! We made it to the evening phase, but ultimately we could not keep the groove alive! We failed Kenny that time around!

This is a light-hearted and quick filler of a game which will most certainly be the cause for much laughter. Be sure to read the Sax Facts on the back of the rulebook! At first, I thought the game was probably too easy, but losing with 3 players showed me that it can be a challenge! This is one I could easily play anytime. It is a joy.
















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One of the most gorgeous boardgame covers belongs to this new title called Dreams of Tomorrow I am simply captivated by it and was excited to try it out. New to me!

Dreams of Tomorrow is a fairly straightforward resource management game to collect resources and spend on dreams. Players take actions around a rondel to collect resources and catch dreams in their dreamcatchers. After you have caught a dream you can weave it into your dream sequence. The game will end when a player has woven 5 dreams into their sequence.

The rondel of actions is made up of 4 cards, each holding 2 actions. These cards can be moved around and flipped. Actions can give you resources, change the rondel, activate bonuses, catch dreams, and weave dreams.

When you are looking to catch a dream you want to take into account the bonus actions the dream has since you will have access to that action going forward. You also want to pay attention to the different colors/symbols that run along the top and bottom of each dream. By aligning matching colors/symbols you will gain more points at the end of the game for your dream being cohesive. All of the dream cards you weave will also have point values on them.

Michael and I played in about 30 minutes. It was a super quick game and will be even faster the next time we play it. I was searching for the wolf cards, as I would always do because I love wolves! I suppose that might not be the most optimal course of play, but I focused on them anyway.

When it was my turn, I would usually choose actions that would give me dreams with excellent bonus actions for me to exploit. And I did an excellent job of exploiting these actions, allowing me to essentially take any action whenever I wanted it. Because I could freely move the rondel around, it was almost pointless to have the rondel to begin with.

Even though I could take any action I wanted, I never got the right cards I needed to weave a cohesive dream for the max bonus points. Michael's dream was more cohesive, so he took home the win with 35 points to my 29 points.

This was a rough game for me. I want nothing more than to love it. The artwork is outstanding, and I love the idea of patchworking cohesive dreams together. But the gameplay only barely works for me. All of the actions you take with your meeple and all the bonus actions are just fillers. If I were redesigning the game, I would find a way to somehow remove the rondel and make the game more streamlined with fewer symbols and rules. Alternatively, I would make the OP bonus actions much more restrictive. I haven't ever felt the urge to develop or redesign a game until now. That is how much I want this game to work.

As the game stands right now, it is playable. I am just not sure it will hit the table again for a long time. I might just use the game for art or I might try out some of my redesign ideas.




















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Back at Origins, I got to teach Michael and Charlotte how to play Kanagawa. Today I thought Michael and I could easily incorporate the new expansion Kanagawa: Yokai. New to me Expansion!

The Yokai expansion adds in three more types of art cards: umbrellas, kites, and lanterns, each with new set collection goals. However, when you mix in these new sets, you can still have only 4 types of cards in the game, with no more than two from the expansion.

Some of these new cards feature the Yokai symbol. When you collect a card with this symbol you must immediately take a Yokai pawn. If you have all 3, then you get to take the master token for Yokai. You have to be careful though, because they are worth a lot of negative victory points at the end of the game if you can't get rid of them.

So yeah, in our play, we used 2 of the new types of cards. I was focused on aligning my seasons perfectly and claiming all the master tokens except the Yokai one. I tried to avoid the Yokai cards at all costs, as I didn't want the negative points. Michael was all about collecting them and he got the Yokai master tile. After that point, he did everything he could to avoid them, sometimes drafting early so I would have to take them away from him! How Rude!

Turns out, I ended up with ALL of the Yokai pawns anyway! C'mon, really?! Those -9 points really damaged me enough for me to lose the game. Michael won with 39 and I was right behind him at 36! Oh man, it was so super close!!!! If he kept just ONE of those Yokai, I could have won.

If you are a fan of Kanagawa, this is a no-brainer expansion for you. I really enjoy the extra bit of tension it adds. The Yokai pawns are a very neat addition, and it is pretty critical to time when to take them. It is as beautiful as you would expect and adds just enough to keep you wanting more.


















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Michael and I went head-to-head in a game of Funkoverse Strategy Game.

Before combining themes, I decided to teach Michael just the basic game that I had learned at Gen Con using the core Harry Potter box, each of us playing 2 characters. We will definitely be mixing in the Golden Girls next time though!

Since I can't be the bad guys, I chose to play as Harry and Hermione. Besides, Michael is always the traitor. #everyoneknowsthis

I was really aggressive with my moving and just wanted to capture that flag. It SHOULD HAVE turned out amazing! But I was 1 space short in the round I needed to be next to it. If I could have captured the flag a turn earlier, Hermoine could have popped back and blocked Michael from reaching my flag in the turn he did. My timing was just all off.

Since Michael was doing a better job of interacting with the letter tokens, he was able to totally crush me when he captured my flag. #mistakesweremade

Next time I play will be with the Golden Girls' Rose and Blanche vs Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy. That shall be interesting! I love my Harry Potter Funko dudes. So cute!














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New to the Collection:
None!





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph




All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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Mon Sep 9, 2019 12:00 pm
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Pathfinding on the Moon makes me a Die Hard fan to the End

Steph Hodge
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Recently I got to check out a new game called Moon Base. New to me!

Itten is a publisher that always seems to have the most interesting wooden pieces in their games. I am always so excited to see what new and exciting games they come up with.

Moon Base is a 2 player abstract game to get the most points by placing rings on the moon in specific patterns. At the start of each round, each player will draft 2 big rings and 2 small rings. Players must take the top 2 rings from any stack. You can select rings of your color, but you can also select the other player's color to try to mess them up or the neutral color to try to create more opportunities with your own color. It can be tricky to decide what to take.

When placing a ring on the game board, you can place it in a moon crater or on top of exactly two rings. If you place it on other rings, you have to either place it on top of at least 1 matching colored ring, or, if your ring is large, you can place it on 2 different unmatching colors. If you manage to do the latter you will get to move the big purple pawn to the new location.

At the end of the round, players with empty big rings with nothing on top of them will get a settlement. The more of those you can place the better off you will be. If you can't place a settlement, you can place a resource facility inside an unoccupied crater.

Michael is just not a fan of abstract games at all, so he wasn't feeling it. I was quite enjoying my choices and trying to optimize my plays. He ended up winning because I was foolish and drafted his ring without realizing I didn't have any good options for the placement of his ring other than on the very top! The higher you place the rings, the higher the potential for more points. So I screwed up and handed him the win!

Mistakes were made and I have learned!! I will definitely play better next time. This is a game I want to play with someone who enjoys a good abstract game. It is such a beautiful game and playing with the rungs is just fun. Gorgeous production and fun game.














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At a recent Fun Group we got a few different games played starting with Filler.

Back in April was the first time I got to play this one. We were waiting on Michael to show up so the game started with me, Susan, and James.

About halfway through, Susan was just not enjoying it. I think she felt pressured by us, or not quite understanding what was happening. Michael had shown up by that point so he filled in for her. It worked out and was easily enough to just finish. It is a filler after all!

James had the earliest card out of all of us, and he always had perfect timing with it! It ended in a super close race but James was on top with 30 points. I had 27 and Michael came in last with 26. All in all wicked close and it could have been anyone's game!

I really enjoy this game for the ease of play and for the game length. I also love the theme. I will have to try it with the advanced abilities of the bakers. Could be fun! Cute little game.










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We followed Filler up with a learning game of Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game. New to me!

Die Hard is a 1 vs. many game. We allocated James to play as John McClane. Susan, Michael, and I got to play the bad thieves. The goal of McClane is to defeat Hans Gruber. The goal of the thieves is to kill McClane or unlock the safe and escape with all the cash before Gruber is killed.

The game will unfold over a series of 3 acts. Each phase, the thieves and McClane are located on a floor in Nakatomi Plaza. There is always an objective for McClane to complete before he can exit the floor and move to the next act. While McClane is busy trying to work around obstacles and manage the enemies, the thieves are working to injure McClane and slow him down while they decode the safe combinations.

The mechanic for deciphering the lock combinations is new and interesting. Each round, the active thief will show the other thieves the card they will select. The other thieves will take that knowledge and secretly select a card from their hands. After McClane takes his turn, the thieves will reveal their selected cards. The cards are arranged in ascending order, and the cards on each end are used for decoding the lock. If a 3 and a 9 were on the end, then the thieves will have a 9-3 pattern to locate on the lock. If those two numbers are adjacent, both numbers can be marked off. If no 9 is touching a 3, then a single 9 or 3 can be marked.

The middle card that wasn't used for the decoding will be used for the actions the thieves can take. These actions will generally help the thieves move around the board and attack McClane.

James was having a great time reenacting the film and reading off all of the quotes from McClane's cards. He was definitely the right person to play McClane. James almost seemed like he was prancing around the building, just flicking away everything we threw at him with no worries. We basically didn't stand a chance to win... or so it seemed.

The group of thieves were having a harder time finding a groove. We seemed to be more focused on figuring out how to best distract and disrupt McClane when we really needed to be focused on getting those locks decoded.

By the time the 3rd act had hit, we were on the next-to-last lock and would need a miracle in order to win. While we managed to delay McClane's plans, it wasn't long before he was able to push Gruber out the window for the win. We were only 4 digits away from decoding the final lock and already in place to blow up the roof so we could escape with all the monies. It turned out to be a real nail biter at the end.

I can tell you right off the bat, if you at a Die Hard fan, you will enjoy playing this game and probably love it. Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game holds true to the movie and captures the theme of the film perfectly. I have seen the movie only once, so the theme wasn't really a draw for me. The mechanics are pretty good and I like working through the various stages of the game.

I do think this game will work best with 2 players. Each player will have their own goals and objectives and be able to control them 100%. With 4 players, I felt I didn't have enough control for me to do my own thing. Selecting a card wasn't enough for me to really enjoy being a part of the thieves' group. This will be one I would want to try with 2 players for sure and it will likely work out for the better.





















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Michael and I have been going to town with all the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy's Mask – Base Set.

We are just plowing through the box scenarios! We just recently opened box 4, but before we did that we got to select our Role cards. It gives us a choice of which life path we would like our characters to lead.

I have been having a great time with this, more so than I would have initially thought. I enjoy finding things to upgrade my ninja fighter. He is so badass!

It is rare for us to lose a game. I think we lost a couple of them in there, but for the most part, we usually win, and some with extra close calls.

Still have 3 more boxes to go! Looking forward to more awesome weapons.









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Michael and I played 5 more rounds of Codenames: Duet.

Sometimes we are just so bad at this game that we find the assassin on the first turn so we don't have to bother with resetting the table of cards. That happens probably more than it should!

We are at the point in our Codenames map that we have to take high risks to see the high rewards, which ultimately leads to us losing.

WE WERE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CLOSE in one of the games. It came down to the random guessing at the end and we needed one more. It was, of course, a bust. We super lost all of the games we played.

I am still hopeful we will eventually hit all the destinations on the map, but man, they are such a challenge!!




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Who doesn't love baby dragons? "No one" is the correct answer, or you are just wrong. Baby dragons are the best and most adorable and are a great reason to play Incubation.

I got to test this game back in April and found it to be a bit long for what it offered. Knowing this, I opted to play this game as a 2 player game to keep it snappy!

Incubation is an easy-to-learn push-your-luck dice rolling game. You roll the dice to collect fire and water tokens to hatch baby dragons. The dragons are worth coins and are also used for common set-collection goals.

Michael was rolling lots and lots of coins. I would always try to roll and reroll to collect coins, but it just never seemed to come up. So I ended up collecting a bunch of easy-to-hatch dragons and claiming a few goal cards. It was still not enough to defeat Michael who had 69 points at the end and I had 66. Turns out it was closer than I thought, but not close enough!

I love the upgraded bits you can get with this game. The art is amazing and just pops! I think this would be a great family and kids game. The mechanics are easy to understand and the flow is fun. Super cute!

























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Next on the table, I got to teach Michael how to play Era: Medieval Age.

I got to learn this back at Origins and fell in love with it. This is just a beautiful production and fun dice rolling game.

When playing with 2 players, you are instructed to remove 1 of each building type. This really limits the available buildings and makes the game seem wicked fast. The game end is triggered on building piles being emptied, and when some piles only have 1 building, well, boom, just like that, the game is over.

Michael and I were headed down similar paths, so he was getting buildings I had gotten or planned on getting. Great minds, you know. So I never got to complete building my walls for those massive points I really needed. What I had forgotten about was the bonus for having the most culture. This so totally saved me! I ended up winning the game with 31 to Michael's 30. It was sooooooooooooooooooooooo close and I really thought he was going to win.

The game ended so quickly!! I wish it was a longer game. I didn't really have time to build up or create much of an engine. I want more closure at the end of the game. I still love the game, but maybe I will just play with all of the buildings next time. Or maybe the sweet spot for this game is at 3 players. I gotta try it out! Still luv it.













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The time has come to dig deeper into the DEPTHS of Aeon's End with 2 expansions: Aeon's End: The Depths & Aeon's End: The Nameless. New to me Expansions!

We played 3 games. In the first one, we explored the Depths expansion which brought us a new nemesis and 3 new mages to use. It also included almost a full set up of cards that were new. We managed to defeat the nemesis but it was a close call. I mean, we were down to the wire, and if the nemesis had gotten a turn, it would have meant defeat.

The other 2 games featured the 2 different nemeses that were introduced in the Nameless expansion. These baddies were impossible for us. The game against the Blight Lord was all about cursed gems being placed in our hand, which caused Michael and I to inflict damage on ourselves. It was impossible and we were nowhere near defeating him before we ultimately lost.

When we took on the Wayward One, we were joined by Michael's sons, Hayden and Bran. We showed them how to play Aeon's End and we fought our best fight. It was brutal. The Wayward One really makes it difficult since it takes only half damage if it's not standing in front of the portal you're attacking from! SO HARD!!

I did get to check out a character named Lost that I had never played before. He showed up in the AE: New Age game and I had been eager to try him out. He might be my new favorite character with his adorable squirrel punkin sidekick. Loves him so much! Lost is also particularly badass, so there is that!

Having a great time exploring these new expansions and I just love it all! MOARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR AEON'S END!
























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New to the Collection:
Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph




All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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Fri Sep 6, 2019 12:00 pm
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Use your Wits and Imagine being in an Obscure Jam, Locked Up in a Pirate Fleet during a War Eternal!

Steph Hodge
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I had been excited about trying Lockup: A Roll Player Tale. New to me!

I was interested in this because it has hidden placement mechanisms like those in Aladdin's Dragons. In this 2-5 player game, you are trying to get the most points by recruiting goons to your gang, crafting valuable items, and completing goals.

Lockup takes place in a prison in which you control a gang of criminals. Each of your six gang members has a rank: 2, 3, 4, 5, a lookout, and an enforcer. The higher the number, the stronger the member. The lookout is used to avoid taking suspicion tokens from a location and can also be used to bluff. The enforcer will draw strength from the power cubes you possess.

Using your members, you will occupy spaces on the board to try to gain resources needed to acquire loot cards and influence goons to be loyal to you. With 2 players, you can place only 3 of your members face down, and the other 3 must be placed face up. With more players, you can place only 2 members face down.

On your turn, you will select any number of members and play them to one location, either face-up or face down or mixed. Once you place in a location, you aren't able to revisit the location again until the next round. After all players have played all of their members to locations, each location will be resolved. The player with the strongest gang (and sometimes the 2nd strongest gang) in each location will gain the reward. If there are any suspicion markers on a space, the player with the strongest gang will also take the suspicion unless they have a lookout there.

What is nice about this game is that even if you put a guy in a location and later get overplayed, your guy will get pushed out to the library location where you will collect a book card. The book cards are usually one-shot abilities that can help you in some way.

Eventually, when the suspicion cubes run out, there will be a Riot, and the player with the most suspicion cubes will get busted. Points will be lost!

You play through 6 rounds collecting resources, loot cards, and recruiting goons that will give you end-of-game bonus points. There are also common goals to work towards in the game for additional end game points.

I tried this game with 2 players, so we could play 3 members face down. I like having more hidden information. I would even want to try it with all members face down as a variant. Michael seemed to prefer it with partial knowledge, however. I can see how Lockup might work better with partial knowledge because it is really restricting to not be able to revisit a location where you have already placed members.

The end goals were clear to me, so I set off to try and accomplish them. I like having that bit of focus early in a game. Of course, I lost sight of them once I started doing other things and it was hard to refocus back to them. For example, I wanted to collect the Dwarf cards since they would score extra, but Michael claimed the first one in the first round, and I headed down another path collecting the Hobgoblins. Michael didn't try to collect any power cubes, which meant that I got them all!!! He let my enforcer get POWERful. He was a strength 8 by the end of it, and my hobgoblins were just raking in the points!

I was still no match for Michael, who ended the game with 89 points to my 72. I was just all power and not enough points. he had tons of recruits and end of game scoring that just pushed him over the edge.

Lockup is a beautiful game. I love the art and the Scrabble-like trays to hold your criminals. While it felt a bit long for my taste, I would be happy to play this again and with a few more people just to see what the other side of the game board plays like. It must get totally chaotic with 5 players. Could be an interesting chaotic though. I definitely look forward to trying it again soon.


















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The creative and whimsical artwork is what first got me interested in Imaginarium. New to me!

This has been on the wishlist since I first saw it. I love that quirky artwork, and the detailed player figures are just top-notch. I was pleased to find it at Gen Con, which will hopefully mean a US release.

Not only is the game incredibly attractive, but the gameplay is an interesting challenge and quite solid.

In Imaginarium, you are an inventor who collects broken machines and fixes them up to use in your shop. Your shop is small, so you will have to dismantle old machines in order to craft new ones as the game progresses. There are also common goals to try to complete. You are trying to collect the most points, and quickly since the end of the game will trigger when a player reaches 20 points. There is a lot of end-game scoring that will happen, so even if a player reaches 20 points, they might not win.

The gameplay is quite simple. What keeps me interested is how you piece all the possible actions together. Each turn, players will pick a spot on the conveyor belt to determine which machine piece they will purchase for their junkyard, or a spot at the charcolium extractors where they can collect coal. The further down the line you place your figure, the cheaper the piece or the more coal you receive, but the later in turn order you will be next turn.

After each player has selected their space, the pawn closest to the start of the belt on the left will run their machines in their shop. Many machines will create resources or convert resources. Then the player must pay for the machine part they selected. These machines are placed in the junkyard and can be fixed and placed in your shop at a later time. Then the player will use their dial on their player board to select 2 adjacent actions, which has to be different from the previous round's actions.

There are 6 actions you can select from. You can repair a machine from your junkyard to your shop, dismantle a machine in your junkyard or shop for quick resources or points, reorganize machines in your shop, extract coal, recruit a furry friend, or carry out transactions to exchange resources.

What's cool is that some machine parts can work with others to improve their abilities. You can reorganize your shop so they combine together, which will open up spaces in your shop for more machines. It starts to be complicated when you then need to dismantle that machine, because it becomes a multi-step process that can take several rounds. So there is a balancing act you have to juggle with your machines and what is working for you and what you are trying to do.

In our game, I was focused on collecting those common goal cards. It was hard to manage my machines to get the right resources to get the upgraded machines I wanted and needed. Of course, Michael was blocking me from the machines I most wanted whenever he had the opportunity. I was able to pay him back for his kindness too. devil

I had no idea how close our game was until the final scores were tallied. Since there are player screens, it is hard to keep track of the production of cubes and points that your opponents are taking. I was too focused on my own problems. I ended up triggering the ending with 20 points. The round finished out and we had a ton of end-game scoring that happened. I somehow managed to win with 37 to Michael's 36. Super close!! Having majorities in resources at the end really helps put a little pressure on!

In a 2 player game, you use discs as a sort of dummy player that you control to block spaces and kill machine cards. While it seems mean in practice, I still think it is nicer than a 4 player game. What ended up happening was that we used the discs to mutually destroy the red attack cards instead of building them. In a 4 player game, those red cards would have been built, and players would have been attacked and forced to give up some resources.

Imaginarium is really not difficult to teach and play. It's more of a challenge to puzzle out how you can optimize your engine. I really like the balancing of the actions and the different recruits which give you a special bonus. The game is absolutely stunning and was a joy to play. I look forward to more plays.

























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At a recent game day, we got to play a bunch of group party games and I was really excited to try out the new Wits & Wagers: Vegas. New to me!

If you are familiar with Wits & Wagers, then you will feel right at home with this one. There is an added feature where you can bet the high answers or the low answers at 1:1, like betting on red or black in roulette. There is also a new mechanic that separates all of the same answers into their own spaces, and if it happens to be the best answer, you will get paid the highest possible payout.

You will play over 7 rounds. Each round, the person (or persons) with the best answer will get paid a bonus of $1 times the round number. For example, in the 7th round, the best answer will win $7.

During our play, we were over full, with every player color being used and even one team of 2. It was a full table full of betting and answers, and it was a blast.

Sometimes I really surprise myself with some information I feel like I know or have been familiar with. I tend to answer spot on or reallllly close to the correct answer and it makes me feel good! Other times I feel like I am just a deer in headlights and have no idea what I am doing. It is hilarious and I love playing this game.

Michael won this time around with 23 points and I was JUST under at 22 points. Ughhhhh so close!!! Hey, I am just happy I was in the running for winning. I generally bid a bit too crazy towards the end of this game and generally end up with NUTHIN!

Simple and fun game. It has an addictive quality to it - once you start playing you don't want to stop. I love the current vibe in the game too, where everything feels fresh and new. I am very excited to play this one more and just have a good time. Love it!









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After playing Letter Jam at Gen Con, I was really looking forward to my next play.

I was able to rein in 6 players for a full table and did my best to explain the rules. This game can be a bit tricky when teaching a table full of new players. It can be hard to visualize how it all works without demonstrating it. Next time I will just lead in with a practice round and explain from there.

Since it was already hard enough to get into the swing of things, we decided on using 4 letter words to mix up and place in front of other players. I've used 5 letter words before and barely won.

Somehow we came out on top. Everyone was able to make a word, even if it wasn't the word they were thinking it would be.

The thing that bothers me about the game is the wonky scoring at the end, and I still don't fully understand all of it. But the enjoyment of playing this game surpasses that so totally that I just overlook it.

I would say we were all winners! I think a majority of the players had a good time playing it, which is the main objective! Have fun! Can't wait to play again!










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I tried to keep the group together and bring more players in for a game of Obscurio.

My plans didn't work so well, but we still managed to have 5 players ready to learn! Michael ended up just reading the rules since he didn't trust me to explain the game well enough.

Michael choose to play as the book of knowledge, and I was realllllllllllllllllllllllly hoping I would be randomly selected be the traitor! Didn't work out for me this time, so I didn't get to try and lie to everyone. It is not so much lying, just misleading people to think correct answers are wrong answers.

Oh man, we were just terrible as a group. Michael was giving difficult clues and we had miserable events to make it so much worse! Of course, the traitor had a field day and found excellent cards to select to throw us off balance.

I think we made it through 2 doors before we ultimately had to select who the traitor was, and it was super difficult. I figured Crystal was the traitor since she was just too quiet and very much playing a follower. Eric followed along with me since he believed I was innocent which kind of made him look guilty. It wasn't Crystal, so we all had to vote again and this time everyone turned to vote on me! Noooooooo! I was loyal, of course. We had ONE FINAL chance to vote and James pointed at Eric and Eric pointed at James and Crystal pointed at Eric and I said "really?" I didn't believe Eric to be the traitor, but we went with it. Just like that, James won the game. Traitor.

Played us. It was epic and fun. Lots of laughs and a good story in the end. I love this game.









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Besides those few party games, we did play some others including Fleet: The Dice Game.

I got to learn this game back at Dice Tower Con and was thrilled to get a copy and play again. We played with the full 4 players and Michael taught the rules.

Fleet Dice can be intimidating the first time, since all you see are options upon options. It was definitely less daunting playing this time around.

Crystal's strategy was to get tons of money. She was rolling in it! At the end of the game, we counted her score like 4 times before we concluded that she ended up beating me by 1 point, 109 to my 108. It is so easy to miss counting valuable points. The same type of thing happened to us at DTC too, where we rechecked the scores and ended up in a tie.

Man, this is a tight game with so many strategies and possibilities. I love it so much!! This will forever be one of my most favorite roll n write games! So stinkin' good!









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MOAR MOAR MOAR, I WANT MOARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. This time I got to learn Aeon's End: War Eternal. New to me!

I have been jumping all over the place with these big box Aeon's End games because I don't want to miss anything!! I want to see all of each of the games before combining them all into major campaigns.

Finally broke open this glorious game and tested the waters. We found familiar faces and new nemeses to take on. Fortunately, Michael and I are very skilled mages and we were able to win our first attempt in this game. It was a nailbiter, and we would have lost if the nemesis had a turn before we did.

More excellent content! This is a must-have addition to any Aeon's End collection. Now I will start digging through all of the small boxed expansions. So much to explore and I am LOVING IT!! #MOAR!

Love this game so much!










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Since I was able to play my first game of Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates at Gen Con, I was looking forward to trying it again with fewer players. So Michael and I played a 2 player game and I took some awesome photos while doing so!

This game is soooo photogenic! Rainbows at every turn, and I am in heaven. Sweet ships and cool meeples - it truly is an awesome production!

I figured I would enjoy this game with 2-3 players better than I did with 4-6. With more players, you invite a chaotic atmosphere, and you can't really focus on completing anything since you are ultimately racing to the finish. With 2 players, you can focus on getting a few contracts filled and maybe securing one or two of your own pirates. There is less pressure to race to the finish. Because of that control, I found this game to be a lot more enjoyable.

I was able to time everything perfectly so I was in the lead on one other track when I triggered the end of the game. Because of that perfect timing, I got 7 points for that track and, more importantly, denied Michael those points, which helped me secure the win! I won with 44 to Michael's 38! If Michael had stayed ahead on that track, the score could have easily been the other way around.

Super quick game that plays out in like 30 minutes with 2 players or under an hour with more. Easily a game I would play again and I am itching to try it with 3 players since I have a hunch that is where it shines best!


























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New to the Collection:
Fleet: The Dice Game
Aeon's End: War Eternal






Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph




All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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Wed Sep 4, 2019 12:00 pm
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Steph's New to Me List August 2019!! #AllTheGames

Steph Hodge
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Welcome to Steph's "New to Me" List 2019!


This year I have made the goal of learning 300 games!



Steph's Awesome Spectrum Rating System!











Steph's Sad Cloud Rating 1-2.5/10
Steph's Bland Rainbow Rating 3-4.5/10
Steph's Primary Rainbow Rating 5-7/10 (Solid Play)
Steph's Super Rainbow Rating 7.5-8.5 (Keepers)
Steph's Double Rainbow Rating 9-10/10 (Top Favorites)




August List
from Worst to Best





Salty Dogs (Prototype):

Still in prototype form. A take-that card game to be the last player standing. Not really my type of game. Probably designed for casual gamers who like games with their beer and pretzels. Not rated due to early prototype status.



-/10 After 1 play (Owned/Prototype)



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Sapphire Island (Prototype):

Can't say much about this, but the name and theme will likely change. Not a game that excites me, but solid gameplay which features set collection and is semi-abstract. Not rated due to early prototype status.



-/10 After 1 play (Not Owned)

No Pic soblue

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Starship Ludum (Prototype):

Really cool game. Some deckbuilding and tile placement. Fun cube pusher that should be picked up by a publisher soon. One I would want to play again for sure. Not rated due to early prototype status.



-/10 After 1 play (Not Owned)



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Last Word Standing:

Not a game for me. Wayyyyy too much AP as a lot of word games can have. Rulebook was poorly written and very unclear. It didn't work for me at all. Not a game I want to play again.



2/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Tricky Druids:

Pretty game, but false advertising. I thought this game was a trick-taking game, but it is a dice game. Could be a broken game. You must offer to other players on your turn, but no one ever has to offer to you. You might never be offered even one ingredient token, which will make it impossible to create 1 recipe, much less 2. Didn't work for me.



3/10 After 1 play (Not Owned)



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Schollen Rollen:

Cute fish meeples, but overall, not an exciting game to play. Nothing special about this push-your-luck game. Don't care to revisit this one.



4/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Knights of Crylail:

Dexterity game where you shoot discs to be closest to other discs. If you really like these type of games then this has interesting disc abilities, but in general, just not that interesting for me. meh.



4/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Snowman Dice:

Simple speed dice game with a bit of dexterity involved. Cute enough and harmless, just not that exciting.



4.5/10 After 1 play (Not Owned)

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Foodies:

Easily the best game in the "Machi Koro" family. Has the same style game play, but is more refined and has a definitive ending. Still not a favorite genre of game, but I could play it if requested.



5/10 After 1 play (Not Owned)



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The Alwaysgreen Garden:

Near completed prototype. A family game that will be interesting for new gamers. The artwork is friendly and inviting and the gameplay is easy to follow. I am not sure there is enough there to hold the serious gamer type.



5/10 After 2 plays (Owned - Prototype)



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Wakanda Forever:

Love the box cover. Solid gameplay with cool asymmetric abilities. All in all this game will work better for casual players. I had a good time, but it is just not one that excites me. I would be fine playing it again though.



5.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Namiji:

Better than Tokaido, but still not that great. I would definitely be more interested in playing this one since there are objectives to work towards. Beautiful game, nonetheless.



6/10 After 1 play (Not Owned)



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Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates:

Much too chaotic with many players, in my opinion. I found it to be a lot more enjoyable at 2 players and it is likely that 3 players would also be acceptable. I enjoy the deckbuilding aspect to the game, but not the race to the finish. Great production and cute art and is a game I could play again.



6/10 After 2 plays (Owned)



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Penny Lane:

Love the artwork. Nice little puzzle of a game. Wish there was more variety in the different actions you can take per game. Works for me, but I am not sure it is a game I would ever request. Happy to play again though.



6/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game:

One-vs-many gameplay that is very true to the movie and thematic. Easily a great game for fans of the movie. I don't have any real connection to the movie and felt a bit strong-armed, so it was only okay for me. I would try again, though it doesn't excite me.



6/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Lockup: A Roll Player Tale:

Wanted to love this. I like hidden placement games like Aladdin's Dragons, but this has partial information and I prefer the chaos of no information. I want to try playing with no information revealed and see how it goes. Only played with 2 players, so I want to see how it will play out with more players.



6/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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The Sherlock Files: Elementary Entries:

Pretty neat concept for a deduction game, trying to piece together events without knowing which details are critical and which ones are useless. They are one-shot cases. I might be interested in trying out some other cases, but it might just be too random for me to care enough to play them all.



6.5/10 After 1 play (Not Owned)



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Dragonrealm:

Charming push-your-luck family-friendly game. Plenty of different set-collection paths so you don't get discouraged when you pull a bad card. Easy to learn and cute artwork which makes it inviting to new or younger players. Definitely would play this again.



6.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Atelier: The Painter's Studio:

Love the theme and the paintings in the game. The painter's pallet is an attractive players board. Wanted to love this more than I did, but still found it pretty good. I wonder about the balance of the card abilities - some seem to be totally OP. A game I need to revisit more.



6.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Hats:

Whimsical as all Alice in Wonderland games should be. Hard enough game to try and figure out, let alone with a partner at the same time. Recommended to play with 2 or 3 the first play. A game I wanted to love, but would really need to play a whole lot to understand and figure it out. Not sure I have that in me.



6.5/10 After 1 play (Not Owned)



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Dreams of Tomorrow:

One of the most gorgeous games. I love the artwork so much and all of the colors are just, "wow!" Perhaps a top 10 favorite boardgame cover. However, I think this game needs a lot more development. As it stands, it works as a game, but I could easily redesign this game to be more streamlined and gamer friendly. Unlikely to play this again, but it gets extra points for the art.



6.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Catlantis:

Went in with low expectations and found myself thoroughly entertained and happy. Delightful set-collection game with an I-split-you-choose mechanic. I love the foil cards and box - all of it is just so CUTE! Would be happy to play this again.



6.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Pappy Winchester:

Auction game that didn't win the table over, but I had a good time playing. However, the duel tokens lowered my enjoyment of the game, and when I play again, I will choose to eliminate them. It's an easy fix to make the game better IMO.



6.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Century: Golem Edition – Eastern Mountains:

Same game as Eastern Wonders but with different art. I like this better than Spice Road because all of the resource conversions are on display. This helps players to be able to plan ahead, but can also lead to AP with some groups. Happy to play this, but prefer Wonders to Mountains because it is easier to see player pieces on the board.



7/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Funkoverse Strategy Game:

I love me some Funko figures. So freaking cute! Harry Potter themed at that. Area-control tactical-battle type game. I will always lose but don't mind trying. Interested in seeing the other characters including the Golden Girls. Not a game I will want to frequently play but I am happy to on occasion.



7/10 After 2 plays (Owned)



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Panda Craves Danger:

Surprising fun little push-your-luck game. Ridiculous panda art that makes me laugh every time I see a new card. #whatwilltheythinkofnext I love chucking all the dice. Overall a very cute game. Happy to play this one with any gamer.



7/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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King Me!:

King Me takes the familiar feeling of Checkers and reworks it into an area-control game with a lot more strategy. I love the colorful board and the use of the rivers. I would recommend checking it out if you like abstracts and area-control games.



7/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Escape Room In A Box: Flashback:

On the easier side of Escape Room games but has a lot of new features I haven't seen before. Really makes you think outside the box. I was totally surprised and would recommend it just for the experience.



7/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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TonTon:

Trick-taking game with adorable little cards and amazing artwork. Interesting challenges in this one with a clever trick-taking mechanic. I had fun with it.



7/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Moon Base:

Beautiful production and fun playing pieces. Pure abstract, so if you are a fan of the genre then you should definitely check this out. I am excited to play more and figure out if I can get any better! Super challenging and I like a good challenge.



7/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Cat Lady:

Stinkin' cute! Love the drafting mechanic and the set collection, but most of all, I love the cats! So cute with their cute names. This is a game I could easily play anytime. Don't know why it took so long to play this one.



7/10 After 2 plays (Owned)



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Kenny G: Keepin' It Saxy:

Yeah, I am a fan of Kenny G! So? Isn't everyone? This game is hilarious. If you play this, I totally recommend you read the Sax Facts before playing. It will give you insight into the cards. Super-cute cooperative game to help Kenny keep his groove through his hectic day. Really quick game and you will laugh. Hard to go wrong with this $20 Target game.



7/10 After 1 play (Owned - and signed by Kenny G!)



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Imaginarium:

Wow, this artwork is funky and I love it. Amazing bust figures included in the game. Gameplay is easy, but managing your system is more difficult. Fun challenge and definitely a game I want to play more of. Trying so hard to recall the movie it reminds me of, with weird paper cutouts like this artwork. It is driving me nuts, so if you know it, please let me know.



7/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Rocky Road à la Mode:

I love me some ice cream! Quick and simple filler to play with anyone. One I could play anytime. Adorable art and fun gameplay. Happy to have it.



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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The Lord of the Rings: Journey to Mordor:

A roll-n-write game that I missed when it was released! Nooooooo! It is a clever little game. Race to Mordor against the other players and the ringwraiths! Really enjoyed this one and looking forward to playing with the advanced rules.



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Wits & Wagers: Vegas:

Well, if you like Wits & Wagers, you will like this one! You can now bet high and low halves, like betting red and black halves in Roulette. Current topics in this fun new edition. Looking forward to more plays.



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Gone Fishing:

Love the bits in this game!! Silly and fun dexterity game. One I could play anytime. I like a good laugh.



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Quodd Heroes:

There is so much game in this box, it is incredible. Module after module with competitive, cooperative, and solo modes. I only scratched the surface with the intro game, so I still have a lot to uncover and explore with this. That will be fun!



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Welcome to Dino World:

So much to think about when creating your Dino Park. Fantastic roll-n-write game. I like creating my park and completing goals. Could be too long with the wrong people. Really fun game.



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Cat Café:

Cats galore! In this game, we get to create attractive cat towers! I love roll-n-writes and I love drafting and this has both! This is a game I could play anytime. Really enjoyed this one.



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy Roll And Write:

So much to love about this game. It is a spin-off of the Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy game and it works so well. Move your food truck around the map to collect points. This roll-n-write game uses 6 different types of dice, something I wish more roll-n-writes would do. This game is thinky and fun and one I can't wait to play more of.



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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The Artemis Project:

Dice worker-placement game. I love a good chunky euro-style game. This is super solid and fits perfectly on the shelf with games like Marco Polo and Coimbra. There is a lot of replay value since you don't even see half of the events or buildings. Really cool game. Love the art too!



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game:

Man, I am no detective, but I love pretending to be. I am awful at this game, but I still love the good challenge of figuring out the case. Very innovative game and I look forward to playing the rest of the cases in the core box and expansion.



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Pictionary Air:

Pure fun! Amazing use of the app and just an all-around silly and fun game. Definitely one for the family and holiday cheer. Perfect end-of-night game at the end of game day.



8/10 After 2 plays (Owned)



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Welkin:

So gorgeous. Clever market mechanic which keeps the game interesting and not just another resource and set-collection game. Easy enough to introduce to new gamers too. Really liked this one.



8/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Legendary Forests:

My type of game. I love multiplayer solitaire games and tile placement. It is super quick and really pretty. Easily a game I could play anytime.



8/10 After 2 plays (Owned)



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Obscurio:

This totally came as a surprise for me. I am usually not a hidden traitor fan, but this was amazing fun. Nearly impossible to narrow down the traitor, but it is a fun challenge. Crazy obstacles and vague clues make it super hard for the team to escape. This game makes me laugh every time and there is always a great story to tell at the end.



8/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Aeon's End: War Eternal:

MOAR AEON'S END!!! GIMME MOARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR I have been too busy playing Legacy, then the base game, and then New Age, so I just now got around to trying out War Eternal! Of course, it is just amazing. MOAR PLEASE.



8/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Honey Buzz:

This is in late-prototype form, but everything about this game is solid. The artwork is amazing (so far). Puzzley goodness and a game I very much look forward to playing in its final form.



8.5/10 After 1 play (Not Owned/Wishlist)



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Game of the Month!


Letter Jam:

Totes my favorite. I love this challenging little cooperative game, trying to be clever with the clues you give your group. Wish the scoring wasn't so tacked on - it needs an expansion to fix that. Love the game enough to overlook the scoring. Great times playing this one.



8.5/10 After 2 plays (Owned)



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New to me Expansions!


Disney Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared:

If you are a fan of Villainous, then this is a no-brainer. I actually like this expansion better than the base game and first expansion. A lot of clever new villains in this one keeps the game fresh. Well done.



6.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Kanagawa: Yokai:

Doesn't shorten the game but gives you alternative sets to collect and Yokai figures to manipulate. Beautiful expansion and happy to add to the base game for variety.



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Aeon's End: The Depths:

MOAR AEON'S END!! 3 new mages! Not sure I felt a strong connection to any of the new mages, but happy to have more content!



7.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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Aeon's End: The Nameless:

More nemeses to defeat. SO STUPID HARD. I doubt I will ever beat them. I will definitely try though! Couple games in and nawp. Fun challenge though.



8/10 After 2 plays (Owned)



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Decrypto: Expansion #01 – Laserdrive:

YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! A must-have for any Decrypto fan. Loved the new theme cards and the red tokens for more attempts to gain a white token. LUV IT!



8.5/10 After 1 play (Owned)



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The Tally


January: 12
February: 13
March: 21
April: 68!
May: 51
June: 37
July: 34
August: 50





Total new-to-me games for the year: 286!



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I have been seeing a bunch of movies recently, especially with AMC's A-List! I love it!








Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


If you like what you saw, please thumb!




All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
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Mon Sep 2, 2019 3:00 pm
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The Artemis Project Decrypts the Puzzle of Catlantis along the Alwaysgreen Penny Lane to Mordor

Steph Hodge
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Hia Everyone!


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During Origins, I got to sit down and learn about The Alwaysgreen Garden on the BGG Livestream, which I now have the pleasure of trying out in prototype form. New to me!

What originally drew me in was the adorable artwork. I love animals and their cute names and how they have their own gardens. It definitely has a very family-friendly atmosphere and welcoming vibe to it.

In Alwaysgreen Garden, you are trying to create recipes to score points. On your turn, you will roll 2 dice and populate the different gardens with various resources. You can then take each action once in any order. The different actions include collecting resources from a single garden, calling upon a gardener for their skills or submitting a recipe, moving to a new location, or using one of Ollie the elephant's special abilities. At any time during your turn, you may use special action cards from your hand to help boost your turn.

Ultimately, you want to collect the resources on your recipes and submit them to the correct gardener for approval. When a player has made 4 recipes, the game end is triggered. The rest of this round and next round are played and the player with the most points will win it.

Michael and I played and found the game pretty easy to follow. But it seemed like the resources were always able to be taken and nothing ever really populated like you think it might. I like that you can upgrade a die after you have completed a recipe. I wouldn't call it engine building though. It is just a die you can unlock.

It was difficult to complete the goal card I was given. I wanted to create a ton of Medleys but I couldn't find the appropriate cards. I ended up trying to make it work by creating the highest-point recipes I could find.

I did end up winning by a few points. Michael didn't think he would win because he wasn't able to get the resources he needed to fulfill his recipes in a timely manner. I just had more points from the recipes and a few points from the goal card. He totally forgot about his goal. Oops.

The Alwaysgreen Garden will be on KS later this year, so there is still time for development and rules clarification before then. As it stands now, it is a bit boring for my taste. I can see it working well for kids or families as an introduction to resource management. It just won't work for serious gamers. I would be interested to see how it stands once everything is finalized.



















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On the recent BGG Show, I got to talk about my recent play of The Artemis Project. New to me!

This game has had me interested since I first learned about it last year. It has worker placement with dice, and that is just a mechanic to love! At least for me!

The Artemis Project lasts 6 rounds, and whoever can secure the most points will win the game. It is a Euro-style game where you are collecting resources and building buildings and hiring workers to gain as many points as you can.

Each round, an event is revealed and assigned to the proper location on the board. Then phase 1 begins, where each player rolls their dice and take turns assigning them to the board locations. But you might not get what you planned for. For example, dice on the resource spaces are resolved in ascending order. If you play a higher-value die to a resource location early, other players might play lower-value dice in order to collect resources before you. Resources are limited each round as well. The building locations have a bidding mechanic, so the player who places the highest-value die on a building will get to build that building for that amount of resources.

In phase 2, the dice that were placed are resolved in location order. The event that was drawn at the start of the round will trigger in this phase. In phase 3, players activate staffed buildings and pay energy to keep unemployed workers warm... or they die. Cause it's cold on Europa. Like, really cold.

Europa can also be a little bit cutthroat, but if you get overbid or lose out on an action because others played a bit too harshly, you will still get to advance on the Relief Track which will gain you something, so you don't fully miss out using a die. And sometimes it is even beneficial for you to miss out on an action just to claim the next advancement on the Relief Track.

In the first 3 rounds, the buildings will help with actions and providing benefits. In the latter 3 rounds, the buildings will be worth more victory points. You have to figure out the best way to effectively employ your workers around and have them score the most points as efficiently as possible. Planning is critical.

It took a while to get through the rules, but Michael and I figured it out and everything seemed straightforward and clear once we did. The flow of the game is really nice.

I like the events. They were generally not nice events, usually causing players to pay additional resources. This often worked in my favor, mostly since Michael often forgot about them. I was always fully aware of the events and evaluated whether they were about to affect me and whether certain actions were worth it. I would usually let Michael take the lead and then I would follow after. We saw only 6 events, so a lot of them were returned to the box, unseen. Seems like a lot of replayability, which is pretty cool.

I tried to pick up as many buildings as I could afford since you get points for buildings even if they aren't being powered. I felt pretty good when I was able to get 2 buildings in one round while he got none. Of course, he was able to do the same thing to me a few turns later, so we ended up with the same number of buildings. But I laugh because he was hit with an event disaster that round. I LET him have those buildings! devil

This game worked out for me in every way. I was always on the ball, figuring out my most optimal play. I won this time with 27 points to Michael's 18 points. It is a fairly low-scoring game, so you really have to make every point count.

I had a great time playing Artemis. Solid gameplay and interesting mechanics. There are so many events and building tiles that allow for added replay value too. I am a big fan of dice worker placement games anyway, and this fills my gaming shelf just perfectly. Excited to play this one more.




Play Tray UK - a nice tray for resources! The top is also a dice tray. Pretty cool. Works really well for The Artemis Project too.


















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Michael and I were heading to Game Day and had some time to kill beforehand, so we learned a quick roll n write game called The Lord of the Rings: Journey to Mordor. New to me!

Not sure how I ended up missing this game when it was originally released. I love LOTR and I love roll n writes sooooo - how?! Regardless, I have it now and I finally got to play it!

Your mission... duh, to drop the One Ring into Mordor! Of course, everyone else's mission is the same... and to also put the Ringwraiths on your trail.

On your turn, you will roll all the dice and keep at least 1 die. You MUST keep one Ringwraith if it is rolled. You can also choose to keep ONLY ONE of each of the other symbols rolled. For example, if you roll 5 Rings you can still only keep 1 of those Rings. Any dice you do not keep must be rerolled, following the same rules as above, until all the dice are kept. The only exception is if you roll a White Tree, which lets you stop (though you still have to keep a Ringwraith if you roll one). You will then score your kept dice.

For each Ring, you will get to advance on the Hobbit path to Mordor unless you encounter Orcs. Each Fellowship icon will defend against one Orc. If any Orcs are unblocked, the Orcs take away ALL RINGS!

Now, what's different about this game are the Ringwraiths. If Michael is playing Blue and I keep the Ringwraith on the blue die, Michael will have to mark one space on his Ringwraith track. Any other Ringwraith that I roll will have to be marked on my own board. If the Ringwraiths beat you to Mordor, you lose.

If you roll Gandalf, he will cut a box on the Ringwraiths path in half, forcing the Ringwraiths to take twice as long to navigate that space.

Ideally, I will roll all Rings all the time and make it to Mordor with no problems! Easy peasy!

I am generally not one for these types of roll n write games where one person is doing all the rolls then the next person and you just kinda sit and wait. But it works really well with 2 players. I suspect it is like Noch mal, which works great with 2 but terrible with 5.

Michael and I ended up playing through partway of a game before realizing we were playing wrong. We were keeping ALL THE RINGS we rolled, not just one per roll, even though it wasn't many at all. So, we immediately started over on the backside of the map. Turns out there are advanced rules for a different gaming experience on the backside of the game map! To be played at a later date!

I was playing more cautiously than I normally might because I didn't want to roll all the Ringwraiths. But I kept rolling Orcs and not having the Fellowship on my side. It was baaaaaaaad rolling. Michael seemed to be having a tough time of it too, but he was able to make it all the way to Mordor with the Ringwraiths on his heels. Since he was the first player, I would have one more turn to make it 2 spaces to Mordor. I somehow got super lucky and rolled Rings to help me get to Mordor. The tiebreaker for this game is empty Ringwraith boxes... so I won the game! Boom!

This was a great game, and I am super happy to have it now. I am not sure how it flew right under the radar for me. Picked it up used and it was dirt cheap, so it was definitely a win-win for me. I can't wait to play the advanced game next time!








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In preparation for Game Day, I felt it was my duty to wear my amazing Catlantis shirt. New to me!

It is a well-known fact that you will get to play the game pictured on your shirt at Game Day, especially if there is a lot of begging. It must be a great game if it is pictured on my shirt. I can reel any gamer in with that.

Really, how could anyone pass up the chance to play with Mercat meeples? So flippin' cute!

Everything about Catlantis is so cute. I love all of the art and the rainbow foiled cards and box. The Mercat meeples are an added bonus.

Catlantis is a light set collection game with an I-split-you-choose mechanic. At the start of the game, every player is secretly assigned a top half and bottom half of a Mercat. Players will try to collect as many Mercats with those top and/or bottom halves as they can manage. There are artifacts to collect too, but most of your points will usually come from collecting a lot of your matching types.

On your turn, you will select 2 cards from the line up of 4 cards and off them to another player. They will select one to keep and you will take the other. You will have to offer to each other player before offering again to the same player and you will keep track of this using gem tokens that you flip over.

We ended up playing a 4 player game. You really have to be clever in your offerings to other players, trying to figure out what they need so they don't take what you need. You also don't want to be obvious about what you need, since you don't want people purposefully hate-taking what you need. Tricky to manage that.

My collection of grey cats with grey tails was pretty good, and I thought I had everyone else figured out. Turns out, I didn't have a clue. People were just not getting the cats they needed to score for bigger sets. I won this game with 21 points and Michael was just behind with 20 points. It was so super close! The only thing he was really scoring for were his artifact sets. I thought for sure he would win, but I had the wrong colors pegged for him. He had way fewer than I expected.

Catlantis really surprised me. I didn't really know what to expect other than rainbows and Kitty Poseidon. Turns out there is a really solid game here and nice set collection mechanic. Nothing groundbreaking to be sure, but it would make for a great mass-market type game to get new gamers and kids playing games of substance. This is one that I could play with anyone in 15 minutes. Pretty cool filler type game. Happy to play this one again while sporting my lovely Catlantis shirt!















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I have always enjoyed my plays of Decrypto, so I was even more exicted to learn there was a new expansion called Decrypto: Expansion #01 – Laserdrive. New to me Expansion!

During Game Day I was able to find a large group of players to give this expansion a whirl. I was super excited to see what it had to offer.

Laserdrive gives Decrypto a whole new feeling and enjoyment when playing. Each round, a new theme is revealed using the new disc cards. The players writing down the clues will have to use a theme with at least one of their answers or they will get a grey disc. Some of the themes include vegetables, planets, movies, 8+ letter words, etc. We only saw a handful of these theme cards.

If all three of your clues follow the theme, you will acquire a red clue token. These red tokens can be spent 2 at a time to try to guess one of the other team's words. If you guess correctly, you will collect a white token, and you still need only 2 white tokens to win the game.

We had a great time playing this game. I think we played a total of 6 or 7 rounds before the game ended. Our team was doing great and we tried guessing the other team's words a few times. Ultimately, we ended up losing because our clues were just too obvious! Nooooo!!!

Everyone agreed that the expansion was excellent and made the game even better. There is no way I will play without the expansion now. I will make up my own theme cards if I have to! If you own and love Decrypto, this is a must-have.












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There is a lesson that we all learned growing up, or at least, heard about while growing up: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Oh man, this entry will be a short one for Last Word Standing. New to me!

Nothing in this game worked for me. I think our game lasted 2 hours, which made it so much worse. I like word games, but they often cause way too much AP, and Last Word Standing has definitely fallen victim to that. Each player has to try to make a word that is worth more points than the previous player, and if you've already played a word, you have to use all those letters in your new word. And time just stops while one person thinks.

Even worse, there are too many unanswered rules in the rulebook. It is clear this game needed a LOT more development for it to actually work. They definitely needed a rules editor. Sure, this is a book publisher's first attempt at making a game, which I can appreciate, but they have a long way to go to make it work.

I begged and begged for this game to be ended sooner, but we stuck it out until Michael was finally able to cross the 75 point mark.

This game did not work for me at all.














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I had time for one more game and Penny Lane seemed to be pretty quick. New to me!

Penny Lane is a worker placement race-to-10-stars game. It is not so much "worker" placement but "money" placement. You are spending money on the available actions so you can expand your lane full of houses and attractions. Each card you add to your lane will feature either a house with residents or an attraction that employs residents. If you can employ your residents at attractions, you will gain stars or ongoing benefits when they are fully staffed.

Besides the wonderful artwork in Penny Lane, the card placement mechanic is so clever. Not only are you looking for great buildings to add, but you are also looking for buildings that will complete stars or pennies on your lane. Cards will display half-stars and half-pennies in various spots, and if you align the cards with one another to make a full star or penny, you will gain one star towards your 10-star goal or one extra penny to start each round.

In our game, Michael managed to get some deep discounts when buying new buildings. I was raking and scraping at every turn to make enough cash to spend on different actions.

I could feel the heat to get as many points as fast as I could, but ultimately, I knew I was hosed. I could not get the houses I needed to send out dudes to get jobs. I had amazing entertainment buildings but no workers to work.

In the final round when Michael hit 10 stars, I managed to get 5 stars, bringing me up to a total of 8. So I wasn't a huge failure, but I still lost.

You get a lot of game in this small box. You will always have the same actions available to spend your money on, but you will always see a new mix of buildings. I like the puzzle aspect to try and get your buildings placed perfectly to get you lots of stars.

I think Penny Lane works well for a quick filler. I am not sure it offers anything new, but it is charming for what it is. I could easily play this one again and I simply adore the artwork. Super cute.



















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There is one puzzle type game that I played that can't be in BGG because it is classified as a one-player puzzle and not a game. It is called Blokus Puzzle!

Blokus Puzzle has a few different types of puzzles, but basically, you are using the pieces at the bottom of the card to complete the puzzle. For example, you might have to connect the two blue pieces by placing your pieces, or use all your pieces to cover a gold star.

I have only completed about 20 puzzles so far, so I still have a lot to explore, but I am having a great time with it. Some are simple and others are harder, so I am excited to get deeper into the difficult ones.

I always love me some Blokus!







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New to the Collection:
The Alwaysgreen Garden - Prototype
The Lord of the Rings: Journey to Mordor






Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph





All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:00 pm
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Gone Fishing for Rocky Road in the Sylvion Dragonrealm where the Silver Panda Craves Danger

Steph Hodge
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One day I got in a few games with Michael and his son, Hayden. We started with a new game called Dragonrealm. New to me!

This was a game I wasn't as familiar with, but coming from Gamewright Games, I figured it would be easy enough to learn and play with a teenager.

Dragonrealm is a push-your-luck dice rolling game. You are collecting sets of cards and using them to acquire dice to try to place meeples in locations to gain majorities. When the location is full, the person with the majority gets points and the runner up gets a smaller amount. The winner might also receive a cool ability. You are simply trying to claim the most points in the game.

What's cool about this game is that you are drawing random cards from the deck, but the sets you are making can be of the same number, color, or any run of cards. Each location has a values that you need to roll to succeed, but these values are different depending on whether you are playing numbers, colors, or runs. Difficult checks will sometimes allow you to place an additional meeple as a reward.

I always like to try my hand at push-your-luck games even though I end up failing miserably since I can't seem to ever stop.

Hayden was getting some cool card abilities that allowed him to draw cards if he failed an adventure roll. So that would prompt him to always attempt a roll on his turn - why wouldn't he?! I should have tried harder for that card since I am always pushing my luck by using very weak combos of cards.

I was able to secure a lot of really cute locations. Even if there weren't cool abilities on them, I was still getting some points. Even though I ran a close race, I was still the big loser in the end. Hayden took home the victory this game with 23 points followed by Michael at 19 and my sad 18.

Dragonrealm is a fun little game. I could easily play this with any number of gamers. It won't ever be a go-to game for me but it could be good to show to new gamers, as it has easy-to-learn concepts and gameplay. I would be happy to play this one again.

















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In April, Michael and I got to try out Silver, which I found to be a big improvement over Cabo.

In Silver, players are trying to minimize the value of their row of cards with minimal knowledge of anyone's cards, including their own. On your turn, you will draw a card, then either use that card's ability or swap it with a set of one or more matching cards from your row. Eventually, someone will call for the end of the round to be triggered or the deck of cards will run out.

I was looking forward to playing this game again, and since Michael and I already knew how to play, we figured Hayden would appreciate the short explanation and hidden card information.

Turns out we weren't wrong. Hayden totally kicked our butts, scoring just 1 point at the end of the round. I had 4 points and Michael 5. We ended up playing only 1 round since Hayden had to leave. SO he left as the big winner!

I think it went over really well with him and I'll definitely be playing that again with the kiddos. I think I need to be riskier at times. Like, I should collect all the 10s and just swap them all away in one swoop. Could be good.

I am excited to see where Silver leads, hopefully with expansions that provide many more cards and abilities. Should be fun!










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At Gen Con I picked up a bunch of small boxed games that are just the cutest! The one I was most interested in learning was Rocky Road à la Mode. New to me!

I eat ice cream basically every day. It is safe to say I LUV IT!!! I am not really sure how I haven't played this game until now, but here we are!

In Rocky Road à la Mode, players are collecting cards to use them either as flavors of ice cream or as customers. You are trying to figure out the best plan to get to 9 points first!

Every action will take an amount of time. For example, to draw cards, you have to advance your truck one space for each card you take. To play customers from your hand, you will have to move your truck ahead a number of spaces depending on the customer's demand. To serve a customer, you play the corresponding ice cream cards and move only a single space. Whichever truck is furthest behind will keep playing until they are ahead of another truck.

There is a very tight balance of taking what you need and performing the actions you think are best to help you get to 9 points without using too much time to do it.

In my game, Michael and I were greedy for cards in the beginning. My thought was, I will use these cards, no problem. In reality, I didn't have a plan and I needed one. There are common goals to work towards and I was sort of focusing on that, but I wasn't planning appropriately for the expensive costs I would incur.

I ended up going a different route and just worked on fulfilling the cheap customers, even though they weren't giving me as many points. They were giving me bonuses that essentially helped to attract other customers.

Michael and I managed to tie each other this game. We each had 10 points at the end. But I won the tiebreaker because I had the truck that was furthest back on the road. It was definitely close though. I think the winner deserves some ice cream. He needs to get me ice cream!!!

This game is so super cute!! I love it! It is colorful and there is a ton of ice cream. I think this works really well for a small box game. It would attract any gamer or family and can easily be taught. This is a keeper in my book and will be played a bunch more. It needs an app to play ice cream truck music. How cute would that be? Cute cute cute.














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Michael and I set out to play the second module for the new game Sierra West.

I first played this game back at Dice Tower Con and had a great time with it. We had played the first module with apples as the theme. This time we selected the fishing module called Gold Rush, mostly because the fish are so cute!! It was the second module in the book, so at least we're playing in order!

In Gold Rush, players are building up their decks with fishing cards. There is a river where you can catch lots of fish and use the fish market to trade them in for gold nuggets. You can also use pan icons to pan for stone and gold from as far upstream as your wagon has traveled.

This game, I was all about fishing and getting tons and tons of gold! Michael got some late fishing points even though he never actually went fishing. He was able to collect fish using his raccoon friend and then turning in the collected fish for points.

It was a close finish, and Michael ended up in the lead at the end with 90 points to my 86. Grrrrrr I thought I had him. I was really pulling in the fish and getting a ton of points. He was managing his tracks a lot better though and I was just a step away from tying.

I have to say, this game is super clever. And I really enjoy all of the choices for modules, where the gameplay changes while keeping the same core mechanics. Clever system and one I am excited to play and explore more of!




















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It was brought to my attention that there is an adorable game with pandas in it that I had to play called Panda Craves Danger. New to me!

If you are a fan of pandas, I don't see how this game could go wrong for you. It is a push-your-luck dice-chucking fest where you try to gain the most victory points by eating the most dangerous things.

In Panda Craves Danger, players will select a card from a line-up of cards and attempt to eat it. Using the dice pictured on the cards and some automatic damage icons, players will have to overcome the damage dealt to them and succeed in eating the object. If they are damaged too much they end up hurling everything they haven't yet digested and have to rest for the turn, leaving the dangerous card in place.

After you successfully eat one or more cards, you can then take a turn to digest them, and that is how you can actually score your cards. Cards might give you on-going abilities like an extra stomach or more health. Most cards have icons that are collected and will hopefully score extra end-game points through various common goals.

This game is so stinking cute and every card has different drawings of pandas in crazy situations. My favorite one is the sharks with laser eyes! Waaaaat?!

Michael and I played this, and I really wasn't sure what to expect. The dice were cute and the art was cute, but I was confused about the publisher being FYE. As most things go, I am willing to give everything a shot, and this game didn't disappoint.

In our game, I was trying to complete the common goals. It was proving to be difficult, since there are a boatload of symbols and the cards just weren't displaying them fast enough. The game is pretty quick, since it will end when one player has digested 7 cards, so you have to really be selective in how you want to score your cards. If you go for all easy cards, you might score fewer points, but you will likely trigger the end of the game sooner. Or you can play it risky and go for the more challenging foods to eat.

Of course, I wanted all the danger all the time. I got a few easy-to-digest cards that helped with my digestion, but it took several attempts before I was able to eat the sharks with laser eyes and digest all those tasty points.

It was not enough to win me the game, as Michael took the winner title with 37 points to my 35!! Noooooo!!! I was so close to getting an additional common goal card too. Booooooo. Dice need to like me better next time!

Panda Craves Danger really surprised me. I found it hilariously entertaining and really cute. I obviously love dice rolling and pushing my luck, so that all works for me. Easy to bring new players in with this theme and gameplay. This is one I will like playing more of. Adorbs!















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Being at the right place at the right time during the final hours of Gen Con, I managed to snag this beautiful game called Gone Fishing. New to me!

Look at those amazing fishy pieces! How could you not just want to play this game? I love the components and quality of this game right from the very start. Not even knowing what it was, I had to play it.

You may or may not have guessed it, but this is a dexterity game. It is a 2-part dexterity game at that!

In Gone Fishing, there are 4 rounds for players to catch fish. Each round, players will use a different shaped net. When it is your turn, you first get to select ANY FISH in the ocean and relocate it. You will either want to move it out of your way or into the catching zone where you think you will be able to catch him. Then you will carefully lower the net to the table, enclosing as many fish as you can. But if you TOUCH ANY FISH with the net, either on the outside or inside, you are immediately out.

After your net is safely on the table, you can start reeling it in. But once you start reeling it in, the net cannot touch any outside fish or you are out. Once you make it back to your boat, you have to give up one caught fish to the fish market, which makes fish of that color more valuable.

So after four rounds are complete, the players score their caught fish based on the going rate in the fish market. But wait, there's more! Each player will get to toss all of their fish they caught, and each fish standing upright will gain 1 bonus point. For more drama, toss one type (or one fish) at a time.

Michael and I played, and the game was SUPER QUICK!!! We left so many fish in the sea, I felt we could have played another 4 rounds.

He was so super in the lead when we were done with the market scoring. It all came down to the fish tossing. There was no way I would catch up with him. It was fun to try anyway. Man, I had some incredible tosses. I think I might have scored 9 or 10 points from those tosses, and Michael scored 1 or 2, so I actually had a major comeback. It wasn't enough to win, but I surprised both of us. The final scores were 61 to 56. So close!!

I think I need to be riskier in my fish catching next time.

Gone Fishing is super cute and silly fun. Placing the net will have your heart racing and your brain screaming "Don't Mess Up!" So much pressure, when really, there shouldn't be. Too funny. This is a game to play at any time. It is quick, light, fun, and totally enjoyable. I very much look forward to playing this one a bunch more. Love it.
















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Michael was interested in learning Sylvion. I had played this like 2 or 3 years ago when Riley let me borrow a ton of solo games. I had only played it solo and lost miserably.

It was cool to revisit this one and try it with 2 players. We played the basic intro game first and immediately lost. It was near impossible. I wouldn't believe anyone if they said they won that intro game. It is just too difficult.

We moved on to playing the advanced game and this was a bit more interesting. There is a really cool drafting mechanic before the game actually begins, so it's like a game in itself! Super fun and interesting.

Of course, Michael and I had no idea what we were doing or what would help us in the actual game. Now that we have played, we will definitely have a better idea on which cards we must keep if at all possible. Some of the animal cards are just amazingly powerful and necessary for survival.

We lost both games before we were even halfway through them. So there is definitely room for improvement. This game is wicked hard! I duno how anyone can possibly win it.

I liked it a lot more with the advanced rules, and I'll always choose to play that way going forward. It was fun and I am glad we could try it out.











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New to the Collection:
Panda Craves Danger




Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph




All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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Wed Aug 28, 2019 12:00 pm
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Near the Painters Studio and Cat Cafe you will fine the Escape Room of the Century!

Steph Hodge
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Hia Everyone!




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That Gen Con haul was lookin' kinda large and looming, so in an effort to make a dent, Michael and I played a whole bunch! We started with the familiar Century: Golem Edition – Eastern Mountains. New to me!

I duno if I can declare this game as new, but it is a new edition, and I had just learned Eastern Wonders. It is essentially the same game as Century: Eastern Wonders, but with different art and components.

In Eastern Mountains, you move around the board converting resources into other resources in order to fulfill contracts at the ports.

I learned a lot from the first time I played Eastern Wonders, and because of that, I was planning out my initial placement before the game ever started. Setting up for a lot of early plays is critical. Since I got initial placement and Michael was going first, I took the tile he wanted. Hey, I had been eyeing that space for a lot longer than he had been! devil

My early strategy worked just fine for me. I was well on my way to fulfilling early contracts and making it all work. Because there were many easy contracts to complete, the end of the game arrived much quicker than we had expected.

I was able to secure that win with 60 points and Michael was at 49. Crushed him! Woop!

So, there are many things to like about Mountains and Wonders. I like Wonders because it is easier to see the ships on the board. The player colors are muted and disappointing in Mountains - the huts get totally lost on the board. But I do like the artwork and the big chunky gems in Mountains. I also have a lovely Mountains mat to play with. It is really a tough call on which version I like better, but I had to choose one, I would ultimately choose Wonders.

I do enjoy this game for the ease of play and quick playtime. I am more curious about the 3rd game in the series, New World! From what I hear, that one will be my favorite, so I'm definitely looking forward to it. Definitely glad to have played this one with Michael though. It was fun times!













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At BGG.Spring the colors and attractiveness of Festo! just drew me in. I was definitely interested in trying it again, et voilà!

The first time we played, it was with 4 people late at night near the end of the con. It was rough going, to say the least. I figured the game will move faster and play out in no time with only 2 players.

Michael wanted a refresher of the rules from May reread them. The game isn't that hard so he was able to recall most of the rules easily enough. I was just ready to go when the box opened. Can figure it out as we go, no problem. haha

Michael took off in an early lead. In round 2 he was able to basically crush me with drink purchases and instant discounts. I wasn't able to create anything, which meant I had a ton of cubes left over for the final 2 rounds. Somehow I managed to control my resources well enough where I could get the proper plates of food for several different advantages.

I was shocked to find out I won that game with 98 to Michael's 90. I have no idea how that even happened when I thought he was just crushing me. Things must have fell into place for me in the end and it all just worked out.

While I do think this game works better with 2 players, having more players seems to cause some interesting fighting in the regions. I am not really big on area control and fighting for majorities, so Festo works better for me as a 2 player game.

I am glad I got to try this one again. Pretty cool game and one I am happy to play again!


















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Michael and I decided to check out a new Ravensburger title that plays off of the classic game of Checkers. This new game is called King Me!. New to me!

I didn't know much about this one but was curious to see how they could spin Checkers into a better strategy game.

In King Me, there are 4 crowns on the game board all spread out between the two opponents, sorta like dodge balls at the start of a dodge ball game. You are racing to get those crowns to become King of various regions. A King will count as two pieces when he is in one of his regions. Kings also have an easier time moving around the board and they are worth extra points at the end of the game.

The real game lies in the cards that are flowing down a display. Each turn a new card is revealed for the lineup, and all other cards slide down one space. When a card reaches the end of the row it will activate. There are cards that will score for different regions and there are river cards that will move the rivers.

When a region is scored, the player who has the most pieces in the region will win the card. Some areas are closer to the red starting spaces, so black will score more points if they can claim a majority there, and vice versa. There are also 2 rivers on the board. When a river card activates, all of the pieces on the rivers will move 1-2 spaces with the river flow.

Your goal is to claim the most points from Kings, capturing other players pieces, and gaining those region majority cards.

Michael and I were able to figure the game out really quickly. It is an abstract so it is not Michael's favorite type of game.

Some regions that were revealed early that would have given me tons of points, but there was no way I could make it across the board and have that majority in time. Instead of focusing on those, I tried to get some crowns to help me get majorities later in the game.

In King Me, you can jump your pieces as well as pieces that are printed on the board, which helps you move around easier and set up killer combos. But I really liked the flowing river. It changes up the game board almost every turn. One minute you are on the darker squares, and the next you are on the lighter squares. So much to think about!!

Hooray for me, since I ended with 85 points to Michael's 75 points. I thought he was going to win though, because he killed off a bunch of my pieces. I managed to gain a lot of region majorities which more than made up for it.

I think this game is a HUGE improvement over Checkers. I think it is easy enough for regular Checkers players to pick up and have a good time with. I love the colors and cards. King Me is a cleverly updated version of Checkers, and one I would be happy to play again against an abstract gamer.





















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Michael and I have been playing a lot of Unlock-type games and I found a new one at Gen Con called Escape Room In A Box: Flashback. New to me!

This is the second game in the Escape Room in a Box series, but the order you play them in really doesn't matter. This is a stand-alone game and you will likely play in one sitting.

You are given 90 minutes to investigate 3 paths that all combine to make a final puzzle. Lots of clever puzzles in this game and actual locks to decrypt. I love those locks!

Without giving too much away, I felt this game was really easy overall. People who play these Escape Room games all the time will have no issue beating it, and some might become slightly uninterested. With that being said, there is one really cool new idea/mechanic which is totally out of the box, and it's like nothing I have seen before in Escape Room games, so it's worth playing just to experience that.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I recommend playing at home. For reasons.


I am really glad I got to try this game and will have to check out the first game in the series soon.













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I haven't really found the time to dive fully into the case of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game until today! New to me!

I have been wanting to play this for ages now, and with so many other campaign games going on, and knowing this was about 3 hours a game, it was a bit daunting to approach. Michael and I made time to test the waters by opening the first case in the box.

So for those of you who are unfamiliar with Detective, you are cooperatively working together to solve a case. You don't need all the evidence and leads, but you do need to know what happened and why it happened. There is an overarching story through several cases you are working.

Michael and I thought we knew a lot at the end of this game. Turns out we knew it all but had literally nothing to back it up. We scored 14/40 or something ridiculously low. It still said we passed, and we managed to have the story right, so we didn't fail all that poorly, it seems. I am just shocked that we scored so low. What did we miss? How could it have been different?

I am still flabbergasted by our experience. I am not sure we could have done anything differently, but clearly, we should have. It kind of makes me want to play that first case again to see what happens. Maybe another time. For now, I will be happy to progress to Case 2 and see what happens going further. It is SO HARD!!!

This is a pretty cool game and very innovative. Using a website to store your database of information is really cool. I was keeping notes and Michael was inputting the data we found into the website. There is a lot to keep track of for sure! I had a great time playing this and very much look forward to continuing the cases and see what else is in store! Really great!





Spoiler (click to reveal)


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One of the many gorgeous games that I brought home from Gen Con was Atelier: The Painter's Studio. New to me!

Atelier has dice and paintings and paints and a painters pallet and alllll the colors! All of that makes me a happy camper.

In Atelier, players are rolling dice and using them for actions. Ultimately, you want to have the most points to win the game and you will gain points from the paintings you create.

The dice offer a number of different actions based on their value. Most of the time, you will use the dice to move your little painter meeples to the paint area. When you use a die to collect paint, you will collect paint from every color where you have a majority of paint meeples. Dice can also allow you to take any one paint or to paint a painting.

If you don't want to use a die for its action, you can turn it in for an Impression token. Impression tokens are used for rerolling dice, performing an extra paint action, or drawing a hidden goal card which will award points at the end of the game for various works of art you have created.

Each painting card is worth a number of victory points. Some are worth fewer points but will give you a sweet ability. For example, Michael had a painting that let him pay one fewer paint when painting future paintings. Seemed too good to be true.

So, I was rolling the absolute worst. I was spending Impression tokens left and right to reroll my dice, looking for the perfect roll which never came. In retrospect, I should have saved those tokens and claimed more end-of-game scoring cards.

Michael had too many sweet abilities for me to catch him in the end. I couldn't hold my own this time. He ended up winning with 57. I wasn't tooooooo far behind with 45. I might have had him if I wasn't trying so passionately to find the perfect roll. Plus, I had an unlucky pull of end-of-game scoring cards in the final round. They scored me 0 points, so if I had pulled something that was worth even a few points, it would have been a much closer game.

There are a lot of ambiguous cards that really need to be clarified in the rules or fact sheet about the card abilities. We went with our best guess for the most part.

I like what this game is doing. Besides the few unlucky rolls I had, I enjoyed my time playing this game. I am not sure the game has anything exciting or unique about it that makes it stand out, but I would certainly be happy to play it again. I need my revenge!

















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Many are well aware of my love for roll n write games. So I was SUPER excited to finally get to try out a new game called Cat Café. New to me!

This was a game I saw being promoted on Twitter. I've been super interested in checking it out, mostly since it is an adorable roll n write game.

In Cat Café, the goal is to get the most points. You can get points in a lot of different ways. The main mechanic of the game is dice drafting. The active player will roll dice equal to the number of players plus 1. Then that player will take one die and the next player will take one until there is one die left over. The leftover die will be used by every player.

Every value on the die will correspond to either an object or the level on a cat tower. You will use both your die and the leftover die - one will be the object and one will be the cat tower level you place the object on. For exmaple, if you draft a 3 die and the leftover die is a 1, you can place the 1 object (a house) on a level 3 space or the 3 object (a butterfly) on a level 1 space.

Each of the objects has a different scoring mechanic. Houses will give you bonus points for objects. You want to have a majority of yarn balls on each tower. Butterflies are worth 3 points and will get you footprints, which help you alter the result of a die +/- 1. Pillows are worth more the higher up you place them. Food bowls score points for having different objects surrounding them. Mice score points if they are connected in groups.

There is a bit of abstract placement of the objects since you want everything lined up perfectly for the best possible scoring. When I was drafting dice I was looking for the best possible scenario for me while hate drafting things that might help Michael.

The game will end when once player fills their third of five colums, so you have some control over that. It would have been perfect if I had just left a few extra footprints for the end of the game. As I didn't roll what I needed for the perfect ending combo, I let the game roll on another round.

Turns out I had nothing to sweat since I managed to win with 97 points to Michael's 88. But if I had let him have some more turns, it might have meant my demise!

There is a tough balance in knowing when to take certain symbols and when to hold back. The game-ending could trigger faster than you anticipate!

I had a great time learning and playing this one. I am very excited to play more Cat Café and see what kinds of combos I can create. Loved it!







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The BGG Show!!




New to the Collection:
Festo!





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph




I made a FB group for the blog if you are on there and want to chat up some games! Check it out!
https://www.facebook.com/AlltheMeeplesoftheRainbow


All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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Mon Aug 26, 2019 12:00 pm
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