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The Sherlock Case Connection was 27 Metres away from finding the Pizza Master

Steph Hodge
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Tennessee
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Michael and I played some Wonderland's War





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Oh hey, a new game about Pizza!! I love me some pizza so I was excited to try Pizza Master. New to me!

In Pizza Master, you are trying to collect the proper ingredients to successfully make your pizzas and side dishes.

It is a race to get a certain amount of points either 50 or 60 depending on the variants you are playing with, and once that has been crossed then the game will be over and the player with the most points will win.

During the game, players will allocate discs to certain ingredients on the main game board. Each disc will add one of that ingredient type to the board, or 2 cheese tokens for the cheese ingredient.

Once all tokens and ingredients have been added, the player with the most discs will have a reserved ingredient for only them to draft if they want it. Players will take turns drafting the different ingredients from the available pool and from reserve until all players have passed.

Once a player has passed they can make any number of items from their hand of cards so long as they have the ingredients needed. Timing will matter since there are modules you can use that will be first come first served, for both dishes and round goal cards in effect.

As you score more points you will unlock more discs and cards.

The game plays out pretty quickly. I can see it being a bit more chaotic with more players as you see the ingredients you want to vanish before your eyes, or if you are playing with open dishes, people will snatch those up before you get the chance.

Michael and I didn't play with the dishes that were out in the open, we had them in our hands so we could work on them privately. We used all of the other advanced modes since they seemed reasonable to add.

Michael did end up winning the game with 79 to my 76. I thought I might have had him too! I had so many end-scoring points and thought I might pull it out at the end. I didn't.

We think we might have been playing the hand management wrong, so I am not sure if you draw up to your hand limit each round or if you draw a set number of cards adding them to your hand each round. That is the only rule that was very unclear.

I was happy to play this and see another pizza game come to life. It is solid resource management and drafting game and I could see families and gamers having fun with it. I would definitely play again.


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Since we had a Lucky Ducky Night last week, I wanted to learn the new Sherlock: Case Connection. New to me!

In Sherlock: Case Connection, players are racing to get 9 or more points. When someone meets that score, all other players will get one more turn.

During the game, players will draft proof tokens to connect the threads and solve the case. You will have direct and indirect connections to make this happen. Depending on the case you are solving, you will gain 2-4 points with the possibility of gaining extra points for direct connections.

This is definitely a puzzle to solve by piecing together the connections that you are drafting. You can freely move the evidence around your play area to make the connections work.

Once the case has been solved, you will get a new lead card and start on the next case.

In general, the game is very quick. You are only going to solve 2 or 3 cases before hitting 9 points.

In the first game, Michael managed to snag the win from me even though I ended it. He was able to complete a final case and score more points than me.

When we played on the Livestream with Evan, I triggered the ending again, but no one could surpass me, so I did win that game.

If you are interested in learning more about this game, I would totally check out the video below. It is easy to get into and enjoy. The rules are short and the gameplay is smooth. A very enjoyable puzzle game I think the family will enjoy. I haven't seen the show, but I probably should go watch it!

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During a recent game night we ended the night with a quick game of 27 Metres. New to me!

27 Metres is a card game where you are just trying not to bust. If you bust twice then you lose the game and everyone else wins!

Each player gets a hand of 3 cards, and some cards have symbols on them to alter the course of the game by changing directions or possibly an immediate effect on drawing it once the game has started.

The cards get played one at a time in clockwise order adding to the total if there is a plus sign or just setting a number if there is no plus sign. The goal is not to get to 27 metres or you will bust.

Once you play a card you draw a card, which might be an issue if there are "!" on it and it will be added in immediately.

Some cards don't allow you to draw at the end of your turn, so that could be good or bad.

It is a super quick game, you play several rounds out in 15 minutes. I ended up busting the first round, and I knew I had it coming, but fortunately, Susan busted in the 2nd round.

You can never really predict what will happen, but it can be loud when the unexpected dow happens. Round 3 Michael busted after going back and forth with me a few times and I managed to wiggly my way out of it and he pulled a draw with ! and lost that round. James managed to stay clean the whole game and it came down to the final round. I thought for sure I would die. Nope, Michael was the unlucky on that round again.

I suppose James is the ultimate winner and Susan and I were the Semi winners, but we all know Michael definitely lost.

We had a bunch of laughs and it was a cute game. I certainly enjoyed the time spent. Definitely fun for the family and easy to play. I don't think it offers anything new, but it was enjoyable enough to play again.

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Don't forget to pick up my Awesome Gaming Calendar 2022! https://stephsshop.ecwid.com/



Thanks to Dfube, I now have a chance to sell some cool All the Meeples of the Rainbow shirts!
If you enjoy the blog and want to support me and my good friend Dfube you can check them out here: https://bit.ly/3lzvtcV
From gallery of punkin312





New to the Collection:
CLUE - Dexter
CLUE - Finding Nemo
Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances Core Set





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


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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.
Disclaimer: I am a contract Employee of BGG. I review games that are provided by the publisher. I am not compensated for my blog content.
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Wed May 11, 2022 11:00 am
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The Downtown Farmers Market was Full Throttle down The Dark Quarter

Steph Hodge
United States
Tennessee
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Hia Everyone!



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During last Wednesday's Livestream we had a super special guest on! Evan Derrick of Van Ryder Games came to show off his new game called The Dark Quarter being published by Lucky Duck Games! New to me!

It was actually the final day of the Kickstarter and they absolutely blew it out of the water with the final push too.

If you missed the Kickstarter but are still interested, it looks like they will have a late pledge available and you can get notified when that pops up by signing up on their KS page.

For those unfamiliar with the game, The Dark Quarter is a cooperative crime-solving game set in New Orleans in the 1980s. There are supernatural elements to the game and a lot of dark stories will unfold. It is definitely for mature audiences.

If you have played Destinies it uses similar tracks and dice mechanics but overall works pretty differently.

My first thought was how similar it felt to Mansions of Madness Second Edition. What is super awesome about this game is that he stripped away movement points and a lot of other things that just pile on. In The Dark Quarter, everything is so elegant and easy to understand. There are locations and you can choose to go there or not. You will have interactions and choose how you handle yourself in the situation. It gives the player a chance to really get into character by answering some of the questions.

Another wicked cool thing about this game specifically, is that your choices matter. How you act in the game will likely come back to bite you later. You have to make your choices wisely and keep your friends while you have them.

Michael and I played the first scenario (in 2 videos below) while Evan narrated for us. He gave us all sorts of insider takes and how this game came to be. He knows so much about the culture, it is super cool.

We had a blast trying to figure out the story and where we had to go. We did pretty well, even though the game said he only did Fair. Okay, there is room to improve. The game is still in development so we might have helped Evan make additions to the game. We gave some ideas.

All I can say is, that I am super excited for this game to come out so I can finish and play through all of the cases. I believe there will be 4 in the core box and they are already working on a bunch of extra content. That is super awesome!

We loved it and would highly recommend checking this one out!


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Michael and I wanted to play a few games off of the couch so we chose Full Throttle!. New to me!

I didn't know anything about this game going in, but I opened the board and found a race track and I figured it would be just like any other racing game. A theme I don't particularly enjoy by the way, and I have come to report it is a super delightful game!

It is nothing like I thought it would be!

What makes this racing game so different? Well, first off, no player controls one color racer. You are essentially bidding on the different racers as the game progresses. The way the cards work is slightly different depending on player count, so I will just explain as it is for the 2-player game.

Each round, 6 cards will be revealed one at a time moving the racers 1-3 spaces. Racers can pass a blocked space if their movement would end after it, however, if their movement were to end on a blocked space they have to stop behind. There are a couple of choke points in the game but there is also a boost 2 space that can be used if a racer lands there.

The most interesting part of this game comes from the cards after the racers move. The start player will take those 6 cards and select one to keep. The next player will select one to keep and one to discard.
The remaining 3 cards are put to the bottom of the card deck in the order of the last player's choosing.

So the cards you keep will score you points at the end of the game. Not based on their value but solely on the color card, if that racer places in the top 3 positions.

The catch is there are only so many cards of each colored racer, and the more cards that get taken out of the deck, the less likely it will perform well! If you keep taking the yellow cards thinking that yellow will win, well, all the cards will be gone and yellow will be stopped.

Also, each round a card is discarded! If I think Michael is collecting yellows, I will ditch the yellow cards especially if there are yellow cards with high movement value.

In our game, that is exactly what happened. Yellow did very well, and I didn't want to go for yellow since I know Michael was. A huge early lead for yellow, and blue went nowhere. I knew the blue cards were in the deck, but it wasn't clear he would win the game since he was so far behind all game.

As the game goes on and on, you have to start betting on other colored racers since you need to have variety and you want your cards to score points at the end.

Our game was a nail-biter. We had the craziest colors place and the final position literally counts have been any racer. it was all lined up to finish and of course, blue managed to score. I didn't have any blues cards, and Michael did. It was super close.

Michael won with 23 and I had 22!! I was so impressed with how close that finale ended. It was great. Big reveal at the end and you just don't know what would happen!

Honestly, this is one of the best racing games I have ever played. Totally enjoyed this one and I hope others get the chance to play it. It is super clever and a delightful surprise hit for me.

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We ended the night with a game of Downtown Farmers Market. New to me!

Downtown Farmers Market is a new game from Blue Orange Games and immediately reminded me of Village Green because in the game you are creating a grid of cards and you will have scoring conditions on the horizontal and vertical lines.

To start this game, you will have 4 goals that you have to decide which you want to score for the vertical. Then you will get 4 more to choose from for the horizontal. Once you have 8 positioned the way you want the gameplay begins.

Start player will pass from player to player, so when you start playing, you will select a tile to take from the display of tiles. In a 2 player game, this player will also discard one tile from the display as well. The next player drafts and one will be leftover. The tiles that are drafted will get placed anywhere in the 4x4 grid. You can always place it anywhere.

You keep going until your grid has filled up with tiles! You will score points for the scoring tiles you have successfully managed to complete. Some will score for a number of specific types of items, others will need exactly 5 eggs, etc.

The game is simple to understand, but knowing what to try and draft and when is a challenge and fun puzzle to solve.

After our first game, I insisted that Michael and I play again since I botched the first game so hard.

I really like to go for the big scoring tiles, and of course, it makes it more challenging to complete! I give myself the hardest puzzle possible!

I love this game. It is totally right up my alley and it is something I could play anytime. I love this like I love Village Green. Great choices to be made and such a cute package. I would definitely recommend this to families or gamers who love tile-placement games. Just talking about it makes me want to play it again right now.

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Don't forget to pick up my Awesome Gaming Calendar 2022! https://stephsshop.ecwid.com/



Thanks to Dfube, I now have a chance to sell some cool All the Meeples of the Rainbow shirts!
If you enjoy the blog and want to support me and my good friend Dfube you can check them out here: https://bit.ly/3lzvtcV
From gallery of punkin312





New to the Collection:
Phoenicia
Christmas Lights
Viticulture World





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


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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.
Disclaimer: I am a contract Employee of BGG. I review games that are provided by the publisher. I am not compensated for my blog content.
Thank you.
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Mon May 9, 2022 12:00 pm
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The Artemis Project in the Aquatica Cold Waters hired a Minigolf Designer Commander

Steph Hodge
United States
Tennessee
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Hia Everyone!





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Michael and I had a bunch of expansions we were looking to check out so we started with Aquatica: Cold Waters. New to me Expansion!

It had been too long since we played Aquatica, and this was a great way to get it to the table.

In Cold Waters, there is now an option for a 5th player, but I like the other added content a bit more. You can change the board to not have the goals anymore. Instead, you are replacing them with Tribe cards. These cards can be recruited like you would recruit characters, but you place your mantas on the card to say you have control of it. Most of the Tribe cards give a bunch of points, but they also give either an immediate bonus or an ongoing bonus during the game.

I like the Tribe cards because they give a lot of options to try and work for during the game. I like having all the choices. You also just may never get enough money to gain control of a tribe card, but you can spend your hard-earned scored card in place of coins. It can be worth it for the right control of a tribe card.

Tricky tricky.

The Cold Waters expansion also adds new white symbol cards. There are new recruit cards mixed in as well. A whole lot of new things to look for when using the expansion. It is great!

Michael and I played a couple of times including once on the Livestream (below).

I am simply terrible at Aquatica, that is what I have come to know. I don't think I have ever won this game. I actually, always lose handidly. whoops.

At least when we played on the Livestream, I put up a good fight. I ended it as fast as I could to stop Michael from scoring a LOT of extra points with even just a few more turns. It was still a pretty big loss for me even then.

I just have no idea how to play this game well, but I still like the interactions. The cards are always interesting to use and acquire. it is made even more interesting with the Tribe cards found in the Cold Water expansion. I really enjoyed it. I look forward to the Reef expansion I was told about. Should be interesting to see where that leads!

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Keeping up with the new expansions, I was sent a preview copy of The Artemis Project: Satellites & Commanders which is headed to KS in a few weeks! New to me Expansion!

If you aren't familiar with The Artemis Project, it is a really cool dice worker-placement game with tight choices and some resource management.

With the new expansion, there are a few new modules. You add in the commanders and the Satellites. The Satellites are new locations set around the board. You can allocate a die to an unoccupied satellite, but you can also remove another player's die if you place a lower one. Each satellite is located on the corner and once you get to the resolution phase, you will activate those satellites as you move around the board.

The actions on the satellites will often have to do with the other regions about to be activated and will give you a slight bonus. At the end of the round, there will be an option to spend materials to keep your satellite die on the satellite but it will be raised by one value and it will rotate clockwise to the next satellite location. The advantage is that you wouldn't have to spend a die action to claim a satellite.

With the commanders, you will be able to claim commanders in the game. These commanders will act in any role they need to be in order to do the task at hand. They can move around freely and will be a +2 to a die value. Only one commander can be claimed each round and it will cost a shield token and one of your workers.

After playing twice, the new mechanics are interesting. I like the use of the commanders and how they are wild meeples, it really opens up the options since they are so flexible. There is a big cost for gaining a bunch of them though, but they do help a lot when it comes to the final end game tiles and helping to score people at the end of the game.

The satellites I think will be slightly more interesting with more people. Since only one satellite is in use with 2 players.

I think I am just terrible at this game since I haven't ever won it. I tend to go for a similar strategy each game, or I don't pick up the right buildings to help get more workers or buildings. For whatever reason, I just have a hard time! I still like the challenge, and I don't like Michael getting away with everything, but he still manages to win the games.

It is definitely a tight game and every action will matter. I like the mix of events and missions to work on. The Artemis Project is one to check out if you haven't played it yet. It is heading to KS so that will be a good time to do so!

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Michael and I continued with a new expansion by playing Minigolf Designer: Putt of No Return Expansion. New to me Expansion!

I really enjoy playing Minigolf Designer so this new expansion just adds a few more features to mix in.

It is quite simple to include the new materials. You throw in some challenging tiles to the big huge bag of tiles. You can mix in the new clients to the mix. I love the new player boards that are multi-layered.

It all integrates really well together.

I gave myself the hardest map that I was dealt. It had a huge water area that I had to build around. I had all sorts of weir dholes that needed twists and turns. I did choose one hard tile that was ridic hard to workaround. It was super challenging, but I always like to challenge myself so I choose the hardest patterns.

I wasn't sure it would work out for me in the end since I needed to keep passing before the tile showed up that I needed. Michael picked up a bunch of bonus points because of that. His board was easier to complete though, so really anything could have happened.

I won with 143 to his 128. He ended up not completing his board perfectly so he lost some extra points from that.

Always a great time to get this game played! I really like the puzzle and trying to figure out the best course. Highly recommend checking this one out!

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Don't forget to pick up my Awesome Gaming Calendar 2022! https://stephsshop.ecwid.com/



Thanks to Dfube, I now have a chance to sell some cool All the Meeples of the Rainbow shirts!
If you enjoy the blog and want to support me and my good friend Dfube you can check them out here: https://bit.ly/3lzvtcV
From gallery of punkin312





New to the Collection:






Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


External image
External image
External image
External image


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.
Disclaimer: I am a contract Employee of BGG. I review games that are provided by the publisher. I am not compensated for my blog content.
Thank you.
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Fri May 6, 2022 11:00 am
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The Gig was a total REMIX of the First Empires

Steph Hodge
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Tennessee
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Hia Everyone!


Michael and I did our TOP 10 +5 games of April!


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I was so excited to see Marvel: Remix show up at the house that it was almost instantly that it hit the table to get played. New to me!

I have been playing Fantasy Realms any chance I get these days, and if there is a new "Fantasy Realms" I had to play it.

Let's just say it hit the table and we played 7 times that same day! Right now my play count for Fantasy Realms is 8 times this year and Remix is also 8 times in a matter of a few days.

If you aren't familiar with Fantasy Realms, it is a light card game where you want to try and make the best possible hand of 7 cards for scoring the most points.

In Marvel Remix, you are still trying to do just that, but you will have to have a Hero or Ally as well as a Villian in the 7-card mix. If you don't have either of those types of cards, you will automatically lose the game.

What is great about Remix is the icons and how easy it is to understand everything going on in your hand at one time. The bright bold colors and the multiuse icons. Many cards trigger off of other icons and it is cool to see what combos you can create.

Since you are dealing with heroes you get people like Bruce Banner and Hulk. If you get the right card symbols Bruce will transform into Hulk and he is suddenly worth more points. That is also a new feature in this edition.

Everything just works and it will be a total draw for all the Marvel fans. I will be recommending this game for a VERY long time and I will bring it everywhere I go. This is a game I will totally play anytime and anywhere. I simply love it. I am not good at it, but I love it.

During the Livestream, we played 3 games, and I managed to beat Michael since he blanked his only hero and thus didn't have a hero to score the game with. I auto won that game, but I would have still won anyway. Epic.

Anytime. Anywhere.


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I was sent a preview copy of The Gig to check out. New to me!

The Gig is hitting KS in a few weeks and it is a new roll write game. It is a super quick 20-30 minute game with a fun jazz theme!

The game lasts 6 rounds. You can play up to 4 players, but there are 6 boards to choose from when you start the game. Each board is unique for shapes and for side goals during the game.

Each round, players will roll their 4 dice and start placing them on the songbook page. There are 6 lines on the page and if you roll a 1 then it has to go in the 1 line at the bottom of the page. As you place these dice in real-time, you will want to look for symbols to cover for bonuses. You will also want to focus on making a specific shape that will fit into your instrument grid.

Since it is real-time placement the first person to be done will yell Take it to the bridge and players will have to stop and finish with the dice they have already rolled or were about to roll. Some of the icons will be effects you can use on your dice to help mitigate the bad rolls.

So you play the 6 rounds and there is scoring for your personal board and for the different symbols you have collected and the spotlights you had. Many things will give you points, it is just about doing the best thing.

Michael and I played on the Livestream (video below), but we also played with our friends James and Susan.

It is definitely more chaotic and fun with more players. You will definitely be shut out of the spaces you want on the board, and I think that is a good thing. Each round is super quick, so even if you don't like the real-time aspect of the game, you aren't dedicating much time to playing the game in general so it really didn't bother me at all.

I made some silly mistakes in the 4 player game. I misplaced my dice and just totally ruined any shot I had at scoring well.

In the 2-player game, it was fairly open all around. Michael and I rarely interrupted each other's placement and basically did our own thing. I wasn't sure I would win the game since I wasn't getting any symbols. Michael nearly FILLED his symbol board and scored a ton of points for it. I was scoring points for my drum set, and that was about it. It was a lot, but not enough.

I have to say I quite enjoyed my time playing this. The Gig is a great game to play when you just want to have a good time. Put on some Jazz and enjoy the theme a bit. This is a delight to play and I can't wait to play the other instruments. I would be happy to see this game hit the table any time.

If you were interested in getting notified about the launch, you can check out their page to follow here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/braincrack-games/the-gi...


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After playing twice at The Gathering, I just HAD to find a copy of First Empires.

One of the best games I learned last month and now I have played it 4 times! Twice with 5 players and twice with 2 players. It works really great at both player counts, so I only surmise that it will be great with any player count 2-5.

Michael likes to call this game Briefest History of the World since it is a super speedy light civ game with rising and declining nations moving around the board. It is all about trying to advance on your different tracks to unlock better abilities like more dice or more movement. The higher up you go on the tracks, the more points you will gain from the tracks at the end of the game as well.

Out on the board, you will want to control the territories to make it easier to advance on the tracks. You can advance on the tracks by rolling matching dice colors.

Everything about this game is super elegant and smart. I love how the guys are never removed from the map, they just retreat to another location controlled by that player.

Another mechanic I love is the use of goal cards. If you meet the goal card you can simply score it, or during your turn, you can choose to pitch a card to change the die face to a sword for combat, or to a colored icon so you can advance on the track you need to. It is simple and it is brilliant.

Everything about this game just works for me. I will always be happy to get this to the table. It honestly makes me want to play History of the World right now. It scratches the itch a bit, but only for so long since it awakens my desire to play the big game! Beautiful production and a game I think everyone needs to play. Right now!

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Don't forget to pick up my Awesome Gaming Calendar 2022! https://stephsshop.ecwid.com/


Thanks to Dfube, I now have a chance to sell some cool All the Meeples of the Rainbow shirts!
If you enjoy the blog and want to support me and my good friend Dfube you can check them out here: https://bit.ly/3lzvtcV
From gallery of punkin312





New to the Collection:
SOS Titanic
First Empires





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


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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.
Disclaimer: I am a contract Employee of BGG. I review games that are provided by the publisher. I am not compensated for my blog content.
Thank you.
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Wed May 4, 2022 11:00 am
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The MOB took AIM on the Sherlock Files

Steph Hodge
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Tennessee
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Hia Everyone!

Don't forget to pick up my Awesome Gaming Calendar 2022! https://stephsshop.ecwid.com/


Thanks to Dfube, I now have a chance to sell some cool All the Meeples of the Rainbow shirts!
If you enjoy the blog and want to support me and my good friend Dfube you can check them out here: https://bit.ly/3lzvtcV
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Some awesome games that we played on stream on Wednesday! I will write more about them later next week.

Marvel: Remix


Aquatica: Cold Waters


Veggies



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Michael and I tried out a new game called MOB: Big Apple. New to me!

Mob: Big Apple is a 2-player game that takes place over 3 rounds. During the 3 rounds, players will duke it out at the different locations to try and gain control. It really will only come down to the final round when the loot gets taken from a location. The player with the most loot at the end of the game will win.

At the start of the game, players will have to allocate their 6-mole tokens to the 6 different locations. They range from 1 to 3 values and will help secure the loot at the end of the game if they are still active.

For each round, players will start with 20 men. In their turn, they can choose to roll dice and send cars to locations. If you roll 3 white and 1 black you can either send 3 guys to the 1 black location, or you can send 1 guy to the 3 white location. You must send guys if you choose to roll the dice.

While rolling the dice is optional, you must always take an action on the main action board and allocate the appropriate men there. Actions range from 1-4 men to take and you will always get a base action to perform, but you might also get a secondary action as well. On the action board, there is the DA, and you want to try to manipulate him in a way to interrupt your opponent and gain a slight advantage.

Actions might be to change locations with your car, drop your guys off from a car to the location, move a loot token to a new location, move one of your moles to a new location, or influence the DA.

At the end of each round the guys you have will cancel out your opponent's guys and they simply get removed. Only when Moles are revealed do guys get added to the board to be canceled.

For the 3 rounds, you are trying to maintain control of the board the best you can. At the end of the game, you just evaluate each region.

Michael and I found a lot of similarities with this game to The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future, though this one is a lot simpler and to the point.

I didn't have a great strategy going into this game the first time. I sort of learned from my mistakes during the Livestream though. Video below.

It is super important to take control of the DA when you can. It might cost a lot of guys, but it will be worth it. I made some pretty big errors in the first game, and in the second game.

Now the second game we played on the Livestream could have easily been swayed by Michael, but he thought he had more time with another round. So I think I actually go lucky. He was very good about not using his guys quickly and always having the final say at the end of each round. Critical to doing well in this game.

I quite enjoyed this, and I am not one for area control dueling games. There are some interesting choices and the game doesn't overstay its welcome. I think if you are into 2-player games, this is definitely one to check out!



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Michael and I wanted something new and familiar at the same time so we settled on The Sherlock Files: Vol VI – Devilish Details. New to me!

This is the 6th installment of Sherlock Files! I love everything about this series. I classify them all as the "same" game but since they are in BGG as separate entries, I still count them as new.

If you aren't familiar with Sherlock Files. This game comes with 3 cases inside and each game is a unique experience that you can't really come back to and play again since you know the story and everything that happens at the end of the game.

They are quick 60-minute games that are fun to work together and solve.

In the game Michael and I played, we were on point. I felt I knew the story cold by the end. We ended up pitching MOST of the cards since we could remember what we saw easily enough. I suppose if you play with more players it will be harder to do that since you can't really figure out what cards are important to remember.

Once you are done going through all the cards you can have a big discussion about what you saw and what you remember, and Michael and I are getting to be pros, it seems.

Never have we scored such a high score of 18 before. It was perfect according to the result! Maybe it was just easy to see the story and remember everything. It definitely felt easier than in past cases.

In any case, I love the series and can't wait to keep playing through the series. Totally awesome and 100% worth checking out.

Everyone needs to try it!


I also wanted to share that we played The Sherlock Files: Vol V – Marvelous Mysteries on stream, and it was amazing fun! See the video below. If you don't want to be spoilered, you can stop watching once we say to!


I dunno what counts as spoilers, so I just put them all in a spoiler tag.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
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Since Aimpuzzle found me on Instagram and sent me a few puzzles to check out, I wanted to give them a quick shoutout in the blog.

Michael and I ended up doing a puzzle on the stream the other night. (video below). We choose to put together the Angry rainbow cat.

This cut animal is totally my spirit animal. laugh So cute!

I love the unique shapes found inside the puzzle and the vibrant colors. I was very impressed with the puzzle and look forward to putting together the other 2 puzzles I got. The rainbow butterfly and the beautiful fox/wolf.

If you are into making puzzles I would recommend checking Aimpuzzle.com out!

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New to the Collection:
Everybody Lies
Marvel Remix
Star Trek Super Skill Pinball
Planet Unknown
The Gig (Prototype)





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


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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.
Disclaimer: I am a contract Employee of BGG. I review games that are provided by the publisher. I am not compensated for my blog content.
Thank you.
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Fri Apr 29, 2022 11:00 am
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The Intrepid Wonderland's War under the Crescent Moon

Steph Hodge
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Tennessee
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Hia Everyone!

Don't forget to pick up my Awesome Gaming Calendar 2022! https://stephsshop.ecwid.com/


Thanks to Dfube, I now have a chance to sell some cool All the Meeples of the Rainbow shirts!
If you enjoy the blog and want to support me and my good friend Dfube you can check them out here: https://bit.ly/3lzvtcV
From gallery of punkin312



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On Thursday, James and Susan stopped by for game night! The first on the table was the mighty Wonderland's War. New to me!

I was stoaked to play this game because of the theme, the mechanics, the components, and basically, everything about it had me wanting to play this game. I love the whimsical artwork that just draws you in.

When you look at the mechanics listed on BGG - Area Majority / Influence Deck, Bag, and Pool Building, Dice Rolling, Open Drafting - it doesn't give the full extent of what is going on. Sure, there is a mesh of mechanics happening, but everything falls into place in a fantastical gaming experience. laugh

Wonderland's War is a bag-building game where players will want to try and gain points from winning battles in the different regions of Wonderland. Everyone will take on the role of an Alice in Wonderland character and have their own special powers during the game.

Over three rounds, players will duke it out in the various regions of Wonderland. Each round consists of two phases. The first phase is the Tea Party. Here, the players will take turns moving around the Mad Hatter's table and drafting cards. These cards will give a few instant abilities and tokens. The better the card, the more likely you will only have a choice of options on the card, or you might have to roll the shards die. Shards are very bad, and you will want to avoid them if possible.

The tokens claimed from the cards are immediately thrown into the player's token bag. This is where the bag-building comes into play. Each token will have its own special powers and strength values. These tokens are very important for phase two in the round.

If a player reaches the head of the table during the tea party, then they will refill all the empty seats and will have to roll the shard die. Hey, there are more options for cards now so it makes sense if you were looking for something specific.

After each player drafts 4 cards, the tea party will end. When it would be your turn to draft a card you will instead place your player pawn into a region. Each figure is worth the strength 1-6 based on your player track.

Then the second phase begins. Starting where the sword figure is and moving clockwise, each region will battle. Any player with a meeple or figure can fight. If there is a castle in the region it will act as a +2, but there has to be a meeple or figure of that player in order to count as the +2.

Each region will be evaluated one at a time. Anyone who is participating in the battle will draw a token at the same time. They can choose to stop by revealing an empty hand as well. There is a battle track that will keep track of all the strength values.

The tokens pulled from the bag will likely be good tokens, but there are some sour tokens that will remove supporters from the region. if you remove your final supporter from the region you bust and have to stop immediately. Busting and refreshing are different things. If you pull your 4th token that removes supporters you will have to refresh your tokens. those tokens will get placed back in the bag and the exhausted tokens will get placed back in the bag.

Getting a bunch of tokens backing the bag can be very helpful, especially if you know you have an upcoming battle you want to win at.

It is always helpful to win the battle, but everyone has a goal card to work towards and there are ways to get more during the game which you will want to complete. It might say something like finish the battle with 6 active tokens in the Red Keep region. So, planning to have that end perfectly is important. You want to complete these goal cards.

Everyone participating in the battle will keep pulling one token at a time until one player is left. The person who has the most strength will get to place a castle in the region if they don't have one there already and will gain a number of points depending on the round and the value at the location. The second-place person will get half the points.

Anyone who didn't participate in the battle will get to wager on the player they think will win the battle. If they are correct with their wager then they will get any weak token from the supply, but if they were incorrect then they will have to roll the shard die.

During our game, I was the Queen of Hearts. OFF WITH YOUR HEAD! I was vicious, and it was awesome. So many cool upgrades that I didn't really use. I had it in my mind that should get a bunch of goal cards to work on. I knew I wanted to stick to only a few types of tokens since there were a lot of focused goal cards on specific types of tokens.

I ended up winning a lot of regions early in the game which gave me castles early. The Queen can split up supporters so it was easy to be included in every battle. I got second place a bunch for extra points. Things were definitely going my way for most of the game.

I didn't win any final battles in the game though and missed out on a bunch of points. The goal cards were huge since no one else really went for them. I had a significant increase with those goal cards. It was enough to really push me over the top and more. I ended up with 106 points. James was at 79, Michael 76, and Susan had 58.


For those who enjoy Quacks of Quedlinburg, Wonderland's War is the battle version of that. It is so much fun to push your luck in this game just like in Quacks. I definitely pushed my luck a bit too much, but there was a strategy for doing so. Knowing what goals you have and what you need to accomplish in a specific region, sometimes you just have to do it.

I loved everything about this game. There are a lot of great decisions to make. It is epic and there are a bunch of rules that you need to remember, but the flow works great and it is really easy to play once your know how. I am more than excited to get this game back to the table. There is a deluxe edition available this Friday on the Skybounds site, and I would HIGHLY recommend picking it up with the chip upgraded tokens. Those tokens will make the game so much better just as the GeekUp Bits make Quacks better.

Be sure to check this game out if you get the chance!

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I wanted to check out Intrepid while at The Gathering, but never got the chance so Michael and I tried it once we got home! New to me!

Intrepid is a cooperative game where are trying to survive in space. I am honestly not great with theme, but you have to balance a lot of resources and try not to drain them too quickly. I just imagine big explosions on failure, how about that?

You have only a select number of rounds to complete 3 missions (at least in the tutorial game).

Playing as a 2-player game, we had to each control 2 resources, and we each chose one nation to play since there are different abilities. Also playing with 2-players you get a few booster tiles that will help produce the materials needed. Each player will grab a set of dice and set up all of their starting tiles. These tiles are the tiles that will be activated with the dice for that player.

At the start of each round, the players will grab 2 dice. There is a chance later in each round to use the capacity track to increase dice income or build new tiles and stuff like that. You always start the game with 2 dice income.

The tiles you start with allow you to gain more dice when they are properly activated. Some tiles require specific numbers to activate. Since I was playing in Russia, I had a lot of tiles that dealt with re-rolling dice I had and rolling new dice keeping 1, etc. It allowed me to gain a lot of new dice, and have a flexible range of dice to work with. Michael had a lot of dice manipulation with his dice but often needed pairs of numbers to make the tile work.

Tiles will produce the resources needed for the round. The missions also have to be activated and once they are activated, we have to start spending resources each round to fulfill them. It is important to boost the resources we need each round to help fill those mission cards.

If we ever don't have enough resources or are in the red zone, we will end up losing the game.

After we allocate our dice and make it all work, we will have a number of steps to perform including an event which is something we will have to deal with right away. For example, I had to drain my Oxygen levels by 2. It was super rough, but it didn't kill us. You gain capacity equal to the lowest resource value. then you can spend that capacity on a variety of options. Gaining more tiles is super important and will often drain other resources, so you have to work together to decide what will be best for the team and the missions.

You keep following the steps and going through the rounds until you either bust or win.

We were playing the tutorial so all of the events were set up very specifically to come at us in a way we were okay with. When you play the normal game, you will get a random 3 easy then medium then hard, so it is not scripted. The missions are also random, so you don't know what you will need.

Michael and I worked very well together to overcome the tutorial. I worked on getting out more tiles and gaining access to more dice and resources. You kind of have to push hard for one resource to get the bonuses since bonuses are super important if you can reach those levels. They help you defeat missions easier. I was able to get to a few bonuses by the end of our game and I think Michael hit it once as well.

Know having played the game, I think we will both focus a bit more going into the second game.

I really enjoyed our time playing this and am very much looking forward to the next time we can play it. I enjoy all of the events we had to deal with and completing the missions. We were playing a bit cautiously our first time but I think we might be able to take bigger risks going forward. There are other nations to try with different abilities and tiles to use.

Intrepid is a very clever cooperative game and I would definitely recommend checking it out if what I write appeals to you.


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The one game I didn't cover in the Gathering update was Crescent Moon. New to me!

Crescent Moon is an asymmetric area control game where each player will have their own abilities and goals for the game.

It is actually a game for 4-5 players, which is a bit unusual, but the game definitely needs that many, so it makes sense.

The tiles are arranged according to player count and there are a bunch of different starting maps so you don't have the exact same approach each time.

Thankfully, there is a player aid for each faction on the different actions and goals for the game. I will score points completely differently than the other players, so it is important to be able to reference everything in a pinch.

I knew this game would be best in a convention setting with any number of available players so we found a full 5-player game.

During the game, I choose to play as The Murshid faction. The Murshid is full of influence and followings. they want to control the land and the ritual grounds. It is easy to acquire a lot of cards and influence the land. They want to worry less about creating structures and armies and focus on other ways to gain points each round.

In the aid, there are first-round goals for extra points. It helps give a focus on what to do in the first several turns of the game that helps you set up for the rest of the game. It is both great to have that guide, but it also makes me question if the other games will feel similar/scripted in a sense. Of course, you don't have to follow these guidelines, but you might miss out on points.

Since we were all learning the game, it was hard to really know a good plan for the game. We were playing the "short" game which is 3 rounds each with 4 turns. I believe the normal game is 4 rounds.

I ended up winning our game with 39 points. I managed to get enough points each round to hold my own and figure out a strategy. I have no idea what other people were doing to gain points, but it would be interesting to play again and see how a different faction works.

If you are into asymmetric games like Vast or Root, I think you should try this one. It is a bit of a longer game but there are some interesting interactions. A few people in my game didn't care for it, but I didn't mind it. It will definitely not be a game for everyone, so you have to find the right group for it.

Definitely glad to have tried this one. Beautiful game.


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New to the Collection:
Downtown Farmers Market
27 Meters
Serial Killer
Sherlock Files 6
Lost Ruins of Arnak leaders
Pizza Master
prehistories
Full Throttle
Glory Islands
Sherlock Case Connection
Art Decko





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


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Disclaimer: I am a contract Employee of BGG. I review games that are provided by the publisher. I am not compensated for my blog content.
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Wed Apr 27, 2022 11:00 am
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The Lucky Duck Extravaganza included Chronicles of Crime 2400!

Steph Hodge
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Hia Everyone!

Don't forget to pick up my Awesome Gaming Calendar 2022! https://stephsshop.ecwid.com/


Thanks to Dfube, I now have a chance to sell some cool All the Meeples of the Rainbow shirts!
If you enjoy the blog and want to support me and my good friend Dfube you can check them out here: https://bit.ly/3lzvtcV
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Gonna keep this bloggy short today since I haven't been learning as much as I might hope to. Though that will change in the next week, so I will have a lot to write about in the coming weeks.

Last Wednesday we had a very Lucky Duck Extravaganza Publisher night and we gave away some X-Trayz and a copy of Chronicles of Crime: 2400! The lucky winners were Colourfly and Dfube so that was amazing since they were two separate giveaways! So happy!

I will link all the games we played below, but I wanted to talk about our play of Chronicles of Crime: 2400! New to me!

2400 was new to me but we jumped right in since we are very familiar with the Chronicles of Crime series and felt we could handle it. It was the tutorial anyway, so the app basically walks you through the process.

With all of the CoC series, there is a time setting and slightly different mechanics with how the world interacts. The premise is the same where we have to solve the case and go around to locations and piece the evidence together.

Michael was totally into the futuristic sci-fi theme. It is a beautiful game with amazing artwork, but the theme isn't as cool as something like Pirates, for me.

In 2400 you can go into cyberspace to a location, but the people you meet you may never meet in person and they might be lost for good.

You also don't need hard evidence if you have probable cause to come to your conclusions. So I really like both of those aspects of the game. Cyberspace is really cool and I think it will be used in interesting ways during the game.

We ended up scoring 130/100 for the completion of the tutorial, so we totally kicked butt!

I do think I like 1900 better so far. 1900 really had a lot of cool ideas with the puzzles on top of puzzles to solve and I was really impressed with that game. I still want to play through all of 1400-1900-2400 and then play the MEGA game. They are super cool games and I would highly recommend them.

Great work from the Lucky Duck team. They always impress me.


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We also played It's a Wonderful Kingdom! This is such a fantastic 2-player game! Make sure to check it out



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And we played a round of Décorum! I am loving this more and more with each and every play!



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New to the Collection:
Nightmare Cathedral prototype





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


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Disclaimer: I am a contract Employee of BGG. I review games that are provided by the publisher. I am not compensated for my blog content.
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Mon Apr 11, 2022 11:00 am
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The Illiterati built a Wonderful Kingdom with all the colorful Decorum

Steph Hodge
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Tennessee
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Hia Everyone!

Don't forget to pick up my Awesome Gaming Calendar 2022! https://stephsshop.ecwid.com/


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If you enjoy the blog and want to support me and my good friend Dfube you can check them out here: https://bit.ly/3lzvtcV
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Top 10 Games learned in March 2022!


Three Sisters


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Many people know how much I adore It's a Wonderful World so I have been super excited to try the new It's a Wonderful Kingdom which is designed for 1-2players! New to me!

It's A Wonderful Kingdom is the perfect spin-off game from 'World'. There are several modules included in the box for a variety of challenges.

The way Kingdom works is that there are 4 rounds and in each round, the players will offer up some cards to the other player. There are 2 sides to play cards to and it is essentially I split you choose, but once they choose the opponent will then put down 2 cards to the offering. You can play your cards on the same side or not. Each round you can also play up to 2 cards faces down. Each player will start with a calamity in their hand which is -4 points at the end of the game if collected, so you can try and "hide" it by playing it facedown. A lot of fun strategies and mind games to play with that mechanic.

The module we chose to play with this game was the use of a Quest card. When you use a Quest card each player can do the side quests. There is also a mandatory quest that each player has to do to qualify for the victory at the end.

In our game, we had the mandatory quest to turn in 15 army discs, and those discs aren't exactly easy to acquire.

Besides the drafting mechanic, the game is pretty much the same as 'World' and you will still have the planning phase to either pitch cards or decide to build them and have the income of the different resources.

The game works so well and I loved everything about it! The juicy choices on which cards to offer to Michael were great. I knew he was going for blue cards and I knew I had to offer the blue cards in my hand at some point in the round. Split them up, likely, but maybe play them face down so he doesn't know to grab it. SO much to think about.

He wasn't sure he could secure the army units for the final scoring, but he did get enough to do it. That was really my only hope for winning the game. I didn't have enough points, I had all the army units but no points. Michael won our game with 57 and I had 33. Ouch!

I know exactly the point I went wrong in the game too. But, I took my chances and it didn't pay off.

I love love love this game, it is perfect. I can't wait to play again with different modules. Highly recommended if you like to solo or 2 player games.

We are planning to play this on the Livestream tonight at 5 pm Central over on twitch.tv/boardgamersteph

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I just got my copy of Décorum and I was super excited to give it a spin with Michael.

Decorum is a game I learned last month on Tabletopia and it was super quick and one round only so I was really looking forward to diving a bit deeper.

If you aren't familiar with Decorum, it is a game designed for 2 players (though there are modules to try with more players). Each player will have their own objective for how the house should look. The Fewer rounds you can complete the objective for both players the better your score will be.

Each turn, the active player will select an object or a paint color to add or exchange in any room. The other player will say if they love it or hate it or are ok with it. The next player will take their turn. Once both players have gone the round marker moves to the next space.

Quick and simple turns and you are trying to deduce what the goals of your opponent might be. I kinda like trying to guess that at the end of each scenario too.

The free app that is coming out will offer daily scenarios or you can buy the unlimited scenarios in the app. I think it is just genius! Sure, the game comes with a set number of scenarios, but there are not many games that you would pull off the shelf and play 12- 20 times, and for this one I want to just sit and play all the scenarios at once! It is highly addictive.

I really messed up our 2nd game when we played though. I totally misread the card and thought wow that was easy. So, we were "good" but I was totally wrong and we lost.

The first game was easy and then in the 2nd game, I screwed up so we had to play the 3rd scenario. We did the best with that scenario since there were more bullet points to hit and we managed to hit them all and win the game.

I am really impressed with this game. It is simple and yet so complicated. My favorite line from Michael during the first game was "well then you just decorate the house by yourself!" haha that is exactly the tone of this game, and it is so fun to try and solve the puzzle.

Definitely a game worth checking out.


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The final game I wanted to talk about today is the cooperative word game called Illiterati. New to me!

I love word games so the fact that it is cooperative really appeals to me. Illiterati is so different from the standard word game, it is a breath of fresh air.

Illiterati has a cooperative aspect where all players can help each other form words and use each other's letters. There is a real-time element so no one will AP with all the words they are trying to build. Everyone has their own goals to work on and complete. There are negative cards that will come and ruin what you have built so you have to prepare for the worst.

Everything about this game just works. I am not sure there is a better word game out there besides maybe Boggle (which I love). This hits all the right spots and I am totally hooked.

We played this game with Susan and James as a 4 player game. The first round was a bit rough since we were learning the game and trying to get a feel of what we needed to do. I was looking to make words that had to do with under the sea. Susan had to make words about emotions. Not all of the words had to be under a specific category, but we had to try and complete the objectives in order to move on to the next level.

If you can submit words with enough letters to do that, then you can move to the next, more difficult, round. Otherwise, you are stuck on the same objective card and it becomes increasingly difficult as you pull more Illiterati cards from the card deck.

We ended up doing quite alright by the end of the game. I think we might have been using the Illiterati cards incorrectly, but we will get it correctly next time we play for sure. So our win was a big asterisk.

I am really impressed by this game and it is honestly a game I don't think I would ever turn down. If you like word games at all, I would suggest giving this one a shot.


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New to the Collection:
Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles
Santa's Little Elves
What If Miniature Game





Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


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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.
Disclaimer: I am a contract Employee of BGG. I review games that are provided by the publisher. I am not compensated for my blog content.
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Wed Apr 6, 2022 11:00 am
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The Founders of Teotihuacan created a Fleet for Preventing Extinction

Steph Hodge
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Tennessee
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Hia Everyone!

Don't forget to pick up my Awesome Gaming Calendar 2022! https://stephsshop.ecwid.com/


Thanks to Dfube, I now have a chance to sell some cool All the Meeples of the Rainbow shirts!
If you enjoy the blog and want to support me and my good friend Dfube you can check them out here: https://bit.ly/3lzvtcV
From gallery of punkin312


Solo Ark Nova


Familiar Tales


Bitoku




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Since Legends of Hellas went over so well, I was really looking forward to trying out Animalia: Preventing Extinction. New to me!

Animalia is a 1-3 player cooperative trick-taking game! Since I only played the 2-player game I can comment on that experience.

With 2 players you have to use an open hand 3rd player. Because the hand is open and all cards are in play, you can know exactly what cards are in all player's hands. Just because you know each hand, doesn't mean the game is easy.

There are scenarios to work through and we played the Europe scenario which they instruct you to start with since they are the 'easiest'.

The goal is to meet each player's requirements and gain as much money as possible. Money is also used to activate some card abilities to help fulfill the goals and control the different tricks.

As you work through the levels they will get harder and harder. You will score better with more money.

When Michael and I played, it was clear we were just trying to obtain our own personal goals and not worry so much about the money acquisitions. We passed all 3 levels, just barely, and I thought we crushed it. Well, we only collect 5 gold by the end, and yeah it was about the weakest score we could have gotten. Okay, so there is room for improvement.

Even though you know all the cards, it doesn't make it easy to figure out. The goal cards can make it quite a challenge, and I really enjoy that. We only played the first of 3 possible locations each with 3 scenarios attached.

It works great as a 2 player coop and for such a small box, it is an absolute keeper. There are spiders, so that is not cool, but I suppose it is balanced with the wolves, maybe.

Definitely worth checking out if you enjoy trick-taking games and puzzle solving.

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Since we had a game night, I knew I wanted to get my shiny new Founders of Teotihuacan to the table.

I learned this a few months ago on Tabletopia and really enjoyed it so was looking forward to playing in person. I figured it is likely a game better with the full 4 player count because of how the action discs work.

So, when you play with 4 players, the game is played over 4 rounds and each player starts with 5 action discs. The game is pretty easy to understand, but the critical element of the game is that at the end of each round, you will permanently lose one of your action discs. By the 4th round, you are down to only 2 actions! That is critical and will almost hit you like a brick in the 3rd round when you wake up and realize you have only a few actions left in the game to get everything done.

I always love a good polyomino game, and this has those polyomino to play with. Building the buildings and trying to gain temples and pyramid tiles. There is quite a lot to think about and plan for.

The game is super tight. Each resource is really important and when used correctly will gain you a lot of points either from buildings or from the temple scoring tiles.

I am clearly very bad at this game since I have lost each game I have played. I tried to focus on getting a bunch of temples and some pyramids to go along with it. But, it wasn't enough, and I wasn't producing enough resources to really make an impact with the temple tiles. Even though I have lost, I am not giving up. There are plenty of strategies to try and explore.

This game is really all about tactics though. You have to take an opportunity when you are presented with one based on what other players are doing. You can plan for certain things to happen, but ultimately, plans will change based on what others are doing. I really like that in the game!

A super solid game that I look forward to playing again really soon!


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I have been itching to play Fleet: The Dice Game with Fleet: The Dice Game – Dicey Waters Expansion for a while. New to me expansion!

Tiny little Dicey Waters expansion adds in a new sheet to start acquiring new buildings. Whenever you choose a die and don't wish to activate the ability you could instead start marking off this new sheet for the new buildings. A lot of new ways to focus your dice and get more abilities during the game.

It is easy to incorporate when playing Fleet The Dice Game and I don't see why I wouldn't always add it in going forward! MORE juicy choices, what could you ask for?!

On the new Dicey Waters sheet, I unlocked a bunch of buildings. I got some extra coins. I unlocked an ability to use any boat die as a crab die, which made it really easy to get those crab boats which was great.

Since I was working the Cod angle, I needed to get boats so I could gain a lot of bonuses. I ended up also trying to get shrimp and that was harder since Michael was also doing that. I never rolled the Shrimp ever, and he was getting all sorts of bonuses from the shrimp he was rolling. Grrrrr

I figured I have hosed that game. It was a lot closer than I imagined it would be though. I still lost, but Michael had 116 and I was at 114.

This game is just so great. I really enjoy playing it and I am glad we got it back to the table. One of the best roll n writes for sure!

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New to the Collection:
Crescent Moon
Decorum
Veggies
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Mon Apr 4, 2022 11:00 am
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The Free Radicals of Silicon Valley went to Bitoku

Steph Hodge
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So many games on the shelf I wanted to get played and I knew Bitoku had to be one of them. New to me!

Everything about Bitoku had me wanting to get this to the table. The gameplay and the look! It is a simply stunning boardgame and highly attractive to me. Definitely reminds me of a Miyazaki film. We need more boardgames with a Miyazaki feeling to them.

Shrey had learned this at GGS a few weeks ago and he was willing to teach me and Dan how to play on TTS. That worked out great so I could teach Michael the next day so we could play IRL.

This is one of those games that it is better to learn from someone who really knows the game than to try and decipher the rulebook. There is a lot of lore and flavor text in the rules so it can be hard to follow. Since I am the kind of teacher that just gets to the mechanics, it is really easy for me to explain those mechanics, but it is hard for me to explain that this is the forest section and that is a hill section and this is a spirit, etc. I do my best, but I am not always accurate with my terms.

The game is actually fairly simple when it comes down to it. Having played only one time, I was fully prepared to teach the game without referring to the rules much or ever. Everything just makes sense to me. There is A TON of icons, but there is a nice player sheet with all of those icons explained if you don't know.

The game lasts 4 years each with 4 seasons. The Spring season is where all of the actions happen and is the core of the game. The other seasons will trigger income and upkeep, things like that.

There are three possible action types to take. The basic is playing a card to your player board. By doing that you will unlock one of your 3 dice, and you will gain the benefits of that card which might be a resource or be able to take an action like construct a building.

The second possible action would be to place an unlocked die into a forest region on the map. If you do that then you will have to evaluate the space and the number of pips on the die. The value of the die will determine the strength of the action you can take at that location and which special building you can activate following. Several possibilities when you do this since there are many locations to actually put your die. Regions will fill up so you want to grab the actions while they are available.

The third thing you can do is to move one of those dice you previously placed in the forest across the river onto a hill space. The hill spaces will give access to adding cards to your tableau or discard pile. There is another action that offers a variety of goodies, but your choices are limited when you move across the river to just one card or 2 of the special abilities.

If people aren't blocking you, nine is the most possible actions you can performing the round. You will likely be blocked, and certainly blocked a bunch in the 2-player game.

There are many paths to victory in this game. You will want to find your own path and stick to it. You can't be wishy-washy all over the place since you want to focus. It is a bit of a sandbox since points are a bit everywhere you turn, and everything looks delicious at the beginning of the game. But you are given a vision card and a rock to help you start working toward a particular goal.

The joy is trying to figure out how it all connects and how you can win from those connections.

After playing a few times, there is a lot I really enjoy about this game, but there are a few elements I could really do without.

For me, I really enjoy trying to gather the Bitoku cards and walk along that personal path. What I didn't realize in the first game is that the yellow Bitoku card has x1 in the whole deck and the grey has only x2 copies in the deck. That means only one person at most can accomplish the complete 7 colored sets. Thankfully, I was able to complete it in my 2-player game with Michael since I was really gunning for that. Now we both know that the one yellow card is HIGHLY valuable, if I see it in any future game, I will grab it ASAP, if only to keep it from other players. So, I am not really big on the distribution of Bitoku cards.

The Kodama tracks are also a bit unnecessary. Sure there are a few points to be had here and there, but there are so many negative effects that can happen that any progress made on those tracks can easily be taken away by another effect by opponents. I am not a big fan of those tracks and I will unlikely seek them out in future games. I will automatically advance on the tracks when I build buildings, so there is that, and maybe those few tracks will gain me a few extra points at the end of the game. I just don't think it is worth my time.

My biggest complaint about the game is the lack of tokens. Since the display of tokens doesn't refill until the next round, it is likely that all of the crystals and spirits and dragonflies and buildings will be depleted. If they are and you still have a card or special ability left to do in the round, you are fresh out of luck. There is no way to get a face-down tile. It can easily be house-ruled, but I feel like this could have been an easy rule to add. It must have been intentional. That leaves me upset and made at the end of both games because the displays are just wiped out, and ultimately, I am the slow one who loses out. It is just way too punishing.

Does it ruin the whole game, no, but even having a much higher cost to take a face-down tile is still better than being shut out each round?

So, some complaints, but the overall feeling I have for the game is good. It is a game I would like to explore further. It amazes me that Michael was just so great at this game with his first go of it. He scored 165 to my 143. When I played 3 players the same things happened and each round the board was basically depleted of tiles to get and it was equally as frustrating for me. I only managed a 111 score in that game and Shrey won with 140.

Bitoku certainly has some rough edges and probably a few too many mechanics going on for its own good, but I still enjoyed the experience and will want to play a few more times to really try the different strategies. Definitely happy to finally get it to the table. I look forward to more plays soon.

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There was a request to show off Free Radicals on stream, so it was one of the first games I pulled off the shelf at the last game night! New to me!

I didn't know much about the game, but once I looked at the box, I knew Michael would be very pleased! There are 10(!) factions to choose from and everyone is playing a wildly different game from one another.

The goal of the game is to gain the most points and there are a lot of ways to go about doing that.

Each player will have a unique ruleset. Each color has 2 possible factions to choose from and there are 5 colors since the game can play up to 5 people.

One faction might use polyominoes, another will have multi-use cards and hand management, there is a pick-up and deliver faction. All these possibilities and more!

The turn flow is generally pretty simple. If it is your turn, you will check to see if you have the prestige marker and score 1 point if you do. Then you will continue to your player's turn sequence. Since each player is radically ( ) different, it might be a number of steps. Once you understand your actions each turn, the turns are pretty snappy, unless you built up some combos that have to happen. The symbols are easy to understand and everything is really explained nicely on the character sheets.

Generally, you will want to gather coins and resources to help build buildings and visit buildings to gain bonus actions. Some actions will have you advance on the knowledge track and gain points or collect other colored cubes. Collecting the other cubes is good for the end-of-game scoring.

The first game, we played was a 4 player experience and I was playing as the Farmers. They control domino tiles that boosted actions depending on the sides of the domino that I was connecting. The bigger the regions the more possible actions I could grab. Start small and finish big.

In the second game, I choose to play as the Hoteliers who had polyomino pieces to fill in the hotel areas. It was pretty straightforward and easy to play. I would suggest new players use this character since you can really get the iconography down and who doesn't love some polyominoes.

Michael and I played 2-players on stream and I have to say it was quick, but it seemed to be missing a bit of spark. I do think this game shines with more players and I would be curious to play with the full 5 players. There isn't much interaction between everyone, but there is enough to see changes made to how it plays out.

So far I have really enjoyed my two plays and can't wait to explore the other factions and play with more groups. I definitely want to try the Adventurers next!

I was really impressed by this game and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys games like Merchants Cove. I think this will find a lot of love from the gamers out there. I expect to see this on a number of tables in the near future! I really enjoy it.


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Michael and I checked out a new game found on Kickster right now called Silicon Valley. New to me!

Silicon Valley is a new game designed by Scott Almes and plays 1-4 players. In the game, players will gather code which is represented by polyominoes. The code will be used to create projects. You are managing a company and will need to hire employees and expand your HQ.

It is a race to gain $1 Billion first. As you create more projects, your value will increase. Players will try to stop or slow your project by creating their own imitation called the 2nd mover.

Eventually, you will want to sunset your project to make room for new projects to keep the business booming and your employees working.

There are a lot of interesting ideas happening in this game and I love polyominoes like the next person. Since it is still a prototype, I provided a lot of feedback on my experience playing the game to Grail Games in how I feel the game could be developed a bit better.

During our play, I had a hard time playing catch up since Michael got into an early lead and I couldn't even catch him. I spent all of my efforts trying to stop his progress only to open up new opportunities for him to grab instead.

It was a very punishing experience, so I offered my thoughts and insights for improving that aspect of the game.

Since it plays as a solo game, I expect that might be more my speed since it was specifically designed for that purpose. I also expect the 3-4 player experience to be better since there would be more people trying to keep everyone in check and not one person has to try and take down the leader over and over. So I do expect those player counts to play out differently and better.

Overall, the game felt fairly thematic too. It was interesting, but probably not a game I would choose to play again unless some changes are made, and maybe they will take my feedback and use it to help improve the design a bit.

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Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!



-Steph


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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.
Disclaimer: I am a contract Employee of BGG. I review games that are provided by the publisher. I am not compensated for my blog content.
Thank you.
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Wed Mar 30, 2022 11:00 am
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