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Warriors (One Couple's Review)

Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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Board Game: Warriors


So the plan was to not buy any new games until we played the ones we already have. However, we did agree to buy Fleet Wharfside, and to do so we had to order it directly from Eagle-Gryphon games. While I was there doing that, I noticed that this game was available for only $3, and adding it to the order was not going to increase shipping. I am aware this game has an uneven reputation, but I felt like a game designed by Richard Borg and Alan Moon was at least a game to try. So is warriors worth it?

Game Overview
In this game players will be collecting sets of warrior cards that represent the forces of various fantasy nations. There are six different factions in total, represented by different colors. At the beginning of the game players will be dealt eleven of these cards are random to create their starting forces, and the game will be played over three rounds.

At the beginning of each round the players will be dealt cards seven cards and they will keep four of them (five in round three). Cards that belong to one of the factions are added to what the player already has. In addition to the faction cards there are wizard cards which are assigned to one faction, and the wizard protects that faction from attack. There are also catapult cards which can be used to target individual cards. This is how a wizard card can be eliminated.

Players may also keep attack cards. After players have kept their cards and put them out, attack cards are resolved with the lowest numbered attack card. To attack a player picks one of the factions and they attack another player targeting either their faction of the same color or the favored enemy of their chosen faction.

Each card a player has out will have one of three symbols. The most common symbol is infantry, this is what allows a player to roll attack dice. Which ever player has the most archery symbols gets to add +1 to their highest die. Cavalry will allow a player to attack multiple times with one card. No matter how many infantry symbols are present the attackers can not roll more than three dice, and the defenders can not roll more than two dice. The highest number (and if present) second highest number of each die is compared. Which ever side rolled higher in the match up wins. If it is a tie, them the defender wins. The losing side must lose one of their cards which the winner gets to keep for points. After the first round, the attacker may decide to retreat or roll again. This continues until one side is eliminated or the attacker retreats.

The attack cards played can also add symbols or allow the player to pull in other factions to help fight. Once all attack cards are resolved, the cards are dealt out for the next round. After the third round the game ends.

At the end of the game all cards acquired through fighting are worth two points. The player with the biggest set of each faction will also score points and the player with the most points wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The shorthand way to explain this game is "Risk: the card game". That has to be what the designers were going for since the combat system comes straight from Risk. If that was the design goal, I would say they largely succeeded, though the game inherits a lot of the same issues one might have with Risk.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I thought this was a unique take on set collection. Rolling dice is always fun too. There is a lot of luck, but the game is light and it plays quick so I did not mind it too much.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: Removing the board heavily abstracts the theme, but I do think it comes through some.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Given this is a card game the theme is a bit abstract, but it does come through.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: It is hard to explain why I find this game replayable. In video games there is infamously a concept of the "30 seconds of fun". The original Halo was built around the idea of constantly delivering the same 30 seconds of fun, and if done right it never feels played out. I think the intelligence of this design, is the designers rightly found the 30 seconds of fun in Risk (rolling the dice in combat) and managed to replicate it in a different package.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I feel like this is a game that holds up to repeated plays fairly well.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: For me this is the strongest aspect of this game. They managed to capture the fun that exist in Risk and distill it down to experience, that even with full player count will get done in less than an hour.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: If this game was much longer or had anymore down time then I do not think it would work as well. This game plays quick and that is good.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This is my turn to be that guy. This is fun, for what it is. I actually wish I had gotten this game like a decade ago, because at that time I was in a place where I would play games with a lot of non-gamer teenagers and this would have been perfect because it is like Risk only quicker, easier, and for me more fun.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I am surprised by how much I enjoyed this game, and I would gladly play this over most versions of Risk any day.

Final Score

69/100

Based off of this game's ratings, I know we are in the minority and like this game more than most. I think this fits two niches for us. First, it is a good game to have to introduce non-gamers to the hobby. This is a game where I can say, "It is like Risk" but then also introduce them to euro game concepts like set collection. Our son also really liked this game, so we think it is a good family level game that will travel well. All told it was worth the $3 we paid for it.
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Fri Jan 27, 2023 2:21 pm
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Pulp!: A thrilling review, full of suspense!

Sean Johnson
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North Judson
Indiana
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Board Game: Pulp!


Way back in what feels like forever ago I got to playtest this game at Gen Con in 2015. That is a while ago to remember a lot of details from a single play test, but I do remember have a positive feeling about it. I think it was in the middle of 2020 that I learned this game would be getting printed. I anxiously awaited its release. Now after playing the game in its official form, how well does it deliver adventure (and fun)?

Game Overview

This is a skirmish miniatures game that is meant to capture the feel of pulp stories from hardboiled detectives to lost world explorers to nazi-punching archeologists. The game has several recommended scenarios. These scenarios are intentionally open ended in their instructions so there is a lot of leeway for the players to create the story and battlefield. The scenario instructions essentially provide a victory condition and let the imagination of the players fill in the rest.

Both sides will also need a warband. This will often consists of a hero or villain, a sidekick or two, and then some support like soldiers or henchmen. The strong units, like heroes tend to be one figure where as the supporting units tend to have 3 or 4 models in the unit.

Each turn follows the same structure. First players will roll a six sided die for initiative, and the player the rolls higher will be the one to activate units first.

Next there is a continuing melee phase for all units currently engaged in melee combat. All units involved will have to secretly decide to stay engaged or withdraw. If a unit withdraws then it moves 1 to 3" away, and that will be its full activation. If the other unit wanted to stay engaged, then it will still get to activate. If both units choose to engaged then they will resolve melee combat, and that will count as their activation.

Next is the activation phase and players will go back and forth activating one unit at a time. When a unit activates it activates all the figures in that unit. When a unit activates it must first roll to see if it gets a full activation or a partial activation. There will be various modifiers to this roll, and the roll must be equal to or greater than the units activation roll. If it is not then they get a partial activation. This is a much more limited action that mostly allows for a little movement and then either being defensive or being ready to take opportunity fire.

If a model meets or beats its activation number then it has a lot more options including running, moving and shooting, aiming for a shooting bonus or charging into melee.

Of course ranged combat requires being in range and having line of sight, but ranged and melee combat work in a similar fashion. The weapon the attacker is using will determine how many impact dice they roll. Each die that is equal to or greater than the skill of the attacker causes a hit. For each hit the defender will then get to attempt a save by rolling against their protection. In ranged combat the first unsaved hit causes the unit to be suppressed. Another hit on a suppressed unit causes a wound. Both suppression and wounds can cause negative modifiers and most units are removed after suffering a second wound.

Melee combat is similar except that both units will roll their impact dice. If they get the same amount of hits they cancel out. In order to cause damage one side has to roll more hits. A save is still attempted, but melee hits do not cause suppression they go straight to wounds.

Most units also have special points. These can be spent at various points throughout the game to add various bonuses or to do special abilities. Play continues until one side meets their victory conditions.

What I liked

I like how this game strikes a good mixture between tactical depth and accessibility. A lot of miniatures games of this nature tend to have a lot of special abilities and modifiers assigned to individual units and that can be a lot to keep track of. Those have been removed and instead special points can be used for the same abilities by everyone, and stronger units just have more points to spend. This makes it more accessible but there is still space for smart tactics. Units with multiple figures need to move in cohesion and suppression can change momentum of a fight quickly.

I also really like the activation system. It adds a decent amount of suspense each turn. The heroes and villains are much more likely to get full activations where as the extras end up hanging back and taking shots when they can. This feels thematic and it is a natural way to let the heroes be the heroes.

Finally, I do appreciate that this is meant to be a tool kit of sorts. It tends to paint in broad strokes. For instance there are not a lot of complicated weapon tables. A sword, an axe, or even a baseball bat in the right hands are all functionally the same (2 impact dice). This means there is a lot of versatility so that players can use the tools the game provides to create the game they want.

What I do not like

If this book can be looked at as a tool kit, then it feels like it is missing a couple of tools which I think kind of hamper the experience. There is not a lot of guidance in creating warbands. The game does not have a point system of any kind to create balance. The books approach to creating warbands is "here are all the options, have fun!" While it is possible to create just mirror forces to ensure balance I would have liked some guidance on how to create more varied scenarios where a point system helps provide some guidance.

There were other tools that were a little under-developed. This game has a strong potential for creating a narrative in a campaign setting. The book has a section for campaigns but it is is only 4-5 paragraphs. I would have preferred a few more tools for building a campaign. Along the same lines solo-rules were included as a download after the book was published, and unfortunately they do feel kind of like an afterthought.

Finally, this game really, really could have benefitted from a reference sheet that list the handful of modifiers and the abilities that special points can be used on. It is possible to make one, but it really would have been nice if it was included as the last page. I know that what could be included in the book probably had a hard page limit, but I am scratching my head a little when some of these things were left out and other things like three pages of animal stats were included.

Verdict

I can not speak for everyone but for me one of the big appeals of miniatures games is that they are a way to play with toys as an adult. This game seems to embrace that ethos and it provides a framework for creating thrilling adventures and cinematic combat. I do wish this framework was not quite so barebones. I think being a little bit more fleshed out would have been beneficial. As it is this is a barebones system that provides a lot of freedom and flexibility for players who want to put in the work for it.
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Wed Jan 25, 2023 11:59 pm
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Godzilla: Tokyo Clash (One Couple's Review)

Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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Board Game: Godzilla: Tokyo Clash


As previously mentioned, when it comes to math trades I am not overly picky. For this game the awesomeness of the cover was enough for me to want to take a chance on it. I picked this game up as part of the Gaming Hoopla Math trade back at the end of April of 2022. It did sit on the shelf for a few months, but this game finally made it to the table. So is it the king of the games?

Game Overview
In this game each player is a Godzilla movie monster that will be clashing in Tokyo. the board is made up of geomorphic hex tiles. On these tiles various plastic buildings and other tokens will be put out. Each monster has a deck of unique cards, a special ability, and unique discard actions. Two events are selected and these will add certain tokens to the board as well.

On a player's turn they can play a card from their hand, discard a card to do a discard action, or pass. The discard actions are simple actions like move one space or pick up an object (or opposing monster) and throw it one space. When things are thrown in this game they destroy buildings in the target tile or in the path, and destroyed buildings often give energy that the play can use. Throws (either being thrown or hit by a throw) always do one damage.

The card played can have several effects. Some give movement, others have effects, and then others are used to attack. Attacks require being in the same space unless it is ranged, but attack card can also be used to throw objects over larger distances. Most cards have an energy cost that has to be paid.

When a monster is attacked it may play a defense card from their hand. The defender takes damage equal to the difference. Whenever a monster takes damage, then the damaging player takes cards equal to the damage total from their deck and keeps the card with the highest point value as a trophy.

After all the players have gone, they can all discard any unwanted cards and draw back up to five. Then the two events are resolved for the round. The start player passes, and at the beginning of the new round the turn marker is advanced. As small building are destroyed they pile up on the turn track at the end and whenever the turn marker passes a destroyed building the game ends. Players count up the collected trophy cards and the player with the most points wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The hand management aspects of this game are fine. Often discard actions have to be taken so there is a good decision point of figuring out what to keep and what to shed. I am not wild about the way points are scored. It is incredibly swingy.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think it fine, but I did find it annoying I sped a lot of energy, hit someone for four damage, and only get 1 point but they can spend zero energy, throw a train at me, do one damage and end up getting 3 points.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the game's strongest point. It has a good table presence and it capture the feel of monsters fighting each other while the city falls down around them.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Not a big fan of giant monster movies but I totally see how the theme is here.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: this is where it is a little shallow. There are only four monsters, and there is little room for variety in the game. This is a game that could really benefit from an expansion.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: For me the experience felt kind of shallow so I am not sure how long the fun would last through repeated plays.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: It feels about right length wise. There is enough time to get stuff done, but it does not feel like a bitter fight to deep in the 12th round either.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I do like how the players can have some agency into the end of the game by destroying buildings faster or slower.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: The game is accessible but somewhat limited in what it offers. Personally, I am really neutral to the Kaiju theme and the theme is the strongest part. If I were more invested in the theme, then I would probably enjoy this more.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: While I do not think this is a bad game, I personally found it a little boring.

Final Score

65/100

I think how much enjoyment one gets out of this game is really dependent on how much one loves the theme. If you are more neutral to Kaiju, then King of Tokyo is probably the game for you. If you thank King of Tokyo does not deliver enough theme, then this game is worth looking into.
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Sun Jan 22, 2023 8:57 pm
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Valparaiso (One Couple's Review)

Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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Board Game: Valparaíso

We acquired this game through the 2021 Gen Con math trade. While I am a lot more discerning than I once was, I tend not to be very picky when it comes to no-ship math trades. I get to exchange games I am done for games I have not played, so for me the more trades the better. The primary reason for going for this game is the title. We happen to live close-ish to a local town that has the same name has the Chilean city. So does this game manage to ship the goods?

Game Overview
In this game players are taking the roles of merchants seeking to to develop Valparaiso while acquiring personal prosperity. Players will be doing this through the time honored euro-game tradition of turning cubes into points.

This is an action selection game where players will be taking their hands of action cards and programming out what they want to do for the round. Each player will start with an identical hand of cards and pick four actions (with an eventual 5th action and an optional 6th action). Players will be getting additional cards to use throughout the game. Most action cards have a primary option and a secondary option. When a player resolves an action card they can do one or the either. The secondary actions tend to just provide money or resources.

There are a variety of actions but in general players will be doing a few primary things. The biggest action loop is about loading resources on boats, moving boats, and then shipping sets of goods to acquire additional cards. These cards will be worth points that can be traded in at the end of round to move up the track or kept in hand until the end.

Players will also be sending merchants out into surrounding villages to utilize the markets. The market tiles can allow players to get resources, sell resources for money, or buy points with a combination of resources/money. Once a specific market tile is used it cycles out and is replaced by the next one in line.

Players can also build buildings. Buildings can be built in Valparaiso for income in money/resources at the end of the round. Buildings can also be built in the villages to get more out of using the trade tiles.

Players will resolve one card at a time in turn order until all players have resolved all of the cards they had assigned for the round. At the end of the round income from buildings is collected, and players can turn in a card for points. If at the end of a round a player has reached 18 points the game ends. Players then get points for acquired cards that have not been turned in and for left over money. The player with the most points is the winner.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: This game does mix up the normal action selection and cubes for points formula. The use of programming as a mechanism makes it feel different. I also appreciate how much tactical consideration there is to running the program. Players can spend money to do actions out of order and the each card having two options means even if the plan gets busted there is still a plan B.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I do like the different pieces of this game and how they come together, but personally I am not wild about the programming aspect. I do not like all the pressure of having to figure everything out up front.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: I guess I do appreciate that this game moved the theme from Europe in the age of sail to Chile in the age of sail, but this could have been themed with just about any coastal city with a harbor.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It felt like I was shipping goods, building up a city, and extracting resources from the countryside so I think the theme is all there.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: Like a lot of euro games of this nature the replayability will come less from a sense of discovery or tackling a new puzzle each time and more from the satisfaction of refining a strategy to a sharp point.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I prefer when games have variables that are different from play to play, and there is not a lot here. The order market tiles and cards become available is about it.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the game's weakest point. There is a potential for a lot of downtime. Since players have to pre-select their actions and they have to try to factor how the board state might change it can lead to a lot of thinking time. The game tries to combat this by including a timer to use after the first few plays, but that feels like a clunky solution that penalizes players who may not naturally think as fast.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There is to much down time and the idea of playing with a timer sounds like a great way to suck fun out of a game.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: When it comes to euro games named after cities I tend to like the ones that put more emphasis on building than trading goods. This game is fine, but for me it is a "will play but do not need to own" game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game had aspects I liked, but figuring out the action selection bit, takes me to long. I annoyed myself with how long I took in this game.

Final Score

60/100

This feels like the right score for us. We do acknowledge that in some ways this game may not be for us. I imagine this game probably shines a bit more with more players as there will be more player interaction and getting the timing right will feel especially clever. However, with just the two of us and with my wife not really liking programming mechanisms this is not a game we will hold on to.
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Sun Jan 22, 2023 1:41 am
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Shelfie Stacker (One Couple's Review)

Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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Board Game: Shelfie Stacker

In October of last year I picked this game up in a trade it forward list. I had not previously heard of this game, but the game play sounded fun enough. The big draw to this game though was the theme. This is a game about collecting board games so I naturally connect with that theme. So just how does this game stack up?

Game Overview
In this game players will be playing various game collectors, getting shipments of games, and organizing them on their shelves. The games are represented by six sided dice where the pips are various box shapes. Each player will have eight cards representing various board game collectors. While there is a base set of cards that all players can use, there are sixteen total cards and each game players can choose which eight they want to use.

For each round a number of shipment boxes equal to the number of players is set up by drawing three dice from the bag for each box. These dice are drawn and placed on a random side. Players will then pick one of the cards from their hand. The player that picked the lowest number card will pick which box they want first. They take the chosen box and they will place the dice on their shelf, which is a 5x5 grid.

Dice are placed in columns. All dice of a same color must be placed in the same column and a die of a lower value can not be placed on top of a die of a higher value. Any dice of value six drafted are treated as wilds and they can be set to any side. Any die that can not be placed is added to the shelf of shame.

The cards that players play grant special abilities. These can be used on the turn they are played or used later. A lot of these abilities allow for manipulating the dice such as changing their value, removing them from play, or other such effects.

The game is played for seven rounds (so that all but one card is played). Players will score points in various ways. There are three special scoring cards available every game. There are points for who has the most of a specific color, points for who first creates a specific configuration, and a special way that dice will score based on the card.

Points are also earned for each column that is five, four, or three high. The value of the highest die in each column is also counted as points and each die on the shelf of shame is -2 points. Once all of the points are calculated whoever has the most wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The core mechanisms of this game are a fairly light dice placement game. However, the additions of card abilities adds an extra level. For me though the shining star is the fact that each player has the option to customize their own hand of cards. I really like it when games give me the ability to customize.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The dice placement mechanisms are a bit simple but the use of special abilities to manipulate dice adds a lot to this game.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: There is a high level of abstraction, the "games" are just generic boxes on dice after all. However, even then there is some theme. As the one pip is a single big box where as the six pips are small boxes. Ideally the big, heavy kickstarter games go on the bottom of the shelf where as the small little card games are packed in on the top as it should be.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The theme here is cute and unique. It might be a little thin but it comes through.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: As a dice placement game this has a high level of tactical variability since every turn is a decision of how to make the best of the options available. The customization options of experimenting with different card sets is where a lot of added replayability comes from.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: For a simple, quick playing game there is a lot of variety and options to explore.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This has a great pacing to it as turns go fast. Players options grow and then shrink as new abilities enter play and then are used up. At the end win or lose player should have a nicely organized shelf which also feels good.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Seven rounds works really well. There is enough time to build something but the game does not last too long.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a fun pattern building dice game. The addition of special abilities add a little bit more personality into this game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: For me this game feels similar to Sagrada. Personally, I think Sagrada is a better game but I enjoyed this one to. I think they are different enough to justify having both.

Final Score

75/100

With only 412 ratings on BGG I think this is a little under the radar. While it is a little lighter, this feels the same niche of quick game with decent strategy that is occupied by bigger names like Sagrada, Azul, and Splendor. If your shelf needs another game that plans in 30 minutes or less with some clever choices than we both think that Shelfie Stacker is a good option.
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Fri Jan 20, 2023 5:40 pm
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Firefly: Shiny Dice (One Couple's Review)

Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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Board Game: Firefly: Shiny Dice

My wife happened to see this game on the shelves at an Ollie's. She recognized the name Firefly, she knew I like Firefly so she picked it up. We played the game, we rolled dice, but did we find the game shiny?

Game Overview
In this game players will roll dice that represent Firefly crew members and adversaries. After the initial roll, players can do some re-rolls. Then the player will draw a mission card. If the die symbols are passed the mission is passed and a reward can be earned. If it is not met then there might be some additional conditions placed on the player.

Next the adversary dice are resolved. These dice will remove crew dice from the player's pool for the turn. Finally, players can use their remaining dice to defeat the bad guys. Points are earned for defeating bad guys, and this can release some of the previously captured dice. Cargo dice are also worth a point for every two of them. Players can keep going by rolling all non-spent dice or they can stop and bank what they already have.

after the third round the player with the most points is the winner.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has too much complexity without enough agency. The mission cards are all key-word focused and every single die face works completely different. This makes for a strong fiddly feeling for a result that largely feels random and mostly out of the player's control.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like dice games and I do not mind multiplayer solitaire but this game is overly convoluted and random feeling.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The Firefly theme is stretched really thin over this game and it is not delivered at all.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I have only a passing knowledge of Firefly, but I know it is a Space Western and I am not seeing how this game is supposed to deliver that theme at all.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: There is little to draw anyone back to this game once they have experienced it.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Technically this game is replayable but I do not see why many people would try it more than once.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This game is tedious and it is multiplayer solitare, so most of the experience is waiting for other players to work through their tediousness.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is so slow and boring.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: You can't take the sky from me, but please do take this game and lose it somewhere out in the black.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is not a good game. It is not fun. My bad.

Final Score

23/100

I am sure there are some people out there who will say "it is not a bad game for what it is." We are not those people. It is a bad game, and we strongly recommend if you see it on a bargain shelf that you pass it up.
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Thu Jan 19, 2023 11:23 pm
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2008 15 Year Look Back

Sean Johnson
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North Judson
Indiana
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This is about as far back as I can go in these kind of lists. 2008 is the year that we really got into the board game hobby. Before 2008 we had a handful of hobbyist games like Memoir 44, Stratego Legends, and Settlers of Catan. However, 2008 was the year we transitioned to making this our hobby. The real turning point was in August when my wife convinced me to go to Gen Con because it was Indianapolis where we lived at the time. I attended on a single day. At this point Gen Con was a lot smaller, so I was able to register for a full schedule of events that consisted of mostly games I knew how to play.

However, I ended up missing several of those events because I walked into the big exhibition hall and discovered that hobby games was more than CCGs, RPGs, and a small handful of non-mass market board games. After coming back from Gen Con I reactivated my BGG account (I had created it in 2002, was kind of active for about a year before mostly forgetting about it).

To get more games I used this website to make some trades, mostly video games for board games. I was not picky. A lot of the early games we picked up in those trades like California and Sword & Skullwere just OK. However, we did get a couple of winners like San Juan In November of 2008 I attended a board game meet up for the first time.

At the beginning my wife was a bit more skeptical about all of these new board games. For those first few months whenever we would play a game, especially a new game, her first two questions were "Is this easy?" and "will this take long?"

However, by the start of 2009 we were both into this hobby together. That year we played quite a bit of catch up which included picking up and playing some of the bigger releases from 2008. Looking at the 2008 releases, it seems like a lot less games came out back then. I have played 71 2008 releases. Perhaps the biggest releases I have never experienced from that year are the Fantasy Flight version of Cosmic Encounter and Snow Tails.

Of all those games released 15 years ago these are the ones that I think have best stood the test of time, listed in descending order for dramatic effect.

10. Cthulhu Rising
Even though this game came out in 2008, I played it at Gen Con in 2009. Right after playing it at the Twilight Creations demo table I bought it because I felt like it was a game my wife would love. While the kind of games she like has changed a lot since then, I was 100% right at the time and for about a year this was a go to game for us to play. It is a light, Reiner Knizia abstract tile laying game. This means the mechanics are interesting and the theme is meaningless. Some terrible graphic design did not do this game any favors either.

9. Warcosm
Board Game: Warcosm

In full disclosure the last time I played this game was in 2013, so this is very much a nostalgic pick. This was my space combat game before I discovered Federation Commander. One of the big appeals of this game is that it allows for and encourages players to design their own starships. This is fairly easy to do and fairly quick. There were a couple of times where I met up with someone and we each brought our own custom fleet to face off against each other. That was a good time. I am not sure how I might feel about this game today, but the memory of playing it has certainly stood the test of time.

8. Formula D
This is another 2008 release that we picked up towards the beginning of 2009. This is a fun racing game, that was held back for us by the fact that it works better with more players. With just the two of us we had one too many races that ended in absolute blowout because one person hit a turn just right which snowballed into an insurmountable lead. It has been years since I have played this game. While I do not need to own it I would happily play it again.

7. Hold the Line
Board Game: Hold the Line

I got this game in a trade in 2011. I think that was the year I read 1776 by David McCullough because I traded or acquired a few different American Revolution games that year. However, this is the only one we still have. Superficially this look similar to Memoir 44 which is probably why it connected with us. This switches out the cards and flanks of the command and colors system with an action die and action points. We both do enjoy this game, and I regret that I did not pick up it successor Hold the Line: Frederick's War and Hold the Line: Highland Charge back when they were released.

6. Pandemic
In 2012 my wife and I determined that we really just do not like cooperative games. That is by and large true. The amount of cooperative games that either of us like is small and the amount of cooperative games we both like is probably in the single digits. One of the reasons why it took us so long to realize this though is because our first cooperative game was this one and it is one of the ones we both ended up liking. We played this a ton in the first few months of getting it. We connected with another couple and played a lot of Pandemic. By the end of that run we could competently take the game on at any difficulty. Our plays of the game tapered off and we eventually got rid of it. At least until Pandemic reentered our lives in 2022 in the form of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

5. Stone Age
Board Game: Stone Age

I played this game at a local convention that I attended for the first time in March of 2009. In less than week we had our own copy. I think this was our first real introduction to worker placement and we liked it. Over time this game had the same issue that we end up having with a lot of worker placement euro games. We find ourselves gravitating to similar strategies over and over again. I know some people find a lot of fun in optimization over multiple similar iterations but we tend to get bored. Even though we cooled on this game some, it is one that we have not given up on completely. We played it as recently as 2022.

4. Manoeuvre
This is a fairly unique game. The look of the counters make this feel like a more traditional wargame, but this is not simulating any conflict. The dice system and the unique deck of cards for each country make this game 15 year later still feel not quite like anything else. I never pulled the trigger on the expansion for this game and I am not sure why. We have bought expansions for games we have played less than this one.

3. Say Anything
Board Game: Say Anything

Given the popularity of judge games like Cards Against Humanity, I am really surprised this game is not a constant best seller like those other games. This game has two major innovations over the common everyone pick a card to be funny and judge picks formula. First, everyone gets to guess what they think the judge will pick and get points based on that. This adds a whole extra level of gameplay. Second, players can say anything! They are not restricted to just throwing off a random card because they have nothing that is funny. Maybe someday I should make a list of my top party games, and if I did this one would still be close to the top.

2. Dominion
This was the big, revolutionary release of 2008. It created a new genre of hobby board games and even 15 years later still does not quite feel like it has been eclipsed by anything else. I have recorded 177 which is not insignificant, but I am not even in the top 500 for number of plays. We have the expansions for Dominion up through Guilds, which is when there was a big break in expansion releases. I have played Nocturne once at Gen Con, but other than that we have not played any of the other more recent expansions. We have all of the Dominion cards in a big box, and there is room for one more expansion. I want to fill it out, but my wife disagrees.

1. A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game
Board Game: A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game

For me this is the game from 2008 that I enjoy the most. Yes, the game has a ton of luck to it but the theme is excellent and the narrative it creates is a lot of fun. For years this has been in my top ten games, and it has become a long standing tradition to play this game every Halloween.
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Sat Jan 14, 2023 2:51 am
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2013 Ten Year Lookback

Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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Traditionally at the beginning of the year I write a five year look back, but this year I think I have enough gaming experience built up that I can do a ten and fifteen year look back.

2013 was the year that I was still super deep into Warhammer Invasion, and I placed second at the Gen Con tournament that year. 2013 was also the year that I went all in on Federation Commander and I played it more that year than any other single year. When it comes to the games that were released that year, it is kind of a shrug from me. As always there are some good games, but there are not a ton that really stick out. A lot of the games from 2013 did not have staying power for me. Half of the games that I included on a lookback list in 2018 are not included for me.

Even ten years later there are a few big releases from the year that I have still not played. Caverna: The Cave Farmers and Concordia are probably the two biggest standout for games I have not played yet.

Now ten years later as I look back these are my favorite games released in 2013, listed in descending order for dramatic effect.

10. A Game For Good Christians
Board Game: A Game For Good Christians

This is Cards Against Humanity with scripture. This makes it for an incredibly niche audience. I did not play this game in 2013 nor was I aware it even existed. I do appreciate that this is a game that takes the scripture seriously and even when using it for laughs respects the subject matter.

9 Two Rooms and a Boom
This is technically a 2013 release because that is when the print and play became available. However, I did not learn about this game until 2014 and I did not play it until 2015. At this point it is closing in on four years since I last played this game. This is a fairly unique social deduction game where players try to gather information, disseminate information, and figure out a puzzle in real time. When this game works it really works and it is an incredible experience. However, it can be really fragile. The game requires a fairly good sized group and it really requires for everyone to "get it" and buy in to what the game offers.

8. Berserk: War of the Realms
Board Game: Berserk: War of the Realms

This is a self contained English version of a Russian CCG. One of the things that I think is really neat about this game is that a player's entire deck is not used each play, but instead the players draw so many cards and they have to decide which cards to field. Even though I like this game we no longer have it. My wife did not dislike this game, but we have a lot of two player duel games and this one just did not make the cut.

7. The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43
It has been way, way to long since I have played this game. It is a single player game where the player controls a U-Boat and sees how long they can last. Unfortunately, I do not have much more to say about this because it has been too long since I have played it. However, I do have good memories of this one.

6. Fox & Chicken
Board Game: Fox & Chicken

I was given a copy of this game in 2016. This is variant of Werewolf, but it has a couple of advantages to it. First, it is a little bit less violent than Werewolf or Mafia. Second, this version has some extremely unique roles that are not found anywhere else. I have four different Werewolf variants, and this is my second favorite.

5. Coconuts
I played the Korean edition of this in 2014, but we did not own the game until we picked it up at Gen Con in 2019. Over the past few years this has been a go-to family game for us. This game is skill based but it is a skill that most people feel like they just about have a good feel for even though they can never quite get the coconuts to go where they want all the time.

4. Quicksilver
We made two bigger game purchases at Gen Con in 2014 and this was one of them. This is not a racing game for everyone because it is not terribly fast feeling BUT it does feel like airships are racing. I do think for the best experience a couple of the really mean take that cards should be removed. They can be helpful for someone who is in the back, but because the cards come out randomly, the person in first could get a card that just cuts the legs out from someone else. It would be a bit like if the first place player in Mario Kart got a blue turtle shell that wrecked the people behind them.

3. In Her Majesty's Name: Steampunk Skirmish Wargaming Rules
Board Game: In Her Majesty's Name: Steampunk Skirmish Wargaming Rules

There are a handful of games where my level of investment in the game has (so far) outpaced how much I have actually played the game and this is one of them. This is a miniatures game that I had been interested in years. In 2019 I happened to see it and one of the expansion books on the shelves of a local game store. Figuring that might not happen again, I picked them up. A year later I happened upon the second expansion book and got that. My sister then sent me the Gothic book which only had a UK release. That means I have everything for the first edition of this game even though I have only played it a handful of times. I would like to increase that though. This is a wonderful miniatures game set in a steampunk/pulp setting that really captures the setting and the feel of pulp heroics. There is a lot of depth and customization present here as well.

2. Trains
This is the other big Gen Con release we picked up in 2014, and this is a game for me that really stood the test of time. It can be described as Dominion with a board, but the area control aspect the board adds is unique. We missed out on the Costal Tides expansion in 2017 which still kind of annoys me.

1. Bruges
Board Game: Bruges

When I did the five year look back in 2013, I put this as my favorite game from 2013 and five years later that has not changed. I continue to like how this game uses cards in multiple ways. I know that it has a new edition (with a different city theme) coming out. I am not sure if we need that, because this game still has more left in the tank for us.
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Wed Jan 11, 2023 11:56 pm
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2018 Five Year Look Back

Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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One of my annual traditions is to do a look back at the games that were released five years ago and see what I think stands out now and has stood the test of time. This year, I think I finally have enough depth of experience in the hobby that I can go for a 10 and 15 year look back as well.

For me 2017 and 2018 were the high water marks for playing games. In both of those years I recorded over a thousand plays for the year. 2018 was also the last time that I attended three gaming conventions in a single year. 2018 was also the year that I completely fell out of the cult of the new, and I never caught up. There are still several big releases from 2018 like Underwater Cities, Brass: Birmingham, and Nemesis that I have not played. Now at five years later, I still have played less than 100 games released in 2018.

Of the games I have played though, these are the ones that now, looking back, stand out as the best. The list is in descending order for dramatic effect.

10. Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done
I did not get to play this game until 2019. Previously, I had not really cared for games that used the mancala mechanism, but I did like it in this game. I managed to get this game in 2021 through a trade it forward list. I have not played it as much as I might like, but I have noticed that it is now on Board Game Arena, so that might make it easier to get played.

9. SpaceCorp: 2025-2300AD
Board Game: SpaceCorp: 2025-2300AD

This is another game that I did not play when it was released in 2018, but it was a game I was really interested in due to the theme. In 2020 I was able to get a new in shrink copy for a really good deal. This game has several elements I really like. I like the hand management/tableau building mechanisms that drive the game. I also like the sense of exploration this game has. Finally, I love how the game grows as the sense of scale changes across three eras. Playing this game is an engaging experience.

8. Brikks
Tetris is by far and away my wife's favorite video game. Across multiple iterations it is the only video game I have known her to play regularly. We have tried multiple different Tetris themed board games, but this roll and write is the best of them.

7. Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
Board Game: Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

This makes the list mostly for nostalgia, as I have not played it since 2018. The experience of playing this game was marvelous. It really felt more like a roleplaying game where we were stepping into the roles of detectives. I never played any of the follow ups in the series, but looking at the comments it seems like a mixed bag, with the two licensed versions (Dune and Batman) being especially problematic. One of the reasons for not getting L.A. Crimes or the Vienna Connection is because I was not sure I would be able to get people together consistently to play it like I did the first time. I do see that the most recent release, Detective: Season 1, are stand alone cases made for a single night of play. That might have more potential.

6. Drop It
This is another 2018 release that I did not get played until 2019. We first played it at a local convention in 2019, where it was a play to win title and my wife won it! This ended up being an incredible pick up for us because this is a game the kids also like. While not quite being the same thing, this game has strong Tetris vibes which might be one of the reasons why it is such a big hit.

5. The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Board Game: The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Following the similar theme, this is yet another 2018 game that I did not play until later. We first played this game together at a local convention in 2019. It did make an impression on my wife, and she specifically wanted to play it again when we attended in 2020. We played it more than once that weekend, but at that point the game was between print runs and not available. We finally picked it up when we ran across it in a local game store in 2021. This is probably one of my wife's favorite games. At this point we have only played the base game and we have not experienced any of the expansions.

4. New Frontiers
Technically, I did not play this game until 2019 either but that is because it was a 2018 release by the narrowest of margins. I ordered it in the first couple of days of 2019 right after it came out. This was always a game that we were going to get because it is a Race for the Galaxy board game. While this does not replace the card game, we both enjoy this game quite a bit. It has had a bit of a long tail for us too. We did not play it at all in 2020 but we have played it fairly consistently over the past two years.

3. Everdell
Board Game: Everdell

Our blog is titled Too Many Games, because we have too many games to be able to play them all as much as we want. If I were to pick a game that was the biggest example of that, then Everdell might be it. We both really like this game a lot, even if our number of plays does not reflect that. Every time I have played this game I start out thinking there is not enough time or resources to do anything, but by the end I have done just about everything. This is a game that really deserves more time on the table.

2. Just One
I played this game at Gen Con in 2018, and I thought it was pretty good. However, for reasons I am not quite sure I did not get my own copy until 2020. Half way through that year, my mother in law borrowed it. She played it with some members of her extended family. She ended up getting her own copy of the game as did her family members. None of them would be considered hobby gamers. This is a game with mass appeal, that will hopefully be around for a long time.

1. KeyForge: Call of the Archons
Board Game: KeyForge: Call of the Archons

This is our most played game from 2018. I have recorded over 100 plays. While I have played a couple of times with other people, and I did compete in a tournament in 2021, the vast majority of those plays have been against each other. For us this was not about finding and perfecting a deck, but we enjoy the discovery of figuring a specific deck out and how to play that against what ever the opponent is fielding. We Got several decks from the first three sets, but we did not keep up with it beyond that.
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Sat Jan 7, 2023 3:22 pm
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Pinball Showdown (One Couple's Review)

Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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Board Game: Pinball Showdown


We actually picked up this game at Gen Con in 2017. It was a game we took a chance on because it was not available for demo. It turned out to be a chance that did not pan out because we included it in our math trade offerings the next year.

However, at this year's Gen Con one of the booth offerings was a mystery game. Spend $5, spin the wheel, and then get the associated the mystery game. My son really wanted to do this, and I figured most games are worth $5 so I said sure. I am not sure what all of the game possibilities were but we ended up with what is probably the only one we had previously played. When we played and wrote about this game in 2017 we did not use our current review system, so we are giving this game another chance. Does it make the extra ball worthwhile?

Game Overview
In this game players are a pinball going to various features on a pinball table represented by cards. Players will have to manage their speed and control. They start with 20 markers that will switch back and forth. These markers are also the game's currency. Each player starts out with five as speed markers and the other fifteen as control.

At the beginning of the game all players are dealt 10 cards to use for the whole game. At the beginning of each round the top card of the deck is flipped over and each player will add a card as well.

The start player may then do one of three thing. They may bid on one of the cards in the center with their control markers, they may pay control markers to increase speed, or they may spend two control markers to take a card from the discard pile. In addition they may just pass and do nothing.

If a player gets outbid by another player they get their markers back and an decide if they will speed or control. After all players have had the option to do an action, players who have winning bid get the card. Then players without a card pick from the remaining. Each turn all players will get a card.

Each card has a point value and a speed requirement. In order for the player to score the card thy must be going equal to or greater than the speed requirement. Each card will also modify the speed somehow. Some increase it by having control markers become speed. Others decrease it by having speed markers go back to control. Finally, some just cause the speed to become a set number.

There are also combination cards that a player can claim if the collect two other cards first. Whenever a combination is played or a player is going speed twelve or higher then wizard mode is on. Any cards taken during wizard mode are worth double points.

If a player ever ends the turn with zero speed, then two things could happen. If it is turns one to five they reset with five speed. If it is turns 6-10 then the the game ens. Otherwise, it goes until turn ten. Players add up their points and each remaining marker is also worth points. The player with the most points wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The control/speed mechanism and having to manage a limited resource with two uses is unique and the stand out mechanism. Unfortunately, there is not much else to this game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The economy of this game does not feel particularly tight or punishing so every turn feels more or less like try to get the best card possible and not much more than that.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: I do appreciate that there was an attempt at a unique theme. Being a pinball is a different take than playing pinball, but I do not think the theme comes through very well.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I am not really getting or seeing the theme here.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: There is not much variability from play to play, and there is not much of a draw to play it repeatedly.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The whole game is very similiar in its experience from turn to turn so it does not seem to reward repeated plays.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I guess the wizard mode offers a little bit of excitement, but overall the pacing is fairly flat and uninteresting.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game does not have any momentum or tension it is just repeat over and over again.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I like the idea of this game, and I want to like it. However, there is just not much to it and it overall is kind of boring.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is one of the most boring games I have played in quite some time.

Final Score

45/100

My wife actually had no memory of playing this game before, so it must not have made an impression. It turns out that we like it a lot less than our initial impression five years ago. We gave this game two chances, and I think that is enough for us.
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Fri Jan 6, 2023 5:43 pm
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