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Too Many Games!!!

My wife and I love to play games together. Join us for the journey!

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Toledo (Game #10)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games. This is a game that I put on my "want in trade" list when we first got into gaming back in 2009. In 2012 we finally acquired it in a math trade. However, getting this game played has been problematic for us. Is that because we truly have too many games or does this game just not cut it?

In this game the goal is to score points by building swords and delivering them to the palace. The board consists of a road full of spaces from the cathedral to the palace. Many of the spots on the board are open spots that players will be placing their shops.

On a player's turn they can take one of four actions. A player may draw two movement cards. They can also place one of their shops on the an open spot. These shops provide resources like iron and gems which are needed to make swords. Players also have blacksmiths they can put on to turn the resources into swords. The final shop are trainers that can help players in dueling. The third action is a player can choose to move one of their workers back down the path to the Cathedral.

The final action is movement. This is the primary action of the game. The player may move one or more of their workers by playing a movement card. These cards range from 1 to 5. When moving a worker, the worker must end their move on a shop space. When moving on a shop space, the player make use that shop and get the resource or use the ability. If it is their own shop they can do this for free. If not, then they must pay the owner. On the bottom row of the path they must pay a movement card that is 1 or higher, 3 or higher on the second row, and five or higher on the third row. After playing one movement card, a player can play another one and move the same worker or a different one. The catch is that the player must play the same valued movement card as the original one played. As long as a player has movement cards of the same number and valid moves they may keep playing.

It is possible that a player may want to land on an already occupied shop space. If occupied by another player, then the players have a duel. There are three colors for dueling, and if a player has the dueling color showed on a card that is flipped they win. If neither or both players have the appropriate color, then the highlighted dueler wins. If the pictured attacker is highlighted the attacker wins, and if it s the defender the defender wins. The winner of a duel stays on the spot, and the loser goes back to the Cathedral.

When a player gets one of their workers to the palace they can deliver one of the swords they have made. The game ends once one player gets three of their five workers to the palace. Swords that have been delivered are worth their full point value. Undelivered swords are worth half their value. There is also some artwork that can be bought from an artist printed on the board. This art is limited and 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: Some of the elements of this game are unique and innovative. I enjoy how players build the board through the course of play. The duels are a simple but thematic integration that adds an element of competition. The downside is the basic mechanism of collecting resources to trade in for points is very ho-hum.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The mechanisms of this game can be extremely frustrating. I have to use the cards in my hand to determine where to place my tiles, but then there is no guarantee I will get the move cards to ever get another one of my pawns there. So frustrating!

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This game is straight euro, with a take it or leave it theme. I do like that the experience of this game is really a race.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The theme is non-existent, and I do not think the mechanisms do enough to make this game stand out.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The randomness of the cards make it impossible to do the same thing every time but even then I think this game will feel samey for most people after several plays.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I am not sure how replayable this game is over and over. This game does not an inspire a let's do it again feeling.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: As mentioned this feels more like a race than anything else, so there is some rising tension as players get closer to the finishing line.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Not getting the number I need or not being able to win duels can make it feel like I am getting stuck and cause the game to stall.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a good game, but not a great game. It is of slightly above average fun, I guess? It is fun enough to play, but this is a game that I am not going to be thinking about much post-game or think about pulling off the shelf for that matter.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is fine, but I could take it or leave it.

Final Score

55/100

Looking back at this game I see that we only played it in order to write about it for some blog series or another. This is our lowest rated game, because it is the first game that we are kind of middling on. It will be destined for the math trade pile.
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Star Realms (Game #9)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games. We initially tried this game at Gen Con in 2014, and it was a terrible demo. However, shortly after that my wife played it again a couple of times and warmed up to it a bit. Once she got the app, she really liked it and played it a lot. Yet, this is a game that has languished on our shelves lately. For instance it was only played once in 2016. Does this game still ave a part in our gaming realm?

This is a two player game where two players go head to head. Players begin the game with a starter deck of 10 cards and 50 "authority" (life).

Game Overview
From a common deck of cards five will be available to purchase. On a player's turn they can play cards from their hand. There are two types of cards bases and ships. Ships are discarded at the end of a turn after being played, but bases can stay in play. Some bases have an outpost designation, and those bases must be attacked before attacking a player.

Cards played will generate money, which is used to buy cards from the center and/or attack power which is used to attack the opponent. Any attack that is not applied to bases, reduces the opponent's life. There are four factions in the game, and many of the cards have bonus abilities if another card of the same faction is played. Once one player is reduced to zero authority they lose.

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 is simple and easy to play, but I think the flip side is that it is shallow. Often the decision of what card to buy is an easy one to make. Since all cards are played for full effect, there are very few interesting decisions

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like how easy it is to pick this game up. It plays simply and smoothly.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: My opinion of this game as steadily decreased and I do not enjoy the experience at all. The game is so limited and synergy is so important. If one player can consistently get the opportunity to buy cards of the same faction then they is a huge advantage. It is frustrating because luck dictates that more than anything else. Even when a deck has synergy there is not much to it because the game plays itself and the player just adds up the numbers on the cards.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think this game is consistently a good experience. I especially enjoy the late game when the deck comes together and the cards interact with one another.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: Adding the expansions helped, but after a dozen or so plays the game feels a bit worn. By that time all the cards have been experienced, and there just is not much left to explore.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I find this game very replayable because every game is different as I acquire different cards and it plays out differently.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the game's weakest part because the pacing and flow can be extreme. If both players get a lot of defensive or life giving cards then the game absolutely drags. If that does not happen ten it is just as likely that one player gets blown out because their deck does not come together.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is the downside to this game. It should be a quick playing game, but sometimes it can take way too long for what it is.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I have played this game 30 times now, and my opinion has steadily eroded. At this point I actively dislike the game. I find it frustrating and tedious.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like this game, and I enjoy the simplicity of building my deck in this game and seeing it all work. Fortunately for me I am just as fine playing this single player on the ipad.

Final Score

61/100

It is a bit rare for me to be the one who does not like a game, but this is one that I am just done with. My wife is fine not keeping the physical copy of the game, so it will be going to the trade pile.
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Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:32 pm
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Alchemists (Game #8)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. I played this game at Geekway to the West in 2015 and I was super impressed with it. I played it a second time the next day, and immediately bought it because I knew my wife would love this game. I was right, and this game made her favorite game list in 2016. For a longer and complex game we have played this several times. Does it continue to hold up?

Game Overview
Like most euro games the goal of this game is to get the most points. What sets this game apart is the primary way that players get points. The game has eight different ingredients and at the at beginning of the game each ingredient will randomly be assigned alchemy properties. By deducing these properties correctly players will be able to get points.

Each round begins by players determining the turn order. There is a track they place a piece on. The lower on the track a player goes the more bonuses they get but the higher the better turn order. After this is determined, the player at the bottom of the track places their action cubes. This first player places their cubes at the bottom, and the action spots are resolved from the top down.

After all players have placed their cubes, play goes clockwise from action space to action space. First is ingredients, where players can choose from some face up ingredients or take a random one. Next players have the option to discard an ingredient and take one coin.

The next space is sell a potion to an adventurer. If multiple players go to this space they will have a bidding war of offering discounts to entice the adventurer. Each adventurer wants three different types of potions (one of each colors with a different -/+ attribute. The player picks which one they will deliver and then guarantees the potion will be exactly what they want, close enough, at least not the opposite, or just liquid in a bottle.

The next space allows players to buy artifacts. These are expensive but grant very powerful one time or ongoing effects.

The next two spaces have to do with alchemy theories (explained out of order here). One is publishing a theory. To publish a theory the player pays a coin. They then pick an ingredient and indicate which alchemy properties they believe the ingredient has. Player will put seals down to certify their work. These seals are worth points at the end of the game, or a player can put down a seal that hedges their bets in case their theory is wrong. Just for publishing a player gets a point and if they have enough seals down it is possible they are awarded grants. The other theory action is debunking a theory. This is where a player believes another player is wrong. They have to say how they are wrong and if they are right, they get two points and have the first shot at publishing a new theory for that ingredient or set of properties.

The final spaces are the potion testing options: Test on student or test on self. To test a potion two ingredients are combined and doing this will create a red, blue, or green potion. That potion will then be negative or positive. It is also possible to make a neutral potion. If tested on self and it is negative, there are consequences.

For the very last turn the potion testing spaces are replaced by the potion exhibition where players get points for creating specific types of potions.

The biggest thing which I have not mentioned (but you probably knew about anyway) is the app. All of the stuff with the potions are ran by a smartphone app. The app randomly selects the pairings of alchemy properties with ingredients. When mixing potions, the app tells the player what kind of potion is created. The app works wonderfully and is a very natural part of the game.

At the end of the game it is revealed which ingredients had which properties. Anyone who put a point seal on a correct match gets points and mistakes cause points to get lost. There are some other details in the game, but this should be a decent overview.


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: I love the rules and mechanisms of this game. My favorite part is the logic puzzle aspect, but I also really like how there is a full game behind it. This game offers some a lot of tough choices because it is really tight.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really enjoy logic puzzles, and I love how this builds a game around one of those puzzles. The use of an app to make it all works is really good.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The game has a light and humorous theme that is enchanting. Using the app is especially fun. It is exciting to scan the ingredients and see what happens. It is then extremely engaging to figure out how the new information helps solve the puzzle.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Solving the puzzle of what ingredients have which symbols is great. Even if I lose the game I feel like it is a success.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: Every game will have a different puzzle, but I feel like the rest of the game can get a little procedural. This is especially true with the artifacts. It can be tempting to always go for the same certain artifacts when they pop up, because a few seem to be a bit more powerful than the rest.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like that there is a new puzzle every time. The experience of this logic puzzle is always engaging.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the only game I have played that has a lot of AP, and it is not a big deal. I am always engaged because on other players turn I am trying to figure everything out.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I feel like this game has the perfect number of turns. There is just enough turns to get enough everything figured out, but it is still tight enough to be tense.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: Even if I lose this game, I still feel like I won if I can solve the puzzle. It is like the game within the game, and combined this makes for a thoroughly great game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is so fun to get to the end of this game and see if I had everything right. The whole experience is great, and this game is a lot of fun.

Final Score

85/100

We both thoroughly enjoy this game, and it has been a huge hit for us. The use of an app is not a gimmick but it pushes into new development territory. This is a game that mixes up the right combination of fun, brain burn, and innovation for us.
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Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:50 am
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Escape: The Curse of the Temple (Game #7)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. This is a game that we bought for half price back in 2013. After I played the game once I thought my wife might enjoy it, and then a couple of weeks later someone was selling it at a local con. It was an example of the right game, for the right price, at the right time. After almost four years does this game still have elements left for us to explore?


Game Overview
Escape is a cooperative game where players have to escape from an ancient temple before it collapses. However, to get out they need to activate magical gems inside the temple first.

This is a dice game where players will be rolling dice like crazy. It is also a timed game and players have ten minutes to make it out of the temple. A soundtrack times the game. The game is played on a board that is constructed from tiles.

To do various things, like enter rooms or explore new rooms players needs certain combinations of dice. For example, a room might require a flame and a person icon to enter. When players roll dice they can choose to save or re-roll any of them. The exception are curse symbols these dice are locked until a player rolls a good icon that unlocks cursed icons. Players can share these symbols with each other. Some rooms have places for crystals to be activated. To do that a player must roll a certain number of a symbol (usually 4).

Twice during the game, players are required to go back to the starting room. A gong on the soundtrack signifies it is time to go back and if players do not make it back in time they lose a die. Eventually the exit will be revealed. To get out, a player will need to be in the exit tile and roll a number of keys equal to the amount of unplaced gems +1. The number of gems to be placed on the board is determined by player count. So if I am at the exit and there are two unplaced gems, I will need to roll three keys. If all players exit before time runs out, they win. If not then everyone loses.

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 main dice rolling mechanism that makes up this game works really well. It fits the real time pace well and helps create a frantic pace and feel to the game. The downside to playing real time is that rules questions or rules confusion can become problematic.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like the dice rolling and playing in real time. The problem with this game though is that it can be very easy to make mistakes. In all of the hurry it is easy to roll a die that is supposed to be locked or use a die face for an action twice. These mistakes are not intentional but they ar very easy to do.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The thematic experience of this game is it's strongest selling point. The soundtrack, the clatter of the dice, and the frantic pace all come together to deliver a very unique experience that is very much worth having.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is a game where the theme really comes through. Every time I play it, my heart is racing and the excitement is there.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a great experience, but it is a somewhat static experience. The game designers knew this, so they included some extra modules in the box and the game has several expansions. However, I am not a big fan of these as I think they add complexity to the game's detriment. The base experience is good, but it is a little thin.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is not a game that I want to play multiple times in a row, but it works well if it comes out every now and again.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The soundtrack keeps the game moving, and it does it at a really good pace.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The time length of this game is just right for what it is.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This game is a great experience, but I feel like tha experience has diminishing returns.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Even in the experience does not change much, this game is always exciting and always fun.

Final Score

69/100

This is a game that we like, but it has limited playability. I think it will be somewhat rare for it to come out for just the two of us. This is a keeper for now, but I think it might be close to the bubble.
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Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:51 am
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Fleet (Game #6)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. This is a game that we bought more or less as a blind purchase back in 2013. I selected the game because I read the designer diary blog that talked about how Race for the Galaxy was a major influence, and Fleet uses several mechanisms we like. After several plays in the first year of having the game, it was very much on the bubble because the game was feeling very played out. However, we got Fleet: Arctic Bounty which very much revitalized the game for us. We will only play the game with the expansion. The expansion though added new two players rules we do not like, because it adds the hated dummy third player. So we play this game with the added licenses and set up of Arctic Bounty, but we use the two player rules from the base game. This is written with how we play it in mind.

Brief Game Overview
At the start of the game players will select five different fish licenses and two premium licenses. The deck of cards is the built based on what was selected. Players will also select two dock cards, as well as put out the Gone Fishing cards.

In this game players try to get points by launching a fleet of fishing vessels. Every turn follows the same sequence. First players bid on fishing licenses. These licenses give players the ability to launch the corresponding fishing boats as well as give a special ability that gets better with the more similar licenses acquired. All money in this game is paid with by discarding cards that have a money value printed on them as well. If a player does not purchase a license they may take a gone fishing card. This card can be discarded for two money later in the game, or if kept is worth two points.

Next players may launch one boat. To launch a boat, they must pay the launch cost (again by discarding cards for money). Then a player may captain the boat. To captain the boat, a player takes a card form their hand and places it face down on the boat. Then all captained boats get a fish cube, but can only hold a max of 4.

Finally, players draw 2 cards and choose to keep one. Eventually the license deck will not be able to replenish the available licenses for the beginning auction. When that happens the game ends. Players get points for each license they have, each boat they have launched, and each fish cube on a boat. 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:One of my favorite mechanisms is to use cards in different ways. This game uses that mechanism to great effect. The addition of extra licenses and the Gone Fishing cards from Arctic Bounty add much needed variety and smooth out the play experience.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I do like how everything works together in this game, and I especially like all the ways the cards are used. I really struggle with the symbols though. I have played this game multiple times and I still have a hard time keeping straight what the licenses do.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: Overall I do like this game, and I think it delivers a very cerebral experience in a little package. My caveat though, is occasionally the gears kind of grind and a player gets really stuck. It can take several turn to get any traction at that point, and those plays are extremely frustrating.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really like how the theme comes through. I like how when I buy a license not only am I buying the special ability but that is also what lets me launch a boat.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: Again, this is with Arctic Bounty. If it was the base game, then I would say it is like four or five. However, being able to have a random set up of licenses and different dock cards really opens this game up and makes every experience different.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is really replayable. My problem with it though is the set-up time. It takes almost as long to get the game out and build the decks as it does to play it.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: We have only ever played this with two players, and in the two player game this is a problem. The game ends too quickly. It seems right as everything is on the cusp of coming together it is over.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I enjoy the game but this is my biggest complaint. It always ends to quickly! I am always wanting to do more.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I find this game a fun challenge. Each turn offers hard and engaging decisions about the best way to use the cards. This also creates a great mix of strategy and tactics.

Her Rating:
Her Comments:I like building the engine in this game, I just wish I got to run it a bit more.

Final Score

71/100

For us this is a good game, that is slightly held back by a long set up time and ending a little too quickly. We feel like the length of the game might be a problem with two, and we both would really like to try playing the game with for players.
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Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:24 am
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Lords of Vegas (Game #5)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in 2017. There are very few games that my wife has played more than I have, but this is one of them. This is one of her favorite games, but since we both prefer it with more than two players it does not get played as often as either of us would like. Is the game good enough that it is worth the gamble of keeping it on the shelf for wen it can get played?

Game Overview
In this game player's gain money and earn points from building casinos. The board is divided into 6 lots, and then each lot is subdivided into smaller lots.

On a player's turn they will draw a card from the deck. This card shows a color that matches one of five casino types. It also list a sub-lot. The player who drew the card puts one of their markers in the listed sub-lot. Then all players with a marker on a sub-lot collect $1. Next the casino of the matching color pays out. First all players who have one their dice in a casino of that color get money equal to the die face. Then players score points for their casino. How many points scored is based on how big the casino is, and at certain point levels only bigger casinos score. Often multiple players may have dice in one casino (to clarify a casino is all connected sub-lots of one color). In this case everyone gets money in the scoring casino, but only the casino boss gets points. The boss is who ever has the single highest die in the casino.

After this portion of a player's turn is done they can then take actions. A player can take as many actions as they wish on a turn, as long as they can pay for it. A player may build a casino on a sub-lot where they have a marker. Each sub-lot has a development cost that must be paid. The player pays, and then picks the color of casino they wish to build. The player then puts that color marker down and puts one of their dice on the number marked by the sub-lot. Obviously, it cost more to develop a lot that begins at a 6 than one that begins at a 1.

If a player controls a casino, they can choose to remodel it and change the color of the casino. This is helpful, because their are only nine cards of each color in the deck. If one color has most of the cards drawn, changing the color may give more pay outs.

Players can choose to reorganize casino. To do this $1 is paid for each die pip in the casino. Then all players with at least one die in the casino roll their dice. Whoever rolls the highest number is the casino boss. If there is a tie, they roll off until there is not a tie.

The final two actions are sprawling and gambling. To sprawl a player pays double the development cost of a sub-lot to expand their casino onto it. However, this has a risk because if the card for that lot is later drawn whoever draws it gets the die. Since the game is about Vegas there has to be gambling. To gamble a player risk up to $5 per tile at a casino another player controls, and then rolls two dice. On a roll 2-4 or 9-12 the gambler wins and the casino owning player must pay that much. On a 5-8 the casino owner gets the gambler's money. This is the only action that is limited to once per turn.

The game comes with 55 cards, but they are not all used. A game over card is put on the bottom 1/4th of the deck. When this card is revealed there is one more scoring phase, and then the game ends. 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: This game is a bit odds rules wise. It has a lot of euro mechanisms such as non-combative area control and rewarding set collection. However, the whole game is built on the premise of luck. What is rare is that other than playing probability there is not any luck mitigating built into the game. This can make it swingy. For instance, the last game we played because I had a luck roll in a casino were I only controlled one tile. I came out on top right before the game ended, and scoring that casino is what gave me the win.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really just love the way that dice are used in this game. It is very unique, very smart, and very exciting. I also like how players can make deals and work together. I am not usually a fan of that, but I like it when players go together to reorganize a casino.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a very thematic euro game. The whole game has a strong Vegas feel. It should be annoying how much of a factor luck plays into this game, but it brings out the theme so wonderfully. The concept of gambling underpins this whole game, and it brings it out in a truly stellar way.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is a game where I really feel the theme. Playing the game is so exciting. It seems that every play seems to have a stand up dice roll moment, where everyone waits with baited breath to see how the dice fall. It is so exciting!

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The biggest hindrance to this game is it is somewhat group dependent. It is playable with two, but works best with four (we have not played it with the 5 or 6 expanded player counts). It also needs a group that will interact with one another and not try to play a multiplayer solitaire game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really like this game, and I am always willing to play it. For that reason I think it is very replayable.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has a nice arc to it. One of the clever innovations this game has is the score track. As the game advances, smaller casinos will not score since a set number of points is required to move up the point track. At the beginning of the game the higher level scores seem out of reach, but at the end of the game players are moguls vying for control of massive, sprawling casinos.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really like that players are always engaged in this game. The lot payouts means people are always getting income. The deals that can be made, means that even on other player turns I still have a stake in what is happening and I stay fully engaged.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: As my wife mentioned, this game is the king of the "stand up dice roll". That really does make every play exciting and memorable.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I just love the excitement of this game. Of all the games we have played this is one of the ones I enjoy the most.

Final Score

87/100

This is a game we both really like, and it is one that we highly recommend. This game is a bit older now, but I still do not think there is anything else like it. It is worth seeking out and giving a shot if you have not yet done so.
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Mon Jan 9, 2017 4:28 pm
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La Isla (Game #4)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in 2017. I got this game on my birthday in 2015. We had previously really liked other Stefan Feld games we had played, and this one was no different. Compared to all of our other games though is this one we still enjoy exploring or not?

Brief Game Overview

In La Isla, player control a team of scientists collecting specimens of extinct animals. The game is divided up into rounds, and in each round there are five phases. First there is a card phase, where each player will get three cards and then decide in which phase they are going to use that card.

All cards can be used in three different ways. In phase A, players will reveal the card assigned there. Each card can provide a special ability. Most of these abilities are specific to certain situations, and as long as the ability is active it will happen when that situation occurs (such as place in a certain area, collect a certain cube, etc). Each player can have up to three of these cards active at a time, so each turn after the third they will be replaying one ability with another.

In phase B, players reveal the card assigned there and collect the shown resource cube. Phase C does not have a card assigned to it, but during this phase players can move their scientist. Scientist can move to certain hex faces. To place or move a scientist a player must spend two resources of the same color. if all of the spaces around a hex are full by the scientist of one player then that player gets the animal tile in the hex. When a player gets an animal tile, they will score points.

Finally in phase D players reveal their played card, and they will move the marker for the pictured animal up a track. When they do, a player will score one point for each tile of that animal they have. This track has a multiplier number for end game scoring that will increase as the animal tracks are moved up each round.

After phase D, a new round begins. This will continue until the sum of the multiplier for all players equals a certain number. At the end of the game players get 10 points for each set of five animals they ave. They also get points per animal type. This is done by counting the number of animal tokens of a certain type a player has and then checking for the multiplier on the animal track. 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: 8
My Comments: This is an extremely engaging game. It is very tactical, and because of that there are always decisions to make. The mechanisms and rules also work out so that every turn feels like something is being accomplished.

Her Rating: 7
Her Comments: This game plays very straight forward. I like how well everything just seems to connect together and work in this game.

Theme/Experience
My Rating: 7
My Comments: The theme of this game is very euro, in that it feels a bit pasted on. The experience of the game is fun, but there is a lot of luck. The game is about managing the luck, but still at the end it can fee a bit like trying to ride the waves of the game than really driving a winning strategy.

Her Rating: 8
Her Comments: The theme is whatever. I do not feel like I am finding new animals or whatever. I like the experience though. Everything provides points and it is easy to set small goals within the game so that it is always feeling like I am achieving something.

Replayability
My Rating: 6
My Comments: I am not sure how much strategy this game has to explore. There are a lot of cards to play through, so I think there are a lot of plays before it feels played out. Though I think there is a point (many plays from now), where it feel like this game is done.

Her Rating: 5
Her Comments: I do not know how well this will hold up to repeated play. I think it might will start to feel repetitive. If this was a 10x10 game I think at the end of the year I would be done with it.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating: 8
My Comments: I feel like this is one of the strong points of the game. The game has a great flow to it, that is easy to get into. The end of the game is easy to keep track of, and there is real tension as players see it scooting closer and hope they can finish out their plans before it is over.

Her Rating: 6
Her Comments: I think this drags on a little too long for what it is. I would like it to be ten to twenty minute shorter.

Fun Factor
My Rating: 8
My Comments: I do think eventually this game will wane, but as it is I think it is a lot of fun. The assigning three cards a turn to different functions is novel, works well, and just makes the whole game very engaging.

Her Rating: 7
Her Comments: This is not a game that will be at the top of my want to play or favorite game list, but it is good and fun. I will happily play again.

Final Score

70/100

This game came in a little bit lower than I expected. Perhaps it is fair to say this game is a bit more than the sum of it's parts. We both have concerns about the long term. Perhaps a decade from now this will no longer be a game we have, but for now it is one we will keep and enjoy.
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Mon Jan 9, 2017 3:22 am
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Love Letter (Game #3)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in 2017. We got this game early in 2013, when it was all rage and just kicking off the micro-game fad. I have played several games of Love Letter. My wife has played it less, and it has been a while. It has been a really long time since we played a two player game together. So do we still love Love Letter?

Brief Game Overview
In Love Letter players take the roll of the suitor trying to earn the favor of the princess. However, the princess has locked herself away. The only way to get the attention of the princess is by getting people close to her to bring her love letters.

The cards consists of various personalities that are numbered 1-8. At the beginning of a round one card from the 16 card deck is set aside. On a player's turn they will draw one card. The player will keep one of the cards to be the person who they are entrusting their letter to and, then discard the other one. When a card is discarded it has an ability that comes into play.

Some of the abilities will cause a player to be out for the round. If only one player is left in the round, then their letter gets delivered and they take a red cube. If there are multiple players left in a round, then once the last card has been drawn the active player resolves their turn and everyone reveals their hand. The player who has the highest numbered character has their letter delivered, and the rest are thrown in the fire.

The number of players determines how many letter have to be delivered to earn the favor of the princess, but the first player to earn that many red cubes wins the game.

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: 8
My Comments: The player interaction in this game is really high but it does not feel super confrontational. It is amazing that this game managed to get so much gameplay out of sixteen cards. Multiple games have tried to make a similar setup work, but none have been a successful or as good of a game.

Her Rating: 7
Her Comments: This is such a clever game. I am amazed at simple the rules. This game feels like a deeper game than the rules seem..

Theme/Experience
My Rating: 7
My Comments: The theme of this game is a little stretched, but I do like the game experience. It has a very unique feel, and there is not anything quite like playing it.

Her Rating: 7
Her Comments: I do not feel theme, but I like the experience. This game feels like a traditional card game with playing hand after hand.

Replayability
My Rating: 7
My Comments: This game is very much in that filler category, and as such it only comes out at certain times. For me that kind of hurts that replayability because that 20-30 minute open/closer game slot is kind of a crowded area. For reason mentioned below, this game for me does not have a strong “let’s do it again” feeling for me.

Her Rating: 8
Her Comments: I think this game has replayability because it is easy to get into. The rules are so simple and straightforward that the game does not need a rules refresher even after a long break between plays. I think the gameplay stands up to repetition.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating: 5
My Comments: This is my biggest complaint about the game. It can go on for way too long. This is especially true if it works out to everyplay is one cube from winning. In a four player game that means this filler is pushing 45 minutes, and worse it effectively means that the game would have had essentially the same outcome as playing a single round.

Her Rating: 7
Her Comments: I like how one round just moves on to the next, it just keeps going and hasa good flow to it.

Fun Factor
My Rating: 7
My Comments: With three or four players this is a good game to get out. I am usually up for playing it, and it tends to always be a decent time.

Her Rating: 7
Her Comments: This game does not wow me, but I also have no major opposition to it. It is a good game.

Final Score

70


We both see this as a solid game, but it is not what one that would make our favorite games list. However, it does get played at various places with some consistency, is fun, and takes up no space. That all combines to make this a for sure keeper.
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Sun Jan 8, 2017 3:52 am
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Maze Racers (Game #2)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in 2017. Maze Racers is a game that we added in 2016. I had played it earlier in the year, and I went ahead and picked it up at Gen Con. My wife tends to have a real love/hate relationship with real time games. Which one is this though?

Brief Game Overview
In this game each player gets a magnetic board divided into four quadrants, a small ball, a start piece, an end piece, and a collection of magnetic pieces. Both players agree on a starting and ending quadrant.

Then both players use the provided magnetic pieces to build a maze. When one player is done, a sand timer is started and the other player has until the timer is up to finish.

Players then trade mazes, and race to solve the opponent's maze first. If a player's maze is unsolvable then they automatically lose the round. The first player to solve the opposing maze wins the round.

Play then resets, and a new maze is made. Players play best two out of three rounds.

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 is extremely unique and novel. There is nothing else quite like it. The components are well created to make this game really rise up as something special. This game is entirely played in real time, which adds a lot of tension.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is different than everything else. The rules are so simple that even children can understand how to play the game, but as long as a player is OK with the concept anyone can play and enjoy it.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This game gets close to that toy/game divide. It is a game but the appeal is building a function ball maze. For me the experience is great because I love creating something.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I do not like that this game requires spatial skills that I am not good at. I always feel like I do not know what I am doing. The extra time pressure of being real time makes this game kind of frustrating for me.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: theoretically this game has infinite replayability, because each maze is different. That is true, but I think this is a slow burn game for me. It is a game that will come out every now and then over a period of years. For whatever reason this game does not have a "lets do this again" feel for me.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I might make a different maze every time, but I am essentially doing the same thing. I feel like over time the "wow" factor of building a maze is going to fade.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This game lasts the perfect length, even if it goes to three rounds. The annoyance is the set up and tear down can be a bit annoying with all of the pieces to keep organized.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I am not the biggest fan of this one, but it is over quick enough that it does not wear out its welcome.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: Building a maze is a lot of fun. Even if I lose, I enjoy the feeling of creating something.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is clever and unique, but I just do not find making a maze to be that fun of an activity. I do not hate the game, but I will not go out of my way to play it either.

Final Score

65/100

This is clearly a game that I like more than she does. I am skeptical that the two of us will play it very much, but I think it is worth holding onto for a couple of years. My son shows a proclivity to building things. We tried playing it with him a few months ago and it was still a bit above his level but in a year or two I could see him really loving this game.
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Thu Jan 5, 2017 9:44 pm
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Ticket to Ride (Game #1)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through every game we own in 2017. Ticket to Ride was one of the first hobby games we ever played. We actually played this game on the Xbox 360 before we were even in the hobby. If all of my wife's iOS plays are counted, this is without a doubt her most played game. Where does it rank for both of us though?

Brief Game Overview

In Ticket to Ride players will build routes on a board. These routes are represented by colored links. On a player's turn they will do one of three things. The first option is that a player can take train cards. These colored cards correspond with the colored links on the board, so three red cards would allow for a three link red route to be built. That leads to the second option which is play cards to build routes. These routes are built by playing the cards and then putting train cars on the board in the player's color. Each route claimed is worth points based on the size.

One of the major reasons why players are claiming routes on the board is to complete destination tickets. These are cards that show two cities being connected. Each completed ticket is worth a set number of points, but incomplete tickets are negative points. The third option on a player's turn is to take more destination tickets.

The game continues until one player has two or less train cars. Everyone gets one more turn. Then destination tickets are scored 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 strength of Ticket to Ride is that it has fairly easy to grasp rules, but it has some real depth to the game play. This is obvious when I play with my wife. I am not bad at this game, but she plays on another level.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like that the rules of this game are easy to grasp. Each turn there are only three options, so it is not overwhelming. I think having such a simple turn structure makes it easier for me to get my head around long term strategies.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: Ticket to Ride is fun to play, but it has never been a game that grabs me. The train theme does not come through. I will always play the game, but I will never request it.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like the travel theme and I find collecting trip itineraries in the destination tickets to be fun. I also enjoy playing this game because I feel like I really know it more than most games.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: For me the base game is reaching played out status, and that is mostly because my wife knows the cards so well that she more or less builds the similar routes connecting the same cities every time. Once she has the major hub cities connected, she fishes for the right destination tickets. The replayability comes into the fact that there are multiple maps for this game, and each one offers a different approach.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I feel like every game is different. This is just a game that I never get tired of playing.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I think it is the pacing of this game that makes it a classic. It starts off wide open as players start planning their best move. As the game enters the middle stage, players have networks they can build off of. The end game is tense, as players begin watching other people's train car reserves and try to calculate if they can finish their objectives before time runs out

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I feel like this game moves at a perfect pace. It never feels like it lags or is over to quick.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This game is fun enough, but it is not one of my favorites that I get excited about he thought of playing.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is one of my absolute favorite games!

Final Score

80/100

As she said, this is my wife's favorite game. For me it is upper middle of the road, but if it means we get to play games together I will gladly play it whenever she wants to.
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Thu Jan 5, 2017 3:55 am
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