New to you March 2015 => Best new boardgame
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What new board and card games did you play in March 2015? Please share your experiences of the games you played for the first time this month. Anyone still playing new Christmas presents?

In order to assist with collecting Statistics from these lists, please post an entry with your chosen game of the month, and if possible please use the "insert board game" feature to add other games you mention in your entry.

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New To You Metalist 2015
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Movies You Watched in March 2015


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New to you a year ago Mar 15 => Has it stood the test of time?
Games Only YOU have played in March 2015
New to your kids - New Lease of Life - Gaming with your kids in March 2015
Your Most Played Game (and more): March 2015
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1. Board Game: Shipyard [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:445]
United States
Davis
California
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I'm still plugging away at my personal attempt to reduce my unplayed games list: Hobbes' 50x1 Challenge! *** COMPLETED! ***. More than half of the way to my goal!


Shipyard

(Image credit: cnidius)


This is a fun and interesting midweight euro, where you're building ships to meet VP criteria.

Some of those criteria are based on secret government contracts that you're dealt at the beginning of the game (all but two of which must be discarded by you at game midpoints, so you're forced to whittle them down to one contract by game's end).

You also get VP for meeting special criteria that apply when you've completed a ship (they're different kinds of inspector judging ship's "shakedown"). You have some control over these VP goals, which is fun. It lets you dynamically tailor the scoring rules to what you're able to accomplish. I liked that.

Mechanically, there are a lot of rondels controlling player choices. There's one for action selection and others that regulate access to various bits and bobs — employees (permanent special powers), crew of various kinds, and ship attachments.

The game's intricate and presents a lot of choices, which I liked. But I can see a lot of potential for fun-crushing AP with the wrong players. I'll only play it with folks I know to be brisk.

Overall, this is a very solid order fulfillment euro. More thinky than playful, but I like that. And I really liked the art design (I'm a sucker for industrial revolution period-style art in games.)

Excellent!


La Isla

(Image credit: thfreak)


This is a quick, light, spatial, area enclosure game with a modular board and a huge deck of multi-purpose cards (i.e., lots of replayability). It was more fun than I was expecting, based on some of the lackluster reactions it has received.

Each turn you get a hand of three cards. You must assign each card to a different slot (A, B, or D -- phase C is used to place a man on the board). The slot you chose for each card determines what the card will do for you -- A = become a continuous special power; B = acquire a cube of the specified color; C = promote the VP value of one of the five kind of animals.

You can only have three special powers active, so eventually you will be required to replace your previously played powers with new ones.

Whenever you bump an animal up the VP value track, every player that has collected animals of that type gets one VP for each animal possessed. Collected animals also give VP at the end of the game, based on the position on the track. And complete sets of all five kinds of animals are worth 10 VP at end game.

How do you get animals? By surrounding them with your dudes on the weird modular board. How do you place dudes on a space on the board? By playing two cubes matching the color of the target space (that's what you do in phase "C.")

My wife crushed me in our first game. I made the classic Hobbes mistake of souping up my powers instead of getting VP. She's also generally better than me at spatial games. In the next two plays, I decided to focus on points. Surprisingly, that helped!


Murano

(Image credit: fretnut71)


This is a midweight euro, themed around Renaissance development of the famous glass-making islands of Murano (in the Venetian Lagoon).

Players manipulate a modified rondel mechanism to select actions -- there are ten "gondolas" in actions spaces around the board. On your turn, you must move a gondola counter-clockwise around the action space track. You can move any number of spaces, so long as you don't move a gondola into an already occupied space. This makes things jam up in interesting ways. But you can also pay money to move gondolas that are in your way, allowing you to perform a critical action at an increased cost. This all creates a puzzley tactical problem, which was fun.

Your main source of VP are secret end-game VP goal cards (which you purchase by using one of the action spaces). Once you have some end game goals, you'll need to use all of the other available actions to develop the islands so that they match your goals and provide you the most points at the end of the game.

I liked it better than my wife and friends did. They grumbled about the lack of control that comes from not knowing what other people are trying to do, and the bad luck of having someone disrupt your secret plans accidentally.

A solid euro with some interesting constraints on action, but with a strong dose of hidden information and luck.



The Witches: A Discworld Game

(Image credit: PZS69)


Players are apprentice Witches, solving problems as they pop up throughout the various locales in the Kingdom of Lancre (from Terry Pratchett's witch-based Discworld novels).

I was motivated to acquire and try this, as a tribute to Pratchett, who died on March 12.

It was pretty light, as I expected.

Each player's turn begins with a new problem popping up at a random location (determined by a flip of cards from the draw deck). If there's already a problem in that location, it gets worse and you flip another card; etc until you find a spot for the new problem.

Then the player takes two actions. Each consists of movement, and then interaction with the destination space. You can't move through other players or problems (unless you play a broomstick icon card, which lets you go anywhere you want).

Solving problems requires you to beat the difficulty number of the problem with the roll of dice. I won't explain the details of the dice-rolling system, but it's clever and provides some opportunity to mitigate bad rolls.

If too much trouble develops, or the wrong kind of trouble, the game can end early, with all players losing. This creates a mild prisoner's dilemma, as all players need to keep the game from sinking, but there may be good reason to defect and force others to carry your share of the load.

There's also a system that can punish you for using magic effects too often.

One drawback is that the tension never really ramps up too high. It's fairly easy to avoid the game ending conditions, which takes some of the interest out of the crisis management elements of the game. This is probably because the game is being pitched to include family play.

The art is thematic and fun, and the game's a moderately enjoyable romp. I'm glad to have tried it, but prefer Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, which has more direct player interaction and a greater variety of card effects.



Antike II

(Image credit: W Eric Martin)


I don't remember enough about the original Antike to make a useful comparison.

It's a Gerdts rondel game, which is always a good thing. I like the bite-sized turns that system produces (it really helps to tamp down AP).

Gather resources, build dudes, move dudes, build cities, build temples, purchase tech increases. Scoring is based on a set of achievement cards. First player to satisfy one gets it, so the game's a bit of a race.

Our first play (with four) was a marred by three of us not being familiar enough with the game to see the strategic implications of different choices and situations, which led to a lopsided runaway win.

Even without that problem (which probably wouldn't reoccur), it seemed like the game might tend toward a similar arc: expand out until you bump into neighbors, build temples for defense of key points, then grind out resources to see who is the first to get over the finish line.

It all works really well, but I suspect this just isn't my kind of game. (I'm starting to think that I'm not a fan of mutliplayer dudes-on-a-map games in general, even though I want to be.)


Imperial Settlers

(Image credit: tycjan)


This is an okay tableau builder, with asymmetric faction abilities, lots of card powers, and direct player aggression. The kind of thing I'd usually really like. Not so much.

Our four player game took over two hours, which is way too long for what this game offers.

I suspect this might be better as a two-player game, with a shorter play time and more ability to observe and react to opponent play.

But I won't find out. The game was completely ruined for me by the absurd graphic design. All of the special power text and icons are in a ridiculously small font, leaving the great majority of the available text space blank (see above). WTF?

It's hard enough to read my own cards in my hand; tracking what other players have played to their tableaus (which is crucial) is just not going to happen. Really bad design work here.

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2. Board Game: 7 Wonders: Babel [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
Fernando Robert Yu
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Most of the new games were played in the last week of March, with several games introduced by my buddy Kent!

Hyperborea = 1 Play



Video reviews and playthroughs convinced me to have this be the first Bag Building game I own. My group likes deckbuilding as well as Eclipse, and this seemed to be a hybrid of both type of games. The initial play at the end of March validated my purchase since I enjoyed the idea of building your pool of cubes depending on the colors you want your actions to flow from. There is indeed randomness since you cannot tell when you will draw the colors you need, but this affects everyone and the fact that you can hedge the action you want by placing a cube in one of the spaces means you CAN do the action, with the question being WHEN instead of IF. The basic actions on the player board are a bit restrictive since you can only do 1 of each kind of action type before each reset, but this can be mitigated by buying advanced technologies as additional spaces as well as the benefits cities and ruin tokens can give you. I also like the multiple pathways to victory and replayability the game offers and I am looking forward to playing with the racial abilities and seeing how those change the game.



Coup = 4 Plays

Kent and Keith introduced this to Jim and I last week. I liken the game to be a hybrid between Love Letter and games like The Resistance: Avalon and Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition, and since these were well received in my grouped it was no surprise that it was an instant hit. I do have a feeling though that most players will claim an ability with a character they actually possess in their hand, but then again I have difficulty in determining who is lying and who is not so it could just be me! Using one of the 2 roles you currently have seems to be the determining factor in who wins or not, but bluffing at a critical time is also a key skill needed to be successful in this game. Nice filler!



Black Fleet = 1 Play



This is ANOTHER addition to my growing collection of pirate themed games, but my acquisition had more to do with the great components, variable player powers, and lots of player interaction than the theme. Having said that, I find that the game has a similar feel to Jamaica in that it too is a racing game (as you endeavor to be the first to flip over all your objective cards) where your actions are card driven. However, the ability to control different ships (the merchant needs to pick up and deliver, the pirate needs to raid merchants for goods which are to be buried, and the neutral navy ships which sink pirates) and cards which grant you special powers elevate this game to a slightly higher level. Deciding which objective card to buy first is also an important decision since while the cheaper objectives are easier to flip first, the more expensive cards grant you a more powerful ability. There is certainly a busy game, and one which should not have a dull moment with the right group.



No Thanks! = 3 Plays



Another light filler introduced by the Celino brothers, this one has a “push your luck” mechanic as you decide which cards to add to your collection and which card to pass around. Unwanted cards get a coin placed on it however each time it is passed, so an initially high numbered card may later look to be attractive as it accumulates coins on it. Gambling on the appearance of cards which “chain” to those in your collection also gives the game some edge, but this is really just a light fun game which should be taken as its face value.



Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition) = 1 Play



Another light game from the Celino stables, this one was a recommendation from me for Kent to buy. Pointing guns at other people was fun although I can see that there could easily be a “bash the leader/player” factor if one person is ganged up by the rest of the group. This leads me to believe that this is a game best played at a higher player count, since it would be more difficult (at least theoretically) to have 7 people always point their guns at 1 other player. Bluffing is also a factor in the game since you have to second guess whether others have loaded live ammo or a blank round in their guns. This is quite an easy game to teach so it would also be a good gateway for non-gamers.



EXPANSIONS

7 Wonders: Babel = 2 Plays



7 Wonders is the most played game in my collection and is one of my top 3 games, making this expansion to be one of my most anticipated ones for the year. I followed the manual recommendation to first play the Tower of Babel and Great Project modules separately with the base game only. Each ruleset gives a different feel to the game. The Tower of Babel module is truly a game spanning addition, as each tile built affects EVERYONE in the game. This can be one with a positive effect or one with a negative effect (which my group found to be more fun to play). Luckily (or unluckily depending on your strategy) the tile effect only lasts while it is exposed, since early tiles will most likely be covered later by newer ones. There is a point incentive for playing your tiles, so I feel most players will contribute to the building of the Tower sooner or later. The Tower of Babel adds a lot of chaos to the game, but my group found it fun although I expect tracking the effects can get difficult especially with more players.

The second module is the Great Projects. It is much more straightforward since participation in building the current Age’s Great Project is to play a card of the same color as the project and add additional resources required. If the project is built by the end of the age players who participated get a reward, but if the project is left unfinished players who did not participated get penalized (and the penalties can be severe!). We found that completion of the project is quite dependent on the color of card. It could be that the card color required could be scarce so players can be left with no chance to participate. You can actually indirect “attack” others if you are able to participate early in the age then later on using the required cards to gain money or build your wonder or build a Tower of Babel tile, as this leaves the Great Project unfinished and will give players who do not have a participation token a penalty. This makes this module more random and luck dependent, unlike the Tower of Babel where players can do something if they do not like a tile.

The expansion definitely “ups the ante” and turns 7 Wonders from a light game to a light-medium one. I look forward to playing the expansion with ALL the sets from the game. Tracking the effects may be an issue though but I bet it would be fun to find out!

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3. Board Game: Rattlebones [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2329]
Will Plante
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Greenville
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A lot of my plays are with my wife, son (12), older daughter (9) and younger daughter (who just turned 5).
I also game with an awesome local group: The Adams Memorial Library Gaming Group.

My favorite game of the month

Rattlebones

Current rating 8/10 (Owned)

6 plays in March

Highlights:
- Brilliant family game, quick rules explanation and your off and running.
- I wasn't sole on the theme until I actually got the game, but it works quite well, I love the art and the components are top notch (especially the dice).
- Dice building, you are actually constructing your dice (removing faces and popping on new ones).
- This game is just fun, trying out new ways to construct your dice is a blast especially since there are so many different combinations of abilities to try.

This game wasn't even on my radar, then I saw Dan King's review and decided to check it out, figuring my kids would like it. They love it and I am surprised by how much I enjoy it. Definitely a keeper and one I would highly recommend, especially as it seems to have flown under the radar.



Airlines Europe

Current rating 8/10 (Owned)

3 plays in March

Highlights:
- Another excellent family weight game (probably a step up from TTR), but still very easy to teach to new gamers.
- Beautiful production quality and components, the board looks great as you fill it up with the airplanes.
- Each turn you can take 1 of 4 possible actions (simple right?), but that decision is never easy since the scoring cards always seem to come up one round too soon.
- I really appreciate the hidden scoring combined with the variable round ends create a very tense game where every decision is extremely important.

This has become an instant hot with my family, it has become a popular Tuesday night game when my dad comes over. I'm very happy that I added AE to our collection.



Basari: Das Kartenspiel

Current rating 8/10 (Owned)

3 plays in March

I feel the need to give a quick summary of the rules for this game so here goes...

a. Each round a card is dealt to you which has 1 to 4 workers on it, a number signifying how many points you would get and 4 gems (made up of up to 4 different colors).
b. Simultaneously everyone secretly chooses one of three cards to play.
c. The card you select will either give you workers (you draw another card off the deck), take the points shown on the card or take the gems shown on the card.
d. At the end of a round you score points for having majority in the 4 different gem colors, having at least 14 workers (which also signifies the end of a round).
e. You play 3 rounds and the person with the most points wins.
f. Read on to find out why this game is awesome!

Highlights:
- The best negotiation/bluffing filler I've played (games last about 20 minutes tops and it is easy to teach).
- Amazing how much game has been condensed down into a deck of cards and some jewels, perfect pub/cafe game.
- My favorite mechanism in the game: 1 person selects an action - they get it, 2 people - they negotiate who will get it by giving gems to the other player, 3 or more people - no one gets anything!
- You constantly second guess every choice because you are not only worried about what action you want to take, but what other people may be interested in (too many people choose it and you get zilch).

Special thanks to Jimmy Okolica and his blog post, I would never have heard of this great game otherwise.



Camel Up

Current rating 8/10 (Owned)

4 plays in March

After playing a few times I believe Camel Up definitely deserved to win the Spiel award. This is a game that you really have to play, reading about it will not get across just how much fun this game can be. This game is all about the experience of playing it!

Highlights:
- Awesome family/party game that can be taught to anyone in minutes.
- Components are top notch, the camel meeples are awesome!
- Fun... really fun. (Seriously; this game is a blast to play, trust me!)
- There is just enough happening with the camels (due to the stacking mechanism) to keep this game engaging and unpredictable, which makes each turn exciting.

This is not a serious game by any means and should not be judged as such. It is a gambling game with a lot of luck involved, but you will be cheering and groaning as the camels you bet on go from first to last on the final leg of a race! I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a great game you can play with anyone.



Cinque Terre

Current rating 8/10 (Added to my wishlist)

4 plays in March

Highlights:
- Perfect gateway/family weight pick up and deliver game.
- Beautiful board and artwork. I love the use of color in this game, everything pops. The wooden delivery trucks are awesome too.
- This plays great with 2, which is always a huge plus for me.
- Variable set up (each game the 5 towns will pay different amounts for certain goods) and multiple ways to win this game.*

*This game may seem random at first, but that is only if you are focused on collecting the order cards. You can also focus on delivering certain goods to the towns that are paying out high prices that game, which in turn will also put you in the running to collect the Most Popular Vendor point tiles.

This is a game I had been wanting to play for a long time and I am glad I finally had that opportunity. Rio Grande is continuing to publish quality games, but it seems like a lot of their games are being overlooked. This is the light weight, quick pick up and deliver game I have been looking for. In my opinion Cinque Terre blows The Great Heartland Hauling Co. and Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League out of the water.



Rolling Freight

Current rating 8/10

1 play in March

I played a 2p game with Mat teaching and had a blast. I love pick up and deliver games and this also added in rolling dice. Even with the dice this game never felt random, I always had options on my turn, maybe not always what I wanted but that's okay. The upgrade cards you get will definitely keep the game fresh because they can definitely alter how you will play the game. I also enjoyed optimizing my delivery routes in order to score bonuses on goods that either wanted a fast delivery (minimum number of connections between cities) or a slow delivery. I thought the game worked really well with two and I am looking forward to playing again.

All that said this is not a game I see playing with my family, mostly because my son loves Merchant of Venus and I don't need another heavy pick up and deliver game in our collection.



Rummikub

Current rating 8/10 (Owned)

1 play in March

Rummikub... I honestly don't know what to say about this tile version of Rummy. It adds some interesting twists to basic rummy since you can use jokers and switch tiles from melds that have already been played as long as you use all the tiles.

I only played one time with my buddy Mat (This also happens to be one of his favorite games). I enjoyed it, but I feel like a game this simple is all about nuance and I just don't have the plays to really judge how much I like it. I want to play with my wife and get her reaction, she may love it, but I could also see her suffering from major AP.

I will definitely revisit this game, mostly because I want to find out why Mat loves it so much.



The Piggyback Brigade

Current rating 8/10 (Owned)

2 plays in March

It was interesting playing this the same month I played Camel Up, I wonder if the designer played Russelbande before designing Camel Up?

Highlights:
- Like all of Drei Magier Spiele's games the production quality is through the roof, awesome art, thick cardboard tiles and beautiful wooden pigs that stack.
- The game plays fast and is a great introductory racing game to play with young children.
- You are never out of the race:
If you roll a black 1 you can roll again. If you roll a black 3, and you are in last place, you roll again.
Once per game you can move the first tile of the track to the end, lengthening the race.
- I love the fact that children can really work on their fine motor skills by stacking the pigs and discs in all sorts of combinations (the rulebook actually shows tons of examples).

This was a birthday present for our youngest daughter who just turned 5. Needless to say it was a hit, the rest of the family also enjoyed playing.



Sky Tango

Current rating 8/10

1 play in March

The art is awesome, I am really glad it they didn't change it for the US release. This is a great, quick playing card game that plays fast and has some take that since you can interrupt the other players melds they are building.

What separates this game from other card games is how the scoring works. Basically you need to have at least 5 cards in a row on the table before you can score; however you can only draw new cards when you empty your hand of all 5 cards. This creates some awesome tension for a game with such a simple rule set.

I have this game on my wishlist and would love to play more, but I won't pick it up any time soon because I have so many quick playing card games I enjoy. However; once we burn out on one of those games I would pick this one up.



Castro

Current rating 6/10

2 plays in March

This was another disappointment, I specifically asked Time Well Spent to bring this in and they did(awesome service btw!). I was really excited to get this and it finally came in. It really is just a combination of Yahtzee and Connect Four.

My problems with the game is that it is either over really fast (with very little excitement) or it completely overstays it's welcome. It is missing the tension and push your luck aspect of Cant Stop and the extremely quick playing time and constant engagement of Qwixx.

On a positive note this game can be taught in less than a minute and could be played with anyone, this is a very light game. However; this game is not for us and I will be trading it away.



To Court the King

Current rating 6/10

1 play in March

This was a fun dice rolling game where you got to buy cards (using your die rolls) which let you manipulate dice in some way or give you extra dice to roll. I had a lot of fun playing, but I felt like the game went long with 4 players (my guess is 3 would be the sweet spot) and by the end you have a bunch of cards/abilities to manage. While we didn't have any problems doing that I don't think this would make a great gateway game even though it is quite light.

In the end I am glad that I played it (since I am always looking for new dice games to play) but it doesn't come close to challenging any of my favorites (Cubist, VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game or Qwixx) for a spot in my collection.



Pickomino

Current rating 6/10

1 play in March

Another fun dice filler, this one designed by Reiner Knizia (a designer I really admire). I only got one play in and honestly don't know how I feel about it yet. I had fun playing, but it was at the end of the night so hopefully I can get some more plays in and report back in a year...
I also need to mention that the tiles in the game are amazing (similar to nice dominoes), I just wish the new reprint came with better dice (they're still light, wooden dice) but it's not a reason to avoid the game.

I have gotten so many dice games lately that I am holding off on acquiring this one until I play it more and weed out some of the other one's from my collection.



Samurai Spirit

Current rating 6/10

2 plays in March

Another co-op that in the end falls flat for me. The game play is fun, but the theme is completely lost which is really the most disappointing aspect of the game for me. I don't know how you can take such an amazing premise (basing a game on 7 Samurai) and completely fail to take advantage of it. Everything in the game feels very dry and mechanical.
All that said the game functions fine, but if I am going to play a coop game I want to play something that is much more thematic and has some kind of narrative arc to it (I'm really interested in playing Robinson Crusoe).

All in all this is not a game I would ever ask to play, but knowing that other people in my group enjoy it I would play again.



Wyatt Earp

Current rating 6/10

1 play in March

I had a lot of fun playing this, definitely feels like rummy with a few player powers. I especially liked the addition of adding money to the wanted posters which you will then collect during the scoring phase depending on the melds you have versus just playing melds in front of you for points. I also really enjoyed the theme, this was a very pleasant surprise.

I am looking forward to playing this again, I would definitely like to try it with more than 2 to see how it changes the game. However; if I was going to add a Mike Fitzgerald card game to my collection I think I would go with Baseball Highlights: 2045.



Saint Malo

Current rating 4/10 (For trade)

3 plays in March

I have to admit I had high hopes for this game and was utterly disappointed. To sum it up this game ends up feeling very scripted. If pirates are rolled early you have no choice but to focus on walls and soldiers or you will get hammered with negative points.

I ended up feeling like your decision space was very limited, even when you could flip dice, especially since you can't flip pirates and the people symbool is on the other side. Therefore you need to roll people naturally to do all the cool stuff and we all spent countless turns trying to get 3 to 4 people in order to build merchants, architects and jugglers.

We gave it 3 plays and each successive play was less and less interesting, therefore I will be trading this one away.



Expansions

Qwixx gemixxt

Current rating 8/10 (Owned and I have an extra copy for trade)

4 plays in March (with both the card and dice version of Qwixx)

I was finally able to snag a copy of this after reading Steph's series of blog posts about it. Qwixx has quickly become my go to dice filler of choice, it has been a hit with everyone I have introduced it to.

The expansion just adds 2 different score sheets. One keeps each of the four rows the same color, but randomizes the numbers (they are no longer in a 12-2 or 2-12 sequence). The other one not only randomizes the numbers, but each row has a different section of each color (each row has some red, yellow, green and blue numbers).

I enjoy playing with the expansions, but the game does take a bit longer because you are constantly looking for the different numbers and/or colors on the sheet. When using the sheet with the different colors in each row one of the other players says aloud what color/number combinations are available which definitely helps keep turns quick.

I would definitely recommend this expansion for fans of Qwixx, but it will not change anyone's mind who does not already like Qwixx. If anything the game will appear to be even more random.



Thanks for reading and as always please feel free to ask any questions!

Cheers,
Will
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4. Board Game: Saint Petersburg (second edition) [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:490]
Keith Rudolph
Canada
Langdon
Alberta
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Assault on Doomrock

I've only played this once solo and up to the end of the first battle with my wife as a sort of learning game. So far I'm not entirely sure what to think of this one. It seems like a neat RPG but a little clunky at times. The abilities being tied to dice seems a little off to me as you can have a turn where you can't attack at all and end up really just having a bunch of wasted dice, either because you can't use a number more than X-number of times, or because you don't happen to have anything that takes that number, particularly at low levels. Some of it just doesn't sit quite right with me but I'm hoping another play or two might help me decide how I really fell about it. For now, I'm really on the fence about this one.

Harbour

I added this one to a game order after quickly checking it out on here and seeing that it was a whole $17. The game ended up being more thinky than either of us thought it would be as you have to watch the market and worry about what the other play might do to the values, figure out which goods you want to focus on based on how you think the market might suddenly change, figure out what building you might want to buy based on the goods you might get based on what the market might do, and so on. Its size and nifty artwork really mask just how much of a mental exercise the game can be. There's a surprising amount of game in the cheap, little box. There's a lot of variety in the building cards and variable player powers for each of the player boards seems like it will give you a slightly different game every time. Looking forward to trying this one out some more.

Roll for the Galaxy

I seem to like this one a little more than my wife does. She's not a big fan of just being able to see how many points each player has and decide whether or not she's ready to end the game. She'd rather there be some sort of additional secret scoring mechanic but still enjoys the game. We both like this one more than Race for the Galaxy. I think a large part of that the game just feels to flow better for us. The dice assignment, being able to mitigate some of the luck, and the tile selection just seems to do something for me. We've played this one a handful of times so far and have really enjoyed it.

Saint Petersburg

After seeing how mechanically simple the game is, neither one of us were expecting it to be as mentally challenging as it ended up being. There has been a lot of back-and-forth with trying to figure out where to spend our heard earned money in the early part of the game, weighing what the benefit would be and if it was worth keeping it away from the other person. We've mixed in a number of the modules and have been really impressed by the game. Definitely our favourite new game from this month.
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5. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:58]
Nick B
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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Lots of new games played this month.

Patchwork - 8.5/10


I was in the market for another 2 player game, and boy did Patchwork fit the bill. You can learn all the rules in just a few minutes, the game plays quickly, and I really enjoyed the puzzle aspect of trying to get all your pieces to fit nicely on the board. I am really looking forward to playing this one more in the future.

Two notes:

1) I immediately replaced the cardboard buttons in the game with actual buttons, and while this definitely makes the game more fiddly, it's much more fun to play around with the buttons than cardboard discs.

2) After playing this game, I realized with more than a little surprise that Uwe Rosenberg might be my favorite designer, despite my having almost zero interest in playing most of his games. Agricola and Bohnanza are in my top 10, and Patchwork is definitely a winner as well.



Terra Mystica - 8/10


I waffled about Terra Mystica for pretty much all of last year. I had it up to a "Love to Have" on my wishlist, then put it down to a "Thinking About It" because I was concerned about the (lack of) theme and the sense that the game was just a huge mishmash of mechanics. It didn't really seem like something that was going to get a lot of play in my game group. But...it had to be ranked #2 on BGG for a reason, right?

Any feelings I had were rendered moot when friends got me the game for Christmas, and we finally got to play it a few weeks ago. My verdict? My thoughts about the pasted-on theme and jumble of mechanics turned out to be pretty true, but the game is GOOD! There's a lot going on, and at first it feels pretty impossible to figure out any kind of long-term strategy, but towards the end of the game we all started to get a better feel for how things worked. I can see this one getting a lot more plays in the future, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how all the races play out.



Witness - 8/10


I knew absolutely nothing about this game until I heard about it from the Dice Tower, and I immediately knew it would be a hit with my group. While I am not familiar with the source material, the artwork in the game looks great. I especially love how the colors pop out on the black background of the booklets.

The game boils down to getting a small bit of rumor or evidence about a crime, and then whispering those clues to others. The next round, someone else will whisper a clue to you, along with whatever clue they heard during the first round. After four rounds, you are allowed to write down the clues you remember, and then answer three questions. The more questions the group gets right, the higher your score. The game is simple, fun, and can be really funny, especially as people start forgetting little bits of clues. I feel like this game isn't getting much attention, and finding out that it is basically a game of telephone isn't all that exciting, but Witness is great fun and I highly recommend it.



Cockroach Poker - 7/10


I love games that have a bluffing element to them, as they inherently add a lot of humor to the gameplay. Cockroach Poker definitely continues this trend, and I love the artwork and fast playtime. Happy I finally added this one to my collection.



R - 7/10


I first heard about BraveRats in the 2014 BGG Gen Con preview, and while I was interested enough to check it out, I didn't find the new artwork all that appealing. When I saw that the original "R" version (with artwork done by Noboru Sugiura, whose work I LOVE) was available, I jumped on it. The game consists of 16 cards in a little paper envelope, and it's a great game to play before a bigger game, or while waiting for others to show up for something, or anytime you feel like playing a quick 2 player game. It's a fun game, where you're constantly trying to think about what the other player might play, and making your decisions accordingly. It's very satisfying to correctly guess what your opponent was going to do and counter their strategy, and equally fun to get burned when you over-think things. Good little game.



Pictomania - 7/10


I have wanted this game since I first saw it reviewed at Shut Up & Sit Down way back in 2011. When I saw that Stronghold was going to bring the game to the US, I jumped on the opportunity to finally get a copy. After playing it a few times, I can happily say that it was worth the wait. Trying to draw some of the items on the hardest difficulty cards is sooooo much fun (how do you draw "here" without making people think it's "there?"). I also love that everyone gets to draw AND guess at the same time. With that being said, the game is very fiddly for a party-style drawing game. Lots of little cards and tokens to keep track of -- I feel like the game could be streamlined a bit as far as the cleanup after every round is concerned, but I'm not sure how just yet.

Also, I keep seeing and hearing comments about how this is more of a gamer's party game, but I just don't see it. It's not THAT much more difficult than any of the other party games I own, and I could see it going over just fine with most of my friends. As long as people realize that a big part of the fun is having no idea how to draw half of the things at the higher difficulties, I don't see why they wouldn't have a good time.



Bruges - 7/10


I enjoyed my play of Bruges, but I am finding it difficult to say much about the game after only one play. The components are awesome, I loved how all the cards had different artwork on them, and I found the gameplay fairly easy to pick up. My only big issue is that the theme is completely pasted-on, boring, and has pretty much zero tie-in with the mechanics of the game. That's a pretty huge issue for me, but all the same, I'm looking forward to playing Bruges more in the future!


Animal Upon Animal - 7/10


I was happy to find out that this game was exactly what I thought it would be: stacking wooden animals and hoping they don't fall. Although I bought this game for my daughter (who is way too young to play it), I was more than happy to break it out and get in a few plays. This game is fun for everyone, and I've actually been to a bar that had this game (among others) for people to play. I am finding myself immediately interested in getting all the other versions of the game to have more variety, but the base game is definitely more than sufficient.


But Wait, There's More! - 6.5/10


I sold The Big Idea after seeing reviews for this one. I really enjoyed The Big Idea, but it was a little no-frills. But Wait, There's More! derives a lot more of its humor from the randomness of what you'll have to incorporate into your sales pitch as opposed to getting a hand of cards and trying to make something work. It should be mentioned that these types of games really require the right kind of group to play. They are sooooo so so so funny when you play with people who can be creative on the fly, and super tedious when you don't. My group is a little mix of both, so that will keep this one from hitting the table as much as some other party-style games I own.



Star Realms - 6.5/10


Star Realms is a quick, cheap deck-builder, and I was happy to finally play it after hearing so much buzz about it. I liked the game, and enjoyed the different factions and trying out various strategies. With that being said, I feel like I saw pretty much all this game had to offer after just a few plays. This is the type of game I'd be happy to play every now and then, especially when I want to play something quick, but it looks like my quest for a deck-building game that really speaks to me is going to last at least another month.



Rococo - 6/10


I got this game when I placed a recent order at Amazon.de, as it was being sold at a great price and had some really positive word of mouth here at BGG. I played it with my wife, and while the game was fine, it just didn't do it for me. I had no significant issues with the theme, mechanics, or anything else; my main issue with the game was that I just couldn't see myself wanting to play it over other games in my collection like Last Will or Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy. The gameplay in these games aren't amazingly similar to Rococo, but they scratch a similar itch.

I think one of my main issues with Rococo was that there were some aspects of the game that felt more thematic than others, and it ended up coming off as a big mash-up of ideas that didn't always work together. Acquiring materials to make dresses and hiring new employees? Makes perfect sense. Funding...uh...decorations? Trying to make sure you had the most dressed guests in the various halls? A lot of stuff felt like complexity for complexity's sake. I can see why people like Rococo, but it just didn't have a place in my collection. Sold it off after only one play (which my wife was NOT happy about. WHOOPS).
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6. Board Game: XCOM: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:501]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
FL
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XCOM: The Board Game - When XCOM was announced last year, I thought sure it would be a day one buy for me. As I learned more and more about it, though, I started to put the brakes on my enthusiasm. I don't mind the idea of an app at all, so that didn't hurt it. The details about the different roles and what you were doing seemed a little simple, though, like maybe they were only difficult because the game had a timer. I decided not to pick it up, but one of my friends was still pretty excited about it, so he pulled the trigger. I'm glad he did. I've only played it once so far, but I really did enjoy it. We were playing on easy mode and pausing all the time, and I still found the game to be tense and interesting. I can only imagine as we crank up the difficulty. The different roles all play very differently, but I could easily see myself enjoying all of them. The resources are really tight in the game, and opportunity cost makes for some agonizing choices. The theme has zero appeal for my wife, so I don't exactly wish I had my own copy, but I'm glad I have access to play it.
Rating: 7

March of the Ants - March of the Ants is a pretty nice little action selection game. A friend backed it on kickstarter and received his copy this month. I enjoyed my two plays of it. It has some really interesting decisions, and the end game scoring majorities can make for some tough choices down the stretch. Especially since the game is tight enough that those 3 points can make a huge difference. I was a little disappointed in the components. The player boards were really light and the cards weren't of the best stock. I think I'm starting to get spoiled a bit, because I was really disappointed that the game used cubes rather than some kind of ant meeples. I can forgive all of that, though, because I really do think the gameplay is solid, though luck of the draw can be a bit painful.
Rating: 7

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7. Board Game: Rune Age [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:888]
Carthoris Pyramidos
United States
Centennial
Colorado
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Holy crap! So, after my praise for Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game, I realized that the same designer had gone on to create a fantasy-themed card game with solo, co-op, and competitive scenarios, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's a deck-builder, the first one I've tried since being fairly nonplussed by Dominion.

I found Rune Age addictively fun in all of the base game scenarios. I've picked up the sole expansion and started to play with it, although I haven't explored all of its options. On the tough-as-nails solo/co-op "Cataclysm" scenario, I have now logged wins with each of the player factions except for the Orcs (who are in the expansion).

In less than a month I logged 40 plays (a mix of solitaire and 2-player), and I feel like this one deserves a top 10 slot from me.

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8. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:111]
Bill Kunes
United States
Cincinnati
Ohio
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Continuing with this year's trend, it was a very busy month, so I'll take the plays I manage to squeeze in...


My New to Me selections this month are probably old hat to many of you, but true to my "Cult of the Proven" tendencies, all three of these turned out to be good as expected games...

GAMES




Hansa Teutoinca

Plays: 1

Finally! I ordered this back in July 2014 based on such a large number of BGG users with similar taste in games having a consistently high opinion of this euro, cube pusher. I read the rules multple times and watched the how-to-play videos a few as well in preparation of getting it to the table but only succeeded in that endevor this month at the end of Game Night.

It was well received and played much quicker than expected with four newbies. My oldest pulled out the win but the entire foursome enjoyed the game. It will definitely see the table again as we've all talked about things we'd like to do differently. It really is an open design with flexibilty to do about anything you want, but how will it benefit your overall game play is the question that boggles the mind in this one for us.


Targi

Plays: 2

This 2p game caught my attention after reading much praise when it first came out. I had intention of buying it at Gen Con last year but it was not available and its allure wore off and it fell off my radar. However, after seeing it on boardgamearena I recently gave it a try and it has since returned to my Wish List.

Each round you place your Targis on boarder cards that grant resources and/or actions for their placement as well as their cross section. Placement is critical to acquire the cards you desire for your tableau but you have to keep a watchful eye on what your opponent is up to as you have opportunity to block them, or at least slow down and frustrate their efforts in the process. I felt constant angst throughout both plays and really enjoyed the game play.


Jaipur

Plays: 1

My wife and I only got an initial play of this 2p game after she acquired a few unopened copies in an auction. It was straightforward to learn, teach, and play. It felt almost too simple and light but I'm sure with more plays we'll see more depth and game play in card selection and goods purchasing while leveraging camels and out witting your opponent. More to come, I'm sure.


meeple Keep playing...
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9. Board Game: Mottainai [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:778]
Alison Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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A+ - plan to play again

Mottainai - I'm sold on Chudyk's games. Now that I kind of 'get' them, I really enjoy having to come up with precise plans and yet let go of my cards and wing it with what shows up. Some of the works did seem better than others, though; looking forward to the finished version. But will probably play the PnP several more times.

Category 5 - Wanted to play again immediately, thinking about buying as a filler. It does seem... not solvable, but like there's a bunch of non-obvious stuff that becomes boringly second nature once you've played a little. The "Professional" setting seemed to fit my intuition more but I don't know if that makes it better.

A - hope to play again

Abyss - Despite the monster track seeming kind of secondary (and therefore keys being really hard to get), I liked it a lot, and thought there was a surprising amount of texture (the colors of ally cards aren't interchangeable, for example-- the different powers that go with different colors of lords really matter).

In the Year of the Dragon - Definitely want to play more, and teaching the rules wasn't too painful actually. Despite all the disasters, the player who won managed to keep nearly all of their people, so I wonder whether in fact you do have to mostly avoid trouble to win. But I still like how fiendish it is, and how often you need to choose between doing two things that really both need to happen.

Niya - This is one of those "I know I'll get tired of it but I look forward to playing it out" A games. S said it was basically tic-tac-toe and then relented, but I still can't exactly tell how much skill it has. But it's SO fast, and has beautiful pieces; even though it wouldn't be hard to make a computer play perfectly, the process of play isn't mindless for a human.

Splendor - It's vividly clear that some moves are more efficient than others, and yet getting the most cards doesn't win you the game. I like the hard question of when to spend chips. Slightly put off by hearing that top-level players mostly ignore level 1 cards.

B+ - hope to play under other circumstances

Patchwork - It was too easy to fill space! I would be excited to play a harder variant, and in any case would play again (there was *some* fun in strategizing about specific pieces and ring position, just not as much as I had hoped).

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game - The semi-coop part seems... dumb? Un-fun? Not so much the dirty dishes issue (I suspect it would be just fine if played fully competitively) as the table talk and consensus decisions. Meh. That didn't feel like a game that should take most of two hours to learn and play, and the amount of "no, do this, then do that" alpha playering was painful.

BUT, the multi-stack thing seemed like a nice compromise between Dominion and Ascension in terms of whether each game has a distinctive feel. I am totally down for more of that with a fully experienced table and/or clearer competition rules.

B - willing to play again

Equinox - I didn't particularly expect to win my first game, but was still bitter about losing by one point to an experienced opponent who took advantage of me overlooking something. This could rise once I'm done sulking, because it seemed interesting; it's a neat idea and I liked the combos. It just felt a little too formless at first, and having the "ha you screwed up lol" moment delayed until end of game made it less fun to learn.

F - annoyed this exists

Truths Too Terrible - Four people with actually pretty different tastes in games all agreed to stop playing after one round because there was no fun to be had anywhere. When people talk cynically about how everybody is slapping Cthulhu themes on bad games to try to cash in on Kickstarter, this is what they're talking about.
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10. Board Game: YINSH [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:136] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Frederic Heath-Renn
United Kingdom
London
London
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Let's get the nots out of the way first:

Forbidden Desert (1 play) - I mean, sure, enjoyable, but this isn't really bringing anything new to the table, is it? It's probably better than Forbidden Island but I never really play Forbidden Island nowadays.

Aquaretto (2 plays) - Played 2p only; pleasantly fast-paced and non-interminable but I got thrashed at it twice in a row which naturally has soured me on it somewhat; I think it's also true that it's maybe a little too light for my taste.

Oneonta Whist (3 plays) - Solitaire trick-taker. Portable and quick but mainly serves as an exercise to practice your probabilities than something you'd necessarily look forward to doing. Still, all it takes is a deck of cards, and it's sure better than doing nothing while waiting for your train, right?

But then it gets tricky, because I made the mistake of playing three brilliant games this month. How to decide?

Innovation (6 plays) - Managed to play it wrong the first couple of times but I think we have the rules down now; there's so much more going on than there might seem at first, but it's as much about surfing the chaos of what's handed to you as it is anything else, and when it's Innovation doing it to you it turns out it's pretty damn fun. Occasionally there can be cases where one player is more or less impotent which dampen my enthusiasm for the game a little, but it's early enough that it's probably due to inferior play on my part and in any case the game usually ends pretty sharpish once that point has been reached. I look forward to playing it more in future.

Patchwork (3 plays) - Plenty of buzz about it last month, which is why I bought it, and it didn't disappoint: it's another simple ruleset but it gives way to fiendish gameplay. I like that I've been able to play a few ways of playing and nothing seems stupidly dominant; I like the potential for long-term thinking in terms of what will become available. And of course I love how secretly wicked, cutthroat and confrontational it is, though that has limited future play potential severely as it is 'too mean' for my partner. Not that that's the game's fault.

Aargh, it's really hard to decide, and this is basically an arbitrary choice - any of these three could have won it, really - but I'll stop wavering and go for YINSH (4 plays) - you know already I love two player abstracts, and YINSH is incredible: very simple ruleset but the lines and patterns you end up setting up across the board give it tension and edge and brinkmanship. The catch-up mechanism where you lose a ring each step closer to winning you get is a stroke of genius and it's just utterly well-designed and exciting to play. And it's really quite surprisingly pretty, too.

So, second GIPF project game in a row! Don't worry, there's only two left I haven't played ;-)
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11. Board Game: The Battle of Five Armies [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:382]
Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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As usual just three new games this month, and one pretty good, one good and one meh.



THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES

The Battle of Five Armies is a medium-heavy (for my standards) wargame set in the land of Middle-Earth. Shocking, right? I will do a short breakdown of things that might be important about the game.

Theme
Is strong in this one. There are many thematic decisions throughout the game, and makes it much richer. The Eagles take a while to appear. The Giant Bats fly around and are a nightmare to the Free People. Units have places were they battle better. Every type of unit has unique cards that can have effects in battle in which they participate. Strongholds resist damage to a point. Thorin, if the enters battle in the field, destroys the Front Gate. The Shadow army is mostly a big rabble, without strong leadership (no Nazgûl here) until Bolg appears. The Free People armies have less units, but have way more in terms of leadership (with Gandalf, Thranduil, Dáin, Bard and Thorin). Very neat, clever and works pretty well, without clogging the mechanics.

The only somewhat not very thematic decision is to give an important role to Bilbo in the battle. Sure, Bilbo is awesome, we all know this. But in the Battle of Five Armies he did basically nothing, except being invisible for a while then knocked out senseless.

Balance of power
In War of the Ring (Second Edition) the momentum of war is all in the Shadow side. The Shadow is up for war from the get-go, and his allies (willing or not) are also close to open battle from the start. The Free People, except, Gondor, are way behind in this matter. So, basically, the Free People have a difficult time to muster forces and make places stronger, even when knowing battle is a few turns away. The FP player just have to hope for the best. Also, the forces of the Free People are few and dwindling: every hit taken is felt, since is a unit that won't ever come back. The Free People player knows it won't resist for too much time.

Well, if all of this made you fell sad and sorrowful for the Free People, you should play The Battle of Five Armies. Because in here the Free People can kick some serious Shadow ass. It is still somewhat harder for the FP to put units in the board, but things are more balance even in this point. Units aren't gone forever. Also, the FP have more leadership, can attack with bows and some magical blast that Gandalf can do.

Sure, you will hate those damn Bats, but once the Eagles enter the game, they will rip through the forces of the Shadow like a warm knife through butter. Beorn will do no less than this - and the size of his miniature besides the others shows that he mean business.

For instance, in the game, after I lost the Camp and a Shadow army was beaten down the Front Gate, I sent Gandalf with an elf army to battle against the army attacking the Front Gate, and killed everyone there. Then, a force, lead by Dáin, came to attack and take the camp back. Sure, the Ruins of Dale were taken from the FP in this time, and the Eastern Spur was surrounded by two Shadow armies. But I knew that, if I mustered and prepared, I could sent forces to try to give some breathing room for the defender of the Eastern Spur or attack the Ruins of Dale with my Eagles.

All I mean is this: the Free People are, mostly, toe to toe with the Shadow in mighty of arms, even in quantity.

Timing
Which means that the Shadow, in order to win, must attack and it is them that have to battle against time. Again, in WotR, both sides have to rush sometimes, but I always felt that, with the FP, I had to, usually, basically run to my goal, otherwise I would lose. Time lets the Shadow grows stronger, since this side has more dice to use, so more actions to move, build up and take some nasty cards.

In The Battle of Five Armies time is totally in the FP side. Two triggers for the FP win depend upon time: when Beorn enters the game, the Shadow has to have at least 6 points. If the token reaches the 15th space in the track without the Shadow fulfilling its goal, the FP also win. The third trigger for the FP win is killing Bolg. The Shadow only wins if they have conquered 10 points at any point and the end of a round after the token passed the 10th space, but before it reaching the 15th space.

By the way, speaking of time, The Battle of Five Armies is an affair that will take around 150+ minutes of real world time. I thought it would be less (and can, since one or other trigger can end the game sooner), but is basically the same amount of time my plays of WotR took.

Battle
This is the main focus of the game. The Battle of Five Armies is a wargame, no error in this. Movements of units, recruitment, preparation and battles made up almost the whole game.

Beign more important in here, the fight is more fleshed out: the type of unit matters much more, since some can make ranged attacks, and, more relevant, is that some units fight better in some terrains. Each type of unit has an unique card that can be used as a card in battle (the same as using an card for the battle effect) and the player than rolls the black die for each unit of the type that matches the card - if a hit is given in these black die, the effect on the card takes place - and there are some nasty ones.

Also, the army with the most units adapted to the terrain will have and advantage (buying a card), and, also, if battling from the higher terrain is better (you gain the momentum).

Finally, the battle is longer. There isn't anymore the need to have elit units to keep fighting in an attack - now the battle goes for as long as the sides want to (since, if possible, one side, after every round of battle, can choose to retreat or disband). So a side that has an advantage can keep pressing on. To balance this, the hits now give damage, instead of outright eliminating. Units can sustain damage up until the number of them, and then, if the damage surpasses the number of units, the player must remove one unit to "heal" two damage, until the amount damage is equal or less the number of units (say, for example, a three unit army receives five damage after an attack, the player then takes one unit out, lowering the amount of damage to three, which is still higher than the two units left, so he must take out another, lowering the damage to one, which is equal to the number of units, so he stops). This allows for some nice moments and opportunities, and is used a lot in the game (not only by several effects, but one of the actions that can be made with the muster die is to heal damage).

Overall the battles work pretty well, and there plenty of them throughout the game.

Production
It is very good. Nice art, minis, components. Nothing is really lacking in this department. You sure get nice bits for your money.

Difficulty
I found The Battle of Five Armies to be easier than WotR. The scope is smaller, and decisions don't have to be made with so many things in mind. But there are still plenty to make you think.

The actions through the dice are basically the same one used in WotR. Character die lets you move an army with a character or leadership; or to put one character in play. Muster flips unit tokens. They Eye is different, since now it works mostly to put goblins in play - the search for the Ring of power hasn't really begun yet.

The card play is also basically the same, the difference being that the the FP and the Shadow having one deck each that only is used for events. Shadow and FP share a common deck, and this one is the same: the top part for events, and bottom part to be used as a battle effect.

The Free People player have a little more work to do in her lap, since she must control/activate the FP generals (Bard, Dáin, Thranduil, Gandalf, Thorin) and two allies (Eagles and Beorn), each of them with an unique effect in the game. The Shadow mostly concern herself with movement of troops, as the only unique character this side has is Bolg.

The Epicness
Though the The Battle of Five Armies is a major and very important battle, is still only a battle. The scope of War of the Ring is much greater and everything seems to put the fate of Middle-Earth in check. There is a broader effect to see most of Middle-Earth, and witness the greatest of strongholds of the Free People threatened, and taken. To see Rohan coming to aid Minas Tirith, or even Erebor trying to fend off the easterlings. Sure, the armies in The Battle of Five Armies can be as big (per miniatures, as units in WotR represent way more individuals), but the stakes aren't as dire. One person of the Free People can say "Eh, we lost this battle, but still we can win the war". WotR is the war he would be talking about.

Final evaluation:
The Battle of Five Armies is a great game, not completely unlike War of the Ring (Second Edition) (which is a good thing, since learning the rules becomes way easier) in mechanics, but one that differs a lot in feel and scope. Surely recommended, however I wish the playing time wasn't so close to WotR, to open up more opportunities to play and also didn't actually compete for the same slots of time - and I just can't see a way around this, since most balance plays will indeed last close or more than 3 hours.

Rate: 8 / 10



LETTERS FROM WHITECHAPEL

Letters from Whitechapel is a game much easier to learn than I expected. Basically Jack kills a victim and then has 15 turns to reach his refuge. The policeman need to find Jack's tracks and either arrest him or prevent him from reaching his hiding place. Jack moves through the numbered spots in the board, while the policemen move up to two spots by the square spots, and once they all did their movements, they can ask, one at a time, for the Jack player if he passed by any of the number connected to the squares spots the policeman are at. If Jack did, it ends the turn of the policeman asking (so, if this happen in a place with three numbered spots connected, and Jack passed by the first place the policeman asked, the policeman player can't ask more about the other places), and it is put a yellow marker in the number to show that Jack passed there. So, using the yellow markers, the policemen try to judge the path of Jack, considering the distance he moved, and where he can be.

Jack has some tricks to use: first, he can backtrack; also, he has two things that help his movement: carriages (move twice in a turn) and lanterns (cross a block - meaning that Jack doesn't need to follow the path in the board, but can "jump" from a number to other, but this one must be connected to the same block). Also, in the set up of the round, Jack position the markers for the possible victims, and the police don't know which is "true" and which is "false" - but also the chief of police (one elected player) position the police in such a way that it also has some "false" policeman, but Jack can check these markers to see if they are or aren't false by delaying the kill, and is able to look at one marker per turn he delays, however the police can then move the victims markers closer to the policemen, which might make the fleeing after the assassination harder. This all could be seem as a difficult task for the policemen and that Jack has the upperhand, but the experiences with the game show something else: that Jack usually is caught somewhat easily.

The Jack player only wins if he avoids the police for four rounds, killing and returning to his refuge all the times. The police have four rounds to find his hideout and prevent him from reaching this place, or arrest him while he is on the move.

I considered Letters from Whitechapel harder for Jack than for the police - but we did play with one rule wrong: after the movement of a cop, the player already asked about the position of Jack, so the next cop could take this into consideration and plan his movement accordingly, and this made the game for Jack much harder. Even with this, if if I compare it with its sibling, Fury of Dracula (second edition), in which Dracula has a lot of resources, not only to stay hidden, but also many servants, powers and events, while Jack basically only has one advantage: he can backtrack, and this can throw the police off. The carriage is akin to Dracula's wolf form and bat form; and Jack's lantern reminds me of the sea travel, as Dracula can reach several places without following a given path.

Now, for those that don't like the luck factor present in Fury of Dracula (second edition) (sometimes in the movement; mostly there in the combat; and also in the events and encounters), but really enjoy the "hunt", Letters from Whitechapel is the answer to your wishes. There is no luck here besides that which comes from the unpredictability of the humans beings - every now and then the most logic course of action would be do X, but the player will do Y, which appear of nowhere and make almost no sense, and will hit gold. In Letters from Whitechapel there aren't events nor dice. Jack's movement and those of the policemen are always chosen by the players, inside their limitations.

However, it is hard to ponder about any unbalance in the game, because even when Jack is caught early, usually he is a few steps away to leaving the grasp of the police - it is usually a matter of a lucky move, or one turn more (** and more plays later showed that, with all the proper rules, Jack can be tough to be found, and Jack had two straight wins, the second a really easy one **). So I can see that the dispute can be a head to head knife fight, but, until now, such a play didn't happened - which is probably due to Jack's player requiring more savyy and being a more difficult to play than that of Dracula in Fury of Dracula (second edition), therefore experience on his side have even more weight.

The game bits are nice, thematic and the overall graphic design is pretty great.

Rate: 7 / 10



THE WITCHES - A DISCWORLD GAME

The Witches: A Discworld Game is a pretty easy game to learn and play - you basically just have four things to do: move and either stop for a tea with another witch, deal with a problem or do nothing. A witch can't pass by a problem without at least trying to solve it (it is the job) or a witch without stopping for tea (it is the etiquette). There are two types of problems: easy and hard ones - they are put in the board at the start of every player turn by flipping a card from the deck and putting a problem in the place named in the card (if there is already a problem in that space, a crisis token is put, making the problem harder - +2 - to be dealt with, then a new card is revealed, and goes like this until a problem is put in an empty place on the board, which can mean that several crisis tokens can be put in sequence). The more easy ones you deal with, more cards you can have in hand (for every two problems, one more card). The more hard ones you dealt with, more bonuses you have to handle problems (+1 for every two hard problems). Hard problems are worth more points, but the consequences for failing in handling them are steeper and are different depending on the problem - failing an easy problem only makes a witch to flee to an adjacent location and take one cackle token.

You can use cards for several effects, but mostly revolve in dealing with the problems - reroll, add bonus, taking more cards. Dealing with problems is like this: you first roll two d6. Then you can add cards with the headalogy symbol for +1 bonus and/or cards with the magic symbol for +2 bonus (but you also take one cackle token for each magic card used this way). Then you roll more two d6. You add the value of the four dice and the bonus to see if the witch beat the number required by the problem. If the amount was equal or more, the problem was solved and the player takes the token of the problem and put in his player board. If it didn't, the witch failed and must flee and suffer the consequence (one cackle token + an extra effect if it is a hard problem).

In the competitive mode the game ends after the last problem is put in the board and the current player finishes his turn. Players add their points and the one with the highest amount wins the game. In the cooperative mode, the game ends in the same way, and the players win if there are less than 4 hards problems in the board once the game finishes. However, in both modes, all the players can lose if some conditions are met: if the crisis tokens end or if there are three or more problems with Elves revealed at the same time (Elves are a plague in Lancre it seems!). In the cooperative, the game also ends if the Black Aliss tokens end (you take one of them when you have too much cackle tokens - you need to stop for a tea to not turn into a bad witch!).

Even with all the bonuses one cad have to deal with a problem, it is still mostly, in several cases, a luck affair. Roll high number and you can solve even the hardest problems without requiring many cards. Roll low and you will most likely fail. If you are luck enough to take three different Power of the Three cards, you can solve a problem without rolling dice, which can mean some nice points. There is also luck with the cards taken (there some better than others), in the places the problems appear and which one are they - for instance, in one play, a player had the witch that can solve a Sick Pig problem without rolling, but she wasn't able to find one when it was her turn (but the Broom symbol on the cards, that allow a witch to go anywhere on the board, really help here).

Overall, The Witches: A Discworld Game is a really light game, most definitely aimed towards family nights plays instead of game nights with other gamers, both in the competitive and cooperative mode - as in the competitive any player, regardless of skill level, can win with some lucky rolls; and the cooperative mode can give some challenge to the players, but isn't exceptionally hard (there are ways to make it harder, though). Also, The Witches: A Discworld Game isn't a "take that" or a "bash the leader" kind of game - there is no way to really hurt anyone else, except claiming problems that other could solve. So, yes, you can have a runaway leader, even more because a player that is doing well has more chances to continue doing well, since he gains more cards and bonuses. It is also important to say that the gameplay is, as you might noticed, mostly a multiplayer-solitaire: you do your thing, I do mine, and we meet in the end to compare points. Yes, to sip a tea you need another witch, but this other one doesn't have to actually do anything, nor it can prevent you from being at the table at tea time (witches are to polite to do that).

As expected, the artwork is amazing. The board is a work of art that I could put in a frame and in my living room.

Not a real winner for my tastes, but I would surely be willing to play the cooperative mode every once in a while (the competitive mode, due to the amount of luck and runaway leader, seems way worst to me), as it plays in a short amount of time (around 1 hour) and is a good option to put in the table when presenting a game to newbies or kids (or to close a night of games, when you just can't think anymore but still want to play a little more). It is a lighter game than Discworld: Ankh-Morpork and also a weaker game. But is still Discworld!

Rate: 5 / 10




** Revised the comments about Letters, due to more plays (and proper rules).
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12. Board Game: Unhappy King Charles! [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:1365]
Matt Clark
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Played a lot of good games this month, but not that many new-to-me ones. So that makes my selection pretty easy.

I coerced one of my fellow 1st MN'ers to bring his copy of Unhappy King Charles! for me to try out. I've been feeling the pull of the wargames lately and I have a particular interest in learning more CDG's. Also, I'm at least a little bit knowledgeable about the English Civil Wars and that always helps me enjoy a historical game.

Despite the fact that we both read the rules beforehand, we ended up spending a lot of time digging back into them for clarifications. We probably should have agreed upon factions ahead of time so that we could focus on learning our side's rule set. So after four or so hours we had only played through four rounds. I really enjoyed my four rounds though! I'd love to take another crack at this and get through an entire game.


This pretty much says it all! (photo credit: patton55)

Before my Royalist adventures began, I had the chance to learn and play Carson City. I thought it was a fun game and that it might be a little more interesting with more players (we were three).

I ended up snagging a copy of Age of War while killing time at a game shop (never do that). I'd never played Risk Express, but I really enjoy several of Knizia's games so I thought I'd give this a shot. I played a two player game with someone who isn't known for his love of small dice games. It wasn't bad, but is probably better with more players and more beers!

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13. Board Game: Cthulhu Wars [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:220] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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This has been a great month for the Ameritrasher within me. Two great new mega-games both with a ton of plastic and a ton of replayabilty.

Cthulhu Wars




Well, after months of waiting, the first tranche of this monster game arrived. The kickstarter campaign funded in July 2013, the (tentacle waving) insanely overly optimistic estimate for delivery was December 2013. After several delays, including changing production company, it actually arrived in Australia in February 2015; it’s fair to say I was very keen to get this out of the box and onto the table of honour. Fortunately, that was true of several other local backers and it wasn’t very hard to find other folk up for a game.

As one would expect, the production values are fantastic and the monsters, cultists and Gods sculpts are magnificent and very imposing on the board. Hats off to Green Eye Games for ensuring that a high quality product was delivered in the end, rather than something they weren’t quite satisfied with. My overall verdict is that it was worth the wait.


Above: The happiest little cultist with Great Cthulhu

The game plays very well and after a couple of turns play becomes quite intuitive. Cthulhu Wars is a game of asymmetrical factions which, for mine, really adds to the enjoyment, challenge and replayability factors. The goal of each faction is to acquire over thirty (and the most) Doom Points as well as getting all six of their spellbooks into play. Spellbooks are acquired through meeting faction-specific goals whereas Doom points are acquired (usually) through ‘universal’ goals such as controlling gates or performing rituals of destruction. Players have a fine balance between attacking others and meeting their own goals. From my limited experience, a player who ‘turtles’ won’t win whereas one who is bold with their play, makes the best use of their faction-specific abilities and judicious in their attacks is as good a chance as anyone else.

In my first few games Great Cthulhu (who is probably the most straightforward of the factions) romped it in, but as players began to understand the abilities of other factions the Crawling Chaos did well. Yellow Sign seems to have a lot of potential while The Black Goat faction hasn’t really been fully explored as each time I have played it was run by quite conservative players.

All-in-all I have no regrets at all in backing this game as it looks great, plays well – it has a heap of replayability – and really hits he spot. I look forward to receiving another ten kilograms of plastic and cardboard when the second tranche ships sometime in the next six months or so.


Star Wars: Imperial Assault



I saw this one sale as a ‘hotness’ sort of item at Cancon for AUD$170 and while I am a Star Wars fan going back to seeing the original movie at Hoyts in George Street Sydney in 1977 I just could not justify that sort of price tag. Fortunately, my good friends at the Book Depository made sure that I didn’t have to as a month or so later they had the base set on sale for AUD$90 odd with free postage. Very hard to say no at that price so I didn’t.

Anyway, much as you would expect with a Fantasy Flight Games product, it is very well produced and the plastic miniatures are very very nice and true to the Star Wars characters they represent. I have been thinking about painting some plastic gaming miniatures (as opposed to my’ lead mountain’ of unpainted metal figures for miniatures gaming) and these guys have bumped the Zombicide chaps from the head of the queue.

I took the game along to a local board game meet up (GLOG at Gungahlin Library) in the expectation that a chum who knew the game would be there to teach it to me; alas he wasn’t. I was a bit surprised when Little Fish the Elder (aged four) insisted we play this game, despite me only having given the rules a cursory glance (most of my rules reading time had been devoted to Cthulhu Wars). Anyway, Star Wars: Imperial Assault it was so I set up the introductory scenario and was joined by a few other others (one of when was an experienced player in the ‘dungeon crawl’ whose name escapes me that this is shares similarities with) so it wasn’t too much of a learning curve.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault plays pretty well and isn’t too hard to pick up. The challenge will be to get the most from one’s troops as they acquire experience cards and suchlike; that knowledge will come with time and experience. One thing I really do like with Star Wars: Imperial Assault is that it has rules for both one-off skirmish games as well as campaign games. From what I can see, playing out a full campaign will be a very satisfying gaming experience.

So, after one play I am pretty much hooked. I can see me trying to get this to the table again and again as well as purchasing all the expansions and miniatures packs because:

d10-1 Star Wars
d10-2 Completist
d10-3 It’s actually rather fun.

Any Star wars fan who likes skirmish level gaming should really consider trying this game.

Eggs and Empires



This was a Kickstarter purchased by a chum with the idea of bringing it along to our regular lunchtime games sessions with the idea that a game or two could be done in under thirty minutes or so. We played a six player game at the very same GLOG that SWI made its debut and I must say that it worked rather well and should certainly meet our needs for lunchtime gaming.

The basic idea is that everyone has ten cards valued from, wait for it, one to ten. Of this they will have three cards available for play each round. The game plays simply and cleanly, each turn every player plays one of their three available cards. The cards are played simultaneously and will determine who (and in what order) selects from the (usually) three ‘eggs’ on offer noting that some are negative. The round is resolved from the highest to lowest value card choosing from the ‘eggs’ remaining. The twist is that several cards have special powers which can either affect the order of choosing or negating other cards. If it’s a particularly bad selection of ‘eggs’ on offer players may fight to become last and not have to select an ‘egg’. After nine cards are played each player tallies up their ‘eggs’ and the person with the most points wins the round (and gets a token to prove it). The overall winner is the person who has won the most rounds (this varies depending on the number of players).

Overall, this is a fun little game that should fit right in to our lunchtime games group. It’s not a game I’d like to play all day every day, but for what it is it’s perfectly suited for a shorter gaming session or as a ‘filler with a bit of substance’.
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14. Board Game: Shadowrift [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:1466]
Jim Hansen
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Not too many new games this month. I spent most of my time playing The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and Magic: The Gathering.

Game of the Month

Shadowrift (2 plays - solo 3-handed and 2 player) - My wife and I love co-ops and we have already played most of the big ones, so I searched a little deeper and found Shadowrift, which has actually been on the market for 3 years. There was surprisingly little information and buzz about the game, but the Rahdo runthrough sold me.

Pros:
Utilizes three decks - hero, enemy, and town - to make for unique gameplay
The different decks, especially the town deck, make this the most thematic deckbuilder I've played
Enemy mechanisms are well done and much more interesting than comparable co-ops
There are 6 different enemy decks that all play very differently
Three different currencies and different skills organically make players specialize into "classes" like caster, healer, barbarian, etc.
Small box that utilizes the space well with nice dividers

Cons:
Possibly the worst rulebook ever (although between Rahdo and BGG I could figure it all out)
Cards have glossy finish, which is bad for deckbuilders that require constant shuffling
Loss condition is pretty random and can occur without much warning, so the usual co-op tension ramp up is lacking
Win condition is also anti-climactic and usually results from random card draws (closing shadowrifts) or by developing an economic engine (building all 8 walls). I feel like it needs a boss fight, which might be adding in the upcoming expansion.
There is a limited number of cards and no expansion, so replayability is comparable to just the base set of Dominion or Legendary

Conclusion:
This is a very unique and thematic co-op that I think has carved its own niche in my collection. If there was ever a game that needed a second print and expansion, this is the one. Unfortunately it looks like the 2nd edition is at least a year away. I think it will play better with 4 players than 2, so I'm looking forward to playing with a larger group. Initial Rating: 8/10

Good Games

Heroes Wanted (1 play - 2 player) - We like superheroes and I love games with character creation and/or variable player powers. I knew this would be a hit if it were a co-op, but I picked it up anyway because it was 50% off.

Pros:
Hilarious theme of wanna-be superheroes fighting low level criminals that are littering, jaywalking, and making bootleg DVDs
Infinite number of amusing hero and villain possibilities. Our first game was Dino-kid and Neon-Rainbow against Octo-Cactus
Quirk cards add ridiculousness that make it feel like a party game
General mechanisms of card play and damage are pretty well done

Cons:
The powers are highly variable and often not thematic
Game can be relatively quick comparable to the setup time
Gameplay isn't deep enough to stand on its own without the humor of the hero combinations and quirk cards

Conclusion:
Our first play was a little flat because we only had 2 players and we didn't play with the quirks. I think this could be a lot of fun with the right players and quirks. This probably would have been a hit if it were co-op, but as is I don't know if it will last long in my collection. Initial Rating: 7/10
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15. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:104]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
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I was fortunate enough this month to play seven new games, and (like last month) a single new expansion. I was perhaps also fortunate that none of these were terrible: even the one I've rated the poorest managed to amuse my opponents - so it, too, has its merits. I'll follow my usual pattern and list the games first (in decreasing order of my current enthusiasm) then followed by the expansions (in the same order.)


Combat Commander: Europe -- (1 play) _7.7_
(images by chaltura & dougadamsau)

My education was lacking: this is one I'd not previously played. My loss, as it turns out: it's a game to which I'm quite susceptible.

Years ago, I occasionally played (Advanced) Squad Leader with my esteemed brother Dan: I tended to like the smaller engagements (where each of us only had a handful of counters) and really enjoyed the story - even if both of those titles were ones that drowned me in loads of rules. Dan made it easier to play (he's particularly helpful) but the Good Parts of the experience were held back a bit by the mechanical friction.

Far more recently, I was exposed to Up Front, and was fascinated both by the command abstraction and the relatively frictionless game experience. We played cards, and the narrative unfolded: it was very cool.

I admit my wargamer credentials are long expired, but this really felt like the good parts of both streams. There was the positional play (and consideration of satisfyingly pre-existing* terrain) from one side, and the fast and intuitive** card play from the other. I was impressed. And really enjoyed the play. I may even have the opportunity to reprise it: I expect regular-opponent-Paul can be convinced to play his copy!

*: The discovered-terrain part of Up Front makes sense from the unit commander's viewpoint there. But sometimes, having that omniscient - if completely implausible - view of the whole battlefield is lovely.
**: I admit that "intuitive" is not quite the experience of the Up Front learner. There's more than a little "which part of the card do I look at, now?" But I'm assured by folk that understand these things better than I that all will become clear in time. (As a Mathematician who threw "clearly" at not a few students meaning "if you go away and study this diligently, you may eventually understand it" I admit to some modest worry at the time frame. Nonetheless.)


Yavalanchor -- (3 plays) _7.3_
(images by n_r_a & oppenheimer)

I was delighted to receive a copy of a Yavalath board this month. And - having been told about Yavalath & Co. I was tempted by some of the Other Games contained therein. This was one of them.

Let's presume for the moment you're familiar with Yavalath (if not: hex-hex board; winner is first to get four in a row - but if you have three in a row without also getting four in a row you lose. Plays with 2 or 3 - so the game comes with tokens in three colours.) This one is only for two players, and requires one to get five in a row (where the five may be the player's colour or the neutral colour.) Players may play either "their" colour or the neutral colour. But non-neutral pieces may only be played if there is an adjacent neutral piece.

We found the game relatively sensible, yet still permitting cleverness. I expect we'll play more of it.


三千世界の鴉 (Sanzensekai no karasu 'Ravens of Thri Sahashri') -- (1 play) _7.3_
(images by matador & djfranky)

My excellent opponent for this one (son #2) wasn't impressed. Yet I was. And that despite the fact that I don't (generally) like co-op games. The design here is intriguing; charmingly asymmetric; and worth a lot more play that I've given it so far.

I wouldn't at all be surprised if my rating went up with more play: just a matter of finding the right opponent...


Yavalade -- (1 play) _7_
(images by n_r_a & oppenheimer)

Another Yavalath & Co. title. Like Yavalanchor one is looking for a two-colour five in a row. The trick here is that it's a game for three, each player may only play her own colour, and a player wins if a five-in-a-row appears using their own colour and that of the right hand neighbour.

I'm sad to say that this one overmatched us: in this one play, I think we rolled back an "Oh, that was a mistake!" play fifteen or twenty times. I expect that one could eventually get the hang of it: but (for my part) I wasn't thinking correctly about it when we began - and probably was only doing a tiny bit better when the game finally ended. It's cool - but likely not something I'd look to try again often.


ヴィラネックス (Vu~iranekkusu 'Villannex') -- (2 plays) _6.7_
(images by matador & punkin312)

I'm nearly certainly over-rating this. But it's fast and random and amused my youngsters - and that has merit of itself. We played multiple times in these "two plays" - but thought that the optional drafting rules (which we tried) were enough different than the standard game to count our session as two different things.

In this one, one either drafts cards and plays a pair of them, or plays the pair from a limited pool of cards that have been displayed to the opponents (to taunt them.) Then one scores the cards. And determines the winner.

The trick is that one's score depends on how one activates each card one plays (each player has a pair of rotatable activate-left-or-right cards - so that's easier than it sounds) and on the powers of all cards played by all players. So it's a not-terribly-simple simple game of bluff. A one trick pony.

But it's not a bad trick at all.


Harbour -- (1 play) _6.7_
(images by Khayyinn & landofhov)

I'm of two minds on this one. On the one side, it's clear and sensible in presentation. So what might (immediately) happen based on any single player action is apparent and reasonable. Yet the state mutations that several players induce mean that the game felt chaotic to the point of negating any plans I might have had: things were so different at the beginning of any one of my turns than they'd been at the beginning of my previous turn meant that I was only ever making tiny-lookahead tactical decisions.

And I like games where longer-term plans are both necessary and possible.

It wouldn't surprise me if "good players" can plan ahead here. Particularly when their opponents made sensible, reasonable decisions to enable that kind of thing. But in this mostly-beginner game, I'm not confident that any of us were making a particularly predictable decision. So the game is quite possibly much better than what I experienced: and yet I'm not terribly motivated to look for more. My loss, I suppose.


Birth -- (3 plays) _6.3_
(images by moromoro & Takashi Sakaue)

This is a weird thing. It mostly makes sense. Then adds a (completely chaotic) Birth re-roll rule to ensure that the results aren't remotely predictable. I was entirely dubious - and yet my opponents found it charming and cute.

From my point of view, in its favour, it doesn't overstay its welcome; and it's easy enough to explain. But those are small virtues.


Neuroshima Hex! Dancer -- (1 play) _7_
(images by W Eric Martin & godunow)

Son #2 is a huge fan of Neuroshima Hex. Ordinarily, though, we play with our favourite factions - rather than forcing ourselves to try new ones. So he normally plays Neojungle, and I like Vegas. But, to change things up, I thought to try this weird new Dancer faction. It was fun: I rather enjoyed the way that it was plausibly balanced, and yet dramatically different than other factions I've attempted. I'll employ them again.


Thanks again to my youngsters, the BAP attenders, the Monday Lunch folk, and the Wednesday Night gang for some great game experiences.

Edited to fix grammar. Likely more of those faults still to find.
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16. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:44]
Stuart Finlay
Australia
Beldon
WA
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Keyflower x1
Keyflower: Key Celeste x1
Keyflower is a game I had wanted to try for a few years and I was pleasantly surprised by how involving it was and by how much it didn't feel like a straight auction game. The mix of standard euro mechanisms just worked well at creating a system where every action and the timing of it was important. The hidden meeples added some definite luck as did the ghost of Key Celeste and kept the bidding thin which I don't think was a bad thing. The game is all about finding that right balance of tiles, special actions, turn order and meeple accumulation and it works wonderfully imo.

Carcassonne: South Seas x1
More complicated than the standard game and not quite as good.

Eggs and Empires x1
Fun but forgettable role selection.

Würfel Bohnanza x1
Yahtzee bingo. Won this by luck rather than skill. I don't think there's much reason to come back to this.

Mottainai x2
Still in development so I'll withhold a rating but it felt like an unhappy middleground between GtR and Impulse. Whilst the playtime is short the game felt slow as there is nothing happening during your opponents turns. We also had difficulty stopping an rush strategy if we didn't have the right cards to hand.
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17. Board Game: Doomtown: Reloaded [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:848]
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Just the one game this month. I'm not big into collectable card games or living card games with the exception of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. It was only a couple years ago that I tried Magic for the first time. While I still play it occasionally, a couple other LCGs have come and gone including Android: Netrunner and Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game.

What intrigued me about Doomtown: Reloaded was the double duty that a card plays in your deck. Each card has an ability as well as a poker value and suit (which is used to determine shootouts - among other things). So a good deck has to not only have cards with complimentary abilities, but also be able to deliver good poker hands.

The second thing which caught my interest was the area control aspect to this game; that players' dudes move around a (somewhat abstract) town, defending and taking control of other player's locations. It adds another dimension to this LCG.

Since picking it up this month, I've now played nine times and have quite enjoyed it just using the recommended starting decks. In the coming months, I plan to start picking up some of the expansions and experiment with deck building. I still prefer The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, but not by much.
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18. Board Game: Star Wars: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:461]
Matt Brown
United States
Okemos
Michigan
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Star Wars: LCG

I had researched this enough to know I was going to like it, and I did. The theme can be wonky at times, but I can see enjoying this quite a bit if I got regular plays of it. I got a win on my third play.

Forbidden Desert

I played it twice and liked it more with 4 players versus a lower count. It might be a little to random for my taste, but it plays quick.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Likely too much book keeping for solo play, but I'm getting use to it. Still trying to get better at it. This feels like a game that will grow on me. I'm still surprised by the lack of really good superhero games.

Harbour

Maybe more plays change how I feel about it, but this might end up being my favorite from the month.

Tower of Babel

A refreshing breath of fresh air after dealing with Machi Koro and its expansion. yuk
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19. Board Game: Scoville [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:529]
Wes Baker
United States
Fredericksburg
Virginia
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Scoville, 1 play
6/10

Scoville fell a little flat for me. It has a lot of good things going for it: a fun theme, great artwork and components, and interesting mechanisms.

However, I have three issues: the plaques, analysis-paralysis-inducing decision trees, and common victory point conditions:

- The plaques are likely worth too much in a game where 70 points or so is a winning score.
- The AP starts from the very beginning: deciding where to go in player order, are you going to go early to get fulfillment or late to get an unblocked harvest? At most, you can only be the first to do two of those things on any given turn (planting and fulfillment), and everything you do will depend on those that have gone before you. Worse, you can logic out what people are going to to and you likely will, but it's going to take time. I'd rather that it was more or less obscured so you didn't have to take as much time or didn't bother trying to figure it all out.
- The recipe cards vary wildly in amount of points and the kinds of peppers required. If you're going for a recipe that nets you 22 points and requires peppers that not many other recipes use and someone else gets to the recipe before you, you're left sitting on at least a few peppers that are mostly worthless to you.

Bruges, 1 play
6/10

A euro game with interesting card play and plenty of player interaction. However, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was stuck staring at options I didn't really like. Yes, there's always something you can do, but taking workers or placing a canal weren't the most interesting actions. I'm willing to play it some more, but I'm no longer pushing to play it.

Kingsburg, 1 play
5/10

I was really hopeful with Kingsburg and it let me down. I loved the art and the concept, but at the end of the day you're still rolling dice and if your dice keep handing you 7 and below, you're just not going to do as well.
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20. Board Game: Loony Quest [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:657]
Steph Hodge
United States
New Hampshire
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March was full of fun Birthday times! I learned a bunch of new games!!


1. Lagoon: Land of Druids: I really enjoyed the game. I think it is really interesting and very abstract. I found myself trying to really think out of the box. I can't help but love all the colors and beautiful art. It is just breath-taking. I hope all of the artists become famous- because they are kick-ass! Seriously, Kick-ass!








2. Between Two Cities: For me this game was excellent. A really fun filler game. It was super fast even when teaching 5 players.

I KS it and this was a PnP version a friend put together. I would happily play anytime. I love tile-laying!!









3. Bugs in the Kitchen: The goal is to not let the bug get into your section of the board. There is a bug that moves around- it is very scary. LOOKS LIKE A BUG! I HATE BUGS!

Simple family/kid game.







4. Ciúb: It reminded me a lot of Age of War, and Elder Sign.

Trying to get the dice rolls to get match the cards that are out. There is some dice manipulation and some control over cards. All in all you just want to allocate the dice to match a card and you get the cards points at the bottom at the end of the game. it was no surprise when I won the game because I always win games like this.

There was nothing shiny about this game. I would play again but I don't have to. I enjoy rolling dice but it was a bit long to be a filler and nothing speaks to me to play it again.









5. Buccaneer Bones: It is a small dice game to try and get some treasure. You basically need 3 of a kind to get to the bottom islands and then from there you need more 3 of a kinds to collect the coins. First person to get 3 coins wins. But if you roll poorly then you can potentially steal others coins. Ron stole my coin and then won. I hate Ron.

haha no but it was cute. Definitely a family game. Simple and fast with cool bits.






6. Diamant: I don't recall if I had played Incan Gold before. I think I have but cant remember. The game is so fast where I think I have but can't pinpoint it.

So, Alas, this Diamant game was its predecessor and is basically the same game. It is push your puck to try and get the most gems.

Not a favorite. I would rather play something else.









7. Island Siege: It is a small attack game. Well produced with awesome coinage. It's a cute game that I can see playing in the future for a quick duel with Ron. It is sort of take that- but not.








8. ZhanGuo: I had been wanting to play this for a while now and haven't really heard much talk about it since it got released. I really like the "what's your game?" games. I think they product quality stuff. Always beautiful too. I think this will be more liked, if you will, by the gamers versus Madeira. They aren't the same at all but they both have a similar what to do problem.

I think it makes for a super fun game if you have no idea who is in the lead. Sometime's there is a clear winner and then the rest of the game is not so fun. I like not knowing until the final count.

Besides Loony Quest this is right up there for being a favorite New To Me game of the month. I've really been enjoying this one.










9. Super Motherload: I really enjoyed this game. I thought it played well with 2 players and it is another game where you really don't know who is winning until the final count.

It is supposedly based off the old computer game called DigDug which I haven't played before.

It has been getting a good response from the people so far. I would definitely recommend it.









Now for something completely different: My Birthday Cake!






10. Carla Cat: It is a Dex ame which is quite simple to learn. You are either the cat or 1 of many mice. If you are a mouse your job is not to get caught by the cat. The cat rolls 2 dice and says 2 numbers that might be rolled 1-6. If a number that they said pops up then the mouse must retract as fast as possible before the cat "pounces" and captures the mice.

Quite a dangerous game. I almost got my eye poked out. I made Ron pose for a photo. For the record- it is really hard to play and take pictures at the same time.






11. Maya: It is very abstract. You have to set the game up with 9 different stacks of 5 colors in the temples. It was definitely a color abstract game. Filled with lots of colors! How could you not enjoy it.

I thought it was a fun little abstract. I see us playing it more.








12. Stamp Graffiti: Drawing party game. Of course I am going to like this one. You have to match the pictures on the cards you are given to try and create the common phrase that was given by the active player. There is one player who tries to guess this crazy design.

Very fun! Even the non artistic players were enjoying it somewhat. I liked it!!












13 And 14: 10 Days in Europe and 10 Days in the USA: I hadn't played these ones before. I had played Africa and they are the same basic ideas.

Cute ideas for a game but seem to fall into the same pattern. Just waiting on 1 tiles and whomever can find it first wins. I want it to be better than what it is.








15. Loony Quest: Probably my favorite of the month - though hard to say since I had a few other good ones!

The game is Arcade version of Doodle Quest. I mean you are talking 6 levels with the final level being the boss. You can get power ups and other players might attack you.

All the players who hated Doodle Quest Loved this one. That is saying something. I came in 4th so that wasn't too good. But, It was super awesome!

So looking forward to playing this game more!

I think it is super fun!!! I love challenges like this drawing game.







16. Kakerlakenpoker Royal: Cockroach Poker Royal style though. If you know the base game then this one is easy to catch on to. A bit more in depth with some serious bluffing to be had.

For me it is far superior that cockroach poker. I would play either but this one is better.






17. Catch a Falling Star: I hadn't played this version of Klickado but it is the same game. Try to balance your sticks to the center structure. Its a cute kids game. It would be better glow in the dark though






That was all! Hopefully April will bring just as many awesome new games!

Thanks for reading! =D
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21. Board Game: Spyfall [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:417] [Average Rating:7.05 Unranked]
Juan Carlos Goyes
Colombia
Bogota
Cundinamarca
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It’s true hard work never killed anyone, but I figure, why take the chance? - Ronald Reagan
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Alchemists

2015-03-06

Initial Rating: 7.5 (March 2014)

I was expecting a very good game from CGE and Alchemists doesn’t disappoint. Deduction is one of my favorite game mechanism and it is very well implemented in the game.

The art is great, from the pretty player boards, to the colorful game board, the art really sells the theme. It has some resemblance to Dungeon Lords/Petz but that’s logical as all three games were drawn by the same artist (David Cochard). The game components are awesome, great quality cardboard.

When the game was explained to me, I thought it was a Vlaada game (but it is not ), Alchemists has a similar feeling to some of his games.

The theme is great and the game mechanics do support it which is a rarity in an euro game.

Alchemists can be explained under 25 minutes and play time is around 2 hours. I have only played the apprentice version, but I really liked it. It has easy rules (lots of them), but the gameplay can be deep (Medium weight) and it offers lots of interesting decisions each turn (Which order of turn should I choose? Where to put my workers? Should I try the potion with my apprentice or with me? What ingredients should I mix?) with very limited resources so it has lots of tension. Money is very scarce and all the important actions require it. In particular I like to test ingredients so I can deduce what their composition, when you test there is a lot of tension in the table, I love it.

I also liked the game app which is definitively not a gimmick. We played it with an iPhone and 2 iPads and I have to say the pattern recognition seems to work better on the phone but it works very well on both devices, On the other hand, I really dislike that it is VERY easy for someone to cheat as there is a button in the app to reveal all the relevant info. Using the app for the game is mandatory, I know you could do without it, but then the game would be diminished. Another advantage the app has is that the game no longer can be broken due to a procedural human mistake which is a weakness most deduction games have. In Black Vienna if you give wrong information the game breaks, in Tragedy Looper if the Mastermind forgets to do a mandatory effect the game breaks etc.

On the negative side, some artifacts seem overpowered, in particular the one that lets you retain an ingredient and the other that lets you peek at one ingredient of your opponent, not sure if that’s the case but I will play more to verify. It also has some luck of the draw with the ingredients but it doesn’t bother me yet.

Bottom line, Alchemists is a very good deduction and innovative game and one of the best 2014 games I have played so far. I’m glad to have it in my game collection. I can’t wait to play it again with my girlfriend who also loves deduction games. I’m also eager to see more games from Matus Kotry.

Current Rating: 7.5



Timeline: Americana

2015-03-12

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2015)

I have always liked Timeline, but I was a bit wary about this title because it seems directed only at an American audience, still we had fun playing it so I will keep it and I plan to mix it with the other timelines. Now I will also buy the American history one to see how it goes.

I think Timeline is a great trivia game, with a very short playtime. I almost always want to play it. I also think Timeline can be a good educational tool and it is almost free of language dependence as the art depicts so well what the cards are about.

On the bad side, this is the third Timeline copy I have in which The Teddy Bear card appear, I really dislike having repeat cards in my Timeline collection. I always mix all of them.

Current Rating: 7.0



XCOM: The Board Game

2015-03-16

Initial Rating: 7.5 (March 2015)

I really like the videogame so I was expecting a lot from the boardgame. Gladly I wasn't disappointed. In a nutshell I like the game.

The theme is great and the boardgame retains the art and feel of the videogame. I think it is best enjoyed by fans of the videogame. The components are great as is usual from FFG.

Xcom is the second game I have played that requires an app to play, and the app is very well done and works perfectly.

The rules are simple but the gameplay is frantic (eliminating any alpha player issue) and fun. Each player plays a different role but I'm not sure if the player that holds the iPad has as much fun as the other players. I'm also not sure if I like how the game resolve successes (with a die in "push your luck" fashion).

It is novel not only for the app, it also doesn't come with a game manual, the app explains everything. I think I like this.

Bottom line, Xcom seems like a good game and I want to explore it further. For the time being, I enjoy it a bit more than Alchemists (had more fun) but Space Alert is still king for me in the real time CoOp category.

Current Rating: 7.5



The Battle at Kemble's Cascade

2015-03-18

Initial Rating: 4.5 (March 2015)

All the idea behind The Battle at Kemble's Cascade sounded great, I dig the art, I even love the name and I really wanted to like the game but I was a sorely disappointment¡ . IMO, the game commits the worst sin a game can commit on my book , it has a very long downtime (with 5 players), a long playtime for what it offers and the decisions needed in the game are kind of obvious (so not interesting, you only have to move/attack or to recharge). It also has a lot of uncontrollable randomness, the worst offender are the initiative cards, I don’t know why they are in the game BUT they can disrupt your plans and there is nothing you can do about them and if you played first this time and last next turn, the downtime is way too much for me. In each game you have a mission to accomplish and you can plan to achieve it, however many random evens can disrupt this plan (scrolling, someone shoots at you). The idea of fighting a boss sounded great and the boss cards are nice, but this part continued to be boring for all.

The game components and the ships are very well done.

I haven’t read the rules, but from what the friend who read them tells mem, there are some holes in them.

Bottom line, it sounded great but The Battle at Kemble's Cascade fails to deliver. The shoot 'em up scrolling games that it emulates are fast and furious but the boardgame incarnation is very slow and boring. It is however very novel the way they emulate the scrolling. I will get rid of my copy ASAP.

Current Rating: 4.5



Spyfall

2015-03-18

Initial Rating: 8.0 (March 2015)

WOW, what a game, it really surprised me. You can explain it under 2 minutes and most games can finish under 10 mutes but it is fascinating and fun to play. I feel the game is a lot deeper than I initially though and it reward creativity from the players. Also love the bluffing needed by the spy to win the game.

As this moment, I can think of a negative thing for the game.

Bottom line, Spyfall is the one of the best party games I have ever played and it is a must buy for me. I want to play it again soon.

Current Rating: 8.0



TEG Independencia

2015-01-26

Initial Rating: N/A

As part of my 2015 gaming goals, I’m trying to play games I acquired years ago. I won TEG Independencia on December 2010 or so. I finally opened it to read the game manual. I found the game to have regular quality components and some of them are missing according to the official list. I’m not sure I can request replacements as some years have passed since I acquired it. Also, the boxes to store the game pieces are useless, the small discs slip through them and they were all over the box. Instead I’m using bags to store them.

I’m going to read the game manual and play the game this week, when I do, I will come back to comment on it.

Current Rating: N/A


2015-03-18

I finally played TEG Independencia, it was surprisingly hard to get it to the table. It has almost the same rules as Risk, but I prefer this game because it has a limited turns, still it is very long for what it offers.

The components are regular, but the map is ok, also it is fun to play in a map with familiar names. The rules are pretty straightforward, but the first and second turn is explained in a very convoluted way on the game manual, however it is really easy on practice. I also dislike that one of the tiebreakers is to roll a die, I don’t like that to decide who wins in a game of this length. There are teams in the game (Patriots and Realists) but the role they play in the game is minimal.

The game plays almost as Risk, if you like Risk you should like TEG Independencia. The main difference is the game cards and the way you obtain them, in each turn you have to answer a question about the independence of America and if you answer correctly you gain access to another game card. In theory this is great because the game is educational, but in practice it is just luck if you get a card or not. The cards range from wildy overpowered to useless so I dislike the uncontrollable luck inherent in them.

Bottom line, TEG Independencia is very reminiscent of Risk and has the same problems/virtues, it isn’t a bad game but I don’t have any desire to play again either game. I just sold my copy of the game but I’m glad I played an Argentinian design.

Current Rating: 4.5



Concordia: Britannia / Germania

2015-03-18

Initial Rating: 8.0 (March 2015)

Right now I’m really liking Concordia so this expansion is very well received. So far, I have only played with the Britannia side but I really liked it, it doesn’t change any rule but it has less cities/provinces so the game becomes a lot tighter (most tense), a great thing in my book. For this reason I’m rating the expansion a bit higher than the base game.

The mini map for the tokens is an improvement IMO.

Bottom line, I want to play it again, next time I will try the Germania map and come back to comment.

Current Rating: 8.0



Francis Drake

2015-03-18

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2015)

From what many friends have told me about Francis Drake, I was expecting a lot. These days, most games from which I’m expecting a lot end up disappointing me, but not Francis Drake, I really enjoyed it and I plan to buy it in the future.

I generally don’t like this theme, but the gameplay is so good I can ignore it.

The components are great as is the art, the game IS gorgeous. Francis Drake isn’t very complex rules wise but the decisions involved in it are very interesting (which action to take, do I have time to grab that tile?, How much barrels/crew/weapon do I need? Do I want the bigger ship?) because you can’t go back in the planning phase (a la Egizia), if you want to assure an action you can jump a lot of actions to grab it but in doing so you give up many other useful actions, it is very tense and interesting. The second phase is also very interesting, you try to anticipate your game buddies and try to plan to achieve your objectives. You have to fight for every point.

The playtime feels very short because you are constantly thinking about your next move, that is the downtime is very low.

Bottom line, the game has simple rules, but the gameplay offers very interesting decisions, it is tense and fun. I want to play again and I will buy it soon, sadly it is more expensive than most games, but the quality of the components and the gameplay make it a winner in my book.

One of 2013´s favorites.

Current Rating: 7.0



Patchwork

2015-03-18

Initial Rating: 5.0 (March 2015)

So far, I have liked every Rosenberg game I have played, but I was disappointed in Patchwork, I was expecting a heavier game from him.

The game is exceedingly simple with only two actions to choose from each turn, and in many turns you don’t have to choose which one to play because one action will be unavailable. I don’t like the theme, but it is a, somewhat, novel one.

On the good side, the game is gorgeous and play very fast (its best feature). I think it can be a good family game.

Bottom line, I feel the game is very obvious and shallow but I could be wrong. I don’t mind playing light games but they have to offer interesting decisions and so far I haven’t seen them in Patchwork. I need to play it again to see if I’m wrong but for now I’m leaning towards getting rid of the game. My GF liked the game.

Current Rating: 5.0



Win, Lose, or Banana

2015-03-30

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2015)

I really was surprised by Who is the Banana? official variant. I love hidden roles and this is the simplest one I have played. Win, Lose, or Banana is playable in less than 2 minutes, but still fun to play.

Without the variant the game is trash and I would rate it a 2.0, the current rating correspond to the variant which can be pretty fun to play.

Current Rating: 6.0



Mythic Battles

2015-03-31

Initial Rating: 5.5 (March 2015)

Mythic Battles has a very good theme and after reading the rules I expected to like the game. It seemed to me very similar (in essence) to Mage Wars but they play very differently.

The rules are easy to grasp, but there are many so the first couple of games will be slow. A minor dislike for me is that I have to constantly check the game manual to see the talents of the creatures. Another minor dislike is that the deckbuilding options are very reduced with the creatures from the base game only, you almost have to use all of them In each game. I guess the expansions fix this. The art is pretty cool, but the tokens are too small so you can miss them easily.

After playing the game, I can say It is an ok game for me. The way you can activate your units seems great in paper, but it was a bit boring for me. Perhaps it resembles too much a wargame for my liking and after many games I’m coming to the realization that most wargames are boring for me. You would think there is a lot of luck in the game, but I found it to be controllable (Using talents, power, and art of war cards) in its majority so it doesn’t bothers me.

I really liked the way the creature health is handled, each hit can change the creature stats, neat. The combat is also novel.

My copy of the game came with a damaged card and a French campaign manual, IELLO customer service is one of the best I have the pleasure to work with and I got my replacement within days which is much more faster than most game companies.

Bottom line, Mythic Battles is an ok game to play from time to time. I generally don’t subscribe to the philosophy that a game replaces another BUT I would never want to play Mythic Battles over Mage Wars if I have the time or Summoner Wars if I don’t. I will probably sell my copy of the game. I expected a better game.

Current Rating: 5.5



Black Stories Mystery Edition

2015-03-31

Initial Rating: 8.0 (March 2015)

I absolutely love the Black Stories series of games, and the Mystery Edition is no exception. I always have fun when I play the game and I expect this to never change.

The game is dead simple and you can explain it under 1 minute while the playtime can be generally around 12 minutes. There are some mysteries that are very hard and others very easy.

Perhaps the only negative I can think of is that once you know the answer to the mystery you can only play it again as the Guardian (or until you forget it ) but there are lots of expansions to solve this.

I generally like my games in English but in this case I'm glad I played it in Spanish, otherwise many friends couldn't play it as the Guardian.

Current Rating: 8.0



Agricola: The Legen*dairy Forest-Deck

2015-03-31

Initial Rating: 1.5 (March 2015)

I didn’t know what to expect when we began playing with the Agricola: The Legen*dairy Forest-Deck, but since the first turn I hated it.

The art is very well done and I get the thematic sense and humor of the cards, but they defeat Agricola´s purpose and transforms it from a great game to a 2-3 hour luck fest. I’m glad to see Uwe didn’t design this monstrosity.

The cards are wildly unbalanced, there are cards that allow you to be the first player for most of the game, another one allows you to plow 3 spaces freely and the Ravenant one allows you to take two actions with a single worker while at the same time makes room for another family person to be born. Other card steals your sheep while another steals the resources of the rich. It is pure luck if you get a positive or a negative card.

I get the cards are silly and the game is to be taken lightly. I would be on board if Agricola was a quick game (which is not), but I cannot spend my precious playing time with these nonsense cards.

Bottom line I won’t ever play with them again. I wish I have played this along with the X-deck which now I’m pretty sure I will also hate. I won’t sell it because I’m a completionist, but I’m 100% sure I won’t ever play with the Agricola: The Legen*dairy Forest-Deck again. The cards turn Agricola into Munchkin, they completely ruin the game.

Current Rating: 1.5



Agricola: The Legen*dairy Forest Deck – Chuck the Wood Chuck

2015-03-31

Initial Rating: 2.0 (March 2015)

I really hate Agricola: The Legen*dairy Forest-Deck, I feel it defeats Agricola’s purpose and transform it from a great game to a 2-3 hour luck fest, so it is no wonder I also hate this expansion.

At least Chuck the Wood Chuck doesn’t break the game, which is why it gets a higher rating from me. Still I won’t ever play with it again and I’m only keeping it in my game collection because I’m a completionist and I have to have all things Agricola.

Current Rating: 2.0

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22. Board Game: Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:66] [Average Rating:7.74 Unranked]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game: I was surprised how much I enjoyed my experience of this one; enough so that I ended up acquiring my own copy in a math trade. The crossroads cards can be quite clever interactions as one occurs if someone around the table yawns (something about exhaustion and then different effects occur). We lost, but I do look forward to future plays.





Orcs Orcs Orcs: I did not expect to like this one but I was pleasantly surprised. Game play is fairly simple but the different ways one can deviously affect others can be quite fun. This is no deep thinker of a game, but is fun as a 45 minute romp.



Rolling Japan: This one is a fun filler that will end up frustrating you at various points of the game. I don't think it quite reaches the cleverness of Qwixx, but this one is a fun diversion from time to time.



Myth: The looseness of the rules and lack of structure can be frustrating but the game inside is quite good if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Glad to see they are coming out with a module system in the second kickstarter. We struggled through this one and got some rules wrong but got the gist of the game. The minis are quite nice - now if only I painted I'd be busy for a while!

Other games new to me but didn't grab me:

Tajemnicze Domostwo I don't understand the public lovefest on this one.
Sloop Don't bother - you can thank me later.
Ciúb Verdict remains out...uncertain about this one.
Tsuro of the Seas Overstays its welcome, prefer simplicity of original.
Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age with Mediterranean Expansion It was fine but not a keeper. Builds on original and a bit more complex.
The major four of Heizei Another odd Japanese card game - don't know quite what to think.
I, Spy Debating giving it another chance. First attempt was rather botched thanks to AP.
Heat Meh
The Game of 49 I never would have thought of using auctions in Connect 4.
Fast Food Franchise I want to like this game. My first play wasn't promising.
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23. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:726]
Joseph Peterson
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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I played 25 new games this month. Here's the Top 5:

Dice Town - 9.3 - Game of the Month

Dice Town is a truly awesome game. Rolling dice, mining for gold, robbing banks, shopping at the General Store, stealing from your opponents, becoming sheriff and working with the mayor to get property. Anything's possible in this wild west themed game. Very rarely do dice chucking games tie in a theme, but this one does it in amazing and fun fashion. I love it.

Musée - 8.6 - Game of the Month Runner-Up

Musee is an excellent, light weight game. I really like that even though the basics are extremely simple, there's a lot to it. Connecting themes with staircases and galleries is extremely important and almost more so with the staircases. Rushing to complete gallery levels gives the most points, however making that your only strategy will most likely result in a loss. It amazes me that such a simple game can have so many choices. Excellent game!

Wildlife Safari - 8.6

Well, I'm super glad this came back into print. It's been on my wishlist since I first started the hobby. It amazes me how something so simple can be so fun. Maybe it's those little animal toys! I don't know what it is, but I really like this one! Knizia does it again!

Cheesonomics - 8.1

Cheesonomics does economy gaming right in a small, lightweight package. I enjoy the fluctuation of the market, as well as "churning" and readying the cheese for the market. For what is such a simplistic game, there are so many great moments for strategy. Strategy is nowhere near the levels of "Speculation", but this will do in a pinch...and is great in its own right.

Chocoly - 8.1

Chocoly is a great little abstract game. I believe it plays best with three and the element of being able to stack on top of other which adds a lot to the strategy. I have to admit some tile-laying games don't sit too well with me, but this one is a winner.

To see my comments for all of the games I played in March as well as Game Night summaries and more, please check out my blog:

Joe's Gaming Blog
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24. Board Game: Tinners' Trail [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:470]
Nathan Clegg
United States
Escondido
California
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I was very pleased with Tinners' Trail (2008). It exemplifies Wallace's knack for making players feel in control and downright accomplished with a minimal number of actions, and this time in a much shorter package than, say, Automobile. I'm looking forward to more plays of this.

Was sticht? (1994) - Trick-taking with a twist? Sign me up. Enjoyed the play though this is a little "wackier" than what I typically look for. It definitely does not replace or other favorites, but happy to play it.

Age of Steam Expansion: Montréal Métro (2007) - A retrospectively excellent 3p map. Now that we understand the consequences of the rule variations, I am looking forward to trying this again (and getting crushed).

German Railways (2008) - Another game in which I did not understand the consequences of the rules and that I am appreciating much more in retrospect than I did during the play. I am looking forward to playing this again with the lessons I've learned and not planning on doing well, but learning. I generally have a difficult time shifting my focus in a game from where I want it to be to where it should be, and forcing that shift either makes me dislike the game or find new appreciation for it.

Eight-Minute Empire: Legends (2013) - Slightly better than its predecessor and happy to play it for the time it takes.

Craftsmen (2013) - JASE which is fine but too long to hit the table again. Put this in a 90 minute package and we'll talk.

Continental Express (2013) - A typical filler that does nothing (for me or at all).

Antiquity (2004) - A game I want to like, but is so ridiculously punishing to the novice I'm not sure I will bother. I'm okay accomplishing little in my first play of something, but accomplishing nothing (negative?) in 3 hours with no end in sight is not my idea of a good time. I'm sure there's an amazing game here but I just don't see myself digging it out.

Progress: Evolution of Technology (2014) - Perfectly fine sort-of-engine-building game that almost seems to lack a game built around it. It was fine, but without some interaction or challenge it's hard to love.

Caesar & Cleopatra (1997) - I don't see what the appeal is. Very blah.

Space Cadets (2012) - An interesting experiment but decidedly not for me.
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25. Board Game: La Boca [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1064]
Darryl T.
Malaysia
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La Boca

Actually, I only played a trial run of this game while waiting for some other group members to arrive, but it still counts as a game played right? Anyway, these kinds of puzzle games are right up my alley, despite having terrible spatial recognition skills. The partnership aspect is particularly interesting, since each player is working with incomplete information and needs to convey the information she has to her partner. I don't think it'll handle big groups well though, since only 2P can have a go at the puzzle at any one time.

Rating: 7.5



Power Grid Deluxe: Europe/North America

This is my first time playing an entry from the highly-acclaimed Power Grid family, and I can see why it receives so much acclaim. In particular, I enjoy the 'planned obsolescence' aspect of the power plants as well as the spatial element in opening up new plants. But the game also features auctions which demand a lot of calculations and fine-tuning of bids, a mechanism which just isn't my cup of tea. A really solid design which I would gladly play if asked, but otherwise wouldn't seek out to play.

Rating: 6.0



Forge War

A neat original Kickstarter production which integrates the RPG theme in well. My favourite part in Forge War is the questing mechanism, which demands forward planning ala satisfying regular customers in At the Gates of Loyang. It's a satisfying feeling to rope in more adventurers and equip them with increasingly better weapons as the quest progresses.

I'm ambivalent towards the abstract mining mini-game, which actually plays a pivotal role in how the rest of the round pans out. Players spend a disproportionate amount of time there to optimise their moves, and I feel it creates an unwanted bottleneck in the game flow. Also, the basic game felt truncated, even if we clocked it in at 2hrs (which would likely decrease with experience). While I'm sure that the epic game would provide a more immersive experience, I'm not sure if the playing time would be worth it as I'm generally averse to long games.

Rating: 6.0



Shadow Hunters

I'm terrible at role deduction games, so I approach them with a degree of ambivalence. What's interesting about Shadow Hunters is that each player has a specific (and often unique) win condition, so it requires each player to actively participate in modifying the game's outcome to their favour.

My view of the game is coloured by the fact that it was difficult deducing anyone's alignment for the first half of the game because we weren't drawing green cards and we weren't familiar with all the roles. As such, it was mostly random stabs in the dark, but it got suddenly a lot clearer once people started dropping dead. Good premise, and I wouldn't mind sitting through this again.

Rating: 6.0
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