Gaming for Justice - Exploring Diversity Year 2: 100 x 1 Challenge 2016
Brendon Soltis
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Worcester
Massachusetts
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EXPLORING DIVERSITY: YEAR 2

Last year was a blast. I played 150 different games and I am excited to do it again with a little more attention to detail as in keeping up with this post and reporting back play sessions, pictures, updating my blog, best of the month, new to me, in my collection, etc.

Good luck to everyone else and I look forward to seeing all of your challenges progress throughout the year!! Here's to a great 2016!

Blog: https://gamingforjustice.wordpress.com

64/100 Unique Games Played

meeple Best Game of the Month!
New to Me
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1. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:231]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
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New Year's Day morning we decided to start off the year right - with a cooperative game. Ghost Stories hit the table on normal mode with 2 players.

We started off really well - I had the special power of gaining one token every turn and my lovely partner had the power of excessing or using the tile power twice per turn. We were in a good position, having a couple of ghost spots open and lots of tokens helping us exercise ghosts. The incarnation was coming up but right before the game took a terrible turn...

First - I had to roll the curse die and of course... it landed on the side where I had to discard my tokens...

Then - A ghost appeared where we could not use tokens to exercise... followed by of course advancing ghosts with resistances of 3...

On my partner's turn, she was on the haunting phase and there were no places to place a ghost. With only one life point, she died, ending her turn, advancing the ghosts, and haunting three village tiles.

We lost one card before the incarnation appeared, which was "Nameless"

Ghost Stories is an amazing and very challenging cooperative game. We have never won the game on normal mode, but 2016 seems like a good year

~~~~Brendon
 
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2. Board Game: Between Two Cities [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:536]
Brendon Soltis
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Worcester
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Before starting the day, we decided to play a quick two player game of Between Two Cities. I like the game overall, but I think it really shines as a two player drafting filler! I think we messed up counting the tiles on one drafting round, but we ended with some extra tiles and not enough in another... oh well.

I cleaned up with 24 points in offices and 30 points in houses but my partner is throwing this game out because of the mix up We will be looking for many future plays of this one!
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3. Board Game: AquaSphere [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:408]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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I played AquaSphere almost exactly a year ago and I enjoyed it very much. I won a copy in a charity auction in late 2015. We started off decently light on New Year's Day but ended the night with a heavier strategic one.



I punched all the cardboard while my partner reviewed the rules. In general, most of the rules came back to me but needed some touch ups on some details with actions, intermediate scoring, and end game scoring. This game actually isn't all that long or plagued with down time although there are some difficult decisions. I went the Time route and expanded my lab so I could hold up to 8 time. Then I could program an extra action per round. Along with my research card which allowed me to program a green action (lab expansion) during intermediate scoring, I came out on top by 8 knowledge points!

This game played really well two player - the last time I played it was with 4 players which felt a little tight. The board was a little open but the dummy subs made it difficult to get subs out to score points in between rounds for deploying robots. Also, only two robots can be in the loading bays, which made it hard to keep robots off the player board. Overall, a great game session and a great end to New Year's Day! laugh

Final Score:

Me: 70
Texie: 62

As we were putting away to components... my partner says "Probably not my game, but the game is not that thinky."

~~~~~~Brendon
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4. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:48]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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We got the Leaders expansion as a Christmas gift this year so we decided to try it out!

We had a two player game (yay dummy player... not...). Drafting the leaders, I did not know exactly what I wanted, so I picked the ones which had good end game scoring bonuses. I drafted one leader who gave me extra points for each wonder section I built - I also had the Wonder Gizah... so it worked out well for me.

Over the course of the game, I was able to amass a lot of money, resources and military, which helped me build guilds toward the end of the game, giving me the win!

My partner played the new wonder, Roma, which had special powers for Leaders. Unfortunately, Side B gave me an advantage too, discounting my leader costs by 1 gold. We are not sure how balanced that may be...

Overall, I am still not a fan of the 2 player variant for 7 Wonders. I did enjoy the addition of leaders to the game. It added just enough to give me some direction for strategy at the beginning of the game but was not too overbearing as some expansions. I am looking forward to trying this one out with more players.
 
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5. Board Game: Abyss [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:340]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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ABYSS!

Great story: This has been on my wishlist for a long while now. I played it last year at a board game meet up and proceeded to never see it again at the meet up - this seems to be a trend with cult of the new. But I loved the game and of course the artwork. My wonderful partner and I were having a late Christmas, opening gifts together, since we were traveling for most of the holidays. I opened a relatively large box and WA-LA, Abyss in al it's glory -> the Shellfish cover art!

So of course we have to open it and play it right away!

Highlights from our game: I had the lord from the beginning that gave me a pearl every turn - this allowed me a lot of flexibility when purchasing lords and taking ally cards on my partner's turn. She had the lord which allowed her to take two piles when taking the support action, giving her tons of cards!! Hoarding is her gameplay style, just play Ticket to Ride with her greentrain! A huge turning point was getting the military lord causing her to discard down to 6 allies.

I don't remember the final score but I won by about a 10 point spread (maybe less). Great first game of Abyss for the year and an awesome addition to my collection! thumbsup
 
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6. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:38]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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This is my #1 game! I was surprised when my partner pulled it out at 9:30pm (we cannot stay up late for the life of us).

I recently got upgraded components with the Stonemaier Treasure Chest and was excited to play with the new wood, stone, and gold components!

It was a pretty sad game - maybe because it was later in the night? Or maybe because we haven't played this since November. Either way, the game was lopsided with scoring =/

Oh well... I still love the two player game and the game itself (mechanics) is always a super fun puzzle. This is on my 10x10 hardcore challenge list so expect to see updates
 
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7. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:235] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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I got my partner the expansion, Dixit Quest for Christmas and we really wanted to play with the new cards! Unfortunately, Dixit is a 3-6 player game and we sometimes struggle to get a game night together. I was looking online this morning and found a wonderful list of 2 player variants for Dixit!

We chose StormKnight's 2 Player Co-op Variant! This variant is amazing for 2 players! One person gives a clue and a card and the second player plays a card matching that clue. Then, the players shuffle in 4 random cards and lay them out. Each player is try to identify the other's card. If both players succeed, the team scores a point! We played 15 rounds and scored 5 points...

It was much harder than we thought! So many times, random cards played matched the clues so well!! We are super excited we can now play Dixit together laugh


Clue: A quick escape
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8. Board Game: Smash Up [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:741] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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Post frozen yogurt outing!

Time Traveling Mad Scientist VERSUS Zombie Shapeshifters

AND BEGIN!

Zombie Shapeshifters started off really strong, using their GELFS to get their Mimics out on bases. The TTing Mad Scientists came back and used a base ability to take cards out of the discard pile (graveyard) of the Zombies to hinder their advances. Time Travelers kept popping up at different locations at different times. The Zombie Shapeshifters finally gained total control over two bases and scored 7 points! But the TTing Mad Scientists came back and solely won control of a base scoring 5!

The score is 10 (Time Traveling Mad Scientist) to 9 (Zombie Shapeshifters) and it looks like it can go either way... BUT the zombie shapeshifters destroy the Time Traveler at the base with 7 power, sacrifice their own minion to gain 1 VP, and plays THE ZOMBIE LORD to take control of the base, scoring 5 points.

Final Score:
14 Time Traveling Mad Scientist
15 Zombie Shapeshifters
 
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9. Board Game: Dead Drop [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:3599]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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I went to my usual Tuesday game night at my FLGS and a couple of us were there waiting for more folks. One person pulled out Dead Drop and we started playing. I was not sure about this one when I heard the rules because I feel slightly over the 15 card, short deduction micro card game.

I was pleasently surprised this one and I think Dead Drop brings a little new life to this genre. There was tension in deciding how much and what information to give up to get new information. And players don't just have to figure out the dead drop card, but they must have the cards in hand to attempt to guess the dead drop.

Interesting little game - I would recommend this for a quick filler.
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10. Board Game: Istanbul [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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Taught a couple of folks in my game group Istanbul (3 player game). After 7 plays of the base game, I still think it is a solid set collection / pick up and deliver / race game.

I got off to a quick lead and bought three rubies by leveraging the large market and manipulating my resources in the black market with the smuggler. I ran into issues attempting to get my last two rubies. The Spice Warehouse was way too far away from the Fabric Warehouse. Due to poor planning, I was able to get the fourth ruby but unable to get my fifth. One of my competitors monopolized the Small Market and picked up ~50 Lira, bought his gems and the win!

Good gaming session with good people! I would play Istanbul again and would want to try out the expansion.
 
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11. Board Game: Welcome to the Dungeon [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:938] [Average Rating:6.65 Unranked]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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What can I say?

This is my favorite (by far) push your luck game. I played Incan Gold back when I first got into board gaming... it was fun but I wasn't really impressed. Push your luck as a mechanism is a good one, but for me there must be at least a little strategy, which Welcome to the Dungeon provides!

I played a 3 player game with my friends Chris and Tre, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive for our Thursday night meetup. Chris is wily in push your luck games and died in a couple of rounds. As the barbarian, I managed to survive the dungeon and gain a victory point! So it was down to me and Tre, in a battle of wits and luck.

I got too bold and an into the dungeon chasing my last victory point and died! Nooooooo, I have never won this game oh well! I really enjoy it!

I think my favorite character is the Barbarian. I hope IELLO comes out with mini expansions for this one!
 
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12. Board Game: Raiders of the North Sea [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:83] [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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I played this on the same night as Champions of Midgard (see below for that session report). I was initially more excited to play Champions but I said I would give this one a shot.

I was WOWed! The mechanism of placing a worker to take the action and then pulling the worker to take a second action is brilliant and works smoothy. Because of the two actions, it feels like you are accomplishing things per turn. Further, the mechanism allows for little downtime, even in the four player game. The different colors of workers also puts a spin on things. Certain colored workers are limited to certain spaces or the results depends on the color of worker. This changes the strategy of which workers to pick up to plan for the following round. There are also cards in the game which have multi-use - for a part of the crew (for raiding and special powers) or for the one time use actions.



I am definitely looking to play this one again and I wouldn't complain if it somehow got into my collection
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13. Board Game: Antarctica [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:3810]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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Described by multiple people "the strangest game of 2015," of course I had to get a copy. I played it late last year for the first time, but this was the first time I got it to the table in 2016. Antarctica is an area majority games with an interesting theme and a weird scoring mechanism.

At a game night, the majority of the group wanted to play The Resistance. I like The Resistance but another person in the group really dislikes that game. I said I would play a two player game with him and offered to teach him Antarctica. This game is one of those games where you need to have played the game a couple of times to get the hang of scoring and strategy. The end score was pretty lopsided, but we both enjoyed the game overall.

Antarctica is the alternate game on my 10x10 hardcore challenge this year so I expect to be playing more of it!
 
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14. Board Game: Champions of Midgard [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:95]
Brendon Soltis
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Worcester
Massachusetts
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Champions. Of. Midgard.

I have heard so much hype about this game, being better than Lords of Waterdeep - the next big gateway game. And to be honest, it was okay for me. I enjoyed the game, I really did. And the dice rolls were fun when fighting the monsters and trolls. But overall I thought the entire game was a bit too swingy for a worker placement game.

If I spend all my efforts gathering resources in a semi-startegic way and then get nothing in return, something is wrong. The redeeming quality of the lucky swings is how fast the game plays. I would play this again if someone asked me to play but I would much rather play Raiders of the North Sea.
 
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15. Board Game: Timeline: Diversity [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1086] [Average Rating:6.81 Unranked]
Brendon Soltis
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Worcester
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I love this game and I got the Diversity set for Christmas. I really love the variety this set has in it - not just historical events, or inventions, or music, etc. It has something for everyone. Of course I mixed all the cards together (the more cards the better).

The original game rules are alright, although it gives the advantage to the first player. My favorite way of playing the game is the 'BS' version and it goes like this...

The first active player plays a card to a central timeline (all cards are date side down) and then draws back up to four cards. The next active player has a choice: either to call out the timeline as inaccurate or say the timeline is accurate and play a card to the timeline. If the player calls out the timeline and it turns out to be incorrect, that player gets a point. If it is correct, every player who played to the timeline (excluding themselves) gets a point. The group plays to a certain number of points. I think this adds a layer of bluffing on top of the knowledge piece! It makes the game really interesting in my opinion!

Anyways... a great little game with a lot of educational potential!
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16. Board Game: Cockroach Poker [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1071]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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The best little straight up bluffing game I have played! I don't know why I do not have this one in my collection, but if I ever find a cheap copy, this is a must have! The best part about it is Cockroach Poker is a ~15 minute filler a group can play while waiting for others to show up. The weird part of it is that at the end, everyone wins and there is only one loser...

And that is exactly what happened this past Tuesday at game night. I happened to pass the final cockroach to this guy who had three in his tableau and told him it was indeed a cockroach. He did not believe me... but to his displeasure, it was indeed a cockroach losing him the game!

Great game, great filler, highly recommended!
 
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17. Board Game: Mombasa [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:64]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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The 4th at the last minute said he could not come to game night last Tuesday and I was asked to play. I was excited because of the buzz around Mombasa. Truth be too, I do not entirely like the theme but it does give me a chance to talk about colonialism and the impact it has on the modern world. Other than the "pasted on theme" Mombassa can be best described as a game full of different mechanics meshed together in a pretty fun experience.

There is a deck building aspect, a worker placement aspect, a tech track aspect, and an area influence/control aspect. There is a lot going on here so I don't think I'll explain the entire game here and maybe I will review the game at some point but overall I enjoyed the game. The unique mechanism I really like is the hand management.

Players play 3 cards per round in set slots below the player board. After the round, the player picks up one pile of cards from the slots above the board and then the cards just used moved from below the board to above it. This really puts strategic pressure on players to play cards at the right time in order to combo them later in the game. Some people will love this mechanism and some will absolutely dislike it!
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18. Board Game: Alien Frontiers [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:192]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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Alien Frontiers is my #4 game I have ever played and I was so excited when I got a copy! This was the first time we were able to open up the box and get it to the table. We played it two player, which many folks have said isn't that great, but I think two player works pretty well! It is a little more mean because there is only one person to steal from, but we found the game to be very balanced - the final score being only one point apart.




I played it the following day with four players and it was just as fun! I have heard this game suffers from down time but I really have not seen that. This is also on my 10x10 challenge and I expect to pull this one out often this year!
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19. Board Game: Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:522] [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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mb 1/14/2016

DICE MASTERS! My #1 played game of 2015 clocking in with over 50 plays.

We haven't played in a while but my friend Chris and I arrived early for game night to play a quick game. This game is still as good as it was when we were playing 3-4 games per night. Very tactical with fun dice rolls! I love the Marvel and DC themes.



I am most excited about the new Marvel Civil War set. The other DC sets, D&D, and TMNT aren't as exciting but I will still look into them. I am not as deep into Dice Masters as I was last year, but still a solid game I would play any day.
 
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20. Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This At All [Average Rating:5.54 Overall Rank:16304] [Average Rating:5.54 Unranked]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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mb 1/14/2016

Yikes... I played this game last year and I cannot believe I played it again...

Terrible game imo... I was eliminated after one turn. Hopefully, never again.
 
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21. Board Game: Survive: Escape from Atlantis! [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:255]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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mb 1/14/2016 surprise

What a way to end a game night! I love the cutthroat gameplay of Survive and think the theme and ways to sabotage opponents hilarious! Players cannot take this game that seriously and while there is a little strategy, most of the gameplay is tactical with a lot of 'take that.'

I have played Survive before but as I left the game night, this was the first time where I thought I really wanted this game in my collection. Although I like the theme, I think I am drawn more to the space attack theme survive that cam out last year.
 
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22. Board Game: La Isla [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:836]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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mb 1/16/2016

My partner and I decided to check out the new board game cafe The Castle in Beverly, MA. They have a pretty nice library that is well organized by type of game (classic, strategy, party, small) and each game has a sticker indicating complexity of the game. I like Feld games and I hadn't tried the lighter La Isla yet.

We got through the rules pretty fast and started playing. I really enjoyed the card play, having to decide how to use each car - for a special power, for resources, or to increase the value of a certain animal. The board play was more of a race than an area control mechanism. The first player to surround an animal completely, captures the animal.

I think the board was a little big for two players. We went in opposite directions and rarely "raced" for a certain animal. Also, it is crucial to get card powers that combo but since players only draw 3 cards and play 3 cards per round, there was not a lot of flexibility. I liked the game but I probably would not go out of my way to get a copy.
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23. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:284]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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mb 1/16/2016

The next game we took off the shelf was this two player, deck building, tug of war game that I have heard pretty good things about. There is some grumbling about the game being broken with certain strategies but since neither of us knew anything about the game, this doesn't really matter. One player plays the British and the other plays the French. Each player has a starting deck of cards and draws up to five to begin their turn. On a turn, a player can take two actions which can be a variety of things - buy new cards for their deck, settle or develop new towns, fortify a city, raid a town, or siege a city. When the game ends, different cities offer victory points for the player who controls it. Player with the most points wins!

We thought this game was a slog... Our decks got clogged up really fast and we had a hard time getting combos to actually do anything. Maybe we will try it again, but this was definitely a bust for us.
 
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24. Board Game: Zooloretto [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:679] [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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mb 1/16/2016

Building a personal zoo... I love this theme!!

We were ready for an easier game so I pulled this one down. I played Zooloretto the Dice Game last year but never played the full game. I really enjoyed the game and would love to have it in my collection. The problem for me is the price point with how much is included in the game. I think the game could have been in a smaller box at a lower price. If that was the case, it would definitely be on my wishlist.

Overall, a solid gateway drafting-ish game!
 
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25. Board Game: Morels [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:646]
Brendon Soltis
United States
Worcester
Massachusetts
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mb 1/16/2016

The last game we played at the cafe before heading home. A great two player set collection game.

I really really really enjoyed this game. BUT I could not stand how the line of cards shuffles down after every turn. Now, I am not one to usually complain about 'fiddly' mechanisms, but since turns are SO fast in the game (take a mushroom, take the decay, play a pan, cook mushrooms, or sell mushrooms) most of the time spent playing the game was moving cards down the line in order to refill other cards. Bleehhhhh.

Such a great fast two player game. A little ruined by refilling the card line.
 
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