New to you March 2017 => Best new boardgame
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What games did you play for the first time in March 2017?

Please share your experiences of the games you played for the first time this month.

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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1. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game [Average Rating:8.19 Overall Rank:19]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game
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== NEW GAMES ==

Arkham Horror: The Card Game - 2 plays -  8 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Although I've never wanted to get into a living card game because of the expense (which I had first hand experience of with games like Magic:TG), I am a big fan of Arkham Horror and was actually pretty interested to see how the card game stacked up against my #1 favourite game Arkham Horror.
So far my wife and I have played twice, completing the first scenario in the included campaign, and failing horribly at the second scenario.

The game is far more complex than I had anticipated, but it captures the feel of Arkham Horror quite nicely, and it is definitely not easy, which a game based on the Cthulhu Mythos should never be! I'm not sure yet if I'll buy any scenario packs or other expansions, but I am definitely looking forward to playing it some more.
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2. Board Game: Mage Wars: Forged in Fire – Spell Tome Expansion [Average Rating:8.13 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.13 Unranked]
Board Game: Mage Wars: Forged in Fire – Spell Tome Expansion
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Board Game: Dungeon Lords: Dungeon-Setup Tiles

Dungeon Lords: Dungeon-Setup Tiles

2017-03-17

Initial Rating: 8.0 (March 2017)

I love Dungeon Lords so is only natural that I also love its expansions. Dungeon Lords: Dungeon-Setup Tiles is a small, but welcomed addition to the game.

At the setup, each player gets two tiles and choose one. They modify the starting resources and dungeon layout. Some of the tiles also offer a reward if you dig it up.

They don’t add complexity to the game, but they do add variety.

If you play Dungeon Lords a lot this is a must have.

Current Rating: 8.5


Board Game: Lagoon: Land of Druids

Lagoon: Land of Druids

2017-03-17

Initial Rating: 5.0 (March 2017)

I wasn’t expecting much from Lagoon: Land of Druids. I bought the game some time ago and I bought it at full price, since then, I have seen it severely discounted in many stores, but after playing it, I can say it is much better than expected, but still not for me.

The rules are pretty easy to learn and teach. You can explain the game under 10 minutes. Playtime is under 60 minutes.

Theme is ok, but pasted on. It is mostly an abstract endeavor.

The game´s components are ok but the art is amazing! It looks great on the table.

Gameplay seemed fascinating at first, it seemed like you had many options and the best play wasn’t obvious (I love this in games) but that wasn’t the case. Each tile has text on it and you could potentially plan the best strategy, however, the power level of the tiles varies a lot. Most tiles are very situational while other are very good, so there is a lot of uncontrollable luck here. To summarize this point, it is luck if you draw the best tiles and most tiles aren’t very useful for most the game. That’s a shame as the whole game is composed of tiles. I love how the druids work but that isn’t enough.

Another issue with the game, to score points you have to have tokens of the dominant energy and tiles of the other two energies. From the beginning of the game, there will be a color that has less tiles that the others so you need to make sure to remove (unravel) some of its tiles and that’s the dominant strategy, that is, you need to pick a color and unravel it as much as you can, that will score you a lot of points without caring which of the other two colors ends up as the dominant one. With this strategy, the text on most of the tiles won’t be much of a consideration. The initial unbalance can be leveraged to your advantage. Due to this, I didn’t have much fun playing the game, it makes no sense to unravel tiles in any other color as that color could end up as the dominant one, thus scoring you zero points. At the beginning of the game I was excited, but at the end I never read the text of the tiles, I unraveled as much as I could and that was it. This also have the effect that you know who is going to win well before the game ends.

I didn’t have much fun playing the game :/, it was unexciting and gameplay becomes boring and repetitive soon.

Best with 2 players, but the 4 player partnership is also interesting.

Bottom line, Lagoon: Land of Druids has some very interesting ideas, but they seem underdeveloped and that’s a shame. As the game progresses, the text on most tiles becomes meaningless. It was better than expected though, but I already sold my copy of the game. I would play again if requested to see if my appreciations are correct.

Current Rating: 4.5


Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy: Bountiful Gaming Grid Promo Tile

Roll for the Galaxy: Bountiful Gaming Grid Promo Tile

2017-03-17

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2017)

I like Roll for the Galaxy so I also like Roll for the Galaxy: Bountiful Gaming Grid Promo Tile. It isn’t a necessary addition, but it is nice to have it.

The art of the tile breaks the thematic sense of the game, but I don't mind much about this.

I have only played with it once and it seems it is a decent start world, but nothing earth shattering.

It is pretty expensive for what is it, but I must have all the promos , perhaps this will change in the future.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy: Terraforming Colony/Diversified Economy Promo Tile

Roll for the Galaxy: Terraforming Colony/Diversified Economy Promo Tile

2017-03-17

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2017)

I like Roll for the Galaxy so I also like Roll for the Galaxy: Terraforming Colony/Diversified Economy Promo Tile. It isn’t a necessary addition, but it is nice to have more variety. The tile itself doesn’t seem very powerful.

The art is pretty cool.

It is pretty expensive for what is it, but I must have all the promos , perhaps this will change in the future.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: First Train to Nuremberg

First Train to Nuremberg

2017-03-17

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2017)

First Train to Nuremberg was one of my oldest unplayed games, I bought it on January 2014 so it took me over 3 years to play it . I was expecting a lot from it, after all it is from Martin Wallace, a game designer I respect a lot!

The rules aren’t very complex, but there are many of them. You can explain the game under 18 minutes. Playtime is around 2 hours and a half.

The game´s components are ok. The art is serviceable, but sometime the arrows on the map are hard to see.

The theme is also ok, nothing exciting but it works for me. I like the general idea, we are always operating a losing enterprise and we need to sell our track as efficiently as possible.

First Train to Nuremberg has a variable setup and that’s great! Every game is different from each other. I also like that they included the map Last Train to Wensleydale, both games are very similar but they have some differences, sadly I didn’t get to play it.

The game offers interesting and non-obvious decisions (which kind of influence do I want?, how much to bid?, where to build my tracks?, which track to sell?, which passenger/item should I transport first). There are 4 kinds of influence in the game and they have a huge impact on the game. They decide who build first and who buys/transport first. They also help when you lay track and buy locomotors. So much of the game comes from having the right kind of influence at the right time. Planning and outguessing you opponents is very fun.

Very small luck factor. Luck only affect the influence cubes before the auction. That is a huge positive for me.

On the bad side, the game is very fiddly. After the auction you have to adjust the influence tracks and play orders. This is a minor issue for me, but that part was boring. The rules are confusing at parts, furthermore with the stations. When Argentum Verlag is involved, you know the English rules are going to be regular. The setup takes a long time to finish.

Bottom line, I like First Train to Nuremeberg. It is a good train game, but something was missing from my first game, I didn’t have as much fun as with other Wallace´s games, it is also very fiddly. As I’m currently on a shrinking phase I decided to sell it, but I did so with a heavy heart. At least, one of my friends bought it so I can play it again if the mood strikes.

Current Rating: 6.5


Board Game: Mage Wars: Forged in Fire – Spell Tome Expansion

Mage Wars: Forged in Fire – Spell Tome Expansion

2017-03-17

Initial Rating: 8.5 (March 2017)

I love Mage Wars! It is currently in my list of top ten games of all time, sadly, It is also a hard game to get to the table (being only for 2 players) but I finally played Mage Wars: Forged in Fire – Spell Tome Expansion and I really liked it!

I have only played with the Adramelech Warlock (she rocks!) so I cannot comment about the Warlord of the Anvil Throne, however, some friends says he fixes a lot of the issues with the previous Warlord. I need to play with him soon.

Mage Wars: Forged in Fire – Spell Tome Expansion adds a small number of new traits, so if you are familiar with the game, adding this expansion adds very little complexity. It also adds lots of spells to the mix.

About the Adramelech Warlock, I love how she can control fire. It is so fun to play with her . I’m not sure if she is stronger than the previous Warlock, I need more plays to verify but you have to attack with fire with her, or lose all her advantages and native abilities.

Bottom line, Mage Wars: Forged in Fire – Spell Tome Expansion is a great expansion for the game and a must have for me. It adds two new mages and lots of spells.

Current Rating: 8.5


Board Game: Concordia: Salsa

Concordia: Salsa

2017-03-17

Initial Rating: 8.0 (March 2017)

I love Concordia, so I was very keen on trying this expansion. I have previously played the Britannia map, but gameplay remains the same in that map. In Salsa, the gameplay changes considerably with the new resource (salt) and, most of all, with the forum tiles! I really like Concordia: Salsa.

If you are familiar with Concordia´s rules, the new rules can be explained under 2 minutes.

I haven’t played with the Byzantium or Hispania map so I cannot comment on them yet.

The new resource, salt, can be used like any other resource, but you cannot buy/sell salt. This changes alone changes the game a bit. Salt´s cities are expensive to build, but they offer a lot of flexibility through the game and they work for most bonuses at the end.

The forums tiles are easy to explain, but they do change the game radically. There are two kinds of tile, a permanent one and a disposable one. The permanents ones activate when you play the right personality, the disposable ones you can activate on your turn. These open the way for new strategies I´m eager to explore.

I like that you can decide if you will play with either or both new modules and you can mix them with all the maps, good stuff.

Bottom line, Concordia: Salsa is THE expansion for the game and a must have for fans of the game. My desire to play it again soon is very high.

Current Rating: 8.0


Board Game: Archon: Glory & Machination

Archon: Glory & Machination

2017-03-17

Initial Rating: 6.5 (March 2017)

I didn’t know what to expect from Archon: Glory & Machination but I wasn’t expecting much from it. On one hand it was funded through Kickstarter, and that always make new games a little bit uncertain in my book, on the other hand it was published by Artipia Games, a publisher that is very miss with me. After playing it, I can say it was better than expected, but still just an ok game for me.

Archon: Glory & Machination is a worker placement game that goes for nine round, perhaps it is a bit long for what it offers.

The rules aren’t very complex, but there are a lot of things to explain. You can do it under 20 minutes.

I really like the art of the game and I also think the graphic design of the board works well. Some friends think the board was too heavy with color, but that’s fine for me. Having said that, I think there were some unfortunate decisions when picking the color of certain things. For example, the game´s resources are the exact same color of the player´s pieces, some of the colors on the cards look different than the real item they depict, two of the colors are easily confused between them and for games with 2 or 3 players they also chose a color that appears in the cards, so at the beginning I thought only those cards could be used in those spots and that’s not the case. To summarize, I don’t know who approved the colors of the board and pieces, but they did a terrible, terrible job.

The theme is cool, but you don’t feel it though the game.

Archon: Glory & Machination offers some interesting and non-obvious decisions with very low luck (a plus for me). There are lots of options to consider each turn, but as you play you realize that the game seemed more heavy and complex that it really is. The novelty here, is that you can upgrade your workers into 4 different more powerful workers.

At the beginning of each odd turn, you take all your ten cards and you distribute them in two five cards piles. You can put any card in any pile but you will us eon pile in this turn and one in the next after this one, that is, this mechanism allows you to plan for the next two turns, this is a feature I haven’t seen I any game before it and I like it.

Best with 3 players

I should love the game, but for some reason, I don’t. It has low tension, furthermore when you get the blue cards. Perhaps that’s my issue with the game. In most worker placement games when a player takes a spot you cannot take it, but here you can. I didn’t have much fun playing it but the game has potential.

Bottom line, Archon: Glory & Machination is much better than I initially expected, it has interesting and meaty decisions and offers a novel way of hand management, still, my desire to play the game is rather low. Perhaps it is too long for what it offers. The component’s colors are very bad and confuse players easily. I´m going to sell my copy of the game, but I would play again if requested. The art is very good.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: Jórvík

Jórvík

2017-03-28

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2017)

I generally like Feld games, but with The Speicherstadt I have always had mixed feelings so my desire to play Jorvik wasn’t very high. I must confess I haven’t played the game along the Kaispeicher expansion but I will do it soon (that’s the reason I haven’t sold the game in the first place).

The rules are easy to teach, you can do it under 12 minutes. Gameplay is around 75 minutes.

The theme is based now around Vikings, I generally don’t like this theme (don’t know why) but it is paper thin and you don’t feel it though the game in any case.

I have only played the basic game, I hope it gets a lot better with the full game. Still it is an interesting game with non-obvious decisions, basically, where to place your workers, but you need to think some aspects (do you want that card or are you bluffing a little? Do you want to increase the price of a card?). Money is very thigh so the decision of where to spend it isn’t obvious and that’s my favorite part of the game. Having said that, Jorvik isn’t as fun as I thought it would be.

Best with 4 players.

When I played Jorvik I thought the game was streamlined in some ways (perhaps it is), but, for the life of me, I cannot spot any differences (mechanically speaking) between both games, still, its been a long time since I last played The Speicherstadt.

As The Speicherstadt, and most of all Kaispeicher were out of print and hard to get, I’m surprised to see Jorvik in many sales. I though the game was going to be a huge hit, but I’m not sure this is the case.

Bottom line, Jorvik is a good re implementation of The Speicherstadt and Kaispeicher. I still have high hopes for the game. I need to play the complete game before deciding if I like it or not. I, obviously, won’t buy it as I already have the previous incarnation of the game.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: Carson City: Big Box

Carson City: Big Box

2017-03-28

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2017)

I like Carson City and I was very keen to play Carson City: Big Box to see the new components and board. I, obviously, liked it as I like the regular Carson City, it is among my favorites of 2009. You can find my opinion about the game under the Carson City entry. Here I will only comment on the Big Box Edition.

The box is very big and full of components. The pistols, mountains and houses now come in wood and they look great. The big box comes with all the previously released content for the game, so buying it was a no brainer for me. I love big boxes of games .

So far, I have only played the base game, but I really want to try the variants and expansions.

The board is double sided now and it support up to 6 players. I feel the game is best with 4 players, and I wouldn’t want to play it with 6, so this change is lost on me.

The rating of Carson City: Big Box is the mean of all its content, so for now, I´m rating it the same I rated Carson City.

Current Rating: 7.0

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Board Game: Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Scholar Hero Character

Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Scholar Hero Character

2017-03-28

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2017)

I’m really liking Sentinels of the Multiverse right now, so it is no wonder I also like its expansions and promo characters.

I have played with the Scholar only once, but from my limited perspective he is very powerful. He can heal himself regularly due to his power but he also can heal the whole group (Proverbs and Axioms). He also has a lot of firepower. I personally love Offensive Transmutation which prevent any damage by the enemy until its next turn.

He is a great support hero and I want to play with him again.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Geek Out! Promo Pack

Geek Out! Promo Pack

This comment is only for the Tabletop Day promo pack

2017-03-29

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2017)

At first I didn’t enjoy Geek Out very much, but the game has been growing on my lately. These promo cards make the game a lot better for me as they are focused on board games! Sadly I never watch Tabletop so many questions are impossible for me , still I enjoyed the game more with these cards.

I mix these cards with the base ones.

Current Rating: 6.5


Board Game: The Ravens of Thri Sahashri

The Ravens of Thri Sahashri

2017-03-29

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2017)

I have heard good things about The Ravens of Thri Sahashri and after reading the rules, I thought the game was going to be great, however it ended up disappointing us.

Reading the rules wasn’t as easy as other games. I read a PDF I found here on BGG (from the 2013 edition), and it has some parts that were a bit confusing, for example, when talking about the end of the round and the matching colors from the Atman it doesn’t let absolutely clear that zero is a valid answer. Also, if you read BGG´s description of the game it says “Once all four hidden cards are completed, the round ends and unless the playing field has exactly the colors represented among the hidden cards, the players have failed.” and that’s NOT the case. When a round ends you can have some colors in your heart that aren’t in the Atman, but all the colors in the Atman need to be also in the heart. The rules I found in the box (Osprey Games) are much better and clearer than the ones I read.

Once the rules are clear, they aren’t very hard to teach, you can do in under 14 minutes. I love the name of the game.

The art of the game is great. The cards are of good quality but I always sleeve my cards and when you do that, they no longer fit back into the box (a minor issue, but an issue nonetheless).

The theme is very cool and fresh.

The play is asymmetrical (a good thing) and, although we lost the game twice, I found the decisions needed to play it aren’t that hard or deep. The Ravens of Thri Sahashri wasn’t exciting or fun for us. If you play as the boy you have more decisions to take (how many cards to draw from the deck into the atman, how to place the cards into the atman), there are some rules about how to do this, but they aren’t complex. If you play as the girl your choices are much simpler (you take a card from the atman). The game is unique, but not very fun. All the clues need to be done non verbally, an idea I love in Hanabi, but here it fell flat. Due to this, there can’t be an alpha player (a plus in cooperative games).

There are three sealed envelopes in the game, you are supposed to open the first one as soon as you win the game once, but we didn’t. Still I love this idea. I cannot comment about the sleeves but I guess they add more content to the game and/or they change the rules. A very cool idea and the only one that gave me pause before selling the game.

There is considerable luck of the draw with the cards and with the ravens. With clever play and experience you can mitigate it, but you cannot eliminate it. It doesn’t bother me though because the game plays rather fast and it is a cooperative game.

Bottom line, I was expecting a better game from The Ravens of Thri Sahashri. We played it twice and lost both times but the second play through we did vastly better than the first one. I wanted to play it again to beat the game but my SO said the game was too boring so we played another game instead. I also find it unexciting. I really wanted to beat the game at least once to open an envelope but we lost the interest after the second play. I already sold the game so I won’t ever know about the envelopes. It is, however, an unique game. The decisions needed to play it aren’t hard and I was expecting a deeper game, perhaps that’s my main disappointment.

Current Rating: 5.5


Board Game: Magnet

Magnet

2017-03-29

Initial Rating: 5.0 (March 2017)

My desire to play Magnet was low. I bought the game on 2013 so it took me 4 years to play it . After we played it, I can say it is better than expected, but still not a game for us, we are not abstract games fans. There is, however, a source of disappointment and confusion. The name implies the game comes with actual magnets and it doesn’t. I’m not the only one to be tricked by the name among my friends .

The rules are very easy to teach, you can do it under 3 minutes. Playtime can be around 25 minutes.

The game´s components are ok.

The idea of the game is to capture the king of your opponent to control the center of the board with your king. Both players have secret units so it isn’t as easy as you would think. Some of the units are traps (my favorite part of the game). Deducing where is the king of your opponent is a big part of the game. The mechanism of attracting pieces with the magnet is novel, I haven’t seen it before. Gameplay can be very deep as with most abstract games, but we didn’t have much fun playing Magnet.

The game´s box is way too big for what comes inside.

Bottom line, Magnet is an ok abstract game but not a particularly fun one to play. If we are going to play an abstract two player game, we would play Yinsh instead. I would play again if requested, but I’m selling my copy of Magnet. I really wish the name wasn’t Magnet, as it implies it comes with actual magnets (it doesn’t).

Current Rating: 4.0


Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: Under the Mask

T.I.M.E Stories: Under the Mask

2017-03-31

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2017)

We continue to love T.I.M.E Stories , but we cannot play it as fast as before. Getting the four of us together has become a bit harder.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

The theme this time is about ancient Egypt. I kind of knew that because in the vortex cards of the last adventure appeared an Egyptian card .

The game system continues to evolve, in T.I.M.E Stories: Under the Mask you can now jump from vessel to vessel in game and that opens a lot of venues to explore. We have only played it once so I cannot comment much more.

It seems combat has been decreased in importance and I approve if this means the puzzles are going to be harder. I’m still expecting a harder expansion, the hardest one was the first one (The Asylum).

I hope to continue to play it soon and when I do I will come back to finish my comment.


Current Rating: 7.0


From gallery of Photodump

Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure

2017-03-31

Initial Rating: 6.5 (March 2017)

Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure can be a good deckbuilding game. It was much better than expected, but still it isn’t a game for me.

The rules are easy to teach. You can do it under 18 minutes. Playtime is around 90-110 minutes.

The art of the game is pretty good. The game´s components are very well done as well. The game board is prone to break. In the copy I played it was partially loose.

The idea of the game and the theme are pretty neat. You are exploring a dungeon looking for treasure while the dragon tries to kill you. The more noise you do in search of treasure, the more likely the dragon will hit you.

As most deckbuilding games, it has a high replayability factor. You don’t see all the cards in one play and the board is double sided. Also there is one expansion already out.

Clank! features a variable market offering (like Ascension, Legendary and Star Realms) and that’s a big issue for me. The luck of the draw is amplified by this and it is very unfair when a player can buy a great card in his turn and another can’t just because that card isn’t available anymore. I always prefer more fair deckbuilding games with an static market offering (Dominion, Penny Arcade, Tanto Quore). I really hate when luck alone decides what player can buy, that is, Clank is much more tactical than strategic.

Due to the variable market offering, the game has a high luck factor and if you add the random distribution of the noise cubes (in our game the dragon hit the most the player who had the least cubes in the bag), you get an uncontrollable luck factor and that’s the main reason I sold the game, it is unfair and I cannot stand this kind of deckbuilding game.

The bonus tokens add another layer of uncontrollable luck and it seems they are very situational, sometimes they are very powerful, other times very weak. To summarize, the luck factor is very high and uncontrollable.

The game decisions aren’t not that interesting, but, thanks to the map, they aren’t that obvious either. The map allows you to strategize a bit and plan ahead. It has some element of push your luck seeing how long can you remain in the dungeon.

Best with 3 fast players, with more, the downtime is excessive for such a simple game.

Another issue I have with the game, when a player exits the dungeon, the game continues for four whole turns, every other player can play four additional turns and that’s way too much of an advantage, even if someone dies in the upper part of the dungeon. I feel this part is unbalanced, you can do much more than 20 points in 4 turns.

Bottom line, Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure can be a good deckbuilding game for some players, but not for me, it is very unfair and luck plays a prominent role. It is a, mainly, tactical endeavor and you have to react most of the time. The planning you can do is very restricted and due to this I vastly prefer to play Dominion (a game in which I can plan all my game from the very beginning). Perhaps it is the best deckbuilding game that features a variable market offering out there, but still it isn’t enough for me to keep it. I already sold my copy of the game. I would play again if requested but if I don’t play it again I won’t be sad. The game´s idea is pretty neat though but its execution is disappointing for me.

Current Rating: 5.5


Board Game: Uncharted: The Board Game

Uncharted: The Board Game

2017-03-31

Initial Rating: 5.0 (March 2017)

Uncharted was one of my oldest unplayed games. My desire to play it was very low because boardgames based on big franchises have a very bad reputation with me. Another point of suspicion was the publisher (Bandai) who published the awful Resident Evil Deckbuilding Game. Having said that, Uncharted was much better than expected.

I haven’t played the videogame and I don’t think I will ever do, so the theme was lost on me, however, my friends who played the videogame were much keener than me in trying the game.

Uncharted insert is very bad and, when you sleeve the cards, they don’t fit in it anymore. The art is very good but I think it comes from the videogame.

I couldn’t find the rules online, and that’s a rarity these days.

The rules are very easy to explain, you can do it under 8 minutes. Playtime is around 45 minutes.

The game comes with various modes of playing, we played only the first mode with character´s powers. About the powers, they feel they are unbalanced (Drake´s power to have another action seems very powerful), but I´m not 100% sure of this.

The game´s decisions aren’t as straightforward as I thought. In each turn you have to do two actions (play a card, use a card, pass, attack, where to put your treasure tokens) and to play your cards you need to pay with cards, so deciding which cards to play and which to discard is fun. The color of the cards is also important to activate some powers. Still, Uncharted is a light-medium game and these days I crave heavier experiences.

If you die you are out of the game, but it plays relatively fast, so it doesn’t bother me.

Bottom line, due to its popular theme, Uncharted can be a good game to attract new gamers to our beloved hobby, it features multi-use cards. Its mechanics aren’t as bad as I feared at the beginning and it plays fast. I will sell my copy of the game though, it is way too light for us.

Current Rating: 5,0


Board Game: Ascension X: War of Shadows

Ascension X: War of Shadows

2017-03-31

Initial Rating: 5.0 (March 2017)

Ascension X: War of Shadows is an ok iteration in the series.

The rules of the game remains the same plus the added day-night mechanism and the dual cards. I´m surprised it took them this long to make the dual cards .

If you know the rules, the changes can be explained under 1 minute, if you don’t, the whole game can be explained under 7 minutes.

As all Ascension games, it is much better with two players.

The art is great. I have always liked Ascension’s art right from the beginning!

In general, I heavily dislike deckbuilding games that feature a variable market offering as this one does. The reason is that the game is mostly about tactics (reaction) than about strategy (planning). In this regard I vastly prefer to play Dominion and its true descendants (Tanto Cuore, Penny Arcade, Nightfall). I really hate when a good card appears on my turn and then it doesn’t on an opponent’s turn, for me, this kind of game is very unfair and luck has a very high influence in the outcome. Having saying that, I’m enjoying my (iPad) plays of Ascension X: War of Shadows. (I won’t ever buy a game like this in real life).

The day-night mechanism adds a lot of uncontrollable luck to the mix because your cards have added capabilities if it is day or night. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don´t and you cant affect much if it is day or night.

Bottom line, Ascension X: War of Shadows is an ok expansion/standalone. I won’t ever buy it due to its chaotic nature with the variable market offering, but I will continue to play it on the iPad. It has way too much uncontrollable luck for my liking and too little room for planning.

Current rating: 5.0


Board Game: CO₂: The Arctic Expansion

CO₂: The Arctic Expansion

2017-03-31

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2017)

I really like Co2 so I was very keen to play CO₂: The Arctic Expansion.

The expansion only consist of 3 cards, but the arctic really changes the game, it makes it much more harder because the CO2 rises now much more quickly and if you ignore it, it will surely cause all players to lose the game.

The new event card is very mean compared with the previous events, but it has a higher threshold to make the event happen.

There is a new goal that has to do with green plants on the arctic.

Bottom line, I enjoyed the mini expansion a lot. It makes the game harder so it is best if players are familiar with the base game first.

Current rating: 7.5
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3. Board Game: Tiny Epic Galaxies [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:259]
Board Game: Tiny Epic Galaxies
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
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3 new games for me in March, all courtesy of my friend
Tim Cockitt
United Kingdom
MANCHESTER
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with

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Cheshire
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also adding to the fun in my game of the week. A very neat dice-choosing mechanism and a quick playing time made this my favourite this month.

Also new to me:

Romans Go Home!, a fun bluffing/tactical card game in which the Scots (somewhat improbably) cheerfully ransack and loot the forts of the hapless Romans.

and finally

Princesses & Unicorns, a simple card game for which I suspect two medium-aged men are not the target audience. Decent for what it is!
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4. Board Game: Kanban: Driver's Edition [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:166]
Board Game: Kanban: Driver's Edition
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I played only one new game in March, so by default it has to be the best new boardgame for me. I had only played one Lacerda design before (Vinhos,) and I didn't care for it very much, but my wife played Kanban: Driver's Edition and bought a copy, so it only seemed fair to play it with her.

I was pleasantly surprised. The setting works for me much better than the one in Vinhos, and we had a nice game (my wife won by a margin of about 90-70 as I just pulled levers at random while she made a plan of increasing her skill in every area.) I will be happy to play it again with her.

My rating: _7_
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5. Board Game: ConHex [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:4383]
Board Game: ConHex
Goat Goatington
United Kingdom
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A connection game combined with some area majority. The board is divided into a number of cells with 6 or 3 spaces on the vertices. On your turn you play on a vertex and you claim the cell if you control half the vertices of the cell. I like the design of the board and the layout of the cells means that most points are in 3 different cells simultaneously.

I love the combination of area majority with a connection game and haven't played anything quite like it before. There are no capture or movement rules so the first to place in a cell can always beat the other player to control that cell, which means you have an ongoing race across the board in multiple cells at all times. The fact that every placement is threatening multiple cells means the game is constantly shifting and it continues to surprise even when I think I'm getting a handle on what's happening. A game that looks like a sure win for red can suddenly swing to yellow because red hasn't quite secured the last link in the chain and allows yellow to snake around the edge of the board.

I'd added this in to an order with Hex because it sounded like a nice novelty but so far, I've enjoyed this more than Hex because of the cell claiming. I've liked it so much that it's probably my favourite abstract along with Santorini at the moment. It is also nicely portable because that's what nestorgames does.



Unlock!: Escape Adventures
Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures


We're on a run of escape room games at the moment (the ones this month plus some of the ThinkFun Escape the Room games) and this is definitely the best so far. I can't really talk about the individual scenarios because of spoilers so this is fairly high level stuff.

The art is quite similar to Time Stories (minus the panoramas) and excellent throughout. I love the presentation of the whole thing and it's a big step up on all the other escape room games we've played. In a game where atmosphere is all important, good art goes a long way to making it fun.

Each scenario is only a deck of cards, nothing else, whereas other games have bits of map, some cards, some paper, etc. Time Stories was almost all a deck of cards, this is entirely the cards. The biggest improvement over the others is that a single 'scene' is split into multiple cards, e.g. you walk into the room and draw cards 15, 20, 80, B and F to represent the desk, the computer, the door, a painting on the wall and a weird statue. Players can now pass around the cards and look at them simultaneously so everyone has something to look at at all times. The biggest problem we've had with escape room games so far is that most of them feel designed for 2-3 people; yes, you'd want more but there's one map that you can't read across the table and one card with a lot of information. You could play with more but now you're taking turns and half the table is a bit bored waiting. This system means you can look at one part of the room while everyone else is looking at something else and is the first one I'd recommend as playable above 3 players.

The 3rd scenario (escape from the island) seems ideal with 4 and I don't think would be particularly enjoyable for 2 because it splits you into teams at the start and forbids communication between teams. That's something you see in the rules for the scenario so it's not a spoiler, just something to be aware of.

The puzzles all take a similar form - combine a blue item with a red or green item, add the numbers and find the card with that number. If the number you're looking for doesn't exist, that wasn't an answer. It has some penalties too for trying some stupid things. You also need to find hidden numbers and letters on the cards you have and again, this is much more interesting thanks to the presentation of the whole thing. There's a required app for iOS/Android that tracks time and processes any codes you enter, as well as giving hints if you get stuck.

It feels like Time Stories turned into a straight puzzle game minus the time travel and I highly recommend it. We're totally on board for the upcoming expansions.



Escape Room: The Game
Board Game: Escape Room: The Game


We've only played the first scenario for this so far. It adds a small machine to act as the timer and check your codes. This has the typical problem of escape room games that Unlock! avoided - reliance on few physical components that you can't examine properly across the table - and I wouldn't recommend it at higher player counts. Adding ciphers to the machine and then only using one per scenario feels odd. Why isn't the cipher just part of the adventure envelope instead of having to pick up the entire box to read it?

The first scenario falls back on more maths-ish puzzles, which are fine but not inspiring and the art is functional. It's better than the ThinkFun puzzles and we did enjoy it, it's just that Unlock! was much better. It did feel a little harder than Unlock! but that could be because the hint system leaves you waiting for a while if you get ahead of the timer.



3 Wishes
Board Game: 3 Wishes


Mascarade meets Love Letter with some great art thrown in. I enjoyed this a lot, particularly the gamble around ending the game. It's likely that someone will have switched your cards since your last look you found so you aren't completely sure whether you still have a scoring set of cards when ending the game. It's not a deep game but it is a fun experience and suitably short.



Fugitive
Board Game: Fugitive


A two player deduction game with some bluffing and a bit of guesswork thrown in. There's a shared deck of ascending, unique numbers and the fugitive is trying to play a sequence of hidden cards to get to the top without the marshal guessing those cards. I like how new cards are restricted to a narrow range from the previous cards with the option to play a stack of cards to sprint over a larger gap. The marshal is gathering their own cards, which eliminates some possibilities for their guesses, but is mostly relying on reading the fugitive's plays.

It's a very simple game that manages to make bluffing work with two players, which is a rare feat. I haven't tried the events yet because I'm not convinced the game needs them, but maybe when we're more experienced they'll add some legs to the game.



Millennium Blades
Board Game: Millennium Blades


Wow, this was a little overwhelming. It's effectively a simulator of being a CCG player with all that entails and it feels a lot like trying to get into a CCG for the first time. The game has two main phases, tournament play and deck building.

Tournaments are fairly simple to play. You've chosen your 8 card deck and now you need to play 6 cards to score points. The order of cards feels fairly obvious because the combos you can play with your 8 cards are well defined. There's a little interaction but not a lot and the tournament can feel quite solitaire. I think that sufficient experience will make this more interesting but there are so many unique cards with weird effects that we largely had no idea what everyone else was doing, just how many points they were on. It's definitely the less interesting part of the game and felt a little long.

The deck building is the real meat of the game - all real time, card buying, selling and trading for about 20 minutes a time. The game definitely captures the feel of collecting an LCG here with lots of blind buys and trying to figure out which of your cards to keep and which have value in the secondary market. The game adds a cap of how many cards you can have listed on the secondary market at once, which encourages you to sell good cards that other people will actually buy and trade directly. You're going to be reading a lot of cards and, much like a CCG, some cards are strictly better. It seems like you can build a wide variety of decks from the card pool and the collection is a nice touch to give you an alternate goal even if your deck isn't changing much.

I think that I'd enjoy this much more with repeat plays but as a largely one-off exercise it's simply too much too fast. I don't think I'll get to play it regularly to see it at its best, which is a bit of a shame because I love the theme here.



Tak
Board Game: Tak


Only a few plays of this and it is not an obvious game at all. The rules are very simple, it feels like it could be very clever indeed and I simply don't know what to do early on. At some point the possible moves narrow down a bit and things become clear but until then we've been playing quite arbitrary moves. The stacking movement means that typical moves for a connection game don't work so well and the board can change dramatically if a large stack is built and moved later on.

I think this will be good with experience. However, it is much more opaque than most abstracts and isn't too friendly to new players. We don't have the time to put into this at the moment with Gloomhaven still ongoing so I suspect it's going to have to wait a bit before I can form a full opinion on it. The other connection games this month are much easier to get into, even with mistakes being made.



Mansions of Madness: Second Edition – Beyond the Threshold: Expansion
Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition – Beyond the Threshold: Expansion


Not technically new this month but I forgot to add it last time. A new boxed expansion that adds two scenarios and a few components to Mansions second edition. It's a little pricey for what you get but I enjoyed both scenarios a great deal. The first does something entirely new, the second is a scenario type rarely seen so far and both feel suitably different to the existing scenarios. I don't really want to get into either of them because of spoilers but I'd highly recommend this if you want more Mansions. They appear to have some replayability to them even once you've completed them but we've replayed these less than the base ones so far.



Mansions of Madness What Lies Within
Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition


A digital DLC scenario for Mansions that doesn't seem to have an entry. Again, a little pricey and very enjoyable. It's not quite as good as the Beyond the Threshold scenarios but it is better than the scenarios they added based on first edition content. This one is a more typical Lovecraft story - a mansion with mysterious deaths and things that go bump in the dark - but it does it well and there's a small new mechanic that I liked. If this style of scenario and price is the future of Mansions then I'm in for more.



Pax Pamir: Khyber Knives
Board Game: Pax Pamir: Khyber Knives


An expansion that adds a few extras to Pax Pamir because it was definitely lacking rules before. The main bits as I remember them:

The chieftan of each location is now the Wazir of that location, which gives you two new abilities. The first is to pay 6 to trigger a regime change to a set regime and the second lets you pay 2 to add units to that location, which can be a mix of spies, tribesmen, armies and roads. The regime change is powerful but very expensive and seemed mostly relevant for trying to win a topple. Adding units to the map is hugely flexible if you have a 3 star card to use and makes managing tribes and armies much more important. I like these a lot and would always use them, even without the rest of the expansion.

There are new capability cards that are dual purpose. You can attach them to a card to add stars (still capped at 3) or you can activate the capability to give yourself a permanent special ability for the game. Each capability has activation requirements, often focused on having certain combinations of stars in your tableau, and they're all hugely powerful. A few examples we saw were having no hand size limit, allowing your tribes to fight as armies and having patriots count double for topple supremacy checks. I also love this because I like asymmetric powers in games and these are interesting trade offs. They don't go into your hand and they're lost if you can't activate them before the next topple, but if you wait until you can activate it someone may buy it first just to stop you.

New headline cards are added to the deck, which remind me of the event cards in the COIN games. The card is typically good for one or two players or bad for one or two players so it's very clear who wants them to go off. The only way to stop a headline is to buy it yourself and then sabotage it so it doesn't trigger, which costs actions and often money. These were fun but I wouldn't mind if they were left out either. They're a little swingy compared to COIN events because they're much more limited and taking normal card slots. It does make the market a little more interesting.

The tax action is changed to focus on tableau cards in the location instead of pieces on the board, which is an easy bit of streamlining. You need to be the Wazir to tax just like you had to be chief before.

As a whole, this is a great expansion that adds a lot of new, interesting cards to the game. There isn't a lot of rules overhead but there is much more to think about with all the headlines and capabilities added in. It still doesn't surpass Renaissance for me.

We played the nation building variant for the first time and I don't enjoy that with 5 at all. Successful topples now award points per influence within that empire and the game ends after the last topple or if one empire wins two topples in a row. The change to points handout takes away a lot of the thrill of topples because players are more willing to settle for a topple that they aren't 'winning' if they're still going to benefit - I'm mostly ok with you taking 3 points because I'm getting 2 points and everyone else is getting 0, so let's work together to topple while we're ahead. Regular topples normally provoke a great power struggle within the empire as the losing players suddenly try not to let their empire win the topple because they're behind and this spoils that. It also seems to encourage players to gather into fewer empires to harvest points early on. This isn't new for the expansion but we'd never played the living rules version so it was new to us.



Hex
Board Game: Hex


Hex uses a very simple rule set that manages to offer many choices during the game. We're still learning basics and so the losses are often obvious in hindsight - you completed a foolish ladder that made you lose the game - but I can see the depth even if we're not there yet. There doesn't seem to be a good way to handicap the game, which makes playing with new players a little unfortunate.

I'm playing the nestorgames edition so it's nice and portable too, which is convenient for such a simple game. I'm surprised I'd never heard of this before because it seems to be well established. I don't know that I'll ever become 'good' at it, it's a lot of fun though.



Pentalath
Board Game: Pentalath


Not strictly new because I've played this before on a Yavalath board. This is the first time I've played it on the original Pentalath board though and I like having two corner shapes instead of a regular hex. It's not made a huge difference to the game - it's fundamentally still 5 in a row with some capturing - but it's better than the hex board for me. I'm not sure you need it if you already have a Yavalath board. I found it worthwhile because I enjoyed Pentalath a great deal and this is a slightly better version of it. Repeating last month's comments on the basic game:

Quote:
Apparently best played on its dedicated board but I've only played it on the hexagonal Yavalath board. Take turns playing pieces to make 5 in a row with Go's capture rules added in. If a group of pieces has no liberties it's removed from the board. The endgame is containing and capturing a piece that blocks your 5 in a row and leaving no non-suicide move to block it. I've enjoyed this more than Yavalath so far and I'm seriously tempted to get the proper board if it's a better experience. Capturing pieces is significantly harder than go due to the hexagonal spaces and takes much longer, which means it isn't just a go derivative. I like it equally with both 2 and 3 as well, which is unusual for this kind of abstract.


Concordia
Board Game: Concordia


I've somehow managed to avoid seeing anything about this until now, which is a shame because I really enjoyed it. We played with 4 using salt on Gallia. I think the balance between cards and pieces on the board is my favourite part of the game.

The cards you acquire during the game score multiplicatively with the pieces on the board. Getting more cards is an obvious source of points but at some point you also want houses on the board to make use of all the cards you've acquired. Getting more cards also gives you more actions, some of which are definitely more powerful than the base ones, but pieces on the boards makes the individual actions on many of the cards more powerful too. It's a very nice balance between both and it didn't feel like going card heavy or house/worker heavy was more powerful. Scoring is a little odd when you start lapping the board, but it works.

I don't think I'd enjoy this as a 2 player game. The Corsica map looked like it might get close enough but most of the others were far too big. The owners said that it was often solitaire with 2 on most of the maps, which would spoil some of the competition over building houses and the shared benefits of producing in a province.

We didn't play with the special powers module (the forum?) and that made me a little sad because player powers is my favourite part of games. I definitely want to play it again using those. The fact I'd want to buy the base game, Salsa and the Corsica map to make it a 2 player game I'd enjoy does put me off a little, but I'm tempted even then because it was very good.



Habitats
Board Game: Habitats


A quick tile laying game of building animal habitats. I like that each tile is both a potential scoring opportunity and a way to score other tiles, which leads to a nice balance between taking tiles you can complete for points and taking tiles you'll never complete just because they're the terrain you need right now.
I'm less sold on the method of acquiring new tiles. In theory it's a nice almost-draft but in practice with 4 it changes quickly and is hard to plan if you aren't left on your own. I think I'd enjoy the game much more as a 2 player game because the board changes far less between turns, even if it is a smaller board.

Overall, I enjoyed it and I'd play it again but it's far too short term with 4. It does at least move quickly and the tile scoring is interesting. Bonus points for little porcelain animals that could easily have been wooden counters.
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6. Board Game: Amazons [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:4005]
Board Game: Amazons
Frederic Heath-Renn
United Kingdom
Islington
London
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A very bad month for new gaming, mostly I stuck to old favourites.

All three new games were abstracts introduced to me by
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Kings Plate: Classic (1 play) - it might not have been the 'classic' version, I'm not really sure of the difference. Anyway, this is quite similar in feel to The Duke, while also bearing reasonably obvious similarities to Shogi and Chess: of none of these games am I particularly fond, and indeed I wasn't really of this either. Ho hum.

Tak (9 plays) - 9 plays of this new abstract in a variety of configurations; it took a while to get the hang of but it was definitely okay, though the volume of the buzz about it is still not entirely clear to me.

But best new game of the month was probably Amazons (1 play, 1 play in progress); very mechanically simple and I lost at it quite perfunctorily, but in a way where it felt clear what mistakes I was making and made me (as you can tell) want to play it again immediately.
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7. Board Game: Evolution: Climate [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:263]
Board Game: Evolution: Climate
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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This month, I was fortunate enough to play 3 new games and 1 new expansion. (And that partly because I spent the majority of my play time this month with The Colonists.) I'll list them in decreasing order of current enthusiasm - with the expansion (and that only on a technicality) after the games.


Power Grid: The Card Game -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: Power Grid: The Card Game
Board Game: Power Grid: The Card Game
(images by Henning & Mouseketeer)

It's quite amusing. Many of the factors that one might muster when considering the purchase of a power plant in the original Power Grid seem to apply here, too. And since it played in less than an hour (and this with a gang that would probably take two and a half hours for the Full Game) it rendered a pretty substantial gaming experience for the time.

Moreover, I like it better than I'd expected. My default (though not uniform) response to abbreviated or simplified games is to be sad about the things I was missing; and to imagine that my time would have been better spent with the larger game. That wasn't quite the case here. Sure, I might prefer the original; but this is completely worth playing in its own right.

Now: will I buy a copy? Likely not; though there's no certainty.


花見小路 Hanamikoji -- (1 play) _7_
Board Game: Hanamikoji
Board Game: Hanamikoji
(images by zeldaaa & punkin312)

A fun remix, including a few things (Matcha for duration; Schotten Totten for claim aesthetics; King of Siam for the limited set of actions) It's probably better than I understand: though given the limited duration, it didn't seem to develop the doublethink possibilities that R or Khmer do at their best.

In the end: happy to play again, and likely something that could work with my kids. I think it's more likely I'd buy a copy of this than of Power Grid: The Card Game; but again by no means guaranteed.


The Butterfly Garden -- (1 play) _6⅔_
Board Game: The Butterfly Garden
 
(images by niledesign & William Hunt)

It's pretty. And definitely better than I'd expected given the blind bidding for turn order. But, also, a game where it felt much like 6 nimmt! in that the chaos is so large that a random process has a fair chance of success.

I'd play again without complaint; but, equally, it's not something I'd likely request.


Evolution: Climate -- (1 play) _8_
Board Game: Evolution: Climate
Board Game: Evolution: Climate
(images by domcrap & The Innocent)

I loved this one: so why is it down at the end of my list?

Tradition! I tend to list games before expansions, because, in general, I don't play that many expansions and consider them a mostly irrelevant frivolity.

This is a bit different: a modest reimagining of a game that I find myself increasingly enjoying as I play it more. I don't find the game any harder to explain with this expansion in play: and, indeed, have pretty much committed my copy to using this by default.

As a bit of a tangent, I'd used the Flight expansion along with Climate for this play: something I belatedly understand might not have been quite as obvious a combination as I might have thought. It worked well for us: and I'd certainly do it again. But I'm interested to discover the configuration that I'm using a year from now: I'd certainly expect to continue to play some variant of Evolution.


Thanks again to my youngsters, the BAP attenders, the Monday Lunch folk, and the Wednesday Night gang for some great game experiences.
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8. Board Game: KLASK [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:274]
Board Game: KLASK
Gudjon Torfi Sigurdsson
Iceland
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== NEW GAMES ==

KLASK - 21 plays -  8 
First Published 2014
Board Game: KLASK


7 Wonders: Cities - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2012
Board Game: 7 Wonders: Cities


One new game, one new expansion. KLASK is nothing more than it looks, a quick and fun dexterity game. The bonus in this case is that my kid enjoys playing it, so it gets a good rating from me. But in the game you have a magnetic stick on top of the table, controlled by another one beneath it. Use this stick to hit the ball, trying to score in the opponents goal (which is a hole in the table). Avoid getting two (out of three) small magnets attached to your stick, and don't drop your stick into your goal! Simple, yet fun.

7 Wonders: Cities is a good expansion for the base game. This time each player gets one extra card per age, and each new card has some sort of a power which is usually similar to the originals. Although it can sometimes be more potent than the cards from the base game. Two new rules; debts (if you can't pay off a coin loss you get debt for each coin you can't pay. Each debt cancels a point from the coins, so it's expensive) and diplomacy tokens (which can be used to skip the war at the end of each age). It doesn't complicate the base game really, yet adds some variety to it, so we enjoy it.
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9. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Essex County Express: Mythos Pack [Average Rating:8.34 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.34 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Essex County Express: Mythos Pack
Dev Sodagar
United States
Los Altos
CA
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What a pathetic month of game playing. I am basically only playing Blood Bowl and some LotR/AH LCG at this point, all other gaming options have dried up. I got in 8 game plays the entire month and only 2 new games.


Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Essex County Express: Mythos Pack
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Essex County Express: Mythos Pack

I have been waiting for this with fervored anticipation as the Dunwich Legacy continues. This really felt just how I'd hoped and played out really well.

Carcassonne: Amazonas
Board Game: Carcassonne: Amazonas

I'd honestly not even heard of this until a friend pulled it out. It took a little to get used to the mechanics and I didn't do too well but it is an excellent variant that successfully nukes the field strength issue you see with the base game.

So I seem to be solidly back in the doldrums again.
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10. Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 [Average Rating:8.62 Overall Rank:2]
Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
United States
Davis
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Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

(Image credit: kaszkiet)

Makes Pandemic fun!

My wife and I aren't huge fans of Pandemic (or co-ops in general), but we were willing to give the Legacy version a try.

I'm glad we did. One of the main problems we have with Pandemic is that it gets too samey after a few plays. Legacy solves that in two ways (1) it adds persistent effects, like permanent upgrades, character disabilities, and city unrest, and (2) it introduces new game elements in later plays.

Not only does this keep the game feeling fresh (so far; we've only played through March), but it actually makes me interested to keep playing, so I can see what comes next. There's an advent calendar feeling to opening the little windows and boxes, that's much more engaging than I was expecting.

Game play is solid, even with two, and the implementation of the legacy elements is very well done. I fully expect to keep going through December, which means a lot more repeated play than we usually manage.

Well done.


Anomia
Board Game: Anomia

(Image credit: boardgamefreak2009)

Brain hack as party game.

You know that annoying feeling when you can't remember the name of something immediately. It's on the tip of your tongue, but you just can't grasp it? That's called "anomia," and it's been turned into a card game.

You've got a common deck of cards. Most have two things printed on them: a symbol (there are 8) and a category of thing (e.g, breakfast cereal). See above.

On your turn, you draw a card and place it face up in front of you. If you already have cards in front of you, it goes on top of the stack.

If the symbol matches the symbol on anyone else's face up card, you have a show-down with them. The first to say a word that's within the category on the opponent's card wins and takes the opponent's card as a face down "point." So, in my example, if my card's symbol matched another player's face up card symbol, that person would be trying to name a breakfast cereal before I could say something within the category on that person's card.

Here's a fun thing: when the loser's card is removed as a point, it exposes the card below (if any), which may trigger a new showdown. This can cause a cascade as cards are won and removed around the table.

There's also a fun wrinkle with wild cards, which makes everything slightly more volatile and harder to track.

The upshot is that the game produces a degree of mental stress, because you're slightly frantic to think of a thing very fast. That stress often causes your mind to blank, which is the whole point. People shout triumphantly when a mundane word finally pops into their minds (making the people at the next table over wonder why someone just yelled "Cheerios!" at the top of their lungs and then everyone laughed).

This is clever, simple, quick to explain, and a lot of fun. Great cross-over party game to play with non-gamers too. Very good at what it does. Inexpensive too.

And, in honor of my friend Skrebs: "Mighty fist!"


Jump Drive
Board Game: Jump Drive

(Image credit: dotKeller)

Fun, fast little RftG spin-off.

This has a great deal in common with Race for the Galaxy, including theme, art and graphic design, and common mechanical elements (planets v. developments, military conquest of red worlds, scouting, expensive high VP cards that score based on what else is in your tableau).

But it's massively simplified and plays a lot faster. You score everything in your tableau every turn, so there's a cumulative ramp-up that really accelerates toward game end (triggered by any player having 50 or more vp).

A very nice little filler that builds on the RftG theme. Fun in its own right, but it might also make Race more approachable for those intimidated by its complexity.

Again, really good at what it does. Recommended.


Adrenaline
Board Game: Adrenaline

(Image credit: Zhan_shi. Also: "Mighty fist!")

"Early impressions are this is El Grande, where the provinces move around and shoot back at you." -- Doug Adams

What he said.

Thematically, this is a first person shooter. That theme is well-integrated into the design. Everyone is running around, picking up ammo, power-ups, and absurd weapons (each of which has a unique effect) in order to shoot and kill the other players.

How is that like El Grande? The goal of the game is to get VP. You get those by having the most hits against a player when that player finally dies (and is then re-spawned). So each player is like an area influence objective. That moves around and shoots back at you.

The game play is solid and the theming is great. My only negative is that there is a lot of information to absorb about what the different weapons do. The icons on the weapon cards aren't quite up to the task, which means you need to refer to the rule supplement a lot. And, ideally, you should know what every other player's weapons do, so you can avoid getting hit by them. If you were to play a lot, that problem would fade. But introducing it to new players is a bit of a hurdle, which decreases the likelihood that I'll play it a lot.

Very good, but a bit hard to table.
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11. Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:575] [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns
Joe Wyka
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Pleasant Hill
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Some really, really great new games this month! So much better than last month! Had I played Murano last month, it would have been my best new-to-me. Here it is near the bottom. Best month of new-to-me games in over a year!

I had a hard time deciding whether I should put Tramways over Three Kingdoms Redux or not. I decided that the replayability is probably higher with Tramways so went with that one, but in truth they impressed me about equally.

In order of preference...



Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns

Vast: The Crystal Caverns - 9
A bold and original title that speaks to the creativity of our hobby, both as a design and as a player experience. There's nothing like it, folks.

Every year there are very good games that add a new twist to known mechanisms, such as Three Kingdoms Redux below, which was also New-To-Me this month. But only a very few, and sometimes none, are so fresh that they have you thinking about the possibilities of game play and directions in which the industry may go. Usually, because it is the easiest to replicate, this involves a new mechanic - the latest of which are legacy designs. By contrast, Vast: The Crystal Caverns doesn't really offer new repeatable mechanics, but rather a play format that is so very asymmetrical and yet so very interactive and playable. While American and European-inspired designs borrow heavily from each other these days, this is the first time I have seen those values combined in a way that creates an experience that, fundamentally, doesn't feel like it comes from either school - while intellectually I know it is deeply tied to both. Vast moves beyond just combining mechanics and starts to realize the promise of connecting the American/European dots of gaming history to create an actual new experience.

Vast is a different game for every player at the table. For the Knight, it is a game of exploration and conquest. For the Goblins, a skirmish game of abstract positioning. For the Dragon, an escape puzzle. For the Cave, an aggressive tile-layer. For the Thief, a game of stealth and avoidance. Every player operates under a drastically different rule set and turn structure. Each players' win condition is uniquely tied directly or indirectly to every other players' win conditions, which makes for a highly interactive game in the tight confines of the caverns. The balance the designers have achieved within this inherent asymmetry is truly remarkable. The tension comes on all sides - not only do you need to aggressively go after your objective, but other players' objectives run right through you and you need to be ready to stand ground. There's a balance there that calls for careful planning and risk management on every turn.

There are some downsides to the game, most notably how challenging it is to learn and teach every different rule set. Even after you understand the rules, it is still challenging to understand how to meet your goals while defending yourself from players who are operating entirely different from you - so the game can be somewhat plodding in its pace. The 60-90 minutes on the box assumes a table of players who all know the game well and know what they are doing. 3 hours for a first game with teaching is probably realistic. The rule book phrasing is sometimes gratuitously opaque and a full breakdown of game cards and their abilities would have been welcomed. I think improvements were made for the 2nd printing, but they did not go far enough. All of these are quibbles, though. The game is engaging in spite of its pace and the designers are active on BGG with clarifications. The production quality for the 2nd printing is high and the wooden bits a welcomed addition.



Board Game: Tramways

Tramways - 8
This one is about strong hand-management and navigating the original and nasty auction mechanics. Random map tiles lead to high replayability, but you need to be content with the uncertainty that deck-building invites.

A deck-building game which is heavily inspired by Age of Steam, designer Alban Viard's favorite game (or dare I say, obsession?). In some ways, Viard is picking up a mantle recently dropped by Wallace as an independent producer of mechanically interesting and often opaque games (Splotter is still the gold standard, of course). While Wallace's designs are often inspired by historical periods, Viard's games exist in the fictional "Small City", whose every industry is governed by laws of pure game mechanics. Viard's games tend to revolve around a core set of complex adjacency rules, but Tramways shows Viard spreading his designer wings a little wider.

In Tramways, players are building and upgrading tracks, building and upgrading buildings, and delivering passengers. Players earn points for the upgrades and deliveries. The board is a random assortment of tiles, depending on player count, that shows mountains and lakes, existing buildings, and parcels that can convert to buildings as the game progresses. The game plays out over 6 rounds, each round having an auction, 3 actions per player and an administration phase. Each parcel has an accompanying card with varying actions and each player starts with four parcels and parcel cards, which gives everyone a different starting hand.

The auctions in this game are unique and challenging to navigate. Not only are you auctioning for turn order, but also to add one of the auction cards to your hand. These cards can be bad and it is not uncommon to end up paying more money than the auction winner in order to avoid taking the bad card. The auction is brilliant and nasty.

Building, upgrading and delivery actions require playing multiple action icons from your hand. Cards can have up to 5 action icons, which can be taken from multiple cards or from a single card at the cost of stress - which can subtract from your score at the end of the game. The hand management this brings also feels pretty unique as you balance cost and flexibility.

All of this is good fun, but the design is not perfect. Players might find that operating from a hand of cards for such a challenging game could be too limiting and tactical. The randomized map with random parcel ownership at set up could create choke points and imbalances that faster players can really take advantage of early, shutting other players out. I could readily see how some would find frustration in these aspects, but not me. I enjoy the tactical nature of using what I have and continually adjusting to opportunities on the fly. These aspects keep me from rating this as high as Age of Steam, but with a few unique and interesting twists, it is worth finding table time for Tramways as well.



Board Game: Three Kingdoms Redux

Three Kingdoms Redux - 8
A three-player ONLY hybrid action drafting/auction game in which you bid generals, which are tokens with 3 variable values and a special power, on worker-placement type action spaces. This creates a set of considerations that feels different from any other game.

Inspired by a very specific period in the Han Dynasty, Three Kingdoms Redux gives the feel of a wargame but fought with auctions instead of battles. Each faction has a unique deck of generals from which players draft at the beginning of the game. Generals have three values - administrative, combat and leadership - and a power that triggers at certain times or under certain conditions. Some auctions are won with administration and some with combat. Each of those values can range from 1-5 for each general. The powers are significant and leveraging them effectively is one of your primary keys to doing well.

The auction structure is very similar to a worker-placement game and I was reminded of Agricola a lot while playing. There are 12 common auction fields, 3 battle auction fields (where you auction against your neighbors on each side) and 3 individual fields that require a general to use, but are non-competitive. The structure of the game is identical to that of a worker-placement game where players assign generals to action spaces, values are compared for contested actions, and then the actions are carried out. Most actions have to do with collecting resources - gold, rice, armies, 4 types of weapons, and popular support. Each player also has a personal hand of two types of "state enhancement" cards that can be played to give one a resource or points advantage (sound familiar?). With the resources players can play cards, gain support of the tribes, or win battles and occupy border regions with armies and generals. When your generals occupy a region it gives you points, but you can no longer use that general for bidding, so it weakens you in other ways. You can draft additional generals at 3 points in the game.

For having a pretty simple structure, there is a lot to think about in this one. There are numerous ways to score and you need to pick your focus areas, but the game gives you time to shift your strategy as needed. Due for a reprint from Capstone Games in 2017, Three Kingdoms Redux is a remarkably innovative and payable twist on the basic Agricola format. While there are clear echos of Agricola here, it feels like a very different game. The Singaporean design duo has yet to publish a second game, but more from this team would be most welcomed!



Board Game: Dokmus

Dokmus - 7
Abstract piece-placement game that plays like a cross between Kingdom Builder and Dungeon Twister - two of my favorites. Combination of piece placement and board manipulation provides lots of opportunities for fun, creative play. My kind of game!

Dokmus is an abstract game, as the thin "after-thought" premise in the rule book demonstrates. One player asked me what the premise was and they tuned out halfway through the first sentence. It is the kind of abstract that builds up to meeting goals over the length of the game with much placing of pieces and various manipulations - much how Kingdom Builder works. Dokmus is shorter, less varied, but more controllable and strategic than KB. They are certainly different enough to each stand on their own.

Every turn, players draft-and-pass a hand of 5 "guardian" powers that either make you the start player, or allow you to move or rotate board tiles or move a piece already placed. In guardian power order, players each place 3 pieces adjacent to pieces already placed and use their guardian power in any order they choose. After 8 turns players run out of pieces and the game ends. The board tiles feature about 8 different types of terrains and structures that all have different placement rules, some requiring you to sacrifice one of your three pieces to use. The object is to meet various scoring objectives having mostly to do with the temple spaces. You score for temples you are adjacent to, for building adjacent to all temples on a tile, and for being adjacent to a temple on as many tiles as you can. While you move slowly through placement, you really need to manipulate the board to spread your pieces around and build on the edges so that you can jump from one board to another.

There's a lot of room for creativity in how you place and manipulate the board, but without a lot of distracting special powers and such that are prominent in many modern designs. This is an old school game and it gives me an old school satisfaction. Just be careful as you move the boards around. The game takes on an unintentional dexterity element as you rotate and slide boards with lots of pieces on them. Let the pieces slide off and everybody loses!



Board Game: Kingdomino

Kingdomino - 7
Fun little 15 minute tile-layer with whimsical art and meaningful decisions. Accomplishes exactly what it intends.

Very simple game, but with enough meaningful decisions to be worth playing, for sure. Players build a 5x5 tableau of two-square, domino-type tiles consisting of one or two landscape types. Each turn you draft a tile and select the tile you will draft the next turn. Tiles are ordered so that the better tiles will have you going later in turn order for your next round. Some tiles have from 1-3 crowns on them and at the end of the game you score for each landscape area - number of squares times the number of crowns. That's the entire game right there! Building out a better tableau while jockeying for turn order is good fun. The length of the game, 15 minutes, is perfect for the weight.



Board Game: Expedition: Northwest Passage

Expedition: Northwest Passage - 7
Exploration game with a heavy puzzle aspect driven by a unique action-point system. The tile-laying puzzle here is challenging and engaging - IF you like that kind of challenge and can make decisions quickly. Otherwise...

Northwest Passage has you competing to find the remnants of the lost Franklin expedition and, incidentally, succeeding where they failed and finding the Northwest Passage yourself. Players steer ships through the icy waterways exploring (drafting or laying tiles) and collecting 5 kinds of discoveries - Franklin Expedition remnants, Inuits, islands, navigation points, and cairns. The further you get to the Northwest Passage on the opposite side of the board, the more points these are worth. You also collect points (the earlier the better) for getting to the Northwest Passage and for hightailing it back to Greenland. Balancing all of these point sources is the key to winning.

There are two main elements that feel unique to this game. The first is that as you play winter sets in, progressively freezing the waterways until only the very bottom of the map is passable by ships. It will thaw again as the winter recedes, but if your ship gets stuck in the ice during winter, it can really mess with your plans. Fortunately, each ship is equipped with a sled that can traverse the frozen waterways. This leads to the second unique aspect - balancing your action points between your ship and your sled. You have seven crew members that represent action points. When you send out your sled, you divide your crew between them, giving each of your vessels their own personal set of action points. Making sure each will be able to do what they need to do when the ice melts is a key decision point in the game.

Tiles create waterways and islands as you lay them out and drafting the right tiles for the discoveries and passages you need and positioning them well is a fun challenge - or a brain constipating hell - depending on who you are. I am in the former camp and really like this one. I have some concern for long-term replayability, but it's a minor one.



Board Game: Murano

Murano - 7
The mix of tough and bizarre action selection mechanics, a slow economy, and random goals that formulate throughout the game isn't for everyone, but it's a fun game if you just go with it.

Murano is a strategic boardgame that haphazardly progresses toward end goals that players learn as they go along. Early in the game, you are likely to find yourself building buildings or committing to score areas, uncertain if they will help you or your opponents more in the end. Late in the game, with some goal cards in hand, you can start to shape or abandon your early choices depending on what you get. Throughout the game you are either building to support your goals or picking goals to support your earlier builds. It's not a criticism. It's a feature.

The action selection mechanic is a unique twist on the rondel. Actions are spaced in a circle around the board. Every other action space or so, at the game's beginning, is seeded with a boat. You can move any boat forward one space for free and take the next action. You can also move forward more spaces, and/or push other boats forward out of your way for 1 coin each. Certain action spaces are more valuable early, some late, and so boats tend to get gummed up right before the unpopular spaces, which means taking the action you want will start to cost you. You can also pass, move a boat and take 1 coin. The mechanic is crafty and can also feel frustrating and constipated. By passing, it also allows you to mess with other players if you think you know what action they want to take.

The board is divided into a number of islands with building spaces. Players build streets with customers as well as shops, glass factories, palaces, and special buildings, which can enhance some of your actions. Goal cards provide a variety of ways to score an island at game's end depending on what is built on it, but you can only score a goal card if you have placed a gondolier at the island - so there are a number of steps needed to get points at the end and they don't always come to you in the preferred order. Those who love this game, and some do, like the initial uncertainty and having to maneuver and adjust as you build and get more information about what you need. If that kind of uncertainty drives you nuts, stay away. I enjoy this with the right audience, but my tastes tend to run more strategic for a game of this length.



Board Game: Imhotep

Imhotep - 6
While I can appreciate this as a family-weight game with a healthy amount of potential jockying and screwage, I just don't find my actions or objectives in the game to be all that interesting. (#jadedgamertalking)

Granted, when it comes to lighter games, I tend to prefer games with a spacial or connection-building element. This is the reason, probably more than anything, that Imhotep will not last in my collection as a family-weight game of choice. There is nothing wrong with the game by any means. Every turn you take one of four actions: add 3 stones from the quarry to your sled, add one stone from your sled to a boat, sail a boat to a destination if it has the minimum stones required, or play an action card you acquired on a previous turn (which usually allows you to combine two of the previous actions into one). Each destination scores for different things and at different times. A round ends when all 4 boats have sailed. After six rounds the game ends.

The game is incredibly simple to explain and play. You can sail boats that don't have any of your stones, sending your opponents to where they don't want to go. Stones are resolved in order at the destination, so where you place them in a boat is significant. The destinations give you cards (for scoring or action purposes), immediate points, end-of-round points (stones visible from above), and end game points - one for groupings and one for majorities. While the ability to impact each other makes this game tolerable, I really don't find any of these actions and scoring options to be interesting and don't think I'd ever think about this game if I never played it again. If I was newer to the hobby, I'm sure I'd like this more and thus my respectable rating.



Board Game: Western Town

Western Town - 5
There are some interesting things going on in this card-driven building game sandwiched by two things I really dislike - gaining stuff based on guessing what cards others will play and non-player attackers controlled by other players. A game that irritates and intrigues me in equal portions.

Witch's Brew, re-implemented recently as Broom Service, is a game which I despised. I found utterly unenjoyable the exercise of trying to improve my actions by guessing what others would play so I could leech off of their actions. Rarely does a game introduce something novel to which I have such an adverse reaction. Western Town, which was published years before Witch's Brew, does something similar. It isn't the primary mechanic of the game, but much of how the game is designed revolves around supporting this leeching mechanic.

In Western Town, players are building their towns in order to score points at game's end by having built certain buildings and having best pleased President Lincoln each round by making their towns attractive, increasing population, and exporting gold to the capital. Each turn players play two cards in order to build buildings or gain/convert population, gold, wood, and/or lure. Lure represents the attractiveness of your town to the citizenry, but it comes at the cost of "peace pipes", which makes you more susceptible to attacks from the natives. Buildings can grant points, increased hand-sizes, additional homes, and additional storage in addition to giving you an additional card to play.

After every player has played two cards there is an "Exploit" phase where, beginning with the start player, everyone takes turns exploiting a card of one of their neighbors. You have to have played the same card yourself or have it in your hand in order to do so. By exploiting the card, not only do you get something - usually a resource - the player you exploited needs to turn the card over and it won't earn income for them this turn. There are a few mechanical design contortions for this to work. Players have a hand limit they must discard down to at the start of their turns, making half or more of their cards inactive for the round. That's where the guessing comes in for what you might be able to exploit. Also, the active player and the next player play their cards face down simultaneously in order to limit the turn order advantage inherent in the idea.

Additionally, some actions get the natives riled up and they eventually attack and are usually controlled by the player last in turn order. I also dislike directed attacks that have no impact or cost for the director. The game isn't terrible and there are some interesting things going on, but with a few primary aspects running against my tastes, it isn't for me.
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12. Board Game: Potion Explosion [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:432]
Board Game: Potion Explosion
Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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Board Game: Potion Explosion
Potion Explosion = 2 Plays

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This was my only new game I picked up together with 5 expansions for different games. It was an instabuy after watching several video reviews and tutorials. It’s essentially CANDY CRUSH the boardgame where every turn you pick up 1 marble and every same colored marbles which “click” together after that trigger an “explosion” and you get to pick those up as well. Your regular move can trigger several “explosions” and the bulk of AP comes from analysing which marble to pick up in order to trigger the most explosions. You then use the marbles to fill up specific colored slots in the 2 potions you are currently brewing. Finished potions give you a 1 time use special ability and you can drink these potions before and after your step. You can also ask the professor for help once a turn and that enables you to pick up 1 marble although you get a -2 VP deduction for each help token you possess at the end of the game. Drinking potions and the help token does not trigger explosions though, only your regular move. Points are also scored by forming sets of 3 of the same kind of potion or 5 different potions types as they let you grab a 4-point achievement token. The number of achievement tokens depend on total player count as they act as the timer for the game.

The overall fun was dampened a bit when I found out I have been playing the explosions wrong since I played it that only the 2 marbles which collided after removal of the marble were taken, not an entire line of same colored ones. This may change gameplay a lot and at least it gives me something to look forward to for my next play.



EXPANSIONS

Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon
7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon = 1 Play

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This was a must buy for me the instant it was announced but it took quite a long time before I could pick up my copy locally. It was worth the wait though as the expansion gives the game an added edge by giving you better conditions in order to achieve the insta-win conditions. This is done with the use of new pantheon cards which are gods which represent the 5 different colors of non-guild cards in the game. The first age has tokens on certain card locations in the pool which enable players who reveal that card to take the token and then choose a god of that color in order to “seed” the pantheon board. Putting this card face down close to your city makes it cheaper to buy for you and more expensive for your opponent, and vice versa. The token icon also is a prerequisite for some of the 3 temples which you add into the 3rd age deck instead of the 3 guilds, and having more of these temples gives me more points. The 2nd age have the pantheon cards turned over and thus available for purchase (without the need to discard a card in the pool) and there are 3 discount tokens seeded in the 2nd age pool which gives makes buying the pantheon cards cheaper. The Pantheon cards themselves are very powerful as they give abilities related to their color and I believe they can help players achieve the insta-win conditions better by enabling players to get another science symbol or to add more military as well as punish the opposing players by letting them lose money for every military advance the opponent makes. All in all a great addition to a great game.



Board Game: Mystic Vale: Vale of Magic
Mystic Vale: Vale of Magic = 2 Plays

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The expansion is quite simple as it did not add new rules but just a ton of new advancements and vales to the mix thus is very integrate to the base game. The new additions give you a better collect more helmets strategy and make a Vale based engine a real threat. It a great example of more of the same which does not detract from the base game.

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13. Board Game: Anachrony [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:47]
Board Game: Anachrony
Keith Rudolph
Canada
Langdon
Alberta
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Anachrony
Board Game: Anachrony

We've played this twice so far as the base game alone with the only "enhancement" being the alternate timeline tiles where there are bonuses and penalties based on where/when you place tiles. Definitely an interesting one - it takes a little while to wrap your head around getting something for free now but having to repay yourself that favour later in the game and knowing how far back in time you're actually able to go before that becomes a potentially permanent blemish and causes anomalies to show up. There's quite a bit more going on here than we had initially thought and we both quite liked it. It'll be interesting to throw the other little in-box expansions into the mix to see how that changes things up. It's one of the few games where we haven't brave enough to toss them in on the first play.

Ca$h 'n Guns
Board Game: Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition)

We got this in a math trade as it seemed like something that would go over well with our parents when they came over to a visit. It was a hit with everyone as we all had a great time waving the guns around at each other and trying to screw each other over. We played this 3 times over the weekend that everyone was over to visit and my dad was apparently the big winner, winning 2 of those games. This one didn't sound particularly entertaining when I read the brief rules or explained it everyone but proved otherwise once we started playing. This will definitely be staying in our collection - easy to learn and play and a lot of fun.
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14. Board Game: Bruxelles 1893 [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:288]
Board Game: Bruxelles 1893
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
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Only one new to me game this month, and in fact it's my first one for the year so far. Partially that's because I have had a busy last few months but also I think I'm just getting to the point where I feel like I've played most of the games I need to try and I understand my taste well enough that I want to focus on the games I really like.

Bruxelles 1893 - 8.5

Board Game: Bruxelles 1893


For a long time I've wanted to try this game but it had been out of print and I didn't know anyone with it. It recently came back into print and I did something fairly unusual for me, I bought it blind. And I'm glad I did.

First, I should say that I forgot a few rules between when I bought the game and read the rulebook and when I finally sat down to teach and play it. This means that my rating might deserve an asterisk next to it, but either way it's still my game of the month. The game I actually played might only deserve an 8 but I think the actual game should be an 8.5.

We had one player run away with the game and no one (including that player) could really see why that happened. This left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. To be clear it's not that someone ran away with the game that bothered me, it's that no one could see any reason this should have happened. If I get crushed but I see my opponent play better than me then I'm happy because that means the game rewards good play. But luckily all of the rules mistakes seemed to advantage that player so I'm less worried about that.

But this game has my favorite things that games can have. For one, I love when the decisions in a game have to be thought about from multiple angles. In this game, when you take an action on the main board, you're simultaneously taking a worker placement spot, making a bid for a card at the end of the round, and participating in an area majority competition, so often you have to balance wanting a certain action with wanting to win the auction for a certain column, and wanting to make sure you get a good number of the area majorities.

There is also a system by which you can choose certain board spots at which you will get a bonus when other players go there. This aspect of predicting player desires and being careful to not advantage other players too much also adds a really interesting dimension to the game.

That said the actual actions you take in the game are fairly standard euro fare, getting cubes then using them to build for points, or collecting tiles and selling them for points and money. I do like the way that the market works for selling the artwork tiles, and I also always appreciate a game in which you can tailor your scoring objectives throughout the game.

There are still a few odd things though. The way the building wheel restricted what you needed to build and could easily be changed between when you got the resources and when you needed to spend them was a bit strange and made it slightly harder than I would have wanted to plan for building, while not really seeming to add anything interesting to the game.

And the auctions are a bit odd in that it seemed like it might be too easy to come in and snipe if you happen to have the position in turn order that lets you place last in a column. This may be a groupthink issue though, as near the end we started placing our first few workers with only one coin. I sort of think bidding up some early columns could scare people off, but there's the odd balance of the sniper getting something for one more coin than the snipee paid to get nothing, where if you go out strong with a big early bid, others can just pay the minimum and you've ended up paying a lot for the card relative to everyone else.

More plays will tell how well this system works, but even in the first game with weird stuff happening, overall I liked it. Though this was also my biggest criticism of Nippon, that it seemed like the main action selection system would force you into interesting tradeoffs where you had to choose between a better action with a worse color or a less ideal action with a better color. But the problem there was that there was often one best action you needed and you took the color you could get, and then the colors sort of just felt like a little bit of randomness in terms of how much of your income you got to keep or how early you had to reset. I could see the auctions being the same here, where you just make your first few placements based on the actions that you want and bide your time to snipe the cards you want once the columns start filling up.

But I still think Nippon is great, and I still like this game a lot too. I think my few concerns are enough to keep it out of the very top tier of greatest games ever, but I still really like it and look forward to many more plays, with the correct rules.
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15. Board Game: Escape Room: The Game [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:919] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Board Game: Escape Room: The Game
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Only five new-to-me games this month, and none that was a big hit, but a bunch of pleasant games.

Escape Room: The Game was the best of the lot - played two scenarios, one of which was very well done but too easy; the other was harder, but not nearly so well put together.

Avenue was a bit better than Doodle City, but reminded me of why I didn't hold on to the earlier game.

Rhino Hero is a fun game, which I'd be happy to play again, but isn't sufficiently my style to seek out.

Proteus is even further from my sweet spot. Fine game, just not for me.

The only game I really don't wish to play again from March is Nightmarium.
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16. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons
Jason Vicente

Avon
Connecticut
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== BEST GAME OF THE MONTH ==

Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons
- T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons - Played 2 times - 8/10

Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: Under the Mask
- T.I.M.E Stories: Under the Mask - Played 4 times - 8/10

This past month was not the most productive in my life when it came to playing new games. I went to New Hampshire specifically to play a couple of T.I.M.E Stories expansions with three of my sons who live there. Given my desire not to divulge any spoilers I will make my comments brief. Our first run of T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons came up short because we did not possess all the necessary items to complete the game. Again, the art remains outstanding although I believe the original Asylum remains the best of the group. Asylum is also my favorite as to game play with the most interesting puzzles of the group. Our second attempt proved successful. Certainly these expansions were easier than the first two installments. We completed the game on our second run obtaining a score in excess of 65 points. Quite enjoyable.

T.I.M.E Stories: Under the Mask proved more difficult because of our - particularly - my incompetence. We made two attempts at completing this expansion, but lost TU too quickly. It certainly appears to be a prominent aspect of this expansion. During our first run we still had areas to explore but got locked out of one of them when our time was about to run out. Our second try ended with death despite an educated guess as to the puzzle before us which takes us to... our third attempt - the one we should have won. After escaping death this time and collecting what we believed were all the needed items we entered the final room prepared for victory - but someone - um me - dropped the ball and failed to secure a critical item requiring a fourth run which resulted in our victory - finally. Despite critics panning this expansion I found it at least as enjoyable as T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons.

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17. Board Game: Food Chain Magnate [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:28]
Board Game: Food Chain Magnate
Brian Wiese
United States
Ventura
California
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Just a couple months ago when I made this list for January, I mentioned that it was probably the best single month of board gaming I'd ever had in terms of quality and quantity of new games I had played. I had played 12 new games that month including Five Tribes, Castles of Burgundy, and 7 Wonders: Duel. Well, although I didn't play quite as many new games, March was an even better month of gaming for me. I played multiple games this month that will compete for spots in my "Top 10" list and/or have permanent spots in my game collection. Not too shabby.


Board Game: Food Chain Magnate

Food Chain Magnate

This game made some appearances in my game group last year but I didn't know much about it at the time other than it was long and heavy so I shied away. It also looked like a prototype which didn't help. In the months since, a couple things happened: FCM has solidified it's spot in the BGG Top 100 and my taste for longer, heavier games has grown. I kept hearing about how great FCM was so I asked my game group friend to bring it back and he was more than happy to. Man, I'm glad he did. This game is amazing. We did a 4-player session where everyone except me had played before (although I studied up on the rules expecting to play). The ebb and flow of supply and demand, hiring and then training workers, setting prices...it all just works beautifully. If there was one word to describe this game it would be "dynamic". All this game really is is an economic sandbox and you're playing against your opponents rather than against the game. One of the best first experiences to a game I've had in a long while. I really want to play FCM more along with other Splotter games. The same friend has the new reprint to Indonesia which I'm also excited to try.


Board Game: Santorini

Santorini

I picked up this game just a few weeks ago and it has already made it to the table many times with different people. I didn't really have any abstract games in my collection but the reviews on this convinced me it was worth it. The art and production are totally over the top but also make it look so beautiful on the table. I've never seen an elevated board in a game before and it's totally unnecessary but I love it. The game itself is teachable in a minute and games are quick making it a great filler option. The base game (without God powers) is excellent and really thinky but when you get bored you can then play around with the many God powers that get included which significantly change the game in some cases. Being an abstract game gives it plenty of depth but the God cards gives it plenty of replayability. Overall a great game that I never see leaving my collection.


Board Game: Concordia

Concordia

This had sadly been sitting on my "Shelf of Shame" for longer than I intended but finally got this one to the table this month. I had decently high expectations for it with all the praise it gets and am happy to say it lived up. The game rules are fairly simple but most turns I found myself torn between multiple options that all gave me good results. I like that kind of tension. The game also has a nice flow and relatively little downtime (although once in a while it'll slow down as people think through an Architect or Mercator). I played with 3p and see it being great at 2 and 4 also. 5 players might be a bit much. Based on the elegance, simplicity, and high replayability factor (especially with map expansion boards that are available) this is another game I don't see leaving my collection.


Board Game: Anachrony

Anachrony

Got a play of this in with 4 players doing the base game with no extra modules. Trickerion is one of my favorite games so I was excited to try out the designers' sophomore effort (I do realize this was co-designed with someone else). The first thing you notice about the game is, like it's older sibling, the game takes up tons of table space. The player boards are huge which is necessary as they are used for many things and also show off the excellent artwork found throughout the game. The game gives you lots of things to think about with different ways to score points (so many ways!). The best part for me was balancing using your workers for main board actions (which need powered mech suits) vs personal board actions and while also factoring in available workers vs tired workers and when to rest them. That puzzle alone gives you plenty to think about and there's quite a bit more. However, my biggest complaint about the game is it's bloated. The game is worker placement Euro with some depth but really just has a lot of complexity stemming from it's many mini-games and multitude of ways to score points. Don't get me wrong, this is still a very good game but the designers I think could have trimmed some fat which would have enhanced everything else. For me, Trickerion is the better of the two games but Anachrony is still a solid game for anyone looking for a medium-heavy worker placement game. I look forward to getting more plays of it in.



Board Game: Stockpile

Stockpile

I had heard very good things about this game about buying stocks and manipulating the markets so when it showed up at a game night I happily joined in. The mechanics are fairly distilled down with the meat of the game being a bidding round where you are bidding on groups of cards that can be stocks, cards that let you raise/lower any stock price, or cards that cost you money. The trick is some of the information is public while other cards are face down and hidden unless you were the one that put it there. In addition, you personally have some "insider" knowledge on a stock and what will happen to it's price later in the round. All this leads to a fun game where you're bidding on cards (Cyclades or Vegas Showdown style), deciding which stocks to sell, and then seeing what happens to the market. We played the "advanced" side of the board where the different company stocks have different tracks and sort of reflects real-world sectors. That side seems like it should be the default side as otherwise all companies are identical and therefore kinda boring. All in all, a great stock/bidding Euro game that plays fairly quick.


Board Game: Quartermaster General: 1914

Quartermaster General: 1914

I'm not a wargamer at all nor had I even played this game's older sibling but something about this game really caught my interest. I think I was really intrigued with the idea that it was team-based card-driven game...sort of a blend of Twilight Struggle and Risk (but if Risk had teams). The board is important and that's how you score points and win but the crux of the game is your cards. Cards are actually dual-use and act as your actions in the game including special Event cards that can be pretty powerful. The game is exactly 5 players and together you're playing 8 countries (some players play two countries...it works) and each player has their own custom deck of cards. Turns are fairly quick once you get the feel for things and so the whole game is a relatively short 90-ish mins to play a game that simulates World War I. Not bad. I really quite enjoyed this game. Team-based games aren't all that common and this one seems to do it well. With just a single play, it's hard to really know the full scope of what this game is capable of and I can see it really being excellent if you can play it a few times with the same group. However, since the game really is designed for exactly 5, that alone makes this a niche game. I hope to get it played some more but we'll see.


Board Game: Great Western Trail

Great Western Trail

What? How is Great Western Trail so low on my list? Mainly it's because I played so many good games this month! But also because for me it fell squarely into the good-not-great category. Backing up a little, this is the first Alexander Pfister game I've played. Mombasa is another game that has been on my radar for a long time but just has never crossed my path. Then GWT game out and people have been raving about it. I definitely see why it's earned a lot of praise as the designer has done a good job of combining bits of well-known mechanics like deck building, set collection, and point-to-point movement and crafted a quality game. Sure, the game is heavy on iconography and some of the mechanics make zero sense thematically but the board is pretty and there's a solid sense of progression as the game evolves. It got my brain thinking hard about possible move/actions to take and so while the game is long, the downtime is never much of an issue (even at 4p which is what my game was). I don't have too much negative to say about GWT but it also isn't a game that I'm dying to play again. I wouldn't say no if it came out again however.


Board Game: New York Slice

New York Slice

This game takes the seldom used I-pick-you-choose mechanic and builds an entire game around it. This is one that will stay in my collection for a long time just for the reason that I have nothing else like it. The production quality is extremely high and the theme is excellent. Even the game box opens up like a pizza box would. At around 20-30 mins/game, this is more in the filler category which is just fine as any longer and I think the game would start to get stale. Each round you're dividing up an 11-slice sized pizza and each subsequent player then gets to choose any portion with the slicer getting whatever is left. Each type of pizza (veggie, Hawaiian, meat-lovers, etc) is worth a certain amount of points IF you have the majority at the end of the game. Otherwise it's worth nothing. Being able to "eat" slices as you get them for some quick points, anchovies that deduct points, and Daily Specials that can alter the game all add flavor and replayability. New York Slice isn't a game I would pull out every time I needed something to fill a half-hour but I'm glad I have it as an option. My biggest complaint has nothing to do with gameplay but instead is the fact this game really demands a good insert or storage solution. The insert it came with is useless.


 

Balderdash

Got a play of this in when I had some family over and it was a blast. This was one of those party games that I had always heard about but just have never played myself. There were some "dud" rounds that didn't produce much entertainment but those were offset by the many times we all burst out laughing. Times Up! is still my go-to party game as it has a fantastic arc and meta-game that develops over the course of every game but Balderdash is now high up on that list too for similar reasons.
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18. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:8.81 Overall Rank:1] [Average Rating:8.81 Unranked]
Board Game: Gloomhaven
The Witcherlorian
Australia
KILLARA
VIC
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A slow month saved by the Game's Day I host at my place once a month. But a couple of quite different games to say the least on this list.

New to Me

d10-1 Gloomhaven

Well this was likely to win in whichever month I first played it and to my surprise it was March as a gaming pal of mine had it. As soon as I heard I teed him up and off we went.

We have played twice so far and the game really is 80% a tactical combat game. I wasn't sure what I would think of that but I really enjoyed the experience. The mechanisms are unique to me and quite engaging, so much so that even at 4 hours for our second play (2 characters each), I was interested from start to finish and the ending was more tense than we had expected.

The proof in the pudding of course will be if this level of engagement is maintained through a full campaign of almost 100 scenarios and for that, only time will tell.

But at this point I think I will be getting my on copy in the upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

For a fuller analysis of what Gloomhaven has to offer (with spoilers only for elements of the 1st scenario) -

Gloomhaven - First Plays, First Thoughts



d10-2 Ice Cool
Board Game: ICECOOL


This is the dexterity game that garnered a bit of buzz at Essen 2016. Here the players are penguins that want to get out of class to gather and eat fish. A hall monitor is then out to get those naughty students at the same time.

The game revolves around the weighted penguin pieces that can be flicked in such a way that skillful players can make them curl around corners to zip through doorways in the 3D playing surface, which is made out of boxes of varying sizes that all fit inside one another for storage purposes. Watching those little penguins spin around the place is fun and it is also possible to flick them in such a way that your piece can jump over the walls of the rooms if done correctly.

Like any dexterity game though, skill is required and that means that some players will be better than others at the game until a certain learning curve is mastered. I like the aspect here of having the hall monitor player who is trying to flick their penguin into the pieces of the other players to catch them as it adds a 'cat and mouse' element to the game and makes positioning a key element of the game.

I think this is good...a little gimmicky perhaps...but not as likely to see as much play as games like Crokinole for example.



d10-3 Takenoko
Board Game: Takenoko


I may have included this game on these lists before, but I know have a fuller appreciation for the play of the game and can comment in full.

This is undoubtedly a beautifully produced game and will catch the eye of passers-by quite easily. But I have to say that I am slightly disappointed by the nature of the play on offer. For me there is just not enough to do here and the completion of VP scoring cards just felt a little too arbitrary and random for my liking. I like the variability in the season dice and the movement and subsequent actions of the Gardener and the Panda should feel interesting but I found them a little bland. I don't think that the playing area (tiles) ever create enough room to make that movement all that interesting or compelling.

Perhaps the Chibi's expansion adds another dimension to the game that will make it more compelling for me but at this point this is one of the few Bauza designs that I don't need to go back to all that often.



d10-4 Birds & Squirrels (Black Bird Edition)

This was not a game. I think it is more apt to call it an art project that had a rule or two tacked on.

Essentially on your turn you draw a card and hope to see birds on it. Your turn is over. If you pull a rat or squirrel you lose all cards in your line and your turn is over.

The players set the number of points to reach in order to win with each bird in your line worth 1 point.

If a player manages to fill all 6 slots in their line, they can bank their points and keep them safe. When someone reaches the trigger score, all other players get 1 turn to try and surpass their score. Of course this is next to impossible with the 'draw 1 card' for your turn mechanism. Essentially this is a game of pure luck with no decision making at all (except to bank your points...but then again why wouldn't you?) I would have had more fun rolling a d6 with the highest result winning.

There is no push your luck here (but there could have been), and there could have been a few interesting rules to make this work, varied points for the varied birds that are illustrated, placement rules on your line etc). But as it is this is not a game and hardly warrants inclusion in the BGG database.

The artwork is however nicely presented and I like the felt mats that allow you to add your birds to a telephone or electricity line. But that's it. There is no image in the database.



New to Me - Expansions

Following last year's trend - no expansions 3 months on the trot.




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19. Board Game: Hanamikoji [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:202] [Average Rating:7.55 Unranked]
Board Game: Hanamikoji
Jim Jamieson
United States
Purcellville
Virginia
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== NEW GAMES ==

Hanamikoji - 3 plays -  8 
First Published 2013
Board Game: Hanamikoji


Wow, what a game. Try to control 7 geisha by taking 4 unique actions each round. The kicker is 2 of the actions directly benefit your opponent so the decisions about what cards to offer your opponents are tough. The winner is the first person to control 4 geisha or have 11 total points. Most games will last 2 or 3 rounds and the outguessing and bluffing really makes this game what it is. A great alternative to Schotten Totten or other similar 2p card games, but the way you play the cards is so unique Hanamikoji really does stand out on its own.

San Juan (second edition) - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2014
Board Game: San Juan (Second Edition)


Playing this after already knowing RftG was not a problem and it's clear how they both were developed from the same central idea. It's easier than RftG due to the action selection not being simultaneous and the buildings being a little more straight forward but it still has the same tableau-building benefits that I enjoy in a card game. The theme of building a city also comes across a little easier than the space theme in race for me. It's hard to say which one I enjoy more at this point, but I lean towards San Juan ever so slightly because of the theme.

Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition) - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition)


Happy I got a chance to try this and it honestly surprised me a little bit as to how much I liked it. Play 1 of 9 roles over 10 turns (1 card lets you pick up previously played roles) to send people to certain zones of Mars or to the moon. The roles can also let you move your astronauts around, destroy spaceships, or launch ships before they are full. After certain rounds resources are added to the zones and if can be distributed to the person with the most astronauts in that zone. In addition, there are cards that allow you to manipulate how zones score at the end of the game or go for secret missions. Really enjoyed the puzzle this one provided and while there is definitely some take that it did not bother me as much in other games.

13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2016
Board Game: 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis


A good 2 player game with a lot of second guessing and trying to figure out what your opponent is trying to do without trying to do yourself in at the same time. Each round you play 4 cards and resolve the effects between yourself and the opponent while trying to keep your defcon level down on 3 different tracks. It's hard to rate this because I ended up winning in the first round so it was over pretty quick, but I could tell even from that one round it's the type of game I like. I would be up for playing this again and potentially owning it but as a 2-player game it's not one my wife would enjoy so play time for me would be a little limited unfortunately.

Labyrinth - 1 play -  7 
First Published 1986
Board Game: Labyrinth


The original Labyrinth game but likely the last one for me to play having already played Magic Labyrinth and Chateau Roquefort. For whatever reason seeing the whole board does not do me any favors as I try to find the best move that always gets me to the spot I need to get to even when it's impossible, but I still try to puzzle it out. Be the first to get to all of your treasure spots first and you're the winner. I like how in other similar games portions of the board are hidden that add a bit more randomness to the game to make the whole labyrinth idea better in my opinion. My daughter still likes it but I think Chateau Roquefort will always be requested by her over this.

Dale of Merchants - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Dale of Merchants


A neat deckbuilding game where you use a subset of all the decks in each game each with a different thematic set of powers. Your deck stays very lean throughout the game as you are trashing junk cards and spending cards to build your stalls (path to victory). On your turn you take 1 of 4 actions (buy a card, use a card for its action, build a stall, or discard cards). There are a couple neat twists with this as the cards you buy go direct into your hand and these cards that let you alter the rules also serve as your path to victory so you have to give up some of these powers in order to win. These 2 rules give the game an interesting decision space as you can easily combo a couple turns together. Definitely one to recommend.

Tides of Madness - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Tides of Madness


A quick 2-player drafting game that works well. Unfortunately the theme does nothing for me and while the art may be great I totally ignored it in favor of simply looking at how to score points for each card. You play 3 rounds, drafting 5 cards each time. After each round you keep 1 card and discard 1 card so your tableau does get bigger each round. It's a quick 2p game but there are other games I would rather play with just two.

Rum & Bones: Second Tide - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Rum & Bones: Second Tide


Not a bad game but like most miniature games it focuses on getting as many minis into the box and onto the board during the game as you possibly can. At least in this case you don't feel like you are moving them all every round but there is still a fair amount of movement with the action. I heard a lot of negative things about the first version, but this version played fairly smoothly after a few rounds. I wouldn't mind playing it again, but it did go on a little long almost 90 minutes. If this was actually in the 45-60 min range I would consider picking it up, but with all the dice rolling each turn I would find it hard to get the game length shorter.

Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion


Decent expansion to race that I thought was fairly easy to understand with how we worked together to fend off the Xeno attacks each round and didn't seem to significantly over complicate the game. Now maybe that's because I was able to get a lot of military quickly at the start and easily fended off the Xenos just about every round. I'd play with it again but honestly there's enough for me to think about just in regular Race that playing with the expansions don't really excite me all that much and all they do is add time to what I like to be a quick game.
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20. Board Game: Warsaw: City of Ruins [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:1088]
Board Game: Warsaw: City of Ruins
Will Plante
United States
Greenville
Rhode Island
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I'm still working through a backlog of games I've gotten via trade, plus a few recent purchases.



My favorite game of the month

Board Game: Warsaw: City of Ruins
Capital -> 4 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8/10):

I waffled on picking this up, but in the end decided to get a copy knowing how much my son and I enjoy city building games, specifically Suburbia. While Suburbia isn't a long game, I was interested in Capital because it seemed to offer a somewhat similar play experience to Suburbia in about half the time. A typical game of Suburbia hovers around an hour hour and we can get in a game of Capital in thirty minutes. Of course quick doesn't always mean good, but Capital delivers.

Our first game was a bit bumpy because we were counting individual sections for some of the scoring instead of overall areas. Once that was cleared up we sailed through the rest of our plays. The rules are good overall, I especially appreciate the last couple of pages which list all the different monuments and special buildings and explain what they do. It makes it very easy to reference during the game. The iconography on the tiles is clear and consistent and the artwork has grown on me (it looks much better in person).

I really enjoy the game play, turns play out similar to 7 Wonders: you draft a tile from a handful and then pay money to play it into your tableau. You can discard a tile for money and you can also build over a tile by paying the difference in cash. This is important because you are confined to a 4x3 or 3x4 grid which adds a nice level of constraint as you try and optimize the placement of each tile. I really enjoy that design choice in games. There is a lot more going on in the game with special buildings and monuments which give special abilities or different scoring opportunities and tile destruction between rounds three and four due to WWI and WWII; great mechanic.

Needless to say I really like Capital and how much game it manages to pack into a short playtime. There is a lot of tension in the game because you need to manage your income, keep your city confined to a certain grid size and then you are going to most likely destroy three or more of your tiles over the course of the game. Hopefully this game will see wider distribution, it is that good. The designer managed to craft a brilliant design using mechanics from other games and blending them together seamlessly. Capital would fire Suburbia from my collection, but it is one of my son's favorite games.



Board Game: Citrus
Citrus -> 3 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

I had heard about Citrus a while ago, but then it fell off my radar until it popped up in a local math trade. I was lucky enough to get a copy in the trade and so far I've really enjoyed playing. This game feels like a classic Euro in terms of the rules, player interaction and the artwork.

The rule set is quite simple and straight forward, but similar to some of my favorite games there is plenty of room for clever play and planning without having to wrestle with a rule book. This is a huge plus for me, especially if I plan on introducing a new game to my wife. This is a game you can start playing and teach while you go, the rules are that straightforward.

Citrus is definitely not a multiplayer solitaire experience; if you only pay attention to what you are doing on the board you will get crushed. You have no choice, but to respond to the moves your opponents make and plan accordingly. Even buying tiles from the market can trigger certain events which may benefit your opponents.

As far as the artwork goes this is a Klemens Franz game, but it doesn't jump out at you when it's on the table. The tiles are bright and colorful and definitely the highlight of the whole production. Everything else is basically shades of brown with very little artwork on the boards or other tiles. It took me a long time, but I've come to appreciate certain games despite their appearance with Castles of Burgundy being a prime example. Unfortunately I think this will be a deterrent for some folks, especially if they dismiss it as an "old" game.

I am extremely happy to have Citrus in my collection, especially since it is a game my wife enjoyed. Citrus now sits on the shelf with games like Finca which offer similar experiences in terms of rules complexity to depth of decisions.



Board Game: Dream Home
Dream Home -> 4 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

This is an excellent next level game for my daughter Lilly. She is almost 7 and is not as keen on playing the ""kid's" games anymore so I've been looking for games that will introduce more advanced gaming concepts to her while also having a theme she would like if possible. At first I thought Dream Home would be too much for her, but really the only help she needed was reading the helper/tool cards, she picked up all the other concepts of the game just fine.

Dream Home is a drafting and card placement game. The rules are easy to learn and teach and the game plays quick enough that I think a table of gamers would also enjoy this one. You are drafting two cards each turn so there is some decision making there and then you need to think about how to place the rooms in your home to maximize points and follow certain rules. Nothing about the game is complex, but there are enough decisions to make that the game play remains engaging for the duration.

I'd highly recommend this for families and gamers that really enjoy those sub 45 minute games. The drafting is quite fun in this game and there are a lot of cards you can draft that will give you more control of the draft or room placement later on. Dream Home is a winner, I'm very happy I introduced this one to my family.



Board Game: Limes
Limes -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

Thankfully both of my critiques of Cities have been addressed in Limes, the re-implementation of the former game. In Limes all four of the landscape types score differently (in Cities the four types of tiles only scored in two ways). Also the horrible artwork of Cities has been replaced and with much better artwork even if it is a bit generic. Also the rule book is much clearer in Limes, making it a breeze to learn.

With Limes the publisher went with cards instead of tiles, but it doesn't bother me since the cards have a nice linen finish and are easy to shuffle. Limes is a great compliment to Kingdomino, while they may appear to be very similar they actually play very differently. Hopefully Limes will see a US release at some point since it is currently very difficult to find a copy.



Board Game: OddVille
Oddville -> 2 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

Oddville offers a pretty unique game play experience as you race to build a certain number of buildings in a communal tableau of cards. Oddville rewards efficiency and speed, this is most definitely a race to the finish. You do not have time to craft your own strategy, you need to look at the cards available and figure out how you can begin to build a strategy for that game. You also need to be as effective as possible collecting resources and figuring out ways to create combos when you build buildings and get bonuses.

There is a lot to like in Oddville, it plays quick while still offering plenty of opportunity for strategic play. You will consistently lose to the better player, similar to Race, there is really little luck involved even though it is a card game. However; I did find that Oddville almost felt too quick when playing, making it a little less satisfying than I thought it would be. I will happily play Oddville whenever it is suggested and may eventually pick up a copy, but right now I have plenty of old and new games to play.[/i]



Board Game: Villages of Valeria
Villages of Valeria -> 4 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

This is the second Valeria game I've played and I much prefer it to Quests of Valeria. So far the designers of the Valeria games have re-implemented the ideas and mechanisms in other popular games while containing them in one consistent universe. Quests plays like a card game version of Lords of Waterdeep, Card Kingdoms plays similar to Machi Koro and Villages is a tableau builder in the vein of San Juan/RftG. Similar to San Juan/RftG, in Villages the first player chooses a role and the other players can follow by taking a lesser version of the role selected.

Villages of Valeria is all building combos based on the adventurers and buildings you have in play. There is also a set collection element as you try and collect up to four different different types of locations, worker, soldier, shadow, holy, which then allow you to hire different adventurers. Typically adventurers may give you an instant bonus and some way to score end game VP.

The rules are easy to pick up, the artwork is by far the highlight of the game and will definitely be a lot more appealing to kids than a game like San Juan. In fact I think Villages is a perfect family game and a great intro into tableau building games.

There are a few negatives I have with the Villages, but none of them are deal breakers. First there isn't a lot of variety among the cards and the bonuses are exactly what you would expect to see. What elevates the game for me is the excellent artwork and quick playtime. My son and I can play a game in 20 minutes which is perfect, any longer and the game would start to lose it's luster.

In saying all this, I am still having fun playing Villages and it'll be sticking around for a while since my son really likes it. I'm really interested to see how this holds up to repeated play and whether or not it'll be in our collection a year from now. I would definitely recommend it for families looking to get a solid, introductory tableau building game.



Board Game: Cosmic Run
Cosmic Run -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (6):

I played a four player game of Cosmic Run and it me of a more streamlined version of Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game with the auction mechanic removed and solely focused on moving up different scoring tracks. I found the decisions to be almost too simple, most of the time you roll the dice and put them where they'll match up without much thought. The alien cards offer more interesting choices since they allow you to manipulate the dice. However; there is also a set collection mechanic tacked onto the alien cards which I really didn't care for since you had to focus on the color of aliens you got and not just the powers they offered.

I would've enjoy the game more if it played in 20 minutes or less, unfortunately it went on for twice that long (for a simple game it can induce AP). I wouldn't mind playing again, but I won't necessarily seek it out.



Board Game: Great Western Trail
Great Western Trail -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (6):

I don't really have much to say about Great Western Trail; I was excited to play and ended up being completely underwhelmed by the experience. In the end I found it to be a very mediocre experience that really didn't add anything to the game space it occupies (mid-weight Euros).

I found GWT to be a hodge podge of mechanics that felt completely disjointed without any cohesiveness. With some games that doesn't bother me, but I didn't enjoy the progression in GWT. The actions felt very similar from the beginning of the game to the end, with very little progression or engine building. I found the deck building aspect to be very disappointing; all I did was continually cycle through my deck on the way to KC in order to have a variety of different cows in my hand. On top of that the game never fought back, you could pretty much figure out a way to do what you wanted. I much prefer games that are nastier, for example I enjoy figuring out how to feed my family in Agricola.

I have little interest in playing GWT again or even trying Mombasa, but I really enjoy Pfister's lighter, family weight games (Broom Service, Isle of Skye and I'm excited to play Oh My Goods) so I'll just stick with those.



Board Game: Terra Nova
Terra Nova -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (6):

This was basically an abstract area majority game that I knew nothing about going in. Terra Nova ended up being a fun experience; extremely easy rule set belies a game with a lot of choice. You are definitely trying to maximize your three actions each turn as you try and shut people out of the areas you are trying to enclose. It is important to use both the fences and your own meeples to block people, figuring out that spacial puzzle is the whole game so if that doesn't appeal to you stay away.

I much prefer Barony if I want to play a somewhat abstract area majority game since it adds a bit more to the experience while still being easy to teach. However; Terra Nova played quick enough that I'd be happy to play again, especially as we wait for other folks to show up at our meet up.



Board Game: Rialto
Rialto -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (4):

My initial impressions of Rialto are pretty mediocre, I found the various mechanisms to be completely disjointed from one another which made playing the game more of a chore than a challenge.

I know the added "complexity" appeals to some folks, but I prefer a streamlined area control game where I don't have to fight with the game to take the actions I want. My least favorite element of the game was the buildings and since card draw is so important I can't imagine not going for those buildings, especially early on (I didn't and paid for it later in the game). The whole game felt cluttered and unfocused with all kinds of mechanisms bolted on. There are similar design elements in other Feld games, but in Rialto they all seem to fight against one another and don't come together to offer a cohesive game play experience.

I will probably play Rialto again because a friend of mine really likes it and who knows maybe my impression of the game will change, but for now Rialto doesn't hold a candle to my favorite Feld games (CoB, Luna and Trajan).



Board Game: Spexxx
Spexxx -> 2 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (4):

Spexxx had been on my wishlist for years and I was finally able to get a copy for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, as is the case with a fair amount of dice fillers, Spexxx offers an average experience at best. Basically it is Yahtzee with a board, surprise, but I'd rather play Yahtzee. The board doesn't offer many more choices than the score pad in Yahtzee. On top of that Spexxx felt like it dragged on too long even though a 2p game wraps up in a 1/2 hour. There is no die mitigation, it's just four rerolls and place your dice. There are some goals you work towards on the board, but in our experience it was very easy to block someone since it takes so many turns to see some of the bonuses come to fruition.

Some families might find it fun as an alternative to the mass market games available, but unfortunately only someone deep in the hobby will probably have heard of it let alone be able to find a copy. I still think Qwixx is the best dice game that is easy to find in stores and one anyone can pick up and play. IF you're looking for a bit more depth I'd recommend Rolling America, Qwinto and/or Noch Mal.




Expansions:

Board Game: Lanterns: The Emperor's Gifts
Lanterns: The Emperor's Gifts

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

The Emperor's Gifts is the perfect expansion for Lanterns, it adds more strategic choices to the game without any complexity or extra playtime. Basically The Emperor's Gifts offers players another currency to get in the game, favor tokens, which can be spent to perform different bonus actions. There are five different bonus cards that come in the expansion and you choose two to play each round. Each bonus changes how you play the game and I'm looking forward to seeing how different combinations effect game play.

I would highly recommend this expansion to anyone who owns the base game. It doesn't drastically change the game, so folks who didn't enjoy Lanterns most likely won't be wowed by the expansion either. The Emperor's Gifts does offer more opportunities to get some pretty good payouts from placing a tile based on how you place your pagodas and what special powers are in play.



As always thanks for reading and please feel free to ask any questions.

Cheers,
Will

*My ratings are based on even numbers only; this forces me to commit to a 6 ( a good/solid game I'd enjoy playing occasionally) or 8 (a very good game that will usually be a keeper in our collection). This helps me avoid rating a bunch of games with indecisive 7's.

Also rating games on what amounts to a 5 point scale works for me. I may initially give a game I'm on the fence about a split rating (6/8), then update the rating in a year. I rate the game the lower number in the BGG database.
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21. Board Game: Inis [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:107]
Board Game: Inis
Dan Sharpe
Canada
Toronto
ONTARIO
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== NEW GAMES ==

Inis - 2 plays -  8.5 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Inis


Lots of new to me games this month thanks to Breakout Con, but I think the one that stands out for me the most is Inis. Both times we played at the con felt close, with lots of different tactical decisions. While I do worry a little that the limited card set will eventually catch up to this game, I am thoroughly looking forward to playing it until I exhaust it.

Concordia - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2013
Board Game: Concordia


This was a very close second, and a game I could easily see overtaking Inis eventually, as I feel like there is more depth to explore with the different maps and the multiple ways to score. This was one of those rare engine building games where I never felt like I was particularly deprived. I ended up short a resource a few times, but it felt like that was due to my bad planning rather than the game just being resource tight. I'm eagerly awaiting a reprint for this game, as it is one of the few games that has made it to my instant buy list.


New York Slice - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: New York Slice


This was a great little filler that I got a chance to try out at Breakout Con, and I'm glad I got to. I honestly hadn't heard much about it and would most likely have just passed it by. I'm glad I didn't as this game is a blast! Some interesting decisions, lots of fun, easy to pick up and, in my opinion, most important for a filler, the ability to talk and joke while playing. Not an instant buy, but will certainly keep this game on my radar.

Archipelago - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2012
Board Game: Archipelago


I have mixed feelings about this game. While the play I had I really enjoyed, it is a very fiddly game with a fair bit of rules overhead. So while it's fun and I hope to introduce it to my group soon, it does require advance planning as I have to make sure I have the rules down. Lots of great moments and some really funny situations arose in this game, and I'm glad I own it, for now. I think it needs a few more plays for me to really make up my mind. I can't think of another game that feels like this though and that is what will keep it on my shelf and make me want to play it again.


Ice Cool - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2016
Board Game: ICECOOL


This is just a fun, light game in which you can make penguins jump over a wall. If that doesn't sound awesome, nothing I say is going to change your mind.

Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2005
 


I don't actually remember my actual first play of this game, well at least the part that happened between 2am and 5am, though I am reliably informed that we did finish. However I got to play this again at Breakout Con, and while I remember this play clearly, it pretty much cements my opinion that this is not my kind of game. I see the fun, and I totally get why so many people love it as much as they do, but I get super bored after about 2 or 3 hours and the game just doesn't feel like it picks up again for me. I have stories to tell at the end, and I certainly was thinking about it the next day, what I could do differently, what was unlucky. But at the end of the day if asked to play it again, I think I would just suggest Exodus Proxima Centauri, or politely decline.

Fuji Flush - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Fuji Flush


Another super fun, quick little filler. The only thing that brings this game down a bit in my ratings is the fact that I think it REALLY needs a high player count to shine, and I rarely have that. Very fun game to play at a Con while waiting for another game to start though!


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22. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.43 Overall Rank:4]
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Justin Wawrzonek
United States
Amsterdam
New York
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== NEW GAMES ==

Terraforming Mars - 3 plays -  9 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Terraforming Mars


This is one of those games that I saw everyone talking about, but really didn't have a plan to buy it. Fast forward to this week my FLGS gets a bunch of copies, and I decide to take the plunge. I am very glad I did. This game is easy to learn, but has a ton of depth. I've already played it 3 times, and will certainly be playing more.



Diamant - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2005
Board Game: Diamant


This is without a doubt the best version of this game. I used to own Incan Gold, but this blows it out of the water for component quality. Way to go Iello.



30 Rails - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2016
Board Game: 30 Rails


The first of a few print and play games this month. This is probably my favorite of the bunch. Its very easy to play, but has lots of depth. It also requires only one piece of paper to play.



Deep Space D-6 - 2 plays -  8 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Deep Space D-6


This is a really fun solo game, that evokes the PC game FTL. Its also hard as hell. I've played 2 times, and lost both times.



Spot it! - 5 plays -  7 
First Published 2009
Board Game: Spot it!


I was visiting a friend of mine, who busted this game out. I didn't have high expectations, but was pleasantly surprised. It's a really great filler game.



Robo Rally (2016) - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Robo Rally


Despite some component issues (mainly the checkpoint tokens), I think this is my favorite version of Robo Rally to date. I really like the individual decks, and the increased acquisition of upgrades.



1572: The Lost Expedition - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2016
Board Game: 1572: The Lost Expedition


Another 1 page print and play. This one is much more complex that 30 Rails, but delivers a really thematic experience. You really feel like you are trekking across South America. I even managed to win once.


Mini Rogue - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2016
 


Yet another print and play. This one is only like 2 pages of cards, but has a surprising amount of variety. Its also insanely hard. I have yet to survive the first level.


OrganATTACK! - 3 plays -  6 
First Published 2016
Board Game: OrganATTACK!


This is your run of the mill take that game, but the artwork and humor sets it just slightly above the rest for me. It also plays very fast.

Bezzerwizzer - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2007
Board Game: Bezzerwizzer


Pretty fun trivia game, with an interesting question stealing mechanic. Its no wits and wagers, but I had fun playing it.




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23. Board Game: Fugitive [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:670]
Board Game: Fugitive
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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Fugitive -

This one has gotten the most play this month. A very quick infusion of deduction that gives you that tense taste of the hunt with a very streamlined ruleset. I've played all of Tim Fowers' games and this one is probably my favorite. As usual the art and components are top notch and there's little to no wasted space in the box.

First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express! -

Russian Railroads the card game. Very straight forward with great ergonomics. I have to give a shout out to this game's truly terrific insert. The only thing I wish was improved was the score track. It only goes to 50 in a game that regularly leads to triple digit scores. I look forward to trying out the different modules and seeing how they mix things up.

Yedo-

I snapped up Yedo when I heard it was going out of print. The thematic nature of the missions and events really appealed to me. My first impression of the game is that it's good but in need of streamlining. Many of the action and event cards seem overly swingy/punitive. The manual offers the option to remove them but it seems like something that should have been left out to begin with. Also I can't see myself ever playing the full 11 rounds or playing with the full five player count. Seems like the game should have been a 2-4 player game.

Gloomhaven-

I was very surprised when this showed up at my door. Cardhaus said they weren't going to be able to fulfill my preorder because of distribution issues. This game is massive. It took me an hour just to punch out all of the cardboard. I ran a single scenario solo. It took a while to set up and felt very grindy. I want to give it a couple of tries with some other players before I decide to sell it. My first impression is that it's not a game that will get played much.

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24. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:78]
Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
Gareth Reynolds
New Zealand
Christchurch
Canterbury
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Anachrony
Time travel hasn't been done all that well in a lot of games it seems, this one seemed to do it better. At the start of each round each player has the option of receiving resources from the future that will need to be sent back in a later round. Allowing an early jump start but possibly leading to paradoxes which aren't good. All four of us were new to it, the owner and I had read rules; four hours later we had the game end a round earlier than it might have.
Resources need to be gathered, buildings built, new workers recruited, etc. I'm looking forward to playing again, but only when there's enough time that I won't feel rushed. (Normal sessions of that group are 4 hours and the start of that isn't typically playing anything.) I'll also need to concentrate much more on the points for evacuating; the winner scored more from his evacuation alone than I did in total.

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
After years of not wanting to play, a couple I know got a copy and I agreed to play with them and their group. First half went easily for the humans, as everyone was human and the President kept playing a card that made skill checks open. With the halfway point reached I was sympathiser, and started causing some problems. Neither of the Cylons outed themselves and things started going worse, but not hugely so. Game end came down to me drawing a Crisis card with a choice, one of which would put a dial to zero. The Admiral chose the other, and then Helo(?) used his power to change that choice.
If I'm certain of the group I'll play again, but even more so than with some games I won't even consider this if certain people would be involved. Playing with a better idea of the rules would also help speed things up I think.

Nexus Ops
When the owner pulled this out I thought it was something I'd played before and figured, "okay, it was fun enough then" only to have no idea when he started pulling out the pieces. I'd got it mixed up with Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 somehow and was confused for a bit.
Resource acquisition from the board allows purchasing of units, which are used to fight for control of hexes, most of which will provide resources. Successfully attacking gains the player a point, and hidden missions exist which can grant more points. First to 12 wins and things seemed to ramp up after the first couple of rounds.

The Prodigals Club
I'd played Last Will once previously almost three years ago so had some idea of the mechanisms. Get rid of the most money and become as unpopular as possible to win, with a variety of actions available on the board. Both must be managed though, score is whichever of the two has been reduced the least.
I did very well on the popularity reduction, I could have gone to zero on the second to last round with a couple of slightly different choices. I didn't put anywhere near enough effort into spending money though.

Vast: The Crystal Caverns
Set in a fantasy adventuring setting with a Knight entering a Cave to kill a Dragon while Goblins want to prevent the intrusion and a Thief is simply trying to get riches.
Asymmetric player roles where most are trying to kill off another particular player, while avoiding getting killed themself. Each role seemed simple enough, although I expect the cave to seem the least interesting. One weak player is going to give their target an easier time of things, as the Dragon I wasn't hunted like I might have been by the Knight and was able to make more easy progress to waking up than I might otherwise have.
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25. Board Game: Bubblee Pop [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:3367]
Board Game: Bubblee Pop
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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Samo borrows 2 player games and doesn't like 'em.
Had no proper gaming for months and wasn't really missing it, but was curious about these.

Bubblee Pop 3.5
3 plays

 

Loved the yellow buggers. Also: no brown! (image by William Hunt)


It's nice to see an attempt to implement an app game in a boardgame form - especially as the shift is from 1 player to 2 player game. Saying this, the game felt very much autopilot for me, not being sure what made me win or lose - you can see one or maybe two moves ahead, mostly it's tactical positioning for randomness of the draw. Playing with special powers is kinda, whatever, as 2 of them help you combo and 2 of them hinder the opponent (take-that) and one kinda does both, so it evens out.

My main problem is that it's kinda solitaire and puzzly, but with limited planning and interaction is mostly interference not unlike the luck of the draw (tactical in nature). I guess it's as much an autopilot game as the computer original(s) and it does look really cute (Fuzzy round creatures, Oog likes!).
So, something for siesta or 5 'o clock tea.

I thought this game I'd like the least of these, but, err, maybe it's the colours. This one has them.

Patchwork 3.0
1 play, couple of solo runs

Board Game: Patchwork

"Hey honey what if we stare at our boards for half an hour?"
"Sure." [I'll grab me a glass of wine...]
(image by egovirus)


At the end of the day it's just another engine builder with matching amount of interaction (gentle queue cutting) and drowned in pedestrian brown pastels.

Even with a potentially colourful theme, nope, you can't get clean bright colours, we'll drown them in brown so middle aged couples feel comfy around the game and somewhat sedated. Yes, I imagine sewing diagrams for kids and sewing magazines of old and they had white background (!) and clear colours. But somebody had to slap mimetic realism even on (basically) Tetris and this is why we can't have beautiful things.

Combining engine building with spatial puzzle is kinda original and semi-clever (for time being). But. Even with my SO liking the theme and winning the game and being kinda excited we just ended up trying to find a compromise between cost-efficiency and spatial puzzle and pretty much ignoring the other player. Yes I'm sure if you play the game 90+ times other player will matter (sigh). Almost as much as the random set up... Sooo... it's engine building plus spatial elements minus any sort of narrative progression (like building a church or whathaveyou). Weirdly enough I found soloing Princes of Florence to be more charming (the original version, not the dark brown refry). As for Uwe - Mamma Mia! is our 2 player game of choice.

[Non-brown version in the Heiko's style, I'd rate a 4.0. Well, it is a higher rating]

While being reserved about the whole "Uwe is back with simple games" given this is an engine builder, I was still surprised how much I don't care for it.

Archaeology: The New Expedition 2.5
I only managed to solo it while I had it borrowed. But with each of the monuments.

 

amassing trinkets (image by William Hunt)


For sure I can say that this version did to the original the same thing that seems to be in vogue with recent remakes of luck pushing games: adding gamey elements and diluting the tension. In a game of set collecting under the fear of desert storm which takes away half of your cards, adding a camp which bypasses one storm takes away a lot of what, I think, is most interesting part of the game - risk. The new monuments also luck the big-risk-big-reward flavour of the Pyramid, giving less incentive to players to hoard map cards (and risk losing them to the storm). But, you can the play the game as it originally was.

The main idea of a game is collecting sets VS danger of losing them to storms or to another player via an occasional thief card. You can sell sets at any time - but more cards, more points. Seems okay, but the flow of the game is kinda slow (draw 1 card per turn from random draw deck). Plays can exchange card with central "market", where also all cards lost to storm end up. But the storms do wreck the economy and players never really recover, meaning players are unlikely to obtain high level cards from the market in later stages from the game.

Solo game didn't impress me and not sure how much of this impression is the game and how much of it is soloing. Obviously it's something similar to Ticket to Ride (set collecting, slow building of hands), but the dramaturgy is different, Achaeology feels kinda drawn out as the game has a long end phase that feels like the end phase. (doesn't end on a high). I might even be willing to play Sushi Go over it, even if that one is fluffyer, but it's shorter. Probably as exciting...

conclusion Samo has more interesting unplayed 2 player games on his game shelves (the infamous shelf of unplayed games). Might be a good idea to try these out: Battle Line, Cthulhu Realms, Day & Night, Rivals for Catan (+ some wargames)
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