New to you June 2017 => Best new boardgame
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What games did you play for the first time in June 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: Great Western Trail [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:10]
Board Game: Great Western Trail
Juan Carlos Goyes
Colombia
Bogota
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Board Game: 7 Steps

7 Steps

2017-06-18

Initial Rating: 6.0 (May 2017)

Abstracts games are not my favorite kind of game, but 7 Steps has always called to me and I finally was able to play it . I enjoy it.

The rules are pretty easy to learn and teach. You can do it in less than 9 minutes. Playtime is also fast if you play with 2 players. Around 45 minutes.

7 Steps has, more or less, interesting decisions, they aren't very hard though. You have to stack your colored discs on certain colors and always beginning in the lowest level. The goal is to stack the stones as high as you can as they represent your VPs, optionally and/or additionally you can have a goal card that give you points for matching your stones to the goal card. It is an interesting puzzle and one you have to solve every turn.

The game is best played with 2 players, in fact, I flatly refuse to play it in any other player configuration. With more players, the downtime would increase but, more important to me, the luck factor would also increase a lot. Your ability to plan would be destroyed as the board would radically change before your turn and luck would reign supreme.

There is luck with the cards and the kind of stones you draw, however, I feel you can (somewhat) control it with the help cards that allow you to move, remove or add stacks and stones, you can also discard all the stones you want at the end of your turn. To summarize, 7 steps has a decent luck factor, but it isn’t a determining factor. A good player can, generally, overcome it. This is only true with 2 players.

Bottom line, I think 7 Steps is an ok abstract game, one I would play from time to time. It is mainly tactical but, with 2 players, you have some room to strategize. There are a lot of better 2 player games, so I don’t think I will buy it, but I would play it if requested. I enjoy it. The game lends itself to analysis paralysis so it is best played with fast players.

Current Rating: 6.0

Jgoyes´ Awards:

From gallery of jgoyes



Board Game: Bargain Hunter

Bargain Hunter

2017-06-18

Initial Rating: 5.0 (May 2017)

Uwe Rosenberg is among my all-time favorite game designers. Having said that, I no longer enjoy his lighter games. When I began playing boardgames on 2010, I really liked Bohnanza but I no longer want to play that game. Due to this, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Bargain Hunter. As it turned out, the game was a bit better than expected, but still not a game for me.

The game´s box is way too big for a deck of cards, I guess they made it that way to store the rulebooks. It comes with many of them in a lot of languages, including Spanish, but I would have preferred a small box.

The rules of the game are easy to teach. You can do it under 6 minutes. The only tricky part to explain are the sale yards after every round, but overall, the rules are very simple. Playtime is also short, around 40 minutes.

The game´s components are ok. The art is cartoonish, not to my liking but it serves its purpose.

Best with 3 players.

Bargain Hunter is a trick taking game, another genre I don’t enjoy as much as before. In this case, the trump can be the second suit played after the first, the decision is with the player which is novel for me. The contents of the trick also matters a lot as you try to score points from what you are currently seeking, but you are also planning your junk pile for the future. I found the decisions rather easy, but I also feel the game has more deepness that it is apparent at first. The luck factor is high.

Bottom line, Bargain Hunter is perhaps a great trick taking game, but I no longer enjoy these kind of games. If you like the genre, you should try it, but it isn’t for me. It is a bit boring and I and I already sold the game.

Current Rating: 5.0


Board Game: Acquire

Acquire

This comment is only for the 2016 Hasbro edition.

2017-06-18

Initial Rating: 7.0 (May 2017)

I really like Acquire, a game with a permanent spot among my game collection. I was happy to learn Hasbro was printing a new edition as the 2008 one wasn’t very good components’ wise.

The new edition of Acquire changes some rules of the game. First and most important now the third place on the mergers also wins some money. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but perhaps it makes the game more strategic and reduces a little bit the luck factor, overall I think I like this change, it also makes the game a lot easier and forgiving. Second, they made the board smaller, this impact when a corporation is safe and when the game´s end. I don’t like this change as much, but it is a minor issue. Third, there are less shares per corporation, this doesn’t bother me.

Acquire´s new components are great looking, but as is usual from Hasbro, they dropped the ball, this time with the board. They, obviously, didn´t test it. It is very hard to see the numbers on the board. In our game (and the games of many friends) players have made mistakes because they cannot see clearly the coordinates, they are too obscure. A friend solved this painting them white but I’m very disappointed by this. To add insult to injure, Hasbro also chose a font that is hard to read as well. Both of these deficiencies lead to players making mistakes when they play.

Bottom line, the new components are great, but the usability of the game decreased a lot due to the obscure board and the font they used. I´m very disappointed by this, I won’t replace my old copy of the game. You can read my opinion of the game in the other entry. The current rating for my old copy of Acquire is 7.0.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: Codenames: Authors & Games

Codenames: Authors & Games

2017-06-18

Initial Rating: 9.0 (May 2017)

I love Codenames. The best game of 2015 IMO. So I was very keen to try this promo expansion.

Codenames: Authors & Games is the exact same game than before, but now the cards are about boardgames, the perfect combination . The game is obviously geared toward hardcore gamers, due to this, it’s been hard to get this game to the table. Most friends among my game groups, don’t want to play such a specialized version of the game. Most people doesn’t know the game´s designer of most games, but I do and some friends have this information as well, so I still haven’t been able to properly enjoy this expansion. I really hope to play it with some boardgame geeks.

To me, this game is close to perfection, the only issue is that it has too few cards. I already bought the other bonus cards.

Current Rating: 9.0


Board Game: Great Western Trail

Great Western Trail

2017-06-18

Initial Rating: 7.0 (June 2017)

I was very keen to play Great Western Trail. It seems I enjoy a lot Alexander Pfister´s heavy games (his lighter games not so much although I still haven’t played Oh My Goods!). I really liked Mombasa and I really liked Great Western Trail.

The rules of the game aren’t very complex, but there are many rules and icons to explain. You can explain the game under 28 minutes. When a friend was explaining the game, I thought it could be a What’s Your Game? game. Playtime is around 3 hours, so I strongly prefer to play it with 3 fast players. I won’t ever again play it with 4 players. With 4 players, the downtime and playtime is just too painful.

The game´s components and art are ok. The board is gorgeous and looks great on the table.

The theme doesn’t do anything for me, but it is ok.

The game´s decision are very interesting and each one matters a lot and has deep reaching consequences. In your turn, you must advance along the path and then perhaps do an action. At the beginning, moving is quick an easy, but later in the game there are a lot more buildings and obstacles and you have to pay money many times so planning how to move is key. Among the available actions you have: use a neutral building, your building or the auxiliary actions. You can get better cards, hire people (you have three options), build buildings, advance your train, build an station, get money, get better abilities on your player board or continue to advance during the trail. Many actions require you to play cards. Once you get to Kansas City you deliver your cows and you will be able to reach a city to get money and VPs. Doing this efficiently and quickly is not an easy task and solving this puzzle is very fun and rewarding. You have many paths to take and the best one isn’t obvious. I really like it.

There is some luck with the game (workers, hazards, teepees, draw of the cards), but I feel the best player will always win, that is, the luck factor can be controlled and the player that plans better will win.

Great Western Trail has a high replayability due to the buildings, they have 2 sides and they can be chosen at random as long as all players play with the same ones. There is also a random setup, so each game will be different.

It is a bit weird that the player´s boards are two player by default, it is usually the other way around. If you are playing a three or four player game you need to use additional tiles. Perhaps, it is Pfister´s way to tell us that GWT is best as a two player game, perhaps it is .

Bottom line, I really like Great Western Trail. It has very interesting options and many paths to victory. It is, definitively, a keeper among my game collection and a great strategy game. I really want to play it soon again.

Current Rating: 7.5


Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition – Recurring Nightmares: Figure and Tile Collection

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition – Recurring Nightmares: Figure and Tile Collection

2017-06-18

Initial Rating: 7.0 (June 2017)

I really like Mansions of Madness: Second Edition so I bought all its expansions. As is usual from me, I never research any of the games I buy. That’s just too boring for me, I always prefer to experience the game first hand and to form my own opinions. Due to this, I didn’t know that I was buying repeat content as I already have Mansions of Madness. If you own the first edition of the game you don’t need to buy Mansions of Madness: Second Edition – Recurring Nightmares – Figure and Tile Collection. On the other hand I´m really glad FFG decided to include some of the content from the previous editions and expansions, that’s a classy move. It is also great that they re-released that content in this expansion, so all people can get it if they wish to do so and we all are satisfied.

The games components are top notch as is usual from FFG.

The expansion adds tiles and figures to be used in a new free scenario (Dearly Departed). However, as a friend pointed out, the expansion is very expensive because it only adds one scenario and I agree. I would have expected at least three scenarios per expansion, even if I had to buy them in the app. I guess, other scenarios can use this content (investigators and monsters) as well but it is very expensive without any doubt.

This expansion doesn’t add any new mechanism nor new rules, which is a bit weird for an expansion. It just add more content.

Bottom line, I made a mistake buying Mansions of Madness: Second Edition – Recurring Nightmares – Figure and Tile Collection because I already had the content, due to this, I already sold the expansion but it is a must have for fans of the game. It opens a new scenario for the game and, although expensive, is enough for me to own it, I hope they use more of this content in future and current scenarios.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Awkward Guests

Awkward Guests

2017-06-19

Initial Rating: 6.5 (June 2017)

Incómodos Invitados was an utterly unknown game to me which is a rarity these days. The game is about solving a murder using deduction, and I thought I was going to love it. At this point I’m still unsure about it.

The rules of the game aren’t very complex. You can explain them under 8 minutes and the game has great player aids.

The game´s components are regular. The art is ok. The game comes with too few pages to play, you need to photocopy or laminate them.

I love the idea behind the game. You have some cards and you have to find who killed the host, with what weapon and why, you do this by asking the right questions and trading information with your fellow players. There is also the possibility of an accomplice. Some friends compared it to clue, but with a lot more depth. To me, it is reminiscent of Black Vienna (a game I love) and Mystery of the Abbey (I game I loathe).

Incómodos Invitados´ setup is long and there is no way to mitigate this. You play by scenarios and you need to choose the cards among hundreds to build the playing deck. The teardown is less time consuming, but you have to reorganize the cards by number. This doesn’t bother me much, but it bother some friends. If you make a mistake during the setup, the game breaks.

I´m still unsure about the game due to two things: 1. The friend who explained the rules to us is very bad at explaining, he took almost 40 minutes and no one understood anything. I love him dearly, but he sucks at explaining. As a consequence, no one really understood the rules and we had to play with the player aids. At the end, we got most of the rules, but I’m still unsure about a couple of them (It seems some characters can lie which is obvious for the murderer, but the game explainer told me they always tell the truth, I still don’t know how this works). Perhaps I can like the game better with a good explanation. 2. We played the game as an 8 player game and it was very slow. I think it is best as a 4 player game and I would play it up to 6 players.

There is luck with the cards, but I’m not sure if it is too much or not. My gut feeling is that you can control it asking the right questions, but deciding what information you show to your opponents is key. Also, I won the game by guessing the motive. In each game you have 3 possible motives if you know the suspect so you can win by some measure of luck.

There is a very high replayability factor. Each scenario is different and there are different difficulties as well. It can be a hard game to solve (which I love).

Bottom line, Incómodos Invitados has the potential to become one of my favorite games, I need to play it again solving my issues (reading the rules and with 4 players). My SO and I love deduction so I want to buy it. The game is only in Spanish (which is great for us) but buying it is hard, I don’t see it in any store and importing it from Spain will be very expensive.

Current Rating: 6.5


Board Game: Clue

Clue

2017-06-19

Initial Rating: 4.5 (June 2017)

I have heard a lot about Clue, there were many times when people joked about the game and I never understood the joke , but I finally played the game. Clue is a light deduction game, I would have loved it as a child, but it is not for us.

The rules are pretty simple. You can explain them under 5 minutes. Playtime is also fast, around 30-45 minutes.

The game has a nice theme.

Clue´s decisions are pretty obvious and luck plays a huge factor. If you roll poorly when you need to move you will get a lot less information, thus, luck will decide the winner most of the time. The core of the game (asking for clues) is ok and has been copied a lot by other games, but the movement mechanic only delays the game, add unwanted luck and it is very boring.

Bottom line, Clue is a good family game and a classic. As a child I would have loved the game, but at this point in my life, the game is too simple for us. The luck factor is too big to have meaningful decisions, and the decisions are pretty obvious. I don´t have the slightest desire to play it again.

Current Rating: 4.0


Board Game: Don't Panic!

Don't Panic!

2017-06-25

Initial Rating: 6.0 (June 2017)

Don't Panic! was utterly unknown to me, so I didn’t know what to expect, however, the game surprised me and I had fun playing it .

The rules of the game are extremely simple, you can explain them under 1 minute. Playtime is around 25 minutes with 4 players.

The game´s components are neat. You have a big, gorgeous timer and the cards are ok as well.

Don't Panic! is a party game in which players have to think fast about a plethora of topics. You have a timer and you have to say the related words as fast as you. In the first rounds the player who says the words faster, that is, who had the most time available wins the most points. In the last round, you have one minute to get as many cards as you can. It is a pretty simple concept but a fun one. Don't Panic! is reminiscent of Anomia (which I refer).

Bottom line, Don't Panic! is a fun party game and a great family game. I wasn’t expecting anything good about the game but it surprised me. It plays fast and it is very easy to explain. Perhaps, I will buy it.

Current Rating: 6.0


From gallery of jgoyes

Hey! Yo lo vi Primero

2017-06-25

Initial Rating: 6.0 (June 2017)

Hey! Yo lo vi Primero is an ok party game in the vein of Spot It! Players race to be the first to spot a couple of objects in a big board. There are also some variants but all of them revolve around spotting objects as fast as you can. It sounds silly but it is kind of fun .

The rules can be explained under 1 minute, playtime is around 12 minutes.

The game´s components are regular, the art is ok.

I wasn’t able to find the game on BGG´s database. Its name, Hey! Yo lo vi Primero translates to Hey! I Saw it First. Perhaps I will add it.

Bottom line, Hey! Yo lo vi Primero is an ok party game for the family. I dislike its regular game components, but I would play again if requested.

Current Rating: 5.0


Board Game: Outlive

Outlive

2017-06-25

Initial Rating: 7.0 (June 2017)

I almost never back new games on Kickstarter but as I played 10' to Kill (which has good components) from La Boite de Jeu I thought it would be ok to back Outlive and it was. The campaign ran smoothly and I got my game some time ago. The other reason I backed it, was the theme. I LOVE apocalyptic themes.

In the KS campaign they said the game was about worker displacement, after playing it I don’t understand the statement, the game uses a normal worker placement mechanism, you don’t displace anything (unless a friend explained it wrong ).

The rules of the game aren’t too complex, but you have many of them, you can explain them under 20 minutes. Playtime is around 3 hours with 4 players.

I have the collector’s edition which have great components, you have a lot of miniatures (survivors, bullets, chips, water, cans, player pieces) and they are very detailed. The survivors miniatures are great as there are 5 (I think) different models. The player´s pieces are good as well but they can confuse the game situation. If you see them from certain angle you are not sure if they are active or inactive. In our game, at least 4 times players made a mistake due to this. The art of the game is great. Having said that, I know I’m in the minority because I mostly prefer to avoid miniatures in games. I know they look great but in many past KS the focus of the game has been on the miniatures leaving gameplay too shallow, Cool Mini or Not is particularly guilty of this behavior, so I always suspect a game which has great miniatures. Gladly, it isn’t the case in Outlive, gameplay remains interesting. Outlive comes in a big box which have lots of mini boxes, the mini boxes look great but they are filled with air. It is funny (and a bit sad) when you unpack the game and you find 5 small miniatures occupying 1/10 of the space available in the mini box and you have lots of these boxes. I would have preferred a small box, as it is, it is full of air. To summarize this point, the collector edition of the game comes with a huge box with lots of air and the player´s pieces can confuse players during the game. The components are great though.

I love the buildings (my favorite component), they have holes in them to accommodate the survivors and they look great on the player´s board. They are very reminiscent of Fallout Shelter and This War of Mine videogames.

Outlive´s theme is great! One of my favorites, but it is mainly supported by the art and components. You don´t feel it through the game´s mechanisms which is a shame , but nothing unexpected from an Euro game.

The game´s decisions aren’t obvious and you need to plan in advance which actions you are going to do and with which worker. Each turn is divided by day and night. On the day you can move your workers around to hunt, get objects, scavenge in cities, get water, canned food, get bullets and chips. What makes this phase very interesting is the limitation of your workers, they can move 2 spaces each and they can´t remain where they are, so you need to plan very well or you won’t accomplish your goals. In addition, the items are limited, so you want to get them first and your workers aren’t equal, they have strength and if you approach an opponent with a stronger worker you can mug him . Due to all of these, the day phase is tense and interesting. The night phase is also interesting, in this phase you feed your people, get radiation, repair your gear, use your buildings and distribute your survivors inside your dwelling. This decision is important because you can’t move them later and you need a full room to activate its power. It also decides how much water/food you will spend. All things considered, the game offers lots of decisions to make.

The luck factor is present in the game, but it isn’t very high. Luck decides what you get when you look for things in the cities. It is possible you get nothing. Also, there is luck in which objects appear each turn and in the setup when you choose your buildings and the leaders of your dwelling. A friend played with a very similar character to Professor X and he seems very powerful (perhaps he is a promo, I´m not sure), much more than the other leaders but my friend lost the game so who knows. I need more plays to verify. I’m much more worried about the power level of the buildings, some of them seem VERY powerful while others are very situational, I feel they are unbalanced and that’s very bad . Luck also decide the events.

Each round, the available workers are the ones laid down, and when they act you have to leave them standing. This is unintuitive and many times we all made procedural mistakes, it should be the other way around. Still this is a minor issue for me.

The mug mechanism is neat, but it appears there is an issue with it. Only in the first turn a player was actually mugged, in later turns all players had enough bullets to defend, so it wasn’t important anymore. I'm not sure if this is the case all the time or only in our first game.

Bottom line, I should love Outlive, but for some reason I can’t pinpoint right now, I don’t. I will give it another chance to woe me but I will probably sell it. Outlive has a great theme and interesting decisions. I feel the regular edition of the game has better usability, the player´s miniatures confuse the game situation because many times you can’t clearly see if they are active or not. There is some luck, I still haven’t decided if it is too much or not, perhaps it isn’t. I’m worried about the buildings, they seem to be unbalanced.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures – The Formula

Unlock!: Escape Adventures – The Formula

2017-06-25

Initial Rating: 7.0 (June 2017)

I really like T.I.M.E Stories, so I was very keen to try the Unlock! Series of games. So far I have only played the Formula and only the tutorial cry. It has been hard to get the game to the table with my regular group, but I’m sure I will soon.

I have a bittersweet feeling about the game, like T.I.M.E Stories, once you played through it, you won’t play it again because you already know the answer so it has zero replay value. At least in Space Cowboys´ games you don’t physically destroy the game, thus preserving the resale value. That’s the only reason I bought the whole series of games while I can’t buy The Exit series of games. It isn’t about the money though, I was raised in a third world country and I was always taught that you do not waste if you can avoid it so I loathe legacy style games that destroy or permanently modify the game. To me, it is immoral and unethical to create games that are disposable (even more when the designer can easily make them resettable), even if they create a great experience. Kudos to Space Cowboys for not doing this.

From the tutorial, I think the game is best played as a 3 player game, with more, it seems too easy and players cannot experience all the cards. The tutorial was easy enough I hope the game is a lot harder.

The art of the cards is ok.

Unlock! The Formula seems like a very interesting game, I will comment more when I play through it but I´m very keen to play as many Escape Room games as I can.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Virus!

Virus!

2017-06-25

Initial Rating: 4.0 (June 2017)

Some friends were going to play Virus! and they invited me, they said the game takes about 20 minutes so I accepted. 90 minutes in, I was regretting my decision but then I took the rulebook to see what was wrong, and sure enough the game was eternal because there was a mistake. I will try to leave the mistake out of my rating, but still, I heavily disliked the game.

The rules of the game are pretty simple, you can explain them under 2 minutes. Playtime could be around 20 minutes I guess, but I wouldn’t play it with 6 players.

The art of the game is pretty cool and its best feature. The theme is also interesting.

The game´s decisions are painfully obvious. You play from one to three cards each turn trying to have a healthy body or playing bad cards for your opponents. Virus! is full of “take that” moments (a mechanism I have come to dislike) and the luck of the draw is too much, there is no room to plan and if you are winning all other players will attack you so luck alone will decide the winner of the game.

Bottom line, Virus! is a fail for me. Players mindlessly play the obvious card, it is full of “take that” and it doesn’t bring anything novel or new to the table. Very boring and repetitive. I will do my best to stay away from it. Perhaps it can be a good game to play with children and/or casual gamers, but it is, definitely, not for me.

Current Rating: 2.0


Board Game: Big Manitou

Big Manitou

2017-06-25

Initial Rating: 5.0 (June 2017)

What's Your Game? is, perhaps, my favorite game publisher. I have liked every one of its games, they are always deep and meaty. Due to all of this, I was very keen to play Big Manitou, but I was sorely disappointed.

The rulebook is a mess and I’m pretty sure we played some rules wrong even though we all read it three times trying to shed light on the scoring phase. The rules, as I understood them, are easy to explain, you can do it in less than 5 minutes.

The theme is novel but I kind of dislike it. The art is ok.

Big Manitou´s decisions aren’t complex at all, the game is rather light. In your turn you play a card and apply its effects if any. You want to get the tiles you need to score, but you also will score some cards in your hand so deciding which card to play isn’t very hard. The game revolves around hand management and majorities in the hunting sites.

Bottom line, Big Manitou seems like a filler game and I don’t like them much these days, however, I’m pretty sure we played it wrong as the rulebook is a mess, perhaps the worst one I have read ever. As I’m getting rid of many games to thin my game collection, I won’t give Big Manitou another chance. Perhaps its rating can increase if I could understand the rules, but I already sold it. I cannot believe someone would publish such a poor rulebook.

Current Rating: 3.0


Board Game: Maximum Throwdown

Maximum Throwdown

2017-06-30

Initial Rating: 4.0 (June 2017)

Some years ago, I played FlowerFall and I thought it was a novel game, but I didn’t like it very much. Maximum Throwdown is a very similar game with some added rules but still, it isn’t a game for me, in fact, it’s worse than FlowerFall just because it was released one year after it and it tries to add complexity to a very simple game.

The rules of the game are very easy to teach. You can do it under 1 minute and the game has great player aids. It plays, relatively, fast.

The art of the game is great (it´s best feature). The theme is nonexistent.

Best with 4 players.

The gameplay is kind of fun for a while, you throw cards trying to cover the symbols on your opponents´ cards while leaving yours showing and that’s it. The decision making process is very straightforward.

The card quality isn’t very high and I always sleeve my games, but in this case I couldn’t or the cards would slide much more impacting gameplay.

Bottom line, Maximum Throwdown is not a game for me, It becomes boring very quickly but it can be fun with the right crowd. On paper it sounds great, but I would rather play almost any other game over this one. I already sold my copy of the game.

Current Rating: 3.0


Board Game: King of Tokyo: Halloween

King of Tokyo: Halloween

2017-06-30

Initial Rating: 3.5 (June 2017)

I heavily dislike King of Tokyo. I think it is a dice fest, full of “take that” moments, obvious decisions and uncontrollable luck. I have never had any fun playing it. Having said that I understand why people love the game, but it isn’t for me.

I only played King of Tokyo: Halloween because at that moment there wasn’t any other option.

It comes with orange dice and they look great. The art of the cards is also great.

Gameplay remains the same. If you are a fan of the game, I’m pretty sure this is a great expansion to have. It adds costumes, permanent cards that change the rules a bit and it adds a ton of cards adding to the replayability. As I dislike the base game I naturally dislike the expansion and I’m rating it the same I rated King of Tokyo.

I hope to never play it again.

Current Rating: 3.5


Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends – Legendary Summoner Promo

Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends – Legendary Summoner Promo

2017-06-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (June 2017)

At first I didn’t enjoy Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends very much, the reasons: 1. The explanation wasn’t very good and 2. It was a 4 player game. Due to this, it took me a couple of years to try the game again and now I’m really liking it.

Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends – Legendary Summoner Promo is a cool, but non-essential addition to the game. It is only ONE legendary card and it isn’t very hard to summon it. It gives a free action and makes very easy to summon the next being as you can use your opponent pieces as well. The promo cards doesn’t change any rule.

I´m rating it the same rating I gave the base game.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Santorini

Santorini

2017-06-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (June 2017)

I was very keen to play Santorini, it is one of the few games that my SO played months before me and she loves it. She thinks it is gorgeous and the gameplay very exciting. After playing it, I have to agree with her.

The rules of the game are very simple, you can explain them under 2 minutes. Playtime is very short as well. I have had plays that ended under 8 minutes and others that ended under 20 minutes, still, a very short amount of time for such a deep game.

The game´s component are very well done, they look great on the board. The art is simply amazing.

Gameplays is very fun and fulfilling. The goal is to move one of your pieces (you have two) to the third level. Each turn you must move one of your pieces and then build a building with it., that’s it. It seems very simple, but the game has a lot of depth, which piece to move, where to move it and where to build is not obvious and if your opponent is very good you can think as deep as you like, however, you can also keep it light and fast.

Santorini comes with a lot of god cards and each one impacts the game differently adding a huge replayability factor to the game. Each cards adds or breaks a rule to the game and I´m not sure if all matches are fair, but I don’t care much about it as the playtime is so short, so far, we had had problems with Morpheus only. In general, I love the variable powers, it is an staple of many of my favorite games.

Best with 2 players. I refuse to play it with 3 players as I really hate the king making situation that arises from this configuration, but I would play it with 4 players in teams.

After the setup (random gods), there is no luck whatsoever in the game, a huge plus for me.

I have two minor issue with the game. After I read the rules I realized there was an app for the game so I spent the next 10 minutes looking for it. As it turned out, the app isn’t available yet so I think it is a mistake to include it in the rulebook. Another thing I dislike is that the rulebook of the game includes all the gods, even the ones from the expansion (Santorini: Golden Fleece) and we didn’t have access to them. They should come with the expansion, not with the base game, still, this is a very minor issue.

The original game was released on 2004, I’m not sure if the game has any changes rules wise, but the art and components of the game sure did. I generally don’t mind if the game is ugly, as long as the gameplay is satisfying, but I’m very glad to see the new edition of the game, it is gorgeous.

Bottom line, Santorini is a great family game, but it is also a great strategy abstract game. Not a lot of games can claim to be both. It plays very fast, but the decisions can be as deep as you want them to be. It has a huge replayability factor. Santorini is a must have for me. I´m a little sad that I gave my copy away and then I couldn’t buy it again because it was out of stock. I hope they reprint it soon. With more plays, I think it can get an improved rating from me. My desire to play the game again is very high.

Current Rating: 7.0
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2. Board Game: Century: Spice Road [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
Board Game: Century: Spice Road
Bill Kunes
United States
Cincinnati
Ohio
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Origins plays...

GAMES

Board Game: Century: Spice Road

Board Game: Century: Spice Road

Century: Spice Road

Plays: 1
This was the #1 game of interest going into Origins. I would have loved to buy it as soon as the doors opened, but it had sold out the day before. Fortunately the booth had multiple copies available to demo. We were able to play through an entire game.

It was easy to setup, teach and get started. Our 4p game played quickly. We did forget the rule about being allowed to trade multiple times using the same card on a given turn, but that did not tarnish any of our opinions. The game's simple take one action per turn game play kept us all engaged and moving along. As additional cards came out and as we wrestled with the few options available to us we shared commentary regarding our individual revelations.

Century: Spice Road is a winner for me. I was able to order a copy online. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what they do with this series of games.

Board Game: Codenames: Duet

Codenames Duet

Plays: 1
Duet is another title that would have been an instant buy for me had it been available at Origins. This design is a cooperative 2p (or 2 team) version of the original Codenames. Players share a two-sided grid card with 15 agents that need to be found in a limited number of rounds. There are some overlaps between the two sides and three assassins to manage, and an assassin on side is not necessarily one on the other.

To keep players from playing overly conservative you only have 9 turns to complete the cooperative task at hand which creates tension and requires giving multi-card clues. We identified 9 agents before someone stumbled upon an assassin.

This will definitely get played more than the original in our house. Another buy for me and probably my #2 game of the con after Spice Road.

Board Game: Room 25

Room 25

Plays: 7
The escape room concept is certainly a hot one right now and a genre that appeals to me. Room 25 is an escape like game with a variety of play styles, all of which involve players navigating a 5x5 grid of tiles with potentially hazardous if not fatal consequences over the course of a limited number of rounds. The aim is to find the exit tile, get the players to it and push it out of the grid.

This game has been on/off my Wish List for about a year since I first heard about it. I managed to acquire a copy as part of the Origins Math Trade and played four solo games on Easy mode to learn the rules and mechanisms of the game before playing an Easy mode 2p cooperative game with my wife. It offers a variable puzzle to solve each game. After getting the rules ironed out I have won every play on Easy mode, so I'm ready to graduate to the next level.

I can see this being a fun family or game night game that is easy even for non-gamers to pick up that offers a fun gaming experience. I have a feeling that seasoned players have said about this is true that one of the expansions will be required to keep this interesting after so many plays.

Board Game: Unearth

Unearth

Plays: 1
Unearth caught my eye based on the unique and attractive artwork. It also incorporates a d4 and d8 with the typical d6 dice for some different dice placement decisions than your typical euro game.

The game play involves acquiring sets of like-colored cards and tiles with the latter placed in rings on the table for which players can acquire wonders for additional points and in game abilities.

The main action is choosing an available card and placing an available die you rolled on the card. Add up the total of that card's dice. If you equal or surpass the card's value the person with the highest die value (or weight, d4, d6 or d8 if a tie) to claim the card with all other players with dice receiving different cards that give them ways to manipulate dice in the game. If a die roll is <=3 then they get a tile to add to their play area.

The game played quickly after a couple of turns. One play is not sufficient to make a final judgment on this one but it was a memorable experience and a game I would consider. My wife liked the pictures I showed her.

Board Game: Sentient

Sentient

Plays: 1
I vaguely remember some buzz around Sentient coming into Origins, but knew nothing about it. I was hoping to get a demo of Clank! but there was a group waiting to go next so I sat down to give it a try.

The artwork is a beautiful, muted color pallet with amazing custom dice. You are essentially placing a leader token and optional assistants to gain cards you put into your tableau each round. Each card has the potential to change the value of the dice it is placed between if you don't lock it down with one of your limited numbered assistants. So you have to constantly check your logic and math to maximize your points at the end of the round. In your bidding (?) for cards at the end of the round there are tiles (I forget what they are called) that go to the majority player which factor into end game scoring as well.

This was an interesting game. I love the art and overall design. It does some interesting things mechanically, yet I am undecided on how I ultimately feel given the amount of logic and math you are doing. I personally am fine with it (since I do that all day every day in my job), however my wife and many others I play with don't like those types of games as they find it frustrating and not fun. Of the Renegade games I played/demo'd at Origins this was the one I was most interested in.

Board Game: Honshū

Honshu

Plays: 1
Honshu is a game that has been out for a while and I've read positive things from multiple people on BGG, so after yet another fail to get in on a demo of Clank! I sat down for a half game demo.

In a nutshell players start with a hand of six cards. Each round they place a card in the middle of the table which determines player order based on the card number. Players then select a card and place it overlapping or tucked under cards already in place to form a city of connected terrain types and resource and market spots for cubes. After three rounds your remaining cards are passed left and played out. Repeat this one more time and you score the game.

It plays quick and reminds me a lot of Limes with a bit more flexibility and resource cubes rather than worker types. The other thing it has going for it is the card playing for turn order mechanism that was a nice twist.

It doesn't offer significantly more functionality than Limes to warrant adding it to my collection (although it would scale to 4p without needing an additional copy). Fun little game, just not a fit or the right timing for our collection at this time.

Board Game: Flip Ships

Flip Ships

Plays: 1
I played a turn at the Flip Ships demo to see what it was about. In a nutshell is has a mother ship launching attacking ships like Space Invaders at which you are flipping your ship tokens off a block of wood in hopes of landing on or near in order to destroy the on coming attack.

There is definitely some luck and learned skill/ability in how to effectively flip the tokens, but it had a sense of appeal and anticipation. Each round the ships move downward in various ways and a counter is adjusted. There are some other things going on too where players can acquire more ships and special abilities that I didn't get to experience but did have explained.

For me this game offers a fun novelty for a few games but I don't know that it would work for me and my group. Not really our style of game.


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3. Board Game: Lisboa [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:67]
Board Game: Lisboa
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
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Origins month means lots of new to me games. Unfortunately the vast majority of them ended up just being pretty good but ultimately forgettable. But there was nothing I absolutely hated, though maybe that's unfortunate as well as there's little passion in most of my responses. Part of me wonders if it's me, becoming more jaded and needing more to be impressed. I guess this would make sense. But there were a couple of strong ones. And I suspect that if I'd managed to play all of my Origins pickups it'd be a tighter competition for the top spot. But that just means I definitely have a game for next month. Games are ordered from favorite to least favorite.

Lisboa - 8.5/10

Board Game: Lisboa


I really liked this game. I can see it ending up in my top ten and possibly becoming my favorite Vital game with more plays, the 8.5 rating is me being a little conservative. The multi-use cards are done perfectly, and it has a leg over games like Deus and Bruges by letting you control at least what type of cards you draw back up with. And the way that stores score is so cool, with players controlling which colors score where.

And the buildings all do one of my favorite things, where choosing both the position and color has a handful of different implications and balancing those is a lot of fun. Position determines an immediate bonus, some rubble, and has various scoring implications. On top of that color of stores has end game majority scoring and determines which goods you produce, which provide you with different secondary actions and may be worth different amounts of money to sell. And then there's the question of which powers you want to unlock by building your stores, which is definitely an important decision.

The point is that everything feels really interconnected in a clever, interesting way. There are so many things to think about and all of their various implications on your actions need to be kept in mind.

I am however a bit on the fence about the church tiles. Many are really cool and strong, but also there are enough that feel pretty underwhelming. We got to a position where most of the ones out were pretty undesirable and so then people just stopped going to the church area. And it was too far from the influence symbol to make it worth it to move him just to cash one in for points and influence.

I'm also not sure about the king's favors. I know Vital likes to put some leeching system in his games and I often really like them, but these just felt really weird. They seemed really strong so we all made sure to have a supply of them, but then when both other players had a king's favor for a particular color it felt really bad to be the one to set those off and give your opponents an almost as strong action as you for your action for the turn. There was often this weird standoff that didn't feel particularly good.

Maybe it was just the peculiarities of our game but we were building a lot of public buildings and so not keeping officials in offices, so reputation costs were cheap and everyone kept pretty high in reputation for most of the game. Maybe if those costs were higher we'd not only be less able to follow all the time but also be more incentivised to get the church guy around his track more often to generate more reputation. I think he did one lap around the board and didn't even get to the treasury spot a second time.

But anyway, these aren't huge issues for me and may also not show up every or even most games. Either way I'm really looking forward to many more plays and I can see a ton to love about this game.

Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin - 8/10

Board Game: Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin


This was really cool. I've never done an escape room, and other than the ten minute unlock demo I've never tried another escape room game. I have however done one or two puzzle hunts with some friends, which are vaguely similar.

I thought for the most part the puzzles were at just the right level. Some were very easy and one or two we struggled with for a little while. It seemed like for at least one there were a handful of roughly equally reasonable approaches, but what ended up being the solution was no less reasonable than any other we'd come up with. But in the end we finished in I want to say 75 or 80 minutes with no hints used, which felt about right.

Maybe a bit on the easy side, but I'm not sure you could make harder puzzles without making them a bit unfair, which none of these ended up feeling like. Though I think all of our time playing Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective has trained us to not trust games to be fair, which led to us trying some fairly dumb things. I now have more trust for the system, we'll see if the next games hold up to that standard.

And we also didn't need to cut or write on anything. And we weren't even necessarily trying not to, it just never really seemed that helpful to do so. So you could definitely do this one and send it on, or just not have to worry about destroying things as I've heard some people are bothered by that.

Overall I really enjoyed this; it scratches a nice puzzle solving itch, feels fair, and doesn't overstay its welcome. In fact I would have been happy if it had been just a few puzzles longer. But that's probably the perfect length so now I'm excited to try the other two.

Dale of Merchants - 7.5/10

Board Game: Dale of Merchants


This is a tough one, because I really enjoyed my play of the game. But the problem is that I think that was under close to optimal conditions. Of the six factions you get in the base game, you only play with three to five at a time to increase variability. And there are four I really like, and two I can't really ever see myself playing with. The four good ones all have really interesting effects that seem to be well suited to comboing together and making clever plays, and then there's a take that faction and a very luck heavy dice rolling faction.

There's also a standalone expansion, basically the same rules but six different factions that can be mixed and matched, and from what I've seen of those they're all more in the middle, with none quite as good as the best of the first set, but also none that I wouldn't be willing to try.

But independent of the different factions I really like the core of the game as well. It's a deckbuilder but there aren't a lot of unique card types so it's a bit more reliable, you only discard the cards you played so you have more control over your hand, and the core of the game is deck thinning, which is always my favorite part of deck builders.

If all twelve factions were as good as my favorite three, or even next best three, this would be an easy 8, possibly even 8.5 but as there are a number of factions I'm not very excited about, and a couple I'd never play, that really cuts down on the value of the game. But in spite of my reservations I am regretting not buying the game when I had the chance and will be looking forward to the kickstarter for the third in the series to see if I can pick up enough interesting factions at once.

Blood Rage - 7.5/10

Board Game: Blood Rage


I went into this with basically no expectations. Big kickstarter success filled with plastic minis, how good could it be? But (perhaps thanks to my expectations) I was pleasantly surprised.

I'm always happy with a draft with big enough hands and few enough players that cards come around once or twice, this is where any real strategy in drafting is. Everything was satisfyingly deterministic, and it felt like you could really plan out nice sequences of moves and position in such a way as to take advantage of others' moves. The various upgrades seemed to do a good job of differentiating the players and were usually interesting effects. And there was a real and satisfying sense of escalation between rounds.

It may be the case that since I don't play this kind of game much it was easier for this to impress me than some engine builder euro that I've played a ton of, I don't know. And it does get a knock for components, as I find plastic miniatures almost universally ugly and unpleasant as game pieces. There's a fair chance that if I could get it with cardboard chits or something I'd have already bought it.

Flip City: Wilderness - 7.5/10

Board Game: Flip City: Wilderness


I liked this one slightly better than the original since it felt like it was easier to do some meaningful deck thinning and control the composition to the point that you could end up with a more reliable deck. I can see that being a negative for the kind of people who liked the push your luck, but that's not really my thing. Like the original I like that it's a quick, easy game and I like the ability to upgrade the cards in your deck. And like I was getting at above, I think this set has the more interesting card effects for my taste. Were I to get once of these two it would be this one, but I don't think I liked it quite enough to want to own it. I'd have some concern about replayability, it seems like you mostly approach the game the same way no matter what.

Yokohama - 7.5/10

Board Game: Yokohama


I was a bit underwhelmed by this game, and I wonder to what degree that's because I played with three of the most AP people I've ever played games with. And I have some AP prone people in my regular group, but this felt like a whole different level. I've heard from someone I trust that this game can bring that out of people though, so who knows.

Anyway, I was really looking forward to trying this game, it looked like the planning of the path would have been a lot of fun, and the multiple goals of taking actions plus building buildings would be a cool dynamic. But in practice I felt like I was just building basically whenever I could, and it was just one more resource exchange like everything else. Maybe once or twice I got feeling of setting up a big combo and executing a really strong action, but for the most part it felt sort of plodding and not very exciting.

And I didn't really like the fact that it seemed so easy to accidentally block someone, especially early. It's one thing to get blocked because someone has seen your plan and decided to try to slow you down, but it's another to just have someone obliviously wander into the spot you were aiming for, delaying you for a turn for no particular reason.

And I also sort of got the feeling that, like Istanbul, you're best off just sticking to one segment of the board and hitting one loop over and over rather than really branch out and move around, and this to me really takes away from the aspect I like of planning ahead and finding paths that get you the actions you want while putting assistants out and goes a bit in the direction of autopilot.

But I still think there are a lot of good ideas here and I do want to give it a second chance, hopefully under better circumstances. But based on my play it wasn't nearly as good as I was hoping.

Siena - 7/10

Board Game: Siena


This is a really weird one. After playing and really enjoying the designer's more recent De Vulgari Eloquentia, I figured this seemingly weirder and more ambitious earlier title was worth tracking down. And this game is really unique and does a few cool things, but mostly is too rough around the edges for me to call it a great game. But as an experience I really enjoyed myself and I can't imagine ever getting rid of it.

First of all as a warning, if you're sensitive to bad rulebooks this is one of the worst ones I've seen. Though I assume someone has done a rules summary here on BGG if you're really worried about it. I just know that some people are really bothered by bad rulebooks.

As far as the game goes, I like that there are three distinct phases that have very different pros and cons, and that different players can and possibly should be at different levels at the same time. Especially the way that the farmers and merchants play off of each other is pretty cool.

But the way that the poorest merchant has a ton of control over the round and can easily just stay poorest while raking in points is super weird. As is the way that you'll probably fill close to half of your hand limit with cards you won't be able to play for half of the game, but then once you get there the hand limit becomes basically irrelevant.

And then the artist auctions all felt really weird too. If you happen to call an auction for a low number then maybe the auction will be somewhat interesting (in the case of the 1 point guy and maybe the 2 pointer, there might even be potential for bluffing to dump it on someone for too much) but for the more valuable artists, you just don't call an auction unless you have the most money and then guaranteed win it.

But anyway, in spite of those few weird things I'm really glad I own this game. It definitely has a lot of character and is a fun experience. And how many board games do you know that have a medieval fresco as a gameboard?

Rhein: River Trade - 7/10

Board Game: Rhein: River Trade


Immediately after my play of this, I was pretty excited. I thought this was going to be one of my new favorites, but then I thought about it a bit more. I played it two player, and I thought that there was some cool stuff going on but that everything was too calculable and there wasn't enough interesting piggybacking type stuff. I figured that at higher player counts there should have been a lot more opportunities for interesting moves. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that at the higher player counts it could easily become too chaotic.

So rather than speculate I'll just talk about the experience I had. It was pretty fun, but almost completely deterministic, and way too easy to just take any contract and know that you could easily complete it for a nice profit in a couple of turns. I managed to piggyback off of my opponent's move once, saving a few dollars. But for the most part it was completely pointless. I still would like to try it with more players to see if that creates the experience I was hoping for, but after some thought I'm not curious enough to buy it just to find out. So it lands near the top of the "fine" games.

Lorenzo il Magnifico - 7/10

Board Game: Lorenzo il Magnifico


My one play of this felt like a very stock standard engine builder game, except with resources very tight. But all that served to do was make it feel much more incremental/plodding, at least at the start while you're getting things going. Part of me thinks I might be missing something, but I didn't really see anything to make this game feel special or unique enough to try again, especially given all of the games that I know I love that I already don't play as much as I'd like. It also felt a bit scripted in terms of 'oh, I'm going pre-defined strategy X, so I need cards n and m" which was a little unfortunate. I usually like Simone Luciani, but this one just didn't land for me, it just felt a little to bleh.

Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure - 7/10

From gallery of Photodump


This is a tough one, since in a lot of ways it feels like it just strictly improved upon Ascension. It's very much the same system, but with a board and a third currency for moving around the board. This adds a nice new dimension and I really enjoy it. But then there's this odd push your luck player elimination element added in. And I get that without it the game wouldn't work as is, but I really didn't like that part at all. So overall I guess I like it about as much as I like Ascension.

Bärenpark - 7/10

Board Game: Bärenpark


This game was pretty fun. It's a tetris puzzle kind of game, and I haven't played Patchwork or Cottage Garden to compare, but I enjoyed the way this one worked enough. It seemed a little weird to give everyone a turn after the person who finished their park, especially since everything else about this game is a race to get the highest point stuff. I liked that there were a few goals to have to keep in mind in addition to puzzling out your board. But ultimately I don't think I can be too enthusiastic about a game that's just competitive tetris. For what it is it's great, but I just don't see myself ever having a strong desire to go back to it.

Ulm - 7/10

Board Game: Ulm


It had some interesting ideas, but for the most part it felt to me like there weren't too many decision points. You draw a tile out of the bag at random and between that and the layout of the grid, there will only be a couple of reasonable ways to go. You're never really choosing from anywhere near all twelve possible spots. And then once you get a card or a power or whatever, that just restricts you more into doing specific things. And I don't understand at all why anyone would want to play the "advanced" version, which just exacerbated this by making one action basically mandatory most rounds, just removing even more decisions. Goes just slightly too far in the "plays itself" direction for my taste. But I'm a bit sad as the system seemed to have a lot of potential for cool stuff.

Scoville - 7/10

Board Game: Scoville


This was a weird one. There were definitely things I liked about it, but the turn order wasn't one of them. Basically you can either reliably get resources but have last pick of the cards that trade resources for points or you can have less control of resources for first pick of points cards (or something in between). But it just always felt like no matter what I was just left hoping for something or another, which to me is very unsatisfying. Granted near the end I was able to reliably keep the position that had most control of resources and I was able to see that I could be the only person to have enough of the top tier resources to guarantee the point cards I was going for. Maybe the whole game would have been more palatable without the hidden trackable information. If I remember correctly there is no actual hidden information.

Century: Spice Road - 6.5/10

Board Game: Century: Spice Road


I really love hand building (Concordia, Lewis & Clark, Mombasa) and this seemed to be basically that, but it just didn't quite feel all there. It felt pretty weird actually. At least in my game, we spent a while just drawing new action cards, and then at some point started playing them and never looked back.

And I won by a pretty significant margin while not feeling like I played particularly well. This is the fastest way to sour me to a game. My best guess is just that my opponents didn't see cards that comboed together as well as I did. I got a card pretty early that got me lots of reds, and then a couple of cards to turn reds into other stuff. I was able to plan sequences of moves that lead easily to a bunch of whatever cubes I wanted, which in the moment was a satisfying feeling, but upon reflection I worry that it's just because I happened to have the right cards flip at the right time that I could get everything that comboed off of each other. Definitely not as good as Splendor.

Mea Culpa - 6.5/10

Board Game: Mea Culpa


There were a decent amount of moving parts, but it felt about as disjointed as it could possibly be. It just felt really lacking. I really wanted to do some planning or chain some moves together, but I didn't feel like I really had that opportunity. And this was particularly disappointing after the one geekbuddy I have who rated/commented on this one gave it really high praise and described it as very interconnected, I believe comparing it to one of my favorite games. But that wasn't my experience at all. I guess for a certain type of person this will be a great game. There's a lot of stuff, but because it's more disjointed there's not much to think about beyond the immediate present turn, which should minimize AP.

Kanagawa - 6/10

Board Game: Kanagawa


Full disclosure I only tried this at two and that's got to be its worst count. But it seemed like it was incredibly rare that a particular pair of cards was more valuable than basically any set of three. Maybe with more sets more early taking would happen, but as it was we almost always both just waited for three cards to come out. The way the big point goals work where you have to choose to stop and guarantee points or keep going could have added something, but since it all just comes down to what flips it rarely felt like more than just a guess. Nice art but very decision light.

Dairyman - 6/10

Board Game: Dairyman


Really nothing wrong with this game at all. In fact this might be the highest possible rating I'd give to a push your luck dice game. But this is a push your luck dice game. Inoffensive, but not something I care for at all.
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4. Board Game: Watson & Holmes [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:871]
Board Game: Watson & Holmes
Brian Wiese
United States
Ventura
California
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Not a ton of new games this month but that was offset by the fact I got a lot of plays in of games I already was familiar with. Of all the new games though, they were pretty much all winners.

Board Game: Watson & Holmes

Watson & Holmes

Oh wow. I've had my eye on this game ever since SU&SD did their review for it and gushed over how much they loved it. Deduction games are one of my favorite genres and while this is story-driven deduction rather than logic-deduction like Sleuth or Code 777, I pretty much knew I would love it. I got to play through three different cases so far with two different groups and it's been amazing. You wouldn't necessarily know it as we were playing since we were all silently taking notes for most of the game. However, as the game progresses the tension increases as you know everyone is getting close to the answer but maybe just needs that one clue to fill in a gap or verify a theory. Once the game was over, the discussions over what people knew and figured out is like the dam breaking. The first time we played, we did it with a full 7p and it wasn't until the 4th person attempted to solve did someone get it correct. Once that happened there was a palpable mixture of relief and that "I was so close!" feeling. We even played other games that night but discussion about Watson & Holmes would still make it's way back into the conversations. That's the mark of a good game. This game is definitely one of my favorite games of 2017, if not the favorite. It's not perfect. The "gamey" elements of bidding and using things like Watson definitely become less relevant as the player count drops. My session with just 3p was still tense with trying to solve a mystery but the mechanics played a background role. Watson & Holmes is great but it's definitely not going to be for everyone. You must be ok with a) taking notes b) playing in silence and c) constantly feeling like you're behind. If you're ok with those things and like Holmes-style deduction, this game is not to be missed.

Board Game: Automobiles

Automobiles

This was probably my best surprise of the month. I had heard good things about this game but didn't know too much about it. This is a race game (duh!) where the main mechanic is drawing cubes from a bag and using their abilities to move your car around the track. Some cubes give you movement and others give you special abilities. There's also "wear" cubes that you get for doing things and just gum up your bag. It essentially is a deck builder but you use cubes instead which is kinda awesome. Figuring out the best cubes to add to your bag to help set up good combos and manage your wear is the key to doing well. There's a couple maps and a fair variety of cards that give this game decent replayability. I played the Monza board twice. The first time was at 4p with the suggested first time setup. The second game was at 5p with the "Money, Money" setup. The 4p game was great but the 5p game suffered from longer downtimes and we basically ran out of cubes to buy halfway through the game. For that reason, I wouldn't suggest doing that setup with 5 and instead do it at 3-4 players only. We also ran out of wear cubes towards the end too which meant all of our bags were bogged down. The second game also reinforced to me that this game is a bit swingy as some turns you may do next to nothing and other turns you might pull a huge combo and do a full lap or more. The feeling of making those combos is great but those turns where you pull a mix of cubes that only allow you to move two spots is the opposite of fun. I would avoid playing this with 5 again as it felt hamstrung with too few cubes and downtime was an issue. 4p was great and 3 is probably fine too. You want opponents to draft off of and the blocking can be interesting so don't play this with 2. One other note: the production value on this game is impressive as the bags you get are very high quality and the insert and cube trays are great. It could easily pass as a "deluxe" version but it's what everyone gets.

Board Game: Glüx

Glüx

This is a solid abstract area-control style game where you have a bag of double sided tokens that resemble the opposite sides of a die (1 & 6, 2 & 5, and 3 & 4). On your turn you pull a token from a bag and place it picking which side you want showing. You're placing your tokens on a board and are only allowed to place one of your tokens the number of spaces away that's shown on a previously placed token. There are "rooms" on the board that are highlighted and you score points by getting tokens placed in the rooms and having the most or second most total pips in that room. The game is all about building "paths" to the rooms to get control while also preventing others from doing the same. It's very puzzley thanks to it's abstract nature but the area-control elements and ability to cover other people's tokens (or even your own) give it a nice defensive/offensive tension. I played this once at 4p and it works really well as a thinky filler as our game only took about 30 minutes and that was including teaching. Not a game I would ask to get pulled out often but it fills a nice role.

Board Game: Steampunk Rally

Steampunk Rally

This popped up during a game night when we needed something to accommodate 7 people which most games are not very good at doing even if they say they can. Instead this racing game does it very well thanks to simultaneous gameplay elements. The game mostly revolves around two phases in each round. First is a drafting round where you are drafting the parts and materials that you use to build and power your racing machine. The second main phase is where you run your machine to move down the track, build up your shields, and manage damage. The elements all work smoothly once you play a couple rounds and you really feel like you're building something. There are some things I didn't love about this game though. The first is that some of the event cards felt swingy and/or overpowered, especially in our large game. Second, in our game someone had managed to build and power a very efficient loop of dice and borderline broke the game. We watched him do his turn for 5 minutes and then move something like 16 spots. I'm not sure if this is a common issue but it definitely zapped some of the lightness and fun from our game. Despite these issues, I'd play it again. The game is fun, fairly quick, and very well produced

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New Expansions:

Board Game: Five Tribes: The Artisans of Naqala

Five Tribes: The Artisans of Naqala

Five Tribes is a game that I only played for the first time this year but the more I play it, the more I like it. This month my brother-in-law picked up this expansion and we got a couple plays in with it at 3p. It adds multiple new things but the main addition is a 6th purple tribe and more board spaces. The purple meeples, when taken, give you the chance to take a special token that can be worth points at the end or give you a one-time special power and they are all pretty useful. The tokens are secret so you never know quite what your opponents have. Also, the purple meeples will score points at the end of the game similar to the white and yellow meeples. The new board spaces compliment the purple meeples and basically give you a different way to get those new tokens. There is one space that is a chasm that you can't pass through as well as new mountain pieces that block movement too meaning the new, larger board also comes with movement restrictions. There's also a few new Djinns that work with the purple meeples as you would expect. Overall, this doesn't dramatically change the core game but it does give it even more options. I'm not completely sold on the uncertainty/randomness that the new purple tokens add. I appreciate the fact the base game is very open with the only secret thing being money. This new addition makes me feel compelled to collect the new tokens not only because they are valuable but also because the meeples themselves are worth points. The bigger board makes for a slightly longer game but it didn't seem to make it unwieldy either. Overall, I do like this expansion and it definitely spices things up but I wouldn't go so far to say it's a must-add. That's more of a compliment to the strength of the original game than anything.
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5. Board Game: IKI [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:1422]
Board Game: IKI
United States
Davis
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IKI
Board Game: IKI

(Image credit: PlayerToTheLeft)

Iki Iki Iki Iki Ptang Zoom-Boing! ... sorry.

Iki is a very solid medium-weight engine-building euro set in 17th Century Japan. Players are merchants in the historic Nihonbashi market in Edo, moving counter-clockwise around the board and visiting the various shops (and individual peddlers/craftsmen who live above the shops).

The board operates as a kind of action selection rondel. After you move your piece, you get to activate the space where you've stop and perform its action. An interesting innovation is that the players collectively modify the rondel over the course of the game, by installing peddler cards in the various spaces. These provide alternative actions that can be performed when stopping in a space.

Two more fun wrinkles:

(1) If you use someone else's peddler, that peddler gradually levels up (and eventually retires), which means that it produce better income for its owner. On retirement, a peddler is removed from the board and no longer needs to be "fed," but it continues to provide income.

(2) At three points in the game, there will be a fire. It starts in a randomly selected corner of the board and burns toward the center. The fire can be put out, if it reaches a peddler whose owner has a sufficiently high firefighting skill. If not, that peddler is removed from the board and the fire continues onward. This means that players need to pay attention to the common good, by increasing their firefighting skill, or risk losing peddlers to fire.

The rest of the mechanics are pretty standard euro fare -- acquiring different resources to build end game VP buildings, choosing peddlers based on trade-offs between cost/VP/bonus power, feeding your peddlers (or they leave), placing peddlers in districts with other peddlers of the same type, for bonus VP.

But it's all very tight, coherent, smooth-playing, and interesting.

The game has a striking aesthetic, with a lot of period art on the board and cards. This makes things a bit busy and the card layout and icons were also a bit hard to use. But those slight functional impairments weren't that big of a deal.

Overall, this is a solid resource management euro with an interesting twist on the rondel mechanic, and lots of thematic flavor.

Recommended.



Century: Spice Road
Board Game: Century: Spice Road

(Image credit: klark78)

Very smooth, fast-playing light deck-builder.

This is being touted by many as a "Splendor-killer." I can see the point. They both occupy the same niche -- light, fast-playing, engine-builders with a great physical presentation.

There are differences. Splendor used a card tableau to build your engine. Century spice uses deck-building.

I don't know that CS is better than Splendor. But it's new, and a lot of people have probably played Splendor out. So I do expect that CS will be replacing Splendor in a lot of game groups.

One thing I really liked about CS was how fast it plays. Even with four (including one of our group's worst APers), your turn comes back around almost before you're ready for it.

Overall, this is a very slick, enjoyable, good-looking, super-light euro filler. A lot of people are going to dig it.

Recommended, in its niche.



Merkator
Board Game: Merkator

(Image credit: fabricefab)

Beige, but in a good way.

If you look up "euro game" on wikipedia, there's probably a picture of Merkator in the article. See also, beige; trading in renaissance Europe; royal ugly dude on box cover.

If you hate that kind of thing, you probably won't like Merkator.

It's a dry, pick-up-and-deliver, order-fulfillment euro with a cliched historical theme and aggressively drab art design.

But the game play is very good (it's designed by Uwe Rosenberg).

I particularly liked the contract system.

When you fulfill a contract, you don't discard it. That means you can fulfill it more than once, which I haven't seen before.

Also, when you fulfill a contract, the only reward is that you get a new contract of the next higher value (values range from 2 to 10). Higher value contracts are more difficult to fulfill but are worth more end-game VP.

Each turn, contracts can be sold for money (based on the contract's value), which can then used to buy end-game VP objective cards and productivity-boosters (which give you more goods of a specified type when you visit a specified city).

In fact, if you have more than 5 contracts at the beginning of a turn, you must sell the excess. This keeps things moving toward the end-game, as you grind your way up to the higher VP contracts and use the money from your older contracts to buy objectives and boosters.

I really liked Merkator, as a heads-down thinky resource management euro. It's very well designed and tight.

Definitely not for everyone. But recommended (if you don't mind beige).



Steam Time
Board Game: Steam Time

(Image credit: punkin312)

Not beige, by a long shot.

Aesthetically, this is the polar opposite of Merkator. The theme is a cliche of geeky excess -- steam punk time travel! And the game looks like someone ate a party-sized bag of skittles and couldn't keep them down.

But the game play was decent (it's designed by Rudiger Dorn).

The heart of the game is spatially-constrained worker placement.

The game board is built up from several large strips, each with a different mix of action spaces. The strips are placed in "chronological" order, with the strip at the bottom of the board being the "oldest" and each higher strip being "newer" than the ones below it.

That arrangement matters -- after placing your first worker for a round, each subsequent worker must be placed on a strip that is "newer" than your prior placements. This creates interesting action selection pressures, especially as other players are grabbing the spots you'd like to use.

Another innovation: the resources you collect (time crystals!) are placed on your player board, where they boost the power of your actions.

But crystals also have to be spent in order to acquire other important things. This creates a push-pull between the desire to keep your crystals on the board to strengthen your action engine and the need to spend the crystals for other purposes.

Ultimately, the game fell a bit flat for me. A big part of that was slow play. The downtime and duration were much higher than was enjoyable for a game of this relatively light weight. For that reason, I'd recommend playing with less than the full complement, and avoiding the AP-inclined.

It's possible I would like it more with a smaller and brisker group, but I wasn't intrigued enough to return to it.

Already traded it.



Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
Board Game: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure

(Image credit: 221boardgames)

Deep Sea Adventure with deck-building (and dragons!).

I can see why people like it. There's some tension in the push-your-luck element. When one player turns around and leaves, the dragon starts hunting the other players and an end-game clock starts running. Will you make it out in time?!

I did, and won the game (against two experienced players), without really engaging much. So I'm not sure how much control there is.

I guess that isn't the point, and that this is more of an experience game.

For me, the experience was lackluster. Despite the dragon.



Bärenpark
Board Game: Bärenpark

(Image credit: sjonnie)

We hates it.

Lots of people are going to love this. It's cute, quick, smart, well-designed.

But I don't get along with spatial puzzle games (i.e., I suck at them), and so I rarely enjoy playing them. The only exception is Feast for Odin, where the puzzle is just one part in a much grander scheme.

Long story short, I really disliked it. In fact, I sold my copy to a friend the first time that I played it. She really likes it.



Covert NO RATING.
Board Game: Covert

(Image credit: Favre4MVP)

Downtime killed the fun.

This is a medium weight dice-placement order-fulfillment euro, themed around international espionage.

There is a lot that I liked about it.

The graphic design is great. The board, cards, and dice are evocative and really make game play straightforward.

The game play is interesting and, if played quickly, fun.

But I played with four, and the game dragged. There are many things in this game that can trigger AP (e.g., thinking through all of the possibilities on the code breaking puzzle; thinking through all the ways to collect resources to fulfill the missions; thinking through all the ways you can place your dice).

And all of those factors can change before you make your next decision, which means that those who calculate everything will need to re-calculate everything. Multiple times.

After 90 minutes, we called the game early, about 2/3 of the way to the game-end condition.

The experience left me frustrated and down-hearted. I had really wanted to enjoy the game, and expected to. But AP swamped it.

I won't rate this one yet, since I don't think I gave it a fair shake. I'd like to try it again with 2 or 3 (carefully chosen) players.
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6. Board Game: ebbes [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:4757]
Board Game: ebbes
Nathan Clegg
United States
Escondido
California
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d10-7 ebbes (2013) - Interesting ttwat in which trump and suit values are determined mid-hand. Players can influence these factors, and predict their influence, by evaluating their hands, but getting it right has been tricky for us. Eager to play this one more to get a better handle on control.

d10-7 Magic Maze (2017) - I don't know how long the legs are on this, but playing several times in a row, increasing difficulty each go, is quite fun. Frantic coops are the best coops.

d10-5 Startups (2017) - Need to play this one again to get a better grasp on it, but it's intriguing. I generally dislike games that check what's in your hand at the end (I'm looking at you, Arboretum) but this one treats your hand more like a staging area for your tableau.

d10-5 Café International (1989) - Definitely family weight. It's fine.

d10-4 Cannes: Stars, Scripts and Screens (2002) - Maybe we just had bad luck, but so many of the tiles we needed to really get going didn't show up until the end. Our scores were consequently quite low and swingy and the game wasn't all that enjoyable. I'd try it again, but not one of splotter's best.

d10-4 Manhattan (1994) - This had been on my wtp list for a while, for several obvious reasons. It came out rather meh for me. Veterans deemed it an unusual play, so I'd give it another go, but I didn't see much here to interest me.

d10-3 Divided Republic (2012) - This game was off to a really good direction, but had several flaws. Games like Twilight Struggle force events when they end up in opponents' hands; when they don't, luck plays a big part. The power level of the cards was also too variable. Worst, though, was the endgame. I suppose, because electoral ties are so common, one should plan for it from the beginning, but just playing thematically results in a dull showdown to the third tie-breaker. It unfortunately does not work for me.

d10-3 Lobo 77 (1993) - A game with no decisions isn't much of a game.
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7. Board Game: Century: Spice Road [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
Board Game: Century: Spice Road
Carthoris Pyramidos
United States
Littleton
Colorado
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Century: Spice Road - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Century: Spice Road


This game is obviously the love-child of the trading mechanism from Splendor and the action selection from Concordia. (More interesting than the former, less than the latter.) I played two four-handed games with my game group. I improved, taking third of four players in the first go, and second in the second. It's inoffensive enough, and I can see room to develop proficiency there, but not much in the way of new ideas or surprising turns.


Space Race: The Card Game - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Space Race: The Card Game


In the same evening, we also played one game of this one. It was a bit slow going for everyone's first play, and I'm sure it would get better (certainly faster) with practice. There were some clever drafting and set-building possibilities there.


Grimwold's tool thinks Snit's Revenge! was new to me this month too, but I just hadn't played it for 30 years.
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8. Board Game: TZAAR [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:407] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
Board Game: TZAAR
Joe Wyka
United States
Pleasant Hill
California
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Tried a lot of medium/light euros in June, all of which were entirely mediocre. Tzaar was an easy choice for this month. Of the lighter Euros, Lost Cities TBG is the only one I'll hold onto to try it out with the fam. If they don't take to it, that one will go as well.

As always, in order of preference!



Board Game: TZAAR

TZAAR - 8
As with most of the GIPF games, this is a simple, thoughtful, and engaging two-player abstract. For now, my 2nd favorite after YINSH.

TZAAR is, in a way, an evolution of checkers, but to limit the description to that is a disservice. Players have 3 types of pieces in different quantities - 6, 9, and 15. You lose the game if you ever do not have all three types showing on the board. You also lose if you cannot capture an opponents piece on your turn. The board is a grid of intersections in the shape of a bagel (a bagel - because my daughter does not like donuts). On your turn, you take two actions. The first MUST be to capture. If you are not able to do this, you lose. The second move can be to capture again, or to strengthen a piece by stacking it with another. You can never capture a piece that is stronger (higher stacked) than yours. You can never break a stack, so once a piece is covered, it is off the board. So strengthening is both protective and degenerative because it removes your own pieces (see the first losing condition).

You capture pieces by moving them in a straight line over empty intersections until you hit an opponent's piece and you strengthen in the same way, just by joining with your own color rather than your opponent's. The game considerations involve denying your opponent straight lines of attack, ensuring you have multiple capture options at the start of your next turn, and choosing whether strengthening or capturing will advantage you more. The hole in the middle of the board makes the lines of attack tricky to maintain. The basic rules have you setting up the board randomly for each game. Simple rules. Lots of options on a turn. Balancing offense with defense. For an abstract game on the lighter side, this is excellent stuff.



Board Game: Lost Cities: The Board Game

Lost Cities: The Board Game - 6
A good four-player variant of Lost Cities. Seems to really highlight the push-your-luck aspect moreso than the 2 player card game.

Originally published as the Irish-themed Keltis (and winning the Spiel under that title), Lost Cities the Board Game is a family game that has you playing cards with incomplete information in the hopes of progressing your dudes along 1-5 paths. The paths are randomly seeded with bonus tiles(+ points, gain artifacts or + advancement) and shooting for the bonuses may have you playing cards to a line before getting the cards you'd prefer to play. I have been fooling around with a Keltis phone app for about a year, so I knew exactly what this was before I played it. This version has a few rules tweaks from Keltis, but I still use the Keltis rule of card runs going either up or down - mostly because it gives you a bit more choice in how to play. Other differences is that this version is played over three rounds and artifacts only score at the end of the 3rd round. It's not a terribly exciting game by any means, merely pleasant, just like the original card game.

As a bonus, I purchased my copy at a local auction and was delighted when I opened the box and found the meeples all hand-painted with these crazy designs.
From gallery of joewyka

I may invite my daughter to do the same with some of my other low-cost games!



Board Game: Clue Master Detective

Clue Master Detective - 6
"More Suspects, More Rooms, More Weapons" - it's like Clue, only moreso.

I like Clue. I've always liked Clue. This version adds additional suspects, rooms and weapons, but keeps the numbers proportionally the same as base Clue. Obviously this make a bigger board and more spaces and a longer game. The box says 2-10 players, but I don't think this really supports party game numbers - too much down time and players start with very little info, which would make the game more of a drawn-out slog. I'd still keep it at 4-5 players max. I thrifted a copy many years ago. It was fun to finally break it out with the kids!

There is one change in that there are spaces that let you look at random card in a player's hand. I think this was added for higher player counts where it might be quite late in the game before you get a sense of what's in the hand of the player to your right. At lower player counts, this space could be ignored.



Board Game: La Isla

La Isla - 6
A pleasant game of building card combos and placing pieces in order to claim tokens whose values are manipulated throughout the game. I enjoyed it alright, but I'm not sure there's enough here to compete in a crowded field of light euros.

First off, this game has one of the coolest puzzle assembly game boards I've come across, creating a randomized relationship of board elements for every game! Also board tokens are randomly distributed and every turn you draw three random cards to determine your action choices. While randomizing the board and tokens is cool, the luck inherent in the card draw sort of negates the impact of randomizing everything else. In short, while slight details change (go for this token vs. that, or this resource vs. that) it doesn't change your strategic approach and only enhances replayability in minor ways.

The game comes with a fat deck of 180 cards. Each card does three things: gives you a special ability, gives you a resource, or enhances the point value of a token. On your turn you draw three cards and decide which card will be used for which thing. Additionally, you pay two matching resources to place on of your guys on a matching color space. If you surround a token with your pieces, you claim it and get immediate points for the space. At the end of the game you score the points for the tokens you've collected and any sets you've managed to build. You can have up to 3 special abilities in play at time and these do things like let you place your pieces more cheaply or gain resources, points, or increase token values when making certain placements. Ideally you want to build some complementary combos with your special abilities.

The game is fine and about the right length. There is some control, but it is limited and you can easily become frustrated with your draws. I'd play this if it was offered up, but I don't think I need to own it.



Board Game: Paradox

Paradox - 6
A bit of a mixed-bag this one. There are parts I enjoy and parts that frustrate. Ultimately, I can't see choosing this over other titles very much.

First time designer who has another KS game out now, Coldwater Crown. There are some good things here, but some parts are a little too luck-driven for the length. The premise is that the players are scientists trying to save as many planets as possible from a rampaging quark by tying together their past, present and future selves. Players draft cards to add to their personal display and then have a varying number of turns to place a varying number of resources on the cards to claim them before they slip off to the discard pile. Players can also use resources to shield planets from the quark or repair damaged planets. The real heart of the game is in how resources are collected. Each player manages their own randomly drawn 5x5 grid of tokens in three shapes and five colors. Every turn, a player can swap two tokens in order to create Candy Crush-like rows to trade in for one or two resources of a matching color that must be immediately used to rescue cards or protect planets. Rescued cards go to a score pile that is counted up at the end of the game. You get the most points for collecting all four cards from a single planet (past, present, future, and nexus).

First the good. The artwork on the cards is creative and fun. Different artists depict different races in their past, present and future forms and each artist brings their own brand of humor, commentary, or pathos to the party. Also, swapping tokens in your matrix to create lines of color is a fun little puzzle every turn to gain resources. The card drafting is okay, but not particularly exciting. You don't have much control, so you need to make the best of what's on offer. It's the planet-destroying quark that seems like it could use a little more design love. The planets are laid out in a circle and every time a card is rescued the quark rotates 1, 3, or 5 planets. When it lands on a planet, that planet is damaged and cards for that planet will not score at the end of the game unless the planet is repaired. It can be that so many planets get damaged that many of your hard-earned cards could be worth nothing. You need white and black resources to fix and protect things, but if you don't draw them for your matrix, there may not be a lot you can do. That's a bit frustrating for a game that takes about 30 minutes a player. It's not a bad game, but there are a lot of other games at this length and weight I think I'd rather play. I looked hard at this KS, but decided not to back it. Got it later in a trade and was happy to finally give it a try.



Board Game: Power Grid: The Card Game

Power Grid: The Card Game - 6
Not bad, but about half the game that Power Grid is. The card game's only advantage is portability. It's not even that much shorter to play!

I am a long time, deep and abiding fan of Power Grid. It is my Monopoly, which I have successfully introduced to a wide range of audiences. Of all to whom I have introduced it, only my wife - and her aversion to lots of arithmetic in a game - is not convinced. So naturally I was looking forward to giving the card game a go.

I'll assume most of the readers have a basic familiarity with the standard Power Grid turn structure - Power Plant Auction -> Build Connections -> Buy Resources -> Power Up and Get Money. With the elimnation of the board, the card game tries to replicate everything without building connections. I think the game succeeds at giving the "feel" of Power Grid, but with less decision points. Instead of powering up connected cities, players power up their plants for money directly. On the final turn, plants are powered up for points rather than money, with every $10 in cash on hand providing an extra point.

While I do miss the connection building, the main disappointment for me is the resource market - which is the most brilliant aspect of the board game. To replicate the increased cost and scarcity, resources are randomly added to the market each turn after resources remaining from the previous turn are reduced in cost. This reduces control and information in what power plants will be good investments and makes valuation more of a crap shoot. Interestingly, because there is less to invest in, players typically have more cash left over at the end, which makes end game cash more of a deciding factor in the win. Not all card and dice versions of board games try to replicate their inspirations exactly, but this one clearly attempts to do that. It's not a bad attempt, but will always feel like an inferior copy of the game it is trying to emulate.



Board Game: Flip City

Flip City - 5
The Machi Koro of deck-building - initially appealing, but overstays its welcome and lacks variety for repeated play.

Flip City is a small, light deck-building game with some initial appeal that wears off pretty quick. As in most deck-builders, everyone has an identical starting deck (shuffled) and players purchase additional cards from a common market to add to their decks as the game progresses. Cards are two-sided and instead of purchasing a new card, you can pay to flip a card in your discard pile. The flip side of cards are often more powerful or simply different. Another difference is that players do not draw hands. On your turn, you play cards from your face-up deck until you choose to stop or you have played 3 cards that give you "unhappiness" and your turn ends immediately. Some cards with unhappiness REQUIRE you to play them if the are on top of your deck, which lends a strong push-your-luck aspect to the game, fearful that the next card you reveal will end your turn. Interestingly, you can flip these cards to remove the requirement, then at a high cost you can flip them again to add them to another player's deck. Streamlining your deck by fattening others is a neat trick.

Some cards have points on them and to win you need to play 8 points on a single turn. One card lets you win by playing it and 17 other cards on one turn. These are your two win conditions and they take just a tad too long to achieve. Not only do you need to build up your deck accordingly, you may also need to draw cards in the correct sequence. This game reminded me a lot of Machi Koro - not for the mechanics, but for the playful art combined with the overly-long play time (about an hour for a game that should be 30 minutes). Flip City is initially appealing, but overstays its welcome.



Expansions


Board Game: Lost Cities: Expedition 6 – The Lost Expedition

Lost Cities: Expedition 6 – The Lost Expedition - 5
Adds another color to the deck. What can I say? Um... The new color is black?

Makes Lost Cities a bit longer. Since the deck grows but your hand-size doesn't change, it increases the uncertainty of being able to break 20 on an expedition. Otherwise, this neither hurts nor improves the game, and hardly changes anything other than length.
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9. Board Game: LYNGK [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:1548] [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked]
Board Game: LYNGK
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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This month, I was fortunate enough to play 12 new games and 1 new expansion. As is my custom, I'll list them in decreasing order of current enthusiasm, and with games before expansions.


LYNGK -- (2 plays) _7⅔_
Board Game: LYNGK
Board Game: LYNGK
(both images by W Eric Martin)

This is really quite lovely. Fast, easy to explain, clever. I've really enjoyed it. Naively - and it really is naively after only a couple plays - it seems pretty subtle. My kids and I have both enjoyed it.


1844/1854 -- (2 plays) _7⅔_
Board Game: 1844/1854
Board Game: 1844/1854
(images by W Eric Martin & Roger_Jay)

I've only played 1844 so far: so this is only a reflection of half the package. But I've anjoyed playing and pondering the possibilities.

I'm not a good 18xx player: so my opinion is not worth a whole lot. But it seems to highlight the operational part of the game (something I'm even worse at than the financial side of the 18xx: I've a tiny bit of competence there.) So I've had lots to learn.


Tramways -- (2 plays) _7⅔_
Board Game: Tramways
Board Game: Tramways
(images by W Eric Martin & rascozion)

I've only played this solo: so I've never yet experienced the turn order auction (which is truly funky.) I might end up less enthusiastic about the Real Game; but the pacing and decisions are intriguing.


Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD -- (1 play) _7⅔_
Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD
Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD
(images by Wray & jrtracy)

My play was only with two: and that's nearly certainly not the best count. I'm looking forward to giving this a try with more: I think it's got loads of potential. Quite possible that my rating goes up after more play.


BLUE -- (1 play) _7⅔_
Board Game: BLUE
Board Game: BLUE
(both images by nestorgames)

This is cool: three different tiles (and multiple copies of each) and one needs to play to score as well as possible while not giving the other players too many potentials. While I don't expect it's any more forgiving in truth than many of its peers, it feels that way; so it's a bit easier to get to the table than I'd expected.


Iberian Gauge -- (1 play) _7⅔_
Board Game: Iberian Gauge
(image by d0gb0t)

Quite fascinatingly collaborative: there's no blocking here; instead, the interactions are beneficial. I played terribly this first time out: I'd love a chance for redemption. Not to mention that I think the game is likely significantly better than I yet understand.


Paths of Glory -- (1 play) _7⅔_
Board Game: Paths of Glory
Board Game: Paths of Glory
(images by Rindis & Pitarque)

Every bit as spectacular as I'd been led to believe. It hooked me for story and decisions both. And I'm not remotely a WW1 fan! I can't imagine that it wouldn't be far more compelling for someone interested in the period.


Green -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: Green
Board Game: Green
(both images by nestorgames)

This one is cool. Unlike BLUE's superficial veneer of progress, this one taunts one with abject failure at each turn. We thought it was quite clever, but it feels really hard to plan; hard to play well.


10 Minute Heist: The Wizard's Tower -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: 10 Minute Heist: The Wizard's Tower
Board Game: 10 Minute Heist: The Wizard's Tower
(images by W Eric Martin & Chris Schreiber)

Even if this might have taken a bit more than the advertised 10 minutes, I liked it: it's fast, clever, and doesn't treat itself (or its players) too seriously. I'd be happy to play again.


Leaving Earth -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: Leaving Earth
 
(images by buffalohat & Steve Carey)

This is fluffier than I'd intially understood. It's, naively, a simple push-one's-luck game with a pretty substantial arithmetic tax. I didn't mind the arithmetic; enjoyed the theme (a lot, actually) and found the underlying game pretty trivial.


Iberian Railways -- (1 play) _7_
Board Game: Iberian Railways
(images by d0gb0t)

It's better than (the subjectively-similar) Southern Rails; but still a bit clunkier in practice than I likely want. That might be addressable by keeping a bit more explicit track of scores as the game goes along than I'd done in this outing. I'd be happy to try it again.


Hab & Gut -- (1 play) _7_
Board Game: Hab & Gut
Board Game: Hab & Gut
(images by unfathomable & Zoroastro)

This is really chaotic. And I played very poorly, so I've not likely seen all it has to offer. I enjoyed it, though I'm not convinced it's one I need to own.


Leaving Earth: Mercury -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: Leaving Earth: Mercury
Board Game: Leaving Earth: Mercury
(images by buffalohat & chaswick)

This was part of my first play of the base game - so I can't begin to evaluate it on its own merits. It seems perfectly charming in context: so no complaints.


Thanks again to my youngsters, the BAP attenders, the Lunch@Work folk, and the Wednesday Night gang for some great game experiences.
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10. Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:178] [Average Rating:7.59 Unranked]
Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado
Will Plante
United States
Greenville
Rhode Island
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My favorite game of the month

Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado
Wettlauf nach El Dorado -> 6 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8/10):

El Dorado combines deck building and a race game in a very family friendly package. The art direction has a 1920/30's illustration aesthetic and features a famous fedora as the first player marker. The simplicity of both the rules and card abilities belie a very interactive, tactical game. There are many choices to be made during the game, which cards to introduce to the market, where to move and possibly block your opponents, how to build your deck, deciding how to approach building your deck (lot's of card draws versus thinning your deck) all of which impact your opponents and how they'll play.

There are a lot of map tiles and each map layout will have a big impact on how you approach the game. You can also tailor the difficulty, and to a degree, length of game play based on the chosen layout. The added cave variant introduces another decision point in the game and opens up even more strategies to pursue, it's a simple and excellent addition to the game.

I'm really a fan of deck building + games, in this case El Dorado offers a similar vibe to Clank! as far as the race element. However; the games play quite differently and I'm happy to have both in my collection. As far as the Spiel goes I think I would still choose Kingdomino because it is such a brilliantly simple game. El Dorado is probably one step up in terms of difficulty, but still a family weight game that I' highly recommend.



Board Game: Bärenpark
Bärenpark -> 5 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8/10):

I am a huge fan of spacial puzzles and I've really enjoyed Patchwork, unfortunately my kids don't like it nearly as much as I do. We tried Cottage Garden and while my older daughter liked it I really didn't enjoy how compressed the boards were (they could typically be filled in with less than 6 pieces). Then along came Barenpark which has a theme my girls love, according to them it doesn't get better than polar and panda bears, and is designed by Phil Walker-Harding who's been on quite a roll designing excellent family games.

In short Barenpark offers a similar Tetris style puzzle to solve as Patchwork, but instead of choosing tiles from a path you collect new tiles based on the symbols you cover up in your park and everyone is racing to be the first to finish building their park. There are different types of tiles, the larger the tile the less of them you can get over the course of the game. You can also expand your park as you play and collect bonus tiles as you completely fill in each board. While not difficult, you are definitely rewarded for planning ahead and paying attention to your opponents. This is especially true if you play with the optional achievement tiles which immediately reward the player who finishes them with additional points. The artwork is charming and perfect for the theme, the tiles are nice and thick and the rules are clearly laid out and it's easy to teach.

Patchwork is still my personal favorite Tetris style game because I love the tension created from having to balance time versus button income when selecting tiles. Barenpark offers a very fun challenge to solve that is a blast to play with my kids and definitely offers a different play experience than Patchwork. I'm happy to have both of these games in my collection.



Board Game: Century: Spice Road
Century: Spice Road -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (6):

Century: Spice Road was okay, but felt very similar to Splendor because in both you are collecting cubes/tokens to fulfill orders. It does have the added decision of having to upgrade cubes, but in all honesty I'm not sure that makes it a better game than Splendor. I think Century: SR could induce severe AP in some folks as they try and plan ahead and decide between which 6 cards to take; you'd almost need a chess timer to play with certain people. I know the game's not completely luck driven, but there are definitely enough cards in the deck that someone can get a pretty great combo early, do to the card draw, and ride it to a lopsided victory. In the end I didn't love it or hate it, and even though I'd play again it's off my wishlist.



Board Game: Dice Town
Dice Town -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (4):

We've recently had more opportunity to play with 5+ players, so I was looking for a few more games to add to our collection. Unfortunately I completely missed the mark with Dice Town.

I was extremely disappointed with Dice Town mostly because I didn't realize just how much you'd be stealing from other players. My family and I don't mind direct conflict in games, but losing a game because someone randomly steals an 8 point card it doesn't feel good nor is it the result of clever play. In the end we found Dice Town to be a very random game were you make very few meaningful decisions throughout the game.

While mechanically very different I can't help compare Dice Town to Cash n' Guns. Both games are light and easy to teach, but Cash n' Guns offers many more memorable and tense moments which all come about because of deliberate player interaction. Cash n' Guns boils down to calling someone's bluff and creating temporary alliances as you try and talk your way out of the line of fire; all of which is quite fun. I didn't find any of that fun and tension in Dice Town, instead it felt like most decisions were made for you and your actions consisted of grabbing gold nuggets, cash or cards to score points and then hope you didn't lose them to a random card pull from an opponent. I know being The Sheriff is supposed to create some cajoling among players, but it never really panned out during our play.

I understand that a lot of folks enjoy Dice Town, but my family and I found it to be too chaotic for us to enjoy playing.



Board Game: Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters
Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters -> 5 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

My youngest daughter is a fan of co-ops, unlike the rest of my fam, because we can all win the game together. Forbidden Island is the only co-op still in our collection, but Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters has a fun theme, some cool components and a very family friendly rule set so I ended up getting a copy for my youngest. The production is really top notch, the artwork is funny instead of spooky, the different minis are great, kids will definitely appreciate the toy factor found in this game.

After our first play (this included all of my kids: 14, 11 and 7) Ghost Fightin... was unanimously praised as a great game. I'll admit that it was touch and go for a while as we seemingly were cruising towards victory until, all of a sudden, we triggered one haunting after another and were quickly defeated by the ghosts. Make no mistake about it, while the rules are simple, Ghost Fightin... requires coordinated teamwork if you want to win (we've been playing the more challenging variant). In short this has been a hit with my whole family and I'm happy to have found another co-op my kids like, even I will admit it is sometimes fun to work together when playing games



Board Game: Kerala: The Way of the Elephant
Kerala -> 3 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

Kerala is a quick, abstract, tile laying game with some amazing elephant meeples. This is a great family weight abstract and while I'm not the biggest fan of abstract games I really like tile laying games.

In Kerala turns are quick; you draft a tile , place your tile and if it happens to have one of two special abilities you then carry out that action. What makes Kerala demanding is that each turn you have to place your tile on an orthogonally adjacent space to one of your elephants. Since you can only score one section of each color things quickly get difficult.

I played with both 2 and 3 players and enjoyed the 3p experience more. In the 2p game there are only two tiles to choose from, so it is really easy to get hosed by the tile draw. This definitely creates some extra tension, but can also feel random. I'd like to try the 2p game using the 3p set up. Basically each round you would pull three tiles from the bag and after both players select a tile the extra one would get tossed. You'd also be placing 30 tiles instead of 40. Regardless of player count concerns I think Kerala would be a huge hit in my house, especially with my girls and wife. I'll probably end up picking up a copy in the near future.



Board Game: Lorenzo il Magnifico
Lorenzo il Magnifico -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

I enjoyed my play of Lorenzo, the twist to the dice drafting mechanic works quite well and ended up being really tough to manage.

When playing Lorenzo, instead of each player rolling dice and drafting tiles/cards (like Castles of Burgundy) there is a common pool of dice rolled and players have pawns that correspond to each die color. This removes any player discrepancy between dice rolls, meaning everyone is going to be fighting over the same spaces using the same dice. Because of this, there is an increased importance into watching what your opponents are doing and having to decide how long you think a particular action or card will be there.

Outside of that mechanic it is a straight forward engine building Euro, collect resources then run your engine. However; the game is relatively quick, you will only have 24 actions all game making the decision of when to start running your engine important. There are also straight VP cards you can get which is actually how I won, I focused on getting money and buying cards that generated points directly versus building an engine. This offers some needed variety in how you can play the game.

The dice drafting mechanic is enough for me to recommend trying Lorenzo. It drives how the entire game plays out and introduces a lot of player interaction. The question I'm left with is whether or not Lorenzo would see a lot of play in the long term or if seeing the same cards each game would end up limiting how often I'd want to play. For now I am content to play friends' copies when the opportunity presents itself; still it's a fun game I'm looking forward to playing again.



Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions
Mechs vs. Minions -> 3 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

Typically not a game that would be on my radar, but when I saw the actual game I knew my kids would love it so I jumped in on the second printing. Even though I knew what I was getting when I received the game, I couldn't get over how big the box was. Upon opening it I was blown away by the components, pictures don't do this game justice. While the production quality was outstanding, especially at an insanely inexpensive price point, I was a bit nervous that the game play wouldn't support such lavish components.

We were halfway through the tutorial and I was getting nervous that Mechs vs. Minions was going to be a flop. The game was dragging on without us accomplishing much. Then everything started to click as we began to figure out how to program our mechs. Game play is quite straight forward; each round begins with a draft and then you program the card(s) into your mech and run the program. Cards can stack in each slot making the ability of the top card even stronger. The more we played, the more we realized there is a lot more thought required to program your mech effectively. The game plays smoothly as swarms of minions crowd the board; we've found the missions we've played so far to be quite challenging (we're playing with 3 players).

Mechs vs. Minions is definitely an anomaly in our Euro-centric collection, but it's been fun playing a game rich with story and such beautiful components. If you play the game make sure to go to the League of Legends website and listen to the radioplay for each mission. They have voice actors for all the characters performing short bits for each mission. Most missions have 3 or 4 story parts which are extremely well done and adds a lot to the experience.



Board Game: Medici: The Card Game
Medici: The Card Game -> 2 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (6/8):

Medici: TCG was quite fun, in fact much better than what I expected. If you've played the board game everything will click after a couple of rounds. Collecting cards is done via a push your luck mechanic versus the auctions in Medici; however scoring is quite similar (boats still score and collecting more of the different goods than your opponents.)

Herein lies my only concern, the game is not very intuitive for folks not familiar with Medici and the scoring will be even more opaque for folks you may play with who aren't serious gamers. In my opinion it leaves Medici: TCG as a great, quick filler on a game night, but maybe not very accessible for folks new to the hobby.



Board Game: Space Race: The Card Game
Space Race: The Card Game -> 6 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

My first play of Space Race was a bit rough as we struggled through the rules, but after going home and reading the rules myself I was excited to play again. Space Race reminds me a lot of Race for the Galaxy in so far as you have a hand of cards to play to your tableau and a separate hand of cards which determine player order and which cards you can select from the common pool. There are a lot of cards to learn and it can feel a bit overwhelming for your first few plays, again similar to Race, but I think it's worth it.

Finding the combos and figuring out how to make them work is not easy, but it is fun and satisfying once you do. You start the game wit very little to do, but each subsequent round you are triggering more and more powers. The tension in the game comes from the fact that you only have 7 turns to build your engine. My one concern, and it may be a big one, is the potential for AP. Each player has a lab in which you collect cards for points; however there are some cards which let you take cards from anyone's tableau. Since most cards have a different power associated with them it can really bog the game down. Therefore I'll be careful who I play this game with, it's fun for a 1/2 hour not the 1+ hour slog it took to play my first game. I'm lucky because when playing with my son we move along at a fast clip, but this could definitely be an issue for some folks.

I'd still highly recommend checking out Space Race: TCG, especially if you like tableau builders or are interested in Space. The art is amazing, the KS upgrades are legit (the wooden rocket used for initiative is sweet) and the use of historical people and events for the cards is really cool.



Board Game: Tatsu
Tatsu -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

If you've played Backgammon then you'll see some of those same elements in Tatsu, but by no means will it give you any advantage when playing Tatsu. During my first and only play of Tatsu I didn't feel like I had much control over what I was doing, but as the game opened up as we continued to play. By the end, whether I had won or lost, I felt like my buddy and I both made meaningful decisions and found the dice did't end up feeling like much of a random element. Instead the die roll narrows your decisions to a reasonable amount.

I really enjoyed Tatsu and I'm looking forward to playing again. I have a feeling my wife may enjoy it because we used to play a fair amount of backgammon when we were first married.



Board Game: Tramways
Tramways -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

Going into this game it seemed simple enough, but boy was I wrong. What lies beneath a very straight forward rule set (once you play through a few rounds) is a very difficult game to play. Decisions need to be carefully thought out, with actions being planned in advance. I really enjoyed the route building, passenger delivery aspect of the game.

There is a lot to explore in Tramways and in future plays I could completely focus on my strategy without having to worry about learning the rules. You definitely need to approach the first game as a learning game and explore how to plan out your turns in order to accomplish your goal.

The only aspect of the game I don't necessarily enjoy are the auctions. I understand they serve to create a tight economy. Having to determine a value for first place, or avoiding last place, is a tense decision. It's exacerbated when things spiral out of control and you blow a lot more money than you planned. Still it just wasn't particularly fun and felt quite punishing at times. Still, I'm really looking forward to trying this again, hopefully in the near future. It also has solo rules, so if it continues to grow on me I'd consider getting a copy.



Board Game: Yokohama
Yokohama -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

A lot of folks are making a connection between Yokohama and Istanbul and I just don't see it. I was indifferent towards Istanbul and after one play of Yokohama, which I really didn't want to play because of the comparison, I came away pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was. I think there is a lot more going on in Yokohama with many more scoring paths to pursue. I enjoyed the deeper decision space in Yokohama and would recommend trying it even if you're not keen on Istanbul.



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

Cheers,
Will

*I use a 5 point scale to rate games on BGG, after all these are games I'm rating. I really don't want to spend time deciding whether a game is a 6 or a 7, so I nixed the odd numbers. I may give a game I'm on the fence about a split rating (6/8), then change the rating when I update my thoughts a year later. When I do, I rate the game using the lower number in the BGG database.

A 10 is a classic that defines a genre. 8's are the evergreens, games I'll always enjoy playing. A 6 is not a poor rating, just an average one. A 4 is a game I don't enjoy playing or has a theme I really don't care for. A 2 is a game I actively dislike and will not play again.




*Edit: Forgot to add Tramways.
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11. Board Game: Shahrazad [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:5607]
Board Game: Shahrazad
Tally C
United States
New York City
New York
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For the month of June, I played 4 new-to-me games and 2 new-to-me expansions! I’ve listed them here with new games first (listed in order of personal rating) followed by new expansions (listed in order of personal rating).

== NEW GAMES ==


Shahrazad - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Shahrazad

* Comments: It was a toss up between Shahrazad and Near and Fear this month, but in the end I picked Shahrazad because I was so pleasantly surprised by this small package. I procured Shahrazad for myself as a little celebratory gift for passing my dissertation proposal defense. Ever since I heard about this game and saw pictures of it, I really wanted to get it for solo and co-op play. This month I played it four times: three times as solo plays, once as a 2P co-op play.

Shahrazad is simply composed of 22 tiles numbered 0 through 21 across four different colors. In both solo and co-op modes you’re trying to get the highest score possible by making a pattern of tiles going roughly from lowest to highest numbered left to right. The tiles are shuffled together to form a stack and one is drawn to start the grid. You start the game with a hand of two tiles. Each turn, your options are to place a tile from hand adjacent to another tile in the grid or to replace a tile in the grid with one from hand. Then you draw a new tile. If you replaced a tile on your previous turn, you are not allowed to do a replace tile action and must instead place TWO tiles on your turn. You are also not able to replace a tile if the draw pile has run out. In the solo game, columns can be 4 tiles high and you can have any number columns that you choose. Once you’ve placed all your tiles, you check if all possible paths you take from left to right (all tiles that touch each other) ascend in number. Any tile that is higher than the tile to its right gets flipped over. In order to score points, you must be able to draw at least one straight path from the very first to very last tile in your grid. If this is the case, you pick out the biggest contiguous chunk of tiles per color and score one point per tile in that section. Then you subtract a point for each tile that is face down and every tile gap in your grid. Face-down tiles are taken out of the game, then you select one column to be the next round’s starting set-up. You play one more round, then add up your score of both rounds to get your final score.

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Shahrazad is one of those small abstract games that I absolutely adore. The rules are simple, you feel like you’re getting better the more games you play, the games are quick, and it comes in a small box. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that the game is gorgeous. It works well as both as solo and 2P co-op game. In the co-op game, you can have 4-6 tiles in your combined hands at one time, which can provide great flexibility, BUT your columns can only be three high! It’s an interesting trade-off that makes both modes feel balanced. This will definitely be my go-to solo game for a while and it’s also a lovely, relaxing co-op game.

Near and Far - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Near and Far

* Comments: Our copy of Near and Far Deluxe arrived this month (I feel like we were one of the last people to get it, but I know that’s probably not the case)! I was a little nervous about it, since I only recently heard about the complaints that the game had been changed post-KS. For example, in the previous rules, players placed camps on the map according to which of the four factions they were building for. At the end of the game, players got points if they had the most camps of one faction (or something along those lines). In the final version, players build camps in their own player color and receive a point for each camp built from their player board. As a response to changes such as these, some people have stated that they didn’t enjoy the game because it felt too simplified for them.

After playing the game just once, I was relieved to find that I was not one of the people who found the final version of the game not to their taste. In fact, Near and Far may end up being my favorite Laukat game! After reading some suggestions (from Laukat’s updates as well as from some people I know who got the game before me), we decided to skip the introductory map. I also chose to start with Character Mode (the game has 4 modes: Tutorial, Arcade, Character, and Campaign) with the two characters recommended for 2P Character Mode play (Shardling and Rin). The main way the modes differ is in how the quests are resolved when a character lands on them. In Character Mode, instead of reading the number paragraph specified on the map, a character-specific story is read to the player instead. This sounded more appealing to me for our first play-through, since the story-telling aspect was one of the things we were most excited about.

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During a player’s turn, they must choose whether they want to Visit Town or Go Adventuring. If they visit town, they take their pawn and place it on a building on the town board. This board is generally for stocking up for your journey; it’s where you recruit adventurers, buy pack beasts, harvest food, mine gold/gems, and collect treasure to equip on your pack beasts. If the building you want to go to is occupied (Exception: Saloon), you must duel the character who’s already there. After declaring whether you want to fight honorably or dishonorably, you do a simple roll off of 1d6. Both characters add however many sword icons they have on their player board, then the attacker adds another +1 if they fought dishonorably. The attacker can also spend their heart resource to modify their roll. If the attacker’s final score exceeds the defender’s, they increase or decrease their reputation by 1 (+1 if they fought honorably, -1 if dishonorably), then carry out the town action as normal. If their final score does not exceed the defender’s, then they got to jail. Jail simply means they wasted their action this turn, but as a compensation, they may got to any town space they want next turn without dueling if they wish. The defender is never affected.

If a player chooses to go adventuring, they move their pawn onto the map and reset their heart meter to the sum of hearts on their adventurers/artifacts/treasures/etc. (if they aren’t already on the map). They then get to move a number of spaces on the map up to their movement limit (everyone starts with 2 MV, but they can easily get more through pack beasts, adventurers, artifacts, and more). If they skip a space that does not have a camp, they must lower their heart meter by one for each blank space they skip. If they pass over a threat they must fight (1d6 modified by their swords) the top card of the threat deck. If they pass over a treasure, they get to draw a treasure. If they stop on a space with a storybook, they get to do a quest from the book. At the end of a player’s adventuring turn, they can choose to build a camp for 3 hearts. If they build a camp on a gold or gem space, they get gold/gems equal to the number of eye icons in their party. If they build on a trade route space, they may get bonus points at the end of the game.

The game ends when a player has built their 14th and final camp space. The round finishes out and players add up their points. They get points for each camp space they built, points for the artifacts they managed to build (or “purchase”) from their hand (everyone starts the game with a hand of artifacts which were drafted), -1 point for each artifact they did not build, points for having high positive reputation at the end of the game, points for complete trade routes (both ends have camps on them), points for having all their camps built and three treasures equipped on their pack beasts, points for chief cards and unspent faction banners, and a point for every two spare gems and gold. There’s probably some I’m missing, but that’s most of them. Most points wins, of course.

We played a total of four plays this month, which got us all the way through our very first Character Mode campaign for Shardling and Rin. This game has more than lived up to our expectations. I’m looking forward to trying out campaign mode as well as tackling Character Mode with new characters. Once we’re too familiar with the story quests, I think Arcade Mode will provide a very solid Euro experience (quests are just randomly drawn cards which skill/combat checks, so it takes out the written stories). I highly recommend the Day side of the town board (provides some more options), and next time we play we might try the longer game variant (adds a couple more tents).




Onitama - 1 play -  7.8 
First Published 2014
Board Game: Onitama

* Comments: Onitama is the third game I received as part of an extremely generous Pay it Forward First gift by burgsrus some months back. I’ve played and extremely enjoyed the other two games I received from him (Mansions of Madness 2.0 and Viticulture Essential Edition), so this was the last one we still had to play. I enjoy abstracts, especially ones with strong productions and appealing artwork, so I was fairly confident that Onitama would deliver a quality experience based on what I’d heard about the game.

Onitama is a 2P game with similarities to chess. The board is a 5x5 grid and each player starts 4 pawns and 1 master pawn in a standard set-up. Players can win one of two ways: either by capturing their opponent’s master pawn (Way of the Stone) or by landing their master pawn on the opposing player’s temple (Way of the Stream). At the beginning of the game, five of the sixteen movement cards are randomly selected. Each player receives two and one is placed aside to the right side of the starting player. The movement cards clearly show several possible moves that can be taken by any of your available pawns. Like chess, if you land on one of your opponent’s pawn, you capture it and it is out of the game for good. Once you make a move, you shift the card you used to make that move to the side (your left side). This card will be available to your opponent after they take their next turn. You replace the card you just forfeit with the card to your right. In this manner, you’ll always have two movement cards to pick from for your turn, but these cards will be constantly in flux.
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The game certainly did not disappoint. Onitama is an extremely strategic and tactical game where you’re trying to plan out how to get the upper hand in the match without giving too much away. Probably the most interesting part of the game to me is how you’re essentially handing off movement cards to your opponent that could be used to destroy you. If you have a movement card that you really don’t want your opponent to be able to use, you can hold onto it; however, that means you’ll be stuck using whatever card your opponent decides to give you. The two different winning conditions are extremely interesting as well. In our first game, we both started off going for a Way of the Stone win, but in the end, I managed to win with the Way of the Stream.

Onitama is clearly highly replayable, not just due to how differently every game will play out, but also due to the fact that you only ever use 5 out of 16 movement cards. I enjoyed it a lot and expect to get a lot of mileage out of it. Hive still remains my favorite abstract due to its extremely quick play time and more free-form gameplay, but Onitama is a very strong one as well.

Babel - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2000
Board Game: Babel

* Comments: The new-to-me game I played this month was Babel. Tyler picked this up for me for my birthday at the beginning of May, and I was looking forward to playing this classic Uwe Rosenberg game. The game was originally released back in 2000, but the copy we own is the newer Z-man version. As far as I understand it, though, the game is the same.

Babel is a 2P card-driven game where each player is trying to simultaneously build up a set of temples (with a sum of at least 15) while tearing down their opponent’s temples (ideally keeping their opponent’s temple sum less than 10). Players will be building their temples at one of five different sites, corresponding to the five different tribes in the game: Medes, Sumerians, Hittites, Persians, and Assyrians. There’s a fair amount of restrictions of where and how players can build up their temples, but they’re pretty intuitive once explained. Players will be building stacks of tribe cards at the five sites which allow them to manipulate their opponent’s tribe cards and temple cards. Each tribe has a specific power (e.g. destroy the opposing player’s temple at that site) which can be triggered when cards of the same type are stacked on top of each other in at least a stack of three. Once triggered, one of those cards must be discarded, so unless you have extra cards of the same tribe, you won’t be able to trigger that stack’s special ability again on your turn.
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I knew going in that Babel had a reputation of being a bit of a mean game. This isn’t a problem for us as we often play head-to-head, no-holds-barred games. Still, after we finished our game, we both remarked on how surprising it was that Uwe Rosenberg had such a mean little card game. We’ve certainly played meaner games, but this is quite cutthroat from a designer who’s known for his pleasant and refined eurogames (though, we can’t forget that Babel has a second designer: Hagen Dorgathen). So, if you don’t like conflict in your games, Babel’s definitely not for you. But if that’s doesn’t bother you, then I think Babel is really a clever card game, and it feels like a classic game (in a good way). I can see how games of it could drag on, but our play of it ended up being a good length. I’m quite pleased that we finally got to play it.



== NEW EXPANSIONS ==

Vale of the Wild - 2 plays -  7.9 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Mystic Vale: Vale of the Wild

* Comments: The second expansion for card-crafting game Mystic Vale, Vale of the Wild adds in two new things: eclipse advancements and leaders. Eclipse advancements allow players to place another advancement directly over them (but cannot themselves override other non-eclipse advancements), which can lead to some powerful combinations. If you decide to play with leaders, each player receives two random leaders at the beginning of the game and chooses one. This leader is sleeved directly into one of your completely blank starting cards. Leaders give you perks like mana, vale card icons and VP. They can also be upgraded for a fairly sizeable chunk of mana, which means you get to flip them over to their more powerful side. Other than that, this expansion adds in a bunch of new advancements from all three tiers as well as new vale cards.

I really enjoyed playing with the leaders, as it gives players a way that they’re different from the other players right at the beginning of the game. It can also help shape your playstyle for that game (e.g. a leader with bonus vale icons might steer you in a direction of getting more vale icon advancements so you can stock up on a lot of vale cards), but at the same time doesn’t feel constraining. The eclipse advancements seemed to naturally fit in and were very easy to understand. Now that we have the base game with two expansions, I feel like every game is reasonably different based on what kinds of advancements I’ll see every game. I definitely think this is a worthwhile expansion to pick up if you enjoy the base game. While I do feel like the leaders strengthen the game a bit for all the reasons I mentioned previously, there’s nothing here in this expansion that will change your mind if you didn’t like the game before.


Arkham Horror: the Card Game - The Miskatonic Museum - 1 play -  7.5 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Miskatonic Museum: Mythos Pack

* Comments: I picked up the first two Mythos Packs of the Dunwich Legacy this month so we could continue our campaign with Ashcan Pete and Jenny Barnes. More player cards are always welcome, and while the scenario felt suitably different than the previous scenarios we’ve played, it wasn’t the most exciting or surprising one for us. While it did its job and we had a fun time playing it, the scenario was a slight letdown compared the one we played right before it (“The House Always Wins”)




Note: Thanks to Grimwold for his New to You Tool which helped me generate my list.
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12. Board Game: Ethnos [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:235]
Board Game: Ethnos
Jeff Wolfe
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Ethnos - 2 plays
First Published 2017
Seems eminently replayable with the different characters. I've already played it again.

Tyrants of the Underdark - 1 play
First Published 2016
I had a good experience and won, but it's not a game I'm likely to enjoy over time. I'm not sure why people didn't attack me more; that was the difference. The guy I attacked wasn't doing as well as I thought and finished in dead last.

Mystic Vale - 1 play
First Published 2016
Deck-building, but the size of your deck doesn't change. The "Gloom mechanic" (overlaying invisible cards) in a game I actually like.

Flatline: A FUSE Aftershock Game - 1 play
First Published 2017
Feels like Fuse turned into a bigger, more strategic game. Still co-op.

Oktoberfest - 1 play
First Published 2017
This game reminded me that I often like economic games even when they're longer games that I usually avoid.

Grand Austria Hotel - 1 play
First Published 2015
Many paths to victory. The path I chose didn't lead to victory.

Kingdomino - 2 plays
First Published 2016
I brought this out again because I enjoyed it the first time. It's a filler, but it feels like there's a game there. Not sure what makes it click.
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13. Board Game: Wordsy [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:2624]
Board Game: Wordsy
Frederic Heath-Renn
United Kingdom
Islington
London
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UK Games Expo month, which meant lots of drifting around playing abstracts. And I normally spend my months drifting around playing abstracts anyway...

I only played the very start of a game of Fight for Olympus so I can't comment on it.

QANGO (4 plays) - without much analysis this feels so drawish and with so many forced moves that I find it difficult to imagine it doesn't just slog out into a stalemate every time.

3D Pawn (1 play) - a sort of 3D implementation of Breakthrough that it would be inaccurate to say I got my head around at all.

Carteso (2 plays) - like Linage but not as fun?

XOBrainer (1 play) - bog-standard n-in-a-rowness with lots of thrills that chiefly seem to make it last longer.

Logan Stones (1 play) - a neat idea (trying to form a line of like symbols by flipping double-sided tiles with every new placement) but felt a little too chaotic to really grab me.

Big*Bang (2 plays) - it's very clever I'm sure but it just felt a bit inelegant and it made me feel clueless, and not in a good way.

Zaic (4 plays) - boardless tile-laying abstract with non-obvious heuristics but I'm not sure we'd have played it four times if we'd had any other option available.

Glüx (1 play) - despite being a massively overproduced abstract area control game I thought this was actually fairly fun, the random element doesn't feel overwhelmingly chaotic (because it provides you with information you can act on and thus has predictable consequences). I don't know if I'd want to play it with more than two.

Statecraft: The Political Card Game (1 play) - this seemed like a fun, light take on Swedish Parliament 2014-style gaming: play cards to alter your policy platform to attract voters with defined preferences. It didn't outstay its welcome (although we did play a shortened game) and while play seemed fairly restricted by what cards you got it felt like you could often/sometimes do clever things with combinations of the cards in your hand to achieve a goal, which is nice.

Trickerion: Legends of Illusion (1 play) - modern heavy Euro with lots of Eurobits™. Tempted to rate this highly just because having ostensibly understood the rules enough to play it once it feels like I damn well ought to play it again - that's the sunk costs fallacy for you, I suppose. Highly original theme, very clearly a strategic game rather than a tactical one which is a shame since I usually prefer the other way around: you should have an idea of what you're aiming to have by the end of the game and a plan to get there efficiently which you should start with even before turn 1.

Alien City (1 play) - Notoriously overcomplicated Icehouse/Piecepack game which I lost in moronic fashion (perhaps it is not overcomplicated, perhaps I am undercomplicated), but its fundamental mechanics are quite satisfying and I might be driven to play again.

Agamemnon (1 play) - I was drawn to Osprey Games' large UK Expo stall like a moth to a sexy moth: all of their games look utterly gorgeous (The Lost Expedition's spot-on Hergé homagé especially) and I thought there might be a chance I could get taught The Ravens of Thri Sahashri after, er, buying it last year and not playing it since. But it was this I ended up playing and I'm glad I did; a sort of semi-abstract tile-laying game with some hidden information (though there are variants that fine-tune this), where you attempt to place your pieces on vertices in a graph so as to win control of certain set paths which determine their controller by a number of different functions. While it's not exactly elegant I thought the different ways of winning each type of path - simple majority, weighted majority, maximum vertex - interacted and overlapped in interesting ways, and I appreciate the level of fine-tuning there appears to be available through variants to the rules.

La Boca (1 play) - Of course man cannot live on lofty intellectual pursuits such as historically themed semi-abstracts alone: I also played La Boca. It doesn't outstay its welcome - very well-designed from that point of view - and it was fun both succeeding in graceful style and inexplicably failing to build structures with one particular opponent. An entertaining and original filler.

Tintas (2 play) - Out of all the recent abstracts sampled over the last two months this one is probably the one I enjoyed most - simple turn-by-turn decisions but the way they stack together provides the depth. I like the winning conditions a lot - wanting to obtain a majority in a majority of colours provokes a ZÈRTZ-style 'pick your battles' feel, but this is held in tension with the instawin for obtaining all of one colour. In the two games I played of this the tension between these two ways of winning and the asymmetrical incentives they ended up effecting on the players seemed to work very well, and I enjoyed this a lot.

Accasta (1 play, Pari variant) - I finally got to round off Dieter Stein's stacking trilogy, having already played Abande and Attangle. Pari is a more streamlined version of the original game (which has different piece types). While on a first play I don't like this as much as the other two games in the series, I would still recommend it: there was opportunity for satisfying forks, lookahead sequences, punch-counterpunch, and all the trying to think of ways to outscheme your opponent you might hope for.

But I feel the game I have been most enthusiastic about this month has to be Wordsy (3 plays), and not just because I'm quite good at it; I love words and wordplay a lot, and so this simple game of thinking of long words that use certain letters is a delight to me. The competitive structure (rewarding coming up with words quickly, but only if they're as good as what the people who take a bit longer come up with) is a clever stroke, as is the scoring system (letters aren't worth a set amount, instead it depends on their placement on the table, so the value of words is not always the same); I worry a little, from observing the Twitter bot, that there might be certain words that score the full monty a little too often ('deoxyribonucleic' seems to spring up quite often), but Wordsy is good, gentle fun for word nerds like me. I don't get to announce 'exsanguinated' with a smug expression in Trickerion, that's for sure.
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14. Board Game: Century: Spice Road [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
Board Game: Century: Spice Road
Goat Goatington
United Kingdom
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Century Spice Road

A popular game that I'm assuming most are familiar with by now. Part deckbuilder, part cube conversion efficiency and an excellent game all round. I've enjoyed this with 2-5 players and think it works at all counts. The 2 player game is much more direct but there's no real blocking so it doesn't get too swingy and the 5 player game has almost no downtime and works just as well. Some of my favourite bits:

There are multiple paths to victory. You can go for mass cube production and try to win with numbers, you can try to upgrade your cubes through the upgrade cards and trades that effectively upgrade cubes or you can go for a system of trading cubes up and down continuously to multiply them and eventually get the combinations needed for the points cards. None feel unbalanced, though production and upgrades are typically easier for new players than a very efficient trade sequence of cards.

The points cards are in a river with bonus points awarded to the cards at the end of the river. You want to get these cards because the +1/+3 bonus points from the coins can be significant when accumulated but everyone else is racing for those too. Maybe you can go for the next cards up and they'll have shifted down by the time you have the cubes together. If you do have the cubes for one of these then it's in your interests to delay picking them up until someone else also get the cubes or you hit your 10 cube limit because it blocks the coins from others. This tension is a key part of the game and works very well.

You only get to take one action on your turn so the game has no significant downtime at any player count. Play a card, acquire a card or rest and you're done, next player, typically only 10-20 seconds. Occasionally people slow down to consider their next plan, typically once every 5-10 turns as they finish a sequence they were doing and consider the next, but 'slow' turns in this are still under a minute.


I can see why people compare it to Splendor but it doesn't feel similar to me beyond being another light, quick euro. As a comparison I enjoy this much more than Splendor. It's quicker to play, you have more long term strategy available to you and you get some time to run the engine you've built. The first half of the game is dominated by players acquiring new action cards until someone decides they have everything they need and starts running their cube engine. At this point everything changes and the action cards barely move later in the game as people change to producing and converting cubes in a dash for points cards. It's a bit like the Dominion endgame where one or two players gathering points triggers a distinct second half of scoring as much as you can before the game's done.

Definitely one of my favourite light euros for >2 players. I'm very curious what the next games in the series will be and how they're going to interact with this one.



Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game
Board Game: Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game


A long-ish adventure game with a group of heroes that explore the map, level up and acquire gear to eventually defeat the ancients (bosses) before time runs out. It's hard to avoid comparisons to something like Mage Knight but I think this does something different. There's a strong focus on character narratives as each player gets a 5-stage quest to complete before you can fight the ancients. It's not a storytelling game like Arabian Nights or Above and Below/Near and Far but the design doesn't feel quite as mechanical and abstract as some adventure games. There's a lot of room to fill in the blanks of your character's adventure as you play. It runs a little longer than I'd like (45 mins per player is probably accurate for experienced players, not new players) and it does have a few things I'm not hugely fond of.

The biggest problem by far is the rule book. The game is in serious need of an index, a player aid with references to the relevant pages and a glossary that's sorted alphabetically and not broken up into arbitrary sections. Some of the rules are also grouped inconsistently, e.g. the rules on being hidden are all in the hidden section except the one about not doing deeds while hidden, which is in the deeds section. There were a number of questions we found during play that weren't covered by the rules too and the FAQ that has since appeared on the BGG forum is mandatory reading if you plan to play the game.

I suspect the game gets harder with fewer characters as you may not get the keywords you want from the encounter decks. I'm not a big fan of the combat system; I don't dislike it, it's just functional. The map can get a little fiddly when you have multiple cards stacked on a location and you're trying to work out what areas are gloomed (not the actual description) and what areas are safe.

All that said, we did have fun with this and I think that I'll enjoy it much more second time when we aren't slowing things down for constant rule checks. The adventure feeling is something I've not really found in this style of game before and the art is fantastic. All the cards have unique art as far as I can tell and they all look incredible. I'm seriously impressed with the presentation and it is a big part of the enjoyment for me so far.

I have no interest in trying the competitive version of the game at all because everything feels like it should be cooperative.



Arcadia Quest: Inferno
Board Game: Arcadia Quest: Inferno


I haven't played Arcadia Quest before so this was entirely new to me. I do like the idea of different teams competing to clear the dungeon and the monster behaviour gives it a very MMO feel as they stand around waiting for you to walk into them. That behaviour works well for what the game is doing though as it's not really about the monsters, even if you do spend a good chunk of your time fighting them.

Turns are quick as you activate one hero, take a couple of actions and often roll some dice, so there's no significant downtime while playing. The option of PvP goals means you're typically interested in what exactly the other players are doing on their turn in case you can pick up an easy kill. I think I'd prefer the original tile set to these - lava everywhere is a little overwhelming visually - but I gather that they work almost identically outside the aesthetics.

I'm expecting to play a campaign of this and with pets too, which I'm looking forward to, but the game itself might be a little too light for long term interest. The characters don't all feel completely balanced, decisions are typically quite obvious and I don't really like the monster spawning system. My favourite part is definitely the way it changes the typical dungeon crawl setup while still maintaining many elements of those games - loot as character progression and hordes of enemies to kill at will.



Gardens of Io
Board Game: Gardens of Io


A novel abstract of planting flowers of six different colours in a garden. The twist here is that these flowers are thrown by your robot and your robot is moving around the score track that surrounds the board as you score points. Throw a flower from the 3 spot on the score track, score 4 points, throw your next flower from the 7 spot on the track, etc. Flowers score points equal to the size of the group created by the newly thrown flower, so the first is 1, 2nd is 2, etc. These two elements make for a very interesting game where very few decisions are obvious.

You want to throw your flowers later because they'll score more points in bigger groups but you need to throw something every turn. Players typically try and hold onto flowers in each colour, except you can end up hoarding too many and be blocked out of good placements later in the game. You want to score lots of points but that may leave you in a terrible position for next throw (e.g. one of the corners of the board) so maybe you want to avoid scoring those points right now and do something else.

I've never played a game where your position on the score track so directly affects your actions on the board before. You rarely have too many choices to decide between so the game never slows down much but you also rarely have only one good option either. There are a few other bits I didn't mention like the bonus turn for exhausting a colour and the one-shot powers but the scoring and the robot positioning are the main parts of the game for me and what makes this stand out.

I'm not a fan of it with 2 because it's a little too direct with the bonus turns. I do enjoy it with 3-5 a lot though, even if I don't think I've ever won at anything other than 2 player.



Feed the ducks
Board Game: Feed the ducks


An abstract with a cute theme about moving ducks around a pond with breadcrumbs. Each turn you place the breadcrumb and pull all ducks in a straight line from it towards the breadcrumb with the goal of gathering all your ducks together into a single group.

The rules are simple but the strategy is not obvious at all, especially at the start of the game. The ducks are typically gathered in a big cluster in the middle of the board early and then everyone tries to slide their ducks to just the right positions without giving someone else the win. I think this is going to get much better with some experience as we spent a while trying to figure out general strategies, like how to maneuver an isolated duck around a cluster to join your main group, and the winners were handed victory unintentionally just before their turn.

I've only played this with 4 so far and I'm curious what it's going to be like with 2, which will be a little less chaotic. As ever with nestorgames, I definitely appreciate how portable it is both in storage and play space.



Vanuatu (Second Edition)
Board Game: Vanuatu (Second Edition)


Wow, this is a cutthroat game. It's a mix of worker placement and bidding and the end result is a game that can get seriously mean. The heart of the game is the system of placing workers and resolving actions. Each round you place your 5 workers across a set of 10 or so action spaces as you wish, then when everyone is done placing you resolve actions. Each player resolves one action on their turn and you keep going until all workers have been used or removed from the board. However, you're only allowed to resolve an action if you have a simple majority of workers on that space at that moment. You can't pass so if you don't have the majority you want right now, you must resolve another action where you do have majority, possibly wasting it. If you have no majorities on your turn then you pick up your workers from a space and do nothing at all. Ties are broken in turn order so being first player is very powerful.

This system leads to some very, very hard decisions and it's easy to end up blocked out of the actions you've placed and waste an entire round in a game with only a limited number of rounds. The action you do isn't affected by the number of workers on the space so spreading out means you might get to do 5 actions this round but also means you won't do them in the order you want and might do nothing if you're blocked on everything. Grouping up means you're much more certain to get the action you want but you're giving up total actions. I love this part of the game and it makes the whole thing work for me.

The rest of the game is ok, not outstanding. The presentation and theme is unusual and does look very nice but it's not always obvious how everything fits together. Your boat sails around, does some actions that feel a bit disconnected and it only really comes together in hindsight. It's especially important the group understands huts and tourist scoring to stop someone getting a big lead. I think playing with a fully experienced group would make the different parts (art, fish, goods, treasure) work much better but I normally play with at least one person who's never played a game before.

That said, the worker placement is so good in this that I'm eager to play more. At the end of the game I'm already thinking about how I could have done things differently to get the actions I needed and how to avoid wasting so many workers on large bids. I don't like the look of the 2 player rules and I'm not convinced it'd be great at 3 either. I also haven't tried the Rising Waters expansion.



Cthulhu Wars expansions
Board Game: Cthulhu Wars


I've had the base game for a while now and this month received a bunch of expansions from the latest Kickstarter. It's a fairly niche game so I won't go into too much detail on each one, just the general categories. As a whole, these greatly extend what is already one of my favourite games. I've not even played all the new factions yet and I already want to go back and play the old ones to see they work with all the new stuff in play too. I got a good chunk of it - all the factions, two of the maps, about a third of the neutral figures and the cosmetic stuff like plastic gates.

Factions:
Easily the best expansions. The only one I'm not a big fan of is the Tcho Tcho, everything else is great and they all have a huge effect on the game. If you get any expansions, get some factions. I think my favourite is Wind Walker, who spend the early game struggling to survive so they can build a late game deathball and destroy everything. Opener looks suitably weird and has a lot of gate manipulation and Sleeper's Lethargy action (0 power action - do nothing) is incredibly powerful. The main problem I have with the Tcho Tchos is that they largely want to win by not interacting with anyone; they sit on 2 gates and high priest + ritual their way to victory until someone kicks them down. None of the expansion factions feel overpowered or like they replace base game factions either.

Maps:
I got Primeval and the Library. I've not played the Library yet (soon!) but I do like the changes Primeval makes to the game. It's a very simple rules change that leads to a dramatically different game for all factions. Everyone has lots of power from all the excess gates but you don't really have your typical 'home' space like most maps as it gets hit with a glacier early. Points are hard to come by and this is probably the lowest scoring game of Cthulhu Wars I've seen.

Neutral monsters:
Eh, these were ok. They don't change the game dramatically and they tend to get a limited amount of use because you already don't have enough power. I haven't played with neutral great old ones yet, which I think will change the game significantly. I'm hoping to do that at some future point when I can be sure everyone understands the base game well. In hindsight I'd probably have been ok skipping the neutral monsters but I don't regret getting them.

My only complaint is that I now need to bring 2 boxes just to fit the basic stuff without maps or neutrals.
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15. Board Game: Century: Spice Road [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
Board Game: Century: Spice Road
Jim Jamieson
United States
Purcellville
Virginia
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A few new games this month sandwiched around a beach vacation. Century: Spice Road is good, not as good as Splendor but an enjoyable game. Also a lot of plays of Age of Rivals on the iPhone. Great little civ drafting game.

== NEW GAMES ==

Century: Spice Road - 3 plays -  8 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Century: Spice Road


The rules are super simple and are a breeze to teach. It has that Splendor feel of you take one simple action on your turn (take a card from the market into your hand, play a card from your hand, fulfill a victory card, or pick up all your played cards) and the game just flows right along. You do this until someone claims their 5th victory point card and you count points to determine the winner. The deck building can be tricky since the cards are mostly trading cubes instead of production so you have to build a good trade strategy in addition to trying to claim the few production cubes to also generate cubes beyond the two starting yellow. The only fiddly thing I'd say is you are constantly sliding cards on the table to refill the market or victory card rows. It may not have much theme, but the art is fantastic and I can see it being a great opener or closer for an evening.


Village - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2011
Board Game: Village


A solid worker placement game with a twist in that workers will eventually die and you'll lose their ability that has been helping you for a few rounds. It is definitely something to plan for as losing a worker in one area may hurt one of your other workers ability so you do need to spread around the board and try and do multiple things. The game took a round longer than we all thought because we were all able to stay alive when we for sure thought either the chronicle or graveyard would fill up so a little longer than I liked, but still the turns moved quickly. I was honestly a bit surprised by Village as I thought it would be pretty dry, but the death of your workers and the little bit of extra thought that goes into it proved to be fun. Definitely enjoyed this one.


Lotus - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Lotus


An area control card game where you are building flowers to score the most points. When a flower is completed you get all the cards (1 point each) and whoever has the most control (played the most cards) gets either 5 points or a special power. It's very simple and plays quickly, but didn't really stand out to me. I guess I'm not a flower person as it was easy for me to just line up the cards to count the control as opposed to in a circle. I'll play if someone suggests but not one I need to own.

Unlock! The Island of Doctor Goorse - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures – The Island of Doctor Goorse


A great puzzle but certainly more activity than game to me. With this one you split into 2 teams in order to complete the escape which I didn't like because it did involve waiting around for the other group at times. I also felt one or two puzzles were exceptionally difficult when trying to communicate with each other. One of them took 40 minutes of our time to solve and I don't see how anyone can figure these out quickly. That turned the entire thing into a 110 minute affair which felt like a grind at times. Once we got through those early hurdles though the majority of puzzles were actually quite fun. I would have no interest in buying into this sort of activity, but if others bring Unlock! to a game night I would have no problem trying another one.

Rating is for this specific puzzle and not the entire Unlock! series which I could see other puzzles being higher rated given the system.

Fleet Wharfside - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Fleet Wharfside


A decent game where you are either fishing to complete contracts or gaining new contracts. The cool thing is while you are working on a contract you have a special ability you can use. The downside for me is there is just a bit too many fiddly rules related to how you can use the different types of fish cards. It felt like these rules were added in to make the game playable. For such a small game all the little rules just add up to something that is too much to keep track of for what the game offers.

3 Wishes - 8 plays -  4 
First Published 2016
Board Game: 3 Wishes


Another super filler with lots of hidden information between face down cards in front of you and in the middle of the table. 3 simple actions on your turn to try and get a complete set (1 of each of the 3 colors), but it's really just a game of luck and memory. We did play a rule wrong where you must play 3 full rounds before you can declare the end of game as we were just declaring it whenever we could. Out of the 8 games played, only in 2 did I had a complete set and I still managed to lose each time to someone with a higher score. Maybe a full 4 rounds would have helped that, I don't know. Since our game nights have a hard stop time this is fine when you have that awkward 15 minutes, but really no other time would it be worth it to play.
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16. Board Game: Shakespeare [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:495]
Board Game: Shakespeare
Jason Vicente

Avon
Connecticut
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== BEST GAME OF THE MONTH ==

Board Game: Shakespeare
Shakespeare - Played 1 time - 9.5/10

June 19, 2017: In addition to playing Blood Rage, Arcadia Quest and Codenames: Pictures over the Father's Day Weekend with my sons in New Hampshire, I introduced them to Shakespeare to help me on The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition. I was surprised that they enjoyed it so much. Indeed, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would having studied Shakespeare as part of my Master's Degree in English, thus expecting the theme to be flimsy at best. Yet, the recruitment of actors, stagehands, set and costume pieces proved far more compelling than it should. You felt the stress of producing a good play within 6 days and accumulating enough money to pay everyone. Additionally the art and depictions of Shakespearean characters was simply outstanding. It quickly became one of my favorite games.

= Other New Games for June 2017 =

Board Game: Orléans
Orléans: Deluxe Edition - played 1 time - 8.5/10

My son, Patrick, and I have not played a new game together in quite some time. Between year end exams and baseball he hasn't had the time to play with his old man. We were sure to set today aside to play something new since he's going away to camp on Sunday. We played Orléans: Deluxe Edition as part of the The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition satisfying the "O" on my list of games. Of course we will also add it to our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament , in which Patrick recently took the lead 23-22 defeating me in Blood Rage and New York 1901. Hopefully, this game will help me regain the lead. Of course we both just learned the game, but I came out strong building Guilds and collecting citizens while steadily moving up the Development Track. About midway through the game, however, Patrick started accumulating obscene amounts of wealth end the game with 76 gold coins and catching up and passing me on the development track which at one time I lead by 8 points. In the end I scored 124 points mostly from the (citizen + guilds) x Development Track bonus and collecting 7 brocade from one of the add on building obtained early in the game. In addition to the 76 gold Patrick added an additional 30 from citizens x Development Track - much closer than I thought it would be, and perhaps an ominous sign for our future plays. One of the issues I discovered was that I lacked a sufficient number of farmers and boatmen to perform some of the tasks that would improve my score. Anyway, this was a fun game. Quite enjoyable.

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17. Board Game: Seven Sisters [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:6975]
Board Game: Seven Sisters
Mike Jones
United States
Gainesville
Florida
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== NEW GAMES ==

Seven Sisters - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2012
[imageID=es/pic1068015 square inline]

A few years back, I was reading from geek buddies that they were enjoying this. I love area majority games, so I picked up a copy. But, it' been collecting dust.

I finally put it on the table and got it played.

Very simple game. It was interesting and would probably play it some more. But, it did seem a bit short and 'anti-cimatic.



Imhotep - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2016
[imageID=es/pic3029488 square inline]

I was expecting a lighter game. Not that it's all that heavy, but there is more to the game then I thought it would be.



7 Wonders Duel - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2015
[imageID=es/pic3376065 square inline]


A few months ago, I sat down and started to learn it. It sounded fairly blah. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, I was running late for a game of colonists and the other two had started this while waiting for me. I got there during the first age, so I watched (and learned). Looked better that I thought.

The next day my wife and I stopped by the FLGS. It was father's day, so she said she'd play a game with me. I grabbed a copy and played it with her. I think I got the rules right. I found it enjoyable. Not the greatest game, but a decent game.

Later when we were shopping for the kids birthday, she suggested buying it. (but they didn't have a copy in stock)
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18. Board Game: Lancaster [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:328]
Board Game: Lancaster
Tom Flatt
Canada
Whitecourt
Alberta
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June brought less travel and more time for games! Alas, though, only two new entries to comment on.

Lancaster

1 play - Rating of 9.5

Board Game: Lancaster


After waffling over the purchase of Lancaster for two or three years, Queen dumped a bunch of inventory on Canadian online game stores. This allowed me to finally pick up the game and its New Laws Expansion at a (more than) reasonable price. And what a game it is! Thematic, interesting, interactive, and relatively short with lots of tough decisions to make, this game is a real winner for us! One wonders how high a rating this game would have if it were themed around the Game of Thrones rather than the War of the Roses; no matter how well it fits the exploits of Henry V, the historical background seems to turn lots of gamers off. It's a pity for they're really missing something here!

Sagrada

6 plays - Rating of 8.0

Board Game: Sagrada


In a normal month, Sagrada would probably win the award for best new game! For us, it really is a great, if rather longish, filler! In many ways, the use of the dice in creating stained glass windows has the same sensory appeal as the heavy poker chips in Splendor do. One can argue that, in many cases, the choice of dice is obvious and that this detracts from the game. This just doesn't seem to bother us; we really enjoy it!

Have a great July!

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19. Board Game: Baseball Highlights: 2045 [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:450]
Board Game: Baseball Highlights: 2045
The Witcherlorian
Australia
KILLARA
VIC
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BorderCon is always a great month for learning new titles and June 2017 was no exception!

New to Me

d10-1 Baseball Highlights: 2045

Winning in this month is no mean feat and this one hits the home run against some stiff competition and expectations. Of course I am late to the party, which is the norm these days.

Baseball Highlights is really a deck-building game at its core. It allows players to play a series of mini-games to determine the winner and each of these is a snapshot or a 'highlights show' of the best moments. The card play allows the players to get their roster of stars onto bases with hits and such and how well each play is executed can be affected by the next card play of your opponent who may be able to cancel out hits, home runs and/or running between bases. In this way the game has a too-and-fro nature to its play that is really very clever and simulates the nature of baseball really well.

In between those mini-games comes the chance to recruit new players to your roster and this also allows other players to be rotated out (effectively trashing a card from your deck), and this gives the game that deck-building feel.

I could go on but the better medium would be in a more detailed review.

Thematically the game looks forward to the year 2045 and in the future the fans' interest in the sport is rejuvenated by the introduction of robots and cyborgs. Only the best naturals can compete with the increased abilities of these 'enhanced' and these in-game terms allow for card combos and the like.

So how does it feel? It feels damned fine. The game flows smoothly and quickly and whilst not a massive baseball aficionado, I know enough to really appreciate the craft that has gone into the design, which only increases the already high respect I have for Mike Fitzgerald as a designer. Baseball Fans + game fans should get a real kick out of this design.

I have learned these just in time for my mid-year holiday so this baby will likely see some play with my boys and a bit of solo-gameplay as well.



d10-2 Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure Game
From gallery of Photodump


This game was supposed to take top spot but got pipped by pure genius above. Clank has everything I like in a game; a fantasy theme, dungeon-delving (albeit light-on here), push-your-luck and deck-building as the core of its game-play.

The theme here is that a bunch of greedy adventurers are in a race to descend below the village, into the dark, to raid the many treasures to be found and in particular the artefacts that are closely guarded by the dragon. It is a race in three parts really, as the players are racing one another, they are hoping to make it back top-side before the end and they are trying to get out alive as the stirring dragon only gets fiercer as she discovers more of her loot gone.

In terms of game-play, the players are playing cards from their deck in order to move through the many chambers of the board. Those cards also naturally include some income and fight (ala Ascension) that can be used to defeat monsters in the market area as well as acquiring new items to boost their adventurer.

Really there are two novel aspects to the play of Clank worth pointing out here. First is the notion of Clank, which represents the noises, bumbles and fumbles that an adventurer can make in fighting off denizens of the deep and running with a backpack full of loot. This is represented by placing cubes of your colour into a bag. The second aspect is the disturbance of the Dragon, which requires cubes to be drawn out of the bag and if any of yours are drawn...that results in damage to your hero that can result in player elimination. The dragon can be awoken in two ways, certain cards in the marketplace and an adventurer stealing one of the set artefacts in the deepest depths.

It all works really well and this is a must buy for me as I can see it getting much play with my lads and my gaming group as a whole. It does take the deck-building genre to a new place (not quite new heights though) and that is great.

So why not top spot this month? Simply because I think Baseball Highlights does take deck-building to new heights. I've read many a glowing remark about Clank these past months and most of them I would agree with. But the comment that Clank is really innovative doesn't sit well with me. It's really fun, clever and a rollicking good time but innovative I don't agree with. Baseball Highlights does do that and so Clank misses out on the top spot, which probably wouldn't have been the case in most other months.

Two Deck-Builders that take the genre to new places in one month could spell doom for my physical Ascension copies. You just can't play them all and the itch can be scratched digitally. The collection might be in for an overhaul.



d10-3 Habitats
Board Game: Habitats
cwali

This one becomes my favourite Cwali game to this point (beating StreetSoccer and Powerboats...Basketboss awaits to be discovered).

Habitats is a tile laying game of point maximisation whereby the players are trying to connect animals with their required habitat types. Most tiles contain both an animal and a habitat type and each animal also lists its habitat requirements, all of which must be met in order to score the tile.

Tiles are acquired via a central play area of tiles, whereby the players must move their animal token (lovely ceramic pieces that vary from box to box), which imbues the game with a visual spatial puzzle of sorts and player interaction.

Once a tile is acquired it must be added to your ever growing menagerie-park and in doing so, like-habitats can form chains and these can in turn help to better meet the needs of animals connected to that chain of habitats.

It's really clever game design again. Throw in some specialty-tiles that score for certain patterns of tiles, global goals for each of the 3-stages of the game and some personal-goal tiles and Habitats is an engaging time for sure. I look forward to more plays of this over the years. A keeper for sure.



d10-4 Raiders of the North Sea
Board Game: Raiders of the North Sea


This is officially the second game in the North Sea trilogy and it has garnered much interest, having been nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres (expert game of the year). Hence BorderCon attendees were keen to try it out and so I learned this one pre-event with the boys with the hope to teach it to others, but time beat me. I did see it several times over the weekend though.

Raiders is largely a worker-placement game with a twist. The twist is that as well as placing a worker at a location to gain a benefit, you also get to remove another one from another location and in turn gain that benefit as well.

It's a clever take on what has come before and creates a dynamism on the board that isn't quite genius, but is fresh enough to make it stand tall amongst the competition. Of course the game is still about resource acquisition and in keeping with the series, the players must try to acquire the right mix of crew before they set of to raid the many locations across the waters.

Throw in the ability to make offerings to the gods for VPs and the need to increase your Armour and deaths in combat (Valkyries) and the game has enough going on to make it a fun time.

Whether there is enough here to see it being played regularly in 2-3 year’s time is yet to be seen but the lads and I certainly enjoyed it enough to play again in the coming months and I guess it will be on to try the third in the series, Explorers. But something tells me this may be the high-water mark of the trilogy and perhaps the meatiest of the three.

A shout-out too for the artwork in this one...I really like the style.



d10-5 Touria
Board Game: Touria


This is one from left field and from a publisher in HUCH! and Friends that I don't get exposed to very often. In both gameplay and artwork they have something of a classic European or German feel and the artwork took me back to those heady days when I first played Elfenland. But I digress...

Touria is a game of traveling the land to reach various locations where a specific action can be taken and there are two unique aspects at play here. First is the movement itself as the active player must select one of the movement options facing them on one of the four 3D cardboard towers in the corners of the board. These will rotate after each person’s selection, thereby changing the options facing you by the time the action comes back to you again. It is an intriguing mechanism for a game.

Second is the fact that the game uses a central token that moves around the board and each player must do their best to make the most of the location they find themselves in when it comes to their turn. I first saw this in Isla Dorada and I like it as a mechanism.

Thematically, each player is trying to gain entry to the central castle, where a princess is waiting to be wedded off (or something like that) and to win the players are trying to be the one to save her. Entry to the castle requires a certain number of gems and these must be acquired from the various mines that frequent the board. The game also has another currency in swords and of course they can only be acquired in certain locations as well.

Once entry to the castle is attained, a player has to select one of the windows to explore in the hope of finding the bride. There are some 'bad' windows to and one that can take you out of the game, so there is a race aspect to the play but on the whole it does feel a bit 'Killer Bunnies' in this respect. That will likely sour the experience for some but I think it is in keeping with the tone of the game and its tongue-in-cheek nature.

In totality the game feels quite fresh and is a fun time without being anything completely ground breaking or excitement-inducing.



d10-6 Archaeology: The New Expedition
Board Game: Archaeology: The New Expedition


This is largely a re-issue of Phil's self-published Archaeology (The Card Game) from 2007 but allows new art and a sharp new publication to enter the market.

I've always liked this game, although never played it enough. It is largely a set collection affair, but the players are able to exchange cards from their hand for other trinkets in the marketplace which gives them more options for collecting a certain set before cashing it in.

The key difference between this and the new edition is that the original pyramid that could be explored to plunder its chambers is now joined by 4-5 other monument types. Only one is used in each game so these new cards allow the game to be varied from play to play, which adds some longevity to this great little filler title.



d10-7 Jump Drive
Board Game: Jump Drive


This is very similar in feel and thematics to Race for the Galaxy but it plays quite differently. There has been a bit of discourse on whether this is RftG junior or its own design but for those yet to play it, my opinion is that this is pretty similar albeit executed differently.

That's not a bad thing mind you but it certainly doesn't reach the heights of its bigger and better cousin. This is a knife-fight in a galactic phone booth to be sure because if you don't get your engine going in...like...2.3 seconds, you will be left looking at the final scores and wondering what just happened. From that aspect the game is perfectly names as this baby is fast, it's like an appetiser before the entree fast.

I won't go too much into the mechanics of the game here but the game does use many of the symbols of RftG, whilst doing away with some of the actions.

Final thoughts? It's an interesting experience but my mind is of the opinion why go for the glazing when I can have the whole damned cake. It's not like RftG is a drawn-out long experience. So for me I'm glad I tried it but this won't have me coming back again. I think it would be a good short-step learning curve to teaching new players RftG however.



d10-8 Go Cuckoo!
Board Game: Go Cuckoo!


This is a silly little game that is more fun than it has any right to be. As such it is perfect for a convention to break up the more thinky titles and assist with sleep deprivation. How much you would play it in normal gaming circles is questionable but kids certainly love it and it is in the same mould as Loopin' Louie and the like, so it is the perfect game for the right crowd.

Essentially this is something of a love child between Pick Up Sticks and Gulo Gulo. The players are trying to get rid of their Cuckoo eggs and they do this by drawing sticks from the nest. These are coloured and there are some simply rules here which I won't go into. Draw the right stick though and you get to lay them horizontally across the nest. In doing so you attempt to make a stable enough support to place one of your eggs. If it doesn't fall to the bottom of the can all is good and you are one step closer to victory. If you hear that clunk though, you will take eggs from other players, which moves you further away from victory and your opponents closer.

When a player gets rid of their last egg, they have a chance to place the heavier wooden Cuckoo onto the nest. If it stays supported in place the win is yours, if not you lose...Good day Sir!

Of course what makes the game fun is the nervous anticipation of removing sticks, which weakens the overall integrity of the nest and placing them back again and those damned eggs.

It is quite clever in its own way. Not something I would play super often but it is one of those games that many a collector might like to have on the shelf. Certainly a winner for the non-gaming set to draw them in with its bright, colourful and striking appearance.



d10-9 Starving Artists
Board Game: Starving Artists


This is a Kickstarter that a family member picked up and we managed to sneak in a game after leaving BorderCon one evening.

It is a filler title for sure, being quite light but something about it was quite enjoyable, although I'm not quite sure what it is yet.

The game pits the players as starving artists who try to paint artworks that first need to be purchased from the central marketplace. The cost to buy a painting is in paints (cubes) and these are the same resources that are needed to paint each picture. The artworks themselves are all real-life pieces and based on the colours used in the painting, a series of coloured locations are present. Some of these are a single colour, which require a matching cube to complete, whilst others may feature 2 colours, giving a player a choice in which one to use from their pool of cubes. The fact that the duel cube locations are coloured based on the tones in the painting itself is really clever and is a great example of theme and mechanism blending together.

The overall goal of course is to complete artworks to score points and the more paint (cubes) required and the more 1-colour locations present will earn greater points. But in keeping with the title of the game, an artist also needs to eat and so each painting will also earn a player food to keep them going. If a player ever gets to 0 food they will starve and this serves to force players to think carefully about which paintings they acquire as they need to churn out some simpler works in order to stay alive long enough to complete that masterpiece. As such the game can end rather quickly if a player is not paying attention.

This game is something of an enigma after one play. It could just be another simple filler or it could really be a stroke of genius. I'm somewhat undecided after one play. I am not an art lover of any kind but as I get older I am finding myself appreciating art more and more. To that end I love the fact that the cards represent real artworks and give the title of each painting and the date it was finished. I don't know why but I do.

This is one title I wish I had heard of and nabbed when released. I would acquire this one if we crossed paths again.

As such the rating I give it here is totally unfair and may well increase with more plays.



d10-1d10-0 Dead Last
Board Game: Dead Last


Ignore this rating folks as the game is quite good for what it is but it's one of those designs that I don't get.

In Dead Last we have a social game of simultaneous card play in which each player is a member of a thieving gang, all out for themselves.

The gang has heisted some loot and it's time to divvy it up but of course everyone is out for themselves. So each player selects a card, which represents who they wish to shoot. The cards are then revealed and the aim is to be in the largest group to target a single person. This allows for any manner of table-talk, nudges, secret winks and the like in the selection phase.

Once the cards are revealed the players to not be in the main group are eliminated from the round and play is repeated until we get down to 2 players only. These two must then eye each other off and make a play for the loot.


This is the more unique aspect of the game. The players then select from 1 of 3 new options; share, steal or Grab one and go. It's something of a rock-paper-scissors deal but the consequences are intense.

The game continues until one player acquired a certain amount of loot.

I really should like these social interaction games a lot more than I do and they are perfect for playing at Cons. The fact that they don't float my boat that much is probably exposing some deficiency in my character but there you go. I will say that I prefer this over Ca$h 'n' Guns.



New to Me - Expansions

d10-1d10-1 Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artefacts
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts


I didn't so much play this expansion as I played with this expansion, a couple of times in fact. Actually we played with all 4 expansions and it was my first time playing RftG in several years (physical copy anyway).

It was a blast as always but I didn't get a great appreciation for the expansion in its entirety as there were so many cards bundled in there and hence my 'on the fence' rating at this point.

What I did notice was how much Alien stuff was floating around. There were some serious card combos at play and it was weird to see multiple Alien Cards of the same cost/defence as that doesn't happen at the higher end without this expansion.

That's all I'll say to this point. I need to play with it more and look at the deck in its singular entirety to comment in any detail.
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20. Board Game: Sol: Last Days of a Star [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:1464]
Board Game: Sol: Last Days of a Star
Larry Rice
United States
North Newton
Kansas
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== NEW GAMES ==

Nimbee - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Nimbee


Left this unrated after my first play as we made a significant error in game play. That being said, it looks to be a solid and quick playing filler.

Ice Cool - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2016
Board Game: ICECOOL


This is a fun flicking game although the rooms don't always attach together well. Probably not one I will hold onto but fun in small doses.

Bullfrogs - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Bullfrogs


I'd play again but don't need to own. Probably best with two players.

New York Slice - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017
Board Game: New York Slice


This is very nicely produced and is a solid quick playing filler with a bit more extra on top of the Piece of Cake.

Gold! - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2011
Board Game: Gold!


Decent filler but not one I will seek out to play again.

Sol: Last Days of a Star - 2 plays
First Published 2017
Board Game: Sol: Last Days of a Star


Probably my favorite new to me game of the month and sadly I didn't even kickstart this one. Played my brother's PnP copy and there are a number of interesting things going on in the game. Probably better with more players.

Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture


This ended up being too simplistic for my tastes without doing anything overly unique.

Hardback - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Hardback


This might end up beating out Paperback for me. Played my brother's PnP copy and really enjoyed the engine. Thought I was way out of it but came back and made a game of it late.

Pandemic Iberia - 1 play
First Published 2016
Board Game: Pandemic: Iberia


Quite an interesting take on the Pandemic system. The individual disease effects are a nice touch and add in some difficulty.

Unlock! The Formula - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures – The Formula


This was an interesting experience. Had no idea what to expect and we weren't very good. Having now played one, perhaps I would know better what to do in other iterations of the game system. There were some clever clues...but also some that seemed a bit off.

Arne - 1 play
First Published 2002
Board Game: Arne


This has not aged well. Won't be revisiting this one. A brother's family owns this and had fond memories that were not relived.

Sub Terra - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Sub Terra


Another interesting co-op escape game which we won rather handily, this time.

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21. Board Game: Ethnos [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:235]
Board Game: Ethnos
Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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Board Game: Ethnos
Ethnos = 9 Plays

External image


This is the definite game of the month for me. The gameplay has some similarities with Ticket to Ride or more appropriately Airlines Europe with players either picking up a card from a face up display or drawing blind from the deck. The objective of all those cards is to play sets of either cards of the same race or cards of the same region (ie color) with the race and color of the top card of the set determining what racial power to apply and where you will put 1 token of your color on the map. Those tokens are used for area control purposes with the player(s) with the most tokens in an area scoring points at the end of an age, which is determined when the 3 dragon cards are finally drawn. The sets of cards you played also score points, with bigger sets rewarding you with more points. What makes this game slightly different is that you have to play set with more cards than your existing cards in a region in order to add another counter there and the fact that after playing a set of cards you must discard all the unused cards in your hand to the face up display. This mechanic fixes the issue of card hoarding so common with these type of games and is a brilliant mechanic IMO. The fact that you only use 5 or 6 out of the 12 available races in each game gives this a lot of replayability and I expect expansions to add more races for even more variability. An excellent game with the right mix of area control and set collection makes this the game of the month for me!



Board Game: Hero Realms
Hero Realms = 2 Plays

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I finally had a chance to try this out this fantasy rethemed version of Star Realms, which is a game I really like. I had also gotten the 5 different character character packs and was very curious on how they could affect gameplay. It turned out the asymmetric starting powers and HP each class had really gave each side a different feel which is a great thing! I like how the retheme was done correctly with the bases being replaced by heroes. Damage dealing also seemed to ramp up faster but then healing also did. I look forward to future character expansions and the possibilities of multiplayer play involving the use of these classes.



Board Game: Adrenaline
Adrenaline = 2 Plays

External image


This title totally flew under the radar until Robert mentioned it to me and I watched a couple of review videos. A FPS themed boardgame as a theme was a sure winner and as in actual First Person Shooting video games a lot of fun is derived by how crazy your weapons are and it is no different in this game as your choice of weapon really determines your strategy and for what kind of ammo you want to pick up. The game is simple enough as your 2 actions have you either moving multiple spaces, moving a space and then picking up ammo or weapons, or shooting. Damage is automatic (there is no randomization in combat at all!) and you get to put your colored damage token on the enemy's board. The nice things about getting damaged is that your Adrenaline gets boosted and your basic actions improve, and scoring is done when your figure is dead just like area control games with the player who did the most damage to you getting the most points, 2nd most getting 2nd place etc. The nice thing about this game is that your value decreases the more you die which mitigates someone getting picked on by the rest. Expansions which feature more crazy weapons as well as new maps and modes of play would benefit this methinks and I look forward to such coming out.



Board Game: La Granja: No Siesta
La Granja: No Siesta = 1 Play

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I was fascinated by La Granja as I have always been a fan of games which use cards in different ways, but I thought it would be a bear to teach so I never got it. However, this dice game version suddenly was available at the FLGS so I got it immediately. I got to try it solo and I found it a very interesting exercise which reminded me of Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age except you could find a way to manipulate the timer although the solo game lasts a max number of 18 rounds. I think it captures the dice drafting element of its parent game well and I would like to try it at least once with multiplayers.



Board Game: Haggis
Haggis = 1 Play

This trick taking / ladder climbing game has mechanics similar to a local game called Big Two so it was quite easy for me to catch on. A good travelling game which may prove useful to teach new players used to playing cards.



EXPANSIONS

Board Game: Power Grid: Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland
Power Grid: Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland = 1 Play

External image


Kent bought this expansion map despite it not being compatible with his Power Grid Deluxe: Europe/North America copy. We got to try the Northern Europe side first and the main feature of the map is that you replace some of the base set plants with the ones for the map depending on which areas were in play. 2 areas also did not allow nuclear plants to be built if a player had all his cities located there and the end result was a very tight race for the resources as they ended up costing up a ton of money. More maps are always a good thing and I like the tightness the Northern Europe side felt, but it would be nice if we could get to try the UK and Ireland side too.



Board Game: Star Realms: Colony Wars
Star Realms: Colony Wars = 1 Play

External image


This standalone expansion deck for Star Realms does not introduce anything new but for this game that is not necessarily a bad thing! A 3-4P game with the base set may show me what new synergies could come up, but I am curious to see if assymetric starting decks would be made similar to its fantasy reimplementation.

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22. Board Game: 7 Ronin [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:2492]
Board Game: 7 Ronin
David B
United States
Virginia
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