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

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

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1. Board Game: Grand Austria Hotel [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:98]
Board Game: Grand Austria Hotel
Juan Carlos Goyes
Colombia
Bogota
Cundinamarca
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Board Game: Grand Austria Hotel

Grand Austria Hotel

2017-09-17

Initial Rating: 7.0 (August 2017)

Last month I played Lorenzo il Magnigico from the same designers and I really liked it, so I was expecting good game and I found one (is is better than Lorenzo il Magnifico). I generally like drafting dice games and Grand Austria Hotel is a winner in my book.

The rules of the game are pretty easy to teach. You can do in under 8 minutes. Playtime is around 100 minutes. The rulebook could be better in some places.

The theme isn’t exciting to me, but it is at least very different from many other euro games. Also, do you feel it through some of the game´s mechanisms.

The game´s components are of good quality. The art is good as well.

Best with 3 players, with 4 players there is too much downtime for the first player.

The game´s decisions are very interesting (which die should I pick?, that is, which action to do?, which staff to play, which guess to pick up, how to best fill up my hotel? which guest to serve?), there are many considerations and timing is very important as every action players do decreases in power after executing it. You need to accomplish a lot with very few actions, so the game is very tense from the beginning.

There are lots and lots of cards to explore so the replayability factor is very high. Also there are 12 political cards and 12 emperor tiles but you use only 3 each game also adding to the replayability.

The emperor scoring along the emperor tiles are rather similar to the church track on Lorenzo il Magnifico. I like it in both games, the penalties for failing them are harsh so they add a source of delicious tension to the game.

There is luck with the cards and the dice, but I feel its impact is rather low. You see many guess cards during the game but the staff cards have considerable luck. There are ways to add a die temporally to an action, to reroll the dice and the 6 number allows you to perform any other action so the luck factor of the dice is low.

Bottom line, Grand Austria Hotel is a solid Euro game. The luck factor of the dice is low, there is much higher luck with the cards but I like it a lot and I want to play it again soon. Good game.

Current Rating: 7.5

Jgoyes´ Awards:

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Board Game: Room 25: Season 2

Room 25: Season 2

2017-09-17

Initial Rating: 6.5 (September 2017)

Room 25 is a fun game to play. It never had a place among my favorite games but it was close. I really liked its idea and execution a lot but there was always something that kept me from really enjoying it, still, I needed to try the expansion and I can say it is a good expansion for the game, but it doesn’t fix the game for me.

Room 25: Season 2 comes with a huge box that’s mostly air. The idea was for the box to hold the first game and the future ones. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I think I would have preferred a smaller box, but this is a very minor issue for me. The box comes with an special insert. At first I was very excited about the insert, it helps a lot to hold the rooms, the miniatures and the cards, but the rest of the components doesn’t have a proper place so they are loose on the box. I finally opted for using both boxes to store all the content.

Love the theme.

The new rules are very easy to teach if you are familiar with the game, you can do it under 6 minutes. The expansion does what you would have expected. It adds new rooms (very welcomed), it adds a special power to each character (expected and welcomed), it adds cards to play that modify the game situation in chaotic ways, it adds colored miniatures (VERY welcomed), it adds two new characters, it adds adrenaline surge so players can execute 3 actions once per game, it adds a couple of robots and their miniatures (very cool), it allows plays up to 8 players (I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I guess I don't like the game with that many players).

The game´s components are of great quality but they have a problem, The rooms´ backs are vastly different than the original ones so you know beforehand if the room is a new room or an old room. This is very disappointing because one of the game´s core mechanisms is to explore the room to see what you find. Matagot issued replacements for most people with this issue but I never got mine. Also, I think this problem is fixed in new editions of the game.

Room 25 can be played in many ways, including solo for players who like that sort of thing (I don’t), but I have always preferred to play the Suspicion mode. This is the mode in which there are zero, one or two traitors among the team. I have also played the team variation, but I confess I´m curious about the cooperation mode.

After playing the game, I can say it feels the same way that before. The expansion, although added a ton of content and replayability, didn’t radically change anything. I guess that’s good but I have always felt that there is something missing from the game, thus, I have never added it to my top games. After I played it, a friend liked it so much that I sold it to him. It pains me a bit having sold it, but I´m trying to get my game collection under control so most non favorite games must go eventually.

Bottom line, Room 25: Season 2 adds a lot of expected content to the game and the game is much better with it. It is a must have if you are a fan of the game. I already sold it but I still have access to it and I would gladly play it again if requested. I have always find the game´s theme fascinating, but when I play it I always wish it was a bit better so it never became a favorite of mine, but it came close. It is a good game to introduce new gamers to the hobby.

Current Rating: 6.5


Board Game: Orléans: Invasion

Orléans: Invasion

2017-09-17

Initial Rating: 8.0 (September 2017)

I love Orleans so I was very keen to try Orleans: Invasion. I didn’t read the rules so I’m still unsure about how much the expansion really adds but I played the cooperative scenario on hard and it blew me away. I loved it.

I think (but I’m not sure) the game comes with many rules, it has different rules for each scenario. I have only played the cooperative one, but I think it also has solo scenarios (which is a shame for me, I will never play them unless the game becomes digital) and two player scenarios (those also have a low likelihood of being played as I have many two player games to try first but perhaps I can swing it in the future).

We played the cooperative scenario on hard because we were foolhardy and we failed it spectacularly, we never even achieved 50% of the requirements to win. It was really hard so I’m very keen to try it again. The cooperative mode adds new boards to the game and players have to achieve personal objectives as well as communal ones. The game comes with many cards, so the personal objectives will be different each play adding to the replayability.

The expansion also come with new buildings (as expected and it is very welcomed) and two previously released promos (I already had the tavern from the KS but the weinberge I only had in postcard form).

Some friends love Orleans but say they would hate the cooperative aspect, they don’t know what they are missing .

Bottom line, Orleans: Invasion adds a lot of content, some of it I won be able to use (solo play) but I don’t care. It is a must have expansion for me and I plan to play it a lot in the future. The cooperative aspect changes the game radically and I loved it. I cannot wait to play it again. When I play the other modes I will come back to comment on them. Solid expansion.

Current Rating: 8.0


Board Game: Crap or Slap! What Would You Do?

Crap or Slap! What Would You Do?

2017-09-17

Initial Rating: 4.0 (September 2017)

As Crap or Slap is a game published by Twilight Creations, Inc, I wasn’t expecting anything good from it. I can say I had fun playing it, but the game is not for me. I already sold it (some friends really liked it).

The rules of the game are very simple. You can explain them under 1 minute. Playtime varies drastically based on the number of players. If it takes more than 25 minutes I begin to become bored by it as it is very simple.

The cards are of regular quality, the rules are on the back of the box.

Crap or Slap is a party game in the vein of Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity (I heavily dislike both games). Each turn a player plays a card and other players react to it with cards of their own. Then the judge chooses the best match and that’s it. We laughed with the game, but it is almost not a game. First, it is luck if you have the card that best match the situation, second, and this is my big issue, the judging is very subjective. The judge chooses the card he thinks its best so this lends itself to kingmaking (if the leader is going to win, the judge choose a bad match just to stop him from winning). The game would be much better if the cards were played in secret, but still, it is a very basic game.

Bottom line, Crap or Slap is a bad party game. It can be fun with the right crowd but I really hate the scoring mechanism, it is very unfair. I already sold it and I expect to never play it again. It is way too long for what it offers.

Current Rating: 3.0


Board Game: Reef Encounter of the Second Kind

Reef Encounter of the Second Kind

2014-03-11

Initial Rating: N/A

I love the base game so I have high hopes for this expansion. For now I only have to say that the expansion box is way too big for what it came in it.

I will try it son (I hope).

Current Rating: N/A


2017-09-17

Initial Rating: 5.0 (September 2017)

I really like Reef Encounter so I was expecting great things from the expansion, sadly, it sorely disappointed me.

The expansion is very expensive for what it has in the box.

The rules of the new game are not hard to teach, but learning them from the rulebook wasn’t as straightforward. I had to read and reread to understand some situations, but I was able to explain them under 8 minutes.

Reef Encounter of the Second Kind adds more tiles which was expected and welcomed. In fact I really liked the new tiles. It adds crown of thorns starfish (my least liked tile as it allow attacks), two colored polyp tiles (I like them, they allow for more options), blue shrimp tiles (I like them, they are almost invulnerable), double polyp tiles (I somewhat like them as they are very valuable but it is just luck if you can pick one), half polyp tiles (I like them as you can defend them more easily), bare rock tiles (I like them, you can build them over deep water terrain) and deep water tiles (I like them, you can use them to destroy bare rock terrain). All of the tiles change the game considerably. The expansion also adds a lot of cards and I heavily dislike them. The cards are unbalanced (some are very powerful, other very situational), it is pure luck that decides which card you draw, they are cheap to draw, they break the rules in wacky ways and they destroy any semblance of planning the game had.

In my edition of the game there is a typo in the player aid. This is a minor issue though.

Bottom line, Reef Encounter of the Second Kind was a disappointment. If I like a game, I generally love its expansions, but this one makes the game a lot worse introducing luck, chaos and unbalance with the cards. I would like to play with the new tiles but without the cards. I’m not sure if that´s possible or if that introduces new imbalances. The game previously was, mostly, a strategy one, but with the cards the game becomes mostly tactics as the cards can destroy any plans you had. I think I will continue to play Reef Encounter without its expansion.

Current Rating: 4.0


Board Game: The Princes of Machu Picchu

The Princes of Machu Picchu

2017-09-17

Initial Rating: 7.0 (September 2017)

I love Concordia, but I generally dislike Mac Gerdts rondel games. When I bought The Princes of Machu Picchu I didn’t know if it was a rondel game or not, gladly it isn’t and I liked it . My expectation for the game was low but it surprised me.

The rules of the game aren’t complex. You can teach it under 10 minutes. Playtime is from 90 to 120 minutes, it depends on the number of players.

The game´s components are good, the board is big and colorful. It is double sided but both sides are exactly the same except for the language. The board looks gorgeous on the table with all components on top of it.

The theme is novel, I kind of like it.

The Princes of Machu Picchu´s decisions are interesting and non-obvious. Timing is key to win the game. In the game you can move your prince to a position in the map, if it is near its free, if it is far away you need to pay to move there. You can also pass and take a bonus token, when three of these tokens are taken the round will end. Among the actions you can do are: Getting more Incas to work for you, get priest/virgins to make sacrifices, getting a kind of resource, making a sacrifice to move your scout, buy or sell resources and go to the sun clock . Most of the actions are communal if players have the requirements to play them, so analyzing your opponents moves and time your movements accordingly is key. The game can end in two different ways, either the Spanish arrive and then gold becomes very important or if players take all priests and virgins the Incans win and the player with better sacrifices wins the game. It is very cool. I would think the game ends most times by Incan victory but I need more plays to verify this.

Best with 3 players as it flows fast and it can end in either Spanish or Incan victory.

The Princes of Machu Picchu feel somewhat similar to Concordia in many ways.

Bottom line, The Princes of Machu Picchu is a good Euro game, it rewards careful planning and timing and I liked it. These days I’m enjoying Marc Gerds´ games, this means I already pre ordered his new game (Transatlantic) and perhaps I will revisit games I didn’t like in the past (Antike, and more important Imperial) to see if I can appreciate them now. I will keep it among my game collection for now.

One of 2008´s favorites.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Hansa Teutonica: Britannia

Hansa Teutonica: Britannia

2017-09-24

Initial Rating: 7.5 (September 2017)

I really like Hansa Teutonica so it is natural I also like this expansion. The Britannia map is very fun to play and the experience feels very different than base Hansa Teutonica.

The new rules are easy to teach but reading the rules from the rulebook continues to be a grueling experience and you need to read and reread them to get them rightt. It seems they can’t do good, coherent rulebooks. There is a scoring example in which it seems they add a new rule within the example! Once you understand the rules, you can explain them under 3 minutes.

The bigger change are the limited/restricted actions you can do in Wales and Scotland as well as a new end of game scoring for majorities in those countries. It also adds new markers that are on the board.

The Britannia map adds new revised rules for two players but I have never even played the base game with two players so I cannot comment on them. I´m not sure if I ever will as this game is best with 3 players and when I have 2 players I prefer to play so many other games.

The map feel fresh and very different than the experience of playing the base game. It offers new options and strategies to pursue. I like the restrictions but it leads to fight over the cites that allow you to break them temporally. Perhaps this will lead to a low replay value. Time will tell.

Bottom line, I love Hansa Teutonica: Britannia and I cannot wait to play it again. It is a must have for fans of the game as it feel very different than the base game.

Current Rating: 8.0


Board Game: Black Fleet

Black Fleet

2017-09-24

Initial Rating: 5.0 (September 2017)

I was moderately interested in the game due to its designer (Sebastian Bleasdale which co designed Keyflower) but after playing it, I can say it isn’t for me. Black Fleet is a solid family though.

The rules of the game are easy to teach. You can do it under 6 minutes. Playtime is around 75 minutes.

The game´s components are gorgeous. It comes with metal coins which is a rarity in a non-Kickstarter game. The art is also pretty good. The insert is functional but when you sleeve the cards, they no longer fit in it .

For some reason I always dislike pirate themes, so I didn’t like Black Fleet´s, still, this is a minor consideration.

Black Fleet´s decisions are, mostly, easy and obvious. There is a lot of luck with the cards, but in your turn you don’t have much to consider. It also has its fair share of “take that”, a mechanism I no longer enjoy.

It is very reminiscent of Caribbean, a game I prefer because it has meatier decisions (but I still don’t like it very much).

Bottom line, Black fleet isn’t the game for me. It is way too light with easy decisions and lots of uncontrollable randomness. I think it is great to introduce new gamers to our hobby or as a family game. It has great production values. I already sold it.

Current Rating: 4.0


Board Game: Ortus Regni

Ortus Regni

2017-09-24

Initial Rating: 5.0 (September 2017)

I won Ortus Regni through BGG contests so I wasn’t sure what to expect. When the game arrived, it was a gorgeous big box so my interest to play it was very high. After playing it, I can say Ortus Regni has some great ideas on it, but the randomness kills it for me.

A friend tried to explain the rules to me but that was a mistake. He explained some rules at the beginning, but many cards have more than one use, so when he or I played them he would explain the new rules. I hate when people does this. I need to know all the rules from the very beginning to try to form a good plan, also, he made some big mistakes with the rules, so when I got home, I began reading the rules and playing the game on the iPad. The rules of the game aren’t hard to grasp, but there are many rules, so you can probably explain them under 20 minutes.

The art of the cards is great as are the production values of the game. The box is big and of high quality. The components are also very good.

I like the theme.

The idea of the game is to build your deck from a limited card pool and then try to defeat your opponent’s deck. There are only a few card to choose from, but you can choose many copies of each card. Some cards have many ways to use them and choosing the right time to play them is not obvious. The game has (or seem to have) a lot of deepness.

So far, I have loved every concept of the game, but I really dislike the randomness inherent in two facets of the game. First, most battles are resolved in a predictable way, but there are some battles that will be won by the defender, even though he doesn’t have any way to realistic win them, other times the church will decide, and other times the attacker will win no matter how many defenses has the defender. I get this is thematic, but this result depends on a random card and it can destroy your plans so I really dislike it. Second, and most annoying for me, I heavily dislike that the Vikings play as a 3 player. Luck decides which player will control the Vikings but this part doesn’t bother me much as there are ways to improve your chances putting more stones into the bag, however, what I really dislike is that the second player is at a huge disadvantage. This situation is very common, the Viking turn arrives and then, the first player take control of them and use them to attack the second player, then, immediately, the first player can attack the second player again which is totally unfair. The second player will receive two attacks in a row very often while the first player won´t. The Vikings should work differently. To summarize, I dislike the randomness of the battles and I feel the Vikings mechanism is very unfair toward the second player.

Best with 2 players, I would hate to play a 3-4 player free for all game as it lends itself for king making situations. I would play 2 vs 2, but it is, definitively, best with 2 players.

I have played the game a couple more times on the iPad. The app is very well done and I would paid money for it, but it is free. It doesn’t have asynch support (which is a shame) but you can play it in real time. I hope the app survives the update of iOS 11.

Bottom line, Ortus Regni is a great design for a first time designer, you can tell it is a labor of love. It has many great ideas on it, but I dislike the randomness of the battles and the Vikings and I heavily dislike how the Vikings work. I feel it is unfair toward the second player. Due to this, I will sell my copy of the game but I could play again if requested. I hope to continue to play in the app. Ortus Regni has great production values. It is an unique game.

Current Rating: 5.0


Board Game: Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Mega Man Blue

Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Mega Man Blue

2017-09-26

Initial Rating: 7.0 (September 2017)

I really like Pixel Tactics and due to this I bought all the Mega Man sets. I played a couple of Mega Man videogames when I was a kid, but I never liked them very much so the theme is mostly lost on me, however, some friends are crazy about it.

In general, it seems the quality of the components isn’t the same as before, the cards now are of a lower quality. There aren’t any icons on the cards (I think due to legal issues), each deck now comes with 28 cards instead of 25 cards. I heavily dislike that the back of the cards is different from other Pixel Tactics games so mixing them without opaque sleeves is out of the question (I guess this is also due to legal issues). The tokens are smaller than before. It doesn’t have any reference card.

Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Mega Man Blue is the simplest of all of them. The rules are pretty straightforward and the mechanisms are the simplest of the series, there are no operations or traps (although the rulebook hints at traps, but doesn’t explain them correctly). You can play it from 30 to 60 minutes. There is a misprint in this card showing an icon from the second set, not a big issue.

Gameplay remains interesting, you can use each card in 5 different ways and replayability is very high.

I was going to pledge in the Kickstarter but the price was too high. I bought the retail edition much cheaper.

Bottom line, Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Mega Man Blue continues to be a good game to play. I continue to like the series of games and I expect to have it among my game collection for a long time. Solid 2 player game.

Current Rating. 7.0


Board Game: Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Proto Man Red

Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Proto Man Red

2017-09-26

Initial Rating: 7.0 (September 2017)

I really like Pixel Tactics and due to this I bought all the Mega Man sets. I played a couple of Mega Man videogames when I was a kid, but I never liked them very much so the theme is mostly lost on me, however, some friends are crazy about it.

In general, it seems the quality of the components isn’t the same as before, the cards now are of a lower quality. There aren’t any icons on the cards (I think due to legal issues), each deck now comes with 28 cards instead of 25 cards. I heavily dislike that the back of the cards is different from other Pixel Tactics games so mixing them without opaque sleeves is out of the question (I guess this is also due to legal issues). The tokens are smaller than before. It doesn’t have any reference card.

Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Proto Man Red adds operations to the mix (as did Pixel Tactics 2) so it is a bit more complicated than the first game. I think the rulebook doesn’t explain them correctly but I could be wrong. You can play the game from 30 to 60 minutes. There is a misprint in this card showing an icon from the first set, not a big issue.

Gameplay remains interesting, you can use each card in 5 different ways and replayability is very high.

I was going to pledge in the Kickstarter but the price was too high. I bought the retail edition much cheaper.

Bottom line, Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Proto Man Red continues to be a good game to play. I continue to like the series of games and I expect to have it among my game collection for a long time. Solid 2 player game. The rulebook isn't very good.

Current Rating. 7.0


Board Game: Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Bass Orange Edition

Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Bass Orange Edition

2017-09-26

Initial Rating: 7.0 (September 2017)

I really like Pixel Tactics and due to this I bought all the Mega Man sets. I played a couple of Mega Man videogames when I was a kid, but I never liked them very much so the theme is mostly lost on me, however, some friends are crazy about it.

In general, it seems the quality of the components isn’t the same as before, the cards now are of a lower quality. There aren’t any icons on the cards (I think due to legal issues), each deck now comes with 28 cards instead of 25 cards. I heavily dislike that the back of the cards is different from other Pixel Tactics games so mixing them without opaque sleeves is out of the question (I guess this is also due to legal issues). The tokens are smaller than before. It doesn’t have any reference card.

Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Bass Orange Edition adds traps to the mix (as did Pixel Tactics 4 I think) so it is a bit more complicated than the first and second game. I think the rulebook doesn’t explain them correctly but I could be wrong. You can play the game from 30 to 60 minutes.

Gameplay remains interesting, you can use each card in 5 different ways and replayability is very high.

I was going to pledge in the Kickstarter but the price was too high. I bought the retail edition much cheaper.

Bottom line, Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Bass Orange Edition is the most complex of the three and it continues to be a good game to play. I continue to like the series of games and I expect to have it among my game collection for a long time. Solid 2 player game. The rulebook isn’t very good.

Current Rating. 7.0


Board Game: Cthulhu Realms

Cthulhu Realms

2017-09-29

Initial Rating: 4.5 (September 2017)

I never liked Star Realms that much so when I found out Cthulhu Realms was similar my interest in the game plummeted. As it turned out, I can say both games are very similar and , somewhat, boring for me.

The rules of the game are pretty simple to explain (and very similar to Star Realms). You can do it under 3 minutes. Playtime is around 20 minutes.

In general, I love deckbuilding games but I hate games that have a variable market offering. I find them to be very unfair and mostly tactics as opposed as a game of Dominion in which you can plan your whole game right from the beginning. The decisions needed to play Cthulhu Realms (and Star Realms for that matter) are pretty obvious. Luck is very high and will decide many matches.

It is best with 2 players, with more players it becomes even more random.

I like the theme, but you don’t feel it except through the name of the cards and the art is which is very good. The game has icons instead of text, you learn the icons quickly so it works but I think I prefer text.. It only has 3 factions instead of four.

I already sold my copy of the game and I plan to continue to play the game on the iPad. On app form the issues I have with the game are felt much less.

Bottom line, Cthulhu Realms is almost a copy of Star Realms. I prefer Star Realms but I don’t like either game. I already sold them both and I plan to play them online. Both games have pretty easy decisions. It plays fast. The luck factor in uncontrollable and very high.

Current Rating: 4.0


Board Game: Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Experts Expansion Pack

Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Experts Expansion Pack

2017-09-26

Initial Rating: 7.5 (September 2017)

I love Vinhos, so I naturally had to buy all its expansions . Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Experts Expansion Pack is a welcomed addition for the game allowing to play the expert tiles in different ways.

In my only play we randomly shuffled them in the correct categories, but I like the other variants (selected experts, play only the expert of this expansion). The base game has a lot of replay value, but these expert tiles increase it a lot.

Bottom line, Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Experts Expansion Pack is a solid expansion and it is very welcomed.

Current Rating. 7.5


Board Game: Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Tasting Room Expansion Pack

Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Tasting Room Expansion Pack

2017-09-26

Initial Rating: 7.5 (September 2017)

I love Vinhos, so I naturally had to buy all its expansions . Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Tasting Room Expansion Pack is, mostly, a cosmetic expansion, but it is welcomed nonetheless.

It adds 4 wine feature bottles to replace the wooden tokens, you have to sticker them and sadly the stickers came unglued in less than 20 minutes cry. The bottles are cool though. It adds 6 Porto bottles and it rack to replace the small tiles from the base game, the sticker on those bottle also came off and it doesn’t tell you it adds a +3 in the quality of the wine (a minor issue). It adds some wineries to replace the tiles from the base one, they look ok but they can hide important information, I wish they were a bit smaller. And it finally adds something new, the tourists. They increase the quality of the wine and they can visit you cellars. You can hire them with the action to hire enologists (and farmers in the 2016 edition).

Vinhos is a, somewhat, complex game so I enjoy when it has more options.

Bottom line, Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Tasting Room Expansion Pack is an upgrade to some components of the game, I don’t mind this very much but it is nice to have. I hate that the stickers of the bottles don’t stay glued and you would have expected better for the price you paid. I’m much more excited about the new mechanism, the tourists, I like how they work and the new options they allow. Without the tourists, this expansion would have been an accessory.

Current Rating. 7.5


Board Game: Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Islands Expansion Pack

Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Islands Expansion Pack

2017-09-26

Initial Rating: 7.5 (September 2017)

I love Vinhos, so I naturally had to buy all its expansions . Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Islands Expansion Pack is my favorite of the expansions. It adds two new islands with new characteristics.

Açores island allow you to create any wine (red or white) you want and it gives you an expanded warehouse. You can also have 3 wineries from this island. This seems powerful, but I´m not sure as the player who mostly played from this island finished last as he always had the least valuable wine and he couldn’t build a cellar. I need more plays to verify this point, perhaps it is a weaker island in terms of wine value, but the ability to choose red or white adds a lot of flexibility, also, Açores´ warehouse allow for a free sell action.

Madeira island adds some free tourists (which increase the quality of your wine if they are visiting your cellar) when you buy a winery. It will also give you more bagos in each production phase and that’s very valuable in the 2010 edition of the game because money is very hard to get. It is less valuable in the 2016 edition. I really like how the tourist work.

This expansion is my favorite because it really changes the game and increases the, already high, replayability factor. I cannot wait to play again with it.

Bottom line, Vinhos Deluxe Edition: Islands Expansion Pack offers two new islands to adds to the mix with new characteristics offering new options. I really like it and I cannot wait to play it again.

Current Rating. 8.0


Board Game: Werewords

Werewords

2017-09-27

Initial Rating: 7.0 (September 2017)

I have played before the game One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and although fun (with the right crowd), I didn’t want to play it again. Its decisions are obvious and easy, most things are out of players control and due to this, it almost isn’t a game. I think both of its sequels are the same (Daybreak and One Night Ultimate Vampire) so I didn’t buy nor played them. I was expecting similar things from Werewords, but a friend convinced me that it was a different game and he was right! Werewords is a good party game and a must have for me.

The rules of the game are very simple. You can explain them under 5 minutes. Playtime is around 5-6 minutes.

The game´s components are ok and functional, but the role tiles get marked very easily, so I sleeved them. The art is ok as well.

Werewords is a mix of Werewolf (ok game) with The Resistance: Avalon (I love it) and Black Stories (I like it). It works great! In each game, there is a secret word that the good characters need to guess to win and the bad characters, who already know the word, need to confuse the other players so they don’t guess the word. If the word is correctly guessed the good guys win but the werewolves and their minions can still win by killing the Seer (exactly like Merlin from Avalon). If the word isn’t guessed, the good guys can still win by killing a werewolf. The process of guessing the word works exactly like Black Stories. Players can ask the Mayor (who cannot speak and already knows the secret word) questions that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No” answer and they have 4 minutes to correctly guess the word.

Werewords uses an app as other previous games in the series, but in this case the app is a must have, that is, without the app, the game cannot be played. I have played many times now and the app works great, however, there is a bug when you play with 11 players. In that configuration the app resets. We tried with many different iPhones and the bug persisted. I hope they fix it soon. Still, I don’t plan to play much with 11 players. The game is best played with 6 players. The app offers a wide array of words, so far, we have only played with the easy category.

Bottom line, Werewords is a fun and quick game. I already bought it and I will be playing it a lot in the future. It is MUCH better than any other game in the series.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Quiddler

Quiddler

2017-09-27

Initial Rating: 6.0 (September 2017)

I bought Quiddler on May 2014, my desire to play it was low, but after playing it, I can say it surprised me. Quiddler is an ok word game. Some friends loved the game though and I already sold it to them.

The rules of the game are pretty simple, you can explain them under 3 minutes. Playtime is around 60 minutes.

Best with 4 players.

The idea of the game is to form words with the cards you have at hand. In each round you will have more cards. The first player who can play all his cards, will force the end of the round and force other players to play as many cards as they can. The cards they can’t play will count as negative points while the played will count as positive points. There is a high luck of the draw factor, sometimes you draw only consonants, other times you are able to play all your cards in the very first turn. In any case, the game is fun to play.

The copy I played was in English which is a problem to Spanish speaking people. There are some combinations of letters we don’t use (Th) and the points of the cards are bad, for example the “w” gives very few points because there are many words in English that use it, but not so in Spanish. I think I would buy a Spanish edition of the game.

Bottom line, I was surprised by Quiddler, is it a fun game to play but the high luck factor bothers me. I already sold my copy of the game, but I would play again if requested.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: Le Fantôme de l'Opéra

Le Fantôme de l'Opéra

2017-09-27

Initial Rating: 6.0 (September 2017)

Le Fantôme de l'Opéra is a game very similar to Mr. Jack. Both games use the same engine and core mechanisms. I enjoy Mr. Jack so I enjoy Le Fantôme de l'Opéra.

The rules of the game can be explained under 3 minutes if you are familiar with Mr. Jack, if not, the whole explanation can take up to 8 minutes. Gameplay is around 30 minutes.

I like the theme, but you don’t feel it through the game.

The art and components are ok.

Le Fantôme de l'Opéra is an asymmetrical two player game. The Phantom wants to chase away La Carlotta, the investigator player wants to identify the phantom´s identity before La Carlotta leaves the game. The cool thing about the game is how the players must select one or two characters (each one with a different power) in their turns trying to accomplish their goals. I really like it and it isn't obvious.

I feel it is easier than Mr. Jack because here identifying the Phantom is enough for the investigator to win, in Mr. Jack you had to catch him with another character (I think). Besides in Mr. Jack there was the possibility for Jack to escape, and that win condition was eliminated from this game.

Bottom line, I like Le Fantôme de l'Opéra but I won’t buy it as I currently own Mr. jack and both games feel and play the same way. I will definitely play it again. It is very close to being a good game for me. It is an easier game (less tension) than Mr. Jack, thus I prefer the original game.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts

Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts

2015-08-23

Initial Rating: N/A (August 2015)

I finally got to play Alien Artifacts, sadly, I also played it along with the 3 past expansions (my friend wouldn’t bulge on this point) AND the game explicitly says that this expansion is incompatible with previous ones so for now I’m leaving the rating vacant until I play it properly.

I’m not sure if the expansions are really incompatible, my friend says he read a lot about this and only 1 or 2 cards are really useless, however as this is against the rules I’m not really comfortable playing it this way because it must destroy/modify the game balance.

For now I can says I love the art and the new cards are awesome, there are obviously many Alien cool cards. I did enjoyed my play of it so I think I will like it. We didn’t play with the orb rules so I can’t comment on that yet.

Bottom line, I can´t comment on the expansion yet, however all things Race for the Galaxy are a must have for me. I want to play it soon.

Current Rating: N/A


2017-09-27

Initial Rating: 6.0 (September 2017)

I love Race for the Galaxy, a game currently among my Top Ten games of all time, so I was very keen to try this expansion. I finally played the game with the Orb rules. It was very hard to get it to the table, no one wanted to learn (the weird) new rules and explaining the base game plus this expansion to a new player was out of the question.

The rulebook is a mess as is usual from Mr. Lehmann. The new cards are easily explainable, but the orb rules aren’t. Some of the examples are a bit hard to follow and the actual rules are fiddly. I had to read reread the rulebook to fully understand and explaining them is a chore.

The art continues to be gorgeous, the components are ok

The idea of the Orb is fascinating, however, it doesn’t work as well as the game used to. It seems that adding them adds a lot of complexity with a very low reward in the gameplay department. I´m very sad writing these words, but I think I will play the game without the Orb rules (unless I find a partner to play the game with me regularly so I can explore it further). Race for the Galaxy used to flow very quickly, with the Orb in place, the downtime is a lot higher in the explore phase cry.

Tile lying (actually card laying in this case) is one of my least liked game mechanism, and having to form the map in a proficient way, is tiresome to me. Another negative thing for me, the luck of the draw with the tokens´ bonuses is high and I’m not sure if they all are balanced.

It seems military got a big boost in this expansion, and it needed to do so as the orb also needs military power to pass some barriers.

Bottom line, Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts is a bit of a disappointment to me, it does change gameplay considerably. Adding the full rules of the expansions adds a lot of complexity and playtime to the game but the gameplay isn’t better for it. I won’t sell it because I must have all things Race for the Galaxy, but I will only play with the cards (for now) without the Orb. I’m not sure when I will play again with the Orb rules (although I find the idea fascinating). I do like the new cards. Explaining the game with these new rules is something I don’t wish to do.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: City of Iron: Second Edition

City of Iron: Second Edition

2017-09-28

Initial Rating: 6.0 (September 2017)

I have disliked every Ryan Laukat game I have played. They look great but they are rather light, with easy decisions and, in general, not fun to play. Due to this, I wasn’t expecting to like City of Iron: Second Edition, but I (kind of) do.

Reading the rules it seems like a complex game, but it really isn’t. I wish the rules were better structured. Once you understand them you can explain them under 11 minutes.

The art is pretty good, although I have never really liked this style. The game components are also good.

City of Iron: Second Edition is the first Ryan Laukat game that doesn’t bore me. It has many rules and many interesting decisions to make. It is a mix of deckbuilding and area control. The deckbuilding is novel because you have two different decks to build and draw from. In each turn, players must do one action (build or store a card, draw a card from your decks, purchase science tokens, play a card from your hand or get money, attack a town ) and you repeat the process until every player has done 3 actions (which feel too few). Other interesting decisions are to decide how much money to spend on turn order and which cards to purchase so you can play them.

I like that you never shuffle your decks, you only turn then and draw again. There is a memory element here that I like.

Each player control a nation that is a little different from the others.

On the bad side, It seems the game has multiple paths to victory, but I’m not sure if that’s true. Many of the cards you buy function in a similar way, also, you need to buy some of the cards or be left behind in critical areas. At the end of the game I felt it was a little repetitive, I hope it has enough replay value.

I don’t know what are the differences between this one and the first edition. I hope they didn’t change the rules.

Best with 3 fast players. With four the downtime begins to bothers me.

Bottom line City of Iron: Second Edition is, by far, the best Ryan Laukat game I have ever played it (I still haven’t played Above and Below and I’m intrigued about it) and I want to play it again before deciding if I should sell it or not. It has interesting decisions and more to think than his regular games. The two deck system is novel and I like it.

Current Rating: 6.5


Board Game: Dungeon Twister Collectors Box

Dungeon Twister Collectors Box

2017-09-28

Initial Rating: 10.0 (September 2017)

Dungeon Twister is my favorite game of all time so I have tried to buy everything for it (I´m still missing some goodies). This collector edition was one of the few missing items I had, so I spent a lot of money hunting down a copy and now I have a German copy of the game. I really didn’t know what came in the box, so I was a bit disappointed to find out it was exactly the same as the original Dungeon Twister plus some miniatures and the coveted (at least by me) Amazon character (which was why I bought the collector box in the first place). It also adds a certificate for a club, but I think it closed its doors long ago.

The collector box is a big, mostly empty box. I think its size was meant to store all the content for the game but a friend custom made a special box for my complete Dungeon Twister collection so I won’t be using it. I thought I was never going to play it but as it happened, a friend wanted to play it and I didn’t have my regular collection at hand so we unpunched it and that was when the nightmare began. We couldn’t punch it without using a blade and even then some of the rooms and characters are clearly marked, which is very bad for the game as you need to deploy them secretly. Very disappointed by this. Also the miniatures have leftover plastic material that needs to be removed. In any case, I prefer to play without miniatures. There wasn’t enough plastic stands for all the characters. I was expecting better from the collector’s edition and there is no one I can complain about this.

Anything else remains the same and you can read the comment under the Dungeon Twister entry (I said it was the best game ever, with very low luck and hard to master). I still haven’t played with the Amazon character, when do I will come back and comment on it.

Bottom line, I was disappointed by the quality of the miniatures and the tiles. They got damaged when I punched them. I’m not sure if this happens in all the editions or only the German one. Still, Dungeon Twister is my favorite game and this edition has everything you need to play the very first game, so I love it nonetheless and I will never sell it.

Current Rating: 10.0


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

Lost Cities: Expedition 6 – The Lost Expedition

2017-09-28

Initial Rating: 6.0 (September 2017)

I like lost Cities, it is a fast game that I can play with anyone, so I naturally bought this promo expansion.

It doesn’t add any new rule, it only consist of the cards for a 6th expansion which you shuffle with the other cards and play. As you keep the same number of cards in hand, the strategy varies a bit and it is harder at the beginning.

The new cards add about a minute of play to every round, so I don’t mind it.

Bottom line, Lost Cities: Expedition 6 – The Lost Expedition is a minor addition to the game, but I like it. I will always play with it if I´m not playing the game online.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: Dungeon Lords: Festival Season

Dungeon Lords: Festival Season

2017-09-28

Initial Rating: 8.5 (September 2017)

I love Dungeon Lords, so I had to buy and play all its expansions. The Festival expansion adds a lot of content and it makes the game a lot harder (a plus for me), and sadly, a lot longer, but I really like it.

Dungeon Lords: Festival Season adds new rules: It adds pets, cards you can play whenever the card allow it and if you don’t use them, at the end of the game they are worth some VPs. It adds a new whole round, the festival, in which your imps can try to get a reward. In this phase you order your minions as normal and that means you have another round, but it also means one more hero is going to attack you and you will have to resolve another event card making the game a lot harder. It adds new monsters to hire and new rooms to build, it adds unique opportunities, tiles that are available during rounds 2-5 and they change the regular board for one turn, it adds a new kind of hero, the bard who can imbue courage to the party making it a lot harder to defeat, it adds new spells and a 5 round of combat. It adds new traps. It also contains the new paladins expansion, now you can have 2 or 3 paladins in play at the same time.

All of these additions, make the game a lot harder because there are many new options to consider and a lot longer for the same reason. Fortunately I generally don’t mind if the playtime is long, I do mind in the downtime is high. I have to say I was expecting more from the festival itself, after all the expansion is name after it, but this phase is over so quickly and is so easy that it leaves me desiring more from it.

The art continues to be top notch and I like they used the same pets as Dungeon Petz, making the whole Dungeon Lords universe very thematic.

Reading the rulebook continues to be a hilarious experience.

Bottom line, Dungeon Lords: Festival Season adds a lot of content which makes the game better for me. It also adds a lot of playtime (and explaining time) to the game, but I don’t mind much about that. I cannot wait to play the expansion again. It is a must have for diehard fans of the game, but I´m not sure if regular gamers will welcome all the options and complexity it adds to the game. The base game is great as it is but I love the expansion.

Current Rating: 8.5


Board Game: Dungeon Lords: The New Paladins

Dungeon Lords: The New Paladins

2017-09-28

Initial Rating: 8.5 (September 2017)

I love Dungeon Lords, so I had to buy and play all its expansions. Dungeon Lords: The New Paladins increases and decreases the game difficulty at the same time . I really like them.

Dungeon Lords: The New Paladins has two set of rules. It appears the old rules were hard to follow so they were rewritten to be more tamer within the Festival Expansion. I have only played with the rule set from Festival, so I don’t know yet how hard they can be.

Now, there are two (or three paladins with a variant) at the same time. The elf paladin is easier than the regular paladin, so if only one player catches his attention, the game is easier. But if both or more players cross the paladin threshold, there will be two (or three) paladins at the same time and the dwarf paladin is harder to defeat than the elf and the human. The dwarf paladin will attack the evilest player and so on. Each of the paladins is worth different VPs at the end, the dwarf is worth the most VPs while the elf is worth the least.

The new rules aren’t hard to understand or explain, so playing with this expansion doesn’t adds much time to the whole game, but it changes the game´s dynamic and strategy considerably.

Bottom line, Dungeon Lords: The New Paladins is a welcomed addition to the game and I like it a lot. It was a must have for me because I need to have all things Dungeon Lords, but, objectively it isn’t an essential expansion. I also want to play with the hard rules and when I do, I will come back to comment on them.

Current Rating: 8.5


Board Game: Caribbean

Caribbean

2017-09-28

Initial Rating: 5.0 (September 2017)

I generally don´t like pirate themes so my desire to play Caribbean was very low. Still, it appeared on my Excel cue so I had to play it next. I can say, it is better than expected but it is still not a game for me.

The rules can be explained under 4 minutes, they are very simple. Playtime is less than 60 minutes.

The game´s components are ok, but I suspect they were very good for a 2004 game. The doubloon tokes fall easily from the ships but this is a minor issue. The art is ok.

Caribbean is a family level game. The idea of the game is to manipulate the pirates with rum barrels and made them bring the doubloons to your ports. It is a very simple game but the fun is trying to anticipate your opponents so you can move the treasure where you need it. Also, there is no luck in the game (a huge plus for me), in each turn you plan your moves with all the possibilities at hand.

Gameplay is reminiscent of Black Fleet, but it is a much better game.

Bottom line, Caribbean is a good family game and perfect to introduce new gamers to our hobby., However, it is too light for my current tastes. I already sold it but I was surprised by it because I wasn’t expecting anything good from it. I could play again if requested, but I don’t have a high desire to do so. Caribbean has more depth than I initially thought.

Current Rating: 5.0


Board Game: Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice

Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice

2017-09-29

Initial Rating: 7.0 (September 2017)

I really like Terra Mystica but I didn’t notice we were going to play with the expansion. We played with regular factions but with a different map. When I play with the full expansion I will come back and comment.

I can say the map really changes the game. The river separates the land in different ways. I have played Terra Mystica many times and I was accustomed to the usual map, now I have to think in different ways and I have to think a bit more where to place my settlements. I like the new map.

For now, I will rate the expansion the same I rate the base game.

Current Rating: 7.0
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2. Board Game: Fireteam Zero [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:1287]
Board Game: Fireteam Zero
Tiago Perretto
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Board Game: Fireteam Zero
FIRETEAM ZERO

Fireteam Zero is an odd game to me: it lacks originality, and not even its setting, which is unsual for board games, is truly original as it very similar to the origin and comics of Hellboy. And, yet, I liked it.

The way the game works is simple and direct: each character has an unique (well, almost) deck. Cards are used to attack, to react against threats and also serves as health: when taking damage, the player discards a number of cards equal to the damage dealt - if the damage is higher than the what the person can discard, the character is knocked down - and if this happens twice in a scenario (before completing a goal or other situation that allows an extra life to be gained), the mission is lost. Players win by fufilling the specific conditions of each scenario.

In her turn, the player can move her pc up to two spaces (the type of terrain can reduce this), and do one action, usually attack or explore, but there are other kinds of special actions (from cards, goals, focus, etc) that eventually the person can do. Overall, Fireteam Zero is pretty clean and neat, fast to learn and easy enough to play.

The biggest difficulty is the hand management - both because of the timming and the way (for the effect or the dice to attack) to use them, and also how many to use - the more cards played in an attack, better are the odds, and since the enemies must be killed promptly (there is no damage that stays on them), you want to have the better odds. Yet, this makes the character more vulnerable to attacks (cards are their life). It is a thin line between attacking and defending, and the players must walk above it the whole time.

Fireteam Zero has a great production regarding the miniatures, art and markers; and the theme is well applied, with the written parts being competent and allowing for a good mood.

In spite of being a scenario and minis game, a combo that normally leads to long and boring set ups, everything is done in Fireteam Zero surprisingly fast, as it is just a matter of putting a few map tiles together, taking the character decks, adding a few more cards and markers, and we are ready to go. All takes around 15 to 20 minutes - and is very appreciated.

In the end, although Fireteam Zero truly lacks a point that takes it out of the curve - there is little to no innovation or a sensational part -, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts: the play is easy going (in pacing, not difficulty), the actions are clear cut, as well as the use of the cards. The enemies don't even have an AI: all they want (at least the most common) is fight, and there is always more of them coming. It is mayhem and destruction, a total war. The gameplay has complexity (in the hand management, positioning, coordinating actions); however, it doesn't bog down the play, and the end result is everyone having fun. Approved.

Rate: 8 / 10



Board Game: The Downfall of Pompeii
THE DOWNFALL OF POMPEII

The Downfall of Pompeii is a simple, interactive and fun game: the goal is to save as many people from the fury of the volcano as possible.

There are three phases in the game: in the first, only one people at a time is placed, accordingly with a card used (each player has a number of them in hand, and each has a number correlated with places on the board). In the second phase, people are added faster, as extra markers are put for each other people already in the same place a player adds her own. Finally, in the third phase, the volcano detonates and starts to kill people - no more markers are put, and players, now, try move the ones they have out of the city, as volcano tiles are constantly placed, killing and/or blocking the people and putting pressure in the players. Killed people goes into the volcano, and serve as a tie breaker at the end of the game. The person that saves the most people, will be the winner.

The Downfall of Pompeii has two parts with loads of luck built in - the draw of cards and of volcano tiles. Still, is normally more important to recognize and seize opportunities and they appear, both for the placement of people and with the timming of moving them - as the rule of movement is pretty clever and gives importance to planning wisely the placement of people: when a marker is moved, it can move a number of squares equal to the total number of markers in the spot it started. Simple and efficient in creating tension, interaction and in requering a sharp eye to seek the best opportunities, be for gain more movement, be to reduce the movement of others.

There are, however, two problems with The Downfall of Pompeii: the first I already mentioned, which is the luck factor. It is present in the draw of cards, that can put a serious limitation in what places you can add people, both in phases one and two; and there are also the Omen cards, that let you kill one people of other player - just like that. Also, the draw of volcano tiles can harm or help a lot one or more players. Nonetheless, The Downfall of Pompeii doens't present itself as heavily strategic, nor with great control or perfect information. It is a light game, with direct attacks, and fun due to all the destruction, running and tossing with satisfaction markers inside the volcano. Thus the random elements serve to increase the replay value, as new paths to place and flee must be taken in each play.

In the end, The Downfall of Pompeii pleased me a great deal, with its uncompromised nature, giving entertainment coupled with tatical decisions in search of windows of opportunity to overcame the others. It isn't perfect, nor will work for everyone, due to luck elements and agressive interaction. For me it worked in allowing some easy, quick paced and effective fun. Recommended.

Rate: 7.5 / 10



Board Game: Kingsport Festival
KINGSPORT FESTIVAL

Kingsport Festival is a reworking of Kingsburg, working much in the same way: roll dice, use them - together or alone - to place in places accordingly with the number or total, in order to gain resources. But the experience from brought a lot of new ideas, tweaks and, in my opinion, improvements over the basic gameplay of Kingsburg.

First, Kingsport Festival has more ways to deal with the lack of luck in the dice rolls: there are two buildings that affect the dice (one to re-roll other to change value by 1), a spot were dice of any value can be placed, and, most of all, the addition of the spells, that allow changes to the dice, fight better or gain more resources or points.

Second, the replay value is much increased: sadly the buildings are always set in the same place, still the game comes with different scenarios and game end scorings - the former can change the game a lot, as the Raids (which have basically the same function of the Barbarian attacks in Kingsburg) can come in different rounds, and the play itself is slightly tweaked; and the latter adds the tension. Also, the Raids also add replay value, there are plenty of different Investigators and several Events, that affect the battle. Is possible that Kingsport Festival has more replay value than Kingsburg even when added the To Forge a Realm expansion.

Third, the cost (in sanity) to use the higher value spots give more balance, making rolling high not always an advantage. Fourth, the way the buildings are set on the board allow for more freedom of choice regarding the path made to get things.

All of these were improvement over an already good game, one that I like quite a bit.

One part that we are on the fence is the end of game score: there is little chance to learn beforehand what it will be, and it can decide close games (or even not so close). One of them was really swing (the one that gives points for magic and takes due to sanity) and left a sour taste. Yet, after a while we start to think that it is meant to work as the goals from Troyes: meaning that players should know and try to be prepared for any and all of them (but in Troyes you can use what the others are doing as clues). Ir seems that it would serve the game better if the end of the game score could be seen sooner - or if each player have one in hand from the start.

What isn't an improvement are the fonts used and their size: they range from terrible to dreadful and make reading the manual, specially the examples of play and in the flavor of the spell cards. The overall graphic desing is also lacking: most of it is simply too dark, and the way the pieces cover the art on the board is a slap in the artist face. Not only that, probably to save money, the game has five player colors: green, red, purple, yellow and black, and have three types of colors for the resources cubes: purple, red and black. Not a good decision.

In the end, Kingsport Festival won't change the mind of those that tried and disliked Kingsburg - the feel, even with improvements, is still mostly the same, with the rolls, gathering of resources, making buildings and fighting a menace - also some degree of luck is there and the interaction is indirect at best. However, for those that did liked Kingsburg and just wanted more freedom, replay value and options, and don't mind the new theme, Kingsport Festival might just be what you were looking for.

Rate: 7.5 / 10



Board Game: FUSE
FUSE

FUSE is a real time cooperative game. The main mechanism is simple: one d6 is rolled per player. Dice have different colors. The goal is to use the dice to fulfill demands on the cards (bombs) each player has in front of them (each person have two). When a die can't be placed, as the cards have many restrictions, it "blows" - the die is rolled again, and every player loses one die: either one that matches the color or one that has shows the same number - only die that are the top of things are affected (as some cards demand that a tower of dice is built, and only the dice at the top can be affected). Players have 10 minutes to empty the draw deck, thus winning; otherwise, players lose.

The negatives points of FUSE are: the real time aspect (many people don't like the chaos and stress); the luck, present in the roll of the dice and in drawing them from the bag, as well as in the order that the cards show up; the fact that there is little true cooperation between players, staying more in line of asking for some kind of dice or saying that you can have X or Y die; and, finally, the worst is that the game doesn't escales well: it is too easy with 5 players and too difficult (and luck dependent) with 2 or 3 - it is simple because more dice being rolled, with more options to place them, make for less challenge.

The positives are: the real time basically prevents the alpha player syndrome - there is hardly time, during all the shouting and chaos, to get what you need, let alone controlling what others need or do. And the effective fun of wishing for results and having the pressure of time pushing everyone to get things done.

The lists above might lead one to think that FUSE was more on the "bad" side, but no: I enjoy all my plays. FUSE is simple and agile: there aren't many rules, it is quick to teach and to learn, and is very clear what one needs - players aren't confused, without knowing what to do. Then everyone have fun, which is the most important feature of a game, for me. Therefore, I liked it and recommend it.

Rate: 7.5 / 10



Board Game: Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft
HOLMES: SHERLOCK & MYCROFT

Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft is a set collection mixed with worker placement, really well knitted and filled with decisions and options. I enjoyed the pacing and the interactions between the different characters, alongside with the random order in which they appear.

There is a fine dose of luck present, sure, still, usually the best use of the characters will make a bigger difference. Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft has a good amount of variety, both due to the random nature of the draw deck of the clues, as well as in the order the characters appear at the start of the rounds - also, one of them remains out, and there is the possibility of using Sherlock and Mycroft.

Overall, Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft is a game that surprised me: I am not a fan of competitive 2 players games, yet this one pleased me with its easy gameplay, relevant choices, replay value and interactions - not even the fact that the game is basically without true theme bothered me much. Approved.

Rate: 7 / 10



Board Game: Laser Chess
KHET 2.0

Laser Chess is a pretty unique game: because it uses lasers and its refraction in mirrors in order to create its gameplay. The idea is use pieces composed by angled mirrors to lead the beam of laser in order to hit the Pharaoh of the opponent, while, at the same time, preventing this fate to happen with yours.

Pieces that are hit by the laser in any part that isn't the mirror (expect the Anubis pieces, that don't have mirrors and are only removed if hit on the sides, not in the front, and the Sphinx pieces), are removed, even if the beam comes from the owner of the piece. Normally the pieces have one mirror in a 45º angle, and are opaque on the other side, where they can be hit and eliminated.

The winner will be the person that hits the Pharaoh of the other person with laser.

Laser Chess is exactly the type of game that slaps me in face: one of my weakness are games that require spatial awareness, such as Ubongo, and with Laser Chess wasn't different, as I suffered dearly trying to cope with the positioning of the pieces close to a minimally efficient way. Usually, since I didn't want to take too long to make a move, I would lost track to where my beam would go, and, worst, what were the options my opponent would have, which windows I should close, and leaving opportunities for they to explore. My first games were ridiculous, almost shameful, but I did got a little better, at least to the point of actually giving some challenge to my adversaries.

And this happened because Laser Chess is a game with simple rules: the movement of pieces isn't complicated, and the laser, always refracted in a 45º, allows, with some attention, to calculate where it will go.

Laser Chess is definitely a good game to teach and exercise the spatial muscles, demanding forward planning, preparation and responses to the opponent's moves. There is no luck in the game, but, luckly, the learning curve isn't too steep, thus, after a few plays, the overall quality will became more balanced - and this is easier to achieve since games last around 20-30 minutes.

The manual comes with several types of possible set ups for the board, which is good, as I notice that, after a chunk of plays with the same formation, some optimal moves start to arise, making at least the start of the match more repetitive, though the second half is player driven, and even same starts can lead to different conclusions.

Laser Chess isn't, normally, the type of game that, in a personal level, pleases me, due to my lack of fine-tuned spatial intelligence and since is 2 players only, yet it is so unique that I'm compelled to know it deeper. I recommend that you at least try it for the novelty.

Rate: 6.5 / 10



Board Game: Bubblee Pop
BUBBLEE POP

Bubblee Pop is a a Candy Crush type of board game - it is simpler than Potion Explosion and is mostly made for 2 players (but can be played solo). The goal is simple: align three or more bubblees horizontally or vertically. Once aligned, these will leave your play area, score points accordingly to how many of them were taken out, and activates a special power - just like when completing a potion in Potion Explosion, except that you can't save the use of the power for later. And these can allow room for some nifty plays, and also give some thought about which marker to take. While the game is pretty easy to grasp, there are a little depth to it.

The bubblees stay in an area between the players (the sky). In her turn, the player may change the position of two adjacent (not diagonally) bubblees. Then she must choose two to "drop" and add to her play area. The game ends when there isn't more markers to fill the sky, when the player with the most points will be the winner; or when a player doesn't have more space to add bubblees, then this person immediately loses.

The gameplay of Bubblee Pop is very simple, with plenty of luck in the draw of the markers (at least the player can decide where to add the first, the last one is always a gamble). The interaction comes not only from changing the position of the markers and taking them, but also there are several opportunities of "take that", be by sending makers (from the sky or their own board) or messing with the position of the markers of the other side. Usually this isn't all that harmful, but may irritate those that want to play without interference.

Overall, Bubblee Pop works nicely for what it purposes to be: a quick two player game, with some direct interaction, easy to teach rules and fast to learn. It isn't without flaws (mainly the luck factor and, for some, the attacks), but still it can fit many tables: for family time, lunch time or, even, gaming nights, as a filler. Bubblee Pop is OK, and that is fine.

Rate: 5.5 / 10



Board Game: Fat Food
FAT FOOD

Fat Food is a weak game: the cards are unbalanced, but there are decisions to be made (which card to add and in which meal, and when to leave and what to take). There are the bones of something better, but the designers decided to not go for it and call it for the day. This isn't necessary wrong, is just being pleased by mediocrity.

The base of it is: at the start of a round, each player takes a card from their hand and put them face-down in the table - thes cards became the "plate". Then, in each turn, the player can either add a card (face up) in one of the plates, or take a plate "to eat", taking all the cards on it. Cards have different value in weight (grams) and are of one of three types: healthy (+1), neutral and unhealthy (-1). Once the players takes a plate, she waits until everyone else also do the same - as there is a limit of cards to add to a plate (six cards). After everyone has taken a plate, players reveal the face down card and, now, can discard healthy food in order to discard unhealthy - this is importat because, if the player reaches -5 in unhealthy food (5 cards), she will have a "heart attack" and be eliminated from the game. This marks the end of the game - the ones that haven't reached the threshold, count the total weight of all their meals, and the person that ate the most will be the winner.

When the game was at its beggining (I know the designers), in its earlier "tests" (in quotes, as they aren't really tests, as one of the designers never really listened to critiques or commentaries - it was just a session made to receive compliments), I made several suggestions about directions the game could beyond the point it was back then (and is still right now). The cards have distortions in distribution and balance, that could have been adressed, and this would lead the game forward - for instance, creating sets, in order to give another layer of decision, both in adding cards as in taking plates, while, at the same time, balancing the cards better; even if in just a variant or optional rule, as to not insert additional complexity or time of play from the get go, if the initial goal is be approachable for people looking for a simpler and quicker game. The idea was simply to give more in the box for players. This wasn't to be.

I mention all of this in order to give context when I talk about the game, as I passed a good amount of time with it years ago. I don't hold a grudge towards the game - I'm not a professional in the field. Yet, I have played a lot of games, and is a pitty to be aware that Fat Food is just ordinary.

Rate: 5 / 10



Board Game: Iron and Oak
IRON AND OAK

Games that use scenarios are harder to judge when you only know a few of them. I will say what I think about the game, but take the informations for what they are worth.

Iron and Oak is a differentiated because it is focused in ship battles, mostly in rivers, as its theme. Quickly one finds that the ships, during the US Civil War, aren't to be trusted: sailing was hard, the engines were unreliable, mostly of the shots were bad, missing or causing little to no damage, and could even do more harm to the firing vessel than the one they were aiming at - yet, one proper and lucky hit could sink or destroy a whole ship. Most of them were floating boxes of wood and iron filled with gun powder and crew. Yes, some vessels were better, more resistent, manoeuvrable and fit for combat - though even these fearsome ship fortresses could be defeated, be by mistakes, temerity or simply bad luck: for instance, the Atlanta was a confederated ship, very strong - almost all metal -, fast and potent, and it was captured when it was stuck in a shallow bank in the river, unable to escape, attack or defend properly.

The mechanisms of Iron and Oak try to simulate the conditions above and other situations, such as smoke from firing (or by wood burning), making harder for attacks to hit; passing by the unreliable movement of the ships; and going to single shots that, by skill or luck, could destroy or cause major havoc. This is pretty good, thematically. But isn't ideal as a game.

First because a good chunk of the rules and charts go without use for most - or all, in some scenarios - of the time; yet they are there and take a good amount of the rules, which can push away people interested in the game. The other side of this is that, when explaining the rules, much can be left aside, without loss.

Second because a huge part of the game leaves the strategy and tatics and falls in to pure luck: move depends of a challenged dice roll, the same for firing. Where to hit is decided by a die; the same for what a critical damage will do. While these make thematic sense, this lack of control - knowing what you want to do, but being unable, as the commander's tools were limited and imprecise; the result, in play, is frustration, with the constant failure due to bad rolls, not seeing your plans going forward, or simply taking a critical hit and effectivelly losing.

Third because, naturally, after a while, the play leads itself to repetitiveness. The actions became more and more obvious as time goes by, as some of them basically leave the building, and repetition installs: the ships, as the damage gets bigger and crew is lost, will have a hard time moving or firing. Again, it makes sense with the theme, still the result, in play, is that scenarios with few ships became even more a luck fest, with shots with few chances of hitting going around, and ships trying to simply leave the place they are in and not being able. This gets worst when the opposition can't finish things off, as damage happen in parts of the ship, while others remain with strong defences - and since the place to hit is decided by a die, it is possible to keep hitting a place and doing nothing, specially when the ships are made of metal.

In any case, Iron and Oak plays, normally, rather quickly, with fast resolution for actions and turns: most scenarios end in around 1 to 2 hours, which is good, specially considering the amount of luck present.

In the end, Iron and Oak can be fun, with its swings of destiny, which generate cheers, laughter and curses - as when the shot hits the exact place, or when an adversary ships is broken by a perfect ram attack. It isn't a game to be taken all that seriously, in spite of its wargame status, and amount of rules. Yet, when considering all the negatives above, it is complicated to recommend it; and, after adding up positives and negatives, Iron and Oak ends up failing in being a good game, albeit a very thematic failure.

Rate: 4.5 / 10


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3. Board Game: Risk Europe [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:1649]
Board Game: Risk Europe
The Witcherlorian
Australia
KILLARA
VIC
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Quite a bit of variety this month…

New to Me

d10-1 Risk: Europe

This is a landmark game in the evolution of Risk and may well spawn other iterations, at least it deserves to, but with Hasbro it will be sales that determine that.

Europe offers a hybrid design, bringing in several Euro aspects to its play and a sequential combat system that acknowledges the importance of ranges and mobile units over infantry. Throw in siege weapons, a nod to the classic Risk combat mechanics and strategic points on the map that represent major cities and bonus powers for holding them and this is a mighty fine game indeed.

Of course most have skipped right past these comments when they saw Risk, but I would encourage you to try it out as this is quite thought provoking. Fans of Risk will also not be put off as there is much innovation here and the tight Europe map means that hostilities are on the boil right from the get go.



d10-2 Go Nuts for Donuts
Board Game: Go Nuts for Donuts


This one has a similar art style and thematic soul as Sushi Go, but in truth they are mechanically different aside from sharing set collection in common.

Rather than drafting (Sushi Go), here the players are required to simultaneously select a tile from their hand to represent which of the donut offerings they would like from the selection available each round. Of course this selection is done secretly before everyone reveals their choice. If 2 or more players select the same confection...well they get nothing of course and the card is discarded.

So this one is a game of outwitting the opposition. I really liked this one although it can be more frustrating than Sushi Go. The girl liked this one so we will liekly acquire a copy at some point.

I do find it interesting that Gamewright published this one, when the designer of Sushi Go also had a Donut game (Doughnut Drive-Thru). I need to play Phil's donut game to see why that may have been.



d10-3 Get Bit! (Deluxe)
Board Game: Get Bit!


This is a silly little game but quite an enjoyabe one. The premise is as simple as, swim faster than your opponents and don't GET BIT! by that damned shark.

Much like Go Nuts for Donuts, the players are simultaneously selecting a card to play from their hand (all players have the same deck). Based on the numbers played the positional order of the swimmers will change and the player closest to the shark gets to be take-out for the round, losing a limb or ultimately your head, removing you from the game. Getting bitten though motivates you to the front of the line, which is something of a catch-up mechanism.

The number you play determines how far you swim up the line but there is a twist in that the cards are executed from lowest to highest. Also consider that if the same card value is played by 2 or more players, none of them move! Cards played are also unavailable until your last card is played and they all come back to you.

This is quite good fun as a light filler and playing with kids is hilarious as they delight in seeing the adults Get Bit! The Deluxe version is no doubt overproduced but it does add a certain delicious terror to the play. This would make a good drinking game too for adults.

Do I need this...no...but I'll likely pick it up if it crosses my path for the right price.



d10-4 Unlock! The Island of Dr. Goorse
Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures – The Island of Doctor Goorse


And so we played the last of the titles in the first trilogy in the Unlock! series. This one is the most different from the rest and sometimes not in a good way. Some of these puzzles were more obscure than enjoyable but there is some 'genius-cool' moments in their two. I'd definitely recommend playing the first two before this one but on the whole the Unlock! series has been a winner.

One thing I can say about all of the Escape Room games I have played so far is that they are very much 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' for each playgroup. I also think you need to make sure the group you play with is in the right frame of mind to take the challenge on, otherwise play something else.

You can find my thoughts on the first trilogy of Unlock! games with no spoilers right here -

Unlock! The First Trilogy - A Detailed Review (No Spoilers)



d10-5 D6 Shooter
Board Game: D6 Shooter


This is a what you see is what you get game. It has dice and cards, the dice are rolled to get the poker symbols needed to capture the Outlaw you are after. Skulls rolled are lost from your pool for the turn and you are trying to capture Outlaws in order to rank up and eventually win the title of Bounty Hunter.

It is inoffensive but also a little uninspired if I am to be truthful. I think I prefer Bang! even with its 'outstays its nature at times' imperfections. This is simply not exciting.



d10-6 EXIT: The Game - The Pharaoh's Tomb
Board Game: Exit: The Game – The Pharaoh's Tomb


Clearly I am on a Escape Room Game binge but I am sad to say that this was the most disappointing game of the 5 I have played so far. I find the use of a code dial as a key element of the game rather dull and cliched, something i will have to grapple with as I think all of the EXIT games use them. But the main problem here is that there were far too many ambiguous moments in this one for me and my group were left confounded despite our experience with games of this nature.

So much so that we just packed it up after close to an hour. This is most disappointing as I had high hopes for the offering from KOSMOS. We will go back and try this one again (as we didn't destroy too much of the game) and it won't sour me on other titles in the series (in fact 2 other pre-ordered titles are in the mail to me as I type this).

I did read somewhere that this may be the most disappointing of the original releases...here's hoping that is the case.



New to Me - Expansions

None this month
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4. Board Game: Thunderbolt Apache Leader [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:966] [Average Rating:8.04 Unranked]
Board Game: Thunderbolt Apache Leader
Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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Board Game: Thunderbolt Apache Leader
Thunderbolt Apache Leader = 15 Plays

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One of the things I usually do when I am in the UK is to order some games online at Boardgamesguru then having them delivered to the hotel. One of the titles was this highly regarding solitaire only title in the LEADER series of games from DVG. You are put in charge of a squadron of helicopters and attack aircraft where you have to manage and allocate pilots, aircraft, and ordnance in one of several campaigns and scenarios with the objective of trying to get as high a score as possible without losing the campaign. The campaigns and scenarios can mix and match (which greatly helps replayability) and each specifies the estimated size of opposition as well as the amount of Special Option (SO) points which you can use to buy your aircraft as well as other options throughout the game. Opposing forces are drawn randomly from 3 different decks (Assault, Support, and Command) based on the size of the campaign and you are given X number of days (based on the scenario) to destroy / prevent them from advancing. The campaign is measured in days and each day you will have to follow a set flow of phases which include special conditions of the day, then assigning which planes and pilots will attack which enemy battalions on the range map. Each mission then has phases which include events occur on the way and coming back from the combat area, setting up the battle map and enemy forces on the map, deciding on the ordnance and weapons your aircraft will carry for the mission, then assigning where your planes will enter where they will have a set amount of loiter turns in order to do damage to the forces on the ground. Each turn has you roll a die to determine which enemies go into cover (preventing the use of standoff weapons) and then you have your fast pilots move and/or attack, then enemies in range fire back, then your slow pilots move and/or attack. Rinse and repeat until your planes leave the field (most common ending) or all your planes are shot down or run out of loiter turns and crash (which is rare). You then see if you manage to reduce the battalion to half or manage to destroy it in which case the enemy battalion counter is removed from the range map and you gain VPs for the campaign. Pilots which survive from the mission gain XPs which can help them advance in skill yet also gain stress which may make them shaken or unfit for combat. You then do the same for any remaining mission and when the number of days are over for the campaign you then see how well you do in terms of VP. The entire game is therefore one of management of resources and actual combat has a “tower defence” feel as there are a lot of enemy forces and your powerful weapons are limited and you must find a way to destroy them before time runs out. Route management is also important during missions as you try to use ridge terrain and flying low to hide yourself from enemy anti-aircraft fire but in doing so may force your pilots to fly low over ridges which makes them gain stress or worse crash. Management of SO points is also critical as these are needed for you to repair damage and carry more weapons and purchase scouts. The game will also ask you to spend SO points in events and if you ever need to spend SO points but cannot you then also lose the campaign.

I got to finish 2 campaigns during my trip to Scotland and the UK and I must say managing pilots and planes gets harder if the campaign the longer a campaign lasts especially as pilot stress and plane damage accumulates. Losing a plane is painful but losing a pilot is even worst as it is more difficult to recover from stress as compared to repairing damage. Some planes and pilots are obviously better than others which is why I like to randomize their selection as that forces you to make do with what you have. Great game which is manageable during trips since each mission takes roughly 30 minutes to finish and I like the progression you get due to the campaign setting. This makes me want to invest in other titles in the system.



Board Game: Dice Forge
Dice Forge

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I became a fan of the dice crafting mechanic after several plays of Rattlebones. I got a copy of this during my trip to Europe but only opened the game after I got home. I have to say that this game plays very fast (25 minutes per game!) and quite simple as you get to roll your 2 dice in every player’s turn (twice per player turn in a 2P game) and collect gold, fire shards, moon shards or VP which you track on your player board. The active player then decides to either use gold to buy new die faces or use fire and/or moon shards in order to buy a card from the tableau which gives you VPs and new powers. Rinse and repeat for 9 (10 if 3 players) rounds and the player with the most VPs wins! Very simple and as usual the fun is trying to craft your dice in a way which can hopefully win. There is definitely some strategy involved but I consider this title to be a fun filler as well as a good gateway game as it really looks good on the table and has mechanics which people should be able to grasp easily. The fact that you get to roll in every player turn should mitigate the luck factor inherent in these kind of games and if one gets a REALLY bad streak of luck it plays quick enough for everyone to get more games in in order to get even!



EXPANSIONS

Board Game: Splendor: Cities of Splendor
Splendor: Cities of Splendor = 2 Plays

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I got to try out 2 modules of this expansion with Kent’s copy. The Strongholds module gives players the ability to block cards from other players as well as the ability to gain cards if you manage to place your 3 strongholds unopposed on 1 card. The 2nd one was the Trading Posts where you can fulfill 5 different combinations of cards each of which can grant you a special ability. I found both to be fun modules which can really change the feel of the game without really altering the mechanics of the game. I look forward to try out the Orient and Cities modules of the expansion since I am also getting this expansion for myself.

This is a very timely release as Century: Spice Road is in the same niche and most people who tried that like it more than Splendor, so this expansion should give it some push back!



Board Game: Mystic Vale: Vale of the Wild
Mystic Vale: Vale of the Wild = 1 Play

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The 2nd expansion adds some new things to the game. The best addition is that each player starts with a leader card placed in one of the empty cards. The leader gives each player a unique ability which can be upgraded later in the game as one of a player’s advancement buys. There are also advancements with the eclipse ability which simply means another advancement can cover it later as long as it also isn’t another eclipse card. There are also abilities which interact with spoiling which encourages you to get more curse symbols so all in all I love the additions to the game!



Board Game: Deus: Egypt
Deus: Egypt = 1 Play

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I wanted to try out the entire new deck this expansion offers and I must say the new cards and rules made playing the game totally different. Each type of card/building now add something different to the game and replayability has been enhanced since you can now randomize which deck (base or expansion) for each color you use for the game, although the one play had us use the entire deck from the expansion. Maritime (blue) cards now add a market for the resources, Production (green) adds barques which are the only spaces where you can store resources, Scientific (yellow) have powerful 1x effects (a new ability which gives some cards strong 1 use only powers), Civil (brown) buildings add a scribe token which the cards interact with, Military (red) cards gives you combat tokens which interact with the cards and allow players to build new buildings adjacent to it, and finally Temples (purple) now are not end game scoring cards but are worth VP and give players a unique power. Some cards can also not be built on empty regions so all in all they give the game a different feel and old standby strategies go out the window depending on which decks are selected, which is a good thing!



Board Game: Cacao: Chocolatl
Cacao: Chocolatl = 1 Play

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I had gotten the Cacao: Chocolatl – New Storage Spaces from the BGG store only to discover it could only be used with this expansion, so I grabbed it during my trip. This adds 4 modules (huts you can buy for additional abilities, the ability to make and sell chocolate for more gold, the ability to sacrifice water in order to get more cacao, and being able to see the next 2 incoming tiles and the ability to buy them with scrolls). I added them all to the game and while I like them all I find setup now to be a bit more fiddly as those new tiles meant you had to remove specific tiles from the base game.

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5. Board Game: Dice City [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1088]
Board Game: Dice City
Jerry Wilkinson
United States
New Castle
Indiana
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I played 6 new-to-me games in September, and Dice City was the easy winner. I also played Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails, Adrenaline, and the new Stop Thief! (and I was a little disappointed in all three of these), Trivial Pursuit: Bet You Know It (which wasn't that bad for a Trivial Pursuit game, but wasn't as good as the previous four) and GoLong Football Dice Game (which...sucked).
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6. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:615] [Average Rating:7.05 Unranked]
Board Game: Cribbage
Frederic Heath-Renn
United Kingdom
Islington
London
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Content Generation For A New Generation
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Quite a quiet month for boardgaming in general, and only two new-to-me ones, one of which wasn't even really new to me...

Retsami (3 plays) - Cute two-player combinatorial abstract: advance your counter along a spiral path to the centre of the board without allowing your opponent to capture and replace it to gain the lead. Enticing idea - one player vying to set up defences so that they can advance painstakingly along the spiral, the other player trying to set up cunning traps so that they can take over as the advancing player - and I did enjoy playing it but, perhaps due to suboptimal play, it felt a bit less spectacular: as the advancing player it was often possible to take a rather route one approach and keeping pushing forward due to the impossibility for the other player to attack every single square you could move to, which felt unsatisfying to me as I'd been hoping for a slightly cagier affair. One to watch, then.

But I should probably pick Cribbage (1 play) as my game of the month - I've played it quite a lot solo against an AI on a phone app, but this was my first ever in-person game. And actually it was quite a disappointing one, with a new opponent who wasn't really enjoying it all that much but who also won due to some very jammy luck*. But I'm very glad I got to play it in reality at least once.

*that's my take on it anyway
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7. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.43 Overall Rank:4]
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Jim Jamieson
United States
Purcellville
Virginia
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== NEW GAMES ==

Terraforming Mars - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Terraforming Mars


I was eager to try this and finally got a chance to play a 2p game. It took us 2 hours which was what it expected, but it seemed to move quickly and I enjoyed it throughout. The project cards are great and offer a variety of strategies even without drafting them and the fact they are all unique is great. It was a little solitary and a fair amount of thinking when you get your 4 cards each round about what to keep and what to buy otherwise it was great to see the game progress and your engine get better and more powerful. In the early generations we were passing after 1 or 2 turns, but towards the end we were taking 4+ turns. This one is definitely a keeper for me and I hope to be able to play it more soon.

Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters - 2 plays -  9 
First Published 2013
Board Game: Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters


A fantastic coop game that my oldest enjoyed a lot. You have to get all 8 pieces of treasure out of the house, but you can only carry one at a time. All the time you move around additional ghosts are added to the board and once a room has 3 ghosts a haunting occurs and the big bad red pieces come out. You can fight the ghosts with 1 person but a red haunting requires 2 people in the room. If 6 red hauntings come out you lose the game. In our play we had 6 treasures out and my daughter and I had the last 2 but we had to fight the hauntings on our way out and our luck finally ran out. Great game, can't wait to play it with my kids again.

Lorenzo il Magnifico - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Lorenzo il Magnifico


A resource conversion engine building game that just clicked for me. There are 4 types of cards represented by each of the 4 towers. 1 type gives you permanent game effects typically making actions cheaper, 1 focuses on end game points, and the other 2 types let you build your engine. The engine building cards give you an instant effect and a later effect for when you run your engine. Each round you have 4 workers and their efficiency is based on a die value which can be boosted using servants. The dice give it that bit of randomness just to make sure you can't execute the same strategy each round. After every 2 rounds there is also a check to see if you suffer any penalties for the rest of the game, but in our play they were for the most part easily avoided. There are some fiddly rules with placing workers due to the die and color restrictions, but otherwise a great engine building game and for 3p we knocked it out in a little over 90 minutes with rules explanation. Can't wait to try this with the advanced leaders variant and the expansion.

Navegador - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2010
Board Game: Navegador


I imagine if I played this years ago before Concordia I would have bought it instantly as it really is quiet clever. Move 1-3 spaces on the rondel and do the action of the space you land on. Each space does something different and all the actions intertwine together well so I can see how you can execute a slightly different strategy each game if you want although it does feel a bit more limited. Between the linear map, goods in same location, scoring multipliers, and rondel actions it all feels so similar to Concordia which has all the variability built into it. I would definitely be willing to play this game again as it is a solid euro game, but for my collection I will gladly keep Concordia.

Mr. Jack Pocket - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2010
Board Game: Mr. Jack Pocket


A 2-player deduction game that seems to favor the detective as both our games ended by turn 3 with the detective winning. I can't see how Jack could get through 8 turns without the detective making a mistake, Jack would almost always have to win with 6 sand timers to me. It plays quick and I do want to play it again to see if the detective really is favored that much.

Guilds of London - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Guilds of London


An area control game that played in about 90-100 minutes with 3 new players, which is about what I expected to learn the iconography. After some teaching of the icons and reading a few cards, we didn't find it as bad as some have posted here, but it's still a lot between the cards and the tiles. We actually found all of the colors between the meeples and tiles to be a lot to take in each round and made the board extremely busy. The rounds move quick, but I still felt with 3 that 15 rounds was probably 3-5 too many. In addition, the mayor cards can offer a wide variety of swing towards the end so the tiles that offer these cards almost seem the most critical to go after, which heavily influenced the winner in our first game. All in all it's a good game but not one that stands out from other area control games like Five Tribes or Gold West that I enjoy more.

Saboteur 2 (expansion-only editions) - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2011
Board Game: Saboteur 2 (expansion-only editions)


Improves one of my main complaints with the base game in that you can now discard 3 cards to draw 3 more cards which is much better than always drawing 1 when you get stuck with nothing to do. It also has a new role and some new action cards that add to the game. I think this makes the game a little bit better overall, but it still relies a lot on bluffing and table talk in order to play cards well which is fine for the time it takes to play 1 round but 3 is too much for me.

Chicken Cha Cha Cha - 3 plays -  5 
First Published 1997
Board Game: Chicken Cha Cha Cha


An okay children's game that is pure memory. Your chicken moves around the outside circle of the board trying to match one of the face down tiles in the middle. The game starts slow, but after a few times around you are able to make some big moves if you can remember what other people have picked. My daughter has a great memory for this and won both games easily. Me on the other hand because it's pure memory I could care less about it. There are much better children's games out there in my opinion.
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8. Board Game: Broom Service [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:474]
Board Game: Broom Service
Brian Wiese
United States
Ventura
California
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Board Game: Broom Service

Broom Service

A fantastic action-selection game that uses cards in a clever way.
I have an high level of infatuation with this game right now. I've only been able to play it once (with 4) but I really want to get this to the table again. I won't get deep into the weeds with the game but it's sort of a pick-up-and-deliver game where you're trying to deliver potions to towers across the board. Your actions are dictated by cards you choose and players choose to play their cards "bravely" or "cowardly". Playing cowardly guarantees a lesser action but if you play brave and no one else after you has that same card you get a better action. I love games with high levels of player interaction and this one delivers because you are always trying to anticipate what cards others players want to play and what their goals are. Add in event cards that give each round a twist and a double-sided board with expansions (that I haven't tried yet) and this game is a winner for me.


Board Game: Codenames: Duet

Codenames: Duet

An excellent iteration of a proven game.
I love Codenames. When it first came out and I played the heck out of it but lately it hasn't hit the table as often. Every other version that's come out since has been flavors of the original but didn't change the game much. That's why I was interested to give this one a shot as it turns the core team-vs-team mechanic into a cooperative one. Also it "fixes" one of the weaknesses of the original as well in that it makes it a good 2-player game. I think I still like the original slightly more as the tension created by the competition of another team is hard to beat. But this is easily my 2nd favorite version of this game. It still keeps the excellent core concept of coming up with the clues tying words together but since it drops the team concept it cuts down on the waiting. You're always giving clues or answering them. I don't have my own copy yet but you bet I will fix that soon as my wife and I could break this out easily.


Board Game: Dice Forge

Dice Forge

A fun, lightweight dice chucker with broad appeal.
I picked up Dice Forge after hearing some good buzz knowing that it would likely be a game that I could play with both my family as well as my game buddies and that has so far turned out to be absolutely true. The central mechanic of this particular game is everyone has two dice that have Lego-like customizable dice faces. Everyone starts off with rather weak identical dice but there's a whole plethora of upgrade options. There's also cards you can buy that give you bonus victory points, special one-time boosts, and other sorts of upgrades. The mechanics of the game are pretty simple but simple is not bad here. You basically roll your dice, collect the resources, and turn them in for better stuff and/or points. Players roll their dice on each players turn and turns are fairly quick too meaning downtime isn't an issue. I'm really enjoying this game and so far everyone I've played with has really liked it too. It's not deep. The decisions are fairly simple. But it's just fun to roll your dice hoping to get the really awesome die face you just bought and then turning everything in for even better stuff. This game gets bonus points for having really top notch components with the plastic pieces, player boards, and even the insert. It also comes with extra cards to give the game some replayability but this is definitely a game that yearns for expansions.


Board Game: Skull King

Skull King

This takes Wizard and improves upon the formula...I think.
I like trick-taking games in general and Wizard ranks up there as one of my favorites. Then I heard that Skull King is basically Wizard but with some tweaked rules so it instantly piqued my interest. It adds some new special cards, adds simultaneous bidding, and changes the scoring a bit including making zero bids far more interesting. Overall, I need to play this more to really know which version I ultimately prefer playing but so far I like this a bit more. The additional cards now means more uncertainty with the bidding so people that like the more rigid probabilities with Wizard won't like this. The single best change I feel is how bidding zero is actually worthwhile now and now gives you something extra to think about when you maybe have a weak-ish hand. Do I bid zero and try to slough away my two trump? Or just bid 1 (for fewer, safer points) because I can easily pick up a trick? If you like trick-takers, you should definitely give this game a shot.


Board Game: Trajan

Trajan

Yeah, it's a mish-mash of mechanics but it works.
After playing this half-a-dozen times solo, I finally got this played with other human beings and it just reinforced how much I like this game. All the various actions are interesting in their own ways with potential to synergize things together which makes you feel clever. What I probably like most about the game is the mancala action-selection mechanic. The puzzle it presents and trying to plan future turns and integrate hitting the Trajan bonus tiles all is a great brain burn. I am still new to Feld games in general (I've also played CoB) but so far he's been 2-for-2 with me.


Board Game: Biblios

Biblios

A lovely filler that balances luck with gameplay.
This game has been around a while and seems to have stood the test of time and I can see why. I love the draw mechanic in the first round where you distribute cards to yourself, your opponents, and the auction deck. Depending on the order you do it, you can easily be giving your opponents good cards or yourself not-so-good cards. The the second phase has the auction which is interesting in itself since you're sometimes bidding money and other times cards. It can be a little tough to know how well you're doing in relation to others but I see that as part of the game. The only negative is, at least in the games I played, the suit values all would shift during the game but tended to end the same as their starting values (or just one off). Maybe once you get to expert-level that changes but it kinda made those cards seem less useful.


Board Game: Thebes

Thebes

Drawing tokens from a bag is weirdly addictive.
This is a slight cheat as I played this once years ago but it was before I started logging games so...yeah. This is a fun game with a unique theme of being archeologists digging up artifacts around Europe and Africa. You collect cards that grant you knowledge and special abilities that will allow you to draw more tokens from each site's bag when you decide to go digging. I really like the time mechanic because you can often choose to take multiple small turns in a row or one big turn of digging or grabbing an important card. Some people are going to love this game and others will hate it and I think the point of contention will be the luck factor. At the end of the day, you can do everything right and then end up drawing lots of worthless sand whereas someone else might get much luckier on their dig. There are other ways to score points in the game but digging is important and having a few too many "bad" digs might bury you. In my case, it doesn't bother me that much as the entertainment value of watching people dig is fun. The only complaint I have is the game runs a tad long for what it is. I think it took us over an hour to play 3p but I want this game to be like 45 mins.


Board Game: Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Dice...lots of dice!
I picked up the new version that Target has on their shelves although from what I understand it's exactly the same as the regular version except a different box. Also, that box kinda looks nice but is completely annoying because it's a cube. I ended up taking out the minimal components and putting them into a bad and just ditching the box. Anyway, this is a game about rolling dice and placing them onto one of six spaces. Each space has randomly dealt amounts of money and has an area-control element in that whoever has the most dice in that space gets the money (or first choice if there's multiple bills). The trick is a) when you roll dice and place you place ALL dice of that value and b) when determining majority anyone with equal numbers of dice on a space cancel each other out. These two elements take a simple concept and give it some meat. I like this game for balancing time, luck, and strategy all very well. The game is all about rolling dice so there's going to be luck but rarely do you feel you get screwed. Also at about 20-30 minutes per game, it kinda fills that "super filler" category which is a nice option to have.


Board Game: Loony Quest

Loony Quest

A very cool concept but play it with the right group.
The object of this game is to draw lines, circles, and dots on transparent sheets to complete objectives on a picture everyone is looking at. Depending on how well you can draw your lines, you'll gain and lose points or even pick up special rewards and penalties. It's a fairly silly game but it's fun and the box comes with plenty of pictures to attempt. It's a bit of a one-trick pony but I also appreciate that the game can easily be played with adults and kids and no one has a particular advantage. Due to it's simple concept, there will also be others that either a) just don't like it or b) aren't as good with the spatial awareness/drawing so may get frustrated. Just be warned.


Board Game: 5-Minute Dungeon

5-Minute Dungeon

It's vibrant exterior hides a simplistic game.
This is a real-time coop where you're playing characters trying to defeat various monsters and obstacles in a dungeon. At least I think so. Basically everyone has their own deck of cards and each monster/obstacle/etc requires various combinations of cards to get past. Anyone can contribute the necessary cards and you're trying to go as fast as you can so you don't run out of time. FUSE is another example of a fast-paced coop with a simple mechanism and I like FUSE quite a bit but this one fell flat for me. Everything becomes samey very quickly. It also seemed like certain classes are better or even necessary to beat the bosses which takes away from replayability. It's best part is the artwork and monster names...things you hardly notice while playing.


Board Game: Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion

Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion

It's 2p blackjack with special powers and a pasted on Star Wars theme.
This is a simplistic game where each player has the same deck of cards with 4 "suits" of 1-5 and each suit has a special power that you can possibly use. On your turn you either draw a card or use a special power of a card already revealed. Ultimately you are trying to get your cards to add up as close to the target number each round while trying to keep your opponent at bay. Rounds differ through cards that dictate the target number, how many cards can be showing at once, and if there's any special rules. The Star Wars theme is completely pasted on but at the same time, it's still Star Wars. Is it ever a bad theme? However, the game is pretty simple. The decisions were often obvious and there's also a strong luck factor via card draw. There's plenty of better 2p filler games.
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9. Board Game: Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:2800]
Board Game: Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment
Goat Goatington
United Kingdom
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Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment

I've played most of the current escape room games (Unlock!, Deckscape, Escape Room: The Game, Exit, Escape The Room) and this is easily the best one I've played so far. Most of them rely on cards and pictures only, which restricts the puzzles and solutions to quite a narrow set of possibilities. The Werewolf Experiment includes much more 'stuff' and as a result the puzzles are much more varied and satisfying to complete. It'd be a spoiler to mention most of the actual puzzles so I'll stick an early (non-spoiler) example of how this game feels better. A recurring mechanism is to work out a code by some means the consult a card deck to work out whether you're correct. There are variations on this but they're all basically the same. This one has actual combination locks and they feel much better than yet another card deck. It sounds minor but these games are all about the experience and things like that do matter.

It's also one of the few that I'd actually liked to have played in a group. The only other one that felt like it was ideal with >2 was scenario 3 in the Unlock! box; this one had enough going on that 4 would've been fine, maybe more if you don't mind sharing puzzles. It doesn't rely on a single piece of evidence and a linear puzzle sequence like some of them.

I'm definitely hoping for more of these, though I can't imagine they'll be as numerous as the Unlock! or Exit games.



Downforce
Board Game: Downforce


A light and very mean racing game that's as much about blocking people as actually driving down the road. The fact that you have to move every car on your card means that you're constantly looking for chances to waste movement and make sure you aren't stuck in a position where someone can do the same to you. It reminds me of Flamme Rouge in a way, though it doesn't have many similarities in mechanics; they're both light, fun racing games that don't feel too serious.

I don't know how long I'll be playing Downforce but I'm enjoying it a lot right now and it's a first choice when you're looking for a 30-45 minute game for more players. My only complaint is that moving first feels powerful on the board with more tight spaces. You can make it to the first choke point immediately and it's hard to end up blocked after that unless everyone else works together to stop you. I'm not sure that matters too much when you have the auction for cars and all the betting but it's noticable that first to move has consistently been a top 3 finisher so far.




Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium
Board Game: Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium


A small expansion that adds two new maps with accompanying new sets of milestones and awards. I love the base game, this was an easy decision to buy and it does largely what you'd expect - there's a bit more variability but it's still the same game. The map layouts aren't particularly interesting aside from one new placement bonus to spend 6 money and place an ocean.

The new milestones and awards make the whole thing worthwhile for me. It's surprising how much these change the feel of the game with so little. Some of the base ones were routinely funded (e.g. banker); now the early game milestone rush and late game award optimisation feel a little less rote. An easy recommendation if you're a fan of the game, particularly because it can be played with new players just as easily as the base map.



Planet Defenders
Board Game: Planet Defenders


A slightly odd game of moving a set of shared robots around a small board collecting resources and fighting robots. It's fun enough but it doesn't stand out in any great way and I can't think of much to say about it. The single best part of the game by far is the artwork on the planets, which is fantastic. The actual gameplay is a bit odd and very prone to downtime. There's a nice puzzley feel to the actions, but each player flips one or two of the action tiles per turn and moves the robots so you can't plan your turn ahead of time. There are only 3 actions and 9 spaces to choose from so it's not a huge decision tree, the design just requires some downtime as you think it through. I'd play it again with 2 players, maybe 3 and definitely not 4.



Great Western Trail
Board Game: Great Western Trail


A game with many moving parts that manages to hold it all together in some very clever ways. Action selection appears simple - move forward a few spaces on the track and do the action of the building you land on - but the decision of how far to move and where to stop is usually very hard. You can move faster, take fewer actions and sell more cattle at Kansas or you can go slowly and stop at most of the buildings on the way and both seem like valid choices. Selling at Kansas quickly has some obvious benefits but also means your hand will be fairly weak (<= 8 points), you may have to pay to sell and you may fill the low cities with discs, which has penalties. You're also speeding up the game as a whole if you move quickly.

It feels like all strategies could be valid (buy cattle, build, cities, stations, objectives off the top of my head) and I'd love to play this more to see all those options; a single play does not do this game justice.

However, I played this with 4 and the downtime was immense. Sometimes I was waiting 5 minutes between actions, which is way too long for what the turn is. The game speed seems to ebb and flow. I spend a few minutes thinking through options, my next 3-4 turns are very fast because I do the think I planned, then I stop and think some more. With 4 people that's far too much stopping to think compared to individual decision time. I'd like to play it with 2, maybe 3, definitely not 4 again.



Secrets
Board Game: Secrets


A hidden role game that feels like a mix of Masquerade and Cockroach Poker while being nowhere near as fun. I played this with 7 and while it only took 20 minutes, I made about 4 decisions in those 20 minutes. One player reveals two cards to everyone, then secretly discards one and offers the other to someone else. That player can accept and score the card or refuse, in which case you score the card. The next player then repeats that until someone has enough cards in front of them to trigger the end. The hippy role wins with lowest individual score, otherwise the two teams compare points and highest wins.

Each card has both points and a special ability attached to it but none feel particularly interesting. The actions are almost all variations on swap two role discs or look at a role, which are ok and that's about it.

I think the goal of the game is to work out who's on your team and try to help them score points while giving negative points to the other team. The fact that the active player can pick any player at the table means you might not be picked much at all and the game even has a UN disc to intercept cards in case you're being excluded from these decisions. In practice the roles manage to move about just enough that you don't want to give one person big points and not enough that it's hard to track the information you know. This isn't Masquerade where roles quickly become unknowns and best guesses. Deciding to accept or refuse also doesn't do a lot because half the time people were ok with either the options so who cares if there's a bluff.

The best thing I can say about it is that the roles are really nice plastic discs and not the standard card or cardstock you see in this kind of game.



Black Hole
Board Game: Black Hole


An apparently simple abstract that manages to completely baffle me. Take turns placing discs in ascending order (1 through 10) until only one space is empty, then score points based on the numbers surrounding that space and the lowest score wins. I can see the late game decisions clearly enough but the strategy behind the first 5-6 placements is beyond me so far. I think it might be good? I'm just not capable enough at the game to work out if I'm having fun yet, which is odd for a game that has so little going on. I'll play it a bit more to work that out at least so it must be doing something right.



Minoa
Board Game: Minoa


An area control game where you take turns either placing control markers around the edge of a board of triangles or placing walls on the edges of the triangles to divide up the board. All areas must connect to an outer edge and play continues until no more moves can be made. I enjoyed this one a lot but others I played it with didn't and found the spatial aspect too much to process.

There's a nice balance around when to place your control markers. Placing too early means your areas get cut off, subdivided and shrunk down to almost nothing but too late means all the good areas are controlled and you can't invade them anymore. Games so far have tended towards creating a giant area in the middle and control of that area is the deciding factor in the game, though I think this is down to our lack of experience and unwillingness to concede any early ground. I'm looking forward to trying it with 4 if I can find the people to play it with. It's a little too abstract for most people I could try it with in how much planning and visualisation you have to do while playing.



In the Year of the Dragon: 10th Anniversary
Board Game: In the Year of the Dragon: 10th Anniversary


A brutal game of continuously putting out fires until you reach the end and see who failed the least. I did enjoy this but it felt very punishing compared to most modern games. That's not necessarily bad, it just feels different. At some point you have to accept failing an event because you can't fix everything and so a big part of the game seems to be deciding what you can afford to lose when. I like that aspect of it a lot; this worker may have helped feed everybody this month but we're done with that now and somebody has to be thrown to the Mongols.

I do wish you could do a little more long term building. It felt like a constant race to solve this crisis, maybe look at the next one and who really cares about 4 turns away. It's possible that aspect would before more apparent with more plays, though sadly I don't expect to get the chance to play it much. It's interesting to see the same turn order system from his later games here as well. During the rules one person even said 'oh, the Feld system again.' I think I prefer his later games. Macao feels just as tight with a more satisfying endgame and his later stuff is a little more freeform.
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10. Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:49]
Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo
john newman
United States
Lafayette
Louisiana
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Initial Rating: 8
Number of Plays: 1

Although I had my expectations high, The Voyages of Marco Polo did not disappoint.

The game has been sitting on my shelf for a while, but I decided that I would not teach myself the rules. Invariably I make monumental rules mistakes that I don't catch for several games. There is a lot going on in Marco Polo, so I would have certainly made some rules blunders. I finally came across someone who could teach me the game and we played two players.

In Marco Polo, there are many good choices, but if your opponent selects something you had hoped to do, suddenly it becomes a little more expensive. With only six turns in a game, you are forced to accomplish a lot in a short period of time, so you must be judicious with your choices.

As you secure trading posts, you give yourself more options for die placement. If you can secure the right cities, you maybe able to create an engine that rewards you with victory points and goods necessary to complete contrracts.

There are a few potential pitfalls. At the begining of the game is character selection. Each character has special abilities and not all the characters are equally good. Frankly, a few of the characters are just plan bad. Maybe the bad characters could be used as a balancing mechanism, when playing with new players.

The only other potential concern is the player count. The game is very snappy at two players. I would not have any worries with three players, but at four players, I am afraid the game may drag on a bit. Also, one of the characters seems to be overly strong at the higher player counts - it mitigates the additional cost of entering blocked spaces.

Looking forward to future plays. I anticipate my rating increasing over time.
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11. Board Game: The 7th Continent [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:26]
Board Game: The 7th Continent
Jason B. Hesse
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Only new game this month. I rate it a 7.

The game does a good job of telling a story and presenting a decent puzzle. But it is fiddly as heck pulling cards. I think they did a great job putting this together, but at the end of the day I just don't want to deal with all that fiddlyness.
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12. Board Game: The Climbers [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1237]
Board Game: The Climbers
Will Plante
United States
Greenville
Rhode Island
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My favorite game of the month

Board Game: The Climbers
The Climbers -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (10):

I had never heard of The Climbers and was hesitant to play. Luckily a buddy of mine at our meet up told me he thought it'd be right up my alley and he was right. The Climbers is a huge spacial puzzle as you try and figure out how to move blocks around in order for your climber to move higher up the structure. I love how this game makes you think, I am a spacial thinker so I can't get enough of games like this.

The production quality of the new edition is off the charts, the game is beautiful. The rules are simple, you could play this game with almost anyone, even with younger kids. Depending on the group this game could become very thought provoking as you not only think about your current turn, but also plan for future moves and try to screw your neighbor.

I'm anxiously awaiting the release of The Climbers so I can get a copy and introduce it to my family. Definitely a game I'd highly recommend checking out!




Board Game: Blokus Duo
Blokus Duo -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

In the last six months my view on abstracts has changed since I've found quite a few that I like (Glux, LYNGK, Kerala, Tatsu and YINSH) and Blokus Duo will now join that list. Blokus is a spacial puzzle somewhat similar to Patchwork except both players use the same board and you have access to all your pieces from the beginning. Your goal is to get all your Tetris shapes played or get more down than your opponent.

I am a huge fan of spacial puzzles and Blokus Duo plays quite fast (> 15 minutes) which makes it a game I'd definitely enjoy playing more. Also the footprint of the game is small which would make this a great care/pub game. The rules take less than a minute to explain and are extremely simple making this a great game to play with kids. I'm sure a lot of folks have already played Blokus, but if not I'd recommend checking it out especially if you're looking for a great travel game.



Board Game: Brutal Kingdom
Brutal Kingdom -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (6):

Brutal Kingdom was an okay take that game that blurs the line between Citadels and Love Letter. It consists of only 16 cards that each have a special power; some powers are as benign as looking at someone's hand while others kill certain cards that have been played. Unfortunately I found the powers to be all over the place, some are really powerful and a few are extremely situational and for the most part useless.

The best part of the game was the scoring, which reminded me of a Knizia scoring system. You are collecting different types of tokens from a common pool and at the end of the game you multiply the tokens of each type you have by the ones still left in the supply. This scoring system works perfectly with a take that game; you may collectively work to deplete a pool of certain tokens if you notice someone running away with it in order to lower the value of their tokens (which could be reduced to 0 if there aren't any tokens of that type left in the common supply).

Unfortunately, I don't think the card powers were well balanced which could leave you feeling like you didn't have much control over what happened. I think some groups will really enjoy it and it would probably get better with repeated play but there wasn't enough there to draw me back. I also can't imagine playing this with any number but four no matter what the box says.



Board Game: Cosmic Run: Rapid Fire
Cosmic Run: Rapid Fire -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

I'm always excited to try another roll and write game; I have some favorites, but there's always room for more. Cosmic Run: Rapid Fire adds a route building element to the game which was the highlight of the game for me. During the game you are drafting dice and trying to get three different ships to their home planets by moving them through outer space, with each ship having its own map to move through. Certain spaces in each section can be hit by mines which could damage your ship and make those spaces impassable and each ship can only withstand three hits before being destroyed. There are special abilities you can get to mitigate the different restrictions in the game which help add some meaningful decisions to the die drafting.

Dr. Finn added some new and fun mechanics to the roll and write genre and I found Cosmic Run: Rapid Fire to be much more fun than Cosmic Run. I'll definitely be looking to add CR: Rapid Fire to our collection, I love the route building aspect of the game in combination with the dice drafting, instead of simply rolling dice and moving up a scoring track you have to plan your movement and deal with obstacles as they continue to get in your way. Great fun!



Board Game: Dice Forge
Dice Forge -> 3 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (6, with the caveat that an expansion could bump it up to an 8):

I picked up Dice Forge because I enjoyed the dice crafting aspect of Rattlebones and thought Dice Forge would offer a deeper game play experience. Dice Forge is much lighter than I thought it would be, most of the choices you make are quite simple. All of the strategies you can explore are very straight forward, there really isn't much depth to uncover. Each turn you are either buying new die faces to add to your dice or spending resources to complete heroic feats (i.e. collect cards) The cards are worth end game points and may have different abilities that trigger instantly or can be activated during a specific phase. There are some cards/die faces that will effect your opponents, but nothing too nasty.

My daughter has really enjoyed our plays, so I'll be hanging onto it for now and keep my fingers crossed that expansions come out which ramp up the complexity of the game or at least diversify the strategies you can pursue. At this point I would recommend the game for families, it's easy to learn and crafting your dice is definitely satisfying. However; this isn't a game I'm interested in bringing out with my game group, currently the game play is too straight forward and simple. Your enjoyment of Dice Forge depends on how much enjoyment you'll get out of crafting your dice and creating a simple engine to accrue points.

I would also recommend checking out Rattlebones which, as mentioned earlier, is another dice crafting game that would be easier for younger kids (I'd say 7+) to play. The theme may also be more appealing to kids and I really like how the scoring/end of game work in Rattlebones.



Board Game: The Lost Expedition
The Lost Expedition -> 2 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (6):

Wow,is this game punishing; I played through a couple of times and never got more than halfway through the jungle. I've been playing some small box solo games lately and saw how beautiful this game looked and thought I'd give it a try. The production and art are excellent, the use of tarot cards shows off the artwork. Unfortunately the game didn't live up to my expectations.

The premise of the game is that you are starting an expedition to find El Dorado with a team of three explorers and you need to reach the fabled city with at least one explorer still living. In a given round you will play three cards from your hand (of six during the morning phase, three at night) and three cards from the draw deck. Each card has some events that will occur and usually optional events you can choose to trigger as well.

Most of the events are bad, some are a combination of good and bad (of course the good usually comes at the cost of spending your limited resources or injuring/killing an explorer) and a mere handful are outright helpful with no strings attached. Your resources are food, bullets and your life tokens (each explorer starts with three) and most of the game is spent figuring out when it makes sense to spend them since moving forward through the jungle will always cost you something and you need to feed your explorers after each phase of the game.

All the mechanics in the game make sense and work well together, but my major gripe with the the game is that the punishing difficulty feels completely random. Some games you won't be able to win, no matter what you do, because of the order the cards come out in. For me the lack of control/randomness of the game combined with how punishing it is makes for a game that I didn't find fun to play, instead I found the contrived difficulty frustrating. And while I like to win, I'm much more interested in having fun when I play a game. I've happily played and lost Oh My Goods! and One Deck Dungeon multiple times, but I always have fun and want to play again.

The Lost Expedition left me feeling that my decisions didn't play a major role in determining the outcome of the game. I'm sure plenty of folks will enjoy the puzzle The Lost Expedition presents, but beware this game is punishing and you'll often feel like there wasn't much you could have done to change the outcome of the game.



Board Game: The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire -> 2 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

Prior to picking up Energy Empire I played the original Manhattan Project and really enjoyed the combination of worker placement and tableau building. However; I wasn't too keen on the bombing mechanic. This was not due to the direct conflict, but more because it didn't seem well integrated into the mechanics of the game and going down that path could really push you back in other areas. Still I thought about getting the game because of the tableau/engine building of the game was a lot of fun. After some research I decided to instead get a copy of their follow up game Manhattan Project: Energy Empire because it seemed to offer some game play improvements and added more complexity while still using the same game play mechanics.

I've played a few two player games with my son and we've both enjoyed Energy Empire immensely. The worker placement mechanics are the same as the original Manhattan Project with the addition of having energy as well as workers. Energy be used to trigger some building powers or be stacked under workers in order to use a space already occupied by other workers (your stack needs to be one higher than the tallest stack already there). Also, when you recall workers you will also generate energy by rolling energy dice you have built which may lead to your player board getting pollution. Pollution is something you have to manage since having a clean board can be a significant source of points.

Also added to the game are end game achievements you can collect, these goals will influence your strategy and keep the game fresh as you explore different scoring opportunities. The other significant change is how the buildings you own get activated; the main board is divided into three sections. When you place a worker onto the main board you can also activate the buildings in your tableau that match the building type of the one you just activated on the main board. There are some more differences, but I think it's pretty clear that Energy Empire is a step up in complexity and overall game play variety compared to The Manhattan Project while still maintaining all of the mechanics that made The Manhattan Project so much fun to play.

Energy Empire is a mid-weight Euro (maybe leaning towards the light/medium side) that plays quickly, my son and I were playing games in under an hour. I am really coming to appreciate games that offer a deep game play experience that wrap up in an hour (I've also been enjoying First Class and Coal Baron: TCG, a couple of newer games that fit this model). I would highly recommend Energy Empire to folks that enjoy both worker placement and/or tableau/engine building games. The game play is smooth, the rules are easy to learn and there is plenty to explore in terms of strategy which will give Energy Empire a long shelf life.



Board Game: The Networks
The Networks-> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (6):

I had heard about The Networks and thought it had a great theme, running your own TV network and programming all the shows on your own station. The theme shines through in this game, most of the shows are parodies of existing TV shows. My favorites are the shows each player starts with, which are all completely original; who wouldn't want to watch Getting to Know your Lower Colon? In fact I wish more of the shows had original names, the parodies are almost overdone (more on this later).

Game play is straight forward, you are programming shows which may require you to have TV stars (also some funny parodies to be found) and/or advertisements. Shows and stars cost money while advertisements will earn you money. There really isn't anything to challenging about the game play, what you see is what you get. I definitely think I would play better my second time around, but after that I think the game would plateau which for a 90+ minute investment is a bit of a let down.

My biggest gripe with the game are the Network cards, which either offer a special ability (some are instant one time effects others are permanent) or an end game scoring opportunity. There is a stack of these cards and the amount of end game scoring cards you have access to can be quite small. In the 3p game I played I got shut out of those cards and one person had four of them and ran away with it. The scoring opportunities on the cards are run of the mill and undermines the in game scoring of your shows. It's not enough to do really well with your shows if someone has those end game cards. Personally I'd rather not have any end game scoring bonuses or at least make them a separate deck so everyone has equal access to those cards and you can plan for the bonuses accordingly. Wasting an action to take a card that won't score you points so an opponent won't get it never feels good.

The Networks is a game that benefits greatly by immersing yourself in the theme and having fun with it. However; if you played a bunch of games in a short time frame the jokes are going to get stale quickly. Personally I think it would have been better to mix in more original show names with the parodies. As it stands now The Networks is a game I wouldn't mind playing on occasion so that the humor stays fresh. The game play is good, but not deep enough to engage you over multiple plays. While my write up may seem a bit harsh I had fun playing The Networks, but I know I'd burn out on it quickly if I had a copy. For now it's one I'd enjoy playing again, but have no desire to own.



Board Game: Riff Raff
Riff Raff -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (6):


These are really off the cuff thoughts since I've only played this once and it was a 2p game. Surprisingly though, Riff Raff was quite fun with two. We played with a random shuffle of the cards instead of selecting a card each round. With games like this I actually prefer the randomness of the card draw, which determines where on the ship you place an item, instead of studying the boat and trying to find a safe spot to place an item.

Component wise Riff Raff is amazing. The engineering that went into the ship design payed off; every time I thought I could anticipate which way the ship would move I was wrong and hilarity ensued. The different wooden shapes you need to play on the boat are well designed and varied enough that each piece seems to affect the physics of the boat in a different way.

Overall I think Riff Raff is a great game that would benefit from having a higher player count. While the game would definitely be more fun with four, it's still limiting for a game I'd consider a party game first, dexterity game second. I'd want to play at family gatherings, but only playing up to four is kind of a bummer since lots of folks will be watching from the sideline. I don't think Riff Raff is a game I'd want to play as often as other dexterity games I enjoy (Animal Upon Animal and Ice Cool), but it is still great fun and I'm looking forward to playing again.



Board Game: Stone Age: The Expansion
Stone Age: The Expansion -> 6 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (6/8):

I'm not quite sure where I stand with this expansion. Stone Age was one of the first games I ever bought and then I traded it a few years later. I recently picked up another copy because it offered something no other WP game has done with the die rolling component of the game which I thoroughly enjoy. My FLGS had a copy of the expansion and after some research I decided to pick it up.

I appreciate the added variety to the civ deck and huts, there are more strategies to explore and I like the added unpredictability of which civ cards will show up in a given game. Others may dislike this added randomness since you can no longer bank on getting all of the bonuses you are chasing since you probably won't see all the cards, especially at lower player counts. The trading mechanic is useful and not as OP as I first thought (which was due to the fact we were allowing unlimited trading each turn). It opens up the game a bit and takes away some of the scarcity of resources. I'm not sure if I'm as happy with this, I kind of liked how tight the base game is. The expansion makes the game more friendly because being blocked from a resource can possibly be dealt with by trading in jewelry for the resource you needed. I also can't help but feel that the game feels kind of bloated now, specifically with the addition of the trading space. I wish the expansion was modular so you could just add new huts and cards, but the problem is a lot of them deal with the trading action or jewelry. I suppose you could go through the huts and civ cards and pick out the ones that would still work in the base game, but you're paying a lot of money for the extra components you won't be using. I also have zero desire to play this with five, I actually prefer it as a 2/3p game since it moves along at a much quicker pace. My kids like the expansion so we'll keep playing it for now and see if my feelings change over time. For now I still would recommend checking it out if you enjoy Stone Age, preferably playing someone else's copy considering the steep price tag for an expansion.[/i]

If you are interested in a more detailed breakdown of the expansion read on...

SA: The Expansion offers new civilization cards and huts, a fifth player (although I would never play this with 5), a new trading track you can place workers at and a new commodity: jewelry.

The biggest new feature is the trading track you can advance on. You need to send two workers to this space and you go up two spaces (there are 10 total), you also get two jewelry (you can also get jewelry when you take the hunting action). ONCE PER ROUND you can trade jewelry at a 2:1 ratio for a different resource (gold, stone, clay or wood). As you advance on the track you can increase the trade ratio to 1:1 and finally 1:2. This can become a very valuable space as the game goes on, especially when it comes to building huts or grabbing civ cards. There is also a fifth space in the civ card row where you can pay three jewelry for the civ card there and optionally an additional three jewelry to add a card from the civ deck to your already collected pile.

The new huts add some variety to the game, for example there are now huts that the owner can send workers to in order to harvest resources at a -1 modifier (i.e. wood would cost 2 instead of 3). You are limited to sending at most three workers to these spaces, but they are still quite valuable. Other huts are easy to build and are worth a few points, but help increase the number of huts you have for the builders bonus cards. I think the huts are a great addition to the game.

The new civ cards also add more variety, but in lower player count games it will be much harder to make it all the way through the civ deck before the game ends adding an element of uncertainty in regards to getting all of the bonus cards you're trying to collect. Personally I don't view that as a negative, I like the added element of unpredictability. There is also a ninth symbol added to the set collection mechanism, a bracelet, which increases the potential value of a full set of cards from 64 to 81. There are a few more hut builder bonus cards which makes that strategy more viable and new end game bonus cards for the trade track. Lastly there are new roll and get a prize cards which give new rewards (i.e. a new worker, a bump on the trade track, etc.)

That about wraps up all the new content, there's a lot in the box which also means a pretty high price tag for an expansion.



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 to simplify things for me. 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 use a split rating, I use the lower number in the BGG database.

10 -> A classic that defines a genre.
8 -> The evergreens, games I always enjoy playing.
6 -> Not a poor rating, just an average one.
4 -> A game I don't enjoy playing and/or has a theme I really don't like.
2 -> A game I really dislike and will not play again.

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13. Board Game: Cavum [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:2118]
Board Game: Cavum
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
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A very light month for games in general for me, and for new games in particular. I just played this once a few days ago and to be honest I was a bit underwhelmed. It has some interesting ideas, but at the end of the day I'm not convinced that you really have much control. You sort of just have to go with the flow and hope for the best. Which is fine I guess but not really what I was hoping for.

I was fairly hesitant to come to this conclusion after one game, it's common on here for people, especially people who started playing games more regularly only in the last few years like myself, to write off a game after the first play, and it's also common for the old timers to complain about this and say that some of the best older games needed a handful of plays to appreciate, and the modern trend of games that reveal themselves after one play leads to games that only have ten plays in them and this is all part of the "cult of the new." I like to think of myself as a pretty self aware person and so I'm on the lookout for this kind of thing, and in general I've found that even if I don't completely understand a game after the first play I can tell if it seemed like there was something interesting going on in the background. I enjoyed my first play of Chicago Express, I enjoyed my first play of Tigris and Euphrates, I enjoyed my first play of The Great Zimbabwe, etc. in spite of feeling a bit clueless about how to exert control even by the end of the first game. But they all still felt like there were ways to do so, it was just going to take time to figure them all out. Cavum feels different, it feels like there isn't anything to uncover and it's not that I don't understand enough about how I can exert control, it's just that there isn't as much of an opportunity to do so as I'd like.

That said, I think with the right mindset (don't expect too much control, just do what you can and see what happens) it can be fairly enjoyable. The route building can be cool, especially to try to get some mines going that only you really have access to, for example. But at the end of the day there's just too much chaos in terms of what the other players can do to really makes for too strategic a game (it seems to me so far).

Now, I own a copy of the game, and so I will presumably be trying it again and maybe I'm completely wrong about everything I've said and after a few more plays I'll figure something out, but as of now, it's just a bit too chaotic to be the kind of game I'd really want to go back to over and over, and so I've given it a 7/10.
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14. Board Game: Spirit Island [Average Rating:8.32 Overall Rank:13]
Board Game: Spirit Island
Jeff Wolfe
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Spirit Island - 2 plays
First Published 2017
Colonists are fighting against the elements to try to establish settlements on the island Except in this game, the players are the elements working together to defeat the colonists, with the help of the hostile natives. What's not to like?

Valeria: Card Kingdoms - 1 play
First Published 2016
A Machi Koro clone, but with a fantasy theme. I was not excited.

Century: Spice Road - 1 play
First Published 2017
This seemed to be the new hotness for a while, but I missed the boat. I could take it or leave it.

Bärenpark - 1 play
First Published 2017
One of two new "put Tetris pieces on your board for fun and profit" games that I played this month. Not sure which one I prefer, but I think they're both reasonably playable.

The 7th Continent - 1 play
First Published 2017
Apparently, it's a 20-hour game that you can play over multiple sessions, saving (some of) your results between sessions. Cooperative exploration that's entirely card driven. Apparently, burning through the deck is bad (did I mention there's a deck that drives things?) and we nearly burned through the deck in our first session. There are ways to put cards back, but we haven't found much in that regard yet. The jury's still out on whether I'll be disappointed or relieved if we die before reaching the end.

Cottage Garden - 1 play
First Published 2016
One of two new "put Tetris pieces on your board for fun and profit" games that I played this month. Not sure which one I prefer, but I think they're both reasonably playable.

Fantasy Realms - 1 play
First Published 2017
Draw, discard, build a hand of cards and hope they interact well. Each card has a name, a type, a point value, and a power that interacts with other names and types for bonus or penalty points. So, yeah, get good cards, if you can.

Bears vs Babies - 2 plays
First Published 2017
Build your bears and use them to fight baby armies. The joke wore thin very, very quickly for me. I was simultaneously laughing and not having fun. Weird.

Frank's Zoo - 1 play
First Published 1999
Trick-taking game in which the cards do not have linear ranks. I feel like I should give it another chance, but it seems like more trouble than it's worth.

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15. Board Game: Pit Crew [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:3980]
Board Game: Pit Crew
Robert
Canada
Ottawa
ON
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New to me September 2017

New and Hot
Board Game: Pit Crew
Pit Crew - 1 play
First Published 2017
Pit Crew may not have a lot of depth to it, but it was easy to learn, intuitive, and immediately engaging. It was also a lot of fun—a hit for us. We played with six people, and I’ll bet it’s great with even more. Will this be the new hot game families play over the holidays?






Cult of the Tried and True
Board Game: Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Earp - 1 play
First Published 2001
The first game in the rummy series that I’ve played (and yes, I know it’s is an unofficial member). We loved the simplicity, the push-your-luck mechanism, the historical flavours and most of all the reward money scoring. I was boned by a hideout card taking away my chance to collect a giant pile of money, but I was asking for it. There are ways to mitigate this risk, so I’m willing to forgive something that normally would turn me off to a game.


Board Game: Tammany Hall
Tammany Hall - 1 play
First Published 2007
Speaking of being boned, I’ve read that it’s common for one player to fall far behind when playing Tammany Hall. In our game, that one player was yours truly. I just could not get the bidding right for most of the game. I was, however, able to turn it around by the time the third elections were held, but it was too late by then. My partner and her sister had a great time, naturally.




Board Game: Palastgeflüster
Palast Geflüster - 1 play
First Published 2007
Palast Geflüster… don’t you just love saying that? I’ve had this kicking around for a while, and now I wish I had tried it sooner. It’s like Red7’s slightly-less handsome-but-more-fun-to-be-around brother. There was a lot of trash talk and agonized groans during our game—both very promising signs. Coincidentally played Palast Geflüster, which has an unusual turn-order mechanism, on the same day I listed to Ludology’s recent episode on turn order. Come on. Say it—Palast Geflüster.


More People Should Know About…

Board Game: Neolithic
Neolithic - 1 play
First Published 2016
My partner and I don’t have a lot of experience with civ games, so despite its small size and scope, we floundered for a bit with Neolithic. Eventually it clicked, and while I brewed beer and raised wolves, my partner generated a decent amount of points for the win. ARHWOOOOOOO!






Criminally Underappreciated
Board Game: Pico 2
Pico 2 - 2 plays
First Published 1997
Pico 2 is a game for mind readers. (I’m paraphrasing Friendless here.) Like a small, Japanese card game that was created before small, Japanese card games became a thing. The simplicity to depth ratio is pretty high, and I’ll bet this will be played a dozen or so more times by September 2018.

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16. Board Game: Uchronia [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:2716]
Board Game: Uchronia
Bill Kunes
United States
Cincinnati
Ohio
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Got a 10x10/Unplayed game to the table finally...

GAMES

Board Game: Uchronia

Board Game: Uchronia

Uchronia

Plays: 7
Uchronia is a multi-use card game that allows players to use take actions, score points or be used as building materials. The object of the game is to construct buildings and leverage majority set collections (monopolies) to amass points.

I liken it to a cross between Innovation (by the same designer) and Guildhall since players have a set of action types that perform actions but also can be collected as you race to a certain number of points. Some have described it as Glory to Rome Lite which I can't comment as I've never played it, but is its predecessor and I hear this has been simplified and streamlined a bit which is better suited for newer and less seasoned players.


meeple Keep playing...
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17. Board Game: Fallen [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:2491]
Board Game: Fallen
Joe Wyka
United States
Pleasant Hill
California
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I had less opportunities for new games this month, skipping almost all of my after-work game sessions, which is my main testing bed for new light-to-medium weight games. There is a running joke now that we are not allowed to play the same game twice. However, got in three shorter NTM's in our last gaming session of the month, which beefed up the numbers!

I got 7th Continent this month and have been chomping at the bit to play, but I don't want to start a solo run. My daughter is interested, but I need to find a good few hours that we can settle in. Hope to list it here next month! My wife is interested, but being in graduate school, it will likely be a year-and-a-half before we can get something going.

In order of preference...



Board Game: Fallen

Fallen - 8
A two-player only mix of "Choose Your Own Adventure" and head-to-head dice competition. Wins points for originality. I want to like it and I will play it some more to see if I really do.

Fallen was a fairly popular Kickstarter from a few years back with a fair amount of exclusive content and expansion packs. The company eventually succeeded in producing all of the promised content and then immediately went out of business. What was produced is probably all that will ever be produced, which is a shame. Fortunately, replayability is still acceptable even with just the retail content, but if you really love the game, you are going to want more. Just the KS version without the expansions more than doubles the content of the retail version. I have the retail version, so that's all I can describe.

Fallen is a two-player dungeon adventure game where one player is the hero and the other is the dungeon lord. The choice of dungeon lord frames the game with a set introduction and a matching series of final battle cards, but the dungeon adventure in between is entirely changeable. Neither the hero nor the dungeon lord can perish before the final battle, so the purpose of the adventure is to strengthen yourself and prepare for that final showdown where the winner of the game is decided. What makes the game unique is the use of "story cards" to guide the players through the dungeon. After the introductory challenge, the dungeon lord draws a random story card and narrates it for the hero who makes the story choices. Every story card has a decision tree which leads to 4 separate challenges. At each level of the tree, there are 2-3 possible challenges based on the hero's previous decisions. The outcome of those decisions at the end of the story card grants a variable amount of experience points for the hero, which can be spent to gain additional skills. The dungeon lord can also use gained experience to upgrade his creatures. After the hero has traversed 3 story cards, hopefully gaining skills and items along the way, the final battle begins.

I think all of what I describe above is a fantastic and original way of framing and delivering a story-focused adventure game all in about two hours. The potential for adapting the game to longer campaign play with strings of connected story cards is clear and I think an expansion or two provide that. My hesitation with the game is how the challenges are resolved and how the final battle unfolds. For each challenge, the dungeon lord has a base set of dice that they augment by exhausting one of four creature cards in front of them. The creatures are drawn from a deck and have no connection at all to what might be happening in the story. Creatures have special abilities that activate for certain types of challenges (strength, agility, and arcane). Each player also has an "ultimate" ability that can be used when charged and power cards that can be used in certain circumstances. Whatever the dungeon lords' result is, that becomes the hero's target number to beat. The hero can leverage skills, items and his own set of power cards as well. All challenges strengthen both players - each gets a choice of "treasure chit" with some benefit. Some challenges provide additional benefits for one player, but that has more to do with the hero's story decisions than the dice rolls. Winning a challenge gives you experience and sometimes more choice in the extra benefits you gain. The final battle is handled the same way except that the challenges are drawn from a final battle deck that is specific to the dungeon lord. When a player wins three of the final battle cards, he wins the game.

While I find so much to like about this game, I do think that resolving ALL challenges with a competitive dice roll can grow a bit old. The thematic disconnect between the creatures and the stories is pretty huge. The climactic battle is not nearly as thematic as the journey. These are my issues and I haven't decided how much they will impact my enjoyment. I want to play it more and find out. Because of these issues, I don't see myself rating this higher than an 8 and my score could drop. However, I can't think of an adventure game that packs so much story into so short a time and for that, this is likely a keeper.



Board Game: Star Wars: The Card Game

Star Wars: The Card Game - 7
The game is fun and the play mechanics are solid. However, the maintenance of objective sets and building decks is off the charts and diminishes my enthusiasm.

I picked up Eric Lang's Star Wars TCG with a slew of expansions in a math trade. It is no longer the hot LCG and many cards can be had in relatively cheap trades right now. My son was (still is? not sure?) into Magic and I thought he'd be interested in a similarly-styled Star Wars game. I wasn't wrong. He enjoyed it, as did I, but he also thought that sustained interest would only come from building his own decks. I glanced over at the box where I had spent hours sorting and organizing the objective sets numerically and imagined the chaos that would ensue if I let my mildly spectrum son loose on it and cringed. But hey, I did get it to play with him, right?

As for the game play, Star Wars TCG is pretty cool. Players have three "objectives" showing that the other player is trying to disrupt and destroy. An "objective" is simply a card that has an amount of health and grants resources, with some of them also granting a special bonus. Players attack their opponents' objectives, assigning attacking and defending units. I would not describe this as a multi-use card game, but there is an intriguing 3-level battle system that forces you to think about how to deploy your cards that almost makes it feel multi-use. After units are assigned, players can play cards from their hand for the "edge battle", which represents the pre-battle maneuvering to get, you know it, the edge! Some card icons are only active if you've won the edge and you also get to attack first. After the edge battle is decided and objectives are attacked, the 3rd level of battle is for controlling the force. You can assign up to three deployed units to influence the force, which makes them weaker for attacking objectives, but the side that controls the force gets distinct advantages.

No card stands alone. Every objective comes as a set with 5 command cards, which are a mix of units, events, enhancements and fate. So in building your deck, you are looking at assembling card sets, not single cards. In order to manage this, you need to keep those objective sets together and here is where my trepidation with the design rests. While I think the idea is cool, in reality I'm finding the time and energy cost of set management to be pretty burdensome. I know I just need to let it go and let my son have at it, but I'm not going to enjoy building decks if I have to hunt and search hundreds of cards to find the missing card in a set. This is a game only for the hyper-organized among us.



Board Game: Adrenaline

Adrenaline - 7
Crank up Judas Priest and fire away! This is a well-designed, light-hearted slug fest which is all offense, all the time. Highly opportunistic play makes this feel somewhat random even without dice rolls.

Run around, pick stuff up (ammo and power-ups), shoot people. The actions in this arena battle game are very basic. What generates interest is the way shooting is scored. Every point of damage dealt is tracked by who dealt it. At the end of a turn when players are killed, they are immediately scored in an area majority competition, with the player applying the most hits getting the most points. The killed players then respawn immediately and start firing again on their next turn. After 8 kills there is one more round of super-powered actions and the game ends. Partial wounds are scored and kill shots are compared in a final majority competition.

This is not really in my personal-wheelhouse of preferred game play, but it is so simple compared to other dicey combat games with tons of modifiers I might just hold onto it. While the game is entirely tactical, I would venture to say the tactics here are very shallow. There really are no defensive moves to make and all of your decisions revolve around picking the right targets to get kill shots and majorities and maintaining your ammo and gun supply. However, even those decisions are driven by what's available and what you can reach, which can change greatly between your turns. This is not a game-night main event game, but a game for teenagers, casual gamers, or a bit of fluff between heavier games on a game day. If I do drop this game, it is likely to be because of the box size, which is substantial.



Board Game: Oregon

Oregon - 7
Simple tile-laying family game without pretension. Solid choice for its audience.

In Oregon, players play either a cowboy or a building tile and score points for cowboys placed next to buildings and buildings placed next to cowboys. Continue until a certain number of building stacks are depleted or all cowboys of one player are placed. Gold mines and coal mines give a variable amount of secret points. These are added to the public points and most points wins. Players are limited in their placements by their small hand of cards that include buildings and locations. Locations indicate columns and rows where placements can be made. Make the best use of your cards to win. Players also have a location joker tile and an extra turn tile that can be readied for re-use with certain buildings.

There is nothing more to the game than that. It is pleasant to play and well-designed, but won't blow anyone away with originality. If you like easy and relaxed tile-layers, you should definitely check this one out.



Board Game: Mini Rails

Mini Rails - 6
Crafty little game with simple rules. Engaging, but has a pretty blatant king-maker issue in the end game that would quickly get on my nerves.

Mini Rails fits firmly into the "Super Filler" or "Thinky Filler" category of games. It is share investment game with the thin cladding of a railroad game, but I would argue it is not a railroad game at all. There are six colors that players can invest in. A board is randomly set up from a number of double-sided tiles for variety from game to game. The colors expand out from different corners of the six-sided board onto spaces that are worth in a range from -3 to +3. Every turn, players will take two actions, they will invest in a color and expand a color. Color disks are randomly drawn (2 for each player +1) and laid out in the order drawn. In order of the previous turns' selections, players will move their pawns to claim a disk, either for adding to their shares board or to the play board. Whichever they choose with their first action, they will need to do the other with their second action. Shares always start at zero and all shares of a color adjust in the -3 to +3 range when a matching color is placed on the board. At the end of each turn, one disk is leftover and marks the round completed. Only colors used to mark completed turns will score positive points at the end of the game. After six rounds, the player with the highest value in shares wins.

This is usually my kind of game! However, in our second play, I went last and, with no chance of winning myself, got to choose who won between two other players based on the last color I picked. This is not how I like my games to end! I suspect this not all that uncommon a situation, which really disappoints me. I would certainly play the game as the decisions are deliciously devious, but the very real king-making issue has led me to decide not to own it.



Board Game: Scoville

Scoville - 6
A standard recipe-fulfillment game with a unique AP-inducing spatial element at its core. I like it, but if everyone at the table doesn't like it, this would be unbearable. Level of control is another open question.

In Scoville, players are members of a chili-cookin' farmers collective (I gather) collecting ever more hotter chilies from the communal farm to sell at market and to cook ever more hotter chili on the road to victory. The game comes with 10(!) different colored chili-meeples that players collect in order to fulfill the demand on market and recipe cards. The core mechanics of the game are very simple, but the way in which hotter chilies are collected can make for a bit of a brain-burner (pun intended).

There are three ways that players collect chilies - by auction, harvesting, and through small conversions through the farmers' market. It feels like this should be called a "resource-conversion game", but that label doesn't quite fit. The conversions available through the market cards are limited and pre-determined from the initial draw. Every turn-order auction grants a pepper or two, but your most valuable peppers are usually acquired through the harvest. Every turn players plant a chili to the central grid and in the harvest players walk between up to three pairs of chilies to collect a color that each pair generates, according to a cross-breeding chart. Deciding what color to plant where, and then what options are available to harvest (there are many paths to take) and how those peppers will help you in recipe and market fulfillment can create a lot of analysis each turn. Without that analysis, the game would take 30-40 minutes - the analysis doubles or triples the play length. This game will give AP to players who don't normally have it and playing with someone with natural AP tendencies would make the game unbearably slow. You want to be able to trade or buy chilies directly, but that's not an option, which opens the question that for all of this analysis, in such a tactical game, how much control do you really have? I suspect that even if the lack of control is a bit overstated, there is still not as much control as a lot of players would like.

So level of control is an open question for me. Also, you either like the analysis of chili cross-breeding, or you don't. You are either okay with periods of everyone staring at the board in silent meditation, or you aren't. I enjoy it, but because it is such a large part of the game, I could never play this game with someone who didn't enjoy it. My decision to hang on to this game will truly depend on how my game group (and my wife in particular) likes it. I'll keep it around until I find out.



Board Game: Kanagawa

Kanagawa - 6
A gorgeous card drafting and set building game. Choices start out fairly obvious and only get more obvious as the game progresses.

Kanagawa is a head-turning game. With the bamboo card-drafting mat, the elegantly sculpted paintbrushes and the simple, stylized card art - it is without a doubt a beautiful production. Cards are drafted each turn and added to your tableau in order to improve your abilities or meet publicly displayed goals. The drafting mechanism is like Coloretto on autopilot. Card piles are laid out one card at a time with each player being given an opportunity to take a pile after 1, 2, or 3 cards - but players have no control over the piles and one card in each pile is even face-down. Cards have two parts - a painting part and a studio part. You need to meet the requirements in your studio in order to add to your painting so where a card ends up is a pretty easy decision.

The goal tiles can be claimed when the requirements are met and goals range from having sets of objects in your paintings to having certain features in your studio. When 11 cards are added to a player's painting the game ends. Frankly, Coloretto is a simpler and quicker game with a more compelling decision point in its "draw or draft" structure and I'd just rather play that. If you really appreciate beautiful, light games with high production, then I'm sure you'd appreciate this!



 

Maquis - 5
A PnP, solo worker-placement game which is neatly designed and incredibly difficult. I'm not sure how much damaging patrol draws can be mitigated.

In Maquis, the player is the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation of Paris during WWII. The board is a map of key Paris locations. At the beginning of the game, two random goal cards are placed at connections running off the top of the board. The goal cards define what you need to do to win and will entirely shape your strategy for the game. Maquis is a worker-placement game with a unique spacial aspect. The player starts with 3 workers in a safe house and you must send them out to locations to collect or convert resources to support you in meeting the game's goals. Between each placement, however, police are placed in random, card-drawn locations and they can block your workers' return to the safe house, which eliminates workers from the game permanently. Placement cards have three locations. If all three are occupied, then you go back through the list and if your worker is one of the blockers he is arrested and removed from the game. You can recruit two workers beyond your starting three, but five workers is your limit for the game.

If you have managed to collect some weapons, you can shoot police in your path, but every policeman shot gets replaced by a soldier on future turns who cannot be shot. The heart of the game is about how to chain your workers to effectively protect the paths back and when to take a chance on distributing your workers more broadly. The game's biggest challenge however, might be to keep the Parisian's morale from collapsing. Some actions, the game length, and the introduction of military all reduce morale and it isn't easy to build it back up. If it collapses to zero, you automatically lose. You also lose if you cannot complete your goals in 15 turns or all of your workers are captured.

The need for a safe path to return your workers is the unique twist here and it is a decent one. I've enjoyed my few plays, but I could see it getting repetitive and less interesting pretty quick. We will see.
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18. Board Game: Whitehall Mystery [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:675]
Board Game: Whitehall Mystery
Nick B
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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None of the new games I played this September were amazingly great (except one!), but all of them were pretty good!

Whitehall Mystery - 8/10

Board Game: Whitehall Mystery

My wife and I love Letters from Whitechapel, but I sold it off when I assumed that the awesome Fury of Dracula would replace it in our collection. After one play, my wife ended up really disliking Fury of Dracula. WHOOPS. Since we love hidden movement games, I figured I would just pick up Whitechapel again. After trying Whitehall Mystery, however, I see no need. It gives the basic experience of Whitechapel in a much shorter time period and with a smaller player count.

One of my favorite aspects of Whitechapel is the slow build in tension as the investigators start to zero in on Jack the Ripper's position, and this is definitely lost a little bit in Whitehall since the investigators will potentially stumble on Jack's position much more quickly. It feels more like a chase right from the start rather than slowly building up the sense of confidence in the investigators (and the dread in Jack!). While I don't think Whitehall is a better game that Whitechapel, it's close enough. I plan on picking Whitehall up for when I want to play a hidden movement game with four or fewer, and keeping Fury of Dracula for when I want to play a longer game with more people.


Asking for Trobils - 7/10

Board Game: Asking for Trobils

A friend picked this one up at Gen Con this year, and I thought it was pretty fun! I'm a big fan of worker placement games in general, and this one had a unique mechanism (to me) where you have very few workers but you get them back quickly. The basic idea is that you are going to use your workers to collect sets of resources which you will then use as bait to catch aliens for points. Since you only start the game with two workers, the turns go around the table really fast and things never really felt like they ever bogged down at any point. I don't think Trobils is a great game, but it's definitely solid and I'd be happy to play it again. If you're looking for a fast-paced worker placement game with a fun theme, you could do worse!


Tiny Epic Quest - 7/10

Board Game: Tiny Epic Quest

Tiny Epic Quest is the first of the "Tiny Epic" games I've played. I was definitely impressed by the amount of game you get in a small box, but I feel like the gimmick of an epic game in a small package only works initially; during and after playing the game I wished everything would have just been normal sized. There's a lot of detail and art on some of the components, and some of it all just blurs together when it's printed so small. I really enjoyed the little weapons and items you could attach to your meeples, but some of the other mechanisms in the game (especially learning new spells -- they function only as a way to get points and have no other role) felt much less thematic.


The Godfather: Corleone's Empire - 6/10

Board Game: The Godfather: Corleone's Empire

I enjoyed Corleone's Empire, but I couldn't really ever get over the fact that it just didn't capture the theme very well. I love the Godfather book and movie, but the game felt you could have put any number of themes on top of it and it still would work fine. The components are nice, but don't really add to the gameplay experience in any way (outside of the fun of stashing money in a little metal suitcase). The miniatures for the player pieces in particular felt like a missed opportunity. The artwork for the family members (which is only seen in the rulebook) and their individual sculpts add a little flavor, but none of it is actually utilized in any way in the game. In Blood Rage this doesn't bother me since I don't really care about the personalities of my Bear Clan warriors, but I found myself feeling bummed out about the lack of personality my crime family members had. In a game based on the Godfather, generic characters feel like such a waste. Having the characters utilized in the artwork on the cards, or giving each family some minor unique powers or something would have went a long way.

It might just be me, but Eric Lang's games can feel especially disappointing if they fall short due to the amount of hype they get before they are released. Corleone's Empire isn't a bad game by any means, and I'll be happy to play it when it makes it to the table, but I'm probably not going to be the one requesting it.

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19. Board Game: Alice Chess [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Board Game: Alice Chess
Carthoris Pyramidos
United States
Littleton
Colorado
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I managed to try out a number of new-to-me games this month, and several seem to have a lot of unrealized potential.

Alice Chess - 3 plays -  8 
First Published 1953
Board Game: Alice Chess


What a brain-burner this chess variant standard is! Pieces are transported to a parallel board after each move. It's crazy, and I like it a lot. After two "vanilla" games, we also tried the alternate where the two players start on separate boards. I've known about this game for years, and I really have no excuse for not getting around to it earlier.


Arimaa - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2002
Board Game: Arimaa


This one I don't feel like I really understand at all after a single play. I felt like I won by accident! I can easily see that there is a very interesting game here, though. We played with a standard chess set, although the Arimaa sets look very fine. I expect my rating of this game to climb with repeat plays, as I start to explore its depths.


Diamant - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2006
Board Game: Diamant


The purity of the press-your-luck competition is impressive in this game. It made an excellent filler for the group of four I was playing with. The others had all played before; I was the only one new to it. The winner played very conservatively, and the loser was suicidally foolhardy.


It Happens.. - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2010
Board Game: It Happens..


I had fun with this goofy aardvark-themed dice-placement game, although the other two players were not as enchanted. (I did win.)


Sagrada - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Sagrada


I did terribly at this dice-placement game, and in retrospect I think I can see how to play it better. We did have a rules dispute that the rules document did not do a good job addressing at all, with respect to the proper use of "tool" cards. So that made the game considerably less enjoyable than it would otherwise have been. This was the most recently published of all the new-to-me games this month.
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20. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.43 Overall Rank:4]
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Jason Vicente

Avon
Connecticut
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== BEST GAME OF THE MONTH ==

Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Terraforming Mars - Played 2 times - 9.5/10

Terraforming Mars is a game I have anxiously been waiting to get to the table since the fall of last year. I watched numerous "how to play" videos in an attempt to wrap my mind around the rules. It really is a game you need to play to learn. Once I played it I understood it and could teach it to others. Playing with my sons allowed me to satisfy the "T" in my Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge as well as teach it to my son Patrick to play it as part of our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament . The game is all about the cards. You start off with a corporation and purchase cards each generation to help you terraform mars. There are a variety of tacks to follow. I focused on developing plants. My son Kieran developed heat production. When I taught Patrick he focused on producing Mega Credits and nearly won the game by using the standard actions to purchase cities and oceans while funding a few awards he was guaranteed to win (I beat him 111 to 101). The game contains extraordinary depth and though it has a few "got you" cards they are not particularly vicious or debilitating. This is by far the best game of the month for me at a 9.5 out of 10. By the way, I won scoring scoring 60. Matt received 57, Joel 53 and Kieran only managed 50.

= Other New Games for September 2017 =

Board Game: 1960: The Making of the President
1960: The Making of the President - played 1 time - 9.0/10

September 7, 2017: This is the game that 13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 and 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis built up to. Once we explored some of the simpler mechanics of the other games we could go full on with 1960: The Making of the President. This is a great game where you are running either the Kennedy or Nixon campaign. Continuing with the alignment of previous games, Matt took the Kennedy Campaign while I had the Nixon campaign. The mechanics here echo many of the mechanics from the previous games played (e.g. playing cards for event or campaign points). One key difference is the use of momentum tokens. If your opponent plays a card affiliated with your campaign for campaign points, you have to spend a momentum token to play the event. This means you have to build your pool of momentum tokens, which you gain through several ways in the game (cards or end round bonuses). There are also ways to get endorsements, create a media campaign and develop issues in preparation for debates. Although there are many moving parts, once you start playing the game the rules make sense particularly if you reference the player aid found on the last page of the rulebook. I managed to alter history winning the election 345 electoral votes to 159. Again, Matt had a tepid response to the game, while I give an enthusiastic 9 out of 10.

Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: Expedition – Endurance
T.I.M.E Stories: Expedition – Endurance - played 3 times - 8.5/10

September 9, 2017: Whenever my sons and I get together in New Hampshire we try to play one of the T.I.M.E. Story installments. Today we played T.I.M.E Stories: Expedition – Endurance. This installment did something that none of the other ones did and it makes additional runs far more intriguing. The gimmick implemented made this my third favorite installment with Asylum and the Marcy Case (probably the most emotionally impactful of the group) just ahead. We've gotten pretty good at determining the skills needed to be successful and have a solid team by the second run. We avoided some pitfalls that I am sure will frustrate some players who take on this game. All in all a solid 8.5 out of 10.

Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue
Flash Point: Fire Rescue - played 2 times - 8.0/10

September 21, 2017: Today Patrick and I learned Flash Point: Fire Rescue to fulfill the "F" in Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge as well as working on our Playing All of My Cooperative Games geeklist. In our first game we focused on saving POIs instead of managing the fire. The result is that the building collapsed after a few turns and some ill rolled dice that set off explosion after explosion. In our second attempt we focused on reducing the number of fires throughout the house first and then sought to save POIs. This worked far better for us as only a few explosions occurred by the time we reached the last POI. This is a fun challenging game that I dare says is at least as good as Pandemic and perhaps more challenging than Pandemic when playing with only two players. Honestly, Pandemic is a breeze with only two players, while it appears that Flash Point: Fire Rescue presents a challenge at all player counts. An 8 out of 10 from me. I'm looking forward to playing the experienced player variant.

Board Game: 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis
13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis - played 1 time - 7.5/10

September 7, 2017: After playing 13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 twice as a prelude to other card driven games, Matt and I played 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis as part of Another Family Board Game Marathon in New Hampshire and to satisfy the # portion of my Passionate Knight's 2017 Alphabet Basic Challenge which is part of the site wide The Alphabet Board Game Challenge - 2017 Edition. Matt played the United States and I played Russia in this intriguing game that keeps the pressure on by escalating three different DEFCON tracks (political, world opinion and military) each of the three turns of play. The DEFCONs each have three levels. If all three of a player's markers are in the DEFCON 2 range a nuclear is triggered. Likewise if any one marker lies within the DEFCON 1 area you have nuclear war. Accordingly, managing the DEFCON tracks are as critical as the tug of war for prestige points that takes place throughout the game by fulfilling agendas such as dominating certain domains on the board. As with the other card driven games. Matt found the historical aspect of the game interesting but did not find the game play particularly compelling. I, however, found the game full of tension with both sides coming close to triggering nuclear war. I ended up victorious in a fairly close game. A 7.5 out of 10 from me.

Board Game: The Dragon & Flagon
The Dragon & Flagon - played 1 time - 7.0/10

My son Joel specifically requested this game believing he would like it because it was a programing game like Colt Express. With four players each takes two characters and their set of cards. There is a fairly elaborate set up with three dimensional chairs, tables, mugs and, of course, the Flagon. The cards have a variety of actions that you program the character to perform like swinging a sword, jumping from a table or casting a spell. Your hope is that someone will be at the receiving end of your action since a target may have moved from the spot you were targeting as my characters did on several occasions. If you connect with your attack your victim has to give some of his prestige tokens. There is a time cost for each action which moves you along the timeline on the outer edge of the board toward the game end token where the authorities eventually break the fight up and players add up their prestige. The one with the most prestige wins the game. I found the game enjoyable. It feels so good when you execute a successful attack. It can be quite frustrating, as Joel discovered, when you can't seem to make any successful moves. The result is that most everyone found the game enjoyable except for Joel, who adamantly stated that you could not pay him enough money to play the game again. For my part, it is enjoyable mayhem and deserves a 7 out of 10. I know that my son Patrick will love this game and I plan to add it to our Father v. Son Two-Player Board Game Tournament .

Board Game: The Fox in the Forest
The Fox in the Forest - played 1 time - 7.0/10

I am usually looking for games that my wife would like. After watching Zee Garcia's review of this game there was no doubt it was a must have. This is a fairly straight forward trick taking game with odd cards possessing special powers and the trump card being selected randomly by drawing the first card. What really makes the game interesting, however, is seeking not to accumulate too many tricks. There are thirteen tricks to collect per hand. If you take 10 or more you get zero points. I f you manage to get 6 to 9 or 0 to 3 tricks you receive 6 points - which is the maximum you can get. 4 tricks gets you 1 point, 5 tricks 2 and 6 tricks 3. My wife quickly became the master of this game. to win you need to accumulate at least 21 points. Within three hands she had 22 points to my seven. How did she manage to get 22 points in three hands when the maximum number of points you can receive for tricks is 6 points? The "7" cards power is to grant an additional victory point to the winner of the trick, and she always seemed to win tricks that had the "7" card in them. An enjoyable quick filler for two people looking to dispose of a half hour. 7 out of 10.

Board Game: 13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 - played 2 times - 6.5/10

September 7, 2017: My son, Matthew, and I started off Another Family Board Game Marathon in New Hampshire by playing the card driven 13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. My plan was to start small and work our way through 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis and 1960: The Making of the President. This game qualifies as a microgame with only thirteen cards. Each player (one Krushev, the other Kennedy) receive two cards and one card is placed face down between the two players to represent Cuba. There are three imaginary zones of influence on the table - the sones closest to each player are under their influence. The zone between each player's zone of influence is the neutral zone. After determining initiative (players secretly use cubes that will be discarded from the game to determine initiative - the player who chooses who goes first), players take turns playing and drawing a card. Cards can be played for the event on the card if the card is affiliated with the player playing it or a United Nations card. Otherwise, the player can offer the card to the other to play as an event before playing the card for the command value (the number of cubes depicted on the card) which the player can use to remove or add cubes to one of the battle fields on the table (each played card represents a battlefield and regardless of the number of cubes placed on the card it moves one zone toward you, or remove the card moves one zone away from you). This back and forth continues until both players are left with one card in their hands. At that time scoring occurs - 2 prestige points for the individual with the most cubes on Cuba, 1 prestige point for each of the other battlefields, 1 prestige point for the player dominating the most military battlefields. There is also a final check for nuclear was. The top left corner contains a symbol with one of three colors. If three or more cards have the same color in your zone of influence, you have triggered nuclear war and lose the game. Incidentally, both players can lose the game by independently triggering nuclear war. In the two games Matt played Kennedy while I played Krushev. Matt dominated the first game winning 14 to 5 while I won the second game 9 to 4. I found the other card driven games far more compelling than this one, though it still possessed enough elements requiring the players attention to make it interesting. A 6.5 out of 10.
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21. Board Game: The King Is Dead [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:1385]
Board Game: The King Is Dead
David B
United States
Virginia
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Board Game: The King Is Dead

The King Is Dead

It's not completely new as I did play it once about a year and a half ago. But the game's owner made a huge rules error and so in a way the game is new. With the correct rules, the game is absolutely brilliant. In order to win, you must collect the most cubes (influence) of what will eventually be the most powerful faction. But the twist is that everytime you collect a cube, you weaken that faction. You also only get eight action cards, each of which can only be used once. I had heard that the 4 player team game was a bit odd, but I found that to be even better than other player counts. I think this just may be one of the best area control games out there.




Board Game: Sentient

Sentient

Alex Kevern continues with his string of games that don't feel quite like anything we have played before. The combination of dice manipulation and card drafting is a twist I have not seen before and definitely requires some mental crunching. I could see some turned off by the mathiness, but I found it fun and compelling. The decisions regarding whether to use the assistants for bidding on the investor tokens or saved for avoiding dice "recalibrations" are a major part of the game. The game is overpriced at full MSRP, but certainly recommended if you find it for a bit less.
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22. Board Game: The 7th Continent [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:26]
Board Game: The 7th Continent
David Fox
United Kingdom
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A positive month overall, with most new-to-me games played being good'uns.
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REALLY LIKE


Board Game: The 7th Continent

The 7th Continent - 10 plays - A tremendous achievement, with some issues, but still fun.

A surprise opportunity to get a play of this in at my game group saw two of us adventure through three hours of Voracious Goddess with no rules experience at all, and have a jolly good time in doing so. We died, running out of cards near what turned out to be a useful location, albeit nowhere near where we had intended to go.

This is a remarkable boardgame conversion of old style choose-your-own-adventure games, helped by evocative art and a mechanical system which is simple and effective. I have enjoyed the game and find myself wanting to play it regularly, but I recognise that it has its downsides.

There is an unfortunate similarity to TIME Stories in that you will most likely have to do the whole darned thing over again... and again. The 'save game' feature is more of a 'pause game', whereas what is really needed is a 'save and reload from this point' feature, as trudging over the same ol' same ol' is fairly time consuming and not as exciting as the initial exploration.

The first quest, Curse of the Voracious Goddess does give you a good-ish map to go on, but there is still a lot of aimless wandering, which leads to what has been probably my biggest criticism: it's too darned expensive to get anywhere. Without a Walking Stick (or similar), moving from card to card very quickly drains the Action deck (aka your life-force) making the game one of remembering where to go on a re-run and optimising that route, rather than an exciting exploration. And you're not guaranteed to get a walking item at all unless you churn through the deck, which then forces you to go hunting and fishing with quite variable rewards.

OK, it's a board game, not a computer game, I can 'fix' this issue myself easily enough, but I do find it a detriment to the overall enjoyment of the game.


Board Game: Inis

Inis - 1 play - Good game, painful box art.

I passed over this originally because of the artwork as I found the board painful to look at and the box cover just downright minging. Having played the game, I can at least accept the board's design, but there is no excuse for box art that is just blech. Fortunately, the game itself transcends these issues: Inis is a card-driven tight area majority game, the mechanics of which are similar to my favourite *design*, Konig von Siam (aka The King is Dead). There are twice as many cards in Inis, which are drafted, and more you can acquire elsewhere, but other than that, the feeling of similarity remains with me. I liked the three victory conditions and saw that there were good opportunities for clever card play. It being my first play, I missed several possible moves which could have got me to two victory conditions, but I was happy enough to end up tied and losing only to the Brenn.


LIKE


Board Game: Near and Far

Near and Far - 1 play - So far, so good.

I have bought this to play with my son when his reading is up to the task (and to encourage him to get to that point, too!), so I was happy to learn the rules and play it at my game group. Very glad to say that the purchase looks like a sound one: the game is a light Euro with story-telling elements, which can be played in three modes (one-off, story-driven and character-driven). The simple mechanics are not taxing, but working out how to get all the resources you need to make your artefacts is a pleasing task; and there is some interaction with duelling and racing for trading posts. The stories seem fine, if brief - but then, I'm used to the behemoth that is Tales of the Arabian Nights in that regard and this has wa-a-a-ay more game than that does.


Board Game: Twenty One

Twenty One - 8 plays - It works well, is quick, and has kept all the players so far surprisingly engaged.

From the designer of Qwixx (OK) and Qwinto (better) comes Twenty One (best): a mini-Bingo-with-bonuses where agency is achieved by having you weigh up the benefit of a ticking off a box or two now and keeping up a good 'pace' in the game (relative to the other players) or hoping for a better roll next turn.


Board Game: Crokinole

Crokinole - 1 play - Don't get the top 100 feel from it yet, but happy to be persuaded otherwise.

Long overdue that I got to play this classic dexterity game: funny seeing the PitchCar cars doing their business in a different environment (presumably the original). It's lovely to look at, for sure, but I found it to be a bit of a one-trick pony from my only play. Maybe I need a good long session of this, like I had with Tumblin' Dice to see what I'm missing. I still find the one-cheek rule most amusing!


OK

Board Game: Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor

Escape the Room: Mystery at Stargazer's Manor - 1 play - Light but fun introductory Escape-Room-in-a-Box.

Having played EXIT Season 1 (loved Pharaoh, liked Cabin, hated Lab), I bought this to play with some casual gamers at work, despite the touted 2 hour time-frame. I need not have worried as we completed this in just 42 minutes. It is a vastly easier and better produced game than EXIT and looks aimed at a light/social/family audience. Only one of the puzzles slowed us down a bit and that was because we over-complicated it; no need for the online hints. Also, very glad I can reset this without much fuss (although my 3 EXIT games have now been played 7 times between them, without re-buying).


Board Game: Salem 1692

Salem 1692 - 1 play - Fine, but seemed a little long.

I was interested to play this as I had been knocking around a design for a witch-based-hidden-role game a few years ago. Salem 1692 is a Werewolf evolution at its core, but with far less player elimination. It accommodates a decent number of players, though that does come at the cost of a play time which is a tad long. That said, my play of it was sociably loud, with plenty of suspicion and accusations being thrown around. I was unfortunate to only have one active turn out of nine (draw, draw, play, stocks, night, stocks, draw, draw, draw, die), which left the Witch team mostly single-handed, as the Witch cards didn't 'infect' anyone else until the last round.


DIDN'T LIKE

Board Game: Secrets

Secrets - 1 play - Mas-Kaker-ade-Good-Cop-Bad-Coup.

Two factors go against my initial impression of this game: first, I had read a negative review of it on BGG, so was probably a bit prejudiced; second, the play was so short (8 players, one turn each) and obvious (two KGB revealed, third KGB gave fourth card to team mate to win the game 12-0-0) that it didn't have time to do what it might do. On the surface it's a mix of a lot of other 'short' hidden role games, but it comes across as of more of a mess-up than a mash-up.
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23. Board Game: 1868 [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:10586]
Board Game: 1868
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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This month, I was fortunate enough to play 7 new games and 2 new expansions. As is my custom, I'll list them in decreasing order of my current enthusiasm; and games before expansions.


1868 -- (1 play) _8_
Board Game: 1868
Board Game: 1868
(images by d0gb0t & RvdH83)

Really enjoyed this one, even if I wasn't quite prepared for how significant the priority order turned out to be each stock round. It's quite cool; and I'd be delighted to give it another shot.


Wind the Film! -- (3 plays) _7⅔_
Board Game: Wind the Film!
Board Game: Wind the Film!
(images by saashiandsaashi & punkin312)

It's a cute little thing with a bit of Bohnanza (but no trading.) Which almost sounds like it won't work; but it does, and quite nicely.

I played very poorly the first time out: achieving less than half the score of the third-place player. But after that drubbing, I've come to a bit of an accomodation with the desired aesthetics, and have really been enjoying it.


Marrakesch -- (3 plays) _7⅓_
Board Game: Marrakesh
Board Game: Marrakesh
(images by russ & jonnypolite)

This is weird: I liked it a good deal better than I'd expected. It's got some quite lovely can't drink the wine in front of me moments - as long as one is paying attention to the cards that have been played. And son #2 does that at least as well as I do; so it's worked nicely for us.


Mini Rails -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: Mini Rails
Board Game: Mini Rails
(images by darkavatar1470 & AFONG)

The first play was excellent. And the second not quite as cool (a bit more kingmaking in the final turn than one might want.) I'm still not completely confident of its merits. It's clever, and easy to explain: but it's also very easy to play poorly. It's still possible that (with practice) it will prove very very cool. Or the interplayer chaos may rule. Time will tell, I guess.


Iberian Rails -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: Iberian Rails
Board Game: Iberian Rails
(both images by Monsoon Publishing)

This one was rather amusing in its collection of variably overpowered Special Powers. I'm nearly convinced they're all fine in context; but from time to time one seemed momentarily outrageous.
I quite enjoyed it, and would be delighted to explore some other power sets.


Lisboa -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: Lisboa
Board Game: Lisboa
(images by newrev & ZombieBoard)

It's quite attractive. And, commendably, designed with the Experienced Player (which I absolutely wasn't) in mind. So, for this novice, I fear the experience included a whole bunch of lookups into the (excellent, if also quite extensive) player guide.
I did a bit worse than that: mixing up the way the actions triggered on more than one occasion. And yet it wasn't that the explanation didn't work; more that it didn't quite stick, even with reinforcement.
Still, it was intriguing in its business; I'd be totally happy to play again.


JamSumo -- (6 plays) _7_
Board Game: JamSumo
Board Game: JamSumo
(images by demuur & telos81)

Fluffy; amusing; easy to motivate. Quite delightful, in truth: it's fast and clever and doesn't take up much space. I'm not confident it's going to displace many of the other charming dexterity games in the house; but it'll likely continue to get the occasional play.


Clash of Cultures: Civilizations – Aztecs -- (1 play) _7⅔_
Board Game: Clash of Cultures: Civilizations – Aztecs
(image by Redamikanas)

Finally actually seen in play. It'd been in the box for most of a year! Not convinced the rating is significant in any way: it mostly just reflects my enjoyment of the base game.


Roll for the Galaxy: Terraforming Colony/Diversified Economy Promo Tile -- (1 play) _7⅔_
Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy: Terraforming Colony/Diversified Economy Promo Tile
(image by chaddyboy_2000)

And similarly here: the rating reflects my enjoyment of the base game. This doesn't mutate things very much at all!
(Much like for the Aztecs, I'm only counting the play where the tile/civ appears in a game. And because (in both cases) that's quite randomly out of my control, neither is terribly significant.)


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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24. Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:888]
Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Three "new to me" games in September and one "new to me" expansion.

Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD impressed me the most this month and even that was just after one solo play. I generally don't play a lot of games solo, but I made an exception with this game as I wanted to nail down the rules before playing it against others - which I expected to do this month, but didn't.

Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD is something of a Euro/Wargame cross with a deck-building mechanic and action points that behave a bit like Dominion and a bit like Twilight Struggle with some dice-chucking combat thrown in. I very much look forward to playing it multiplayer some day.

Board Game: 1893: Cologne

1893: Cologne was runner up this month for best "new to me". It's a smallish Series: 18xx that starts without the usual auction. The map is centred, not surprisingly, around Cologne and is divided through the middle from North to South by the Rhine (which restricts building East to West except through four "bridge" crossings).

The game only has three major railroads and two state(?) railroads (which absorb three minors into them) so player holdings are small and the game is quite short (for an Series: 18xx).

Board Game: Caverna: Cave vs Cave

Caverna: Cave vs Cave was the third game and got the most plays; six in all. My wife and I enjoyed it quite a bit and are probably not done with it (unlike Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small which didn't impress either of us at all).

Board Game: Concordia: Gallia / Corsica

She and I also played one game of Concordia using the new Corsica expansion. Even with the smaller map and the more competition/interaction in the cities, I still found the two-player game to be relatively flat.
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25. Board Game: Spirit Island [Average Rating:8.32 Overall Rank:13]
Board Game: Spirit Island
Dave Roy
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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== NEW GAMES ==

Spirit Island - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Spirit Island



Six whole new games last month!

Spirit Island had to be the best of the bunch. I liked the crunchy nature of this cooperative game. Trying to figure out which cards would be the best to play in order to help the other players as well as yourself, trying to make sure the colonists don't breed too fast and overwhelm you.

We managed to win it, too!



A Study in Emerald (second edition) - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2015
Board Game: A Study in Emerald (Second Edition)


This Martin Wallace game comes a very close second for the month, as I was finally able to get it to the table after buying it earlier this year.

It has a nice atmosphere to it, and I love the push and pull of the two factions, as you score points regardless of what faction they are for (or they could be neutral), but at the end of the game, you'll lose the points you gained for the faction that you're not.

So you could end the game by reaching the point limit but actually end up losing if you're not careful.

The card play is nice too, though it does really need a way to get rid of your starter cards as the game goes on.



Okey Dokey - 4 plays -  N/A 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Okey Dokey


Fun little cooperative card game. Extremely light, colourful artwork, and hard to win unless the cards fall just right. This definitely beats out The Game for the cooperative filler card game niche.



Flip City - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2014
Board Game: Flip City


Two of my friends hate this game. I don't see why. It's not stellar or anything, but I like the push your luck aspect and the main annoying thing is that the double-sided cards require shuffling under the table.

You get used to it after a while.

Also, I can see this getting boring after a few plays without getting one of the expansions. Only five buildings to buy gets a little pedestrian (even though you can flip them, obviously)



Modern Art - 1 play
First Published 1992
Board Game: Modern Art


I'm not usually a big fan of bidding games, but this one is actually very good. I still don't get them, though, so I usually end up near the back of the pack.

Especially in this one, where you have to figure out what your break-even point for bidding on a piece is. And whether to buy the piece you're auctioning or let somebody else pay you instead (which may give them a bunch of money during the end of round scoring)

Love the artwork on the cards. You'd think they were done by professionals!




Tobago - 1 play
First Published 2009
Board Game: Tobago


Nice little exploration game. I love the mechanic of how you can get "shares" of the treasures by narrowing down where on the island they are.

And playing it in under an hour is a really nice touch too.



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