New to you October 2017 => Best new boardgame
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What games did you play for the first time in October 2017? This is usually when new Essen releases start appearing...

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

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

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1. Board Game: Anachrony [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:47]
Board Game: Anachrony
Juan Carlos Goyes
Colombia
Bogota
Cundinamarca
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Board Game: Math Fluxx

Math Fluxx

2017-10-08

Initial Rating: 4.0 (September 2017)

I heavily dislike Fluxx, but I had some curiosity toward Math Fluxx and it was, supposedly, a little bit harder than regular Fluxx. It turned out the game is harder, but it is still the same game so I didn’t like it.

The rules are very easy to teach. You can do it under 2 minutes. Playtime is very variable, the game can go up to 30 minutes, but it can end in less than 5 minutes.

The new rules make the game harder, now, in addition to the regular goal, there is a mathematical goal that you can accomplish with your keepers. Had this the only way to win, the game would be much more interesting but it still has the same old rules and most games will be decided by pure luck, not by mathematical acumen.

I think Math Fluxx can work as an educational tooI, in fact I sold my copy to a teacher who plans to use the game in her classes, but as a game it fails for me, it isn’t fun and there are too few decisions. Very boring.

Bottom line, Math Fluxx is a boring game for me with few relevant decisions, still, I recognize it is the best Fluxx variant I have played. It forces players to make mathematical operations as an alternative way to win the game.

Current Rating: 4.0


Board Game: Coloretto: The Extra Cards

Coloretto: The Extra Cards

2017-10-08

Initial Rating: 6.0 (September 2017)

When I began playing boardgames, I loved Coloretto and I played it many times, for some time now, I have been bored by Coloretto, the game is just too simple and repetitive and I crave heavier experiences. I sold it long ago.

Coloretto: The Extra Cards adds new rules to the game and in doing so, it adds life (replayability) to the game. In each game, only one card (from six different cards) will be played and it will add a new rule or modify an old rule. This small change really changes the familiar and regular pace of the game and it really adds to the game in many ways. If I still had Coloretto among my game collection I would definitely always play with it.

Bottom line, Coloretto: The Extra Cards keeps the game from being repetitive (boring) and it adds a lot of life to it without adding much complexity. A must have for players who play Coloretto a lot.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: Coloretto: The Limit Cards

Coloretto: The Limit Cards

2017-10-08

Initial Rating: 6.0 (September 2017)

When I began playing boardgames, I loved Coloretto and played it many times, for some time now, I have been bored by Coloretto, the game is just too simple and repetitive and I crave heavier experiences. I sold it long ago.

Coloretto: The Limit Cards adds new rules to the game and in doing so, it adds life (replayability) to the game. In each game, only one card will be played (from six different cards) and it will limit the number of positive groups of cards to be scored and the amount of cards in these sets. To play with this expansion you need to remove the jokers. The expansion really changes how the game is played and it adds very little complexity to the game.

Bottom line, Coloretto: The Limit Cards keeps the game from being repetitive (boring) and it adds a lot of life to it. It is a must have for players who play Coloretto a lot. I prefer the Extra cards (previous expansion) but I enjoyed it.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: My Dwarves Fly

My Dwarves Fly

2017-10-25

Initial Rating: 4.0 (October 2017)

I wasn’t expecting much from My Dwarves Fly, but still the game managed to disappoint me. It is very basic and very long for what it offers.

The rules of the game are pretty easy to teach, you can do it under 5 minutes, playtime is around 60 (or longer) minutes with 4 players, way too long for such a simple game.

The art is reminiscent of Munchkin (a game I haven’t played but I think I will dislike). I kind of like it. The theme is also interesting.

I wasn’t able to find the rules online, only a FAQ.

The game´s components are regular. It comes with player aids that need to be cut from the rulebook (very awful).

The game doesn’t have any interesting decision, all the decisions are obvious and luck of the draw plays a huge role (you need battle cards to initiate combat, you need monsters to fight, the events are unbalanced). My Dwarves Fly also features a lot of “take that”, a mechanism I have come to heavily dislike in most games. The battles are uninteresting and repetitive. It has “kingmaker” issues. Awful gameplay.

Bottom line, I was sure My Dwarves Fly was a Steve Jackson game, but it isn’t. It still plays the same way, it has very little in the decisions department and it has too much uncontrollable luck. Playtime is way too high for such a simple game. I was bored through the game and I couldn’t wait for it to finish. I already sold it, I don’t think I will ever play it again.

Current Rating: 2.5


Board Game: Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

2017-10-25

Initial Rating: 6.0 (October 2017)

Years ago, I played Crappy Birthday and it wasn’t a fun experience, then I played Happy Birthday and I liked it. Before playing Happy Holidays, I didn’t knew both games used the same set of rules, but the rules are identical, so I knew I was going to enjoy the game, and I did!

The rules are uber simple, you can explain them under 1 minute. Playtime is less than 15 minutes.

Happy Birthday is a party game in which you get a present to a friend and he chooses the best and worst gifts to score. When a player has 5 points the game ends. It’s very simple, but with friends it is a blast.

The reason I didn’t like Crappy Birthday years ago, is that it had awful rules (they were changed). In the past, only the worst gift was scored, so luck reigned supreme, now both, the worst and the best gifts are scored, and that changes the game a lot for the better. It still has a lot of luck and the bad gifts are rather obvious most of the time, but now it is also fun to play. It is much better to give presents people actually likes.

I´m a bit worried about the replayability factor, it seems the game comes with too few cards and some obviously good/bad gifts. Time will tell. It would be great if all three games (Crappy Birthday, Happy Birthday and Happy Holidays) could be combined, but they all have different backs (and perhaps different card size as well).

Bottom line, Happy Holidays is an ok party game to play from time to time. I’m not sure it has the legs to stand several plays (low replay value). For now I’m enjoying it. I will probably sell it, but I will play it again at least once more before I really decide what to do with it.

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: Time's Up! Kids

Time's Up! Kids

2017-10-25

Initial Rating: 6.0 (October 2017)

I love Time´s Up!, it is the best party game ever created and many friends think the same way, so I play it a lot! I also have bought the game in as many version I have been able to find, thus, I bought and played Time's Up! Kids. I don’t have children yet, so all the players were adults, but we had some fun..

The game´s rules are simpler than usual. Now you play with only 20 cards, and only play for two rounds. In the first one, you can speak freely, in the second one you can only do charades. The cards of this version of the game doesn’t have any text on them, only drawings.

Making a fair judgment on the game is hard. As the rules are written, the game is boring for adults, but you can still play it with the old Time´s Up! Rules, and then it becomes much more interesting. I will rate it making a compromise between these two points of view.

Bottom line, Time's Up! Kids is a simpler version of an already simple (but great) party game. I had fun playing it with adults, but I guess children would love the game. For now, I will keep it among my game collection and if I play it again, I will use the ruleset of the old Time´s Up!

Current Rating: 6.0


Board Game: The Godfather: Corleone's Empire

The Godfather: Corleone's Empire

2017-10-25

Initial Rating: 6.0 (October 2017)

As soon as I found out that The Godfather: Corleone's Empire was a Cool Mini or Not game, my desire to play it plummeted. I have disliked every game I have played from this publisher. In general, I found their games gorgeous, but very shallow. I feel they put a lot of effort on the aesthetic part of the game while they don’t do the same to the gameplay, thus, every game I have played has disappointing me. Having saying this, I enjoyed my play of The Godfather: Corleone's Empire, but it is still not a game for me.

The game´s rules aren’t complex, but there are many of them, so you can probably explain them all under 15 minutes. Playtime is more than 2 hours.

The theme is rather nice, I enjoyed it although I have never seen the movie nor I have any interest in doing so.

As most area control games, it is best played with 4-5 players. With less, the experience is much less fun.

The game´s components are good, but Cool Mini or Not has trained me to expect better from them. Due to the high cost of the game, I was expecting better components. For some reason, I don’t like the art on the cards nor on the board. I was disappointed to see that every category of the job cards has the same art on them :/.

The Godfather: Corleone's Empire is an area control game mixed with worker placement and lots of “take that” (a mechanism I no longer enjoy in most games). The decisions needed to play the game aren’t very hard/deep, but you have to think them through. You have two kinds of gangsters, casual or professionals, and in each turn you need to do an action or pass. Every time you play a gangster, you do it for the action and to control that area, I like this, it makes the game harder and much more interesting. It has a light-medium weight. As I wrote before, the game has a lot of “take that”, many of your gangsters will end up in the river. I dislike this mechanism (in most games, not just in this one) because it is used to attack the perceived leader (although here the VPs are secret) or to make revenge attacks on someone that attacked you before. In this instance, it doesn’t matter how well you play, if you get attacked a lot you don’t stand a chance at winning the game. It also lend itself to kingmaking situations (another facet I heavily dislike). The mechanisms of the game aren’t novel in any way.

There is a healthy dose of luck with the cards, but you can control it a little bit at least. I think the jobs are unbalanced and you randomly draw them, for example, you can steal money from an opponent’s suitcase, that seems very powerful.

I have seen the game discounted a lot lately, so I’m not sure if it is doing ok or not. For my part, I almost never buy Cool Mini or Not games, they simply don’t make the games I tend to like.

Bottom line, I wasn’t expecting much from The Godfather: Corleone's Empire but the game surprised me and I had fun playing it. There is a considerable amount of luck with the cards, but you can control it a bit. Still the decisions needed to play the game are rather easy. I no longer enjoy “take that” games, I hate when players destroy each other plans, thus decreasing the strategy factor of the game, Having said that, I recognize The Godfather: Corleone's Empire is a solid design and and a fun one if you enjoy attacking your opponents. It is much better/interesting than Blood Rage, I think it is the best Cool Mini or Not game I have played to date (not counting Lorenzo il Maginifico that isn't their design and I really liked it), but still, my desire to play it again remains low. It would be much more interesting to me if the game time was less than 60 minutes.

Current Rating: 5.0


Board Game: Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama

2017-10-25

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

What´s your Game? is perhaps my favorite game publisher. I have really liked every one of their games (except the awful Big Manitou) and they have the best track record for me. I also have a lot of respect for Mr. Paolo Mori (the designer) so I was expecting a good game, and fortunately, I found a good game. I really like Vasco da Gama.

The rules are easy to learn and teach, you can do it under 15 minutes. Playtime exceed 2 hours.

The game´s components and the art are ok. Vasco da Gama comes with many stickers (I heavily dislike this) but my SO always helps to sticker them. I won´t ever do this activity, I’m bad at it and I hate to do it.

The theme is ok, but, as usual with this kind of game, you don’t feel it through the game.

The game´s decisions are very interesting. In one phase you have to plan your moves, you do this by choosing numbered discs (from 1-20), the earlier you want to act the more money you will probably have to pay (there isn’t a certainty on how much you will have to pay). Also, you can plan with disc 16 first and then with disc 6 next, the order of the actions are from low to high so the action 6 will happen first than the action 16, even if you planned them in disorder. This mental hoop caused problems to some players who felt that the orders should be executed in the order they planned them, I love this mechanism. In the next phase the actions will be executed in numerical order. You only have 4 possible actions to choose from (purchase projects, recruit sailors, expedition, characters) but the decision is not obvious. What I really like about the game is that you really need to analyze your game situation and your opponent´s so you can maximize your plans. It isn’t easy, but it is very fun and rewarding. Timing is very important.

The luck factor is low, but it is present in the Vasco da Gama tiles and in the project tiles. Sometimes you bet that you will be able to execute an action and you won’t be able to, still, in this case you get money instead (in most cases) but it can really hurt you.

Bottom line, Vasco da Gama is a good Euro game and one I want to play again soon. It is easy to teach, but hard to play well. It is novel, I haven’t played a game like it. It has very interesting decisions, low luck factor, and lots of fun. It has a permanent place in my game collection.

One of 2009´s favorites.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: The Ares Project

The Ares Project

2017-10-26

Initial Rating: 5.0 (October 2017)

The Ares Project was one of my oldest unplayed games. I bought it on early 2014, I finally played it this month and I can say, it appeared a fascinating game at first, but it ended up boring me.

The rules aren’t as easy to learn from the rulebook (it could be much better), but once you understand them, you can teach them under 12 minutes. That’s for the basic game only, I didn’t read nor tried to play the advanced game. For the full game, I guess you would need at least 25 minutes to teach everything. Playtime is more than 75 minutes.

The Ares Project theme is neat, we are terraforming mars , I like the theme and it did it before Mars became a cool theme.

The game´s component are regular as is the art.

The game seemed fascinating at first. Players have a shield to keep hidden their movements, that makes easy to cheat by mistake or with intention. You have many options each turn, but the game wasn’t as fun as I had hoped. Players develop their infrastructure until one of them attacks the middle terrain or the opponent’s base. It sounds great on paper, but it is a boring game in practice. I also dislike that you need to roll low to succeed (this is a personal pet peeve, I always like to roll high). In general, the game is very repetitive and it doesn’t offer a lot of fun.

The luck factor is very high. In theory you can control it as you know the odds, but in our game, my opponent should have won, he rolled 6 dice at least 4 times and he needed a 1 to win but he never rolled it. The cards themselves also have a lot of luck of the draw, if you don’t draw an attack card you cannot attack.. I feel the luck factor is high.

The battles can be long and procedural and you don’t have interesting decisions in it.

As I wrote before, I played only the basic game, each faction has its rulebook and each one is different from each other.

Best with two players.

Bottom line, The Ares Project is a novel and interesting game, but still I found it to be very boring and repetitive. I only played the basic game, but I didn’t like it enough to explore the advanced mode. It seems the advanced mode offers much more depth, but my desire to play it again is very low. It has a lot of luck. I already sold my copy of the game. I feel it is a cool idea, but the execution is boring.

Current Rating: 4.0


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

Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor

2017-10-26

Initial Rating: 5.0 (October 2017)

I love escape room games. I have played all the Unlock! games (I won’t buy the Exit series of games as you need to permanently damage the game to play it) and I think they are great! So I was very keen to play Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor, but it was such a disappointment.

The rules of the game are pretty easy to teach, you can do it in less than a minute. The game tells you it is for 3-8 players but I think it is best for 2 players. It is a VERY simple game. You can play it in less than 60 minutes.

The game´s components are good as is the art. I really liked to have to tinker and to assemble components to solve the puzzles, it is very different from Unlock! in this regard. Unlike the Exit series of games, you can reset this one, but in each play through the game suffers a bit more and that’s a negative for me.

I like the theme, but the story of the game is lousy and weak.

What disappointed me, is the game difficulty. We were only two players and we solved every puzzle very fast, in fact we breezed through all the puzzles without stopping until the end. You can easily solve this game by yourself, with more players it would be a waste of brainpower so I cannot see how the game says it is up to 8 players.

After we finished it, we felt we wasted our time, there wasn't any kind of challenge.

Bottom line, Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor is an extremely easy game, thus, it is very disappointing. The puzzles are obvious and easy to solve. I can´t see how the game recommends from 3 to 8 players to enjoy it I like the game can be re assembled to be played again, but still the game´s component suffer a bit during each play through. I already sold my copy of the game. I´m, obviously, not the target audience for this game so I won’t buy anymore games in this series.

Current Rating: 4.0


Board Game: Tides of Madness

Tides of Madness

2017-10-26

Initial Rating: 5.0 (October 2017)

I never liked very much Tides of Time, I recognize it is a clever game, but it is too simple for my current tastes. I bought it, played and sold it so I don’t understand why I bought Tides of Madness (I think I need help in this regard, on 2018 I will try to solve this issue). From the very start, I knew the game wasn’t for me. It is VERY similar to Tides of Time.

The rules are uber simple. You can explain them under 1 minute. Playtime is around 20 minutes.

I love the theme, but you don’t feel it much through the game. The art continues to be amazingly good (its best feature). The components are also good.

The rulebook is too dark so I couldn’t read the examples easily, not that you need to do so as the game is very simple. In any case the rulebook looks great, but it isn’t very functional.

Times of Madness have, somewhat, interesting decisions and I have fun while I play it, but after it ends, I have no desire to ever play it again. I like that it is a drafting game for two, so memory plays a huge role here. The game is very similar to Tides of Time, the main difference is that now you can acquire “Madness Tokens” and if you have enough tokens, you automatically lose the game.

The replayability factor seems to be low, too few cards.

Bottom line, Tides of Madness is a solid game, but not for me. It features great art but boring gameplay. It is very simple for our current tastes, it is also a bit better than Tides of Time. I already sold it. It would have been nice if both sets of games could be combined.

Current Rating: 5.0


Board Game: Codenames: Duet

Codenames: Duet

2017-10-26

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

I, absolutely, love Codenames. I have purchased every version of the game and I like them all. Codenames was my favorite game on 2015 so I was very keen to play Codenames Duet. The game continues to be very engaging and I had lots of fun playing it.

This new version of the game, uses the same core of old Codenames, but now the game is fully cooperative. The new rules are easy to teach. If you are familiar with the game you can do it under 2 minutes, if you are not familiar with the game, the game explanations takes under 5 minutes. Codenames is a very simple game. Playtime is around 15 minutes.

Among the changes are: 1. Players are now playing a cooperative game and both players will give a clue and have to guess in each of their turns. 2. Now you can try to guess as many clues as you want. The number in the clue doesn’t limit you any longer. 3. There is a “campaign” mode that considerably adds to the difficulty of the game. 4. Now, there are 3 assassins per side and 3 common green spots per side, it introduces a small, but significant, deduction element into the game. 5. The words now include a wider range of topics and names. 6. The downtime is greatly reduced in this version of the game.

This edition of Codenames can be combined with any other edition of the game (a huge plus for me). It also has a distinctive mark to tell the cards apart, I really appreciate this.

Best with 2 players. You can still play in teams, but I prefer 2 players only.

Bottom line, Codenames Duet is a good game that feels very different from its parent game. I’m not sure how often I will play it as a two player game as I generally prefer heavier games in this slot, but I will definitely keep it among my game collection. I want to play it again and I want to play the campaign. I still like more the original Codenames, but this is a very solid game, Vlaada Chvátil does it again (he is my favorite game designer).

Current Rating: 7.5


Board Game: Summoner Wars: The Filth – Second Summoner

Summoner Wars: The Filth – Second Summoner

2017-10-27

Initial Rating: 7.5 (October 2017)

The Filth is, perhaps, my favorite Summoner Wars faction so I was very happy to, finally, play with the second summoner (Little Meda).

As with the previous summoner, this faction is very tricky to handle and it plays very different from any other faction. It is very thematic and I really like how the mutations work.

The art continues to be, kind of, regular. It is very creepey in this set (a plus for me).

The summoner, Little Meda, is very weak with only 3 life points, but, from the very beginning, it has a protector, a champion called Nanny and if they are together, they cannot be the target of effects and Nanny can take Little Meda´s wounds. Also, it is the first time I have seen a champion starts in play from the beginning of the game. I really like them both. Little Meda´s ability allows you to take Mutations from the discard pile or deck, but you have to pay for it.

The new deck has very powerful events, the event, Daddy doesn’t like you, does 3 damage to common or champion units. The event Daddy I’m scared can be played on your opponent´s turn and it allows you to move your summoner disrupting your opponent´s plans. The event, I want a new toy, lets you search your deck for a mutation (pretty normal), but the cool part is that you can summon it in the event phase, very powerful! The event, Look what I can do, can steal up to 3 mana from you opponent easily. To summarize, I´m loving the events, they break the rules ín fun ways and are very powerful.

The common units are weaker than before. The common unit Deathseeker is free to summon, but if an enemy moves adjacent to it, she dies just like that. The common unit Herald is a bit better, but it is still weak, its ability ((infernal Preaching) carries a harsh penalty. To be effective, the unit has to roll pairs over 3, otherwise, the higher die will be a miss. The base common units are much better and I think I will add them to the deck.

I love the mutations, this expansion has some weaker mutants (Springy Mutant), some normal mutants and some very powerful ones (Blade Mutant and Amoeba Mutant).

Bottom line, I love Summoner Wars: The Filth – Second Summoner, it isn’t an easy deck to master and, knowing when to play a mutation and which one to play isn’t easy, still, The Filth is my favorite faction and I want to explore it further. This is a great addition to the game. The Filth decks plays unlike any other deck.

Current Rating: 8.0


Board Game: Summoner Wars: Fallen Kingdom – Second Summoner

Summoner Wars: Fallen Kingdom – Second Summoner

2017-10-29

Initial Rating: 7.5 (October 2017)

I really like Summoner Wars, so I was very keen to try this new addition to the game.

Summoner Wars: Fallen Kingdom – Second Summoner is a very solid entry to the game. The Fallen Kingdom has, traditionally, hurts itself to summon its most powerful champions but due to this, the Fallen Kingdom has been always rather easy to kill in the past. The trend continues with this expansion, but now, there is a game changer, Mad Sirian (the summoner) has a powerful ability that will change the landscape. He is a vampire, his ability Blood Drain allows him to heal himself after each successful attack and that´s an insane ability. As far as I know, he is the only summoner able to heal himself, and that makes him a very powerful foe.

The units are also very powerful, among the common units the Fallen Kingdom has:

- Warlock, he cost 3 mana and attacks with 2 dice, it seems weak, but you can summon him for free if you wound your summoner, so he is very strong.
- Ghoul is a very powerful common, it cost 2 mana and attacks with 2 dice, if it didn’t destroy a unit in its turn, you have to place 1 wound on it. The disadvantage seems severe, but it isn’t as the unit can do a lot of damage and if it dies by its ability, it becomes mana for you.
- Vampire is also powerful, he cost two mana, attacks with 2 dice and one life point. He can attack and then move again AFTER the attack so hitting them isn’t as easy as before.

The champion units are:

- Gul-Dass is a very powerful champion, it cost only 5 mana, it has 7 life points and it attacks with 4 dice. The drawback is that if it inflicts 3 or more damage you also have to wound your summoner.
- Hirud is very powerful, if you are in a good board position, he can win you the game. Its ability is amazing, it makes your opponent’s champions cost two more mana to summon. It also hit with 3 dice and has 5 life points. If you can summon it early it can really mess your opponent´s plans.
- Corpse Wyrm has 9 life points, it cost 6 mana to summon and attacks with 1 dice, its ability can be very powerful but it is very situational, it becomes a wall and you can summon your common units beside him.

The events are also pretty nice:

- Searching the stone allows you to draw 5 cards and then to summon in the event phase, very powerful. It also wound your summoner.
- Reanimate allows you to bring back to play a common unit from any discard pile, it cost two wounds to your summoner.
- Forbidden Ritual, is powerful, it adds one die to each creature until the end of the round but it also add the Ghoul disadvantage (if it didn’t destroy a unit, it gets a wound). Powerful stuff.

Bottom line , I have always liked the Fallen Kingdom philosophy of self-inflicting wounds, but in the past it has left it very weak and at the end it was a very hard disadvantage to overcome, now, with the powerful Mad Sirian ability coupled with great units, the Fallen Kingdom will be a very a hard faction to beat. Playing with the Fallen Kingdom still carries a lot of risk, but it is a very thematic faction and a and fun one to play. I want to mix the previous units with the new ones.

Current Rating: 8.0


Board Game: Summoner Wars: Benders – Second Summoner

Summoner Wars: Benders – Second Summoner

2017-10-27

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

The Benders are among my favorite Summoner Wars factions, so I was very keen to play with the second summoner. As I got killed very quickly, I didn’t get so see many cards. The main feeling I have is that the Benders are a weak faction and that it is very hard to master.

The summoner, Shiva, can move your opponent’s common and champion units. There is a common unit, Puppet, which cannot move and attack in the same turn. It seems the deck´s strategy goes around this Puppet unit. Many cards have a lot of synergy with them. There is an event (Animate) that allows your puppets to move, an event (Restitch) that allow your puppets to be back from a discard pile (cool event) and there is a champion (Puppetmaster) that allows you to move your puppets. Even after all of this, I feel the faction is very weak. To master the second summoner Benders seems truly hard.

The other common units beside the Puppet are the Shifters, which can be exchanged for any other common unit (very powerful, moreover, because there is an event that can destroy them) and the Siren, which can move enemies just like Shiva (the summoner). I love the Shifters, they continue the thematic setting of the Benders and they can easily disrupt your opponent´s plans.

The new champions , beside the Puppetmaster, seems very expensive for what they do. Haku is very expensive at 7 mana and I’m not sure if his defensive ability (scramble, it forces your opponent to reroll a die) is worthy enough. He has an attack of 3. The other champion, Lem, is a bit better. He has an attack of five, but for every miss you roll, you have to place a wound on him. He has a lot of hit points, but still, with 5 dice you will roll a lot of misses.

Bottom line, I do like the new cards, but I feel they are very weak, or alternatively, playing well with the second summoner Benders is very hard. Still, I want to play again with them, because I love the game.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Cosmic Wimpout

Cosmic Wimpout

2017-10-29

Initial Rating: 4.0 (October 2017)

Cosmic Wimpout was one of my oldest unplayed games. The box cover isn’t very inviting and when I opened it only 5 dice and a mat were inside.

The rules of the game are pretty easy, you can explain them under 2 minutes. Reading the rules from the rulebook isn’t as easy as it should be for such a simple game. They could be much better. Playtime is rather short (its best feature).

The game´s components are very regular although the dice are nice looking.

The gameplay is extremely easy but I thought it was going to be a fun game, it wasn’t. Toss Up! is a, somewhat similar but, much better game. In Cosmic Wimpout luck reign supreme and you don’t have much decisions to make, even the decision of when to stop is often not up to you.

It has many variants and the game encourages you to make your own house rules, in general, that´s very bad for me. I always dislike house rules. I want clearly defined rules and boundaries, I don’t want to test new ideas, I don’t want to design a game, even a simple one, I just want to play a well-tested game.

Bottom line, Cosmic Wimpout disappointed me. I already sold it and I don’t think I will ever play it again. Too simple, too much luck, too few decisions. If you want to play a “push your luck” game, play Toss up! Or Can´t Stop.

Current Rating: 2.5


Board Game: Penny Arcade: The Game – Rumble in R'lyeh

Penny Arcade: The Game – Rumble in R'lyeh

2017-10-29

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

I like Penny Arcade: The Game – Gamers vs. Evil, I find it to be a fun and, mostly, strategic deck builder game so I was keen to try the new (for me) iteration in the game system and I liked it.

Penny Arcade: The Game – Rumble in R'lyeh plays exactly the same as the previous game and the most important thing it adds, are the new cards. This edition of the game can be played by itself or mixed with the previous set. I have played, many times, Penny Arcade: The Game – Gamers vs. Evil, so I’m very happy to get new cards to play with. It also adds gold cards, cards that cost tokens and power to acquire and they are quite powerful.

I don’t know anything about the Penny Arcade universe, but it seems fans of the source materiel enjoy the game more than me. The theme is ok, some of the cards are funny. On the other hand I didn’t feel any Cthulhu theme in the set (but I haven’t played with all the cards).

Penny Arcade: The Game – Rumble in R'lyeh has an static card offering (like Dominion), and that’s huge deal for me for two big reasons. 1. It makes the game strategic (you can plan the whole game from the beginning, thus it has a low luck factor). 2. it is fair for all players (all cards are available to all players since the beginning, nothing of that nonsense of having different cards to purchase every turn making the luck of the game uncontrollable ). Just for that reason I like this game much more than other games that have a variable market offering (Ascension, Legendary, Star Realms, Clank! among others), in those games tactics is what it is most important and the luck factor is much higher.

The game has bosses to be defeated and luck decides which card you get when you defeat a boss. I don’t mind this much, as all the cards are powerful in some way.

The new cards are fun to play, when I play more with the set I will come back to write my thoughts about them, but for now, I´m very happy to have new things to try, new cards to explore. The game system really needed an expansion and when you mix the cards, the replayability factor increases a lot.

I wasn´t able to find the rules online, that's sad and weird.

Bottom line, I like Penny Arcade: The Game – Rumble in R'lyeh. It is a good deckbuilding game and I will keep it among my game collection for now (Dominion is still the best for me). For me, it is essential that a deckbuilder game has a static market offering, otherwise, luck and tactics become much more important than strategy. I had fun playing the game and I want to play it again soon. I want to mix both sets together.

Current Rating: 7.0

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Board Game: Anachrony

Anachrony

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

After Trickerion (a game I love) I will back every Mindclash Games game, I just backed Cerebria and I was very keen to try Anachrony. It seems, they publish the kind of game I tend to enjoy as I liked it a lot.

The rules of the game aren’t as complex as you would think from the rulebook, but there are many rules and variants. You can teach them under 20 minutes and you can explain a lot through the theme. At first, I though Anachrony´s rulebook wasn’t very clear, but as it turned out I first read a draft of the rulebook (27 pages long) I had on my files. The final rulebook is much better and does a good job at explaining the game. I found some small differences between the two rulebooks (but I don’t remember them now ). To summarize, the game seems hard to learn, but that´s not the case.

The theme is fascinating and you do feel it through the game, the game´s mechanism support it very well. The story seems weird, but I have not read the full story that came with the KS box.

The game´s components are very well done as is the art. I won´t comment here about the oversized miniatures as they are part of the Anachrony: Exosuit Commander Pack. With the KS box I couldn’t fit back all the unpunched components (there are so many of them) and sleeved cards, but my SO could, so it is possible but I lack this skill. The box is very heavy, so some of the plastic pegs arrived broken in my copy.

I have only played the base game without any variant, but it comes with some variants and additions right out of the box (like Trickerion) and I love that. I will try them next and then I will come back to comment on them. I played with the A side of the faction boards.

Anachrony is a solid worker placement game, it has a medium weight and it plays around 3 hours. It features specialized workers, which is not a novel mechanism, but it works very well here. The decisions needed to play the game aren’t easy or obvious. You need to plan carefully. Among the decisions you need to take are: how many suits to power up?, what resources should I request from the future?, should I recruit more workers?, if so of which kind, should I get resources?, if so which kind, should I construct, if so which building, should I construct the super project?, should I evacuate? should I get water?, should I wake my workers peacefully or by force?, should I activate a building?, should I research? Should I become the first player?). After the impact new options become available. You don´t have enough workers to do all the things you want to do and you also have to take into account your opponent’s´ moves as they can block the action you want to do. There is a lot of tension and fun in the game and the best path isn’t obvious, it seems it has many paths to victory.

When you recover your workers, some of them can be played right away and some of the are tired , I like this mechanism.

Each faction has a power, I have only played the game once so I need more plays to verify if they are balanced, but the player who played the red faction complained a lot his faction was very weak compared to ours because his evacuation action didn’t net him a lot of VPs. Time will tell.

I, particularly, like the warp phase. It is very novel and it reminds me of the videogame Day of the Tentacle. In this phase, you can get up to two free resources from the future, they are free this round but in the future you will have to send them to avoid paradoxes (and lose VPs). Also if you are the player who most has used this warped resources, you will probably get them anyway.

Best with 3 players but I wouldn’t mid to play it with 4 players. It can also be played as a solo game for people who likes this kind of stuff (I don’t).

The luck factor is low, there is luck in how the buildings appear, but, most times, you can see two buildings at the same time. The luck is a bit higher with the breakthroughs. The are more dice that I haven't used yet.

Anachrony is a solid game, but after Trickerion and after seeing how well rated the game is here on BGG, I was expecting something better. The game disappointing me a bit, but I still like it a lot (if that makes any sense). I still prefer Trickerion to this one.

Bottom line, Anachrony is a good worker placement game and I will keep it in my game collection. It has many mechanisms that mesh together to offer a fun and compelling experience, the decisions needed to play the game are very interesting. I´m keen to try all the variants and modules and I enjoy it a lot. The game is overproduced, but I don’t mind this part. Packing the game after a play is painful for me as you need to do it in a special way to ensure all the components fit in the game box.

Current Rating: 7.5


Board Game: Anachrony: Exosuit Commander Pack

Anachrony: Exosuit Commander Pack

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

Anachrony: Exosuit Commander Pack is a gorgeous expansion for Anachrony. It also adds other cards and components I haven’t played with yet (Adventure Cards, Adventure Boards, Exosuit Upgrades, Adventure Die, Guardian board and two new Endgame Condition cards). I´m very happy that the expansion comes with more than just the overproduced miniatures. When I play with the new components, I will come back to comment on them, for now I will write only about the miniatures.

The miniatures are great, no one can say they aren’t, but they are also very big and overproduced and, I dare to say, a bit unnecessary in a worker placement game. The game is fully playable without them and they drive up the price of the game. Having said that, after playing with them I really prefer them over the cardboard that come with the base game .

Once upon a time, when I began playing boardgames (around 2010) the great miniatures of some of the FFG titles (Doom) and others (Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game) really swayed me, but lately, every time I see great miniatures on KS I suspect them. I do this because I have been burned by many great looking games, but with very shallow gameplay (Zombicide, Blood Rage). It is true great miniatures sell a lot, but I have been drifting away from them, mostly due to Cool Mini or Not games, but also, others publishers also make a priority the outside of game sacrificing the inside.

For me, the miniatures are nice to have but not a requirement. I´m much more interested in gameplay. The aesthetics of a game isn’t a priority to me, but as I liked Anachrony, I will also play with the miniatures. As I trust Mindclash Games games (due to the excellent Trickerion and the solid Anachrony) I already backed their next game with full painted miniatures (I hate to paint miniatures, and I won’t ever paint a single one of them). I hope game play is good enough for me.

Bottom line, I like the big miniatures and I will always play with them but they are unnecessary. They are also nice to have and they look great on the board. I can enjoy the game without them and due to this, I´m also very happy this expansion isn’t only miniatures, it also adds some content I’m keen to try.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Anachrony Leader Box

Anachrony Leader Box

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

This is the original Kickstarter box with all the content for the game.

Its rating will be the average rating of its separate games and expansions.

The box itself is very big and heavy and it comes with a sleeve. It also comes with some components that weren’t listed anywhere. They are marked with a pencil and I recently found out they are for players to design their own cards and timelines. It is a nice to have feature but I would have liked them to be listed somewhere, it is a minor complaint though.

I already commented the game and the first expansion and you can see the comments under their entries.

Current Rating: 7.0


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

In the Year of the Dragon: 10th Anniversary

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

I really like In the Year of The Dragon but, so far, I was unable to acquire a copy at a decent price. In the past I had the opportunity but I yielded to a friend who took the game home. I did have the expansions for the game though.

As soon I found out they were rereleasing the game, I bought it immediately and I´m glad I did. If you want to see my comments for the game you can do it under the original entry here on BGG.

This new edition of the game comes with the original game plus the expansions. The other change it has, is that the price of the big privilege changed from 6 to 7 Yuan. I approve of the change as, every time I played the game, someone buys the large privilege as his first move, now it’s impossible. All other things remain the same, including the components which are regular.

I also really like the expansion, in special the super events, they change the game considerably without adding a lot of rules. You can see my comments under its entry here on BGG.

On my copy of the game, the player aids weren’t printed, I have just blank cards. I will contact the publisher soon about this.

The rating of this new edition of the game, will be the average I gave to the base game and its expansion.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Mage Wars Arena: Paladin vs Siren Expansion Set

Mage Wars Arena: Paladin vs Siren Expansion Set

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 8.5 (October 2017)

I love Mage Wars, a game currently among my Top Ten favorite games of all time, so it is only natural that I also love its expansions.

Mage Wars Arena: Paladin vs Siren Expansion Set comes with (obviously) two new mages . I have only played with the Siren so I cannot comment on the Paladin yet. I know he uses auras somehow but when I play with him, I will come back to comment again.

The art continues to be top notch.

The Siren is a very interesting mage, she has a lot of aquatic creatures that are more powerful if they are underwater and she also has the capacity to summon conjuration cards that change the terrain to aquatic, these new conjurations don’t have any life, so you cannot attack them, due to this they are very resilient :evil:. The aquatic conjurations seem very powerful because they affect non-aquatic creatures if they don’t fly, sadly, my opponent (both times) only had flying creatures so I couldn’t hurt him much in this way. The Siren´s training is water magic (obviously) and she had some interesting abilities. 1. Siren´s Call which forces a creature to move toward your mage but she cannot attack the siren this turn and Fermata that allows the song spell to dissipate in more turns. If she is on an aquatic terrain, she can heal one point each turn. It seems she has to wait for the opponent to attack her due to the advantages of the terrain cards.

The dissipate token were introduced in Mage Wars: Academy, but they are used here as well. The grapple mechanism is new and it is used by tentacle aquatic creatures. The rules for grapple are the longest I have seen for any trait, but they are logical and easy to learn and teach.

Bottom line, I love Mage Wars Arena: Paladin vs Siren Expansion Set and I want to explore it further. Sadly, Mage Wars is one of the games that doesn’t comes to the table easily as it is long and two player only. I will try the Paladin next.

Current Rating: 8.5


Board Game: Amerigo Queenie 1: Volcanic Island

Amerigo Queenie 1: Volcanic Island

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

As I like Amerigo, I knew I had to buy and play its mini expansions. I’m a completionist and, thus far, I have been unable to avoid this behavior so I bought all three expansions for the game.

Amerigo Queenie 1: Volcanic Island is a nice to have addition to the game, but nothing too exciting. It features an island that has to be near the center of the table and it has gold tokens on it. The tokens will give the player who build on them a random amount of gold. It is a new way to win gold and that´s nice to have. I think I will always play with it as I see no reason to not do that.

Bottom line, Amerigo Queenie 1: Volcanic Island is a harmless expansion. I will always play with it. It doesn’t make the game more challenging or easier. I, somewhat, dislike the random nature of the reward.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Amerigo Queenie 2: Cove Island, Bay Island & New Progress Tokens

Amerigo Queenie 2: Cove Island, Bay Island & New Progress Tokens

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

As I like Amerigo, I knew I had to buy and play its mini expansions. I’m a completionist and, thus far, I have been unable to avoid this behavior so I bought all three expansions for the game.

Amerigo Queenie 2: Cove Island, Bay Island & New Progress Tokens offers 3 different aspects. First it has two new islands, one small and one big that allows you to create small or big islands. They can change gameplay a little bit. The other part of the expansion is great and I’m very excited about the new progress tokens. They are only 6 tiles, but they really change gameplay and offer a wider array of strategy. I´m sad they are only 6 new tiles, I would have loved to have more tiles. Now you know there are 6 tiles you won’t see every game and they increase the replayability of the game.

Bottom line, the new islands are ok, but the new progress tiles are a must have for hardcore players of the game, they change the game considerably and add lots of replayability. It is my favorite of the mini expansions.

Current Rating: 7.5


Board Game: Amerigo Queenie 3: Special Production Buildings and Tokens

Amerigo Queenie 3: Special Production Buildings and Tokens

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

As I like Amerigo, I knew I had to buy and play its mini expansions. I’m a completionist and, thus far, I have been unable to avoid this behavior so I bought all three expansions for the game.

Amerigo Queenie 3: Special Production Buildings and Tokens is a nice to have expansion, but nothing too exciting or necessary. It adds new tiles with high VPs and they allow you to take a production token which is nice. It adds some new options without adding complex rules. Taking them is a no brainer as the reward is very high, the only issue is that sometimes you cannot build the big ones if you plan poorly.

Bottom line, Amerigo Queenie 3: Special Production Buildings and Tokens is an ok expansion, not a necessary one. As I already have it, I will play with it when I play Amerigo, I see no reason to leave it behind.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom

Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

I really like Seasons so I was very keen to try its expansions. After playing with them, I can say I really like them, but as I played them mixed I don’t know which card is from which expansion :/, so I cannot comment on the specifics.

I haven’t read the rules, but I think Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom only adds new cards, which are very welcomed. If cards were all that it adds I would be happy, but it seems it adds lots of tokens to use when a particular card shows up, I don’t like them as much as I feel they are kind of silly. It also add a new kind of card, the enchantments cards which have a onetime effect per game They are nice and they can have a huge impact on the game. I hope they aren’t unbalanced.

The new rules can be explained under 2 minutes and the art continues to be great.

I wish the game came with more cards, but I´m very happy to explore the new cards. Seasons already had a very high replayability factor, but now it has increased a lot, furthermore, because I try to play it only as a two player game. I can swing a 3 player game but I refuse 4 player games, they are too slow and too long.

Bottom line, Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom is a good expansion for me. I´m happy it adds many cards to the mix. I also like the new enchantment cards but I need to play more with them. The tokens are ok, but I feel they were added to justify the cost of the expansion, and they can slow the game a bit while you look for the relevant token. I feel they are superfluous. I would have preferred more cards instead of this plethora of tokens (although some tokens could be from the next expansion, everything was mixed). Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom is a must have for me.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Seasons: Path of Destiny

Seasons: Path of Destiny

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

I really like Seasons so I was very keen to try its expansions. After playing with them, I can say I really like them, but as I played them mixed I don’t know which card is from which expansion :/, so I cannot comment on the specifics.

I haven’t read the rules, but I think Seasons: Path of Destiny adds more cards, more enchantments, more tokens to use with the cards and a new die, the die of destiny.

The art of the new cards continue to be great and the new die looks also great.

The new rules can be explained under 2 minutes. The new die of destiny can be chosen instead of a regular die and you have to roll it. It can give you resources and destiny tokens (I don’t know how they are called), the player with most destiny tokens at the end of the game wins 20 VPs.

As with the previous expansion, I´m very excited about the new cards, all the other things are nice to have, but not very important to me. I´m very excited to try the cards soon. I wish the game came with more cards. Seasons already had a very high replayability factor, but now, with both expansions mixed in, it has increased a lot, furthermore, because I try to play it only as a two player game. I can swing a 3 player game but I refuse 4 player games, they are too slow and too long.

Bottom line, Seasons: Path of Destiny is a good expansion for me. I´m happy it adds many cards to the mix. I also like the new die of destiny. The new rules are very easy to teach so if you are familiar with the game we can start playing right away. The tokens are ok, but I feel they were added to justify the cost of the expansion, and they can slow the game a bit while you look for the relevant token. I feel they are superfluous. I would have preferred more cards instead of this plethora of tokens (although some tokens could be from the previous expansion, everything was mixed). Seasons: Path of Destiny is a must have for me, I will buy it soon.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Adventure Deck 6: Spires of Xin-Shalast

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Adventure Deck 6: Spires of Xin-Shalast

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

I finally played and ended the last adventure of the Rise of the Runelords! It was hard because I got stuck on a scenario of the previous expansion and it took a long of time to finally pass it. From the deck number 5 onward, the difficulty of the game increased a lot and I had lots of fun playing it.

I really like Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords so it is no surprise that I also like its expansions.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Adventure Deck 6: Spires of Xin-Shalast is a great finale for the game. What I like most about Pathfinder is the “campaign” feel it has. I love to see how my characters are progressing through time, getting better skills, and loot. Spires of Xin-Shalast Adventure Deck adds more of the same which is what you want in a game like this one. However, the scenarios are very different from other expansions and I really like the variety. My characters are very high level now, but many checks now include immunities against a wide array of things and there are lots of “before attacking you need to pass a dexterity/wisdom or you can’t use a weapon/spell” so I failed a lot (but not as much as I did on the number 5 deck). The last fight is very hard, you need some luck on your part to finish it successfully.

I’m a bit sad this journey has ended. I don’t have much desire to replay it because I already beat the game and that’s the main reason I don’t own the game. Still, I would have loved to continue the campaign, to achieve higher levels and better loot. I know there are other Pathfinder games out there, but I think you cannot use these cards in those settings (I’m not really sure).

Bottom line, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Adventure Deck 6: Spires of Xin-Shalast is a great finale for the first series of the game. The difficulty of this deck isn’t as high as the previous deck, but it is pretty high nonetheless, and I approve. I would have loved to continue the campaign, perhaps I will play other Pathfinder games, time will tell. Playing through the whole campaign, was a blast.

Current Rating: 7.0


Board Game: Automania

Automania

2017-10-30

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

Since I heard about Automania, I always wanted to play the game but I’m not sure why. The original yellow box didn’t call to me and the second edition white box doesn’t either, still, I bought it and played the game and I liked it.

The rules of the game aren’t hard to grasp. I wish the rulebook was a bit better, but it does its job. You can explain the game under 7 minutes. Playtime is around 100 minutes. Automania doesn’t have a list of components on the box or the rulebook and that’s very bad for me. I don’t understand why they didn’t include it. I need it to verify if the game is complete after each play and it is very important if I buy the game second hand. I used to buy lots and lots of second hand games but since shipping increased a lot in America in recent years I couldn´t keep up with it so I now buy with free shipping from Cardhaus, MM or CSI.

The art of the game is ok, I neither like it nor dislike it. The theme is ok as well, nothing too exciting.

The gameplay is very interesting and I wasn’t expecting this as the rules are pretty simple and straightforward. The game will last for four rounds and in each round you have to play an action or pass. Playing an action involves building a card (from three possible) or getting a contract card (hidden or visible). When you build a card, if the contract card matches the requirements you can play it. Every time you build a car you match its characteristic with a market in America or Europe and that gives you the quality of the car. The higher the quality, the faster you will be able to sell it. The action phase is very interesting because all players are competing for them and the tiles are in a grid, so when you choose an action you are also choosing a tile to place in your board. If a player played the action you wanted first, it will now cost you two workers instead of one and so on. In the sell phase, you will sell the cards you built and thus you will obtain money and VPs. The amount of cards you can sell is limited. The decisions needed to play the game aren’t very hard, but they aren’t obvious either. The game has a lot of tension.

Among the tiles you can get are: New workers for you factory, new machines for your factory or new styling tiles for your cars. They either give you quality or some other benefit.

After I read the rules I thought the game was going to be very simple, but I was surprised by it and I enjoyed it a lot. All my friends also enjoyed it. It shows that a game doesn’t need to be overly complicated to have interesting decisions. It has a light-medium weight.

There is considerable luck with the tiles and, most of all, the contract cards. I need to play more times to see if this bothers me or not.

Bottom line, Automania is a solid Euro game with easy rules but, somewhat, deep and tense decisions. I want to play it again soon and, for now, it is a keeper for me. I hope the game has a high replay value. Time will tell. It is a borderline 7.0 to me.

Current Rating: 7.0

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Board Game: Mystic Vale

Mystic Vale

2017-10-31

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

A while ago, I didn’t have much confidence in AEG´s games, but after Automobiles, and now Mystic Vale, my confidence in them has been growing steadily. I wanted to play Mystic Vale because the “Card Crafting System” sounds fascinating and it is . After playing Dice Forge, my interest in customized components increased a lot. After playing Mystic Vale, I can say I liked the game, but I have some misgivings.

The rules are pretty simple, you can explain them under 5 minutes. Playtime is very dependent on the number of players. I feel this is best played as a two player game, with more the downtime is too much for such a simple game.

The art of the game is gorgeous and the components are ok. I’m worried about the transparent cards, I cannot sleeve them and I feel they are going to suffer during repeated play. I wish there was a way to sleeve all the components, perhaps there is. I will buy a mat to play my copy of the game.

The first time I have seen transparent cards was in the Gloom series of games, but I heavily dislike Gloom in all its incarnations so I didn’t know what to expect here.

I, generally, love deckbuilder games IF they have a static market offering. Mystic Vale doesn’t have a static market offering, the cards appear at random and it bothers me, due to this, the strategy decreases a lot while tactics become very important. At least in Mystic vale there are 3 tiers of cards, all with a different range in cost and you can, at most, buy two cards per turn so the luck factor is restricted by a little bit, still, I would have preferred a more strategic game. Having said that, I enjoyed the game and I want to play it again, the crafting of the cards is very compelling and fun and this helps ameliorate the distaste that the variable market offering leaves at my mouth.

The game´s decisions aren’t very hard, Mystic vale has a light-medium weight. I LOVE that you always have the exact number of cards in your deck. In Mystic Vvale you don’t add more cards to your deck.

Besides the luck of the draw, there is also luck in your deck. When you end your turn you have to draw cards until there are 3 red symbols (decay? I´m not familiar with the terms yet) and you can risk losing your turn drawing more cards, that is, there is a push your luck element in the game. I’m still undecided how I feel about this.

As I have only played once, I cannot comment on the replayability. From my limited perspective, it seems high, but many friends have told me that the game comes with too few cards, the problem is solved though, I know AEG released at least 3 expansions.

When I was playing, the better cards were easily identifiable from my deck as they were a lot thicker than the other ones. I´m still undecided how I feel about this, but it can be used to cheat the “push your luck” mechanism and in other ways as well.

Bottom line, I wasn’t expecting anything good from Mystic Vale, but I really liked the game. It has a novel idea and the execution is very good. I’m bothered by the high luck factor the game has and I heavily dislike the variable market offering as it makes the game tactical instead of strategic, but still the game´s mechanisms won me over. I will probably buy the game along all its expansions and promos but I would like to play with my SO first to see what she thinks. Mystic vale is a cool deckbuilding game, but Dominion is still king for me. I wish there was an online implementation of the game, I would buy that right away. As it stands, Mystic Vale is a borderline 7.0 to me.

Current Rating: 7.0

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Board Game: Yokohama

Yokohama

2017-10-31

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

I´m not sure why I backed Yokohama on Kickstarter, it must have been the “fear of missing out”. At that time I had just received my copy of Orleans Deluxe (a game I love) so I thought another deluxe game? Why not, but after learning who was the designer, my desire to play the game plummeted. I have disliked every game from designer Hisashi Hayashi, until now. I really liked Yokohama. Another thing that caused me to disregard the game, was the comparison to Istanbul (a game I dislike), in reality, both games share very little (fortunately), or it is much better implemented in Yokohama.

The rules of the game can be explained under 20 minutes. At first, it seems the game has complex rules, but they aren’t hard to grasp. The complexity comes from the amount of rules you have to teach. I learned the game at 1.00 in the morning so I misunderstood some concepts, still the game flowed easily and the graphic design helps to understand everything. I still haven’t read the rules so I don’t know if the game has variants. Playtime was a lot faster than I thought it would be, we finished the game faster (we were 3 players) than a 4 player game of Automania other friends were playing nearby. I think I prefer the game with 3 players, with more the downtime becomes excessive.

The theme is ok, nothing too exciting, but it doesn’t bothers me either. You don’t feel it through the game though.

The game´s components are very good as is the art. I played a retail copy of the game, I haven’t opened my copy so I’m not sure what are the changes between the retail edition and the deluxe edition of the game.

Yokohama has a lot of interesting decisions, nothing is obvious. You need to carefully plan your moves or you will lose. There are many ways to earn VPs, that is, it seems the game has many paths to victory. In our game, all players pursued a very different strategy, but we were very close at the end. I hope to find more differentiation in the score after some games. In your turn, you play workers to the areas you want to execute (now or in the future), 3 workers in they are in different areas, or 2 workers if they are in the same area and then you move your boss, following the trail of your workers, when the boss stops at an space he can do the action of the space and if the space has enough workers you can maybe build there and/or win some bonuses. Planning where to play your workers and where to move your boss each turn isn’t obvious and it is a lot of fun. The other player’s bosses can hinder you and you need to pay them if you go through them. Money can be very tight so paying this fee be very punishing. There are lots of actions you can do, in most spaces you can gather a resource, but you can also get a contract, get new technologies, send workers to special places that will score now and at the end of the game, get more workers and/or buildings, get money. The game also has 3 big goals for players to achieve during gameplay, they are different from game to game. To summarize, the game is highly strategic and it offers a plethora of options to pursue, timing is very important and the game offers lots of tension.

It seems Yokohama has a lot of replay value as it has a variable setup, lots of technology and contracts cards, variable goals.

Bottom line, I really liked Yokohama, it is a good Euro game. It is the best Hisashi Hayashi game out there and a keeper among my game collection. The retail version of the game is gorgeous, when I open the deluxe version I will come back to comment on the components. I really want to play it again soon and it can, perhaps, get an upgraded rating with more plays. I wasn’t expecting anything good from it, but I’m glad I bought it.

Current Rating: 7.5

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Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion

Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion

2017-10-31

Initial Rating: N/A (October 2017)

I began playing Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion on BGA. I still haven’t finished the game so I cannot form a complete opinion of the game. When I do, I will come back to comment on it

I love RFTG though, a game currently on my Top Ten favorite games of all time,

Current Rating: N/A



Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War

Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War

2017-10-31

Initial Rating: N/A (October 2017)

I began playing Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion on BGA. I still haven’t finished the game so I cannot form a complete opinion of the game. When I do, I will come back to comment on it

I love RFTG though, a game currently on my Top Ten favorite games of all time,

Current Rating: N/A



Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Birdcruncher Crown" Promo Card

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Birdcruncher Crown" Promo Card

2017-10-31

Initial Rating: 6.0 (October 2017)

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Birdcruncher Crown" Promo Card is a regular card IMO. It is very situational and Goblins aren’t the hardest foes to defeat, so evade them isn’t a good option most of the time. If you defeat a goblin the card is a bit better as it allows you to look for a card in the location deck and acquire it without rolling. Still, I feel the slot the card occupies is best occupied by other cards, besides, most goblins are in Adventure deck 1 so if the card was available when I was playing that adventure, the usefulness would be a lot higher, but now, it is next to useless.

Bottom line, the effect of the card is cool, but it is very situational, thus, you won’t use it very often. I don’t have it in my decks.

Current Rating: 5.0


Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Dance With Squealy Nord" Promo Card

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Dance With Squealy Nord" Promo Card

2017-10-31

Initial Rating: 7.0 (October 2017)

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Dance With Squealy Nord" Promo Card is an ok card. If you defeat the barrier (which isn’t that easy) the reward is ok, but if you fail the check at the barrier the punishment isn’t so bad, besides it lets another character at your location to draw a card. I don’t have much to say about it. I appreciate that the card exists and that is sometimes appear when you play the game.

Bottom line, the effect of the card is kind of cool, but it isn’t very exciting. I´m glad to play with the card to spice things up a bit, but I vastly prefer other promos over this one.

Current Rating: 6.0
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2. Board Game: Clans of Caledonia [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:42]
Board Game: Clans of Caledonia
United States
Davis
California
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For the last few months, I haven't had much time or energy for gaming. Last month, I even forgot about the New to You list! I missed out on saying that I really liked Lisboa!

shake

It's now been nearly two months since I played Lisboa (twice, 2-player), and I don't remember the details well enough to say anything more than these broad impressions -- Lisboa is another gorgeous heavy euro by Lacerda, which I completely enjoyed playing. I especially liked the theme (rebuilding earthquake-destroyed Lisboa in 1755). It's a great game that I look forward to playing again (after re-learning the rules).

I also missed out on commenting on a few Ticket to Ride expansions that I played -- Nederland (pay tolls to build routes, end game VP for money), India (bonus VP for building two alternate routes to ticket destinations), and Switzerland (tight!). All were solid and enjoyable alternatives to vanilla TTR.

I had only one new game in October to report on:


Clans of Caledonia
Board Game: Clans of Caledonia

(Image credit: PaulGrogan)

Terra Mystica with a resource economy.

There are a lot of elements of Terra Mystica in this beautifully-designed and produced resource management euro:

• There are randomly drawn VP scoring tiles that are assigned to each round of the game, scoring only in that round.

• Wooden bits of different types come off your player mat as you build them to the board.

• When you build next to someone else's structures, you get a bonus.

• There's a "shipping" tech track that increases your adjacency reach across water.

• Most importantly, there's a big pot of end game VP that are awarded for having the most unconnected settlements that are within reach of each other by water.

Sound familiar? Now add:

• Buildings come in six types and either produce basic goods or upgrade basic goods to processed goods.

• There's a supply/demand based pricing track, similar to the one in Navegador.

• Resources can be sold for money or used to fulfill contracts (which give some combo of immediate bonus and/or imported commodities that score at end game).

• Each player has a clan & starting tile that provide special powers and determine starting resources and money.

• There's a modular map, made up of four pieces, each with an A and B side.

My wife and I have played it twice and thoroughly enjoyed it. The two-player game is very tight, with big point margins for having most completed contracts and most water-connected settlements.

The geography for water-connected settlements is very interesting, and you need to be reading the map early and constantly. In our second game, we tied on both contracts and settlements. The game was decided by a few points of pegging from other sources. If the map placement had been just slightly different, I could have snagged most settlements and won.

The importance of positioning means two things: (1) experienced players will probably trounce inexperienced players -- I see a steep learning curve (here's a hint -- kill cows and sheep to split settlements). (2) Don't play with AP players; the down time would be awful.

I have nothing bad to say about Clans of Caledonia. We loved it. Great physical production; lots of interplay variability; interesting asymmetric player powers. Great game.


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Board Game: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Gear Up and Rock Out! An Awesome Mix Card Game
Dustin Crenshaw
United States
KY
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Lots of ok new to me games. You can read more about them and all my gaming here.
Thematic Colors of Gaming


Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Gear Up and Rock Out! An Awesome Mix Card Game
Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game
Unlock!: Escape Adventures – Squeek & Sausage
Fate of the Elder Gods
The Expanse Board Game
Tiny Epic Quest
Village
The Daedalus Sentence
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4. Board Game: Sweets Stack [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:10503]
Board Game: Sweets Stack
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Pipeline - 2 plays
First Published 1993
Board Game: Pipeline

Got this one in trade seven years ago. Finally got it played. A hit with my six-year-old granddaughter, and not a bad game, though not sure it would hold up under serious adult play.

Sweets Stack - 1 play
First Published 2016
Board Game: Sweets Stack

An interesting variation on the Tetris-as-a-board-game idea.

Cosmic Eidex - 1 play
First Published 1998
Board Game: Cosmic Eidex

My trick taking experience from Hearts and Bridge comes in a little handy, but it is hard to wrap my head around the goals in order to figure out what I should do.
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5. Board Game: Viral [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:1130]
Board Game: Viral
Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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Several new games tried out last month!

Board Game: Viral
Viral = 3 Plays

External image


This uniquely themed area control game is my best new game for the month. Here each player is a virus and each player strives to use his hand of action and location (ie the different systems of the human body) cards to infect, move, attack other viruses, and even absorb or create shielded viruses which resist the body’s attempt to get rid of it. The interesting thing is that as you gain points in controlling systems you are actually making the body have a chance to fight back and a particularly successful round can then wipe out all of your viruses from the body with the exception of shielded ones as the immune system flushes you out. After 6 events (which is the way you track the rounds) you then count points from area control, crisis situations, as well as additional action cards which you also managed to add to your hand as you climb up the VP track. The 3 games played have been very tight and quite enjoyable and I can see expansions adding more action cards to the deck and maybe even a new map with more systems to infect.



Board Game: Unearth
Unearth = 1 Play

External image


My brother got to demo this at the FLGS and it ended up as his first ever boardgame title he has ever bought and after 1 play I can see why. This dice chucking game has you try to gain points by collecting sets of the same colored ruin cards. How you collect these cards is the interesting mechanic as you roll one of your dice (1 d4, 1 d8, and 3 d6s - select one and a card before rolling) and place it one the selected card and when the sum total of all dice from all players breaks a certain points total the player with the highest die roll wins the card. Players who did not win that card get a special power card (delver cards) for each die used on the card so it is not a total loss. In addition, each card has a certain number of colored gems on them and each roll of 3 or below enables the player to select a gem. These hexagonal gems are arranged in a round pattern and when it is completed the player gets a choice of a special building in the center which is another way to gain points and also sometimes special abilities. I enjoy games with innovative dice mechanics so I look forward to more plays of this.



Board Game: The Expanse Board Game
The Expanse Board Game = 1 Play

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My wargaming buddy Robert just got back from a trip to the US and he was eager to try out this title with me. The theme is based on the scifi TV show and it is actually an area control game which has a similar card driven mechanics with the highly regarded Twilight Struggle. In each turn a player can select an action card from a row of cards (paying VP in order to grab cards deeper in the row) and either use the action points on the card or use the event or pay another VP in order to reserve the event for play later in the game. If you use the action points then another faction which is allowed to use the event on the card can then decide to trigger the event. The objective of all of these is to move your fleets among orbitals and then place influence on bases where you have a fleet present so as to hopefully control the base when one of the 6 scoring cards are chosen. The player who played a scoring card can then select a zone where controlled bases can score more, except that the final scoring applies to all bases. This game has a similar feel to Twilight Struggle but has a much tighter map besides also having 4 factions with very different special powers. Great game which should play even faster as we get used to the cards.



Board Game: 1754: Conquest – The French and Indian War
1754: Conquest – The French and Indian War = 1 Play

External image


1775: Rebellion is a game my group has enjoyed which was why I pulled the trigger and got this. It has the same system where you use cards to move your armies (cubes) across the board in order to control territories. The major difference in this title is how reinforcements arrive. In the previous game your reinforcements arrive in cities of your choice as long as you control the entire province. In this game British and French regulars only arrive in vacant ports while the militia arrive in only 2 muster points each, 1 of which is fixed and the other determined by the owning player before the game begins. This greatly restricts your ability to reinforce on the map especially if the critical battles are far from these mustering points. The way you gain VPs are also different as only gain points from either controlled neutral (green) Indian areas and enemy areas which are marked as VP territories. The initial deployment of units also show fixed lines unlike in 1775: Rebellion where units are immediately interspersed among each other. This gave a different feel to the game as things feel much more tight and limiting. As of now I enjoy the former a bit more but more plays may change that.



EXPANSIONS

Board Game: Jamaica: The Crew
Jamaica: The Crew = 1 Play

External image


This is an example of an expansion which greatly elevates the enjoyment of the base game. Landing on a spot where you pay Gold used to be very painful but with the addition of the crewmen you now gain something back as it is these spots where you can hire any revealed crewmen beside the rum bottle. The crewmen give you special powers at the cost of 1 cargo slot and most of them are also worth additional gold, the value of which depends if you managed to finish at Port Royal at the end of the game. The crewmen orthogonally adjacent to the hired crew and then revealed and you may need to spend additional gold to move the rum bottle to be adjacent to the crewman you want to hire. The nice thing with the crew is that now you have the opportunity to combo their powers and now players may actually want to land at these gold payment spaces unlike in the base game where you want to avoid these spaces at all cost. You also replace all the treasure cards with a new deck but do not fret since all the special treasure powers are now represented by specific crewmen. Great expansion and one where I will now always use, even when I teach the game to new players.



Board Game: Santorini: Golden Fleece
Santorini: Golden Fleece = 3 Plays

External image


This expansion adds more Gods with funky powers as well as Heroes with one use powers. What I did like though was the Golden Fleece variant where only 1 God power is chosen which can be used by both players only if one of their meeples starts their turn beside the Golden Fleece. More replayability added to an already highly replayable game.



Board Game: Five Tribes: Whims of the Sultan
Five Tribes: Whims of the Sultan = 1 Play

External image


This expansion adds 5 city tiles which are worth a HUGE amount of points if you manage to control them and also enables you to claim cards which are basically in game objectives which give you coins if you manage to fulfil the specific conditions on it. There is also 1 impassable river tile which doubles the value of trees and castles in contact with the tile at the end of the game. This can lead to a large amount of points to an uncontested opponent but is another viable scoring path if you can pull it off. The board becomes a 7x6 grid though if both expansions are included so you need a playing area where everything can fit.



Board Game: Fleet: Wharfside Casino
Fleet: Wharfside Casino = 1 Play

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This is just a mini expansion as it is a license card which replaces the Fishermen’s pub where you can “bet” 1 crate at the end of the round and have a 50% chance of losing that or gaining 1,2, or 3 more crates. Very luck driven but I can envision games where it can have a major effect if the dice gods are on your side.

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6. Board Game: Survive: Escape from Atlantis! [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:275]
Board Game: Survive: Escape from Atlantis!
Jim Jamieson
United States
Purcellville
Virginia
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Not a great month of new games, lots of bad to so-so games for me with only 2 that really stood out. I have a number of Spiel releases on preorder already so I am hoping a few of those end up being more enjoyable for me.

== NEW GAMES ==

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! - 1 play -  8 
First Published 1982
Board Game: Survive: Escape from Atlantis!


A classic secret deployment game that truly stands the test of time. You have to get your meeples off the sinking island in the center of the board to one of the small docks at each of the corners. Of course you have all sorts of sea creatures chasing you and your opponents trying to get their meeples to the docks ahead of yours. It's deliciously cutthroat and leads to a lot of laughs around the table. It serves as a great family game as long as people don't mind a few hurt feelings. The only downside is remembering all your meeple values and trying to not knock them over as they really need a wider base in order to truly keep them secret as we kept having problems with them falling over.

Santorini - 2 plays -  8 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Santorini


An abstract game that looks beautiful, plays quick, and has very simple rules. Move one of your two builders 1 space and then build in any adjacent space. Can be taught in 5 minutes, and played over and over. Then you can add in all the player powers and the game has infinite replayability. I enjoyed my 2 plays immensely and will be looking to try this one out with the wife real soon. My only concern is for her that this is a very quiet/thinking game sort of like Chess and that may not be for her, but this is at least a great 2-player game.

Dice Forge - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Dice Forge


A hard game for me to gauge. It's a rapid engine building game as you use the first few rounds to buy better dice faces and then the last few rounds to run your engine and hopefully bring in the points. The problem for me is the game has the weight of a gateway game feeling relatively simple as you mostly convert resources into points, but it requires gamers to understand how to play with the iconography as to what you do and get the game flow down. Further the setup and teardown even with the amazing insert is still a lot of work with all the different card areas and constructing the dice. That may keep the game on the shelf more often than not, for now it's a keeper but maybe not for long. I want to try it with some of the other cards to see if they are a bit more fun.

Raptor - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Raptor


A very strategic game of punching and counter punching your way to your objectives. Given the amount of thought involved it feels like Targi, but a little quicker. Play a card from your hand simultaneously to either get the action (lowest card) or get action points (highest card). For some reason in 2 games we could never get this right and had to keep checking. Since all the cards are out on the table you have an idea of what your opponent may play and in that way I get a feeling of a slightly deeper Hanamikoji with some of the bluffing and outguessing that goes on each turn. Definitely a unique game and another good Bruno Cathala game. I am happy to play this one since my buddy owns it, but don't think I need to own it as I doubt my wife would like it.

Cottage Garden - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Cottage Garden


A pleasant game of using tetris pieces to complete gardens and score points for the flower pots and plant covers you leave uncovered. The mechanic in this is very simple as you simply move around a 4x4 grid to collect a piece from that row and place it in your garden. The gimmick here is more in how you score points since you have 3 markers for each scoring type and you can only move one with each completed garden. As you move a marker up the track you get various bonuses and since you cant split the points you score you don't want to lose too many to get to that 20 point space. It's a good game, but with 2 players I'd rather play patchwork. I feel I need something a bit in between this and A Feast for Odin, I am hoping Indian Summer is it.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2014
Board Game: One Night Ultimate Werewolf


A 10 minute social deduction game that really requires you to talk your way through it after the timer is up. I need more plays with some of the different roles to see how good it might be, but being the Villager and having absolutely no knowledge about anything made it really hard for me to actually play the game. I just kind of sat there and listened to everyone talk, which doesn't make a social deduction game very fun. There has to be something to spawn conversation and not knowing your role makes that really hard and results in nothing but blind guessing.

Peloponnes Card Game - 1 play -  4 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Peloponnes Card Game


A brutal card game that randomly punished you based on the card flop. You could defend against a particular catastrophe and it never come up, but another just hits you hard and fast and takes away your tableau. Playing with 5 was very slow and dragged the game on with lots of rules questions as for most of us it was our first play as the game did not seem very intuitive. Maybe another play would reveal some strategy but I felt like I did the easiest choice each round with little thought and still managed to win. I would consider trying it again with less players to see if it’s better but I’m not eager to play again as this game should play quick and it certainly does not.

Eldritch Horror - 1 play -  4 
First Published 2013
Board Game: Eldritch Horror


A cooperative storytelling game that while it plays quicker than Arkham Horror is still overly long and full of nothing but dice rolls to resolve actions and getting cards that benefit you and potentially improve your chance of success. In the first few rounds there was only 1 of us being successful and you can tell right away it really set us back in meeting our goals as the event deck was just ticking away. This is why I've been moving away from coop games lately as I just feel between the game and the luck we were having made it absolutely impossible for us to win no matter what we did . I also can't stand a game that has "skip a turn" as a penalty, we can be more creative these days. However, I think these sort of things is what to expect from a game that relies more on its thematic elements as opposed to strategic elements and for me the Lovecraft theme is not one I enjoy so it's hard to muster any excitement for this.

Innovation Deluxe - 1 play -  3 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Innovation Deluxe


I am generally a fan of Chudyk, but Innovation was just painful. Always having to see who had more of all the different icons just really dragged the game down for me. That sort of interaction and constant math just totally took me away from any sort of getting into the game. With each card having its own power you are constantly reading the abilities you have too and the entire game just felt like a lot of work to me as opposed to fun. I guess I could be persuaded to play again, but anything other than 2 players I think would drive me crazy as the downtime between turns would just be too much.

The Lost Expedition - 3 plays -  3 
First Published 2017
Board Game: The Lost Expedition


3 solo games and it is definitely hard, but more so highly dependent on the luck of the draw. Movement cards seem few and far between so you always need to plan around those and make sure you can move as your action for the card. In my first round in the first game I had 1 movement card out of 12 and it felt like it crippled me and I was dead in the second round. My other two games I at least got into the third round, but was still never more than 4 out of 7 path cards complete. The problem for me is I never felt my decisions really helped me. I was always at the mercy of the card draw and very rarely could chain something together with any form of strategy to benefit myself. This just wasn't fun for me and left me frustrated more than anything else.
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7. Board Game: Deep Space D-6 [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:886]
Board Game: Deep Space D-6
Jerry Wilkinson
United States
New Castle
Indiana
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I played 5 new to me games in October, and Deep Space D6 is my winner for the month. I also played and somewhat enjoyed Kingdomino, thought Rhino Hero: Super Battle and Bowling Dice were merely OK, and didn't care for Bowling Solitaire.
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8. 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
Dave Roy
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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== NEW GAMES ==

Time of Crisis - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD


I've been wanting to play this one since I saw it on a "New to You" post earlier this year.

Man was this worth the wait. Love the deckbuilding where you decide what's in your hand. Love playing against other players directly and vying for the Emperor job and then trying to fend off everybody else. Love the random events that can bring chaos to the Empire, or maybe a little benefit instead.

Just loved this game.

I would suggest only playing the 40 point variant once, when you're learning (and not even that if you have time), because it does feel like the game is just getting going when it comes to an end at that point level.

Best game I've played all year, I think.



London (second edition) - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2017
Board Game: London (Second Edition)


Though this is a close second. Thankfully, played both of them last weekend!

I haven't played the first edition, so have nothing to compare it to as far as changes go, but I really enjoyed this.

It's Martin Wallace, so of course there are loans. But I love the way poverty works in this game, where you generate it when you get the benefits of the cards in your city.

Even more how it works at the end, where the player with the least poverty discards it all and everybody else discards the same amount.

Excellent game!


Iron Curtain - 2 plays -  N/A 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Iron Curtain


This is Twilight Struggle in 20 minutes.

Not exactly, but it does give you some of the same feelings in a microgame, which was very enjoyable.

It has the same "if you play my event, I get to choose whether it happens" mechanism and the spreading of influence cubes is similar. It's a loving homage, though, and I greatly enjoyed it.


Kanagawa - 1 play
First Published 2016
Board Game: Kanagawa


Nice hour-long game, very peaceful (almost like Tokaido in that respect) that has you attending art school in Japan and trying to paint the best panorama painting out there.

I like the mechanisms in the game, the slight push your luck aspect when choosing cards.

It's not an awesome game, but it's nice and gives you a good feeling. And it's a nice way to end a game night.


The Golden Ages - 1 play
First Published 2014
Board Game: The Golden Ages


A civ-building game that doesn't hold up to the others (not much can hold up to Through the Ages). The art work is decent but uninspiring, the game's kind of fiddly with the placement of tiles on the map, and I just didn't enjoy it that much.



Custom Heroes - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Custom Heroes


Some nice mechanisms and art work, but our one play of it dragged on for over 90 minutes.

There's not enough game there for that kind of time commitment, and it started getting old.

My fellow players had played it before and apparently their game went a lot faster. One person kind of dominated that game. In ours, we all sort of progressed toward 10 points together.

It does end after 6 rounds (and a 7th 2-player championship round if required), but the six rounds we played seemed to take forever.

Do like the card-crafting, though. The problem is that it adds to the time as people try to see if they can match the "Three 14s" that had just been played.

I'd like to try it again, though.



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9. 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
Frederic Heath-Renn
United Kingdom
Islington
London
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First, a quick note: though I've written it up before in this series, this month I played a full game of Potato Man for the first time. It was predictably fun, neat trick-taking mechanisms with fun do-I-don't-I decisions on round-end timing, what colours to push for, if it'll be possible to grab the multi-sack bonus, and when to hold and when to play your Evil Potato and Potato Man cards.

Let's go:

Amoeba (2 plays) - A not colossally exciting abstract stacking game that, fundamentally, is not as good as other abstract stacking games I could name, so why bother?

Caminos (5 plays) - A not colossally exciting 3-D connection game that, fundamentally, is not as good as other 3-D connection games I could name, so why bother?*

*I think the homogeneity of piece types in Flink makes it easier to reason about without the arbitrary multiplication of entities hindering foresight, and thus it seems like a purer battle of thought and planning than of spatial awareness and remembering not to overlook things

Plateau (4 plays) - I just couldn't get my head around this game at all, it's not fundamentally all THAT complicated but the various interlocking bits of rule floored me (I definitely didn't understand how prisoner exchange was meant to work). There's definitely something fun buried under it all but even towards the end of my fourth play I was blundering around overlooking things and making obvious lossy decisions. Perhaps too chesslike, who can say.

But as well as the usual bunch of abstracts, more underwhelming this month perhaps than most months, I also played wargames! (I know!) And it's actually quite difficult to chose between them.

Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar (1 play) - My first COIN game, and I understand a game in the series particularly well suited to being one's first. What a beautiful system it is; thanks to the maximum of two actions per card the game flows quickly and smoothly, and the turn system is designed magnificently - do I do what I want to do even though it means the second player can do what they want, or do I act suboptimally so that they have to as well? Do I pass instead of taking a suboptimal action so I can get a juicier action on the next card, or is the cost of losing tempo too much? In a first game like this the depth of the design is never going to come through fully - I certainly wasn't taking full advantage of the asymmetric foibles of my faction, and there wasn't really much in the way of negotiation (and indeed another play of Friedrich this month reminds me that my tendency to forget about the possibility of explicit negotiating does probably hinder my enjoyment of multiplayer wargames, especially ones with a strong push-pull allies-of-convenience system like that and this). But it was still good fun and so very elegant.

But I will allow it to be pipped to the post by Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD (1 play) - only the short game and we were all new, again, so it didn't shine like it can, but this is clearly a winner. The rulebook is clear and precise but I can't say I really understood the game for having read it - quite a lot of the rules are on the cards - but in motion it all just works, the Pretender mechanic especially is one that I couldn't get right in my head in theory but in play it was terrific fun to set myself up as a pretender and deny the Emperor points while building up to launch a coup. I can't see how this wouldn't get better with experience; I'm eager to play again.
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10. Board Game: Mysterium [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:240]
Board Game: Mysterium
The Witcherlorian
Australia
KILLARA
VIC
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A few decent titles in here that I’ve wanted to play for some time…but nothing mind blowing either.

New to Me

d10-1 Mysterium

Mysterium is a clever game, which many have rightly summarised as a cross between Dixit and Cluedo/Clue. A player takes on the role of a ghost, who was murdered and wants to help lead a group of Mediums in uncovering who the ghost was in the flesh, where they were murdered and how.

Mysterium is a good looking game to be sure and it works very well for what it is. I’m not convinced at this point that it is necessarily any better than Dixit, and I think I’m leaning towards the elegant simplicity of Dixit over Mysterium, but this one will stay in my collection and come out for something different every month or so I think.

Part of the reason for this feeling was that we had tended to play with 4 or 5 players in the past and at those player counts we were always making it to the final deduction without too much trouble, the time pressure never seemed to be a real factor. But having recently played the game several times with a full compliment...the challenge was certainly harder and that made the game so much more fun. Perhaps I simply need to up the difficulty to Difficult when playing with less than the maximum.

Having now played the game a half dozen times, I am keen to get the first expansion so we can up the number of artworks on offer, to help stave off that stale feeling. A new expansion for 2017 called Secrets & Lies also looks like a must have.



d10-2 Codenames Duet
Board Game: Codenames: Duet


Duets is a very nice release to take Codenames goodness to a pair of players and allow them to work together. The key difference is that the two players must work together to try and find the 15 agents in the field and avoid the 3 assassins. I've always lamented not getting a large group together enough to play more Codenames, so Duet really hits the mark for my partner and I.

I haven’t tried the Global Challenge part of the game yet and I think that is where the long term fun is as players try to succeed at various cities around the world. I think this one will see many plays over the years and I’m glad to have waited for this and given the naughty and picture editions a miss.



d10-3 Evolution
Board Game: Evolution


I had played the original, small box edition of this back when it was being self published and really enjoyed what it had to offer. Finally I got around to trying the North Star Games edition and our group had a pretty good time with it. The artwork is really evocative and it was fun to try and out-evolve the competition.

For those unaware, Evolution has players trying to give rise to various species and using traits to help them thrive and prosper. The game flow is so simple that the game really feels like a gateway design. Members of our group really wanted to pursue a Carnivore strategy but that seemed rather hard to pull off, so I am keen to see how viable that strategy is as my well protected and fertile herbivores took the win rather easily.

Even after one play though I feel like the game needs some additions to maintain our interest for the longer term so I will be learning the Flight expansion and adding that to our next play I think.



d10-4 Kingdomino
Board Game: Kingdomino


Kingdomino is a simple tile laying game with a selection mechanism that has players weighing up the choice of scoring benefits versus gaining an earlier turn order in the hope of securing a primo tile. It looks great, can be learned in 5 minutes and only takes about 10-15 minutes to play and as such it is perfect filler\family fare. So much so that it won this year's SdJ award.

I liked this initially but 5 games in I am already feeling like this is too much ‘gateway’ and not enough decision making to have me coming back. Given I like the concept I will look into Queendomino and I think that may be the game that gets added to my collection.

That said, Kingdomino has some variants in the rulebook that add some strength to its play. I particularly like the idea of playing 3 games in a row and combining scores as it adds a little more tension to the play. This is my go to option now when playing with just 2 people. I also like the larger 7 x 7 grid for two players as well.

For more detailed thoughts check out my review, which went up this week -

Kingdomino - A Detailed Review



d10-5 Sherwood Forest
Board Game: Sherwood Forest


This game came and went with little fanfare and I think that is about right in truth. Sherwood Forest is a worker placement and negotiation game as the players are aiming to increase the size of their band in order to ambush travelers that pass through the famous forest.

There are glimpses of a good game in here but ultimately the game doesn't reach any great heights for me.

I also covered this one in October for those wanting a more detailed exploration -

Sherwood Forest - A Detailed Review



New to Me - Expansions

d10-6 Dixit Origins
Board Game: Dixit: Origins


Simply another set of artworks for Dixit. These were more appealing than at least one other expansion I've tried.
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11. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.43 Overall Rank:4]
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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I was reluctant to get this for a long while. The production value was something that held me back. I finally caved and it's great. I've been mostly playing it solo but I love the way the cards combo. The engine building reminds me of Roll for the Galaxy in some ways which is one of my favorites.

9/10
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12. Board Game: The 7th Continent [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:26]
Board Game: The 7th Continent
Joe Wyka
United States
Pleasant Hill
California
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15 new games this month and many of them were pretty good. No, not Essen Spiel games. One day maybe...

In order of preference -->


Board Game: The 7th Continent

The 7th Continent - 10
The adventure game I had hoped all other adventure games would be. Tons of interesting details with plenty to explore, featuring a replayable world with different curses to defeat and tactical push-your-luck survival and action mechanics that feel fresh.

When I sat down to play 7th Continent for the first time, it felt like Christmas morning when I was a kid with a tree full of presents to open. Very few things in my adult life have given me such a pure feeling of glorious anticipation. And, while I have admittedly only scratched the surface of this game, that feeling persisted as I played, every card being another glittery, mysterious delight to unwrap. Never has a board game come so close to replicating the glory days of my misspent RPG youth. I started a game with my 10-year-old daughter but an early image so disturbed her we had to shut it down for now. But I've restarted with my wife and I never really thought she would sit down for a game with me that went 5 hours, but she did. We had a blast. We can't wait to continue.

Mechanically, the game is simple once you get used to it. You take an action shown on the terrain card where your character is, on an exploration card next to your terrain card, or on a card in your tableau of skills, items, companions, and conditions. If playing with more than one player, the other player(s) can join you, throwing their items and abilities in to help improve or manipulate the results. Every action requires a test of drawing action cards (0 or more, depending) and getting a certain number of successes (0 or more, depending). If you fail, the failure result impacts all players who participated. The action card deck is also your life force, so the central tension in the game (besides looking around the next corner) is in drawing the fewest cards while getting the most successes. The deck is seeded with 4 generic curse cards + curse cards specific to the curses you are playing, added to about 35 action cards. If your action deck is depleted, you start drawing from the discard for actions. If you draw a curse card from the discard deck then you lose the game. The main way to replenish your action deck is to eat, so one must hunt with relative frequency to survive. Action cards are also skill cards and when you draw cards to complete an action you can keep one as a skill. You can also collect experience points during the game to trade them in for advanced skills at certain points, which not only grow your action deck, but also can give powerful items and new skills.

We have not experienced the high mortality rate I've heard from other players, but when we play action deck maintenance is priority #1, advancing on the curse is #2, and everything else is a distraction. This is not only to try to prevent a restart, but we know we will revisit the Continent for many curses to come. We want to keep as many discoveries as possible for when we are traversing the same ground during future curses!

The seamless and innovative connection between actions, life force, and skills constitute the elegant mechanical heart of the game. The size of the continent, the consequential - but not outrageous - variation and the epic scope of exploration has no rival in board gaming. The writing and art are of the highest standard and create a fully immersive experience. This is the best adventure board game ever produced. Thank you Serious Poulp!



From gallery of Photodump

Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure - 9
Not since the original DungeonQuest in the 1980's have I found such a light, fun, competitive dungeon game that almost anyone can play and enjoy in about an hour. And Clank! is way better at it than DungeonQuest ever was.

If the versatility of deck-building was ever in doubt, games like Clank! on the light side and Mage Knight or Hands in the Sea on the heavy side should put that doubt to rest. I used Clank! to introduce the mechanic to my 10-year-old daughter to spectacular success. I predict Clank! (and expansions) will see heavy play in this house for years to come.

Players are diving into a dungeon in order to collect an artifact, any other valuables they can find, and get out before the dragon knocks them out. The cards in your deck give you movement, combat, and skill points used to purchase more cards, in addition to any abilities in the card text. Players use cards to move room to room to uncover "secrets", buy and find treasures and fight monsters. Some cards also give "clank", which represents the noise you make. Every time you clank, a cube is added to a clank pile. When a new dungeon card (for purchase) turns up with a dragon on it, the dragon of the dungeon attacks. All clank cubes are added to a bag of 24 dragon cubes and a number are drawn depending on the wakefulness of the dragon. Cubes in your color become damage points. Too much damage and you are knocked out of the game (but can still win depending on where you were knocked out and how much stuff you had). When one player leaves with an artifact. the pressure of dragon attacks ratchets up fast for the other players and everyone needs to get out of there real quick...

The game is just pure fun. The push-your-luck aspect with going deeper and potentially incurring the wrath of the dragon is all the best parts of DungeonQuest with none of the questionable strategies that DQ allows. The cards are well-differentiated and amusingly themed. If I were to criticize anything, it would be that the static board may limit replayability a bit, but it is two-sided and I can only assume that expansion boards will continue to be produced. I might end up keeping this one as long as I've kept DQ, which is going on 30+ years now!



Board Game: VivaJava: The Coffee Game

VivaJava: The Coffee Game - 8
A strategic negotiation game that plays best at 6-8 players and in about an hour. That's a very rare feat!

Player counts in my regular game group has been growing lately and so I specifically targeted this in a math trade as a strategic game that got better with more players. It did not disappoint! In fact, I think it is the fact that this plays well at 7 and 8 players is why I'm scoring this an 8 instead of a 7.

Beans come in six different colors. Each turn, players go "into the field" to collect one color from spaces on the world board, which is divided into three regions. Players in a region together automatically form a partnership and negotiate whether to try to make a coffee blend by each contributing at least one bean, or to collect research points and gain special abilities instead. Each player's beans are collected in their own bag ("roaster") and you are not allowed to show what's in your bag to the other players. You assess with your partners the chances of making a great blend because beans will be drawn randomly from each of the bags until you have 5 beans. Blends are evaluated in poker-like combos and compared to other blends to score points. One blend can score for you over multiple turns if it isn't completely unseated, but at the end of each turn blends degrade and lose a bean.

This a highly interactive game. I understand how the term "negotiation" can turn people off, but this is also a very positive game. When going "to the field" you need to assess what you need while also finding the right partnership. When partnered you need to figure out your chances of making a great blend together. While many "negotiation" games have the quality of "I win, you lose," VivaJava manages to bring in negotiation without people feeling like they got totally shafted by another player. T.C. Petty has only published a few games, but he has displayed a fairly unique voice as a designer. He's definitely one to keep an eye on!



Board Game: Coffee Roaster

Coffee Roaster - 8
Stylish solo game in the mold of light, tactical designs similar to Shadi Torbey's Omniverse series. The decision space is interesting, but I fear the game might ultimately not be challenging enough. We will see!

In Coffee Roaster you are, well, a coffee roaster looking to hit a target roast value while also hitting on certain target flavor profiles. You begin each game picking a type of bean to roast. Beans are divided into three types of roasts (light, medium, dark) and up to three difficulty levels (beginner, advanced, expert). A full game consists of roasting one bean of each type, picking difficulty levels of your choosing. You initially add to your roasting bag (in the form of tokens) a mix of unroasted beans and hard beans difficult to roast along with moisture, numerous flavor profiles and maybe some bad beans that will never roast. The game consists of drawing tokens out of the bag, increasing the number drawn by one each turn, in hopes of removing moisture, reducing the flavor profiles to the right mix, removing bad or over-roasted beans, and then increasing each bean one level (aka roasting) before returning them to your bag. Beans can roast up to level 4 before burning. Each type of bean has a roasting # target (like 14 or 20) and a mix of flavor profiles (body, aroma, acidity, and sweetness) that are ideal. After you think you've got the right mix of tokens in your bag, you perform the "cup test" and draw 10 tokens one by one and see how close you can get to your targets. There are ways you can influence your cup test in order to set aside some unwanted tokens, redraw or add a pre-set bean or flavor. Keep in mind as well that this is not a game that you "win", it is a beat your previous score sort of solo game, which I know does not appeal to everyone.

The game is lovingly produced by publisher/designer Saashi & Saashi, from the charming art to the well-planned insert to the relatively clear rule book (especially for a Japanese game). The fine production may be influencing my score upward a point, but why shouldn't it? The game has a high price point and I'm not quite willing to say that it is worth the going rate, but it is a charming and engaging package to be sure.



Board Game: Tyrants of the Underdark

Tyrants of the Underdark - 7
The designers of Lords of Waterdeep continue their journey of designing highly playable mid-weight euro games in a D&D setting. For the most part, they are pretty good at it!

Lords of Waterdeep is the D&D worker placement/contract fulfillment game. Tyrants of the Underdark is the D&D deck-building/area control game. While I don't think Tyrants succeeds quite as well thematically, it balances the two primary design elements really well and has more going on under the hood than may at first appear. The deck-building mechanics (with a an evolving card market) are very familiar, as is the area control aspect. How they interact provides quite a bit of subtle opportunity.

The game comes with 4 half-decks from which the market is constructed. This is a crafty way of providing variety game-to-game by mixing and matching half-decks and makes expansions even more impactful as you try out different combos. The cards provide two forms of currency - influence to purchase cards and power to move and manipulate your forces on the board. The board is a bunch of linked areas that score points at game's end and in some cases during the game for having control. In addition to troops, players have spies they can use to spread control more quickly, disrupt control in areas they cannot otherwise reach, or to activate powerful special actions on cards. Every card you purchase provides points as well and a key mechanic in the game is to promote cards out of your deck to a score pile, which increases the value of every card that gets promoted. So even streamlining your deck will net you points. Players also gain points for assassinating or supplanting neutral or enemy troops. So between controlling areas, gaining and promoting cards and eliminating troops, there are quite a few focus-points to choose from. Some key actions are only available if you purchase the cards to perform them, so like any good deck-builder, your buying strategy is just as key as your board strategy. This creates a balance of strategic options that feels pretty unique and engaging.

Thematically, the players are all competing factions of the evil drow elf race and the setting is essentially a network of underground passageways and undercities. I like the unusual focus of making everyone evil, but the board layout - while clear - is very utilitarian and doesn't carry the theme the way the cards do. There does seem to be a bit to explore with this game and I hope it continues to be strongly supported by the publisher. The fact that their first expansion did not even bother to match the base game cards that are supposed to be shuffled together is not a good sign for the publisher supporting this title to its full potential...



Board Game: Xenon Profiteer

Xenon Profiteer - 7
An interesting take on deck management! You are constantly building a deck and breaking it apart as you try to extract the xenon. Engaging, with some interesting levers to pull.

...and another T.C. Petty title! This one is a cool twist on deck-building with players adding air packets to their decks (sets of four cards - Nitrogen, Oxygen, Krypton & Xenon) and then trying to separate the xenon cards from the others in their hands in order to fulfill contracts for xenon. Players get money for adding air which they can use to upgrade their abilities to more quickly process out the xenon, get money for the waste, or get points for meeting other criteria. It is an engine-building game, to be sure, but adding 3/4 waste to your deck in order to extract the 1/4 value is unlike any other deck-builder I've played. Different enough from my other deck management games to keep around for a while.



Board Game: Tulip Bubble

Tulip Bubble - 7
Nifty little investment and set collection game. The use of auctions to acquire investments draws significant inspiration from Knizia's Modern Art.

Every turn a new set of tulips becomes available for purchase and players can additionally sell tulips. When players sell tulips, they can sell them individually - putting them back into the market - or they can sell them as part of a set to a face up buyer card who requires a specific combination of three cards in order to get a bonus. Cards sold to buyers do not go back into the market. Players can put their markers on up to three tulips they are interested in buying. Unchallenged tulips can be purchased at market price while tulips wanted by more than one person are auctioned off. The dangerous aspect of the auctions is that a player can bid more than they have and put the tulip in hock until they can pay for it. This also removes a bid marker until the tulip is paid for. This allows players to easily over-pay for flowers, and knowing how to avoid over-paying is the primary decision in the game (borrowing to buy is not necessarily over-paying). Tulip values are adjusted by what is left (more left = decrease in value) and a market adjustment card is drawn at the beginning of each turn to add a slight uncertainty. First to $120 or the richest player when the "Bubble Bust" card is drawn (shuffled with the last three cards on the market deck) ends the game.

This is a real pleasant game reminiscent of Modern Art. The difference is that in MA the players auction cards from their hands and act as auctioneers while in this game cards are auctioned from an impartial market. Also the set targets of the buyers make for some specific card targeting that in Modern Art is more relative. This is a fun game, but not as compelling as MA because there is less player control and manipulation. For a light investment game that plays in about an hour, I'd recommend this. It is definitely the better of the two Moaideas games to come out this season (the other being the charming, but flawed Mini Rails).



Board Game: Roll Player

Roll Player - 7
A board game about rolling up a character for a role-playing game? How meta-geek can you get?? It's a dice-manipulation game in the mold of Sagrada, but with more options. A solid game for you dice-manipulationists.

As an old RPGer who has rolled up many a character in my time, I had to get and play this! The game did not disappoint, but neither did I find myself super-engaged while playing. It's a game about getting certain values and colors of dice in certain placements in order to get points. It craftily takes race, class, alignment, and background into account for the character you are creating, each providing their own non-conflicting goals for the player to juggle. Every turn, players draft a rolled die to add to their attributes, execute a special attribute action depending on where the die is placed, and then optionally buy a card from the market. The are four types of cards: weapons provide powers, but you are limited in what you can have; armor provides end-game points for sets; traits impact your alignment and usually scoring; while skills impact alignment each time they are used and offer a range of smaller abilities.

That's it: draft a die, take the corresponding action and maybe buy a card and/or use the cards you have. Forget the trappings of character development, this is all about the dice and if you like to manipulate dice you'll probably like this, if you don't care for that there isn't really anything else on offer here. I can enjoy, but do not love, dice manipulation and that kind of sums up my feelings about the game as well.



Board Game: Walk the Plank!

Walk the Plank! - 7
A programmed action game about pushing and shoving each other off the plank of a pirate ship. Silly fun with the kids!

There really isn't a lot more to say. Each turn, players play three face-down cards from a hand of about eight, which includes actions such as pushing the player on your left or right, charging out and shoving, running back towards the ship and extending or retracting the plank. The plank is three tiles long and tiles can be pulled right from under players. The game ends at the conclusion of the round when one player loses all three of their pawns to the drink. There is usually more than one winner. There is lots of laughing and ribbing when we play this. We are fans of programmed action games and this one is now our "quick fix" in the genre.



Board Game: Whistle Stop

Whistle Stop - 7
It's like Metro with resource collection and contract fulfillment added. Not a train game, but a linear puzzle game with some room for creative play. Overall, the game is fine but does not feel very distinctive.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Whistle Stop, but neither is there anything particularly special about it. Players have a set of trains that they are trying to move from one end of the board to the other, collecting upgrades, resources and company shares along the way.

Movement is governed by whistles and coal, which can be scarce if you are not planning how to acquire more than the 2 coal you are given every turn. The tracks twist in all sorts of directions and players have a hand of track tiles and locations they can play when a train would run off the board. Locations allow for the acquisition of shares and points for resources, more coal, more resources, and gold - each of which has a variable value that is added at game's end. While it is tempting to set up production and purchasing loops from which you could extract big value, the game is too short to let you get carried away with it. The end can come surprisingly fast and there are potentially big point bonuses for getting across the map that are easily overlooked. Share majority bonuses in the 5 companies are all or nothing and have a big influence on the final score. This is partially balanced by leftover rare resources having significant point values as well.

The rules are simple and the game is easy to teach. There is more opportunity between your multiple trains for surprising and efficient maneuvers than at first may appear. The issue, I think, is that the game doesn't really differentiate itself. I have simple, puzzley contract fulfillment games already. There isn't quite enough interactivity between the different elements to engage me at a deeper level. As someone who has played and rated almost 1000 games and has seen all of this before, I don't feel like this game was designed for me.



Board Game: Sector 6

Sector 6 - 6
Nice core concept, but the gear mechanism is fiddly to manage and the endgame can really drag. Not the replacement for Hey, That's My Fish! I was hoping for.

I really like Hey, That's My Fish!, but I wish the set up did not take longer than the game. My hope in kickstarting Sector 6, which is similar mechanically, was that by making the set up part of the game, it would alleviate my main hindrance to getting HTMF to the table. While it helps in that regard, Sector 6 introduces other problems that are probably larger than the initial problem I was hoping it would solve.

Instead of leaping across disappearing ice flows to collect fish, Sector 6 has players running through airless, rotating passageways collecting oxygen. Passages have anywhere from 2 to 6 openings on 6 sides. Wherever there is not an opening, there is a gear that can interact with gears on other tiles that it touches. When a player leaves a tile they can either take the oxygen token (worth from 1-6 points) OR rotate the tile. The tile rotates one face in either direction and will rotate neighboring tiles that touch gear to gear. In the early game there is lots of oxygen to collect but as the game wears on, the few oxygen tiles left usually require multiple gear turns to access. With both players vying for access, the game can bog down right quick. The game ends when there is no more oxygen to collect.

Turning tiles and neighboring tiles is certainly a logic challenge - which is good - but it is also a bit of a dexterity challenge, which is less good. Tiles are constantly shifting and getting reassembled. Playing on a neoprene mat, or something with give, would help. I could live with this if it were the only issue. But manipulating the passageways to get the last bit of oxygen in the end game can grow tediously and frustratingly complex. The players should keep track of the score to know whether those last tiles will make a difference and are even worth fighting for. This of course in an inherent problem with the design in that the closest and best games will also bring the most frustration in the end - to a point where you can care more about the game ending than winning. Still, I do enjoy the puzzle of the early and mid-game and I'm enjoying it enough to try to play this a bit more before deciding whether to keep it. My gut tells me, though, that these problems will land it right where HTMF stands - more trouble than it is typically worth.



Board Game: Galaxy Defenders

Galaxy Defenders - 6
Based on one solo game, this falls into the "it's not you, it's me" category. The renowned "Alien A.I." in GD isn't bad, but it is still a game where I'm spending an unwelcome amount of energy remembering and optimizing my modifiers before EVERY roll. snore

GD is a cooperative game in which the heroes are trying to meet mission objectives against an endless onslaught of powerful aliens. The unique element to this one is how the alien A.I. dictates alien movement and actions. Every alien has a card that specifies what it will do when activated, driven by the distance of the alien from the closest hero. If adjacent, alien does X. If 1 area away, alien does Y. If 2 areas away, alien does Z... and so on. This gives players a pretty good idea of what might happen and can therefore end their actions in order to intentionally trigger certain behaviors in the aliens. This adds a tactical flavor that feels fairly unique to this system. It keeps from being entirely predictable by changing up (through activation draws) which aliens activate after each player action. So one hero might be shooting an alien group full of holes, but a different group of aliens keeps activating, ripping a different hero to shreds. With an alien activation between EVERY hero activation, sometimes a lot can happen around a hero before they get a chance to react.

The game also has a promising-looking campaign mode, but otherwise is pretty standard to the genre. Heroes have skills and weapons that they can improve and single use devices that can be replaced as more aliens are killed. It is a bit strange in the way that new equipment magically appears in a hero's hands when it arrives. The game is driven much more by mechanics than realism - and that might be to the game's credit. Ultimately, even though this game really has fewer modifiers than many in the genre, I still found it a bit much and a clearer rule book would have helped. I like these games more in theory than reality, which is why I keep trying them out. Claustrophobia is just about the only tactical combat minis game where I was not overwhelmed with modifiers and could just enjoy playing. The weird thing is that this kind of thing bothers me less in hex-and-counter war games because there tends to be more strategy involved. But for a primarily tactical game, my patience with modifiers seems to be far, far less.



Board Game: Builders of Blankenburg

Builders of Blankenburg - 5
Game with some cool ideas, but not enough points of manipulation. You feel too much at the mercy of the draws.

After playing Blankenburg, I was a bit mystified by the game's score and all of the 10 ratings it has. I did a bit of digging and almost all of them look like shill votes. The remarkable thing is that these are not just shills that showed up to promote the KS, but every couple of months another 9 or 10 vote pops up by someone with a bogus-looking profile and history. Not all of them, but enough. They are persistent shills to say the least. I'm quite sure another will come along soon to "offset" my score.

The game? It isn't as bad as all the shills would lead you to believe, but the game's design is clearly undercooked. In BoB you collect resources to build buildings from your hand both for points and in the hopes that visitors and citizens will visit your buildings and earn you some income. A new citizen each turn is added to the citizen track. Citizens have 3 preferences for the building they want to visit, which will earn the owner some income if there is room available.If none of the buildings they want are built or available, the citizens will stay at an inn, which can be owned by a player or by the board. The citizens grow in number but otherwise remain pretty static throughout the game, so players can know what buildings have better revenue potential. There is also a different visitor each turn that has the potential to alter the chain reaction of where each citizen is able to stay, but in my experience the impact was minimal. There are also events can have beneficial or detrimental effects. Endgame majority bonuses go to players who built the most buildings in each of the four districts.

Once you build a building in a slot, there is no way for the ownership to change. It is very hard to mess with a district majority once established. Events can damage buildings and make them unusable, but that is not player-driven and can be easily overcome with the plentiful flow of money in the late game. Without a good way to disrupt the order of citizens or the location of buildings, the game ends up feeling fairly static in nature. The same citizens end up at the same buildings most of the time. The game is simply a resource grab combined with drawing building plans that match your resources and are desired by the citizenry. I think the way income is earned is very cool and worth checking out, I just wish there was a better game surrounding it.



Board Game: Paris Connection

Paris Connection - 5
Queen Games somehow manages to squeeze this small game into a box of gigantic proportions. The game is good, but not worth the space it takes up. The Winsome SNCF version is better, but has its own issues...

Yes, I am giving this game a lower rating than the game itself deserves because of the production. There are multiple versions of this game so I don't feel any remorse in doing this. The game itself is a "thinky filler" investment game. On your turn you either add 1-5 trains to one of six train lines or trade a share in a train line from behind your screen for two shares of another train line. Trains are used for both shares and building routes so the more shares that are out, the less trains there are to place on the board. The game can get nasty with players building aimless routes in train lines they own no shares in. For every city a train line hits, the shares go up in value. Highest value in shares at the end of the game wins.

This is a republication of SNCF by Winsome Games. The Winsome production is appropriately sized, but spartan with black and white paper maps and colored cubes for trains. An attractive version in an appropriately-sized box may never get produced for this title (if it did, I might score this a 7 or an 8). I think Donald Trump would best sum this up with a tweet, "Sad."



Board Game: Metropolis

Metropolis - 4
Sid Sackson negotiation classic that feels a bit too random and dated. It's not all bad, but the frustration certainly outweighs the fun.

I'm always up for trying a Sackson game, with some titles aging well and being loved games in my collection. Unfortunately, Metropolis will not be one of them. This is a city-building negotiation game. The board is divided into 80 lots. Players start with a few lots drawn at the beginning of the game and each turn a player takes a new lot from a face up display, builds a building if they want to and can, or negotiates/trades openly with other players in order to exchange lots or share the ownership of constructed buildings. Sounds pretty good, right?

There are two problems that haunt the game. From what I understand, those who play the game today have mitigated these concerns with house-rules. That's great, but I tend to ask "why bother?" One - and this is one I could live with - is that the random assignment of lots at the beginning of the game and what comes up on the draw each turn can have an outsized effect on a player's fortunes. The second is the rule that says when 5 lots are owned in a block, spaces can only be claimed by the players already neighboring them. If the four lots on display can each only be developed by one player and none of them are the active player - then that player is sapped of negotiating leverage and must simply take a card and hand it to the player who can build on it. This creates a situation anathema to a negotiation game! So, pretty disappointing, this one.
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13. Board Game: Clans of Caledonia [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:42]
Board Game: Clans of Caledonia
Larry Rice
United States
North Newton
Kansas
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== NEW GAMES ==

Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars


Didn't really play a full game - only played the first couple rounds to get a feel for the game but then learned later that we were not taught some of the rules...ah well, still got a feel for the game.

Clans of Caledonia - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Clans of Caledonia


Enjoyed it but I'm not yet gushing about it like so many others. Feels looser than some games but perhaps that is due to having more money and being able to take more actions in a round instead of Terra Mystica where the first couple rounds are often limited to just a couple actions.

Alien Artifacts - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Alien Artifacts


I'm not a huge fan of the 2 card limit in most cases but otherwise the game is interesting.

Spirits of the Rice Paddy - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Spirits of the Rice Paddy


I liked it but I'm not convinced my opponents did. We did play Rhado's variant which takes out the nasty take that cards.

Beasty Bar - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2014
Board Game: Beasty Bar


Reminds me a bit of Guillotine but it was a lot easier to score in Guillotine!

T.I.M.E Stories - 3 plays -  6 
First Published 2015
Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories


Played this one several times online. Not really my cup of tea but I can see why people enjoy the game.

Import / Export - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Import / Export


Lots of Glory to Rome influence. Feels a bit harder to wrap one's head around than GtR and perhaps a bit rougher around the edges. Each card has a different ability.

Hero Realms - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Hero Realms


This one was fine but nothing I need to own. I'd play other people's copies. I probably prefer the predecessor to this game.

Il Vecchio - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2012
Board Game: Il Vecchio


Its fine but feels like JASE to me. It is well put together but doesn't stand out in any way or fashion for me.

Warehouse 51 - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Warehouse 51


An interesting auction game where everyone knows some of the counterfeit items but not all. Relics being auctioned also will frequently have curses or blessings attached to them with immediate or passive effects.

Dancing Eggs - 2 plays -  5 
First Published 2003
Board Game: Dancing Eggs


Fun large group game/activity.

Crazy Lab - 2 plays -  3 
First Published 2013
Board Game: Crazy Lab


No thanks - never need play again - way too random and I'm not a fan of trick taking games where suit doesn't need to be followed.

Barony - 1 play -  3 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Barony


Nicely produced but the abstract nature of the game is not my cup of tea.

A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King - 1 play -  3 
First Published 2016
Board Game: A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King


Never again.

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14. Board Game: Piecepack [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:5387]
Board Game: Piecepack
Carthoris Pyramidos
United States
Littleton
Colorado
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The Infinite Board Game - 2 plays -  N/A 
First Published 2001
Board Game: Piecepack

I got this commercial piecepack set early in the month. Many of my new-to-me games for October are piecepack games; I had played none before. The games logged for the Infinite Board Game are in fact plays of piecepack Nine Ball, one of the dozens of games given in the book that comes with the set.

Alien City - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2002
Board Game: Alien City

This piecepack/pyramid hybrid was the best of the piecepack games I've played so far. I only got to play once, and my daughter (it was new to her too) stomped me.

Doom Realm - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Doom Realm

I decided to make a foray into solitaire roll-n-write games, and gave this one a try. It took the better part of an hour for me to lose thoroughly. I did seem to have outrageously bad luck, though. I like the art, and I find the mechanisms reasonably interesting; I've already printed up a few more copies of the scoring sheet.

EinStein würfelt nicht! - 24 plays -  7 
First Published 2004
Board Game: EinStein würfelt nicht!

This one was a surprise to us! We already had everything we needed to play by combining our kits for Cubeo and Pharaoh. The high number of plays is because my daughter seems to rate this one a "9," and it plays fast. I like it well enough; it compares favorably with Pharaoh.

Carrom - 3 plays -  6 
These plays were piecepack Carrom; I'm sure it's better with the original equipment.

Cardinal's Guards - 5 plays -  6 
First Published 2003
Board Game: Cardinal's Guards

A solitaire game that makes full use of the piecepack, reasonably fun.

Clans of Caledonia - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Clans of Caledonia

I gather that this game is getting applause at Essen? I liked it okay, but the things I liked about it I thought Terra Mystica does better. I wasn't really excited about the market element.

Nevermore - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Nevermore

A reasonably entertaining drafting game, that we played with a table of six. It was good for the occasion, but I don't know that it would well sustain repeat plays in smaller groups. Effects of the magic cards dominate over other gameplay mechanisms in determining the winner.

One Man: Thrag! - 3 plays -  6 
First Published 2002
Board Game: One Man: Thrag!

Another solitaire piecepack game: this one a dice-driven dungeon crawler. Not too challenging, but fairly amusing.

Galaxy Express - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2003
And this solitaire piecepack--space opera pickup-and-deliver--is far more of a puzzle, despite a chit-drawing element.

Power Lines - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2000
This game seems all right; I'd put it in the same category as IceSickle, with potentiation rather than capture. I could see getting to like this one, if I can get in a little regular play.
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15. Board Game: For-Ex [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:5515]
Board Game: For-Ex
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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This month, I was fortunate enough to play 4 new games and 2 new expansions. As is my custom, I'll list them in decreasing order of current enthusiasm, and (other than in rare exceptions, of which this month is not) with games before expansions.


For-Ex -- (1 play) _7⅔_
Board Game: For-Ex
Board Game: For-Ex
(both images by tomrussell)

I really enjoyed the first play. It was quite entertaining. We thrashed around (more than) a bit, played totally non-optimally, and enjoyed exploring the system.

Two (of the three) of us found it sufficiently compelling to want to play again. And the third was willing to give it another shot. So we're not doing too badly against the expected hit rate.

For my part, I was sufficiently entertained to implement the game in software so I could try to understand it a bit better. It's cool.


ひつ陣 Hitsu-jin 'Sheep 'n' Sheep' -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: Sheep 'n' Sheep
Board Game: Sheep 'n' Sheep
(images by okazuhyper & kazk)

I found this quite clever - if also far thinkier than I'd expected from the rather minimal presentation. The constraints on play were not at all difficult, but also required some attention and planning to get "right."

In the end, though, I was a bit uncertain as to the result. Did our winner make good decisions? Or were they presented with good cards, and managed to make satisfactory decisions to not throw the game away? I think I'd like the game better if I was confident of the former. More play is warranted.


Freight Train -- (1 play) _7_
Board Game: Freight Train
Board Game: Freight Train
(images by D Erasmus & cktjharris)

This was odd. I both enjoyed the conceit of what we seemed to be attempting to do. But also found that the game lasted longer than I'd wanted: I was ready for it to be over before it was done. In the end, at the duration it ran (~2h) I'd've preferred to play several hundred other things.

And, weirdly, I'm not sure that its remediable: if it were shorter, I'd likely also have been less impressed with it. Perhaps it's just not for me?


Stockpile -- (1 play) _6⅔_
Board Game: Stockpile
Board Game: Stockpile
(images by Bsobol1 & sethvanorden)

I'm a bit grumpier with this one. The conceit of handing partial information to the players and letting them deduce what might be out there by the moves that the others make is something that generally works for me.

But here, there was (subjectively) too little opportunity to signal anything. So we ended up making random decisions based on the fragment of information we held, rather than doing something clever with inferences from our opponents' moves. I think I'd play again if someone really wanted it, but I'd not ask for a replay.


Great Western Trail: Promo Station Master Tiles -- (1 play) _8_
Board Game: Great Western Trail: Promo Station Master Tiles
Board Game: Great Western Trail: Promo Station Master Tiles
(images by chaddyboy_2000 & hglcky)

Trivially amusing. And, quite randomly, our play included both of these the first time they were available. Happy to have them about, but they do very little to change my opinion of the base game.


Evolution: Promo Pack III -- (1 play) _7⅔_
Board Game: Evolution: Promo Pack III
Board Game: Evolution: Promo Pack III
(both images by zefquaavius)

We used the Plant Expansion on the Evolution: Climate side. And it mutated things quite strongly. I found it entertaining: but my esteemed opponent (son #2) was unimpressed: he'd prefer we not bother with it in future.


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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16. Board Game: Assault of the Giants [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:3626]
Board Game: Assault of the Giants
John Aronis
New Zealand
Christchurch
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== NEW GAMES ==

A really good month this month with a bunch of games that I want to play more or have added to my collection.

Assault of the Giants - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Assault of the Giants


Only played the one game of this but it is really enjoyable. I would suggest 3 players is not quite the optimum and the end-game trigger feels a bit sudden after the 2nd Ordning, but I like the card play and might do a minor house rule or 2 (increasing the point total and giant slayer movement).

DOOM: The Board Game - 1 play -  7.5 
First Published 2016
Board Game: DOOM: The Board Game


A great, fast paced game. However, with Gears of War in my collection, this feels a little bit shallow. I don't like how the glory kills work (and the chainsaw making most the demons underwhelming) and some of the rules seem contradictory. Gears of War feels a bit more strategic and promotes teamwork a bit more.

Jump Drive - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Jump Drive


A very good game. I think it may get a bit old because it plays so quick so you are often playing 2-3 times at once. An expansion that adds a touch more interaction (but not attacking or negative interaction) would make this a great game.

Legends of Andor - 3 plays -  7 
First Published 2012
Board Game: Legends of Andor


Only played this solo but it is an interesting game. You work your way through a story trying to kill just enough guys to not lose so as not to run out of time to win. Will continue through the story a bit more and see how it goes. I feel like the combat could've been better.

Rocketville - 1 play -  5.5 
First Published 2006
Board Game: Rocketville


A game about area control with risk management. It is okay, but I would never play this over Keyflower. So that hurts its rating allot. Also although luck evens out over the game, the board and control of the pawn means you can easily get locked out of early bids and draw the right cards at the wrong time meaning it is needlessly frustrating.

Say Anything - 1 play -  5.5 
First Published 2008
Board Game: Say Anything


It is a fun game with an interesting scoring mechanism that discourages breaking the game. We played half the game with scoring and the other half the game without, which immediately removed allot of the tension.

Dark Is The Night - 4 plays -  5 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Dark Is the Night


A fine game but after a few plays it feels a bit samey. After a few more it feels like you have explored all it has to offer. Easy to stalemate the game and probably needed something a bit more like Raptor (multiple win conditions for each side) to add allot more tension. With Raptor in my collection, I wouldn't play this too much more.


Tiny Epic Quest - 1 play -  4.5 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Tiny Epic Quest


I have only played the solo quest. The solo quest was quite boring with no real tension. I am looking forward to playing it with more to add that element of tension.

Triplock - 2 plays -  4.5 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Triplock


A boring game. It looked like a mastermind-style game but the dice rolling makes it very swingy with certain actions only being useful at certain times. Also there are other quite poor design decisions (hidden information being on chips with unique backgrounds) that are just puzzling.

Thornwatch - 1 play -  3.5 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Thornwatch


A boring game that relies on trying to shoehorn in rpg elements, board game element and storytelling. So much randomness in the initiative tracks means monsters can go from unbeatable to fodder from turn to turn for no reason. Wasn't a fan of the mechanics or the rpg elements. It looked pretty, though.

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17. Board Game: Dragon Island [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:10307]
Board Game: Dragon Island
Will Plante
United States
Greenville
Rhode Island
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Another great month of games with my family. With all of our school schedules settling in, we managed to find a lot of time to play some games. Since I'm buying less games there weren't as many new titles played, but I was happy to get a few played that had been sitting on my shelf for a while. Enjoy!



My favorite game of the month

Board Game: Dragon Island
Dragon Island -> 3 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8):

It took a handful of plays of Dragon Island before I could fully wrap my head around the game's strategy. I went into the game expecting a more tactical experience, similar to a game like Takenoko. Instead; Dragon Island plays more like an Uwe Rosenberg game in that you are slowly building an engine that you will then capitalize on for a few turns. Dragon Island isn't nearly as deep as an Uwe game, but it is important to plan ahead so that you are able to create opportunities to string together a group of actions to score a bunch of victory points. Victory points are tight in Dragon Island, so far our scores have been in the twenties or low thirties.

Without getting into specifics there are a handful of ways to score points, but multiple strategies to explore based on how the different actions build on each other. Points are earned by building different structures, taming dragons, capturing dragons and fulfilling treasure map cards (very similar to Takenoko where you are looking to have certain tiles adjacent to one another). Typically you will execute a strategy based on how the board develops and possibly which treasure cards you have. All of the actions, building effects and subsequent bonuses intertwine with each other creating a lot of room to explore how to best combo your actions and turns together. There is definitely more depth to Dragon Island than may first appear which creates a good amount of replayability. So far our plays of Dragon Island have zipped along, even when carrying out a bunch of actions turns still move quickly. Our 2p games have wrapped up in under 45 minutes.

While there is plenty of strategy in the game there appears to be a significant luck factor with the treasure map cards you draw. These cards can vary quite a bit in terms of what tiles are needed to fulfill a map and this will affect how viable it is to even try and complete one. You will need anywhere from 3 to 6 tiles of specific colors to be adjacent to a certain terrain to score them. Maps that require 5 or 6 specific terrain types to surround them are almost impossible to complete since your opponent(s) can easily mess up your plans, whether it's intentional or not. Also the VP awarded for the difficult treasure maps doesn't seem to justify trying to complete them when compared to VP you will earn completing the easier treasure maps. You just can't count on completing those difficult treasure map cards which can be frustrating when those are the cards you're holding. These are my initial impressions so maybe after playing more I'll change my mind, but as it stands now it seems to be too easy to have your plans spoiled by your opponents. I also think this problem would be exacerbated at higher player counts.

Overall I found Dragon Island to be very good game that I'll continue to play with my kids. Dragon Island would make a great next step game for families; the fantasy theme makes sense and is supported by the games mechanics, the artwork is very good and definitely drew my kids in. I think it will take folks a few plays to get used to the game's pacing, but there is plenty of depth to explore in Dragon Island. For some reason there isn't much buzz on BGG for Dragon Island and I'm really not sure why; I would definitely recommend giving it a few plays before passing judgement. Designer Mike Fitzgerald has managed to take some classic game mechanics (tile laying and resource management) and blend them together in a way that feels fresh and innovative. He is also on the forums answering questions that arise which I greatly appreciate.




Board Game: Deus: Egypt
Deus: Egypt expansion -> 3 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8/10):

Overall I really like what Deus: Egypt adds to the game; it ups the difficulty and rewards players who can plan ahead more effectively. New mechanics introduced into the game include one time card effects that trigger when you play a card to your tableau and certain cards now refer to a card'`s rank in a column (i.e. the third card in a column). This spatial element added to building your tableau forces you to take into account the order in which you will build cards if you want to maximize certain card abilities in your tableau.

I think the Deus: Egypt expansion is definitely suited to folks already familiar with the game, the new rules introduced will make much more sense to veterans of the game. I'd highly recommend it if you're a fan of Deus and want to explore a variety of new powers and strategies. (My favorite deck for each building type is highlighted in red).

Civil: base game - Egypt expansion

The new civil buildings provide similar powers to the base game cards, but you need to plan more carefully how you build your tableau and place your buildings in order to maximize a card's potential. There is now a single scribe token that moves to the newest brown location you built and a lot of the cards will specifically grant you bonuses wherever the scribe token is, forcing you to plan ahead.

Maritime: base game - Egypt expansion

This new maritime buildings have new powers which create different ways to score VP or produce gold, but the biggest change is the fluctuating market price/VP value for the different goods. Instead of each good being worth the same amount of VP, the value will change depending on what space of the market board the resource is on (the instant effect on the blue cards will let you adjust goods in the market). Goods will be worth 1,2 or 3VP and cost or generate 2,4 or 6 gold depending on their place in the market. This seems like it would be more game changing than I felt it was, but I've only played this deck once. However; I didn't notice that much of a difference in the overall experience playing with the new cards.

Military: base game - Egypt expansion

The new military buildings are the only cards that I don't think I'll play very often, if at all going forward. I found the powers to be overly convoluted and difficult to form a strategy around. I much prefer the straightforward game effects of the original military deck.[/i]

Production: base game - Egypt expansion

The new production buildings are one of my favorite new decks because of the limitations they put on producing goods. When playing with these buildings you must store your resources on boats which can only hold 1, 2 or 3 resources depending on the size of the boat. This forces you to manage your resources carefully and constantly be planning ahead when it comes to activating your production chain so that your actions are efficient and you can store your goods. I think both the production and science decks make the game more strategic and really reward players that can plan multiple turns ahead.

Science: base game - Egypt expansion

The new science buildings are probably my favorite new deck. They offer new ways to score points and activate other cards that require more careful planning since many of them refer to a card's level. The idea to add importance to the spatial placement of buildings was a great decision because it forces you to be more careful in your planning. I also like the 1x ability of drawing cards to some of the science buildings; this helps cycle through cards faster without having to spend your whole turn doing that (which was a major gripe with some folks).

Temples: base game = Egypt expansion

The new temples change up scoring dramatically. In the base game temples provide end game scoring opportunities, in the expansion the new temples have different ways to score in game points by completing certain tasks on your turn. Other temples offer a free resource you can use each turn to construct buildings, all of the new temples also give you some points just for building them. I think eventually we will actually mix the temples together and get a mix of temples with in game/end game scoring opportunities.



Board Game: Heebie Jeebies
Heebie Jeebies -> 1 play

Initial thoughts and rating (6):

Heebie Jeebies is a fun alternative to Apples to Apples even if it feels a bit derivative of that game. The biggest difference from Apples to Apples is everyone has to select one out of four possible cards that most creeps out the person whose turn it is. First person to 10 points wins. There were eight of us playing and we had some laughs and learned a bit about each other, like how nervous I am that I will get stuck in a car that is submerged in water. There were some turns that had a lackluster lineup of cards, so the humor is definitely hit or miss. Overall it was a fun party game that I'd happily play again.




Board Game: Hive
Hive -> 2 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8/10):

When I first got into the hobby I almost picked up a copy of Hive, but then played some abstracts I really didn't care for and wrote off abstracts as a whole. Over the last year I've played quite a few abstracts I've enjoyed and Hive's been added to the list.

Game play is a breeze to learn, but as is typical with most abstracts, actually playing well is the challenge, there is so much depth packed into so few rules and components. I was engrossed during each game and really enjoyed how it made me think. Components are top notch and after seeing both the pocket and full size version I definitely prefer the smaller set.

I also recently played Tatsu, by the same designer, and both games are now on my wishlist even though I don't know how often they will get played. Hive has earned it's reputation as a great intro into modern abstract games.



Board Game: Tempel des Schreckens
Tempel des Schreckens -> 2 plays

Initial thoughts and rating (8/10):

I was happy to finally get a chance to play Tempel des Schreckens which is a very easy to learn bluffing game. My two plays have been with eight players, but I think the game would scale very well based on how the roles are distributed and no one at the table knows anyone else's identity. The tension builds as the game plays since you can never be certain who is on your side, roles are never revealed and each side has ample time to bluff their way to victory. Both games we played there were guardians that most of us had pegged as adventurers which lead to some really exciting moments; we split our games, one for the guardians and one for the adventurers.

The rules are a breeze to learn and teach making it accessible to just about anyone; we'll definitely be playing this with our families over the holidays. The game is also the perfect length, a full game of five rounds took less than 20 minutes.

It needs to be said that just reading the rules or watching a video will not do this game justice. You really need to play it to understand just how well designed and fun it is. While Cockroach Poker is my favorite bluffing game, Tempel des Schreckens is close behind and if you add Ca$h N' Guns to the mix you have the perfect trilogy of bluffing games. I really appreciate games that can create such engaging gameplay experiences with simple rulesets.

*Just an FYI, I had to import my copy from Amazon.de, but it was definitely worth it.



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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18. Board Game: Kraftwagen [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:956]
Board Game: Kraftwagen
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Just one "new to me" this month: Kraftwagen. It only got two plays, the first was a two-player game against my wife, which, strangely, I won. The second was a four-player game with her and two others, which I did not win, but had way more fun playing.

It's an interesting game with two, but it ramps way up with four. So much so, that I'm not sure I'll ever play it as a two-player again.

The game centres around an action rondel similar to Navegador or Imperial, but this rondel mutates as actions are selected. Turn order is determined similar to games like Glen More and Tokaido where the last player goes first and can go first multiple times if other players jump too far ahead on the rondel.

As the game is about selling cars, one of the central actions is activating customers. And customers are key to one's success since each customer (and there are only four) determine which cars in the market are sold. A player could have the best designed car (body and engine) in the market, but if the active customers are only interested in the best serviced car or the cheapest car, the best car may well end up in the junk yard at the end of the round.

This sales mechanic makes for an indirect interaction game that can be ruthless as players manipulate the market by designing and pricing cars that match the wants of the customers (which are also chosen by the players).

And there's a side game as well as players upgrade their Grand Prix car with better and better engines to score points in each round's race.

And speaking of races, there's also the race to bonus victory points by being the first to reach some achievement like completing one lap in the Grand Prix or building the first engine rated "3"....

All in all, this game rates as one of the best Euros I've played all year.
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19. Board Game: The Gallerist [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:57]
Board Game: The Gallerist
Matt Brown
United States
Okemos
Michigan
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Flick 'em Up!: Dead of Winter - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Flick 'em Up!: Dead of Winter


Very okay for me as I wasn't all that much in the winning aspect of the game. I'm sure to get some more plays. Would be nice if it hit a 6, but I'm not expecting more.


The Gallerist - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2015
Board Game: The Gallerist


Didn't have things sink in like I should have so was in last place. I liked this a lot though although the left side of the board was a bit VP for the sake of it. Definitely want to give this a go again.
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20. Board Game: Merlin [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:959]
Board Game: Merlin
Bill Kunes
United States
Cincinnati
Ohio
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CinCityCon produced a crop of new to me plays this month...

GAMES

Board Game: Merlin

Board Game: Merlin

Merlin

Plays: 1
The board all setup looks busy with lots of iconography, colors, cubes, chits, etc. but it all makes good sense and is clear once you play a round or two. We completed a 3p game with instructions in about an hour and a half.

I like the circular scoring track the outlines the thematic "round table." The showcased mechanism in this design is the roundel that player piece movements and those for the bi-directional and shared moves of the white pawn representing Merlin determine your action each turn.
In typical Feld fashion there are number of ways to score points. It is awfully tempting to try and do everything, but we realized it wiser to choose a few ways to score points to focus your game play for maximum return, especially for the last 2-3 rounds.

Board Game: World's Fair 1893

World's Fair 1893

Plays: 1
Setup was straight forward and we learned over a slow first round. The game play consists of selecting an area of the Fair by placing one of your cubes. You then take any cards placed next to that area. Most will be used in set collection for points while others are influential people you use on your next turn to gain additional benefits. Any "ticket" cards you pick up moves the Ferris wheel car around serving as the round timer. Upon completing the circular ride, you score the round by rewarding majority bonuses. After three rounds the game ends.

The last two rounds went much faster. I had my doubts after mixed reviews, but the game exceeded my expectations and should serve a niche in my collection.

Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel

7 Wonders Duel

Plays: 1
7 Wonders Duel is a shorter 2p version of the bigger card game that has been well received by our group. This was of interest to me as it is on our potential Wish List. It helped to have familiarity with the bigger version with regards to understanding the basic card types, iconography, buy and build actions, etc. There are a couple of 2p nuances that we had to look up but after the first game or two it would be unnecessary.

I see its potential but my wife was getting tired and admittedly crabby so she didn't want to make a judgment of our initial play knowing it would be negatively biased by her mood. So we will have to play again or just grow a wild hair.

Board Game: Pit Crew

Pit Crew

Plays: 2
We played a slow, learning game Pit Crew at a crawl the first round to grasp the objective and timing elements of the game play. Then we were much more comfortable and played a quicker 2nd and 3rd round. We decided to reset and play another quick game now that we had a better understanding of bonuses, etc.

The real-time mechanism of placing cards from your hand to various pit activities followed by crews who finish early being allowed to roll dice and move a space for each six rolled until the last crew finished their pit activities was exciting. Overall it is a great concept and I could see how this would be interesting with a big group as well--multiple players trying to place cards quickly and complete the pit objectives cooperatively would be chaotic fun.

Board Game: Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension

Gravwell

Plays: 1
Gravwell was an interesting game that I believe would play better with a few plays under your belt so players would be informed enough to assess each situation and formulate a more effective approach to moving forward. Okay, I guess there is some fun in learning how this works too, but hopefully in that case you are playing with other new players as well.

I started to get a some momentum down the home stretch of my one play, and nearly pulled off a win. I stopped one spot shy at the end of the penultimate round only to get sucked back into the vortex. It was a neat concept but I didn't feel like I had much control over my game play for most of the game. I felt more like water being poured, churned and tossed back and forth in a basin trying to find my way to the drain, getting really nowhere fast.

EXPANSIONS

Board Game: Five Tribes: The Artisans of Naqala

Five Tribes: The Artisans of Naqala

Plays: 3
An additional color meeple with new items, djinns, mountains and some new tiles certainly add a few more considerations and some time to game duration. Although it wasn't absolutely necessary it does add some fresh variables. My favorite addition are the mountains that restrict movement. They are subtle but significant.

We are two fairly quick players who don't struggle with AP, so the added duration due to a larger grip of tiles is minor but still reasonable in our 2p games so far. With more players or an AP-prone player or two this could lead to wearing out its welcome.

Board Game: Power Grid: France/Italy

Board Game: Power Grid: France/Italy

Power Grid: France/Italy

Plays: 1
I had the opportunity to play the Italy map at CinCityCon, thus marking another map played on my pursuit to play all maps should I be fortunate enough to do so. It was largely vanilla in the sense that it wasn't real clear how this was anything other than base game Power Grid on a different map, which is totally fine, but part of the fun of playing different maps is a slight twist in the game play.

According to the expansion description this map has more waste, but fewer coal and oil resources. So thinking back, yes, there was more trash available and there was a higher number of trash power plants in play, but I think it went largely unnoticed. My focus was more on getting out from being boxed in so I could build. So my personal rank of this game is more reflective of the map, not the overall game which is a personal favorite.


meeple Keep playing...
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21. Board Game: The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:1569]
Board Game: The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
Ronster Zero
United States
California
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I had only one new game this month and it was The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game.

First of all, I read the first few Dresden Files books and enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to this game. I like co-op games to boot, so this seemed like a perfect fit.

What did I think? It's a good game. I like the way you have limited fate and cards to use. Also, even though there are a set of cards for each book, they are randomized and placed at different ranges which makes each game unique.

While I did enjoy my solo plays, I was unable to get a win the first few games. I do like that it played 2 players very well also and I was able to win the game.

I look forward to more plays with the different books and different challenges.
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22. Board Game: Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:1267] [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked]
Board Game: Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game
Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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A good amount of new to me games, and some very nice - others however...



Board Game: Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game
LEGENDARY ENCOUNTERS: FIREFLY

I was really excited to play this game, as cooperative games are my favorite kind, Firefly is my thing and this title comes from a family of games with positive buzz regarding its quality. I'm pleased to say it lived up to its predecessors. Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game is a good game, with some neat mechanics - the way the enemies and events run by the locations hidden is neat and tense, as we can see the threats advancing, without knowing what they are, unless we scan the place, which can, in turn, lead to even more nastiness. The game play is mostly the same as in Legendary - deckbuilding with two "currencies" - attack (to defeat enemies and ships) and influence (to acquire new cards). Cards to purchase come all from the same deck - built by 4 of the heroes decks (which will be the "support" for the play; the other heroes will be the main ones) - , and a new card is revealed after one in the track is taken.

Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game is based in scenarios, following the episodes in the series - in the first scenario, Serenity Part 1, for instance, the final goal is to find some salvage parts; for the second, Serenity Part 2, the goal is to defeat Patience and Dobson; as for the third scenario (which closes the first chapter), The Train Job, the goal is to defeat Crow and steal medical supplies. Everything connected with the episodes and highly thematic. Even more than Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game, Legendary: Firefly goes deeper into the theme, with many cards in the scenarios relating to a particular character, and its presence (or absence) can help or harm - very fun.

Once the enemies reach the combat zone, they will start to attack the players, making them, on their turns, to draw from the strike deck, which will, most of the time, cause injury to the characters - if the damage reaches the total HP of characters, he/she will be killed, and out of the play for the moment, but can be brought back to play, if she or he recover health, helped by someone - if all players are down with no one left to help, the players lose. But the enemy can also be ships, and these will attack Serenity itself, causing damage, which will make the life of the crew harder; and if Serenity suffers too many hits, it will be destroyed and the play will end in defeat. Finally, the game ends in defeat if a mandatory objective isn't fulfilled; however, other objectives can be left unmet - it will just lower the final scoring of the play. Players will win only if they can avoid the ill fates above and fulfill the final objective of the last scenario.

The decisions aren't all that hard to be made - is mostly which card to buy (usually vying for combos, using cards of the same icon, like in regular Legendary), which enemy to attack and/or where to scan. Scan is done blindly - there is no way to know what will appear (and, well, how could be otherwise, right?). Which enemy to attack is often given, either because there will be only one, or because if you have a lot of attack, you will normally attack the enemy that is tougher to beat, or one that is causing the most problems or one that is also an objective - this is only slightly changed when there is a ship attacking Serenity, as these don't immediately harm the players, and Serenity can be patched easier than recovering health. Furthermore, with the inclusion of Serenity and in between scenarios (episodes) steps, in which players can spend Credits earned during play to heal or buy upgrades do Serenity, add a little more choices.

There is plenty of luck of the draw: in the players deck, in the draw deck and in the enemy deck - in this last one the goal cards are shuffled, and while there is no way of knowing where they are, the decks are small - 10 to 12 cards, normally. The luck of the draw can be a little reduced by the addition of Coordinate cards - these can be played by other players during someone else's turn in order give boosts in attack or influence - this, besides talking about the the best way to proceed (which place to scan, who to heal, and so on), is the cooperation in the game.

As one could expect, deck builders aren't really the best mechanic to create a cooperative game, as the very nature of a person building her own deck is mostly a solitaire business. The Coordinate card is mainly all the interaction allowed by the game. One player can't, say, put his character in front of other to protect it from damage, nor they can share resources, or split to cover more ground (ok, this part is good that can't happen). Still, the Coordinate is key to win and, considering several cards have this key-word (including the Browncoats cards, that are a basic card, always present), Coordinate can happen often, so there is definitely a sense of cooperation between players, even if not as much as some other games.

The cards are a little on the flimsy side, but the game mat is awesome - is made of rubbery material, and it feels great (and it doesn't have "memory" - i.e.: it doesn't curve the tips). The artwork is serviceable, with some great and other subpar.

The worst part of Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game is the player elimination, a mechanic that, while thematic (and is necessary to properly give a sense of dread), can lead to someone leaving early (as there are some high damage cards in the strike deck, dealing 4, even 5 damage at once) and just watching the game go on. Legendary: Firefly don't took away the fear of dying, but the player elimination was softened, as another person can use cards that heal in order to bring the hero back to the fight.

Legendary: Firefly has a simple campaign mode, in which players use the scenarios in a specific order and while the decks don't remain built, upgrades and damage on Serenity are kept.

Overall, Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game is a good cooperative game, dynamic and tense, that doesn't go "easy" on players, even in the first scenario. The rules and flow are easy to understand, specially if the players already know Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game or Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game. There is truly a feel of the series in the game - the side jobs, the enemies, the problems with the persons and places, all the while people keep trying to take the sky from you. Make sure you don't let them, even if this require some misbehaving.

Rate: 8 / 10



Board Game: Mamma Mia!
MAMMA MIA

It has been quite some time that I want to play Mamma Mia!. Several times I tried to buy it, but either it was out of stock, or when I wasn't able to make a bigger purchase to add it in. Yet, the desire remained, as Mamma Mia! is from the golden days of Uwe Rosenberg, before he did all possible Agricola variations, and was putting out great games such as Bohnanza.

Mamma Mia! is a memory game - the participants are trying to make pizzas that require particular sets of ingredients. Players have a hand of ingredients cards and, normally, one pizza, but they can have more pizza, but will have less ingredients - as the maximum hand size is 7.

The basic rules, as per the description, are: on a turn, a player lays down one or more ingredient cards of a single type into a common stack, then optionally adds a pizza order card to that stack. He then refills his hand by drawing as many cards as he played from either the shared ingredient deck or his own order deck. After the draw pile is exhausted, the shared pile of cards is flipped over and sorted by ingredients until an order comes up. If enough ingredient cards are available to fill that order, the owner scores it; if not, the player can make up the difference by playing cards from his hand (and thereby scoring the order) or else return the card to the bottom of his order deck, and the ingredients remain. A special type of pizza - the Bombastic - takes all the ingredients available when it shows up, if there are 15 or more of them, otherwise it isn't made. Once all the orders are scored or returned, shuffle the ingredients used in pizzas and start another round of play. After three complete rounds, the player who's filled the most orders wins!

Overall, Mamma Mia! is a simple and straightforward, using just two mechanisms: memory and hand management. It is easy to teach and play. A play flows fast and filled with tension, with all persons trying to use the windows of opportunity to place their pizzas, usually frustrating the others in the process, as the set of ingredients is collectively used, thus when a pizza is placed, the memory needs to compensate for it in order to remember if there are still enough ingredients left to make yours, or if still need more, requiring more time and risk losing the correct timming.

In the end, Mamma Mia! has a fine level of interaction. Its rhythm is lively, and it creates a fun and competitive environment, without truly being too agressive or mean. It definitely can work for a light family gaming night or among the more hardcore gamers when in the mood for an uncompromised play. Although memory games tend to demand attention and concentration, Mamma Mia! also brings laughter and fun to the table. Recommended.

Rate: 7.5 / 10



 
TRIAS

Trias is an area control and area enclosure game in which players control herds of dinosaurs in movement through Pangaea while it splits, forming the new continents. The goal is to make have the most points at the end of the game, and these are given each time a new land mass is formed, and, in final scoring, when each land mass will give points accordingly to the size (number of hexagons) of them.

The rules summary, per the description, is: players begin by placing herds of their dinosaurs on the single continent of Pangea, made from tiles of various terrain types. They then take turns, which comprise of drifting tiles, conducting optional actions, and finally resolving any of their own tribes that have been left in water or on overpopulated tiles. The first phase, the drift, involves a player moving a landscape tile of the same type as depicted on the card they play. The tile must be moved further away from the South Pole (the centre of Pangea) than it already is, must remain a part of the same continent and must be attached to a continent with that player's herds. Players have 4 action points to spend on other optional actions, including another drift, migrating herds, rescuing swimming herds and reproducing to create more herds.

The mechanical part of moving herds and reproducing to increase presence and control is very common in this genre of games - what takes Trias apart from the rest is the constant movement of the continental drift, as the hexagons that form the boards are moved, forming new regions. Afterwards, these same areas can also be divided, or united with others, creating bridges from where new herds can come, changing the control and value of the regions. Is a constant dispute and one that is highly fun to see develop during play.

Furthermore, area control games often tend to be "violent", with gains and losses, and relentless attacks. In Trias there is some of this, but in an attenuated and friendlier form: herds aren't lost - even when left "swimming" by the drift of a tile, rescue them is easy. The continental drift can cause damage to the pretensions of points of someone, yet, with some planning and care, there are often opportunities to recover lost ground and even expand it.

Trias offers a nice amount of timming and preparation through positioning - being in a good place in key moments can be worth a lot, as well as antecipating the possible drifts and changes in the land. Still, the learning curve isn't too steep, as the rules are quite straightforward, clean and lean.

Overall, Trias is a good game, giving many decision points, constant interaction and a fine replay value. The looks of it can be lackluster (specially the german edition, with the cubes instead of the dinomeeples), yet the mechanics are solid and provide a nice enviroment and a reasonable playing time. Recommended.

Rate: 7 / 10



Board Game: Flick 'em Up!
FLICK'EM UP!

Flick 'em Up! is a dexterity game, based in scenarios, in which players form teams in order to fulfill goals (kill the others, prevent a robbery, save someone, etc). Gameplay, as expected, is quite simple.

It is hard to avaluate Flick 'em Up! with just the play I had, considering the simplicity of the scenario, and, from what we could see, there are others much more attractive. Going only by what we saw and play, Flick 'em Up! seemed better than Terror in Meeple City, but still weak - little in terms of positiong and use of the terrain features, it was just a straight up shoot out.

The set up of the scenario was rather long and tedious, and controlling the position of the meeples - something pretty relevant for the gameplay - is near impossible to be done with precision: almost all actions made changed the place of them slightly, and it was hard to know the precise spot a meeple left the table (when this happen, it should return to this point).

Overall, Flick 'em Up! does give a good tool for fun moments - I would recommend skipping the basic scenario and go straight to the others. As the game left something of a sour taste, coupled with the boring set up, I fear that its chances of returning to the table, based on an unfavorable first opinion, are quite reduced. Thus my advice.

My current rating for it is based on what I know and experienced as up to now. It could increase when - or if - I get to play better scenarios, which offer more and are fun to play.

Rate: 6 / 10



Board Game: Tokaido
TOKAIDO

Tokaido was severely criticized by friends with strong opinions towards games, and even though I wanted to know it for years, not even its release in Brazil was enough to bring it to a table I was in, considering the amount of distaste accumulated - with the main critique being that the choices in the game were obvious and, with everything being almost equality good, jumping ahead was seldom required; they didn't found the tough decisions in left things behind such as those found in Egizia.

Now, having played, I admit that, although the criticism was oversized, it wasn't completely misleading: Tokaido is filled with easy choices and does required few big steps forward - usually we kept just taking the first open space ahead, as there is no limit of places to stop (which pushes for prioritizing) and the places repeat often. Furthermore, there several random elements, due to the random draw of cards from several decks, in which players are often just hoping for the best. Finally, the special abilities of the characters don't seem all that well balanced, as there were clearly those better and those worst.

Still, with all these rough edges, the flow of the game is quick and pleasant, with small downtime between turns and a rhythm of constant advancement. Tokaido doesn't demands the level of strategy and planning present in Egizia, nor Francis Drake, going in the route of opportunism and tatical play, and, because of this, the time of play is reduced and the pace is faster, making it an option for a lighter and uncompromised, while providing several decision points, regardless of how easy these are.

In the end, Tokaido isn't the winner I was expecting, but with such a pretty art, a speedy resolution, the open eye for windows of opportunity, make the game pleasant enough for me to be willing play it on occasion.

Rate: 6 / 10



Board Game: Black Stories Funny Death Edition
BLACK STORIES: FUNNY DEATH

It is basically the same as Black Stories, the difference being the deaths aren't really funny - more on the stupid side; and the cases on themselves aren't as good, being complex and filled with small details that could work in another type of deduction game, but in here, aren't really recommended, since you can forget things you already ask or information given, making the case longer and less fun.

Overall, not truly bad, just worst than the original box. Still, fun enough.

Rate: 6 / 10



Board Game: Odin Quest
ODIN QUEST

Odin Quest is a solitaire game in which a norse hero will travel by the Nine Realms in order to acquire allies, gain wards, deal with unpredictable events and perils, and face many enemies that threaten to bring Ragnarök to Odin's realms.

Hand management, exploring and dice rolling are the main mechanisms. There are 10 places, 9 to explore and in them there will be perils, foes and boons. Events will simply trigger, some will remain in play, strengthening with failure of the hero or because other events, or doing a one-time effect. Wards are useful spells or helpers that are simply taken. Allies must be convinced to join in. Enemies are faced in battle.

Both for allies and foes, the test in the same: 7 dice are rolled, some are taken out (indicated by the enemy card) - for each realm with enemies, a Conflict card is pulled, which adds a number to the total rolls of the foes in that realm, as well as some nasty effect that will make harder for the hero to win; then the player can choose Action cards to use - these cards provided from 1 to 3 dice to roll, and all have one special effect (which the player can choose one to activate) - is important to know that some cards can't be used, as every enemy and ally have a symbol which prevents cards and allies that have the same symbol to be used. Using up to 3 Actions are free, using more costs Actions - if the player uses 5, she chooses 3 to discard and 2 to remove from play. The sum of the player's roll must be higher than that of the Ally or Enemy in order to win - winning bring positive effects (normally taken Omens out) and losing means, usually, adding Omens to Events and enemies. Allies can later be used to help fight enemies or convince new allies.

Only when the player have 3 or less Action cards in hand she can draw back the discard pile. The game ends with a victory when the hero has cleared all the realms and still have at least 3 Action cards not removed from play. And in defeat if the player has less than 3 Action cards or 18 omens or more are in Events and Enemies.

Odin Quest provides a nice experience, mixing surprises, choices and the thrill of the unknown. Though there is plenty of luck going around, the player has a good amount of control, since she chooses how to answer the roll of allies and enemies. A good management of the cards is key in doing well, as you can go strong against an enemy, using the cards that give 2 and 3 dice, but, eventually, you will have to use that which give just 1 die - and, along side the choice of how many dice to roll, there is the use of the special effect, which can really help the hero in many ways.

And, of course, the art is phenomenal, and a major attractive of the game.

Yet, even with these strong positives, Odin Quest isn't perfect, as it has, for me, a big problem: it is too easy to beat. The game comes with two difficulties: standard (which should be called "tutorial") and advanced, which gives some challenge, and, still is too easy. In my plays I was never even close to losing - Omens rarely amounted to a real threat and the Events, many times, did little to nothing. Yes, the rolls can make some situations problematic, and a bad use of the Actions cards may lead to some defeats, leading to a more dire situation. Though the possibility is there, is not a high probability.

We thought in some ways to add difficulty to it - making drawing cards harder, changing the end game scoring (losing points each time the discard pile is drawn; this doesn't make the game itself harder, but is harder to achieve higher scores), and other small tweaks. Still, in the normal rules, Odin Quest doesn't properly offer a challenge, which is a considerable issue with a solo game.

In the end, Odin Quest offers a pleasant experience (specially to the eyes), but one that lacks challenge and, thus, quickly made me lose interest.

Rate: 5.5 / 10



Board Game: Dead Man's Draw
DEAD MAN'S DRAW

Dead Man's Draw is a push your luck game, in which players are trying to accumulate cards from different types since, in the end, each player will score the highest value card of each type - thus is valid to have more than one card of a type, since attacks can take away cards, and having more than one in a type means that losing one will just lower your score (for instance, if you have a Mermaid 7 and a 4, you would score 7 points; if you lose the Mermaid 7, you would still score 4 points).

Now, it isn't the amount of luck in Dead Man's Draw that bothers me, as there are plenty of push your luck games that I enjoy. What irks me is that is possible to lose several turns and the direct attacks - these three together can truly make a mess of a game, usually a recipe for failure. Port Royal has two of these things (luck and losing turns), but the lack of direct attacks make it much more tolerable. What saves Dead Man's Draw from the dread territory is the smart decision of making it short - lasting for around 20 minutes, the agressions and highs and lows of luck bother a lot less, and the lightness of the gameplay even allows for some entertainment and enjoyment to be had.

Overall, Dead Man's Draw isn't a game I will recommend, being one I'm just OK with, as it offers some simple decisions and is quick, doesn't causing much in terms of emotions for me, for good or bad.

Rate: 5.5 / 10



Board Game: Elfenland
ELFENLAND

I admit that I don't really know what I was expecting with Elfenland. I read the rules, but couldn't truly predict or visualize how a full game of it would develop. And I was quite in love with the artwork, both from the cards and board. Thus, I ended up with a somewhat high expectation for Elfenland, and it didn't delivered.

Elfenland is simple enough in its rules: there are 4 rounds, and after players draw to 8 cards at the start of each of them, players, in turn order, take transportation tokens - these are put in the roads in the board in order to determin what type of transportaion is available by that road that round. Some methods of transportation require more cards to be used in some types of terrain; and, also, some can't be used in some terrains. Therefore, with the tokens and the cards, players try to come up, on the fly, with the best possible route to pass by the cities and collect their markers (which are the points in the game). These are what people are trying to do while Lady Luck normally has other plans.

Luck is present, first, in the drawing of cards - this can already break most plans before they even start. Second, you had it in taking tokens - there are 5 open ones, but also the player can take one, at random, from the pool. Finally, there is the luck (or lack of) with the placement of transportation by the other players - sometimes one or more placed will help you greatly, while (more often), the types of transportation will seriously reduce your options of paths - it is possible to pay three cards of any type to use any sort of transportation, but this limits the options quite a bit.

And it is curious that, with the amount of random elements in the mechanics, that the game asks players to plan ahead, since, one a path is taken, it can be too costly to verge away from it. Therefore, every round players must do the best possible with what they get (from cards and tokens), while keeping an overall path. Elfenland is almost all tatics, with little control (is possible to keep cards from one round to the other, and one transportation token).

In the end, I'm simply disappointed with Elfenland - not exactly due to the game's fault, as it doesn't propose to be a deep and strategic game; it is a light affair, with a good amount of interaction and plenty of luck built in. And I'm not in the least against these sort of games - they make for a sizeable chunk of of my collection, by the way -, but I was wanting more from Elfenland. Others and I got, many times, a feeling of powerlessness and frustration, mainly by not being able to acquire the proper transportation tokens - we knew what we wanted to do, but just couldn't do it. Yes, this is the challenge: adapt to the difficulties and advance as far as possible. I understand, still, the gameplay lacked a proper fun factor. In comparison Elfenland left the impression of an worsened Ticket to Ride.

Rate: 5 / 10



Board Game: Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion
STAR WARS: EMPIRE VS. REBELLION

Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion is a 2 player card game set in the Star Wars universe, which truly has very little to do with it - the gameplay is basically blackjack with special abilities and different limits of cards and goal numbers.

The objective is getting 7 points first than the other person. One side plays with the Rebels and the other with the Empire - though most of the cards in the decks are the same, except for the characters. The strategy cards (which change rules/possibilities for one side or both) are also the same for both sides. As I mentioned, this isn't exactly a thematic game.

During play, an event will be active at the start of each round. The event informs the maximum number of cards each side can play (normally 2 to 4), the maximum number, the victory points it is worth, the tokens it will give and, often, a special rule for the round. Then players, in order, either reveal a resource card from their deck, use the ability (then, exhausting it) of a card already revealed, ready an exhausted card or pass. If the player pass, she can play normally in her next turn if the other player did any action other than pass.

The goal is to get as close to the target number of the event as possible without passing it. The player that does this, wins the event, taking the card and its points. Once this is over, if neither player have reached 7 points, plays continue - the resource deck is shuffled, a new event is revealed, players choose one strategy card among the ones they haven't used already. The person behind in points starts the new round.

Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion has possibilities - the use of the abilities of the resource and characters cards give a good amount of room for players. It isn't just a luck fest, revealing cards and hoping for the best. Good use of the strategy cards can also make a big difference. Yet, luck is present, heavily. No matter the decisions you make, if luck don't help, you will lose - simple as that. While there is control in the game, from the tokens that allow using the ability of a card again, to the abilities and strategy card, the random order of the cards can make or break anything you try.

The game does offer bluff elements with the strategy cards - a player can pass soon, making the other pause and think "what is she up to?". Maybe she used the card that makes the person with the lowest score wins. Or maybe is what she want you to think, and she will add 2 to her score in the end. And other possibilities. Still, even this - the most fun part - gets a hit, as with passing of the rounds, less are the cards to be used, and there is a strategy card that lets you choose the next strategy of the opponent.

In the end, Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion simply don't have strong enough elements to keep me interested in its 60 minutes playing time. It gets boring and repetitive, and, worst of all, it can be frustrating. While I'm open for new plays, the abstract nature, the shuffling of the deck each round (which can make several cards not to be seem during the whole play, and increase the luck aspect), and the too long duration for what it offers, assure that I won't be seeking it out.

Rate: 4 / 10




Board Game: Red7
RED7

Chudyk is a designer that I appreciated quite a lot: Glory to Rome is one of my favorite games; Impulse is excellent; Mottainai is pretty good, even if derivative. But this isn't a relationship without problems: I had several issues with Innovation. Still, the number of hits is higher than the duds, so I was quite excited with Red7. Alas, this was another disappointment.

Often, during play, I felt I was being played. Although I kept trying to prepare for later rounds, both using cards that would put me ahead in two or more conditions, and holding cards for conditions I could reach easier (or already was leading). Yet, things changed too fast, by one or two cards played, and the participants can't even count cards, as so many stay out of play, meaning it was basically impossible to properly antecipate what would come - and a good condition this round could turn into a dead end in the very next.

I consider myself a decent card player, specially trick-taking (which Red7 isn't, but has a close feeling), being the number 1 players of Hearts in BGA for a little while. However, in Red7 I just wasn't able to develop a proper play, effectivelly unable to play in a way that I needed a good amount of luck to actual pull something off. Therefore, I was constantly being lead by what usually was one or two proper choices, and was often frustrated, even with the short rounds. The luck aspect is even present in the scoring - one can win a round and get 3, 5, 7 points, while other can receive 15, 20, 25. This disparity is too big and can make even winning a round feel "empty'.

In the end, Red7 is just an interesting idea (of playing a card and end the turn winning in the current condition, or be eliminated), but it didn't translated into a captivating game. Will definitely avoid Red7 in the future and I don't recommend it.

Rate: 3.5 / 10




Board Game: FaceEater
FACEEATER

FaceEater is insanity. It has two levels of play: one the involves a card game of doing sets, straights, and runs, which I guess would be the main part of the game. But isn't. The second level is playing power cards, which are the take that part, and is where the game truly happens - if there was one here. In the part of doing sets, runs or not, we talk about 50, 100 points for cards left in hand - and minus 200 for the ones that completes the requirement first. With the power cards, we talk about 300, 400, 500 or more. The difference is huge and basically makes the part of doing sets, straights and runs almost without reason or sense, except as a trigger to end a round - but even in this there are power cards that can end the round, or even the whole game!

The gameplay is a shame: the rules allow for unlimited power cards play, even out of turn, which makes the start of the rounds a complete chaos, with a tsunami of effects being thrown - hundreds of points, positives and negatives, are given, taken, removed, avoided, reverse, and whatnot. And these are the simplest effects: some are more complex, skipping turns, preventing actions, etc, and, as mentioned, there are cards that can end a round without someone even having a turn, and the Extinction card, that can simply ends the game! It is like a intense combat phase in Cosmic Encounter snorted cocaine, took 10 speed pills and 3 adrenaline shots. There are so many back and forth, cuts, nullifications, and coupled effects that is normal to happen that, before a single normal card is played, somone has -300 points and someone +600. And, by the end of a round (if it actually gets to this), a one person receive 50 points while other gets 400 by a single FaceEater card in hand.

Yes, we laughed while playing. But these were laughter of sanity leaving our control, running away and hiding, giving place to unstoppable madness. FaceEater has, as main qualities, the fact that is can be really short and has good art. And that is it. The mechanics are total garbage - a take-that mountain of manure, with an excuse of card play to form sets and such which is basically a poster at the back of a crime scene: it makes part of the whole, but few will pay any attention to it.

FaceEater may be the worst game I played in quite a while - is likely the most unbalanced and crazy, but at least it is quick and, thus, more bearable. Yet, the person that made the the tagline of the box tried to warn the world: "Think life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering? Want to share that suffering with your friends? Try... FaceEater". Indeed, sir, indeed.

FaceEater is the sort of design that leave me wondering how such a game became a commercial product. Well, likely there are still plenty of room for really bad take-that games, with copious amounts of luck and humongous leaps in points, ending with a totally unbalanced whole, barely balanced by bashing. At least this could serve as an incentive: if this anathema of coherent thought that is FaceEater can be released, any game can - don't give up from your dreams!

FaceEater is recommended only to the trash.

Rate: 1.5 / 10




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23. Board Game: Campy Creatures [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1601]
Board Game: Campy Creatures
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Campy Creatures - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Campy Creatures


If you want to judge games on what they set out to do, this one is a home run. It's a super light filler with simultaneous action selection. The art is *great* (50's B-movie sci fi poster look), and the game has just enough decisions to be interesting without bogging down. Only downside is that the small box with a non-folding scoretrack makes for kind of a small track that can easily get bumped, but I nitpick. I hope this game gets a wider release, because it certainly deserves to edge out (or at least compete with) things like Get Bit.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 - 2 plays
First Published 2017
Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 2


This should probably be on top in terms of my excitement to play, but we've only played it twice (one of those being the prologue), and we're already off to a terrible start. I certainly expect to enjoy to the hell out of this for the next few months (I expect we'll play once-a-weekish, usually 1 game per session.

Bärenpark - 2 plays -  N/A 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Bärenpark


Another game that accomplishes what it sets out to do very very well. This is going to be a big hit with my extended family over Thanksgiving. A very easy game to play when somewhat distracted by kids running around, TV on, etc. I don't really know why they made the goals "advanced". They should have just made those the base rules and suggested removing them if playing with kids or something.

Caverna: Cave vs Cave - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Caverna: Cave vs Cave


Enjoyed my one play so far. This is one that will probably mostly be played with my wife, so how often it gets played will depend heavily on her opinion. It's not something I love so much that I'll push it even if she's not sure about it.

Gentes - 1 play
First Published 2017
Board Game: Gentes


Everyone seems to like this game, but I found it kind of...eh. Admittedly that's just one play. It's action selection where the cost of taking an action is both money and time, which is measured by hourglass markers that take up spaces that you need to select more actions. There's a kind of interesting thing that when you take 2 hourglasses you can take them as a '2' or 2 '1's. If you take a '2', then at the end of the round it just flips to a '1', meaning basically you can choose to lose 2 spaces this turn or one each for the next two turns. So that's kind of new and interesting, but the game underneath that is kind of indistinguishable from your fifth favorite Feld game: get resources, convert those resources to points in various ways, interact with other players by taking things they wanted before they wanted them. Repeat.

Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game


I liked it. My wife *hated* it, and I just don't think I'm going to get myself out to a meetup to play it or get another friend interested enough to justify the cash outlay. In addition to Pandemic 2, and the Arkham Horror LCG, I've got Charterstone, Gloomhaven, and later 7th Continent all on their way, which should really keep my "destination board game" appetite sated. I should probably try to unload my two starters while people might still be looking to pick up their second/third ones. If I was 25 and single rather than 44 with a wife and 5 year old, I'd probably be all over this.
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24. Board Game: The Gallerist [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:57]
Board Game: The Gallerist
James Moline
United States
Tampa
FL
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Board Game: The Gallerist
The Gallerist - The Gallerist really surprised me. The theme is not particularly appealing, and the mechanics didn't grab me when I watched playthroughs or rules explanations. I really enjoyed it once we were actually playing, though. I especially liked investing in an artist and then pumping them up. That element is a bit like a stock market element, but the value never goes down. I also really like the kickout actions, which I've seen some people say that they can bog things down, but when I was playing assistants were at a premium, so I generally didn't leave one behind if I didn't have something specific in mind to do. Anyway, tons of others have sung this game's praises, so I'll just say I agree with them.
Rating: 7.5

Board Game: ZhanGuo
ZhanGuo - ZhanGuo is another game that I enjoyed more than I expected to. I figured I'd like it fine, but I ended up really enjoying the engine building element, and the often difficult choice between improving your engine and performing an action. I'm not sure how it plays with 2, but I'm assuming the tension would be dialed down a bit. What's Your Game? has definitely become a must-try publisher for me.
Rating: 7.5

Board Game: Quadropolis
Quadropolis - I expected to like Quadropolis, and it didn't let me down. It feels a bit like Suburbia to me, but way slimmed down. I like it a good bit more than that game. I like the tile selection mechanism a lot, although I wouldn't call it thematic at all. It makes for some very difficult and interesting strategic choices. I've only played the Expert variant. The classic variant seemed almost too simple for me, but simple can be interesting, so I think I'll try it at some point anyway. This is a very good game.
Rating: 7.5

Board Game: Dracula's Feast
Dracula's Feast - This is a pretty good, fast playing social deduction game. The logical deduction element is pretty strong in this one. I'm not sure that I think it's all that balanced (some of the characters have alternate win conditions that seem a lot easier to get), but it plays quickly enough that I don't think I mind it much.
Rating: 7

Board Game: The Fox in the Forest
The Fox in the Forest - Fox in the Forest is a pretty good two player trick taking game. I was very excited when I first heard about it, because I love trick taking and have wished that the mechanism worked better with 2 players. When I stopped to think about it, though, each player is just playing a single card. BraveRats is pretty close to the same thing, and I like it, but it's very simple and not deep. So, I went into my first play not really expecting much. It's better than I expected, though. Yes, it's still mechanically similar to BraveRats, but the random deal and the way scoring works (if you win too much you score nothing, but if you lose too much, you can actually get points) give the game a bit more depth. I enjoyed it and I think it will make a good restaurant/vacation game.
Rating: 7

Board Game: BEEEEES!
BEEEEES! - I like real time dice rolling, so I wasn't surprised that BEEEES! is a pretty good game. Imagine Roll For It! with real time rolling and when you claim a tile you add it to your tableau and at the end of the game you score based on having tiles of the same color adjacent to each other. It has a couple of rules that interrupt the flow of the game, though, and I think it suffers a little bit for that. It's a fine game, but in this genre, I think I'd prefer to play Fuse or Escape: Curse of the Temple.
Rating: 6.5

Board Game: Spirit Island
Spirit Island - I've been curious about Spirit Island since the hype machine kicked in as people started receiving their kickstarter copies a couple of months ago. Coops don't generally go over too well in our house, but I've wanted to add a couple of options for specific groups I play with. I like the theme of Spirit Island, and like the idea of a heavier coop. The execution was a little too complicated to fit my needs, though. The cooperative element of the game is strong, but with the need to coordinate comes the need to understand the complex interactions between your cards and pretty much everyone else's. The difference between slow actions and fast actions is another element that becomes awkward to manage. I think this is a well designed game, but it doesn't quite fit what I'm looking for.
Rating: 6