New to you March 2018 => Best new boardgame
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What games did you play for the first time in March 2018?

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: Mask of Anubis [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:3198]
Juan Carlos Goyes
Colombia
Bogota
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Titularing

2018-03-28

Initial Rating: 4.0 (March 2018)

Titularing was an utterly unknown game for me. When my friend explained it to me, I saw that it was a game in the vein of Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity (games I heavily dislike), so it is NOT a game for me, however, I’m surprised to learn that Titularing was designed on 1990 so it pre dates all of the games in this genre, even Apples to Apples!

The game is very easy to explain, you can do it under 1 minute. Playtime is, mercifully, quick.

The goal of the game is to create newspapers headlines out of cards with letters and a given theme, and the best headline will win the point. I enjoy the creativity needed to play the game, however, what I really hate about this kind of game, is the subjective judging. Each turn, a player is the judge and he alone will decide the better headline, I cannot emphasize enough how much I hate this mechanism, and it breaks the game for me, but some friends do enjoy it.

On the other hand, I think the game is rather novel due to its old age.

Bottom line, Titularing is a novel word game, but it isn’t for me because it is way too light and it has subjective scoring. It can be a good game to break the ice but if I don’t play it again, I won’t be sad.

Current Rating: 4.0



Dragonfire

2018-03-28

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

I have been wanting to play Shadowrun: Crossfire for a long while now, however, when I learned that you needed stickers to permanently modify the game, my desire to play it went away. I´m all anti legacy for a lot of reasons. After I told all of this to a friend, he told me you can play the game without using the stickers so my interest was high again and then Dragonfire appeared so we decided to play it.

The rules of the game aren’t very complex to teach, you can do it under 12 minutes. Playtime is very variable and it depends on the number of players (and perhaps on the scenario you are playing, I´m not sure about this one though).

I love the theme! I no longer role play D&D but I have always loved the theme.

The art of the cards is from ok to good. Game´s components are ok as well. I have never been a fan of using plastic clips to track things.

Dragonfire is a cooperative deckbuilding game and the idea of the game is to pass the scenarios. What really calls to me is that the characters level up, so you feel some progression with each play, however, you don´t keep your inventory nor the cards you purchased in the last game (I was a bit sad about this part), that is, every game you play, you begin anew, except your character has leveled up.

When I played Dragonfire, it has two expansions mixed (Heroes of the Sword Coats and Wondrous Treasures) but I think they didn’t add to my enjoyment, at least not yet as both expansions adds more content I haven’t explored. I do want to play the game again soon, perhaps start a regular meeting to play it, time will tell if I succeed at this.

The market offering is variable, that is, the available cards appear at random. I really hate this mechanism in competitive games as they make the game very unfair, but I don´t mind it in cooperative games.

Gameplay is fun and thanks to the assist mechanism (reminiscent of Legendary: Predator), all players are engaged all the time, still, I feel it is best played as a 3 player game and I will play up to 4 players. In each turn, players play cards to kill monsters matching symbols, then, you can buy cards with money. Which card to buy seems obvious as you buy the cards of your class, but I need more play to verify this point. Our first scenario wasn’t easy to beat, but we managed, I hope the game remains hard to beat.

Bottom line, I really want to explore Dragonfire. Its rating could go either way with more plays, but I think I will like it. It that’s the case, I will buy all its expansions and make an effort to play it often. You can play the game without using the stickers. When I play more, I will come back to comment again. It has a lot of potential.

Current Rating: 6.5



Dragonfire: Character Pack – Heroes of the Sword Coast

2018-03-28

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

In my only Dragonfire play, this expansion was mixed in. A couple of players used some new characters from the expansion and I almost always love expansions, however I’m not sure I dig Dragonfire: Character Pack – Heroes of the Sword Coast as much as the base game. The reason? Once I play a scenario, my desire to repeat it with another character is very low. In my mind I already beat it so there is no reason to come back to it. I had the same issue with Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set. Perhaps I will buy it and begin playing with them since the very first play. Another reason to dislike the expansion is that I like to play with the same characters to max them out and I don’t want to begin with weak characters again.

On the other hand, the situation could be different with Dragonfire as I still don’t know how the campaign mode works (or even if it has a campaign mode).

I really like that the expansion adds more cards, this is always a ppositive in my book.

Dragonfire: Character Pack – Heroes of the Sword Coast seems expensive for what comes in the box.

Bottom line, Time will tell if I will buy and play Dragonfire: Character Pack – Heroes of the Sword Coast.

Current Rating: 6.0



Dragonfire: Wondrous Treasures

2018-03-28

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

In my only Dragonfire play, this expansion was mixed in so I´m not sure what was its impact on the game.

Dragonfire: Wondrous Treasures comes with more cards for the game, a very positive thing to have in my book.

When I play the game more, I will come back to do a better comment, for now, I’m giving it the same rating I gave the base game.

Current Rating: 6.5



Mask of the Pharaoh

2018-03-28

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2018)

As is usual from me, I bought Mask of the Pharaoh without knowing anything about it. Many times I get bad games, but sometimes I get surprises and this one blown me away!! I love it!

Mask of the Pharaoh´s rules are easy to teach. You can do it under 2 minutes. Playtime depends on the scenario, but my plays haven taken around 15 minutes so far.

The game´s components are from regular to ok and the puzzle pieces can degrade rather quickly if you are not careful. The Anubis mask is great in theory, but having to assemble it for each play is a pain for me, I opted to leave it always assembled, but now storage is an issue.

The goal of the game is to, cooperatively, assemble a labyrinth to allow Ludo (a dog) reach the King´s Chamber. You need a smartphone to play Mask of the Pharaoh, and on the smartphone you will see the labyrinth from different perspectives. Each player has to describe what they are seeing as best as they can and the other players try to assemble it with the game pieces. You also need to have a good memory (which I love) After 4 or 7 different views, the labyrinth has to be complete and then you see on the app if you did ok or you lost. It is an amazing and novel game.

The app itself works perfectly, I’m still unsure if the levels have variance when you play the same level or if they are exactly the same every time you play them. Still they have 3 different modes so I hope replayability is high.

The game is hard to beat which I love, although that depends on the game group.

Mask of the Pharaoh is reminiscent of Sidi Baba, but it is a much better game!

On the box of the game it says that Hasbro guarantees the app will work until April 2019 and I´m a bit worried about that. Other games that use apps will definitively work much longer than that date and when they work on a windows PC (Mansions of Madness, Alchemists) you know they will work forever in some form. The game needs the app to work and if Hasbro pulls the plug the game will no longer be playable.

Bottom line, Mask of the Pharaoh is a novel and very fun game to play. It’s the first game of its kind I have enjoyed and it made me back on Kickstarter Chronicles of Crime, a game with a similar core idea (I believe, I really don´t read descriptions of games). My desire to play the game is high and I´m very keen to see what other games take advantage of VR technology. Great family game!

Current Rating: 7.0

Jgoyes´ Awards:





T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei

2018-03-28

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2018)

I still like T.I.M.E Stories but the game was growing a bit stale for us. We still want to play all the adventures but it no longer surprised us so my desire to play it has decreased a bit. All of that changed with T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei, the game is incredible! Best scenario we have played so far, even better than the first one.

The theme is great and the art continues to be amazingly good.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

As with A Prophecy of Dragons, Lumen Fidei is composed of several different arcs, and I love this. There are many locations that you cannot revisit on the same run.

In this adventure religion plays a significant role and it affect your rolls, choices and companions.

I´m a bit sad that we had an incredible amount of good luck so we raced through the first and second decks. In the second one we only visited 2 locations before passing it . We rescued some girls and then we were running from enemies so we came back to a location where we delivered them to their mother, so she teleported us to the next location. I would love to repeat this part but the interest isn’t high among my game group, after all, we already beat it. We reached the third arc without losing once, that's a first in our game group.

I love this scenario but what I like the most is that T.I.M.E Stories FINALLY gave me some new puzzles to solve. Granted, they are easy puzzles but I’m very happy about them. There are a sequence of numbers to solve and then a hidden sheet to find. I love puzzles in games! In most scenarios you have to grind and grind to solve them, here you have to think a little and I really prefer the game this way.

The ending is just great and it gives you two different options, we were going to lose the battle so we made a pact with the bad guy and that sends you to a website to read about what happened. I love where the overall story game is going! Now we are infiltrators in our own department! I wish we had taken the other road, but we were just too weak to defeat the final enemies.

This scenario has much more paths that the previous ones.


Bottom line, T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei elevates the game to new heights! I love it. So far, It’s the best scenario of the series, it offers a lot of new and novel mechanisms. I cannot wait to play the next scenario!

Current Rating: 7.5



Dojo Kun

2018-03-29

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2018)

Dojo Kun has been a rollercoaster for me. At first, as it is a CMON game I was expecting great components coupled with a weak game, then after the game explanation and first couple of round I thought the game was good, but after I finished it, it left a bittersweet taste in my mouth.

Dojo Kun´s rules can be explained under 12 minutes. Playtime is around 2 hours with 4 players.

Best with 4 players.

CMON edition of the game has great art and the components are ok.

Love the theme, each player has his own dojo and you are competing for fame.

Dojo Kun is a worker placement game (one of my favorite game mechanisms) coupled with roll dice for the tournaments. The worker placement mechanism doesn't bring anything novel to the table, but the tournaments did. I dislike luck in strategy games, but here it doesn’t bother me as you can influence the odds with your training, that is, I feel luck is mostly controllable but sometimes you win/lose due to luck. The tournaments are fun to play and players who aren’t competing can bet on the winner so everyone is engaged during the whole tournament. So far I was loving the game but there are two big issues for me. 1. Unlike every other worker placement I have played, you don´t get an advantage for having more than two workers, that´s because each worker can only train and better himself, and you can only send two workers to the duels, so it makes much more sense to train them as hard as you can. If you get another fighter later, he won’t have the time to really compete. I know the second fighters are stronger than the first ones and you can use your third worker for some small actions, but they aren’t worth that much so there is a disconnect here, I can live with this but what really bothers me is the next point. 2. The special moves make thematic sense but I feel they are overpowered and a must if you want to win. A player without special moves cannot win against a player with special moves and I feel that makes irrelevant most of the other parts of the game. Even among the special moves, some are much more powerful than others and you when you trigger them they don’t spend your dice, that means that if you have 2 special moves, you can trigger them at the same time. In each part of the game only 3 special moves will appear, so in theory, one player can be left out without one, but what bothers me is that I feel they are a must or you can’t win, so this the dominant and only viable strategy. Winning tournaments give a lot of VPs.

Bottom line, Dojo Kun has great ideas but I feel its execution wasn’t the best. I heavily dislike the special moves cards as I feel they are too powerful and thus, they cheapen the rest of the game. I already sold my copy of the game.

Current Rating: 5.0



Clank! In! Space!

2018-03-29

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

I never liked Clank! that much. I recognize it is a fun game but the core mechanism (variable market offering) is intolerable to me (in competitive games) so I was going to pass this one, still, for some strange reason I bought the game one day (i know I have a problem) and now I played Clank! In! Space! I can tell you it is a fun game and it will work for most gamers, but not for me.

The rules of the game aren’t complex, but it has many rules. The game explanation can be done under 17 minutes. Playtime is around 100 minutes.

The board looks gorgeous on the table and the art and components are great!

I love the space theme much more than the fantasy theme, however, both games feel very similar. For some reason, I had much more fun playing Clank! In! Space! than regular Clank!, perhaps it has to do with the fact that I played it with my SO and she had lots of fun, so I was happy as well. I also dig a lot the parody of the space cards, every one of the basic ones had a different flavor text and some cards are paying homage to popular Sci-Fi franchises, good stuff thumbsup.

I´m not 100% sure about the differences between both Clank! games, other than the modular board, they are and feel very similar. The main difference I can remember is that now the cards have factions with additional powers and they work when at least 2 cards of the same faction were played this turn (much like Star Realms). This game feels longer than its parent game, but perhaps it was because we were new players. In this edition of the game, there is an elevator that allows you to reach a faraway location a lot faster and there is a teleport tile and cards as well. There are other minor differences, but I don’t remember well, my play of Clank! was long ago.

Clank! In! Space! features the hated (by me) variable market offering (like Ascension, Legendary and Star Realms) and that’s THE big issue. I prefer static market offerings (like Dominion and Tanto Cuore) because they really let you strategize. In both Clank! games it is more prominently the tactics than the strategy and that’s why it isn’t a game for me, no matter how much fun it is. Besides that, Clank! In! Space! has lots of uncontrollable luck with the bonus tokens and the noise cubes you draw from the bag. To summarize, I love the idea behind the game, but I also feel the game is very unfair and luck based (in our game the player who had the least amount of cubes in the bag was the player who died first). I play games of this caliber and length to pit my wits against the other players, not to let dumb luck to decide who wins.

Bottom line, I enjoyed Clank! In! Space! more than its parent game, however, that’s not enough for me to keep the game so I already sold it. My SO had much more fun than me and she was a bit sad when I sold it, but she told me to go ahead and I sold it to friend so we can still play it if the mood strikes. I don’t think I can tolerate games that are competitive and have a variable market offering, they are unfair and luck based and this game has lots of luck in other aspects as well. I concede the game is fun to play and I could play it again if requested.

Current Rating: 5.5



The Networks

2018-03-29

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

I like Prime Time, a game I played on 2016, but everyone, from friends to reviewers, were telling me The Networks is a much better game. Sadly I bought into this and I sold Prime Time to buy The Networks and I made a huge mistake! The Networks sorely disappointed me.

The Networks´ rules are easy to teach. You can do it under 11 minutes. Playtime is around 2 hours.

The theme is great and it shines through the game. I love to see the parodies of popular shows. I also like the quirky art. The game has a good sense of humor.

Gameplay is where things began going wrong. The decisions needed to play the game aren’t that hard (a disappointment for me). In your turn you have to take one action (you can develop a show, hire a star, land an ad, take a network card, use you stars and ads or pass), the first decision can be hard, but from that point onward they are very easy as you are supporting you initial choice. You do have to take into account your opponent’s resources and intentions, but it is much more light than I thought it would be. Also, The Networks has A LOT of uncontrollable luck, in later turns, the cards appear at random and if the category/schedule of the card you need doesn’t appear, there is nothing you can do. Being first in the right turn is the most important thing in this game. You do this for 5 turns and then the winner is decided. The game´s mechanism are very simple and I was expecting a heavier game, so it disappointed me.

The network cards seem unbalanced, and they appear at random. The only way to mitigate the luck of the draw is to going first in the turn.

Best with 4 players, if you play it with less than the full complement of players you remove some cards, I don’t know if that messes up the balance of the categories, I hope not, but I’m not sure.

Bottom line, I was expecting MUCH more from The Networks. Gameplay is pretty straightforward with easy decisions and overall it is a light-medium game. I feel its best feature is that The Networks has a great theme and a great humor, but gameplay (which it´s what most matter to me) is very poor and luck based. There is not much opportunity to plan ahead, the game offers mostly tactics. Prime time is a much better game for me and I feel it is underrated, while The Networks is overrated. I already sold the game. The Networks can be good game for the family or to introduce new gamers to our hobby.

Current Rating: 4.0



Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin

2018-03-29

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

Due to the Unlock! series of games, I have become a big fan of escape rooms. Before playing the game I never considered going to one, but now I have played all the Unlock! games (I love them all) and I went to two real life escape rooms. I love this genre and I was very excited to play any Exit game until I found out you have to destroy the components, due to this, I decided I was never going to buy any of the Exit games. A group of 4 friends bought the game and we played this month. After having played the game, I can confirm YOU CAN play this game without destroying or modifying anything.

I have a bittersweet feeling about the game, like T.I.M.E Stories, once you played through it, you won’t play it again because you already know the answer so it has zero replay value. And to make things worse, you are encouraged to physically destroy the game while you play it, so any resale value is lost. It isn’t about the money though, I was raised in a third world country and I was always taught that you do not waste if you can avoid it so I loathe legacy style games that destroy or permanently modify the game. To me, it is immoral and unethical to create games that are disposable (even more when the designer can easily make them resettable), even if they create a great experience.

As I wrote above, after playing Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin, I can confirm it is possible to play the game without destroying or modifying anything (you need a little patience and creativity, but it is possible) and we played it this way. In fact, we already sold the game to be enjoyed by another group of players.

Best with 2 or 3 players, in general, I prefer to keep the player count low because all players cannot see the material at the same time and this issue is worse in the Exit series of games as they come with a notebook full of clues but only one player can look at it at the same time. I don’t know how the publisher recommend this game up to 6 players, in this configuration, some players won’t even see the puzzles.

Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin felt a bit harder than the Secret Lab but easier than The Pharaoh's Tomb. One puzzle was hard to solve because we weren’t paying attention , but we solved the complete game without using any clue.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

I´m a bit disappointed about the last puzzle. I didn’t really solved it because it was an anagram in English which was hard for me (English is not my first language), but I searched the box and found the required numbers. This disappoints me because Exit: The Game – The Pharaoh's Tomb also uses the box to offer a puzzle, but Unlock! Squeek & Sausage uses the same exact ploy (barcode) to confuse the players. So far, Unlock! has not used the box again, but Exit has done so twice now! I would like the puzzles to be more varied.


Bottom line, I enjoy this kind of game a lot and Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin offers some good puzzles to solve, so I would rate it as a good game, however, in good conscience, I can’t give a high rating to a disposable game. I prefer the Unlock! series of games, the puzzles are much more creative, I really prefer the flexibility an app brings to the table and you don’t have to destroy the game while you play it.

Current Rating: 6.0



Russian Railroads: American Railroads

2018-03-29

Initial Rating: 7.0 (March 2018)

I really like Russian Railroads so it is only natural that I also like its expansions. Russian Railroads: American Railroads is a great addition to the game.

The new rules are a bit more complex that I was expecting, but you can explain them under 3 minutes if all players are familiar with the game.

Russian Railroads: American Railroads keeps all elements of the base game, but it adds a stock market of sorts, new bonus tokens, steelworks, boulder tokens and new boards. The core game remains the same but it considerable boost the industry strategy as now there are two tracks for them. It offers different strategies to pursue.

Bottom line, Russian Railroads: American Railroads is a great expansion and, all things considered, this is what an expansion should do. It adds some new strategies to pursue while leaving the core game intact. I cannot wait to try it again.

Current Rating: 7.5



Rapidcroco

2018-03-31

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

When I played Rapidcroco, I didn´t know it was a Roberto Fraga design, he is a designer I respect a lot! I was also surprised by the date the game was released (2004) as I assumed the game came after Dominique Ehrhard´s Panic Lab. Both games are rather similar.

The rules of the game are easy to teach, you can do it under 1 minute. Playtime is around 10 minutes.

The art of the game is ok.

Gameplay is kind of fun, a player turn over characteristic cards that determine the starting card and then you have to mentally follow the path from that card until you find the end card, that is, you have to quickly recognize patterns to arrive to the correct card before any other player does, it is a speed observation game. Rapidcroco can be frustrating as some players are much better than others at this skill, but I enjoy it and I get better at it with a little practice.

I prefer Panic Lab but I´m notsure why, It is perhaps because it is played in a circle. In Rapidcroco, a player cannot see all the cards easily, some players will be farther away from the characteristic cards and others will have to play upside down. The geometry of Panic Lab is clearly superior in this regard.

Bottom line, Rapidcroco is a good family/party game and one I would play if requested. For some reason, I prefer to play Panic Lab (perhaps because I played it first) but both games are very similar. Rapidcroco, as any game of this kind, can be frustrating to some people. I think it is a very novel game if you keep in mind it was published on 2004.

Current Rating: 5.0



Take it Easy!

2018-03-31

Initial Rating: 5.0 (March 2018)

I was very wary to play Take it Easy! For some reason I thought the game was very boring but I was pleasantly surprised by it.

Take it Easy!´s rules can be explained under one minute, playtime is around 15 minutes and it can accommodate up to 8 players without adding any playtime, that ability is very scarce among boardgames and it is a very welcomed one!

Gameplay is fun! A player will randomly choose a tile and then all other players will search said tile to play it in the best possible spot, that means that all players always play the same tile eliminating most of the luck of the game. Where to place the tile isn’t obvious, but it remains a light decision nonetheless. Take it Easy! remains very fair and I really appreciate this aspect of the game. There is still luck within the game as all tiles won’t appear in every game, so if you are waiting for a particular tile and it doesn’t appear you can lose easily (still I don’t mind due to the low playtime).

Gameplay is very reminiscent of Karuba, but I prefer Take it Easy! In Karuba, the decisions are a bit meatier, but still remain very easy and light, while Take it Easy accomplish the same feeling as a quicker an unassuming game.

I was very surprised to find the game was published on 1983 (very old, but still a fun and relevant game) and that his designer is Peter Burley (he designed Kamisado, a game I like). It seems I was very misinformed about all things Take it Easy!

Bottom line, Take it Easy! surprised me. The decisions needed to play the game aren’t as obvious as you would think, but it is a light and quick game. For a moment there, I considered the idea to keep it because the game is a very effective opener and it works great as a filler. It is also a good family game, however, I’m trying to sell/gift as many games as I can to decrease the amount of games in my game collection, that means I can only keep the best of the best and take it Easy! doesn’t make the cut. I can still play it on the iPad if the mood strikes. I would gladly play again if requested. Fun game.

Current Rating: 6.0



Yamataï

2018-03-31

Initial Rating: 5.0 (March 2018)

Bruno Cathala´s designs are almost always disliked by me (I enjoy 7 Wonders: Duel), Days of Wonders doesn’t have a single game I have enjoyed (although I still have several to play) so I wasn’t expecting much from Yamatai and I was right. The game feels very average to me.

Yamatai´s rules aren’t very complex, you can explain it under 15 minutes. Playtime is around 2 hours with 4 players.

The game´ s components and art are very good as is the standard for Days of Wonders.

The theme is ok, but you don´t feel it through the game.

Gameplay can be interesting for some players, but I found it to be a bit boring. The decisions needed to play the game aren’t very obvious nor very hard. I think I dislike this middle ground. Yamatai has a light-medium weight. What I liked the most about the game, was choosing which fleet tile to take, not only are you choosing some powers and ships, you are also choosing the turn order of next turn, and that’s neat, all other decisions are easy and flow logically from this one. Many times you will seize opportunities leave open by other players.

There are lots of luck of the draw with the special tiles and building tiles, sometimes, what you need just won’t appear on time.

Downtime can be an issue with this game, furthermore if you play first in this turn and last in the next one, so perhaps it is best played as a 3 player game. Planning ahead can be difficult as the game situation can change a lot every time your turn comes up, on the other hand, you can (try to) plan to have consecutive turns (like Brass).

Bottom line, Yamatai was just what I was expecting, an average game that doesn’t do anything wrong, but doesn’t stand out either. My SO thinks the same as me in this case. I prefer much heavier Euro games but Yamatai will appeal to many gamers and most friends who have played the game liked it a lot. I will sell my copy of the game ASAP. A ,somewhat, boring game.

Current Rating: 5.0



VOLT: Robot Battle Arena

2018-03-31

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

I haven’t heard much about VOLT: Robot Battle Arena and its cover box didn’t do a good job of selling the game so I wasn’t expecting much, however, the game really surprised me and it was a fun experience.

VOLT: Robot Battle Arena´s rules are easy to teach. You can do it under 5 minutes. Playtime is very variable, but you can finish a game under 60 minutes.

The theme is cool.

VOLT: Robot Battle Arena´s components are from regular to ok. The robots are ok, but the art is mostly ugly.

Gameplay is very fun. Players are trying to score 5 VPs and they do this by killing each other or by ending up on specific parts of the Arena. The core game is about movement programing but unlike other games in the genre that do this by random cards (Roborally, which I heavily dislike) you can always program what you want to do (like Lords of Xidit) so there is no luck in the game (at least in the basic game, I haven’t played the advanced mode). Players will try to gang up on you, but you can always anticipate their intentions and program accordingly It is very fun and a complete surprise for me.

I played it as a 3 player game and it was fun, I would guess it is even better as a 4 player game (you have more things to consider) and with 4 players you can play in teams which appeal a lot to me.

I also want to play the advanced mode which introduce weapons and gadgets I think. The advanced mode can sour the experience for me it it introduces to much uncontrollable luck, time will tell.

Bottom line, VOLT: Robot Battle Arena was a surprise game for me and it is perhaps an underrated game. I love how you have to take into account your opponent’s intentions and then you try to outwit them. I know, a new version of the game will be released soon, perhaps I will buy it. The game´s components and art aren’t the best, but gameplay is very clever and fun. I wish the game came with more arenas to fight on. I’m still undecided if I should keep the game, perhaps I will play it more times before I decide. One of the best programming games out there. This is not my kind of game, thus the rating, but I still enjoyed it. Much better than Roborally.

Current Rating: 6.0



Conan

2018-03-31

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

I wasn’t expecting much from Conan. Lately, many miniature games have disappointed me. In general, I feel a greater effort is made in making them look great than in the game itself, so when I played Conan and I had fun, I was pleasantly surprised.

Conan´s rules aren’t as complex as I was expecting, it has many similar concepts to previous similar games so explaining them all can take up to 18 minutes. Gameplay varies a lot from scenario to scenario. Also the setup and teardown time is long.

I love the theme. I have always liked Conan.

The game´s components are great. The miniatures are very detailed and gorgeous. The art is beautiful and in general the production values are high. This is always welcomed, but it is secondary to me. Gameplay is much more important to me.

Conan is a One Vs. Many game and I think I prefer it this way to full cooperative. That´s not to say I don’t enjoy cooperative games, but when we are in a dungeon crawler game I have always prefer to be the bad guy.

Gameplay is fun. Conan is based around scenarios in which the heroes have to accomplish some objective. Combat is fun, straightforward and quick, players just throw dice to decide it (with some modifiers and caveats) and, after playing Gloomhaven, I realized I do prefer dice in my dungeon crawling games. The heroes have a limited stamina to do actions and they recover a different amount of stamina if they rest or they are active, fun mechanism. The overlord plays in a slightly different way, he has 8 tiles that represent his forces and he can activate them to activate the enemies. The cost to do so is very cheap for the first tiles but very expensive for the last tiles. Every time he activates a tile, he pass that tile to the end of the row, so it cheapens the price to activate all other tiles after the one you used. it is a clever system that regulates itself. If the overlord wants to play again with the same units that he just used, it will be very expensive, but it is possible. Having to take this decisions is fun!

I have only played the first scenario, but from what a friend told me, the scenarios are not that long, a huge plus for me as I often feel most games of this kind are very repetitive and, ultimately, boring. I hope the scenarios are balanced.

There is a lot of luck in many layers of the game, however, in a thematic setting, it doesn’t bother me that much and you know the odds more often than not, so you can take (more or less) informed decisions.

Conan is not a heavy game, coupled with its (more or less) fast play time, Conan has a light-medium weight. Its decisions can be fun but they aren’t that hard.

Bottom line, I enjoyed my Conan play. I’m still undecided if I should keep the game as it has many expansions and it isn’t my kind of game (I vastly prefer Eurogames). Still, it plays fast for a dungeon crawler game and it is fun. It is great that Conan is a One Vs. Many game, these days, most games of its kind are going full coop, so it is fresh to have new options to try. I don’t know if it has a campaign mode, but If it has, I would like to try it. Conan is much better than Gloomhaven for me. After more plays its rating could go up or down. The overlord river system is very novel and it works great (perhaps the best Conan has to offer). Even after all my positive comments, my desire to play Conan isn’t that high.

Current Rating: 6.0



Fast Forward: FEAR

2018-03-31

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

I recognize that Friedemann Friese is a tremendous and innovative game designer. I, generally, don’t like his designs though, but I respect him a lot. Before playing Fast Forward: FEAR I didn’t know about the Fable Game System nor have I played any other game that share it, I own all of them and I will play all of them as I think it is a novel and cool system, however the gameplay in Fast Forward: FEAR isn’t that engaging.

The reason I played this game was that in March I didn’t have much time to read rules, March is always a difficult month for me, so when I read that you didn’t need to read the rules I packed he game and I brought it to our game gatherings. I can tell you that having a game you can play as soon as it arrives is great and novel. I guess many gamers like this development.

The theme was boring and very thin. The art is very standard, nothing too exciting.

Best with 4 players, I´m not sure if the game really works with 2 players, but, from my limited perspective, it doesn’t seems very fun at that player count and luck would reign supreme. You need at least 3 players.

For some reason, I thought the game was cooperative and similar to Unlock!, but I was VERY wrong about that, the game is competitive and its gameplay is pretty simple and straightforward. I will comment the rest with a spoilers tag.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Fast Forward: FEAR has some similarities to Fluxx and UNO, games I heavily dislike. However we did have some fun playing it. As it plays so fast (around 4 minutes) I don’t mind much the light decisions and the luck of the draw. The deck is mostly composed of numbered cards. In your turn you must draw a card or play a card. If the sum of the cards in the center exceed 15 you lost and the player who has the higher sum of cards wins. There are some other special rules that will be appearing when you play the game, but that’s basically it. The decisions needed to play it are very obvious and light, however we had some fun playing through it.

The end was kind of anticlimactic, we were trying to see the last card to see if all the trouble was worth it, but it let us down. It only explains how to play the game again or to reset the game.

Replayability seems low, but I´m very glad the Fable System doesn’t uses a Legacy System as I initially thought. All the cards are replayable but as soon as we got to the last card of the deck, our interest in the game evaporated and I will sell it ASAP. I have zero desire to explore it again. It took us around 15 plays to reach the end of the deck though.

I don´t like “take that” games, but this one plays so quickly that I don’t really mind.


Bottom line, I didn’t know what to expect from Fast Forward: FEAR but, although we had some fun playing it, the game isn’t for me. It is way too light for my current tastes. The core idea of the game is VERY cool and I hope the other Fast Forward games and Fabled Fruit have much more meat in them. I also hope they are very different games as this one didn’t really grab me. If the playtime was higher I would surely rate Fast Forward: FEAR a lot lower.

Current Rating: 5.0



Mistborn: House War

2018-03-31

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

Mistborn: House War was an utterly unknown game to me, before playing it, I have never even heard about it so I didn’t know what to expect from it. After playing it, I can say it is a thematic rich game, but it isn’t for me.

The rules seems more complex that they really are. I think you can explain the game under 8 minutes. Playtime is very variable and it depend on the game group. Mistborn: House War has a negotiation mechanism so it´s up to the players how long they negotiate. Length of the game can also be established using the end of game card (Vin I think it’s called), if you want a long game you can put it near the end of the deck.

The theme seems very rich and encompassing but I have never heard about Mistborn books before. In our game 3 out of 5 players knew about the Mistborn world so they were much more immersed in it. It was lost on me and my SO so I think players who know the source material will enjoy the game a lot more. It seems the books are a great fantasy epic, so perhaps I will read them but I’m much more of a Sci-Fi aficionado so we will see.

The components are good as is the art.

Gameplay works around a cool idea. The core concept of the game is that we need to solve problems before they erupt as this is bad for us (most of the time). Each turn, a player will gather some resources and then he will try to solve a problem, to do this he often needs help from his opponents and thus they need to negotiate. In the past I loved negotiation games, but now I find them slow and I no longer enjoy them. When players reach a deal, they execute it and solve the problem gaining its advantage. The decisions need to play the game are rather obvious as you have certain resources, often you can only solve one or two different problems. It is much more interesting deciding when to leave a problem alone so it can erupt.

Mistborn: House War has A LOT of luck of the draw, not only the problems appear at random, also the personalities cards are random and they are wildly unbalanced, that is, sometimes the card you draw is useless, or very situational and other times it is incredible powerful. You can play the cards in your turn or in other players turn (the card itself says when), but if a player draws a lot of cards I feel he has a huge advantage. The cards also allow you to mess with your opponents. “Take That” is a mechanism I no longer enjoy in my games, so I also dislike it here. You can gang on an opponent ruining his resources and killing his personalities. There are some defense cards, but it is luck if you draw them or not.

I like that the game has two possible endings, both using different VPs. If there is a revolt, the player who has the most negative points will win, if the game doesn’t end in a revolt, the player with most positive points win. This is an interesting mechanism but I’m worried about kingmaking issues. If you are going to lose, nothing stops you from helping/hinder a particular player.

Bottom line, Mistborn: House War has some neat ideas in it, but it isn’t a game for me. It seems it is a labor of love from a fan of the books. The game itself is slow due to negotiations, and it has lots and lots of betrayals and “take that”, a mechanism I actively dislike. It also has lots of uncontrollable luck. Fans of the books will probably love it, but to me it is very regular game which I have no desire to play again.

Current Rating: 4.0



Cottage Garden

2018-03-31

Initial Rating: 6.0 (March 2018)

Uwe Rosenberg is one of my absolute favorite game designers. I always buy his stuff and I was expecting Cottage Garden to be a better game than Patchwork (a game I dislike). My expectation was sorely crushed.

Cottage Garden´s rules are very easy to explain. You can do it under 5 minutes. Playtime is mercifully short.

The game´s art is gorgeous and it looks great.

The theme is boring for me.

A friend explained it to me the rules and I hope they are wrong in some way! As he explained it to me, the game is pure tactics, you have almost no room to plan, no meaningful decision to make, the game carries you all on its own. In your turn you have to choose one of the pieces in front of the gardener dice, so the best option is very obvious and it is luck what decides who wins the game. The goal of the game is to win points by filling up your garden with flowers and pots. The decisions needed to play the game are easy and obvious, there is almost not a game here.

Bottom line, Cottage Garden is a huge disappointment. It is even worse than Patchwork. It has obvious decisions, the luck factor is very high and uncontrollable. It´s decided, I don’t like Uwe Rosenberg´s light games. I will sell Cottage Garden and its promo ASAP. On the other hand, all other players liked the game but I don’t understand why , I guess Cottage garden can be a good family game, but it is way too light for me. VERY boring game. My desire to play Indian Summer took a hard plunge.

Current Rating: 3.0



Terraforming Mars: Venus Next

2018-03-31

Initial Rating: 8.0 (March 2018)

Terraforming Mars is a tremendous game and the game of the year 2016 for me, so it is only natural I also love its expansion. Terraforming Mars: Venus Next is a great expansion for the game, it expands it without adding a lot of new rules.

If players are familiar with the base game, you can explain the new rules under 2 minutes. I´m not sure if the expansion adds more playtime, our game took around the same amount of time to finish.

Terraforming Mars: Venus Next adds new cards, new corporations, new milestones and awards and a new board. I really like the new cards, they have to do with Venus (obviously) and I want to explore them further as they open new options to pursue. In our game Mars was developing at a much slower pace but it was fun!

Once you have mixed all the cards, taking them out is a pain, so I won’t be doing that, when we play with my copy of Terraforming Mars we will be always playing with Venus a well.

Bottom line, Terraforming Mars: Venus Next is a great expansion as it adds more cards to the game, more options to pursue, more ways to score points. I really like the added replayability and I can’t wait to play it again soon. The gameplay retains its feeling, so the expansion didn’t change it that much.

Current Rating: 8.0
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2. Board Game: Clank! In! Space! [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:229]
Joe Wyka
United States
Walnut Creek
California
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Not as many this month, but I did get to play some that have been long on my list! I had so hoped that Feudum would top my list this month. Alas, no.

In order of preference...



Clank! In! Space! - 9
A close experience to the original, but with some twists that provide a bit more challenge.

Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure was one of the best NTM games I played last year. The use of deck-building to manage movement, combat and self-improvement in an arena-style competitive thieving adventure was a winning combination that was very well put-together. All of that still applies to this sci-fi themed sequel. I don't think Clank! In! Space! is necessarily better, but some of the changes do make it more challenging and competitive and for a lot folks that will make it more suitable to their tastes.

I'm going to assume a general knowledge of Clank! and focus on the main changes and their impacts. First, the board is modular and the movable pieces are two-sided and so there are more than two configurations out of the box. This is obviously an immediate improvement in replayability, which I think was one of the legitimate dings against the first version (solvable with expansions, of course). The map is larger, the artifacts further away, and even more - there are now two easy requirements to meet before you can even access the area where the artifacts reside. To mitigate the size of the map, there are transporters and teleporters that players can potentially leverage. The "boss" monster is stronger, escalating in the late game with red cubes which damage all players. Given this escalation in danger, there is no longer a hard timeline for leaving after the first player, but all escaped players draw cubes and the last turns are more deadly as a result. In Clank! in my experience, the first player to get out never won because it was too easy for the other players to collect 3 turns of additional points before getting out and collecting the same escape bonus. I almost feel like that game should have a scaled bonus based on the order of leaving (20-15-10-5). But in this new version, the threat of not being able to get out at all after a player or two have left is much more tangible and the 20 point bonus feels earned by everyone who makes it out. (I think this is why my daughter likes this version less.)

So, this is a great game, just like the first version. Clank! has quickly become a favorite game system with my family for which I will continue to acquire new versions and expansions (just like Power Grid and Age of Steam).




Mombasa - 7
A silky smooth stock investment/eurogame hybrid. I'd rate this higher, except that one element - bookeeping - feels unbalanced and not a viable strategy. There is a small expansion, Cooked Books that potentially balances this and if that is the case, this will go to an "8".

This one has been sitting on my shelf for far too long unplayed! There are a few different paths to points in Mombasa, but I wouldn't call this a "point salad" game. For the most part you are playing cards with the purpose of advancing on various tracks. There are four companies in the game and by advancing along the company tracks you can gain more shares and potentially a couple of actions or enhancements that are exclusive to those shareholders. There are also diamond and bookeeping tracks that not only provide points, but also certain benefits as you go. At the end of the game, the number of shares you've acquired on the company tracks is multiplied by the value of those shares. It is in determining share value where the game really shines, since racing up 6 different tracks is not necessarily the most exciting thing to do in a game...

The companies are situated at four opposite sides of Africa. Players can move houses off of these companies, chaining across board spaces, to designate the company's expansion. Moving onto a space provides an immediate bonus to that player, but also as houses move out they uncover spaces that add to the company share value. Other companies can squeeze each other out, returning houses and reducing share value. It is this push and pull between the companies on the board where the game is best and where wins and losses are most directly decided. I have not seen another game treat share ownership and value in quite the same way and it's a lot of fun.

While the diamond track is pretty straightforward to advance along, the bookkeeping track is anything but. You need to acquire books to add to the track before you can advance and each book requires that you have certain resources on the cards you play that turn in order to advance. You do get more things, but the requirements are so steep that it seems you need to really focus here at the expense of other things in order to advance and the rewards are not commensurate with the effort. This is too bad, as the rest of the game feels very well developed. I have a "Cooked Books" mini expansion that adds more potential points to the track and an extra bookeeper "MAX" action that can generate a lot of money and money equals points one-for-one. I suspect this will go far in correcting my issues with that track and make this a game I will want to continue to play for a long time to come.




SteamRollers - 7
Does a fine job of creating a "roll-and-write" version of Age of Steam that plays in a much shorter time, but is less interactive.

I am not much experienced with the roll-and-write genre of games beyond Qwixx, but I would have to think that SteamRollers is one of the better ones. Much like its inspiration Age of Steam, in SteamRollers you are building track, upgrading engines and delivering goods for points. The economy of Age of Steam is replaced with dice. You pick your action, but dice dictate where you can take your action or what special action tile you can claim. The dice create a nice constraint that - for the purposes of a lighter game - makes for some engaging decisions.

The hardest part of the game is getting used to the split board. Players draw their tracks on personal sheets, but the goods to be delivered across those tracks are on a central board. This split focus was a bit challenging for me to adequately maintain, but I think this will get better with more familiarity and practice. While players cannot block each others' tracks, you can only write on each hex once, which makes it easy for you to block yourself! You are your own worst constraint in this one. One of the actions you can take is to claim one of six action tiles that enhance a future action. The tiles are two-sided and are randomly laid out at the beginning of the game. The actions can be powerful and help to mitigate some of the risk of the dice rolls. Two optional rules are including order tiles that give bonuses for delivering certain sets of goods and coal cubes that can act as "wild" goods. We played with the order tiles, but the coal cubes would seem to only make the game easier, which isn't to our tastes...

We definitely enjoyed it. I want to call this a filler game, but it's borderline. It takes about an hour to play and can get pretty thinky. It is different enough from its inspiration to stand on its own and I think this has a place at my table for now.




Colosseum - 6
What's unusual is that you are trying to get the biggest scoring round in the game, regardless of when it happens. Scores are not cumulative. It's a cool idea and a fun game, even if the auctions and trades, as designed, take a while and can grow tedious.

In Colosseum, players are competing to put on the single best, highest-scoring, performance in the game. Performances are completed by turning in the right combination of resources ("assets") according to the performance recipe card that was purchased earlier in the game. Even though only your highest score performance will potentially win you the game, you still want to try to complete one every round of the game because you income according to how they score and each completed performance adds 5 points to every subsequent performance.

So, how does it work? You get to purchase one thing on your turn, which is either an enhancement to your arena or the plan for a performance that you will complete on that or a future turn. After the purchase, in turn order each player starts an auction with one of five lots of three randomly drawn assets. If the auctioneer does not win the auction, they launch another unless they pass. This means that there are usually multiple auctions for every player, which can take a while. After that there is a trading round where each player can propose changes in turn order. Again, it's fine, but not the most efficient process. Then players roll dice to move Roman politicians around the track, hoping to have them stop in their arenas for extra points and then group their assets in order to hopefully complete a performance.

It is interesting that you spend the game trying to get that one great performance rather than gradually accumulating points as in most games. The games runs a little slow with all of the many auctions and trades, but if that doesn't bother you, there is much to like.




Airlines Europe - 6
The latest (maybe the final?) iteration of Alan Moon's connection-building stock-holding games is smooth-playing and enjoyable, if maybe a little too dependent on the draw.

I used to own an earlier iteration of this game, Union Pacific, which I enjoyed but found the value of the Union Pacific shares to be a bit imbalanced. I think Airlines Europe fixes that problem with a number of significant changes to the game play. The game is about drawing and playing company shares to your tableau and building connections for airlines in shares you own to increase their value. One company, Air Abacus (Union Pacific equivalent), is not represented on the board and scores differently on the other airlines. Airlines balances the increased value of these shares by making them harder to acquire while increasing the point potential of the other companies. This is a light stock-holding game, a slight step above Ticket to Ride in complexity, but still well-within the weight expectations of a family game.

I think if I had played this game with less experience in the hobby, I'd probably be more impressed by it. As it is, I think I'd prefer to play some version of Ticket To Ride. I feel the luck of the draw in collecting shares has more impact on how well you do in this game than the luck of the draw in TtR. Even still, as a family-weight stock-holding game, this is a good, if slightly bland, title.




Tak - 6
A game I can't help but damn with faint praise.

Tak is your basic simple abstract. Players try to connect two sides of the board with pieces of their own color. On a turn a player places a piece on an empty space or moves a stack or partial stack, mancala-style, dropping pieces off the bottom for every space moved. The color on top controls a stack. Pieces placed on the board initially can be flat, which counts for connecting the sides, or on end - making a wall - which blocks roads of either color and blocks moving stacks. Each player also has one unique piece that can flatten walls when moved and cannot be stacked upon, just like a wall.

Basically you are placing and moving pieces to get into a position that your opponent cannot block. There are many games like this. Does this one stand out enough to be worth owning? Even though it is a solid game, for me the answer is no. I don't think this is as interesting as the best of the Gipf games. Also, there is a design variation in this game that doesn't quite sit right with me. The game can be played on boards of different sizes: 3x3, 4x4, 5x5, or 6x6. Each of these games play with the same rules, but almost become different games at different sizes. I don't like the fact that this game does not have a set play field. I'm okay if a game has variation built into it in the form of drafting pieces - like The Duke or the excellent Navia Dratp - but to say you can play a game on virtually any size of board somehow communicates to me that the designers don't really take their own game that seriously. This is totally a personal impression and bias, no doubt, but it is big factor in my lack of interest in picking this up.




Kepler-3042 - 5
Maybe it is because I played the excellent The Golden Ages last month, which this game closely resembles in significant ways, but I found the objectives and action selection mechanics pedestrian and dull.

In full disclosure, I have only played the solo game, which does have some substantial changes to the standard game, but I also practiced a multi-handed play-through and got a good enough feel for the game that I'm comfortable commenting and not revisiting. So take this for what it's worth.

Planets of five types are laid out face down around the board to start the game. Starting from a central space, you build ships, head out to find planets of your preferred types, and then colonize and/or terraform as many as you can - preferably in the service of your secret goal card. Very little feels all that original in this game and whether you like it will depend on whether the particular way in which the mechanisms are implemented appeals to you. Every turn, players select one of nine actions from a 3x3 action grid with the only limit being you cannot choose the same action two turns in a row. Each column and row is associated with a bonus action, each of which you can take in addition to your main action if you remove a resource from your cycling resource pool. There are ways to get those resources back, but it's not easy. A third element of the game is the technology tracks, which enable you to move faster, colonize and terraform more efficiently and so on. The game lasts a set number of rounds and there are many, many ways to get points. Probably the most innovative aspect of the game is the resource management. All players have a set number of resources that cycle from a reserve through planets they control, making them available to spend, but some are removed from the cycle to take bonus actions, reducing the size of the overall pool, requiring more frequent cycling to keep resources available until you can re-introduce them.

This is really a game designed to appeal to those who like to go out and flip tiles in the hopes of finding a planet type they need. That is the heart and soul of the game. This does not excite me. The Golden Ages has a similar exploration element, but you draw and place tiles yourself and you can even move your base to the tile you just placed. So even though you draw a random tile, you have much more control over how it gets placed on the board and how it affects you and other players. The technology tracks and goal cards also feel very similar to The Golden Ages, which makes me wonder why I would ever own and play both games. I think The Golden Ages does a lot of what this does and does it better.




Feudum - 5
The art direction on this one is pretty brilliant. Sadly, my score already takes that into account.

Feudum looks so appealing, you want nothing more than to love this game. The board is whimsical and skillfully drafted. The modeled figures are well designed and of a satisfying weight. The game itself feels like it wants to be a quirky and unique effort - like a classic Hamblen design - but instead feels utterly constrained by modern euro conventions which makes its many tiny rules quirks feel disconnected and tedious rather than immersive. The game runs way too long for what strategy it offers, which is impacted by random draws and the timing of multi-step actions that are easily undercut by other players, often unintentionally.

The game board is a map of locations connected variously by four modes of transportation, three of which you need to buy vessels to use. Each location is randomly seeded with 3 building types that can be improved in a rank progression of outpost -> farm -> town. Towns can be upgraded in-game to feudums, each of which are associated to one of six guilds of the player's choosing. Players can put up to three pawns on the board, each of which are also associated to a guild of the player's choosing. The game play generally consists of moving your pawns around the board, spreading influence and taking control of locations, attacking pawns and feudums, collecting resources and interacting with the six guilds in various ways. The actions are governed by identical player decks of 11 cards, 4 or 5 of which are selected every round to activate. You can get points throughout the game for succeeding in certain actions, there are also scorings at the end of each of five epochs and at the game's end, both of which primarily reward influence tokens placed on locations and in guilds with additional end game scoring cards if you have them and are able to activate them.

What are the positives for this game in addition to the art design? The range of guild actions is where the game attempts to set itself apart. You have one card that enables you to trade with any guild, but in guilds where you have influence you can push or pull resources from or to your neighboring guilds, which drains or replenishes guild resources as well as giving you points for the action. These push and pull actions each have their own governance - some of which have little practical impact, but some of which can starve the game of a particular rare resource if the players who control them don't make them happen (like with influence tokens or vessels). At high player counts, I think the game becomes necessarily interactive, which is good. However, interactions are generally negative (destroying feudums and pawns or stealing guild actions).

With so few pawns and feudums, these negative interactions make the game feel not like a war game so much as a euro with a lot of "take that". At low player counts and with a set map size, it would be easier to avoid interacting, which would make the game feel more like a pure resource/point conversion game. So I suspect there will be strong preferences for high/low player counts depending on play style. I think what bothered us the most is that for a game of this length (~ 3 hours) and rules overhead we did not have enough direct strategic control. Possibly this would be mitigated with more experience. When I think about all of the things that frustrated us, I can also think of ways we could have gotten around those limitations. I think I enjoyed the game the most of anyone at the table, but I was the teacher of the game and had a solo play-through under my belt and I think that made a big difference.

But even with that, this game was still a disappointment to me for two main reasons. One, the myriad of quirky one-off rules situations means this game will forever be a tough teach. Lacerda games are complex, but there is a logical structure to his designs that prevent you from getting constantly blind-sided by special rules and exceptions. Also, and THIS is my fundamental problem, the game is not complex because of a deeply embedded set of interactions governed by a super-structure you need to internalize, the game is complex because of many small options that feel cobbled-together after many iterations and play-tests, but were never fully connected back into a fundamental structure. For instance, you can pay three influence to get a monster at the knights guild. Monsters act as another pawn that adds to your movement and your ability to fight, but they are not connected to ANYTHING else in the game. They are beautiful set pieces, but they never need make an appearance. Almost all of the small expansions in the Big Box are like this. Beautiful models and figures that feel utterly tacked-on. You WANT to play with these beautiful pieces, but they don't really integrate seamlessly with the core design. In another example, instead of feeding your pawns you can get them drunk with wine, which keeps them fed longer but reduces their attack and defense because they are drunk. To make this happen, whenever you get a sulpher you can add it to a barrel to use later for wine drinking rather than putting it in your supply. Again, utterly unconnected to anything else happening in the game. The game is full of these little bits and pieces that either feel tacked on to solve a problem with the core design or to justify the marketing of a cool figure that feels like an afterthought.

Because Feudum relies heavily on so many standard eurogame tropes cobbled together, it actually hinders the game from feeling like the truly unique overall experience it wants to be. While it is different, this is not a Cave Evil or a Magic Realm level of originality - and I feel like it needs to be exactly that in order to justify the energy it requires to teach and play. There are just so many more fully realized games - which better marry mechanical and strategic complexity - that I can spend my 3 hours playing.
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3. Board Game: Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Melee at Murdershroom Marsh [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:6463] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Carthoris Pyramidos
United States
Centennial
Colorado
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Rise to Nobility - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2018


I liked this game more than I expected to. The art was nice, but the visual design was vexed by sharing a set of colors across player identifications and resource types, with no functional relationship between them. The copy we played had KS special shaped resource tokens, and I would have enjoyed it less with plain cubes.


Russian Railroads - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2013


I dunno. I really like my train games to have maps. This seemed like a finely-tuned, quite sophisticated worker placement game. As usual for such games, I peaked early and wasn't very competitive by the end.


Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Melee at Murdershroom Marsh - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2017


This one lives up to its predecessors despite the lamentable loss of the original artist. Drug references are highlighted.


Pyramid - 4 plays -  5 


I taught myself this classic playing-card solitaire out of a book. It's fun enough for its sort of thing. Played it a few times with my Bettie Page deck.


Schotten Totten - 1 play -  7 
First Published 1999


I don't know if I can really say this is "new to me," since I've played Battle Line before. I like the Battle Line theme a little better, but the Shotten Totten art is indeed hilarious. I'm still not very good at it.
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4. Board Game: In the Year of the Dragon: 10th Anniversary [Average Rating:7.76 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.76 Unranked]
Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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Strike of the Eagle = 1 Play



I got a 2nd hand version of this and I found out that it was a block game with Twilight Struggle like mechanics as you can use the cards in your hands for many things and this leads to excruciating decisions! Cards can be used to give a player additional orders, as an event, as reinforcements, and also as a boost to the combat strength of your units in combat. This game also introduced me to the obscure and little known Polish-Russian war in 1920 and with the excellent production standards of Academy Games, Inc. I believe this is a very underrated steal of a deal. Looking forward to get more plays beyond the intro scenario!



In the Year of the Dragon: 10th Anniversary = 4 Plays



I am a fan of Stefan Feld’s earlier works as I believe they are cleaner and simpler designs than his current works (ie within the last 2 years). Unfortunately (for some), they were also much meaner (ie punishing) and this title is the epitome of that philosophy as the entire game is all about disaster mitigation. Gameplay is very simple as in every round you pick an action, then hire a person, then resolve an event then score. Rinse and repeat for 12 rounds and after end game scoring the one with the most points is the winner. It sounds very familiar but the crux of the game lies with the selection of actions as the 7 actions are grouped into clusters matching the number of players and that make being first in initiative very important since players have to pay 3 gold if the action cluster they want has been already chosen that round. However, one of the main ways to advance in the initiative track is to select specialists to work for you and younger specialists give a bigger boost to your initiative track but are less efficient in the task they have to do. This means that players who gets locked out of money early in the game can get really screwed and since the penalty for ailing to complete events is the loss of your staff then that means it is very difficult to recover from an early mistake in planning. Still a good game which brings my Feldian collection now up to 8.



EXPANSIONS

Kemet: Ta-Seti = 1 Play



I do not own this game but if I did this would have gotten more plays. Kent has had this for some time but since he was unsure of how the expansion works it took a couple of years before we finally tried this out. It adds 5 modules but 3 of them are very simple (new cards, new way to win, bidding for initiative) while the bulk of the expansion focuses on the other 2. The first one gives players a 4th choice of pyramid color (black) which is a cross between all the other 3 colors and welcome addition IMO as it gives players more options. The final module are the priests and the Ta-Seti board which I initially thought to be overpowered but found out after 1 play to be not really so. It makes the move/attack action much more interesting as that enables you to move your priests on the Ta-Seti board where you can grab items, special powers, and even VP. All in all a great expansion.

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5. Board Game: Ganz schön clever [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:4351]
Garry Lloyd
United Kingdom
Holmes Chapel
Cheshire
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In March, I managed to play 32 games of 24 different titles, with 3 of them being new to me. The new games were:

== NEW GAMES ==

Verflucht! - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2018


Another nice quick card game where you are trying to match good (green) cards with the equivalent bad (red) cards. As a solo game, it plays very much like a typical game of patience (Solitaire) and has a large element of luck of the draw but, as it only takes 10 minutes, it has a bit of an addictive "let's try again" quality. I suspect multi-player will be even more challenging but I've not tried it this way so far.

Ganz schön clever - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2018


Another roll and write game but this is a bit meatier than most with a Feld-like multiplicity of scoring options. The dice selection/manipulation and choosing when to stop rolling are quite interesting and I very much enjoyed my first solo play. Very good.

The Grimm Forest - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2018


One of my rare kickstarter acquisitions. Nice family style game with a little bit of nastiness thrown in. As one of the three little pigs, you're racing to be the first to build three houses. The fable and friend cards add a bit of variability to keep things fresh.


== OTHER GAMES PLAYED THIS MONTH ==

3x Onirim
2x The Grizzled
2x The Mind
2x Thunderbirds
1x Exxtra
1x Piece o' Cake
1x Twenty One
1x Burgle Bros.
1x Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game
1x Familienbande
1x Tante Tarantel
1x Ingenious
1x Sushizock im Gockelwok
1x Snowdonia
1x Terraforming Mars
1x Numeri
1x Pandemic: The Cure
1x Royal Turf
1x 7 Wonders Duel
1x Risk Express
1x Finca

Lots of games that I haven't played for ages returned to the table this month. Finca was one that Jan really enjoyed and is such an elegant game, it deserves the reprint it's getting later this year. A few more Knizias reappeared: Risk Express is ok but not one of my favourites, whereas Ingenious, Royal Turf and Sushizock im Gockelwock were all great fun. And I got back to solo Snowdonia again after a long absence. Train 4, Snowdon, this time and it reminded what a great design Mr Boydell's masterpiece really is.

== STATE OF THE COLLECTION ==

I added 5 new titles to the collection: Verflucht, Ganz Schon Clever, The Grimm Forest, Apocalypse Chaos and Gaia Project, which means my total collection now stands at 538. I think April will see me start to do another batch of collection trimming so watch out for a few geeklist auctions soon.

My list of unplayed games is up from zero to 2 because of two new arrivals at the end of the month and my Game of the Month was Ganz Schon Clever.

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6. Board Game: Clank! In! Space! [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:229]
Tom Hilgert
Germany
Unspecified
Bavaria
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During an excellent private GamesCon in March I had finally the chance to catch up with all the new Essen releases

== NEW GAMES ==

Clank! In! Space! - 1 play -  7.5 
First Published 2017


Very hard this month to get a Game of the month, but I think that Clank in Space reminded me of two games I liked a lot when I started the hobby:
DungeonQuest and The Awful Green Things From Outer Space. CiS is simple but a lot of fun and especially a very tense game. The graphics of the cards are great , but the icons on the board could be a little bit clearer. So what hinders me to get it? Very simple question: The high price especially for the German version. But I m sure that I ll get in the very near future.

Clans of Caledonia - 1 play -  7.5 
First Published 2017


Clans of Caledonia is elegant especially much more elegant than Terra Mystica. I ve played TM two weeks after CoC again and still my impression is that TM is more "work" than CoC.
I think that the Clans would find more friends if the neighborhood scoring in the end would be explained in the rule book with more and easier examples. Good game

Spirit Island - 1 play -  7.5 
First Published 2017


When I saw the cover of the game I thought well another Kickstarter game which doesn t work for sure. Don t judge a game by its cover. This is really an outstanding Coop experience. I would not play it with less than 4 people because you need everyone to keep track of its character (Force of Nature). The game feels always like a ride on a razor blade.
You need to play it very precisely else you will loose. Great Crowd , Great Game and finally great victory against the Prussians (what you always like as a Bavarian )

Destination X - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2017


This is a great Educational Party Game. It s simple a deduction game on Geography and Countries. One player chooses secretly a country from given cards (Handicap: the more countries you have it s getting harder for the opponents).
The opponents try to find out by special cards with questions the chosen country. Example "Highest Peak" "2845 Meters", so all the flat countries should be out for the opponents, if they know which country is flat or not. They only see the flag, the name a near location on a world map. The game is really entertaining, but the only thing the publisher executed badly is that the player can see all the answer in a book and the e.g. USA is alphabetically in the rear part so you only have to look how pages are turned.

Azul - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017


Can see the hype about this game. I ve only played it as a two player game and I think that s the spot where it shines. I m not sure about more players

Majesty: For the Realm - 2 plays -  6.5 
First Published 2017


Well since I m working no longer in Munich , I m not playtesting anymore the new Hans im Glück games that often. I haven t played Majesty: For the Realm once until now. I m also not sure here if all the handling is more than the game itself. Y is also not my favorite. I see here the chance for more expansions with this system.
Hopefully one will be released which I like more than the basic game now.

Merlin - 2 plays -  6.5 
First Published 2017


Funny thing about Merlin during the week was that several people said that luck rules here much more as in Rajas of the Ganges . I m really not sure about that. You can do a lot of things with your dice. If you like the game or not is personal taste. I enjoyed Merlin more than Ganges because I can see here a higher chance to catch up during the game.

Railroad Revolution - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2016


I wanted to play this because it sounded interesting in all the Essen reports. So I played it - made a lot of minor mistakes and succeeded playing the Telegraph strategy" (without knowing it what it was). The graphics of the game are really max functional but for my taste its the best "Whats your game".game so far.

Altiplano - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2017


Altiplano or lets say Bagbuilding a la Orléans 2.0. It s definitely a very interesting game but it takes far to long. I like it more than Orleans but I would never buy it because it s really a 3+ hour game.

Gier - 2 plays -  6.5 
First Published 2017


Fun Push your luck game. You draw cards from other players hands and try to succeed doing this until you ve collected what you want or you draw a duplicate card and you get busted.

Biosphere - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2017


The most unusual mechanism I ve played for a longer time. But I can see instead of animals moving around only dice. The game is designed buy a teacher and some of his students therefore its great. The recommended sales price is not

Tiny Epic Galaxies - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2017


Better than Roll for the Galaxy and so far for me the best of Tinies I ve played so far.

Heaven & Ale - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2017


Interesting game. Eggert really improved the game from the Prototype stage I know it.

Calimala - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017


Extra dry but not a bad one

Rajas of the Ganges - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017


Rajas mayor problem is that you can t catch up during the game. I ve been a little bit disappointed after playing that one

Schollen Rollen - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017


I m not sure if I played this one last year at the same Con but now I could play it again and its a very fast die roller designed by the Doctor. Recommended for people who think Pickomino takes too long or Knizia Groupies

Absacker - 1 play -  6 
First Published 1998


Its what it is, A very fast no-brainer game which plays very smoothly. Try to get faster than the other three 3s or seven 7s from the middle and score the highest amount of cards.

Mercado - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2018


The new game from Ruediger Dorn. A mix of Keyflower and Bagbuilding. You try to move around on a scoring table without getting bad things or land on good things. The game itself - bringing coins in position to score several tiles is not that interesting than the timing at the score track.
I really wanted to like it but I know that I will not play it that often. The colours used as coins and the corresponding graphics on the tiles don t match = bad thing

Cairo - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2002


Fun dexterity game with a real bad rules set. I would really like to know if this has been a Pirate game in early stages but Egypt is always selling better than the terrors of the seas

Lakota - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2004

Dexterity game which is not bad but also not really tense enough to keep it

Fast Forward: FLEE - 2 plays -  4 
First Published 2017


looking at the design and playtesting it s a 8 or 9 but I hate games where you have to start over and over again like a mouse running through a labyrinth. Well Done Friedemann it s not your fault :-)

Otys - 1 play -  4 
First Published 2017


Managing a conveyor ahm divers in a very strange Pick up and deliver setting

Spot it! - 4 plays
First Published 2009


I think I m not the target group

== Disappointment of the month ==

Mechs vs. Minions - 3 plays -  4 
First Published 2016


I ve been really curious about this one. The components are breathtaking. The box is filled with a lot of plastic, but the game is a cooperativeRoboRally variant with a scenario. If you tell me that you ve managed to succeed in Scenario 5 in lesser than 3 attempts I wouldn t believe you.
Gameplay is random and thats it.

== New Expansion ==

Dominion: Prosperity - 3 plays -  7.5 
First Published 2010


Very good Dominion expansion. But for me it only makes the game longer, because you sometimes need more money to get all the VPs. But I also found out that I don t like the given scenarios
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7. Board Game: Otys [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:1654]
Joerg Schaefer
Germany
Frankfurt
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4 new games, 3 solid titles and only one I didn't enjoy.

GAME OF THE MONTH

Otys: d10-7 (3 plays)

Otys is about completing orders in a future steampunk world where the remainders of civilization have been flooded and divers recover their artifacts for those orders. Each player has active divers on five different levels. When one level is activated, the respective action tile is moved to the surface and all other tiles above it slide down one level. Additionally, a central action currently associated with this level is activated.

The challenge is to link the central action with the individual player action and plan ahead the next steps to fulfil orders before the other players. Each turn is a new tactical puzzle with the need to plan ahead one or two steps. A balance between improving action tiles, using short-term opportunities and minimizing the amount of suboptimal forced actions has to be stricken.

All elements work together smoothly. Unless played with too many AP victims, the game is reasonably quick. A solid mid-weight euro.


GOOD GAMES

Yokohama: d10-7 (2 plays)

Yokohama really is a heavy gamer version of Istanbul with a dash of Hansa Teutonica thrown in. The main change is the replacement of Istanbul's focused race mechanism by multi-dimension management of achievements, order completion, set collection and majority scoring.

I really like it but it's neither better nor worse than ist inspiration. It's simply geared towards another target group.


Tatort Nachtexpress: d10-7 (1 play)

An old deduction game that is still playable today but shows its age in its mechanisms. It is comparable to Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective in gameplay but hasn't stood the test of time as good. Rolling for movement with a die should be replaced by something more sophisticated. Getting by chance a secret information doesn't really make a big difference as it's highly likely that this information will be revealed soon anyway, at least with a higher player count. There are ten cases included that can be solved once unless you forget the resolution which shouldn't be too difficult with a few years in between.

I only played the first case but the resolution surprised me. Hints I considered to be red herring needed to be considered to solve the case. The cases are what makes this game still worth playing today.


AVERAGE GAMES

Photosynthesis: d10-5 (1 play)

Photosynthesis is an abstract that looks good on the table and even succeeds in transporting its theme trees successfully. Trees catch sunlight which fuels the photosynthesis allowing them to grow or spread seeds unless other trees block the sun. This works smoothly and isn't too complicated. Nonetheless, I didn't enjoy it much. I have two issues with Photosynthesis. The scoring and the snowball effect.

The main source of points is chopping down trees. Throughout the game, players will do this only a few times. Being able to chop down one tree more very likely will be a decisive advantage. A single sun energy lacking thus can lead to a huge difference in points. I don't like this granularity.

Getting out large trees as early as possible is important as they earn more sun Points. Players ahead will earn more allowing them to invest more to again earn more. Unless the other players unite their efforts, the snowball effect is hard to reign in. Given this effect, the game is too long and repetitive while not offering enough variation.


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8. Board Game: Agra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:1086]
Jake Blomquist
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Only one new game this month, but it was a really good one.

Agra 8.5/10

At it's core this game is about producing and upgrading resources and sending them in to complete various kinds of contracts to collect points and bonus powers. Certainly on paper not a new concept. But in execution it's actually really cool. The crux of this game is really about using the various alternative means of producing/upgrading/trading the goods that's more efficient than using the main actions. There are many sources of bonus actions that all need to be weaved together carefully to get things done, and to me the fun of the game is in finding the right combination of bonus actions.

Every turn it always feels like you can get what you need done within a few turns with some planning and while it's a lot of fun to work through, I can imagine it potentially causing a lot of AP for certain people, which might be a deal breaker for some. But this really is exactly my kind of game, I love when you can be working toward multiple things at once and there are a number of ways to get any given thing done so you really have to balance all of these systems and figure out a good metric for prioritizing certain subgoals and outcomes.

I will say for my taste it did feel just very slightly more tactical than I'd want for a game like this though. While you could plan a bit ahead there was a lot of single turn optimizing, at least in part because enough can change between turns that you often have to wait until your turn to really figure everything out. But that might be inexperience after only one game talking. I can see the game feeling more strategic, and can definitely see this game cracking my top ten, with more plays.

Also, and maybe in part because of the somewhat tactical nature, I find the weight rating surprisingly high. If that's what's keeping you from this game I'd say try it anyway if you can. The rules are actually pretty simple and the lack of too much forward planning makes it not feel too hard to play. I'm really glad I decided to pick this one up, I'm looking forward to many more plays.
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9. Board Game: The Mind [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:1614]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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== NEW GAMES ==

The Mind - 5 plays -  7.8 
First Published 2018

We gave the game a try with 6 nimmt! cards (yes, you can) and some extra components (pencils represented lives and some little objects represented shurikens...). The first time we played we failed early, but slowly we started to find the rythm and find out when we needed to use the shuriken. What an experience! It's a game that should not work but does... The rules are incredibly simple, yet it's really challenging - and rewarding. I have to buy the real thing soon...

Adventure Land - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2015

It's been a long time since I've learned a new(-to-me) Kramer-Kiesling game and... this one is clearly not one of their top games, although it seems the expansion makes things significantly more interesting (I bought both the base game and the expansion in a bundle). The base game has three scenarios differing mostly in their scoring (the most advanced one having a majority scoring and also minus points for not finishing the game in cities) but the expansion adds interesting twists to the game (system).
Of course we've played the least interesting one with the kids, the lightest, kid-friendly 1st scenario which also has a higher luck level than the others. The gameplay feels somewhat unusual for Kramer&Kiesling and not only because of the fights with monsters (with dice, possibly using lots of modifiers of course) but I'm also not sure I've ever seen this spatial aspect from them. I'm not sure if they were inspired by Madame Ching (not in the mechanism but in that adventurers start from the top left "Northwestern" corner and may move only to South and East) that was published just a year before Adventure Land or there were other predecessors for this idea... Whatever, movement is not luck-dependent here, only the timing of when and where helping modifiers and monsters appear (just like in some scenarios of Legends of Andor). With the basic scenario it's not a lot more, it's fine for what it is, a kid-friendly family game but nothing special. I'm ready to change the rating depending on how much the other scenarios add to the game in the future.

Sushi Go! - 2 plays -  6.7 
First Published 2013

It's... fine I guess, a very simple drafting game with no cards re-shuffled, three rounds scored, partly in the end... Yes, this is exactly how Ra: The Drafting Game would look like (I hope Knizia doesn't take notes). Every 'epoch' you have cards with majority scoring (like Pharaohs in Ra), cards scored in sets (like in Priests of Ra), cards scoring more and more the more you have of them (like civilization tiles), cards making it possible to pick one more card than you could otherwise (god tiles), cards scoring face value (Gold and Nile), cards that are valuable only with other cards (Flood) and even cards that score for most or least in the end of the whole game... It's light and fast and harmless but felt way less interesting than any Ra titles (yes, including the Dice Game). I think it gets slightly more interesting if you have more idea about all the cards given to other players and also if you are a good card-counter; this time I wasn't fond of this memory element.


Kids' games:

Catch a Falling Star - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2011

Like an inverse Pick Up Sticks, it's more like Put Back Sticks, as you need to put the 'rays' (sticks) of a fallen star back on the star hanging on a rope (some sticks have a metal ring that can attach to the star but most of them just have to be supported by these). It's a quite innovative idea for a kids' (?) dexterity game, we had good fun playing it.

Halli Galli - 1 play
First Published 1990

A so-called 'classic', a very popular kids' reaction game with no twist but a bell that hurt the hands of my kids more than once during one play.

Zingo! - 4 plays
First Published 2002

It's also a kids' reaction game, a not that interesting Bingo variant where two cards are turned up and the player fastest to name (and thus claim) their symbol wins the card. Well, it's the kind of 'developing game' that helps kids develop some senses and their symbol recognition and naming skills... The card and the mechanism of turning the cards face up are replaced by a gimmick with plastic pieces, and kids like gimmicks - but it doesn't make the game itself better.
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10. Board Game: After The Virus [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:2861]
Netherlands
Enschede
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I had to pick one, but I really liked Azul, War of the Buttons and Hanamikoji as well. It was a good month for new to me games .

== NEW GAMES ==

After The Virus - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2017


This is fun and very difficult. There's a nice tension between wanting cards in your deck so you have to shuffle and get more zombies, and needing those cards out of your deck so you can use them to fight the zombies that are already there.


War of the Buttons - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2018


Fun dice placement game with lots of ways to mitigate the luck of the roll and lots of strategy/tactics involved in when and where to put your dice.


Azul - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2017


Fun abstract with interesting choices.


Hanamikoji - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2013


Another fun game, I liked how both players have the exact same actions and have to do all of them each round. But to pick the right order...


Chimera Station - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017


This was interesting, but in the convention setting I missed some quiet to really get what all the options were and how to make the most of things. I liked it, modifying workers is interesting and worked well.


Serengeti: A Race For Life - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017


This fell flat for us, it looks very nice, and there's something there I think, but for us it was to repetitive. We did play an introduction version with 2 fewer animals available to us (this is how they demoed the game).


DIG - 1 play -  4 
First Published 2017


This did not work for us. I like the idea of pushing your luck trying to dig up jewels that you can use to buy more diggers or hire adventurers to help you. But we got stuck starting a new mine, as we kept drawing cards that didn't let us start and instead did nothing, and that kept happening lots of turns in a row, which meant essentially one of us was doing nothing.

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11. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:47] [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked]
Mariella Barra
United Kingdom
Derby
Derbyshire
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== NEW GAMES ==

Tiny Epic Kingdoms - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2014


We have had this forever in the ultra tiny version, and never got around to play it. We played it just two players which unfortunately doesn't seem to be the player count where this shines the most, so the whole experiece was mildly disappointing. Will have to play again with more players - until then, it has been deliberately left unrated.

Azul - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2017


We managed to grab a four player game of this in at a meeup, and I see where all the hype is coming from. I found it a lovely abstract with great materials and interesting gameplay. It worked well in four but I would love playing this in two players, which I'm sure will make for a more vicious game.

Dead Man's Doubloons - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2018


Played this at a con and found it interesting enough. The first part, exploring the island, is very interesting and compelling. Not sure if the second "race" part was needed. All in all not a bad game, I would play again if it was on the table.

Oh My Goods!: Longsdale in Revolt - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2016


This is another expansion we have had forever and never got around to play. It is interesting enough, but it feels like it detracts from the simplicity of the standard game.

Zombie Tsunami - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017


Played this as an icebreaker at a con. It's ok for what it is, a party game that doesn't overstay its welcome. I am in no rush to own this or play it again, but I can see its appeal for people who prefer lighter games.

Altiplano - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2017


What a massive disappointment this one was. I am a great euro game fan, so was looking forward to this - and at the beginning it looked fabulous. It dragged so much in the endgame though that I just lost all the joy of playing it. Plus it was clear who the winner would be halfway through the game, which made the rest of it just a slog.

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12. Board Game: The Expanse Board Game [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:1821]
David Fox
United Kingdom
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Two diametrically opposed games top and tail my list this month: one mechanically sound but uninspiring to look at; the other great to look at but mechanically bereft. Let's go...!

LIKED A LOT


The Expanse - 1 play - What a let down... (keep going!)

...the components are to what is, mechanically, an excellent multiplayer reworking of Twilight Struggle, themed well enough to be engaging (although all who played in my game had watched the TV series, so YMMV). The 'simple; choice on your turn - AP or Event - is complicated by five cards to choose from and an unassuming initiative track, which left us (especially on first play, not knowing the cards) reading and pondering for quite some time. All mechanical aspects of the game work very well and, while none of Geoff Engelstein's previous games have been a flop with me, neither have they really caught on, I was genuinely impressed by this... even after dropping from a tied victory to third by dint of table talk on the last turn.

While the components are functional, they are without flair: dull cubes; dark cards; bland board; average design. With some ships, figures, and an artwork overhaul, this could really bring in sci-fi non-gamers (are there any?) to the hobby in the same way that Lords of Waterdeep did for RPGers: an obvious candidate for a 'deluxe edition' KS.

Being picky, the plethora of consequences to your choice of action could well lead to AP (I know one gamer who would LOVE this, but I'd hesitate to play it with him because I'd be waiting 10 minutes on each of his turns), and the 60 minutes on the box is utter hogwash, especially for a first game. We were 140 minutes including teach, with one rules error which might have made it run even longer.


LIKED


Hardback - 1 play - aka Star Realms: The Word Game

I never got the love for Paperback: there's a weird thing that happens when deck-building 'bolts on' to other mechanics, which spoiled it for me. For instance, in Dominion it seems perfectly normal to have a good hand, get 6-8 coins for gold or Province, then have a bad hand with all coppers and Estates; but... in Automobiles, seeing a car zoom around an entire lap in one turn followed by no movement the next is visually/thematic off. Similar things happened with Paperback, as well as the lack-of-word-power-in-a-word-game issue of making the same word over and over again: Z-O-N-E + Z-O-N-E + Z-O-N-E = highly unsatisfactory win.

So, did the 'prequel' improve on this? Yes, in both the word-play and deck-building aspects. The game borrows heavily from Star Realms in triggering powers from four factions -- I mean, fictions -- and a simple buy row. Add to that the fact that all cards can be wild - but lose their powers and points - and the game ticks along at a decent pace. Words in our game were from 4 to 8 letters long (using 'ink' to extend the five card hand) and, while two players were considerably out in front points-wise - one due to longer words, the other better gaming of the system - it all felt fair. There's an easy nod to playing again, but I thought the powers made it possibly a bit too complex for non-gamers to get into easily.

Deckscape: Test Time - 1 play* - Pocket sized escape-room-in-a-box, light and fun

Having started out on the harder games in this genre, the Escape the Room and Deckscape titles have been comparative fluffy bunnies to the prowling night-beasts that are the EXIT games (in a good way!). Test Time is easily playable within an hour, generates multiple puzzles for people to work on, and has an honesty system for the answers which keeps progress ticking along nicely. The puzzles in TT were not overly taxing, but often required different members of our team to have an "aha!" moment; we got two wrong and were happy with the solutions which were presented.

*I passed on the box to another team the following day, who had a similarly enjoyable experience.

Discworld Ankh Morpork - 1 play - Area control with little hand control

Well, this was fairly fun despite the *total* lack of balance in the cards: the experienced player (of four) won - and that after passing on his victory condition for two rounds - which must mean something; but if you miss out on the better cards, you'd best hope for tea and sympathy in what is quite a take-that-y area control game. The Discworld theme comes through well in the characters on the cards, but the area control could be pretty much anywhere.

I liked the differing objectives, although it's an awful lot for new players to keep in mind; on the downside, the board is dull and busy to the point of making it hard to differentiate the areas. But those cards! To my mind this is almost a 'beer & pretzels' game, as you're gonna need to soften the blow when you draw hand after hand of dreck, while your opponents are popping off four- or five-card combos. But still, fun when you do get the cards.

Attack on Titan: The Last Stand - 1 play - OGRE: The Anime - everyone kill Eren!

A very engaging one-vs-many game with asymmetric objectives, themed as per the manga/anime series. The titan player has three ways of finishing the game; the humans need to weaken it, before getting either of two (from seven) kill tactics cards ready and in position. In my game, the humans were laughing at how easy it was to take the titan into the kill zone, but were then unable to position themselves without losing population. (As the titan, I *really* wanted to take out Eren - hate that character in the anime - but the population was easier.)

The titan standee is both visually 'appealing' and functional, though the buildings were a bit shaky. The artwork is understandably good but the iconography confused us a little - we never did work out what one thing meant - and the rule book was not great. All that said, everyone enjoyed it, especially the double-think of which action card the titan player is placing face down. Surprisingly fun.

Steam Works - 1 play - Worked for me, steampunk more flavour than theme

After two less-than-great plays of dice placement games last month, it was a relief to return to a 'standard' worker placement game. The wrinkle here - apart from the overly-wordifabulous-namificated-tile-autonimators - is that you will most likely want to be using others' machines and, indeed, want other players to use yours. The tiles come out quickly in a steeply ascending power curve meaning A) you can come back into the game by getting a good 'late' tile and B) those who know the game can cherry pick the ones which novices have no idea about. Money is a fairly tight resource throughout and is nicely used to pay for workers: it is almost essential to get all out every turn, as scores seem to be quite close (34-33-31 in our game). Overall, it worked for me; though ran a little long, as two players both wanted an extra round (meaning, as usual, I mistimed my endgame).


ACTIVELY DISLIKED

Mice & Mystics: Downwood Tales - 1 play - Engaging story, monotonous gameplay

I have to confess I tried to hide this game from my son (7 yo): the second half of M&M1 was utter drudgery for me, as the dull-dull-dull mechanics overwhelmed and choked the life out of the story which he enjoyed so much. So, I put this and Heart of Glorm at the back of a shelf and forgot about them. Only... for him to find them when looking for something else. Nuts. So, I got my friends to paint the (good) minis and promised my son I would play one Downwood Tales chapter each week (after he's done his homework).

Well, that was incentive enough for him, but now I'm back to rolling endless quantities of dice to grind my way from well illustrated tile to tile, each with its own set of unique-to-the-scenario rules. IT JUST GOES ON FOREVER!!! And we're only one chapter in. The story seems decent - somewhat Watership Down-ish - but I can't get past the deluge of decision-free dice rolling which drains the fun out of every game. All the 'mice' got captured in Chapter One and neither of us could face a do-over, so we're getting on with Chapter Two next week.
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13. Board Game: Barbarians: The Invasion [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:3509]
Dustin
United States
Kentucky
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Not very many new to me games. TMNT seen a lot of play. Lords of Hellas probably got the most play. I haven't got to game as much as I want to though. City of Kings is one of the biggest disappointments of the year.

Barbarians: The Invasion
Concordia
SiegeStorm
Cat Lady
The City of Kings

For more detailed thoughts, you can check out my blog
Thematic Colors of Gaming
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14. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Tomb of Annihilation Board Game [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:2987] [Average Rating:8.16 Unranked]
Don't Panic!
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
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My logged plays this year are down considerably on previous years, and (thankfully), much of what is being played are the older games rather than new fodder. That still didn’t stop me from getting a few new games to the table.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tomb Of Annihilation
On the one hand this is more of the same, but also a step forward with slightly more to play with. The system works well, the monster AI is handled well, and the tweaks are clever and fit in nicely. This game is not only about how smoothly it plays, but also how it looks on the table, and at that level it is excellent. Also, I like a storyline, and I’ve just started the campaign - so far so good.

If you’ve played any of these before you’ll know just what to expect. All the new heroes are well designed, the monsters are fun and varied, and the encounter cards are far more interesting. Tension is high throughout, and combat is quick and fun. There are no heavy or complicated rules to try and remember and follow, and after the first game, the rulebook will spend most of the time in the box.

Just a neat and simple system with enough to make it interesting, but not too much that it just turns into a headache to play.

The Castles Of Burgundy: The Card Game
All my plays of this have been solo, and for that the game is perfect – it takes 3 minutes to set up, 15 minutes to play, and 2 minutes to pack away, and I’m happy to play 2 or 3 games in a row. I was worried from some comments that this might take up too much table space, but if you adapt the layout, the footprint is no bigger than a regular game board.

I don’t get to play the original anywhere near as much as I’d like, so this is a really good alternative option, and one that I’m enjoying. The AI is interesting, and I find myself focusing on my own game as well as making sure I steal bonuses before the chance is gone. The game is enjoyable, and simple to learn and play. A hit for me.

Escape The Dark Castle
The marmite topic here seems to be the artwork, and I love the old fashioned illustrations, very reminiscent of the choose-your-own-adventure books of my youth (as is the game). Simple dice rolling fun, very few taxing decisions other than when to rest and when to fight, so this is a quick pick up and play game.

The balance seems good, the cards tell and build an interesting tale, and all told this is a really fun experience that is over before it gets frustrating or annoying. A good way to spend 30 minutes, but as a dungeon experience I’d much rather play Tombs, and as a solo experience, I’d choose Burgundy.

What do you Meme?: A Millennial Card Game For Millennials And Their Millennial Friends
A present from 2 of my sons for my birthday as we play a lot of Cards Against Humanity so they wanted to get this as well. We played just the once, and laughed a lot. Look, you need to have a particular type of humour and be with a group of people who also have that same type of humour for this to work. We love it, we laughed, we were disgusted with each other, we moved on.

The negative for us is the limited replayability. I can see this getting stale if we play it too much, but other than that it fits our idea of a family game. Just to qualify, my 2 sons that picked it up for me are 24 and 21. Not a game for everyone, and you’ll probably know before you even play if you’re going to like it or not.
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15. Board Game: Omiga [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:6416]
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Netherlands
Rijen
Noord Brabant
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Fast (2 minutes?), fun, puzzle-game. Also:

Paco Ŝako is... weird? No chess-player myself, so had a hard time playing this one, but very intriguing!

The Game: Face to Face was good, but I might enjoy the 'original' more.
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16. Board Game: Cthulhu Wars: Six to Eight Player Library at Celaeno Map [Average Rating:8.44 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.44 Unranked]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Cthulhu Wars: Library at Celaeno Map

Last month I recorded the only recorded play on BGG ever (so far) of this expansion map.

We played a six player game where we were all new to the map and only mid-way through the game did we realise the importance of books. Up to that point silence token were all about using the Custodian to shift other player's pieces to the Oubliette. Amusing but not always optimal.

As the game progressed the repulsive Cthulhu Wars: Tcho-Tcho got a heap of Elder Signs through books and cantered to a win. Still, everyone seem to enjoy themselves except one player who found the asymmetry a bit overwhelming.

All-in-all, it was fun and even more chaotic than usual as the Custodian did a good job of cleaning the place up and there was always something going on in the Oubliette. I was Cthulhu Wars: The Sleeper Expansion and once I got my spell book ability to consume monsters as well as cultists I placed my Great Old One there and enjoyed the regular home-delivery meal services provided by the Library staff.

Four stars - would eat there again.
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17. Board Game: Breaking Away [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:1973]
Jerry Wilkinson
United States
New Castle
Indiana
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I played 12 new to me games (one with an expansion) in the month of March, and Breaking Away is my winner for the month. I also really enjoyed Santa Maria, Ex Libris, Paperback, Loony Quest, Deep Sea Adventure, and StarFall, thought both Dimension and Pandemic: The Cure with the Pandemic: The Cure – Experimental Meds expansion to be okay, was disappointed with both The Quest for El Dorado and Wordsy, and disliked CrossTalk.
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18. Board Game: Fog of Love [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:898]
Bill Kunes
United States
Cincinnati
Ohio
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One new game and two expansions this month...

GAMES



Fog of Love

Plays: 2
The game is unique and offers an interesting role-playing experience. However, we both struggled with conflict between our character and our real-life thought and decision making process. This was especially the case when the characters found themselves in a situation cut across the grain of our own personalities and moral values.

It will take a couple more plays to determine whether this game is a fit for us. It definitely went better the second half of our first play and for much of our second. We are looking forward to giving the next scenario a go and will render a final decision whether it is a game for us or not for the long-term after the completion of our 10x10 plays.

EXPANSIONS



Railways of Nippon

Plays: 1
I consider this an expansion, as in a new map, since I have long owned and enjoyed the base game and other maps. RotW has been my long-standing #1 favorite game since getting into the hobby. So it should come as no surprise that I liked Nippon. Granted it is just another map, and I could argue we didn't absolutely need another map, but I wasn't going to say no.

Like RoNA it is another option, especially with few, 2-3, players. I like the enhancements to the map with little icons to clearly mark water and mountain terrain. However, I personally felt the rework that went into the more comprehensive Kickstarter project to "right" the colors across all the maps went in the wrong direction for my preference. I liked the primary blue and purple in the 2nd edition/printing rather then the chosen tones/hues (??) that revert back to the colors of my England & Wales colors that I found more difficult to distinguish. Everyone will have their own opinion and may or may not be disappointed and frustrated with those behind the project as a result. Ultimately, I love the system and the game. I just wish I had more time and opportunities to play it.


UNLOCK The Formula

Plays: 1
We scored (no stars) and completed in 82:50 with 9 hints, 9:00 lost due to three penalties. I can't read my writing but we lost a bunch of time to erroneous codes as well.

Ultimately I liked the setup and the app. Unfortunately my wife was a bit impatient at times and kept asking for hints and wanting to just guess at codes for reasons that didn't make sense. We argued a bit as she was bored and feeling like we were wasting time while my daughter and I were examining cards and trying to puzzle through the cards we had. My daughter and I both would have liked the experience better if we didn't have the tension between my wife and me, and it wasn't so late after a long day.


meeple Keep playing...
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19. Board Game: Heart of Crown [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:2157] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked]
Tally C
United States
New York City
New York
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== NEW GAMES ==

For the month of March, I played 9 new-to-me game and 9 new-to-me expansions. This was a really good month for me as I loved so many of the new-to-me games that I played. It was kind of tough to pick the winner!

Heart of Crown - 4 plays -  8.5 
First Published 2011

Comments: Heart of Crown made it to our table for the first time this month and swooped in to steal best new-to-me game for March. This is a deckbuilder that takes a lot of the tried and true aspects of deckbuilding, but then adds in some cool new twists. One of my favorite parts is the common card deck. In addition to the 5 basic cards that will appear in every game, you make a deck of 10 different common cards (5 copies of each), all shuffled together. A market is created by drawing 8 types of these cards from the deck. If you draw a duplicate, you simply stack it on top and keep drawing until the market is full. This makes it so you'll never be sure exactly which cards will be available or how many of each in a given turn.

Another unique aspect of this game are the arrows found on territory cards and some actions. As you play cards from your hand into your play area, you can chain them, so long as you have enough arrows on the cards you've played before. While the majority of cards have one arrow, some have 0 and some have 2, meaning sometimes you won't be able to play all the cards you'd like to play. This really makes you think about the order priority of your cards (taking it a step beyond what's just maximally efficient in terms of card effects).

Probably the most defining mechanic of Heart of Crown, however, is backing a princess. If you've played at least 6 gold on your turn, you can back one of the six available princesses. This will create a domain for her (you also move any territories you played during that turn, up to 3, to your domain), which starts a whole new phase to the game. The way you win the game is to collect a total of 20 succession points in your domain. Succession points are utterly worthless in your deck or hand and the turns you play them into your domain, you can't buy any cards. That creates an interesting push and pull of what's good now vs. what's good later and being maximally efficient vs. slowly working towards your goal.

Heart of Crown is a super smart deckbuilder which absolutely blew us away. The base game comes with a whopping 30 common cards that can be combined an impressive number of ways (since you only have 10 in each game). Even better is how the manual provides a big list of recommended set-ups. Each set can create a radically different tone for the game and some of the cards are surprisingly nuanced. I can't wait to play with more of the cards and try out more of the sets. And then we have the two expansion packs to look forward to! I can't emphasize enough how taken we are with this game.



Zombicide: Green Horde - 1 play -  8.5 
First Published 2018

Comments: I love the Ameritrashy glory of Zombicide: Black Plague, so it was a pretty safe bet that I would similarly adore Green Horde. After backing it on KS (because it was a continuation of something I already loved and, well, zombie orcs?! Yes, please!), we received the core game in the mail back in the very end of February. Green Horde is shipping in two waves to KS backers, meaning we get our core game now and our KS bonuses and extras sometime this summer. I was eager to play, but since Tyler was about to leave on a trip right after it arrived, I had to wait until the middle on March for us to give it a go together. Green Horde is fully integratable with Black Plague, but for our game we only played with the core game Green Horde stuff because I wanted to see how it stood on its own.

While much of the gameplay is the same between the two games, Green Horde adds in a few new mechanics. First is the Horde mechanic. Most of the cards in the zombie spawn deck prompt players to add zombies to the Horde (an area off board where zombies will gather) in addition to the normal spawn rules. Cards that read "Enter the Horde" cause all of these accrued zombies to spawn, which ends the spawning phase. Then there's the waterhole zones and hedges, which add in opportunities for the survivors to hide from the zombies as well as manipulate the zombies' paths. Last, there's the siege equipment which enable survivors to shoot anywhere on the board (or even the horde off board)! These new advantages are balanced out by some disadvantages (e.g. survivors spend an extra action when moving from a water space to another water space) as well as most of orc zombies doing an additional damage as their Black Plague counterparts.

We played the tutorial mission (Quest 0) with me as Seli and Johannes and Tyler as Berin and Asim. Johannes and Berin did most of the skirmishing while Seli and Asim got a lot of use out of the trebuchet. Berin's Shove skill was particularly vital to our survival, with particularly hilarious moments when he shoved a bunch of zombies into a waterhole zone with a ledge. I really enjoyed how hedges and waterhole zones made the game more tactical as well as the power that the trebuchet provided us. Not only is it great for taking out hordes of zombies from long range, but it also offers another way to deal with abominations and necromancers. I think it's quite likely that I'll end up liking Green Horde even more than Black Plague! I already pre-ordered one of the expansions and I'm really looking forward to getting all of our additional stuff from the KS in Wave 2 this summer.


Indian Summer - 6 plays -  8 
First Published 2017

Comments: I played Indian Summer six times this month. Two of them were 2P multiplayer games and four of them were solo games. Both modes have the same core concept: race to fill up your board with polyomino tiles, collecting treasures along the way. Each player board is divided into six areas with the four types of treasures (berries, nuts, mushrooms, and feathers) printed on some of the squares. Each polyomino tile has one circular hole in it. If you line it up over a treasure, you get to place a corresponding treasure token on top of it. Once you fill in an area completely, you get to take any treasures that were on top of your tiles within those areas. These treasures can either be traded in for bonus actions (berries refill your personal tile queue and nuts let you place a squirrel tile) or upgraded special actions (mushrooms and feathers both let you place two polyomino tiles on your board with the biggest difference being where those tiles come from). You can also get treasure tokens from your board again if you’ve arranged the polyomino holes to allow placement of animal tiles on top of them.

In the multiplayer game, whoever fills up their board first triggers end game. Other players get one more turn, then upgrade or downgrade their remaining treasures to nuts which they turn in for squirrels. If multiple people are able to finish their boards, tiebreaker is whoever has the most nuts leftover. In the solo game, the game ends after just 10 rounds. The player wins if they can manage a score of 0. Each empty square on their board is -1 point and treasure tokens give points, depending on their rarity.

Indian Summer is the third polyomino board game I've tried (the other two being Patchwork and Cottage Garden) and my favorite so far! All three games are on the lighter side of Uwe Rosenberg's work, but they all provide meaningful, if simple, choices. I really enjoyed both the multiplayer and solo modes, though the solo mode is certainly tough! Of the four games I played, I didn’t manage to win a single one, BUT in each game I improved my score. The last game I played I managed to get -2 points, so I think I can pull off a solo win sometime in the near future.

Overall, this game is quite relaxing to me and it's weirdly satisfying to set up treasures for you to later collect, then collect a second time by placing an animal tile on top of them. I like the light puzzley nature of Uwe’s polyomino games that I’ve tried and Indian Summer is extremely beautiful to me. Very happy to have gotten this one.


The Legend of Korra: Pro-Bending Arena - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2018

Comments: This month, our deluxe copy of The Legend of Korra: Pro-Bending Arena arrived. We're big fans of the show and were really excited about the potential of this game. In Legend of Korra: Pro-bending Arena, two players take on the roles of pro-bending teams from the Avatar universe. A standard team has three characters on it (a waterbender, firebender, and earthbender) and the retail version of the game comes with two teams (the Fire Ferrets and the Wolfbats). Our deluxe copy came with 4 additional three-character teams and 3 additional solo-bender teams. The arena is set up so that each team has three zones under their control (Zone A being the closest to the center of the arena, Zone C being the further back). Teams start facing off in their respective Zone As.

During a player's turn, they'll go through four phases before play passes to the other player. First, they'll gain Chi. After that, they'll play all three cards from their hand, either for gaining 1 chi each or for their actions. If played for actions, every action line must be carried out in the order on the card and they may only be done by the bender of the same element. Actions primarily consist of moving (within your current zone only), blocking (removing a hostile element token), or attacking. Attacks are made into spaces of the zones, not against particular benders and each attack will specify range, damage, whether it is a piercing attack, and whether it has follow-up attacks or optional modifiers. Range is checked using space edges and corners while damage is how many element tokens you place in that spot. In a normal (non-piercing attack), elements from opposing sides will immediately cancel each other out until there are only elements remaining from one team on that space.

After playing cards, players check for hits against their team characters. If any character exists in a space with one or more hostile element tokens, they take hits equal to the number of tokens. Each hit knocks them back one zone. If they run out of zones, they get ringed out and are out of the game. Finally, players can use their chi to recruit cards into their deck. Prior to the game, each bender has been customized with their own strategy deck of four cards. The game starts with one of each deck being turned face up for purchase. Players can buy cards that are available for sale and those cards are placed on top of their deck. After the buy phase, players place one new card from each strategy deck on top of the "for purchase" piles, potentially covering up cards that were previously available for purchase. Then they draw a new hand of 3 cards from their deck and play passes to the next player.

We figured we would like this game, but we were honestly blown away by how much we love it. Once you have the rules down, the game plays quite quickly. The cards you draw will dictate which actions you can preform with which benders, but there's a ton of choice in regard to where you move and which spaces you target your attacks. Attacks can be used both offensively and defensively, which is an extremely interesting decision to make. Focus too much on either and you'll find yourself in a losing situation.

The teams feel different from each other (due to each bender's unique cards and each team's special mechanic), but since they're all using the same core actions, it's not difficult to pick up a different team. There's also a crazy amount of customization you can do for your teams. While each bender can only bring four advanced strategy cards to each game, there are multiple copies of each bender's advanced strategy cards (except ultimate), so if you really like one of them, you can double or triple down on it instead of going for variation. There are also Tricks which we have only just started to play with. When playing with Tricks, each team brings three to a match. Tricks can be used after their associated bender plays an action card and they modify the status of the board in some way. They're very powerful, so they are either one-time use or Yellow Fan marked (meaning they count as cheating). On top of all that, you can even make fantasy teams, combining characters from different teams into your own dream team.

Legend of Korra: Pro-bending Arena is fast, yet cerebral, providing many tactical choices and meaningful decisions. There's also some luck involved when it comes to card draw and rolling the yellow fan die (both for penalties and to check if the ref has called the game). Most importantly (to me) it feels like pro-bending! The designers obviously put a lot of work into making the board game accurately represent the rules that were outlined in the show. At the same time, they were careful to not make it painstakingly literal, which would have really bogged the game down. There's just the right amount of abstraction to keep the game moving along at a good pace. I love it and I can't wait to play more.


Bunny Kingdom - 3 plays -  8 
First Published 2017

Comments: Bunny Kingdom combines card drafting with area control in an innovative way that I've never seen before. There's four types of cards in the game: territory cards (which point you to a specific letter-number square on the map grid), building cards (which allow you to build farms, trading posts, camps, or sky towers), provisions (just allow you to draw two cards, then play them), and parchments (award extra points at the end of the game). Each round, players will draft 10 cards to play (playing them immediately after they draft them), claiming territories and claiming buildings to construct after the drafting phase. Once the drafting and building phases are over, players score their fiefs (contiguous territories they control), getting points equal to strength of the cities in their fief (number of towers) multiplied by the number unique resources that fief produces. After 4 rounds of this, players reveal their parchments and do final scoring.

There’s a slight modification to the game for a 2P game. With two players, Bunny Kingdom uses the draft variant that I first saw popularized by entwife in Among the Stars. In this variant, players draw an extra card when they look at their hand, then pick one card to play and one card to discard. It works just as well in Bunny Kingdom as it does in Among the Stars; it makes hate-drafting part of drafting!

We're totally in love with Bunny Kingdom for how smoothly it plays and the tough decisions it has us make. It's hard enough deciding what cards you want to draft, but with buildings you also have to consider where and WHEN you want to place them (you can place buildings on later construction rounds - you don't have to construct them the same round you acquired them). This may look like a cutesy game, but there’s a surprising amount of things to consider and it can be pretty mean! That makes it simply delightful for us.


Rajas of the Ganges - 2 plays -  7.9 
First Published 2017

Comments: This was one of my anniversary presents to Tyler (we celebrated our 15th anniversary of dating/partnership at the end of March). In Rajas of the Ganges, players place their workers to either construct buildings on their personal player board, visit the market to collect money for their trading posts, move along the ship track, or visit the palace (to either get more dice or give up specifically valued dice to get bonuses). There’s the base way to play the game (which we played) and also two modules that players can incorporate to add more strategy and variability to the game.

Turns and rounds in this game are super quick, with a turn simply being place a worker and get a thing (be it dice, player board tiles, fame points, money points, etc.). While worker spots are outright blocked in the palace and market spaces, the harbor and quarry have multiple worker spaces that just get gradually more expensive. Rather than the game having a set amount of rounds or end when a player gets a certain number of points, Rajas of the Ganges ends when someone gets their money and fame markers to meet or cross along the edge of the game board (it doesn’t matter where along it). While not exactly mind-blowing, it’s still a neat concept that I enjoyed the execution of.

We had a lot of fun with this game. It’s a Euro on the lighter side of medium weight with some interesting strategic and tactical choices to make without melting the brain. It feels extremely pleasant and has a nice flow to it. It actually reminded me a lot of a Kramer and Kiesling game if they made more games that used dice! Since Kramer and Kiesling games are hits with us, that’s definitely a good vibe to have.


Harvest - 2 plays -  7.5 
First Published 2017

Comments: Harvest was a highly anticipated game for me (it’s by the same designer as Argent: the Consortium, which is one one of my favorite games ever), but I somehow managed to not pick it up until this month. The rules for the game are well-written and brief (only four pages!). The only minor addition I would've liked to see is a small section clarifying special character abilities, but that's really just a nitpick (I was able to find answers to my questions very quickly on BGG and through Trey's FAQ).

Harvest takes place over a series of 5 rounds where players will choose an initiative card and take turns placing two workers in spaces that let them collect various resources and perform specific actions. These actions will enable players to do things like plant seeds (turning them into crops at the cost of manure), tend fields (multiplying crops in a field by paying water), harvest crops (removing them from fields so the fields can be replanted), extend their land, and place more fields and buildings. Each round, some special action cards will come out (equal to the number of players) which will only be available for that specific round. Some actions require spending gold stars (printed on harvested crops and all snap peas) in order to execute them. These actions are often more powerful, but players will also have to keep in mind that all stars are worth points at the end of the game.

The game moves along quite briskly, but offers a lot of meaningful decisions for such simple actions. Many action spots and initiative cards offer choices in regard to actions and/or resources, so even though you only place 10 times over the course of the game, you’re making a lot more than just 10 choices! Add to that a ton of variability packed into such a modest-sized game. In a 2P game, 10 special action cards will be used from a set of 30, meaning that each game will feel a little different in what actions are available which rounds. Similarly, which initiative and building cards come out in a game (and in which rounds) will change things up, too. On top of that, there are 9 unique characters (each with their own different and pretty strong abilities) and you have a lot of variety! Harvest feels like a super-filler to me and it definitely lived up to my expectations.



Custom Heroes - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017

Comments: This month, we got Custom Heroes to the table - a game I have been wanting to play for quite some time (and recently acquired). In a 2P game, the deck is composed of 30 cards (3 each of cards numbered 1 through 10). Each player starts with 1 VP token, two favor tokens, 1 Kodoro advancement, 1 ultimate form advancement (a trump card), and three random advancements from the bag. These are all hidden behind a player screen. The deck is shuffled and evenly distributed between the two players and the game is ready to go.

Each round is played over a series of tricks (for lack of a better word, even though this is a ladder-climbing game). Advancements can be sleeved into cards in your hand at any time with one specific rule: only one of each type of advancement (corresponding to the four different colored gems at the bottom of the card) can ever be sleeved in any given card. Sleeving advancements are free, but if you play a card with an ability and want to use it, you must pay the appropriate number of favor tokens. If you don't use the ability, you instead get a favor token.

Gameplay works like a standard ladder-climbing game, with the first player determining the number of cards that each player must play for that trick. By default, the next person must play cards that have a higher value (e.g. four 7s following four 4s), but there are effects that can switch it to descending value. You can pass at any time and when all players have passed, whoever was the last to play cards wins the trick and gets to start a new one. In a 2P game, the round simply ends when someone has played all of their cards. A winner is declared if the first person to run out of cards also currently has 10 or more VP. If no winner is determined, rewards are dealt out. In a 2P game, the winner of the round gets 4VP and two advancements. The loser loses 1VP (or goes down to 9 if they had more than 10) and gains 2 advancements and 1 favor. All cards are collected to form the deck and a new round starts.

We found this game to be fairly light, but still fun and silly in a good way. It's really entertaining to see how the deck evolves over time - not just because some of the advancements are silly (e.g. a hotdog weapon that gives -1 strength!), but also because cards can get crazy high values and some values can drop out of the game entirely because of how the cards have changed. There's certainly some luck (in advancement draw and card draw), but I'd still consider it a tactical game. You have to figure out how to best use the cards you were dealt and when to use your advancements to shift the trick into your favor. I enjoy ladder-climbing games as well as the one other card-crafting game I've played (Mystic Value), so this did well by me. It's not my most favorite card game (there's so many great ones out there), but it's one I'd be happy to play pretty much any time - especially if I'm with people who can enjoy the absurdity the game has to offer.



Machi Koro - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2012

Comments: We had a couple of game nights this month. For one of them, one of our friends brought over Machi Koro, which I had never played. It's a nice light little game and our friend mentioned that it played much better with 4P than with 2P (he and his girlfriend had been playing it of late). I enjoyed playing and would certainly play if someone wanted to play it, but it's not one that I would actively seek out. Happy to have finally tried it out, though.







== NEW EXPANSIONS ==


Fields of Arle: Tea & Trade - 2 plays -  8.5 
First Published 2017

Comments: I adore Fields of Arle. It's one of my very favorite eurogames, so when I heard about the expansion (which had TEA!), I knew I had to have it. I pre-ordered it months in advance and it arrived here a few days after it released. Tea & Trade adds in components and rules for a third player (blue), more buildings, four new worker actions with one new tool bench, ships (fishcutters and trading ships), ditches, and (of course) tea. It integrates seamlessly with the base game, adding a few more rules, but little in the way of complexity.

We played two times this month. In one game, I focused on getting some ships early on and ended up I really liking the extra food that fishcutters afforded me as well as the advantageous trades that the trading ships let me make. In the same game, Tyler took advantage of the ditches which enabled him to drain his bogged land without having to use the normal dehydrate worker action very much and later allowed him to breed sheep on those spots as if they were stalls. In both of our games, we both made ample use of tea, sometimes using it to temporarily upgrade our tool benches for particular actions (one step higher with tea, two steps higher with upgraded Frisian tea) and sometimes using two Frisian tea to take a selected action twice in a row.

I loved this expansion as it added a lot more choices and paths to pursue without adding much in the way of complexity. It feels like the expansion allows players to get more done in a game (thanks to tea, ships, and the new actions), but since there's now more things players want to do, the balance seems preserved. While I would still be happy to play the base game (and would certainly leave out the expansion if teaching it to new players), I feel fairly certain that most of our plays from here on out will include Tea & Trade. It's a really great expansion, if not strictly essential (but mostly because Fields of Arle is such an amazing game on its own!).

Vast: The Fearsome Foes - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2018
Vast: The Crystal Caverns - Bonus Cards - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2018

Comments: At the very end of this month, we set up another game day to play Vast: the Crystal Caverns with our two friends. While Tyler and I have played in the past, this was both our first time playing with 4P and playing with the Vast: The Fearsome Foes expansion, Vast Miniatures, and Vast: The Crystal Caverns – Bonus Cards.

Tyler played the Knight, I played the Unicorn (who stands in for the Dragon), and our other two friends play the Cave and the Goblins. If you've never played Vast before, it's a highly asymmetric game (and I looooove asymmetric games!). In our game, the Knight was trying to kill the Unicorn, the Goblins were trying to kill the Knight, the Unicorn was trying to pick up treasure, mark crystals, and attack the Knight and Goblins while it was super angry, and the Cave was trying to make the game last long enough to collapse in on them all. I thought the Unicorn was super fun with his erratic movement (he's the only piece where his facing matters!) which was dictated by a hand of cards I drew each turn. My goals were simple, but the way I went about doing them was extremely tactical. As my radiance grew (through picking up treasure, marking crystals, and attacking Knight/Goblins while at 3 Anger), I was able to move those cubes from my Radiance track onto my upgrade spaces, giving me more flexibility. It was a blast.

I ended up winning our game mostly due to the Cave being too hard on the Knight. It kept placing treasures in the darkness in places she didn't want to go which were prime territory for me to go charging/teleporting into. The other players had certainly made headway on their own win conditions by the time I won, though, making the game interesting and engaging for everyone. The whole gang had a really good time and I hope we can play again sometime!


Concordia: Aegyptus et Creta - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2017

Comments: This month, we broke out the new Concordia map I'd given Tyler for Christmas and played on the Creta side. Concordia is one of Tyler's very favorite games and it's one that I also always enjoy playing. The Creta map is a smaller map (with a fairly long and narrow structure) with 9 territories. One of these territories only has one city space and when a player produces in that territory, they get to choose which good they want to produce there.

The Aegyptus/Creta expansion board also comes with an extra mat for the cards you buy with the Senator action card. One side of this mat is the standard buying queue (with Cloth being used for some of the further along spaces). The other side is an alternate buying queue with a mix of Cloth and Wine. We played with the alternate side and enjoyed the variety it added. It made Wine feel a bit more valuable (and Cloth a bit less overwhelmingly strong), which was nice.

The Creta map was a very nice 2P experience, but I think our favorite 2P map so far is still Brittania. I don't believe there's a dud map for Concordia out there, though! They're all great!



Viticulture: Moor Visitors Expansion - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2016
Tuscany: Special Worker Promo Cards - 1 play -  7.8 
First Published 2016

Comments: We’ve played a few games of Viticulture: EE (with and without Tuscany) in the past, but this time was our first time playing with the Moor Visitors expansion and the Tuscany Special Worker Promo Cards. Viticulture is always a lovely time and playing with the extended board in Tuscany is my favorite way to play it. For our play with these two new-to-us expansion, we used all the modules from Tuscany: EE, but did not do point-scoring for the stars (which is what's recommended for 2P). For our two special workers we used two from the promo pack: the Storyteller and the Builder. We both got a lot of use out of the Builder (discounts building costs of structures when placed). Tyler also recruited a Storyteller, which was interesting, but perhaps not as advantageous as she at first seemed (one or two times I actually benefited from him placing the Storyteller). The Moor Visitors expansion added in many more summer and winter visitors, which increased the variety. I liked the ones we came across (my favorite was the Grape Thief!) and I'm very happy to have incorporated them into the game.

The Legend of Korra: Pro-bending Arena - Amon’s Invasion - 1 play -  7.8 
First Published 2018

Comments: For our fourth game of LOK: Pro-bending Arena, we tried out the co-op mode found in the Amon’s Invasion expansion (it’s one of the three modules included). This mode uses the same core idea of the base game, but twists around certain mechanisms and modifies the game set-up. In the co-op mode, two players each take on a role of a pro-bending team. For a standard team, players will only be able to field two benders, while a solo bender team functions the same as it does in the competitive mode.

The players are under a time crunch to defeat Amon and his 4 Equalist minions. Players will have to land hits on Amon three times during the game, and the third time there must be no Equalists left in the arena. On the enemy turn, Amon and the Equalists will each draw a card, throwing down martial arts tokens and trying to move towards their targets. Unlike in the competitive mode, benders and Amon's forces can cross zones and even enter each other's spaces. While the Equalists get knocked back as normal with elemental hits, benders instead lose cards from their strategy row and deck when hit. If all their cards have been removed, they're out of the game. Amon also has some cards with the "remove bending" ability which can also take characters out of the game for good.

It took us a few rounds to wrap our head around this mode, but once we got the hang of it, it wasn't so complicated. This was a really challenging mode and for a lot of the game we didn't think we were going to be able to win. Towards the end, though, we managed to pull it together and sneak in a win! It was a great time and I'll happily play both competitive or co-op modes in the future.

Dream Home: 156 Sunny Street - 2 plays -  7.8 
First Published 2017
Dream Home: Promo Tokens - Christmas Tree - 1 plays -  7.5 
First Published 2016

Comments: We've played and enjoyed Dream Home in the past, but this was the first time we've played with the Sunny Street expansion and the Christmas tree promos. Sunny Street adds enough components to play with up to 6 players, a solo mode, and two modules: Family & Friends and Construction Plans.

Family & Friends had us deal out 4 special cards. These cards depict a certain combination of rooms on a floor (e.g. a living room and a bathroom). At any time on your turn, you can claim one of these cards (order of rooms doesn't matter) to give you bonus points at the end of the game. You can only claim one of these cards per upper floor in a game. The Construction Plans cards come in two types: 3-point plans and 5-point plans. At the beginning of the game, players are dealt one of each. These give you specific objectives you can shoot for during the game, such as "No garages or playrooms." At the end of the game, you score the highest scoring plan you managed to fulfill.

We enjoyed these two modules a lot. They added some more things to consider while you're building your house without making the game any heavier or more complex. Even with only two players, we got to take advantage of some of the new cards added in this expansion as well. There is a new recommended way to play the game 2P where you take out one set of roof cards and add in 7 of the new utility cards randomly. It's nice to see new utility cards in the game, so I was happy to see we could use these cards.

The Christmas tree promo was fun, offering yet another new option. On your turn, you can choose to discard the utility card you drafted and instead pick one of the four Christmas trees (worth 1-4 points). The only restriction is that you must place it in a room that's size 2-3.

I also had a chance to play the solo mode once. It uses the Construction Plans module by default and makes some slight changes to the card decks. If you take the column that contains the first player token, you instead get a choice between a couple of workers (that are set aside at the start of the game) and one of each construction plan. Unlike in the multiplayer game, you can score multiple construction plans in the solo mode. Even though you’re simply trying to score as high as possible, I had a lot of fun with this mode. Being able to fulfil multiple construction plans make the solo mode a lot more puzzley, which is enjoyable for me.

Taken all together, Dream Home is even better! It's still a simple game, but there are more choices in how you want to build your home.


Note: Thanks to Grimwold for his New to You Tool which helped me generate my list.
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20. Board Game: Metropolys [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:636]
Tilou
France
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== NEW GAMES ==



Metropolys - 2 plays -  8 
First Published 2008


Great game. Auction game with a twist. Simple, interactive, filled with tough decisions.



Sheriff of Nottingham - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2014


Not sure yet about this one. Cautiously optimistic.



Amun-Re: The Card Game - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017


I prefer the board version but it has its own distinct character. A very good game.


Vast: The Crystal Caverns - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2016


Too many rules. I was warned about that first game, but still, too many rules hinder the enjoyment.



Photosynthesis - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017


Nice idea and components but too long and repetitive.



SteamRollers - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2015


Not sure yet about this one. Seemed quite bland but you probably need one game to understand the pace of this racing game. Want to replay.
Edit: Played again, this time with the walls on the map and the contracts. It was much better. Competitive and tense. Good game.
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21. Board Game: The 7th Continent [Average Rating:8.74 Overall Rank:16]
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Oh my goodness, what a month! So hard to pick just one, I liked so much of what I played this month. Not a single "meh" game among them, such a happy gaming month.

== NEW GAMES ==

The 7th Continent - 2 plays -  9 
First Published 2017

This is our current "Easter Weekend Game". We started on Good Friday, continued yesterday and will setup the next game (we have to restart as we died yesterday blush ) later today. There was currently no talk about playing something else over Easter, so that qualifies for first spot of the month!
The rest I'll put in spoiler tags:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
In retrospect, we probably dawdled around on the Tutorial island for far too long. We were already at less than 50% of the action deck when we made it off the island. We used the raft (because we hadn't found the second gear for the submarine, although I have a very strong suspicion where it is), so we ended up on the north-eastern shore of the mainland. I suspect this isn't too bad, because we skipped almost half the map, but we were incredibly unlucky with the fishing spot and had severely underestimated the usefulness of fire. So we spent a lot of actions (and cards) on setting things up that we should have set up a lot earlier, but at least we made it across the Gorge. There we had depleted our action deck and the very first card we drew off the discard was a curse. Duh. So armed with that knowledge, we will try again!




The City of Kings - 1 play -  8.5 
First Published 2018

Before 7th Continent came along we played one game of this box chock-full of Andorian puzzle-y coop goodness. Almost played a second game on Sunday with the game group, but something else came up instead (see below). This game is less of a dungeon crawler, although it is made up to look almost like one. For one, you're not in a dungeon, but only walk around on a world map, but let's not mince words here. I said "Andorian" above, because it very much reminded me of Legends of Andor, with a lot more meat on its bone.
The game is less about "Let's beat up some monsters and see what happens in the next room!" and more about "Let's beat up the important monsters at the right time, with the right equipment, with the right skill setup." I like this approach, it also reminds me pleasantly of my old World of Warcraft raiding days, in that you have to assign your skill focus very strategically (main jobs being tank, damage dealer, healer, ressource gatherer) and then stick to the plan otherwise you will be crushed. Thus, the very puzzle-y nature. I also like that the Luck die is always good: You never get punished for using it, at worst it doesn't do anything, but it never does you in. Great game, that I definitely want to explore more!


The World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2018

I love Steampunk. I love the quirky miniatures they put out for the earlier games of the Smog franchise. And I love the ones they put out for this one, as well. So, I backed this one all-in, without bothering too much about the gameplay. I'm so glad, I did. We only played the first chapter and interlude, so far, because I'd really like to get some paint on the figures before going on. (Although my huge Backlog doesn't bode well for that...)
I played the Nemesis and my SO played the Gentlemen (I'm always the bad guy in our games^^ ). And we both had a blast. The end result looked a lot more decisive for the Gentlemen, than it really was, because I almost managed to trap the Damsel with fire, then almost managed to corner her with my agent. Both these turns could have given me the win, but she managed to slip through both times (I probably should have placed my agents the other way round). Exciting game, of course there's a lot of die-rolling, but that was fun, too. I like a lot of the mechanics in this game and after our first play, I'd say this is my favourite 1-vs-many game so far (although, in honesty, I've only played MoM 1E and Imperial Assault to compare it with, so that's not a large sample admittedly).


Codenames Duett - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2017

What's better than Codenames? Codenames you can play with 2! Why? Because we get to play in larger groups by far not often enough. We won 3 of our 4 games (one in sudden death), so we'll move on to the next mission next time. I think this will accompany us on our vacation to Finland this year.


Space Race: The Card Game - 1 play -  7.5 
First Published 2017

I backed the Kickstarter for the expansion and they delivered the base game already. Nice touch. It's a card game engine builder with one of our favourite themes (realistic space exploration). On top of that, it plays reasonably fast and I dig the art style. Also, this is one of the few games where I managed to win our first game! So it has that going for it, as well. Another candidate for a vacation game, because it comes in a really small box.


Unlock! Escape Adventures - 3 plays
First Published 2017

I didn't expect much of this, to be honest. I brought City of Kings to our game night instead, but alas, Unlock! was chosen cry. And I was actually very pleasantly surprised! We played through all of the adventures and solved everything in the given time, except for the last one, where we were about 3 minutes overdue. I think I liked the one in the lab best, but also the last one, where you had to escape from the island was very good. It was interesting to see, that everyone's brain works slightly different and puzzles one person could not fathom at all, were easily solved by another player. We were 4 players and I guess that's the sweet spot for this game. With more it will be harder to make out the cards for everyone, with less it gets successively tougher to solve for the aformentioned reason. Surprise game of the month!


Arcane Academy - 1 play
First Published 2016

I'd never heard of this game, before a friend brought it over for game night. And it's cool. It has engine building (which I like anyway), the art is nice and the downtime (at least with 3 players) is very low. I almost managed to eke out a win, but my SO ended the game one turn too early for me, so I had to be content with second spot angry. Would happily play again!
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22. Board Game: Alien Artifacts [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1534]
C&H Schmidt
Germany
Heidelberg
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Hardback
Owned, 3 plays so far (2 solo)
I already own and love Paperback, and I am happy to report that Hardback actually plays very differently from its predecessor, so for me it is definitely worth to own both. I don't think I can say right now which one I like better. I can say that the Ink push-your-luck mechanism in Hardback introduces an amount of thrill and excitement that is not present in Paperback, whereas in Paperback there is a clearer sense of being able to ramp up your money and your purchases, since cards of all prices are available in the market at all times.
I have played the game twice solo and once with the full player count of 5. The solo version is not amazing in my opinion, but the multiplayer game is. One of the main advantages of both Hardback and Paperback is that there is no downtime: As soon as your turn is done, you can get to work on your next word.
I don't think everybody wants to own both word-building deckbuilders, but I would not hesitate to recommend either one to anybody.

Alien Artifacts
Owned, 1 play so far (2-player)
I picked this as the game for this Geeklist item because it is so unlike anything I own. I am immensely intrigued by the engine-building and the interesting cardplay of this game.
I do think that it has some mechanical weaknesses -- which resources you draw can totally ruin or make your turn, which feels a bit swingy -- but right now this is compensated by how cool I find the various card and mechanical interactions.
I got this used pretty much at a bargain price, and I'd have to play it more to be able to say whether it would be worth it at MSRP, but I'm happy I got it.

Fog of Love
Owned, 1 play so far
Like the previous entry, this game resides with my partner in a different country than me, so I've only gotten one play in so far, the introductory scenario "Saturday morning date" (or is it Sunday?).
This is very different from most games, in that almost all the fun is in the roleplaying of a relationship, and storytelling how the relationship develops. For people who only focus on the mechanisms, this is probably too dry and boring.
I don't think I can judge this after one play, all I can say is that I am intrigued to play it more.

Sagrada
Not owned, 2 plays so far
This is a fairly light and pleasant (at least in the way we played; I'm sure you can be meaner) dice-drafting game that looks gorgeous.
It is not something I need to buy, but I'm absolutely willing to play when somebody suggests it.
The main decisions are about trying to do well at your secret objective, as well as doing at least something towards the public goals, without building yourself into a corner where certain spaces can't be filled, and ideally while taking good dice away from your opponents. But that makes it sound harder than it is.

Century: Spice Road
Not owned, 1 play so far
Clever and intriguing engine-builder with very simple rules. I am 100% willing to play this again, and, since everybody makes this comparison, I way prefer it over Splendor.
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23. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: Expedition – Endurance [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked]
Wim Verwerft
Belgium
Berlaar
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== NEW GAMES ==

Ferali - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2016




Aeon's End: War Eternal - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017




== NEW EXPANSIONS ==

T.I.M.E Stories: Expedition – Endurance -  10 
First Published 2017



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24. Board Game: Kemet [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:77]
Frederic Heath-Renn
United Kingdom
London
London
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Quite a quiet month - a number of plans fell through due to terrible weather or the general churn of life. Still some new stuff to discuss though:

Yavalax (1* play) - Interesting from the rules but we didn't really give it a fair trial; played it on too small a board (only one available to us) and, er, I played in a rather dazed and ultradefensive style for the first half of the game before realising what you were actually meant to do. So, one to come back to.

Fugo (2 plays) - To be honest I think I might be quite alright for Go variants now thanks.

Paco Ŝako (2 plays) - Interesting in concept and with lovely components; requires too much of a Chess mind still for me to be any good at it but it's enjoyable quirky.

Themiscyra (2 plays) - I don't remember anything about this one without looking it up (which may not be a fault of the game so much as the name). But I did actually find it interesting, it takes a while to get going due to the massively free movement at the start of the game but its quirks make it different enough from standard Amazons to deserve to exist and finely-tuned battles still end up emerging in the midgame.

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King (1 play) - I like Carcassonne a lot; this isn't really all that much like Carcassonne, I'd argue: the board layout is much less important, more on par with Keyflower, and most of the game is in the market, the pseudo I-cut-you-choose of the pricing of tiles. It's massively quick-playing due to the low number of actions in each round, and certainly doesn't outstay its welcome; I don't feel the urge to rush out and get it but I could see myself sitting down to it again, perhaps finding it more intriguing with more play.

But due to sunk cost of time investment as much as anything my new game of the month is Kemet (1 play) - I've played Cyclades before which is kind of similar but Kemet is its own beast, much more based around attacking, and with a rather intimidating market of every tile ever to get to grips with right at the start of the game. I often take against games such as Trickerion: Legends of Illusion in which one has to have a plan in mind right from the first turn (or before the first turn in that game's case!) and stick to it; the flurry of tile-buying at the start of Kemet is fortunately not quite the same thing, since all the tiles are in some way useful, and the multiplayer dynamics of battles mean that the area control isn't quite the sort of dry area control that I also take against. I still wouldn't describe it as a favourite, but Kemet was worth playing and I'd play it again.
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25. Board Game: Letnisko [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:3781]
Robert
Canada
Ottawa
ON
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A lot of lighter fare this last month

Letnisko - 1 play
First Published 2013


Letnisko's not for everyone, but it's definitely a good fit for us. The nostalgic setting is evocative, not banal. Mechanisms include a couple of interesting look ahead aspects, a healthy dose of engine building, and a limited (and limiting) economy. The art is pretty good but I wish illustrations from Andriolli or one of his contemporaries had been used somewhere in the game.



Table Battles - 1 play
First Published 2017


Table Battles is odd much in the same way that Tom Russell's other games are, and the game should/will be played a few more times for a more accurate assessment. These battle scenarios present broad, impressionistic brushstrokes that wrap up in a few minutes. There are rules that are easy to overlook--we certainly did that--and that added to my partner's dissatisfaction. I understand the decision not to include a little more context (AKA flavour) for these battles, but I still wish it were different.



Krakatoa - 1 play
First Published 1983


Krakatoa is a delight--like a tabletop bowling game. Playing with the original rules is necessary.



Tchu Tchu Train - 1 play
First Published 2013


Tchu Tchu Train is a family game with some subtle strategy like Gary Kim's more well known Tales & Games: The Hare and the Tortoise. It's a little surprising that this is a print and play.



Medina - 1 play
First Published


Medina is definitely something that I want to play again since it seems like the type of game that reveals its depths with familiarity. We learned this at a con, and now I've got my eyes open for a trade.



Sergeant Major - 1 play
First Published 0


A friend of ours taught us 9-5-2/Sergeant Major while we waited for a fourth player to arrive. Perfect for that moment.



Junk Art - 1 play
First Published 2016


New friend mashpotassium Marina taught us Junk Art and Zendo at Breakout in Toronto. Junk Art definitely had the most laughs of the games we played that day.



Zendo - 1 play
First Published 2001


I really enjoyed Zendo, but this is the type of game that I would want to play with my students or our children. They, on the other hand, would likely have zero interest in this abstract inductive reasoning game.



Tombouctou - 1 play
First Published 1993


Like other Dirk Henn games, Tombouctou takes too long to play and comes in a box four times too big. I understand why people have nicknamed it "Camel Homework", and my son hated it so much that he left in tears after the first round. However, I love deduction games, and when we started scoring, the realization that the commodities fluctuate in price according to their availability pushed it from good to great for me.



(Futurama cards photo by Hobbespm)
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