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Subject: First impressions concerning mainly the solo - a devastating disappointment rss

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Timo Kandolin
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Okey, I've now played 3 games of Arkham LCG (2 solo, 1 2-player) and I want to see if anyone else has felt like me since the game seems to really get positive reviews.
I might still have missed some rules or something, so I'd also like to see other opinions because of that.

For background, I've played all the Mythos-games (Arkham, Eldritch etc) and a lot of LOTR lcg, netrunner and magic. I was superinterested in this game thinking this could work where LOTR lcg fails (solo with only 1 deck)


But let's start with the good parts :

1. The game has nice ideas for deckbuilding with xp, personal traumas and weaknesses and basically replacing dice with a chaos bag
2. Narrative experience is pretty nice
3. Sense of place is there with locations and their connections
4. A campaign mode and the possibility of different outcomes to a scenario
5. Ability to use actions to draw a card or gain resources


But now on to my disappointments :

1. NO deckbuilding possible with 1 core, not even for only 1 deck. In fact, if you wanted certain characters for 2-player (like Roland and Daisy for example) you'd basically need 3-4 cores to really have all the possible cards available to each 2-player deck! Sure, with only 2 cores you can do some deckbuilding, but still this seems ugly with only 1 of each card in a core box. And when you buy 2-3 cores, over half of the box contents are totally useless to you...

2. Solo just doesn't work (atleast without more cardpool) especially with certain characters. (like Daisy, which I played in my solo games, she sucks in both combat AND evade) You can easily end up getting to a situation where you are engaged with 2 enemies you have no hope of evading OR killing no matter how many cards you discard etc, and if you do anything else, you are dead anyway. Kind of a lock-situation, which I hate in games. In my 2nd solo game (scenario 2) this happened on turn 2-3 with no way out other than resign.

3. When playing 2 decks you quickly notice the choice of characters is very limited. Basically the first character means the other can be only one of 1-2 characters.

4. Swingy. Again, having only 1 core really emphasizes this problem, but if I just don't draw my gun or the main thing my guy wants to do, I'm basically hosed. Sure, you can draw cards in this game, which I really like, but if you are already in that lock I talked about, that means damage every time. Also, if you just happen to draw an enemy from the mythos deck for the first 3 turns and your character is not combat oriented, you are just dead.

5 Components are otherwise great, but where is the bag for the chaos bag? And I would've also liked to see some tokens or something to use for counting your actions.

6. I kind of like the idea of the weaknesses, but they make another frustration factor to a game, where your deck is the only thing that can help you out of a lock.
Just last game I used an action to hopefully find an answer, only to find my weakness and thus YET ANOTHER enemy to fight!
Sure, this is Mythos and should be desperate and it makes thematic sense, but I still want to have fun playing the game itself!
Not being locked in place and pounded on.
I was doing the thing that should help me, but it ended up sealing my game! So it really felt like a random chance just decided I lost despite me trying my best to solve my situation.
Failing an attack roll with dice or drawing a bad card for example would've been much less annoying.
I really don't mind a game being hard and losing (I just recently played 16 games of Onirim with 2 expansions in a few days winning only once! And it took 6 games to beat a legend in Legends of Andor)
But I had fun the whole time, even when I kept on losing, since each time I felt I learnt something and could do better choices next time or try something different)

7 The campaign. Yes, this is also a positive, but it also means that the narrative is at it's best only the first time through, which is not a huge problem to me.
The main problem is that you really need to buy a lot for this game. Let's say I want to play the full next campaign, that means 1 deluxe and 6 mythos packs, which is around $120 or so for 1 campaign shake Imperial assault suddenly seems very cheap


Not sure If I'm forgetting something, but what are your opinions? What am I missing since I really want to like the game and really enjoy Arkham games and deckbuilding. This basically feels a bit like Mansions of Madness 2nd edition, but that game is just leaps and bounds better and I really love it. Mansions is also very hard, but it's also always fun.


UPDATE! 24.11.2016

I've now played a total of 8 games and I can update my first impressions a bit, since this review got pretty hot

First of all, I played through a campaign with Roland solo with 1 core. First scenario was rather easy actually (standard difficulty).
2nd scenario went ok, but not well, and 3rd I just "lost" I guess.

I stick mostly to my original feelings, but I can tell you that solo with Roland was a lot better. Still, with 1 core I can't say I really enjoyed it.

2-players, 2 cores!
Just today my friend came over with his core-set and we started a campaign together, building decks for us from 2 cores. We used Roland and Agnes and played through scenarios 1 and 2 today.

First, there was deckbuilding now! I actually got to do some real decisions this time around and could focus on certain things, while my friend focused on others and we tried to cover different situations together. I went pretty even on Mystic/Survivor and my friend only got a few cards from his second color Seeker, focusing mainly on Guardian.

We played on standard and actually did very well on both scenarios, "winning" the first, and accomplished most of the goals on the 2nd.

I can definately say the game is a LOT better with 2 core sets. We even enjoyed the game at most times, although some of my first concerns were still around, so not jumping out of joy here yet, but also not selling my copy right now.

Deckbuilding is available, characters actually now have a deck full of cards you'd want in and they work a lot more consistently, thus allowing you to focus on the things you do best and on the story. Also, this helps to mitigate the swinginess I talked about and now the cards seem to actually have some synergy, which was pretty nonexistent with 1 core.

I especially started to enjoy and "feel" our characters a lot more now, since the cards and cardtypes that personify them were actually around often! I was a mean spell-casting-horror-machine when I got things set up and I kept wounding opponents for Roland to finish off and get clues for free etc. My friend as Roland was a tank steamrolling everything with the police force in his pocket and a lot of ammo. Cool stuff!

We might get Dunwich together with my friend and see if we'll keep enjoying the game as 2-player game, since I'm still not too keen on playing it solo. Although I probably want to try it at some point if I can use cards of 2 cores.

Jury is still out for the final verdict, and I still can't understand why FFG didn't print 2 copies of the colored cards, what, 50 more cards? Miskatonic Horror is the same price here for example and it has a lot more cards than one core of Arkham LCG. Then 1 core would be good for 1-2 and 2 would be enough for 3-4 in most cases.
But I digress, what's done is done and I can't change it.

If you don't mind getting 2 coresets (or wait until you can get atleast the first deluxe also), this is not a bad game!
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Jonatan Rueløkke
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Ok ill try to answer your points in the following way

1-4: All these points are totally valid and i would say that this game needs expansions or that second core set, for anyone that doesnt want to just play it as a quick one off experience. You would like to deckbuild? Well for that get that second core set. I can easily tell that any investigator will feel significantly better with a built up deck.

2: Daisy is the worst solo character in the core set. Especially with just one core set. With 2 core sets any investigator can complete the campaign solo on standard, but it is very hard with daisy compared to the rest. With 1 core set i would say you should go with Skids, Wendy or Roland.

4: With 2 core sets this gets less of a problem yes, but even with 1 set, remember you do have the option to mulligan your hand in the start, and furthermore the start of the mission should be used to setup, so you do not get dragged down by things later on.

5: Well yes they could have added a bag, but compared to dice masters that adds a paper bag that is so bad it breaks after 1 play, id rather they just say. "Go buy the bag seperate"

6: Once you get the strategy of building up more early on and THEN advance through the campaign, you will quickly realise that the weaknesses are gut punching annoying, but that will be much better when you are actually doing better in the scenario itself

7: Yes that is alot of money but for me (played the core campaign like 30 times already) that will give me alot of play for my money

In general from my answers you can hear that i love the game. But i also bought 2 core sets. In part because of the deckbuilding and in part because once the expansions gets rolling, my OCD cannot handle that i have 2 copies of most cards but only 1 of the core cards.

If you have Tabletop Simulator try the game with a built deck from 2 core sets.
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Jeff Kayati
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Disappointments 1-4 & 6 would all be alleviated by purchasing a second core. However, that just compounds Disappointment 7.

This just may not be the game system for you.
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Timo Kandolin
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Thank you both for great answers, just what I was looking for. I'm going to try again with Wendy or Roland today and see if I've learned from my mistakes.
I know I probably moved on too fast earlier and was going to try and "setup" my character better next time, but thanks for confirming that. Two of my friends also have a core already, so I think I'll try combining cards with them and see what comes
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Tom Eklund
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This game is incredibly overhyped. Even if you love it, it's something you can finish in several hours. Then you can wait for expansions.
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Fruit Eating Bear
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I agree. I was so looking forward to this game, being an FFG/Arkham nut, but I'm afraid I have already sold mine on. The base set is, for my way of thinking at least, poor value for money and doesn't show the game off in a good enough light for me to want to commit to its future. I don't want to rag on it because there are lots of happy purchasers, but it's not for me.
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Christian Kløve
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Azikin wrote:
This game is incredibly overhyped. Even if you love it, it's something you can finish in several hours. Then you can wait for expansions.


Or you can play it again with different investigators or with the same investigators, but a different deck composition, or with another player count. If you feel it's better for you, feel free to wait for the expansions before playing again, but there is more replayability in the game than that.
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Christian Kløve
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Fruit Eating Bear wrote:
I agree. I was so looking forward to this game, being an FFG/Arkham nut, but I'm afraid I have already sold mine on. The base set is, for my way of thinking at least, poor value for money and doesn't show the game off in a good enough light for me to want to commit to its future. I don't want to rag on it because there are lots of happy purchasers, but it's not for me.


I am sorry that you didn't end up liking the game, but then no game is for everyone - hopefully whoever bought it will end up enjoying it more.
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Mark K.
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Thanks for the review. How would you compare the depth of play with LotR LCG?
 
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Joel Carr
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I understand the OP. the deckbuilding is severely limited currently, and deckbuilding is how you shore up weaknesses... that said i had similar issues with LOtR.. i ended up with 2 cores and will likely play 2 fisted as the card support does not seem to be there yet for true solo with the core toons
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It is definitely winnable solo. I agree that two cores are important if you want to do deck building and would add that this has been the case with every LCG and the original Game of Thrones you needed 4 if you wanted to be competitive.

In terms of replay value. LotR and this game share quite a bit and I felt like LotR had more replay value out of the box. There were more generic weapons and allies that beefed up the other heroes. My gripe with this starter set is that the card pool for investigators just sucks. There's nothing interesting at all. Everything is vanilla and they aren't hinting at fun combos or investigator synergies in the way that the LotR core did.

That said, there is plenty of game in the core box. The first big box expansion will be here before Christmas which is a SIGNIFICANTLY shorter wait than most LCGs to get new content from the time the core box is released.

Always reserve judgment until the first "cycle" has been released for these things. You typically get a complicating rule that adds greater depth, a great card pool, and the themes of the various factions, heroes, or investigators is revealed.
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Milen Krastev
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Finished the campaign solo with single core set. Couldn't kill the boss, but pushed Lita to finish it. Solo works!
Now will try with different investigators.
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Joel Carr
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Good to hear about solo... did you begin with the canned decks, or build one?
 
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Milen Krastev
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B Wumpus wrote:
Good to hear about solo... did you begin with the canned decks, or build one?


Did it with Guardian suggested deck.
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mathew rynich
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I solo-ed the whole thing with Wendy building a 2 core deck. Got through the first two scenarios reasonably well with a 2 core Agnes deck. I usually play with other people though. Daisy is actually a really powerful character considering how important investigation and card draw is in this game. She's just going to be tough to play solo unless you get your Scrying out early and make sure she doesn't get bogged down with enemies.

I don't think all the investigators should be created equal. I love Daisy's design. If every investigator could be built to do everything then this would be a significantly less interesting game.

The majority of your issues it seems would either be fixed with a second core or when the card pool has matured more and we have many more cards and investigators. Dunwich will be here soon so that day isn't that far off.

Also this is another example of this game drawing in new players. Not just old LCG enthusiasts. That's great because FFG has really done a good job making this game appeal to a larger audience. It's bad though because lots of these more negative impressions really seems to highlight hallmarks of the LCG model. It's going to be expensive because it's at it's hear t a collectible card game and not a boxed game. Therefore if you just play with the single core set the experience will be very limited.
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Jonatan Rueløkke
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I totally agree that it's amazing that not every investigator can do anything is great about the game. However when a player says hes dissapointed about the game solo because he tried with Daisy 1 core, i understand since thats a tough nut to crack. Therefore the recommendation. I personally like daisy especially in a coop play, but i must admit i like all investigators except maybe Roland (A bit too straight forward so far for my taste)

And yes the Scrying to keep away enemies, and then Shriveling + Blinding Light + Mind over Matter to take out the really strong and important enemies is essential.
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Timo Kandolin
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der_mandarin wrote:
Thanks for the review. How would you compare the depth of play with LotR LCG?


So far I'd say LOTR LCG is deeper with more layers and choices, even with just 1 core you can actually do some limited deckbuilding and choose your heroes and thus the spheres. I can't really comment on what's the situation in a year or two.


I just actually played again with Roland solo ("built" my own deck and managed to beat the first scenario, so it is definately winnable. I did have a bit more fun, but most of the underlying problems for me were still around. I will try to combine cards with my friend's core for better deckbuilding soon.

I can totally agree that not all characters should be created equal and I did enjoy Daisy's idea, but when you put players 1-4 in a box that should mean that you can actually play with any of them and have a reasonable chance to succeed in some way!


Oh and I understand the LCG-format and it's limited value as a 1-of, but we really shouldn't give too much slack in my opinion by just saying "it's an lcg, buy more".

If you pay 40-50$ for 1 core box and you have a very limited game, I don't think that should be "expected and ok". I can get most full games with that price.
For example, let's compare to the "hated" CCG:s just quickly. I can get roughly 20 boosters of MTG with the same price. That means 300 cards, of 5 colors and I can tell you, with that amount you can do some heavy deckbuilding and play a lot!

And further, compared to other LCG:s, for example in the Android Netrunner core set you had 3 runners and 4 corporations and you could play any combination of those against each other, so even though deckbuilding was thin in the core set, there was definately nice amount of game in the core box itself.


Anyway, glad that people are enjoying the game and hope I like it better with 2 cores also. Happy gaming everyone!
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Kelly B
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This point may have been touched on before and I apologize if so. I am certainly not saying anyone is wrong for having the opinion that the game needs deck construction options out of the base set. You are welcome to have that desire.

The base set doesn't advertise that it supports deck construction. In fact it says with expansions deck construction will be possible. It is we, the gamer, who are assuming that because it is a card game then deck construction out of the box is a requirement.

This is the first release of a new card game. The breadth of play (five investigators) is balanced by lack of deck building options. If you really, really hunger for deck building and mucking about with card interplay then try abandoning the deck building rules. Build a character with 3 classes of cards of your choosing. Nothing is stopping you.

As it stands, deck construction is not part of this game out of the box, it was never sold as having it. It would be like complaining that I can't go to Dunwich with the Arkham Horror board game unless I buy the Dunwich expansion. Money grubbing FFG, how dare they! (Bad example, but it is complaining about something not being there that was never meant to be there).

I'm not saying that it isn't worth evaluating a game based on what we expect from them however card games that have allowed for a ton of customization out of a base set are often priced much higher and usually don't carry such a strong narrative. I think it is important to make that last distinction. What AH LCG gives us is a compelling story (something that clearly not everyone agrees on, that is also fine!) and it is supported by a card playing mechanism.

This is one of the big problems with hype. Hype builds unrealistic expectations. It's why I do not read forums for games that I don't have in hand yet.

Again, I'm not saying you are wrong by having the opinions that you have. They are yours and you should be proud of them. I would like, however, others to know that deck construction was NOT part of the game with a single core set. It was never meant to be, it was never sold as such. The core set is a taste of what things will be like for everyone from the casual gamer to the pro. Pros should know by now that if they want to mess about with the system it will require a larger financial investment. I can't recall a card game that this hasn't been true for, except maybe Codex.

Edit and tangent: Take MTG, what about MTG is welcoming to new gamers? Starter Decks, right. How much deck building is available with a starter deck, okay two starter decks. We are now getting close to the cost of AHLCG.
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Kelly B
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TimoNator85 wrote:
der_mandarin wrote:
Thanks for the review. How would you compare the depth of play with LotR LCG?


So far I'd say LOTR LCG is deeper with more layers and choices, even with just 1 core you can actually do some limited deckbuilding and choose your heroes and thus the spheres. I can't really comment on what's the situation in a year or two.


Sorry to snip but I should mention that there were as many players freaking out about how many core sets would I need to buy with LOTR LCG despite the 'broader' deck construction options out of that base set.

To be fair, players had to proxy far fewer cards if they wanted full deck construction options with that game, yet they were just as angry.

Edit and PS: I think you might like it better with two cores. Possibly. It does depend heavily on what you like or don't like about the game out of a single box, however. I myself played a single core dozens of times and am only just now exploring deck construction.

Happy gaming indeed!! We live in amazing times for board gaming.

Edit: another PS just because, I love Finland. My wife is Finnish. Lapland in the winter is so dreamy! I miss being there, such a lovely country.
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Timo Kandolin
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Thanks for your constructive thoughts!

A quick point though

I certainly didn't merely complain about the lack of deckbuilding in my post and I just opened the FFG-site and among the first few paragraphs in explaining the game I found this :

Quote:

You'll have a good measure of freedom in the design of the rest of the deck. You can load it with different gear you might equip, allies that you'd like to accompany you, spells you might cast, weapons to help you battle the strange monsters you encounter, talents you can develop, and events that might grant you valuable momentary advantages. However, no matter which cards you build into your deck, you'll have to remain cognizant of your physical limitations.


You had good points about the expectations vs reality though and that's something people should be aware of especially with this game, but really any LCG in various degrees

Quote:
Edit: another PS just because, I love Finland. My wife is Finnish. Lapland in the winter is so dreamy! I miss being there, such a lovely country.

It's a winter wonderland for sure! This is where the secret santas are from
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Looking around the forums this game is clearly not for people who enjoy a full blown game of Arkham Horror.

Nothing wrong with that.
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Kelly B
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TimoNator85 wrote:
Thanks for your constructive thoughts!

A quick point though

I certainly didn't merely complain about the lack of deckbuilding in my post and I just opened the FFG-site and among the first few paragraphs in explaining the game I found this :

Quote:

You'll have a good measure of freedom in the design of the rest of the deck. You can load it with different gear you might equip, allies that you'd like to accompany you, spells you might cast, weapons to help you battle the strange monsters you encounter, talents you can develop, and events that might grant you valuable momentary advantages. However, no matter which cards you build into your deck, you'll have to remain cognizant of your physical limitations.


You had good points about the expectations vs reality though and that's something people should be aware of especially with this game, but really any LCG in various degrees

Quote:
Edit: another PS just because, I love Finland. My wife is Finnish. Lapland in the winter is so dreamy! I miss being there, such a lovely country.

It's a winter wonderland for sure! This is where the secret santas are from


Thanks so much for directing me to that quote. I went to the top level page for AHLCG and then to the detail page for the core set and I didn't see that. I am assuming that is on the news page which perhaps, in the context, was talking about things beyond the core set?

You are absolutely correct, I was perhaps a bit over zealous in pulling out that single point to contend with!
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Elijah
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Thank you for your post. It's refreshing to hear criticism.

If FFG has touted this game as a RPG-like experience, then it seems to me there should be some better mechanism for easing into difficulty. As a fan of CoC RPG, you don't start your first session taking on difficult things. It's about exploring, gathering clues, building your character and the story. I was hoping this game would accomplish that but until my copies (yes, 2 core sets) arrive today, I won't be able to provide my take on that.

I'd like to see some responses to your points instead of responses to how you might be mistaken or you made some assumptions. After all, we can all love a game but be real about it's faults.
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MC Shudde M'ell
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leroux13 wrote:
Looking around the forums this game is clearly not for people who enjoy a full blown game of Arkham Horror.

Nothing wrong with that.


I totally enjoy a full blown game of Arkham Horror, but I'm not going to clear two tables and a full day to play solitaire at home.
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Jeremie Miller
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I bought this game to solo with one character and I am OK with the fact that it might not be soloable with each character, or at least much harder with some. That allows them to make characters feel different.

Making all characters able to do everything well takes some of the rpg feel out of it I think. I am a long time D&D cleric player so I am used to needing other characters to help I guess

I don't think it's fair to judge the game as bad or missing content based on the lcg model. The style of game is what it is. I don't dislike Terraforming Mars or other euros because they don't have monthly expansions. That isn't how those games work. LCGs are based on growing card pools and expansions, that is how they work.

You can definitely not like the format, but I don't think it is a fair criticism of the game.

Maybe ffg needs to do a clearer job explaining this to new potential gamers.


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