Reviews

These reviews were left by wikweb.

More Eye To Eye

No Review Title

by wikweb

This is a classic "more of the same" expansion--it just adds more cards and more variety without adding more rules. Which is perfect for this game.

12/18/2020

Forgotten Waters

No Review Title

by wikweb

Forgotten Waters is a semi-cooperative campaign-based pirate adventure game. Each turn, players put their pawn on one of a number of actions in the game book that determines what skill checks and rewards (both collective and individual) they might get. Skill checks are done with a d12, which usually results in a number that is entered into an app to reveal a story outcome. In addition to collectively completing the campaign goal, players must individually complete the constellation on their player sheet, which mostly involves completing specific skill checks. So players cooperate to make sure the ship stays sailing, but also try to claim the action spots that help their character the most. Personally, I found the game to be pretty random, not because of the die rolls, but because seemingly good rolls often led to questionable results, and the app obscured what the target roll values were so you never know how close you were to getting a better or worse result. So in, the end, it's more comparable to something like Tales of the Arabian Nights than a real strategy game. Sit back and enjoy the story.(2 plays)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

The Crew is a cooperative trick-taking game featuring four numbered suits plus a four-card trump suit. Each mission (game session) provides a given number of tasks, which represent specific cards that must be taken by a certain player. The Commander (the player with the highest trump card) assigns the tasks to players, but must distribute them evenly. Occasionally, these tasks must be done in a certain order. Play then proceeds like a typical trick-taking game, with limits on communication, and a mission ends as soon as all tasks are complete. The game comes with 50 missions of increasing difficulty. I thought this was a very clever take on the trick-taking genre, as I haven’t seen a coop one before. Missions can definitely get tricky, and experienced trick-takers will have to resort to their bag of tricks to pull it off sometimes. I do wish the game scaled more evenly, instead of just calling out in the rules that it’s harder with more players.(2 plays)

12/17/2020

Fog of Love

No Review Title

by wikweb

Fog of Love is a mostly-cooperative game that simulates a romantic relationship between the two players. The players don't play as themselves, per se, but rather as an amalgam of various features and traits, some of which they choose, others of which are chosen by the other player. Additionally, each player gets a hand of destiny cards that determines their eventual win condition--the hand gets winnowed down as the game proceeds and ends with one card being their destiny. Gameplay proceeds with each player playing from a hand of scene cards, most of which give the other player a choice, and affects the satisfaction level or various personality dimensions for one or both players. The game comes with a number of different scenarios, each having its own set of destiny cards and various other aspects. While it isn't a huge part of the game, there was a bit of roleplay involved (in the form of freeform question answering) that I didn't really like. Aside from that, the game was fairly inoffensive, but it didn't really have the highly strategic elements that I enjoy.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

In Adventure Games: The Dungeon, players move their pawns around a slowly expanding board, interacting with various elements on each board card, and trying to gain new items and unlock new areas while avoiding taking damage. In this way, the players gradually work their way to completing an overarching quest. The game plays very much like computer-based "point-and-click" adventures that were popular in the 1990's and 2000's. For me, while I did have fun, I found the opportunities to stretch my brain and be clever to be somewhat limited. It was more a matter of trying every combination of items and interaction points.(3 plays)

12/17/2020

Hadara

No Review Title

by wikweb

Hadara is a card-drafting game where each card advances you on one of four tracks: income, military, statues, and card capacity. Income helps you buy drafted cards and other bonuses such as medals, card capacity allows you to keep more cards in your tableau, and military and statues allow you to claim colony cards and fill in statue spots at certain thresholds, which can be worth money, track bumps, and points. Bought cards typically provide boosts in one or more tracks, but purple cards could also provide a special ability. Each round is played in two phases--during the first phase players take two cards from a pile and choose one, and in the second phase players draft cards from among the five discard piles from the first phase. Medals can be purchased, which provide point multipliers either for a specific track, or for having sets of all five color cards. While the core mechanics seemed pretty new and interesting, the cards themselves were a bit ho-hum as most did not have any ability beyond boosting tracks. There are definitely multiple ways to excel in the game. I thought the game was pretty fun, but it might get repetitive after multiple plays.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Point Salad

No Review Title

by wikweb

Point Salad is a simple card game where players collect different types of vegetable cards as well as cards that score points depending on which vegetable cards you have. On your turn, you either take two vegetables or one scoring card from the display and add it to your tableau. The scoring cards are actually printed on the back of the vegetables, and vegetables taken are replaced by flipping over the scoring cards--meaning you probably won’t see the same scoring cards from round to round. The game is quick and easy, but still provides opportunities for strategic play. As someone who enjoys set collection in general, I found this to be an enjoyable filler.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Fantastic Factories

No Review Title

by wikweb

Fantastic Factories is a dice-placement engine-building game. Players can place dice on their base board to generate metal or energy, or draw cards. However, these cards can be played to give players a variety of special abilities, including better ways to generate resources than the base board, ways to turn resources into points, and some are just worth points in and of themselves. Many of these cards provide additional spots to place dice, but often require specific numbers or pairs with the same number. There are also contractor cards that provide powerful one-time abilities, but players can only take one per round at the expense of discarding cards. I enjoyed the build-up of this game, and being able to create various buildings to take advantage of other buildings I had played previously. Good fun.(1 play)

12/17/2020

The Isle of Cats

No Review Title

by wikweb

The Isle of Cats is a two-stage drafting game in which you’re trying to fill your boat board with cat tiles. In the first stage, players draft cards 7 Wonders-style, getting cards that let you take more cat tiles, have better priority taking cat tiles, provide end-game goals, or give you other special abilities. Cards kept all have costs, which takes away from the amount you can spend to take cat tiles later. The second stage is actually drafting the polyomino cat tiles from the table, which come in five colors and a wide variety of different shapes. Players get point bonuses for having similarly-colored cat tiles next to one another, as well as filling various spaces on their boat boards. There are a number of different ways to succeed in the game, and it takes a fair bit of planning to figure out how you’re going to organize your board. The card costing made the economy pretty tight as well. This game definitely requires more thought than it might appear at first blush, and I thought it was pretty enjoyable.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Paranormal Detectives

No Review Title

by wikweb

Paranormal Detectives is a game where one player plays a “ghost” and gives clues about how they died so that the players can try to figure out his story. The game can be played cooperatively or competitively among the detective players. On their turns, the detective players play a card indicating a certain act they want the ghost to perform. These acts are varied and weird, ranging from playing tarot cards in certain configurations, mouthing a word, or indicating certain letter groups on a ouija-esque board. The detectives also specify a part of the murder--who, why, where, how, and weapon. The goal is to guess the basic outline of what happened while using the fewest number of clues. This game is very silly and not really my cup of tea. Additionally, some of the possible acts just seemed a little uncomfortable to me, such as having the ghost write things by moving your hand, or having the ghost write with their finger on the detective’s back. This one was just wasn’t for me.(1 play)

12/17/2020

New York Slice

No Review Title

by wikweb

New York Slice is a game that centers around an “I split/you choose” mechanic that is based on several older games that I haven’t played. The active player creates a pizza in the center of the table, which each slice having different toppings. Then, that player has to split the pizza into a number of portions equal to the number of players without rearranging. There is also a “special” card that provides a special ability which can be added to a portion or left as its own portion. Players then, in turn order, claim the portions, deciding for each slice whether to keep it or turn it in for straight points. At the end, the majority owner of each topping type scores points with no second place scoring. I enjoyed this, though it is pretty chaotic at higher player counts. While this might be the most pure “I split/you choose” game out there, I think there are better games that use this mechanic.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Hail Hydra

No Review Title

by wikweb

Hail Hydra is a team-based social deduction game where most of the players are playing S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (actually superheroes) playing attack cards to defeat several rounds of villains. However, several players are secretly Hydra agents, trying to foil the rest of the team. Gameplay actually works a lot like the card play in Battlestar Galactica--here, players are secretly playing numbered cards (both positive and negative) trying to exceed the villain’s hit point value. Because player hands are limited, the possibility of running out of positive cards exists. Players all have special abilities, as does each villain card. I’m not generally a social deduction fan, but I thought this was a nice distillation of the Battlestar Galactica system that plays in a much more palatable play time.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Deckscape: Heist in Venice is an escape room-style game in which players are working together to solve a series of puzzles in as little time as possible. Here, the puzzles are all on oversized cards, and when the players figure out the solution, they flip the card over to determine whether they are right. Right or wrong the game proceeds, but an incorrect guess will be a penalty on the score at the end. After the card is flipped, it could provide an item or information that can help on future puzzles. This game assigned role cards to different players each with non-sharable information, making certain players attuned to certain puzzles, and occasionally had all of the players combine their information to solve a puzzle. The game also split into three tracks at one point, providing multiple simultaneous puzzles that different people could work on at once. I thought the puzzles had just the right amount of difficulty, as I would’ve have struggled to solve them all myself, but the group I played with solved them all without penalty.

12/17/2020

by wikweb

This version of Camel Up adds backwards-traveling camels that start at the finish line, in addition to upgraded components and artwork. The backwards camels add a little bit more chaotic silliness to an already chaotically silly game, but they don't really have a huge effect. The outcome of this game is pretty random, but it does make you feel like you're making meaningful choices. Fans of the original will surely enjoy this version.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Reavers of Midgard

No Review Title

by wikweb

Reavers of Midgard is an action-selection game where one player chooses and performs an action, and then the other players can also perform that action as well. However, since many of the actions have costs, it’s possible that a player may not be able to perform that action and instead can rest and just take a couple of resources. The game provides a number of different strategies for earning points, through various set collections, straight points, and mitigating negative point Terror tokens, though in limited play the “Subdue Territories” points seemed like the strongest as it provided ongoing points. The game also mixed in dice, some of which are used like resources, others of which are used for dice-based combat--the former seemed more limiting than the latter, as it was pretty easy to re-roll combat dice. There are also Reaver cards, which can be tucked under your player board to make certain actions better. While there are a lot of ways to specialize your own strategy, a lot of the game seemed to be about predicting and taking advantage of your opponents’ moves.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Dreamscape

No Review Title

by wikweb

In Dreamscape, players draft colored discs from the main board and place them on their personal boards to match arrangements pictured in contract cards. The discs are arranged on the main board in queues in six locations, with the right-most being available to take for an action. The left-most, on the other hand, makes movement to that location free if a player has a disc of that color. Each location has a different special ability associated with it, such as rearranging discs or taking another contract, and where you end your turn affects player order for the next round. Contract cards have three different difficulty levels and also have special abilities on them that can be activated each turn with discs, and once a contract is completed it can be replaced with a new contract. This game turns out to be a fairly difficult spatial puzzle game, especially for players trying to work on many different contracts at once. I generally like spatial puzzles, and found this one to be engaging but not amazingly so.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Team Play

No Review Title

by wikweb

Team Play is a light card game in which players compete in teams of two, who sit across the table from one another. The cards are numbers between one and eight in two different colors. Each player has a goal card describing a particular combination of cards, such as a red 4-card straight or 3 even blue cards, and is worth a certain number of points. There’s also a common goal card. Players draw cards from an open display, or blindly off the top of the deck. If a player completes their goal or the common goal, they score it and replace it with another goal. At the end of the player’s turn, they can pass cards to their partner to help them complete their goal. This game is very simple, and I guess a decent enough filler for larger (but even-numbered) groups.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

The Taverns of Tiefenthal combines deck building and dice drafting and placement. Players draw from their deck until all of the tables in their taverns are full of customers, possibly drawing more tables and employees in the process. Then, dice are rolled and drafted and assigned to the various customers and other spots in the tavern to generate beer and money. Beer can be used to get better customers, and money can be used to hire more employees and upgrade your tavern by flipping over its cardboard pieces. There’s a lot of interesting choices here, like buying better customers that will give you more money but might stop you from drawing more employees, or even just whether to save up beer for customers or money for upgrades. The game has a lot of mechanics that just feel satisfying too, like improving your tavern. It’s simple, yet clever, and is a lot of fun.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Sanctum

No Review Title

by wikweb

Sanctum aims to capture the feeling of a hack-and-slash video game, such as Diablo. Players draft monster cards that have die images on them, and then roll and assign their dice to those monsters. Once a monster’s die images are fully covered, the monster is defeated, which both allows you to move gems off your skills and also flips over the card which becomes an item in your inventory. Once skills are uncovered they are available to use, and the gems allow you to equip items, which in turn allow you to manipulate dice and prevent damage in combat. The game culminates in a giant boss battle, and the player who survives the best wins. The game really accomplishes what it sets out to do—it’s a monster-bashing loot-fest. Not a lot of high strategy here, but it’s fun using all of your item combos to take down swarms of monsters.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Aquatica

No Review Title

by wikweb

Aquatica is a hand-building game in which players use their hand of action cards to acquire underwater locales. More action cards can be bought, and each player has a card that can retrieve all of their used action cards back into their hands. The underwater locales slide into the player board, displaying a bonus near the top. Once that bonus is used, the card slides further and a new bonus spot becomes active. Once the locale slides all the way up, an action can be taken to score the card, providing end-game points and possibly a reusable bonus chit. There are also goals that can be claimed for having certain things in your tableau, but you have to give up a bonus chit to do so. This is a fairly light game, and the sliding mechanism is pretty cool. It’s a bit of a gimmick though, and aside from the sliding the game doesn’t stand out that much.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Coloma

No Review Title

by wikweb

Coloma is a gold rush themed game that’s based around a simultaneous action selection mechanism. There are six different action spaces featuring two different actions, but the spot that the most players choose get the second action spot canceled. The game has the usual assortment of bells and whistles, including cards that enhance action spaces, a map board that you can move around for resources and points, and end-game multipliers that can be purchased. Each “year” of play ends with a bandit attack, where players have to combine to fight off increasing numbers of bandits, with the players that contribute more getting more benefits. The game was enjoyable, but simultaneous action selection with a whammy attached always feels a bit arbitrary to me.(1 play)

12/17/2020

PARKS

No Review Title

by wikweb

Parks is a light game about gathering resources to buy national park cards for points (or maybe there’s a more thematic explanation). The game features a one-way action track, where you have two pawns that can move to spaces and mostly just take the corresponding resource. You can only move to an action space occupied by another player once per round, and purchasing parks is mostly limited to the final space on the track (which isn’t player limited). There’s a few additional features, like canteens that let you turn water into other resources, gear that gives you special abilities, and wild resources, but the game is very simple on the whole. There wasn’t too much here that stood out, and not being able to move where you wanted was a bit frustrating. The real attraction here was the art, though, which was absolutely fantastic.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Nevada City

No Review Title

by wikweb

Nevada City is worker placement game where players construct buildings that open up new actions spots that anyone can use, provided they’re willing to pay the owner a fee. The game uses an interesting turn sequence where players have a number of character cards each having a certain number of actions, and the actions of a character are all taken in a row. The game develops a lot over the 3-4 game rounds, and with players having upwards of 20 actions near the end there’s a lot of planning for multi-step conversions that can be done. The game does feel a little rough around the edges, but perhaps you can chalk that up to the theme. It can also go long, especially if the game extends into the fourth round. On the whole, though, I found this to be an enjoyable experience.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Sierra West

No Review Title

by wikweb

Sierra West is a resource conversion deck-building game. The cards in your deck have a number of symbols on them that you have to arrange along two paths that your pawns travel down, covering up some of the symbols in the process. During your turn, you move your pawns down these paths, collecting resources and using the other action symbols. To gain more cards, you have to move another pawn up to the top of a pyramid of cards, and taking cards at the top of the pyramid reveals cards below it—these lower cards take fewer steps to get to, so the game accelerates as it progresses. There are also a number of tracks that players can advance on, with another wagon track acting as an end-game multiplier for those tracks. There are four game modules, each of which injects its own set of special rules into the system. While the mechanisms here really did feel new and different, the enjoyment factor just wasn’t as high as it could’ve been. I never really felt clever arranging the cards in my preferred order, as it mostly boiled down to very minor differences. And getting new cards was more about just getting whatever was available instead of focusing on particular aspects. This game was okay, but it left me wanting more out of its unique mechanics.(1 play)

12/17/2020

It's a Wonderful World

No Review Title

by wikweb

It’s a Wonderful World is a 7 Wonders-style drafting game that incorporates a large engine-building component. Once drafted, you have to place resource cubes on your cards to build them, after which they can provide income or points. Cards that you don’t want to build can be discarded for cubes. There’s also small bonuses that can be gained for having the most of one of the income colors. Points on cards can be straight points, or multipliers for the number of card colors you’ve built or bonus chits you’ve picked up. I think engine building works pretty well with the 7 Wonders system, so I enjoyed this quite a bit. The art is spectacular too.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Tiny Towns

No Review Title

by wikweb

Tiny Towns is a short game about building a city on a 4x4 grid. Players take turns calling out cube colors that everyone must place on their grid, and once a player’s pattern of cubes matches one of the seven available building types (or their secret building card), they can remove those cubes and place a building of that type into one of the evacuated spots. The buildings all have different ways to score, and the buildings that are available to be built vary from game to game. This game is a lot thinkier than it seems, as you have to manage cubes that you might not need until later or at all, and if you try to work on too many buildings at the same time you’ll end up getting in your own way. I found this to be a fun little filler, but I imagine it could get frustrating when you can’t make things work out.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Bosk

No Review Title

by wikweb

Bosk is a light area control game about placing trees in a forest. This is really a two-part game where the first part sets up the board for part two. In the first part, players place trees of different values at the intersections on a grid board. Once all trees are placed, the sum of each player’s tree values is evaluated for each row and each column, with first and second scoring points. In the second part, the trees drop leaves into different areas printed on the board, which are evaluated at the end for first and second again. However, the placement of the leaves is subject to wind direction, tree value, and a player-chosen leaf value that makes you really think about how you want to do things. I found the first part of the game to be fairly dull, but the second part was fairly interesting. A nice light game on the whole.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

In Race to the New Found Land, players use their boat tiles to explore and get resources from the Canadian coast, which can then be used to complete contracts in European cities. In doing so, players place their markers on the Canadian islands or European cities, and those that fill up by the end of the game provide bonus points to players with the most markers. As the game progresses, more boats can be acquired to do these actions more quickly. The score track in the game is also a bit of a race, as hitting certain points on the track will allow you to draw special contracts for big points from piles, at which point the threshold for achieving those draws gets lower for other players, but they also have fewer choices. I felt like this was a pretty standard Eurogame, and the mechanics that stood out felt more gimmicky than anything else. I could take it or leave it.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Concordia Venus

No Review Title

by wikweb

Concordia Venus is a new version of Concordia that incorporates a team play element. Either two or three 2-player teams compete, with teammates sitting opposite each other. Whenever one teammate plays a card, the other teammate gets to perform that same action next. There are special split actions that allow one teammate to do one action and the other teammate do the other. Money is shared between the two players, but everything else is separate and works exactly the same as in the original game. Players score separately, but score totals are added to determine the winning team. It’s not a large field, but this is easily my favorite team-play eurogame. It’s an interesting challenge to try to figure out what your partner needs, or at least play so that your actions don’t screw your partner over. It can take some practice to get the timing of actions right, and advanced strategies like having one player earn the money and the other spend it are possible. I’m not generally a fan of partnership games, but I really enjoyed this one.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Illusion

No Review Title

by wikweb

Illusion is a simple card game about estimating the percentage of cards that are occupied by one of four colors. The cards all have crazy abstract art that makes it hard to do just that, of course. On a player’s turn, they either have to place the next card within the row based on how prominent the round’s color is, or say that the current ordering of cards is incorrect. If they call it correctly, they earn the point for the round, and if they are incorrect the prior player gets the point (the correct percentages are on the flip sides of the cards). I thought trying to order the cards according to their color saturations was a very interesting exercise. However, I am not a big fan of the whole Liar’s Dice mechanic of playing or calling, which bumps the game down in my estimation.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Chocolate Factory

No Review Title

by wikweb

Chocolate Factory is an engine-building game where you move chocolate products down a conveyor belt on your factory board, using machines you draft to convert the chocolate into more refined products. Each round begins with a snake-draft where players choose either a machine to place in their factory, or an employee card that gives them an ability for the turn and determines which of the five department stores they can deliver to. After drafting is over, players simultaneously run their factories, using coal to power the machines. Finished chocolates can be either delivered to the department store associated with the player’s card (assuming it’s the type that store wants) or to one of the player’s three personal contracts. The personal contracts grant points immediately, while each department store has an end-game majority bonus, plus an increasing bonus for hitting different stores. Everything about this game made sense and flowed smoothly, and the simultaneous play helped with game length. I enjoyed it.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Masters of Renaissance is supposedly a card game version of Lorenzo il Magnifico, but it has fewer cards than the original and doesn’t really share many game mechanics—it’s really more of its own game. The game really revolves around a marble-pushing mechanism where there is a 3x4 grid of colored marbles, and you get to push one row or column and get resources corresponding to the colors of marbles you pushed. These resources let you build cards, and at some point you can “run” your cards to do a whole bunch of resource conversion. Despite its billing as a sequel, this game really had a whole bunch of new and interesting mechanisms that I enjoyed quite a bit. I had a lot of fun here.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Throne of Allegoria

No Review Title

by wikweb

Throne of Allegoria is a blind-bidding game, a little like the old game Ys. Players place their bid markers face down on a number of different action spots, and after everyone is placed, they reveal their marker values. 0-value bids are just bluffs, but otherwise players get a number of actions in a spot depending on how they placed in the bidding. The various actions can give you goal cards, allow you to advance on various tracks, move your pawns around, or perform actions that often hurt other players’ tracks to help your own. There were several things I didn’t like about this game—the amount of direct player hate seemed excessive and the die to resolve combat seemed really out of place. The core system was very clever, though, and the gameplay was both tense and smooth.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Marco Polo II is a sequel to The Voyages of Marco Polo that mostly uses the same mechanics with a different map, player abilities, and action spaces. The game adds the Jade resource, which isn’t used in contracts but can be traded in for lots of other resources. There are also guild tokens which can be satisfied to provide income and allow you to use certain board routes. Movement in the game is a bit easier in terms of actions, but still expensive in terms of resources. All the same, the game is very similar to the original, and I can’t imagine people having much of a different opinion. Right now, I think I might prefer the original, but that might just because I know it better. Still some good fun though.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Incómodos Invitados

No Review Title

by wikweb

Awkward Guests is a Clue-style deduction game where players need to guess the who, what, and why of a murder. Players are dealt a number of cards with various pieces of information on them. On a player’s turn, they choose two rooms or people they want information about. Other players can then offer a number of points worth of clue cards, and the active player has to determine whether they want to trade an equal number of clue cards from their hand to those players. The clue cards themselves convey a variety of information with various sources, and information coming from the suspect (and possibly his accomplice) can be a lie. While I enjoyed the deduction aspect of the game, I often felt frustrated by the clue cards. Cards from reliable sources can use the words “may” or “might” in ways that make you wonder if they’re conveying any information at all. Additionally, I didn’t really understand how cards conveyed motives as far as what information could be eliminated. It seemed like this could be a solid system, I just had trouble figuring out what definitive information a card was trying to tell me (maybe this is a translation issue?). Still, I like deduction games and I’d play this again.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Star Wars: Outer Rim

No Review Title

by wikweb

Star Wars: Outer Rim is a sandbox-style game where each player takes on the role of an Episode 4-era disreputable character and tries to achieve fame by doing jobs, collecting on bounties, and smuggling goods. There’s a single market that can be accessed no matter where you are on the map board, which includes ships, crew, mods, and other enhancements, as well as jobs and bounties. The different locations on the board give you access to encounters, including contacting people and planet-specific cards. There’s also a few faction patrol ships that harass players whose faction reputations are lacking. I enjoyed this game, but I felt like I should have been able to specialize more than I could. The availability of cards in the market was a little limiting, too. However, the game moved along well and was intuitive and fun.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Cartographers is a roll-and-write (actually a flip-and-write) game where someone draws a communal card that determines what type and shape of terrain players can draw on their boards. There are a number of scoring cards that give points for certain arrangements of terrain, and each scoring card is valid for two of the four rounds. There are also monster cards that let you draw on an opponent’s board to give them negative points. This game wasn’t that difficult, but it felt a bit bland. None of my individual moves made me feel like I was accomplishing something special, and the monsters made me feel a little bad. It wasn’t a bad game, but I there just wasn’t much to recommend it either.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Railroad Ink is a roll-and-write game where someone rolls four dice depicting rail or road segments, which players then draw in their grid boards. Some dice had stations which connect roads and rails, too. Players are trying to connect end-points on their boards, fill up the center areas, and have long rails and roads, all without having loose ends at the end of the game. I enjoyed this one—there’s a fair bit of tension in getting the rolls you need, and some planning involved into where you think your networks will go. Making everything work the way you want feels like an accomplishment.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Bus

No Review Title

by wikweb

Bus is a pick-up-and-deliver game where players are trying to build a route and then deliver passengers around the city board. Each turn, the passengers all want to go to a particular type of destination (home, work, or bar), and it’s up to the players to get them to where they want. Order of play (including turn order) is vitally important, as it’s really easy to snipe passengers or otherwise get in each other’s way. While the game is very quick-playing, you really have to be good at analyzing board position to excel. Very thinky and a little mean. I like it.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Yinzi is a multi-level production game—players produce and sell basic goods, and once sold, other players can use those same sold goods to produce and ship advanced goods. While that’s the core of the game, there’s a ton of other stuff thrown in, including a shipping track, extra ways to gain money, fighting off barbarians, contract fulfillment, disasters that can’t be avoided, not to mention 24 (!) bonus spots each with its own special ability. This is definitely in the “everything and the kitchen sink” style of game design. While I appreciated the core of the game, I thought it was very much in need of paring down all of the excess mechanisms that were thrown in.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Tapestry

No Review Title

by wikweb

Tapestry is a very rules-light civilization game that gains a ton of depth and complexity through its myriad tech track actions and cards. Each turn, a player simply chooses to either advance on one of four tech tracks by paying the cost and performing the action, or going through an end-round procedure (usually when the player is out of resources). The tech tracks allow players to place new tiles on the hex board, conquer them by putting their marker on it, gain or improve technology cards, or place a building from their player board to their city board, which uncovers end-round income. However, all of these tracks have a variety of ways to score different items, in a way that both allows players to specialize as well as interacts with other tracks and types of actions. Additionally, players can draw and play tapestry cards, which provide an ongoing bonus that last for an entire round. Players also start with unique player powers, which provide a lot of variety but may or may not be entirely balanced. Players that perform fewer total actions in the game can actually finish before others, but I found that the time difference wasn’t extreme. I really enjoyed this one—everything fit together and flowed very well, and it had just the right amount of interaction and interlocking mechanisms.(3 plays)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Paladins of the West Kingdom is a worker placement game with different color workers that can be placed in different action spaces. Each turn, players draft a set of workers to use during the turn. The action spaces, which are mostly on your player board, mostly take a combination of differently colored workers to use, but there’s a way to place buildings over worker spaces to reduce the cost (a little like Orleans). Many of the bigger actions require you to have advanced on one of three tracks but also advance you on a different track, in a way that interconnects very nicely. There are also a lot of ways to get additional workers or clear off worker spaces, allowing plenty of opportunities for chaining actions and extending your turn. I thought that the gameplay felt very satisfying, and I was impressed by how the game developed.(2 plays)

12/17/2020

The Artemis Project

No Review Title

by wikweb

The Artemis Project is a dice worker placement game where you’re trying to complete missions and build buildings for points. Players acquire resources by putting a die in the resource area—the number of pips determines how many you get, but lower numbers execute first and the resource might run out before higher numbers go. Missions have thresholds that must be reached by the sum of all players’ dice, but only the two players with the highest pip totals get rewards. The buildings are more like a straight auction, where the number of pips is the amount you must pay, and other players can overbid your die leaving you only with a consolation prize. There were some interesting ideas here, but the game dragged a little, particularly in the mid-game when players could amass tons of resources but didn’t have many ways to turn them into points. It was okay.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Ecos: First Continent

No Review Title

by wikweb

Ecos: First Continent is a bingo-style game where one player draws a tile from a bag, and everybody marks that tile’s symbol on one of their cards. Once a player has all of the symbols on one of their cards marked off, they get to activate that card and use its ability. These abilities often relate to a landmass that’s growing as the game goes on--players can add more land or sea tiles, put mountains or trees on the tiles, and add wildlife tokens of various types to the tiles. Some abilities score points based on the arrangement of the landmass. The game starts you out with preconstructed starter hands that are useful as a teaching tool, but I’d graduate to the drafting variant as soon as possible as it seems like deck construction is a large part of the fun. On the whole, the game was fairly entertaining but didn’t hold a huge amount of interest.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Bruxelles 1897

No Review Title

by wikweb

Bruxelles 1897 is the card game version of Bruxelles 1893. The game maintains the grid board of action spaces, this time represented by cards. Players have a number of bid cards with various values of them that they play, replacing the card in their grid location of choice and paying the bid value. There are also city actions that you can perform without spending money, but the player with the most cards in the city area loses one to prison. At the end of each round, the grid board is evaluated both in columns and in intersections. This game is really very similar to the original Bruxelles 1893, and does a great job evoking the feel of the bigger game with less rules overhead and in a somewhat more forgiving way. While I’m still a big fan of the board game, this is pretty great too.(1 play)

12/17/2020

The Magnificent

No Review Title

by wikweb

The Magnificent is a dice drafting game where your goal is to perform show cards for money and points. There are three different colors of dice plus a white wild color, and when you take a die it counts as the number of pips of that die plus all dice of that color you previously drafted this round. While stringing together lots of same-colored dice is powerful, you may need actions associated with other colors, and at the end of the round, you have to pay money equal to the number of pips on your largest color plus wilds. The shows themselves revolve around collecting colored buildings and placing them tetris-style on your board, and then meeting the building requirements for those shows to perform them. This game felt very unique, both in terms of the mechanics as well as the theme and art. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North is a card-combo game in the same vein as the original Imperial Settlers. This game provides six unique clan decks, each of which features a completely different strategy and often unique mechanics. Players use their cards to generate gain resources and eventually generate victory points. Additional actions can be used on a circular action board--players can place their two pawns on the board, and then move them to an adjacent spot using a food, for a total of four actions. There is also a common deck of island cards where players can send boats to gain special abilities. While card-combo games generally appeal to me, I felt that this one really pre-defined any strategy for me--I just had to do what my deck told me to do with little variation. So, it was fun, but the replay is limited by the available clan decks.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Cryptid

No Review Title

by wikweb

Cryptid is a competitive deduction game where each player is trying to guess a single hex on a modular hex board. Each player is given a rule about the terrain on the board, and when combined, those rules uniquely identify a single hex. Players take turns questioning other players by asking whether specific hexes satisfy their rule, and those players place tokens on the board to indicate their answer. As the game progresses, more and more information is available on the board, and players can make guesses--but the only penalty to making an incorrect guess is giving away more information that you would have otherwise. Despite not having any secretly-shared information (like Sleuth), I still found this game to be pretty compelling. I found it a good puzzle to try to figure out what everyone else’s rules could be. A fun little filler.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Crystal Palace

No Review Title

by wikweb

Crystal Palace is a dice worker placement game where, instead of rolling the dice, you actually choose the number of pips, but have to pay for them. In this way, it feels a little like an auction game, and in many action spots there’s a real possibility of your die getting edged out of an action by a higher die. The game starts you off with a ton of money but no economy, so unless you work hard to build your income early you could find yourself underwater by mid-game. To actually earn points, you have to recruit inventors and build inventions, both of which are cards that provide a whole bunch of other interesting bonuses as well. There’s a lot to do in this game, all driven by the very interesting if somewhat unforgiving dice placement system. There’s a lot to like here, and I really enjoyed it.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Letter Jam

No Review Title

by wikweb

Letter Jam is a cooperative word-building game in which players are trying to clue other people about what letters they have. At the start of the game, players are given word composed of scrambled letter cards by another player. During each round of the game, players put up one of the letter cards in a standee facing away from themselves, so only the other players can see. Then, players negotiate about who can give the best clue, that clue being a word that is spelled with the letters visible to that player plus a wild. The best clues hit all of the players and unambiguously let a player know what they have. After a number of rounds, theoretically players know what all of their letters are, and can unscramble them to come up with the original word. While I’m not a huge fan of cooperative games in general, I do like letter games and found this one to be an interesting puzzle.(3 plays)

12/17/2020

Ragusa

No Review Title

by wikweb

Ragusa is a fast-playing eurogame in which players spend each of their turns placing one of their houses, which activates the hexes around it. Hexes either provide access to resources, which are mostly used as requirements to build more houses closer together, or abilities that activate not just for the placer of the house, but for each player that previously placed houses around it. As the game progresses, there are fewer and fewer open spots to place houses, but the associated actions happen more times. These actions involve claiming resources, turning them into straight victory points or shipping them for victory point cards, drawing bonus cards, or building walls that provide immediate points and a possibly large point bonus at the end. Once a player’s houses are gone, the game is over. This is a very fast-flowing game where you’re trying to help yourself without helping your opponents too much. I enjoyed it.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Maracaibo

No Review Title

by wikweb

In Maracaibo, players move their ships around a track representing the Caribbean, playing various cards to their tableau. The cards can be discarded for their symbols to activate certain city actions or fulfill quest tiles, or they can be bought for a wide variety of special abilities. Some of these abilities interact with certain locations on the track, and others provide tokens that make other cards work better. There are three major strategies—combat, which allows you to put out cubes from one of three countries and gives you multipliers for the their strengths; exploration, which provides a lot of straight-up points and quest opportunities; and cards, many of which can provide point income that activates every turn. The real essence of the game is getting cards that work with each other, and the strategies you’re following. There’s a ton of different cards, too, so that really adds a lot of variety to the game. I’m a big fan of card combo games, and this one was definitely a lot of fun.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Blank Slate

No Review Title

by wikweb

In Blank Slate, players are presented with cards that have a word with either a blank before or after that word. Players write on their dry-erase board a word that could fill in the blank. If a player’s word matches at least one other player, they score a point, and if they match only one player, they score three points. Even at the max player count, I found that trying to intentionally go for the 3-point bonus was pretty fruitless, but it was still interesting trying to be on the same page as the other players. I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would for such a simple concept.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write is a roll-and-write style game in which one player rolls a set of four dice and each player can use those dice to mark off boxes on their player sheet. Three dice faces all depict different resources that can be used to either build special-ability buildings or advance on one of the four score tracks. The fourth die shows the number of actions available for all players. Three of the score tracks are straight points, while the fourth unlocks fields that can be harvested for extra resources. There are also special ability tiles that are drafted each round. An advanced variant allows requires players to outline polyomino shapes on their score tracks in order to build the buildings. This game didn’t at all feel like its namesake Imperial Settlers. The decision space didn’t seem very large either, as all the players always wanted the same special ability tiles regardless of their strategy, and the rest of the game was just too straightforward. I’d have to play the advanced variant to say for sure, but so far it seems like there’s not much here.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Pipeline

No Review Title

by wikweb

Pipeline is an engine-building economic game where players are trying to build up a network of pipes in order to refine oil up to various grades in order to sell it for increasing amounts of money. The game is very tight in the beginning as players don’t have a lot of money (and it costs a whole turn to take a loan), but once players get their pipe network built up it becomes a lot looser and the limiting factor becomes time and supply rather than money. While there is a lot going on in the game, the whole thing really revolves around being able to build up three colors of pipes in your network to refine the three types of oil by buying and placing pipe maze-style tiles. Players that can grok that part of the game will succeed. To me, the game just felt too loose at the end, and there definitely felt like there was a snowball effect too. I’d be happy to play more, but I doubt it will become a favorite.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Copenhagen

No Review Title

by wikweb

Copenhagen is a light tile-placement game where players are trying to complete shorter rows and longer columns on their grid board. Players draft colored cards, and can turn in sets of a single color to take a polyomino tile with the same number of squares. Each row completed is worth a point and each column is worth two, while rows and columns that contain only squares with windows printed on them are worth double. Players can also cover up crests or complete rows with crests, which allow them to take a one-use special ability tile, or refresh all of their used special ability tiles to use again. First player to 12 points wins. This is a very basic game with not a whole lot of strategy, but it’s a decent filler I guess.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Second Chance

No Review Title

by wikweb

Second Chance is a “roll-and-write” style game that features a deck of cards instead of dice. Each turn, someone draws two cards featuring polyomino pieces, and players must choose one to draw one their grid board. The cards range from 1-square to 7-square in a distribution that is available on reference cards. If a player can’t fit either of the pieces on their board, they get a “second chance” card draw, and if they can’t fit that either, they are eliminated. The last player eliminated or the first to completely fill their board wins. Obviously, this is a light filler game. I think that people that struggle with spatial games will struggle here, but that’s not me. However, even with a good spatial ability, I don’t think there’s much strategy to this game. It just doesn’t seem that hard to play pretty optimally, and at that point it just comes down to luck.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Journeys in Middle Earth is a campaign-based cooperative game that's based on the app-driven system first seen in Mansions of Madness. Thematically, the story is set in the Lord of the Rings universe between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. While the game does use some of the characters that we know from the books (and some that we don't), there's really no thematic justification of why these characters are out adventuring together. Each scenario starts you off with a goal and an incomplete map board; as the scenario progresses players reveal new terrain tiles as well as gain new goals to attain. The game speeds the players along by throwing increasing numbers of monsters at the party until they are overwhelmed. Combat and other challenges use a card-based system where you are trying to draw a certain number of successes, but the exact number is hidden by the app. Between scenarios, players can modify their deck to add more success cards or cards with better abilities. I enjoy playing this game, but the whole experience never really felt like Lord of the Rings to me. I really like the ability to customize your deck as you progress, but I wish I could do it more.(5+ plays)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula is a dice-drafting game in which players are trying to prepare ingredients to complete recipes in experiment cards. There are three aspects to the dice: the color, which tells you which ingredients you can transmute, the symbol, which tells you which ingredients or essences you can gather and which experiment cards you can take, and the number of the dice in its pool, which determines the number of times you can use the die. Ingredients start out in a raw state, and you have to spend die power plus essences to transmute them, and the essence you spend determines which of four tracks you advance. You can also buy artifact tiles, which trigger when certain transmutation paths are taken. The experiment cards themselves require certain combinations of ingredients plus have a track advancement requirement, and completing them is the main way of scoring points. There’s certainly a lot going on here, but I think the game suffers from a number of poor graphic design issues that can make it a little overwhelming. There’s no easy way to verbalize the myriad symbols in the game without looking them up, which makes it awkward to try to do things. The tracks are sometimes referred to by their essence and other times by their element, which is confusing. And, there could be a lot more visual clues on the boards, such as the experiment card limit, discounts from played experiments, anything about the masterpiece experiment, etc. This all combines to make the game a lot harder on new players than it needs to be. I think the gameplay itself is pretty engaging, but it’s difficult not to stumble on rules that should be more self-evident.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Valley of the Kings: Last Rites is a stand-alone expansion to Valley of the Kings that features a different card set but the same overall rules. As in the original, players buy from the bottom of a pyramid arrangement, that causes other cards to move down into the vacated spaces and become available. Cards are not worth anything unless they are “entombed” out of your deck and thus rendered unusable, and scoring works mostly by collecting sets of similarly-colored cards. The cards in this set seem to feature manipulation of cards in the boneyard (the communal discard pile). Aside from that, while the game does feature some direct player interaction, it seems a bit less harsh than in the original. Additionally, one of the starting cards, Medjay, is particularly powerful and can help players get off the ground a bit better. On the whole, I think this set of cards is better than the original.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

The Ancient World is a worker placement game in which players are trying to build up their nations and defeat a number of titans. The workers themselves are numbered one through five--while any number of workers can go on any spot, workers that have a lower number than those already there must pay a penalty. Players use their workers to build buildings, acquire military units, or gain money, temporary military, or more workers. Each turn, players are dealt a titan to their player board that they must defeat or face the consequences; players can also attack titans on other players’ boards or the main board. Players with sufficient military automatically defeat the titan, but an attacked titan will always roll a number of dice that corresponds to his difficulty in retaliation--most of the die faces will disable a player’s buildings. Players are trying to collect banners on cards, most of which are from defeated titans (which have 1-3 banners), but the banners are also on buildings. Players are trying to collect sets of no more than 6 of each color banner to maximize their score. I thought the gameplay of this game was generally very good, and I enjoyed constantly having to build up to fight the titans and then rebuilding. However, I thought the randomness of the titan attack dice played an outsized role in the otherwise relatively strategic game.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Root

No Review Title

by wikweb

Root is a multiplayer conflict game in which each player has incredibly different powers--the Cats start with most of the territory and have to build a production engine, the Eyrie must expand using a programmed action mechanic, the Alliance takes advantages of weaknesses in the others and marches out soldiers that are hard to kill for late-game points, and the Vagabond makes friends and trades with everyone and completes quests. While battles and direct conflict are definitely intrinsic to the game, each player ends up so absorbed with their own strategies and goals that nothing is really personal. I’m usually not a huge fan of multiplayer conflict games, but I have to admit that I was intrigued by trying to come up with plans and execute on strategies here. I’m very interested to see how the expansion races will change up the mix.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Terraforming Mars: Turmoil add two new aspects to the game: a politics board and event cards. There are six factions on the politics board; players can move one of their delegates per turn to the faction of their choice and can pay for additional delegates. At the end of each turn, the faction with the most delegates becomes ruling, which provides faction-specific bonuses for the following turn for all players. Events, which either increase or decrease a player’s resources (often money), are revealed a couple of turns before they trigger, add neutral delegates to the politics board, and can be increased/mitigated by players’ positions on the politics board. There are also a number of new corporations and project cards, some of which refer to the state of the politics board. While I found the new mechanics to be interesting and definitely affected how players played, I’m not sure the extra end-round maintenance was worth it. Also, it was super-easy to forget the free delegate move.

12/17/2020

Sushi Roll

No Review Title

by wikweb

Sushi Roll is the dice version of the card drafting game Sushi Go. Players take a fixed number of random dice from a bag, roll them, and place them on their conveyor belts. There are a number of different types of dice that represent different types of sushi, and the faces of the dice generally represent how good of that type of sushi it is. Players take a die and then shuffle their conveyor belts to the left. When you receive a belt of dice from another player, you re-roll the dice before drafting another one. The set collection element works pretty much the same as in Sushi Go, but there are also chopsticks that let you exchange dice with another player's belt, and menus that let you re-roll. I initially thought that re-rolling would be a bad idea in a drafting game, but I found that I was still paying a lot of attention to the colors of the dice that were coming to me even if I didn't know the values. I didn't find the take-that from the chopsticks to be too harsh, particularly since they couldn't affect things from previous rounds. On the whole, this was a fine filler.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig combines the gameplay from Between Two Cities and with the tile functionality from The Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Just like in Between Two Cities, you are drafting tiles and adding them to tableaus on either side of you which are shared with each of your neighbors. At the end of the game, your score is the lowest scoring of your two tableaus. The tiles themselves are much more complex than in Between Two Cities. There are a number of different types of rooms, featuring bonuses based on their placement with regard to other color tiles. There are also bonuses that can be gained from placing many of the same type of tile. In that way, the game is reminiscent of Castles of Mad King Ludwig, though it doesn't quite capture that game's charm. On the whole, I think this is a big improvement over Between Two Cities because of the increased complexity, but I'm still lukewarm on the "two cities" mechanic.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Res Arcana

No Review Title

by wikweb

Res Arcana is a engine-building card-combo game that feels designed to be reminiscient of a CCG draft. Players get only 8 cards plus one Mage card that gives them a special ability to start with. You start with 3 random cards from your 8-card deck, and draw one additional at the end of your turn. From there, it's up to you to combo the cards together to gain and spend 5 different resources and somehow convert them to points. You can also buy Places of Power that give you a fixed way to turn resources into points, and Monuments that give you fixed points and possibly also a special ability. Among the cards are a number of Dragons, which tend to be more expensive than other cards and drain your opponents' resources. The first player to 10 points wins. While the cards can be assigned according to prescribed lots or even distributed randomly, I think the game would shine most in a draft format, where players can choose cards that work together. I found this pretty fun as I enjoy engine-building games in general.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Schrödinger's Cats

No Review Title

by wikweb

Schrödinger's Cats is a card game re-implementation of Liar’s Dice. The deck contains a certain ratio of “alive” cards, “dead” cards, “empty” cards, and a few wilds. Players have to either bid a higher number of alive/dead/empty cards that are in everyone’s hands totaled, or make the previous player prove their bid. When making a bid, the player has to reveal a card. Hand sizes are small and get smaller in subsequent rounds, so the game is quite short. Players also have hidden once-per-game powers that can be used at points. I’m not at all a fan of Liar’s Dice, so this didn’t really appeal to me on that basis. I’m not really convinced that any of the changes made really represent an improvement, either.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Five Points: Gangs of New York is an area majority game where players compete to have the most “rabble” cubes on tiles representing areas in New York. Players spend their turn optionally bidding on a special power tile and then placing a cube on any district, or passing out of the round to get a decreasing number of new cubes for the next round. The special power tiles provide either a bonus in that turn’s elections or points. At the end of each round, only the districts with the most total cubes will have elections, and the majority holder will place a “boss” token there, which is worth 5 points at the end of the game if it is still there (another election can displace it). Additionally, players having majorities in districts surrounding the election districts earn tiles worth 2 points each. I didn’t really care for this one, as I found it pretty easy to get stuck in a rut if you don’t have many cubes. The mechanisms just weren’t that compelling, either, and the end-game conditions seemed a bit arbitrary.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Trapwords

No Review Title

by wikweb

Trapwords is a team versus team word association game. One player on a team is trying to get the rest of their team to guess a word. However, the other team has set between 3 and 7 “traps” depending on how far along they are in the game, these trap words are unknown to the cluegiver, but if the cluegiver mentions one in his clue then his team loses that round. Cluegiving is open-ended, the cluegiver just keeps talking until his team gets the clue, he hits a trap, or time runs out. There are also occasionally extra rules that apply to various rounds in the game. While I’m generally a fan of word association games, I find the open-ended cluegiving a little too stressful for me. I much prefer something more thinky and less talky like Codenames.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Terramara

No Review Title

by wikweb

Terramara is a worker placement game where sometimes you can place your workers... (cue spooky music) into the future! What this really means is that there are action spaces associated with each round, and action spaces associated with future rounds don’t clear. Most action spots have spaces for two workers, but to be the second player on a spot you have to have advanced further on the military track and go back a spot. The rest of the game is mostly get resources to buy cards for abilities and points. I didn’t really like the military track aspect, as it really put players that were trailing behind the eight-ball in terms of available actions. The action spaces themselves seems a bit poorly balanced too—there just never seemed to be enough ways to get raw resources. Modifications to the game for less-than-four player games, as random spots were blocked which further throws off game balance—honestly I wouldn’t play at player counts besides four. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed in this one.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Vindication

No Review Title

by wikweb

In Vindication, players are trying to redeem their character by gaining companions, relics, and traits, as well as fighting monsters. While the game has the trappings of an adventure game, it really revolves more around resource management and card combos, and the interaction level is more on the level of what you’d expect from a eurogame (which is a plus for me). The game is definitely rough around the edges in way that only a first design can be, but the mechanisms are enjoyable, and I really liked building up my abilities by gaining the various cards. A good experience on the whole.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Western Legends

No Review Title

by wikweb

Western Legends is an open-world style game in which players are trying to become legends in the American Old West. Players can mine gold, play poker, rustle cattle, duel other players, perform various unsavory acts, or help the sheriff by catching players who do. While there are plenty of valid paths to victory, I didn’t like how players doing neutral things were forced onto the sheriff-helping “marshall track” as a matter of course. Additionally, while the combat system was thankfully simple, I found it a little frustratingly hard to win at times even with good cards. While I’m sure this game will have its fans, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.(1 play)

12/17/2020

SpaceCorp

No Review Title

by wikweb

SpaceCorp is a game about exploring and colonizing Earth’s nearest neighbors. The game is played in 3 phases—exploring the inner solar system, the outer solar system, and nearby star systems. Contrary to what one might think of this type of game from a wargame publisher, the mechanics of the game revolve around relatively simply cardplay. As with many exploration games, tile flips at various locations provide a relatively high random factor. The game as a whole seemed very tactical—there weren’t too many ways to gain permanent advantages to set you apart from other players. Space exploration is one of my favorite themes though, and I’d be happy to play this more.(1 play)

12/17/2020

AuZtralia

No Review Title

by wikweb

In AuZtralia, players are competing to build rail networks and other infrastructure to move troops to the Australian outback so they can battle Lovecraftian horrors. Players take actions on their action board and are penalized for taking the same action over and over, and the actions are mediated by a Thebes-like time track. While the game is competitive, it is possible for all the players to lose if Cthulhu takes over. While I haven’t seen this combination of mechanics (or the bizarre theme) in a game before, nothing really felt that new or exciting here. I’d happily play again, but there’s not too much of a draw here for me.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Archon is a worker-placement game where players are trying to build up majorities in three card types across three scoring rounds. Workers can be upgraded during the game to have one of four special abilities, which sounds cool but none of the abilities were particularly exciting. There was a turn-order mechanic that seemed neat as players are essentially bidding this turn’s actions for next turn’s turn order, but a poor tiebreak mechanic (status quo) kind of soured this for me. There were actually a lot of good ideas in the game, but I found the execution a bit lacking, and there wasn’t enough to differentiate my strategy from that of others. There were also some significant graphic design issues involving color choices. A decent game, but it could have been more.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Captains of the Gulf

No Review Title

by wikweb

Captains of the Gulf is a pick-up-and-deliver game about operating a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. You move your boat around a hex board where different fish tokens show up via a clever repopulation mechanism. Multi-use cards provide a variety of ways to improve your fishing boat, allowing each player to maximize their own strategy. Actions are governed by a rondel, but I found that aspect of the game to be a little lacking because some spots were practically unskippable. I kind of wish there were contracts in the game, as fish sales seemed a little samey despite three different ports. On the whole though, this was game was a lot of fun—I really enjoyed customizing my own boat.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Cooper Island

No Review Title

by wikweb

Cooper Island is a resource management game where players are trying to develop their land areas by stacking double-hex tiles on them. Once placed, hexes contain the number of resources according to their level, but in order to build up more, you have to use (or lose) those resources. Additionally, there you can construct buildings or statues, but they have to go on the highest level, which prevents further tile placement. There’s also a neat cartography track which provides a variety of quick actions that adds both flexibility and depth to the game. I found this game to be a really intriguing puzzle that really scratches the planning itch. This one is definitely a winner.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

The Networks: Executives mostly adds variable player powers via the executives, which provide a variety of different abilities that can help set your strategy. The expansion also adds Mogul cards, which provide powerful abilities that can only be claimed for with a second genre bonus. I can’t really comment on the balance of the executive powers, but the ones I saw in play all seemed pretty fun. Additionally, I enjoyed the addition of the Mogul cards, as I thought the genre bonus was a little underpowered in the base game. Now you see players paying a lot more attention to the type of shows their collecting, and in some cases not letting shows get too stale in order to claim the bonus earlier. This is definitely a good addition for fans of the base game.

12/17/2020

Villages of Valeria

No Review Title

by wikweb

Villages of Valeria is a card game that’s a little reminiscent of Race for the Galaxy. Each turn, the active player chooses a role, and the other players can choose to follow and perform that role as well with a higher cost or lesser benefit. One role allows players to play cards as resources, which in turn can be used to play other cards as buildings. These buildings provide points and special text, and also icons that allow players to recruit adventurers. Discarded cards go face up into one of several piles, and players who draw cards may take the top card of any pile. The mechanisms seemed to work just fine, but the cards were generally fairly generic and didn’t really give you a sense of comboing or engine building--it was fairly difficult to specialize. It was fine.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Stumped

No Review Title

by wikweb

Stumped is a deck-building game where 90% of the available action cards are take-that. The game comes with elaborate wooden trees that players build, but these are essentially just a fancy score track. As one might expect in this type of game, one player gets ahead and then the other players knock him back down, and this happens over and over again. This is one of my least favorite things in gaming, so this one is a hard pass for me.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Matryoshka

No Review Title

by wikweb

Matryoshka is a set-collection card game where players are trying to collect cards depicting Russian nesting dolls. In each turn, players lay out a number of cards that indicate to the other players what they’re looking for. Then, the active player plays a card face-up, and all others players play a card face-down as an offer for that card. The active player chooses between all available offers and takes one of them, giving his face-up card to that player. Players each get one chance to play a face-up card per round, and rounds proceed with players being dealt more cards, and more cards being laid out as players’ collections. At the end, cards are scored both as suits, with runs of numbers being valued, and across suits as sets of numbers. This simple mechanic is one I haven’t seen in a card game before, and it is pretty intriguing. That said, this was a simple card game and I generally prefer more in-depth gameplay.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Decrypto

No Review Title

by wikweb

Decrypto is a team-based word association game. Each team has a sequence of four random words that the other team can’t see. Then, the clue-giver receives a card on each turn specifying three of those words in a particular order. That player must give three word association clues so that his team can guess the numbers on the card. However, the other team is paying attention too, and after multiple rounds they’ve built up the hints that are associated with your words. If they can guess your the numbers on your card, they will win. However, if you make your clues too obscure, your team will fail to guess the correct sequence. I like word association games in general and enjoyed this one, though I thought the cleverness in coming up with clues (nor the fun of watching the other team mess up) wasn’t at the level of Codenames. Still, this is a fun alternative.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Unlock! The Tonipal's Treasure is a cooperative escape room-style game that’s all contained in a single deck of cards (and a mobile app). Like other games in this genre, this game is meant to be played through only once, though no components are destroyed and the game can be played by another group. This one features a treasure hunt in the golden age of piracy, but of course the first thing you have to do is break yourself out of prison. I was really impressed by both the overall cleverness of the puzzles, as well as their thematic integration in this game. When things were going right, this game felt great. However, my group got stuck at one point and ended up brute forcing a puzzle that made us skip over half the game, which was not good. As for the final puzzle, the assembly was a lot of fun, but the actual directions were a bit vague. With a little bit more polish, this might’ve been my favorite of the Unlock series. As it is, though, I still recommend it--I just hope that others don’t fall in the same trap.

12/17/2020

Key Flow

No Review Title

by wikweb

Key Flow combines a 7 Wonders-style draft with the resource production and moving system (and theme) from Keyflower. Each turn, players will draft a card that can either be a building that can be activated, another tile that cannot be activated (usually either providing free resources or a source of points), or depicted meeples that can be used to activate buildings. Buildings can be activated up to three times per round using these meeple cards, and players may activate either their own buildings or one belonging to their left or right neighbors. At the end of a round, all meeple cards used on a player’s buildings will be put in that player’s score pile, and depending on which scoring cards they have, can be worth points at the end of the game. Buildings can generally be upgraded for better actions and more points, but the appropriate resources have to be moved to that building, and an upgrade action needs to be taken. I really enjoyed the flow of this game (no doubt one of the reasons for the game’s name), as it played very smoothly even at large player counts, yet still gave the eurogame experience of investing in your town via production and upgrading. This is probably my favorite Key series game to date.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Altiplano: The Traveler is an expansion that adds a traveler token, which moves clockwise around the board and provides additional actions that can be taken at its location. One of the major actions available is the purchase of assets, which provide special abilities. However, these assets can only be bought by removing one of your chits from circulation, which can then be bought by other players. The game also provides once-per-round event tiles, which provide a new rule for that round. I thought this was a good expansion for experienced players, and providing new ways to get resources was generally helpful.

12/17/2020

New Frontiers

No Review Title

by wikweb

New Frontiers is billed as “the Race for the Galaxy board game” and it really evokes that feeling. Players choose roles sequentially like in Puerto Rico, but the roles are mostly the same. During the Explore action, players draw planet tiles from a bag and draft them, with the chooser getting to pick an extra at the end. As for developments, they are all available on a central board from the beginning, though there is a way to vary the available tiles between games. Paying for tiles doesn’t involve discarding, but is instead split into two currencies that can be built up--money and population. The Consume action allows all players to trade instead of just the choosing player. Other than those factors, the game plays and feels a lot like Race for the Galaxy, with many of the planets and developments having very similar texts. Personally, though, I’m not sure that this has a place for me, as Race still feel like a better game with more variety.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Crown of Emara

No Review Title

by wikweb

Crown of Emara is a game based upon two rondels--one rondel gets your resources, and the other lets you turn those resources into either ways to get points or special abilities. Gameplay works via action cards, which are placed beneath spots on your player board labeled 1, 2, and 3. Each turn, you get to perform the action pictured on the action card, as well as move on one of the rondels that number of spaces and perform the associated action. The game has two types of scoring--population and buildings--and your total score is equal to the lowest. This game put a lot of different interesting concepts together, but at the same time didn’t really come together to make anything special. This game really had the feel of “general euro” to me, which is a bit of a disappointment.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Great Western Trail: Rails to the North is an expansion that changes the “train track” from the base game. The existing train track is replaced by a two-dimensional rail network linking cities, stations, and other bonuses. Your train token still moves along the one-dimensional track, but placing in cities can unlock the spots to the north that are connected to those cities. There is also an additional minor action that lets you discard 2-value cows for houses needed to claim the bonus spots above the cities. I enjoyed the extra options presented in this expansion, and I also liked how it de-emphasized train movement a bit. However, this expansion definitely makes a complicated game even more complicated--I would not recommend it for beginners.

12/17/2020

Just One

No Review Title

by wikweb

Just One is a cooperative party game based on word association. One player is designated as the guesser, and the others must write down a single word related to a word that the guesser must guess. If two players write down the same word, then both of those placards are eliminated. The guesser must guess based on the remaining placards. I generally enjoy word association games, and thought this one was pretty fun. There are fewer opportunities to be clever than in Codenames, as coming up with arcane clues will just get you in trouble. However, this does a great job as keeping players engaged as they have to continually come up with new clues.(3 plays)

12/17/2020

La Stanza

No Review Title

by wikweb

La Stanza is a rondel game where you move your around the board to spots in one of five rooms representing five different actions. Players collect the person tile they land on, and then can perform an action by paying a certain color person tile and inserting him into your lineup, replacing another person tile. Additionally, players must either be in the correct room or discard a pawn of the corresponding color. The number of person tiles of that color in your lineup determines the strength of the action. Actions of power 4 or greater are considered masterpieces which are worth a lot of points at the end. This all sounds pretty convoluted, but once you get it, it’s not that hard to understand. What is hard, though, is getting it to work with any degree of efficiency. Even when you do manage to make things work, though, it never really felt that satisfying as the actions were all pretty bland. I felt frustrated at some times, and bored at others. This one wasn’t my favorite.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Deckscape: Test Time

No Review Title

by wikweb

Deckscape: Test Time is an escape room-style game in which players are working together to solve a series of puzzles in as little time as possible. Here, the puzzles are all on oversized cards, and when the players figure out the solution, they flip the card over to determine whether they are right. Right or wrong the game proceeds, but an incorrect guess will be a penalty on the score at the end. After the card is flipped, it could provide an item or information that can help on future puzzles. This game quickly split itself into four piles of cards, and it seemed like at any given time, two of the puzzles could be solved, which provided the players with different things to do. However, toward the end only one deck of puzzles was available, which was a little more frustrating. On the whole though, I thought this was a good experience, and I look forward to trying the others in the series.

12/17/2020

Menara

No Review Title

by wikweb

Menara is a cooperative dexterity game in which players are trying to place wooden pillars in spots on oddly-shaped boards, and then stack more oddly-shaped boards on those pillars. Players draw a card one one of three decks (easy, medium, and hard) and perform the depicted action--usually involving placing or moving pillars. If they don’t believe they can complete the action, they can add to the required number of levels needed to win, which makes the game much harder. The players must have a structure of the required number of levels when either the cards, pillars, or boards run out, or they lose. Of course, knocking anything over results in a loss as well. This game is very difficult. Some of the cards from the more advanced decks ask players to move pillars from one level to a higher level, which can be actually impossible and is often just impossible per the laws of physics. I’m really not a fan of either dexterity or cooperative games myself, but what really got me here was just how impossible this one seemed.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Tsuro of the Seas

No Review Title

by wikweb

Tsuro of the Seas is a sequel to the light tile-laying game Tsuro with many of the same sensibilities. As in the original, players place a tile with a number of connecting lines next to their player pawn, and then move any pawns adjacent to that tile along the new lines. Pawns that hit the edge or the board or each other are eliminated, and the last player standing wins. This game adds dragon tiles, which start in the middle of the board and act as moving obstacles--if a pawn hits a dragon or the dragon moves onto a pawn, that pawn is eliminated. While this was a clever idea, the rules for placing and moving the dragons were a little obtuse and required rolling dice multiple times. I’m not a huge fan of the original, but I thought that these added rules really slowed down what’s supposed to be a quick filler, both in terms of explanation and actual gameplay.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Wingspan

No Review Title

by wikweb

Wingspan is a medium-weight engine-building game in which players play bird cards to different habitats. Birds played to the forest allow players to get more food, the cost to play bird cards. Birds played the the wetland allow players to draw more cards. Birds played to the field allow players to gain eggs, which is a secondary cost for bird cards that increases as more birds are played the same habitat. Additionally, the bird cards all have unique text--either a one-time effect, an enhancement of the three aforementioned actions, or a way to increase in points as the game proceeds. I quite enjoyed this one, as the various aspects of the game link together very well, plus the bird abilities really tend to make sense thematically. The art and components are also very appealing.(5+ plays)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Terraforming Mars: Colonies is an expansion that adds a number of colony boards to the game. Each colony board features a resource that builds up over time, and any player can pay 9 money or 3 energy to go claim. Additionally, players can spent 17 money to place a colony marker there, which accelerates how fast resources build up and also gets that player resources whenever someone trades there. There are also the usual assortment of project and corporation (but no prelude) cards. While I enjoyed playing this, Colonies is probably my least favorite of the expansions. There’s quite a bit of rules overhead for not much benefit added to the game. Additionally, paying 17 early on to buy a colony seemed a questionable use of resources.

12/17/2020

Welcome to...

No Review Title

by wikweb

Often billed as a roll-and-write, Welcome To... uses no dice, and instead has a few decks of cards that are flipped each turn that everyone can use to write down a house number on their score pad. Because of this Take It Easy-style play, the game has practically no interaction but can accommodate an arbitrary number of players. Players must write one of the three available numbers on any house on their board, provided that each street increasing house numbers from left to right. Numbers also have various features associated with them, many of which provide extra ways to score points, and some of which allow players to manipulate the numbers. One feature, a fence, allows players to draw fences on the pads, which is used to compete for being the first to fulfill certain fence patterns. The game is pretty fun but fairly bland, and the rules can be a little difficult to wrap one's head around the first time. The biggest plus of this game is being able to play any number of people, which is certainly a nice feature.(2 plays)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Exit: The Game – The Pharaoh's Tomb is an escape room-style game that's only meant to be played once. The game comes with a booklet full of locations and other oddities, a bunch of object cards, some miscellaneous items that are punched out of a sheet, and an assortment of clue cards. Like the other Exit games, this one cannot be passed onto other players once complete, as the game asks you to fold or cut up some of the booklet pages and cards. However, upon playing it, I thought that this wasn't something a little scotch tape couldn't fix. The Pharaoh’s Tomb presents a variety of puzzles that are both clever and engaging. While I found it a little difficult to get started, everything seemed to make sense, and the puzzles made great use of a number of different game components. This is probably my favorite game of the Exit series.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Disney Villainous

No Review Title

by wikweb

In Villainous, players take on the role of a specific villain from a classic Disney cartoon movie, such as Captain Hook or the Queen of Hearts. Each villain has their own player board, villain deck, and hero deck, each of which is completely unique--characters in a player's world will never actually interact with characters from another player's world. Additionally, each villain has his own game objective and set of card-driven game mechanics that all work fairly differently. The only interaction comes in the form of fate actions, which allow players to choose another player and draw two cards from that player's hero deck, and choose one to try to foil that player's plans. This game had a fairly interesting premise, and all of the varying gameplay certainly made it interesting. However, because of this, it was often difficult to tell how well other players are doing. My biggest complaint, though, is that the game really revolves around players figuring out who's about to win so that they can smack them down, which is really a mechanic I don't like. It can feel like the last few turns are about stopping others from winning instead of making progress yourself.(1 play)

12/17/2020

Fuji

No Review Title

by wikweb

Fuji is a cooperative dice-rolling game in which players are trying to escape from the erupting volcano to the safety of the town. Terrain tiles are laid out according to a scenario set-up. Players can move their pawns between 0-3 tiles, but whichever tile they choose to move to, they must have the best die roll at the table for the dice that count for that tile. For example, to move to a tile that says 4/Blue, the total pips on the player’s 4-pip dice and blue dice must exceed each other player’s pip total on those dice. While I’m not generally a fan of cooperative games, the concept of this game just felt so novel that I always was pretty engaged.(1 play)

12/17/2020

by wikweb

Civilization: A New Dawn is a new civilization game that revolves around five action cards that are in your tableau. Cards in slot 5 work the best and cards in slot 1 work the worst, but any card once used goes to the 1-slot, sliding everything else up. These cards can be upgraded via technology advancement. Board play is pretty streamlined, with only city tokens and influence markers on the board. Of course, attacking other players is still a thing, and you just need to be in range and use whatever your attack action card is. While I enjoyed the streamlined gameplay and the action card system, I thought the game really bogged down in the end as players would just spend turns trying to stop the leader from winning.(1 play)

12/17/2020