Friday, January 31, 2014

Eminent Domain, By Seth Jaffee

So tall. So commanding.
Eminent Domain is absolutely one of my favorite deckbuilding games, and I've played a TON of them.  Just look at that box - it's gorgeous, and the inside looks even better. The cards are glossy, the tokens are round as an apple and smooth as a baby's bottom. Even the cardboard pieces are thick and heavy in a way that reminds you of a nice walking stick on a long hike.

This one's got everything I love about deckbuilding games, and very little of the things I don't like, and for that reason it wins the "favorite game I discovered in 2013" award that I definitely didn't just make up.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: Betrayal at House on the Hill

Avalon Hill Games

by Brian Judkins

If there is one game that has more power than any other to seduce people into the world of tabletop gaming, it must be Betrayal at House on the Hill. I no longer have fingers and toes enough to count the number of players who have been drawn in and possessed by the absolute, unapologetic fun of this game. My friends beg me to break this out, promising dates in advance. They just want to play it again and again and again.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Forbidden Desert by Matt Leacock

TLDR: Would you rather play with your friends than against them?  Do you have a masochistic streak, and wouldn't mind losing TO the game?  Does the concept of being a thrill-seeking archaeologist lost in the desert in a race against time for survival appeal to you?  Do you have an irrational hatred of dice?  Did you once play Forbidden Island, and liked it?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, Forbidden Desert is the game for you!

Divinare, By Brett J. Gilbert

I'm just back from Chicago and a work trip, which tends to double as a chance to see my friends and swing by my favorite game shops.  The Windy City is where I discovered board games as an adult, and heading back is a big deal for me. I've always got an eye out for games I haven't heard of, so I can try new things and bring them back to my friends at home. 

Sure enough, Divinare hit the table Saturday night (thanks to Aileen at Wanderer's Refuge for teaching it!) and after a little initial hesitance, I was spellbound. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tokaido, By Antoine Bauza

Join your friends and travel the legendary and beautiful East Sea Road in Japan. Along the way, check in for hot baths, majestic landscapes, and brilliant food. If you don’t have the scratch to schedule the trip with your travel agent, fear not! Tokaido will get you closer to your dream vacation than you’d have imagined a box full of cardboard could.

I’ll admit to trying this game out only because AntoineBauza designed it. I’m glad I did, as it’s a marvelously-produced game, with attractive bits, bright colors, quality card stock, and a beautiful board. Tokaido sets up a world in which I feel less compelled to compete with my neighbors, and more compelled to spend a few days pondering the beauty found in a Pacific sunrise.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Preview: Sails of Glory ship packs

So a kickstarter reward landed on my porch recently.  My Marine level backing of Sails of Glory arrived, right ahead of the game landing in stores. This game takes the miniatures combat they refined with Wings of Glory and applies it to Napoleonic era ship combat.  I received four (currently Kickstarter only) ships, two frigates and two Ships of the Line.  I wanted to let people get a feel for the contents of these ship boxes here.  (Note, while I talk about four ships being received, at the time of writing this article I discovered one of my cats had hidden the second frigate.)

Each pack, for roughly sixteen US dollars, contains one ship, a base, a double sided ship card to go in the base, the control panel piece, and the maneuver deck.  Be gentle opening the boxes as the box does double as excellent storage for your ships.  These ships are currently listed as Kickstarter only... for now.  They may be for sale later but Ares Games has not yet decided.  To use the ships in full proper play, at least one player needs to have the Sails of Glory starter box. More images below the break...

Review: Rivals for Catan

Settlers of Catan has become a mainstay of the board gaming community in its many years of publication.   Its creator, Klaus Teuber, has published many variations of the game over the years. My favoriate variations on the basic Settlers theme has been his two player games, Rivals for Catan, and Starfarers of Catan.  Today we are going to take a look at Rivals for Catan in depth.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Review: Sentinels of the Multiverse Enhanced Edition (plus Infernal Relics/Rook City box)

The Enhanced Edition with Rook City and Infernal Relics in the box. Image courtesy user breegul on Boardgamegeek
So I've known about Sentinels of the Multiverse for a long time.  I actually just gave away my first edition copy in the drawing at the most recent Nerd Night event.  This is because I just obtained for Christmas a copy of the Enhanced Edition, which had been out of print for some time.  On top of that, I was fortunate enough to get the new Rook City / Infernal Relics printing that came in the same sized box that the Enhanced Edition came in.  But what is this game, and why should you give it a try?

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Wonders, By Antoine Bauza

Can you name all seven? 
There are some games that just always get to the table, because they're that good, and they fill some niche in my game collection perfectly. 7 Wonders is both of those things: an incredibly well-designed game that's easy to teach, fun to play, and perfect for any group of 3-7 people. If you've got a table, grab this game and play it - you can thank me later. 

I'm unabashedly continuing my obsession with all things Antoine Bauza (see previous reviews of Hanabi and Takenoko). I think you'll enjoy this game of empire building and "monumental" achievement as much as I have; frankly, 7 Wonders demands to played. If you're not convinced, read on! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Is it Ever Okay to Cheat?

I wrote the text below several years ago in my blog, A Gamer's Eye.  I thought it would be a nice first contribution, since the discussion about the chess game I mention in it came up at the last Nerd Night.  I also talk a little about my philosophy when teaching games, whether to a non-gamer, or just a new player who may take a couple of plays before it clicks.

Some time ago, I followed a link to an article about playing games with children and whether or not it was okay to let them win. There were some good arguments on both sides, but in general, it seemed the consensus was to not let them win.

Now, I'm not a parent, and I'm not going to tell people how to raise their kids, but I *am* going to shift to another, similar subject -- playing games with people who just plain aren't "good" at them. Most of the time, this is a non-gaming roommate, spouse, or other significant other with whom you want to play games, but they don't want to play them with you because from their point of view, they always lose.

Do you let them win? Even though it's cheating?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Star Wars X-Wing Minatures Game by Fantasy Flight Games

TL;DR: Do you like Star Wars?  Have you ever wanted to pilot an X-Wing or TIE Fighter in a dogfight, or on a mission to protect a shuttle with Rebellion leaders (or to blast those Rebel scum into a million pieces)?  What am I saying, of course you have.  Have you ever wanted to collect minis, as in Warhammer, but were intimidated by the cost, or the painting?  Can you plot out angle and flight paths in your mind, thinking two, three steps ahead of your enemies?  Then this is a game for you.

Preview of the Downwood Tales Expansion for Mice and Mystics *Contains Spoilers*

At Nerd Night I was given the chance to help playtest Downwood Tales which will be the next expansion for Mice and Mystics. I know what you’re thinking, pics or it didn’t happen. Since I don’t have any pictures of what transpired, just imagine it. Next time I will remember not to be engrossed in the game and get proof. If you have not heard of Mice and Mystics yet, please let me know what rock you can be found under and I will bring my copy for a demo. Short version: Mice and Mystics is a dungeon crawl that is simple enough to be kid friendly, but it also has a story that is deep enough for adults. Don’t let the cute mice fool you, there’s substance here.

It was designed by Jerry Hawthorne, sculpted by Chad Hoverter, and produced by PlaidHat Games. I’ll review the base game later, but what you want is a look into what is coming. They are calling this a “big box expansion”, which I’m translating as basically getting a full sized game. The Heart of Glorm gave you a couple of miniatures, some equipment, and a really fun story about the semi to fully undead. Downwood Tales gives you multiple playable characters, new villians, new minions, tiles, a ton of new mechanics, equipment, and story arcs. I don’t want to spoil everything, but here are some takeaways.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tales of the Arabian Nights, by Z-Man Games

Tales of the Arabian Nights is a game by Z-Man that melds many of the fantastic tales found in 1001 Nights and the board games we have all come to love. It was one of the first games that I bought oh so many (2) years ago. I've been playing board games for awhile, but Arabian Nights is really how my collection started. The box is beautiful, and it looks like an awesome coffee table piece. 

Z-man makes a ton of games that many people are familiar with (Carcassonne for one), but I wanted to start on the finge, and what I think of as one of their best products. Arabian Nights is a game that is dripping with theme, and (once you get the admittedly unweildy mechanic of passing books back and forth) as smooth as professional storytelling.

Love Letter, A Card Game By AEG

Love Letter, a simple card game comprised of 16 cards, is nonetheless so fun that it compelled me to record my first video review almost a year ago. Looking back, it wasn't naivety that led me to fall in love with the game, but rather original design, interesting art, and a near-perfect mix of bluffing and strategy. 

It's hard to imagine my collection of games without Love Letter. I've bought dozens of copies of the game as gifts for friends, and it's my go-to recommendation for anyone looking for a "light" game, or for new gamers looking for something to share with their friends. Truly, Love Letter is one of the best games I've ever played. 

Catch the video and my review after the jump. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Inkognito, by Ares Games

I picked up Inkognito on sale at my Friendly Local Game Store. To be honest, it was my wife's idea, and I went along with it because the art is lovely and the theme is interesting. Who doesn't love hidden information and espionage in Venice? 

I was hooked as soon as I opened the rulebook, and absolutely shocked that the game was originally released in 1988. Despite being almost as old as I am, the rule book, game design, flavor, and mechanics are as captivating as anything you'd see released today. Allow me to introduce: Inkognito!

Smash Up, by Paul Peterson

In the past few nights I hung out with friends, they whipped out a game that I was not acclimated with: Smash-Up. Up until recently I wasn't able to play a full game with them to conclusion, however when I decided to spent a day with them, they asked me to pick up two expansions before arriving for them: Awesome Level 9000 and The Obligatory Cthulhu Set.

So being the relative newbie of the trio, I agreed to play the base game with the Awesome Level 9000 expansion with each of us taking one faction from the expansion set and one faction from the core set.

But I am getting ahead of myself...

What is Smash-Up?

Terra Mystica, by Z-Man Games

Terra Mystica has one of the more fantastical titles in board gaming. The name promises passage fair to a far off land of mystery and adventure, and for the most part, it delivers on its grandiose promise. Terra Mystica is a very intricate game, no doubt intimidating many first time players with its expanse of tokens, charts, and colors. 

This is definitely not something I would drop onto a newer player, but anyone with a basic knowledge of German-style board games will immediately recognize the familiar elements for success.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: Cards Against Humanity

TL;DR: Cards Against Humanity is a party game in the same manner as Apples To Apples, but for people who spend too much time on the Internet. Though a "winner" can be crowned, "winning" is not the point of CAH; having fun (and coming up with the worst things imaginable) is. Though entirely dependent on having the right group of people, CAH can be a hoot and a half if you have the right mindset.

Shadows Over the Empire, by Babis Giannio

"Shadows Over the Empire" the latest from Artipia Games, recently landed on doorsteps across the United States. With amazing artwork, a politically intriguing storyline, and a varying use of the modular area control / area influence card mechanic, I fell in love with the project via its Kickstarter campaign and found that I had to pledge.

After about a month delay, it finally landed on my doorstep around the new year and I cracked it open to play with friends within a week thereafter. This is a collection of our first impressions of the game.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Trains, A Deckbuiding Game By AEG

Trains3Dbox1A review by Andrew Christopher Enriquez
I just got a game of Trains in with my wife for the first time. She’s a big fan of deck building games, while I enjoy a more tactical board game. This is a perfect marriage. Total success! To be honest with only 2 players I want smaller boards. The game pieces are so small though, so I can totally custom make a 2 player board on a single 8.5 by 11.

For those of you who haven’t played trains yet, I’ll give you a quick run down. Trains is a deck building game in a similar vein of Dominion, but without the single buy/single action restrictions.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: By Mike Selinker

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords (the base set) is a game for 1-4 players, expandable to 6 with a character add on pack

Paizo Publishing is a company that many may know for their excellent Dungeons and Dragons alternative, Pathfinder.

So when they announced a card game, my initial reaction was skepticism. But upon opening up the game and getting a few play throughs in I quickly become a huge fan. This game attempts to recreate some of the core concepts of a pen and paper RPG. Perfect for new players or people who find themselves playing alone. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Hanabi, A Card Game By Antoine Bauza

As I’ve journeyed through the world of board games and tasted the flavors and smelled the smells and seen the sights that everyone is familiar with (Settlers, Ascension, Ticket to Ride, Lords of Waterdeep, etc.) I’ve developed a sense for what to expect from a game. It’s not that I judge a book by its cover, but more like I know how a jacket would feel on my shoulders before putting it on – or how a pair of shoes will fit by looking at them on the rack. It’s not often that a game surprises me.

Hanabi is a game that surprised me.

Out of the Box: Solo-Role Pandemic

Ah yes, Pandemic, arguably the ultimate in co-op games against a really difficult game board. An insane amount of fun and strategy involved with other players, but what happens when attempted solo?

And I don't mean "solo" as in one person plays multiple roles. I mean solo as in just one role against the board.

Ballsy? Of course.

Crazy? You bet.

Challenging? You have no idea.