Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Set Course for Ludicrous Speed: A Review of Race for the Galaxy

I've been watching Cosmos lately.  Have you seen this show?  It's hosted by the poster boy for modern day science, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and takes a big-budget look at our world and the universe as a whole.  One specific episode was about black holes and things in the universe well beyond our reach.  Dr. Tyson talked about pulsars, event horizons, "dark stars", and just how far a light year actually is.  This show piques my interest in an amazing ways and I find myself waiting anxiously for the next episode in the series.  

I'll bet you're wondering how I'm going to tie this into a board game review.  Well, the common themes here are space ("The Final Frontier"™) and things I can't wait to see again.  That's right, I love space and I cannot wait to play Race for the Galaxy again.

Under Two Reviews #8: Krosmaster Arena by Nicolas Degouy & Édouard Guiton

"Under Two Reviews" is a weekly video series in which we take a look at tabletop games and present them to our readers in under two minutes.

War. War never changes... Two adorable factions enter the arena for battle in this tactical skirmish game. Watch our video and learn how you too can take part in the war.
It'll be quick. I promise.

Enjoy the video after the jump!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Shadow Over Westminster, by Robert Huss

On a shadowy evening in London, three cloaked figured gathered in a hidden Agency to discuss their plans. The Outsider, The Watcher, and The Illuminati Shadow joined forces to discover, and ultimately defeat, an unknown Cataclysm sure to poison the world with Evil.

Given no warning, the heroes immediately found Darkness creeping into the University nearby, unbeknownst to the population of Westminster, but a sure threat all the same. Unsure how to push back the roiling wickedness, the trio sought out Cult Activity in the Underground, seeking clues as to the origins of their plight. After a few horrid hours sneaking silently through the back alleys of London, the Agents returned to the University to pour over their findings. As clear as day, the danger facing the city was the result of a Hive Mind coming to dominate the people of Westminster, then all of the Continent – then the world.

Though endowed with powers unnatural to normal humans, the Agents were ultimately incapable of holding back the darkness spreading through our great city, thanks to the media unwittingly spreading the Hive Mind’s influence. I’m only allowed to tell you this tale because I gave into the Hive Mind early – the rest of you weak, struggling humans will be consumed by its darkness!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ghost Stories by Antoine Bauza


"If your cooperative board game isn't hard enough, then players won't come back and play it."

This is what Antoine Bauza told The Nerd Nighters in an interview. In his Cooperative game Ghost Stories, he's definitely taken the first part of his advice to heart, as Ghost Stories is arguably one of the hardest co-op board games out there. Don't let the difficulty drive you away because, all things considered, it is one of the only pure co-op games that always seems to find its way to the table at my game nights. The challenge adds to the mystique of the game, as the game comes with a score sheet so you can record how close you've come to victory until you finally achieve it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dominate 19th Century Commerce with Iron Horses

Iron Horses by Chris Rossetti takes you back into the 19th century when Railroads dominated commerce. Climb aboard any one of Lydon Rail Company’s four railways and race to be the first train to successfully deliver $1,000,000 in resources! Be wary of what lies ahead, as setbacks are bound to happen! Tariffs will slow our delivery, maintenance will stop you in your tracks and hijackers are eager to steal your payload! Fix what you can, deliver the goods and chug along to victory! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Under Two Reviews #7: Eldritch Horror By Corey Konieczka and Nikki Valens

"Under Two Reviews" is a weekly video series in which we take a look at tabletop games and present them to our readers in under two minutes.

Eldritch Horror from Fantasy Flight Games proves that it's hard to keep a good monster down. Like, really hard. New gates keep spawning. Watch our video and learn a bit about Mythos cards and Encounter decks. It'll be quick. I promise.

Enjoy the video after the jump!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ticket to Ride, by Alan R. Moon

It’s no secret that Days of Wonder is one of my favorite game publishers. They put out quality games like clockwork, typically elegant, re-playable, and beautiful to look at. Ticket to Ride is the epitome of what DoW creates – a game so simple a six year old could play it, but compelling enough that it’s the second-best selling hobby board game in the US, and one of a very small number of games that I see in every single game library I come across.

Ticket to Ride is for everyone. I love maps and numbers, and TTR has both – but if you love quick turns, little down time, and plenty of tension, well, it’s got those things too. It’s also beautiful – the board, the pieces, the cards, all become something wonderful when laid out on a table. This game feels important. Every time I pick up the box I’m surprised by how heavy it is, and every time I play it, I’m surprised again by how much I enjoy it, despite having played 500+ times before.

If you’re a board game enthusiast, odds are you already own TTR, or at least have played it enough times to have an opinion. If you don’t own it, or haven’t played it, put this on the top of your list. It’s among the three games I ALWAYS recommend to a person starting a new game collection, and I think it should be federally mandated that the app has to be on every iPad. If you’re not already convinced, read on!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Under Two Reviews #6: Glass Road by Ewe Rosenberg

"Under Two Reviews" is a weekly video series in which we take a look at tabletop games and present them to our readers in under two minutes.

Glass Road from Z-Man Games proves that looks can be decieving. It's neither as long or complex as the theme and components would lead you to believe. This isn't to say it's simple. It has quite a bit of strategy! Come watch our video and learn all about how building a villiage can be strategic. It'll be quick. I promise.

Enjoy the video after the jump!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DFWNN Custom Summoner Wars Deck

JR and I have been discussing creating a Nerd Night faction in Summoner Wars for a while. Custom factions are pretty common in the Summoner Wars community but as this is Nerd Night specific, I figured I would share this here as well. No it isn't a playable deck! I'm sure it's incredibly broken :), but please enjoy.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Solo Variant Review: Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy by Michiel Hendriks

TLDR: Legacy uses worker placement and card management mechanics to tell the story of a dynasty, and in the solo variant, the story of a dynasty in reverse. More than anything, it tells a story.  If you have played "story" games before (such as Gloom) and enjoyed them, then Legacy is probably a game to add to your collection. I know I did!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Coloretto, by Michael Schacht

Elegant: adjective
1) pleasingly graceful and stylish in appearance or manner.
2) pleasingly ingenious and simple.

Coloretto is an elegant game, as much or more than any other I’ve learned recently. I think of “elegance” as referring to a game I can learn very easily, but that is enjoyable enough to warrant multiple plays. An elegant game has a certain feel, it tickles the senses in a certain way. If you’ve felt that before, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Simple and fun, easy to teach and worth playing multiple times – these are the things that get my attention when I learn a new game. I’m always looking for things to bring to the table between long games or with family, and Coloretto fits the bill perfectly. It’s also a “press your luck” game that doesn’t feel like it’s high-pressure, so it’s a neat way to introduce people to the idea of making decisions based on the chance of good outcomes without overwhelming them with numbers or rules.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Star Realms, by Rob Dougherty

Star Realms places you in the command of a fleet of ships preparing to do battle on a galactic scale. In this deck-building game, players compete head to head to eliminate their opponent(s) and be the last man (or woman!) standing. This is a departure from the victory-point-based scoring system in most deck-building games like Dominion, DC Deckbuilder, and Ascension, and introduces a few mostly-new wrinkles to a genre I greatly enjoy.

From the co-founder of Ascension (and a successful professional Magic player, at that) this game is well-designed, easy to teach, and easy to play. I submit Star Realms as a game that should be in your fleet - so read on, space captain! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, by Blizzard Entertainment

Hearthstone is a collectable card game played entirely online, produced by Blizzard and similar to the World of Warcraft CCG, but with various features only possible in an online environment. Hearthstone is free to play on the computer (Mac or PC) or on the iPad, and while you can pay for things in game, it’s easily possible to be competitive and enjoy the game without ever spending a penny – I know, I’ve done it!

It’s not as deep or intricate as other CCG’s (like Magic: the Gathering), and it doesn’t offer the same visceral pleasure of buying and opening packs at your Friendly Local Game Store, but Hearthstone is a perfect mix of a compelling game, elegant design, beautiful graphics, and a top-notch interface that’s redefining online games. I feel about this game like I did when I saw The Matrix for the first time: “Whoa.” This is something new, something that’s raised the bar.

If you’ve got an internet connection and a few hours to burn, go download Hearthstone and give the tutorial a try. It’s like traveling to Italy or eating some great Thai food… I can explain why it’s great (and I will after the jump) but to truly understand it, you have to do it for yourself.

(Bonus: I’m posting a short Q&A with Phillip Jenne, competitive HS player and co-designer of NOVUS, at the end of this review. Enjoy!)