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Critic - Level 2
Go to the Tokaido page
Gartic {Power Gamer} Sep 20th, 2014
“fun little game”

Fun factor – 6/10
Replay value – 5/10
Components – 8/10
Learning Curve – 8/10

Fun Factor: This game is extremely light, basically you just move up the board and visit places. There is some thought that goes into what location to go to next but its best if you want something you can play with new people or people who like art. The game really just wants to show you how pretty it is and give you the experience of a traveler, which is fine and works well mostly because the game is very nice looking.

Replay Value: The game does change depending on what traveler you end up with by a fair degree but really this game is not the one that you are going to want to play over and over again. I like having it in my collection for the occasional time when I want something light but there isn’t too much to come back to over and over again here.

Components: This is most likely one of the best games for all around visual design. The inside of the box is very minimalist but holds everything nicely, The components are really fantastic looking and the theme of the game comes through amazingly thanks to the art.

Learning Curve: This game will take you no time at all to learn to play, sadly there isn’t really much to master here either. I think this game is good for kids as well because it will hold their attention just long enough while teaching them to play and then the game itself doesn’t go on too long.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
1 out of 3 gamers thought this review was helpful
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Intermediate Reviewer
Novice Advisor
Go to the Magnum Opus page
Anders Nordstrom {Avid Gamer} Sep 20th, 2014
“New twist on deckbuidling”

I backed Magnum Opus kickstarter campaign and waited eagerly for a year to receive the actual game. The components seemed nice, and the videos explaining the concept seemed nice as well.

Now I’ve finally had the chance to try it out, and I’m not disappointed. The game is a deckbuilder, and for those of youy who may be unfamiliar with the concept you start with a small deck of cards. When it is your turn you draw a hand of cards from that deck, and as the game progresses you try to get your hands on better cards to add to your deck, making it possible to perform cooler actions.

The goal of this game is to create the philosophers stone. First player to do that wins the game, there are no points or scoring tracks. All you have to do is to make a succesful experiment with the three correct ingredients. Unfortunately you do not know which ingredients are the correct ones when the game starts.

The main focus in this game is a matrix of 4 x 4 spots, each matching a specific combination of reagents (four green located on the x-axis and 4 blue on the y-axis). You collect ingredients and when you have one green and one blue they will point to a specific place in the matrix. In that place is a card dictating the effect of your experiment (for instance allowing you to grab special cards or some annoying ones that turn your gold into lead…). Each reagent card have a difficulty number, and by adding your two numbers together you see how hard it is to succeed with the experiment (you must roll at least that number on a 8-sided die).

Before anyone have tried a specific combination for the first time noone knows what will happen (the effect card is face down). The first player to succesfully perform a specific experiment also gain a research card as a bonus. Those are more powerful cards that you want to have in your deck. If you fail your experiment you gain a xp-token that can be spent later to modify a result. It’s a good idea to gather a few of those before trying the final transmutaion of the philosopher’s stone, since it contains three reagents instead of just two it’s more difficult to achieve.

Three of the spots in the matrix also gives you Magnum Opus clues, revealing one of the three ingredients needed to win the game (in secret, only the player succeding such an experiment will get the clue).

So, when it is your turn you first have the chance to play one or two cards to grant you money or draw more cards from the deck. Unlike for instance Dominion this is capped to two actions, and during normal circumstances you will not be able to play more such cards. This is your steady income.

In the next phase you can buy or sell reagents.

Next you can manipulate your working bench where all the experiments take place (the table in front of you). You can store reagents on the table between turns, and this is where you can add, remove or swap reagents to the table.

After this you may perform an action, for instance try to perform the experiment with the cards on your table. If you have enough money you can also pay an assistant to perform an experiment to another place in the matrix allready discovered to benefit from the effect from it.

Finally the rules tells you to pause and consider. ;)

The effects of the experiments are randomized, so the game will offer sligthly different options each game. Each turn goes fast, and obviously luck is a factor, though not as big as in Dominion, since you can save cards on your table to assure that you have the right combination of reagents when needed.

Like almost all deckbuilders the interactions between players are minimal, so if that puts you down you may not like it. I have no problems with that and found this game took a refreshing new angle on the deckbuilding mechanics.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
5 out of 6 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
AEG fan
Go to the San Juan page
Topdecker {Avid Gamer} Sep 19th, 2014
“San Juan - super game app for Android too”

San Juan is the happy wild-child of Puerto Rico. It has a bit more luck, but it plays in like 1/3 the time of PR and is done before it overstay’s it welcome.

The basic premise of San Juan is that you start with 4 cards in your hand and single, poor farm on the board. The starting player selects one of the roles and game play commences. The roles are:

Governor – starts a building phase and gets to build for 1 card less
Producer – starts production phase and get bonus production
Trader – starts a trading phase and gets an extra trade
Councillor – draws 5 cards and keeps one, every one else draws 2 and keeps 1
Prospector – draw a card, no other players get to draw

So the first play select a role and everyone acts on it. Then the second player selects a role and everyone gets to act on it, and so on until the round is completed. The player the selects the role always gains an advantage related to the role.

One a round is completed, the second player gets to select from all of the roles and the next round begins. Each go around is about building up enough cards to purchase the things that you need. The trick is that the game ends once someone has built 12 structures and the game is constant trade-off between quality and keeping up with the frenetic pace that the AI players seem to prefer.

San Juan is as much about denial of advantage as it is about seeking an advantage. For instance, you might notice that you can sell a single good – and no one else has anything to sell. That might be a good time to gain a small card advantage. The Prospector role is the ultimate me-me-me role, but the card advantage can be comparatively small to other actions.

In terms of interface and presentation, the Android version gets high marks for both. Watching cards being dealt about the table is a little overkillish, but it does help you maintain better knowledge about the real sequence of play.

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5 out of 5 gamers thought this review was helpful
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Go to the The Settlers of Catan page
Alex G {Casual Gamer} Sep 19th, 2014
“Meplees expansion”

Played this last wkend with a twist. We used meplees to make you heroes that had special effects. Thief, wizard, knight, queen and dragon. They all start at one of your towns and you can only move one hero at the beginning of your turn at a time. Effects take place on the tile that has your town or opponents tile depending on the hero. The wizard will change any item produced by that tile into something else ie on wood tile can change it into what you need. The thief does the blind steal, opponent holds up his cards and you take one. The thief must make it to a settlement in order to steal. A knight a can stop a thief or stop the dragon from doing more damage.queen gives out rewards to her subject . She will give you what ever tile that you own that resource. The best is the dragon, active with a role of 7, burns all the cards that tile represents that are in your had. As long as the dragon is there you get no goods from that tile. If the dragon comes back 4 times to the same tile, that land is considered burnt and will never produce anything again. These rules made the game go faster and gave it more of an adventure feel .

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3 out of 8 gamers thought this review was helpful
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Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter
Go to the Smash Up: The Big Geeky Box page
HaiKulture {Avid Gamer} Sep 19th, 2014
“The Short Geeky Review (Then Medium Then Long)”

The Shortness

If you enjoy Smash Up – it’s a box.

You need this.

(Bring on Jack the Downgrader!)

The Mediumness

Replay Value: Once you put your cards in it – it will be a tabletop staple

Components: As boxy as boxes get. Length. Width. Depth. All accounted for! 5 Stars!

Easy to Learn: Slight learning curve on shrink wrap removal and getting the lid off. After a few dry runs – storage galore!

Family Gamer (YES):Young. Old. Who doesn’t love boxes!

Social Gamer (YES):Definitely a social centerpiece and object of discussion. Plus the lid holds nachos.

Strategy Gamer (YES):Do you put the Locations cards in front of the Factions? Behind? Should you sort alphabetically? By expansion? A real brain burner.

Casual Gamer (YES): Eh, it’s a box…why not? *indifferent shrug*

Avid Gamer (YES): You need it all! You need everything Smash Up! This is part of the addiction. And you can put everything you need into this slice of the everything you need.

Power Gamer (YES): This box means business. This box has gravitas. This box makes a resounding thump on the table that says prepare for an evening of meaning business and having gravitas.

The Longness

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Cardboard Trough

How does one review a box? Well – I figured I would adopt the same tongue-in-cheek manner AEG has in regard to their glorious box. After all it did have its birthing pangs as a bit of Tabletop Day funness.

But if I can get serious for a moment.

As the household sorter for the various bits and chits of cardboard goodness that cross our threshold I wish I could post an open letter to Game Designers/Manufacturers and stick it dead center in the Town Square of the Cardboard Kingdom.

Dear Game Designers/Manufacturers,

Enough with these fancy air moulded plastic trays! (or whatever they are called. The Boy isn’t home right now to ask) Save your money!


P.S. Thank you for sharing your imagination with our tabletops! :):)

I hate those plastic trays. I’m glad our recycling truck takes them.

I can count on 10 fingers and a few toes a game box I open that still has a plastic tray in it. (Good job Pathfinder ACG!)

Most of the time they are in the blue bin before I am done punching cardboard and sorting decks. Yes – they keep things all nice and happy during shipping. No – they don’t do a lick of good once things are baggied and banded.

Other times they malinger until the first expansion and then become consolidation pointless. To the recycle bin – to be repurposed into future pointless plastic trays!

Some very nice ones I keep – to be Exacto’d ™ into a token holder or trough – once the name of the game box becomes empty space.

I don’t know how many Kickstarter updates I have received about the in’s and out’s and meticulous design paradigms of plastic trays.

I weep.

Heroes of Metro City the real arch-villain is your tray.

Smash Up was no exception to the Curse of the Plastic Tray from the get-go. Cards jumped the meticulously measured ridges. Throw it in the Game Night Game Bag or even stare at it too earnestly and you had a Schrodinger’s Box of odds on dead cats…ummm…cards upon opening. Smash Up became just that – smashed-up. The first ten minutes of gaming becoming Sort-Out.

Two expansions later the tray started getting jammy and yet the cards would still shift like the Chase Vault.

Bottom Line: If you are a card heavy game (especially a deck builder), there is no need to be fancy. Cardboard troughs and dividers. Pleeeeaaasse. Easy storage. (Dividers with snazzy art are always nice – I’m still looking at you Marvel Legendary GRRRRRR!)

The AEG Gang heard the wails and gnash of tooth upon tooth.

And now – there’s a box.

It’s a good box.

(Let’s see if @Jim and The BGdot Clubhouse will let me link a picture)

Big Geeky Box/Bad Geeky Picture

(Is it there? If not I will have to do some hefty post-review editing :P If it is – I referenced it against the old box. It is glorious! And there’s my beloved Gilly The Perky Goth. Hi! *GLEE*)

The Box It is indeed a good box. The trough walls are thick. The three troughs are plentiful. The base and 3 expansions leave about 70% of pristine empty space for more expansion goodness. It tantalizes. I dub it Excessivity Necessity!

(I shot the Alderac Boys a quick tweet about reskinning for Thunderstone, Nightfall, and Doomtown. They said the design has worked well for L5R and then repurposed for The Smash. “Definitely possible.” Well – that was vague, but promising.)

Foam Blocks There are six of them. They fit tight and support the cards. I have a box full of AEG foam blocks from Thunderstone. Always useful.

Dividers One word: WOW! Definitely not your standard ‘let’s just oversize some cards and call them dividers’. (And definitely definitely not let’s just throw some bland oversized cards in without even divider names. Maybe we’ll give out some stickers at a Con. I mean for a licensed comic product let’s really go out of the way to keep art variety down to a bare minimum. *long, hard stare at Legendary)

These dividers are wonderful! They aren’t even oversized cards. They are thick plastic like a credit card. You could open a lock Magnum P.I. style with these suckers! Who doesn’t want that in a divider???

Geek Faction/Locations Not the best, not the worst. It was a Tabletop Day gag after all. If you like the W-squared’s mug – you’ve got it. If you want to consume Felicia Day’s soul so you can become her *looks slyly* – you’ve got something to stare at to bring on the hoodoo. It is a pretty decent ‘Screw You’ deck when paired with a strong faction. Cards let you gain bonus VP, cancel other player’s actions and mess with their decks, stack your own deck, and even hijack someone else’s card/minion for a round.

Seriously?!?! A Nine??

Part of what I consider when musing over a game or expansion is: Does it do what it set out to do?

The Big Geeky Box is a box. It did exactly what it set out to do. Throw in some extremely swag dividers and a chaotic faction. I can offer no criticism.

The unspoken motto of The Smash is ‘Everything’s so broken that in the end it all works’ after all. ;)

Smash Up as a whole is a pretty solid 9 on my tabletop. I can’t say The Box is any different. My cards are now neat and happy and it will probably hit the table more because of it.

My only Con for The BGB is the price point. $20? *eep* A bit on the high side for some empty space. BUT when you are surfing that 30% Discount Web and looking for the one little thing to tip you into the $100 free shipping zone – it is the perfect pick-up. ;)

Thanks for The Box AEG!

Now….how about some randomizers?

Pretty please?


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18 out of 19 gamers thought this review was helpful

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