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Player Avatar
1
Go to the Stone Age page
10
Toondude01 {Family Gamer} Dec 15th, 2017
“Get ready for a fun marathon...”

Stone Age is a great game, but it does take a long time and like many other worker placement games you really don’t know who wins until the final count. I taught my 9 year old how to play (even though he’s below the age threshold) and he loves it, but it gets long for him. It’s somewhat of a family game in our house, but stick with 12+ and you will enjoy it more.

The components are extremely high quality I have a first edition copy so I can’t speak to the later editions, but I am greatly impressed by the quality.

It’s not a quick play, but there is literally 12 ways to win which makes it a fun experience.

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1 out of 1 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
1
Go to the Sheriff of Nottingham page
8
Toondude01 {Family Gamer} Dec 14th, 2017
“Surprisingly Fun for the whole family”

I was pleasantly surprised that this game actually became a quick favorite for my kids (9 and 6). They enjoy trying to sneak chickens with crossbows into Nottingham…

It’s easy to explain and teach, it allows for several paths of victory so there a strategic component to acquiring points which his always nice.

It’s a great bluffing game with a cool theme. We play it over and over with our family. I would highly suggest this be a game you own.

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2 out of 4 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
5
North Star Games fan
Go to the Deckscape: The Fate of London page
 
Tiana901 {Family Gamer} Dec 10th, 2017
“Escape Room Game as a deck of cards”

This is a ‘pocket’ escape room game from dV Giochi. This escape room game has a deck of cards, hence Deckscape. There are no separate instructions, you just start reading the first card and follow the directions from there. Each card has a number, and you start with card number 1. The cards will explain the story to you as well. London needs your help!

As the puzzles are presented to you, when you believe you have the answer, you flip over that card which will tell you the correct answer. If you got the solution wrong, you mark an X on your score sheet. At the end of your game you will have a score based on the time it took you to solve and the number of X’s.

There are two ‘clue’ cards, which have very simple clues for some other cards. If you still are not sure how to solve the puzzle, then you can take a guess and flip the card over.

You will also find some ‘objects’ as you go through the cards. You hold onto objects and they can be used to solve puzzles.

I was excited to play this game. There was something appealing about the deck of cards to solve puzzles, without any extra pieces, like decoder. It just sounded like the focus would be on puzzle solving, which I enjoy.

I liked the design and the artwork. I enjoyed the variety of puzzles. There were some really inventive ways to solve some of the puzzles, which I also really liked. What I did not like was that there are some puzzles you will come to that require something else like an object or information, and there is nothing on that card to indicate that you need an object or other information to solve it. For the most part, nothing tells you that you need an object to solve a certain puzzle or which object goes with which puzzle. Although some hints do say you need a certain object to solve the puzzle. Most of them I figured out, but there were ones that I didn’t get. One of them I still don’t get after reading the solution.

What I found most frustrating, was that when I came to a puzzle I could not solve, I couldn’t tell whether I just wasn’t getting it or whether I was missing an object or information. So I couldn’t tell the difference between ‘try harder’ or try something different’ versus, try another puzzle, because you can’t solve this one yet.

Although this game has some puzzles you can solve in parallel, I don’t know how well to would work of more than two people. I think 3 or more people would have trouble seeing the cards at the same time, or there would be some passing cards around, which could slow down the game.

Overall, this game wasn’t a good match for me. It’s also at the same price point as other escape room games but I don’t know that their components have the same value.

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4 out of 4 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
5
North Star Games fan
Go to the Escape The Room: Secret of Dr.Gravely's Retreat page
 
Tiana901 {Family Gamer} Nov 16th, 2017
“more of a Party Game Room Experience”

This is a fun puzzle solving game that emulates an escape room experience and is modeled after the “how to host a murder” style party games. The Thinkfun web site even has text you can use for your invites, and costume and period music suggestions.

The game starts as you arrive at Dr Gravely’s spa retreat. You have won a free trip there, but all is not as it seems. You and your fellow guests start to unravel the mystery so that you can escape the spa.

There are objects to explore in the game, and several items in envelopes that you can open when you are instructed to do so in the game. As you solve some puzzles, it leads to other puzzles and more to solve.

When I selected this game from a game library, at a local convention, I did not realize it was meant to be played at a party. We just had two players, which worked out fine. The game says it is for 3-8 players. I think the game elements are a bit small for up to 8 people to share. I also don’t remember a lot of elements that could be solved in parallel, so I think this game might work best with 3-5 people, but it will depend on your group and how active all the solvers want to be. Even playing with one other person, there were some puzzles, I really wanted to grab and have a try, (although I waited my turn). Most of the puzzles have a visual component, and people will need to look at the elements. There are a few puzzles where you have to manipulate some elements, and only one person can effectively work on the puzzle at a time.

The web site also has game hints that you can use if you get stuck. The hints are tiered, where you can get one hint, or a 2nd hint or the solution, if you need it. I think a good hint system is important with these types of games. In a real escape room you would have someone to watch your progress and give you hints.

The story in this game is well imagined and you feel like you are really in the story as you solve the puzzles. I found the story engaging, but the puzzles were not very challenging. They took time to resove, but mostly because some physical manipulation was involved with the game pieces. A seasoned puzzle solver might not find them challenging enough, and some playersmight be looking for more of a puzzle challenge. Although I only played the game with one other player, I believe that with the strong story element, people looking for more of a party game experience, might enjoy this more than some of the other escape type games.

This is the first game I have played from Thinkfun’s Escape the Room series and I would be interested in playing another one of the games (I think the only one available now is Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor) for the fun experience but not for a big puzzle challenge. However, these would not be my first choice for a game room game, because it’s not exactly what I am looking for. Also, I am not much of a horror lover, and I found the story of Dr Gravely a little sinister and creepy for my tastes, but that could be a plus for some gamers.

The web site also tells you how to reassemble all the pieces so that you can get the game ready for the next group of players.

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7 out of 7 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
9
USA
I play blue
El Dorado
Guardian Angel
Go to the Islebound page
8
Stargazer1 {Avid Gamer} Nov 8th, 2017
“A Good Sail Lost in the Fog”

INTRODUCTION
Islebound takes place in the seas surrounding a generic fantasy archipelago. Each player controls a fledgling nation striving to build an empire. The theme is fairly well represented in the game. The object of the game is to construct buildings, conquer and/or ally with towns and collect gold to become the best sea-faring nation which scores the most Renown. Islebound is for 2 to 4 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 1.5 hours. Islebound is at its best with 4 players.

COMPONENTS
The components are very good. The double-sided modular Sea boards are mounted on thick cardboard, but are prone to slight warping. There are thick cardboard tokens, wood playing pieces and plastic dice. The large and small size linen stock cards are durable and have average artwork. The artwork on the boards and cards is a bit cartoonish but colorful and well done. The artwork uses some pastel colors which gives the game a very warm feeling. The rulebook is only 14 pages, is well written and organized, and has some examples of play. My one and only complaint with the components is the box insert. It is completely worthless and should be thrown away.

SET UP
Set-up for Islebound is easy but does take a few moments. Each player receives a ship board, three starting crew members, seven gold, player cubes in their choice of color and a reference card. The Event and Reputation decks are shuffled and placed in their respective places on the Renown board along with a few other tokens. The building deck is shuffled, and then five buildings are drawn and placed face up in a row. The Sea boards are arranged to form the game board and players pick a home port.

GAME MECHANICS
Starting with the first player, and proceeding clockwise, each player takes a turn. The game continues in this manner until a player has eight buildings, then each player receives one more turn. On their turn a player moves his ship and then performs one of the following actions:

VISIT
The player pays the fee to visit the town and perform the listed action. A player can gain resources such as fish, wood or knowledge, construct buildings, rest their crew, gain Renown and Influence, recruit crew members and pirates or enlist the aid of sea monsters.

DIPLOMACY
Players use their accumulated Influence to ally with any town which flies a turquoise flag. The player spends Influence Points equal to the town’s value to ally with the town. The player then receives Spoils or gold equal to the town’s value and may then Visit the town. The player places one of his cubes next to the town’s flag to claim ownership and no longer pays a fee on future visits to the town.

ATTACK
Players use their pirates and sea monsters to attack a town flying a red flag. A player commits a certain number of his pirates and/or sea monsters to the attack and rolls 1D6 for each. The pirates and sea monsters give attack strength according to the die rolls. If the sum of the attack strength is equal to or greater than the town’s value then the attack is successful. The player discards any pirates and/or sea monsters used in the attack and then takes Spoils and may Visit the town similar to the Diplomacy action. The player places one of his cubes next to the town’s flag to claim ownership and no longer pays a fee on future visits to the town.

HUNT FOR TREASURE
The player simply takes the gold that has been accumulating due to fees for Visits to towns.

If possible, players may also perform any number of the Free Actions below:
BUY A BUILDING
The player may purchase one of the five face up buildings for gold equal to the Renown value in the upper left corner of the card. The player places the purchased building in front of him and receives any of the building’s special abilities for the rest of the game.

COMPLETE EVENT
If the player moved his ship to a town where an event is occurring he may perform that event. There are always two events occurring at any given time. Events generally require paying resources and/or exhausting crew to gain Influence.

Once each player finishes his last turn, each player then tallies his Renown from buildings, gold and the Renown track. The player with the most Renown wins.

THOUGHTS
Islebound is easy to learn and play. Turns play quick with minimal downtime. However, Islebound offers a good amount of strategy than at first glance. There are many paths to victory which offer players interesting decision-making. For these reasons, Islebound will appeal to casual as well as avid gamers.

The designer, Ryan Laukat, really stepped up his game with this design. He rectified the criticisms of his first game, Above and Below, to produce a masterpiece. Gone is the steady march to game end, replaced by a variable game end mechanic which allows players a bit more time to develop an economic engine. He made it much easier to ready crew members by eliminating the need for beds. In Islebound, each crew member is readied when the player rests his crew. Ryan also eliminated some of the luck/randomness and incorporated more player interaction in Islebound. There is much more planning in Islebound and a very nice balance of luck/randomness to provide good variety in game play. The base game has limited player interaction, players can attack other players’ towns. However, there are optional rules which allow players to trade items and raid each other’s ships providing a more than adequate amount of player interaction.

Islebound is a fun, light-hearted, easy play wrapped in a package which features player interaction, nice game length, decent components, minimal downtime and good replay value. It really slipped under the radar but truly is a diamond in the rough. Islebound would make an excellent addition to your collection.

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9 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful

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