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2
Shadow Elves - Summoner Wars
Go to the Summoner Wars: Alliances page
9
Shrike {Avid Gamer} Jul 3rd, 2015
“Summoner Wars gets deep”

After playing 10 or so games with the Alliances factions, I was surprised at the depth that it adds to the respective groups. All of the new factions can benefit from the original faction decks and their cards fit well in many of those decks. Also, it allows for new ideas to be brought to the deck building side of Summoner Wars. I have always been impressed by the simplicity of Summoner Wars, it is easy to teach, but with the new dual-factions, I have to really think about the cards that my opponent may be playing.

The Alliances set also adds many new mechanics, which add some life into this game. Examples include: the new Event Abilities for the Sand Cloaks, Runes for the Tundra Guild, and managing the Prison pile for the Cave Filth.

This set is a must buy for any fan of Summoner Wars, but also is a great way to enter into the game. The decks may be more complex, but are still accessible to any player. I have taught this game with starter sets, the Master Set, and the Alliances set to players of all ages. These decks are more complex than the originals, but still very accessible to any player that picks them up.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
5 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
3
Private eye
Go to the Takenoko page
6
MamaGamer {Casual Gamer} Jul 3rd, 2015
“Cute, Cute, Cute!”

Takenoko is a game I bought with my Mothers Day gift card because I wanted it! After watching it played on Tabletop, I thought it was just adorable and a good change of pace from the heavier games we seem to gravitate towards here in the MamaGamer household. I also thought it would be a good game to have on hand when we have younger visitors. So far, although everyone who has played it has enjoyed it, it hasn’t seen as much table time as I would have hoped. Here is how it is ranking on my essentials list:

Game Play: The mechanics of this game are easily grasped and fun. There is a small element of luck in the wheather dice mechanic, but also some strategy in the two moves you get every turn. This produces fairly balanced play.

Theme: Well thought out, engaging, and submursive. Placing tiles to design your garden, growing bamboo and making the panda eat bamboo are all parts of the game well woven into the theme.

Components: All components are holding up well, and seem of good quality. I did laminate the player boards though, since I knew we’d have younger children playing this game at times.

Fun Factor: everyone has enjoyed playing this game, at least the first time. It just doesn’t seem to entice my group of players to play more than once, though. They would rather move on to something heavier.

All in all, a great game, just not what my group seems to enjoy.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
9 out of 12 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
8
Gamer - Level 8
Explorer - Level 5
Critic - Level 3
Junior
Go to the Nations page
9
inmarg {Avid Gamer} Jul 3rd, 2015
“Nations - the friendlier version of TTA”

I’ve always been a fan of heavy civ games since my introduction to serious boardgames by Advanced Civilization in the early 90s. So, whenever news appears about a new civ game I’m instantly all ears.

Intro

In Nations each player takes control of a great historical nation and develop that nation until the end of industrialization. At the end victory points are calculated and a winner is declared.

Nations clearly falls into the same category as Through The Ages (TTA) as a mapless, card driven civ game which I thought was pretty weird back then, but worked out brilliantly.

Gameplay:

Nations lasts for 4 ages, 2 rounds each age for a total of 8 rounds. Each age has 2 decks of cards, one progress deck which fills the card row and are available for purchases and a small event deck from which only 2 cards will be used.

Each round has a set number of phases and actions to it.

1.) Maintenance:

Refill progress board;
* Remove remaining cards from row 1 and 2 and move leftover cards from row 3 to row 1. Fill all remaining spaces according to number of players.
* Each player may either take a new worker or produce goods according to set level.
* Draw a new event card, which will resolve later (contains 2 events)
* Add architects for the round. Architects are used to build wonders.

2. Actions

On your turn you have three available actions.

* Buy a progress card for 1, 2 or 3 gold and add it to your tableau or use the effect.
* Deploy a worker on a building or military unit
* Hire an architect for a wonder under construction

3. Resolution

* Production of goods (depending on your tableau you may even have to pay goods)
* Determine player order from military track
* War resolution (if any)
* Resolve events from card drawn earlier
* Famine – Pay food determined by same event card
* Scoring at the end of even numbered rounds for books

There are 8 different type of cards to purchase in Nations. Some are placed on your tableau while others are resolved and then removed from play. For all cards placed on your board there are a set number of places for the type of card, 5 military/buildings, 2 colonies etc. Whenever you reach that limit and want to add a new one you must first remove an old card. In the case of colonies and leaders, this will cause you to lose the good(s) it produced as well.

Nations vs TTA

Now, do you need both of these games?

In all honesty, probably not, unless you are a fan of civ games and want a minor change of pace. I’ve so far found Nations to be more forgiving as buildings give you two type of goods so you’re not gonna be completely blocked out unless very unlucky. Both games are for fans of heavier games, but if you want a more friendlier game Nations is the way to go.

You are not going to war against other players here. Instead wars are bought (max 1/round) and the strength of the buying player determines the level of the war. Bad effects may even be mitigated by the stability of your nation.

While TTA has a lot of downtime between your turns there is practically none in Nations as you perform 1 action at a time until everyone has passed.

Conclusion:

Nations is a very good game filled with hard, agonizing decisions very reminiscent of TTA but rules are much easier, both to comprehend and explain. There are several way to score points, but none seem clearly overpowered so far. In addition, replayability is very high as you are using about half of the progress cards and 2 of 12 event cards for each age.

While it never is going to win an invention test NAtions is still a highly recommended civ game for my part.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
9 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
1
I'm a Player!
Go to the The Settlers of Catan page
9
Lasagna Lad {Avid Gamer} Jul 2nd, 2015
“A Must Have”

This is a great friendly/competitive board game that perfectly mixes strategy and luck. I was introduced to this game and couldn’t stop playing it after we played the first time. My wife and I have even set up our own house rules to play a two player variant. This allows us to play without having to wait for another person to be around. This is a game that helped nurture my love for board games. I saved up and bought this one, then I bought an expansion, then I just had to keep adding to my board game collection.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
4 out of 13 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Go to the Galaxy Defenders  page
8
Jay Atkinson {Family Gamer} Jul 2nd, 2015
“Should be called X-COM the board game! Great game!”

Overview
Galaxy Defenders is a cooperative sci-fi tactical combat game from 1 to 5 players. It’s your team’s mission to fight off the alien invasion to save earth from total domination. Are you ready to take on the challenge?

Pros
Streamlined tactical combat system
Quality components – thick cardboard & solid plastic
Thematic
Good storyline
Campaign mode
Characters can level up
Rulebook laid out fairly well.
Solid enemy A.I.
Each agent plays very differently.

Cons
Very fiddly – lots of bits
Takes a few plays to really learn the game
Some setup time involved to place bits and setup decks

Gameplay

I won’t go into deep detail of the rules, because it wouldn’t be a review. However, I’ll hit the highlights of the core gameplay which really isn’t too daunting. Basically, once you get your mission setup the way the scenario book describes, players will choose which agents they want to play and the “alpha-agent” who is both leader and starting player for the round (alpha agent can change from round to round at player’s discretion). Each agent has different strengths in weaknesses which helps you form a solid team to tackle the mission.

Each round is broken up into phases:

Refresh phase – this is for items and skills that get refreshed at the beginning of the round
Strategy phase – players pick who is alpha agent, roll for possible promotions/upgrades, call in for equipment upgrades, and check for victory conditions
Battle phase – Starting with alpha agent, alternate turns between players and aliens. Each player gets to perform combat, movement, and a action in any order they choose. Then the active player draws a close encounter card to perform the aliens turn. After that is complete, the next player takes their turn.
Event phase after battle is complete, alpha agent draws the next event card and resolves its effects. The effects range between new aliens teleporting onto the battle field, weather effects that can hinder agents, losing ammo, taking wounds, or special events to name a few. Once resolved, the round is over and players start the phases all over again until mission is success or failure.

Let me take a second to talk about combat, since it’s a key part of the overall gameplay The combat is pretty straightforward and easy. When you attack, you look at how many and what color dice you roll as listed on the weapon you use in combat. After you roll the dice, count up the hit icons, and that is the number of defensive dice the defender rolls (plus or minus any special modifiers on top of that). The defender rolls that number of dice and is looking for “shields” to block the hits. Count up the shields and subtract them from the number of hit icons and that is how many wounds the defender takes. It works very well.

The game can be played in either single mission mode or campaign mode. Single mission mode simply means you just pick a mission out of the “storybook” or scenario guide and play it straight up. You can level up as much as you want during the Strategy phase, so long as you kill an alien previous round and get the appropriate rolls. In campaign mode, you start with the first mission and work you way through to the last mission (12 missions total). Each agent gets to keep their skills and ranks throughout the game, but they are limited to only one upgrade per mission. If an agent dies, they lose their “promotions” and start from scratch again during the campaign (new rookie).

Conclusion
So far, I’m very impressed with Galaxy Defenders. I still need some more plays to master all the details, so that is one of my “cons” if you call it that. I don’t find the rules difficult, but there are quite a few to remember. Thankfully, the agent profiles, devices/weapons, and alien cards keep most of those rules contained on them for reference along with quick reference guides that come in the game. The components are top notch with their thick chunky cardboard pieces and very sturdy plastic miniatures for the agents and aliens. Of course, it’s a lot of pieces in this game, so it takes a while to setup the game.

This is what a I really like about the game. The combat is not hard at all. The alien artificial intelligence (A.I.) decks are very well done and smooth when performing alien actions. It’s a co-op, so my son and I tackle the evil alien forces together whereas other games we’re against each other with me winning most of the time. The agents all play very differently. The fact that it has a campaign mode where your agents can “level-up” is a huge plus in my book and makes the game more immersive. It just a really solid squad co-op game!

Also, I know that there is a now an “X-COM: The Board game”, but it’s my understanding that game doesn’t really model the tactical squad combat of the video game very well at all. Galaxy Defenders does this in spades! When I think of X-COM, I think of squad level combat and Galaxy Defenders is it!

If you looking for something like X-COM or a cooperative tactical squad combat game, get this! NOW!

Gamer Recommendations

Family GamerNO – Too much combat and too many rules
Social Gamer NO – To heavy a game for socializing
Casual GamerNO – Too many rules for casual gamer and long setup time
Strategy GamerYES – More please!
Avid Gamer YES – should you even ask? dripping with theme and cool bits
Power GamerYES – right up their alley.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
13 out of 13 gamers thought this review was helpful

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