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Green Metal Box

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9
Go to the Star Wars: The Card Game page
125 out of 139 gamers thought this was helpful

… maybe not Yoda, but we gamers do and this game is right up our excitement craving alleys!!!

Having place the Decipher Star Wars Customizable Card Game since it’s inception in 1995, I’ve found few card games that have equaled the excellence of that game’s mechanics and the level of strategy involved when played at the highest level. The game was a masterpiece and as a byproduct, infused the known Star Wars universe with many of the names and backgrounds we’ve come to love. It was really something else, but enough about that elegant game from a more civilized age…

This is a review of the heir apparent in the Star Wars card game world. After SWCCG wrapped, the next major game on the market was the Wizards game and it left much to be desired. Years would pass until this little gem hit the scene and even then, it was scrapped and brought back to the drawing board at least once. Originally setup as a co-op much like the wildly popular Lord of the Rings LCG from Fantasy Flight Games, that format just didn’t work well because gamers wanted to BE Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Darth Maul! The redesigned game is what you see before you today as a head to head 2 player game and it is an excellent game!

The nuances don’t reveal themselves during your initial couple of play-throughs. However, as soon as you’ve got the mechanics down and you have a solid feel for what the cards do and the synergies between them, you soon realize the importance of balancing attack and defense, the gamble of locking up resources for big plays at the expense of lock down in subsequent turns and just how important controlling the force really is.

The game sets up with two players each controlling a faction and selecting 3 “objectives” from their objective pile at random. Objectives give you the resources to play cards. There are several factions like Empire, Rebel, Smugglers, Scum and Villainy, Sith, Jedi, etc. When you’re using a dark side faction, your goal is to bring the Death Star within range and destroy your opponent which is represented by a Death Star counter. When playing a light side faction, you’re goal is to beat 3 of your opponents objectives. When the battles takes place and you need to use the cards from your hand to commit to “the force”, which give your characters and starships deployed on the table the ability to strike first. It weighs heavily on if you win now at the expense of being able to defend and regroup later as opposed to just rolling die and going through the motions, makes for solid strategy decision making which is what makes a game take the next step into a larger world! 😉 The race is on, the action is intense and you’ll be shouting “It’s A TRAP!” before long!!

Most people who’ve read my reviews know, one of the more important aspects about a game for me, is how it looks. When playing a tabletop game, there’s a level of artistry and creativity that is expected on some level and this game delivers in spades. Using everything from masterpieces by the late Ralph McQuarrie to new commissioned artwork from contemporary artists, the artwork is gorgeous. The card layouts are clean and easy to read as well. There’s little I can find to complain about in the way of components.

The value factor the game has being in the Living Card Game format makes it very easy to stay competitive and not break the bank, another great innovation that aides in this games greatness. Deck creation is also very straight forward since you create your deck using a collection of pods with set cards in those pods. Some will frown upon this method of deck building and the lack of ability to stack rares but since there is no rares in the LCG format, this method of deck building makes for a more balanced experience and forces you to find deck synergy in a more macro level.

I cannot speak highly enough of this game and I always look forward to the new chapters and expansions. Wars may not make one great, but great FFG made this Wars! Don’t delay in trying this one out the next time you’re at your LGS.

10
Go to the The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill – Saga Expansion page
38 out of 39 gamers thought this was helpful

“Do we really have to go through?” groaned the hobbit. “Yes, you do!” said the wizard, “if you want to get to the other side. You must either go through or give up your quest. There are no safe paths in this part of the world.” – The Hobbit

One of the most beloved children’s stories of all time comes vividly to life in this Lord of the Rings: The Living Card Game expansion.

This is an expansion to the insanely popular LOTR game (as seen by it’s continued presence on the top 10 Hearted list here on BG!) so I won’t get into game play details except for the handful of new features introduced with this set.

First and foremost, what continually stands out with each of these sets is the brilliant art work. We’ve been treated to wonderful Lord of the Rings art through the years by perennial favorites John Howe, Alan Lee and the Hildebrandts. This game has, however, afforded us all new and vivid depictions of our favorite characters and moments from the Tolkien’verse by extremely talented artists. Fantasy Flight Games really brings the A game in this department. My favorite cards from this set are: Glamdring, Wild Wargs*, Bofur and Beorn.

One of the unique elements presented in this expansion is that everyone gets a chance to control Bilbo. He’s a hero and gets passed along with the first player token, collecting his own “Bilbo resources” at the start of each turn. You can use him to quest, defend and attack, but don’t let him take the eternal sleep… that spells game over! As far as gameplay goes, the gloves come off and the quests are difficult! Starting with the trolls Bill, Bert and Tom bringing the pain and having your characters “sacked” so they’re basically unusable as you try to take down the three hungry trolls. Then in the second quest Stone giants are not only powerful in their own right, but Treachery cards basically toss down devastating boulders that wipe out your allies while you try and make it to Moria and finally the last quest where you lose Bilbo to Gollum’s riddle game (of which the mechanic makes you discard cards from your deck to solve riddles, so pray you find that Stargazer in your opening hand!) while trying to make your way through Moria and out into the forest. Wargs and Goblins are relentless and you feel like you literally are walking through the wasps nest of a goblin stronghold! Between flipping over two encounter cards per player every turn, dealing with riddles that discard your deck and treachery cards that add even more wolfs and goblins to the staging area… as of this posting I’ve yet to tackle this quest with my play group!

Another of the unique elements making their debut in the game is the “Treasure” card type, featuring the three magical blades featured in the Hobbit, Glamdring, Orcrist and Sting. These swords are seeded in the encounter deck of the first quest. Once they are recovered, you can put them in your deck for the remaining Hobbit quests and they prove most helpful and powerful!

Out of the light side cards, the Dwarves (obviously) shine in this set and combined with the Khazad Dum expansions really open up a plethora of Dwarf deck strategies and combos. Erebor will be fully armed and ready to deal with any threat thrown it’s way at this point!

With the Peter Jackson Hobbit film set to hit theaters in December, this expansion is well timed and definitely gets you into an adventurous mood! It’s one of the better expansions FFG has put out for this game and if the subsequent Hobbit expansions are as good, I don’t know that I want to come “back again”!

* I love the art of the card… I hate the card! The wargs are relentless, they always seem to be engaged with you and they always seem to be getting boosted in attack! ARG! 😉

8
Go to the Bang! The Bullet! page

Bang! The Bullet!

81 out of 88 gamers thought this was helpful

Bang! The game of wild west shootouts and innuendo!

Bang! is a card game created for 3 to 8 players representing good guys, bad guys, the drifter and all the entertaining tropes of the Spaghetti Western Wild West! The good guys are comprised of the Sheriff and his deputies. The bad guys are the Outlaws. The drifter is the Renegade! The good guys need to mow down anyone without a tin star, no need for Miranda rights in this town. The bad guys have one simple mission, lay waste to the chief law dog, the sheriff! Doesn’t even matter if the deputies are still standing, as long as the sheriff dies of lead poisoning, victory! Oh and they don’t even have to all be alive! Even if, let’s say, one Ike Clanton is the only outlaw left standing after Wyatt finally drops, the whole Cowboy clan wins the day… so to speak. 🙂 As for the Renegade, he rides a motorcycle in a cheesy 90’s action show, no wait, that’s not right! The Renegade is the turn coat, his mission is to literally be the last man standing, so he will help the sheriff right up until it’s him and the sheriff left and then it’s time to turn them smoke wagons on the badge!

Each player selects one of a cast of colorful characters who possesses a special ability, like stealing cards from the person who shoots you or being able to play any card to dodge a bullet, and if the ability happens to be a little stronger than the others, that character’s health is one tick lower as a balancer.

The game set up is rather interesting since your seating arrangement actually matters for the game. The range of your firearms is measured by the number of people on your right and left. You then get dealt cards from a draw deck and use those cards to inflict wounds, dodge bullets, drink beer and survive Indian raids. The namesake of the game, and the chief way to “shoot” someone, is via the Bang! card, which is basically a shot fired! Once you’ve run out of health (tracked with bullet markers), you’re pushing daisies!

This game is a load of fun if you’re just playing the core set, but with the Bang! Bullet, you’re getting all the expansions as well, which gives you lots of new card components that open new strategies. The High Noon deck for instance is a side deck that creates game wide variables (like restricting special abilities, preventing people from shooting, etc)

As for the components, the card art is fantastic and has a nice style to it. The bullet markers are just card board cut outs but they do the job nicely. (See my game tip for added immersion 🙂 ) The only thing I might take a point or two away for is some of the rules for specific cards are poorly worded, which can get a little confusing. However, there is great support on the game website as well as fan blogs, so the clarifications are a few clicks away.

Bang! is a really fun party game if you’re a fan of cowboys, Clint Eastwood, Doc Holliday, spaghetti western films or games that are fun to play with friends and family. I highly recommend this shoot out at the dinning room table!

oh, and as for the innuendo… play 1 hand of the game, using the Bang! card and you’ll see what I mean. 😉

8
Go to the Guillotine page

Guillotine

55 out of 62 gamers thought this was helpful

“Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; – the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Ahh, Guillotine, the family game that features excellent art very similar to Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, easy to learn game play and a subject matter that is rather gruesome if you stop to think about it, and yet not really much different than playing games like Modern Warfare, Call of Duty or any other game that borrows from the real world’s darker side. If black comedy had a card game, this would be it!

Setting aside the subject matter for a minute, the game is a really fun diversion. I carry a deck around in my card/gaming bag since it plays quickly, is easy to learn and is fun. What’s not to like about fulfilling those three criteria? 🙂

The setup is that you’re knee deep in the French Revolution, possibly even the Reign of Terror all things considered. Nobles, soldiers, clergy, royalty and martyrs are lined up as if it was Studio 54 circa 1977. The difference here is, this is the one line none of them wants to be on! Each “day” (ie, a game round) 12 new figures are lined up and one by one they march towards the National Razor to lose their heads. It’s your job to collect those heads over a “3 day span” for points! The more powerful the figure, the more points their head is worth! Louie XVI and Marie Antoinette are both valued the highest, but you can rack up a bunch of points with others by playing cards from your hand that give bonuses.

The art for the game is fantastic, especially if you’re into animation style art work. The art is so close to Beauty and the Beast that you could seamlessly slip The Beast, Belle and Gaston in and they could easily be believed to be part of the game. The cast of characters ranges from actual figures such as King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and Robespierre to colorful roles and archetypes like the **** Boy and the Lady In Waiting.

As for the game play, players play cards from hand like “Rain Delay”, “Clerical Error”, “Bribed Guards”, etc to manipulate the execution line so that the valuable heads will arrive at the headsman when it’s their turn. After the 3rd day, all players tally their point totals and the one with the highest total wins the game. The game plays quickly and is a great diversionary game to play in between other longer games, play in hotel rooms, on road trips and on family game nights.

This is a fun, quick game that is easy to learn and is easy to travel with. I highly recommend this game for your game bag/backpack/glove compartment! Now go grab an extra wheel barrel and start collecting!

oh and… cake please. 😉

10
71 out of 75 gamers thought this was helpful

Well, if you’re here, then chances are you already know the sheer wonder this little corner of the interwebs has been bringing gamers over the last year or so. If you don’t already know, well then let me give you a quick run down so you can dig into the nooks and crannies and (hopefully) enjoy this place as much as I do!

Boardgaming.com is a social networking site dedicated to this wonderful hobby we all identify with called gaming! The creators, Jim, Greg and Jon and all of their collaborators set out to create a website that allowed this diverse and rich community to express their opinions and ideas about the games they love and have fun while doing it. The clever plot twist to this whole endeavor was creating a game out of the whole experience.

Taking fundamental staples from various games like experience points, rankings, levels, and gold they found a way to fuel the user driven content on the site and reward the contributors for their hard work and passion. I can think of few things more fun than playing a game that lets you talk about your favorite games!

Now this unique concept alone wouldn’t have the steam needed to get the train out of the station… that’s where the wonderful layouts, beautiful hand drawn artwork and frequent new features pulls together this proverbial witches brew and magically transforms it into a vintage chardonnay (or hearty ale if that’s your forte 😉 )

Just like any RPG worth it’s salt, exploration yields wonderful rewards and digging around this watering hole will surely yield plenty, but the greatest reward this site will yield to those willing to root around is excellent new games to bring to your gaming tables and new friends to talk about them with during the down times!

I look forward to this website’s continued success as it marches onward towards becoming the premiere gaming resource on the internet. Count me fully vested in it’s journey!

10
Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
223 out of 236 gamers thought this was helpful

… said Legolas, bending his bow and fitting an arrow with hands quicker than sight. ‘You would die before your stroke fell.'” – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Ahh, my all time favorite line from J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings, and part of the beauty of this game I am about to review…

I’ve been playing customizable card games since their inception in 1993 and I’ve tried out an incredibly large amount of the card games that have hit the market. Star Wars CCG by Decipher is still my all-time favorite even after it’s demise when the license rights went to Wizards of the Coast in 2001. That being said, this new Lord of the Rings LCG game by Fantasy Flight Games is already solidly in the #2 position and if the game continues on the path it’s currently on, I can see it becoming my absolute favorite. The biggest difference with this game and most customizable card games is the “Living Card Game” design FFG went with. Personally, I think it’s genius and for the cash savvy customer it makes life much easier as the focus is on gameplay, not rare hunting. Every month a new “adventure pack” is released that features new cards for your hero decks (and enough copies per card to fully stock your deck) and a new enemy scenario to play against. The scenarios follow an overall story arc so for those players buying the sets in order, they can follow an alternate adventure set in the world of Middle Earth. Diving into a box of booster packs and tearing through 36 packs of cards after an expansion release has always been one of the most exciting parts of playing CCG’s, but this new take gets you into the action faster, cheaper and at a steady even pace. I’m a fully fledged fan.

As for the gameplay… well, the Lord of the Rings saga is no stranger to card games, with the cult favorite from Iron Crown Entertainment called “Middle Earth Customizable Card Game” that came out in 1995 and the Decipher movie themed game “The Lord of the Rings: Customizable Card Game” in 2001. Those games had their merits, but I personally feel this game trumps them both. The game is unique in that the players all are on the same team cooperatively trying to defeat Sauron. This sets the bar pretty high for me since the essence of the story was about Fellowship and unity between the races and ties back to how I opened my review… ‘He stands not alone.’ so having a cooperative mechanic in the game imbues the game with another element of charm. The Shadow game mechanics are truly genius as you play against the deck and each scenario synergizes certain cards against you. Since the creatures and villains you need to fight get dealt “shadow cards” that can provide temporary boosts or other game effects that will affect your heroes and allies, that brings an element of the unexpected similar to players playing interrupts from their hand in other ccg’s. The game also scales based on the number of players playing (1-4 players) adding difficulty the larger the party (and threat) that party provides Sauron.

Another thing that I love about this game is that the mechanics are built to allow for solo play since you’re playing against a self running deck, just the same as multiplayer games. Solo play can be a little difficult at times, but strong deck building will assist in that department and later sets have added several cards to the pool to enhance solo play. It’s exciting to be able to play this game solo when your gaming group isn’t available. I find myself breaking out LOTR:LCG more often than turning on the PS3 or Wii lately.

The core set provides you with a handful of the Fellowship players, but saves the ringbearers themselves and others associated with the light for future expansions. Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas are all available, as are some other familiar Middle Earth heroes like Gloin, Eowyn, Thoedred, Thalin, Glorfindel and Denethor as well as some not so familiar faces such as Gondorians and Dunedain Rangers. Now take fantastic game mechanics, easy access to the card pool and a simple complexity and add in the stirringly beautiful art work and you have the makings of one of the best Tolkien-based games, if not one of the best games period, on the market today.

After playing through a few games, getting used to some of the timing rules like when to voluntarily engage enemies versus having them seek you out to fight you, I was salivating for future expansions and hit my local gaming shop on release day to get the adventure packs. If you enjoy the Lord of the Rings, quality gaming, a moderate level of complexity and strategy and/or beautiful art work… this game is so definitely for you. If you do decide to play this wonderful game, be sure to check the game’s discussion page here on BG, there’s a lot of great discussion going on about rules, resources, and the like.

I look forward to reviewing the expansions of this game soon, since they each bring about new elements to the game system that deserve a look on their own merits. Until then, good luck questing and thanks for reading!

9
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game page
75 out of 82 gamers thought this was helpful

It’s been some time since my last review… life seems to have that knack for getting in the way of gaming! I’m happy to have some time to write up a review and doubly happy it’s for this game! I’m currently running a 4E campaign with a great bunch of friends, so I’m in full on “D&D” mode. I actually decided to get this game for a couple different reasons… first, being a DM you don’t really get to scratch the dungeon crawl itch yourself since you’re the one pulling the strings behind the curtain. Second, I’ve read some good things about the game here on BG, Lastly, having just recently downloaded Castlevania Adventure Rebirth, I’m infected with the vampire hunting bug which was the ultimate tie breaker for me getting this game versus Wrath of Ashardalon (I will still get that game at some later date!). I was also looking for something “D&D lite” to play with my siblings and wife who enjoy playing games but don’t really have the time to commit to full on 4E campaigning. Thus far, I feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth!

Right out of the gate upon opening up the box, the components are fantastic! The game comes with several decks of cards, sturdy “dungeon tiles” that are printed on thick card stock and interlock nicely, character cards also printed on the same thick stock for both the heavy villains in the game as well as the playable heroes. Plenty of tokens, for various uses in the games multiple scenarios and lastly the miniatures! These miniatures are mostly recasts from the Dungeons and Dragons miniatures game. There are a few original pieces in here, but for the most part Wizards reused their minis, which is perfectly fine considering there are some very nice sculpts presented here… especially the HUGE Dracolich figure! My only issue with them is they’re not painted. Considering Heroscape had fully painted minis for a board game, Wizards could have easily included painted minis for Castle Ravenloft as well. I docked the components rating 1 star for this, but if given the option, I would have only docked it 1/2 a star.

Next we have game play, which thus far after a handful of games under my belt is fun and straight forward. If you’re familiar with 4th Edition combat rules, you’re familiar with this game’s combat rules. If you’re not, it’s easily explained in the rule book. Gone are some of detailed nuances from 4th Edition like Combat Advantage, Flanking, and AOEs, etc… in place is very straight forward combat abilities that work well within the framework of the game. Monsters are controlled by the players and have several “if, then” tactics printed on their combat cards to guide the players when taking monster turns. There are twelve pre-printed scenarios that set up different victory conditions and have scene setting flavor text. With the “shuffle and flip” tile placement, you’ll more than likely never have the same environment twice which makes for some nice replay value. There are also two bonus adventures and a handful of contest winner adventures available on the dungeons and dragons website as well. If you’re feeling creative You can also take the structure of the pre-printed scenarios and design your own new if you’re so inclined. The possibilities and replay value due to this are endless! All in all, I felt the game play was straight forward and enjoyable. There were a few things I couldn’t locate in the rule book like starting number of Healing Surges but the invaluable wealth of knowledge on BG resolved those questions rather quickly. 🙂

All in all, I’m extremely happy with this purchase and have had a lot of fun playing the game thus far. I love that it’s a game that can be played solo as well as with 4 more players. I actually felt a nice wave of nostalgia for the old Milton Bradley game Heroquest while I played this. I’m excited about trying to use some of the game elements in my 4E campaign as well, like a completely random “shifting halls” style dungeon using the tiles and since I enjoy painting minis, the non-painted minis will provide me with some new “canvases” to work with. I’m hopeful this game will be a gateway for my siblings, wife and friends who aren’t D&D players to maybe consider taking the plunge. I’ll be sure to comment on how that goes in the discussion area later on. So if you’re looking for a quick D&D feeling dungeon crawl without having to invest hours of your time creating an immersive world, this game is right up your ally!

6
Go to the The Game of Life page

The Game of Life

70 out of 77 gamers thought this was helpful

It’s fitting that I post this review on Christmas as my most vivid memory of this game was from one Christmas morning many many years ago, opening up a wrapped rectangular package, revealing the bright large letters “GAME OF…” I knew exactly what this was having seen commercials for it all year long! I tore off the rest of the paper holding up my new trophy singing loudly into my dad’s video camera “LIFE! THE GAME OF LIFE!” I had played The Game of Life at my grandma’s house a few times and now I had my very own copy! I was so excited to get the Game of Life and I fondly remember playing the game with my siblings and having a blast. Years later, my sister got me the updated version of the game as a gag since she mercilessly brings up my American Idol audition from years back. It’s the very version I am reviewing today.

This comes very difficult to me as I try and find the good in every game I play and own, unfortunately that proved rather difficult. This game actually sat in my closet for almost 2 years before even opened it this past Thanksgiving to play with my family and I was really looking forward to rekindling those fond memories of my youth. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s looking back on things through rose colored glasses, maybe it’s the bevy of changes the game’s undergone since it’s original inception… whatever the reason… the game I recently played was about as thrilling as watching paint dry.

So I guess let’s just get the pain over with as quickly as possible so we can get back to something fun. The game is designed to replicate your life and all it’s twists and turns from your 18th birthday right up until retirement. You begin the game by making a choice on either college or a career. Unfortunately something that has a profound impact on your life in real life bears little to no ramifications on the outcome of the game. You can easily choose a new career path or go back to college later on in the game. The new game has removed, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of the original game… the choice to purchase auto insurance, fire insurance or life insurance so when the bad things of life hit, well… it doesn’t really matter, nothing bad happens in this game anyway. The only half exciting aspect of this game is the wheel of chance. It basically allows you to play “roulette” by wagering on a number and if that number comes up on the spin you win some money. Another big change in the game is that you used to be able to wind up “in the poor house”. In the game of life, you could very well end up penniless. Now you just end up being not the richest fat cat in the 1%

From a components stand point, the game’s not all that bad. Each player gets a colored minivan with a blue or pink “peg” to represent themselves and then they can add additional pegs for their spouse and children. There are playing cards to represent your job, home, and other actions you can take during the game, play money, tile pieces, a game board with some 3D parts representing buildings and some landscape, a plastic spin wheel.

I really wish I could say more for this game, since it is considered a classic, but as the average rating reflects on our beloved boardgaming.com… it’s just not that much fun. Perhaps it’s more fun when you’re in the 8-13 age bracket, or if you’re playing it with your children. However, due to the constraints of modern technology I can’t go back and play this version of the game as a child and until I can play it with my own kids, I’m going to have to say playing this game as an adult gamer would be like losing a turn, one big waste of time. I do recommend the older version (either the 60’s or the 80’s versions) if you can find it second hand or as a re-release and I’m more than willing to bet that this game would still be a good game to give to your kids to play and for that I give it an extra rating point, but unfortunately breaking it out for a game night with your friends might not be the best bet.

9
Go to the Scrabble page

Scrabble

63 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

Why it’s one of the worlds first smart bombs, and it’s worth 13 points! (free tip there 😉 )

Scrabble is Scrabble, it’s one of the “legendary” forefather board games (along with games like Monopoly, Parcheesi, Sorry!, Chess, etc) that gamers and non-gamers alike know all about. The game has graced smart phones, video games, travel sized games and it even had it’s own game show on television hosted by the legendary Chuck Woolery! (dating myself there, aren’t I…)

The game play is simple, 2 to 4 players are randomly dealt 7 small, square wooden tiles that each have a letter printed on them and a point value. Letters that appear frequently in the English language, like A, S, R, etc, have a lower point value versus letters that appear more infrequently, like Z, Q, X and J. You take turns building words on the game board which is a large grid, replenishing your 7 titles as you use them on the board. You can also forgo playing titles to exchange any number of your titles for new ones from the pool. As the game progresses, the game board starts to resemble a crossword puzzle and much like a crossword puzzle all intersections need to form valid words. To help add a level of strategy to the game, there’s various squares that you build out to on the game board that can either double or triple the points earned for the letter played there or for the entire word!

As another reviewer has mentioned, the game really only works competitively when the players are of a similar skill level and can get really intense when you have 4 players with very expansive vocabularies sitting around the table. It can work with varying skill levels but that’s usually when adults are playing with children and handicapping their verbiage. The beauty of this game is that when you get better at the game, you’re also strengthening your real world vocabulary which helps you become a better writer, a better speaker and just increases blood flow to your neural net processor in general, which is always a good thing! The game is a great learning tool for children and adults as it fosters the will to learn new vocabulary in order to succeed at the game. Take those principles and apply them to foreign language versions and you have a great multipurpose board game on your hands where replay value is high because you’re always looking to get back to the board and break out that shiny new taeniae you’ve recently discovered!

As far as components go, the basic game has your standard cardboard game board, 4 short wooden trays to hold your 7 letters upright in front of you and a fixed assortment of wooden letter tiles. The wooden tiles are nice but the board leaves a lot to be desired when someone accidentally bumps it and the titles go sliding in various directions. Deluxe models usually resolve this issue by having a raised grid that the titles sit in preventing all but the most colossally violent shaking or flipping from interrupting your game play.

Scrabble is a classic for a reason and it rightfully deserves it’s place among the legends of our hobby. Now go look up taeniae, just be careful if you do an image search. 😉

10
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons (4ed): Dungeon Master's Guide page
58 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

… Barbarian… Magician… Thief… Cavalier… and Acrobat!”

As a first time Dungeon Master running my own 4e campaign, this book has proven invaluable. The book doesn’t really go into the detailed nuts and bolts of the new 4e rules. That job is reserved for the Player’s Handbook, which makes sense because it’s best if all your players have a firm handle on the rules. The DM’s Guide instead gives you the tools to craft an adventure your players will enjoy.

The book goes into details about finding balance when doling out treasure and experience, how to throw the right level of monster threat at your players without slaughtering them or making it feel like they’re beating on 3rd graders. It presents something called skill challenges which is the opposite of combat. Skill challenges give a frame work for using a players skills and talents like athletics, diplomacy, acrobatics, etc in a tactile way to achieve success in a quest without thumping heads in. With the right encouragement and the right mind set this can also give a frame work for players to really role play around. The book also gives you ideas on different gaming approaches, from epic campaigns to random weekend dungeons. The book tries to set you in the right frame of mind for guiding your players on an adventure that they’ll both help create and never forget! Basically, it sets out to help you become a better story teller, and gives you the tools within the DnD world to accomplish this goal successfully.

The book, from a functional and aesthetic level, is well made and organized. Chapters flow naturally and are easy to read continuously or just spot check as a reference. My own copy of the DMG has got several pages tabbed for easy reference during games because while the book is heavy on theory and concept, it does have some valuable charts and breakdowns that are good to have handy during gaming. Plus there is some very nice art work within that can also help stir your imagination!

Ultimately, this book is going to best serve the person who’s looking to gather his friends and set them on the path of adventure. If you’re only looking to play DnD from a player’s stand point this book is only a “nice to have” if you felt like peaking behind the Wizard’s curtain. I own the DMG from AD&D2E as well, and I still poke around in that volume for ideas but the current edition really does help first timers get the ball rolling nicely. So if you sound like the former, then grab this tome, give it a read through and bring out your inner Tolkien, Martin, Goodkind or Jordan!!

That was Venger, the force of evil. I am Dungeon Master, your guide in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons!” 🙂

10
Go to the Heroscape page

Heroscape

70 out of 77 gamers thought this was helpful

Heroscape!!! One of the best “board games” ever created! Sadly, I only got into the game when it was in it’s twilight. This was both a blessing and a curse, a blessing because I was able to amass my collection rather quickly through clearance sales and discounted prices, but a curse because the game was no longer getting much support, well, much official support. The community over at heroscapers.com do a phenomenal job of supporting the game despite it’s lack of an official pulse. The concept of the game is as follows, all of the fallen warriors across time, based on reality, sci-fi and fantasy, have been called forth to Valhalla to aid the six generals at war. So you can have American Minutemen doing battle with Roman gladiators and Orc warriors swarming giant attack robots!!

There’s tons of miniatures games out there, and many of them are fantastic… what sets Heroscape apart from those other games is it’s customizable terrain! The hex pieces are durable and snap into each other both side to side and on top of one another. This makes creating custom 3D maps both easy and extremely fun. You can wind up spending more time getting creative with your terrain than actually playing the game! It’s not uncommon to see players purchase several master sets just to accumulate terrain pieces. I know, I’m one of them! The designers took this into account too, consider this… in the Marvel variant Hulk’s jump attack can go 50 levels vertical. That’s 50 terrain pieces stacked!!

Heroscape’s other components are equally impressive. The miniatures are well sculpted, imaginative (A World War II solider with a cybernetic arm and a katana!), feature pretty solid paint jobs and were probably the most affordable minis you could find for the production quality. The combat dice are d6, specifically made for this game and feature neat logos. If you want to splurge, you could get one of the six flag bearers (1 flag bearer per faction) which come with really cool unique combat dice and a dice bag with the faction’s logo on it.

The gameplay is solid and fluid with rules to address just about every tactical scenario. There are basic and advanced rules of play which really boil down to less numbers to deal with in the basic version. Every character comes with an ID card that contains all their combat and defense stats as well as movement and point values. Building armies that synergize abilities is really fun and adds multiple levels of strategy to the game. You can also get creative and include house rules to add even more layers of complexity and strategy to your games. (I’ll be sure to add some of my own to the house rules tab.) The aforementioned community site also has plenty of fun and interesting custom rules supplements available!

The only two downsides I can think of for this game are, 1. It can get rather pricey once you start down the road of multiple sets. 2. The game doesn’t travel well once you’ve grown a sizable collection. Three large tubs of terrain pieces, 2 duffle bags full of army pieces and a stack of ID cards tends to be rather difficult to move around so you’ll find yourself hosting games more often than not. All in all though, I really can’t say enough about this game and I highly recommend it! If you already know about the game, there’s not much more to say. If you’re new to the game, get out there and try to find a Master set asap! The Master set is completely self contained and a full game can be played with that set alone, but the real fun is expanding your game with various expansion sets. My life for Jandar!!

10
Go to the Amazing Space Venture page

Amazing Space Venture

42 out of 44 gamers thought this was helpful

Amazing Space Venture!! This was one of the games I voted for back when Jim put out the call in August to board members for their top 3 games to be added! I only discovered Amazing Space Venture last year when a friend of mine won a copy at his local comic shop. We sat down, and played based on how my friend thought the game was supposed to be played. It wasn’t a very pretty sight, we left the table with a “meh” feeling and just may have left it at that. Thankfully, another friend and I decided to take the rules out and read them for the heck of it. Discovering we were playing completely wrong, we ran the game back and it’s been a staple at our gaming table ever since!

Amazing Space Venture is a game for 2 to 4 players (4 being optimal), each player starts the game in their quadrant of space on their own home world with their little Star-T spaceship that looks like the lunar lander. The object of the game is to score the most points by the time the space tile deck runs out of tiles. You then start to explore the galaxy and it’s various planets and star systems by playing space tiles onto the game board grid. This mechanic makes for a completely new and random board design every time, which increases replay value tremendously. In an effort to score points, you can deploy space probes into star clusters, construct space stations to help you traverse deep space, build new star ships, discover new worlds and screw your neighbor over royally! The game lends itself nicely to politicking outside the game, which if you’ve read my reviews (and thank you for reading) you know is a favorite of mine. Feel free to open up a time warp to save your neighbor from impending doom or decide to have a black hole open up right on top of their home world ala Nero in the new Star Trek! When you really, really want to screw someone over with long term ill effects long after the game board is back in the closet… feel free to drop the Electromagnetic Net… 😉 Guaranteed to hold starships and grudges indefinitely!

The game mechanics allow for everyone to get in on the action during each players turn by playing life form and environment cards on the worlds they wish to discover which can add or subtract to the total amount of points they can score for that discovery. Outside of the life form and environment cards you can play, there’s the meat and potatoes of the game, the red special action cards. There’s all sorts of cards that let you tackle the situations you face in the game and choosing when to play them is as important as discovering worlds for points. Case in point, if you’re ever playing the game at my house and my wife is playing, try not to destroy her worlds or ships… she tends to dabble in her own quadrant minding her own business, but when you cross her, holy sleeping dragon! 🙂

From a production stand point the game has a very 50s sci-fi look and feel to it, which I feel adds to it’s appeal. The components are well crafted with high quality cards that can take the wear and tear of being shuffled and played with frequently. The game board is on a thicker heavy set card stock and can take a beating. The card clarifications in the rules are helpful but even then it leaves some things up to debate, so it’s best to come to a consensus and move on. The card names and flavor text are very funny as well.

The game’s flaws are minor, one which isn’t really a “flaw” per se, is the limit to 4 players. I would love to include more people into the game somehow so we can actually play this at family gatherings without excluding most of the people there. The other, which is why I gave the game 3 stars for “Easy to Learn”, is the sometimes confusing timing on card plays. A little logic can take care of most of that and when you’re not sure, again, just come to a consensus at the table, make a small note of it in your rule book and move on.

This is one of my absolute favorite games and is always one of the first options when the question “So what do you want to play?” comes up at my house. I highly recommend it!

10
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Starter Set page
175 out of 190 gamers thought this was helpful

Having only played AD&D 2nd Edition briefly in my youth (it’s tough when no one else wants to play) I was going into this game not really knowing all the differences, changes and controversy that 4e has created. The Red Box sold me on the game tho, hook, line and sinker.

The Red Box is a great introduction tool for new gamers to bring them into the D&D world. It plays out like a choose your own adventure novel, allowing you to make choices during a solo mission that affect how your character gets created. The really nice part about it, is that each new choice brings you to a new part of your character sheet with an explanation of the stats and how they’re used. It breaks down everything into easily digestible nuggets and gives you in-game examples of how they’re applied. Really cool stuff.

The box also has a free download for a continuation of the solo adventure if you’re looking to play a little more with the character you’ve just created.

Once you’re done with these solo adventures, it allows you to run a simple campaign with your friends, providing you with all the tools you need. A basic DMG, monster tokens, a double sided battle map, dice. The set is chock-full of goodness.

Wizards also released a conversion document (free to download) to convert your characters that were made in the Red Box to full blown 4th Edition if you like what you’ve played so far and want to adventure even further. All in all this box set is well worth the price and comes with a ton of cool stuff.

8
Go to the Pit page

Pit

39 out of 46 gamers thought this was helpful

A game based on the stock market might not be on everyone’s list of things to love these days, but Pit provides some fast paced, loud and exciting fun without affecting your net wealth!

The game is named after the trading pit of the New York Stock Exchange where traders use the open outcry system to trade, buy and sell stocks and commodities. Open Outcry is aptly named because both on the floor and in this game, that’s exactly what you’re doing… shouting over your neighbor to get your trade in! My wife actually loathes this game because it gets so loud, so buyer beware! 🙂

You get dealt a hand of cards representing commodities like wheat, barley and flax, each with a designated point value. With the opening bell (an actual bell is included in the special edition version) you start trading blindly with the rest of the players at the table until you’ve “cornered the market” with a hand of only 1 commodity, while trying to ditch the proverbial hot potato, the Bear card, which makes you lose points if you’re stuck with it! Once cornered, you then win the hand and score the points.

It’s a very simple game in the vein of Go Fish, but it’s got just enough of a unique spin on it to make for a great time and if you’re like my friends you’ll be saying “Looking good Billy Ray! Feeling good Louis!” before long!

8
Go to the The Settlers of Catan page

The Settlers of Catan

78 out of 85 gamers thought this was helpful

Settlers of Catan… talk about a simple game becoming an industry juggernaut! Settlers of Catan is a great game for a couple key reasons.

1. It’s very accessible. Everyone from the hardcore gamer to the most relaxed casual gamer can jump right into this game relatively quickly. My family games range from my mom, who’s as casual a “gamer” as you can get (and calls the game Settlements) to me and my brother who are very avid gamers and everyone else in-between.

2. The nature of the setup makes for a completely new game every time. The board is broken up into individual tiles that are places randomly so no two boards are the same. This makes strategy and replay value high.

3. “anybody got wood?” 😛

4. There’s multiple strategies to win, so anyone at the table has a good shot at winning and when they’re behind, there’s a couple avenues available to stage a comeback.

5. The game fosters a need for interaction and diplomacy. Personally, I feel games that have an aspect of “outside the game” to them, make for great games. There’s no hard fast rule stating you can or can’t convince the other players in the game to not trade wheat to Bobby, but it’s very much encouraged that you do so.

6. It’s got lots of expansions, granted this doesn’t have anything to do with this particular core game I’m reviewing, but the expansions give gamers a wealth of diversity to expand their gaming experience and add new twists to the table.

Settlers is a wonderful game that’s truly “fun for the whole family”, whether that family is your mom, dad and kid sister, your college dormmates or your group of weekend gaming buddies. I have yet to have a friend or family member walk away from a game of Settlers disappointed with their experience. So sit down, roll some dice and have fun getting those settlers working overtime in the rock quarry!

9
Go to the Cranium page

Cranium

39 out of 42 gamers thought this was helpful

Cranium is a really fun game in that, as other reviewers have stated, it takes lots of great elements from other sources and bundles them together. It cracks open a minty new cauldron, sprinkles in a little Pictionary, Charades, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble. Adds a pinch of long road trips humming along to your favorite and not so favorite tunes, swirls it all together and pours it into a soft play-doh-y shell.

For me the real joy of the game is the Creative Cat section, since I like to draw and sculpt, but there’s enough packed into this game for everyone with it’s diverse categories to allow everyone one on every team a chance to shine and have a good time.

I often hear that one of the chief complaints is that no one likes all the categories, because someone isn’t good at sculpting, charading or in most of the games I’ve played… drawing. I personally think this is a positive. It gets people to come out of their comfort zones and be creative in new ways. That’s part of the intent of the game, to exercise your brain and imagination. Also, in the game, you pair off into teams. Just make sure you break up into balanced teams where either of the two players can cover all the categories. Problem solved. 🙂

Lastly I would have to say that ultimately the game’s highlight is that it lends itself to some very funny and memorable moments with your family and friends with the Creative Cat and Star Performer categories, particularly with the likes of Sensosketch, which makes one player draw the key word or phrase with their eyes closed… hilarity, do your ensueing!

7
Go to the Apples to Apples page

Apples to Apples

57 out of 66 gamers thought this was helpful

Apples to Apples has the potential to be a very very funny experience, or one of the most boring experiences you’ve had around the table since mom’s leftover cornbeef hash…

Apples to Apples with the right group of people opens itself up to being lots of laughs, and an exercise in diplomacy and persuasion. Also, knowing your group makes the blank cards become the real star of the show. You can customize the game to feature in-jokes, family history or current local events.

With the wrong crowd, it becomes a game that you play for about 6 minutes and then everyone says “lets just play Settlers” (or Settlements if you’re my mom).

So go into the game with an open mind, and maybe an open beer and have a few light-hearted laughs. If you’ve got kids playing, maybe leave the beer in the fridge and open yourself up to the silly things they think are funny. 🙂

6
Go to the Phase 10 page

Phase 10

49 out of 62 gamers thought this was helpful

Phase 10 is one of the games that looks good on paper, and admittedly, it is a fun game, but in order to win, you really need to set aside a long amount of time to play with groups over 4 players. The game takes your standard Rummy rules and throws a couple spins on them and pools them all together for it’s victory condition. The problem is that when a large group is at the table and everyone is trying to complete their phases, it winds up taking forever because of the nature of the game.

If you have fun playing Rummy type games, and you keep your group small, this is a fun new take on some old classics.

9
Go to the Munchkin page

Munchkin

34 out of 48 gamers thought this was helpful

I remember discovering Munchkin back in 2001 at the Origins Gaming Convention. While I had a lot fun playing it, I really didn’t give it a second thought after the con was over. Fast Forward many years, and many expansions later and it’s now a gaming staple in my family. It takes all the fun of a full blown Dungeon crawl, and makes it easily accessible to anyone be they gamer or not. I’ve got people in my family playing and loving Munchkin who’ve never played a game outside of your standard Monopoly and Life experiences… Granted, it’s gotten much more complex as the expansions have come along, but as long as you stick to the core when you’re starting out and slowly add the rules as you get comfortable with them, it’ll be nice and easy. Sit back, relax, and enjoy those Boots of Butt-Kicking!

8
Go to the UNO page

UNO

29 out of 47 gamers thought this was helpful

What’s there left to say about Uno? It’s a great game to sit down and play with your family. It’s simple, addictive and fun. Especially when you start Skipping someone relentlessly. 😉 Make sure you actually read the rules though, as people have been playing with their own version of the rules that they “thought that’s how it was played” for so many years that a special edition of the game was released called Uno: House Rules. 🙂

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