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Go to the Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game page
Go to the Pandemic page
Go to the Five Tribes: The Djinns of Naqala page
Go to the 7 Wonders page
Go to the Takenoko page
8
Go to the Captain SONAR page

Captain SONAR

6 out of 6 gamers thought this was helpful

It seems like you haven’t seen the sky in years. Your days pass in a seamless blur, working alongside your fellow crew members in a tiny metal canister surrounded by the pressing depths of the ocean.

Captain Sonar is an innovative real-time game that challenges two teams to take their submarines head-to-head in a thrilling battle. Your ultimate goal is to find and destroy your opponent’s submarine, but this task is far more difficult that it may first appear. Your entire crew must work together to chart a course, charge systems, locate the enemy, and keep your own submarine fully operational. Communication and teamwork can lead you to victory, but if you fail to cooperate, you’ll be sunk to the bottom of the ocean!

Luck:
While the game hinges on a captain of each team taking control, the game avoids this becoming the Alpha gamer problem. Each player has a job to do and while the Captain has most of the control, this can be thrown away with the decisions made from the other officers. An engineer can destroy the captain’s getaway plans with a wrongly crossed off component.

Strategy:
In Captain SONAR, you will need to keep your wits about you. Just finding the other ship isn’t enough to win, the teams captain is going to need to think ahead to make sure that when they DO find the enemy ship, they are ready to both inflict damage on them and get away if things get hairy. You are going to need to work together with your whole team to get the job done.

Complexity:
The game has a lot going on and it is worth while having a captain on each team that knows the mechanics for the first few runs, the game is incredibly intuitive. All 4 roles are very diverse and you will find players wont take long to understand what they are expected to do and how best to do it. This is a party game with a competitive, strategic aspect.

Replay Value:
While the game can take upwards of 30 minutes, especially when playing the turn based mode, this game will have you and your friends frantically shuffling the roles and getting ready for the next round. Because Captain SONAR really is at its best with a full 8 people, you may find plays to be few and far between, you will be taking any opportunity to crack it out!

Components:
The games components are quite simple. You get a few boards to block off the view of the other team, some plastic sheets to draw on and some dry erase markers to do so. The design is beautiful and you won’t find yourself upset staring at for a good 30 minutes plus. That being said, if you are expecting some beautiful pieces to play with, you may be sorely disappointed.

Learning Curve:
The game suggests a run through in the Turn-By-Turn mode for the first game and this is almost a necessity. Players will be asking questions of what they can do and what should be done and while once you know the core of the game everything is very intuitive and easy to remember, without some guidance on each team this may take a few games to learn.

Scaling:
This game is best at the maximum 8 players. While you can get away with 6-7 by the captain doubling up with the first mate role, this takes away from the teamwork that Captain SONAR wishes to utilize. If you are going to play this game, I strongly suggest this be reserved for the very specific group so that you can get the most out of it.

Theme:
The theme here is very lightly put into the game, but that is actually a good thing. Captain SONAR wants you to feel like you are at the command of a submarine in the middle of a deceptive game of cat and mouse. I think this game could be transformed and reinvented by a simple change of theme (Did someone say Star Trek?).

Final Thoughts:
Captain SONAR is a fantastic party game, if your party consists of you and 7 friends. The game can easily be expanded by simple map packs and I won’t be surprised if we see that soon. If you want invest in a unique and engaging game, give this one a look, You will not be disappointed!

7
Go to the Quadropolis page

Quadropolis

5 out of 5 gamers thought this was helpful

They say the city of Rome wasn’t build in a day, but your city can be in about 30 to 60 minutes!

In Quadropolis™ you enact the role of the Mayor of a modern city. You will need to define a global strategy to build your city according to your Inhabitants’ needs and outmatch your opponents, sending your Architects to have various buildings erected in your city. Each building allows you to score victory points. There are various types of buildings with different scoring patterns; many of them may be combined for better effect.

Luck:
In Quadropolis players take turns choosing tiles to take from the central construction site and build them into their own city, this is done by placing their Architects on a row or line and this is where the luck comes into play, unless you are going first, you are going to be limited by what choices can be made as you are not able to place your Architect in the same space, nor can you point to the previously taken tile.

Strategy:
While the game of Quadropolis is lightweight to say the least, the game rewards players for thinking ahead and fully understanding how the scoring of the game works. The placement of tiles is vital and all the different types of tiles require different configurations to score the most points, once you understand this, you are in a better position to critically assess the options available to you.

Complexity:
The game comes with 2 game modes, classic and expert. While the expert version of the game adds another round and brings in a slight increase in complexity, the game is very light and should be enjoyed by many non games. This is a great gateway game that introduces placers to the idea of set collection and tile placement.

Replay Value:
This game is a fantastic gateway game that will have players coming back time and time again. You may not have back to back sessions but this game certainly wont be collecting dust on the shelf.

Components:
Days of Wonder are a fantastic publisher and this game is another testament to that. All the pieces in Quadropolis are either thick card tiles or plastic pawns and other tokens. Opening this up really cemented in my mind that I was going to like this game (sorry, spoiler). While the game could be held up by its mechanics alone, the quality in the box adds so much that make it so much more impressive.

Learning Curve:
The game is quite easy to pick up, that being said it is suggested by the instruction booklet that you run through the classic version of the game before trying it out in expert and I have to say I strongly agree with this. However once you have played the expert version you may not want to head back to the classic version.

Scaling:
Like many other 2-4 player games the scaling of the game works wonderfully. In Quadropolis no matter how many players, a round is set up initially in the same way, tiles are taken out of the bag and placed faced down on the construction site, it is only then that the tiles are flipped face up, but only those corresponding to the player count of the game.

Theme:
The theme is pretty light here, you are building a city and moving people around. It’s no Eldrich Horror or Above and Below but it definitely comes through in the gameplay, you certainly feel like a mayor or city planner putting together you quaint little city.

Final Thoughts:
Ok so Quadropolis isn’t going to appeal to everyone in your game group but this is a perfect edition to your collection of gateway games. This is a great game to bring out at your next family gathering or when you are wanting something lighter and you have played the life out of Takenoko and King of Tokyo. If you are looking for a fun family game with wonderful components, look no further than Quadropolis!

7
Go to the Camel Up page

Camel Up

They smell, they bite, they spit…Disgusting.
As members of Egyptian high society, you gather in the desert with one simple goal: to gain the most money by backing the right camel to win a leg or even the entire race. However, in this race, it’s not just the lucky ones who can beat the odds. Reading the dynamics of the race and having a good sense of timing is just as important when it comes to backing the right camels and taking the victory.

Place your bids wisely and decide when it is time to strike, and maybe – just maybe – with a little bit of timing and a lot of luck, your bid will pay off! Witness the craziest camel race of all time, as things really go topsy-turvy when camels stack up and entire pyramids turn upside down. Being the 2014 Spiel des Jahres Winner its pretty safe to say this is a fantastic game, but is it right for you?

Luck:
Being a family game this game is very well balanced and hinges on the concept of luck to keep it fun and exciting for the whole playing group. The game uses 5 coloured dice (with faces numbered only 1-3) to represent the speed of its respective camel. Each leg of the race camels move based on the outcomes of these dice, but the order that the dice come out adds a crazy amount of randomness that really helps the game avoid becoming stale.

Strategy:
A lot of gamblers would tell you they ‘have a system’ but lets be honest, games of chance are just that, games of chance. In Camel Up, coming in with a preconceived notion of what is going to happen is laughable, the game has such a charming sense of wackiness that throws strategy almost completely out the window! If you are looking for a deep strategy game, this isn’t that.

Complexity:
True to fashion, this magnificent family game is simple while still offering all the fun and excitement of other games. In Camel Up you are going to be taking one action at a time, trying to get lucky and pick the winner and get the most money while trying mitigate any losses. If you want something that the whole family will be able to understand, this is a great option.

Replay Value:
You will probably get an average of 2 games of Camel Up per sitting, this isn’t a party game like One Night that will have to playing again and again but more often than not 1 really wont be enough. The game has quite a lot of legs (sorry about that) so it will be staying in my collection for quite a while, but if it does begin to get stale, there is a fantastic modular expansion that adds to the fun while still keeping the game easy to understand.

Components:
This game is gorgeous, from the beautiful wooden camels to the thick cardboard tiles, nothing has been left untouched by a lick of polish. The standout would be the pyramid which not only serves as a centrepiece for the race, but also doubles as the delivery system of the 5 dice that are used to move the camels. It does lose the tiniest amount of points for the difficulty sometimes found when trying to release only one dice from the chute.

Learning Curve:
This is one of those, learn while you go games, as long as players understand the 4 options they have in there turn and what those actions do and how they progress the game this is a very easy game to learn. The biggest hurdle to get over is some players preconceived notion that they need to be bettering with there coins on the fly, which is understandable in a game based on track racing.

Scaling:
Camel Up is for 2 to 8 players but the game shines at 5-6 players, any less and you begin to realize there are other options better suited to the player count. When you increase or decrease the amount of players the game doesn’t really change all that much, which is the benefit of the game not having to designate any 1 camel to a single player.

Theme:
Theme? Well you are betting on camels running around a track, nothing really out of the ordinary here. Well except for the fact that these camels seem to not understand how to go around each other and instead opt to jump on top of there backs. While there isn’t much else in terms of story, there really isn’t a need, the excitement comes from losing yourself in the wackiness of it all.

Final Thoughts:
Camel Up is a fantastic family game that I think everyone should invest in. If you are looking for something a bit simpler that you can get the whole family behind, this is a definite ‘must buy’.

7
Go to the Tiny Epic Galaxies page

Tiny Epic Galaxies

Because I’m one of the idiots who lives in it!
Tiny Epic Galaxies is driven by an exciting dice-rolling mechanic that rewards thoughtful programming of the results. Players control a home planet and a series of space ships within their own personal galaxy. As players upgrade their galaxies they gain access to more ships and more dice.

As players expand their galaxy by colonizing other planets through economic and diplomatic influence, they gain victory points AND the special powers brought in by those planets!

You are the ruler of your galaxy and there are no limits to your expansion!

Luck:
In Tiny Epic Galaxies, players race to be settle the most planets, securing 21 or more points. The way this happens is through dice rolling. The game utilises a Push your Luck mechanic to keep gameplay engaging and quick. You are able to reroll any dice that are yet to be activated which really sets this game up for a win.

Strategy:
A lot of the strategy in the game comes from the management of dice activation. You are able to activate in any order and if managed correctly you can take all those useless dice and turn them into a game winning turn. Another key feature is the follow mechanic, which allows other players to copy the action of the active player by spending Diplomacy. This keeps the game from becoming stale during another players turn which is great especially for a 5 player game.

Complexity:
The game has a few nuances to it but overall it is a rather simple game to pick up while still offering the tactics that gamers are looking for. It’s not as simple as a game like Catan or Takenoko, however you should have no trouble teaching this to anyone, as long as they are engaged and want to learn.

Replay Value:
Tiny Epic games where designed to be taken anywhere and played any time. This is one of the most charming features of Scott Almes little family of games. Galaxies is a great little game that is easily digested which will have you coming back for more and more.

Components:
The components are adorable, all are lovingly crafted and the imagery of the cards and the layout really works, but what is most impressive is the form factor. The game fits in such a small package for the amount of game you get from it. Most games spanning 30-40 minutes will require something close to the size of Codenames or Munchkin at least, But Almes has been able to stay true to his Tiny Epic mantra.

Learning Curve:
While you need to willing to learn the ins and outs of the game (mostly the die face and what they mean) the game is relatively easy to pick up. While a reference sheet per player would of been great (ala Bang! The Dice Game or Love Letter) the flow of the game is fluid and many while find this a breeze to pick up.

Scaling:
The game does have a solo variant and while it is enjoyable and challenging, it really pales in comparison to the thrill of taking on your friends. The game does go all the way up to 5 players and while I think its sweet spot is 4, the extra player doesn’t ruin the experience for me.

Theme:
The Theme is here, but mostly just to set the motivation, You are all vying for control of the galaxy. I guess its somewhat akin to the motivations found in risk or games of the like, you want to control everything and screw everyone else! But as for thematic story telling? Well you’re just not going to find that here.

Final Thoughts:
Tiny Epic Galaxies is a smash entry into the Tiny Epic family, Scott Almes set out to make small, exciting games that can be taken anywhere and he has succeeded. If you love games like Roll/Race for the Galaxy, but need a lighter alternative when teaching them isn’t the best option, or if you just want a light space game that can fit in your back pack, be sure to check out Tiny Epic Galaxies.

9
Go to the Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game page
5 out of 5 gamers thought this was helpful

I can’t profess to understand God’s plan. Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.
Dead of Winter is a meta-cooperative psychological survival game. This means the players are working together toward one common victory condition–but for each individual player to achieve victory, they must also complete their personal secret objective.

This secret objective could relate to a psychological tick that’s fairly harmless to most others in the colony, a dangerous obsession that could put the main objective at risk, a desire for sabotage of the main mission, or worst of all: vengeance against the colony!

Certain games could end with all players winning, some winning and some losing, or all players losing. Work toward the group’s goal but don’t get walked all over by a loudmouth who’s only looking out for their own interests!

Luck:
In Dead of Winter, your biggest enemy isn’t the traitor hiding in plain site ready to throw anything away, nor is it the unending hordes of Zombies (although, these issues shouldn’t be ignored), but rather the Exposure Die, the evil little 12 sided die that offers a 1 in 2 chance of ruining your day. In Dead of Winter, almost everything you do requires a roll of this die, and this is the hardest obstacle to overcome. The game also uses decks of random cards to keep everything fresh which is another degree of luck.

Strategy:
Depending of what side of the fence you are on, your strategy will differ. For the majority, players will need to work together decided when to take a chance and when to play it safe. Often, the game will be won and lost due to the decisions made by the team, sometimes it might be best to let a crisis go un-averted so to ensure the colony doesn’t starve. If you are the betrayer however, you are going to need to focus on both your end goal, ruining the other players chances of winning and of course remaining hidden. Due to the way turn order rotates, each player is given a chance to take a ‘double turn’, this is a great time to make some big moves towards sabotaging the other players hopes of survival.

Complexity:
While the game is rated on the heavier side of the scale, the game doesn’t actually have too much going on. Quite simply all you will find yourself doing on a turn is playing cards, searching for more cards and killing zombies. There are other action that can be taken and the game is quite fleshed out, but its never too much for the player to handle at any one time. Someone being on top of the core mechanics of the game will help avoid constant referral of the rule book.

Replay Value:
The game is always so randomized and never fails to feel fresh. When picking random starting players, random objectives and drawing from a large pool of crossroad events, you will be hard pressed to find the game stale. That being said when you come across a crossroad that has already embedded itself in your memory, you might find it lackluster to already know the outcome of the card before a decision is even made.

Components:
The components are fantastic, the game comes in a sturdy box with gorgeous artwork and everything inside is just fantastic quality. The standees of both the characters and the zombies are wonderfully designed, the tokens in the game are clear and stunning in there presentation and the game has got to win the award for “Coolest First Player Marker Ever!”.

Learning Curve:
The game has a decent weight to it but the game is actually quite easy to teach to anyone willing to invest into it. Dead of Winter is a mostly thematic game so a lot of the game play revolves around decision making and pure luck rather that calculated min-maxing. The only struggle you might have is the introduction of the Traitor mechanic which may go over the heads of players not well versed in games such as Werewolf or Shadows Over Camelot.

Scaling:
The game does work from 2-5 players but honestly if you are going to play this, I think it is at its very best at 4 or 5 players. Not only does this give more room for the Betrayer to hide, it also greatly improves on the odds of the Good players being able to win an already immensely hard game. If you only have 3 players there are much better suited games that you should play so leave this one on the shelf until someone else comes around.

Theme:
Dead of Winter hinges off its story telling, the game requires you to invest into the story being weaved by the decisions you make and the crossroads that come up. Every scenario starts with a small snippet of story that sets you up and in our plays we have found that everything carries so much more weight when we have invested into the characters and who they are behind the little bit of text and portraits on the cards.

Final Thoughts:
Dead of Winter is a must have for anyone serious about Board Gaming, the game is a masterpiece and brings a fresh idea to the Zombie apocalypse genre. If you are looking for a good 5 player game, don’t go past this one!

8
Go to the Small World page

Small World

5 out of 5 gamers thought this was helpful

Small World is a zany, light-hearted civilization game in which 2-5 players vie for conquest and control of a board that is simply too small to accommodate them all!

Picking the right combination of fantasy races and unique special powers, players must rush to expand their empires – often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline and ride a new one to victory.

Luck:
In Small World there is only so much room to expand, hence the title, so the game requires careful planning and a bit of luck. Not a lot mind you, as the game doesn’t throw many random variables at you other than the random combinations of the races and special powers, and while these effect the game to some degree, each game of Small World will be won through decision making, not luck.

Strategy:
As we mentioned the game uses a board that only just fits the players onto it and for a purpose. The idea behind Small World is that there is only enough room for a handful of races so the game is a constant game of King of the Hill. You might think you are doing well until you realize your Commando Giant neighbours are knocking on your door and taking you out easily with carefully placed tiles. The game comes with helper sheets for each player and they are awarded for studying it and knowing what any combination can do and which have more value.

Complexity:
At first glance the game can come across as more difficult than it really is. The most complex aspect of the game tends to be explaining how conquest and redeployment works, I have found some players struggle to understand the difference between the two actions and when to do them. Players may also find the combination of all the different races and powers overwhelming in there first play through.

Replay Value:
The key feature to Small World that makes it so replayable is the randomization of the roles. No one game will be the same with so many possible combinations. The game does go for a fairly long time so this won’t be one that you are playing over and over again. However Small World is a classic and should be in everyone’s collection.

Components:
As is expected from Days of Wonder, the game components are fantastic. The art is adorable and really gives off a Disney-esque theme which is fitting for the name (while probably not the intention). As the game scales in player count, as does the board and while they could of gone the Blood Rage route (requiring you to simply ignore part of the game board), it is admirable that they included multiple boards to accommodate this. Everything in the box is well crafted and beautifully detailed.

Learning Curve:
Learning the game is pretty easy, once players have a grasp on the goal of the game and begin to understand how Decline and all the powers work the game actually becomes easy to understand. Players will need to often refer to the player reference through out the game but this is exactly why it was included, it’s clear and easy to understand at a glance.

Scaling:
The game was designed to scale and it does so with gusto, that being said the game becomes considerably longer when a fifth player. The game is at its best with 3 players, this brings enough pressure to force players to carefully consider there actions while not making the game unbearably long.

Theme:
The games theme is wonderfully played out with the game mechanically. The idea here is a small world that cannot accommodate all that wish to inhabit it, this is fleshed out in the gameplay as players fight to even stay on the board. The artwork and zany combinations add a fun aspect to the game that really makes it a delight to play.

Final Thoughts:
Small World is a wonderful Civilization game with a wonderful twist that makes it approachable by all. This game should be in everyone’s collection. If you have ever felt the itch to play a game like Risk or Twilight Imperium but want something a bit different, check out Small World!

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