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CaptMench

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Review 3 games and receive a total of 40 positive review ratings.
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Review 5 games and receive a total of 140 positive review ratings.
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Go to the Castles of Mad King Ludwig page
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Go to the Forbidden Stars page
9
Go to the Alchemists page

Alchemists

116 out of 128 gamers thought this was helpful

Alchemists: A Cautionary Tale

Let me first get a few things out of the way.

1) even though you think your family is experienced at learning new board games DO NOT sit them all down for a good 1st time thru the rules let’s learn together as we play session. Even though the rules kinda invite you to do that!

2) don’t be suckered in by the cute (and absolutely fantastic!) artwork of this game… It is pure Evil!

3) remember that time you were left in the hospital mid-tour because of a kidney stone and you asked for a crossword book from the 7-11 but instead they brought you a book of logic puzzles and you know you did them but were so doped up on codeine that you’re not sure HOW you did them and now you wish you did? Oh wait, maybe that one only applies to me. Well, go get a logic puzzle book from the 7-11.

4) don’t be fooled by the one review of the game that mentioned this was a Queens game Fresco rip-off because you love Fresco and it will be easy. No, just because you kinda have workers and you decide when to wake up each day for turn order… Imagine instead Fresco mechanics with 20 expansion rules made by the Devil and you have to play with all of them… And that’s the EASY mode! If you want to play the full game you add another 10!

Now that that is out of the way, Matúš Kotry designed a wickedly appealing game of deduction, logic, worker placement and even a little hand management tossed in with Alchemists! CGE did their usual amazing production packing about 10 kilos of fun into a normal sized box. Oh, and the art! David Cochard brings this game from a 7-11 pulp logic puzzle book to a full fledged theme filled magical world of Middle Ages Alchemy.

I really like this game! 15yo really likes it. When Mom and 17yo get back from the Italian Alps THEY will like it, I’m sure. Even 10yo enjoyed parts of it, but got a bit upset it took so long to get thru everything he ended up with a headache and tapped out around round 4 (box says ages 12+ and I’d suggest 13 or 14+ to be safe). But, I’m not sure I’d call this a ‘family game.’ And certainly not one I’d recommend anyone buy next if all they play is Catan, Ticket to Ride and Camel Up.

Despite the friendly art and inviting first few pages of the rule book this game is Math-y and cut throat.

Aside: a few months ago I saw CGE’s Space Alert at the library and after reading the first pages of rules I thought this would be a great game to play with the boys. The rules invited me to sit down with them and work our way thru it paragraph by fun instructional paragraph… But then I turned the page and the rules exploded into a jumble of secondary and tertiary rules that just kicked my bottom! I seem to have forgotten that experience. Hey CGE, I appreciate the instructional way you write your rules… But I need to remember that they are still rules and should ALWAYS be read thru in their entirety before teaching.

Anyway.

Math based: the heart of this game is a logic puzzle. Every 2 of 8 elements combine to create one of 7 results that then give you insight into the three properties that make up each element… And ultimately, that’s what you are trying to figure out – what those 3 properties are. Combining different elements will eventually give you enough information to know exactly what that element is made up of. BUT if you are clever, you can logically deduce from less and less information. That’s where an advanced degree in IF/THEN can give you a leg up. But, I solved half of the elements my 15yo did and I still won by a point in our first game.

That is because there are other paths to victory that include being ‘kinda right’ enough to publish a finding that will continue to give you points and possibly a grant to continue your research with bonus money and victory points at the end. Knowing the rules and all the potential victory points is also an important key to successfully keeping up with the math wiz.

But there is so much more too… Managing your turn order is a mini game in itself and can earn you huge money and fame, but that too is evened out by the fact that Favor cards can change the order of things or you can get discounted out of a deal when you sell a potion to an assassin… But then THAT doesn’t matter, because your two unused action tokens just turned into another Favor card that will earn you enough gold to buy those fancy shoes that let you take an extra action!

I’m not that well versed in what other people call Euro-games, but I imagine this is one of them. Lots of paths to victory, lots of rules, lots of placing things out to earn actions… But the theme seems to fit so perfectly I can’t imagine anything else replacing it.

I do have one complaint… The paper you use to mark your findings on… VERY hard to read with even the slightest degradation of eyes. Each of the colors is slightly faded pastel and the + and – is even harder to see. I need more contrast.

I don’t have a witty ending, so… I’ll just stop. Oh, did I mention it has one of the best reasons to add a digital device to a board game?

Postscript: 15yo and I just completed the second game. Clocked in at 1:45 with rules re-reading and a few takebackzees. One time he realized he had restarted the app on his phone with a different game code, so I let him re-scan his results. That took a while and then we adjusted some of his publications too. But then I made him let me do a redo when I didn’t read the label on my Robe of Respect correctly and I was banking on doubling some respect points in the final round and bought a card that would have given me additional respect… So he let me buy a different card instead.

I will say that two or three player seems perfect for six rounds of this game as you can do 5 or 6 actions a turn. With 4 players you are limited to only four actions. I don’t know how that can be good!

One of the funniest moments was when he realized I was publishing and getting money and respect for results he KNEW were wrong, but couldn’t debunk correctly. HA!

I won by one point, again.

9
Go to the Specter Ops page

Specter Ops

50 out of 58 gamers thought this was helpful

Specter Ops

We play a LOT of war games at the house. I mean, they are the go-to games we want to spend our Sunday afternoon playing. Epic battles from history played out on our game table with miniatures and finely crafted movement spanning the greatest battles, the finest officers and the most heroic soldiers. You know the ones I mean… All those epic titles from Avalon Hill and the rest.

But, no… I mean Memoir ’44. You know Memoir! Memoir ’44 is to Wargamers as I’m sure Phase 10 is to you and me. It isn’t a real war game! Heck, it is barely a game at all! But honestly, I love games this style of game. Theme and mechanic nicely woven together so I recognize both and light enough that I will continue to come back or even bring new people to it.

I played about 30 minutes of an epic chit filled wargame once. Hated it! Not that it was a bad game, I wasn’t ready for it! Kinda like the first time I heard the music of Edgard Varese. (YouTube Ionisation for one of his pieces – think Layers of Sound passing thru planes of space and time.) It wasn’t that it wasn’t good, I had nothing to base it on. Nothing to relate it to. No shared experience to take me to the intellectual tools he was using. But spending time with composers of his past and especially those he influenced helped me gain a better understanding and appreciation of his music.

Some of you might like Frank Zappa. Eh. Pop Star hack, I say! Listen to his master, who? Varese. I’m actually not sure who taught me what. frank taught me Edgard, or Varese enlightened my Zappa. Either way… It is I still possible to like Zappa and not Varese as it is possible to like Memoir and not Longest Day.

This is where Specter Ops comes in. We played Scotland Yard last year from the library back when they only games we had were Ticket to Ride and Pirate’s Cove. Probably not the right move. We tried to learn it on our own and frankly, it fell flat. It did find itself here in the house a bit later on our iPads and we liked it well enough, but the point of this run-on review is that it really is a good game if even just a little brother to games I haven’t played yet; Letters from White Chapel or Fury of Dracula.

All that is to say that this might be the perfect game for you. It is for us! It probably won’t have the replay of Memoir in our house, but it is a fantastic slide into the hidden movement genre.

After the game was done, I slid it back on the shelf next to Dead of Winter and thought, hey – I wonder if Raxxon was born out of the Zombie Apocalypse 100 years before that was DoW and their goal was to rid the world of the zombies and create better humans genetically modified to rebuild the race, or… Was it the agents of A.R.K that as they destroyed the security of the System, in a Children of Men scenario gave birth back to the unmodified humans and thus created the mutations of the zombies?

Who ARE the good guys in this game?

What is Specter Ops? In a world, where everything is perfect, humans are genetically engineered to perfection and the world is now at its height of Hegalian perfection, a group of rogue ‘humans’ think the past is better than Man’s push towards a better future. One Agent is sent to destroy a Raxxon facility and is pursued by hunters bent on keeping the status quo. As an Agent, you move through the facility hiding from the hunters. Can you stay hidden ling enough to accomplish your mission and fulfill your part in returning the human race to its former glory or will you be successful in being the hunters and keeping the virus that plagues perfection abated?

The tension is immense! The mechanics are simple. Play this game and determine if Dead of Winter is the Past, or is it our Future. Turn away from Plato’s Cave and except reality! Play this game!

9
Go to the Castles of Mad King Ludwig page
71 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

A few months ago I was sitting with my Dear German Friend, Tobias, at a Gasthaus drinking Heferweizen, eating Spätzle and talking. We were chatting about the three main ways of making Spätzle from the way his Grandmother made it by hand to the way his mother made it quickly with a press and to the way he makes it now (with a plastic shaker and whisk-ball squeezing it into boiling water) when, as we usually do, the conversation turned to our favorite subject to talk about, Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Although not the foremost authority on Wagner, Tobi is MY foremost authority on Wagner. We talk about the music and the plots of his operas, his life and most importantly, the Germanic culture that drove Wagner, the culture that Wagner drove himself and the culture that changed Germany and the world forever. Without Tobi’s insight to life outside the screaming fat sopranos I would never have started to LOVE, not just respect, the world Wagner created.

Tobi and I had just both conducted a the same work of Wagner’s and the in depth talk of that brought us to how in 1864 King Ludwig II succeeded the throne of Bavaria at the age of 18 and had brought Wagner back to Germany after being exiled 15 years earlier while in dire financial ruin. This young King Ludwig was the savior to the future of the the music we loved so dearly and in fact to all of western music yet to come!

Wait, Mad King Ludwig?
No, he wasn’t ‘Mad.’
Everyone says he was.
No, only the rich lords around him who wanted him out of power because he didn’t want to do all those things a King of the time was ‘supposed’ to do.
Hmmm
Yes, he didn’t want to go to war so he basically gave away Bavaria to the Prussians and that did him in.
I guess it would!
But he was an ‘artist.’ He loved the beauty in the world and thankfully he loved Wagner.

Which then, this week, brought me to buy Ted Alspach’s beautiful Bezier Game production of The Castles of Mad King Ludwig (which by the way the German title is Die Schlösser Des King Ludwig (omitting? The Mad)).

We’d played Alspach’s Suburbia, the mechanic this game is based on, as a rental from the library and although we liked the game VERY much, the art work just wasn’t something I wanted to throw on our table again, so we didn’t buy it – plus, I knew I could always get it from the library. But now I was fascinated by the personal connection to this Ludwig, his castles and by the artwork of the game.

I was amazed to see all those great rooms that aren’t just funny rooms to occupy your Mad King’s Castle, but are actual rooms from King Ludwig’s castles and palaces. Hulding’s Hut, inspired by Wagner’s Die Walküre complete with the Ash Tree in the center, the Venus Grotto, the Eastern and Western Tapestry Rooms, the pink and blue cabinet rooms and even the dining room where the entire table disappeared below so the servants could load it with food and not disturb the King are all from Schloss Linderhof. The hall of mirrors from his Versailles copy, Herrenchiemsee! The throne room, singer’s room and so much more from Neuschwanstein! Even the Queen’s writing room from Hohenschwangau. They are all in there. They are all there for you to free your hawk and live your inner dove to build to your heart’s content the most beautiful castle imaginable with the most beautiful rooms ever imagined.

I really like this game. It is a wonderful theme on a solid mechanic that will have us coming back to it again and again. Oh, I like a lot of games! But there are a only a few that speak to me when I play them. The ones that reach into my heart and pull something. The moments like in creating music that keeps my passion for it so alive… That aesthetic moment, when everything in life comes to this singular moment and this singular place and your senses come alive, more alive than ever before — the last 40 minutes of Sigfried… (don’t listen to it now, you have to start 9 hours before with the beginning of The Ring to finally get to that point – oh, and it would help if you had a Tobi with you for a few days before explaining the cultural references and the – oh heck, go buy yourself a copy of the BluRay of Zubin Mehta conducting Valencia’s production of Der Ring des Nibelungen – you won’t be sorry!)… Where was I? Oh yes… Those aesthetic moments where your pores open to life and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck!

Well, no board game has done that for me yet, but there are a few that come close and at least tell me that art and culture and life and board games can come together in AN aesthetic that is more than just commercializing my senses. Yes, I always cry at the end of Rudy (film from 1993–ROCKY ripoff about a kid who plays football for Notre Dame) – but ONLY because I’ve been manipulated to do so – let me shed my own tears for a man who was ahead of his time, misunderstood, loved the arts, inspired geniuses and whose castles inspired this game… Let me shed that tear on my own terms.

My Dear German Friend Tobias is at Bayreuth as I write this enjoying Wagner in the Halle designed by him specifically for his operas and after will take his vacation to Füssen, a stone’s throw from Linderhof Castle. When he comes back, we’ll have a lot more to talk about and drink over, I’m sure of that.

8
Go to the The Duke page

The Duke

44 out of 50 gamers thought this was helpful

When I was 5 years old I found a chess set in my dad’s parent’s house and had my uncle teach me to play. I was immediately brought into the grandeur of two royal families battling across distant lands for unimaginable riches and prestige. Bobby Fischer became my hero and I read as much about chess for the next few years as I could. My dad would cut out the weekly chess puzzle from the Philadelphia Inquirer and I would pour over them until I figured it out, and I remember the day I first read about Blitzkrieg and spent an hour teaching my mother how to play chess just so I could move my cheap plastic pieces four times and checkmate her King. I felt like a king! I could do something my parents couldn’t and it took me to a world inside my imagination that I could live out on a small board with 32 pieces on 64 magical squares.

When I was 8 years old my grand parents came back from a vacation in Puerto Rico with a gift for me. My second chess set – probably for my parents, but I thought it was mine. It was alll marble including the board. So heavy, I dented the table with it when I accidentally dropped one of the pieces. In addition to giving ‘my chess’ validity, it also opened me to life outside my imagination and my home. There were people all over the world too! Like, ACTUAL people. That’s a big step in a child’s development and maybe my first desires to see the world.

Chess gave way to life. Baseball and hockey soon took over and then music became my avocation and shortly, vocation. I don’t have that chess set anymore, but I do think it is still at my mother’s home in Philly… Will have to check. College brought some monopoly and scattergories and Uno and beer until I met my future wife who had just come back from a choir concert tour of Russia (one week before the tanks rolled into red square!) with a cheap, but artistic chess set that still sits in my collection bookshelf today (that wasn’t why I married her.)

Add a few kids and a chance to teach them my lost love of chess, I got my middle son hooked and he soon gave me a run for my abilities. Now we live in Europe and enjoy traveling here quite a bit. We’ve also started our ‘modern gaming’ collection and our focus for games has moved into a passion (obsession) that often doesn’t have room for those ‘simple games’ like chess, but my midson’s love of it and my interest in cultures keeps us buying more sets and still playing whenever we feel the mood. We bought a beautiful set in Budapest and most recently last week the family was in Istanbul’s Grand Bizarre where he found a fantastic set that then found its way onto our sailboat tour of the Greek Islands.

Other than in my youth, pouring over the back pages of Boy’s Life and drooling over the chance to buy a Star Trek 3D chess board, this is one of the only games since I’ve never wanted to change or buy an expansion for or modify any other way then just buying a culturally relevant hand made set that pitted armies against armies or fantasy against fantasy. But our sets are a hard game to travel with. We like full sized boards and the Istanbul set just barely fit inside a suitcase and dirty laundry and to be shifted around to backpacks and other suitcases.

But I digress, this is actually a review of Catalyst Game’s 2013, The Duke!!

So, I’m sitting on the sailboat one evening playing our 5th or so game of chess, having taken the pieces out of their protective sleeves and it dawned on me that there was a game I heard about but only now thought we’d like. As soon as we got home I drove the three hours up to BraveNewWorld (check them out if you are ever in town!!) in Köln and picked up a copy (along with many other games that will be reviewed later when my wife lets me open them for my birthday in a few weeks.)

I’ll be straight with you here (finally): it is a wonderful game but lacks the history, passion, spectacle, grandeur and even (sorry) the strategy of Chess. If you are coming to this review and the game as I did thinking it might be a replacement for chess but don’t know much more about The Duke, think of it like chess where every other move your pawn changes to a knight and your queen, after she moves, is now a bishop and if you like that idea you might really kinda enjoy this game too.

Thankfully though, The Duke is actually much, much more than that. The pieces are tiles that have movement on each side and after each move that tile is then flipped to its other side. But more than just changing a piece’s movement, it adds theme. The Footman, standing guard next to your important Duke can move one square – not leaving the side of the man he is charged to protect, but that then it rallies his muster and jumps forward to lash out with his axe in immediate defense as needed. His next turn he must return to his guard responsibilities and relax after that battle. A Marshall can lunge into battle right away and then his next turn command troops in front of him. The Wizard (wait… A WIZARD?) can move any direction and then magically appear somewhere else. A General can lead from the front commanding his troops behind.

All this makes for a fantastic game full of strategy and theme… I think.

I don’t know… If you don’t mind having wizards pop up in the middle of your feudal wars; if you don’t mind, that in the heat of battle when your Duke is in the middle of the field surrounded by enemy pikemen, magically a General appears next to him and saves the day; or that there is a sense of randomness to the play as you only start with three tiles and then must deal with what is next pulled from a bag — kinda like drunk soldiers finally returning from a night at the pub, late to the fight — then this might be the best chess replacement there ever was!

Actually… It is the best chess replacement – but it isn’t a chess replacement. It is however one of the best Abstract Strategy Theme Filled games we’ve played. The footprint is 3/4 the size of our standard chess sets, the tiles aren’t going to break the table when dropped, everything fits in a small box, the rules are simple, the replay value is high and judging by how many times we’ve played it so far it is really a high value game for us and except for now wanting each of the five or so $15 expansion packs…

We are still going to play Chess, people all over the world are still going to be playing Chess and artisans will continue to be inspired to create collectable components for a game that will out live us all – but I am glad that we found The Duke, it will go into my travel bag as a permanent addition. And, as I continue to travel the world, I will also be looking for that marble 6×6 grid and marble tiles etched with the dots, stars and pawns of The Duke to give MY grandchildren one day.

5
Go to the Welcome to the Dungeon page
49 out of 58 gamers thought this was helpful

This review might not be for you. If you are a game collector this review will be a 9, but if you are a game buyer… Yeah… This review is a 5… Currently.

So, back when the only games we owned were Ticket to Ride and King of Tokyo we were vacationing outside London for Christmas. We were in Lovely Kent and were planning on moving the vacation into London on Boxing Day. Quick aside for tourists… If an englander tells you London is lovely on Boxing Day because everyone stays home trust that they haven’t been to London on Boxing Day since the War!

Well, despite the millions of people per square of sidewalk cement we found ourselves at a small game store on a circle not far from a more famous circle down in the shopping district. If I can find it on google maps again I’ll give them a plug here later. (Future Mike here… http://www.orcsnest.com Cambridge Circus stop on the subway tube thing (what a great downtown shop!! (Go there and buy more games!)))

Anyway, we saw all sorts of games we’d never seen before and needed some extra hel from the staff. They let me buy Zombies!! (Which we loved for many nights) and then recommended Love Letters, eh… Ok, I’ll try it, I said. Oh… We use the rule that you are actually tripping to poison the princess! Said the clerk. Sold! Said my 8yo.

On our way out, the clerk suggested we take Coup too.

We loved love letters, loved (for a few nights) Zombies!!, but could not like Coup.

We didn’t get it. I hated lying. My wife was WAY too good at it. We were always looking at the cheat sheet trying to remember the powers… We hated it (except for my wife) and never played it again… No strategy. Lie or die.

75 games later we pulled it out again and we ALL loved it.

So, currently we HATE Welcome to the Dungeon. There is nothing to this game. Pick a hero, put down some powers and dump in some monsters. Count the cards, divide by three pull a power wait for two more to go and PASS! As soon as you pass someone else will pass and it is some poor soul’s time to die. Sorry… We’ll just wait until you die and continue on.

That’s all this game is to us, toss a few monsters, pull a few random power cards and pass,

I can’t see much more than that! Is it a great concept? Oh yeah! I love the idea and I really wanted it to be Love Letter and not Coup. But now, I just wishwe could find the bit of Coup that we were missing and let it come to this game.

Oh, but there are 4-different heroes to use… No, not really. They kinda all seem the same.

Oh, but each hero has a different color… Yup, there’s that.

Look – everything about this game should be perfect! For those small games we play so much..l Coup, love Letter (franchise), port royal, franks zoo, bohnanza, mü, even Shadows over Camelot: the Card Game that we love so much… I so wanted this game to be a part of that! I spend 150 days a year on a bus, and this game could be such a wonderful addition…

But it isn’t.

Yet.

Maybe…

But I don’t think so.

We are trying to keep it coming out to see if someone will find a path to strategy and then to actually winning… Maybe. Gah, I wish I liked this!

9
Go to the DungeonQuest page

DungeonQuest

83 out of 94 gamers thought this was helpful

Don’t worry about the title, that was a little sarcasm there, plus… I don’t write my own titles (dang, I did it again!).

So, I’ve seen a lot of board gamers cry about luck based mechanics in games. I’m not one of those. If I flew my X-Wings off the board that’s not luck, that is stupidity! But rolling 4 dice with four critical hits on my red die and my opponent rolling 3 blank greens and taking that hit card that treats crits as two hits to win the game is… What? Advanced pilot skill? No, it’s luck. There is nothing wrong with a little luck in games. Heck, even asking my son what game he wants to play comes with its own luck factor. Will he pick the game he knows he will beat me at, or will he possibly pick a game I might have a chance in?

But I think when luck is used because it was an easy choice to make for a game, and it is the only mechanic IN the game, then it becomes problematic! Candy Land comes to mind. Mind numbing card pulling that does nothing for the advancement of a youngster then teach them how to catch mom cheating because after her third hi-ball she finally slipped up and made it obvious she was fanning cards on her draw to find the candy dude that put her at the top and finally end this misery! Yes, true story. Sorry, Mom.

So, this is why I HATE DungeonQuest!!

Wait… No, I LOVE DungeonQuest!!! I do! My boys love DungeonQuest too!

We set up the board, put out the 90 stacks of cards, staked up all the tiles, set all the chits, argued over who gets which hero and poured my first hi-ball with a toast to my Mother. With luck, I pulled my first tile and then with the luck of the shuffle pulled my first chamber card and it was luckily a trap! Pulled my lucky trap card and it was the swinging blade of death! Could have been ANYTHING else, rolled my lucky dice against my 4 luck and died.

The boys howled with laughter!

They got to see daddy drink a €7 bottle of Belgian bier in one gulp, pour another and demand a reset of the game.

It took us maybe another few quick dies to add one of the alternate rules allowed (I encourage you to use it) in the rule book and modified it to a single death was allowed per game – with discarding all your cards and health etc. We haven’t had any problems since and have actually won 2 of the 5 or 6 games we’ve played.

So why do I like it? It’s the thrill. The thrill of the chase, the thrill of the theme, the thrill of handing yourself over to the 17 year old kid texting his girlfriend as he hooks you into the bungee jump and mutters a quick ‘have fun’ as he pushes you off the platform and all the trust you have in the world for the next 4 seconds is tied up in, ‘”was he paying attention to me just now?”

Maybe it has something to do with why we even get into our cars every day… Or fly… Or, heck… Even get out of bed! But this game, if you give yourself over to the life it has planned out for you, is an amazing adventure into a completely uncontrolled slide through a story that you have absolutely have no skill set to rely on. That is what makes this game so fun for us.

My middle son (15) sees complex strategies laid out before him clear as day in Forbidden Stars to the point where I just can’t beat him. My youngest (10) is an agility master and kills me in every dexterity game there is (except for beer pong). Those skills do NOTHING for them here! It is a level playing field with excitement and yelling and laughing and not caring and running for another hi-ball mid turn that we just never got with any other game.

Now, of course in life I want people to bring their best skills with them. I want that bungee kid to make sure his three hour training class stays with him for every person he hooks up; I want the thousands of flight hours and training (go Air Force) with every pilot not to mention the skills of the mechanics; I want every driver out there driving with the same skill I use and my son is learning in his German Driving Lesson course to help mitigate luck from my daily fears…

…so that I can enjoy the moments like these when I have nothing else to worry about than the random nature of life I love so much.

8
Go to the Forbidden Stars page

Forbidden Stars

122 out of 132 gamers thought this was helpful

I saw Dicetower folks gush over this game with preview copies and frankly I wasn’t impressed. My game group consists of my family of three boys, (10/15/17) and my wife. We aren’t into the Warhammer universe (although one of our first games we bought was Bloodbowl team manager) and the video of the play through just didn’t sell it to us.

I had absolutely no reason to buy it…

Yet, there it was sitting on the shelf of my German local game store when I went in to buy some paints for my Memoir ’44 figures and €90 was way out of my pocket cash for the day. But there it WAS! These folks never have new American games… Oh what the heck. I’m sure the 15yo will play it with me. His strategy developmentfor board games is starting to surpass mine and his ability to grasp mechanics and view “the whole board” is rather innate it seems.

So, (ehem) reluctantly I bought it and hid it in my trunk until my wife left and pulled it out to show spawn-2. We immediately gushed at the big box and miniatures and big box and also the miniatures. He gave me the task to read the rules and have it on the table for an after dinner go. I was happy to oblige this rather above himself request.

Honestly, rules are quite simple and easy enough for a new-ish gamer to understand and grock. After learning Star Wars: Imperial Assault I really like the way FFG handles rule books. Give me a quick learn and an alpha/cross references rules guide and I’ll know exactly where to go (even if there are a few discrepancies between the play book and the reference guide)!

Anyway, with the rules soundly under my fingers we set out to play our first game and were immediately immersed for the next 2.5 hours in this game! The theme had us, the strategies had us, the simplicity of the game had us and the big box and the minis had us too!

Our second game of two player came in at just under 2 hours and we made it through 5 of the 8 levels before 15yo picked up his second token and won. Today we added 10yo and don’t judge by the time, but we played 3 rounds in about 3 hours, but that was because we had to help spawn-3 a bit more… But, he actually got the rules enough to make some really good decisions. 17yo and I played the other day… But he isn’t much into strategy past Memoir.

Things we liked:
Combat System!! – never saw anything like this before
High Asymetric Strategy – although the factions are well balanced even if you don’t utilize their special abilities, if one of your players knows how to best use their team and you don’t, you will lose!
Theme and gameplay kept us riveted – I’m usually done and bored with Mice and Mystics by the second hour.

Things that were a bit hard for us:
15yo picked up way too fast his faction abilities and differences and was laying waste to us before we could figure out what to do.
10yo had a hard time thinking ahead when laying Order tokens (stacking Orders makes you think a few movements ahead. If you want assets before you build your units, you better first Order the build and THEN Order your Dominate.
Most of the smaller minis came out of the box well bent. A little hot water fixed ’em right up, but as they are flags, the poles are quite thin and I’ve actually had to ‘hot water’ them a few times.

Replay is very high for Middle son and I. Hopefully I can get a few one on one games in with 10yo to keep him interested. Older son is on his own.

Gameplay is solid fun for us! NEVER thought we’d like this type of game.

Price is a bit high, but you get a lot of really cool bits!

OH!!!! And THANK goodness Fantasy Flight did NOT include those stupid mini-cards! I hate them!! Hate’em! But that’s just me.

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