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DaemonHammer

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Go to the Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery page
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10
Go to the Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery page
59 out of 66 gamers thought this was helpful

I wasn’t a big fan of the Spartacus TV show. I have stopped watching it during Season 2, but I loved this hack/slash/muscles/over-the-top-violence idea and I also thought that the Season 1 had a few great moments. However, when this game came out, I read a few reviews and decided to buy it. Now I am glad I did that, because “Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery” is among the best boardgames I have ever played.

Each player takes rhe role of Dominus, the owner of gladiator school. The game ends when one Dominus becomes the most influential person in the city – this happens when he collects certain number of influence points. Players collect influenct points by either organizing fights between gladiators, winning those fights, or by undermining their rivals through intrigue and cunning.

Intrigue and battle are the core of the game, and they use different mechanics. These mechaics work great – one of the best examples of perfect blending of the “fluff” and rules. Intrigues are resolved by playing various cards, while battle is resolved like a tactical miniature game. Both of these aspects of the game offer a lot of strategic depth. Each Dominus has several abilities that he can use during the Intrigue phase, so each player will have a specific play style. Gladiator battles are great because each combatant has different abilities and can also be equipped with various weapons and armour (expansios also allow you to run 2 on 2, or 3 on 3 battles).

During the game, players will also earn money in multiple ways. Then they will be able to use that money to acquire gladiators and equipment, organize gladiator battles, but also bribe other players. And this is one of the best things in “Spartacus” – you can use bribery, but neither you nor the person you are bribing has to respect teir part of the deal. This can lead to very fun situations and makes the game even more interesting (or frustrating, depending on which side you’re on).Generally, all of the mechanics used in this game serve their purpose and none of them seems out of place – the designers really did a great job here.

If you play this game with the right group – people who have no problem with intrigue and backstabbing being among the core mechanics – you will have a LOT of fun. However, for some players, this is too much: playing “Spartacus” without treachery and intrigue is possible, but it’s not the way the game should be played (and you will not fully experience everything that the game has to offer). To sum it up: great game design, great mix of theme and rules, lots of player interaction, well-designed mechanics and great replay value. Fun is 100% guaranteed!

NOTE: There are two expansions available and they add some really nice options to the game and increase the number of players as well.

5
Go to the Mage Knight Board Game page

Mage Knight Board Game

61 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

I was very excited to try this game – on paper, it seemed to be everything I wanted a board game to be, and then some. However, after the first game, my opinion of the game was not particularly positive. And subsequent plays only confirmed that.

“Mage Knight” tries to be a bit of everything – but ends up being too many things at once. It feels like some of the mechanics and ideas are present simply for the sake of them being in the game. If they were left out, the game would loose nothing, except one layer of complexity (that was not necessary in the first place): there are two different mana resources, day/night cycle is clunky, initiative cards are hit and miss in terms of usability. Character leveling is strange and “sort of” works. Scenarios are strange – players are not very motivated to explore the world. That creates a paradox – the game tries to be open-ended and reward people for exploration, but players lack motivation to really do so. The main reason for this are clunky mechanics and game length – sometimes, it simply lasts too long. However, the aspects I really liked were action cards and followers – that was really well done.

I cannot help but think of “World of Warcraft” board game from FFG that is out of print now. It was a monster of a game (when it comes to size and components) but it had a big flaw – you could completely avoid character interaction, so players would end up playing for themselves. However, the mechanics in WoW were complex but really well executed, and very few of them seemed out of place. Leveling was cool, characters were different and rewards were great. There definitely was motivation to explore the game world. However, in “Mage Knight”, it is the completely opposite thing – the mechanics are not interesting, some of them are not really needed and players simply go through the motions. I know that some people like to play “Mage Knight” in solo mode – however, I would never rate this as a positive thing. I do not like playing games this way – for me, playing games is a social activity.

I simply cannot see why would anyone choose to play this game over D&D or any other RPG. “Mage Knight” needs focus more then anything else – the game is all over the place, trying to give you something close to RPG experience in an adventure board game. It’s also too expensive for what it offers and expansion packs do nothing to improve the game in any way. This is a great example of game that is too complex for its own good – there is no shame in simplifying and streamlining.

7
Go to the Cadwallon: City of Thieves page
52 out of 59 gamers thought this was helpful

Confrontation was the game that probably had some of the best miniatures and artwork ever made. World that was created for that particular game was very interesting, so several other games – RPG, board games, card games and PC games as well – were made. “City of Thieves” is one of them.
The basic concept of the game is simple – you control members of one of the gangs that operate in Cadwallon. Each member of the gang has different abilities and is represented by a very cool miniature. Every game is a bit different – because of the scenario that was chosen for that particular gaming session (players can choose from several different scenarios). The scenario specifies what is the object of the game, the victory conditions and some special rules as well. Of course, each scenario involves stealing stuff, finding treasure, fighting militia men and other gang members and some other cool stuff.
Unfortunately, these scenarios present one of the main problems. They are not equally interesting, and some of them simply do not work (they sound cool, but game becomes tedious if you play them). Rules are also problematic – there are several fairly common situations that are not described in the rulebook at all. This can be very frustrating, especially during the first few games. The last problem actually lies with the stat cards – all characters have same stats, the only difference is the special ability. A bit more variety wouldn’t hurt.
The main mechanic – with pool of action points that are spent for character actions – works great. Artwork is amazing – however, there are some issues on the game board (mostly regarding the walls and magical circles). I already mentioned that minis are very good – only complaint is that there are some parts that bend easily, so you have to be careful when it comes to storing them.
The basic concept is fantastic – but the execution is not very good. The game feels rushed – and even game designers admitted that they have been pressed to meet the deadline, so there was very little playtesting involved. In it’s current form, it can be a fun game, but it can be also a boring one (depending on which scenario you choose and how many players are playing it). That’s bad, because it had a chance to be a truly great game.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There is an expansion, that makes the basic game much better and definitely solves some of the mentioned problems. If possible, play “City of Thieves” with the expansion – it will be much more enjoyable.

8
Go to the Age of War page

Age of War

102 out of 144 gamers thought this was helpful

I bought this game purely out of curiosity – turned out that this game is a great way to spend the time if you are looking for something quick and fun. Some more cards and abilities wouldn’t hurt, but this is great choice if you have limited amount of time, or still want to play something relaxing after an exhausting gaming session. Recently I brought this game to work and played it with my colleagues during the lunch break – it was a great way to refresh and have fun between the meetings and usual daily tasks. And it’s a big plus that the game is so small – you can bring it wherever you go.

8
Go to the Tales of the Arabian Nights page

Tales of the Arabian Nights

53 out of 60 gamers thought this was helpful

First a friend of mine told me about this game, then I read a few reviews and did not know what to expect. I was very skeptical that this game will work at all – however, after I played it for the first time, I realized that I was wrong and I enjoyed it!
Some people say that this is a strange mix of board game and RPG – and this is not far from truth. You definitely have characters and your characters have some skills, they go around the board solving quests and you can choose how to react during encounters. However, players have very limited control over their actions – they simply have to trust that their choice will be the right one.
This is exactly what makes the game fun – you do not have total control and you end up in funny, hilarious, or completely bizarre situations. There is no strategy – because you never know where the adventure will take you. I mean, in a single game one player was turned to a mule and then went mad, the other player got married but then also went mad and I became rich but then spend ages in jail. As soon as you accept the fact that you have no control over what’s going to happen – you’re in for a great ride.
However, if you like strategy games, or games that have very clear mechanics, where people can out-play their opponents due to skill and thinking, then this may not be a game for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a game that is really about having a great time with your friends, this is definitely a good choice!

4
Go to the Agricola page

Agricola

54 out of 64 gamers thought this was helpful

There are several big issues with this game, and the main one is game design: the game penalizes the player if he does too little, but it also does not reward him if he excels in (or wants to focus on) one particular aspect. Sometimes, it feels like the game forces you to do everything – you cannot choose your own path to victory. Some of the mechanics are strange and gameplay becomes even more painful if you use “advanced” cards and rules – in my opinion, the game tries to do too much stuff and needs to be streamlined somehow. In this form, it is loosely-tied collection of different game mechanics that do not fit together very well. It can last very long and can be very frustrating to play. There are definitely better games in this genre.

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