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duumsong47

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Go to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords (Base Set) page
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9
Go to the Space Empires: Close Encounters page

Space Empires: Close Encounters

14 out of 15 gamers thought this was helpful

I’m not going to list everything you can get in this expansion to Space Empires 4X. Please go to the Close Encounters website and or check out the “unboxing” video on YouTube (at http://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=mQmDOiRbBeY). For the sake of understating, I will say there’s a lot of game pieces (ships, ground unit counters, better rendered home planets, etc.), and another well crafted guide booklet that provides clear yet flexible explanations on how to integrate said pieces along with new scenarios, and game play variants on top of that. How’s that for a run-on sentence?

I’ve been playing SE4X pretty regularly the last two weeks–roughly 12 games; a third solo). Due to the many variants the base game presented itself with, I have only integrated two of what appears to be over a dozen new elements and hundreds of pieces from the expansion. One addition I will mention is the Titan ship that is basically a more mobile Death Star. These ships seem to be one definitive answer to the Doomsday Machines, which is a tad disappointing. Titans are very powerful and may encourage a one track strategy for gamers gunning to only destroy opponent’s planets. I guess that is the point of the game, isn’t it? My point is, I’m a fan of everyone struggling a bit to muster up a space armada that is not guaranteed solely based on size to successfully take out another player’s planet or fleet or both. Call me old fashioned. With that said, GMT has built a system that won’t break should I integrate a house rule that provides the Titans with a weakness.

In all, I had already “drank the cool aid” with the base game. Though I did wince at the price of the expansion, I bought it anyway and am not disappointed thus far. I haven’t done the math but there are dozens of modular elements that you can mix and match within a SE4X sitting, thus an exponential amount of games to play. This might make it challenging yet also fascinating when playing against new, experienced players. I look forward to trying as many elements as possible. This exceptionally high replay value makes the base game and Close Encounters expansion well worth their price. Enjoy.

9
Go to the Space Empires: 4X page

Space Empires: 4X

20 out of 21 gamers thought this was helpful

So, I’m minding my business, playing a solo scenario of Space Empires 4X, trying to expand and explore when I start to hear a clock of Doom ticking on my score sheet. That ticking noise signaled the deliberate and terrible encroachment of 3 Doomsday Machines coming from the deepest reaches of my hexagon space directly at my most vulnerable Colonies. I anticipated that I had two or three turns to build ships and get them out to my little baby Colonies, only one of which had a defensive Base structure. Meanwhile, I also had to make decisions on bringing back some of my Destroyers and Cruisers that were foraging through the vacuum of space for new habitable planets, minerals and derelict ships (that can provide small boons in tech). Long story short–I wound up losing most of my colonies and over a dozen ships, but the defensive Base stations along with a small squadron of Raiders was able to outlast these appropriately foreboding entities. I came out of it beat up, licking wounds (however that would look with ships in space…yuck and brrrr!!), and exhilarated.

Pros:
Many have used the word “elegant”, and I will concur. The rules are seamless and modular–you can pick and choose what you want in and out. I highly recommend going with GMT’s 20+ years proven rules to start. The board is flexible. Not literally, of course, but besides the colored borders there are also dotted lines that allow for different start up configurations for 1-4 players. The graphics are retro and unique from race to race. The heavy cardboard feels durable (certainly time will tell). There is a “spreadsheet” like component that makes a lot of sense and actually helps move the game along. It looks a little scary at first, but it helped a lot to keep my numbers, ships and tech advancements in order.

There’s a nice balance between adhering to the stats of each ship’s attack and defensive characteristics versus the “role” that luck plays by rolling 10-sided dice to decide certain outcomes. Because of the flexible nature of the game I’ve added more elements of good and bad luck when it comes to certain mysterious “Danger!” tiles.

Cons:
You do have to read the rules a couple of times, and there are few game play demos on YouTube. There was one bearded and pipe-smoking gent named Calandale (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnxPEaKU53M) who was fairly helpful. I recommend you viewing him to get a feel for play.

Additionally, I think the 60% survival rate of escaping a black hole is very generous (thus I’ve modded that through house rules). There’s also an aforementioned “Danger!” tile that usually equates to instant death according to the standard rules, no matter how powerful your ship or fleet. It’s probably the most abstract element and doesn’t come up often (thank goodness). This element is modular as well, which reflects a great strength and high replay value of the game. I share one such mod/house rule in the Tips section of SE4X.

In all, Space Empires 4X is fun, intriguing and challenging as a solo game, and against others. Obviously, the more players-the longer the game, but I didn’t experience any game beyond 45 minutes/player, which is tolerable for me. I bought the expansion (Close Encounters), and can’t wait to integrate those elements soon enough. Enjoy!

9
Go to the Mage Knight Board Game: The Lost Legion page
104 out of 120 gamers thought this was helpful

This might be an exclamation made by a Mage Knight who rudely enters a Monastery or Village, late in a session of The Lost Legion:

Greetings fellow Atlanteans! Sorry to interrupt Beardly the Bard’s latest top ten hit, but there’s this huge, helmeted guy carrying his own banner and serated sword the size of a hinder cat. His name is Volkare and he’s heading this way! Feel free to panic. Some say he was a general and was once a Mage Knight himself. But he’s been gone for quite some time and looks pretty vengeful. I’d say by the looks of his posse…um…Legion of ornery goblins, minotaurs, dragons and wizards that they’re more geared towards kicking cuirass and taking guild associations later.

Now, my name is Tovak. Yes, I am a Mage Knight. Fear not though, I have a +2 reputation, and if I play my cards right- 8 influence points to recruit a few of you thirsting for adventure more so than the watered down mead in this place. So whose up for helping me take on the 7 foot dude with the 7 foot sword and his minions? I can promise you a wealth of fame points…should we live, that is. What say you?!

Okay, so maybe that’s what I would say aloud to my son as I played Tovak and witnessed the steady and deadly encroachment of Volkare and his Lost Legion upon the portal. Can you tell I like to have a little fun with this game?

The size of his legion can change by turning a dial on the base of his figurine. I love this feature to the game. Adjusting the strength of Volkare’s legion as well as the four cities that come with the base set provides an incredible amount of replay value.

Volkare creates a great focus for the Mage Knight adventures whether it’s solo, cooperative, or includes PvP. I could see (or hope) the designers would consider adding adjustable base dials to special caves/dungeons, castles, New enemies and/or other mystical lands.

Volkare and his legion are a beast to defeat. Such a challenge and the replay value makes Mage Knight one of my most played games. I’d bring my initial 8 to a 9 or even 9.5 if I could.

9
Go to the Mage Knight Board Game page
57 out of 64 gamers thought this was helpful

Much has already been said about the positives of Mage Knights, and my “con” list is very short, so this review will not be long.

I recently relocated, so I don’t have a community of fellow board gamers yet, besides my son, so I play many games solo whether they were intended to be played that way or not.

I absolutely love the solo playability of Mage Knights, yet I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed playing it with two and three others as well. Most compelling for me are the varied and random map tiles, and the beefing up of cities and the Volkare bad guy with the ease of a few clicks of their base dials. I highly recommend getting The Lost Legion expansion that includes this Voltare character. The encroachment of Volkare figurine upon the portal versus my need to level up, find crystals and companions creates a wonderful tension and effective game timer (much better than a regular dummy player timer). I hope there will be future expansions that will continue, if not improve the element of cranking up the difficulty of enemies and cities. The 3D minis help immerse me into the game. I also like the day to night shifts and the differences it makes with using certain crystals or source die, as well as its effects of one’s movement through certain terrain. The cards are rather thin but I simply sleeved them all.

My cons…or con centers on the many small tiles that represent different monsters or enemies and locations that my avatar encounters. Perhaps it would reduce the immersiveness and randomness but I wonder if there could be a chart to refer to (dare I suggest, after a dice roll) once we come upon a group of goblins, a mage tower, monastery or cave, etc. I think that would eliminate the need for the dozens or so little tiles we have to stack at the beginning of the game.

In all, Mage Knights is one of the most complete games I’ve encountered. Enjoy.

8
Go to the Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game page
84 out of 104 gamers thought this was helpful

I am a huge Civilization PC gamer before purchasing the board game. I remember playing and enjoying Civ II on a 486 Compaq Presario. That seems a thousand years ago.

I actually bought the board game a few years ago and tried to get into it with my son (at that time he was probably 9 or 10-younger than the recommended age, but he’s an astute gamer). Back then the learning curve seemed too steep and the game was shelved, that is until a month ago. Having charted a couple of hundred of hours on the PC based Civ 5, I was hungry for a different yet familiar civ fix. I read a few reviews of games like Through the Ages, but decided to dust off my shelved Civilization game and give it another try. My only regret is that my son and I did not learn the game two or three years ago when I first bought it. Since learning the rules and mechanics of the game we went two weeks straight playing almost every night. On one occasion my son had to remind me that it was a school night for him. The board game came close to the time altering phenomena that has happened to me countless times with the PC version- the making of a dozen “last” moves.

The pros:
With the help of the expansions (especially Wisdom and Warfare), there’s a wealth of choices of cultures to start from, as well as more regular tiles and special ancient sites.

The battle system has been fixed (again thanks to Wisdom and Warfare), simple and fun.

There’s a lot of layered strategic planning and actions that take place every round, which I certainly appreciate.

The cons:
My son and I seem to win best through Tech and Economic victories only using two cultures. Out of curiosity I’ve tried other cultures and have not been able to duplicate the same consistent results. Granted, my son and I are a tiny sample size, and though we have played a lot, we’re committed to playing more and varying our strategies.

In all, like most games with a lot of tiles, layers, and stages- the initial learning of the game could be a bit daunting. I recommend you stick with it and in due time you too might lose all sense of time.

7
Go to the Firefly: The Game page

Firefly: The Game

64 out of 110 gamers thought this was helpful

I loved the show as cheesy as it was, but I wasn’t immediately sold on the game. I’m a bigger fan of the BSG and Star Trek TNG series but will probably not buy their board games. I guess I’m afraid of being disappointed by a “static” iteration of much appreciated tv series. The Firefly tv series was fun and wasn’t afraid to poke fun at itself, thus I made the board game purchase. The Firefly board game comes close to fulfilling what I hoped to find- a fun, engaging game with strategy, fancy clothing and shiny things. I really liked getting my crew, getting my jobs, and moving around the ‘verse. I didn’t like so much being caught by the “authorities”. But that was part of the fun. I thought the Reapers could have been more destructive and scary overall. After 6 or so playthroughs (with two players only, mind you), the game started to get redundant and lost some of its shine. I hope, should there be an expansion (other than the boost pack) that a stronger central story would help polish up an already fairly entertaining game. Not sure if I can revise my original score, but I’d actually give Firefly a 7.

9
Go to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords (Base Set) page
48 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful

I was a little wary of this game at first, because I wasn’t too keen on deck builders not to mention how effectively this game could deliver on creating persistent characters. Both of those concerns went away after the first play. It is a thrill to score a new, and sometimes just different (though occasionally slightly better) weapon or item or spell. I also appreciate the different skills each adventurer brings to the board…errr…table. Additionally, I find the Adventure Paths and their related Scenarios to be challenging and annoyingly stingy. Though I might not appreciate it in the moment; I like that I’m not leaving one Adventure or Scenario with tons of loot. Players need the right balance of might, magic, blessings, intelligence, wisdom, and luck. Lastly, there are often surprises around every temple pillar. Who knew you needed wisdom to best defeat those pesky Bunyips?

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