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FableSmith

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Novice Reviewer
Novice Reviewer
Review 5 games and receive a total of 140 positive review ratings.
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8
Go to the Rattus page

Rattus

32 out of 35 gamers thought this was helpful

Oehmmm
What is it in a game that, when it is newly presented to you, will make you go: Oehmmm…. interesting! I want to know more about this!

Is it space? Is it any game depicting a dwarf wielding an axe? Or will a dour looking man holding a scroll whilst looking up at a castle do it for you? Where for some the mere sight of a zombie on a gamebox is enough to get them a-drooling, my saliva gets kickstarted by daring new themes.

So if someone was to tell me about a game set in a rat infested Europe, trembling from the plague, but with a cartoony atmosphere. I’d go: ‘Aha, go on…’
And if I was then told that the mechanisms are very refreshing as well. I’d go: ‘I’m in! Where do I sign’?

Area dumping
Rattus can be viewed as an area control game, but I think that might be a misleading way to put it. I’d call it an area dumping game and here’s why.
In short, every player starts out with a bunch of cubes (their people). The goal is to have more cubes on the board (map of Europe) by the end of the game than your opponents. Once placed, the cubes will do nothing for you, but still you love them so much you will do everything in your power to protect them from the plague.
You’re such a good soul.

Build character
And here is the delightful twist. Everything in your power depends on which characters you control. Each character, which you can grab at the start of your turn, will give you an extra ability. Take control of the King and you can bring you people to the safety of the castle. Take control of the Knight and bring the plague to your opponents.

But the plague seems to be attracted to power. Because the more characters you have in front of you, giving you all these cool extra things to do, the more likely that the plague will affect your people. Affect meaning killing them off and send them back to your hands where you don’t want them.

This goes on for about an hour, when the plague finally calmes down and you and your fellow gamers look at the damage all those nasty rats caused. The player who kept most of his people plague-free during the game will be the winner.

So who is this for?
Rattus will have your mind warped for the first few games. It can take quite some time before you get a handle on things. Which character should I take, or none at all? Which powers combine well? Where should I dump my cubes? etc.
That makes this perfect for avid gamers. Rules are easily explained, but it takes a gamers heart and mind to feel in control. I don’t see non-gamers enjoying this one.

Rattus depends on flipping tokens and seeing what happens. You can get unlucky sometimes but not devastatingly so. The game gives you enough control that you should take a hard look at yourself at the end of a terrible loss, not Lady Luck.

Expensive
Downside to Rattus is that is an expensive game. You’ll need the Pied Piper expansion which adds 12 new characters to the game. Going from a fixed set of 6 characters to a 6/18 randomizer. This ups the replayability by about a gazillion.
Having only the Rattus base set is like owning Smallworld with only 6 races with fixed powers. After 1 expansion though, you’ll probably have more than enough to last you until a next plague wipes out humanity.

I really like Rattus, for a game situated in the dark dank middle ages where the winds are thick with pestilence, this is truly a breath of fresh air. I think you should have a snif as well.

8
Go to the Cyclades page

Cyclades

93 out of 100 gamers thought this was helpful

Something refreshing anyone?
What’s that sir? You were never really into auctioning? What if these have bloody consequences?
Never was too much into war gaming? What if you could buy the service of a Kraken to eat the enemy ships at your shores?
Cyclades invites you to a Mythological buffet of game mechanisms, each spicing up the previous. Get a napkin.

Gameplay, in short
Everyone starts with a small army occupying a few islands in the Cyclades archipelago. This is not enough for the ambitious leader you are of course, so you will try to expand to more terrain and build impressive metropolises using your hard earned cash to win the favor of the godz.
After a small (re)setup, each round starts with an auction for the favor of one of the Greek godz. This goes quickly around the table until everyone is (or has to be) satisfied with the god that will do their bidding for the round.
This is followed by players, in oder of the godz they’ve picked, executing the accompanying actions. The player who won Poseidon will be able to move ships and start sea battles. Zeus can give you Priests and reduce the cost of future auctions etc.
This is mixed with the Mythological creatures that are on offer as well. They give the game its flavor and ever changing tactics by offering one use power-ups for the round.
Go round and round until someone manages to squeeze out a second Metropolis.

Components
This is one of the best looking games I own. If opening the box and looking through all the shinies doesn’t cause you to create an embarrassing amount of saliva, maybe you should reconsider your geek status.

Besides being pretty, every tiny piece is high quality. Everything from the main board, the voting tiles, the coin, the miniatures. Oh! The miniatures. Why is it that each player gets different models for their boats and soldiers? No reason. Other than drowning you in theme and atmosphere. The player screens help here as well. Each player has different artwork to instill fear in their opponents. Details details details.
This game is an ode to boardgaming. Everything has been done with big scoops of love here.

Buy it?
Cyclades is a little bit of everything. It all works together like a Swiss watch and then manages to merge it with the theme as well! That is a hat’s off and deep bow from me. But this might also cause you to be disappointed that a certain element isn’t meaty enough. Not really crunchy enough for number-crunchers or tactical enough for war-tacticians.
For sure its plenty if you are the type that wants to taste a bit of everything from an exotic buffet but doesn’t want to end up with too much on his plate.

8
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep page
60 out of 67 gamers thought this was helpful

Oh lordy
Thanks to a brilliant move by Wizards of the Coast, players and people across the globe can now enjoy a euro game without moving to medieval France or getting a degree in accounting first. Lords of Waterdeep is a loving marriage between Caylus and a thieving Dwarf.
Gamerules are explained perfectly above, so I will not spend precious space repeating that here. Suffice to say that this game exchanges Contracts for Quests and Masons for Wizards in a fight for the control over the ‘City of Splendor’.

Theme
Not counting the standard wooden cubes that are supposed to represent the rogues and clerics you send out on quests, the game is oozing theme. The currency feels exotic, the player-boards have gorgeous artwork and the main board is a beautiful map of the city you want to exercise your influence on.

It are the Quests however that make you feel like a scheming Lord pulling strings from the shadows. For instance the Skullduggery Quest ‘Take over rival organization’ requires you gather a fighter, two rogues, a wizard and a hand full of cash to topple your rival. After you’ve completed this, next to VPs, you’ll get 4 rogues in return, who of course switched to your side as soon as their former employer got canned.

Completing Plot quest will not earn you as much VPs as you’d like, but they do stay in the game to give you an advantage for the rest of the game. Most often this makes full thematic sense if you bring some of your own imagination to the table.

Interaction? Meh
For me, often the biggest problem with cubepusher games is lack of player interaction. Other than, ‘I hope he doesn’t take the spot I want’ or I’ll take this space to prevent her from taking this’ there is very little back-and-forth. This is also a problem here, albeit more obvious since it’s a game about powerful organizations vying for control over a fantasy metropolis and not about vegetable farming.
I miss the scheming, fighting and plotting with or against others.

The ‘secret role’ element of the Lord cards is not really that interesting. There is no real advantage in figuring out what the roles of the other players are. It is simply a way to keep scoring the last VPs at the end of the game a bit more exciting.

Expansion
Lords of Waterdeep is a game I love to play, but I cannot help to hope that they will introduce some more elements to the game if there will ever be an expansion (and considering its succes there will be). More intriguing role cards so it is far more interesting to guess which puppeteers are played by your opponents. More plot Quest so there is more of an ‘Engine’ to be build during play. And hopefully it will somehow introduce more interactivity between the players.

That being said…
Lords of Waterdeep has something very important, Flow. With only one action per turn and few actions to pick from that make any sense, that game gallops around the table. It goes tadum-tadum-tadum *ding* end of the round. That’s a good thing. You can still plan ahead, but the game never stagnates on people rubbing their forehead for minutes on end.

Closer to Zen than nail-biting and closer to Puerto Rico than Neverwinter, this euro dressed in dragonscale is a one hour plan and plot fest I can recommend.

8
Go to the Martian Dice page

Martian Dice

35 out of 37 gamers thought this was helpful

How much can you do with 13 dice and … that’s it, only 13 dice?
Well, Martian Dice proves you can do a whole lot. This game fills any 15 minute gap or boring birthday party with tension and laughs.

Dice
The 13 dice are all the same. Each die has: one Tank, one Human, one Cow, one Chicken and two Spaceships. The game is taught in under a minute.

Bonus and bust
Where Martian Dice gets it’s tension from is the possibility to bust. During your turn, all the Tanks you roll have to be put aside. If you end your turn with more tanks than Spaceships, you bust and score no points at all. Spaceships are worth nothing when scoring, except for the fact that you need them to score anything at all!

Despite the chance of more Tanks showing up you want to keep rolling because of the yummy bonus. Each turn you can only put aside one species, either the Humans, Cows or Chickens. If you manage to end your turn with at least one of each species, there are 3 extra points in there for you. Enough for lots of people to take the risk of rerolling more tanks.

Control
Like with yatzee and more so King of Tokyo, Martian Dice takes the principle of a chaotic random dice roll with the sense of control by offering rerolls. The choices in that are perfectly done here.
Do you dare a reroll? Do you keep an extra ship just to be sure? Because this will decrease the chance of you rolling a chicken and scoring the humans-cow-chicken bonus. Do I keep the 5 cows? or do I keep the 3 chickens so I have two more dice to reroll and increase the chances against the Tanks? Do I stop? Do I press my luck? Can I afford not to press on since Jack here is close to the end condition of 25 points?

Whatever you choose, choose to pick this up if you get the chance. It’ll get enough play to justify the purchase.

9
Go to the Dixit page

Dixit

32 out of 40 gamers thought this was helpful

All aboard
Ever had trouble to convince a group of people to dive into the joy of gaming? The ‘Well, I used to play Monopoly and that always ended in violence, so no’-crowd will be easily convinced when you hand them a couple of Dixit cards.
If this doesn’t work, maybe start hanging around with people possessing a soul.

Journey
Intriguing as the Fairytale artwork is, the gameplay is even more magical.
You’ll explain this to people in 2 minutes and you’re all off. From then on it’s a matter of estimating how the minds of everyone at the table work. No need for me to explain the rules here, just know that you’ll have to be creative, smart and sometimes a bit tactical.

Minds
How wonderful that a game so beautiful and easy also delivers such a nice time.
Scoring can be a bit of a mind bender, but having one number cruncher at the wheel will take care of that. For the rest it is just a nicely flowing journey into the minds of the people you share the table with. Be they friends or strangers, they will always thank you for the wonderful trip you’ve send them on.

8
Go to the King of Tokyo page

King of Tokyo

104 out of 116 gamers thought this was helpful

The game

The game has been described more than enough by others, so I will leave it at:
You’re a B-movie monster trying to be King of the Hill, the Hill in this case being Tokyo. You roll dice, yatzee style, to either wreak havoc on Tokyo or on your opponents. Do this till you get to 20 VPs, destroy all other monsters or die.

Components

What I have seen from the iello games so far is that their production value is excellent, with King of Tokyo being no different. The graphic design gets you knee deep in theme. The lightness of the game is reflected in the artwork, cartoony and dynamic.
Dice feel heavy in your hand, like a crumbled office building in your monstrous hands.

Choices

It’s hard to follow a certain strategy. It’s more tactical in that respect. You can generally try to go for straight up points or bashing your opponents, but the current situation (on the board, you health status and dice results) will often give you a limited palet of viable options. This makes turns go quick around the table.
Choices are light but significant. Besides deciding which dice to reroll, also picking a mutation card for your monster is often a nice tactical or strategic choice.

Richard Garfield

King of Tokyo is another lesson on how games should be approached. Taking the simple yatzee mechanism and turning it into a game that gets so much emotion across the table is a showcasing of dr. Garfield’s excellence. He simply knows how fun works.

Gamers

I’ve played this game with casual gamers, hardcore and non-gamers. It was a blast each time. The simplicity gets you started right away. There are enough choices to keep you interested and the possibility of getting eliminated keeps you involved (or sitting on the sidelines for a while, wishing you had not been so reckless).
In short, this is the perfect game to start or end a gamenight with. Perfect also to get your non-gamer friends to join in the fun. It could even get your family in law to see why you are into this weird hobby of ours.
Not to be taken too seriously, it never pretends you should, it will be a great addition to your collection.

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