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Bill Hartman

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9
Go to the Catacombs page

Catacombs

22 out of 24 gamers thought this was helpful

Upon original viewing of the game, I thought to myself, “WHAAATT? This CAN’T be that fun…”. I wrote it off for quite some time, thinking it just some kids “Flick and find the piece on the floor” game.

Flash forward a year or so, and I’m looking for a new game for the family to play, but one that won’t bore me to tears or feel “cheap” or have lack of strategy. I see Catacombs and all it’s expansions on sale at a favorite Online Game Store, and I decide to take the plunge.

Even while putting the stickers on the discs, I still wasn’t sure what to think about the game. Would it really be much of a dungeon crawl experience? Would it make me feel like I had choice, or is it going to just be some random, chaotic dexterity fest?

My daughter was immediately smitten with the game though, and wanted to try it. I left the expansions out, and set the base game up for us to try. THIS TURNED INTO THE BEST GAMING NIGHT MY DAUGHTER AND I HAVE HAD IN QUITE A LONG TIME.

One person plays the overlord, who controls all of the enemies and plays the role of “Merchant” and “Healer” when those rooms are entered. Enjoying role playing, I got into the roles of all and my daughter really had a blast with that.

Up to 4 other people play the “Heroes”. My daughter, being the only other player, played all 4 (Barbarian, Elf, Wizard, Thief). I thought this would be overwhelming for her at first, but she took to it with no problems whatsoever.

Although the main point of the game is essentially flicking discs (either your hero disc for a melee attack, or flicking a “Ranged attack” or spell disc for those appropriate attacks), you have some choices and strategy to consider. The Wizard, for instance, has one-time use spells, that they pull from their deck. Once the spell is used, it is discarded for the rest of the game. this gives some light decision making to the Wizard.

The heroes go first, flicking their discs as per turn order, then the Overlord flicks his minions around to counter-attack. There are 3 boards, each with 2 sides, so there is a small amount of variety in rooms (which all have circles cut out for disc to fit into for “bumpers”, usable for rebounding or hiding behind). Once all of the overlords minions are defeated, the heroes move onto another room (another board), and the overlord spawns new minions on the board as-per the room card description.

This makes for a very engrossing, active experience. Trying to flick the discs to rebound, hit 2 targets, or flick it lightly enough to land behind a bumper so as to avoid being targeted easily by your opponent, is great fun. But also, each unit in the game usually has an ability – stun the target on hit, spit a fireball, execute a melee attack followed by 2 ranged attacks, etc. Keeping track of all of that at first isn’t too bad, but I did miss a few of them here and there. Those add a LOT of variety to the game, and keep it interesting even when the room boards repeat themselves.

The object is for the heroes to move through all of the rooms, to the Overlord’s chamber and defeat the overlord. There are 4 Bosses/Overlords in the base game, and each varies in difficulty and abilities (and minions summoned). In between that, the heroes have an opportunity to visit a merchant room (where they can purchase new abilities for their characters), and a healer (to heal and/or resurrect wounded warriors). It really does feel like a typical dungeon crawl.

I bought all of the expansions out to date. Cavern of Soloth adds the most extra heroes and monsters, but the Hordes of Vermin one also adds some really small Vermin discs for the overlord to use. Both of those come with a slew of new room cards (0-2) and Cavern comes with new heroes and bosses. The other expansion is just room cards, but adds some flavor text/events that occur when players enter a room, which was a welcome addition for those who like to get into the experience.

The only thing missing, imo, is more game boards. the included ones get a bit repetitive while playing, although the amount of room variations and minion/monster types that can be deployed keep things interesting. I did email Sands of Time (the publisher) and asked about new game boards, and they kind of hinted that there might be an announcement about SOMETHING coming soon. One can only hope that there is more Catacombs goodness coming!

Don’t overlook this game because it seems like flicking and dungeon crawling can’t mix. They do, and they mix surprisingly well. This was one of the best gaming nights I’ve had with my daughter, and we look forward to playing again. My wife also expressed interest after hearing my daughter gush over the game, so it will be interesting to see how she likes it as well (I have a feeling she will enjoy it).

Highly recommended for that one “Pure Fun” game in your collection, but can also appeal to role playing/dungeon crawling fans that don’t mind a healthy heap of fun in their rpg.

6
Go to the Dungeon! page

Dungeon!

70 out of 77 gamers thought this was helpful

I saw this game for 20 bucks at a local comic shop, and figured my daughter loves dungeon crawl games so why not pick it up for that price. Knowing it was a reprint from a game that I guess existed back when I was a kid myself, added to the curiosity of trying it out.

My daughter and I have played this twice now, and I have to say it really isn’t all that bad. In fact, I prefer it to the D&D Adventure Series games for a few reasons. One, it’s easier and quicker to play. Dungeon is a game that can be played in 30-40 minutes, with minimal effort and setup. It isn’t such a brutal game where you just feel like all you are doing is drawing traps, nasty events, and a new monster every single turn.

In Dungeon, everyone starts in the center of the board, with a cardboard standup of their character. The Wizard characters also get a few spell cards to choose at the start of the game. Each class is better suited at different parts of the dungeon, and all this information is readily available right on the board itself. The board is split up into different level room clusters, level 1 being the easiest and level 6 being the toughest. Once a room is cleared out, a token is placed there to designate the room is empty. Fighting a monster and winning earns you a draw from the appropriate level treasure deck. The object is to venture through the dungeon, collect enough treasure, and get back to the entrance before your opponents meet their goal amount and do the same. Each character class has a different amount to earn, but the game is well balanced between them.

In a sense, this game reminds me of “Dungeon Quest” without the tile-laying of the room and seriously brutal gameplay. Someone IS going to make it out and win the game, which for us is nice. I never could get into Dungeon Quest because of the nature of everyone losing on the second or tenth turn. That kind of brutal randomness just never suited me.

Dungeon! itself is more manageable, as a wizard you have the ability to return to the entrance and regain your spells, but then you also have to hit the hardest rooms to aquire the gold faster.

All in all, we find it a fun “race to the finish” game, with enough choice of where you go, pushing your luck, and also using some light strategy to make it through alive and rich.

For the price, I can’t really complain at all. Sure, miniatures would have been great, but I didn’t expect them for the price. I will say that the cards (monster and treasure, as well as wizard spells) are extremely small and thin. THIS area I wish had been a bit better, but it’s manageable for the most part. The cards are very thin and cheap, though, so beware with younger kids and shuffling.

The only other thing, is that there aren’t a lot of monsters and/or treasures. I would love to see a mini-expansion that adds abilities for the other classes, maybe quest cards, and then double the monster and treasure cards in the game.

The board is sturdy though, looks like a maze-like cavern with rooms in it, and has all of the important gameplay turn sequence and info right on it for easy viewing during the game.

Highly recommended for families looking for a simple yet fun and engaging dungeon crawl. As I said, the only negative is really that I wish there was a bit MORE variety to it, but that could easily be solved with a 10-12 dollar mini-expansion. Lets hope Wizards of the Coast keep it going! I’d also love to see more lower-priced games like this, to better get out into the general public.d

4
Go to the Kittens in a Blender page
25 out of 25 gamers thought this was helpful

I Found this little game online, via Kickstarter, but declined to back it. A few months later, I See it in a comic book shop I stop in once in a blue moon, and figured I’d grab it since the daughter thought it was cute/funny. This review is also for the very first edition, not the revised one that I Believe was offered via the kickstarter campaign.

GAMEPLAY:
The top and bottom of the box become the “Blender” and “Box” areas for the game. In between those, is the “Counter”. You want to keep your kittens out of the box, while trying to place your opponents kittens in the blender and be able to play a “Blend” Card to make Kitty Slushies.

The problem with that, is that for just about every Blend Card, there is a “Blend/Pulse” card in the deck that can stop the Blend. So cats jump from box, to counter, to blender, someone plays a blend card, someone counters, someone plays the Dog is in the house card and everyone switches hands, hilariousness ensues. That is, until this goes on longer than 15 minutes, and everyone just wants the game to end already.

Because really, that’s all there is. Cards move your kitten 1 or 2 spaces, to the blender, to the box, move all cats to the counter, etc. Or you switch hands. then the Blend and the Pulse cards round it out, aside from the various kitten cards.

COMPONENTS:
In the first edition that I have, the cards are very thin, there is no vinyl coating or anything. They are just very thin, kind of cheap card stock. Kids will bend them easily.

It is nice that the box lid and top become the “Blender” and the “Box” areas of the game (Between them is the “counter”), and those cards are nice and large and fit the boxes nicely.

The artwork is well done, kids will find it very cute. That also can make some kids not want to blend the cats, which also breaks the game. My daughter loved all her kittens and refused to blend anyone’s, for fear one of hers might get blended. You have to be ok with the dark humor in blending these cute kittens, or the game just simply won’t work at all.

OVERALL:
I keep this game, because the theme is absurd, the artwork is cute, and once in a while we can get a slight kick out of playing the game. But in over half the games we’ve played, someone just doesn’t want to blend the cats, or all the blend cards get countered with a pulse card, and it’s just shuffling kittens around the table, trading hands, and praying that the game just ends. It’s just a silly, random, very basic card game with a twisted yet cute theme. Play it just for the theme/laughs and it’s ok. Otherwise, there is really nothing much to see here.

I did read that the kickstarter campaign for the second edition added additional cards to enhance the gameplay, but I am not aware of what those cards are. I tried to email the company behind the game, asking if there was a way I could purchase the new set, or get the new cards, also asking what the difference was. I got no response. I have never seen the game in any other store I have been in, so it’s kind of a “novelty” item I keep on my shelf.

8
Go to the Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom  page
20 out of 20 gamers thought this was helpful

I wondered at first how to best review this game, because it’s certainly a type of game that will only appeal to family gamers or children primarily. But that’s not entirely doing the game justice, as it does have a smidgen of strategy to it, just not anywhere near what you would find in a game like “Smash Up”.

My wife put it best while playing – “This is kind of like Uno, but better”.

I hadn’t thought of it that way, and really, the game IS kind of like a new, updated and rethemed version of Uno. Without skip cards. You can make a player draw a card, change the direction of play on a machine (ascending or descending numbers), and it’s basically matching colors and number sequences.

Knowing that, when I First opened the box I had a feeling of dread. I remembered purchasing “Godzilla Stomp!” last year, and finding that horribly bland/overly simplistic. Even my daughter, at age 6 at the time, didn’t like it. At first glance, seeing that there were 4 machines, that players play numbers to in an attempt to get rid of their cards and score at the end, I was reminded of that previous horrible game and wasn’t looking foward to playing.

Basic gameplay goes like this:
There are 4 machines on the board. Yellow, Green, Blue, Red. They all start out with a “+” sign on them, showing that numbers must be played in ASCENDING order, and match the color. That’s basically it. If there are no numbers on a machine, a player can play any number of that machine’s color on it.

From there, 1’s and 6’s are playable on each other, regardless of the direction of numerical order (Ascending/descending). This is the first layer of strategy, saving those cards to be able to reverse the direction of flow on a machine, so you can get rid of some cards otherwise not playable.

On top of that, if you play a duplicate (red 5 on a red 5, for example), you get a choice – flip a machine (changing from + to -, or vice versa) or give a player of your choice an extra card.

This little bit alone adds an interesting (Albeit small) layer of strategy and “Take that” possibility, which greatly enhanced the game.

This helped to not only keep my daughter interested, but my wife and I actually can enjoy playing this game, quite a few rounds of it in fact. I liked Uno as a kid, but not THAT much. Most of my great memories of Uno are because of the time spent playing with my dad, when I was growing up. Nowadays, UNO bothers me because it just doesn’t feel like I’m doing much in the game. UNO still gets play, as my wife and daughter really like it, but this game is highly preferrable. That is a big plus for me, because although I like some random, I like to also feel like I have SOME control over the game outcome or flow.

All in all, don’t let this game slip past you if you are looking for a quick, easy, very inexpensive game to play with your family. I hesitate on giving it a higher score, only because it’s not THAT deep or customizable, but it doesn’t really claim to be. And I don’t think that hurts the game, honestly. It is what it is, and it does it very well.

9
Go to the Smash Up page

Smash Up

46 out of 48 gamers thought this was helpful

I picked this game up after eyeing it for quite some time. First was the kickstarter, then seeing it on the shelf in a semi-local comic shop for months. After stopping in recently to pick up some books for myself and my daughter, I decided what the heck… It’s only 30 bucks, right?!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
My daughter was extremely excited upon seeing the box art. I was excited to dig in and see the cards. The box felt VERY light, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting that much inside (knowing that only 20 cards per 8 factions would only amount to 160 cards plus base cards). Seemed like an awfully large box for what it was…

And yep, on opening the excitement diminished for a short moment (only for a moment). It was mostly dead space – an insert, rule booklet and 3 packages of cards. It struck me though, once all of the cards were separated, that the insert did a decent enough job of holding all of the included factions and base cards on one side, leaving room for 2 more expansions (at 4 factions each).

FIRST PLAY:
My daughter and I were first to try a game, before she went to school. Being only 7 1/2 years old, I wanted to learn it/teach it to her first, before having a full blown family game with the wife included. We decided to play until it was time to leave for her school, and see who had the most VP at that point.

I played Alien Tricksters, she chose Zombie Dinosaurs. I was able to capture the first base, really liking the combo of Aliens and Tricksters. I also delayed her from getting a base, by using Terraforming (alien action card) that switched a base she was close to scoring on, with one that would take her a bit longer (higher power on the base).

That gave me enough time to take one base for 5 points, and play an action on the new base that took away its ability. That ability would have awarded her 1VP for every 5 power she had on the base (she had the entire base, I had no minions there). That would have netted her 7 VP instead of the standard 2 VP for highest power player. At this point, it was time to quit. Very close game! Lots of strategic elements and things to watch for. Lots of screwage and trickery! I liked it a lot.

SECOND PLAY:
Now it was time to introduce the wife to it. She took Alien Tricksters, I got Ninja Dinosaurs, daughter took Wizard Robots. My wife and daughter were off to a faster start, but through smart play and some luck I was able to catch up mid-game. Score was 10, 9, 9. I was leading. Smart play like coming in SECOND place for a base scoring (for a base that awarded more points to the person with the second highest power on the base!), and playing Shinobi cards and Ninja actions that allowed me to play to a base as it was scoring, helped me come from behind. It was then between my wife and I, fighting over another contested base, to see who would nab the 5 points and take the game. I was barely able to take her out and slip in the win, before she would have played an Alien that brought her VP to 10, and caused the base to score (in her favor), netting her the 5 left.

THOUGHTS:
I really loved this game. Wife loved it, kid loved it. Folks, what we have here is yet another huge hit with the family. In fact, it’s so quick to set up and get into playing the game, I think this one will see the most play time of any family games we have so far.

The thing is, there is enough strategy here in faction and card combos, timing, hand management, and base abilities, that it’s deep enough that more experienced gamers are probably going to love this as well. It doesn’t appear at first like it would be a game with such depth, but there truly is. Someone left behind early on, can really watch things and play smart and make a good comeback, most of the time. I like that.

Drafting the factions in the beginning ensures that no one is guaranteed the “Best Combo” every time you play. It also makes for a very different game each time. Bases come out randomly as well, and have varying levels of “power” needed to score them. They also have (most of them) abilities that affect scoring, players turns, moving of minions, etc. And not always, as I described above, is it best to come in FIRST place… you have to pay attention to the bases on the table!

More factions are definitely needed/wanted, and will only help the game. With a 4 player game, there is the chance that someone ends up with a faction combo that isn’t quite as strong as some others, but it’s not terribly bad. Again, more expansions will help remedy that issue. The combos are plenty, the possibilities are vast as is, and will only get better. Drafting the factions (as recommended/stated in the rules) is how I would go about this, which may turn off “power gamers” who always want to go with what they see as the strongest/best combo. You can, however, get around THIS by buying another base set, and letting people be able to choose duplicate factions. The only problem here, is designating during play which ones are yours (but this can be remedied by using different colored sleeves to differentiate).

All in all, I can’t recommend this game enough. This one knocked Legendary out of the top spot for my family (even though we still play Legendary), and I can see it being a favorite for a long, long time.

9
Go to the Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game page
87 out of 94 gamers thought this was helpful

After the disappointment with King of Tokyo (wife really hated it), and the trouble getting my wife into Eaten by Zombies, I wasn’t sure what would happen with Legendary. At first glance, and considering my wife likes some of the superhero movies but couldn’t care less about comics, I wasn’t sure this would go over so well. Throw in the 60 dollar price tag, and things didn’t look so good.

My gaming group, however, is full of Marvel fans who also like deckbuilders, so I figured for them it was a no-brainer. Easy. The surprise came when I sat down with the wife and kid, to teach it to them, and they both immediately latched onto it and fell in love.

Everyone plays as a “recruiter”, with identical starting decks. 8 Shield Agents that can recruit Marvel Heroes from the “HQ” spot on the board (always five out at a time, replaced when one is bought/removed), and 4 Shield Troopers that deal 1 attack each to a villain or henchman when they are played. Players work to defeat villains from escaping the city (5 spaces on a very nice included board) while building their deck up to become stronger and beat the Mastermind (Loki, Magneto, Red Skull, and Dr. Doom) 4 times, before the Mastermind is able to complete his evil scheme.

Both my wife and daughter caught on quick to the simple nature of the 2 currencies (fight and recruit), as well as starting to recognize combos/synergies between certain cards/heroes. Every turn a card is drawn from a villain deck, which can be a villain to enter the city and be fought, a bystander that gets captured, a Master Strike (the Mastermind attacks, usually dealing wounds and possibly causing other “damage” to players decks), and Scheme Twists. Enough Scheme Twists enter play, and evil wins.

Our first family game vs Red Skull, we were 2 scheme twists away from a loss, and it wasn’t looking good, until we finally started pulling better fight hands. We won, but the next villain card would have been another scheme twist that would have given us all 3 wounds! Had that come out 2 cards earlier, we may not have survived. Was very intense and fun. Defeating villains and rescuing bystanders also nets you victory points, so as to declare the “most legendary” hero at the end. I won with 15 pts, wife had 14, daughter had 11. Close game!

Components are top notch. Art for each character is the same on all of their cards, but that didn’t bother me. Each character has 8 common cards (2 diff. types, 4 cards of each type), 3 uncommon cards, and one rare. There are 15 heroes in the base game, we had five in the 3 player game (Hawkeye, Spiderman, Cyclops, Wolverine, Iron Man).

There are 60 dividers for separating/organizing cards, which is way more than enough. Box insert holds sleeved cards fine, with plenty of/room for expansions. There is also a nice quality board with rules reference/turn order and spaces for all the cards in play. Very nice to have.

Overall, this is the most fun we’ve had with a card-based game since Cutthroat Caverns, which we also enjoy a ton. To be honest, Legendary kind of reminds me of that in the sense that while everyone has to work together to ensure the “game” doesn’t win, you also have opportunities to trip up/hinder other players so that you come out the most legendary hero of the battle (like Iron Man bragging on how it was him who saved everyone’s hides, and Cap arguing back that if not for his calm, level headed leadership no one would have made it. We really liked that, adds some tension and all to the game.

Highly recommended for fans of deckbuilders like Ascension, fans of superheroes/Marvel.

7
Go to the Cthulhu Fluxx page

Cthulhu Fluxx

82 out of 89 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ll get this out of the way first – I am not much of a fan of Fluxx. My daughter (age 7) loves it. We bought Zombie Fluxx to see if it improved, but after repeated plays I actually prefer the original to Zombie. Our games of Zombie Fluxx never end up as fun/funny as we’d expect. At least not for my wife and I (especially the wife, she HATES Fluxx and won’t even play it anymore. I tolerate it, when the kid requests it.

Well, my daughter notices Cthulhu Fluxx, and begs me for it. I am a sucker for Lovecraft/Cthulhu stuff, so after a bit of thought I decided to give it a try.

Although it is still Fluxx, this seems to have enough tweaks to make it “work” better, imo. The ever-changing rules are still there ( go from “draw 1 play 1” to “draw 3 play all” to “draw 2 play 1” with all sorts of other “new rules”), but the theme of playing an investigator trying to collect “clues” in front of you (keepers, creepers, or both depending on the goal) makes the rules-insanity kind of fit.

Also, the Cthulhu mythos creepers have doom amounts to them, and Ungoals can change the game to cause everyone to lose. This I found to be the greatest addition, as not only does it fit the theme, but it also has kept games from dragging on too long (One of my complaints with the original, is game times are all over the place).

The one complaint I have, is that there are a LOT of Creepers, and not many cards to get rid of a lot of them. Again, though, it DOES kind of fit the theme. I purposefully played a card that caused the game to end due to the amount of Doom in play (no winner) just because I had a ton of creepers, and it was only a matter or time before my daughter would get a winning goal in play. We had a nice laugh about Cthulhu winning.

Even though the general chaos of Fluxx is still there, this version I actually don’t mind playing so much. By no means is it one of my favorite games, but I actually don’t mind playing it. That makes my daughter AND myself very happy.

10
Go to the Ticket to Ride: Europe page
58 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ll get this out of the way first – my score/rating is a bit biased on TtR because my wife loves the game. Not that I don’t enjoy it too (In fact, I enjoy it very much as well), but having this be THE game to play with my wife makes it a clear winner for me, as she does not enjoy a lot of games I play.

Introduction: We love the original TtR, but I always felt something was missing. 2 of my gaming buddies own the USA version, and we have played it a handful of times. My wife wanted me to order it after we played our first game, but I hesitated. Flash forward to 4 months later, and still I hadn’t bought it. Wife still loved the game, but I couldn’t bring myself to purchasing since we had access to it. However, I had been hearing great things about TtR: Europe, and I got a deal that version online recently and decided to add it to my wife’s anniversary gift(s).

Once I read the rulebook, I was immmediately intrigued. See, in the base game, you are dealt your cards and tickets from the start, and other than choosing your action/each turn (draw 2, take 2 from the offer, take tickets, or claim a route), there isn’t much more. There really isn’t much risk or surprise to me in the base game, other than what you draw (or if someone takes a route you needed).

Europe: Now, in Europe, one issue with the base game is eliminated right off the bat – big tickets. Each person is dealt one of the 6 big tickets at the start, plus 3 regular tickets (of which you must keep at least two). This balances out the large tickets every game.

Next, you have wild cards/locomotives. In the base game, they were just a nice occasional bonus, but not necessary at all. Here, they are a much sought after commodity. You NEED them to access ferry routes (1-2 locomotives for each ferry route), so they go much faster and become more useful. This was a very nice addition.

Then, you have tunnels. When claiming a tunnel, you must play the number of cards to claim the route PLUS flip over three cards from the draw deck. If any match the color you played, you must match from your hand or lose the route (returning cards to your hand). This extra element of risk greatly enhances the game, and once in particular made my wife nearly throw her cards across the room…lol (very unlucky flips! she lost the route, and I claimed it next Turn).

Lastly, you have Stations. every player gets 3, they cost 1, 2 and 3 cards respectively to play (matching color). These help you merge into a “stolen” route, when another player has blocked you (thus removing arguably one strategy of the main game, but yet adding its own). Each unused Station is worth 4 points at the end, so you must use them sparingly/wisely.

All of these additions don’t change too much of the base game, but add just enough for us to make this perfection. The added risk elements and added usefulness of wild cards, coupled with the improved balance, makes this version shine without adding too much complexity or fiddling. It’s still reliant on some luck of the draw, but the changes help mix it up and keep it fresh and exciting.

I am very happy with the purchase, and I’m glad this is the version I bought. Highly recommended, even the wife gives this one two thumbs up and loved the additions. Knowing she will never turn down a game, and will stay invested in the game through the end, is a huge plus (and extremely rare). If you only buy one version of TtR, this is the one.

8
50 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

Like many, I assume, I stumbled onto this site during an outage at another site for board game geeks. Having felt that other sites had/great communities and resources, but were very dry, sanitized experiences/looks, I was quite excited to see Boardgaming.com, and experience the site.

That is really it, too – this site is an EXPERIENCE. It feeds into the “loot drop”/rpg fan in me, seeing experience and gold appear when I contribute something. It feels gamey, and keeps me coming back.

The community side is something that I feel is lacking at the moment, although via comment sections for articles/games people are able to communicate back and forth. I’m sure, though, that this is but one of many areas where the site will continue to improve and involve.

For now, though, Im happy to read the news, give opinions, tips, and reviews on my latest additions to my game collections, and see what badges and features I will unlock next.

6
Go to the Star Trek Expeditions page
50 out of 56 gamers thought this was helpful

I was lucky enough to pick this game up for 25 bucks at a recent Barnes and Noble clearance event, and for the price I paid I’m not too disappointed. After reading elsewhere a bunch of negative reviews, and not really being much of a fan of euro “point maxing” gameplay with tacked on themes, I didn’t expect to really enjoy this one. However, I did. I played my first few games on Easy, and while I never really felt like I was struggling to win, it was enjoyable and told a nice story while playing.

You have 4 characters, modeled after the recent movie/reboot. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Uhura. While these clix figures are “Beaming down” to the planet’s surface to tackle objectives and side missions, a klingon warship is closing in and attacking the enterprise.

It makes for a nice balancing act, who to take on away team missions, and who to leave behind on the enterprise to push back at the Klingons.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the “math” in the game, and to be honest it really isn’t bad at all. It all comes down to just remembering a few RULES, and then adding +1, +2, or +3 modifiers to dice rolls and base clix stats to get your totals when attacking or taking on challenges. It’s really no harder than that. It’s more than obvious who is best suited for which challenges, so it’s more of lightweight planning and positioning type of game.

I enjoyed it for the theme, more than anything. The gameplay was simple, but not too much, but was breezy and on medium to hard difficulty, really will challenge you to not only plan and manage your team with the utmost efficiency, but also to have extreme luck on the dice rolls.

The one major negative I have, though, is that the content just isn’t there. Had I spent the full 50 dollars, I would have been quite dissappointed. Mage Knight, this is not. I saw pretty much everything there was to see in Star Trek: Expeditions after just 2 plays. TWO. Sure, I can repeat it and go for a higher score, but that is where it will start to bore me. There is no mix-up to the story after 3-4 plays TOPS. You’ve literally seen it all then, it’s just all about squeezing out those extra few points. That aspect of gameplay holds no medium or long-term interest for me.

HOWEVER – an expansion could EASILY rectify this problem, which is why I still give it a 6. It’s nothing spectacularly groundbreaking, it’s not going to burn anyone’s brain trying to figure out the moves/best course of action, but it WAS simple, enjoyable fun. For fans of Star Trek, the actual missions have a nice enough flavor and “Choose your own adventure” branching to them (Based on how well you scored, determines how the 3 main missions branch off, although it’s still limited to allow for any long-term replayability).

I reshuffled the Stardate deck I believe 3 times during my last game as well, which also bugged me. Seemed like those cards could have had more flavor and variety to them, and that would have REALLY helped the game to have more replayability and theme.

The current expansion only offers 3 characters and their cards. Hopefully future expansions will add Captains Log cards, supplementals, and stardate cards with different outcomes.

7
Go to the Eaten By Zombies! page

Eaten By Zombies!

62 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

It’s taken me a while to get my review finished for this game because, even after a handful of plays, I’m still not quite sure how to explain it. I guess I’ll get this out of the way from the get-go – I love the game. It’s quick, and embraces its theme. But I’m the only one out of a handful of people I’ve played this with, who has been so excited over it.

This one has struggled to hit the table and stay there. Members of my old game group were too invested/determined in identifying it with Dominion and/or other deckbuilders. This is not that game. It also has some chaotic play that is a bit reminiscent of other “Take That” style games like Munchkin. A lot of people, gamers and family alike, have all set out to play cooperatively (kill all the zombies/make the zombie deck run out). However, once they realize that killed zombies go into your deck and mostly stay there (and drawing a full hand of 6 zombies, and not being able to play a card on your next turn = a loss for that survivor/turned into a zombie), and once they realize that one loss mid to late game can deplete a hefty chunk of your cards, it tends to turn sour for some. For me, that’s part of the theme of the game. It SHOULD be intense, it should feel like the odds are stacking against you, and one slip/trip and you are close to being a meal. You might be playing cooperatively with others, only to find out there is just no way. You are going to have to throw another Zombie at ol’ Bobby sitting across from you. Or maybe you use “A Good Friend” card, to borrow a nice gun from your daughter, and then decide not to give it back (forcing a LOSS – not a discard – of your “A Good Friend” card, but not making you a very good friend! LOL). If you are not into random games that can switch from co-op to cutthroat, this probably won’t be to your liking.

Every player gets a basic/weak 12 card starting deck, same cards with varying artwork. Five fight (Heavy Stick), Five Flee (Hide), and 2 Sandwiches (Draw card and flee). Swag piles (piles of new fight/flee/draw) are placed in the middle. Each turn players flip over a “new” zombie (1-4 Zombies, depending on the “day”, which advances every time the zombie draw deck runs out, and you reshuffle the Zombie discard pile). You choose to fight or flee, based on your hand. You play the appropriate cards, then lose some cards (if you flee, even successfully, you still lose “half attrition” value rounded up) and draw back up to 6 cards. If you fight successfully (the entire horde/all zombies in play) you lose no cards to attrition. All complete successes allow you to scavenge (buy) swag from the available pools.

If you successfully fight or flee, you get to “find” swag card equal to the total value of your fight/flee. So maybe you can get away from a zombie with 1 Flee, but if you play FIVE flee from your hand, you can purchase more/more useful swag cards. You can purchase as many as you want, up to your played value, as long as your hand doesn’t exceed 6 cards in your hand.

Planning and strategizing are important, much moreso than any other “take that!’ style game Ive played yet. That can be attributed to the deckbuilder side of the game, which really is prominent and changes the game up every time you play it (because some/all of your swag cards are chosen at random, you never know what ratio of fight to flee you might have available, and have to adjust play style accordingly). Any strategy can be undone, when someone adds a zombie to the horde or you draw a bad hand. Also, when you fail, be prepared to “lose”(not just discard) cards. They go back to the swag piles, for repurchase (or purchase by other players). This has turned a lot of people off, that I have introduced the game to. I’m not sure why, though. I find it a fitting mechanic, and it keeps the game tense and speedy.

I would say the game shines brightest when you throw all deckbuilding experience/knowledge out and just go along for the ride. Last game with my daughter, I was sure she was to be eaten. We ended up just barely surviving and ended with a co-op victory! We had to draw 3 zombmies on my turn, but there were no more left in the draw pile or discard. That is one way for survivors to win (in 2 player games). One more turn and I would have won, my daughter would have had a hand of 6 zombies, not been able to draw/play any cards. In 3 or more player games, a player in that situation would become a “Zombie Player” and plays Zombie Cards to add modifiers to hinder the remaining survivors (so another plus, no real player elimination, everyone remains a part of the game until completion).

I rate this game a solid 7. I’d probably rate it an 8, if the rules were written better (FAQ’s and online forums have helped to clarify a few things in the past few months while I’ve been learning and playing this game). It’s really not a difficult game, but some cards had terrible editing (lack of), spelling and grammar errors that open up rules questions. Bit of heavier proofing and better wording would have made this game MUCH easier to pick up, and less time debating with rules lawyer types (which I can’t stand playing with, honestly).

One guy I played with, really fussed over having to lose so many cards. He kept suggesting the rule didn’t make sense (lose the total number of cards equal to the total attrition value of the zombies in the horde), and suggest I was interpreting them wrong. He wanted to only lose the PURCHASE VALUE of cards, equal to the attrition, because it seemed easier/less intense. I had to go to the rulebook, online, and still that game got ended halfway through, because I just was getting annoyed.

Don’t play it like dominion or Thunderstone. Check online for FaQ and rules updates, and go with the theme. THEN, it is a blast. Be prepared to trip up your neighbor and hope he gets eaten first, if things look bleak for you. Throw a sandwich, fire on a stick, and maybe even your daughter at the horde, to save your own skin…lol. It’s all in fun, and my daughter and I at least have a blast with it. I hope to reintroduce it to my gaming group one of these days.

One of the new members said it best – it’s not called “KILL ALL ZOMBIES!!!” It’s called “Eaten By Zombies”. You are just trying to make sure you are the last to become lunch!

8
Go to the Last Night on Earth, The Zombie Game page
57 out of 64 gamers thought this was helpful

I love playing this game with my daughter, and I think the wife will enjoy it too. Not only does it place you into highly thematic “Scenes” from a generic zombie B-movie, but it also allows for co-operative play WITH “one vs. one” or “one vs many”, depending on the number of players.

Another bonus, is that this game could also easily be played solo, as long as you aren’t the type to “Cheat” by not taking optimal movements or card use. I enjoy it solo as well as Vs. with my daughter (who loves playing the zombies!).

We purchased this game after my daughter spent a lot of her allowance picking up ZOMBIES!!! and a few expansions. Now, while I don’t think Zombies!! is a terrible game, I find it too fiddly and a bit unfocused at times. The card tiles slide easily, the chits are difficult to pick up off of those easily slid tiles, and although it’s cool to see all of the zombies out on the board, it’s not as practical in use. So we had been looking at getting “Last Night on Earth” as a substitute for that game, and something that would also offer more variations in gameplay.

Needless to say, we weren’t disappointed. I bought Last Night on Earth for my daughter for her birthday (Along with a few other games), and we were both immediately impressed.

COMPONENTS:
These are some of the best components I’ve seen to date. Nice, thick, shiny character boards. Same goes for the scenario boards (I hate to call them cards, because they are THICK!). You get 14 different zombies, 2 colors and 2 different sculpts. A wealth of heavy stock cards, with shiny gloss. Only negative, were a few seemed to be “stuck” kind of, after first unpacking them. But they weren’t truly stuck together, and pulled apart with almost no effort (and no damage). Two dice were, however, stuck together due to paint (apparently). I had to pry them apart, and scrub the paint off the face. Afterwards, they were perfectly functional and almost couldn’t tell they had been stuck together like that (a lot of black paint though had stuck them together somehow). The hero miniatures are very detailed, and each one is unique. A few cardboard chits for markers of different objects and townsfolk were also high quality. The included CD wasn’t great, but it wasn’t all that bad either. I can’t say I’d be driven to play it during sessions, but it’s nice they even think to include something like that!

GAMEPLAY:
I honestly expected this game to be a bit harder to teach my daughter, but she picked it all up fast. Zombies get 1 fight die (normally), heroes get 2 by default. Cards and abilities can modify these (for instance, my daughter had a card that added 2 fight dice to her zombie’s fight roll, which helped her take a bite out of the preacher she attacked!). Zombies seemed to mostly all spawn at the start, due to her having a nice roll on her first two turns. By the end of her third zombie turn, she had all but one of the zombies on the board. My sheriff and preacher were surrounded, trying to “run and gun”, but my daughter played cards that allowed her to roll dice for zombie movement, and was able to catch back up to me each time! This made for a pretty intense time, and very fun! I barely had time to run into a few buildings and search, and although I had two revolvers unlucky rolls of “1” two out of four times caused me to lose both of them (out of ammo)!

OVERALL:
What I like the most about the game, is the different scenarios and objectives that can be played. For a standard game, you can play “Die, Zombies, Die!” and just have a free-for-all of Zombies vs Heroes. My daughter loves this mode, as do I. It’s fun, quick, and less structured.

However, it is also a lot of fun to be scrambling around trying to find gasoline and keys to a truck, or trying to defend a manor/house from the approaching horde! The possibilities are great, and varied. There are a ton of hero and zombie cards, including seperate decks (20 each) of advanced cards for each.

We figured, at first, that it would be much like Zombies!!! with heroes moving by dice rolls, and zombies moving only 1 space each. But the “Shamble” cards came out quick and plentiful for my daughter during our last session, and she was lunging at my heroes right and left, making it not so safe/sure to stay within, say, 3 space range to use a firearm. I learned that the hard way…lol.

Trading between heroes is a nice touch as well. The preacher got a revolver, but oculdn’t use it. He was close to the police station/sheriff, though, and was running from a horde, so I moved him close to the sheriff and once on the same spot they could trade. The nurse can heal a wound on a survivor that she shares a space with. Every character has a unique ability, and it makes the game quite interesting and adds another layer of strategy and planning, while not overly bogging things down.

THIS GAME IS JUST FUN. I love zombies. My daughter is taking after me apparently, and although she loves ponies and princesses, she also loves dragons, monsters, and ZOMBIES! My best times gaming, so far, have been while playing this game with her, and I am very glad for the purchase.

I almost gave this game a perfect score, but because of the dice stuck together, and I’m not sure how to rate the aspect of NEEDING expansions (not that they are a REQUIREMENT, but they all appeal in one way or another, so I’m sure I’ll be shelling out more money).

Since Timber Peak and Survival of the Fittest both appeal greatly to me, I’m sure I will be dropping more money on this game, and if those elevate the game to even greater levels then I will rate those expansions accordingly.

I have to admit, though, for zombie lovers this game is a 9/10 easily, and that is what I intended to rate it (But accidentally clicked the 8 instead, seriously BG.com, let us change our ratings!). If you aren’t much into zombies, and are looking for a mathematically deep euro-style experience, stay away. There is planning and stragegy here, but it can be unravelled by a bad roll (or at the least, impeded). Some games can seem to be in the zombie’s favor, but other times it seems to balance out perfectly.

NOTE: My daughter (age 7) won our first game of “Die Zombie, Die!”, as the zombie player. I had 11 kills when the sun tracker depleted, out of 15 required. She had killed one of my heroes too, “The Drifter”, without much help from me at all. She was more “torn” on what to do and lacking good strategy as the heroes

7
Go to the Quarriors! page

Quarriors!

56 out of 63 gamers thought this was helpful

Although this game didn’t jump out and SCREAM “AWESOME!” during our play sessions, my wife and daughter somewhat enjoyed the game.

This was another one that my daughter (age 7) had been requesting for about 5-6 months. I kept putting it off, because it looked like it might just be out of her range of play. After playing other games with her though, and seeing her work out some strategies and whatnot, I figured I’d let her get it.

Unboxing was fun, as she just giggled with glee over all of the dice. She loved the cards and artwork as well (and I agree). I did notice a few minor imperfections in one or two dice, but nothing worth complaining about. I did not, however, care for the tin as a storage option. That was barely functional for storing the dice, and a complete waste at trying to organize anything (without rebagging each individual set of dice, which we were not interested in).

I removed the Oozes and the Quake Dragon for first play with the family, watched a few videos on how to play, and set the game up. Setup went a bit faster than I expected, only 2 cards had me looking harder than I should have been for the appropriate dice (Hint – don’t always go strictly by color, look for the creature/spell symbols instead and it will be easier to match with cards).

Within about 10 minutes I had the game set up and ready to go, explained the basics to my wife and daughter, and off we went.

Still had to check the rulebook on occasion, as when we would purchase creatures/spells from the “Wilds”, and then get the opportunity to summon them, we forgot to discard after scoring. This caused me to get a “runaway” train of monsters quickly in the first game, and I raced to 20 points (only wife and I were playing at this point).

My daughter joined, and I double checked the rules, and we played game #2. This one took longer, and required a lot more planning once we started playing right. My daughter got a bit frustrated early on, trying to figure out which dice were better than others (but she did start to grasp it better towards the end). She also got hung up rolling a bunch of quiddity (the game’s currency) and not much for creatures. She also wanted to buy purple and pink dice (her favorite colors), without caring (at first) about what it actually did…lol. This of course, didn’t help her much.

This game, my wife took the win, with some smart creature and spell purchases (boosting defense and making it very hard to destroy her creatures before they scored) and good luck of the dice. I tried to mount a comeback, but it was too little too late. When she hit the 15 point mark, I was around 9 points.

My wife was a bit “meh” on the game. She enjoyed the second game more (of course she did, she won!), but said it wasn’t a game she would insist on playing.

My daughter, beginning to grasp the gameplay and importance of the dice/creature statistics, wanted to play a third game, but it was already past her bedtime. Since then, she and I have played 2 other games of it, and although she still has yet to win, she is getting closer and does enjoy the game (and asked for the expansion, Quarmageddon).

Myself, I found the game INTERESTING. It wasn’t my favorite game of my collection, nor my favorite purchase this year. But, I love dice. And I like magic/creature combat games. This one kind of reminded me of playing Magic: The Gathering with dice, crossed with a bit of “deck builder” mechanic in it. I’m not all that familiar with many deck building games, as my experience is limited to Thunderstone (online version) and “Eaten By Zombies”, but I enjoyed that aspect of culling dice that I didn’t want anymore, to increase the chances of pulling the better dice I had purchased. Only being able to cull dice when you score (up to the number of creatures you scored with) was a nice feature, imo.

I’d rate this game a solid 7/10. It didn’t make anyone jump out of their seats and holler with joy, but it was a solid and mostly enjoyable experience. A few rules and abilities required some reading and faq/rules browsing online, which slowed things down on just a few occasions. As people learn more of the cards/dice/abilities, it will only serve to improve the gameplay, however. The rules aren’t the worst I’ve read, but watching a gameplay/how-to video made it much easier to figure out how things should progress.

Expansions should, theoretically, help the game, because the one negative that did really seem to stand out, was that after setup I noticed only 3 types of dice that weren’t used. So although there APPEARS to be more creatures and spells, in all actuality there are 3 strengths of each creature, all using the same dice. To be fair, however, each strength/version of a spell/creature has unique abilitie(s) on the card, so it does get changed up. For the price, though, I don’t think the variety was good enough, nor the tin a good way of storing everything.

6
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game page
98 out of 107 gamers thought this was helpful

Maybe I’ve been spoiled by playing Mage Knight first, but Legend of Drizzt just seemed to lack a lot of choices and strategy. Playing solo and with my daughter, it just felt like we did the same thing each turn. “move, explore, place monster” or “attack, move, explore, place monster”. The only real choices came from deciding if I wanted to use a treasure card, daily, or utility power at “tougher” times. Difficulty only comes from the randomness, both in cards drawn and die rolls. A few unlucky rolls in a row, can pretty much lose the game for you.

The components, however, are of nice quality. The miniatures are plentiful, as are the cards and tiles. There are a bunch of cardboard markers/chits as well. Almost TOO many pieces for such a quick and more simplified game. Setup for the last game played with my daughter took about 15 minutes. Finding specific tiles, shuffling cavern tiles (a bit difficult, imo), shuffling cards, choosing daily and utility powers, all seemed to take a bit more time and effort than what I felt the/game ultimately delivered – about 45 minutes to an hour of random battles.

There is little variety to what you do, as well. As I mentioned earlier, you move a pre-determined amount of squares. If you end on a tiles edge, you can explore. You always draw a new monster, and sometimes you also get an “encounter” (bad thing happens, roll usually to see if it hits). And that’s the game. While I was mostly bored with it however, my daughter (age 7) very much enjoyed it. The fairly simple game mechanics are very easy to learn, and there was almost no need for “rule checking” during games. Playing co-op gives the opportunity for coordinating actions and attacks (as well as choosing starting cards for best “combos”). I would say the main benefits are co-op play, simplified mechanics make it easier to intoduce to younger/newer gamers, and the components. I even found the theme aspect somewhat lacking, because of the repetitive nature of the game, and the “samey” feeling of encounters and gameplay. It should be noted, we started off WITH the advanced deck added in. I didn’t feel the basic deck offered any choices or anything. We restarted and opened the advanced deck, which at least offered more ability choices and some tougher encounters/monsters.

I would play this game with my daughter, and possibly others if they really wanted, but I wouldn’t choose a game of it. I would also never play this game with just the basic deck.
———————————————
NOTE: I borrowed Legend of Drizzt from a friend of mine for approx. 3 weeks, and played it numerous times with my daughter (as well as solo). The game we actually own (NOT listed here on BG.com for some reason) is Wrath of Ashardalon.

My daughter had me rush out and buy her Wrath of Ashardalon with her birthday money. ASHARDALON IS MUCH MORE DIFFICULT. It’s also a good bit more bland with the tile sets, not that I felt that Drizzt’s tiles were anything superb. They are “functional”, and that’s about it. Some outdoor/indoor tiles or a way to improve on the tile-laying portion would be very welcome.

One thing that bothered me with Drizzt, and came out even worse in Ashardalon, was the way everything was driven by dice rolls. Pull an event, roll a die. Regardless of statistics/probability, it always seems to me to be about a 30 percent chance of me making a good roll. Draw a monster every tile, monster immediately attacks, bad roll = damage. I seriously rolled nothing but 3’s (a few times!) and a 4 and 5, all in my first few rolls. Not fun. Even after using Mirror Image to boost my AC, I STILL Was rolling so horribly that monsters were hitting me! All of the high rolls were going to the monsters (16-20 on rolls), while I wasn’t rolling over a 5.

There are VERY FEW ways to mitigate this, especially early on. In a recent game of Ashardalon, my daughter and I both tried the solo campaign. I played the Dragonborn Mage, and on my first monster draw, got the Devils that spawn 2 other devils with him. I was immediately surrounded by 3 devils, each hit me due to bad rolls. After losing 3 hp, the only thing I could really do was to run away, and try to clear 2 tiles. The only other option, was use my daily power (which I did) and kill all 3 of them. Now that power is gone, most likely for the remainder of the game. So I felt no sense of satisfaction, only more of a sense of futility. There was no chance to heal (unless you die and use a healing surge), nor any chance to reset my powers (not sure how many cards in the treasure deck flip power cards, but I didn’t gain ONE, and I had almost gotten to the last tile before I died again, with one surge left. Instead of surging and continuing on, I quit and went to play The aMAZEing Labyrinth with the family).

Obviously Ashardalon wants players to use a full party, Cleric, tank, and wizard, to be able to survive the encounters via any “strategy”. However, due to the fact that healing surges are shared, if one person gets stuck in a bad roll, or a bunch of tiles with black triangles appear causing some horrendous events, the game is over pretty quickly.

This wouldn’t be so bad, if the game didn’t require so much setup. There are literally hundreds of cardboard chits, tiles, cards, and miniatures to deal with and sort before the game even begins. To go through all of that, and lose from a die roll, doesn’t interest me. And I like dice games! But not ones that require 15-20 minutes of setup, just to lose horribly in 15-20 minutes. No one has ever wanted to set it back up, even after WINNING a game. One game is enough, win or lose, before it’s all packed back up.

On the flipside, games like Last Night on Earth set up a bit faster, have more engaging play (and still rely on the dice), but for some reason they just seem more FUN. That game gets requests for another round usually. Mage Knight, even though I play solo, still requires about 15 minutes of setup, but then it’s a 1-2 hour game. NEvermind if I only take down one city in solo conquest before I run out of time, it still is a BLAST to play, and is very engaging. It still has some random elements, but it doesn’t seem to make the entire rest of the game seem POINTLESS.

When I play Ashardalon, and on occasion even Drizzt, I felt like it was just an excercise in rolling a die. I never feel immersed, I never feel like I am making many choices or doing much planning. I’m just moving, and rolling a die.

I just cannot recommend the D&D Adventure System games, for this reason. To be perfectly honest, though, it’s the same issue I have with tabletop roleplaying. A bad night with the dice from one person, can sometimes ruin it for everyone. I only play Pathfinder, for the social/story/interaction aspects. I honestly dislike the dice rolling to an extent, but no where NEAR as much as I dislike it in the D&D Adventure System games.

7
Go to the Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game page
285 out of 305 gamers thought this was helpful

This game has become a staple for my solitaire sessions. When I really desire a card/board game, but have no one available to play with, I had been playing Elder Sign or (more recently) Mage Knight.

However, Elder Sign takes a bit of time to set up, and Mage Knight is even more involved to get it going for a solo session (which led me to setting it up in its own room, and leaving it ready to go for subsequent sessions).

I had forgotten I had Death Angel, because when I bought it about a year ago, the rule book was so bad I felt it would give me an aneurysm. Seriously, you get to page 7 and read about setting something up, and the book tells you to go to page 27 for the real info. You read 2 pages of that, and go back to page 7, move on to page 8, and you are asked to reference page 16. Keep repeating like you are reading a bad “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. It made me want to throw the game out the window, and it got shelved.

I took it back out last week, though, and I’ve been playing it non-stop. I can see myself growing tired of it eventually, however, without some expansions. But it is a very quick, simple game to play once you get the rules down. That isn’t to say it’s easy to beat. It’s very luck driven, and once you get that first strike of bad luck, it can snowball into “REALLY BAD!” territory fast.

Basically, you have 3 cards to play for each squad – move, support, and attack. You can’t play the same card type for the same squad twice in a row, so you have to choose your actions wisely.

However, once you attack/defend, it’s all up to the die roll. I’ve had it go my way where I won 4 games in a row, and then have lost 7 games in a row aftewards (some quite early and horribly, others right at the end/last room).

This randomness can sometimes grate, especially when you have worked hard to get to the last room, and it all comes down to one **** die roll. But, it’s easy enough to wipe everything clean and start again.

I find a game like Elder Sign much more lore/theme heavy, and with a lot more mitigation to the luck factor, but SH: Death Angel is much quicker to set up and play (and transport). For that, even though I don’t think it’s quite as GOOD of a game as Elder Sign, I probably play it more often, at least for now.

I’ll definitely buy the expansions, though, to keep it fresh.

That being said, I don’t see this game succeeding for me as a co-op game. All squads/card play have to work together in unison. One person playing incorrectly can (and most likely will) end the game faster than you can roll a die. The game asks that you NOT play open-hands, to mitigate the Alpha Player syndrome. However, since you NEED to discuss/play your course of action each round, this rule really makes little sense. I can read the card text, talk about what I’m going to play, and make suggestions and discuss that with other players, but can’t put the card down?

Also, since there is player elimination, in a co-op game someone could be eliminated very quickly, and then just be sitting and watching the other player(s) try to stay alive. Honestly, it is NO FUN to sit there and watch a game in progress.

This game succeeds as a solo game, but not as a co-op in my opinion. I would probably never take this to my group/game night and suggest a co-op game of it. I have, however, shown it to people as a solo experience, and that has gotten the better response.

9
Go to the Mage Knight Board Game page
95 out of 102 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a tough game for me to rate, especially since so far I have only played the “tutorial” scenario (First Recon) four times so far. I’m still waiting to get this one to the group, but I want to be sure I have all of the rules down before I introduce it to others.

Gameplay is STELLAR. I am already head-over-heels in love with this game. Reading the “Walkthrough” book first, and then playing along to the walkthrough, is for sure the way to go for your first try. I had no issues playing along this way, and it was very fluid and solid. Dare I say, even quite exciting the first play through – although it took 3 hours (with setup and rule checking).

Getting 5 cards to your hand, and then trying to decide how to best move about the board, which direction to head off in, what you expect to do on your next few turns, is what makes this game shine. I have been lucky enough to start 3 of my 4 games with a good movement card in hand, and with a green mana die from the source, able to at least get moving across the map. This allows saving influence and attack cards, for the eventual clash with the Orc (especially, with my luck, hitting Summoners a few times in the first battle, which can be a bit tough depending on the summon).

When the tiles start coming out randomly (only played with the set order of tiles my first 2 playthroughs), things REALLY get interesting. The decisions seem endless. Do I head to the village first, and save a few influence cards to recruit a peasant for which to use as a meat shield, or possibly to gain a few more movement points from his ability? Or do I head for this mana mine, and gain a crystal first before I head on out. Is there a safe path out of this tile, by which to explore another? Or am I going to have to head into battle?

I have seen a few complaints on various forums regarding the game “forcing” you to do actions you don’t want to do. My response to that, is that I don’t want the game leading me around by my hand. I like the PUZZLE aspect, of having a hand of cards, and trying to figure out how to best use them with the END GOAL in sight. No, maybe this turn I CAN’T move up to that mage tower and assault it, BUT – if I spend these influence cards to move next to the desert tiles in my way, on the last turn of the day round, then I have a better chance of quickly moving through those tiles during night.

Decisions like that, are what make this game the best, imo. For me, it’s too simplistic to have a base movement, and just move and roll a die. Although I play Pathfinder and occasionally the D&D Adventure board games, I always find the die rolls a bit of a weak element. Especially in the beginning, I don’t feel like I can do much to mitigate the roll/randomness. Some find that realistic, but in my opinion, a HEROIC adventurer (or Mage Knight!) would have the intelligence to think of the best action before taking it, and wouldn’t just “trip” trying to swing at a lowly creature.

This game offers so many options above and beyond the other adventure games I have tried. There are a wealth of play options – co-operative, competitive, Player Vs Player, blitz, full length conquest, solo, you name it. I haven’t seen this kind of flexibility in a game yet.

THE NEGATIVE:
It has to be said though, I was a bit let down when I got the game home, and opened it up the first time. The first thing I noticed, was the tokens seemed “Damp”. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but they really felt like they would maybe dissolve in my hand, or pull apart. However, I haven’t had any issues with them yet.

Another issue upon opening the box, was the fame/reputation board and the night/day board. Both were warped pretty bad. They have mostly settled after these few weeks, but still not perfectly flat.

Miniatures also are hit and miss. Arythea has no eyes, only a large pink mouth. The other models appear fine (and are fairly nice), but the cities are VERY bland looking. Light grey (almost white), with just tips colored red, green, yellow, or blue. I would have liked a bit more detail on the cities, and a better paint job on Arythea.

The last issue, is the cards. They are THIN. The thinnest cards I have come across in any game, to date. This really bugged me, as after spending 80 bucks on the game, I had to also spend 16 bucks on sleeves. There was no way I was going to risk not sleeving these cards, and I have not sleeved a game YET. This one, there is no choice. The cards are really THAT thin.

This poses a slight problem with reviewing the game. Gameplay wise, I would easily rate this a 10. My first perfect rating for a game. But the components bring the score down, unfortunately, because for the price I honestly expected more.

Be sure, though, the tiles and artwork are of good quality otherwise (I love the artwork on the cards), and I’ll do everything I can to protect this game so that it brings years of enjoyment. But I can’t overlook the fact that I’ve bought 40-50 dollar games that have had far better card stock and many more miniatures in the box, or at the least a thicker/heavier stock to tiles and cards.

I will say, however, that so far nothing has appeared to wear or damage, and it’s been moved around from table to table, packed up, set back up, etc. This game takes approximately 15-20 minutes to set up, and about 10-15 minutes to pack back up (especially if you keep everything separated/organized in baggies). After that, it’s about an hour per player, give or take an hour…lol.

Be sure to explain the basic rules first, though, when introducing new players, show them the cards in their hand and how they work, and show a few monster/keep tiles first so they have an idea of what they are in for. OTherwise, it can be a slaughter for new players and a real struggle. Learn the rules first, be comfortable with the game, THEN introduce it for a few “Trial” runs with your friends.

9
Go to the Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower page
96 out of 103 gamers thought this was helpful

The Wizards Tower expansion is a must-have for Castle Panic. Whereas the base game suits family play with my daughter (almost 7), the expansion kicks it up a few notches for more experienced gamers. My daughter needs more assistance with what to trade/discard/attack using the expansion, but that just means the better she gets with these games, the longer Castle/Panic will continue to suit us. With the expansion, I’m more inclined to play the game with more “experienced” gamers. It doesn’t add any additional boards, but it adds the following:

1) Tougher Monsters. Mega Bosses with more HP and abilities, flying monsters, fire breathing, etc.

2) Wizard Tower – Replaces one original tower on the existing board.

3) Wizard Deck – Option to discard and draw a Wizard spell card on your turn, as long as the Wizard tower still stands

4) New castle cards – for varied “standard deck” cards, adding more options/combos

Last but not least, you even get a fairly decent monster token bag, with eyes on the side. Much better than using a box lid!

All of these additions make for a tougher, more varied game. Walls can be set on fire (as can enemies), cards can combo better, etc. This is a prime example of the perfect expansion, improving the game in just about every way, while not completely re-inventing the wheel. People who enjoyed the concept of the base game, but felt it was too simplistic/easy should definitely give the expansion a try. People who already enjoy Castle Panic will be pleased at how the expansion will keep the game fresh and exciting.

8
Go to the Forbidden Island page

Forbidden Island

121 out of 131 gamers thought this was helpful

Forbidden Island is another fine addition to our co-op library for family nights. As my wife prefers cooperative games, and my daughter is only 7, these games help to not only introduce them to the hobby but also help with various real-life skills (Communication especially).

Castle Panic, Elder Sign, and Shadows over Camelot (Without the traitor, so far) have been top favorites in this category. We now add Forbidden Island to the mix.

I hesitated to rate this as high as Castle Panic and Shadows over Camelot, because of my wife not getting into the game QUITE as much as my daughter and I did. However, I can’t fault the game for that, and my wife has said she would like to try it again.

Forbidden Island has a team of players maneuvering around an “island” made up of various location tiles. These tiles start to flood, and can sink completely as the game progresses. Players have the ability to take 3 actions per turn, including movement (1 space = 1 action), shoring up a tile (flipping it from flooded back to normal), capturing a treasure (with 4 matching treasure cards), and trading with another player on the same space. Special abilities can alter these rules slightly depending on the player/role selected, adding a bit of strategy and variety. It also puts more of an emphasis on teamwork. One person might be able to shore up 2 adjacent tiles for 1 action, and might want to concentrate on keeping the island from sinking. Another might be able to fly to any tile on the board for one action, making them useful for not only quick treasure collecting, but also emergency shoring.

As the game progresses, the flood levels rise, causing more and more tiles to flood each turn. The game ramps up the excitement and tension as it gets going, and can be very tense/difficult depending on the difficulty level you start the game at.

All in all, this is not only a game I can enjoy playing with my family, this is also a game I wouldn’t mind taking to game night with the guys, either. Especially if they love Indiana Jones and adventuring titles (And who doesnt? LOL). One of the best games available from Gamewright, in my opinion. At 15 dollars, this is a lot of game for the money. I’ve found it a better value than some 40-50 dollar purchases, honestly.

8
Go to the Zooloretto page

Zooloretto

61 out of 68 gamers thought this was helpful

I bought the Rio Grande Games version from Target recently, because my daughter thought it looked like fun. We watched a short video online detailing the gameplay, and thought it would be (at the least) a cute game for family game nights.

First impressions were mixed, as some of the cardboard tokens/boards weren’t scored well, and at least two ripped slightly and had to be taped. I immediately broke out the knife and made sure to “fix” that problem with the rest of the boards. Animal tokens were fine, however, and no issues there (1 money action card, and 1 Zoo board had small rips). Had I not scored the rest of the Zoo boards, at least 2 others would have ripped as well. Please check yours carefully before you punch the boards out!

My daughter, watching the whole time, was patiently waiting for me to finish getting all of the pieces situated. We set everything up, and started the first game. My wife first commented that she thought the game was “dumb”. That is, until everyone started taking trucks, and she started to “get” the game. Second round, my wife and daughter (7 years old) started to get that they weren’t always going to get the truck they wanted, and realized that once they took a truck, their participation in the round was over. This made for some pretty funny “Ah Hah!” and “Darn You!” moments. My daughter took a few trucks with only one animal on them, and my wife and I (unwisely) ignored her, figuring she was just “building a pretty zoo”.

Final round comes, and we realize, our daughter is probably going to win. Every stall full of one animal type each, quite a few vending machines, and I think two animal types in her barn. She won at 30 points. Wife and I both had 28 points.

After that first game, we immediately wanted to play again, as we realized some other strategic things we missed during the first play. For a purchase we had passed over a few times due to seeming too light, this turned out to be a fantastic purchase.

Light Auction (animals in your barn can be bought by other players), strategy/planning, light math, and set building all present in the gameplay. It’s very easy to learn, but there is surprisingly some depth to the game as well, much more than most other “Family” games we have in our collection so far.

Highly recommended for families, but one that even the adults can enjoy, honestly! I am very pleased with this game, with the only gripe being the poor scoring of some of the sheets/cards.

7
Go to the Munchkin page

Munchkin

37 out of 43 gamers thought this was helpful

After having introduced my daughter to the world of “Take That!” games like Fluxx and Gubs, we were looking for something a little bit more, but not TOO overly complex. We wanted something that was still a manageable amount of time, but not over in 15 minutes and seeming like nothing we had done had any bearing on the win/loss.

In the case of Fluxx, we just wanted something reigned in a bit more. Fluxx was too messy/chaotic and was all over the place regarding length of play (60 minutes or even longer is way too long for the type of game I feel Fluxx is).

We had Munchkin sitting here for a while, never opening it until a few days ago. Wow, were we surprised! My daughter was laughing at all of the silly items, curses, and monsters encountered. At first, we felt that the game was going to be too simple. “Oh, so we just flip a card over, and do what it says, go to next player?”.

But the game turned out to be a bit more than that, making you plan whether or not you want certain items equipped or carried, in your hand, when to play curses, when to help other players and when it is the right time to turn on them and backstab away.

I worried that my daughter might not get that aspect of it (she’s 7). I Told her I Would help her on a fight she was going to lose, if she gave me her flaming armor she was carrying (not equipped). She gave it to me. We won the fight. Then she cursed me, taking the armor away (discard). I laughed so hard, but was very proud. She wanted to make sure I Wasn’t left with the +2 armor to help in my next battle, as she had the lead and wasn’t about to give it up.

Things like that, make this game what it is. If you try to over-analyze or can’t handle the random nature of most card games (This is NOT a deckbuilder, it’s a random dungeon crawl of sorts), this won’t be the game for you.

But if you embrace what it is, and just enjoy it, it’s quite a fun experience. For those who don’t think the random nature fits the dungeon crawl aspect, I respectfully disagree. If you were to enter a dark cave out in the woods, jumping right in, would you find a rat first? Or might you stumble into a huge Grizzly bear?

Kicking the door down in Munchkin follows that logic/randomness. Sure, it sucks that you kicked the door down at the start of the game and out pops a level 20 Plutonium dragon. But hey, that’s life! Suck it up, princess, and get on with it! 🙂

BTW – for those that don’t want to backstab as much, I found the Fairy Dust (and Dice) add-on to be good for groups that want to play in a more “helpful” manner.

We have also added a bag o’ munchkin babes (for their little extra rule, and because my daughter likes them…lol), and the Demented Dungeons expanion.

We’ve also now added all 3 of the christmas expansions, because my daughter just LOVES the idea of kicking the snot out of Santa and stealing his presents…lol. Maybe it’s because he brought her a barbie last christmas, and she wanted a dragon…

6
Go to the Cthulhu Dice page

Cthulhu Dice

57 out of 64 gamers thought this was helpful

Cthulhu Dice isn’t a deep game. There isn’t much strategy to it besides picking who you will “attack” each turn.

There is even initial confusion as newcomers get used to the idea of “Caster” and responses (Players get a chance to respond to a caster’s attack, but the rule for Tentacle always benefits the caster, no matter who rolled the die).

Given all of this, you would think the game would be hated by both experienced gamers and newcomers alike. However, I’ve found the exact opposite.

My daughter requests this game almost daily. We can easily play 3-4 rounds in about 5-10 minutes usually. Rarely do the games take very long to play at all (Which also makes it a cool little “pick the first player” mechanic for game groups). Played with just 2 people, it’s not as much fun (just quick time-killer). Throw in a few more, however, and it becomes something a bit more. Kind of like Left Center Right (LCR) with a Cthulhu theme.

Because of some of the limiations (better with more players, almost non-existant strategy/choices), I like Zombie Dice (especially with the expansion, which I wish was listed here to rate because it’s great) much better as a game, but I have to admit even I can’t turn down a round or two (or three) of Cthulhu Dice now and then. It’s quick, portable, and even more fun if everyone gets into the theme.

My daughter introduced this to a new friend of hers, who was also around her age (7-8) and he just giggled with mad glee, yelling “I WANT TO GO MAD! I’M GOING TO BEAT CTHULHU! HOW DO YOU BEAT CTHULHU?”

To which we responded, “You don’t. No one wins against Cthulhu! Just some people don’t lose quite as bad!”

He loved it…lol. He wanted to go mad just to serve Cthulhu and try to take sanity from others (you aren’t out of the game once you go “Mad” by losing all of your sanity tokens, and if you are really lucky you can even gain sanity back).

For all of these reasons, I have to give this “game” at least a 6. It’s not something you are going to base an evening off of, but I can’t see anyone having an objection to a round or two at least. I’d liken this more of an “Experience” than a game, but I can’t deny it’s appeal. Even thinking it would have grown old quickly, it’s still played regularly. To be honest, it’s played more than Zombie Dice due to how quick a game plays and the limited space needed (making it viable in just about any scenario). Unlike Zombie Dice, it’s also quieter (Good lord I need to dump that cup and get another dice bag!).

But I’m not going to rate it higher than Zombie Dice, because that game gives much more strategy and options in play (especially with the expansion dice). For 6 bucks, though, it’s definitely worth the investment imo and a nice compliment to Zombie Dice (And not an exact copy of it, which is another plus. It is NOT a rethemed Zombie Dice at all, for better or worse).

6
Go to the Castle Panic page

Castle Panic

103 out of 115 gamers thought this was helpful

Note: Don’t review from tablet anymore since it registered the wrong score and we cant change the review score once set. I don’t like that feature of this site, to be honest. This game is an 8 as a family/co-op gateway game, imo. For more hardcore/experienced groups it might not carry as much appeal, but I (and my family) are enjoying it.

This game has gone over extremely well with my daughter (7) and my wife. It plays like a co-op tower defense game with random defensive “draws” but some cooperation/interaction and light strategy in when/what to trade/play. Monsters move in from the “Forrest” towards your castle walls and towers, and you must fight them off using cards appropriate to the “range” / location.

This game can get hectic at times, then seem like things are under control before going into panic again. Maybe that boulder that just came out will roll over an Orc and a Goblin on it’s way to a wall. Or it might miss all the enemies and take out one of your last few towers! You have a red archer that can’t be used until the NEXT player’s turn, but if that player will trade you his/her Blue Knight, you can hit that Troll moving closer to the wall! Maybe you also have 2 other Blue Knights, and can slay the troll after the trade. There is just enough interaction and choices (especially with Master Slayer rules) to make this a wonderful gateway co-op and family game.

We lost the first game to the LAST monster of the game (so close), played again and thought we were toast early on, but ended up winning with 1 wall and all but 1 tower still standing. It gets easier as you start to realize how many of a certain card have been played (like Barbarian or Tar), and once you see more of the possible moves/combos, but still fun. I have ordered The Wizard’s Tower since this game was such a hit for our family game nights, and I hope to introduce it to our local game group once the expansion arrives!

8
Go to the Magic: The Gathering page
60 out of 67 gamers thought this was helpful

I quit Magic: The Gathering after the fifth/sixth edition, only to come back a few years later and play a few sealed decks.

When I lived in Sacramento, California back in the mid-late 90’s, A few friends and I played Magic weekly. I always looked forward to those nights, building and tweaking my decks before the next Wednesday rolled around.

Then everyone started racing for rares, buying large sets on ebay for hundreds of dollars, and the game completely lost it’s appeal. I would attend tournaments, and watch young kids get obliterated by the “rich kids” who’s parents were able to shell out the dough to buy them all of the “uber rares”.

I quit, and gave my collection to a kid who was having a particularly bad day and was devastated. Made his day for sure, although my two friends who were with me spent a bit of time chiding me over “Throwing away” a collection worth (apparently) a chunk of cash. I bought boosters. I never sought out rares, I never SPENT a chunk of cash on it. I was lucky with some boosters. I didn’t care of their value, I just loved the game and wanted to play, and had accumulated my cards over the course of a year. Then you get a new edition, cards get banned, and you are left buying yet another set (if you want to attend events and tournaments, instead of just playing at home with friends). The loss of playing at home with my friends, and their move to more “serious” play actually dragged this down for me, since I had no interest in “Seeking out” specific cards.

When I returned years later, I chose sealed deck as the way to go. Sure, it takes away from the fun of assembling your own deck, and trying out your own strategies (Slightly mitigated by allowing boosters or drafts), but it keeps it on a more FAIR/EVEN playing field. Every time I walk into the game store I drive out to, and see the college kids playing Magic, I want to sit down and have a go. But I just refuse anymore to support the TCG model.

8/10 for the gameplay alone, though. It was the most fun I had out of a trading card game. I’ve played Legend of the Five Rings, Mythos, X-Files, and a few others over those years of Magic, and although others were enjoyable, nothing came close to Magic for me. If you want to avoid the cost, sealed deck is the way to go, imo.

7
Go to the UNO page

UNO

29 out of 34 gamers thought this was helpful

I used to play Uno with my dad when I was young, and we always enjoyed it. These days, everyone is looking for more depth, more strategy, and while that is fine, there can still be a place for games like Uno in a family collection.

My wife prefers Skip-Bo, but none of us will turn down a game of Uno. The cards are easy to identify and read, the rules/gameplay simple enough to use as an introduction to card games for kids (and hey, it’s a lot more fun than slapjack, Old Maid, and Go Fish…lol).

I probably won’t ever suggest a game of Uno on an adult game night, but I do still break it out every now and then to play with the younger kids.

I’m rating it a 7/10 because for the right crowd, it’s still a good game. Even after moving on to other similar styled games, I’m able to go back and play it at the suggestion of others and not mind.

8
Go to the Scrabble page

Scrabble

61 out of 68 gamers thought this was helpful

Ah, Scrabble… Fond memories of playing this game with my dad when I was a kid, and still fond memories of playing it today. I will never forget sitting at the table with my dad, thesaurus and dictionary nearby. Nowadays, we sit with ipods and tablets and Google words…lol. Not quite the same, but definitely faster.

Other games I remember from my childhood (70’s and 80’s), such as Monopoly and such, I have no interest in anymore, regardless of the experiences/memories. Uno, Rummykub, and Scrabble are about all I find myself going back to on occasion, and still enjoying.

The random element of tiles helps somewhat for those less spelling/thesaurus inclined, and someone experienced with the game and with a large vocabulary will just obliterate someone younger and/or less “Wordy”. Even with my experiences, I still find myself checking opponents after wondering, “Is that even a word?”. Then in another game, I can have people questioning something simple (to me, at least) like Yaws (My wife swore that wasn’t a word…lol). Either way, it’s a great learning experience and I find it fun as well once in a while. When my daughter gets a bit older, this is one I will be sure to break out on family game nights to help with her spelling/vocabulary.

I should add, that even though we have other versions of Scrabble as well, they rarely see play. It’s always the “simplicity” of the original board that we come back to. Stacking, electronic cubes, and other variations like Card games aren’t horrible, but for me at least the original game is perfect the way it is.

6
Go to the Zombie Fluxx page

Zombie Fluxx

44 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

See my review of Fluxx for my thoughts on the basic gameplay. Zombie Fluxx has worked out better for us, thanks to the theme and some slight additions to gameplay (Zombie Creepers, weapons). My daughter, though, loves this game simply because it can allow her to build a zombie baseball team…lol. Otherwise, like Fluxx, your experience can vary game to game, some are quick and fun and others greatly overstay their welcome and send everyone packing/onto the next game.

6
Go to the Cranium page

Cranium

14 out of 28 gamers thought this was helpful

Cranium got played twice in my house before the clay was lost. We thought about replacing it with the kid’s play dough, but shelved the game because it didn’t hold our interest enough to want to bother again. My wife and daughter both prefer Dicecapades (with the expansion/travel set to double the cards) over Cranium. We just found Dicecapades more consistently fun (and still creative and educational for the younger players).

Possibly it was just that not everything in Cranium was “fun” for us, as I’m not generally a huge fan of games that try to merge too much stuff together. Cranium to me was too much of a mash-up where I felt many tasks were less fun than others. Plus we love dice…lol.

9
Go to the Rory's Story Cubes page

Rory's Story Cubes

69 out of 76 gamers thought this was helpful

Roll the dice, tell a story using all the dice. Or divide the dice up between the group, and take turns rolling and adding to a growing story. That’s it, and that’s all it claims to be/needs to be.

My 7 year old daughter uses these to “teach” the four year old next door how to take turns, and how to male up stories. That girl comes over daily and asks to play with the story cubes. They will sit for an hour, telling all sorts of fantastical tales, it’s a joy to listen to them.

Every preschool, daycare, and elementary teacher/provider should have these.

Added bonus: Throw these onto the table with a few drinking (or silly/creative minded) adults, and you have a great party activity/icebreaker (especially with the Actions! cubes, and acting them out…lol).

6
Go to the Zombies!!! (2ed) page

Zombies!!! (2ed)

25 out of 28 gamers thought this was helpful

My daughter positively loves this game. My wife and I enjoy it for about an hour, before it starts to grate on us a bit. The board tiles are very light/thin (oversized, square playing cards, basically) and get pushed around easily during play. There is near constant fiddling with small tokens, zombies, and tiles (OCD gamers need not apply, the fiddly nature will drive you mad, constantly working to keep the board together and/or pick pieces up carefully enough).

That being said, the game is really fun otherwise with some variants and/or house rules implemented. Some of the cards are really cool and fun to use, when the game is moving along in the beginning, it has a great action-horror-comedy movie feel to it. Then the helipad comes out and it’s usually a race to see who gets there first (or someone bags the last few zombies they need on occasion, getting the win). When it gets to that end-game point, the game can start to feel like it’s dragging a bit. Add in expansions and you need a larger table and more time. This is a game best played with others into the theme and in shorter bursts. Longer play sessions tend to wear out their welcome with most I’ve encountered, but neither my wife nor I dislike the game. The “screw you” gameplay can be great, and killing zombies is always fun for a while! The price isn’t bad either, so you pretty much excuse the weight/thickness of the tiles, until someone tries to get a bullet without tweezers and sends 2 tiles full of zombies and tokens out of the setup. Its a fun game, but far from perfect.

8
Go to the Jungle Speed page

Jungle Speed

85 out of 113 gamers thought this was helpful

This game appeals to everyone from kids to adults. Its a great light game for parties as well as family game nights.

You deal all of the cards out, and players take turns flipping their top card over (face down in a stack in front of each player). Once a match comes up, one of the 2 players of the match must be the first to grab a totem in the middle of the table. The person missing the totem has to take all face-up cards on the table.

Some cards look very similar, causing incorrect grabs from “jumpy” players (which also nets that player the cards in play). Its got enough to its simple mechanic to keep it interesting, although I would recommend the expansion for play with more than 4 people.

7
Go to the Zombie Dice page

Zombie Dice

23 out of 26 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ll get the negative out off the way first – the cup will break down quickly (protect by wrapping it with packing tape, or use a dice bag) and is way too noisy. If you are turned off by “simple” luck driven games, don’t like “press-your-luck” dice games, and/or don’t like Zombies, your mileage may vary.

Otherwise, this is an almost perfect filler game. You can play a round in 10 minutes, it’s easy to teach to anyone instantly. It could be argued that it’s not even as deep as Yahtzee, but the dice and gameplay fit with the theme (you are a zombie trying to catch people and eat their brains, but watch out for their shotgun blasts). It’s even been useful in motivating my daughter to get ready for school quickly, so that she can play a game or two.

It’s quick, easy to learn, fun theme, and inexpensive – everything needed for a great compact filler game. It can play with two people, or a larger group (turns are fast enough that no one is left out for too long). I never turn down a game or two, and I always take it with me.

EDIT: Zombie Dice 2 adds a nice extra bit of gameplay. Adding all 3 of the expansion dice in, gives you a chance at eating the hunk or hottie brains, but increase the risk as well (hottie runs away more often, hunk shotguns and double shotguns). The dice also “combo”, allowing the hunk to save the hottie, and vice versa. The Santa die allows “Gifts” which act as bonuses, giving a helmet allows 4 shotguns instead of 3. Energy Drinks allow you to turn feet into brains (Catch the runners). Santa also has a double brain gift! I highly recommend this inexpensive add-on. We never play without it anymore.

5
Go to the King of Tokyo page

King of Tokyo

141 out of 161 gamers thought this was helpful

For me, this forty dollar box game comes down to being about 1 thing – the dice. Well, all but the 2 bright green ones, which hardly get used…much like the huge deck of cards (ESPECIALLY when playing 2-3 players. Play with maximum players for more chance to actually use the cards and other strategies).

The cards should, in theory, add a whole other layer of strategy/depth to the game, but rarely do games even utilize them. One non-gamer I played this with said she liked it, but found the cards pointless. A more experienced “gateway” gamer said the same thing, and for the most part I agree. The character scoring cards are nice*, and the artwork is well done, but all the components but the dice seem completely unnecessary, except for the cards on rare occasion. To keep the game more interesting, start everyone with 3 energy and lower all card costs by 2. I’ve found this makes the game much more interesting and puts the cards to much more use/importance than it is with the official rules, thereby making the game more than a Yahtzee reskin. Otherwise it pretty much stays a damage-fest, especially if no good/cheap cards are in play and you have one or two lucky/heavy hitters at the table. You can be killed in 2 rounds, which makes going for VP’s and energy pointless/death wish in those cases – which seem to happen more often than not.

Still, I’ll play one game of this if someone asks, but I won’t suggest it for play. One of my most disappointing purchases this year. I bought this to play with kids mostly, and I honestly don’t like to take this game out because of the components and the need to constantly explain to them why they can’t grow another head or gain fire breath, for example, during a specific game, due to how little the cards are used/refreshed during many sessions.

*Not helped by the fact that I had damaged components out of the box. Scratched paint on SEALED dice, damaged character card for Meka Dragon, as well as slight pulling apart/bend on the head of his stand-up too (cardboard). Waiting on replacements from iello, who does seem to have good customer service, at least.

Insert also doesn’t hold the cards well, they will shift all over the box, damaging a few during transport to game nights/travelling. Sleeving the cards will require removing the insert, and no baggies are provided to store anything in (buy a few ziplocks at the least).
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UPDATE: After playing a few more rounds with 5 players, this game opens up a BIT more, at least with the viability of the cards. At least 3 players were buying cards during the last 5 person game, and the player who won, won primarily because of the cards he had used (And bad dice rolls from the other players).

I’m still not a HUGE fan of all of the dice rolling back and forth for such an expensive game (I’d prefer a bit MORE use out of the cards, especially in a 2-3 player game). I also still think this game is best with 5-6 players, at least 4. With more players the game gets a rating of 6.5 from me. I don’t hate it, and it has grown on me slightly (to an extent) but I’m still preferring D&D Inn Fighting and Quarriors over it, for dice battling games.

BTW The expansion seems to address a few of my issues with KoT. I’ll be interested in seeing how much it improves upon the base game.

8
Go to the Elder Sign page

Elder Sign

52 out of 59 gamers thought this was helpful

Many newer (or brand new, especially) gamers tend (in my experiences) to see the cards and tokens all set up, and assume this game is too complicated before they even give it a try. It really isn’t though, and just takes one game to get the rules down (keeping the rulebook and faq handy for the first few plays helps for questions/setup). My 7 year old daughter understands this game, and loves it.

Myself, I consider this to be my favorite “dice and cards” game. I see Elder Sign as a near perfect mix of the press-your-luck gameplay, with some strategy and luck mitigation via cards and special abilities. Wondering if you should go and attempt that Adventure that can net you 2 Elder Signs (Which could net you the win), but also knowing that failure will result in a doom token being added, plus midnight is right around the corner (possibly adding more doom, and therefore losing you the game), makes for some interesting decision making. Not to mention, when it hits midnight and you realize there is still an adventure out there that has negative midnight effects, plus the mythos card drawn adds more negatives, it really adds to the atmosphere.

The atmosphere fits the gameplay and theme, especially during those/games where you just have terrible luck, and the game stacks the doom (literally) on you. The digital version is more difficult in my opinion, but I prefer the physical version with other people, it just adds to the experience and has more variety (more Great Old Ones to fight, and most awaken and have you battling them, unlike Azathoth who awakens and just devours everyone). It’s still not easy (not at all) to fight a Great Old One that has awakened, but it’s fun and keeps the game and theme going a bit longer, at least giving you the impression that you still have a sliver of a chance.

9
Go to the Ticket to Ride page

Ticket to Ride

39 out of 53 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve never had a ton of luck introducing people to many board games. Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and even King of Tokyo haven’t appealed to “everyone”, most appealing to few I’ve encountered. Everyone I have talked to who games, seems to know Ticket to Ride, and everyone I’ve played this with has enjoyed the experience. Others I have talked to have had similar experiences. I started with the iPod app, and tried that on my wife. She had no interest, until sitting down with the board game. Immediately after her first experience with the physical version, she requested a copy and wants to introduce it to her friends. It is easy to learn, fun to play. Can’t go wrong with that!

There is an online version to try too, but it (like the apps) don’t do the physical game justice imo. They are more there for established players who want the experience “anytime, anywhere”. But if you want to see the game, and try to get an idea of what it is beforehand, there is at least a free trial option on Days of Wonder’s website, where you can do a solo run vs bots, and then play 3 games for free (10 dollars afterwards). But again, the physical board and having the social interaction and experience with people directly in front of you, just adds even more to an already fun game.

5
Go to the Fluxx page

Fluxx

33 out of 38 gamers thought this was helpful

This game can go from being a fun and hilarious game to people walking out on a game that just will never end. Games have lasted 10 minutes to well over an hour (more than overstaying it’s welcome). Everyone I have played this with ended up disliking the game as soon as you hit one of those types of games that seems like it will never end. Only my daughter requests the Zombie Fluxx edition anymore, and even that is rare now.

To clarify, the game starts with one simple rule – draw a card, play a card. You can have one goal in effect at a time (per the starting rules), and you get “keeper” cards that you play in front of you, to help you achieve the goal (Like Chocolate Milk, requires a chocolate bar keeper, and a milk keeper card in play to win).

It’s that simple. Until…

There are other rule cards, that make you have to draw and play a different number of cards (drawing 5 and having a hand limit of zero, making you have to play or discard everything each turn), change up how many goals can be in play at once, all kinds of stuff.

The goals are varied, but they are pulled so often (as are the rules) that it literally can change EVERY turn. For every player.

This is really fun and hilarious in quick 15 minute games, although it gets really hard for some people to keep track of all the rules and stuff in play. Then, you get the unwieldy games that have you drawing and discarding everything, and everyone is just waiting for that one card to wipe all the rules away. Those games can go on for well over an hour sometimes, and that’s just too much.

That is what has turned everyone off to this game, that I have played it with so far. The random nature and chaos is fun for a while but it can often overstay its welcome. And due to the random nature of the cards, it’s just impossible to really say what kind of game you are going to get out of it – the funny, quick, silly version or the long, drawn out, everyone wants to quit version.

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