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Go to the Compounded page
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4
Go to the Redshirts page

Redshirts

22 out of 22 gamers thought this was helpful

In Redshirts, two or more players compete to kill off crewmembers by sending them on away missions that they cannot complete. The game is a snarky take on the Star Trek trope, and fans of any Sci-Fi shows will get a laugh out of it.

The game is played by setting out some crew members, who each have skills, like “science” or “diplomacy”, etc. In addition, you can give them tools/weapons/etc that give them additional skills. Players take turns playing cards, that represent events, equipment, or other things that can happen. The primary play of the game is to play missions onto the board, and then have one of your crew members attempt the mission. The mission will have a set of skills required to attempt the mission, and also a set of skills to complete the mission successfully. The idea is to attempt a mission, but fail it. If you fail, your crewmember dies, if you succeed, you generally get another crew member. The winner is the person who eliminates his entire crew first.

At first, you will have a blast with this game. The cards are hysterical. The references are clever, and well done. The artwork and style is phenominal, and the idea of killing off crewmembers is just a ton of fun.

Then you play a few rounds, and that is when it hits you that the game will never end. Well played, you can just continuously hose the other players, so they constantly have a full crew. Everyone will play round after round killing someone, and then just getting them back the next round. After a few rounds you tire of the jokes, and just want the game to end. I’ve played a number of times, and over half of them, we just all gave up.

I really wanted to love this game. The artwork is great, the theme is great, it had everything except a workable mechanic.

Pros
Amazing artwork
Hysterical cards, flavor text
Great theme, great idea (kill the redshirts!)

Cons
Game never ends
Rulebook is horrible and confusing. The first time we played we got it completely backwards. (that game ended actually…)
Some of the cards were cut wrong. (many actually)
The box has no dividers or anything. It’s just a big deck of cards poured into a giant box to mix around. (there are separate decks you then have to sort out into piles)
With two players, the game is completely broken. With more, it’s at least playable.

I wanted to love it, but I don’t. I assumed I was doing something wrong, so I checked out various forums, and everyone else said the same thing. If you follow the rules, it never ends. Maybe house rules could fix it, but nobody I know is willing to play again to find out.

10
Go to the Suburbia Inc.  page

Suburbia Inc.

16 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

There are two kinds of expansions for games. One that radically alters the gameplay, and the other, that just adds more fun stuff. Suburbia Inc. is the latter.

So what does it bring to the table? More tiles! When you pick up the expansion, it will throw you for a bit. It’s just a shrink-wrapped bundle of cardboard punchouts. No box. No fancy inserts, just a block of cardboard and a rulebook.

Don’t let that fool you, this is exactly what you want. It adds a bunch of new building tiles. Some are just more of the same, and some add clever twists to the game, but nothing really earthshattering. In my opinion, this is the best part of the expansion.

It also adds a few minor new mechanics. One is border tiles. These are long tiles you can purchase, that form a town border. Things like a forest, or a beach, or a nuclear waste dump. These add a clever mechanic, as they generally have a strong effect, and can border up to 4 tiles. However, they cannot be built upon on one side, so you block off a direction you can build in, in the future. So it adds a strategy element as you figure out where you can safely put them without penning yourself in.

It adds a few new goals, as well as some challenges. The challenges are pretty simple. They sit on top of the B and C stacks, and when you get to those stacks, if you have fulfilled the conditions listed on the challenge, you get a bonus of some kind, like +2 income, or +2 reputation, etc.

Summary
Overall, the expansion doesn’t add anything game breaking, or change the game up in a large way that makes it totally different. This is a good thing. Suburbia was very good as is. What this adds is exactly what you want, more variety, a few tiny tweaks, and more bits. This isn’t the type of expansion where you decide to play with it or not. You dump it in the box, and you never look back. It just makes the whole game better. The best part is, there is no box to throw away. I would never play my copy of Suburbia without the expansion. It doesn’t “fix” anything in the game, it just plain makes it more fun.

9
Go to the Core Worlds page

Core Worlds

168 out of 176 gamers thought this was helpful

In Core World, you take on the role of barbarians on the outer reaches of a failing empire, who have decided the time is right to take over. You start out with a rather basic military, and march inwards to the core of the galaxy, recruiting stronger units, and conquering planets. It’s a deckbuilder, but it has some interesting things thrown in to make it a little more fun.

First off, your starting hand is quite large, you have something like 20 cards. Your cards are a balanced mix of starfighters (fleet attack), infantry grunts (ground attack), a hero, and various tactic cards. you also have a player board, with energy and action indicators. The game also has a built in time limit. It only runs for 10 rounds, once the 10th round is over, points are added up, and the most successful conqueror wins the day.

Every round, you start with a set number of actions, depending on the round number. Then you add up the energy production of your worlds, and that is how much energy you have for the round. A bunch of cards get dealt out from the different round decks (five of them) and those are the things available to purchase or conquer.

Everything in the game takes action points and energy to do. If you have starfighters in your hand, and you wish to ready them for invasion, you spend an action per unit to place it in front of you, and then pay it’s energy cost. The unit then sits there in your “warzone” until you wish to use it. You may also draft cards from the center by spending an action, and the energy draft cost. Finally, having amassed a great army in your warzone, you may attack a planet in the center deck by spending an action, an energy, and whatever troops (fleet and ground) are required to defeat it, and take it for yourself. Planets require differing amounts of fleet and ground strength to defeat, so you must plan accordingly. Your new planet will generate more energy in future rounds, as well as give you victory points.

The game executes the theme brilliantly. You are commanding an army, and running around conquering planets. As you progress through the rounds, you are moving closer to the center of the empire, and the units and planets are more powerful and heavily defended. When you finally hit the last two rounds, you are at the core of the galaxy, and the planets are worth a ton of victory points, and take massive amounts of army strength to defeat.

Pros
The warzone concept is great. You can place your troops in front of you, and hold them there for multiple rounds until you are ready to use them.
The depth of strategy is good. Attack planets early to generate lots of energy, or hold off for the larger ones later? Draft powerful stuff now, or spend energy deploying troops? There are many paths to victory here.
The game comes with an additional first round draft deck, to spice up your starting deck a little bit. This optional feature really adds to the game.
The theme is carried through perfectly.
Deck thinning is built-in to the game. You can trash one unit used in an invasion when conquering a world. Additionally, cards in your warzone are obviously not in your deck, so they are temporarily thinned.
The turns are performed in a rotation, so you don’t have much downtime while the other players choose their actions.

Cons
Not a lot of player interaction. This could be good or bad. You don’t attack each other, or really do anything to hose one another.
It’s a little more complex than your standard deckbuilder. It takes a bit longer to teach, as there is alot going on here.
There is a little slowdown on the last two rounds as players calculate army power and energy costs to put up the power to grab the final worlds.
The player boards are a little thin, and could have been made of better card stock, but they work.

Overall, I find this game satisfies my itch for a deckbuilder, and a sci-fi game all at once. The mechanics are well thought out, and play is brisk (until the last round). The built-in time limit keeps the game from dragging out forever. There is alot of strategy and thought required to play well. I’m a big fan of this game. There is one expansion out for it, which I have not yet incorporated. Looking over the cards in the expansion though, it looks to add a lot of fun to the game, and modifies a few rules here and there to smooth it out. This game is a buy.

Two players
This game plays well at any player count. With two players, the game scales wonderfully, and keeps all the intensity of higher player counts. I highly recommend this as a two-player game.

10
Go to the Suburbia page

Suburbia

128 out of 135 gamers thought this was helpful

Does building a city from the ground up sound exciting to you? Did you spend hours of your youth playing Sim-City? Guess what? You need to buy Suburbia.

In Suburbia, you are given a tiny little town, with a park, a residential area, and a industrial area. Each round, you take turns with other players buying tiles from a central row. When you take one of these tiles, you can place it anywhere in your city, as long as it touches an existing tile. But this is where the game starts to shine, because each tile has effects that go off depending on what other tiles border it. Put your newly purchased landfill next to your residential area, and you lose reputation, but if you put it somewhere else, you just gain extra income.

There are three main factors in the game. Population (score), reputation, and income. Income is easy, that’s how much money you make per turn. Reputation is how nice your city is. Each turn, your score is increased by your reputation, in addition to any direct population bonuses you might get from tiles. But with increased population, comes more problems, there are little red lines on the scoreboard. Every time you cross a red line, your reputation and income both decrease by one! Grow your population too quickly, and suddenly you will have a negative reputation, and start *losing* population on each turn. Turns out there is a delicate balance to building a city after all.

The game is an absolute blast. Pick a tile, find somewhere for it to fit. Because the rules on placement are so simple (anywhere it fits), the strategy all comes down to you. The interaction of the tiles makes each decision important. If I build this elementary school here, I get a population bonus, but that will grow my population too fast, and then I’ll lose reputation. On my next turn, I wanted to build a landfill, but the only good place I have for it is next to the elementary school, oh, that won’t work, etc. etc. Some tiles even have special effects that work off other player’s boards. A hotel for example, gives you income based on the total number of residential tiles *in the game*. If another player has a ton of residential stuff built, suddenly that hotel is worth a fortune to you.

Eventually, the stacks of available tiles run out, and it’s time to take final scores and see who won. There are goals, as well as secret goals, that make the final scoring more interesting, but there is also a moment of pride. Look at the big city you built, even if you end up losing, you had fun doing it.

Pros:
No dice, very low random factor. The only random part of the game is which tiles are available for purchase.
Extremely strategic and “thinky”. Deciding which tile to buy is important, but just as important is deciding where to put it.
Decent amount of player interaction with the tiles that react to other player’s boards, without any “hose the other guy” type of gameplay.
Building a city is fun, stupid fun.

Cons:
Only 4 players. I think a fifth player expansion is unlikely. Sometimes a tile requires a lot of interaction between multiple players. At 4 players, it can be a little confusing, at 5-6 it would be a nightmare.
The game ends too quickly sometimes. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the building of your city, that you are disappointed you have to stop!

Two Players:
The game plays equally well at any number of players. With two players, the cities tend to be a little larger, which can be fun. There is also less competition for available tiles. When playing 4 players, there are three players between your turns snatching up the tiles you wanted to buy, with two, you are much more likely to get the ones you want. It plays differently with two players, but not broken. It’s still equally challenging and fun.

Summary:
Buy it. It’s worth every penny. The components are of excellent quality, the theme is a blast, building a city is a hoot, and you will want to play it over and over again.

10
Go to the Super Dungeon Explore page

Super Dungeon Explore

96 out of 104 gamers thought this was helpful

Super Dungeon Explore is a dungeon crawl (mostly) co-op miniatures game with anime inspired characters and monsters, based on a video game. Whew, that’s a mouthful. So what does it bring to the table?

It requires between two and six players to play. One player will play the “consul” (the dungeon master basically), and the others will choose heroes to play. There are a variety of heroes to choose from, covering all the usual dungeon tropes. Dwarf, elven ranger, thief, barbarian, scorceress, paladin, healer, druid. The players pick what kind of crawl they wish to embark on. Two heroes against a mini-boss, three heroes against a boss and mini-boss, or the super mode, 5 heroes against two mini-bosses and a boss. The consul then lays out dungeon tiles, and selects “spawn points”. The spawn points work like the old video game Gauntlet, in that they continually produce more monsters until they are destroyed. If the heroes kill all the spawn points, or run out of time, the boss comes out, and the final battle begins. Kill the boss, and the heroes win the day, kill the heroes, and evil wins.

At first glance, the game looks pretty simple, however, there is a great deal of depth to the strategy in the game, both on the side of the consul, and on the side of the players. The game really becomes it’s most exciting when playing with a group that has played a few times. As the consul, there are a ton of options as to how to try to kill the heroes down, and an experienced consul can easily wipe out inexperienced players quickly. However, a group of players that understand the mechanics of their heroes suddenly turn into a monster-killing machine, and that is when the game really comes into it’s own. Now the consul player has to constantly think and plot and move around, forcing the players to do the same, and it becomes a tightly fought contest to the last turn.

The rules are remarkably simple for such a deep game. Attacks and defense are made with a number of colored dice with varying numbers of stars on them. For example, you might roll 3 blue dice for attack, and the consul might roll 2 blue for defense. If the attacker gets more stars then the defender, he does one wound (regardless of how much you beat the roll by). Things like range are very simple, if you have an 8-square range, you just count out 8 squares, diagonals, etc. Every rule has been well thought out so it is easily resolvable, and extremely easy to remember. You can teach a new player the game in mere minutes. Mastery of the game is what takes much longer.

The game ships with a huge pile of highly detailed miniatures. For the painters in the audience, this is a great boon. The miniatures are well made, and a ton of fun to paint. The game becomes beautiful, and always draws a crowd of interested onlookers. But, fair warning, the base game comes “unassembled”. You will need to spend a few hours gluing together all the little figures before playing. This can be frustrating for those who aren’t good with superglue. The good news for that crowd however, is that all the expansions are shipped fully assembled now, so those of you who hate assembly only have to do it for the base set.

The first time you play this game, it will take forever. Players will hem and haw about what to do next, and a 5-hero game with all new players will probably run you about 4 hours. This often leads to some players thinking the game is too long, and there is too much time between turns. With experienced players, the game is not nearly as lengthy, a 5-hero crawl takes around 1.5 hours. I actually think the game plays best with 3 human players and one consul doing a 5-hero crawl. This avoids the problem of player elimination, because the players can easily hand off one of the two spare heroes to the now-dead player, and keep the interaction going.

Is it fun? Oh my yes it is fun. It’s fun as the hero, to smash down the evil spawn points and kill the mighty boss. Shouts and cheers usually erupt when big monsters are killed. The players start to really work together and devise great strategies to win. As the consul, you are constantly busy. You have 30 or more monsters to keep track of constantly, as well as ever-changing conditions in the dungeon as the heroes wreck your plans. But you can still win, and then you alone can gloat.

There are currently two major expansions for this game, as well as a bunch of one-off characters and mini-bosses available. The Caverns of Roxor add turtles and fire monsters, as well as a very nasty fire boss. Von Drak Manor adds undead, as well as witches and a giant spider, with a vampire boss (who is a little weaker than the other bosses in my opinion). Each expansion also adds three new heroes to the game, giving the players more variety to choose from when playing. Both expansions are excellent, and any serious consul will own them all.

Pros:
The miniatures are wonderful and fun. They are great fun to paint.
The rules and mechanics are extremely simple. Very easy to learn.
The depth of the game offers great replayability. You get better at it with each play, and can really feel yourself “getting it”.
The game is filled with exciting moments. When a hero picks up a great piece of loot, everyone cheers.
The company is dedicated to the game. They have updated rulebooks and FAQs online you can download with corrections and clarifications.
The game draws a crowd whenever it is played.
Lots of expansions to increase the variety of the games.

Cons:
The miniatures are unassembled. If you are a painter, you will love this, if you just want to play, you will hate this.
First few games will take forever.
Player elimination can make the game un-fun.
If you have all the expansions, transporting the game can be difficult. There are *alot* of figures, and you will likely need to come up with a storage solution, doubly so if you’ve painted them.
It’s sometimes difficult to convince players to give it a try. However, if you play at a game store or similar, you will find it draws alot of attention, and the problem goes away quickly.

In summary, this is one of my all time favorite games. I can play it endlessly. The depth of strategy makes it a blast to play over and over again. I cannot possibly recommend it enough, but I have to forewarn you: Once you start loving this game, you will *need* all the expansions, because, yes, more monsters, and it is a gateway drug into the hobby of painting.

Additional note: Soda Pop Miniatures has also recently posted a rules addition for an “arena battle” mode. This is a two-player fight to the death between heroes with monster minions. I have not yet tried this mode. The PDF for the rules is downloadable on their site for free, and works with the base game out of the box.

9
Go to the Boss Monster page

Boss Monster

114 out of 124 gamers thought this was helpful

This game has a lot going for it. Obviously, the first thing you are going to notice is the nostalgia. The game is based on old 8-bit console games. The artwork is wonderful, and truly conveys the theme. But what about the game?

In Boss Monster, you play as the evil boss of a side-scrolling dungeon. Your job is to setup traps and hazards, and then lure heroes to their death. This is accomplished by placing room cards in front of your boss. Each room card does a set amount of damage to a hero, has treasure, and usually has some kind of special effect text.

Heroes enter the town each round, and mill around looking for a dungeon that appeals to them. Each hero has a type of treasure he/she prefers. When a dungeon has the highest value of that type (no ties!), the hero enters that dungeon. The hero has a set number of hitpoints, and moves through the dungeon taking damage. If he gets to the end and is still alive, your boss takes a wound. If you kill him before the end, you collect his soul (for nefarious purposes no doubt!).

There are also a variety of spell cards, that allow you to perform one-time actions to affect heroes. For example, you can cause extra damage to one, to avoid it wounding you. However many of the cards are meant to mess with other players. For example, you can give a hero additional hitpoints, so they cannot be killed by the other player, and thus inflict a wound.

The first person to collect a set number of hero souls, or the last man standing wins the game.

The mechanic of heroes milling around town until a tie is broken on treasure is the key to this game. Each round, you look around at the other players, and calculate in your head how much treasure they have of each type. You know which heroes are coming, so you either want to intentionally tie them, to keep from getting wounded, or intentionally surpass them, to draw a hero. Of course, everyone reveals the new room they built simultaneously, so there is a surprise factor.

There is a decent amount of strategy involved in this game. You need to quickly build up your dungeon so you can survive hits, but you also need to collect hero souls before everyone else does. The special effects on the rooms all play in as well, as some of them let you do things like send a hero back one room, so he takes additional damage. This requires planning when you set your dungeon up, so you can lay them in the correct order, all while paying attention to the treasure counts.

2 Player in this game is decent. The game definitely plays best with three to four players. The heroes are marked with icons designating if the hero is meant for the 2, 3 or 4 player game, and you take certain ones out for the smaller games. This keeps the game well balanced regardless of player numbers. The game just happens to be more fun with more players, because of the player interaction being spread around more.

Pros:
Quick game (20-30 mins)
Easy setup
Decent amount of strategy, lower luck.
Wonderful artwork, great flavor text on cards.

Cons:
Player elimination can occur, but the game is relatively short.
If players gang up on you, you can die very quickly.

Overall, this game is great. It appeals to anyone who is a fan of older 8-bit games, but the gameplay itself is pretty intuitive, and you don’t actually have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy a game. The strategy involved is often not immediately apparent, so it generally takes a play or two to get to grips with it. Overall I give it two pixelated thumbs up.

9
Go to the City of Iron page

City of Iron

134 out of 144 gamers thought this was helpful

So far, City of Iron has been one of my favorite new games to break out at the game store, or with friends. Many of descriptions of it classify it as a “deckbuilder”. It is barely a deckbuilder. What it really is, is a medium-length euro game with a card draw mechanic thrown in.

In City of Iron, you are one of four races trying to build cities and collect resources, and explore a steampunk/magical world. Each race has a slight unique power that differentiates them, but they mostly play the same. You start with a plot of land, which can hold 5 structures. Structures are made up of cards, which can be purchased from the pool of available structures each round. Some structures give you income on your turn, some give you victory points, and some give you resources.

The game is divided into a variable number of “rounds” each of which is three phases. In a round, players get three actions, taken one at a time in turn order (which is decided upon by bidding for turn order at the start of the round). Each action is something simple, like building a city, collecting taxes, drawing a card, or playing a card. Following the actions, you collect money, refresh the pool of available cards, possibly collect VP, draw cards, and buy new cards for your deck.

Buying cards for your deck is where the deckbuilding component comes into the game. Each player has a personal military and citizen deck on their player board, as well as a stack of unpurchased cards next to them. At the end of the round, you can look through the cards, and purchase any card you want to add to your hand, by paying the cost listed on the card. The cost is one of the two currencies in the game, gold, or science. There are both citizen and military cards in the deck for you to choose from.

The citizen cards offer different actions, such as getting science cheaply, taxing for more gold, or exploring. The exploration action can be used to “discover” new lands. There is a pool of available lands set next to the board, and as an action, you can use an explorer card to take one of these lands and add it to your board. This gives you more space to build structures, as well as the ability to build certain structures that cannot be built on your starting board. Each land has a distance, and sometimes a special icon, airship or boat. When playing the explorer, you also need to play other cards from your hand that have a “distance” icon on them, to have enough distance to reach the new land. If the land has an airship icon, you also need to play a card with an airship on it.

You also have military cards to choose from. These cards give you an attack power, as well as sometimes having distance icons. Attack power can be used to conquer independent towns that are laid out next to the main board. The towns offer a different path to building your empire other than buying structures from the main pool. When you conquer a town, it is placed next to your player board, and flipped over to the conquered side. When this happens, the defense of the town increases. Other players with military can attack your towns (but only your towns, not your purchased structures) and take them from you.

The deckbuilding component is pretty small in this game. You rarely end up with a “deck” of more than about 12 cards. One nice mechanic is that you can always look at your deck to see what is coming next. However, the order cannot be changed. When you run out of cards in your deck, you do not shuffle the discard pile, instead, you simply flip it over. This means you can plan out future turns by thinking ahead and playing your cards in a specific order, so they draw back into your hand in a way that benefits you.

Structures and towns generally provide resources. On the board, there are a variety of different resource tracks. The resources in this game really add to the theme of the game, and add a lot of fun. Resources such as “bottled demons”, “tentacles”, “gears”, “magic crystals” will make you smile. A structure or town might add 1-3 of a given resource to your pool. For example, if you build a turnip farm, you would gain 3 turnips. You would advance the counter on the turnip track by three, and also advance your income track by one. At the end of the round, whoever has the most production of each resource in the game, gets a bonus income for that resource. Additionally, on a scoring round, that player also earns victory points.

There are three scoring rounds in the game, A, B, and C. The structure deck is composed of three sets of cards, of increasing value and cost. Each set has a scoring card mixed in. When the scoring card comes out during the end of round refresh of cards, everyone will score VP at the end of that round. Because of this, the scores in this game are generally pretty low, and the fight for first place is pretty tight. Winning scores of about 20-30 are the norm.

Overall, this game is an absolute blast to play. There is virtually no luck involved in this game whatsoever. You bid on turn order each round, so if you want to go first, simply pay more gold to do so. The decks are purchased by you, and the draw order is set by the order you play the cards, so you know what is coming out. The available structures are laid out prior to bidding on turn order, so you know if it’s worth paying more to go first. This game is all about strategy, and paying attention to the other player’s position on the various tracks. If you don’t want to get into a military battle with other players, you don’t have to, simply don’t attack towns.

A 3-4 player game generally lasts about 60-90 minutes. Each round will have you thinking very carefully about what to do next, and planning out your moves. I find myself wanting to play this game over and over, to try new strategies out, play different cards, build different structures, etc etc. After many plays of the game, I still don’t feel that I’ve mastered it. That makes it a great game in my opinion, as it keeps me coming back to try again and learn more.

Pros
No luck, all strategy
Beautiful artwork and components. Wonderful theme.
Low scores keep every game tight, and the final counting of VP is always exciting, as you don’t know if you’ve won or not until the very end.

Cons
Game sometimes feels a little short, you wish there was just one more round to pull off a final action.
Lack of planning can really kill you in this game. If you don’t think ahead a bit, you can find yourself unable to do any real action on your turn.
Setup is slightly complicated at first, but gets easier once you’ve played once or twice.
Nation powers are very slight. There isn’t much difference in the nations you pick. They are balanced well however IMHO.

Overall, great game. I will play this over and over and love every minute of it, win or lose. I purchased it because I thought it was a deckbuilder, but was pleasantly surprised to find a deep and exciting euro game instead.

9
Go to the Terra Mystica page

Terra Mystica

133 out of 142 gamers thought this was helpful

Terra Mystica is an empire-building/area control game with a fantasy theme for 2-5 players. The game puts you in charge of a race attempting to expand influence across a continent by building towns and other structures. The “hook” in this game, is that first, you must terraform the surrounding area to your home terrain type before you can build on it, by spending workers to change the very ground.

The game is divided into 6 turns. On each turn, players take actions, one at a time. Each player may take as many actions as he can, or desires per turn, however, the actions are taken in turn order around the table. This keeps the game moving, as it is never very long before you get another action to take, and you can spend a little time while others are taking actions to plan your next action out. Planning your actions out is pretty important however, because with each player doing actions between your actions, it’s possible that some actions you want to perform are taken by other players before you can get to them.

Each player has a race, portrayed by a player board in front of them. When starting the game, you place all the pieces of your color on your board in the indicated spaces. Each piece covers up an income icon of some type. The different types of pieces can each be upgraded to other pieces as indicated on the board. For example, the simplest piece, the settlement, provides one worker per turn when on the map. It can be upgraded to a trading house, which provides power and gold, but when you do so, the settlement returns to your player board, and you lose the worker income. This creates an interesting “economy management” mechanic, where, you need to be careful not to over-upgrade your placements, as you can destroy your lower economies (workers, or gold, etc)

Each round of the game has a special bonus, such as gaining victory points for placing specific structures, or performing certain actions. In addition, at the end of your turn, you pick a personal bonus, that applies only to you in the next round.

One of the best mechanics however, is the power bowls. On your board there is a set of three bowls with chits in each one. If you gain “power” as an income, or via other means, you can move the chits from one bowl to another. When you have chits in the final bowl, you can spend them on special actions, or buying additional workers, etc. Yet another economy piece to keep in mind when playing!

Overall, the races are pretty well balanced. There are a few that are a bit more difficult to play effectively than others, as well as a few that initially seem over-powered, but as you play the game, you will come to realize there are a bunch of different ways to play and win this game, and each race takes time to master. This gives the game a ton of replayability in my opinion.

The game plays very well with just about any group size. They claim about 45 minutes per player. This is pretty accurate for your first game or so, but once you become accustomed to the game, you will find it plays a bit faster than that. With two players, you can play an entire game in about an hour. As a two player game, it works very well, however, you may enjoy the game a bit more if you intentionally start the game with at least one of your towns near the other player. Players of Settlers of Catan will initially want to place towns far apart, to avoid crowding, but this game actually rewards crowding, so you can miss out on that mechanic if you place towns on opposite sides of the board.

Pros:
A little confusing at first, but the rules are extremely well written, and a handy chart on the back of the rulebook explains the racial powers quite well. It’s easier to learn than it looks.
It weighs a ton. It is chock full of wooden and cardboard bits that are of extremely high quality.
Great replayability via 14 different races.
Many paths to victory.
Almost no luck involved, purely a strategic experience.

Cons:
A single player with analysis paralysis might slow the game down.
The game looks very complex, and might frighten players off.
Sometimes the game feels a little short, and you wish it went on for another round or two.

Overall, this is one of my favorite games. It is wonderful to play. It could almost be described as a “less-stabby” version of Settlers of Catan, and I think people who enjoy that game would fall in love with this one instantly. I find myself wanting to play it over and over to try out different races, and strategies, and ideas of how to do things. That by itself is what makes it a great game.

7
Go to the Infiltration page

Infiltration

94 out of 101 gamers thought this was helpful

The basic premise of the game is to infiltrate a building, and steal data from the various rooms, and escape before the alarm goes off and you are captured by security. It employs a bit of a press your luck mechanic, as you need to make your way room to room through the building, and then run back out the way you came in.

Each turn consists of a simultaneous action selection performed by placing an action card face down. Once all players have selected an action, the actions are carried out in turn order. This inserts a bit of strategy into the game, as you need to think ahead to guess if your opponents will be downloading the limited number of datachips in the room before your turn comes around. If you are in a room with 3 other players and 3 chips, chances are you won’t get one if they are going before you, so you might want to move to the next room instead.

Each round ends by rolling a die to advance the alarm tracker. The alarm tracker goes up to 99, and once it hits 99, the game is over. If you are still in the building, you lose, only those who escape get to compare victory points. You need to pay attention to how quickly the dial is moving, and where you are in the building to plan your escape. You can also sometimes use a bit of strategy to intentionally crank the alarm up faster to try to strand your fellow players in the building.

There are a few NPC’s and special equipment cards that let you do things like attack other players, or fight NPC’s. Some of the NPC’s also have special abilities like raising the alarm level.

Two player:
The game really fails at two players. The rules say to play two players by each player taking two agents, and then manage separate card hands for each one. This is obnoxious. I have tried the game with just two agents, and it is playable, but there is very little player interaction.

Pros:
The random layout of the rooms is exciting, and discovery of new rooms makes the game fun.
The equipment cards add a bit of variety, and sometimes you get a really fun card that lets you pull off a great move and score some data.
The data chips you score are hidden from other players, and have a value of 1-3, so nobody really knows what your score is until the end. This means even if you decide to force the alarm up and leave early, you can’t know if you have enough points to win.
The alarm dial is a great mechanic, and adds urgency.

Cons:
The equipment and action cards are those tiny finger cards. Bleah.
The alarm dial seems to move too quickly, and it’s rare that you really get to interact with the upper floor much. This is too bad, because the second floor cards are really fun.
The two-player play two agents mechanic is obnoxious.

Overall, this is a fun game to play with a group of about 4 players. It’s a relatively quick game, and sets up fast. I think it makes a good medium-time filler game. The player interaction is fun, and you don’t get the feeling that it’s a ***************** game. However, the game seems to be a little short. You always end with the feeling that there was a lot more to do on the upper floors, but you never got to see it. I think it’s a game that could probably be rescued with a few house rules to fix things up, but in the end, that is a slightly flawed game.

7
Go to the Tanto Cuore page

Tanto Cuore

65 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

This is yet another deckbuilding game, with a variety of interesting mechanics that make it rather fun to play.

Right up front however, the theme of this game will either appeal to you, or turn you off. You are basically building a harem of scantily-clad anime maids who “service” you. If the idea of that is turning you off, then just avoid this game.

The game seems complex at first, but is rather simple to pick up if you’ve ever played a deckbuilder. You start with a hand of “love” (money) and some cards that clog your deck but can be placed aside to score them. Some cards are worth victory points, and you are basically trying to get victory points to win the game.

The first interesting mechanic is the “chambering” of maids. There are some cards you can set aside in a score pile via various methods which provide you victory points at the end of your game, and unclog your deck. This is fun, because you can buy these point cards, and utilize other cards to set them aside to score them and keep your deck small.

The other mechanic that is present here is a griefing mechanic, where you put negative points cards, or cards that have bad effects into other people’s houses. This keeps the game interactive, and avoids the “solitaire” effect of many deckbuilders of this type.

Pros:
Easy to learn. If you’ve ever played a deckbuilder in your life, you can pick this up and win on the first try.
Good mechanics for scoring, that don’t clog your deck up.
Tons of expansions are out for this game, which add a bunch of neat mechanics.
Lots of variety in the setup to make the game replayable.

Cons:
The theme was too mysogenistic for my tastes. I couldn’t get over saying “I’ll have this maid service me” over and over.

As a deckbuilder, purely mechanically, I really like this game. I won’t be buying it though, because the theme was just too much for me personally. If this theme doesn’t bother you, then I highly recommend this game.

10
Go to the Legendary: The Fantastic Four Expansion  page
20 out of 20 gamers thought this was helpful

This expansion is definitely the best of the two released so far. The five new heroes (Fantastic 4 + Silver Surfer) are all very well done, and exciting to play. They also have a unique new mechanic called focus. The focus mechanic allows you to spend recruit points to do different actions rather than recruit (such as fighting, or rescuing bystanders, or K.O. cards). This changes up the late game by quite a bit, as you no longer want to thin down your recruit cards once you have the heroes you want in-hand.

Some of the new characters also create very good synergy with existing heroes from the base game. The Invisible Woman for example has a rescue bystander action that works well with Black Widow.

As for the new mastermind, MoleMan is a pretty average villan, not too hard to beat with a decent team, but Galactus is quite brutal. He has a special attack that destroys the city itself, and can cause you to lose the game regardless of the scheme. This cranks up the difficulty level of beating him by quite a bit.

The new schemes are pretty good, none of them stood out as being really game-changing to me, but they are all fun and add to the diversity of the game.

One thing I thought was very good about this expansion though, was that it stood on it’s own as a great game. You could play as the five included heroes, pick the mastermind and villans from the expansion, and play the game with just the board and base components from the base game (starting decks, Maria Hill, etc). You still need the base game to play, but you don’t need much else from it. This was thematically fun, as you could play as the Fantastic Four vs Galactus, and re-create the movie. I highly recommend you try just the expansion for your first few games, just to try out the new mechanics, and get a feel for the new heroes. Beating Galactus with the included heroes is very difficult, and I highly recommend it as a challenge.

Pros:
New heroes have great synergy with existing heroes.
New schemes work well with base game.
Galactus is a great challenge for any team.
It plays well by itself, with only the base components from the original game.

Cons:
Galactus will beat you repeatedly and you will cry.

10
Go to the Compounded page

Compounded

110 out of 120 gamers thought this was helpful

When I bring this game out to a group of new players, the first thing that always happens is they all groan and say “I flunked chemistry”. I have to explain to them that it doesn’t matter, all they have to do is put tokens on colored spots. That would be the “downside” to this game. Once you convince them to play however, it is a great deep game, that works great for any group of 2-5 players.

The basic premise of the game is to place little gems (elements) on different compounds to “complete” them, and add them to your lab. Elements are received each round through a blind-draw mechanism. As you complete more compounds, you level up, and gain the ability to work on more compounds at a time, place more elements, and draw more from the bag.

This game requires a decent amount of strategy to play. You need to pay attention to turn order, look at what elements other players have currently in their lab, and look at where elements are on the board.

One of the more exciting aspects of the game is the lab fire. Every so often, a lab fire occurs, which causes certain flammable compounds to explode. These compounds then spray the elements outwards onto neighboring compounds, and are replaced from the deck. This means you have to pay attention to the compounds you are working on, to make sure you can finish them before a fire occurs. You can also cause lab fires, to keep your opponents from finishing a compound.

Pros:
Very fun to play, deep gameplay, lots of replayability.
The mechanic of the game is unique.
Excellent component quality.
Appeals to science geeks.

Cons:
Cards are an odd size, and there are no sleeves for them that I have found.
Gems are colored, and would be unplayable for the color-blind.
The turn order is a little complex, and requires a bit of explanation for a first time player. Once you’ve played though, it’s easy to understand.
Chemistry theme scares off players sometimes.

2 players:
This game works very well with two players. It comes with a special “third player AI” card, that automatically places elements onto the board when playing with two. I have played two player games both with, and without this card, and it seems to be fun either way. I highly recommend this game for couples.

Overall, this is one of my favorite games. It is always in my “bring” bag when I head to my weekly games night at the store. I have yet to have anyone say they wouldn’t play it again. The score board being the periodic table of the elements is a great hook, and just makes the game a pleasure to lay out.

9
Go to the King of Tokyo page

King of Tokyo

27 out of 40 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve played this game with every possible number of players, and each time, it’s been a blast to play. It’s very simple, takes less than a minute to explain, and typically plays in under 30 minutes. The game is deeper than you would originally think because of the cards. Some of the cards work together to make some very exciting combinations, that can power your monster up and make you nigh unbeatable. However, the size of the deck, and the fact that you rarely churn through more than about 10-12 cards in a single play keeps you from doing so repeatedly. It’s just about the perfect balance of luck and strategy for a quick game. This is probably not a game you will pull out and play for an entire night, but it’s a great filler game that everyone will enjoy, win or lose.

8
Go to the Mice and Mystics page

Mice and Mystics

212 out of 231 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve played this game a number of times, mostly with a random group of players at the game store. The game is fun, and plays very well. The mechanics are very slick, and are quite easy to explain and pick up. It’s very challenging to play. I’ve won as many times as I’ve lost, and I think that is a good quality for a co-op game. The boards and tokens are of an excellent quality. The miniatures are nicely detailed and well made, but they don’t paint very well, if that is something that interests you.

Downsides:

1) Some players don’t want to deal with the story, so usually that gets discarded and we just play the game. It’s a shame, because it takes away one of the stronger aspects of the game.

2) The later levels in the book are very difficult. You need to run the game from start to finish with the same characters, and level them up to really be able to win the game. This is not a game you can just pick up and play with random people. You need a dedicated group of players.

If you have a group of players whom you regularly play games with, I highly recommend this game. If you tend to play with random people at a game store, you will find this one difficult to bring out.

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