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inmarg

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Go to the Galaxy Trucker page
Go to the Mage Knight Board Game page
Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
Go to the Claustrophobia page
Go to the 1830: Railways and Robber Barons page
Go to the Nations page
Go to the Tigris and the Euphrates page
Go to the Ricochet Robots page
9
Go to the Ricochet Robots page

Ricochet Robots

9 out of 9 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro:

I first came into contact with RR back in 1999 when a friend of mine had picked it up. This was the time when it was called Rasende Roboter which does have a different meaning altogether in Norwegian as the word rasende means angry in my native language.

It was explained to us that the game was all about a warehouse using robots to fetch the needed items which also was a seller as we were all working at a furniture warehouse at the time.

Gameplay:

Ricochet Robots is a very clever game hidden behind few components. There are 8 corners with 4 or 5 target squares, 17 target squares in 4 colours + 1 rainbow target, 5 robots and a timer. Each corner is double sided with each target appearing on a total of 4 boards. A complete board is built up using 4 corners in a way that all 17 targets will appear once giving a lot of replayability in the different setups. The robots are placed in random locations on the board (we usually dropped them from about a foot high) and the 17 targets are mixed face down.

One target chit is flipped and revealing a target and the goal of the game is to find the shortest number of moves in which the robot of the target’s colour can reach said target. The problem is that the robots can only move in a straight line until it hits a wall or another robot so often you’ll have to move several robots around to find the shortest solution. Of course there isn’t unlimited amount of time either. As soon as a player finds a solution everyone will have one minute to come up with a shorter solution. The player with the best solution will earn the chit as a point and then a new target is flipped and counting starts all over again from the new positions of the robots.

After all 17 targets have been recovered the winner is the one with most chits.

Strategy:

RR doesn’t have a lot of room for strategy because it moves so quick and you’ll never know where the robots will be at when a target is drawn. This game is all about logic and seeing the possibilities as fast as you can. While the majority of solutions will be in the 5-8 region it is not uncommon with neither a 3 nor 15 mover now and then.

However, experience will be of great advantage in this game and an experienced player should quite easily beat a rookie player simply because he will recognize patterns on the board and how to best use robots to reach several targets. From what I’ve seen new players will often focus on two robots at most which often will lead to longer solutions.

Conclusion:

I’ve always been a fan of deduction and logical puzzles and thus this game found a sweet spot for me which I happened to do well at. In fact, my last live loss in this game came back in 1999 on the second game we played. Nowadays when it hits the table with people I know it will be a two team challenge, me vs everyone else…and this is my biggest issue with the game. It is very dependent on people being of similar skill level. Other than that it is almost a piece of art in all it’s simplicity.

9
Go to the 1830: Railways and Robber Barons page
43 out of 48 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro

For anyone diving into the world of 18xx my first advice will always be:

Do not get to attached to your corporation(s).

My second advice will always be:

Do not get to attached to your corporation(s).

1830 is first and foremost a game about generating the most value possible from money and stocks. This is done by dealing and sharing stocks in train corporations and building routes that will pay good dividends.

Gameplay:

1830, while time consuming, has fairly simple mechanics. Alternating stock and (sets of) operation rounds until an end game condition is met, either the bank runs out of money or a player goes bankrupt.

It all starts of with a special stock round where 6 private companies is auctioned off. These are quite different and will earn its owner money each operation round until phase 3. In addition most of them have a special ability which may be used during the game.

This is then followed by a regular stock round. On your turn during a stock round you may sell as much of your owned shares as you like but you may only purchase 1 share (there is one exception but no need to touch upon that here). This can be done in any order so you may sell-buy-sell if you want. However, you may never purchase a share in company in which you have already sold a share earlier in the stock round. Each share is 10% of the company except for the director share which is 20% and must always be the first one purchased. When 60% of a company is owned by players (or in the bank pool) the company is said to be floated and will be allowed to perform actions during upcomming operation rounds.

The stock round will end only after every player has consecutively passed so you may still act after you have passed as long as someone else does something else then pass. The left hand player of the last to act will receive the priority deal and will be first to act in the next stock round.

During operation rounds each floated company will be allowed and may perform the following actions:

– Build – adding track to the map or upgrade a tile already on the map.
– Add a station token
– Run train(s)
– Purchase new trains

The director of a company will perform all actions for a company.

When adding track a director may either extend track or upgrade a track as long as it can be traced back to a station marker through an uninterrupted line of tracks. He may add a new token to allow a company to run better routes or block other companies. Finally by running trains owned by the corporation he will generate income for the shareholders and/or company. Each train controlled by a corporation may be run, but no two routes may overlap on any part of the track. The total revenue may either be kept in the treasury of the corporation or paid out to the shareholders with each share paying 1/10 of the total. Stock price will move left if withheld or right if paid out. Finally the director may purchase train(s) if the corporation is not at the current train limit.

Strategies:

1830 is a game with lots of action, especially with experience. There are so many traps lying around that it will be hard not to fall into anyone. The first couple of games will likely be much about building and running good routes and earn income. With a few plays under the belt there will appear a second, and much more brutal game as the stock manipulation, managing the train rush and priority deal becomes the focus. The game starts with 2-trains which can only run between 2 cities/towns. They are followed by 3, 4, 5, 6 and Diesel trains. When the first 4 is bought all 2s rust and are IMMEDIATELY removed from the game. 6 trains remove the 3s and diesel removes the 4s. On top of that any corporation with a legal route has to own a train and have to purchase one either from the bank or another corporation owned by the player. If it hasn’t got the money the director has to pay from his own pocket even to the point of shelling shares if needed to make up the needed money. If still not enough he goes bankrupt and the game is immediately finished.

If everyone avoids going bankrupt which often is the case among new players the cycle will repeat until the bank brakes aka is out of money. After the complete set of ORs players will calculate money and value of all shares on hand with the highest total being declared winner.

The dream scenario really is getting to axe a corporation for all money leaving it with either a train or a lousy one soon to be rusted while having priority during the following stock round and thus getting to dump your stock handing the useless corporation off to someone else 😀

Conclusion:

Do I love 1830, or 18xx generally. Big time! Quite possibly my favorite genre although it took a few games to see the ingeniality of it all. This is a game with lots of levels that takes lots of time exploring and is absolutely worth it if willing to put the hours in. Few game experiences are as fulfilling as the first time you manage you complete a “corporate dump” and forcing panic on others are indeed quite a rewarding moment.

 
Go to the Mysterium page

Mysterium

101 out of 108 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro:

Mysterium, described as the thematic Dixit.
In Mysterium one player takes on the role as the ghost who was unrightfully accused of a murder years ago and the rest of the players takes on the roles of mediums trying to solve and find the correct murderer of this crime by interpretation of their respective visions. As this happened a long time ago each medium will have a different view of the what really happened and after each medium has concluded with a weapon, place and culprit it’s time to put your minds together to determine what really happened those days of yorn.

Gameplay:

The player portraying the ghost randomly chooses a weapon, place and person combination for each player taking on the role as mediums and adds some more depending on what difficulty level you want to play. These are placed on the table in that order while the ghost will keep a copy of the correct combinations behind the screen hidden from everyone else.

The game lasts for 7 rounds (hours, nights depending on how you’d like to interpret it). As the ghostly apparition in no way can use words he must guide the mediums with pictures which each player each round receiving one card and must use this to determine which weapon this might be. The players can confer all that they want, and in fact, are encouraged to too find the best match for each picture. Keep in mind, sometimes the hint may be very vague and can just be matching colours or an unimportant detail in both pictures because we’ll have to face that if the weapon is a rifle you’re not gonna have a clue available that is just a picture of a gun…

When everyone has taken a guess on weapon the ghost reveals which player(s) came up with the correct answer. Those who found it will get a new clue to where the crime took place while those who missed will get a new clue which combined with the previous one will hopefully guide them to the correct target.

Hopefully by the end of the 6th night everyone will have found what they have interpreted as the correct combination and now everyone must combine their visions in one final round to try and conclude how it really happened from one final set of clues.

Conclusion:

Mysterium is a family friendly party game that is fun those time you want a lighter game. For the first game I’ll recommend someone with previous experience taking on the role as the ghost but after a playthrough it should be of no problem for anyone to do this part. As the ghost it is also important to listen to what the players are talking about because that may just be of help to what clues you want to hand out. In fact, the worst ghost I’ve experienced is probably the player who has played it the most. Simply because he gets to set in his own mind and won’t defer from that thought.

The last time I played he got so caught up in a weapon – clue combination on night one which he felt was a perfect match taken straight out of Beauty and the Beast. On every following night he kept giving clues to the film rather than the weapon in question, even if he could fully hear us discussing and never getting close to B&B. Of course this game ended after the fourth round and he couldn’t understand why no one saw what he had seen all along…

8
Go to the Onirim page

Onirim

58 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro:

Welcome to the Oniverse where you are a dreamwalker lost in a labyrinth of dreams looking for 8 oneiric doors before you run out of dreamtime causing you to be trapped forever.

You’ll be walking through room after room looking for these 8 doors while at the same time some batman lookalike nightmares will be haunting you.

Gameplay:

Onirim is a solo / 2 player coop game played out with a deck of 76 cards. There are cards in 4 different colours, each with a moon, sun or key in the corner (fewer keys), 8 doors (2 in each colour) and 10 batman nightmare cards.

As mentioned, your goal is to find these 8 doors before you run out of cards.

You start of with 5 cards, any drawn doors and nightmares are shuffled back into the deck. On your turn you must either play a card or discard a card, and then draw up to 5. When you’ve played 3 cards in a row in one colour you’re allowed to search the draw deck for a matching door cards and add it to your victory area. Seems easy enough, but there is a very important rule on how to play cards. You may only add a card if it has a different symbol than the previous card. In other words, you can never play a sun on a sun, moon on moon nor key on key. Even if the cards are in different colours.

You really do not want to play keys unless in need of the last card to find a door because these also have other uses:

— It can be discarded to look at the top 5 cards of the draw deck from which you must remove one card and place the remaining 4 cards on top in any order. A great way to get rid of those nightmares.
— If you happen to draw a door when refilling up to 5 and have a matching key in hand you can add that to your victory area. One more door found.

Then there are the nightmare cards. If you happen to draw one when refilling to 5 cards you must perform one of 4 actions:

– Discard a key from hand
– Shuffle one door card back into the deck
– Discard your entire hand and draw 5 new cards
– Discard the top 5 cards of the deck, doors and nightmare cards are shuffled back in.

If you finally get all 8 door cards on the table you’ve won. Simple as that.

Conclusion:

Onirim is a nice little challenging solo game, but as luck would have it. Sometimes it might be a breeze and other times it will be near impossible. In the beginning I always used the keys for protection against nightmares or a lucky drawn door. The more I’ve played the more active my use have become. The advantage of looking at 5 cards and planning accordingly is just too good to ignore.

And if you happen to feel the game is getting too easy there are 7 different expansions in the second edition to add some challenge. So in all aspects there are plenty of hours of gaming in this tiny box.

9
Go to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous (Base Set) page
62 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

Time for the third installment of the Pathfinder Adventure Card game. Now it’s time to face the abyssal powers of Baphomet and Deskari, with some demonic flies tossed in as well. Wrath of the righteous is all about fighting the forces from the abyss until possibly facing Lord Deskari himself in one final, epic battle.

Basically this is the same game as the previous two but with a different theme, so I there is not much point going through the rules again. I’d rather take a look at what changes have been implemented in this version (in addition to the change of theme).

Characters and cohorts:

There are a couple of new ones, and quite a few you’ll recognize from previous adventures. What they have added to a few of them is a new type of card called cohorts which basically is a companion for a specific character and is a card you add to your hand after drawing your initial hand and actually giving you a +1 card in your opening hand.

Some scenarios will also give the players a few cohorts to choose from for that scenario only and are returned to the box afterwards. They have lots of different abilities and every character should find a cohort which should be helpful in some aspects.

Mythic path:

This part was quite talked up before the release and is a major change. After completing AP1 each player will choose a mythic path card. These cards will improve two of your main attributes but with only 12 (2×6) to choose from not every combination will be present. At the start of a scenario you’ll start of with a number of mythic charges equal to the adventure deck number and the number of charges you have will be added to any check using that attribute. On top of that you can remove any number of charges and replace one of the highest dice with a D20 for each charge spent to really get that mythic feeling.

There is quite an interesting choice to be made here. Are you gonna take a card that will improve your main stat or will you upgrade your second hand (or worse) stats? In our party we ended up with both, with me being the one who upgraded other stats. For me it came down to not having a card with my two most wanted stats at hand and from the fact that combat checks are those we’ve usually had the least problems with.

Difficulty:

There were quite a few complaints about the previous adventures were too easy and/or too samey. So, what have been done on that part? Well, while it’s still the same assemble the dice and make a roll against a difficulty number there have now been added a few things that are bound to spice it up. First of all there are a whole lot more “Before you act…” checks which at the very worst will disallow a spellcaster to cast spells or a fighter to use weapons, or even do enough damage to make you discard all your cards. There are also a lot of immunity on monsters and some very hard barriers, especially early on. Early on is a keyword here as the game is quite hard the first 2-3 adventure packs but from then on we’ve had much less trouble with the scenario to the extent that a couple of them have been downright boring.

Still, some of the henchmen and villains have taken a lot of planning and calculation to take out and we’ve on several occasions been down to the very last blessing. If it hadn’t been for 2 of 3 characters having the opportunity to scout a location deck I’m sure we would have replayed a lot of the scenarios but thanks to those abilities we’ve so far managed to make it through on each adventure on first attempt.

Conclusion:

For anyone thinking about jumping into the Pathfinder games this would be my recommended start set. If you can get past the first beating you’ll likely to suffer it has a lot to like. Rise of the Runelords is quite repetitive, Skull & Shackles feels a little bit clumsy with the ship and loot mechanic. Wrath of the Righteous on the other hand feels like a complete coherent adventure with varied locations, tougher henchmen and villains and a story that should engage.

Heck, there’s even an location aptly named Middle of Nowhere to which you may travel in this adventure, and what’s not to like about that.

10
Go to the Ascending Empires page

Ascending Empires

63 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

Ascending Empires is a fast paced space exploration that does what it sets out to do really well. This isn’t intended to be a deep thinking 4X game (we’ve got other games for that) but rather a quick no downtime game which almost is a borderline filler if everyone knows the rules.

Overview:

Each player takes control of a corner of deep space with a home planet and will explore space, settle new planets and do some researching. Eventually space won’t be big enough for everyone resulting in conflict and fighting over a few planets here and there.

Gameplay:

Space, as everyone knows, is built up off 9 squares as a 3×3 field with a few planets mixed in. At the start of the game these are hidden so you won’t know which resource they contain and thereby have to explore them. Each planet may produce 1 of 4 resources or it might be a barren asteroid without any useful material.

The players start of with a (barren) home planet and two spaceships on the search for a new world and on your turn you may perform one of the following actions:

* Movement – 2 movement points which can be flicking the spaceship through space, landing or taking off planets. Be careful when flicking because if your tiny spaceship moves off the board it has indeed run of the edge of space and is lost in time and, uhm, space…

* Build – there are 3 available constructions to build that will mainly score points or allow you to research.

* Research – improve 1 of 4 different technologies given you have enough resource centers on the planets linked with that technology.
* Recruit – Add 2 troops to your controlled planets
* Mine – return troops from a planet to score victory points

Both movement and recruitment points can be improved with the belonging technology research. Each of the technologies will improve your species / nation (or whatever you want to call it) in either attack, defence, movement or recruitment which often will be dictated by what planets you find.

In the end, Ascending Empires is a game about gathering most victory points. These are earned in several ways and the game lasts until the supply of points has been depleted.
Technology – If you’re first on a level of one of the 4 techs you’ll earn points equal to that level (possibly 40 points available but that just won’t happen)
Eliminating opponent pieces (1 point pr. piece)
Mining – remove two troops for one point or 3 for two (often used during end game)

In addition you score points for colonies, cities, each planet controlled and a bonus for controlling planets in 3 or more quadrants of space.

Conclusion:

Ascending Empires is a very fast paced and engaging game with next to no down time as actions are quick and you often have planned for 3-4 turns ahead – move → land → build research center → research and thus turns are pretty much over before you’ve started.

Combat is very much in the spirit of the game and is simply about having enough space ships within range of the target, but do not be too rash, if you hit another ship both will be removed from space.

On the negative side there have been complaints about warping board pieces but for me this is almost a plus. Who thought space would be a luxury ride without any hazards any way?

Ascending Empires is really unlike any game out and is one of the reasons why I recommend it, in addition it is in fact a pretty good game that is bound to give some hilarious moments as well.

7
Go to the Ghost Blitz page

Ghost Blitz

41 out of 46 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro:

Ghost blitz, in any of the three configurations, is probably among my favorite fillers and can sure bring quite a few laughs in a round. This is a game about quickly recognizing and grabbing the correct piece.

Gameplay:

Ghost Blitz is nothing more than 5 different colored items and a deck of cards with images of two of the 5 items in 2 of the 5 colours. These are a white ghost, green bottle, grey mouse, blue book and a red chair. All of these should be placed near the centre of the table within reach of all players.

The idea of the game is to flip up one card and quickly as possible grab the correct item, which is determined by the image on the card. There are two possible solutions.

1) If one of the objects appears with matching colour you must grab this item
2) If neither object matches in colour you must grab the item which neither matches in item or colour on the card. So if the picture is a red ghost and grey book you have to take the green bottle.

The first player to grab the correct item receives the card as a point. However, if you grab the wrong item you must give up one of your previous earned points, either discard it or as an optional rule, give it to the player who grabbed the correct item. One very important rule here is as soon as you have touched an item you have picked it and you can not take another. So you need to act quickly if you want the card, but not to quickly… 🙂

Conclusion:

Ghost Blitz is a filler done right. Quick, easy and at times just hilarious. Those special moments when 3 or 4 players almost get into a fight over an item just to see the last player calmly grab the correct item several seconds later is just…fantastic.

Finally, when you feel / think you’ve mastered the regular edition you can move on to Ghost Blitz 2.0 and finally Ghost Blitz 5 to 12. With both of these adding more ifs and buts to the ruleset that are sure to make you rethink once, twice or more which item to grab, or at times shout out.

So, if you’re looking for a quick, action filled filler the Ghost Blitzes are highly recommended.

9
Go to the Nations page

Nations

99 out of 106 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve always been a fan of heavy civ games since my introduction to serious boardgames by Advanced Civilization in the early 90s. So, whenever news appears about a new civ game I’m instantly all ears.

Intro

In Nations each player takes control of a great historical nation and develop that nation until the end of industrialization. At the end victory points are calculated and a winner is declared.

Nations clearly falls into the same category as Through The Ages (TTA) as a mapless, card driven civ game which I thought was pretty weird back then, but worked out brilliantly.

Gameplay:

Nations lasts for 4 ages, 2 rounds each age for a total of 8 rounds. Each age has 2 decks of cards, one progress deck which fills the card row and are available for purchases and a small event deck from which only 2 cards will be used.

Each round has a set number of phases and actions to it.

1.) Maintenance:

Refill progress board;
* Remove remaining cards from row 1 and 2 and move leftover cards from row 3 to row 1. Fill all remaining spaces according to number of players.
* Each player may either take a new worker or produce goods according to set level.
* Draw a new event card, which will resolve later (contains 2 events)
* Add architects for the round. Architects are used to build wonders.

2. Actions

On your turn you have three available actions.

* Buy a progress card for 1, 2 or 3 gold and add it to your tableau or use the effect.
* Deploy a worker on a building or military unit
* Hire an architect for a wonder under construction

3. Resolution

* Production of goods (depending on your tableau you may even have to pay goods)
* Determine player order from military track
* War resolution (if any)
* Resolve events from card drawn earlier
* Famine – Pay food determined by same event card
* Scoring at the end of even numbered rounds for books

There are 8 different type of cards to purchase in Nations. Some are placed on your tableau while others are resolved and then removed from play. For all cards placed on your board there are a set number of places for the type of card, 5 military/buildings, 2 colonies etc. Whenever you reach that limit and want to add a new one you must first remove an old card. In the case of colonies and leaders, this will cause you to lose the good(s) it produced as well.

Nations vs TTA

Now, do you need both of these games?

In all honesty, probably not, unless you are a fan of civ games and want a minor change of pace. I’ve so far found Nations to be more forgiving as buildings give you two type of goods so you’re not gonna be completely blocked out unless very unlucky. Both games are for fans of heavier games, but if you want a more friendlier game Nations is the way to go.

You are not going to war against other players here. Instead wars are bought (max 1/round) and the strength of the buying player determines the level of the war. Bad effects may even be mitigated by the stability of your nation.

While TTA has a lot of downtime between your turns there is practically none in Nations as you perform 1 action at a time until everyone has passed.

Conclusion:

Nations is a very good game filled with hard, agonizing decisions very reminiscent of TTA but rules are much easier, both to comprehend and explain. There are several way to score points, but none seem clearly overpowered so far. In addition, replayability is very high as you are using about half of the progress cards and 2 of 12 event cards for each age.

While it never is going to win an invention test NAtions is still a highly recommended civ game for my part.

9
Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
58 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

I should note that this review should be seen in context as a review of the entire LotR:LCG family and not just the base game.

Some games takes a little time to really click. LotR:LCG might be the best example for me. Although I enjoyed it at the start I usually didn’t play it very often to get a great “feel” for deck building aspect of it. I’m now on a mission of getting to play all my unplayed games and expansions and there are a few of them for this game which has led to lots of plays lately which has led to more familiarity with the cards.

Intro:

LotR:LCG is a 1-2 player cooperative game where the player(s) try to complete a scenario with 2-3 heroes from the world of Tolkien and a deck built up of allies, events and attachments. The base game contains 3 scenarios but with all the deluxe expansions and adventure packs there are a great amount of adventures to be had here.

In addition FFG is releasing saga expansions which gives you the chance to play through the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

Gameplay:

Choose your adventure and prepare the encounter deck. Follow the setup and any preparations on the first object card which often will be to reveal a card from the encounter deck. You win by fulfilling the requirements of the last object card and loose if all heroes are discarded or your threat reaches 50. Each hero has a threat value and that total will be your starting threat so three heroes with great abilities might look good on paper but…

A turn in LotR:LCG contains 7 phases.

Phase 1: Resource

Each hero belongs to a given sphere and there are 4 spheres; Lore, Leadership, Spirit and Tactics. At the start of a turn each hero receives 1 resource which may be used to play cards in that hero’s sphere (or neutral) and each player draws 1 card.

Phase 2: Planning

Players may play allies and attachments onto characters.

Phase 3: Quest

Commit characters to quest and exhaust them. Reveal 1 card per player, add them to the staging area, perform any “When revealed” effects and determine if it was successful quest by calculating the willpower of questing characters subtracting the threat value of cards in the staging area. Positive number and quest tokens to object or location, negative and each player must raise their threat by the difference.

Phase 4: Travel

The player(s) may travel to a location in the staging area. The location will no longer count against the threat value on quests but progress tokens must be placed on active location before quests.

Phase 5: Encounter

Each player may voluntarily engage one enemy in the staging area. Then engagement checks are made for every remaining enemies. If an enemy has a threat value lower than the current threat value it will engage that player.

Phase 6: Combat

Each enemy engaged with a player makes an attack and receives an encounter card face down, a player may exhaust one character to defend the attack and then flip the card and resolve any shadow effect on that card. Attack strength minus defence strength is the amount of combat damage defending character receives. Undefended attacks are given as combat damage to a single hero!

After resolving all attacks against a player, that player may attack back with any number of unexhausted characters resolving damage the same way.

Phase 7: Refresh

Refresh / untap all exhausted characters, raise threat by 1 and if more players move 1. player token one step left.

Deckbuilding:

While LotR:LCG doesn’t seem or feel very epic at first (it really is just a card game and no board!!), the more you play it, the more epic the adventure becomes. While you can specifically build a deck for each scenario, what I like to do is build a deck and play this deck against every scenario until I’ve beaten it a couple of times. I do have a few cards available to as a sideboard as some adventures needs specific countermeasures. What is great about playing the same deck is that you’ll become more familiar with your cards and combos and how to play it and that is when this game really hits the sweet spot. Even if you grow tired of a deck there are plenty of new heroes and cards to explore.

I’ve yet to take on the saga expansions but this is a part I’m very much looking forward to. From what I’ve read and heard it seems FFG has truly outdone themselves on these and created scenarios that almost make it needless to read the books.

Conclusion:

I love this game and the more play it the more I love it. The story of how I’ve rated it really shows how much it has grown on me. It started as a 7, moved up to 8 after a couple of years when I played it a decent amount, it made it to 9 when I started on the Mirkwood adventure packs and it would be a 10 now that I’m well into Dwarrowdelf.

9
Go to the Ghost Stories page

Ghost Stories

69 out of 77 gamers thought this was helpful

Because Wu Feng is coming to town, and he is not a happy camper…

Intro:

In Ghost Stories each player takes on the role of a Taoist monk who protects a village from a ghostly attack by an entity known as Wu Feng. Ghost Stories is one of the hardest coop games to win at, and that is why love it.

Setup:

The village is set up by 9 tiles in a random 3*3 pattern and the 4 player boards making a frame around it. Each player select one monk to play and places that figure on the middle tile of the village. In addition you may choose which side to play as each player board has two sides with different abilities and some are clearly better.

Yellow: Gain a Tao token at the start of your turn or weaken a ghost
Green: Roll 4 dice & ignore curse die or may reroll
Blue: May use village tile / attack twice or may use village tile and attack
Red: Move twice or may move another monk one step

Each player receives a given number of life points (Qi), a Yin Yang token and a Tao token in the color of his/hers monk.

Prepare the ghost deck by removing 5 random ghosts for each monk not taking part in the game. Separate the bottom ten cards and add a random incarnation of Wu Feng on top of it. If playing on impossible 1 or 2 mode repeat until 4 incarnations are added to the deck.

Gameplay:

You win by banishing every incarnation of Wu Feng, simple as that. You lose if all monks are killed, a set number of village tiles become haunted (3 or 4 depending on difficulty level) or you are unable to draw a ghost.

Your turn consists of a Yin and a Yang phase.

Yin phase
Roll a curse die for each Tormentor on your board and move all haunters one step closer to the village. If a haunter reaches the village haunt (turn over) the closest tile and replace the haunter figure on the ghost card.

Then draw the topmost ghost card and place it on the matching color player board, if it is a black ghost place it on your board. Each ghost may have a comes into play ability, a permanent ability and an ability (or reward) activated when it is defeated.

If however your board is already full of ghosts at the start of your turn you skip the draw phase and lose one Qi.

Yang phase
During your yang phase a monk may move one step (including diagonal) and then either perform the village tile action or make an attack on the ghost(s) on the neighboring player boards orthogonal on the village tile you are currently standing on. In best case scenarios you’ll be able to eliminate two ghosts in one attack which is why you should keep the simpler monsters on the outside location of player boards.

Each regular ghost will have between 1-4 dots of a color which is how many hits you need to defeat it. After rolling dice you can add Tao tokens to the result from your pool or any other monks present on your tile to banish the ghost. One token = one hit.

So the basis of the game is keeping ghosts at bay until you find and banish the Wu Feng incarnation(s). While defeating the bad guy can be anti climatic the few times you win it really is all about the fight getting there in the first place.

Yin Yang token
This is one of your best weapons in the game. You may use at any time to either unhaunt a village tile or use the favor of a villager without being on that location. Often, you will try to use it before facing a ghost which gives it back to you as a reward.

Conclusion:

Ghost stories is hard, very hard, but so rewarding when you’re able to pull out a win. There will be games where it will be near impossible to win as the curse die and flow of ghosts will just overwhelm you. This is a game of playing the probabilities with each die usually having ⅓ chance of a hit (color + a joker side).

This game really is for any fan of coop games who won’t mind if the game smacks you a few rounds, chews you up a bit, spits you out, stomps on you and finally runs you through the meat grinder. .

8
Go to the Deus page

Deus

122 out of 129 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro:

Deus is quite a weird game as it at first can be very overwhelming and you’ll barely have any idea what to do. After a couple of plays you’ll realize that it is in fact quite easy.

Deus is very much a eurofied-civ-lite game and plays in about an hour. Winner determined by who scores the most points with the majority coming through building temples and attacking barbarian villages.

Setup:

The playing field is setup with a given number of map tiles determined by the number of players in the game. 2,3,4 players, 4,6,7 tiles with each tile containing 7 regions. There are 6 different kind of regions:
1 for production of each type of good (4)
Water
Barbarian village

Each player takes all the pieces of one color, one player board, one good of each type, 5 gold, 5 victory points and 5 cards. 2 buildings of each type is added to the player board while the remaining are placed to the side.

On the map a number of victory points are added to the barbarian villages equal to the number of neighboring regions.

Gameplay:

In short you have only two options each turn:
Construct a building (Standard or Temple)
Make an offering to a Deity

Standard building:

Choose a building in your hand, pay the cost and place it above the appropriate column on your player board. Place a wooden figure on the map, if it is your first build, place it on a region on the edge. Otherwise, place it adjacent to or in a region where you’ve already built with the restriction of only one of each building type pr. region and only maritime buildings (boats) placed in the water regions.

Then you may choose to benefit from all previous buildings placed in that column.

Temples:

Temples have no effects on gameplay but each temple will score you up to 12 points at game end. Each temple costs one of each resource and the first one has no prerequisites. Each following however needs to have a full set of standard buildings before it may be built.

Barbarian villages:

If every region around a barbarian village has been built upon with at least one military building present it is attacked. The player with the most armies around the village takes all victory points left on the village region. If two or more players have the same amount of armies, ties are broken by number of buildings and if still a tie the points are shared, rounding down fractions.

Make an offering:

To make an offering you discard 1 or more cards from your hand showing only the top most. This card determines what favor you’ll get and may be money, resources, points, cards or adding buildings to your player board.

After making an offering you draw up to 5 cards and this is the only time you get to draw cards. You do not draw new cards after building with the exception if you built your last card in hand.

End of game:

The game end is triggered if all temples have been built or all barbarian villages have been attacked. Each player’s points total is the VP earned during the game and temples. In addition there are 2 points for majority for each resource including gold.

Conclusion:

Deus will at first appear overly complicated with lots of different cards, buildings possible actions but a couple of plays in you’ll see it is difficult at all. To me it is a very similar feeling to my first impression of imperial Settlers.

You’ll want a good production line to get resources, but you also want to build in each category to allow Temple building. The cards will very much determine your path and try and make the most of your temples. Two temples scoring 12 points each will likely be more than half of your final total.

9
Go to the Legendary Encounters: An ALIEN Deckbuilding Game page
141 out of 149 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro:

Legendary Encounters: An Alien deck building game is a follow up to the same game set in the Marvel universe. In LE:A you have the chance to play through all 4 Alien movies.
The difference here is that this is full coop. Although there are rules for an alien player I suspect most will play it this way.

Preparation:

Let me start with the biggest issue of the game. Setup (and cleanup). As mentioned above you can play through all 4 movies or you can mix and match as you may want. However, each movie has 3 different Alien decks as well as 4 different character decks which needs to be prepared. Keeping it to one movie at a time will at least help you save some time. Thankfully the mat you get in the box is great and makes it very easy to keep decks separated.

The Alien deck is prepared by selecting three objectives named 1, 2 and 3 containing 9, 11 and 13 cards. In addition a number of drone cards equal to the number of players are shuffled into each. The objective 3 deck is placed on the bottom, objective 2 above that and finally objective 1 so you’ll have an alien deck made up of 33 + (#players * 3) cards.

The hero deck is simply 4 of the 16 character decks shuffled together and then the top 5 are added to the HQ field on the player mat ready for hiring. Each player then receives a deck of 7 specialists and 5 grunts plus their character role card which is shuffled to form a startdeck while an avatar card is placed in front of you to keep track of your life points.

A strike deck is shuffled and placed on a designated spot. You’ll draw from this deck whenever you’re attacked (not if, when!). Also there are spots for location and the active objective. Now you’re ready to start.

Gameplay:

A turn is built up on the following 4 steps:

– Add 1 facedown alien card to the complex
– Play cards and perform actions
– Aliens in the combat zone attack you
– Discard all cards and draw 6 new cards

On your turn you’ll start by drawing a facedown card from the alien deck adding it to the rightmost spot of the complex, pushing cards one spot to the left if there are any. If the complex is full the card in the leftmost area is flipped up and added to the combat zone if an enemy, or resolved if it is an event or hazard.

After resolving the alien card you may play cards from your hand for actions, recruiting points and/or combat points. Recruitment points are used to hire cards from HQ to your deck and combat is of course used to battle aliens. However, you may not fight an enemy while facedown. Each location has a sombat value needed to scan the card (between 2 and 4) which needs to be done before you can fight it. Scanning an area allows you to flip up the card. Any events or hazards are resolved immediately as well as reveal effects on aliens.

After you’re done and if there are still aliens in the combat zone they attack you and you’ll draw 1 strike card for each alien attacking you with each strike card ranging from 1 to 5 hit points. If the total amount of hit points taken reaches the the number on your avatar you will be killed and eliminated from the game.

Finally if you’re still alive you discard all cards, both used and unused, and draw 6 new ones.

Coordinate and Vigilant:

Two keywords that need an extra mention are these two. Coordinate is probably the most important feature of the game. A character with coordinate allows you to play the card on another player’s turn and letting them use it. In addition you will draw a replacement card for this. Using coordinate is often the difference between winning and losing as it allows you to defeat the most difficult monsters and recruit the most expensive cards.

Vigilant isn’t half bad either as cards played with vigilant can be kept on the table from turn to turn until the ability is used. This also gives you the opportunity to save up for a big recruit / fight.

Conclusion:

I’ve always enjoyed the deck building genre but Legendary Encounters: Alien takes it one step further implementing a clear theme which works like a charm. The deft little touch about adding cards facedown makes this a tense experience from the go:

– Do I dare scan a room?
– What is the event?
– What is the hazard?
– Worst of all, could it be a facehugger?
– Can you help if it is a hugger?

It all comes together to form a great adventure and puts you directly in the claustrophobic setting of the movies.

9
Go to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles (Base Set) page
117 out of 133 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro:

Path S&S is the second instance in the Pathfinder ACG. This time around we’re heading out on the high seas in a pirate themed adventure. Basically it is the same as its predecessor with 6 adventure packs added to the basic adventures to form the entire campaign. In total there are 35 scenarios to get through to complete the adventure path.

Preparation and Setup:

Those familiar with Rise of the Runelords can safely skip this part.

First off each player must choose a character to play. Each character has three areas of importance.

Skill: What basic die you may roll and what is added for some specialities
Card:: How many of each card type you may start each scenario with
Power: Special abilities for each character

Each character starts with 15 cards and may be chosen freely as long as it confirms to the card type limit and only contains basic cards. The deck is also important as it serves as your life pool as well; if you ever find yourself having to draw a card without any left you are killed and eliminated from the game. During each scenario you’re likely to find new and improved gear which will improve your deck for future encounters.

Each scenario lists the locations needed dependant on the number of characters playing and each location has its own encounter deck which must be prepared with banes (monsters and barriers) and boons (good stuff). In addition the villain or henchman will be shuffled into the deck. The goal is (usually) to corner and defeat the villain by closing all other locations. This is done by finding and defeating a henchman and performing the closing requisite of the location.

S&S vs. RotR:

So, what are the differences between the two campaigns?

First thing one will notice is the boat(s). You’re on a boat and there are several cards that improves when used by a person on a boat. Usually you’ll be captaining the boat on your turn but for several scenarios it will also be anchored up at a specific location.

What does the boat do? Not much really, it will start with a plunder (boon) which you’ll receive at scenario end but several cards will affect it and may cause structural damage to it which may need to be fixed. You will also encounter other ships for battle and during the campaign you’ll get better ships as well.

However, the biggest difference is by far the variety of scenarios and how different they are. In RotR, you felt it was basically the same thing over and over again with a major focus on combat and frankly, combat gets fairly easy as characters improves. While this may be the case in S&S also, combat has taken a major step back and given way to lots of different interesting choices. Scenarios are much more fun (and harder), locations a lot more challenging and you are using lots of different skills. There is actually quite a lot of planning going on and on several scenarios you may be forced to autofail to survive.

Conclusion:

I did enjoy RotR, but S&S is a much improved version of the Pathfinder ACG. If you enjoyed the first game, you’re very likely to enjoy this one and if you’re considering making the splash into the games you might as well go directly here. There is no need to drop by the Runelords first unless pirate theme just isn’t for you.

Everything is plain and simply done better in this version so it will be exciting to see what they do when the Demons appear in May

10
Go to the Claustrophobia page

Claustrophobia

89 out of 96 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro:

Claustrophobia is a 2 player dungeon crawl where one player takes on the role of humanity (a redeemer plus a few condemned warriors) and fight the demonic forces controlled by the second player in the world of **** Dorado. This is a low complex but highly thematic game .

Setup:

Determine who will play as human and who will take on the role as demon player. Then decide which of the scenarios you’ll be playing with several being included in the book. Each scenario can be played several times as there is no secret information being revealed during the adventure. Often the goal will be for the human player to complete a task, escape, seal a gate etc and the demons will try and prevent the humans of doing said task.

Preparing the teams is done in a matter of minutes, it is pretty ready to play out of the box. The human team is built up by a redeemer and several condemned warriors and usually receives some weapons, advantages as well. The demon player has a horde of Troglodytes and a specific demon for the scenario he may call upon. Lastly the big heap of tiles need to be shuffled well after the start and finish tile has been prepared.

Gameplay:

Claustrophobia is a perfect example of how easy it can be done. Each turn starts of with the human player rolling one die per adventurer he controls and then assigning one die to each. The value of the die is important as that determines the stats (movement, combat and defence) for that character until the end of the round. Advantages controlled by the redeemer can also be activated on a specific die value.

Movement: Determines how many tiles a character can move
Combat: Number of dice rolled
Defence: When attacked a hit is scored for each result equal or higher.

After the human player is done for the turn the threat phase starts in which the demon player rolls three dice and may use this on a board with several abilities which may be activated on specific numbers or dice combinations (2 even numbered dice, 1 odd and 1 even etc) The two most used abilities will often be to gain threat tokens and drawing cards. Threat tokens are used to summon troglodytes and sometimes a demon while the cards will allow several different effects and can be very handy.

Troglodytes are weak, but attack in numbers. Due to the quick nature of the game it never turns repetitive either despite more or less there only being one type of demon pieces. For one threat the demon player may summon one troglodyte, but only to a tile with no human character and with an undiscovered opening. While each human character has a specific combat value, the demon player rolls one die per troglodyte on the tile. Hits scored by humans simply removes troglodytes 1 for 1, while a hit by the troglodytes/demons forces the human player to remove one of his six stat lines and after a sixth hit the character is killed and removed from the board. Simply ingenious.

Conclusion:

Just simply ingenious indeed. Poor man’s Space Hulk? Very far from it, while they have similarities they are quite different games. In my book Claustrophobia is THE 2 player dungeon crawl go to game and often a scenario will be played twice with each player getting to play both teams. Another great feature is the amount of tiles with every tile having an ability with some being good for the humans and some good for the demon player, and from time to time it might even be the opposite of what you thought.

10
Go to the Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game page

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game

113 out of 120 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro

DoW or the zombie game that really is not about zombies. In DoW everyone is part of a tiny colony of humans in a post apocalyptic winter doing their best to survive day to day while at the same time being hunted by zombies, but the zombies is just a sidekick while the main issue in the game is survival and completing a main goal.

Setup:

Each player starts of with two survivors in the colony and 3 dice that will allow you to perform an action. Characters will have two stats. one for search and one for fight and a number equal or higher on a die will allow a character to perform those actions. In addition, there are several possible actions you may perform on your turn, some independant on number on die and some without a die at all.

The players select a winning condition (main goal) which must be completed to win. Every player will also have a personal goal to fulfil to achieve complete victory which is hidden from everyone else and often is about having enough of sudden objects. Of course, there is the possibility that one player could be very selfish and caring only about him/herself (aka betrayer).

At the start of the game 2 personal objectives pr. player and only one betrayer objective are shuffled together and one card is handed out to each player so in any given game there is less than 50% probability of a traitor being present.

Around the colony there are 6 locations which the survivors may travel to and search for items of need, but beware, travelling in this world can be deadly.

Gameplay:

Dow lasts for a given number of rounds according to the main goal with each round following the same path.

Start of by revealing a crisis cards, which mostly is about collecting a type of good equal to the number of players. Each player may add cards on their turn. Cards are added face down.
Roll action dice
Player actions

A player turn starts off by drawing a crossroads card and looking at the top part in italic sees what triggers the card. If the active player triggers the card during the turn you’ll read the rest of the card and perform/choose whatever it says. Some trigger easy and some are almost certain not to trigger but it is a major and exciting part of the game.

Some actions require use of an action die: Fight, search, build barricade among others and some can be done without a die: Move, play card, add cards to crisis, vote to exile and more.

Both moving and fighting can be dangerous as you must roll the exposure die which may cause a wound, a frostbite or the worst, survivor dying.

After all players have taken their actions there is a colony phase where survivors at the colony must feed (1 food/2 survivors), check waste and resolve the crisis by shuffling and revealing the cards players added to the check.
Add one zombie pr. survivor at each location.

Betrayer:

Some words need to be said about the betrayer as well. A betrayer will have an own goal of dropping morale to 0 and thus end the game, but he also needs to complete the personal goal on his betrayer card so you really can’t sabotage to early and too obvious. Too obvious and others are sure to vote to exile you, which really isn’t the worst case but you will draw a new Exile personal goal and disband your betrayer goal which may cause a major change of plans.

Winning:

The game can end in 3 different ways:
Morale drops to 0; only the betrayer may win if he has completed the personal goal.
Time drops to 0; all lose
Main objective completed, non betrayers with completed goal wins.

Conclusion

I may just be a little biased as every game I’ve played have been a blast. This may because of the group of players or maybe because every game having a betrayer. I’ve spoken with friends who tried it without having a betrayer and although they enjoyed it it wasn’t at the WOW level I experienced.

In my book this is one of the absolutely highlights from last year. It is very thematic and the zombie theme, which I think is generally overused, works very well as a background here. What really takes this game to the next level for me is the crossroads cards. The shear amount of them and that you’ll never know how/when they trigger, nor whether it will be good or bad just is an awesome mechanic.

7
Go to the Ave Caesar page

Ave Caesar

115 out of 122 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview:

Ave Caesar is a pure racing game for 3-6 players where the players take on the role of a Roman chariot driver to become Circus Maximus best driver. The game board has two different sides, one in use for 3-4 players and one for 5-6 players. Each player has an own set of 24 cards valued 1-6 which they use to move their chariot. First across the line after three rounds is declared winner.

Gameplay:

Although it quite simple it will soon be apparent that it is not. Each track space may only be occupied by one chariot and then taking into account that the track is at most two spaces wide, and sometimes only one, it becomes obvious that blocking is a strategy here. Another important factor to consider is that the movement total of your cards is only 84, which barely is enough to get around the track three times so taking the long route in turns may seem valid but that will also cause you to not finish the race.

At the start of the game you shuffle your race deck and draw three cards. After you play a card you draw a new card to replace it. You may only play a card if you can take the full movement and if you’re the leader you may not play a six. This nifty little detail is actually a key ingredient of the game and I have seen a game lost because of it. When moving you must move forward or diagonally forward, not even sideways. If you’re in a situation where you cannot move you just skip your turn otherwise as long as you can move the number of spaces of any card in your hand you must do so.

In addition, after the first or second round you have to drive through the imperial alley and pay honorage to Caesar. The Imperial Alley is a one space track running parallel to the start area and each player has to pay tribute by delivering a coin to the emperor. You must stop on one of the spaces which in turn can be devastating for players behind you as they may be forced to go drop the tribute due to you playing low cards.

Conclusion:

To be honest I’m not a very big fan of racing games, but one of the few I do enjoy is Ave Caesar. Simply for the elegant design, quick turns with little downtime and just the right amount of screw you factor. It plays well with all numbers due to the double sided board, but the more the merrier. Just remember, DO NOT BE NICE (except maybe with small children) and block whenever possible.

10
Go to the One Night Ultimate Werewolf page
136 out of 145 gamers thought this was helpful

Although I’ve never tried regular werewolf I’m confident in saying ONUW is my favorite of the bunch. It completely eliminates my biggest issue with werewolf, namely player elimination. At a yearly convention nearby they used to run a WW game one evening and although it seemed fun to take part in I never bothered because I couldn’t see a lot of enjoyment in watching people argue about who to lynch each day.

Enter One Night Ultimate Werewolf.

A simple little game that completely takes away the player elimination part and lasts for no more than 15 minutes. Granted, every now and then there will be a very straightforward, boring or total random game but the laughs and fun more than makes up for those.

Goal of the game:

Quite simply, this is Werewolf but only one night. Several roles may perform an action during night and when a new day dawns it is time to lynch someone. After some discussions to try and determine who to kill everyone votes at the same time and the person(s) with the most votes are lynched. Werewolves (and minion) win if all werewolves survive, villagers win if at least one wolf is killed and then there is a Tanner who just wants to be killed (to win).

Gameplay:

Before starting the players need to agree on which roles to include in the game which in total will be 3 more than the number of players and it will include two werewolf role cards. Each player is given a random role and the remaining three are placed in the middle of the board. The game starts by everyone closing their eyes and following a given script each role with a night action may perform its action. The app available is highly recommended to download and use and it is also a timer for the discussion afterwards.

Roles:

This is the roles available with a night action and in the order in which they act:

Werewolf: Werewolves get to see who the other werewolf is but if you are the only wolf you may look at one of the 3 center cards. This gives you a role you can claim to be. Just hope it is not the other werewolf…

Minion: The minion wins if wolves win, even if he dies himself. He knows who the wolves are but they do not know who he is.

Mason: There are two of these and they get to see who each other are and can confirm there honesty (unless changed of course).

Seer: The Seer may look at a player card OR look at two of the center cards

Robber:You may switch your card with that of another player and look at your new role.

Troublemaker: May switch two other players but without looking at them. This is a very powerful ability for trying to out a wolf.

Drunk: The drunk has no idea who he is because he is…drunk. He must switch his card for one unseen in the middle.

Insomniac: The Insomniac gets to look at his card which is the last night action so he is the only person who knows who or what he is.

In addition there are some roles that don’t have a night action. These are:

Villager: No ability, no action to perform.

Tanner: Tough role to play as the only way you can win is if you are lynched. Try and behave like a wolf but not too obvious.

Hunter: If you’re killed as the hunter whoever you point at will also be killed.

In addition there is a Doppelganger who starts of the night. This one can be quite tricky as he will look at any other player card and turns into that role and performs the night action right away if it has one. This has can turn the game into utter maddening chaos, but a hilarious chaos.

Conclusion:

I love ONUW. As I mentioned, some games will be straightforward and dull but all the other games sure makes up for it. There are so many weird things that can happen which will bring out laughs for a long time. A Tanner win is always great to watch and imagine a game with Robber and Doppelganger in which the Robber has the potential to rob back his own card.

One of favorite moments was seeing a 10 year old kid tricking everyone around the table to believing he was a villager and turned out to be a werewolf. His parents were probably most shocked about this event.

My biggest issue is probably the space needed for a 8-10 player game as it is hard to reach across a table but having everyone stand up a couple of feet from the table may be a solution to this.

9
Go to the Tigris and the Euphrates page
18 out of 18 gamers thought this was helpful

Calling Knizia the Feld of the 90s is something quite a few people will agree upon. The Doctor came up with quite a few games that are regarded as classics, and deservedly so. Thematic wise they also have lots in common, mainly lack thereof. Ra, Samurai, Through the Desert all receives complaints about being dry and theme less. While E&T also get those words there is in fact a fitting theme here.

Goal:

Your goal in E&T is to be part of one or more of the great Dynasties in Mesopotamia. This is done in a typical Knizia way by scoring points in 4 different categories with your worst color being the one that counts with tie breakers going to your third, second and first color.
You start with 4 leaders in 4 different colors representing a King, Priest, Merchant and Farmer, 6 tiles , a couple of catastrophe tiles and a screen to hide your points and tiles.

Gameplay:

E&T is a fast game without too much downtime. On your turn you have 2 actions and each action can be one of the following:

1) Place or remove a leader from a Kingdom
2) Place a tile on board
3) Exchange any number of tiles from behind your screen.

That’s it. There really is nothing else to it.

On the gameboard there is from the start set up 10 temples each with a natural colored cube on it signaling a treasure which the owner of a Merchant will be able to pick up when two kingdoms merge. This treasure is used as a joker at game end and may be added to your weakest color.

Placing a leader allows you to place one of your leaders on the board with pretty much only one rule to follow. It has to be placed next to at least one temple, if at any time a leader is not next to a temple he will be expelled back to your reserves. Having a leader will allow you to score points for tiles placed in that color in that Kingdom. A King will however score points for any color as long as a leader of that color is not present so adding the King will almost always be your very first action.

Tiles are also susceptible to placement as only blue tiles may be placed on the river squares. Placing a tile will allow a player with a leader of that color to earn a point which is placed behind the screen. If you get 4 tiles of the same kind filling a 2*2 square you’ll build a monument by turning these tiles over and put a chosen monument on top of them. A monument has the advantage that leaders in its two colors will score an additional point at the end of turn thus giving you more points (a King does not score points if one of the leaders is not present for monuments). The negative effect of a monument is that it weakens the Kingdom and making it more attractive for others to attack.

Conflict:

Conflicts are a major part of any civ game and no difference in E&T, but here there are two different forms of conflict; internal conflict as in a revolution and external conflict aka a war between different nations.

An internal conflict happens when two leaders of the same kind are part of one kingdom. Both players count up the temples next to the leader and may add temples from behind the screen with the attacker going first. The loser will be banished from the kingdom and the winner will receive one red point. An internal conflict usually will not happen until a monument has been built.

An external conflict on the other hand can be a game changer. As kingdoms build up they will eventually grow too big for others good and at a point they will grow next to another kingdom and a war starts. Each war where the two nations combine for two leaders will do battle so up to 4 conflicts may happen whenever a war breaks out with the initiator choosing in what order they’ll be solved. Unlike internal conflicts it is not about red tiles, but instead the color of chosen conflict and each part counts the total tiles in that color and may add tiles from behind the screen. After determining the winner the loser removes their leader as well as every tile in that color from the loosing kingdom and the winner receives a point for each which quite often can be 5-10 points. After each part of the conflict has been solved you’ll have to check if there is still a conflict as tiles removed may split a kingdom into several parts and thus ending the war.

Theme:

A lot of people will call it dry and boring, and while it may not be oozing with theme E&T has lots in my opinion. Just consider it, you are building up one, maybe several, smallish kingdoms with a goal of proving you are the best leader. Every now and then two of these will come into conflict with each other and start a war with the result being one laid in ruins and the other either weakened or grown stronger or even both as each part of the conflict could produce a different winner.

As in history planning a war/battle is often a move that is planned well in advance and in E&T this is done by discarding some tiles to get as many as possible for the upcoming conflict.

No, the theme is actually strong in this one!

Conclusion:

Euphrat & Tigris is one of my top two games by Knizia and is right up there with Ra. It is easy and quick to explain but dreadfully hard to master and it takes a few games to really understand how to balance everything out. Building an early monument is often the quickest way to attract attention and lose the game.

9
Go to the Ra page

Ra

16 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview:
Ra might just be Knizias finest product. It is a fairly quick auction/bidding – set collection game with a little push your luck added set in ancient Egypt. Although the theme probably could have been anything Ra is still a classic and an absolutely amazing design.

Gameplay:

Each player is given a few sun tiles and 10 points before the start. The sun tiles are what you use to bid for the available tiles and are numbered 1-16. The tile numbered 1 starts in the middle of the board. The board is placed the table and shows two tracks, one for tiles drawn from the bag and one Ra track that will determine the end of the round. There is an intermediate scoring after each of the epochs and one final scoring for monuments and sun tiles after the third and final round/epoch.

On your turn you must choose one of three possible actions.

1) Draw a tile from the bag
2) Invoke Ra (force auction)
3) Use a G*d tile from a previous auction round

If you drew a tile you add it to the corresponding track. If it was a red Ra tile add it to the Ra track (upper) and everybody gets a chance to bid for the tiles available, if no one wants to bid the next player takes a move and the tiles remain. Any other tile is added to those already on the lower track and if this is full now an auction starts. Everyone is free to bid if they want.

If you invoke Ra you will also set off an auction round but if no one makes a bid you must make a bid even if you don’t want it and was just hoping someone else would make an offer.

Auction:

The auction will run the same way whether it was invoked by a player or a drawn Ra tile. The player after the invoker may bid by placing a sun tile on the board, and then each following player may place a higher numbered tile to take control of the bidding until the invoker has had a chance to speak. Highest bidder then exchanges the sun tile that won the auction for the one on the board and takes all tiles that were up for grabs. Each sun tile may only be used for one auction each epoch thus the tile you return is placed face down.

So, what do the tiles do?

G*d tile: May take another tile from the auction track, or worth 2 points.

Gold tile: Worth 3 points

Pharaoh: After each epoch, most pharaohs score you 5 points while the least -2

Civilization: After each epoch you lose 5 points if you don’t have any but you score points if you have enough different ones.

Nile: Score 1 point for each Nile tile IF you have a flood tile. Score nothing if you have no flood.

Monument: These are only scored at the end of game and you score both for different and many of the same.

G*d, gold, flood and civilization tiles are removed between each epoch.
In addition there are a few black catastrophe tiles for pharaohs, civilizations, Nile and monuments. If you are “lucky” to get one of those you’ll have to remove two of the corresponding tiles from your area and in the case of Nile/flood you’ll have to remove the flood tiles first which can be a true killer.

An epoch ends when a sudden spot on the Ra track has been covered by a red Ra tile, this varies depending on player count.
After the third epoch is finished and monuments are scored there is a final scoring of +/- 5 points for highest/lowest total off your sun tiles.

Final thoughts:

I do adore and love Ra. It’s just an exceptional design that forces the player to several hard, borderline decisions. There are just so many layers to think through. There is a very fine line in mastering when to draw or invoke Ra depending on your own sun tiles while at the same time you have to keep an eye on how attractive the tiles on offer will be for the other players. Finally you must also keep track and maybe gamble a little on when the epoch will end.
All in all an incredible deep game that lasts about an hour.

8
Go to the Vanuatu page

Vanuatu

17 out of 17 gamers thought this was helpful

Vanuatu might be another point salad euro game, but it is for sure one of the cruelest and cutthroat euros around. It demands great planning from a player to get the most of your action pawns and sometimes an entire round will be wasted because of gamble. As the game only last 8 rounds this can seem very cruel and not fun for the victim, but this is also why Vanuatu stands out from the crowd.

Gameplay:

Vanuatu lasts for 8 turns and each turn has 5 phases.
1) Turn setup (Preparing the board for a new turn)
2) Character selection
3) Action Planning
4) Performing Actions
5) Rest tokens (Determining start player)

On your turn you’ll have 10 characters to choose from which will aid in the 9 different actions available to you. The start player will choose character first, but he may only choose from the unselected from the previous round before putting back his previous which player two now may choose in addition to the characters left by the start player and so on until all players have picked a character. 9 of the 10 characters will aid you by making an action cheaper or earning more points/vatus for you while the last will help you get in getting an action done.

Action planning and performing them is where Vanuatu separates itself from the crowd. Each player has 5 action discs and in turn order everyone places 2 of these, then 2 and finally the last. After placing them you get a chance to perform actions but here is the catch. You can only perform an action if you have the majority on that space, in other words you’ll have to have more action discs on a space than any other player with turn order being the tiebreak which is natural you’re placing your discs first. The rather cruel part of this is if you do not have a majority you’ll still have to remove your action disc(s) for a space which in turn may have the change effect of destroying your entire turn which is bound to chase away casual gamers.

Actions:

There are 9 possible actions to choose from on where to place your action discs and you really do not want to compete too much (which of course is inevitable).

Sail: Pay 1-3 vatus to move your boat (where your boat is will det
Build: Pay 3 vatus to build a stall
Explore: Take a treasure tile
Buy: Buy 1 good cube and place on a boat to earn points
Fish: Take a fish tile
Draw: Make a sand drawing to score 3 points
Transport: Ship a tourist to an island and earn vatus
Sell: May sell fish tiles to receive vatus
Rest: May choose from the available rest tokens

Several of the actions are depending on the placing of your boat. For example you may only explore and fish on the tile your boat is on and to perform an island action your boat has to be adjacent to that island.
Another feature of Vanuatu is that you’re never allowed to get rich. Whenever you reach 10 vatus you’ll receive 5 points and are set back to 0 again so it is very important to balance your economy.

Conclusion:

Vanuatu is as mentioned not for the casual gamer and it is not for someone who takes blocking to personal because that will happen. A lot! Instead, those who enjoy a good brainburner and are rewarded for good planning will find a lot of pleasure here, evil pleasure but lots of pleasure.

On a final note, while Vanuatu is a game for 3 to 5 players, it will run mighty different between those numbers. With 3 players you will be able to get a lot more done as you can spread your action discs, while in a 5 player game you’ll have to pick your fights. Don’t forget, missing one action may render the other 2-3 actions you were hoping to get done useless so sometimes you will have to take sub optimal moves and rather wait a turn.

8
Go to the Bruges page

Bruges

90 out of 98 gamers thought this was helpful

After reading some early reviews of Bruges I was fairly sure this would be my first no buy from Feld in a long time. As time went by and I read more and more about it my mind my view about it changed considerably. Bruges is not a very heavy game compared to other recent games by Stefan, in fact since Rum & Pirates it probably only beats out Speicherstadt in that aspect. Still, there is plenty of depth in this game despite a fairly short play time.

Overview :

Bruges has Stefan Feld written all over it. As usual theme is somewhat absent, but with great entangled mechanisms that come together to form a great game and a lot of different ways to score points. In Bruges cards take center stage as you play a card to perform 1 of 6 possible actions which again often is dependent on the colour of the card with each card having 2 sides, a house on one and a person on the other side with a unique effect.

1) Gain 2 workers
2) Money equal to the die value
3) Discard threat
4) Build house by discarding worker
5) Build part of the canal
6) Add a person to 1 house

Every action except 6 is dependent on colour of the card you played.
Each turn is built up by 4 phases:

1) Draw cards up to 5, choosing between two piles.
2) Roll 5 dice, resolve threat, advance reputation
3) Play 4 cards to choose between the above actions (1 player at a time)
4) Earn majorities

In addition a lot of the persons have abilities that may be used during your turn often with the cost of a worker in one specific colour.

Thoughts :

Despite my doubts Bruges proved me wrong and although on the lighter side of the Feld scale it is deep with a high degree of replayability. All in all it might be the most family friendly game by Feld while at the same time having enough meat for seasoned gamers as well. Except for the preparation of cards there is really isn’t a whole lot to setup/prepare before you can start nor between turns. Once again Stefan Feld comes up with an unusual use of dice in his game.

Heartily recommended.

9
Go to the Hawaii page

Hawaii

16 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

With the amount of games released every year it’s quite hard to pick out those few really great games. Hawaii is by my account one of the games that really deserves a better recognition and a sudden revien by a Dice Tower member probably didn’t help on top of that. It is a game I’m very fond of and where smart gameplay and experience will prove its worth. A sudden revien by a Dice Tower member probably didn’t help on top of that.

Overview

Hawaii is a worker placement/movement game where 2-5 players are trying to create the most impressive village(s) and earn the admiration from the rest of the islanders. This is done by moving 1 worker around the island and buying huts and other parts for your villages over 5 rounds. Points are scored both during the game and at the end for well built villages and most points will of course be the winner.

Gameplay:

The gameboard is prepared at the start of the game with the Island consisting of 12 areas which are randomly distributed. On each area there will be drawn 1-3 cost tiles (value 2-6). This value tells you how much you’ll have to pay for a tile in that area. In addition, several of the areas has two different things for ssle and on top of that you may pay double price to acquire an improved version of that.

Currency in Hawaii is 3 things. Feet to be able to move around on the island, shell to buy stuff and fruits which may be used as a joker for either, but be careful, you may only pay with one type of currency so you can not use 2 shells and 2 fruits to buy a tile for 4 (unless you have the right hut for it, that is).

Hawaii lasts 5 rounds and each round you’re given a set amouont of resources + whatever you receive from the tiles you’ve already placed in your viillage area. Here is a catch, this set amount decreases each turn. In other words, if you go for the point tiles early, you’ll likely not be able to buy a whole lot in the last couple of turns with very limited resources. One of the key aspects is finding the perfect time to stop buying resource tiles and go for the points instead.

Scoring :

There are several ways to score points in Hawaii, both throughout the game and at the end of game. Visiting Islands, end of turn points and spear huts can score you lots of points during the game, while well built villages will gain you lots at the end as well. It’s all about finding that perfect balance of it all and that is what so great about Hawaii. No two games are ever the same, even if you used the same layout in back to back games.

Pros:

– Great replayability
– Not much downtime
– Fairly easy, hard to master

Cons:

– Fiddly. The between turn preparation can be a drag (this is by far my biggest issue with Hawaii)
– Sometimes there are bad luck involved (albeit a lot less with experience and more players)

Conclusion:

Despite the fiddly between-the-turn preparations this is a game that has hit the table quite a lot and I enjoy every time because you really have to adapt a lot. Not only to what others are doing, but also how the Island is set up and how the cost tiles come out. This is definetively in my top 5 WP euros of the last few years and I recommend every euro fan to give it a try.

10
Go to the Tichu page

Tichu

55 out of 62 gamers thought this was helpful

At first Tichu may appear as just a regular deck of cards, but with 4 special cards added and thus appearing similar to a lot of traditional card games. However, Tichu isn’t first and foremost a trick taking game, but rather a partner climbing game with the goal of being the first team to reach 1000 points with each hand having a basic 100 points to fight over. Each King and Ten will score 10 points while a 5 is worth 5 points so these are the cards you want. Sounds simple? It really isn’t.

There are several twists and turns in Tichu and one of the strangest is the part that each player will pass one card to each other player after drawing 14 cards. A chance to get rid of low singletons and maximize the value of one hand on a team, but so it is for the other team.

Then there are the 4 special cards:

Mah Jong: Value 1 and the player with this card will start the hand and may play it as a singleton or as a straight. Heck, you may even choose not to start with it, but what is fun with it is that you may make a wish for a card and the second player has to play this card if possible which may ruin an otherwise great hand.

Dragon: The highest singleton in the game and can only be played as a single. Is worth 25 points but if you win the trick you’ll have to give that trick to one of your opponents.

Phoenix: Strongest card in the game and that is why it is worth -25 points. It’s a joker for any basic card in the game to help you build up a legal combination and played as a single is worth 0,5 higher than the previous card.

Dog: Cannot be played on anything than an empty board and simply put gives the lead to your partner instead.

The lead you say? If you’ve got the lead there are several legal combinations you can play. Single card, a pair, three of a kind, straight (minimum 5 cards long), full house and consecutive pairs (3-3, 4-4, 5-5 etc.) are all legal plays and also guides what the other may play on that specific trick. If everyone passes around you win the trick and can start a new lead but beware, a player who passed earlier in a trick may reenter. This goes on until all but 1 player has gotten rid of their cards and points are calculated, but first the last player has to give all his remaining cards in hand to the other team and all his tricks to the first player out, which may just as well be his teammate.

Then, of course, there is the Tichu and Grand Tichu calls. A player may call Tichu before playing his first card which is a basically a bet that the player will go out first and is worth 100 points if done and -100 if not. A Grand Tichu is the same but a call you have to make before you pick up your ninth card and is worth 200/-200 points. Another way of scoring 200 points is simply you and your partner going out first and second.

Aaaand finally, I might mention the bombs. Either 4 of a kind or a straight flush of 5+ cards that can be played on anything and at any time, is the final rabbit out of the hat. Bombs are often a key element of breaking Tichu with their surprising appearance.

Tichu may not be a very tough game to explain but getting a good understanding of the game will take a lot of games. The more I play it, the deeper it gets and there really is no solution on how to play as it may differ from person to person. I think I must be close to 300 plays now (games not hands) with probably 95% with the same 3 friends and I doubt neither I nor the other 3 will ever grow tired of this game. It’s pretty darn close to the perfect game for me.

7
Go to the Kingsburg page

Kingsburg

59 out of 66 gamers thought this was helpful

Kingsburg was one of the first games I tried in which dice was used in a different way. An area Stefan Feld has somewhat specialized in over the last few years.

Each player takes on the role of governor with a goal of helping the King build up his realm and prevent marauding enemies during winter. Most successful governor will of course be declared winner of the game. Kingsburg last for 5 years (aka rounds) with each year divided into spring, summer, autumn and winter. The first 3 are performed in the same way while winter brings an attack which needs to be repelled.

Gameplay in Kingsburg is fairly straightforward, the King has 18 advisors including himself numbered 1-18 and at the start of spring, summer and autumn each player rolls their dice and in turn order, lowest total begins, each played may hire one advisor with a die or combination of dice which thus will prevent others from using that advisor that turn. After everyone has placed their dice you go through each advisors favor which often will be gaining resources like gold, wood and stone and finally everyone will have an opportunity to build with their available resources.

During winter the realm will be under attack from a foe, with each year bringing a new enemy of higher strength which each player has to deal with on their own. Battle is handled as easy as rolling a die (Kings Forces) and adding your hired mercenaries (some advisors give you these) plus strength from your buildings. Win and get a reward, lose and you might have to remove a building at worst. Quite harsh for something that can come down to a simple die roll. That is why there is an expansion…

The expansion adds several features such as 2 rows on the player board as well as individual rows giving more variety to the game which it really needs. Event cards and characters are a nice random feature that adds a little flavor, but most important are the battle chits that allow each player to determine how much of the Kings Forces they need in the winter battle.

Although the rules and gameplay is fairly simple, Kingsburg takes a while to finish, especially with 5 players. The expansion adds variety, but there still seems to be an obvious way to start building; inn, market and a battle improvement first year and then farms as early as possible in year two. Still, it’s a game I enjoy playing every once in a while but if played too often could result in a total burnout.

Rating: 6,5 but an 8 with expansion.

7
Go to the Amun Re page

Amun Re

123 out of 130 gamers thought this was helpful

Amun Re was one of the first games I ever bought and it still finds it way to the table from time to time. Its biggest issue is that it is clearly best with exactly 5 participants. I would be happy playing with 4 but probably avoid it altogether with 3 because it would lose a lot of the tension and player interaction during the auction. Whenever the 1-3-6-10 etc table appears I still refer to it as the Amun Re table as it was the first game for me where it was used as well as being used as a major part of the game.

A game of Amun Re consists of 2 epochs with each lasting 3 rounds and each round with each round containing the same phases.

First an auction for a number of provinces equal to the number of players takes place using the 1-3-6-10-etc table. Whenever someone overbids your bid you’ll have to bid on another area until everyone has got a province. The key here is that you can never bid on the same province where someone just knocked you out off so you really need to evaluate from the start how much you are willing to pay for an area.

When all players has bought a province you may buy power cards, farmers and stone to build pyramids (3 stones = 1 pyramid) using the Amun Re table. The more you buy the more it will cost you. Farmers gives you income in the next phase, pyramids will score you points after the third and sixth rounds and power cards can do a lot of things. They can be end scorers, give you money, cheapen pyramids etc. I’d recommend getting a few of them early as especially those with scoring will guide your decisions on which provinces to bid for.

After actions it is time to make a sacrifice to the great God Amun Re which is done simultaneously as a hidden offer. The total offering will determine how much income farmers will be worth and those who sacrificed the most will also get one or more favors.

Following sacrifice it is time for income from farmers and a few areas before a new round starts.

At the end of round 3 and 6 there is a scoring phase. Points are scored for pyramids, set of pyramids in your 3 provinces, most pyramids as well as some power cards. After the 3rd round the really nice twist happens. Everything but the pyramids is cleared of the board and the second epoch starts so someone else is likely to harvest the fruits (aka pyramids) of your previous work.

9
Go to the Russian Railroads page

Russian Railroads

27 out of 27 gamers thought this was helpful

Just to clear the heading from any suspicions, this game has nothing to do with 18xx other than the creators having only 18xx titles on their resume. RRR is as pure a worker placement game as you’ll find.

You are a railroad builder whose goal is to do the most impressive job on the Trans-Siberian RR aka score the most points after 6 or 7 rounds, depending on the # of players. The game contains a main board with the available actions and each player has their own personal board containing 3 railroad lines as well as an industrialization track. On each line you can place tracks of different quality with the higher quality scoring more points. The catch; higher quality tracks can never overtake a lower track so you’ll have to move the lower tracks before moving those you really want to.

Game play is fairly straightforward; on your turn you’ll place some of your workers (1, 2 or 3) on the main board on one action and perform this action. Most of the actions are about moving your tracks, industrialization token or building factories (for the industrialization track) and/or locomotives (scoring and sudden bonuses on the tracks). In addition you can pick up 2 rubles (which can be used as jokers), 2 extra workers for the ongoing round and of course the engineers you can hire. Each round one engineer is available for hire and they all have an action attached that will be available for the one who hired them.

At the end of each round you score points for how far you’ve gotten on each track, up to your locomotive level on that track, as well as points for how far on the industrialization track you are and these points are added to you total. The first couple of rounds there is not a lot of points scored but it quickly escalates and it’s not unusual to see scores of 100+ in the last round.

So, do I like it? Very much so, and I think that might be because unlike other WP games specialization pays off. Already from round 1 you’ll need to have an idea on how you will score those points in later rounds. Wondering a bit back and forth will almost assuredly result in you not winning so the first time you play it you are very likely to lose to someone who has played it before. The thing of beauty though, is that already for your second game you will have a much better picture of what to do.

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