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ITLoo

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7
Go to the City of Remnants page

City of Remnants

168 out of 179 gamers thought this was helpful

Your homeworld has been destroyed and you have been sold as a slave, living among what little remains of your species. You now live on an unfamiliar alien world overrun with Yugai, an alien race*bent on capturing all that remains of the universe. Do you have what it takes to rise up? To take back the planet? Welcome to City of Remnants by Plaid Hat Games.

In City of Remnants you play as one of four gangs who are out to gain renown and take over the underdwellings of the planet. To gain control you must buy and produce developments including weapons factories, prostitution dens, and slave traders. Choosing your gang can be a little tough because each gang plays completely different. Each gang comes with a deck of ten unique cards. As you play, your deck will be getting larger so it is wise to spend money on units early in the game. Just be mindful though, because a unit’s usefulness depends on the color of your gang. The yellow player, for example, is great at accumulating cards and cycling through the deck quickly. The green player is more of a defensive player and the red player can easily dominate the board by force. This shouldn’t stop you from trying a strategy of your own though. There are many ways to win besides following your gang’s suggested playstyle.

Along your path to power and escaping slavery you will encounter rival gangs, along with the Yugai themselves. How you build your gang and empire is completely up to you. Each other player will be trying to attack you and steal your developments. It’s a game of bluffing and risk when it comes to dealing with your foes.

City of Remnants is played in rounds. At the beginning of each round, players reconstruct their hands and then are given money to spend. From here, players take turns completing actions including recruiting gang members, buying developments, producing goods which can be sold for cash, moving on the board, and buying black market items. Picking your actions is a chore in itself. Each player gets four actions a turn in preparation for enemy attacks. Unfortunately, other players are not your only enemies. No, every round a player must draw two Yugai coordinate cards and then place Yugai units on the map. If you are in a space where the aliens land, you must fight them or bribe them. Bribing them is easy, but fighting can be a real pain. Even if you do amass a high enough attack to defeat them, you then must roll a die to resolve the conflict. Roll a three or below and something bad happens, such as losing credits or having to draw a new coordinate card. Roll a four or higher and you could land yourself a big reward like more renown.

After fighting the aliens, players receive renown for any developments they control, and a new round begins. The game ends when the pile of renown has been depleted. At first this may seem like the game would take forever, but as players start controlling more developments and begin to buy renown, the game starts to quicken. The recommended time on the box says between 60-90 minutes, but you can expect at least a two hour game for your first time playing through as you get used to the mechanics.

The first thing you will notice when opening the box is that the game comes with a lot of pieces. You will be using most of these pieces, so a large table is recommended as a play space. Each gang comes with plastic figures, a gang mat, and their own deck of cards. Each game you will play a random set of developments, so the replayability is quite high. The game is of sturdy construction and there are more plastic bags inside the box than you’ll know what to do with.

What makes City of Remnants so great is that it takes a lot of mechanics from other games and improves upon. You’ve got elements of deckbuilding, gambling, bluffing, and tactical warfare. I would compare it to a mix of Small World, Epic Duels, and Dominion. While this game may be a little dark for kids, it’s a great game for you and 2-3 of your buddies. I can’t recommend this game highly enough

7
Go to the San Juan page

San Juan

112 out of 120 gamers thought this was helpful

Have you ever dreamed of running your own territory? Being the governor of a prosperous new region? Deciding which buildings are erected and how resources are managed? Enter San Juan, a card game from Andreas Seyfarth, Alea, and Rio Grande Games. In San Juan you will race against other players to develop buildings, create a structured production of goods, and accumulate the most victory points. Do you have what it takes to develop the capitol city of Puerto Rico, facilitate the needs of a region, and emerge victorious? If so, then I welcome you to the city of San Juan.

San Juan is a strategy game where you build important buildings like houses, palaces, smelters, statues, and other essential building blocks for a populous city. To win the game you must have the highest amount of victory points at the end of the game. Players earn these points by constructing buildings and through secondary goals. The game automatically ends once a player reaches 12 buildings, so San Juan is a game in which you need to be aware of your opponents’ plays. Turns are split up into rounds with players choosing a “role” and then performing an action associated with that role. Roles include governor, trader, builder, miner, councilor, and producer. The way a typical round would go is that the governor, a title passed from player to player each round, would go first by selecting a role, say “builder” for example. Everyone then gets to discard cards from their hands in order to build structures. The amount of cards you must discard to build are listed on the structure card, with some buildings requiring up to six cards to be discarded from your hand. It is only when someone has chosen the builder role that people are allowed to build. The incentive for taking the builder role however is that the player who drew that role gets to discard one card less to build. Each role has a special privilege that only the person fulfilling that role receives. Other role actions include drawing more cards, producing additional goods, or trading more goods.

After everyone has taken the action associated with the governor’s role, the next person would get to choose a role, followed by everybody taking that role’s action. This continues until everyone has chosen a role and taken the action that goes along with it. Once this has occurred, the roles are put back in the middle of the table, and the next person at the table receives the governor title, beginning a new round. Depending on how many players are in the game, not every role will be chosen each round, so some rounds will be centered around producing goods, or building, or just drawing more cards.

Certain cards play off each other so be aware of how you are helping and hurting your opponents. A good tip is to make sure you have several production buildings that can create indigo, sugar, tobacco, coffee, and silver. Having these buildings produce goods for you, and then selecting the trader role can boost your hand size, allowing you to build more structures the next time the builder role is selected.

Included within the game box is 110 cards, 6 role placards, 5 trading house tiles, and one scoring pad. The cards are sturdy and form a single pile. The cards are colored to indicate what type they are and each type of card has a distinct picture and explanation of its uses. The role placards are heavy cardboard and have a description of each role’s abilities printed on the placard itself. This helps alleviate the need to look through the rules to determine uses. The score pad is only used at the end of the game and comes with a lot of pages, allowing for dozens of plays before you need to replenish your paper supply. The game is simple enough to where you could keep score on a blank piece of paper though, so it isn’t a bad thing if you blow through the game’s score pad quickly.

The cards included in the game all give their owners special abilities for different phases. Some buildings will allow their owner to produce more goods, or require less cards to build. These abilities are similar to the abilities unlocked by selecting roles, but are permanent throughout the entire game. Violet cards are the more powerful cards that players will want to build, and are restricted so that a player can only build one of each type. One special violet card you will want to use early on in the game is the chapel, which allows you to place cards from your hand underneath it to add victory points at the end of the game. This can really add up if you continuously add cards as you play.

When my wife and I sat down to play San Juan for the first time we ended up struggling with the instructions on how to play. There are examples included in the booklet, but if you aren’t familiar with San Juan or Puerto Rico, you may find it easier to look up a video walkthrough on how to play it instead. We had never played a game like San Juan before and were unfamiliar with playing in rounds and picking roles. Once you get the hang of the way the rounds work you should be able to devise your own strategy and play rather quickly. The only other problem we had was that it felt like the violet cards, which restrict you to owning only one of each type, seemed to overwhelm the rest of the cards. There were times where we had nothing but violet cards in our hands because of the majority of the card deck containing these types of cards, and would have liked to see a more diverse amount of production and house cards.

San Juan is a unique game that pits players with a choice of what kind of role they want to fill in a developing coast nation. Its simplistic layout and strategic gameplay keeps players coming back for more and I for one am hooked. To date it has earned such honors as the 2004 Spiel des Jahres Recommendation, being a 2004 International Gamers Awards Nominee, and winning the 2004 Japan Boardgame Prize for The Best Japanese Game. If you are looking for a great building game that puts you in control, and allows you to play with 2-3 of your friends, then look no further. San Juan will be your own bustling metropolis before you know it! Game on!

9
Go to the Ticket to Ride page

Ticket to Ride

143 out of 155 gamers thought this was helpful

Ticket To Ride is a 2-5 player board game that should take you between 30-60 minutes. Included in the game box is one North American game board, 240 colored train cars, and 144 cards. The game board is sturdy and folds into six sections. The size of the map is perfect and I love how expansive it is. There are five sets of colored train cars, each with their own respective holding bag. Each train and card is a brilliant shade of green, black, pink, red, orange, blue or yellow. The colors of the trains and cards are easy to tell apart. Even if you are color blind you shouldn’t have a problem because each card has a unique symbol on it, making it easy to differentiate between the sets.

The way the game works is that players draw destination cards and then choose which routes they want to try to establish. It is through building and completing these routes that players will earn points. When you first draw your destination cards you are allowed to discard one, but must keep two out of the three. These cards may have you go from Los Angeles to Miami, Seattle to Houston, or a dozen other big locations in the early 1900′s. It is up to you to create the path to victory! After choosing destinations, each player has the option of drawing train cards, laying down trains on the map, or drawing additional destination tickets.

When you are setting up the game you will place five train cards face-up next to the board. Each player can take two of these train cards and put them into their hand on their turn. As soon as a card is drawn, a new card replaces it on the table. In addition to the regular colored train cards, wild cards are also present and act as any color train when you lay down your routes. Players can take two cards off of the table, or from the deck itself, but cannot lay down trains or draw cards in the same turn. It can be difficult at times to figure out when it is best to lay down trains and when to pick up cards, so don’t feel frustrated if you feel like you are overwhelmed. The way you lay down trains is by playing colored cards that match a route on the map. If you are going from Seattle to Helena you have to count the colored spaces between the locations and come up with that number of cards. Each destination will take you several turns to reach, so be ready to hoard a lot of cards for the more valuable routes. If a route requires six yellow cards, you need either six yellow cards or a combination of yellow and wild cards. Sometimes you may elect not to take the most direct route and may instead decide to take the long way around, which can be valuable since you earn more points for longer train routes.The longer the train, the more points you get, with the maximum being six cards earning you 15 points.

As you earn points you will keep track of your score on the edge of the map using a colored pip. Just because a player is in the lead on the map does not mean that they will be declared the winner overall. Remember, it is through scoring routes that you will earn major points, and that isn’t done until the end of the game. Ticket To Ride definitely has some strategy to it. You not only have to be wary of where you are going, but also where your opponents are going because they may block off an important city that you need to pass through, forcing you to take a dreaded detour. It is also a good strategy to block your opponents in anticipation of where they are going as well.

My only gripe with this otherwise fantastic game is that the cards are tiny. I know I’ve got big hands, but these cards are some of the smallest I’ve seen. They are a little difficult to shuffle and I would have appreciated them being standard card size. I’ve played other versions of Ticket To Ride and haven’t had any problems with card sizes, but for some reason the original hasn’t been updated. The original Ticket To Ride is still a great game though and tailors itself to the number of players participating. The board itself contains routes and tools which are only used in larger games, so two player game feels a lot different than a five player game, and that’s a great thing. There are certain sections of the board where trains can share tracks, being forgiving towards players who are constantly having to take longer routes thanks to their greedy opponents.

Ticket To Ride is one of my all-time favorite development games. It is simple to understand, but still has strategic complexities and I can’t seem to get enough of it. To date it has sold over 1.1 million copies, currently has several expansions/standalone variations, and has won a dozen awards, most recognizably the 2004 Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) and the Origins Award for Best Board Game of 2004. Ticket To Ride is perfect for playing everyone and I can’t recommend this game highly enough. When it comes to creating a fun, historical experience, Ticket To Ride is on the right track. All aboard! Game on!

7
Go to the Dominion page

Dominion

147 out of 155 gamers thought this was helpful

Have you ever dreamed of ruling your own kingdom? Building markets, villages, gardens, and establishing a militia to crush your opposition? Well game maker Donald X. Vaccarino had the same dream and ended up creating Dominion, a deck building game that puts you in control of building your own domain. Dominion, distributed by Rio Grande Games, is best suited for 2-4 players and has a 30 minute playtime.

Dominion comes with 500 cards, a storage tray, and a rulebook. It is a deck building game in which you buy cards off of the table to build your exclusive deck. Cards range from action cards, to treasure, to Victory Points. It is only through a harmonious mixture of these three types that you will be able to have a successful deck. Have too many action cards and you won’t be able to buy much. Have too much gold and your turns won’t be very long. Each turn you can perform one action and are allowed to buy one thing off of the table. Each card is labeled with a coin value ranging from free to eight coins. As you buy more cards, your turns will become more productive, allowing you to perform more than one action or buy at a time, as well as being as being able to buy more expensive items. For example, if you play a Market card you get to draw an additional card, receive an additional action, another buy, and one treasure. This is a great card to have and if you have more than one in your deck, all the better. Each action card has a different effect so it is important to get a good mixture of cards in your deck as well.

The game is over when three piles of cards have been depleted. This can be any combination of actions, treasures, or Victory Points. In the many times that I have played Dominion, the game has ended rather abruptly making it hard to gauge when you should start obsessively buying Victory Points. The best tip would be to buy the “Province” cards whenever you can because those are worth six Victory points. After a third pile has been depleted everyone tallies up their Victory Points and the winner is declared. Depending on which cards you chose to play with, other aspects, such as how many cards you have in your deck, may also factor into your total Victory Points.

Just because you are building and working with your own deck doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to mess with the other players. There are several “Action-Attack” cards which you can include in your game such as “Militia”, which forces your opponents to discard their hands down to three cards, or the “Witch” which forces players to pick up a “Curse” card that gives them a negative Victory Point. To counteract these offensive cards, players can buy “Moat” cards which protect them from the other player’s card, but only if they have the Moat in their hand when an attack card is played.

The organization of Dominion is amazing. The storage tray inside the box is labeled in alphabetical order and color coded so it is easy to setup and return the cards to the box. This also makes it easy to pick which cards you want to play with because their monetary value is also listed on the tray as well. The instructions are clear and easy to read, and there are even suggestions as far as which cards you can play with to make the game different every time. Since there are so many cards, you won’t be playing with every pile, so the time Vaccarino spent on figuring out which cards go well together is appreciated. You don’t have to follow the suggested setups though, and can feel free to experiment with your favorite cards, making the replay of this game off the charts.

The only gripe I have with the game is the fact that turns can take a long time as the game gets near the end. Players will play more and more cards that give them additional actions and cards, making their turn last minutes on end. There will be turns where players have ten cards down on the table at a single time! This is part of the strategy though and figuring out how to best combine your cards to get you the most bang for your buck is key to the game.

Dominion is one of those games that doesn’t look very strategic from the outside, but once you get playing and your taste for victory becomes insatiable, you will truly understand how complex of a game it can be. Currently there are eight expansions and stand-alone versions of the game and that number will continue to grow as this game matures. Dominion has won many awards, namely the 2009 Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year), the 2009 Golden Geek Award, and the 2009 Origin Award for “Best Card Game”. If you are looking for a fun strategic game to play with the family, or are just looking for something to play with your spouse on a quiet night in, then it’s time to pick up your crown and rule over Dominion! Game on!

8
Go to the Lost Cities: The Card Game page
38 out of 41 gamers thought this was helpful

Sometimes you really just want to play a two-player game, but the majority of the board and card games on the market are tailored towards larger crowds. Enter Lost Cities, a two-player expedition game that pits you against another player in a race to explore uncharted areas. You will venture to places like the Himalayas, the Brazilian rain forest, deep inside a volcano, the depths of the ocean, and a scorching desert. Come along as Reiner Knizia, along with Rio Grande Games, takes you for an unforgettable excursion into Lost Cities.

Lost Cities is a very easy game to pick up. The game comes with a game board, 45 Expedition cards, 15 investment cards, and a rule booklet. The cards in the game are rather large which benefits the art style. Each expedition card has a different picture on it, each with its own intricate depiction of where you are exploring. The goal of the game is to score more points than your opponent by playing cards in numerical order on each expedition.

The way the game begins is that each player receives 8 cards and then begins an expedition. Cards are numbered 2-10 and allow you to go on one of five expeditions. Since there are several expeditions you can go on, there is rarely a game where you will end up playing on all five spaces. You can play your cards in any order, as long as they are numerical. You could potentially play a 2, 5, 8, and 10, but you need to realize that the more cards you play on an expedition, the more points you will receive. Players can also play investment cards, which adds to the amount of points you receive for each expedition. The only downside to investment cards is that you can only play them on an empty expedition, and can’t play one if you already have cards played in that area. If you play a single investment card, you will receive double the points. If you play two investment cards you will receive triple the points, and so on. On your turn you will play a card and then draw another card. You can play on an expedition or discard a card onto the top of the board in each section. The other player could then pick up a card from that expedition’s discard instead of from the draw pile. Players continue to play their cards and go on expeditions until the draw pile is empty.

Once the draw pile is empty you tally up your face-up points for each expedition. Each expedition is totaled individually and then subtracted 20. If you have 25 total points in the Himalayas, then you would subtract 20 points and multiply it by the number of investment cards you had placed on that expedition plus one. Yes, you will need a pad and pencil for this game because it forces you to do math. If you failed to reach 20 points on an expedition then you still subtract 20 points, but then those points become negative points against you. What’s even worse is when you have an investment card on a negative section and have to double the points you lose. If you didn’t place any cards on an expedition it doesn’t go against you. Once all your points have been added up and combined you proceed to the next round. Three rounds is a good total number to play before you declare a victor, but it is up to you to determine that.

The only gripe I had with the game was how hard it was to keep track of how many turns there were left. You are able to pick up the draw pile and count cards, but it seems like each round ends way too fast. If you have cards in your hand that you can play, don’t wait around for too long hoping for more points. Focus on breaking 20 points and you should be fine.

Lost Cities is probably my favorite two-player game. It is easy to pick up, has some strategy to it, and can often get pretty intense. There were times where my wife and I would be playing it and wouldn’t be talking to each other at all because we were so focused on the game itself. Games go pretty fast and should only take you between 20-40 minutes. If you are looking for a great game for a spouse, significant other, or just something you can play with a friend, I highly recommend picking up Lost Cities. You never know what kind of treasures you will find along the way. Game on!

8
Go to the Small World page

Small World

54 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

Small World is a military strategy game in its core, but outside of that grizzled interior contains a whimsical fantasy gooey shell which will have you falling in love with races like Flying Trolls, Swamp Dwarves, Dragon Master Halflings, or Seafaring Skeletons, only to abandon them halfway through the game for a completely new race. Small World doesn’t constrict you to one race like in Risk, so if you find yourself being stepped on or have stretched your troops thin, you can always put your current race into decline and start all over again! It is completely up to you as to how you play this game, just make sure that after 9 rounds you have the most Victory points!

To earn Victory points all you have to do is conquer and hold territories. When you initially choose your starting race you will be given character tokens according to the corresponding numbers on your special ability and race cards. With these tokens you will then begin your conquest. It will cost you two tokens to conquer an empty region. For every other unit on top of a region, whether it be a mountain, Lost Tribesman, or another player, it will cost you one extra token per unit. At the end of your turn you get 1 Victory point for every piece of land you own. On top of this, if your race has a special ability such as “Forest”, you get an extra Victory point for every forest you occupy. From here on out it is a mad dash to conquer as much as you can and rake in the points.

Eventually players will begin to bash heads and will inevitably start to attack each other. When you take over someone’s region they get all their tokens back except for one, which gets placed back in the game tray. This makes it so players will start to lose more and more units, thus making it harder to conquer new regions. Lose too many units and your ability to hold your regions will grow harder as well. Don’t get too attached to your races though, because I guarantee that you will go through 2-4 races per game. When you think your race has over-exhausted itself you can put it into decline. What this does is flips over all your tokens leaving one token in every region you control. You still earn points for holding these regions and on your next turn you get to start out with a whole new race and begin your bloody conquest all over again.

The best part about Small World is that every time you play it, the game changes. The races and special powers are completely random so one game you can play as the Hill Elves, then in the next game you can play as the Fortified Elves. This is the reason I keep coming back to Small World. Every time I’ve played I’ve been a different race with a different power. I’ve looked at the board in brand new ways every time I’ve played because my strategy changes with each new round. With 14 races and 20 special powers the combinations are limitless. Currently there are 4 expansions for Small World, including a stand-alone game titled, Small World: Underground, which takes the action below the surface with Gnomes, Cultists, Drow, Mummies, and many more.

Small World comes with two reversible game boards that change depending on the number of players. The two player board is half the size of the five player board to ensure that you will be at each other’s throats no matter how many players you have. Small World should take you between 40-80 minutes, is perfect for 2-5 players, and is rated Ages 8+. It has won awards such as the Meeples’ Choice Award, Games Magazine’s ”Game of the Year”, and the Golden Ace. If you are looking for a fun, strategic game to play with your friends, I can’t recommend Small World highly enough. Never has murdering Elves and Giants felt so good. Game on!

9
Go to the Munchkin page

Munchkin

44 out of 51 gamers thought this was helpful

When you think of munchkins you may think of yellow brick roads, lollipops, and the land of Oz, but when I think of munchkins I think of dark dungeons, breaking down doors to fight monsters, and backstabbing my friends all in the name of victory. Allow to me to introduce you to a game created by Steve Jackson Games. A game that is easily one of the most hilarious, tongue-in-cheek dungeon crawlers ever created. One of my all time favorite games; Munchkin.

Munchkin is a game that pits you against your friends in a race to reach level 10. Along the way you will “Kill The Monsters, Steal The Treasure, and Backstab Your Friends”. You gain levels by defeating monsters, playing “Go Up A Level” cards, and trading in items that add up to 1000 gold pieces. What’s great about Munchkin is even though it has a Dungeons & Dragons-like theme, it pokes fun at itself and some of the cliches included in that genre. For the sake of keeping this recommendation short I am only going to talk about the original Munchkin set.

During a normal game of Munchkin, players go around the table drawing from the door pile, also known as “breaking down the door”, and fighting monsters. On your turn you will flip a door card face-up. If you draw a monster card you must immediately fight it. Your level, as well as the bonuses you get from items and other helper cards, must be higher than the monster’s in order to defeat it. If that is the case then you count out the combat; I count it “1,2,3.5″, but it is completely up to you as far as how you count it out. Counting gives other players a chance to play cards either for or against you. Other players might add levels to the monster with a “+10 to level of monster” card, curse you to make you lose an item, or they may play a special card that kills the monster automatically, taking away all of your loot. If you successfully win the battle you get a level and draw treasure cards corresponding to the number on the monster card itself. If your level is not higher than the monster’s and you have no chance of defeating it you have two options. You can ask for help or run away.

When you ask for help your opponents can offer to join forces in combat with you. If they accept, your level is then combined with theirs giving you a better chance of defeating the monster. Other players can offer help for free or can demand something, such as receiving a share of the treasures. As the game starts off, other players will help each other because it is tough getting those first few levels when you are a weak human, but as the game progresses don’t expect other players to continue to bail you out. If nobody offers to help you, or you don’t feel like sharing the treasures, you can run away. To run away you take the dice and hope to roll a 5 or a 6. If you roll a 4 or lower you suffer from the “Bad Stuff”, listed on the bottom of the monster card. This can range from losing items, making you lose levels, or even death.

As I mentioned before, you will have items and other cards that will increase your overall level when you fight monsters. Items include things like the “Sword of Slaying Everything Except Squid”, the “Pointy Hat of Power”, a “Stepladder”, or even the “Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment”. It’s these kinds of ridiculous cards that make the game even more enjoyable. In addition to these items, players can also place “Race” and “Class” cards which give them different bonuses. You can be an Elf Thief, a Dwarf Wizard, a Cleric Halfling, or any combination of races and classes. There are even cards in the game that allow you to be multiple races or classes at once!

Munchkin is definitely a random game and whenever I have people over, it is always one of the first games I pull out to play. The art on each card is unique and helps illustrate your adventure, breaking down a door only to discover a Plutonium Dragon, a Gazebo, or even a puny Goldfish. The rules on each card add subtle twists in every turn and can make or break a character. Many people have cried “fowl” as they are cursed with a chicken on their head.

Munchkin is perfect for three to six players and is a game that can take anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour. On top of the original rules you can also play “Epic” Munchkin which has you playing up to level 20 instead, thereby making the game even longer! This game is easily in my top 5 favorite games and I could talk for days about how much I love it. Steve Jackson Games hit a grand slam when they made this game and the constant updates and expansions to the core set keep me coming back for more. To date there are over eight expansions for the original game and a dozen standalone Munchkin games like Star Munchkin, Munchkin Booty, Munchkin Fu, Super Munchkin, The Good, The Bad, and the Munchkin, and Munchkin Zombies. So if you’re sick of lugging around dozens of characters sheets, bored of the same old dungeon crawlers, or just looking for a fun card game to play with your nerdy friends, I urge you to pick up Munchkin; and then proceed to stab those friends in the back. Game on!

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