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Jayvenpup

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Go to the Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game page
Go to the Star Trek: Catan page
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9
Go to the Defenders of the Realm page

Defenders of the Realm

237 out of 244 gamers thought this was helpful

Original Review @ Ooo, Shiny!

Back when the main cooperative games we had were Arkham Horror and Pandemic, I asked a friend for any other recommendations. What we got was a Pandemic-like game that was actually reliably hard!

The game itself isn’t very hard to set up at all and it gets randomized per the cards you draw to determine where pieces are placed. In the end of the setup, it generally looks like this:

Image: Game all set up

Defenders of the Realm is all about defeating 4 Generals that start in roughly the four corners of the board while they spread minions across the board and slowly progress to Monarch City at the centre of the board.

This all seems easy enough and I was told by said friend above that it in fact seems easy even to newcomers from the get go but there is a catch:

+ Each Darkness Spreads phase you draw 1 card and resolve it.
+ Depending how many Generals have been defeated, you may then have to draw two or even three of these cards, resolving them as well.
+ If the Minion pool for a General is empty when you need to place one on the board, game over!
+ If the pool of Taint Crystals is empty when you have to draw one, game over!.
+ And as previously mentioned, if a General gets to Monarch City, game over!

(It is also game over! when 5 Minions make their way into Monarch City but that only occurs through certain cards.)

There is therefore a few ways to lose but only one way to win: Defeat all four Generals before the above conditions occur.

In saying that, the game is very luck heavy. At a base level, you are drawing cards to assist you in defeat the General. Each card has a die (or two) at the bottom showing a number on them (same number depending on General) and to attack a General, you must have X of those cards to roll X dice to try and damage him. In our recent game, we lacked Green cards to try and take the General that stormed into Monarch City. Additionally, the same goes for the Darkness Spreads deck where you may have it lucky at times and others bad things just keep happening. As it is said, it is in the luck of the dice.. or cards in this regard.

At an estimate, the duration of this game I would say could be up to 2 hours depending on how much talking is done and planning between phases. Once you get the hang of it though, it could be done in 1 to 1.5 hours.

With regards to table space, this game as much as it looks like it takes up a decent amount of room, it is still only a max of 4 players and hence doesn’t really take up as much room as you may expect from other board games. I find it to be a good balance as then there is a 1:1 ratio of Heroes to Generals. This doesn’t mean though that it isn’t beatable with less than 3 by any means.

I cannot go any further without mentioning quality. The board and cards are all of good quality. The cards themselves of the decks are actually thicker than normal and I approve of that while the Hero/General boards are of the same thickness as the board itself. This was one of the other aspects of the game that we loved compared to some other games where the card stock may be thinner than normal and need sleeving; Defenders of the Realm is not the case for this at all.

And now I come to the heroes! There is a good amount of variety in the heroes, both in how many there are as well as the special abilities they bring to the table. Some would say the Cleric is always a must have (can remove Tainted Crystals more easily) while others maybe the Sorceress is another needed on the table (can ‘change’ into a Minion each turn to not be noticed by that type). Whichever way you look at it, it all comes down to how the players work together to accomplish the goals at hand.

For me, coming from Pandemic (hard but not as hard as this) and Arkham Horror (more wins than losses), Defenders of the Realm was a welcome edition to the table where we have played easily 10 or more games now and none of them have been a win yet.

In fact, the best game my wife and I have done I believe was with 2 Heroes each and we managed to get 3 Generals defeated before we lost and each time we lose this game, we love that feeling of trying so hard and failing because when we DO win: We would have earned it.

Image: Game over man! Game over!

The game we played prior to this review is just above in that image where with 3 heroes, we managed 1 General to be killed but the game was over when Gorgutt (‘Green’ General) marched into Monarch City unopposed. We knew from near the start that it would be a huge uphill battle as the Minions kept coming and coming and coming. We tried to stem the tide, we laughed and cried at moments, and in the end we bowed our heads in the loss and will revisit the Realm gladly to fight again another day!

If you want a challenge in a fantasy setting for up to 4 players and the potential to go against not just 1 dragon (Sapphire, Blue General) but 4 dragons (expansion) then this may well be the game for you to look into!

10
Go to the Star Trek: Catan page

Star Trek: Catan

127 out of 138 gamers thought this was helpful

Original Review @ Ooo, Shiny! (with images)

Prior to playing Star Trek Catan, my wife, son and myself had only had the experience of playing some board games, like Catan, via the Xbox 360. We loved playing it that way because it didn’t require such an investment to play it on the table. After some time though with the digital editions not getting as much love as the table versions, we eventually had to give in.

Hence, Star Trek Catan hit out table, two times in a row and then another third the next morning. For the record, all three I lost (wife won, son came second) and I have learned not to play competitive games when sleepy (re: poor loser). All in all though, it is now our #1 family game to hit our table and we don’t have any reason to get the standard Catan as Star Trek Catan, even as a max 4 player game, still wins out.

If you want to know how Catan itself fairs in the mix of all this, I recommend checking reviews specific to the base game of Catan as Star Trek Catan lacks some of the additional features the Catan expansions bring to the table and it would be unfair to judge it against them.

Image: End of Game #2

The general premise with Star Trek Catan is to try and be the first player to hit 10 Victory Points (VP) by trading resources to build outposts (settlements) and starbases (cities). There is also Development Cards to acquire for the Longest Starfleet bonus (as well as the infamous Longest Supply Route) but the prime difference with the original Catan to Star Trek Catan is the Support Cards.

Image: Support Cards

As you can see, the Original Series crew are injected into Star Trek Catan to add in bonuses to the player for a maximum of two uses before they have to put it back in the pool and choose another. Of our games, Kirk, Scotty, Spock and Uhura end up in regular use with Sulu not far behind. They all have their uses depending on what is happening in your hand and on the table and for us are a welcome addition to the game. Without these, it would just be a reskin of Catan with no real true feeling of Star Trek to it beyond that of the miniatures/tiles.

The set up process as well is very simple. Infact, the first proper game we played (Game #2), I had the son (13 y/o) set the game up as it was that simple and the rest of us hadn’t done that aspect yet. For once in many of our games in our collection: setting the game up is actually interesting rather than some games feeling like a chore.

With myself being a sore loser at times with competitive games, I actually rate Star Trek Catan fairly high in our games. Just like the wife and son, it definitely is a go-to game now when we want to play something together. Infact, we’ll be introducing it to our family shortly whom love simple games and hate complexity. We have a few games we plan on buying in the (near?) future to introduce to them but this is one of the first we’ll be proud to have them learn and know they will love it!

Image: End of Game #3

Whether you are a board game beginner or a longtime board game fan, Star Trek Catan will satisfy your cravings if you lack a copy of one of the other games but perhaps may not be favoured to those who dislike Star Trek. Our household is very Star Warsy but we enjoy the odd bit of Star Trek here and there. Even with that, we LOVED the theme of this game and highly recommend it to any one else who is standing on the fence.

10
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep page
49 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful

Original Review @ Ooo, Shiny! & BGG

Where do I start?

I’ll start with the simplest of simple three words I could say:

We.
Love.
It!

This game, unlike some of our other favourite games, is not co-operative and instead of competitive. Our household really does prefer not delving into competitive games since some of us (not naming myself >.>) are sore losers. This game though, is one of our few that we have no problem whatsoever about playing and easily recommend it to others who may be afraid of playing a competitive game!

We have only played the game most of the time with a minimum of three players and a single match of five players. The three player game was my wife, our 13 year old son and myself while the five player game was those players plus the parents. The three of us love it, the parents got the hang of it and liked it more than other games we have because of how easy it was to learn.

My wife and myself LOVE board gaming yet prefer to play games that aren’t too confusing or at least the rules are easy to grasp to lower the need to worry about rulebook the whole game. When it comes to Lords of Waterdeep, the game’s rules are almost the most simple we’ve ever experienced where instead of holding onto the rulebook, you look at the cards and they explain it all to you. It almost has the simplicity of Fluxx (we own Monty Python Fluxx) in that regard.

We are also Dungeons and Dragons fans for the pen and paper tabletop gaming and hence we bought previously the game Wrath of Ashardalon and haven’t really gone back to it since (more because of it’s rules vs what we’d expect from 4th Edition D&D) but Lords of Waterdeep was a breath of fresh air with the emphasis on worker placement rather than another roleplay board game.

Instead of going to a dungeon, Lords of Waterdeep is about vying for power within the City of Splendors, Waterdeep. Each lord or Lady has their own agenda that is kept secret from the other players while you try to amass whatever your current Lord/Lady needs to win the game.

As previously mentioned, Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game where you are trying to place your meeples in the city where you gain the best benefit of more people on your side (cleric, fighter, rogue & wizard) to help complete quests or perhaps to get more gold to help purchase more real estate in the city.

The game itself doesn’t feel like you are doing nothing at any time and doesn’t feel like it goes on for too long or short. Each game will be approximately 30 to 60 minutes in length and all actions occur nice and quick in a simultaneous manner. There are pause moments but the game flows smoothly enough that even our 13 year old was eager to play and his attention span is well.. He’s a 13 year old with ADHD, you do the math on how many can sit and play a board game for up to an hour or more!

A side note for those who, like myself, have fun working out how to store a game (re: Arkham Horror) when not using the box: Whoever came up with the final idea for Lords of Waterdeep’s box design was a genius! There is just enough room for everything, every wooden cube, every meeple, every card, all has it’s designated place as instructed in the back of the rulebook!

The only downside I can think of with the whole game and this is me fishing for this is the variety of what the Lords/Ladies have to do to do to win the game are not as varied as I would have liked. They are mostly similar in what they have to do except for one or two that are different to the rest.

That is literally the only negative I can think of and I believe my wife will agree with me, heck even the son too. It is by no means a turn off for us since we still really, really enjoy it. This one negative I believe will be easy to fix, perhaps, with expansions. One such expansion is on it’s way (Scoundrels of Skullport) which we are very much looking forward to!

I never really do a score for my games but in our newly joined board game group, we were asked the open question of “What is your favourite five” or something similar to that and both of us immediately said “Lords of Waterdeep’.

Highly recommended!

9
Go to the Arkham Horror page

Arkham Horror

114 out of 126 gamers thought this was helpful

(Apologies, had an issue and thought deleting it and resubmitting was the solution and then ‘Doh’d!’ when I noticed how to fix it.. >.>)

Alright, spontaneous review while my PC at work is waiting for helpdesk to fix. Apologies then if it reads rushed!

Gee, where do I start?

Arkham Horror was the first Euro game I had ever played and to this day, I still do not regret paying for it.

The artwork honestly I love with this game. The cards, board and tokens are all very good quality and capture the gritty dark tone of H.P. Lovecraft and his Lovecraftian genre. If you have ever stepped into his short stories, perhaps some of the films or even into the Chaosium RPG, you will recognise the tones fairly easy. If you haven’t, you won’t lose out much but you gain much more when you know some of the areas.

Now, if you love competitive games, this is not the game for you. I’ll put that out there straight away. This is a cooperative game and if you don’t all work together as a team, then the Ancient Ones are going to chew you up and spit you out one way or another.

The game itself revolves around an Ancient One coming in on their bandwagon, unleashing minions from portals of the Other Worlds until no one can stop their ultimate goals of conquest or destruction – or so they think.

The main goals of the base game of Arkham Horror (pretty much the same with the expansion boards/cards yet some more effects may come into play obviously) is to:

Close all the Other World portals so in one turn there is none left OR
Sealed a set number of portals dependant on the number of players (skill checks or a certain item required)

The above two objectives have to be done before the Ancient One gets enough tokens on it’s chart (gained through play on monsters or events) to initiate the final battle (think raid boss in an online game or even video game) where the investigators fight together and win or die trying.

When it comes to who you play in the game, There is some variety to the investigators, each of them giving a special skill to use depending on the situation (be it combat or perhaps when doing purchases) and this also determines your maximum hit points and sanity.

Time-wise, you are getting yourself into an approximately 2-4 hour game depending on a) how experienced you are with the game and b) how lucky/unlucky you are with the card draws.

I say luck there because there has been a game where my partner and I played (with two investigators each as we do) and the game was unforgiving with portals opening as well as the events that we couldn’t keep up. On the other hand, there have been some other times where we can keep on top of the game long enough to get some headway.

This game is still one of our favourites but I have to honestly say, the time to play it can daunt me depending on mood since I usually dedicate around 3 hours to play it and if needed, we just leave it set up in a room the pets (or kids) can’t get into to come back to later.

Honestly though, the time it takes is VERY fun. I wouldn’t enjoy the game as much as we do if it was a one hour game. The mechanics for it just make you NEED that time to try and win.

Many years ago we tried the game with a full 8 people and it was mostly new to them all that I remember that game being agonisingly slow, obviously, and took at least 6 hours to play. Over time though, if prepared more than the spontaneous game we had that day, it wouldn’t take nearly as long as that or so I hope.

All in all, if you love cooperative games in a survival atmosphere but don’t want to be going against purely zombies: Arkham Horror as a base game is all you ever need. If you want to expand, there is the cheaper card expansions or the board expansions that cost a little more. We’ve bought one of each and the board expansions (ours being Dunwich Horror) are very very fun so far.

Highly recommended!

10
Go to the Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game page
101 out of 108 gamers thought this was helpful

Cheating. Blood. Football. Fantasy. Minotaurs.

All of these and more is Blood Bowl Team Manager. Blood Bowl, an IP of Games Workshop and originally a tabletop miniatures game (now also a PC/Console game) has now ventured into the land of a card game.

No no, before you cry about another Magic, or one of those other collectable card games: Blood Bowl Team Manager is a complete box of what you need and it works very well. Surprisingly so.

I held off around 6-8 months to get this and I really wish I hadn’t and I am very glad I had the spontaneous thought of buying it so that my 12 year old step-son could play Blood Bowl without the blood of the video game. And oh man, was it one of the best purchases I had made!

The premise of Blood Bowl in general is two teams pit against each other to cheat, pass, run the ball for touchdowns, or outright decimate the opposing team, whatever it takes to be the winners of the fabled Blood Bowl Cup.

The teams that come in the box are: Humans, Dwarves, Wood Elves, Chaos, Orcs and Skaven. There are many more that the company could bring out and from what people are saying, with this year being Blood Bowl’s 25th Anniversary, that we will see expansions coming. Cross fingers 😀

Now, the card game translates this very well by not focusing on a single match at a time but the highlights of the games. Each highlight can have up to two teams compete on them and with an up to four player game, choosing which highlights you want to focus on is one of the starting challenges.

Rather than delving into the rules too deep if you want to know how it plays specifically, there is a set of video tutorials by Fantasy Flight Games showing you just that.

In the above picture , the cards in the middle are the Highlights while the cards left and right are the cards from our hand that we use to try and win the spoils on the card. If you can see it, the Highlights have two ‘touchdown zones’ that have rewards on the left and right as well as a bigger reward in the middle. As long as you have someone there, you get the reward on the side you choose to represent, and the middle if you win the match. If no one is competing against you, you get all the spoils of the match!

In the end, once you have played in the match ups you want to take part in, and the Scoreboard Phase has been done to see what victory points, star players, staff and team upgrades have been won as spoils of war: The highlights happen all over again!

I thought I better for a tidbit here that the artwork I absolutely loved. It reflected the original game nicely and even sported (how could it not?!) flavour text from the commentators, the Vampire Jim Johnson and the Ogre Bob Bifford.

All in all, the game takes us around 90 to 120 mins approximately. Sunday lunchtime was around the 120 minute mark purely since we haven’t played in a month or two.

The winner in the end is not the team with the most physical spoils of war but the roaring, raging fans that follow behind you. He who has the most fans wins the right to be the Champion of the Table!

If you wonder if a $35 USD game is worth it, you shouldn’t think a second minute on it. For that amount of money versus some of the other games we have and their price tags to get the same amount of fun (Arkham Horror for instance) then it is a no-brainer!

Once bought, you will never look back.

(Original review @ Ooh, Shiny!)

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