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JGunnz

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8
Go to the Blood Rage page

Blood Rage

117 out of 126 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview and Component Quality
Fun miniatures war game. Great component quality. Some degree of luck with card availability. The monsters with special abilities are super fun to handle and deploy and the plastic ring system for sharing them is quite ingenious. The miniatures are truly beautiful works of art and are varied (2 sculpts for the base warrior class for each player, a unique leader sculpt, a ship with a color coded sail, and tons of unique monster sculpts), indeed they are some of the best miniatures I’ve ever seen in a board game.

Gameplay
The beauty of Blood Rage, is that it is not just a beautiful work of art as miniatures games can often be, here, there is a meaty, strategic game to boot. Where Blood Rage shines is in the idea that players do not win simply based on succeeding in combat. Instead, players must strategically draft cards and plan their moves to manage their available resources (i.e. rage),to complete quests, pillage villages, and perhaps even purposefully lose in battle (in order to be sent directly to Valhalla – the desirably afterlife spot for noble vikings) in order to achieve the most glory points.

Luck
There is luck element which is somewhat (but not totally) mitigated by card drafting. For instance if one of the limited highly sought after monster upgrades is drawn the chances of it being passed to the next player is quite low. Similarly, a player may not be able to get a quest card, or a high-numbered battle card, if those cards are retained by the original recipients of the cards during the draft rounds. Further, there is no way to truly craft a cohesive strategy in round one where it is unknown what cards you may be passed in the later two ages.

Overall
Finally, a miniatures game we can sink our teeth into ! Not only is Blood Rage tons of fun because of the incredible monster sculpts and inevitable hard-fought battles, but there is a rich strategy game behind Blood Rage’s undeniable beauty.

10
Go to the Caverna: The Cave Farmers page
60 out of 67 gamers thought this was helpful

Design and Complexity
Elegant design. Not as complex as it seems. Not too hard to teach and once you understand the game a rich 2 player round can be played in less than a hour (the game supports up to 7 players however the more players the longer the game will be).

Core Mechanisms
In Caverna, that task of managing your farm, cave, and workers with lots and lots of available choices for placing your workers and buying upgrades can be a real brain burner – but a fun one with lots to chew on. Expeditions for loot and mining for ore add a fun adventuring component to the game that provide a level of theme and variety that seemed to be absent from Caverna’s predecessor Agricola (and why I was somewhat uninterested in Agricola originally – running a farm just did not excite me). Caverna’s theme of Dwarf adventuring and cave farming, while still incorporating the elements of animal husbandry and family growth from Agricola, pushes it up quite a few notches.

Possible Con for Agricola Lovers
Although not a problem for me, some folks have expressed a criticism that by providing all of the available tile upgrade options from the very start of the game, players begin the game with an overwhelming amount of options rather than being able to chart a unique path based on drafting strategy cards (i.e., Agricola). While true, in Caverna it is simply up to the player to be creative and explore different paths to victory rather than the game nudging you in a certain direction.

Overall
Overall Caverna is a fantastic, elegant, well-designed, worker placement game!

9
Go to the Elysium page

Elysium

42 out of 47 gamers thought this was helpful

Time and Complexity
Looks more complicated than it is. Took about one hour to teach and play my first 2 player game.

The game is definitely more on the medium/heavy side as far as decision making goes but mechanically it is fairly simply.

The game’s beauty is that it gives you a lot to think about in neat and quick package !

Game Play Mechanics
Here is the game in a nutshell. On your turn you discard one of your four pillars and take one of the available cards or a quest tile. Cards give you special powers and score you points, quest tiles enable your cards to score and give you gold. At the end of each round you will have taken 3 cards and 1 quest tile. Cards score in numbered sets (i.e. sets of all 1s, 2s, or 3s; or a “straight” consisting of a 1,2 and 3 for the same god – [i.e. suit]).

One of the unique aspects of Elysium is that when your cards are in scoring position they do not give you any special powers and you can only move a limited number of cards into scoring position each round. Thus, the timing of when you move your cards into scoring position and how long you decide to take advantage of each card’s special power is an essential tension the game forces you to grapple with.

Thus, at its core, Elysium is a game about balance. What column you discard when choosing cards impacts what cards you can obtain in future turns, how long you keep a card above your Elysium (i.e. outside of scoring position) will determine how long you will get a benefit from the card but also reduce the chance you will be able to transfer it for points in later turns. Also how you organize your sets matter – whether you go for straights or duplicate cards- straights are easier but worth less points duplicates can be worth more but are more expansive and harder to obtain.

All-in-all lots of good decision making in a fairly quick game (a two player game is under an hour).

Iconography
The hardest part for beginners is getting down the iconography – and there is quite a bit of it, however once you start planing it becomes intuitive. One of the nice things is that each card’s ability is also printed on the card – however, one minor complaint is that the print is very small.

Components
Great art and components !

Overall
Overall, this is one of the best set collection games out there because it offers so much more than set collection. Special powers, card selection, player interaction, great art and components, and a cool theme bring this game to a 9 ! It was also a worthy 2015 Kennerspiel des Jahres nominee.

9
Go to the Steampunk Rally page

Steampunk Rally

103 out of 117 gamers thought this was helpful

Based on 3 plays.

The game is great fun. The theme is dripping as you put together a steampunk invention, power that steampunk invention, and decompress/vent the invention after it has been powered so that it may be powered again. I am ordinarily not a fan of race games but this one really shines – it is a clever drafting/ tableau building game brilliantly overlayed on a steampunk racing theme.

The way machine parts interact and can be activated by or mitigated by dice is brilliant – the give and take between the difficulty in “venting” a high (but powerful) dice roll versus the ease of venting a low (but often less powerful) dice roll is genius.

The game presents difficult and interesting choices: for example do you build a large invention that can handle the terrain and generate the power it needs, do you build a machine with expendable parts so that when you take damage you will simply plan on rebuilding, do you make boost cards which provide a one time benefit to you (and perhaps a detriment to others) a dominant part of your strategy?

Could be potential balance issues: 1) Thomas Edison won all 3 games and is the only inventor that lets you get two dice. 2) Smooth motion is very powerful and highly sought after(because you ignore ALL negative terrain effects) but it is not always available to every player- even if they are trying to incorporate it into their strategy. Also some of the boost cards can be downright nasty.

9
Go to the Last Will page

Last Will

120 out of 133 gamers thought this was helpful

Last Will is fun card-driven game with a tremendous amount of theme.

The game centers around activating long-term cards (black border cards), playing events (white border cards), and manipulating the real estate market in an effort to spend your money before the other players.

At the begging of each turn players must choose how many cards they wish to draw, how many actions they wish to receive, and how many errand boys they will get to use for their turn. The more of one resource a player chooses the less of the others he or she will receive. This “give and take” style turn planning is just one of the interesting core mechanics present in Last Will. The game also has three levels of special cards that populate the board in a prescribed manner throughout the game in such a way that the offerings become more advanced as the game progresses (i.e. stronger cards only become available in later rounds)- another well-thought-out mechanic.

There are also many interactions/combos between the cards. For instance a player can concentrate on collecting real estate agents so they they can sell their properties for the lowest value possible; or on bringing companions along on certain events to make sure they are able to spend lavishly on each trip/event (i.e. fancy dinners, soirees, balls, carriage rides, etc.); or on getting more actions per turn/or filling their farms with costly stable animals.

All-in-all there are a lot of strategic interactions between the cards but Last Will never feels overwhelming. The game is fairly easy to teach to new players and also plays really well with two players.

6
Go to the Bora Bora page

Bora Bora

108 out of 136 gamers thought this was helpful

Pros: The graphic art and components are well done, and are nice and colorful. The mechanisms in the game are well designed, and as is typical with Feld games there are a lot of choices (perhaps too many) and a lot of pathways to get points.

Cons: The theme seemed pasted on, in a two player game the hut expansion mechanic does not work very well, and the game in total (for me) was just simply un-engaging. There are too many choices and items for each player to keep track of necessitating analysis paralysis at almost every stage of the game (and given the lack of theme this AP just caused the game to drag on – even though overall it was not a long game). Unfortunately during the game, it seemed like I was performing actions just for the sake of performing actions (i.e. build a hut, place a pile of sand on the “ceremonial platform,” get a tatoo, receive a shell etc.). When I finished the first game I wanted to put the game away instead of giving it another go (never a good sign).

Conclusion: Overall, the game is well-designed but for me it simply was too much to keep track of and just not fun. If I am going to invest the time to set up and play a game like Bora Bora I would much rather play Terra Mystica or Belfort.

9
Go to the Five Tribes: The Djinns of Naqala page
79 out of 136 gamers thought this was helpful

A ton of fun and very strategic. This game centers around an incredible “pick-up-and-deliver” mechanic that gives the player a special action (i.e. scoring gold, storing a meeple for points or purchasing D’Jinns, drawing market cards, or assassinating other meeples on the board or in front of a player) depending on what meeple is reunited with other meeples of the same color when placed on the last tile. The added strategy of controlling tiles through camel placement, navigating the markets to get one of each type of good, harnessing the special powers of the D’jinns and placing the point multipliers on location tiles (Palaces and Palm Trees) adds an additional layer of tactical and strategic depth to the game. Further, the game contains beautiful components and the variable set-up with random location tiles and meeples creates a unique game experience each time with a ton of replay-ability. In addition this game works especially well for two players.

4
Go to the Ruse page

Ruse

26 out of 28 gamers thought this was helpful

In this game players use a re-purposed standard deck of cards to accuse the other players of committing a crime.

Gameplay
As in a standard deck there are 13 sets of four suits, here two of the suits are accusation suits consisting of motive, method and opportunity cards and the remaining two suits consist of alibi cards that can be used to remove accusation cards played against you before it is too late.

Each turn a player will draw card, play an accusation card in front of another player, remove an accusation card in front of them by playing a matching alibi card, or take a special action (see below).

Once a complete set of three accusations cards (motive, method and opportunity,)in the same suit, is played against a player, that player must reveal themselves as the murderer and the game ends.

Special actions: There are 2 jokers in the deck which can be used to move an accusation to another player, and each player has a character board which can be flipped over once a game to “cover up evidence” (i.e. remove an accusation in front of you even though you don’t have a matching alibi card).

Final Thoughts
At its core Ruse is a simple card play game where you are trying to match the cards played in front of you with cards from your hand to remove them from your play area before three accumulate, while trying to assure three such cards accumulate in front of another player.

One positive is the game is heavy on the theme. For the most part, care was taken to make sure that the accusations and alibis of each suite type match up and can be used to weave a consistent story for instance the Duchess did not commit the murder even though the victim cheated on her (accusation card) because she was “in love with another” (alibi card). The best part of the game is the storytelling element that is encouraged by the rules during the card play. Creative players may have some fun casting doubt on other players and clearing their own name through the murderous steam-punk story lines facilitated by the game.

Unfortunately, even with the storytelling, the game is just too simplistic and luck driven for serious gamers. There is little opportunity for any actual strategy and any attempt to employ a strategy simply disrupts the storytelling flow of the game. Also, there are no winners only one loser – which can certainly make for anti-climatic endings.

Who This Game May Be For
Very casual gamers, who like games such as “go fish” and “old maid” may enjoy this game.

Imaginative young children, if they can get past the murder theme, as they will be able to easily grasp the rules and may enjoy the opportunity to express their creative thoughts via storytelling.

4
Go to the The Phantom Society page
53 out of 63 gamers thought this was helpful

For me felt like “Minesweeper Jr.” the board game.

Deduction element was way too light for this to feel strategic or enjoyable for me. Further, as a player finds ghosts the game actually gets easier and easier with each ghost found because once a certain color ghost is discovered every room of that color is eliminated from suspicion (since there is only one ghost of each color and a ghost can only be under a tile of their own color).

In a two player game it was also very difficult to keep track of where each player’s ghosts were placed– and if they happen to forget the entire game is over. Might be a game better targeted to young children.

10
Go to the The Resistance: Avalon page
121 out of 135 gamers thought this was helpful

At its core Avalon, like the Resistance, is a game of bluffing, player reading and psychology. Playing multiple rounds you begin to see how players behave differently when they play as servants of King Arthur versus minions of Mordred and thus trying to sabotage the group. Note this game plays best with six or seven players but can go up to ten.

While Avalon is simply a re-skinned version of the Resistance there are several reasons why Avalon’s differences makes it shine even more than Resistance.

First, in my opinion the King Arthur/Knight’s of the Round Table world is slighter more thematic and engaging than the spy theme in the Resistance. Second, adding the additional characters with unique abilities that aid in deducing each player’s alliance takes this game up a notch.

For example adding in Merlin (knows players who are evil but cannot be too obvious in giving clues to the good guys because he can be assassinated) and Percival (knows who Merlin is) really changes the dynamics of the game for the better and lessens some of the chance elements inherent in the base Resistance game. We also had some fun adding in Mordred(stays hidden from Merlin)and Morgana (reveals herself to Percival as Merlin) although we found Morgana very challenging to play effectively because her efforts to throw off Merlin are usually at the expense of effectively assisting the minions.

Overall an Incredible game. This is one of the most fun games I’ve ever played. This was a huge hit with my play group and we could not stop playing it — everyone was laughing and having a great time. If you haven’t played yet, and you can put on a decent poker face, you have to give it a try– truly a unique and fun experience !

4
Go to the Smash Up: The Obligatory Cthulhu Set  page
12 out of 40 gamers thought this was helpful

Totally baffled by the theme choice. For me it is very hard to get excited about four variations of Cthulhu races. There just isn’t enough to distinguish each flavor of Cthulu. There were so many other ways for AEG to go here for such an early expansion – perhaps an expansion like this would more understandable as a seventh or eighth expansion but not a first or second. The Cthulhu should have been one race in a “monsters” or “mythology” expansion. Thematically this set left me very underwhelmed and totally overshadowed the content.

9
Go to the Seasons page

Seasons

56 out of 66 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is an accessible and controlled Magic the Gathering.

The card drafting during the prelude (initial planning stage) and the mechanic that requires players to stagger access to their cards in sets of three across three “years” (phases) makes for a fun and exciting game each time. These mechanics require you to plan and set up both a short term and long term game strategy.

Powerful card combinations are plentiful and always presenting themselves ! Add to all this beautiful components (have you seen the dice?!) and high replay value — plays best with two players but handles up to four. Very thought provoking and strategic and allows you to scratch your MTG itch without the financial commitment or time investment!!

7
Go to the Summoner Wars Master Set page
70 out of 105 gamers thought this was helpful

Protect your summoner from dying by using creatures, walls and spells. Solid easy to learn and easy to teach light/medium strategy game. Has a chess-like feel to it. Each faction plays very differently and figuring out how to play each faction most effectively is a fun puzzle onto itself. However, one criticism I have is the heavy reliance on dice during attacks adds a bit more of a chance element than I would like to see in a strategy/tactics game like this.

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