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Jon

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Go to the Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 page
Go to the Star Wars: Imperial Assault page
Go to the Eminent Domain page
Go to the The Resistance: 3rd Edition page
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Go to the Sentinels of the Multiverse page
Go to the StarCraft: The Board Game page
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9
Go to the Acquire page

Acquire

7 out of 8 gamers thought this was helpful

For a history of this great game, check out the Acquire page on Wikipedia. It also gives a good overview, which I decided not to repeat in this review.

I’ve played the cardboard-tile version with the 9×12 grid a few times and loved it. So, I decided to try the newer version that has plastic pieces and a smaller 10×10 grid (the one listed on Amazon here).

The new version plays the same except for a few main changes:
1) Uses plastic tiles instead of cardboard tiles. These plastic tiles stack onto the spaces of the plastic grid in a way that prevents them from moving (a nice feature). The plastic tiles also stand up on their own like dominoes instead of needing scrabble-style tile trays.
2) The size of the grid is a smaller 10×10 instead of 9×12. I liked the larger size of the original better, but the smaller size is fine – it just leads to a shorter game.
3) Instead of only a Majority and Minority share holder for mergers, the new game has Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary bonuses. This is great for 6-player games. For 2-player games, you only use the Primary/Secondary bonuses.

CONS: The main problem with the new version is that the numbers/letters on the plastic gray grid are almost impossible to see. After I painted the numbers white, it was much better (dry brushing works). I also wish that the the grid was labeled like a spreadsheet with letters for the columns and rows for the numbers.

I’ve played the new version mostly with 2 players so far, and it works well as a 2-player game.

10
Go to the Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 page
7 out of 7 gamers thought this was helpful

I love legacy games, and this one is among the best.

I’m now on my second time through Season 2. The first time was with my family, about a year ago. This second time through, my game group chipped in to share the cost of the game. It’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten quite a bit of what happens over the course of the game (so it’s still fun for me). I’m trying hard to avoid giving anything away that I do remember. It’s not always easy to do that, since decisions can have a big impact on how future games play out.

I can’t write a detailed review without spoiling the game, but if you liked Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, you’ll probably like this second season. Nothing I mention below is a spoiler – you’ll learn it during your first game.

1) I really enjoyed the new exploration aspect of season 2. You start with only a portion of the board revealed, and you explore new regions (adding stickers to the board when explored).

2) The main ongoing mechanic of Pandemic, strategically removing disease cubes from the board, has been replaced with adding supply cubes. That provides enough difference to make Season 2 more than just an ongoing story line.

3) The character sheets have scratch-off sections that randomize whether you get scars or whether your character dies (permanently). Avoid beginning your turn on a space with a plaque cube!!!

When I talk about the game to other people, I’m almost always asked how many games you play before you’re done. Like Season 1, you can play any number of “practice” games before starting the real campaign. After you begin the campaign, the minimum number of games is 12, assuming you win every one (very unlikely). The maximum would be 24 games, assuming you lost every one. The difficulty increases after you win, and decreases after you lose, so you’ll probably end up playing around 16-18 games.

Overall, I thought the game was very well balanced. I’m looking forward to Season 3!

10
Go to the StarCraft: The Board Game page
10 out of 10 gamers thought this was helpful

I broke this game out this week after many years of not playing it and remembered why I liked it so much. The video game was one of the first popular Real-Time Strategy PC games (like Warcraft), and the board game does a great job of following the theme.

Deck Building: This game had the deck building mechanic before Dominion! You use cards from your Combat Deck for battling, and you can add more cards to your Combat Deck by researching new cards from your technology deck.

The board game is not real-time like the video game, but it has a unique way of assigning Move/Build/Research orders that adds a very fun strategic element to the game play. You get to assign 4 orders per round, but you place orders one at a time and other players can interfere with your plans.

3 Alien Races: Up to 6 players, 2 of each type of alien race, including Terran (Human), Zerg (biological Alien), and Protoss (Tech/Psi Alien). Each of the 3 races has a unique set of units based on same units in the video game, and the board game does a good job of translating the unique abilities into mechanics that work for the board game.

Base-Building and Unlocking Abilities: Just like the video game, to build more advanced units first requires building up your base to create those units. What you research and build depends on what your opponents are researching, because some units are only able to attack air or ground units.

When I purchased this years ago, I was looking for something epic, with a lot of fun pieces. This fit the bill nicely, and it also helped that I loved the video game.

Not Terribly Long Games: Unlike many epic strategy games (think Axis & Allies or Twilight Imperium), Starcraft games don’t need to take longer than 1.5 hours after you’ve learned the game.

Works Well for 2 Players: The game scales very well to make sure that players will clash. Unlike a game like Scythe where you don’t need to ever battle anyone, or Settlers of Catan where you might never clash with somebody in a 2-player game, Starcraft is designed for battling and the win conditions almost always force you to face your neighbors in battle.

Complicated, yes! And that makes it fun – many different ways to win and choices on what to build and research. A person who enjoys more complex games can get the feel for the game by playing it. That might mean the first game is 3 hours long, but it’s fun.

I wouldn’t recommend the game for casual or social play (too much strategy to have distracting conversations during the game). But, if you know somebody who has the game and you enjoy a shorter type of epic strategy war game, ask them to break it out.

10
Go to the Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 page
7 out of 8 gamers thought this was helpful

Perhaps the best thing I can do to say how much I liked Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is to say that I bought one copy for my family and a second copy for my gaming group, then another copy as a gift for an in-law that also loves games.

I played through with my family and my gaming group at approximately the same time, with the game group being a bit behind … so I had to be careful not to suggest decisions to my group that would have too much of an impact on the future games.

I ended up purchasing the Season 2 and playing through it with my family over the holidays and loved that version as well.

As much as I like these games, you really do only play through them once … meaning that it takes about 15-18 games to complete the entire ‘campaign’ and then you’re done (if you are lucky enough to win every game, then the minimum # of games to complete is 12). Even though the game costs a bit, if you compare it to going to the movies a couple of times with the family, the cost looks like an amazing deal.

9
Go to the Scythe page

Scythe

11 out of 11 gamers thought this was helpful

When I was looking for a game to give to my son for Christmas, I wanted something that I’d be willing to play over and over and over. After 10 plays so far, I can say that I’m very happy with Scythe, and expect to be playing it even more.

[For the rest of this review, I’ll assume you have read the publisher overview]

For me, what makes the game replayable is the challenge of trying different strategies with different combinations of factions and player mats. I really enjoy games that involve a lot of different choices rather than learning one single strategy.

The game includes an Achievement Sheet that gives some ideas for different challenges you might focus on, such as winning without any upgrades or without making any mechs, etc. We’ve printed extra copies of the sheet to use as a log to keep track of notable games that don’t necessarily result in a win (such as all scores > 100).

We haven’t tried more than 4 players at a time, but I think I might end up losing patience if there were 6 players or more. However, the game moves along at a nice clip with up to 4 players. From set up to clean up, we can usually be done with a game in under an hour and half, assuming all the players are experienced.

This is not a social game where you can carry on conversations and not think about what you are doing. It requires thought to be able to plan your actions efficiently and in the best order. That is one of the things I love about it, though.

For new players, it usually takes 5 or 6 turns before they can go it alone, but with helpful hints along the way, a new player can still have fun, assuming they like games that require them to think.

I like the fact that there is very little luck involved. It’s not like a game of Settlers of Catan where you might go a few turns without getting any resources (which frustrates me to death). The main uncertainties occur as a result of interaction with the other players. They may take control of areas you wanted. You might be fighting over the center Factory. Or, you might just be playing with somebody who doesn’t care about winning and just wants to ransack all of your workers. And yes, you have that option. If you don’t think you’re going to win, might as well just send all of the other player’s workers scurrying back to their home bases.

8
Go to the Asara page

Asara

40 out of 43 gamers thought this was helpful

Asara is a fun introduction to the worker placement mechanic, and the unique aspect of the game is that you are actually building towers with little tiles.

You score points at the end of each of 4 rounds, so it’s good to get started on your towers early, then gradually build them taller and build more of them as the game progresses. At the end, the scoring is based on building the tallest towers or the most towers, and on top of that … building the most expensive towers.

A round (or “year” as it is called in the game) consists of each person taking turns placing a buyer card on different spaces on the board to buy different tower pieces, get more money, draw an extra card, take the first player token, build your towers, and a couple of other options. After everybody has placed all their buyer cards, the round is over, you collect some year-end points, clean stuff up, draw a new set of buyer cards, and start the next round.

At the end of each round, you get a point for each tower as well as the special gold-decorated sections on your tower … so you normally want to try to ****** up the gold tower sections first. Oh, and you also get a point for having the first-player token.

The age listed on the box is 9-99 and 9 is a pretty good minimum age. I was introduced to this game at GenCon 2011 and like it so much that I actually played it more than once in a row because I really wanted to try out a different strategy the second time.

The game is pretty easy to learn, especially when taught by somebody who has played it. This game is fun for newcomers on the first play through, and first-time players can be competitive if they know that they should be going for the gold-decorated sections and trying to get a couple short towers started early on. After that, it’s a matter of looking around at what types of towers other people are building to decide on your strategy.

10
Go to the Eminent Domain page

Eminent Domain

99 out of 116 gamers thought this was helpful

I like the fact that the publisher’s description for Eminent Domain uses the term “Empire Building” rather than “deck building” because the theme is what makes this game fun for me.

In Eminent Domain, you get to explore worlds, represented as cards that you lay in front of you in your play area. To utilize the unique capabilities and resources of those worlds, you need to either Colonize the world, or Subjugate it through warfare. You gain victory points by controlling these worlds, trading resources, and researching technologies.

The actions you can take depend on the cards in your hand, however on your turn you also get to draw from the pool of role cards (which is how you get more cards added to your deck). At the end of your turn you get to choose which cards (if any) you want to discard. So, if you want to save up the research cards to get a cool technology, you can do that.

The rules are very simple, and for a “training” game you can play without using the research cards. It’s not that the research is really that complicated, it just helps avoid having new players get confused on their first play.

There are many different strategies that you can try – the variety is one of the great things about this game. Your strategy often has to change based on what your opponent is doing and what worlds you end up surveying.

Oh, and the little plastic ships add a surprising amount of enjoyment to the game, even though they’re basically just tokens.

6
Go to the SET page

SET

74 out of 103 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is all about finding pattern matches before everybody else. The problem is that it can be very frustrating and even demoralizing for people who aren’t as fast. My wife and kids love the game, but my rating is based on my own point of view … the point of view of somebody who tends to always lose. πŸ™‚

If I go into a game imagining I’m being pitted against a bunch of geniuses, then I can feel some sense of accomplishment if I get at least one or two sets. Of course, that probably means that everybody is just going easy on me.

I’m told that if I practice, I can get better. Perhaps I should play against a sloth. A monkey might be a bit too much competition, but I’m sure I could take on a sloth.

10
Go to the Mansions of Madness (1st ed) page

Mansions of Madness (1st ed)

78 out of 80 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve played this game twice so far, and it has opened my eyes to the world of role-playing. It isn’t really necessary to role play, but the game just seems to bring that out. I haven’t laughed this much playing a game in a very long time.

Today, we ended with an epic battle against a seemingly impossible foe. The room was on fire, there were zombies all around us, and we were all acting out various Matrix-style moves. The Keeper broke my leg (in the game) and I found myself falling to the floor (for real), firing my duel .45’s. The win came down to a single die role. Our final possible turn led to one lady landing a sweep kick, and my character who was laying on the floor with a broken leg (and also deaf) firing the final shot that took out “Uncle Artie”.

I’ve played Arkham Horror a couple times (which by the way, uses the same core characters), but I find it much easier to get immersed in Mansions of Madness, and for the players (i.e. investigators) it is actually a very simple game to learn and play. Most of the fun seems to come from the stories and the players’ reaction to the story as it unfolds. You learn your objective as you go, you get to explore rooms, hide from monsters in chests, drag corpses into fires, and whack monsters with crowbars and fire extinguishers. The players don’t need to know all the rules at first, because the story tells you what to do.

I mark this as “Easy To Learn” from the point of view of a new player being taught. The first time playing the Keeper is actually a pretty steep learning curve.

Oh … and the puzzles are great … to unlock some doors and chests you have to solve real puzzles (tiles that you need to arrange in various patterns using a limited number of moves based on your character’s intellect).

This is an absolutely brilliant game to play. I have yet to see what is like to play with non-avid gamers, but it is definitely going to be among my top choices when I want to have some real fun.

9
Go to the Catan: Cities & Knights page
68 out of 111 gamers thought this was helpful

Cities and Knights adds a LOT more ways to gain points. Unfortunately, the thing that I like about it (that it is more complex) is also the thing that makes it more difficult to play with newbies. I’ve found that in a social setting, it’s better to start out by playing the basic Settlers of Catan instead of jumping right into Cities and Knights.

9
Go to the Bohnanza page

Bohnanza

30 out of 48 gamers thought this was helpful

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a kids game, but I think the age requirement is more like 7+, because it’s not very complicated. The subtle strategies might not be picked up by the younger kids, but it’s still fun for them. It is called simply “The Bean Game” in my house.

For adults, it can be a fun social game. The illustrations on the cards are light hearted and fun. The card trading makes this a highly interactive game.

9
Go to the Stone Age page

Stone Age

81 out of 90 gamers thought this was helpful

This game felt like I was playing a combination of Settlers (resource gathering), Agricola (placing workers instead of orders), and Ticket to Ride (scoring). This game definitely ranks up there with the best family games (see note below). It didn’t take to long during the first game to get a grasp on “how” to play, and I was anxious to play again to test out new strategies.

It only takes about 10-15 minutes to teach new people how to play. I’d say that if you have friends that like Settlers of Catan, you would certainly be safe introducing them to Stone Age.

Note for Family Gamers: The game requires you to do quite a bit of easy multiplication and division (to figure out how many resources and points you get), so I’d say that the age recommendation could be based on whether a child can multiply. Other than that, it’s a pretty simple game to learn and teach.

My only wish is that the resources were made of the actual stuff they are supposed to represent. The gold bars could just be plated of course. πŸ™‚

10
Go to the Ticket to Ride page

Ticket to Ride

51 out of 85 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a great game that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. It’s VERY easy to learn, yet there is enough strategy and competition to keep it exciting time after time. My kids often request to play this game. And the really young ones seem to have fun just playing with the trains while everyone else plays the game.

Pros: I enjoy the competition, and the occasional fights that occur over a stolen route.

9
Go to the Lost Cities: The Card Game page
33 out of 51 gamers thought this was helpful

We took this game on a trip, without the board, and it worked just fine. It’s a fun themed card game that you can’t just play using face cards.

Pros:Each game is fairly short, so you can play as many hands as you have time for. The strategy is challenging enough to hold your interest.

Cons:It’s pretty easy to have a really bad hand that almost no amount of good strategy can overcome.

10
Go to the Dominion: Intrigue page

Dominion: Intrigue

64 out of 81 gamers thought this was helpful

This was the first Dominion game I ever played. I ended up buying the original Dominion game, and I like them both. However, I would probably have to say that I like Intrigue a little bit better … mostly due to the fact that it has more types of Victory point cards.

You do NOT need to have played the original Dominion game. And, to play any of the other expansions, you can own either Dominion OR Intrigue.

Intrigue seems more interactive than the base Dominion game. I like the variety of Action-Attack cards in Dominion:Intrigue.

10
Go to the Dominion page

Dominion

89 out of 119 gamers thought this was helpful

The variations and all the different ways to come up with and try out new strategies, make this a game that is fun to play over and over. It is easy to teach to casual game players, and most people seem to like it. It can sometimes take an entire play-through for a newbie to really get the hang of it, but for the most part, people seem to get used to it about mid-way through the game. So, with help from the experienced players to know what types of cards to buy at the beginning, even the newest player can have a chance at winning.

Pros: Easy to teach to casual game players. A great family game.

Cons: The fact that some of the expansions can’t be played without having either Dominion or Intrigue.

10
Go to the Dominion: Prosperity page
62 out of 76 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a great expansion. I’ve mostly only played it in combination with Intrigue, but there are times when I’ve been wanting to try out some of the cards from the original Dominion game. We’ve been teaching this version of the game to people who have never played Dominion before, and it’s still easy to pick up (although we typically leave out the Trade Route card).

Pros: I like the new treasure cards and the faster accumulation of money. I also like the new victory point tokens, and the ways that you can get them.

Cons: It’s not easy to randomize with other expansions and the base games because you DO need some of the special Prosperity cards if you’re going to be able to afford the 11-cost Colonies.

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