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Justron

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6
Go to the Thurn and Taxis: All Roads Lead to Rome page
27 out of 30 gamers thought this was helpful

This expansion contains two additions to the base game that can be used independently of each other, or together.

In Offices of Honour, when players use one of the four office holders they receive a token with the office holder’s face on it. Collecting a set of 2, 3, or 4 different office holders, then cashing them in, allows you to perform one of three special actions (each related to the number of different office holders you return to the supply), the most powerful being the ability to place a single post office in any city without having to visit it.

This expansion adds a hint more strategy to each turn of the game. Players can now gain rewards for diversifying their turns, and each office holder has a new value to weigh when making decisions. There is also an iota of new player interaction: the pool of office holder tokens are limited and when one type is depleted all players may return a set of tiles to claim the benefits, so the timing of depleting a pool can stop someone else from completing a larger, higher powered set.

In Audience a side-board with a map of roads to Rome is added along side the normal map. On this side board players load carriages with clergymen of various point values, and move the carriages toward Rome when a card in a closed route does not cause a post office to be placed. When a carriage reaches Rome, the clergymen disembark and sit in one of five seats, denoted by their point value. If a seat is already occupied, any newly arrived clergymen push the old ones out if they are the same value. So, it is important to have the carriage you’ve placed your highest point valued clergyman arrive as late in the game as possible.

If the above sounds confusing and convoluted… it’s because, in our experience, it is. This expansion is difficult to manage mentally, and often gets forgotten, carriages only being shuffled along as an afterthought. It’s almost an entire game unto itself, with little bearing on what’s happening in the main game. With the rules for carriage movement being so hard to plan (and running counter to the efficiency hammered into you in the base game), and players often forgetting where they’ve put their clergymen, this expansion usually ends up being a few random extra points for a few random players. The point values are not enough to win purely by focusing on the expansion, and the conditions under which to get the points are so hard to orchestrate as to not warrant paying much attention.

The components of All Roads Lead to Rome are high quality, and match perfectly with the base game.

Overall, we happily use the Offices expansion with players who are familiar with Thurn & Taxis as it requires minimal explanation, and the strategy it adds is readily apparent and useful. The Audience expansion isn’t worth the trouble. I’d be interested if other groups have different findings.

8
Go to the Bananagrams page

Bananagrams

55 out of 62 gamers thought this was helpful

Bananagrams is a real-time game of crossword creation. Players all play simultaneously, trying to use up all their letter tiles by placing them so that all their tiles are touching in a continuous crossword, and all the connections make legitimate words. Once a player has used all their tiles, they shout “PEEL!” and everyone takes another tile from the face-down supply. Once the supply is empty the first person to use all their tiles says “BANANAGRAMS!” and is the winner!

The game is a race; there are no points to be added up, and spelling a particularly impressive words has no strategic benefit, although it’s fun to see the unique words everyone is able to create.

Rounds are fast, lasting about 5-10 minutes at the most, and taking even less time with more players (since the tile pool doesn’t last as long). It’s very accessible and easy to learn, and plays a lot of people at once.

The components are well made, and the tiles have a good feel to them. The tiles seem to be a high quality plastic and hold up well to being dropped and to liquid spills. This is a good game to take to a restaurant or bar, as you can play several times waiting for food, on almost any surface, and it fits easily into a handbag. The banana-bag is pretty fun, too, and has held up to being carried around all over the place.

People who are not into boardgames (yet) tend to enjoy this game more than they initially expect because it’s fast and fairly non-committal. If someone is intimidated and doesn’t want to play, they usually join in by the second round. This makes it a great gateway game to bring to a non-gamer’s house, or out and about.

That said, boardgamers will probably find the excitement of Bananagrams fades quickly. The fast pace is exhilarating at first, but after a few rounds it becomes tiring (especially if the same player continually wins). There’s no real in-depth strategy beyond playing as fast as possible. This is a good appetizer to a more serious game, or one to play while waiting for the rest of the group to show up.

All in all, a great value!

6
Go to the Medici page

Medici

22 out of 36 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a tight game where most of the strategy emerges from player choice, which is great. It’s pretty simple, however.

Every turn is the same: The current player takes one, two, or three tiles from a bag, then everyone gets ONE bid on how much they’d pay for those goods, with the current player bidding last. Then the bag is passed.

Once everyone’s boats are full with 5 goods, the players receive money based on how much their goods are collectively worth. The goods are then essentially sold for profit, and the value of the goods increases by how many the player has sold so far, rewarding set collecting.

The key is to not overbid on low value goods, and not to underbid high valued goods so that other players can scoop them up for a pittance.

Lots of player interaction, although the action is of one type: bidding.

8
Go to the Galaxy Trucker page

Galaxy Trucker

71 out of 80 gamers thought this was helpful

A fun, very frenzied game with two phases:

1) Real time ship building, where players try to build the best ship by digging through a pile of parts. This is usually frantic, with players scooping the best pieces out from under the noses of each other, and leads to a lot of curses and laughs.

2) Race portion, where players find out how well their ships holds up to the pressures of space truckin’.

The ship building is fast, fun, and rewarding. The rules for this portion are fairly straight forward, although mistakes can be made due to the real time element where speed sometimes trumps accuracy. Players dig through a messy piles of square face-down ship part tiles, flipping them face up one at a time. If they find a useful piece, they can add it to their ship board (a grid showing the general layout of the ship). The general strategy is: lasers up front, boosters in the back, cargo hold, crew quarters, batteries, and shields anywhere else, get as many as you can fit! The limitation is that each piece has limited connections on each side, so the ship building plays a little like the old videogame Pipe Dream.

Once someone decides their ship is done they say “Finished!” and start a timer: the other players then have a limited time to finish their ships. The player to finish building first gets to lead the pack in the race phase.

The race/encounter portion has players navigating asteroid fields, fighting slavers and pirates, discovering abandoned ships to sell for cash (victory points), and locating resources rich planets to land on and harvest. The resources found are sold at the end of the round for points (if you manage to make it to the destination without getting your cargo holds blasted off).

The encounter phase is interesting, but can be a little too random and harsh; since most of the challenges of the cards are decided by dice rolls, or are mandatory, there’s not a lot of strategy to this portion, although the simple choices presented keep it moving. The encounter phase can be unsatisfying in that the best ship doesn’t always guarantee victory, and some players can be absolutely destroyed (which can be funny for everyone else but feels unfair). Good thing there’s 3 rounds to make up a deficit!

As the rules state, if you make any points by the end of the game you’re a winner. Some people are just bigger winners than others.

Takes one play to learn all the rules, then is fairly straight forward.

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