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Brian

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Amateur Reviewer
Amateur Reviewer
Review 3 games and receive a total of 40 positive review ratings.
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Go to the 7 Wonders page
Go to the Race for the Galaxy page
Go to the Arkham Horror page
Go to the Pandemic page
Go to the Arkham Horror: Innsmouth Horror page
9
Go to the 7 Wonders page

7 Wonders

81 out of 86 gamers thought this was helpful

Seven Wonders is everything you want out of a board game. It’s relatively easy to learn, contains colorful, high quality art design, and relies mostly on strategy rather than luck. If you play this game once you’ll be likely to play 2, 3, 4, or more times that night.

Concept
The concept of 7 Wonders is historical, but I find it more exciting than most other historical board games. You are the ruler of an ancient civilization, one of 7 that built the 7 Wonders of the ancient world. If you’ve ever played Civilization or any game which contains a technology tree, this will feel right at home. If not, don’t be scared; it’s very simple to learn.

Gameplay
The game is split up into three ages. At the end of the three ages you calculate all the victory points you have acquired and the player with the most wins. At the start of the game each person chooses a different civilization board and 7 cards are dealt out to each player for the start of age 1. Each player looks at these 7 cards and chooses one to play on their board. These cards are all vividly colored and represent goods, structures, and military powers. You can only play cards that you can afford (for example, if a card costs 1 wood as shown on the top left, you will need to have one wood in front of you already). After playing a card everyone passes their cards to the next person so you will get a new hand of 6 cards for your second play. Once you run out of cards the age ends, military victories are counted, and the next age begins.

An interactive aspect of this game is the trading and military. A player needs to be concerned about the people to their left and right at all times. Adjacent players are people you will be interacting with to buy resources from, sell resources to, and battle against with your military. This adds a unique gameplay element which encourages you to work with or against the people around you.

Presentation
One of the biggest draws to this game for me was its high quality art design. 7 Wonders is very elegant, it does everything right in terms of presentation. There aren’t too many cards or pieces, the boards are sturdy, the art work is simple and vivid, and the card text doesn’t detract from the overall game. A lot of love was put into this game and it shows. When you’re finished with a game you will just be in awe of how cool it looks laid out on the table.

Overall
I really can’t say much negative about this game. 7 Wonders impresses me on every level. It’s easy to teach to newbies, very elegantly presented, and provides an interactive and strategic civilization building experience. It may not be the deepest deck building game on the market, but it’s so well polished that it deserves to be part of your regular game rotation.

9
Go to the Race for the Galaxy page
56 out of 59 gamers thought this was helpful

Race for the Galaxy is a deck building card game with an emphasis on strategy. Your goal is to build a galactic civilization using a variety of space-themed cards. Each game you will play up to 12 cards onto your “tableau” and then count up the amount of “victory points” you received. You win by having more victory points than everyone else.

Gameplay
The game is split up into phases, but not every phase is played during every turn. The phases are: explore, develop, settle, trade, consume, and produce. If you’ve ever played Puerto Rico or San Juan, these phases will make more sense. Each turn starts by selecting the phase you want while the other players do the same. On each turn, every phase that was selected is completed by everyone. For example, if you all picked “develop” then that is the only phase you will play that turn. The phase you choose gives you a bonus, so it’s not always best to rely on other people to pick the phase you want to play.

A typical turn usually has some form of the following: taking cards from the draw pile (explore), playing cards into your tableau (develop/settle), placing goods onto worlds you’ve settled by placing cards face down from your hand (produce), and consuming goods you’ve previously placed to draw more cards or score victory points. The diversity of the cards and their respective powers is that makes the game so strategic and deep.

Presentation
The cards are well designed but can be confusing to understand. Each card has the powers listed on the left side, referencing the specific phase in which that power should be used. The effect of these powers are explained on the cards using symbols. This symbol system, while very helpful, can be like learning a new language for someone new to the game. They give you a reference mat for all these symbols, so it helps to have that handy (especially for some of the more confusing card powers). The artwork leaves a little to be desired as well.

Strategy
Race for the Galaxy has tremendous replay value because you will almost NEVER play the same game twice. Your strategy will be dictated by the cards you are given – and there are a lot of cards (especially if you add in the expansions). You may decide to build a civilization with all of one type of power and try to get that power bonus every turn, or you may decide to save up your cards to build really expensive worlds. The game is well balanced for different strategies. There are times where you and someone you’re playing against will have opposing strategies but still manage to end up with almost the same amount of victory points.

Summary
The most difficult part about playing Race for the Galaxy is learning it for the first time. This is especially hard if you haven’t played games with phase-selection and deck building. Once you get past this hurdle you’ll find that it’s a very deep game which offers a diverse experience every time. The artwork and symbol system could use a makeover, but it does the job as is. It gets a 9/10 from me.

7
Go to the Arkham Horror page

Arkham Horror

81 out of 93 gamers thought this was helpful

Arkham Horror is a cooperative game set in the H.P. Lovecraft universe. Players take on the roles of “Investigators” whose job it is to find clues, fight monsters, and ultimately seal the dimensional gates. If the investigators fail to seal the gates in time the “Ancient One” is revealed and must be slain or else all is lost.

Presentation
The best part of Arkham Horror is the immersive theme. It uses Lovecraft’s characters and setting perfectly to capture a sense of dread and fear. The artwork on all the cards and monster tokens is very high quality. The board is slightly ugly to look at, but it goes well with atmosphere of the game.

The biggest barrier to playing this game is getting the energy to set up the board. If you’re new to the game it may take a half hour or more just to set up all the pieces. There’s literally hundreds of tokens and cards to sort out. The board itself is quite large, and there’s no place to even put the cards to draw them easily. You need a large table to play this game.

Gameplay
The gameplay is similar to other role playing games, and can be daunting to new players. Players take turns completing four separate “phases”: upkeep, movement, encounters, and mythos. Most the action occurs during the “movement” and “encounters” phases as this is where you will do most your monster battling and card drawing. The “mythos” phase is usually when things go from bad to worse. At the end of each round, players draw a mythos card during the final phase and resolve the actions listed on the card. Most of the time this will add more monsters or else some obstacle that must be overcome.

The game is relentless, there’s no card that tells you that you’ve won 10 dollars in a beauty contest. The encounters are almost always negative, and even if they are positive you usually have to pass a skill check to reap the reward (and if you fail you may suffer a punishment.) The post game scenarios with the Ancient Ones are typically even more brutal, and most of the time I choose not to even try to beat them (especially considering everyone is usually already beat to a pulp when the Ancient One is first awakened.)The game takes anywhere from 1 1/2 – 5 hours to play and victory is very rewarding. The game is better with more people, especially those who know what they are doing.

Summary
Arkham Horror has a great atmosphere, wonderful components, and rewarding gameplay. It can be confusing to learn and hard to set up, but the effort will probably be worth it for most lovers of cooperative games. The “Ancient One” post game boss is a little gimmicky, but helps set the mood by providing a real threat to failing to seal the gates. If you have the patience to learn it and you enjoy cooperative games, it’s definitely worth picking up.

9
Go to the Pandemic page

Pandemic

46 out of 53 gamers thought this was helpful

Pandemic is an entirely cooperative game modeled after a potential doomsday scenario – a killer super-virus, spreading over the world. Throughout the game the four different virus strains infect different cities around the world and it is up to you to find the cures and/or eradicate the viruses. Everyone chooses a role (i.e. Researcher, Medic, Scientist, etc.) and from there your team jets around the world setting up research centers, treating the disease, and searching for the cure. If the virus spreads too much, the world is overrun and you lose. If you find cures for all four strains before this happens you win.

The theme is perfect for a cooperative game. It creates a tense atmosphere and really makes it so you have to work together to win. The game is balanced really well, there have been plenty of times where my team wins the game in the nick of time, right before the virus reaches critical. Some have said it might be too easy, but luckily there is a way to increase the difficulty by adding more “Epidemic” cards into the mix.

The only downside to this game is what I consider a somewhat bland presentation. The artwork on the board and cards is dark and mundane. The map itself could be laid out more aesthetically. The disease cubes and character markers are just generic cubes and pawns. I would recommend getting the expansion, if only for the cool petri dishes to hold your disease cubes.

Overall, this game is great for those looking for a strong co-op game with an exciting theme. The presentation is a little drab, but it makes up for it with quality, balanced gameplay.

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