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Pentegarn

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Go to the Power Grid page
Go to the The Castles of Burgundy page
Go to the Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar page
Go to the 7 Wonders page
Go to the Terraforming Mars page
Go to the Puerto Rico page
Go to the Brass: Birmingham page
8
Go to the Le Havre page

Le Havre

Uwe Rosenberg has made his fair share of crunchy economic games. This one is by far the toughest to get things going o on yet that I have played

Gameplay/Replay

For as hard as it is to succeed at playing, it is surprisingly simple in execution. On your turn you have two options, place your one and only worker on a building, or take all of an available resource from the board. Where this game gets brutal is in how rounds play out. You need goods to build buildings and boats, but you also need money and food to meet your feeding requirement (which increases incrementally throughout the game) at the end of the round (which consists exactly 7 actions divided between 2-5 players) In most cases that leaves you precious little time to get anything moving. Grab those fish, take them to the smokehouse (if it is even available) and hope that is enough food for a round and a half so that maybe in the next round you can get a building built (which is where you get the VP. Many buildings you build can be used by other players for a modest coin or food payment, and at times that can give you just enough to get by for the round. It is a tight unforgiving game. But that’s what makes it a good one as well.

The Bad

Oddly enough the good is also the bad, you feel like you are working your a** off and accomplishing nothing of note. And it is not newbie friendly,it took me 12 of the 15 game’s rounds for it to click how I needed to go about my business, which by then was far too late.

In conclusion

If you love heavier euros, this is a pretty good one, as soon as I was done I felt frustration coupled with a desire to try again. Overall I recommend it for the heavy gamer

5
Go to the The Island of El Dorado page

A gorgeous game packaged with care that is a sight to look at from opning to playing it, unfortunately it falls shhort when the playing actually takes place

Gameplay/replay

El Dorado is a race to make 4 offerings at 4 temples, it is played over 2 different areas, the island which houses 3 temples, and the cave which houoses the last one. The play itself is rather simple in nature. Roll 2 dice, one is gathering power, one is number of actions. You decide which is which. So far so good. Get those offeings made, get those farms built, win fights. Sounds fun right? Well….

The Bad

The longer I played this, the less enamored I was. While it sounded good on paper, it fell short in execution. Most of the game seems to end up being you and your opponents throwing haymakers at each other where one side loses everything and has to start from scratch. Farms burned, villagers slaughtered, fortresses destroyed, which makes the exploring aspect often get forgotten as you rebuild and counterattack… over and over and over. Then there’s the cave itself, a nonstop series of fights against cave dwellers all in the hopes of finding the last temple. The game wore out its welcome very quickly once we saw how combat seems to be the be all end all of this game.

In conclusion

A good 4x can be a masterpiece. The other side of the coin however is that a bad 4x can be a chore. El Dorado looks spectacular, it really does, but it is style over substance in the end for me. Hopefully the person who buys my copy will enjoy it more than I did.

8
Go to the Teotihuacan: City of Gods page

Teotihuacan: City of Gods is an interesting little game with a modular board and a very different take on worker and how they interact, yet this will feel familiar if you played another of Daniele Tascini’s games, Tzolk’in. To be clear this is not a bad thing necessarily, just something I noticed right away

Gameplay/replay

Much like Tzolk’in (get used to seeing this) you play over a set number of turns which are separated by eclipses (when scoring for that round are done). You have a modular board where you move workers represented by colored 6 sided dice 1-3 spaces and take said space’s action paying cocoa based off the number of different color dice with the power of the action based off how many of your color dice are there and the pip count on your lowest die after which you raise the pip count of one of your dice in that location, pray for god track elevation (much like Tzolk’in) locking your die to the space until someone else prays there or until you buy it off of the lock with cocoa, or take cocoa based on how many different color workers are there. Actions vary from gathering gold, wood, or stone (much like Tzolk’in) to building path of the dead buildings for vp and movement on the path of the dead, to adding to the pyramid in the center of the board for vp. Between rounds you score points based off masks you gather, path of the dead placement, and participation in building the pyramid. At this point workers must be fed (much like Tzolk’in) cocoa based off how many you have and how many have a pip count of 4 or 5

If a die is promoted to the 6 side, it ascends, moves to the 1 space on the board, and you get a bonus but a turn toward the eclipse happens as well (meaning like in Tzolk’in, certain events accelerate the game forward)

After the 3rd eclipse, the game ends and round points and final points for getting to the penultimate space on any god track are awarded. Most vp wins

The bad

This is a slightly more difficult game to learn, though to the thick rulebook’s credit, it does have a first time play instructions that allow you to jump in with less time than learning the more traditional version would take. Also, as I have often repeated, this game seems like Tzolk’in’s brother. Probably aa more complex brother and it plays differently enough to distinguish itself, but it cannot be denied the similarities are many and prolific. If this would annoy you, it might be a turn off

In conclusion

It’s a heavier one, but worth learning. I like the promoted workers and how you have to plan accordingly because while powerful workers are good, feeding them is a task and one the game penalizes you for failing to do so a well timed 5 to a 6 can be a game changer as can a poorly timed 3 to a 4. Still a worthy heavier euro to add to the collection if you like that sort of thing. I would advise try before you buy however cause it has a lot of moving parts

9
Go to the Thunderstone Quest page

Thunderstone Quest

The third iteration of Thunderstone brings it into the echelon of deck builder plus games like Trains, Tyrants of the Underdark, Clank!, or A Few Acres of Snow.

Gameplay/Replay

Much like previous editions, Thunderstone Quest starts you with a modest deck of starter cards which you use to purchase in the village or visit the dungeon, through visits to the village you purchase cards to improve your deck in order to defeat stronger dungeon denizens. Quest improves on this concept in several ways.

For starters, you now have several village actions that you can take when visiting the village. The choice you make decides what your purchase includes, many choices will allow you to buy a card with an extra action, such as promoting a hero card, getting an item, or healing. That’s right, in this version, you have a health track, and said track will affect how many cards you draw at the start of your turn so keeping that health up is important.

In addition, the dungeon now is a board where the strongest monsters are in the deepest part while weaker monsters are closer to the surface. Light is still a factor, but it how much light you need can be wildly varied depending on the room tile the monster is on. There is also a new giant rat persistent monster at the entrance you can kill for a free purchase at the village. Things get dangerous when enough keys come out and the rat gets replaced by the big bad of the game. That last turn everyone gets additional cards in their draw for a final crack at the big boss. Most pints win

The Bad

Well for one thing this game weighs a lot, not game difficulty weight, I mean I can state its weight in stone. You will gain musculature when carrying it from the shelf to the table. Also the randomizer factor is still a problem as odd mixes can cause messy results, but playing them in adventure pack form is a decent fix as the packs are balanced for the adventure they are trying to give. Also it is hefty on the wallet especially if you want the adventure packs as well

In Conclusion

I for one think this is the best version of Thunderstone yet, and good news, it is as of this writing still available in deluxe form, though the magic of a Kickstarter expansion. That said it is NOT cheap (as mentioned earlier) though it is probably now my favorite deck builder and I think the cost worth it.

9
Go to the New Frontiers page

New Frontiers

The newest game out of the Race for the Galaxy universe is a Puerto Rico-esque version, and the results are quite fun

Gameplay/Replay

Taking a page from the role selection that made Puerto Rico and San Juan the games that they are, New Frontiers presents yet a third way to experience the Race for the Galaxy concept. Each round consists of a player selecting one of several actions that do things that all players participate in, but you get a special benefit for choosing such as

-Explore: pull 7 planets out of the bag, each player in turn order starting with the leader picks an unsettled planet and places it on their planet board, the leader gets to choose a second world from leftovers.}

-Settle: Settle a planet on your board through settler meeples paying credits or using military as appropriate, otherwise take 2 settlers, Leader gets a free settler. Planets are worth VP

-Discover: Purchase a tech, leader gets a 1 credit discount Tech is worth VP

-Produce: produce a good on all non windfall production worlds, leader gets to produce one good on an empty windfall world

-Trade/consume: May sell one good, man then use each consume action you have. Leader gets 1 vp

-Leader Get 2 credits

-Move to front of turn order

-(Optional) Introduce an endgame goal and gain 1 credit which everyone gets VP from doing

After all players have chosen different roles and everyone carried them out, the roles reset and it all starts again. 4 things can trigger endgame; Running out of VP tokens, having 7 or more settled planets, having 11 or more discovery tile spaces on your board covered, or the settler meeple pool having less than 5 meeples in it. Most VP wins, credits left break ties

The Bad

Credit crisis is a fairly easy trap to fall into, I have played 3 times so far and seen it happen twice. Also the military path is a difficult path to pull off in this game

In Conclusion

All that said, I recommend this one quite highly and this might be my favorite 2019 game so far. With the random techs and multiple starter player boards each game is different. A fun time.

9
Go to the Viticulture page

Viticulture

6 out of 6 gamers thought this was helpful

While I wouldn’t say this is my personal favorite worker placement game, I would say it is an objective worker placement masterpiece that most avid worker placement fans will enjoy

Gameplay/Replay

As a family running a vineyard you use your workers through the year to grow various kinds of grapes, turn them into wine and fill orders with the various people looking for certain kinds of wine of certain ages. The game is played over multiple rounds where you go through 4 seasons doing things throughout each season to help make your vineyard the best. You start by placing your rooster meeple on the turn order track to get a reward, the better the reward the later in the round you go. In the summer you choose to build improvements, plant grapes, get grapes to plant, entertain visitors or give a tour. Fall gives you a summer or winter visitor then in the winter phase you can harvest, make wine, entertain winter visitors, hire an additional worker, or fill an order. The catch to all this is you only have so many workers to spread through the entire year and a summer worker cannot be played in the winter (barring certain visitor cards changing this of course). Play continues till someone scores 20 then the year is played out and the player with the most points wins. With all the different visitor cards you will find a new way to play every time.

The Bad

Very little to talk about here. I guess if you hate crass jokes about a word that is a synonym to rooster then you might get irritated when people say “ok it’s wake up phase grab your roosters” and all the people as immature as I am start giggling. Also the theme is a little dry (Ha! Get it?!) but I found myself enjoying the game theme and all.

As worker placements go you can’t go wrong with this one. Get the essential edition though it really improved the original game by leaps and bounds

6
Go to the Artifacts, Inc. page

Artifacts, Inc.

6 out of 6 gamers thought this was helpful

Artifacts Inc. is a nice dice placement that packs into an easy to carry box. Good for trips where you might be looking to kill an hour

Gameplay/Replay

In Artifacts Inc. you race to get to 20 points first and then have the most points after all players have taken an even number of turns. Players do this by gathering various kinds of artifacts like fossils or idols or gems or parchment. Each player starts with 4 cards that give them 3 different locations and 3 dice per turn to roll. The 3 locations give players 2 expeditions and a place to purchase upgrades to their artifacts for hire company. Money can be made by selling artifacts in amounts to various museums or by selling them to a public space where you can get 1 dollar per artifact with a bonus per extra unique type you sell. This money can be used to buy upgraded buildings which give you points. All points are tracked as you buy which can make the game seem to end sooner than expected, but it is often a tight race where having majority in things sold to a museum (the only end game bonus) can make all the difference. Every game the buildings are randomized so each play is different, though the dive mechanic will remain the same every game.

The Bad

This game can be prone to AP for some as you get more and more to do with upgrades giving yo u more dice, rerolls, or the ability to increase/decrease a die roll. More options means more thinking about what the best move is. Also it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing game yo have ever looked at and at times you will not have enough cubes (you can use a site that sells cubes to fix this however.)

All that said for what it costs MSRP wise this is a good little middle of the road dice placement game

8
Go to the Grand Austria Hotel page

So if La Granja’s dice selection mechanics and the tile placement mechanics of Castles of Burgundy had a baby that they lay in a bed of Victory Point Salad you would have Grand Austria Hotel.

Gameplay/replay:

You are managing a hotel/cafe where you have to prepare your rooms and give the customers in your cafe what they want to entice them to occupy said rooms. Played over 7 rounds with 2 actions per player per round, there’s certainly scant little time to screw around. And the game can be very unforgiving if you neglect certain things (like the emperor track in odd numbered rounds where not hitting your goal can be catastrophic). In these 14 total rounds, you select customers, then choose between getting desserts and drinks (which your customers want), preparing rooms (so you have a place to put those satisfied customers), hiring staff (for end game points or for abilities that help throughout the game), or getting money or a push on the emperor track. As you fulfill the needs of the customers you select they will occupy rooms you have prepared, which get you points both for the customer and at the end of the game for the room. Every odd numbered round from 3 on is an emperor track scoring round where you either win a bonus, win nothing, or take a severe penalty. The game ends when the 7th round concludes and the end game points are added to your score overall. As there so many ways to get VP you can try many things in future plays and keep things fresh for yourself.

The bad:

There’s a heavy amount of iconography and yes the book does a splendid job explaining it, but there is so much that multiple people will need to see the book slowing the game at times. The game would be better served with some quick reference sheets (print them up if you can find a good set anywhere) The first time you play this it will be a bit of a challenge to maneuver properly through the myriad system of combos that the cards can grant, but don’t let that deter you

In the end, it is a heavier game than it looks at first, but it is really fun and worth learning if you like a Feld-esque game without the Feld in it.

8
Go to the Tyrants of the Underdark page
7 out of 8 gamers thought this was helpful

Conquer the Underdark by accumulating the best army and spreading your influence to the various Underdark Locations. I have always been a fan of deck builders but lately I want something more from them (for example A Few Acres of Snow) and Tyrants gave me just what I wanted from a deck builder in a market that has plenty to choose from already

Gameplay and replay:

The game is played over multiple turns. Similar to Ascension in execution, you play your hand and buy cards, then take military actions such as deploying your troops, or removing opponents troops or spies from play. You start like in most deck builders with very basic cards that give you either one purchasing power or one military power, but as you purchase more powerful cards the number of purchases and military actions you can take grows. You assert influence in places you have presence, which means you must have a troop adjacent to, or a spy within, the location in question before you can put a troop there. Spies become very essential and you have only 5 to use. They are returned to you if removed from play. Troops are also limited, though you have dozens of them, however when a troop is removed from play by another player, it goes into their trophy case for points at the end of the game. You may also at times (provided you have a card that allows it) promote cards from your deck into your inner circle, they become more valuable for end game scoring, and also act as a means of culling less useful cards from your deck. Controlling areas will grant end game points, and controlling major areas will grant you VP and additional purchase power.

The game ends when one person is out of troops or when you cannot refill the available purchasable cards from the faction deck. Points are then counted from your trophy case, your territories you have control (with a bonus for each location you have total control of), your deck value, your inner circle value, and the number of victory point tokens you get from total control of a major location.

The Bad:

Not much to report here, the worst thing I can say is the insert could separate the cards better (much like a Thunder Stone or Dominon insert does) but that is a nit pick gripe just so I have something to put here. The insert is actually pretty nice otherwise.

Great game, very easy to learn, fun to play but really good tension and player interaction. Give it a whirl!

8
Go to the Terraforming Mars page

Terraforming Mars

18 out of 19 gamers thought this was helpful

Terraforming Mars is a treat once you manage to learn it. An epic task, worthy of your time for sure, but monumental to learn

Gameplay and replay:

The game is played over several rounds where everyone takes turns using their various resources earned at the end of each round to fulfill contracts, alter Mars’ topography into a hospitable planet, preform tasks, or install cities. You build an engine with your actions allowing you to do further actions in subsequent turns until the game ends by getting the right amount of water in the surface, oxygen on the atmosphere, and global temperature. Points are scored for making these 3 things happen, fulfilling certain contracts, installing cities surrounded by greenery, and getting achievements and trophies

Each game get a little better as you better understand the rules. Which brings me to

The bad:

Love the game, hate the poorly written rulebook. Unclear syntax, awkward sentence structure, and a lack at times of clear examples makes for a confusing out of the box learning experience. Not overly fond of the player mats or box insert which falls apart almost as soon as you return the game to the box while the player mats suffer from things getting jostled around on surface where necessary information is too easily

Overall bad box, rulebook, and player mats aside, the game itself is a well put together experience that you will love once you manage to muddle through the poor rulebook

10
Go to the The Castles of Burgundy page
11 out of 18 gamers thought this was helpful

EDIT NOTE: This was my first review I wrote here and I hated it, so I am redoing it. Full disclosure, this is my all time favorite game and has been so for a decade. Still I will try to be as objective as I can

Considered by many to be Stefan Feld’s most successful creation, Castles of Burgundy is an easy to learn and quite hard to master game. Few games can claim that dice are their primary mechanic and still manage to be deep challenging games the way CoB can.

Gameplay and replay:

The game is played over the course of 5 rounds that consist of 5 turns per player. Goods are distributed around the reward spaces to count down the round and when the 25th good is placed that indicates the final turn of the game for everyone. Each urn you roll 2 dice which can be used to make 2 actions. Actions can be claiming a tile, placing said tile in a matching colored place on your map (all tiles must be connected), selling goods for a silverling and VP, or turning in a worker for a worker that can effect later workers. Tiles placed on your board can give bonuses which can lead to a string of actions taken in a single turn. For example a castle tile placed would allow you a wild additional die, you could use it to get a tan tile then and use your second die to place it, and the tan tile might then allow you to grab a blue tile from the board as a bonus action. These sorts of combos for extra actions are where the beauty of CoB can be found.

The Bad:

If you hate dice in your euros, you will probably be turned off a bit. This game relies heavily on utilizing your die rolls and sometimes one can get some less optimal rolls. You can utilize workers to nullify this, but it does cost actions to get more workers.

In the end though, this game is a Top 25 Game for a reason. It scratches a lot of different itches, it strikes the perfect balance between challenging and relaxing

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