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Go to the Memoir '44 page
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8
Go to the Rise of Augustus page

Rise of Augustus

14 out of 17 gamers thought this was helpful

In order to guarantee full disclosure I admit now that I love Romans. I could probably enjoy Roman monopoly, probably.

So I have much joy in informing you that this is both Roman themed and fantastic.

Everytime I play Augustus I love it, I play it with friends, family , pretty much anyone. Its one of those ‘oh so simple’ games that lets anyone play and provides strategy for those wanting it.

The game has you trying to conquer either Roman people or places (objectives). Each person or place has its own combination of symbols onto which you can thrust one of your little red wooden legionnaires. Careful though you have a fixed number and three possible conquering opportunities at any one time.

You take it in turns to pass the bag of discs around the table reaching into its velvety depths and pulling forth a token on which is a symbol – some more rare than others. Its like bingo with Roman chariots, daggers and swords. Then everyone places a wooden legionnaire on that symbol should they have it on one of their three objectives before them.

Once you have a legionnaire on each symbol of an objective you can below ‘Ave Caesar’ at the top of your voice (never gets old) and then you gain whatever special effect may be on that objective as well as some victory points for the end of the game.

The fact that there are various special effects and lots of combo objectives give this game a hidden layer of strategy.

Add to this a number of bonuses available to all players depending on who is first to complete different sets of objectives and this will also keep you keeping one cautious eye on the other players and cursing every time bellows ‘Ave Caesar’ in your ear.

All in all I can’t really recommend this game enough, its not going to have you playing for hours but is a brilliant opener to any games evening and one that just about anyone will understand and enjoy.

“Ave Caesar”!!

6
Go to the Cavemen: The Quest for Fire page
12 out of 12 gamers thought this was helpful

This was one of those games I knew nothing about and just took a punt on, well priced, small box, and a theme which just suckered me in.

Firstly this is a lovely looking game, nice card stock, good art and very clear symbols. The there are the tokens – teeth and meat on bones! Who doesn’t like that! There’s joy to be had in sitting smugly in front of a pile of ex dinosaur meat represented by small shaped card tokens.

So aesthetics aside, this is essentially a easy to play card game. The rules are clear and simple and you’ll have the idea (if not the strategy ) within about ten minutes of playing.

It goes something like this: You each get a couple of cavemen and a cave to start. Then a number of cards are put in the middle of the table, you take it in turns to select something of your choice (hunt a dinosaur for food / teeth, get a new cave, recruit a new caveman or invent something). Everything is tempered by the need for the right amount of ability points for which each caveman is differently qualified, you won’t hunt down a tyrannosaurus without some good hunters, likewise you won’t be inventing err baskets without a couple of bright sparks.

This is preceded by a bidding round for the ‘conch shell’ which designates the first player (who gets to do two things rather than one) – the bidding currency being teeth.

The winner is the first to invent fire.

I like the game although for those more experienced gamers its a bit long for the sort of game it is (45-60 mins). I would have liked a bit more player interaction although the bidding is a nice touch.

Overall a simple resource management type of game in a nice small box which in itself is quite a unique thing. It won’t wow you but its a nice option to have – they just don’t make enough caveman games!!

8
Go to the Love Letter page

Love Letter

59 out of 66 gamers thought this was helpful

First thing to say about this game is that it’s small. A handful of cards and some small wooden blocks in a delightfully tactile velvet bag (just me?) is all you get. But then what do you expect for so little?

Don’t be fooled though, oh no, this game packs a large amount of fun into that velvet bag.

The cards are numbered 1 to 8, eight being the most valuable – princess card and one being the lowest ‘guard’ card. At the end of the round if there are more than one of you left whoever has the highest value card wins.

The mechanic is very simple, everyone gets a card, then in turn you take one from the deck. You then play face up one of the two cards in your hand and follow its effect.

The aim of the game is to work out what type of card other people are holding, guard cards then allow you to call them out and knock them out of the round. If there is a more satisfying mechanic in a game i am yet to find it. “You have a priest” you claim hopefully. You watch as their face falls and they curse you whilst throwing their card face up on the table. Joy.

Beacuse there are a fixed number of each card in the game and everyone has a list you just need to use your powers of deduction to work out what hasn’t yet been played. Several cards help you check other peoples cards, swap with them or go head to head to see who has the higher value.

Its a fast, enjoyable game. One of my favourite four player game night openers.

8
Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
180 out of 202 gamers thought this was helpful

This is one of fantasy flights ‘living’ card games or ‘money spinners’ designed to give you a good base game and then flog you endless expansions to keep you playing. I say that not to be derisory, it is what it is, but know this – if you like to really get into your games this one will hurt your wallet.

The theme is, unexpectedly, set in middle earth – lord of the rings, tolkien stuff. The game comprises of scenarios where some of the books / films characters get to go on missions and achieve various feats all whilst battling Sauron and the ever building evil.

The base game is set to appease the lonely or generally unpopular folk and plays with one or two players but for those of a more social nature you can pay for your popularity and purchase an additional set to play with three or four.

In the set you get a load of cards, hero cards (weapons, allies and events to help you out), quest cards (scenarios to work though), event cards (monsters, quest events, locations) and character cards (i’ve probably used the wrong terminology but you can’t be all things to all men). You also get two threat counters, which are in fact small wonders of cardboard engineering allowing you to track the threat level of the evil Sauron. Additionally you get some cardboard counters for wounds, quest points and because we all love counters.

So you firstly select a scenario, the base comes with three and there are many more to buy from your local gameshop or tax dodging internet store. These create game ‘ambience’ by telling you whats going on and endlessly quoting passages from the books.

You then select yourself up to three hero cards. Each hero has a points score, really good heroes have a high score, less able ones a lesser score. Once you’ve chosen you add these scores and set your threat level to that number. The threat level increases each turn as a kind of game timer and if it hits 50 you lose. Horribly. Therefore you can chose three ****** heroes but they won’t have long to save the day, alternatively a balanced team will have longer to succeed.

Then you construct your deck of hero cards all of which have a resource score to play (every character gets one resource every turn). There are four schools to choose from and you can mix and match. If you like deckbuilding you’ll enjoy this or if you like setting things up quickly like me you’ll just mix the cards up and hope for the best!

So you have three characters and doing something ‘exhausts’ them, so the game in essence has you managing your characters between ‘questing’ to tackle locations, attacking enemies, or defending your team. Deciding what to do each turn is the strategy here.

Every turn you’ll get a resource and a card, then decide who to send on the quest, then see what horrors await you by drawing event cards, then you visit locations or battle monsters. Then it all starts again!

Its a great game, you get loads of flavour and variety from the hero cards, the quest cards give you clear objectives and make every game different. The cards also dictate what goes into the event deck so each scenario has its own unique cards to throw at you. It works for me as a fan of the casual game but if you like building decks by looking at cards and going ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ and ‘this is going to make me unbeatable’ then you’ll equally love this.

If there is one floor its that it could have been brilliant. If the base game was for up to four players it would have been wonderful. Having said said if you have the dosh then you can make it great. My advice? Get spending, who needs to eat, right?

6
Go to the Sentinels of the Multiverse page
96 out of 103 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve read lots of glowing reviews for this game and knowing that a few markers aside this was a game all about the cards…. So many cards, i approached with a massive dose of scepticism.

Sentinels is a co op game, the main game comes packed with cards all of which separate out into three types of deck – heroes, villains and locations. The box also comes with dividers which means that you can get an unreasonable amount of enjoyment from just opening the decks, sorting them and then perfectly dividing them into your perfect box of loveliness.

The instruction manual is in comic book format (i love those sort of touches) and is irrationally short and concise – it can’t be that simple? Surely? The entire game is summarised on the back of the rulebook.

Yet it is, but that’s not the best part, i’ll get to that.

So you choose a villain deck, a location deck and then a hero deck for each player. You draw a few cards for each hero. Then you follow the instructions on the villain setup.

The game then proceeds like this: the villain plays a card and follows instructions, the heroes play a card, play an effect of one of their cards in play (a power), and take a card. Then play a card from the location deck. Rinse. Repeat. Prepare for bitter defeat.

This game is hard, or i’m not very good yet. Probably a bit of both.

Oh and the best bit, every review bangs on about the ‘thematic’ element of the game. And they’re right, but its not the art or the comic book style quotes. Its the way the cards work.

The first game i played we were against the big evil sentient weapons factory. The card simply says that at the start of the villain turn flip the card. Ok you think, a bit odd. On the reverse is a new description where the weapons factory turns into a big robot. Next turn it goes back to a factory, but at the end of turn randomly brings back into play a drone from its discard deck. I was confused. Then like a moment of divine realisation the game spoke to me.

So the robot rampages for a but, then transforms (cue retro sound effects around the table – just me?) and then becomes a factory, repairing its damaged minions and pumping them back out to the battlefield before turning back to a rampaging robot. Who doesn’t love that?

And this is the beauty of the game, the cards are so well thought out, their effects and the way you play them bring this game to life. Oh its so good.

My scepticism has gone, now where are those expansions….

8
Go to the King of Tokyo: Power Up! page
36 out of 38 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve always found expansions to be a mixed bag. The usual are more of the same – more cards, more pieces etc etc. Then occasionally an extension throws something more into a game, something that makes the game better – but not unwieldy. Power up does just that.

Firstly in your lovely small box – oh its so small and cute, you’ll find a panda wielding a staff, nothing to do with King-Fu panda of course, any similarity is purely coincidental. So we have a new monster and monster counter – a good start, more of the same.

Then there’s the extra. A new deck of cards – evolution cards. Each character has their own set of cards and monsters have been given a new category, in the rules that come with there’s teasing mention of more expansions, more monsters – oh these designers are foul tempters of a man’s gaming habit.

Anyway a player picks one of their evolution cards when they roll three hearts (in or out of Tokyo) and take the relevant health to boot. These cards work like the cards in the main game giving you abilities of various types, some constant, some one shot etc.

And that’s it, suddenly everyone’s character has a more substantial difference and can do more stuff. And what more could you want? More of the same you say? – there’s more of that coming too…..

7
Go to the Alhambra page

Alhambra

91 out of 106 gamers thought this was helpful

So Alhambra, what to say….. Ok, coffee in hand lets begin.

This is a turn based game with no interaction between turns, this is fine of course however it does mean that playing with your non gaming friends or auntie Flo can result in a level of frustration as the game’s pace becomes much reduced, impaired like a kick to the shin.

This aside the mechanics are very simple, your go is – take a card(s) or a tile or move tiles about. Thats it – even auntie Flo can cope.

In Alhambra cards are money have have values 1-9, the tiles are different buildings for your Alhambra, each tile has a purchase value. A market board sits in the middle of the table offering each player one of four tiles or four money cards each turn, the tiles sit on one of four colours which correspond to the four colours of the money cards so blue money for tiles on the blue space, green for green etc. if you can produce money cards of the right colour to the exact value of the tile you get another go, if not you can pay over the odds, you still get the tile but the gold toothed smiling merchant has taken you for a ride – live with it, it happens.

There are three scoring rounds, two during the game and one at the end which spring from the money card deck to decide who is leading based on who has more of each of the coloured building tiles.

The game takes about an hour or nearer to two if Auntie Flo is present.

This is a game for the family, a steady game which gives you a simple option for your gaming friends. It didn’t disappoint me but it didn’t blow me away either – its just well, good.

So a welcome addition to your gaming cupboard but not one that is likely to jump out as your favourite.

9
Go to the Small World page

Small World

46 out of 53 gamers thought this was helpful

For a small world there’s certainly a lot in the box, in fact your first job when returning from the games shop will be to punch out lot of tiles. And some more tiles. And lots more.

Anyway, to the game itself. The game mechanic is very smooth, round one pick a race and associated special ability (these combinations change for every game), round two start conquering. If you’ve played risk you’ll be familiar with the mechanic, put two armies into an empty land, add some more if you face opposition or mountains – mountains can be tough, what with the climbing, and rocks, and cold winds.

The key difference between small world and risk though is that there is no dice rolling needed (so there will be no cursing the snake eyes staring up at you mockingly). Instead you have a finite number of armies (some races have more than others) so you can only go so far across the board, go too far and you’ll be spread thinly which may get you lots of points (the more areas you hold the more points you get) but will leave you horribly exposed when your best buddy brings his flying orcs rampaging across your lands.

And now we come to the crux of the game, how far do you expand your finite armies? Then when you’ve taken your wealthy elves as far as their pointy ears dare stray you retire them, send them into decline, the age of the coin hugging elves is over! This means on your next go you choose another race/ability combo and then begin conquering anew.

Every race and ability lets you benefit from conquering different areas, may give you more troops, more money or allow you to pop up from holes in the ground seemingly anywhere in the world. Its these abilities and combo’s that make the game, and it gets better the more you play and the more you learn what they all do (handy crib sheet provided).

The game also plays on a timer which means you all know how many rounds are left, from this you make your crafty decisions on declining races and getting new ones.

The games plays swiftly, its very easy, my seven year old can play it. The real trick is timing and understanding races and abilities so as long as i keep that crib sheet to myself i’ll be fine.

8
Go to the Citadels page

Citadels

54 out of 67 gamers thought this was helpful

Im never sure about small box games, somehow i feel that nothing but disapointment awaits, that no matter how many good things i hear that small almost pocket sized box can’t contain a great game. Can it?

Citadels proves me utterly wrong.

I’ve played this game with friends, family and children and all get it. First you are dealt some cards and givena couple of coins. The cards are buildings of some sort or another and have small coin symbols on them (like a simplistic 7 wonders card). To play a card you pay the coins, can’t afford it? Then pick up a couple of coins instead. The first to play eit cards wins. And thats it. Almost.

The real game comes in which character card you take each turn. You choose your card secretly and the card decides who goes first as well as giving you a little something extra for that round.

You might to pick the assasin which means you go first and get to deal with that pesky merchant who keeps making all the money because that person at the table opposite you with the big pile of coins keeps choosing the merchant so you’ll show them. Won’t you? Unless of course that person has chosen the king and will be choosing first next time and oh dear you’ve assainated your poor mother who has but one card and will now do nothing this round.

Its a game of bluffing, guess work and is great fun to play and to teach. It the best game you’ll buy in a small box.

6
Go to the Black Gold page

Black Gold

71 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

I made an error with this one, i’ll admit it.

What i thought i was getting was a short flowing game of oil baroning with some cool bits that i could play with the family. What i got was a long game of oil baroning that i can play with my gaming mates.

Black Gold is a good game, in fact its several games. There are a few different mechanics here to keep the game varied, some cards to show actions, exploration of the plains to search for oil and bidding to win the right to sell your oil for inflated prices.

The turn goes something like – roll the dice a few times, this sets the oil prices. Then choose a card which sets the number of movement points you have, the number of bidding cards you get and may give you a special ability that round. Then you move your truck around a board in search of oil, maybe setup a rig and move your train (which transports the oil) a bit further forward. Lastly you put your oil into one of three selling companies and then all bid to be the one that sells at each manufacturer that round. This is all done whilst the oil barons train moves further towards the end of the track shere the game will end.

Theres opportunity here for bluffing, haggling, strategy and screwing over your mates, a good combo.

The game takes a good couple of hours and if you play it with a “ditherer”, you know the one – the sort that sit back during other peoples turns and then when its their own have absolutely no idea what they are going to do so take ten minutes thinking about it – it will be*ish.

That said, amongst strategy loving, gaming friends who are working out their next move whilst you are rolling dice its a good game.

And yes the pieces are very cool.

9
Go to the 7 Wonders page

7 Wonders

64 out of 80 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve read countless numbers of positive reviews about this game so it was only a matter of time before a copy was secured for my own gaming cupboard.

Having played it a few times now i am forced to join the positive brigade. The game scales very nicely up to seven players and down to two. The setup is simple and the learning curve very shallow.

The game hinges essentially on symbols on the cards which tell you what you can and can’t build. Match the simples on cards in your hand to those face up in front of you, if you have enough in front of you then you can play the card. The game brings you constant choice, do you build that library to gain a few victory points or an archery range since the guy to your left is getting increasingly more militaristic. There are lots of ways to gain points including of course building your wonder which will then bring you more victory points and benefits.

The game plays in 3 ages, each move swiftly using the simple mechanic of playing a card and then passing the remaining cards to your neighbour. Theres no idle time here and everyone is always involved.

The game will however constantly leave you scratching your head wondering what to build next and as far as a winning strategy goes i am yet to work one out! The first game you play will have you all in a state of complete nativity over exactly what you’re doing with your civilisation and where its headed. “Did i win?” You will tentatively ask as the scores are added up at the end.

8
Go to the Gubs page

Gubs

65 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

I picked up Gubs on a whim, from the manufacturers review it sounded quite quirky and i thought it might appeal to my children (11 and 7).

How right i was!

Gubs is a simple card game, within ten minutes of start you’ll be playing seamlessly, only occasionally referring to the rule sheet for more detailed effects of certain cards.

The game is simple, take a card, play as many as you like and then play moves on. The effects of each card is normally written on the card and theres a lovely mix of cards of effects to keep gameplay varied.

I particularly like the game length mechanic where once all three letters of GUB have been drawn thats it! Keeps games short and you guessing as to when that final B will be drawn.

The game seesaws around with one players lead quickly ruined by a random event or opponents card combo.

For families i fully recommend it.

7
Go to the The Settlers of Catan page
24 out of 57 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a clever game. Good easy mechanics which keep all players involved every go and lots of haggling!

Collect resources, build settlements and roads, trade your resources and build cities. This game flows really well, a good amount of strategy for the thoughtful gamer and simple enough to teach your gran make this a great game.

As with every great game there is also the ‘thief’ piece which allows that little bit of mischief and will keep your targets cursing you as you steel their last wheat.

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