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RevBob

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8
Go to the Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition) page
92 out of 102 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a group favorite, one that hits the table whenever that player count is 6-8 and we are looking for lighter fare.
The game has some deduction and strategy, but is light enough for casual players and n00bs, or gamers with a few drinks in them.

Players assume the roles of criminals after a heist, each with a special ability, a gun, and a limited number of bullets.

Over the course of 8 rounds each player tries to bluff or kill off the others in order to get the most of the ill gotten gains. One assumes the role of the Boss controlling the flow of play, but the title can be taken.

Loot is set out on the table, players choose a Bang or Click card then draw on each other – choosing a single target. Each player facing down the barrel of a gun has a choice:
A) Duck out, not risk getting shot but not getting any loot
B) Stay in, hoping their opponents are bluffing

Then cards are revealed, resolving the shoot out for the remaining members:
Click – gun doesn’t go off, player remains
Bang – player is shot, takes a wound and is eliminated from the loot round. The third wound eliminates them from the game.

Remaining players take turns choose from the loot: different cash amounts, art, jewels, and even means to get more bullets or remove wounds. Art and Jewels have different bonuses for quantities.

After everything has been looted, surviving players try again.
Game play is fast and fun. Though it says 4-8, it is better as a 6-8 game. Components are excellent. The orange tipped guns, and cartoon artwork offset the darker realization that this is about murder and greed – but it is not really a kids toy.
We often play 2-3 games back to back as they are pretty fast once you know the rules.

8
Go to the Guillotine page

Guillotine

54 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

Guillotine is a solid casual card game for 2-5 players. Thematically : each player is an executioner during the French revolution, taking the heads of nobles over the course of 3 days. The nobles executed are worth points depending on the crowd’s reactions, so Marie Antoinette scores 5 points, while executing an Innocent Victim is -1 point.

The game is full of dark humor, in both content and images, so while easy to teach, it is meant for a more teen-adult group looking for light, casual play. This is one of my small box games i bring on vacation with about 6 others, compact and easy to set up. It contains: 1 deck of Nobles, 1 deck of Action Cards, and a card board standee of a Guillotine to mark the front of the line.

The Noble Deck consists of various characters to be executed, each with different point values and a colored “suit” : Purple (Aristocracy), Blue (Church), Green (Bureaucracy), Red (Military), Gray (which are worth negative points often having the sympathies of the people). Some Nobles may have an additional effect listed on the card.

Meanwhile, Action Cards mostly consist of ways to manipulate the order of the line, but also have ways to effect other players and score bonus points.

Each day (round) 12 cards are laid out with the guillotine set up at one end. Each player in turn does the following:
1) Play an Action Card from your hand (this is optional)
2) Take the first Noble in line (this must be done, only effected by the current action card in play)
3) Draw an Action Card (whether or not you played one, there’s no hand limit)

Once all Nobles in line are executed, a new day begins and another 12 are lined up. There are 3 days total, and the player with the most points wins.

Game play is fast, while the cards are random, they also add variance in play making it easy to play a couple of games back to back with out repetition. While the theme may not appeal to all, it works well tying the characters and actions together well thematically. Set up and rules are easy, but a con is that it does require a bit of space to late out the 12 cards each round and for each player to have their Nobles/points out in front of them.

This is a standard filler and travel game in our house.

8
Go to the Forbidden Desert page

Forbidden Desert

63 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

Forbidden Desert is another coop by designer Matt Leacock, along with Forbidden Island and Pandemic. Like these games, central to the mechanics is a deck that people draw from at the end of their turn that ups the ante on a counter as it reaches a critical point. So like all of Leacock’s coop games the clock is ticking and the game gets harder as time passes.
Players assume different rolls, each with unique abilities, and win or lose as a team. Your team has crashed in the desert while in search of an ancient lost city. As the sun beats down and water supplies run low your only hope is to excavate the city searching for parts for a legendary flying machine. As you try to dig and reveal tiles and part locations, the sands shift and pile up, slowing progress and blocking your routes. Once you find all the parts and reassemble the flying machine you can escape together, but if one player runs out of water, or the desert storms escalate to high, everyone loses.

Very similar to Forbidden Island, the shifting sands mechanic makes Forbidden Desert unique. The components are excellent, the airship, while a simple set of props, is beautifully made. The feel of the game is excellent with the option to tweak the game setting harder or easier. And unlike its older brother Pandemic, games are faster and its not the end of the world when you lose – just the end of your team.

A better recommendation for a family game, Forbidden Desert is mid weight of the three, Forbidden Island, if younger players are involved.
We use it regularly as a coop/gateway game. Fun, lighter play for 2-5 players – a great add to anyone’s collection.

8
Go to the Caverna: The Cave Farmers page
105 out of 113 gamers thought this was helpful

Caverna is a worker placement game for 1-7 players. Full of different animal meeples and farm resources, ore and gems, mining, room, and farm tiles – well over 700 pieces – its a lot of game in a box.
While the sheer weight of the box can be over whelming, the instructions are not.

1) Place your dwarves (workers)
2) Take the actions where placed (collecting resources, building, or getting more workers)
3) Collect your workers and feed them when necessary

The complexity comes from all the available actions – so many paths to victory!

Essentially you are a pair of Dwarves ( a couple) who live in a cave near the forest. Each player gets their individual game board : one half forest to be cleared, the other a mountain with cave and room for 2 occupants.

A central board has a series of actions available, and additional actions are revealed using cards, along with changes in season.

During the course of the game you can :
1) clear and farm – either seeding fields or raising livestock
2) mine and build – digging further caverns and either creating mines or rooms which open up options and bonuses
3) adventuring and leveling up – the higher in level your dwarf is, the greater rewards when adventuring
4) “make” more dwarves 😉

All the while trying to feed and house your dwarves, and maintain your farms population.
Some rooms grant bonuses to resources, some grant bonus points at the end of the game. Having the right combination that works for your strategy is key. You are building a machine, or a few, that help you gain resources and keep your workers fed, to increase your farm and/or your caverns.

Unlike its predecessor: Agricola, there are multiple options for strategy that allow you to circumvent obstacles (like players taking the action spaces you planned on using), and a player can not be “starved out”. Rather they just find creative ways to convert what they have into what they need. Weapon and level advancement, create a versatile alternative to mining and farming.

The theme is light hearted, even funny at times, Game play has very little direct interaction for players, more focused on each one build the best they can.

Caverna also scales very well for your number of players.
There’s a solo play option, and 2 player games are simple, and non aggressive. 3-5 players plays well with more options and a little more competition for available actions.
However, while the game has a set turn limit, 6-7 can drag a bit with indecisive players dragging their turns out and down times adding up. It is recommended you have experienced players with the higher player counts.

Over all, my wife and I enjoy this as a 2 player game: components are great, theme works well, friendly game with a lot of individual strategy.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes worker placement style games.

8
Go to the Dominion: Prosperity page
58 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

Dominion is THE Deckbuilder, though often considered weak in theme, still considered the best by many including my wife and I. Prosperity is the fourth expansion, each expansion creating more options and replay while adding a level of complexity.
Prosperity, a family favorite, comes in the Dominion Big Box with the base game, Seaside and Alchemy expansions – as well as sold separately.
As the name implies, the focus of this expansion big money: new treasures, Platinum, currency exchange, as well as variations on standard cards.
While most mechanics are familiar, some elements of Prosperity can extend game play, or just quicken rounds by increasing cash flow.
As always, all Dominion expansions bring new elements and increase replay to a classic game.
Recommended for any Dominion fan.

8
Go to the Dominion: Seaside page
61 out of 76 gamers thought this was helpful

Dominion is THE Deckbuilder, though often considered weak in theme, still considered the best by many including my wife and I. Seaside is the second expansion, each expansion creating more options and replay while adding a level of complexity.
Seaside, as an early expansion is still simple in its card mechanics, but adds Duration cards, orange cards that remain after your turn to have a lasting effect during later turns.
It is recommended to get the expansions in order, for the increase in difficulty, and Seaside is a great first expansion for anyone who has either Dominion, or Dominion: Intrigue.
It brings a little more thematic game play, while adding more replay than its predecessors.

8
Go to the Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar page
96 out of 105 gamers thought this was helpful

Tzolk’in is a worker placement game, with a twist. It is a mix of simple actions on a complex, ever changing board, in that sections of the board are gears that advance as the seasons change.

The game really only has 2 actions and only one can be done on your turn:
1) Place Workers-place any or all of your workers on the lowest available spaces on the gears, paying whatever costs required in Corn (the game’s currency AND food for workers. Placing more workers, costs more corn.
OR
2) Remove Workers– remove any or all of your workers, one at a time, resolving the actions for their current space. These actions are usually a combination of : collecting resources, purchasing or building, advancing on the Temple or Technology tracks.

After you have completed one of the above actions, advance the calendar wheel one day (which advances all of the gears with workers on them 1 space) and place a corn on the wheel from the bank.

There is only 1 space on the board that works differently than the gear locations, and that is First Player space, allowing the following:
1) Current player becomes First Player, and turn order changes accordingly
2) The Player takes this worker back into their hand at the end of their turn
3) The Player MAY turn the Calendar forward 2 days instead of 1 (which has its own risks and rewards)
4) The Player takes ALL of the corn that placed during previous passage of days.

The above sounds like straight forward worker placement, except the gears. THE GEARS!You are actually placing workers on gears, that continually advance during the game as time passes, offering greater rewards – BUT because you MUST either remove or place workers on your turn you can’t camp out all your workers for the ride. Players must think ahead a couple of turns to understand outcomes, managing their workforce and resource in an ever changing environment.

Here’s a look at the gears:
Palenque(green actions) : wood, corn, food
Yaxchilan(tan actions) : wood, corn, stone, gold and crystal skulls
Tikal(red actions) : advance on tech tracks, construct buildings or monuments, advance on temples
Uxmal(yellow actions) : market/exchange, wild card actions, gain workers
Chichen Itza(blue actions) : placing skulls to advance on Temples and gain bonus victory points

Resources are spent to advance the Tech tracks and construct building and temples which provide bonuses and victory points at end of game.
Tech advancement gives bonuses for resources, cheap production, and additional victory points.
Skulls can be kept as victory points or placed for large bonuses.
Corn is both food and currency – 4 times during the game the calendar reaches Food Days, which require payment to feed your workers, and sometimes bonuses for Temple advancement. You see these days coming up and need to plan accordingly.

The game is a bit of a point salad, as there are multiple paths to victory : Temple advancement and Monuments being solid simple ways to collect, but there are others and various combos depending how aggressive the players. After the 4th Food day, the game ends, points are tallied and the player with the most wins.

My wife and I have enjoyed playing this as a 2 player game for years and it still remains a favorite. It scales very well for 2-4, though more challenging when playing 3-4. The components are beautiful, the challenge consistent, and the feel different enough that it doesn’t matter how many worker placement games you have, this will fit right in. I highly recommend this as a mid to heavy game with experienced players.

8
Go to the Keyflower page

Keyflower

96 out of 104 gamers thought this was helpful

Keyflower is a Worker Placement game using both Auction/Bidding, and Tile Placement, both with a bit of depth, to add variation and deeper play as well as player interaction to a standard worker placement resource gathering and actions. While everything is familiar, down to the obligatory meeples, its subtle changes how they are used that keep the game interesting.

The game uses Red, Yellow and Blue meeples as the standard workers which are drawn randomly from a bag, and Green meeples which can only be acquired through specific actions. The meeples serve a few functions:

1) as workers – they are placed on tiles to take actions (gaining resources, skill tokens, more workers and transporting resources) – the twist : workers can be placed on any tiles in play, even opponents tiles or tiles still up for bid. The color of the meeple is what’s important, as once a color is placed on a tile, only meeples of the same color can be placed there.

2) as resources – the meeples are used to bid on tiles placed for auction each round – the twist : the color restriction works the same way as in worker placement, once a color is used only that color can be used to bid on or placed on that tile. Because everyone has varying quantities of the same colors, they each choose a side of the hex tile to place on to bid. Meeples used in a losing bid can be moved to bid on another tile.

3) as hidden info – each player has a screen to hide their meeples (along with skill tokens and winter village tiles) – players who can monopolize a single color or keep a few green hidden can manipulate bids, even control tiles in play

Players start the game with a home village tile, as well as a handful of randomly chosen meeples and a couple of Winter village tiles to be hidden behind their screen.

The game has 4 rounds, each one a season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.
Each season has a selection of village tiles up for auction (random except Winter) and boats that bring a random selection of workers(meeples) and skill tokens.

Each player takes an action either placing workers on a tile or bidding on tiles until they pass. Worker placement actions, gain resources, move resources, or upgrade tiles when placed. Winning bids take their tiles (losing their meeples used to bid). Losing bids get their meeples back. Everyone gains the meeples placed on the tiles they control (even opponents meeples). Then the newly acquired tiles are placed.

Tile placement – roads have to connect to roads, streams to streams, fields to fields. Transportation tiles make it possible to move resources from one tile to another via the roads. Planning short routes and convenient access ( a tile that requires wood placed next to a tile that generates wood) are important to strategy.

Lastly, the round comes to an end, boats are refilled, and the next season’s tiles are put out for auction and the next round begins. THe last Season, Winter, the tiles for auction are each chosen by the players from behind their screens (1 or more from each). These tiles are primarily focused on Victory Points and give each player a means of implementing a strategy to shoot for in the final round.

The object of the game is to have the most points after the Winter Season (4th round). This determined by tiles with point values, or tiles that provide points depending on collected workers or resources. Event tiles for having the longest continuous road or stream. Its a bit of a point salad.

Keyflower seems on the face simple worker and tile placement, but the truth is the subtleties that make it interesting make it hard to master. They also make the game hard to teach. This is for experienced gamers with a solid understanding of worker placement, tile placement, and auction mechanics.

Cons : symbols on tiles are not always intuitive. The game takes a few plays before a lot of things come more naturally. Teaching it is awkward. It can be aggressive with quite a few “take that” actions possible. Everyone sucks starting out – it takes a couples of plays to “get it” and you may lose people in the process.

Pros : it is a nice blend of elements that allows for more player interaction in most player choices. It scales nicely for 2-6 players. The subtleties of game strategy, the random tiles, and a few experienced players add up to quite a bit of replay value. And the fixed number of rounds keep games from dragging on.

While not for everyone, if you like the above mechanics, are an experienced gamer with solid players in your group – this is a great option for 5-6 players.

8
Go to the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game page
93 out of 100 gamers thought this was helpful

An old school RPG player(D&D Basic, Expert, Advanced D&D 2nd 3rd & 3.5 ed, Shadownrun, Gamma World, Call of Cthulhu, etc) I have been away from the hobby a long time. But recently I found myself in a community full of players and decided to dust off those dice…

The latest releases of D&D 5th Ed and FFG’s Star Wars Games (Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, Force and Destiny) have started making it to our game table.

Edge of the Empire Beginner Game :

This is not just an intro to the new Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars RPG series, but an introduction to Role Playing Games in general.

Components :

This is a complete system in a box, containing an explanation of Role Playing, basic rules for game play for both players and the Game Master, Pre-rolled character sheets with versions to show character progress, an adventure bringing characters together for the first time, maps, tokens to represent characters, vehicles, as well as destiny tokens and a set of the custom dice (14).

The tokens are basic (no miniatures), but all of the printing is of excellent quality. The illustrations and maps, are all excellent and really help set the tone of the game, dressing a good story with great visuals.

Game Play :

What is great about the Edge of the Empire system, is its focus on story telling over rules lawyering. A characters skills and abilities define which dice to roll, but the dice don’t deal in absolutes when totaled:

Successes and Failures cancel each other out,

Advantage and Threat rolls change the feel of the outcome – you can have a success in an action with an undesirable side effect – for example you roll dice in a gunfight, hit your target (more Success than Failures) but accidently shoot out an access panel you needed (Roll a Threat as well)

Triumph and Despair rolls count as Success and Failure respectively, but also trigger awesome or tragic events.

Also the use of Destiny tokens, a kind of balance in the force, the players roll to see how many light or dark tokens to start the game with. Players can flip a Light token to the Dark side to pull off a heroic maneuver without rolling a die, or a GM can flip a Dark token to trigger a dire consequence or cancel out a player’s action.

I have found that these mechanics eliminate number crunching, and encourage story telling which for me is the point to role playing.

The Setting :

The game takes place in the Star Wars universe, just after the Battle of Yavin and the destruction of the Death Star (Episode IV). For those who aren’t huge fans, this mean the classic Star Wars movies with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. The focus in the Edge of the Empire games are the planets on the outer rim populated by colonists and smugglers, existing just outside of the chokehold of the Empire. The included adventure (spoiler) happens on the desert planet Tatooine, at the space port, Mos Shuuta.

CONS:

The set is limited to keep it simple as a teaching tool, an introduction to both role playing and the Edge of the Empire rule set. There are no rules on rolling characters from scratch, or character development – you get just enough to pick up and play the first adventure with existing characters. Because of this, replay is very limited, and experienced role players will probably find the intro slow paced and be frustrated with the lack of options.

PROS:

Its really does make it easy to introduce people to RPG’s in general, and does not require knowledge of the Star Wars movies to play. It is also good for throwing together a quick game for experienced RPG folks to give the system a try on a more beer and pretzel night. It is good opportunity for someone with RPG experience to attempt being a Game Master for a first time.
While the replay value is low for the basic adventure, there are online adventures you can download to continue play for a couple of sessions. Also, having a full set of dice and a bunch of tokens to start playing the full game with is nice to have.

Summary:

The starter set is not for everyone. People new to either: Star Wars or RPG’s in general will find it a great place to start. Intermediate or rusty (like me) players will find it useful but quickly move on, and experience rpg players will find it a little lacking, and may want to jump right in and get the core rule book instead.

I jumped in afterwards and I am involved in a full campaign, as the Core Rule Set is awesome and full of possibilities, but continue to use the dice and tokens from the Beginner Game. It is also a go to for RPG nights at bars for those who haven’t played.

9
Go to the Star Wars: Imperial Assault page
107 out of 115 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ll admit it – I had my concerns…FFG releasing one game after another under the Star Wars license and this appearing on the outside as just a re-skin of Descent, combined with the obvious conundrum of once I start buying miniatures – where will it all end…

BUT, I gave it try…

Imperial Assault is a miniatures game where Rebel forces (Heroes played by 1-4 players) pit themselves against the Empire (played by a single player as a kind of Overlord/Game Master)in a series of missions.
One or both sides have a main objective for each mission, each mission set on a different map/board created by locking tiles. Players play through a series of missions to create a campaign with cinematic feel.

The question of Descent…
The comparison of Imperial Assault to Descent can not be helped, its built essentially off the same game engine: a campaign where characters have some advancement after playing each game layout to move forward and face greater challenges. You combat foes using dice in order to over come them and complete the task at hand, collecting your spoils along the way. And since Descent 2.0 (with a series of improvements on balance and game play) was a recent release before Imperial Assault, the questions hangs there, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced, is this just a Star Wars skin over Descent 2.0?
NO.
While the basic engine and layout is similar, differences range from subtle to awesome:
Small changes to attack die, removing the miss option, and putting the burden of missed attacks or cancelled abilities on the Defender or the limits of Range feel better.
Line Of Sight seems more straight forward, and easier to see on the board.
Each Hero has a unique set of cards for his class, and even the Overlord has 3 class decks to choose from.
Campaign has a more open story feel and less dungeon crawl, each mission opening options on outcome and side mission bring additional resources to the main campaign.
Resting can recover both strain and health.
Being reduced to 0, doesn’t just knock a character out, it allows you continue as a wounded character.
Your heroes’ attributes use dice instead of a flat number.
There is no “healer”, while some heroes have healing abilities they are limited and there’s no one dedicated to the role in order to complete a campaign.
The Overlord (Empire) gains Threat, which he collects to spend on reinforcements.
And a major difference is turn order where each hero takes an action then the Empire takes an action, in stead of one completing all its actions and then the other completing theirs. This significantly changes the pacing, and feels more involved for everyone.

A New Hope…
Besides changed mechanics, there’s the theme: Star Wars!
The game takes place after the destruction of the Death Star over Yavin IV (Star Wars Episode IV a New Hope), pitting a small strike team of Rebel forces against the Empire in a series of missions full of flavor telling the story of our heroes. During the Campaign you can purchase Allies and Villain packs to supplement your resources, add side missions and allow players to interact with characters from the movies adding them to the Campaign.

…A War in the Stars(sung to the tune of Star Wars by Bill Murray)
On top of the basic game play changes, Imperial Assault offers an alternative mode of play: Skirmish!
Don’t feel like playing a campaign? Only got 2 players? Want to take a new mini out for a test drive? Play Skirmish mode: head to head combat like standard miniature warfare, spend your points to build forces and go at it. With previous changes I would say Imperial Assault is Descent 2.5, but adding Skirmish options easily 3.0.

Droids you’re looking for…
The components are great, consistent with the quality we expect from FFG, however, the minis are exceptional. The AT-ST has moving parts, swappable plugs for upgrades – I was really impressed.

Pros – its a great break away from your standard Dungeon Crawl, an improvement on Descent 2.0, campaign play is a bit more dramatic in its story advancement – and if you are a Star Wars fan, the game is a must have.

Cons – it is easily becoming a huge money suck, the Ally and Villain packs are awesome and I feel compelled to get everything that comes out. Skirmish play is limited with the core set but gets better as you keep buying ($ – which is true of any miniatures game). As a new game expansions are only just coming out (June 2015), but waves will keep coming.

Yep I am a sucker and totally fell for this mind trick, no regrets…

9
Go to the Star Wars: Armada page

Star Wars: Armada

37 out of 39 gamers thought this was helpful

I must admit, I am not a miniatures/war gaming kind of guy. While many in my group play games like Warhammer, Lord of the Rings, Flames of War and Infinity, I could never get into it myself.
I don’t want to: keep pulling out a tape measure for moves and firing, spend weeks painting and assembling minis, and spend a few paychecks on a faction that I will eventually be frustrated with and need to upgrade and change everything while looking for other people who also have spent everything they had on a single faction just to play.
So when Armada was brought over for a game, I had my reservations.
We opened the box and had everything assembled in 20 min, and were ready to play. Using the starter rules at a 5 minute read, we did the opening game play set up.
Actions are simple, and clear. The mechanic of momentum for the big ships, using the Maneuver Tool (which eliminates tape measures), gives the game quite a bit of weight – playing more like chess as you have to really consider moves a few turns in advance in order to truly execute a plan of attack.
At times game play felt like a sea battle, with capital ships lurching forward each trying to maneuver themselves for the best gun placement – while the squadrons felt like old WWII dogfights, as though you were escorting bombers over enemy lines.
The first game gives you an opportunity to work on the basics:
1) Command Phase – each player secretly programming their ships with the following: Navigate, Squadron, Repair and Concentrate Fire.
2) Ship Phase – players taking turns activating ships, either executing a command or taking a token for the command revealed and proceeding with movement using the Maneuver Tool.
3) Squadron Phase – players taking turns activating their available squadrons.
4) Status Phase – both players refreshing cards/tokens, switching initiative, and advancing the round marker.
Games are generally won by the number of points scored within 6 rounds, but scenarios can set specific goals to be met in order to win the game early or provide bonuses for objectives.
Rounds continue in a steady pace, neither plodding too slowly, nor advancing chaotically. While dice add a random element to combat, strategy in both maneuvers and combat formation really tip the scales.
Star Wars : Armada is self contained and easy to play right out of the box. The tools are simple to use, with clear instructions and tutorials. And the prepainted ships look awesome and ready for your shelf.
Cons? – Its still a little pricey for a boardgame (though $100 is cheap for a miniatures hobby), especially if you really like it, you’ll want to run out and get a second set, and of course all the expansions.Also the squadrons while different colors, are not painted/detailed like the capital ships.
Overall I really enjoyed the experience.

8
Go to the Pandemic: On the Brink page
39 out of 47 gamers thought this was helpful

One of the few times I will ever say this : “If you love the game, get this expansion”.

On The Brink brings 3 new options to your Pandemic Game :
Virulent Strain challenge: taking one of the Pandemic diseases and causing it to keep popping up, introducing 8 new Epidemic cards.

Mutation Challenge: adding a fifth disease with Mutation cards and its purple tokens and cards.

Bio-Terrorist Challenge: allowing a single player to actively work against the others

These can be mixed and matched to really complicate things. My group ALWAYS plays with this expansion, usually using either the Virulent Strain or the Mutation disease in regular play. Both bring a lot more challenge to the game without breaking the basic feel or bogging down game play with over complication. Its just more of what you like about Pandemic with a twist.

Admittedly the Bio Terrorist is not a favorite option, taking away a bit from the coop feel and adding a bit too much aggression for some players – BUT the other 2 options are awesome, and the 7 new role cards and the petri dishes for storing your diseases (both easily can be used with just the basic Pandemic game)make the expansion well worth the price.

If you are a Pandemic fan, then this expansion is a must. Just be sure to get compatible editions so you have cohesive components.

9
Go to the Splendor page

Splendor

76 out of 83 gamers thought this was helpful

Splendor was an impulse buy for me, that has really paid off. Its quick, easy to learn, and still allows for depth in game play. The game contains both luck and strategy in equal parts, and its hard to not love the “chips”.
Splendor consists of:
40 gem tokens: 7 Emerald(green), 7 Sapphire(blue), 7 Ruby, 7 Diamond(white), 7 Onyx(black) and 5 Gold(wild)
90 development cards in three decks: 40 level 1, 30 level 2, and 20 level 3
10 noble tiles

The gem tokens are laid out in stacks – the are very heavy poker chip style pieces that add a wonderful tactile sense to the game.
Development cards are laid out in 3 stacks, with the top 4 cards revealed next to each stack. Each card is bought with the appropriate value in gems, cost shown in the bottom left corner, value towards future purchases in the top right corner (shown as a gem), and those with a point value have a number in the top left corner.
1 noble tile is chosen at random per player and placed across the top. These have different point values (top left corner), and are scored automatically once you have a sufficient number of development cards (shown bottom left corner).

Actions – each player takes one of the following actions on their turn:
Take one Gold(wild) and/or Reserve a card to your hand. (Card hand limit is 3). Card taken to hand can be from the face up cards OR the top of the decks.
Take 2 Gem Tokens of the same kind, as long as there are at least 4 to draw from. (not including Gold)
Take 3 Gem Tokens of different colors. (not including Gold)
Play a card in front of you, either from your hand or from the face up cards, by paying its cost.

The game is all about the points – first one to score 15+ is the winner. These are scored off of the level 2 and 3 development cards and the noble tiles, in any combination.
Always keep in mind: 3 hand limit for reserved cards and 10 gem token limit at the end of your turn (no stockpiling).

At first, beginner players will just be trying to collect what they can and grab valuable cards as soon as they are revealed, sometimes targeting a noble tile or level 3 card for the points. But over time you can develop other strategies. Like any game that is “easy to learn but has depth”, replay value over time is based on the players you play against. The game becomes a race to see who can score first, the challenge is in reading your opponents and heading them off.

Once players have an understanding of the game, games are fast and aggressive with everyone’s attention on the revealed cards and their opponents scores. We have found Splendor is a great filler between games, or as an introduction to non gamers. It hits our table quite often, and pacing is slower when there’s just 2 players making it a nice quick pick up for me and my wife.
For anyone who has different people come over of different game levels or family game nights, this is a must for the collection. The weight of the poker chip/gem tokens is usually enough to get someone hooked.

8
Go to the Rivet Wars page

Rivet Wars

21 out of 21 gamers thought this was helpful

I had my reservations about Rivet Wars. I loved the look of the pieces, the steampunk theme, but was unsure about game play. In the end I am very glad with the purchase, it has filled a perfect niche in my collection.
The game sets up and plays like a board game:
1) You draw/discard cards
2) You deploy your troops, depending on cost
3) You move and attack
4) Collect points
The game board is set up per scenario, with each scenario having its own win condition, usually a Victory Point total, but sometimes including specific objectives.
The above is a simplified description of play, as their are finer points to each of the steps, but it is the simplicity of the game that makes work for me.
The 2 kinds of cards really add to the board game feel:
1) Secret Mission – these cards give you minor objectives to try to achieve for bonus points.
2) Action! – cards that give you special actions, attacks or bonuses during play.
As well as the Score Tracker with card placement, Victory Points, and Rivets (your currency for deploying troops). Clearly visible in one spot for both players, adds to the board game feel.

Keep in mind, this is still a miniature war game, but there are no tape measures, tools needed to figure line of sight, or fiddly mechanics. There’s more dark humor than serious tactics.

Cons:
1) This is not a realistic tactics, serious war game. It not meant to be serious at all.
2) Its not about painting finely detailed, realistic miniatures. Though the minis are really cool looking, and people do a great job painting them.
3) The number of cards, both action and secret mission, are a little too limited for standard game play.
4) There’s a limited number of scenarios.
5) You can still spend quite a bot of money on expansions.

Pros:
1) This is not a realistic tactics, serious war game. Its not meant to be serious at all.
2) Its not about painting finely detailed, realistic miniatures. Though the minis are really cool looking, and people do a great job painting them.
3) Set up and Game play is fast.
4) There are lots of scenarios you can download for free to supplement the core set.
5) The Core Set has everything you need to play. Minis for both sides, grids, tokens, scenarios – everything you need for basic play. A full miniatures war game (light) for $70.
6) There are 3 expansions already out and 3 more on the way, including air combat and support adding more replay value.
7) It is easy to learn and teach.

I got this game cause I wanted a miniature wargame, but I did not want to have to piece together an army, or paint figures, or use a measuring tape or tools for line of site or distance.
I did not want a new hobby, but a complete game in a box and I got just that. AND, I am a sucker for steampunk cartoon minis.However, I like the game enough I will be buying the expansions.

8
Go to the Firefly: The Game page

Firefly: The Game

66 out of 73 gamers thought this was helpful

I was worried when I saw the release Firefly : The Game. I had concerns that it was a Firefly skin over a race game full of bad mechanics, so I waited for reviews and a little fan feedback before taking the plunge. Boy am I glad I got this game.
First set up is a little overwhelming, there are a lot of components including 13 decks of cards! But the components are great quality, with some great art work, and you’ll be amazed how much content they managed to devise from such a short lived series. The initial board set up with decks, bank and tokens will take up quite a bit of space, AND each player has a game board (their ship with cargo space) and will require quite a bit more space for their crew, gear and missions. So clear a big table or 2…
The rule book is not laid out as well as needed for the amount of content – it certainly could’ve broken things down a bot better. With all the fine details the game comes down to this:
1) Buy – stop on a supply planet to acquire gear, ship upgrades, and crew from the appropriate deck. OR take some shore leave.
2) Deal – stop on a planet with a connection and consider new jobs. And if you’re solid with them, sell some cargo/contraband.
3) Work – Stop on job destinations and complete tasks in order, or pickup small cash else where.
4) Fly – make your way to your next destination, either by burning fuel or you can just mosey.
5) Catch up with another player’s ship – if on the same space, trade, make a deal, or make a better offer and steal some crew.
Five of the decks are different locations for gear, crew and ship upgrades. Five of them are your contacts with jobs, both legal and illegal. One Aim to Misbehave deck, for when an illegal job requires a little something extra. The more illegal and dangerous, the bigger the pay off. The last two decks are the Reaver Space and the Alliance Space decks which reveal encounters, move the Reaver or Alliance ships or Keep Flying.
The Objective? It depends on the Story Card. Each story card has a different scenario, with Goals you have to meet, often in a specific order. They vary in difficulty and time, which is a nice feature, and more can be downloaded from various sources. But no matter what the Story is, you always need to build your crew and equip them. You start off with a decent amount of cash, but don’t hold on to it, spend it on your crew. Without a well equipped crew the good jobs are out of reach and the small jobs will take forever.
Anything with any difficulty requires skills or the right gear just to do, many require skill checks. Crew and gear give you bonuses on the three skills used in game : Fight, Tech and Negotiate. Great thing is the Misbehave cards always give you at least 2 options, so if you build a crew around 2 of these skill sets you can’t be totally stone walled.
The game includes some resource management, like fuel and parts, and there’s managing the crew as well – you need to pay them their cut after jobs or they become Disgruntled. A crew member with one Disgruntled token can be bought off by another Captain (player), and one with 2 tokens will jump ship.
Admittedly, a first game is a bit chaotic, and the recommended First Story Card is pretty plain. But after your first game, you really get a feel for it.
I have to say me and my group really like the game. Every player has wanted to play it again, and fans of the show can really get into the cards. Playing with the wife made us want to watch the whole series again, and watching the series made us want to play the game.
PROS :
1) Its a good scifi game about smuggling, even if you haven’t seen the show.
2) The components are very nicely designed and made.
3) Serenity fans will be thrilled. Characters and gear are write out of the show. All of the Jobs and Misbehave cards remain true to the shows feel.
4) Story Cards, including fan downloads allow you to change things up.
5) You can only take 2 actions on your turn, which is supposed to keep the game moving.
6) Priming the Pumps – all the supply or job decks have a discard pile which is available and you can view at any time. This keeps players from flying blind and allows players to go through decks and plot their next move during opponents turns.
CONS :
1) Its not hard to teach, but its hard to learn. It really requires a play through before you “get it” and that first game with newbs is always long and slow.
2) Its not for light gamers. The amount of components is overwhelming , and the amount of time required. Average game play is 2-3 hours, with newbs add 45 min to 1 hour.
3) While being a fan is not required, not being a fan means you’re missing the joke. Fans will get excited about things in game that you just won’t understand.
4) It is not a heavy strategy game either. Its all about putting together the best ship/crew/gear combo that works for you and chasing goals – so it does have race game elements rather than depth.
5) Players will slow things down. Even with the action limit and the ability to go through the piles on your off turn, some people can just drag the game in their indecision.
6) You need a big space to play. There’s a lot of game here.
7) Reavers will eat your crew and passengers. (for some this will be a Pro)

I recommend this for people who are more mid weight gamers than light, or fans who really want run a crew in the ‘verse. It’s the most thematic game since Battlestar Galactica. We had a lot of fun, and it keeps coming back to the table. The Breakin’ Atmo expansion fixes some complaints on there not being enough cards, and the Bounty Hunters and Pirates expansion fixes any complaints about there not being enough player interaction.
Good luck out in the Black…

9
Go to the Amerigo page

Amerigo

129 out of 138 gamers thought this was helpful

My family loves this game. Just as fun with 2, 3 or 4 players. The game is full of options and replay value.

The game uses a variation of a dice tower made for game cubes. Each color defines an action you can take, dropping the cubes in the tower causes some to get stuck and others from previous drops to become unstuck, varying the type and number of actions that can be played. This mechanism is simple and effective. Games played back to back can have very different feel due to this feature alone. Combined with a random map sized to the number of players, and random tiles for Progress, Production, and the Pirate Fleet – no 2 games are alike.
Blue Cubes – Move Ships (explore, establish trading posts)
Black Cubes – Load Cannons (build up defense against pirates)
Red Cubes – Planning (purchase village and landscape tiles to develop islands)
Brown Cubes – Progress (move forward on track and gain Progress Tokens/in game bonuses and discounts)
Green Cubes – Building (place village and landscape tiles on islands and receive goods/commodities)
Yellow Cubes – Buy production tokens (to increase value of goods)
White Cubes – Special actions/Player order (move on track, choose another action, move up in player order)
Each of the above actions can be combined in different ways to gain victory points, or actions spent for gold to purchase actions when needed. There are so many options and variations of set up, we never get tired of the game.

Amerigo has some resource management, and strategy, but mixes it up. You explore islands with ships, racing for strategic advantage. Planning and Building are a puzzle game unto themselves. Managing resources/actions/gold gets harder as the pirate threat grows. Progress tokens provide path options for greater Victory Points bonuses. Collecting the right combination of goods and progress tokens leads to big end game bonuses. Do you try to close out small islands early for bonuses, or the long game for large islands and better points on building? Or maybe grab as many Trading Posts first, with quick options for goods? The options are yours.

After a first game, subsequent games are fast considering the amount of options: 1 hour – 90minutes. The cube tower keeps things moving and makes each phase interesting. At first appearance non gamers can be a little overwhelmed, but the color coding and symbols soon become clear after a round. Progress tokens take a few games to be comfortable with, so a cheat sheet helps.

Components are well made, and easy to understand. Even the box has a great insert, is very organized, and comes with the tower already built.

Player interaction is minimal. Mostly its about getting tiles, goods, tokens and island before your opponent. Amerigo while not a light game, is player friendly, and friendly to play. I really recommend a try…

8
Go to the Kemet page

Kemet

122 out of 141 gamers thought this was helpful

I had hoped to add a fast war/combat game to my collection and Kemet did not disappoint. This is not a game where you build up armies and defenses. It is not about strategic placement or careful maneuvers. It is about swift acquisition, expendable troops, and valuable territories exchanging hands back and forth every round.
The game is about the fight for control of temples and cities, between competing tribes, along the mouth of the Nile. It takes place in ancient Egypt, each tribe starts with limited resources, seeking favor with their gods.
Instead of having factions with different starting bonuses and abilities, you all start even and build your faction as you go. This is daunting the first time you play as there so many Power Tiles and combinations that can give each tribe powers, bonuses, and call down great mythical beasts to join their troops in combat. These tiles give a simple combat game depth, and a quick game lots of replay value.
Combat uses a combination of the number of troops, Power tile bonuses, Mythical creatures, combat cards, and the occasional Divine intervention card. There’s no luck, but just strategy and a bit of bluffing in using the cards, sometimes accepting a defeat just to do more damage your opponent and strategically retreating.
In the end, the game is about Victory Points and these are not won by plotting or defending strongholds. Victory Points are awarded to the attacker, to those that seize temples and grab the most valuable pyramids (Level 4). The game is meant to be played fast and aggressive, and that is how it is won.
With all the above, the game is also beautiful. The components are well made and figures beautifully detailed. Everything in this game is artistic and thematic.
If you are looking for deep turn by turn strategy, with large armies,and fortresses to defend – this is not for you.
If you are looking for fast play, quick skirmishes, and aggressive, bold moves – this is it.
If you also like the idea of moving mythical creatures across the desert, in a beautifully themed ancient Egyptian setting – then this is also for you.

9
Go to the Terra Mystica page

Terra Mystica

133 out of 147 gamers thought this was helpful

Terra Mystica is a euro style game combining resource management and strategic building placement with some fantasy theme elements. The components are well made and durable. Game boards are beautiful and functional, everything double sided with art. Personal game boards are race specific, with bonuses and abilities – each elegant as it tracks your tech tree, resources and economy. All boards, tokens and chits are consistent and clear with their symbols and mechanics – and they have to be, as there is a lot going on in this game. While the game comes down to Victory Points in the end, game play is focused on strategy with several available paths to gain points along the way. Players do not buy or trade resources or aggressively interact (no combat), but build with what they have, each building or upgrade changing each player’s economy. The real interaction is on the main board, where proximity to your opponents helps drive your economy but creates conflict for expansion, and terraforming changes the available landscape.
But before I say it’s perfect, let me point out a few cons:
1) It’s not easy to learn or teach to non gamers. New players can be overwhelmed by the amount of game here, and the first game is almost always a throw away full of regret of “what you should of done.”
2) It’s often not as fast as it should be. While the game can easily be played with experienced, focused players in 60 or 90 minutes, with new players it will take 3 times longer, and Analysis Paralysis can drag out a game easy.
3) End of game burn out. Whether it’s new players, or an intense game, you can at the end feel like the game beat you, even if you win. But this is part of the addiction of the game, the need to play again just to do it differently. You can often feel that you can do better.
4) 2 Player games aren’t as good as 3-4. 5 are more challenging and longer. If playing 2 player check out online variants and restrictions to enhance play.
With that said, my group and I love this game. Once you get how much game there is and get a feel for how the rounds progress its easy to get involved. 3-4 experienced players who don’t suffer from Analysis Paralysis can cruise through a game and will often play a second in a row. While it may not be light hearted fun, we all really enjoy the challenge. 14 different races, and terraforming combined with all the different strategies for Victory Points open up a lot of replay value.
I expect this will become a classic along with simpler games like Settlers of Catan and Power Grid, and more involved works like Agricola and Twilight Imperium and some how sits nicely right in the middle of both groups.

10
Go to the Power Grid page

Power Grid

47 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

Power Grid is a resource management game: buy power plants, buy resources, build, burn resources, repeat – which on its face may not seem exciting. But it shines none the less:
1) Clean design – a great combination of easy to learn/teach, but with depth in strategy. Components are well made and easy to use/understand.
2) Player interaction – everything you do effects everyone else. Auctioning Power Plants – you can buy out others or drive up costs. Building – placing in cities you can out maneuver your opponents. Buying resources – you can drive up costs/ cause a shortage.
3) Replay Value – the package comes with a 2 sided game board. Each side has various sections available depending on number of players. 3-4 players can play one side 3-4 different ways. And each side (Germany or US) has its own set of challenges. And even with all that, there are a dozen different cheap options for expansion that will totally change the game around.
4) Flexibility – It plays well with 2-6. While different numbers of people may change game dynamic, it is well balanced with any number of people. My wife and I play 2 player often and enjoy the game, though auctions aren’t very pivotal as building. Larger group games, run longer but tension is higher and auctions more exciting.
I couldn’t be happier with this game in my collection. Everyone I have introduced it to has come back for more, and its not like anything else we have. I consider it a classic.

8
Go to the Quarriors! page

Quarriors!

50 out of 57 gamers thought this was helpful

First off, it is Dominion with dice. For some people this is a turn off, others intriguing. It is at its core a deck builder, each player building their decks off of a common pool, except instead of taking cards, you pick up dice to add to your pool.
The differences? It does not have the same depth that Dominion has, nor do the expansions really change the feel with the added mechanics as much as some of the Dominion ones do.
But it does have more player interaction. Instead of a race with players basically playing solitaire to see who can score points before cards run out, what you play directly effects all other players.
And it has the tactile bonus of dice. Really cool dice.

If you don’t like Dominion style deck building, this may not be for you.
And if you are looking for depth, also may not be for you. Like dice games? definitely check this out.

However, it is fast and fun. Its easy to teach, and has player involvement in every roll. So as a light – medium weight game, I like it.
My wife is a Dominion fan and she loves Quarriors.
While not everything about the expansions is exciting, they do all come with a lot of cool dice. The expansions are pricey, but extend the replay value. Overall a nice change of pace.

7
Go to the Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island page
108 out of 129 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a great combination of coop/worker placement/story telling game. Lots of mechanics working together to make a challenging struggle for survival. It has so many good ideas, and if you enjoy the game, with so many varied scenarios available, it has lots of replay. I wanted to l0ve everything about this game, but…
1) The manual is clunky. The game is hard to learn, harder to teach. Experienced players will get it after 2 plays, and be able to run with it afterwards, but teaching light to medium players can lead to frustration and people not willing to play again. Download online resources to learn, play, and walk you through the first scenario.
2) Form over function – a pet peeve of mine. The look of the game is great, but neither consistent or clear. For one, brown writing on parchment(off white/tan) is terrible, and the constant changes in fonts and sizes on cards, peripherals make things hard to read. The washed out colors, and general sepia tone to everything may be thematic, but negate contrast and clarity -combined with lots of flavor text and flare can create a static filed of visual noise especially if the game runs long or late with tired players. Symbols that are key elements in the story telling are often small and hard to see. Symbols are not always obvious what they are.
3) Components – Some wooden parts, then there’s generic CHEAP plastic white and black cubes, which are to be used for various things instead of specific colors for specific actions or resources. There’s several decks of cards with dozens of cards in each, including item/invention cards, but some scenarios have unique item/inventions required and instead of having addition cards for these, these are printed in miniature on the scenario cards. Determination tokens (an important mechanic) don’t match the symbols on cards or the game board.
Players I know actually buy pieces to replace those supplied with the game – Upgrading the tokens with more obvious pieces, printing decals for player pieces, printing out a pile of help materials from online.
The clutter, making a hard game harder, is why I may play this game with friends, but not buy a copy for myself.
The game has so many wonderful ideas, but some poor executions. I hope a later edition may address these issues. If you like worker placement and a coop game with the kind of desperate finality of Pandemic, this is for you, but try before you buy…

9
Go to the Carcassonne page

Carcassonne

48 out of 74 gamers thought this was helpful

While heavy strategy gamers may not grab this first off the shelf, its one of the first I grab when introducing board games to others. The basic game is very easy to teach with quick set up, but as you play subtle strategies present themselves. For fans of puzzles, or simple turn based strategy, this is awesome. There are dozens of expansions each providing a unique twist and can be combined in various ways, adding to replay value. The simplicity makes it accessible in social/group situations, and it easily accommodates 5 players. A must have in any collection.

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