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Spike Magus

gamer level 6
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Use my invite URL to register (this will give me kudos)
https://boardgaming.com/register/?invited_by=spikemagus
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9
Go to the 7 Wonders page

7 Wonders

39 out of 45 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview
7 Wonders is a light civilization-building game for 2-7 players, ages ten and up. Expand resource production, build buildings, grow your sciences, and most importantly construct your wonders. Don’t forget your military, though, because your neighbors certainly won’t! The publisher says it plays in 30 minutes, though my experience is that it takes more like 45-60 with six players. Still, the game moves at a pretty quick pace.
Components
This is a really pretty game. The civilization score cards are robust, with good artwork. The cards seem fairly sturdy, showing no sign of wear after a dozen games. The coins and the military victory tokens are likewise solidly constructed. All of the costs, productions, and conditions on the cards are clearly communicated in a simple graphical representation with minimal text, in a manner that is clean and well-integrated into the artistic design, working smoothly with the art to add to the feel of the game.
Experience
Theme
I’ve played a lot of civilization-building games, which is the category I’d put this into. Never have I come across one that is so simple, yet so flavorful in its execution. You get the drive to collect the necessary resources without fidgeting with tokens, the need to defend yourself against hostile neighbors without complicated and drawn-out combat, and the progression of one construct to the next, all in a game that plays in under an hour. What? Somebody pinch me.
Mechanics
There is a lot going on in this game. The basic mechanic is card drafting: Each player is dealt seven cards in each age, from which they will select one to play, place it face-down in front of them, and pass the rest (passing order alternates clockwise-counterclockwise-clockwise through the three ages). Once all players have made their selection, the selected cards are turned face up, any costs are paid, and the card is deployed to the appropriate location on their score card. Then, the passed cards are picked up and the process is repeated, until the last card in each stack is discarded. This process allows you to consider, especially as the game develops, whether you really want to pass that military card to the vicious warmonger on your left or take the hit of discarding it for 3 gold as your turn instead.
The main thing you’re doing with these cards is building out your civilization. You have the choice of building out resource production to help you continue building later. Many of these items have no cost to build, so they’re a good place to start. You can build trading posts and markets, which allow you to trade with your neighbors more cheaply (1 gold to use one of their resources instead of 2). You can buy military, to gain victory points through being more mighty than your neighbors (or keep them from getting victory points). There are civic buildings that you construct for victory points, and sciences that give you points based on the number and type you collect. In the Third age, there are the valuable “Purple buildings” that generate points based on how many of other building types you have.
Finally, you can construct another stage of your all-important Wonder: I’ve never seen anyone win this game without completing their Wonder, though mathematically it’s possible, especially with the sciences.
Scoring all happens at the end of the game. It takes under two minutes per player to add up remaining money, military points, sciences, etc.
Involvement
Players are continually involved; turns occur simultaneously, so there is no downtime, and there is no elimination in the game.
Interaction
The game doesn’t have a lot of interaction. When choosing cards, you can choose to use or bury a card that might be needed by someone downstream, but typically that’s a bad choice unless it’s the best choice for you otherwise. Only if you’re building a phase of your wonder will you want to burn a card just to keep it out of someone’s hands.
Difficulty
Complexity of game
There’s a lot going on in this game, but the clean design and clear iconography on the components mitigates this exceptionally well. Opportunity cost is implemented without complex juggling of resource tokens, and while there are a lot of ways to score points, players can limit their focus to simplify their options.
Clarity of rules
The rules are some of the cleanest I’ve read; there were a few ambiguities on read-through, but as soon as we played into those situations it became obvious what the text meant. We had no rules issues outstanding by the Third Age of our first game.
Replay Potential
Completeness as base game
With the drafting mechanic, the game is always different. Having seven cities to select from, and two levels of game play to choose between, gives even more variability. You could play this game for a long time before getting bored with it.
Expansions
There are two expansions, Leaders and Cities. I haven’t played with either, but Cities looks like it adds more of an interactive element.
Summary
Pros
Plays in under an hour
High replay potential
Easy to learn
Scales very well
Cons
The military scoring tokens feel a bit fidgety.
We’ve had a couple of players lock up on turns, especially early in the Third Age. I attribute this to focusing too much on
Conclusions
If we didn’t have three copies of this game in our gaming group already, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I still might, to try and get the family to play it sometime. Being able to get in three games in under 3 hours is awesome.

8
Go to the Libertalia page

Libertalia

39 out of 44 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview
Libertalia is a competitive card game of looting and plundering for 2-6 players. The game is played in three “Campaigns” consisting of seven days. The first six days are divided into Sunrise, Day, Dusk, and Night; different character cards, which represent crew members, have special abilities in different parts of the day. Players use these cards for their ordinal value (the “rank” of the crew member) to get first pick of the loot for the day, or their special ability, or both.
There are 30 characters in all; players start with 9, and will use 6 (or 7) during each Campaign, and replenish with a new six between campaigns. The game mechanics are such that the nine starting cards, and each set of replenishments, are the same for all players. However, the play mechanics and some of the powers, combine to create an increasing variety of crew members in each campaign as the game progresses.
The publisher suggests ages 14+, but I think this game can be played by sharper 12 year olds with good result.
My experience is that with 6 players, game duration fall in the 45-60 minute range. You might find some turns take a while, depending on the mix of cards in the hand.
Components
The components for this game are good; the artwork is beautiful, the game board is sturdy and has a very clean design, and the loot tokens are sturdy and easily differentiated from one another. The only ding I can give the game here is that the cards are less robust than I’d like; they seem like they’d be susceptible to both general wear and to corner bending. I recommend sleeves to prolong card life.
Experience
Theme
The pirate theme in this game is carried through to great effect; all 30 of the cards have great artwork, relate well to what the character they portray is supposed to be and do, and interact well with one another. The looting mechanic is fun and flavorful, especially with the two direct action items, the Spanish Officer and the Saber.
Mechanics
This game makes some really interesting modifications on the ordinal mechanic used by a lot of games. Each player has a set of 30 identical character cards for forming his crew; the cards available are limited and identical for all players over the course of the game, but play order and special abilities can provide variance in cards between campaigns. Each crew member card has a rank, which is the ordinal value of the character, ranging from the Parrot to the Captain.
During the “Sunrise” phase, ach player selects the character card they’re going to play for the day. These are turned up, and placed in ascending rank order on the ship; ties are broken by an Influence number on the cards, whose precedence is distributed across the individual player decks for balance.
The “Day” phase proceeds with playing all of the Day special abilities of characters from lowest rank to highest. This is a great mechanic, because some of the abilities enable you to alter character order or interfere with abilities.
During the “Dusk” phase, looting takes place. Beginning with the highest ranking characters, players select a booty token from the day’s hold, and execute any Dusk special abilities. Then, the character card is placed in the player’s “Den.”
Finally, the “Night” phase occurs, where all characters in a player’s den having Night powers my execute them. These powers execute each day, so some of these Night powers can be pretty beneficial.
Interaction
This game surprised me with both the amount and variety of interaction between players. You can jockey for position in the looting order, steal from other players, stick players with cursed booty, and assassinate characters in an opponent’s den. A lot of the interaction is dependent on the cards in the round, and the interaction with other cards, so there’s a lot of variability from game to game in how much you can affect other players.
Difficulty
This is a game that has very simple rules, and can be learned in just a few minutes. At the same time, there’s a lot of complexity and strategy in the card interaction, so players experienced with the game have a distinct advantage over new players.
Complexity of game
There’s a lot of hidden complexity in this game; the interactions between the characters and their abilities carry a lot of nuance that could prove frustrating for new players, particularly younger ones. I think that with some thought, one could come up with an ideal set of cards for a first game as a teaching game, progressively adding complexity in succeeding campaigns so that new players won’t be overwhelmed.
Clarity of rules
The rules are brief and concise; no confusing language, but there are a couple of places where I would have grouped information differently.
Replay Potential
Completeness as base game
It’s my opinion that you could play this game indefinitely without it feeling repetitive. With 30 characters, the number of possible combinations coming in sets of 9/6/6 are plentiful, and there are so many options that I don’t see it getting stale.
Expansions
There aren’t any expansions for this game yet, but there’s definitely room for an expansion set of replacement characters (say 8 characters that swap in for ones in the base deck), and even new booty tokens.
Summary
Pros
Replayability, outstanding mechanics, and a very workable duration all line up in this game’s favor. Great artwork and exceptional integration of the pirate theme throughout the mechanics provide great flavor.
Cons
The sheer number of options can cause some players to lock up; this could be solved by placing the Sunrise phase on a timer. I’m also uncertain of the long-term playability of the cards if not sleeved.
Conclusions
I was concerned that this would turn into some awkward hybrid of Citadels and Aladdin’s Dragons, but though there are several games out there with an ordering mechanic based on card choices, and a few with a collecting scheme, positively everything about this was fresh. The pirate theme was actually integrated into the feel of the play, rather than just being an artistic theme brushed over an abstract game.
I expect Libertalia to be a staple of our gaming group for a long time.

9
Go to the Nuns on the Run page

Nuns on the Run

62 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

Right off the bat, the fact that this game allows for 8 players is a huge plus. We had six at our table when we played this at GenCon 2011, and I’ve since played with 8, and It scaled well. I haven’t had the chance to play it with fewer players, but I’m eager to do so.

This is a hide-and-seek game, where 2-6 novices attempt to achieve their “secret wish:” by finding a key, locating the object of their wish, and getting back to their cell with it. They do this while avoiding the “guards,” the Abbess and Prioress, who are patrolling the halls.

The novices move in secret, by selecting their mode of travel (running, walking, sneaking, or standing still), counting the associated number of spaces toward their destination, and writing down the ending location number. The mode of movement determines how noisy the novice was. Once all novices written down their ending locations, each rolls a 6-sided die. If the novice is within the modified number of spaces based on movement mode (-1 if walking -2 if sneaking, -3 standing still), then she places a noise counter next to the appropriate guard on whichever side is toward her position (movement-wise).

For the guards’ part, they must follow one of the numbered patrol routes, which are provided on a set of cards. The only time they may deviate from their path is if they hear a noise (as indicated by the placement of a noise counter), or if they spot a novice roaming the halls. They either walk (3 or 4 spaces) run (5 or 6 spaces), and their goal is to capture the wayward novices by landing on the same space. The guards also get a listen roll at the end of their turn, but only if they are in walking mode.

When caught, the novice loses control of their wish item, which is returned to its assigned board location, but retain control of their key. The final wrinkle is that each novice and guard receives one “Blessing” card at the start of the game, which may be used once. These cards have various effects, from 1 additional movement space to creating a false noise.

The hidden movement factor makes for some surprising fun, because the novices don’t know one another’s locations. Noises by one novice can result in giving away the location of others.

We played a six-player game, where the win condition for the guards (both played by a single player if < 8 players)was catch # of players (6) or prevent novices from winning. A novice wins by getting back to her cell with her secret wish item. In this game, I played the guards, and caught six novices by turn 10.

In an 8-player game, it was much more difficult to catch the necessary 8 novices, because there was less coordination of behavior between the two guards when played by different people.

All in all, I find this game to be quite enjoyable, with the ability to bring in newer or younger players because of the simple mechanics, yet enough strategy and cunning to interest more experienced players.

10
Go to the Magic: The Gathering page
60 out of 92 gamers thought this was helpful

“Cardboard Crack” at its best. I’ve played about a dozen other TCGs, but none of them have the richness of MtG, nor the odd balance of simplicity (the game is atually simple) and complexity (but the variations, ah, th variations…) that keep me tapping the vein. Every game is a completely new experience, and there are so many formats to play in.

Now, where can I find a game at 10:30 on a weeknight…

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