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Stone of the Sun

SP

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8
Go to the King of Tokyo page

King of Tokyo

29 out of 33 gamers thought this was helpful

King of Tokyo is a rolling dice, smashing friends kind of game. This is a simple game that is good for up to 6 players, and can be adapted for younger players. KoT offers light-weight fun, that can be vastly improved by expansions. Not recommended for anyone that dislikes player elimination or games that depend on luck.

Components

There is a set of lovely chunky dice in the box, and since this is the main component it is nice that they’re pretty durable (at least in my edition). The board is a small square of cardboard with the Tokyo and Tokyo Bay locations. I love the art on the monsters that you and your friends get to be, and the matching art on their player boards. The currency in the game is energy, represented by clear plastic green cubes that would fit really easily up a small child’s nose. Otherwise there is a deck of power cards and a few circular cardboard tokens for use with some of the cards.

Gameplay

You are a non-copyright infringing monster trying to take over Tokyo. Your player board has two count-tracking wheels – one for your hit points and one for your victory points. Your goals for winning are to either get 20 VP before your opponents, or be the last monster standing.

On your turn you will roll six chunky dice that have 6 different faces (1, 2, 3, Heart, Claw, Lightning Bolt), and may reroll any number of them up to 2 more times.
If you roll…

… three of one number: good for you! You get victory points this turn. As long as there are three of one number, you get that number of points. (If you said Huh? here’s an example: you roll three 2’s, you get 2 points. Each additional 2 you roll gives you one more point).

…Heart: as long as you’re not in Tokyo, you may heal the same number of points as hearts you’ve rolled

…Claw: Attack! If this is the first claw rolled you enter Tokyo. Otherwise, you attack whoever is not with you, causing them to go down in hit points the number of claws you’ve rolled. If you are in Tokyo you attack everyone else, if you are outside of Tokyo you attack the monkey (or giant bunny robot) in the middle 😉

…Lightning Bolt: Take one energy cube from the bank for each lightning you rolled.

If you collect enough energy cubes you may buy a card from the centre, which will either give you a permanent power or cause an immediate action. These are usually advantageous, as they can either increase your ability to cause damage, adjust your die rolls, or make VP collection easier.

You collect victory points either by rolling or by occupying Tokyo. Upon entering Tokyo you get 2 VPs, and each turn you begin in Tokyo you get 1 VP. You may choose to leave after someone attacks you and they must take your place. This means you can’t start your turn in Tokyo and then leave, as someone needs to take your place in the hot seat.

Play continues until only one monster is left standing, or until one monster has gained 20 VPs.

Play with 2

This is not my favourite game with 2 players. You’re either ruthlessly trying to decimate your opponent, or you’re both slowly trying to collect enough VPs to win. It doesn’t give you the same sense of accomplishment as when you are one of many monsters all vying for the honour of King of Tokyo.

Opinion

I find this to be a pretty great game to bring out with new players. The rules are simple and the randomness of the dice rolls means that everyone has an equal chance of winning. It is also adaptable for play with younger kids who may not know how to read yet; I found DNAmers’ tip to be very helpful. It can focus on player elimination, and that can really stink if you’re knocked out early. Fortunately, the game doesn’t run too long so you’ll be setting up for the next round in no time.

After the first few plays we didn’t bring out this game as much, it’s a little too simple and too random for us. Also it’s usually just me and @Game Ninja, and as I stated above KoT does not shine with just 2 players. However, we got the Power Up! expansion for Christmas, and I felt that the evolution cards added a lot to the game to make it more interesting. I think we may be seeing this game hit the table more often, as I am now very interested in how each monster will evolve. The Costume cards in the Hallowe’en expansion are also fun; nothing like putting a pretty princess dress on a giant mechanical dragon 🙂

8
Go to the Ticket to Ride page

Ticket to Ride

32 out of 37 gamers thought this was helpful

This was the first designer board game we ever bought – prior to this we had played Catan a few times, but had mostly played Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. Ticket to Ride opened our eyes to many new possibilities!

How to play
The rules are quite simple, and you can skip this section if you would rather read the rulebook. You are given 45 trains, and in front of you is a map of the United States with train routes spreading between the cities. Between cities there are 1 to 6 spaces that your trains can fit on. These are either coloured or grey, and indicate what colour cards you will be collecting.

You’re given 3 cards called Destination cards, that tell you which cities you will be trying to connect using your trains. They each have a different point value, and you must keep at least two of them.

You’re also given a few train cards – the ones mentioned above that you will be collecting. There are single coloured cards and wild cards that are rainbow. To claim a route between two cities, you need the same number and colour of cards as there are spaces between the cities.

On your turn you can either a) pick up train cards, from the stack or from the 5 displayed near the board, b) claim a route by playing the same number and colour cards as there are spaces between two adjacent cities, or c) choose more destination cards.

Once someone is down to 2 or fewer trains, the final round is triggered.

Scoring
Points are scored in 2 ways. The first is when you claim a route – the more trains you need for the route, the more points you get. If you only need one train to join two cities, you get 1 point. However, if you can complete a 6 train section you get 15 points, meaning each train is worth more points in a longer route.

Another way to get points is by completing the routes on your destination cards. If you do not complete these routes the points are subtracted from your final score.

The final way to get points in the base game is by making the longest route, meaning having the most trains in a continuous line across the board.

Components
The plastic trains are detailed, the board has nice art, but the cards are tiny. I would recommend picking up the 1910 Expansion to get the full sized cards as well as more destination cards.

Play with 2
This game scales well from 2 to 5 players. With only 2 there is much less competition for routes than in a 5 player game, but it does still happen on occasion. Some of the sections are doubled for larger player games, so in a 2 player game the doubled routes are ignored. In this case it is less about making sure you can make your routes, and more about racking up as many points as you can.

Opinion
Ticket to Ride is a great game to introduce modern designer board games to your family and friends. For folks that are used to classic “roll the dice, move your pawn, do what the spot says” game, Ticket to Ride can introduce different turn options, hand management and hidden goals, a few things that show up in designer games from time to time.

Now that we’ve been playing designer games for a few years, this one gets much less play unless we have friends over. It’s still a solid game, but for people who play games frequently I would recommend looking at one of the other Ticket to Ride titles as they add more complexity and strategy to the game.

7
Go to the Alhambra page

Alhambra

93 out of 100 gamers thought this was helpful

When I saw this game featured on Tabletop it left me cold. I don’t know if it was the lackluster play, or if it is just a game that doesn’t translate well to video, but I was disinterested. Fast forward a year or so to finding it 50% off at Chapters. Under $20 dollars for a game that won Spiel? Well… we decided it could be worth a try.

The idea of the game is to build the best Alhambra by buying buildings of different kinds (towers, arcades, gardens…). Build more of a type and you score the most points for that kind of tile.

Set Up

This is going to seem like a lot. It doesn’t usually feel too bad, and doesn’t stop us from pulling it out as an end-of-night game.

In our version there are two boards: the scoring track and the market (where you buy tiles). One of your markers goes on the scoring track and one goes on your own personal “fountain” which is the centre tile of your Alhambra.

Each player also receives a reserve square, where you can place your tiles if they aren’t going directly into your Alhambra. This square also helpfully has the scoring information printed on it.

Each player is dealt some money. There are four kinds of currency, each numbered 1-9, each a different colour; yellow, orange, blue and green. Colourblind players will be happy to know there are also symbols to differentiate the colours. Cards are flipped for one player until that player receives a value of at least 20 (at this point the currency doesn’t matter) and then keeps them hidden. Some players will end up with either fewer cards of high value or more cards of lower value, adding to at least 20 but maybe more. Whoever has the fewest cards gets to be first player.

Four currency cards are placed face up near the market, and then you prepare the deck by putting score cards at certain intervals. These will trigger two scoring phases during the game; a third phase is at the end of the game.

Finally, the market is stocked. There are four empty spaces on the market, each next to one of the currency markers indicating what currency is used to purchase that tile. Once that’s done you’re ready to play Alhambra!

Unless you are playing with just 2 players in which case you need to give Dirk the dummy player his 6 starting tiles. You don’t have to build an Alhambra for him, but he does get points for his tiles in each of the scoring phases, so it is worth it to pay attention to what he has. You also need to slim down the currency deck; there are three of each card so you pull out one set.

Gameplay

This is your standard rules explanation. If you’d rather just read the rules themselves, please feel free to do so!

On your turn you will look at your hand and see if you can purchase any of the tiles from the market. If you can, go for it! You don’t have to put it immediately in your Alhambra if it doesn’t fit; you can put it in your reserve. If you do put it in your Alhambra, make sure that there are no “wall” pieces touching “non-wall” pieces, and that you can walk from the fountain to your new building. You can have interior wall pieces (to walls touching) but they will not be counted towards your longest wall (important for points).

If you can’t buy a building, you can take money from the supply or rearrange your Alhambra. When you take currency, pay attention to what currencies are out and whether or not you can make exact change. Why do you care about paying with exact change? 1) You don’t get any money back if you overpay. 2) You get to take another turn if you can pay with exact change. Huzzah! And if you can pay with exact change again? Go ahead and take another turn, my friend. However, the market does not get re-stocked after you purchase your tiles, so at most you can pick up 4 tiles on your turn. That’s still a pretty sweet turn. You can finish up by taking more money or rearranging your Alhambra.

There are a couple of ways to rearrange your Alhambra. You can take a tile out of your Alhambra and put it in your reserve. You can put a tile from your reserve into your Alhambra. OR, if you’re lucky, you can replace one of your tiles with one from your reserve, as long as it is going in exactly the same place.

That’s it for your turns!

Scoring

When scoring cards came up and at the end of the game, you get points for your tiles and your walls.

For the walls you get one point for each piece of wall in your longest connected wall. Next you score for all the kinds of buildings you have.

In the first scoring phase, only the player with the most of a type will get points for that type. If I have 2 towers and you or Dirk have 1, then I get points and you don’t. Some of the types are worth more than the others, so try to keep an eye out! In the second set of scoring the top two players get points; in a tie they add the 1st and 2nd point values and divide between the two. In the final scoring the top three get points.

The 2-player perspective

Lucky for us, Dirk is not a big jerk.

I am surprised at how much we enjoy this game. My partner and I play a lot games together more often than we play with others. When we first read the rules for Alhambra and realized that to play with 2 you needed to play with “Dirk” the dummy player, we were nervous. The dummy player in 7-Wonders is annoying enough that we never play it on our own.

Dirk can be a little frustrating when he gets the good tiles, but not enough to shelve the game until more friends come over. At the beginning of the game you give Dirk six random tiles. After the first scoring you give him six more, and after the second he gets a third of the bag. Not too much extra work.

Opinion

This is not a super flashy or strategy heavy game. It does give you simple choices, and is easy to learn. Luck plays a big role, which means you can feel like the cards are against you, but can also even the playing field between avid and novice gamers. Player interaction is low, but this is great for players who aren’t interested in direct confrontation. For these reasons, I would put this game with Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne as good learning games, as they are all accessible for new gamers. I do think that it has the potential to get played out, much like those games do, due to being given limited and simple choices each turn.

Overall, this is a good light game that we like to pull out after a brain-burning, highly competitive day, to bring the bloodpressure back down and just enjoy building the coolest Alhambra.

8
Go to the Quantum page

Quantum

110 out of 118 gamers thought this was helpful

We were introduced to this game at our FLGS on Tabletop Day, and what a fantastic game! It surprised me how easy it was to pick up the rules of the game, but the puzzle of what to do next is compelling. The story is fun, too, with you battling against your friends to conquer planets.

How to play
In this game you are conquering planets with your dice-ships. This is a very cool mechanic, where the number on your dice represents what kind of ships you have. This number works in two ways: how far a ship can move on a turn, and its attack value. This means that Ones are Battleships, which can’t move far on a turn, but where lowest number wins in a fight they are very sturdy. Sixes are Scouts which can move six spaces but may be more susceptible in a fight.

Each Ship type also has a special power. Threes can exchange places with another one of your ships. Fives can move on a diagonal. Fortunately, there is a player mat for each faction to tell you what happens on a turn as well as what each ship can do.

The point of the game is to drop off your energy cubes on planets, which is done by getting your ships around a planet, and matching the pips on your dice to the number on the planet. Each time you manage this you get to pick up a card, which will either be a permanent adjustment to your faction, for example getting to re-roll attack dice, or by getting an immediate action card such as expanding your fleet (getting another die).

There are some other rules relating to your Research and your Dominance that help you either get more cards or drop off energy cubes, but this is something you can easily get a handle on once you play 🙂

Components
The dice are great, although they have a strange sticky texture when they are new. The colours are nice and bright, and they are good chunky dice. The energy cubes are a little small so if you have small children in the house you’ll want to keep an eye on these. The board is modular, and each of the pieces are nice thick cardboard that feel durable.

Play with 2
My partner and I often play games together, and this is a great one for us. Since the board is modular you can make sure that the difficulty is still high. One of our pet peeves is “dummy players” and fortunately this game doesn’t need one. You can also arrange the board in many different ways, with a lot of options included in the box, so the game has great replayability.

Thoughts
Randomness may be an issue for some players. Rolling your dice-ships means that you have a surprise fleet every time you play. You are also rolling your attacks and defenses meaning that your strategies can occasionally get stopped up by bad rolls. Fortunately you can take a turn to re-roll your ships and if you get the same number you must roll again, so you have some control over what kind of ships you have.

This is a nice little game with intuitive rules and great replayability. The board is modular, so you have a lot of options for setup, and it is still a great game for just 2.

8
Go to the Morphology page

Morphology

12 out of 12 gamers thought this was helpful

I haven’t had this much fun with a simple party game in a long time.

Gameplay
For the beginning of the game, you just need to get your team to guess a word based on what you’re doing with the props provided. There’s a string, a couple of large-gauge rubber o-rings, some coloured blocks, coloured bobbles, people-shaped pieces of wood, and a vase-shaped piece of wood. There is an “easy” side and a “hard” side to the cards, though the easy words are sometimes pretty challenging (e.g. manicure).

Once you’ve had a few successful turns, and your froggy place marker has reached the 3rd lilypad, you get to roll a die to change the constraints of your turn. You could have to do it with your eyes closed, or using only your weak hand, or only the string. Sometimes you may be restricted to only 5 items (that you choose before seeing the word!). Or everyone plays and one of the other teams may score rather than yours.

There are only a few lilypads, and once you get the final one the other teams choose 3 items for you to use. Usually they are quite cruel (an o-ring, a block and a bobble has been pretty common), But this allows for other teams to catch up if one team is running ahead.

Opinion
Good party game. If you’re going to have a group over to play games but they’re more fans of Taboo or Scatterogries this will fit right in. Not for people that require strategy! Probably good for children, as long as they aren’t at risk of swallowing small pieces. So far it has been the most challenging for people that have difficulty looking at a string and seeing a way for a team to guess “computer”…

We have been very surprised at how much fun we’ve had with this game and how many laughs we’ve gotten out of playing Morphology. It has gotten easier over several plays as the same words come up so you have an idea of what to expect. Could easily be modified by having the group make up their own words or phrases, maybe movie references to change it up.

9
Go to the CO2 page

CO2

20 out of 21 gamers thought this was helpful

Why did we get it?
My partner and I are scientists in the field of greener technologies, and we both talk about CO2 pretty frequently. This game was a no-brainer for us.

What is it about?
You are the CEO of an energy conglomerate with heavy focus on research and development. You develop and implement modern technology to decrease the amount of CO2 emitted per year before the earth chokes on its own emissions, while still making money for your company.

It has a semi-cooperative component where if the CO2 level goes beyond a certain threshold everyone loses.

Components
The board is art is great, and really illustrates the air pollution that your company is racing to decrease, or at least stop increasing!

The game pieces are nice thick cardboard or wood. There are two things that bug me a bit:
(1) The cards are a little small with somewhat ambiguous images, so we frequently check the rulebook to clarify what the cards do. However, they are all numbered and well described in the rules so it is not too bad.
(2) The technology tracks are a little cramped, and it can occasionally be a pain to check what rewards are coming up next if there are a bunch of player tokens covering them.

Gameplay
There are a lot of rules, but they all fit together with the theme! I could go into detail about the phases and the mechanics, but for this game you will get far more out of a video review than from me going through each little piece. Instead, let’s paint a picture of one aspect of the game.

Each region has a different idea of what kind of green technology it wants. You can gain control of the region by having plants of the highest priority, and in the case of a tie, having plants of more kinds in that region. To be able to even build a plant you need to gain expertise in that area.

Say you wanted to build a recycling plant in Asia, because you have a card that gives you a bonus to build in Asia. You would first propose that project, and get a bonus from your card, but also by proposing receive a grant from Asia for choosing to do research there. This could be for money, for technology cubes, or to move or recruit a scientist. You can then send one of your scientists to work on that project, thus gaining you some expertise in the area of recycling. The next step is installing the project, which is essentially building a Pilot plant. You pay one Carbon Emission Permit (CEP) but gain resources from the installation. Once you have enough expertise you can actual go ahead and build a full plant, which, if it is the first, means that you gain control of Asia! In terms of energy anyway…

When you start to be able to replace the old coal power plants you can actually decrease the amount of CO2! Not only that, but you get victory points for having built the plant at all.

You can also gain expertise by attending summits, where you will also be able to learn about other technologies from other scientists attending.

You can install projects that other people have proposed, or build plants where that project has been installed even if you weren’t the one to start the ball rolling.

There is so much more to this game, but it is worth playing to find that out. There are many paths to victory, as everything you choose to do leads to further victory points, be it building, gaining expertise, visiting the ever fluctuating market to sell high and buy low, getting control of a region, buying UN goal cards, it all comes back to VPs.

Did I mention that each company has their own secret goals for even more VPs??

tl;dr
I really enjoy this game; it hits on a bunch of my interests! It is definitely a 2 h game and scales well as the number of decades you play and turns/decade is dependant on the number of players.

The mechanics of the game are also a lot of fun, for me especially in terms of sending your scientists off to gain expertise at fancy summits around the world then take what they learned and turn it into greener power plants.

There’s some backstabbing, like when you install a plant someone else proposed. There is much more than meets the eye with this one!

8
Go to the Coup page

Coup

71 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

Why did we get it?
We have friends that really enjoy playing Werewolf, but we rarely get a large enough group to make that game worthwhile. We backed the Kickstarter and got Coup and the Resistance in one swing, and both have been great.

How do you play?
Each person is dealt two character cards, and these are the people in the court with whom they have influence. Every turn you have the option of taking Income (1 coin), Foreign Aid (2 coin), Launch a coup (costs 7 coins) or use a character action.

You could have the Duke, who allows you to rake in extra cash through Tax (3 coins) and block other players from taking Foreign Aid. You could be the Assassin and pay 3 coins to take out one card another person controls. But perhaps they are the Countessa who can block assissination! Or maybe they’re just pretending to be… or maybe you’re just pretending to be the Assassin!

When you start to doubt whether or not someone is really holding the card they say they are you can challenge. If you’re right, they’ll lose one influence. If you’re wrong, YOU lose an influence. Lose both and you’re out.

Is it worth it?
The components are nice, the cards are a good size with great art. The box is a weird shape for the contents, but it all fits in nonetheless. Ours also came with double-sided player cards indicating what each role could do and what actions you could take on your turn, which is really helpful.

The game itself is great, especially if you need something quick to warm up the group. It only takes a few minutes to explain the game, and the game itself is only 10-20 min so we usually end up playing at least twice whenever it comes out. Who doesn’t like bluffing, stealing and assassination?

Even if you don’t like player elimination, this game can still be ok as it is usually very quick, so you’ll mostly be taken up trying to figure out who really does have which cards. It’s a bit like Love Letter, with the bluffing and different character actions, but it can accomodate a larger group.

TL;DR The game is full of action and counteraction, challenges and assassination. Never a dull moment while you’re plotting your Coup.

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