Player Avatar
USA
I play blue
El Dorado
Paladin

Stargazer1

gamer level 9
70390 xp
followers
38

Use my invite URL to register (this will give me kudos)
http://boardgaming.com/register/?invited_by=stargazer
profile badges
Advanced Reviewer
Critic - Level 3
Novice Advisor
Viscount / Viscountess
recent achievements
Critic - Level 4
Critic - Level 4
Earn Critic XP to level up by completing Critic Quests!
Senior Reporter
Senior Reporter
Earn Reporter XP to level up by completing Reporter Quests!
Master Grader
Master Grader
Grade 2000 more reviews or tips by clicking "Yes" or "No" in response to the question "Was this helpful?"
Gamer - Level 9
Gamer - Level 9
Earn Gamer XP to level up!
Go to the Arkham Horror page
Go to the BattleTech page
Go to the Dungeon Lords page
Go to the Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game page
Go to the Wallenstein page
Go to the The Napoleonic Wars page
Go to the For the People page
Go to the Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga page
Go to the Railways of the World page
7
Go to the Blackbeard page

Blackbeard

6 out of 6 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Blackbeard is a card driven game which allows players to recreate the “Golden Age of Piracy” in the 17th and 18th centuries. Blackbeard attempts to simulate the life of a pirate with actual happenstances such as raiding merchant ships and ports, hostage taking, fighting warships, duels, & mutinies. Players maneuver their pirates around a map collecting booty and gaining notoriety. The player who retires the richest and most notorious pirates wins. Blackbeard is for up to 5 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 2 hours. Blackbeard is at its best with either 2 or 3 players and also has a very good solo variant.

COMPONENTS
The components are a mixed bag. The cardstock map is better than the standard GMT paper map. And the artwork on the map really sets the theme of the game. I really like the map. There are thick cardboard tokens and plastic dice. The tokens could be better in terms of game functionality. The ship boards are also cardstock quality, have minimal artwork and could be functionally better. The standard size cards are durable and have a glossy finish. The artwork on the cards is small and in black & white, but sets the theme nicely. There are also two cardstock player aids which are helpful but have a few typo errors. The rulebook is well organized but not well written. Many rules are unclear. I strongly suggest downloading the Living Rules from GMT’s website if you purchase this game. The Living Rules help clarify many rules. There is a whole lot of goodness in the box, and getting it back in is a challenge. Owners will probably want to throw away the insert. Overall the components could have been better.

SET UP
Set-up for Blackbeard takes a moment. Each player is dealt a number of pirates depending on the number of players. A ship board must be set-up for each pirate the player deploys on the map. Eight merchant ships and the 16 Anti-Pirate Governors must be randomly placed on the map. The Must Play Immediately cards are removed from the Event deck. The Event deck is shuffled and four cards are dealt to each player. Then the Must Play Immediately cards are reshuffled into the Event deck. All ready to begin!

GAME MECHANICS
Each player in clockwise order becomes the Pirate Player. The Pirate Player’s turn consists of the following three phases:
1. Event Card Draw
2. Replenish Merchant Ships
3. Action

EVENT CARD DRAW
The Pirate Player draws Event cards one at a time until he has four cards in his hand. Any Must Play Immediately cards are resolved and another card drawn.

REPLENISH MERCHANT SHIPS
If there are less than five merchant ships on the map, then the Pirate Player randomly places merchant ships until there are six on the map.

ACTION
The Pirate Player may play any number of cards for the event and ONE card for Action Points (APs) listed on the card. The APs can be used for the following actions:
A. Move: Move a ship from sea area to an adjacent sea area or port.
B. Find Merchant Ship: Search for a merchant ship in a sea area with a merchant token.
C. Loot Merchant Ship: Seize the cargo and determine its value in Doubloons. Gain notoriety equal to the value of the merchant ship. Take a hostage and decide to hold for ransom or torture. Convert the merchant ship to a pirate ship. Decide to declare voluntary Debauchery & Revelry.
D. In-Port Activities: Ransom hostage. Convert all Booty to Net Worth. The conversation rate depends on which type of port the Active Pirate is located. Repair damage to the ship. Purchase Safe Haven status by bribing the governor. Decide to declare voluntary Debauchery & Revelry.
E. Booty Grab: Attack another player’s pirate under Debauchery & Revelry and in the same port in an attempt to steal his cargo.
F. Debauchery & Revelry Recovery: Once in a port, spend 1 AP to remove voluntary D&R or spend 2 AP to remove involuntary D&R.
G. Attack Port: Attack any port within the Active Pirate’s sea area. If successful, then determine booty value in doubloons, gain notoriety equal to two times the port value, increase crew loyalty, and apply ship damage.
H. Sack Port: Sack a port that was successfully attacked and destroy it. If successful, then the port is out of the game, increase crew loyalty, gain notoriety equal to two times the port value and crew undergoes involuntary Debauchery & Revelry.
I. Retire Voluntarily: Retire a pirate if he is in a Safe Haven or has a Letter of Marque. The pirate’s Net Worth is converted to Victory points (VPs).
J. Draw and Deploy New Pirate: Draw and deploy the pirate drawn or any other pirate in the player’s hand.

Any players not currently taking a turn become an Anti-Pirate Player. During the Pirate Player’s turn an Anti-Pirate Player may perform ONE Anti-Pirate Action. No Anti-Pirate Action can be repeated on the same Pirate Action, but can be repeated on a different Pirate Action of the same turn. Anti-Pirate Actions include the following:
I. Attempt to Deploy a King’s Commissioner: Roll 3D6, if less than the Active Pirate’s notoriety, then deploy a King’s Commissioner (KC) in the sea area with the Active Pirate. The player who deploys the KC controls it. Each player may have ONE KC in play at a time.
II. Use On-Station Warship: A warship already in play in the same sea area as the Active Pirate may be used to attack the Active Pirate. Warships can only be used when an Active Pirate is performing a Find Merchant Ship, Loot Merchant Ship or Attack Port Action. The Pirate Player decides whether to fight the warship or attempt to flee.
III. Use Existing King’s Commissioner: A KC may either Move, Attack a Pirate Port, or attempt to Oust Pirates from a Port.
IV. Play Card for Anti-Pirate Event: Play a card type for its Anti-Pirate Event only if it has not been played during the Pirate Player’s action already.

Players continue to take turns until the General Pardon card is drawn the third time. The game immediately ends and players convert the notoriety of any pirates left on the map to VPs. The player with the most VPs wins.

THOUGHTS
Blackbeard has a moderate learning curve and will take a couple of plays to get the mechanics straight and develop strategies. This is a fairly complex game which I would only recommend to Avid and power gamers.
Blackbeard is heavily steeped in theme. Everything about this game screams pirate theme. Players get to play historical pirates, each with their own set of characteristics. The card events, the pirate actions and even the anti-pirate actions contribute to making Blackbeard the most authentic pirate game on the market.

Player interaction is featured in this game. If you like player interaction then this is a game for you. Even when it’s not your turn, you have things you can do to influence the outcome of the current turn! Downtime? Nope, none in this game!

OK, there are some downsides to Blackbeard. First, this game is fiddly by any standards. There are a lot of tokens and a lot going on during any given turn. Things are constantly changing. In addition many cards require certain situations in which they can be played and many rules are complicated. Both of these will require moderate rulebook referencing. Second, Blackbeard does not scale well, which is why I recommend three players maximum. A player doesn’t get many actions on his turn, and to have 3 or 4 players throwing cards or doing some other anti-pirate action to negate your actions means you won’t get much accomplished. This game can be frustrating when there are a lot of players. Lastly, luck is a big factor in this game. Just about every action requires a die roll. Everything from the size of the merchant ship cargo, size of the ransom, cost of the bribe, combat and other events is dependent on a die roll in some form or another. Each pirate has Cunning, which allows for die rerolls, to mitigate luck to some extent, but luck will rear its ugly head.

Overall, Blackbeard provides great historical pirate flavor and is a lot of fun with the right number of players. This game packs in everything from mutinies, duels, back-stabbing, searching for buried treasure, debauchery & revelry and torture. No other pirate game can make this claim. Blackbeard is also challenging to play. My gaming group often gets a laugh when comparing the number of retired pirates to the number killed. Blackbeard is THE pirate game but it’s not for everyone. Give it a try before you buy.

8
Go to the Star Wars: Destiny page

Star Wars: Destiny

16 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Star Wars: Destiny (SW: D) is set in the Star Wars Universe covering all the movies, including the latest release –The Force Awakens. SW: D is, dare I say it, a collectible card/dice game for 2 players [shutter]. Players play either a villain deck or a hero deck. The cards feature familiar characters, events, equipment and quotes from the movies. SW: D is for players age 10 and up and plays in about 20 minutes.

COMPONENTS
The components are very good. SW: D features fairly durable cards with excellent artwork. Players will probably still want to sleeve the cards since the cards will see heavy use. There are also large(0.5″) heavy plastic dice with etched faces. The rulebook folds out to a two-sided 11×17 inch sheet. The rulebook is well organized and written, and has many examples.

SET UP
SW: D requires players to construct a deck. The deck consists of 30 cards with no more than two of a kind. The deck will also have up to 3 characters totaling 30 points and 1 Battlefield. Each character is assigned at least one point value. Some characters have two point values because a player can choose to use either 1 or 2 dice for the character. Hero and villain characters cannot be mixed; however, there are rogue or neutral characters which can be paired with either heroes or villains. Battlefields have an end turn special ability which the first player to end his turn can take advantage. Be prepared to spend some time sorting through cards and determining which card combos work best with each other. Some time can be saved by checking out the many decks others have already posted online.

Once players have assembled their respective decks, getting started is very quick. Players roll all their character dice and total the values. The player with the highest value chooses which Battlefield to fight on and essentially chooses the starting player. The Battlefield not chosen is removed from play and that player receives 2 shields to divvy up among his characters. Players then shuffle their deck and draw 5 cards. Ready to go!

GAME MECHANICS
SW: D is played in a series of Rounds which consist of an Action and an Upkeep Phase. In the Action Phase, players alternate taking turns in which they can perform 1 of the following actions:
1. Play a Card from Your Hand.
2. Activate a Character or Support.
3. Resolve Dice.
4. Use Card Action.
5. Discard a Card to Reroll Dice.
6. Claim the Battlefield.

Play a Card
A player pays the Resource cost in the upper left-hand corner of the card to play a card. Support, Upgrades and Equipment cards are permanent cards which are laid down in front of the player. Event cards are resolved and then discarded.

Activate a Character or Support
A Character or Support card is exhausted (turned on its side) and all dice, including any attached equipment or upgrade dice are rolled. The dice are placed in front of the Character/Support and form the player’s dice pool.

Resolve Dice
Use any number of dice that have the same symbol. For instance, all dice that show the melee symbol can be used to deal damage to an opposing character(s). Dice abilities include melee damage, ranged damage, gain resource(s), give Shield(s), discard opponent Resource(s), force opponent to discard a card(s), reroll a die and activate a special ability indicated on the die’s associated card. The dice can also roll a blank. Resolved dice are removed from the player’s dice pool and placed on its respective card.

Use Card Action
Some cards have a special action on them. A player can spend his action for the turn to use this ability.

Discard a Card to Reroll Your Dice
A player can discard any card in his hand to reroll any number of dice in his dice pool.

Claim the Battlefield
A player may end his turn for the Round by Claiming the Battlefield. Only the first player to end his turn can claim the Battlefield. This player may use the Claim ability on the Battlefield. This player also becomes the first player for the next Round.

During the Upkeep Phase, players Ready any Exhausted cards, gain 2 Resources, discard any undesirable cards and then draw cards until they have 5 cards in hand.

Play continues until one player has Defeated all his opponent’s Characters or a player runs out of cards. A Character is defeated when he or she takes damage equal to or greater than their health.

THOUGHTS
SW: D is an easy game to learn and play. Yet there is a good amount of strategy too. This is a quick playing game with minimal downtime. The well-known theme combined with a quick easy play makes this a great game for casual gamers.

One thing I really like about this game is the smooth mechanics. The dice aspect is fully integrated with the card play. The dice mechanic does not feel tacked on or clunky. This game design is truly impressive.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Cards and dice, there must be a heavy luck factor?!?!? Actually, no, there isn’t. The dice give players the flexibility to reroll or just turn the die to a particular side. The dice can also give more resources too. Many cards give players the option to reroll dice or simply use a blank die for an action on the card. SW: D is balanced in that you have adequate resources but never quite enough to do EVERTHING you want to do.

Unfortunately there is a down side to SW: D. It is a dreaded collectible card game. Yes, you’ll need to purchase booster packs containing an unknown, a blind buy if you will. The booster packs include 5 or 6 cards and 1 die. Be prepared to spend a bit on this game.

Another minor quibble is the weak theme. But it’s Star Wars, how can it have a weak theme?!?! Well I’m glad you asked. Other than good guys versus bad guys there is no theme. There are no missions to complete. No battle for Hoth or Death Star to destroy. Characters and equipment from different time periods in the Star Wars Universe can be mixed and matched. For instance, a deck could contain as its characters Admiral Ackbar and Padme. This is a minor negative in my opinion and another reason why this game will appeal to a broad audience.

Star Wars: Destiny is a very good, fun, quick playing game. If you can stomach the cost of this collectible card game beast, then I highly recommend adding Star Wars: Destiny to your collection.

8
Go to the Shadows of Brimstone: Swamps of Death page
6 out of 8 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Shadows of Brimstone (Brimstone) is a dungeon crawl set in the American Old West. Its theme is derived from the movie “Aliens vs. Cowboys” released several years ago. Players take on the role of ordinary old west townsfolk, such as the Rancher, Preacher, Indian Scout or Law Man, who are thrust into playing the hero due to dark circumstances. The characters form a posse which investigates the local mines and Other Worlds, fights a host of monsters and attempts to complete a scenario mission. Brimstone is a fully cooperative game for up to 4 players ages 12 and up and plays usually in about 3 or 4 hours depending on the scenario. Combining the two core sets allows for up to 6 players. Brimstone is at its best with 3 players and can also accommodate solo gaming with ease.

COMPONENTS
The components are fair at best. The thick cardboard double-sided modular boards are the highlight of the components. There are thick cardboard tokens and plastic playing pieces. The character boards are cardstock quality with very good artwork. The cards are marginally durable with good artwork which sets the theme. Unfortunately there are not enough tokens, or in some cases the correct tokens to mark some of the game functions. The plastic figures require assembly and are unpainted. Expect to spend some time assembling the figures. The character boards are virtually useless due to the changing stats of the characters. There is no way to mark the stat changes without destroying the character boards and no chits or tokens provided to do so either. More cards should have been included as a lot of items that can be obtained in this game aren’t represented. The worst part of the components is undoubtedly the rulebook and Adventure book. One of the worst rulebooks I have ever seen. The rulebook does not have an index and is poorly organized. Rules are also scattered between the rulebook and Adventure book. You’ll spend some time searching through both books trying to find rules. The rules are also very unclear on many aspects of the game. Be prepared to House Rule many things. One of my biggest disappointments with the rules is the lack of a detailed campaign system. The core set contains a few campaign rules some of which are unclear.

SET UP
Set-up for Brimstone takes a moment. You’ll need to pick a scenario and possibly piece together the map if required (some scenarios have a fixed map and other scenarios require a random map). There are a host of different decks to shuffle and of course the character boards with their respective equipment and abilities need to be laid out.

GAME MECHANICS
Shadows of Brimstone is played in a series of turns which consist of the following four steps:
1. Hold Back the Darkness
2. Hero Activation
3. Room Exploration
4. End of Turn

Hold Back the Darkness
The hero holding the Old Lantern rolls 2D6 and adds them together. If the total is equal or greater than the current level on the Depth Track, then Darkness has been prevented from advancing. If the roll is less than the current value, then the Darkness Marker on the Depth Track advances one space. Certain spaces on the Depth Track cause a Darkness card to be drawn and resolved. Other spaces cause a Growing Dread card to be drawn and saved for resolution before the final battle. Rolling doubles causes a Depth Event to occur. None of these things are good for the heroes. If darkness advances out of the mine, then the heroes have failed the mission.

Hero Activation
Each Hero is activated in order of initiative, from highest to lowest. The player rolls 1D6 to determine the number of spaces the hero may move this turn. On a 1, the hero also recovers Grit. Grit allows the Hero to reroll a die roll. If there are no monsters on the board, then the hero may Look Through the Door to reveal another map tile if he is at the map edge or scavenge. The hero rolls 3D6 to scavenge. A card is drawn from the Scavenge Deck for each 6 rolled. The hero will gain minimal experience points (XP) and could find gold, dark stones, an item or nothing at all.

If there are monsters on the board a hero may attack monsters within range. A hero can use his melee ability to attack a monster adjacent to him or use a ranged weapon, such as a rifle, to attack a monster within the weapon’s range. To make an attack, the hero rolls the indicated amount of D6 or D8 according to the weapon’s card. Any rolls equal to or greater than the hero’s melee/range ability scores a hit. Any rolls of 6 on a D6 are critical rolls. The hero then chooses a monster and rolls a die for each hit. The number rolled minus the monster’s defense is the number of wounds inflicted. Critical rolls negate the monster’s defense. The hero gains XP for killing monsters. Once all monsters have been vanquished, each hero draws Loot cards equal to the number of monster cards drawn for the battle. The hero will find gold, dark stones or an item and gain XP.

Room Exploration
Once all heroes have completed their activation, any newly revealed map tile is discovered. New map tiles receive an Exploration Token. The exploration token is revealed and resolved. The exploration token will indicate the number of passageways leading from the new map tile, the number of events which occur or if there is a monster attack. If it is an event, then a card is drawn from the appropriate deck, for example a mine event is drawn for a mine tile or an Other World card is drawn for an Other World map tile. If an attack is indicated, then a monster threat card is drawn to determine what type of monster attacks and how many.

End of Turn
Other affects occur such as healing.

The heroes continue to search the mine/Other World until the final fight begins or until darkness escapes the mines. At the start of the final fight, the Growing Dread cards are revealed one at a time and resolved. If the heroes defeat the monsters in the final fight, then they have achieved a mission success! Regardless of the mission outcome, each player rolls a D6 to determine if any Travel Events occur. Once Travel Events, if any, are resolved the posse arrives at the nearest town. The heroes can buy items, try to heal serious wounds, stock up on supplies or have an event at one of the town locations.

Heroes level up as they gain experience similar to an RPG. XP can be spent to obtain the next hero level. The Amount of XP required increases as the hero level increases. Upon obtaining a new level, the player rolls 2D6 on the Upgrade Bonus table and chooses a special ability according to the character’s Upgrade Chart. The Upgrade bonus grants a minor ability, usually more health, sanity or +1 to an attribute (Agility, Cunning, Spirit, Strength, Lore & Luck). The Upgrade Chart gives the hero another unique capability.

THOUGHTS
My gaming group struggled to learn how to play Brimstone. I played the game solo a few times in an effort to learn the mechanics but still had many questions. Our struggles were largely due to the unclear rulebook.

The scenarios leave a lot to be desired. There isn’t much creativity in the scenarios included in the core set. For the most part, the scenarios feel pretty repetitive, find 2 or 3 clues and then fight the final battle which might include a big baddie. There is also no consistency in the scenarios. We played a few scenarios multiple times and found that sometimes you’ll have heavy combat and sometimes there will be virtually no combat at all. It could take uncovering only three map tiles or many map tiles to find the clues.

The characters are not well balanced. The Rancher is an extremely powerful character right at start. I strongly suggest NOT using this character. We found monster combat not very challenging; however, we found it extremely easy when the Rancher was part of the posse. By contrast, the Indian Scout is one of the weaker characters. This character can move about freely, but other than that does not have good start abilities.

I’m going to gripe about the components again. I feel as though for the cost, the ‘core set’ should have included more stuff for the Swamps of Death Other World. There are only a handful of cards pertaining to this Other World. And there are no monsters specific to the Other World contained in the box. Basically the monsters for the mines are used, but given different names. You’re basically buying the map tiles for the Other World. The expansions are badly needed to bring out the Swamps of Death theme. Can you say Cha Ching?!?!

In my experience game length for Brimstone is usually either very quick or drags on. When the game length is quick, it’s most likely because you had a lucky draw and found the clues quickly and/or there wasn’t much combat. This isn’t a very satisfying game. Most of the time game length is long. Downtime in this game can be painful, which is why I strongly suggest having no more than 3 players. There are times when an endless stream of monsters appears. The dungeon crawl aspect comes to a grinding halt while combat is resolved and the game feels like it drags.

Onto the good stuff about this game. I like how scavenging is handled. Any space can be scavenged and there is a chance of finding something. The number of times something is found feels right. The Loot mechanic is along a similar vein and feels right too. I really like how XP for monsters is doled out. A hero receives XP for killing small monsters. However, a hero also gains XP for damaging large monsters, not on just the kill. This helps to spread XP among the posse members a bit more evenly.

Shadows of Brimstone is a game I really wanted to like and after a couple plays I did as my rating reflects. However, as it turns out, I was lucky those first couple of plays as the amount of combat and clue token timing panned out to provide a good gaming experience. After more plays I did not find this to be the norm. I now rate Brimstone a 5.5 due to many of the points discussed above. Shadows of Brimstone feels like an underdeveloped game with many issues and I strongly suggest considering the points above before you buy.

8
Go to the Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients page
6 out of 6 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Shadows of Brimstone (SoB) is a dungeon crawl set in the American Old West. Its theme is derived from the movie “Aliens vs. Cowboys” released several years ago. Players take on the role of ordinary old west townsfolk, such as the Marshall, Gunslinger, Saloon Girl or Bandido, who are thrust into playing the hero due to dark circumstances. The characters form a posse which investigates the local mines and Other Worlds, fights a host of monsters and attempts to complete a scenario mission. SoB is a fully cooperative game for up to 4 players ages 12 and up and plays usually in about 3 or 4 hours depending on the scenario. Combining the two core sets allows for up to 6 players. SoB is at its best with 3 players and can also accommodate solo gaming with ease.

COMPONENTS
The components are fair at best. The thick cardboard double-sided modular boards are the highlight of the components. There are thick cardboard tokens and plastic playing pieces. The character boards are cardstock quality with very good artwork. The cards are marginally durable with good artwork which sets the theme. Unfortunately there are not enough tokens, or in some cases the correct tokens to mark some of the game functions. The plastic figures require assembly and are unpainted. Expect to spend some time assembling the figures. The character boards are virtually useless due to the changing stats of the characters. There is no way to mark the stat changes without destroying the character boards and no chits or tokens provided to do so either. More cards should have been included as a lot of items that can be obtained in this game aren’t represented. The worst part of the components is undoubtedly the rulebook and scenario book. One of the worst rulebooks I have ever seen. The rulebook does not have an index and is poorly organized. Rules are also scattered between the rulebook and scenario book. You’ll spend some time searching through both books trying to find rules. The rules are also very unclear on many aspects of the game. Be prepared to House Rule many things. One of my biggest disappointments with the rules is the lack of a detailed campaign system. The core set contains a few campaign rules some of which are unclear.

SET UP
Set-up for SoB takes a moment. You’ll need to pick a scenario and possibly piece together the map if required (some scenarios have a fixed map and other scenarios require a random map). There are a host of different decks to shuffle and of course the character boards with their respective equipment and abilities need to be laid out.

GAME MECHANICS
Shadows of Brimstone is played in a series of turns which consist of the following four steps:
1. Hold Back the Darkness
2. Hero Activation
3. Room Exploration
4. End of Turn

Hold Back the Darkness
The hero holding the Old Lantern rolls 2D6 and adds them together. If the total is equal or greater than the current level on the Depth Track, then Darkness has been prevented from advancing. If the roll is less than the current value, then the Darkness Marker on the Depth Track advances one space. Certain spaces on the Depth Track cause a Darkness card to be drawn and resolved. Other spaces cause a Growing Dread card to be drawn and saved for resolution before the final battle. Rolling doubles causes a Depth Event to occur. None of these things are good for the heroes. If darkness advances out of the mine, then the heroes have failed the mission.

Hero Activation
Each Hero is activated in order of initiative, from highest to lowest. The player rolls 1D6 to determine the number of spaces the hero may move this turn. On a 1, the hero also recovers Grit. Grit allows the Hero to reroll a die roll. If there are no monsters on the board, then the hero may Look Through the Door to reveal another map tile if he is at the map edge or scavenge. The hero rolls 3D6 to scavenge. A card is drawn from the Scavenge Deck for each 6 rolled. The hero will gain minimal experience points (XP) and could find gold, dark stones, an item or nothing at all.

If there are monsters on the board a hero may attack monsters within range. A hero can use his melee ability to attack a monster adjacent to him or use a ranged weapon, such as a rifle, to attack a monster within the weapon’s range. To make an attack, the hero rolls the indicated amount of D6 or D8 according to the weapon’s card. Any rolls equal to or greater than the hero’s melee/range ability scores a hit. Any rolls of 6 on a D6 are critical rolls. The hero then chooses a monster and rolls a die for each hit. The number rolled minus the monster’s defense is the number of wounds inflicted. Critical rolls negate the monster’s defense. The hero gains XP for killing monsters. Once all monsters have been vanquished, each hero draws Loot cards equal to the number of monster cards drawn for the battle. The hero will find gold, dark stones or an item and gain XP.

Room Exploration
Once all heroes have completed their activation, any new revealed map tile is discovered. New map tiles receive an Exploration Token. The exploration token is revealed and resolved. The exploration token will indicate the number of passageways leading from the new map tile, the number of events which occur or if there is a monster attack. If it is an event, then a card is drawn from the appropriate deck, for example a mine event is drawn for a mine tile or an Other World card is drawn for an Other World map tile. If an attack is indicated, then a monster threat card is draw to determine what type of monster attacks and how many.

End of Turn
Other affects occur such as healing.

The heroes continue to search the mine/Other World until the final fight begins or until darkness escapes the mines. At the start of the final fight, the Growing Dread cards are revealed one at a time and resolved. If the heroes defeat the monsters in the final fight, then they have achieved a mission success! Regardless of the mission outcome, each player rolls a D6 to determine if any Travel Events occur. Once Travel Events, if any, are resolved the posse arrives at the nearest town. The heroes can buy items, try to heal permanent wounds, stock up on supplies or have an event at one of the town locations.

Heroes level up as they gain experience similar to an RPG. XP can be spent to obtain the next hero level. The Amount of XP required increases as the hero level increases. Upon obtaining a new level, the player rolls 2D6 on the Upgrade Bonus table and chooses a special ability according to the character’s Upgrade Chart. The Upgrade bonus grants a minor ability, usually more health, sanity or +1 to an attribute (Agility, Cunning, Spirit, Strength, Lore & Luck). The Upgrade Chart gives the hero another unique capability.

THOUGHTS
My gaming group struggled to learn how to play SoB. I played the game solo a few times in an effort to learn the mechanics but still had many questions. Our struggles were largely due to the unclear rulebook.

The scenarios leave a lot to be desired. There isn’t much creativity in the scenarios included in the core set. For the most part, the scenarios feel pretty repetitive, find 2 or 3 clues and then fight the final battle which might include a big baddie. There is also no consistency in the scenarios. We played a few scenarios multiple times and found that sometimes you’ll have heavy combat and sometimes there will be virtually no combat at all. It could take uncovering only three map tiles or many map tiles to find the clues.

I’m going to gripe about the components again. I feel as though for the cost, the ‘core set’ should have included more stuff for the City of Ancients Other World. There are only a handful of cards pertaining to this Other World. And there are no monsters specific to the Other World contained in the box. Basically the monsters for the mines are used, but given different names. You’re basically buying the map tiles for the Other World. The expansions are badly needed to bring out the City of Ancients theme. Can you say Cha Ching?!?!

In my experience game length for SoB is usually either very quick or drags on. When the game length is quick, it’s most likely because you had a lucky draw and found the clues quickly and/or there isn’t much combat. This isn’t a very satisfying game. Most of the time game length is long. Downtime in this game can be painful, which is why I strongly suggest having no more than 3 players. There are times when an endless stream of monsters appears. The dungeon crawl aspect comes to a grinding halt while combat is resolved and the game feels like it drags.

Enough of the bad, on to some good stuff. I like how scavenging is handled. Any space can be scavenged and there is a chance of finding something. The number of times something is found feels right. The Loot mechanic is along a similar vein and feels right too. I really like how XP for monsters is doled out. A hero receives XP for killing small monsters. However, a hero also gains XP for damaging large monsters, not on just the kill. This helps to spread XP among the posse members a bit more evenly.

Shadows of Brimstone is a game I really wanted to like and after a couple plays I did as my rating reflects. However, as it turns out, I was lucky those first couple of plays as the amount of combat and clue token timing panned out to provide a good gaming experience. After more plays I did not find this to be the norm. I now rate SoB a 5.5 due to many of the points discussed above. SoB feels like an underdeveloped game with many issues and I strongly suggest considering the points above before you buy.

6
Go to the Port Royal page

Port Royal

13 out of 14 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Port Royal takes place in the Caribbean Sea during colonial times. Players take on the role of a merchant who trades and deals in an effort to gain wealth and influence. This game is a little light on theme. The object of the game is to gain gold coins in order to hire persons and score victory points (VPs). The player with the most victory points (VPs) is the winner. Port Royal is for 2 to 5 players ages 8 and up and plays in about 30 minutes.

COMPONENTS
The components consist of 120 cards. The cards have colorful artwork, which is slightly cartoonish, and are of marginal durability. The cards have a picture of a gold coin on one side and pictures of ships or persons on the other side. The artwork is family friendly as there is no nasty or objectionable material. The rulebook is only a couple of pages, but well organized and written.

SET UP
Set-up for Port Royal is lightning quick. Just shuffle the deck of cards and then deal three cards (coin side face up) to each player. The player who last visited a harbor is the starting player.

GAME MECHANICS
Each player in clockwise order becomes the active player. A player’s turn consists of the following two phases:
1. Discover
2. Trade & Hire

DISCOVER
The active player draws cards to form the Harbor Display. The player continues to draw cards until either two ships of the same color are drawn or the player voluntarily stops drawing. During this phase a player can use the swords of the pirates and sailors he has hired to repel or discard ships as they are drawn. Cards which can be drawn include:

Ships – give gold
Persons – give special abilities and VPs
Expeditions – give bonus VPs if completed
Tax Increases – take gold from players with large amount of gold

TRADE & HIRE
The Trade & Hire phase begins once the active player has voluntarily stopped drawing cards. If the active player draws two ships of the same color, then he has busted and skips this phase. The number of cards the active player may take from the Harbor Display is dependent on the number of different color ships in the Harbor Display. Zero to three ships, the player may take one card. Four ships, the player may take two cards. Five ships, the player may take three cards. The active player Trades if he decides to take a ship card for the gold coins indicated on the card. The active player may choose instead or in addition(depending on the number of cards he can take) to Hire a person in the Harbor Display. The amount of gold coins required to hire a person is indicated on the card.

There are several different persons, such as Sailors, Pirates and Admirals to name a few, which will grant the player a special ability if they hire them. Pirates and sailors give swords used to repel ships; other persons give additional gold or allow a player to draw more cards from the Harbor Display. Each person is also worth VPs, ranging from 1 to 3, depending on the importance of the person. For example an admiral is worth more VPs than a sailor.

After the active player has taken his card(s), then each player in clockwise order may take a card too. These players pay a small nominal fee of one gold coin to the active player for the privilege of taking a card.

Once everyone has had a chance to take a card, any remaining cards are discarded and play proceeds clockwise to the next player. When a player reaches 12 VPs, then each player has one more turn and the game ends. Players then count VPs.

THOUGHTS
Port Royal is an easy game to learn and play. There is some strategy which may take a play or two to pick up. However, it is not much of a thinky type game so it is perfect to pull out after a long day of gaming.

Port Royal plays quick, with virtually no downtime. There are no unique or innovative mechanics in Port Royal. However, the game features a Press Your Luck mechanic which is fun and usually appeals to casual gamers. Stay away from this game if the Press Your Luck mechanic is not your thing.

Port Royal is a fun quick playing light game. The tension in the Discover phase during the draw is what this game is all about and can be killer! I highly recommend Port Royal for family and casual gamers.

9
Go to the Dungeon Lords page

Dungeon Lords

48 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Dungeon Lords takes place in a generic fantasy world. You’ve played the hero in a party exploring a dungeon in many dungeon crawls. Now it’s time to turn the tables and build a dungeon to defeat the heroic party! Dungeon Lords has a cute and humorous theme that is well represented in the game. Players take on the role of a young evil lord who is attempting to build a dungeon in order to get his dungeon license. Players order their minions to dig tunnels, construct rooms, recruit monsters and set traps in order to build a dungeon that can stop a heroic party in its’s tracks. The player with the most victory points (VPs) will be the winner. Dungeon Lords is for 2 to 4 players ages 13 and up and plays in about 2 hours. This game plays best with 4 players. Games with less than four players use a dummy player(s).

COMPONENTS
The component quality is excellent. The main boards and player boards are mounted and very colorful. There are thick cardboard tokens, wood & plastic playing pieces and somewhat durable small size cards. The artwork on the boards and cards, and in the rulebook is a bit cartoonish but colorful and well done. The rulebook has 23 pages, is well written and organized, and has many examples of play. Included in the rules is a Training Dungeon which runs through the combat portion of the game – very helpful! My one and only complaint with the components is the box insert. It is completely worthless and should be thrown away.

SET UP
Set-up for Dungeon Lords takes a moment or two. Each player takes his playing pieces, scoring reference cards and Dungeon Board of his chosen color. Each player places the starting amount of gold, food, imps, and tunnels along with his three minions in their respective spot on their Dungeon Board. The first and second year Combat Card decks are shuffled; four cards are drawn from each deck and placed face down on the Distant Lands Board. The Special Event Cards are shuffled and then set aside face down. The first and second year monsters are separated, shuffled and stacked into two piles placed face down on the Distant Lands Board. The rooms and adventurers are handled in the same manner as the monsters. The trap deck is shuffled and placed on the Central Board. If there are less than 4 players then some minor adjustments to the set-up must be made. Players pick a starting player and then begin.

GAME MECHANICS
Dungeon Lords is played over 2 years with each year including Building and Combat. During Building, each season of the year or Round consists of several phases which are tracked on the Progress Board. The phases are:
1. New Round
2. Orders
3. Production & Orders Retrieval
4. Event (Spring, Summer & Fall seasons only)
5. Adventurers (Spring, Summer & Fall seasons only)
6. End of Round

NEW ROUND
The available monsters to recruit and rooms to construct for the season are revealed. The event and the adventurers for next Round are revealed.

ORDERS
Each player secretly selects three orders for his minions to carry out. After players select their orders they are revealed in clockwise turn order. The first player reveals his first order then the second player reveals his first order and so on until all orders are revealed. I’m not going to get into descriptions of each order, however; orders include getting food, improving reputation, dig tunnels, mine gold, recruit imps, buy trap, hire monster and build room. Players place one of their minions on the Central Board in the first empty slot corresponding to their revealed order. There are only three slots for each order. Each order is then executed from the top left order (Get Food) to the bottom right order (Build Room). Each individual order is carried out from first slot to third slot. It is important to note the sequence in which orders are executed because players can collect food and gold in early actions to spend later in the Round.

PRODUCTION & ORDERS RETRIEVAL
Any unused imps may be put to work in any of the production rooms a player has constructed. Production rooms can produce gold, food, traps, imps or improve reputation. In the Second Year, rooms can produce double if the player has enough imps available.

Players take the previous round inaccessible orders and their first order back to their hand. The second and third orders become inaccessible for the next round.

EVENT
The event for the Round is resolved. Events include Pay Day, Taxes, or a Special Event. On Pay Day, players pay the hiring cost for each of their monsters. When taxes are due, each player pays 1 gold for every 2 dungeon tiles in his dungeon. For Special Events, a card is draw from the Special Event deck and resolved.

ADVENTURERS
An adventurer is assigned to each player. The more evil a player is, the tougher the adventurer he receives. Players could receive a warrior, thief, priest or wizard.

END OF ROUND
The First Player Token moves to the player on the left and all imps return to their respective player’s Imp Den.

Once Building is completed, the Progress Board is flipped to the Combat side and the Combat Cards placed in their respective space. There are four rounds of combat consisting of three phases, which are planning, reveal combat card and battle. I’m not going to get into the specifics of battle. Suffice to say that four adventurers enter each player’s dungeon and players use traps and monsters to capture the heroes and minimize damage to their dungeon.

Once the Second Year Combat is completed, Ministry officials evaluate each player’s dungeon. VPs are awarded for a host of items listed on the Overview Card and for any title, listed on the Titles Card, a player exclusively holds or shares with another player. The Underlord and winner of the game is the player with the most VPs. All players with 1 or more VPs obtain their dungeon lord license from the Ministry of Dungeons!

THOUGHTS
Dungeon Lords has a steep learning curve and will take a few plays to develop some strategies. In addition to the steep learning curve, this game is very unforgiving. It is very difficult to recover if two or more actions are wasted or if your dungeon suffers heavy damage in the first year combat phase. Its unforgiving nature makes Dungeon Lords a brain burner planning game. You WILL be mentally exhausted at game end. For these reasons, I would only recommend Dungeon Lords for seasoned avid and power gamers.

Dungeon Lords is a hybrid type of game which contains elements of Euro and American style games. The worker placement mechanic gives this game the classic Euro feel. On the other hand, this game also features an American style theme and a stereo typical American style combat sequence. One might even consider the combat phase to be a bit fiddly like American style games. Dungeon Lords can bridge the gap between players in a gaming group because of its hybrid characteristics.

Dungeon Lords is really two games in one. The first part consists of worker placement where players place their minions to collect resources and other items to build a dungeon. In the second part players test their dungeon building skills in combat with a heroic party which enters their dungeon. The mechanics are solid, incorporate the theme and can be exciting. The placement of the minions can be tense since you usually don’t know when you’ll get to execute an order or if you get locked out of a particular order all together! Every player anticipates combat with the heroic party with a bit of excitement mixed with anxiety. Defeating the heroic party with minimal damage to your dungeon is a great feeling!

Despite its hybrid traits, Dungeon Lords lacks significant player interaction. Another player can select an action and execute it before you can or grab the monster/room that you had your eye on. There are some special event cards which force some minor player interaction. However, that’s it for interaction. The Magic Items expansion, which is included with the game, creates some player interaction during the combat phase but also makes a challenging game more difficult.

Dungeon Lords is a big hit with my gaming group despite its challenging and unforgiving nature. Get ready to ride a roller coaster of emotion when you play this game. Dungeons Lords is a great game, but it’s not for everyone. Give it a try before you buy.

9
Go to the BattleTech page

BattleTech

38 out of 43 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Battletech is a wargame set in the 31st century. This game is heavy on theme and has a rich living history which is continuously evolving. The following is a brief description of the theme. In the 31st Century civilization teeters on the brink of collapse. Previously, in a distant time of unity and peace mankind prospered, traveling and settling countless worlds and achieving technical wonders. However, centuries of perpetual war reduced mankind’s technical ability and left economies in ruins. Mankind’s hold on the star systems and civilization is tenuous at best in the 31st century. A more in-depth description of the Battletech Universe is given in the next section of the review. Please skip this section if not interested in the details of the theme. Each player controls a number of units and must achieve a scenario victory condition(s) to win. Battletech is for 2 to 8 players ages 13 and up. Playtime ranges from 60 to 330 minutes depending on the scenario type and size.

THEME
The star systems surrounding earth, known as the Inner Sphere, were settled by many peoples. These peoples made trade and/or military alliances, which were all unified under the Star League, led by the First Lord. The era of the Star League was relatively peaceful and marked by flourishing economies and the development of advanced technologies in many areas, including warfare.

One such technology developed during the Star League era was the Battlemech (‘Mech). ‘Mechs were conceived for the sole purpose of warfare. They are heavily armored, two-story tall machines weighing up to 100 tons, which bristle with missile, laser and balistic weapons. There are four classes of ‘Mechs, light (20–35 tons), medium (40-55 tons), heavy (60-75 tons) and assault (80-100 tons), each with their role on the battlefield. These mighty warmachines have enough firepower to raze an entire city! ‘Mechs are piloted by a special kind of soldier called MechWarriors. MechWarriors and their ‘Mechs soon ruled the battlefields across known space.

Eventually the alliances that gave rise to man’s prosperity fell into dispute and broke apart, perpetuating the demise of the mighty Star League. Several of the remaining stronger alliances rose from the chaos that ensued to form the five great Houses, known as the Federated Suns, Capellan Confederation, Draconis Combine, Lyran Commonwealth and Free Worlds League. The five Houses expanded their control of ever more worlds and came to dominate the Inner Sphere. Minor powers such as the Taurian Concordat and Magistracy of Canopus also formed on the edge of known space or Periphery. Together these entities plunged mankind into a series of wars, known as the Succession Wars.

The Succession Wars brought near continuous total war for centuries with destruction on a scale man had never seen. The liberal use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons along with exceptionally large conventional armies, including ‘Mechs, destroyed population centers and rendered numerous worlds or large parts of worlds inhabitable. Much knowledge and technology were lost to history. The mass destruction wrought by these Succession Wars led to the birth of ComStar, a quasi-religious organization, whose purpose is to maintain interstellar communications, preserve what little technology remained and moderate warfare between the Houses. In the 31st century, the leaders of each House continue to wage war in the hope of once again reuniting mankind under one banner and claiming the coveted title of First Lord.

COMPONENTS
The quality of Battletech products ranges from poor to good. Over the years, the Battletech franchise has suffered many changes in the companies which developed and produced the Battletech product line. Many of these companies including FASA, the original producer, were on shaky financial ground and cut corners a bit on product quality. However, recently the current producer, Catalyst Games, has made a considerable effort to produce good quality products for the Battletech line. The Battletech product line currently features an introductory box set, four full color hard cover rule/source books and several map sets which include mounted mapsheets. The introductory box set contains plastic playing pieces, record sheets, dice, two cardstock mapsheets and background information, which is everything a new player needs to learn and play the game.

SET UP
Set-up for Battletech depends completely on the type of gaming experience the players are interested in. Players can choose to play a premade ‘one-shot’ mission out of one of the many scenario books or design their own one-shot scenario. Players can also choose from several premade campaigns, which are a series of interconnected missions, out of a scenario book or even develop their own campaign. One-shot scenarios generally do not take much time to prepare and set-up for play. Campaigns can take a substantial amount of time to develop and depending on the size of the battle can take 20 minutes or more to set-up.

Players can design missions to be as simple or complex as desired. Generally, more preparation time is required the more complex the mission. A complex mission may include a large number of units and mapsheets, multiple mission objectives for each side and the use of special rules for play. Preparation for play is carried out before game day and usually includes determining the mission type, mission objectives for each combatant, the force sizes and units, printing record sheets, choosing mapsheets consisting of the desired terrain, and determining the position of units at the start of the scenario. The set-up on game day includes laying out the mapsheets, placing units in their starting position and passing out record sheets.

GAME MECHANICS
Battletech is played in a series of turns which consist of the following six basic phases:
1. Initiative
2. Movement
3. Weapons Fire
4. Physical Combat
5. Heat
6. End

Initiative
Each side rolls 2D6. The side which rolled the highest has initiative for the turn.

Movement
Each side takes turns moving a unit or a group of units, depending on the unit type, according to the unit’s movement rate as indicated on its record sheet. The side that lost initiative moves a unit first.

‘Mechs have four modes of movement – stand still, walk, run, or jump. Ground vehicles have three modes of movement which are still, cruising and flanking. Units spend movement points to move from hex to hex, turn and pass through certain types of terrain on the mapsheets. Generally, the faster the unit moves, the more difficult it is to hit when targeted. On the flip side, moving faster also makes it more difficult to hit your target. Hiding behind terrain features also makes it more difficult to target the unit.

Weapons Fire
The Weapons Fire Phase begins once the movement of all units is complete. The first step of the Weapons Fire Phase is to declare any torso twist and declare weapons fire. ‘Mechs can turn at the waist to bring weapons to bear on a target. Players receive a free hexside move or torso twist. Vehicles perform a similar action called a turret twist. Each side alternates taking turns declaring any torso twist and which weapons will fire and at what target for each unit.

The next step is to resolve weapons fire for each weapon. A to-hit number is calculated for each firing weapon by adding the pilot’s gunnery skill to modifiers for range, target movement, attacking unit movement, unit damage, heat and intervening terrain. Hits are scored by a 2D6 roll equal to or greater than the to-hit number. The location of the hit on the target is determined by rolling 2D6 on the Damage Location Table. The hit could strike an arm, leg, side torso, center torso or head on a ‘Mech. A hit to the head also inflicts a wound on the pilot. The damage is marked on the record sheet for the unit. As units take more and more damage, armor is stripped away and internal components are destroyed causing the unit to suffer movement and/or weapons fire penalty modifiers. If a unit’s target is destroyed before it resolves weapons fire then it may not change targets.

The last step of the Weapons Fire Phase is to check whether ‘Mechs are still standing. Consciousness checks are made for all pilots whose ‘Mech took a head hit. A failed roll results in the pilot becoming unconscious and temporarily out of the fight. A ‘Mech with an unconscious pilot automatically falls and takes damage if it requires a piloting check for any reason.

A piloting check is made for all units which suffered 20 or more points of damage or damage to internal components which affect movement. The ‘Mech stays on its feet on a 2D6 roll equal to or greater than the pilot’s piloting skill plus any modifiers for unit damage. On a failed roll, the ‘Mech falls and takes damage due to hitting the ground. As with weapons fire, the location of the damage is determined by the Damage Location Table and marked on the unit’s record sheet. Another piloting check is made to determine if the pilot suffered a wound due to the fall. The more wounds a pilot suffers, the more likely the pilot falls unconscious. A pilot is killed if he takes six or more wounds.

Physical Combat
After weapons fire is resolved units may perform a physical attack. A unit may perform a physical attack such as a punch or kick on a unit in an adjacent hex. A to-hit number is calculated by adding the pilot’s piloting skill to modifiers for target movement, attacking unit movement, unit damage and intervening terrain. A successful physical attack is made on a 2D6 roll equal to or greater than the to-hit number. Physical attacks inflict damage to one location on the target unit as determined by the corresponding Damage Location Table for the type of physical attack. As with weapons fire, damage is marked on the record sheet for the unit. Certain types of physical attacks and/or the damage inflicted by a physical attack cause the targeted unit to perform another piloting check to determine if the ‘Mech is still standing.

Heat
Units adjust their Heat Scale after all combat is completed. Movement and weapons fire causes the units to generate waste heat. Units are equipped with heat sinks to dissipate waste heat; however, units can generate more heat than their capacity to dissipate it. The heat generated by the unit for the turn is calculated by adding the heat from movement and weapons fire minus the number of heat sinks. If the heat generated is more than zero, than the amount is added to any excess heat from the previous turn and recorded on the Heat Scale. As a ‘Mech gets hotter, the unit suffers penalties to movement and weapons fire, may automatically shut down or even suffer an ammo explosion!

End
Miscellaneous items are resolved in the End Phase. A consciousness roll is made for any unconscious ‘Mech pilots to determine if they become conscious and able to rejoin the fight. If in a campaign scenario, a ‘Mech which suffered tremendous damage may have its pilot eject to live to fight another day. Effects such as the movement of smoke and fire are also resolved.

Additional aspects of the game such as artillery and aerospace combat add some other phases to the turn. The game continues until a side meets its mission objectives or is destroyed.

THOUGHTS
Battletech is a classic older game which enjoys an almost cult-like following among its fans. There are numerous websites devoted to the game or certain factions within the Battletech Universe. Each faction has its own unique characteristics and common type of units. Choose your favorite from around 35 different factions and talk it up with fellow faction fans!

Battletech was born near the end of the heyday of the Grodard hex and counter wargames and derives its roots from these systems. However, Battletech play is a streamlined version of these old time wargames, but even so, by today’s standards would be considered fiddly with a long play time. The beauty of the Battletech system is that players can choose to make play as straight forward or complex as they wish. The core set of rules is fairly straight forward but still has a bit of a learning curve. There are several rulebooks filled with optional rules to provide more complexity, replayability and variation in game play. This complexity could come at a price as game time and learning curve could be increased. Even using only the core rules, I would not recommend Battletech for casual gamers.

As I mentioned before, the Battletech system is very flexible, and can be easily adapted to miniature rules. There are a couple of companies that produce very detailed sculpted metal miniatures. Many fans paint their miniatures in the camo schemes of their favorite faction. There are also several companies which make 3-D terrain which works well for the game. It is a lot of fun playing on the 3-D terrain!

At its heart Battletech is all about tactical play. And it will take several plays to determine strategies for using the different classes of ‘Mechs and other units, as well as terrain features. Players must skillfully maneuver their units into position to take advantage of terrain or the strengths of their units. In addition, players must use sound tactics to exploit a weakness in the enemy force and find a way to deny the enemy his mission objective while simultaneously working to achieve their mission objective.

As with many games with die rolling, luck can rear its ugly head in Battletech due to the sheer volume of dice rolled. However, using good maneuvering and sound tactics can minimize the luck factor. Even so, with such volume of dice rolling, each player should see his share of good and bad luck, so it will most likely even out in the long run.

Battletech is a great game but it is not for everyone. During the course of the game the ‘damage curve’ catches up with the combatants and it is a lot of fun determining who will remain standing and achieve their mission objective among the units dropping like flies! However, the old classic feel of this game is not for many of today’s gamers. Battletech is a classic game that all gamers should endeavor to play at least once. I highly recommend Battletech for avid and power gamers.

8
Go to the Glass Road page

Glass Road

94 out of 101 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Glass Road takes place in the 19th century during the rise of the brick and glass making industries in Germany. These industries used new production methods to revolutionize brick and glass making. The Glass Road refers to the 150 mile long path through the Bavarian Forest on the Czech border where these new industries sprang forth. The theme is fairly well represented in the game. Players will strip the landscape to construct buildings and use the talents of specialized workers to produce glass and brick. The object of the game is to acquire the most victory points (VPs) by constructing buildings and producing glass, brick and other products. Glass Road is for 1 to 4 players ages 13 and up and plays in a little over 60 minutes. Glass Road is at its best with 4 players and also has a very good solo variant.

COMPONENTS
The components are very good. The player boards are thick cardboard and colorful. There are thick cardboard tokens and wood playing pieces. The text on the tokens is slightly on the small side but still playable. The regular size cards are durable linen stock with average artwork which sets the theme. The rulebook is poorly written and organized. The rulebook is my one complaint with the components. The rules are unclear on many aspects and make the game mechanics seem far more complicated than they really are.

SET UP
Set-up for Glass Road is fairly quick and easy. Each player receives a Landscape and Production Board and a set of 15 Specialist cards. Terrain and Good tokens are placed in the indicated starting spaces on the Landscape and Production Boards, respectively. The Building tiles are separated into three stacks consisting of Production Buildings, Immediate Buildings and Bonus Buildings, and placed faced down. The starting buildings for each stack are drawn and placed face up on the Building Board. Players determine a starting player and you’re all set to begin.

GAME MECHANICS
Glass Road is played over four Building Periods with each Building Period consisting of three Rounds. Each player secretly selects five Specialist cards out of his set of 15 at the beginning of a Building Period. At the beginning of each Round, players secretly select one of the five Specialist cards and place it face down in front of him. Starting with the first player, and proceeding clockwise, each player reveals their card and resolves it. When a player reveals his card, the other players may play a copy of the card from their hand as well. Each Specialist card has two abilities. If no other player played a copy of the card, then the player who revealed it may use both of the card’s abilities. If at least one other player played a copy, then all involved players may use only one of the card’s abilities. In turn order, each player adjusts the resources on his Production Board and/or constructs buildings on his Landscape Board. The other two Rounds are played similarly except players choose cards to play from their remaining hand.

The Specialist cards produce resources such as food, water, charcoal, wood, clay and sand. I’m not going to review all the Specialist card actions, but suffice to say that usually a player pays a resource or strips a forest token off his Landscape Board to produce other resources. Some resources are collected depending on the number of ‘mini-terrain’ (groves, pits and ponds) tokens a player has on their Landscape Board.

Some Specialist cards allow a player to construct buildings. A player pays the resources indicated on the building token and places it in an empty slot on their Landscape Board. Buildings have one ability and are worth VPs. Production Buildings usually allow a player to transform 1 resource into 2 of another resource. These buildings can be used throughout the game. Immediate Buildings are similar but grant its ability one-time only when constructed. Bonus Buildings generally have a condition which the player needs to meet to score additional VPs at the end of the game.

Resources are tracked on the Production Board. The Production Board has a glass production wheel and a brick production wheel, each divided into two areas. One area contains a manufactured good, either glass or brick, and the other area consists of base resources such as wood, water and etc. Players shift the amount of base resources according to their Specialist card play. When the player has accumulated a certain amount of base resources, the production wheel will automatically shift, reducing the amount of all base resources to produce either glass or brick.

The game ends once the fourth Building Period has been completed. Players tally up the number of VPs from the amount of glass, brick and sand on their production wheels, constructed buildings and any Bonus Buildings. The player with the most VPs is the winner.

The solo variant plays similarly to the normal game. There are seven Building Periods in which you chose the indicated number of Specialist cards according to a table. One card is chosen at random which grants one ability. Then all but one of the remaining cards is played giving both abilities.

THOUGHTS
Glass Road was developed by a renowned designer but flew under the radar because its release was sandwiched between two of the designer’s other great games. However, Glass Road certainly lives up to the designer’s standards! Glass Road is a heavy game which will take a few plays to grasp strategies. This game throws players right into the thick of it from the start and is very unforgiving. Four Building Periods seems like a lot of time but players can’t afford to mess around because the window of opportunity to construct buildings disappears quickly.

Mastering the movement of the production wheels is a skill which takes a few plays and the key to the game. Players need to learn how to manipulate the shifting of the production wheels so as not to leave themselves without one or more of the precious base resources. Otherwise you could find yourself without a resource such as wood and have to waste a building construction action because all the buildings require wood to construct. Believe me when I say your first few plays will involve a few ‘Oh-No!’ moments!

Glass Road is all about planning. There are no workers to place. There is no luck in the game. There is virtually no player interaction. At the most, another player can construct a building before you had the chance to grab it. No, it’s just you against those darned production wheels! You’ve got to figure out which Specialist cards to use and in what order to manipulate the production wheels. You also need to lay out your mini-terrain and buildings on your Landscape Board to maximize VPs.

Don’t get me wrong, Glass Road may be a challenging game, but it is a lot of fun! This game was a surprise hit with my gaming group and still regularly makes it to the table. The solo variant is very good, playing in about 20 minutes and capturing the feel of the regular game. Glass Road would make an excellent addition to any avid and power gamer collection.

9
Go to the Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga page
50 out of 56 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga (F&A) takes place from the late 8th century to the early 11th century during the golden age of the Norsemen known as the ‘Viking Age’. Players send their Viking longboats on a series of voyages to Europe and beyond. The theme is well represented in the game. The object of the game is to acquire the most gold (VPs) by trading, raiding towns, establishing settlements in foreign lands and obtaining Glory. F&A is for 3 to 5 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 90 minutes. F&A is at its best with 4 or 5 players.

COMPONENTS
I own the 2004 edition, which is a refined version of Viking Fury, but will comment on the latest edition where possible. The components are excellent. The mounted board is big and beautiful. The latest version also sports a large board with redesigned charts for better functionality. However, the wood paneling look on the new board is not for everyone. There are plastic figures and thick cardboard tokens. The linen cards are durable and have average artwork. The artwork on the cards in the latest version is fantastic and much improved. The longboat player boards in the newer version also have much improved artwork and actually look like boats, reinforcing the theme. The rulebook is in full color, very well written and organized, and contains many examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for F&A is quick and easy. Each player is given a longboat and figures in their color. Players also receive an amount of starting gold depending on their place in turn order. The first player receives 1 gold, second player 2 gold and so on. The towns are placed in their designated locations on the board along with some miscellaneous tokens. The Rune deck is shuffled and one card dealt to each player. Finally the Saga deck is constructed. The Saga deck consists of three eras which feature Viking events that occurred in history. Each era has nine cards, but three cards are removed from each era. Each era is individually shuffled and then placed on top of one another with Era III on the bottom and Era I on the top. The top three Saga cards are then drawn at the start of the game. Sounds like a lot, but doesn’t take much time at all!

GAME MECHANICS
F&A is played in a series of player turns in which each player receives up to 7 Days or actions. Turn order proceeds clockwise. Players may perform any of the following actions:

1. Load a good or crewman.
2. Draw a Rune card.
3. Move longboat.

LOAD GOODS & CREWMEN
Players prepare their longboat for voyage by placing crewmen and/or goods on their longboat board for 1 Day each. As the Eras progress, the longboats become bigger and can hold more stuff. With the exception of some Rune cards, longboats can only be loaded in the Wintering Box. Once loading is complete, the ship token is moved to one of the three Home Ports (Denmark, Norway or Sweden).

DRAW RUNE CARD
Players have the option to draw Rune cards for 1 Day each up to a maximum hand of three cards when their ship token is in a Home Port. The ship token must be moved out of the Home Port to play a Rune card. Rune cards grant bonuses to attacking and movement and also allow players to hinder their opponents’ progress lending to a “screw your neighbor” type of mechanic. It does not cost an action to play a Rune card.

MOVE LONGBOAT
A player may move his longboat to an adjacent sea, river or port space for 1 Day each. Ship movement is restricted by the Clear Sailing Limit as indicated on the Wind Dial. The board is broken into 4 zones – North, South, East and West each with their own Clear Sailing Limit. The Clear Sailing limit can be increased or decreased a maximum of one by turning the Wind Dial. Players may give the Wind Dial a quarter turn whenever they use or discard a Rune card. The Clear Sailing Limit is the most complicated rule of the game. Multiple ship tokens can occupy any sea, river or Home Port spaces. Only one ship token can occupy a port space.

Once a ship token is moved into a port space, one of three tasks may be performed for free. The tasks include:

Trade: Remove a good token from your longboat and place it on the port. The player gains gold equal to the port’s value. If the good is in demand, then the player gains the port value plus two.
Raid: If a town is present the player may attack (raid) it. The player may roll 1D6 for each crewman up to a maximum of three dice. Each die is rolled one at a time. The raid is successful if the die roll exceeds the value of the port. On a success, the town is removed and the player receives the gold amount indicated on the bottom of the town figure. If the roll is unsuccessful, then the player removes a crewman from his longbow and continues to roll other dice. A goods token in the port reduces the value of the port by one, making it easier to raid.
Settle: If no town is in the port space or region, then the player may attempt to settle it, which is another form of attacking. A region is a color coded group of ports on the board. The player may roll 1D6 for each crewman up to a maximum of three dice. All the dice are rolled at once. The player removes a crewman from his longboat for any roll which does not exceed the port value. If at least one die exceeds the port value, then the settling attempt is successful and one crewman is moved from the longboat to the port. Similar to raiding, a goods token in the port reduces the value of the port by one, making it easier to settle.

Players can collect Saga cards if they complete the requirements on any of the three face-up cards during their turn. The Saga cards may require a particular set of ports to be traded with or settled, or certain towns to be raided. At the end of their turn, a player may choose to Winter his longboat, which means it is sent to the Wintering Box to prepare for another voyage. A longboat which becomes crewless during a player’s turn is automatically sent to the Wintering Box and the player’s turn is ended.

The game ends when all the Saga cards have been completed or the ending three turns have been completed. There are only three turns left when the last Saga card is drawn. VPs for settlements and Saga cards are tallied and added to players’ VPs obtained during the game. The player who has raided the most cities achieves the “Bloodied Axe” bonus and receives 3 VPs for each city raided, adding them to his other VPs. The player with the most VPs is the winner.

THOUGHTS
Fire & Axe is an easy game to learn and play but takes a few plays to learn the tactics. It is a heavy medium weight game which I would recommend for avid and power gamers. There is a lot of strategy in loading longboats, choosing which Saga card to complete and using Rune cards effectively. There are a lot of decisions for players to make during the course of the game. It feels as though a player needs to get into the rhythm of the game. That is a player needs to recognize when he should voluntarily Winter and prepare for the next Saga card draw. There is a lot of subtle strategy that gives F&A a surprising amount of depth.

Despite the fact there is very limited direct conflict between players, there is still a good amount of player interaction. Players can use Rune cards against their opponents, manipulate the Wind Dial to hinder their opponents’ movement or outmaneuver their opponents to ‘steal’ a Saga card. This game really does have a nice balance of player interaction.

Similar to many games with dice and card draws, luck can be a factor. The dice can be fickle or very generous to a player when raiding or settling. The draw of the Rune cards could also be good, bad or ugly too. Sometimes the Rune cards you’re drawing don’t seem helpful because your opponents are using theirs to the fullest potential. I find that if I keep drawing them, I’ll find a game changer too. Overall, during the course of the game each player usually has his share of good and bad luck.

Fire & Axe is an excellent, fun game with great theme play. It is still one of my favorite games despite its age. F&A combines a nice mix of theme, player interaction, depth and luck to deliver a tremendous gaming experience! I highly recommend adding Fire & Axe to your collection.

9
Go to the Arkham Horror: The Dunwich Horror page
59 out of 66 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Dunwich Horror (DH) is the first big box expansion for Arkham Horror. This expansion is centered on the small town of Dunwich and the mysterious happens at the Whateley Farm just outside the town. The evil that is the Dunwich Horror, the son of the Great Old One (GOO) Yog-Sothoth, is rising. The investigators must put a stop to the malicious spells of the wizards at Whately Farm and prevent the Dunwich Horror from manifesting itself in this world if they are to have a chance at defeating the GOO.

COMPONENTS
The quality of the expansion components is on par with the base game and very good. There is a mounted board, thick cardboard playing pieces, cardstock character sheets and fairly durable cards. The artwork on the board, character sheets and cards is very good and further enriches the theme. The rulebook is 12 pages and includes examples of play and makes a few rules clarifications. No complaints about the components.

DH is a big box expansion for Arkham Horror so it contains a lot of goodies. As mentioned above, there is a small game board which depicts the Town of Dunwich and its many locations for investigators to explore. This expansion includes several new investigators, GOOs, and additional Mythos, Gate, Common item, Unique item and Spell cards to beef up their respective decks. There are also more monsters, some new and more base game monsters.

SET UP
Set-up for Arkham Horror is one or two minutes longer with the inclusion of the DH expansion. The new board is placed adjacent to the base game board. The new Mythos, Gate, Spell and item cards are shuffled into their respective base game deck. The new Injury, Madness, Dunwich Horror, and DH location decks are shuffled and placed near the game boards. The additional monsters are tossed into the monster cup. The game board is huge and there’s a lot of stuff placed around it so make sure you have a big table!

GAME MECHANICS
The DH expansion introduces several new mechanics which significantly change the game. Notable new mechanics include gate bursts, Injury and Madness cards, vortexes, retiring investigators, and traveling. Most of the new mechanics make the game more challenging and also increase game length.

There are three vortexes shown on the DH expansion board. When monsters move onto these vortexes they are returned to the monster cup and a token is added to the Dunwich Horror Track. If there are three tokens on this track, then the Dunwich Horror is summoned. A card is drawn from the Dunwich Horror deck to determine the monster’s stats and abilities. Believe me this is one nasty monster that is tough to kill and brings about all kinds of horrible things upon Arkham and the investigators! Players feel pressured to control the monsters on the DH board or face a monster that will likely take considerable resources to destroy and hasten their confrontation with the GOO.

The Injury and Madness cards introduce the largest change in game mechanics. When an investigator is reduced to zero health or sanity normally the player discards half the investigator’s stuff, moves to a recovery location and resets health or sanity to one. Instead of discarding the investigator’s items, players can now draw an Injury card for loss of health or a Madness card for loss of sanity and reset to full health or sanity. The Injury and Madness cards depict a wound or condition the investigator suffered as a result of the trauma. The investigator may suffer a leg wound which reduces the number of movement points the investigator gets, or a condition which lowers the investigator’s maximum health or sanity to name a few. This mechanic gives the investigator a slight hindrance, but allows the investigator to continue working towards the demise of the GOO without the need to build back up. If an investigator accumulates many injuries and he is not effective anymore, then the player can retire the investigator. This simply means that the player discards the beat up character and draws a new one.

Gate bursts are a subtle mechanic that doesn’t require much in the way of new components. A gate location highlighted in red on the Mythos card depicts a gate burst. During the Mythos Phase of the turn a Mythos card is drawn to determine where a gate opens. Normally, if the location indicated is sealed by an elder sign token then no gate opens. However, with gate bursts, if the location is highlighted in red then any elder sign seal at the location is burst and a gate opens at that previously safe location. Just when you thought the location was made stable and safe by the elder sign, along comes a gate burst!

Dunwich is a small town some distance away from Arkham. Investigators need to travel between the two towns. To do this investigators simply move to the train station, pay $1 for a ticket and spend one movement point to arrive at the train depot in Dunwich. An investigator can take the train back to Arkham in the same way.

THOUGHTS
The Dunwich Horror expansion is perhaps the most favorite expansion among Arkham Horror players. This expansion packs a lot in the box and adds some mechanics which freshen up the base game nicely as well as increase the challenge. However, the new mechanics add some fiddliness and game time to an already long fiddly game.

The best part of this expansion is the Injury and Madness cards. This mechanic is truly a great addition to the game. Most players, including myself, suggest using this mechanic above all others when talking to new players. These cards can cut down on the game length by saving a player from limping along with an investigator who has no weapons, spells and clue tokens. It is not fun sitting on the sidelines trying to build up your investigator while other players are killing monsters, closing gates and doing other stuff. Taking one or two injuries lets a player continue to make contributions to the demise of the GOO and have fun. On the other hand, if this mechanic is abused and your investigator becomes bogged down with too many injuries, then the game can become more fiddly and longer, which is not fun.

When I first read about gate bursts I thought it would be a cool mechanic for the game. It is smoothly integrated into the game and I don’t have to worry about moving new components around. However, I don’t use this mechanic. Many players contend that gate bursts are a great way to increase the difficulty of the game. That is true to some extent but I do not believe it is worth the price players pay for increased game length. Needing to seal seven or eight gates to win makes the game much longer and it can drag sometimes. There are numerous ways to increase the difficulty of this game without significantly increasing the game length. And for that reason I don’t use the gate bursts.

I love it when the Dunwich Horror makes an appearance! It’s a lot of fun trying to figure out how to take down this beast! Unfortunately fighting the Dunwich Horror is a distraction from the goal of the game and is usually a considerable drain on resources. This means game length can be significantly increased.

The Dunwich Horror expansion contains some nice new GOOs to battle and fun new investigators to play. The Dunwich locations and Other Worlds also provide some interesting new encounters. And of course there is a bunch of great new useful items and spells too. The expansion is worth obtaining for this stuff in itself.

The biggest complaint with this expansion is that the DH board is not busy enough. Sometimes there is very little activity on this board and therefore no reason for the investigators to visit it. This can be alleviated somewhat by using the base game without any other expansions except DH or by placing the DH expansion cards on top of their respective deck similar to the Touring Mode in the King In Yellow expansion.

The Dunwich Horror big box expansion is a must for Arkham Horror fans! This expansion includes a new board, some fun new material and introduces some great new mechanics too. I highly recommend the Dunwich Horror expansion.

7
Go to the Fresco page

Fresco

93 out of 102 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Fresco takes place during the renaissance in Europe. A bishop has hired renowned fresco painters to restore the large painting on the cathedral ceiling. Players take on the role of a fresco painter who must prove their skill to restore the cathedral ceiling to all its glory! The theme is well represented in the game. Players will buy paint and mix the colors to produce other colors and apply the paint to the cathedral ceiling. The players who paint more sections and the most difficult sections will earn more Victory points (VPs) and become the master of all fresco painters, and of course the winner of the game. Fresco is for 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up and plays in about 90 minutes. This game plays best with 4 players.

I would like to point out that Fresco is a very kid friendly game. The basic game is straight forward and can be enjoyed by children. I introduced this game to my twin daughters when they were 9 years old. They both picked up the mechanics without a problem. The game includes three expansions which can be used to increase the difficulty as your children become better players and for the avid gamers in your gaming group.

COMPONENTS
The component quality is excellent. The double-sided board (one side for 4 players and the other side for less than 4 players.) is mounted on thick cardboard and extremely colorful. There are thick cardboard tokens, wood playing pieces, a cloth bag, and cardstock player shields. The artwork on the board and playing pieces is beautiful and really sets the painting theme. The rulebook has 8 colorful pages and is well organized but a little wordy. It does contain some examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for Fresco does take a moment or two. Each player takes his playing pieces of his color, a large and small screen, an action sheet, a paint mixing reference and 12 Thalers (gold). There are a few playing pieces placed on the board along with the fresco tiles, and the paint cubes and Thaler tokens are sorted and then placed near the board. If there are less than 4 players then some adjustments to the set-up must be made. The expansions also create more set-up time by digging through the fresco tiles to remove certain tiles, shuffling the portrait deck and stacking the Bishop’s request tiles.

GAME MECHANICS
I’m going to include the three expansions in my discussion of the game mechanics since avid and power gamers will want to use them. Fresco is played in a series of rounds which consist of the following two phases:

1. Choosing Get Up Time & Adjusting Mood
2. Planning & Performing Actions

CHOOSING GET UP TIME & ADJUST MOOD
Players place (from last place to first) their master painter on the start time in the hostel. The player with the earliest start time takes his actions first and then the other players follow according to their start time. The earlier the start time, the more expensive paints are in the market and the crankier your apprentices become.

After all players have chosen a start time, the mood of their painting crew is adjusted. The mood of each player’s crew is tracked in the theater area of the board. A player’s crew can become unhappy enough to lose an apprentice. By the same token, if the crew becomes ecstatic, an additional apprentice will join the crew.

PLANNING & PERFORMING ACTIONS
After start times and moods have been adjusted, players begin planning for the round. Each player secretly places his apprentices under an action on his action card behind the small screen. The large screen is used to hide the paint cubes and Thalers a player currently possesses. Up to three apprentices may be placed on any of the five actions. The actions consist of Market, Cathedral, Studio, Workshop, and Theater, and are performed in this sequence during the phase. Players reveal the location of their apprentices and starting with the player with the earliest start time and proceeding to the latest time perform each of the actions.

Market: Players buy paint. There are up to four market booths of varying size. Paint tiles are randomly selected for each booth at the beginning of the turn. Once a player has purchased paint from a booth, that particular booth closes.

Cathedral: Players paint a portion of the ceiling fresco. Each fresco tile has a required color combination to complete that portion of the fresco. Players earn VPs by completing fresco tiles. A player can earn extra VPs by moving the bishop figure on or near the fresco tile they complete. If a player cannot complete any of the fresco tiles, he can instead paint the alter earning minor VPs.

Studio: The studio includes expansion number 1 which consists of painting portraits of influential or famous persons. Two portrait cards are drawn each turn. A player receives a bonus such as Thalers, VPs, and paint if he takes one of the portrait cards (thusly completing the portrait of the influential person). A player can choose to paint the portrait of an ordinary average Joe and earn 3 Thalers for each apprentice.

Workshop: The workshop includes expansions 2 and 3. Expansion 2 is the Bishop’s request which is a set collection mechanic. The back of every fresco tile has a color(s) and once three of a color is collected, they can be turned in at the workshop for a Bishop’s Request. The requests grant players bonus VPs, Thalers and paint. Expansion 3 expands on paint mixing by adding pink and brown paint. Each apprentice can either blend two paints together, two times, or take a bishop Request.

Theater: A player sends apprentices to the theater to make them happier. Each apprentice sent to the theater increases the player’s mood track by two spaces.

At the end of the round, players receive their income which could be Thalers and paint depending on what is shown on the back of the fresco and Bishop Request tiles they have collected. The market tiles and portrait cards are drawn and a new round begins. If there are six or less fresco tiles remaining, then the game will end after the next round. The master of fresco painters and winner of the game is the player with the most VPs.

THOUGHTS
Fresco is an easy game to learn and play. The first three expansions increase the difficulty slightly and make the game interesting for avid and power gamers. There is not much luck in this game, it is all about planning. However, Fresco is not a brain burner planning game. Be aware that there are several more expansions for Fresco; however, I have never used them and cannot comment on their effect on the game.

At its heart Fresco is a worker placement game. Players place apprentices to collect paint resources and turn them into VPs. The mechanics aren’t particularly exciting but are solid and do incorporate the theme. I must say that the artwork and the theme present a very upbeat feel to the game.

Like many worker placement Euros there is minimal player interaction in Fresco. Another player can grab the start time you wanted, or the tile/card in the market, cathedral, studio or workshop that you had your eye on. That is it for interaction.

Fresco has a feel good theme and despite the not-so-exciting mechanics, is fun. Fresco is a solid game, well suited for children and casual gamers, and would make a fine addition to your collection.

9
Go to the The Napoleonic Wars page
48 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
The Napoleonic Wars (TNW) is the first of a three game Napoleonic Era series of Card Driven Wargames (CDW) by Mark McLaughlin. These three games are known as the ‘buckets of dice’ series because unlike many wargames which use only a single die roll to resolve combat, these games use many dice rolls to resolve a combat. TNW is centered on Napoleon Bonaparte’s military campaigns which took place in Europe during the early 19th century. The major powers of France, Britain, Austria and Russia vie for supremacy of the European continent. The object of the game is to score the most victory points (VPs) by conquering Key Duchies, obtaining resources and gaining minor power allies. The conflict is well represented in the card events and other game mechanisms. TNW is for 2 to 5 players ages 14 and up and plays in about 4 hours. I would recommend TNW for 4 or 5 players to experience the full flavor of the diplomatic aspect of the game.

COMPONENTS
The components are publisher GMT’s standard quality. The paper map is large, colorful and pleasing to the eye. The cards are somewhat durable and have fairly nondescript artwork which depicts the time period. Owners will probably want to sleeve the cards. The cardboard counters are thick, colorful and present information well. There are also several cardstock player aids which are very handy. The 24 page rulebook is very well organized, well written and contains examples of play. The game also includes a Campaign Manual which contains an extended example of play and strategy tips. Very helpful! Overall, the components function well but are not exciting graphically.

SET UP
The game contains set-up instructions for 3 scenarios in which players can play only a specific year of the conflict, either 1812 or 1813, or play the entire campaign. Set-up time takes approximately 15 minutes. The initial land and sea forces for each power is placed on the map, the deck shuffled and cards dealt. Once players become familiar with the starting forces, set-up time will decrease.

GAME MECHANICS
TNW is played over five turns, each representing two years. Turn 1 starts in 1805-06 and Turn 5 ends in 1813-14. The game can end any time after turn 1 due to a variable end mechanic. Each game turn consists of the following five steps:

1. Impulse Rounds
2. Attrition & Naval Build
3. Conquest
4. Peace
5. Interphase

IMPULSE ROUNDS
Each power, in Order of Movement according to the Movement Track on the mapboard, becomes active and plays a card. This activation is called a Scheduled Impulse. The power with the most cards can interrupt the Order of Movement by declaring a Preemptive Impulse. No power may have two consecutive impulses, meaning a power cannot declare a Preemptive Impulse immediately before or after its Scheduled Impulse. Once the Preemptive Impulse is complete, the Order of Movement continues normally with the next scheduled impulse.

Cards can be used for either Command Points (CPs) or for the event on the card, but not both. If used for the event, the player carries out the specific instructions for the event on the card.

If a card is used for CPs, then the player uses the numerical rating (2 to 8) in the upper left hand corner of the card to perform any number of actions. The CPs can be spent on one or more of the following actions:

A) Build New Unit. It costs 2 CPs to build a 1-strength Unit otherwise known as a ‘Strength Point’. A Strength Point (SP) is a generic representation of military units used in the game; specific types of units such as infantry, cavalry and artillery are NOT used. Building a leader costs CPs equal to the leader’s Command Rating, typically 4 or 6. It costs 4 CPs to build a naval squadron. Leaders and SPs can be placed on any Home (starting) Duchy and naval squadrons are placed on any Home Port Duchy. A Duchy is a space on the mapboard which represents cities or towns.

B) Regroup Unit. Certain card events take units and leaders from play to the Regroup Box. It costs 1 CP to remove a leader, SP or naval squadron from the Regroup Box. Regrouped leaders and SPs can be placed in a friendly Home Duchy. Regrouped naval squadrons receive a Refit marker and are placed in a friendly Home Port Duchy.

C) Move Units. Land units move from Duchy to Duchy along connecting lines. For each Duchy entered, it costs 1 CP to move an Army consisting of a leader and SPs up to the leader’s Command Rating. A leaderless group of SPs, known as a Formation, moves one Duchy per CP; however, the cost is per counter. It is inefficient to move SPs without a leader.

A Naval Fleet or Squadron moves from Sea Zone to an adjacent Sea Zone or from Sea Zone to a Port Duchy within the same Zone or vice versa. A stack of naval squadrons of the same power in a Sea Zone or Port Duchy is a Fleet. It costs 1 Maneuver Point (MP) to move a Fleet or Squadron. 1 CP equals 2 MPs.

D) Flag Duchy. For 1 CP, a power’s Army or Formation may flag (i.e. place a control marker) an unfortified Duchy that it occupies. Flags signify which power controls a Duchy.

E) Influence Foreign Consuls on the Diplomatic Track. Each power can spend CPs to influence the consul of the non-player minor nations of Denmark, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. Each player power has a Diplomatic Track which it can spend the indicated amount of CPs to positively influence a minor nation’s Consul toward Pact or Ally status. Powers may also spend CPs to negatively influence a minor nation’s Consul on another power’s Diplomatic Track to move the minor nation away from Pact status. Once a power achieves Pact status with a minor nation, the player takes control of the minor nation’s card hand and playing pieces. Pact status can only be broken by certain card events.

F) Attempt to End a Foreign War. Foreign Wars occur when certain card events are played. A power can attempt to end a Foreign War by spending CPs to make an ‘End War’ die roll for each CP spent. A 1D6 roll of 6 ends the Foreign War and removes the event from the game. SPs and Squadrons embroiled in the Foreign War are moved to the Regroup Box.

During the Impulse rounds, while units are moving there are a few actions which can occur:

Interception: An inactive Army may attempt to enter an adjacent Duchy to interrupt the movement of active enemy units. The interception attempt is successful on a modified 2D6 roll of 9 or more. The interception attempt is modified by the leader’s Battle Rating, terrain and ownership of the Duchy. If the interception fails, then the active Army continues movement and the inactive Army may not attempt to intercept again for the remainder of the Impulse. A successful interception allows the inactive Army to be placed in the Duchy prior to the active Army entering the space, causing an immediate battle. Naval interception is similar.

Evasion: An inactive Army may attempt to withdraw instead of fighting a battle when an active Army enters its Duchy. The evasion attempt is successful on a modified 2D6 roll of 9 or more. The evasion attempt is modified similarly to an interception. If the evasion fails, then a battle occurs. A successful evasion allows the inactive Army to move to any adjacent friendly controlled space as long as it is not the space from which the active Army attacked. Naval evasion is similar.

Battle: A battle occurs whenever an active Army enters a space containing enemy units and the defender cannot or chooses not to Evade. First the active power, then in Movement Order any other powers with units in the battle declare if they are playing a Battle card. Then the number of battle dice are determined for each side. The number of dice each player rolls is 1 for each undisrupted SP plus any battle events, the power’s Nationality Bonus, the Commander’s Battle Rating and any terrain bonus. This can result in a whole lotta dice! Each 5 rolled Disrupts 1 enemy SP and each 6 rolled Kills 1 enemy SP. The side which inflicts the higher amount of casualties (Kills & Disrupts) wins the battle. If tied, then another round of battle is fought. The disparity between the casualties each side rolls has other effects. Larger disparities in casualties will result in a Rout (Disrupts become Kills) and possibly Overrun (complete elimination) of the losing force. The winner could also obtain battlefield loot (Resource). Kills are removed from the mapboard and the loser retreats to an adjacent Duchy. Naval battles are resolved similarly.

Siege: A fortress, represented by a star Duchy on the mapboard, can only be flagged by performing a successful siege. A siege does not cost any CPs to perform. Sieges are similar to battles except that the attacker inflicts casualties by rolling 6’s. The defender rolls a number of dice equal to the fortress’ strength rating (usually 2) and still inflicts casualties on 5’s and 6’s. If the defender rolls more casualties than the attacker, then the siege attempt is ended for the Impulse. Otherwise another siege round is fought. The fortress falls if it suffers a cumulative number of “6” hits equal to its strength rating during the Impulse.

ATTRITION & NAVAL BUILDS
Formations in uncontrolled Duchies suffer attrition. For each SP and leader in the formation, 1D6 is rolled. One SP or Leader is lost for each 6 rolled. The surviving formation then places its flag in the non-fortress Duchy.

Naval Squadrons built during the Impulse Rounds phase receive a Naval Build marker. During this phase the Naval Build markers are flipped to their Refit side. Spending a MP during a subsequent Impulse will remove the Refit marker and allow the naval squadron to sail at full strength.

CONQUEST
Potential conquests are resolved. A nation is conquered if it lost all its Key Duchies. A nation must make a conquest roll if it still controls at least one Key Duchy but its Capital is enemy controlled. If the modified 1D6 roll is 6 or more then the nation is conquered. Conquered nations cede territory to their conqueror and then become a neutral for at least one game turn. After one game turn, the power may choose to join the Imperial Camp (France) or the Coalition Camp (led by Britain), or remain neutral.

PEACE
A 1D6 roll is made to determine if peace breaks out, ending the game. Each player power in Order of Movement may reduce his upcoming turn hand size by one card to add or subtract one from the Peace die roll. On a modified roll of 6 or more, the game ends and VPs are tallied. On a die roll less than 6, the game continues and progresses to the Interphase.

INTERPHASE
This phase prepares the players for the coming game turn. It consists of three parts, camps, reinforcements and draw.

First, players decide whether they want to switch to the other Camp. Neutral powers also decide to join a Camp or remain neutral. A power may join a Camp only if all players in the Camp agree.

Second, each power receives a number of reinforcements according to a set schedule. The reinforcements are placed in the power’s capital and can be Deployed on a limited basis.

Lastly, all nations draw a new card hand according to the number of Key Duchies each controls. One card is drawn for every two Key Duchies or up to the power’s minimum hand size. Nations which drew more cards than their maximum hand size discard one card at random to gain a Resource. Nations with hand sizes still above their maximum discard to their maximum and receive additional reinforcements.

The turn marker is then advanced and the next turn begins.

THOUGHTS
TNW has a moderate learning curve but is still fairly accessible for those who are new to CDWs. TNW treads middle ground in complexity between Axis & Allies/Memoir ’44 and the super complex hex & counter ‘Grodnard’ games. New players will learn most of the mechanics after one play; although it may take several plays to grasp strategies as each power plays differently. Even after many plays, I still find myself agonizing over the best play for each card.

Players stay engaged at all times during the game because there is high player interaction. Besides the usual maneuvering and clashes between armies and navies in a wargame, players can also play Response and Battle cards on another player’s Impulse. Players must also keep a close eye on the Diplomatic Track, lest they allow their opponent to gain a minor power ally. Game time is long by most game standards; however, short for a wargame. Since this game is so engaging, the time passes very quickly.

If you’re looking for a historical simulation of the Napoleonic Wars during the 19th century you won’t find it in TNW. Significant people, places, events and even quotes are in the game. However, you won’t fight the same battles or play events along the same timeline or even at all. This makes TNW very replayable.

Luck plays its part in TNW. Obviously luck will make an appearance when ‘buckets’ of dice are rolled and cards are drawn. The dice can be fickle and generous at times with each player. I have been involved in games where players have hot dice but at some point the dice cool down for that player and heat up for another. By the same token, maybe your card draw wasn’t good on one turn but very good on the next. Usually luck evens out in the end.

The Napoleonic Wars is a great game and one of my favorite CDWs. It’s a lot of fun to throw your massive armies into epic battles, play card events to foil your enemies’ plans and fight the tug-of-war on the diplomatic track! The Napoleonic Wars would make an excellent addition to your collection and I highly recommend it to avid and power gamers.

8
Go to the Arkham Horror: The Lurker at the Threshold page
60 out of 67 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
The Lurker at the Threshold (LatT) is the fourth and last small box expansion for Arkham Horror. LatT is centered on a malevolent being that opens doors to bizarre worlds and tempts investigators with power all the while leading them to the clutches of the Great Old One. Investigators must toe a fine line, using only just enough power to explore these strange new worlds and closing them before the Reckoning dealt out by the Great Old One occurs.

COMPONENTS
The quality of the expansion components is on par with the base game and very good. There are thick cardboard playing pieces and fairly durable cards with very good artwork. The expansion rules are 2 pages and pretty straight forward. No complaints about the components.

This expansion includes additional location, Mythos, Gate, Common item, Unique item and Spell cards to beef up their respective decks. Also included are Relationship cards and new gate markers.

SET UP
Set-up for Arkham Horror is not made more difficult or longer with the inclusion of the LatT expansion. The expansion cards are simply shuffled into their respective base game deck. Each investigator receives a Relationship card. The new gate markers replace the existing markers entirely. Quick and easy!

If playing the Herald variant then set-up will take a moment longer. The Power Tokens are placed on the herald, the Dark Pacts are placed near the herald and the Reckoning deck is shuffled and set aside. Still pretty quick!

GAME MECHANICS
Unless using the herald variant, there are only minor changes to the game mechanics. The Relationship cards and new gate markers offer subtle changes to the game mechanics. Relationship cards describe the affect between two investigators whose lives are intertwined. Each investigator has a relationship with two other investigators in the game. Relationships can grant a bonus to skill checks, help an investigator obtain cash or grant an investigator extra movement points in certain situations to name most of them.

Each gate has a special ability which usually comes into play when an investigator fails his skill check to close the gate. The ability could add a Doom Token to the Doom Track, bring a monster into play, devour the investigator or cause the investigator to lose sanity or stamina. Another ability allows gates to move during the Monsters Move part of the Mythos phase. There are also split gates, which are a new feature. Split gates allow the investigator to choose between two Other Worlds to explore.

Using the herald variant will significantly alter the game mechanics. And quick frankly, the herald variant should be utilized to get the flavor of this expansion. Investigators can make a Blood, Soul and Bound Ally Pact with the Lurker to gain power. These pacts allow the investigators to gain Power Tokens which can in turn give investigators a good amount of flexibility when facing the dangers of the Mythos. Power Tokens can be used as a substitute for taking either Stamina or Sanity damage, can be used as a Clue Token or used as cash. However, investigators with at least one pact must face the consequences. A Reckoning card is drawn and resolved any time a gate opens. Investigators with pacts could lose sanity, stamina, clue tokens, or items. Basically an investigator is given a choice to lose something or something detrimental occurs like the Terror level increases or a Doom Token is added to the Doom track. However the Reckonings could also grant more Power Tokens and give investigators spells. A Reckoning card is also drawn and resolved when an investigator takes a Pact in an emergency situation to get him/her out of trouble.

THOUGHTS
The LatT expansion is very popular expansion among Arkham Horror players because the herald variant makes the game easier and is a lot of fun.

The best part of this expansion is the herald. The Power Tokens grant players so much flexibility, that it makes the game easier. Having extra clue tokens, stamina, sanity or cash at your fingertips allows players to go after closing and sealing gates with a vengeance! It is also a lot of fun wielding this power! I enjoy the Reckoning cards too. It’s always a tense moment when drawing these because you don’t know if you are going to gain more power, lose some stuff and/or something bad happens.

I’m not a big fan of the relationship cards. These cards tend to make the game easier too. However, the relationships tend to be somewhat situational and can be fiddly. Many of the relationships have conditions which need to be checked frequently and I tend to forget to use them.

The new gate markers are a nice touch. If I remember the ability on the gate, it can be an anxious moment when trying to close the gate because many times the life of your investigator hangs on one die roll. The moving gates are a fiddly pain. Gate movement is infrequent so I tend to forget to move them. However, things get interesting when gates move into the streets or stable locations because these gates can’t be sealed.

All things considered, The Lurker at the Threshold Expansion for Arkham Horror is a must-have expansion for Arkham Horror fans. This expansion is easy to incorporate into the base game and the Lurker’s power is just a lot of fun to play! I highly recommend the Lurker at the Threshold expansion.

7
Go to the Arkham Horror: Curse of the Dark Pharaoh (Revised Edition) page
62 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
The Curse of the Dark Pharaoh (CotDP) is the first small box expansion for Arkham Horror. The Revised Edition made some changes to the text on a few cards and also added a Herald. CotDP is centered on the mysterious living curse that is the avatar of the Great Old One Nyarlathotep. In addition, the “Legacy of the Pharaohs” exhibit has come to the Arkham Museum of History cursing all those who interact with it. The investigators must stop the evil Dark Pharaoh if they are to have a chance at defeating the Great Old One.

COMPONENTS
The quality of the expansion components is on par with the base game and very good. There are thick cardboard playing pieces and fairly durable cards with very good artwork. The expansion rules are 2 pages and pretty straight forward. No complaints about the components.

This expansion includes additional location, Mythos, Gate and Spell cards to beef up their respective decks. Also included are Exhibit Encounters and Exhibit Items.

SET UP
Set-up for Arkham Horror is not made more difficult or longer with the inclusion of the CotDP expansion. The expansion cards are simply shuffled into their respective base game deck. The Exhibit Encounter and Exhibit Item decks are shuffled and set aside. The Ancient Whispers marker is placed on the Miskatonic University street area. Quick and easy!

GAME MECHANICS
The exhibit encounters adds another mechanic to the game. Investigators have an exhibit encounter in the Arkham Encounter Phase when they are in the street area that contains the Ancient Whispers marker. An exhibit encounter gives the investigator a chance to obtain some situational but cool exhibit items. The Ancient Whispers marker moves to another location at the end of the encounter. If no investigator has an exhibit encounter, then it moves during the Mythos Phase as though it were a monster with the moon dimensional symbol. This is a fiddly mechanic and I admit that I often forget to move the Ancient Whispers marker during the Mythos Phase.

THOUGHTS
The CotDP expansion is possibly the least favorite expansion among Arkham Horror players simply because it does not offer much and the Herald isn’t all that good. However, this expansion is extremely easy to incorporate into the base game and does have some bright spots.

There are a ton of very useful spells and exhibit items, and some good allies in this expansion. Spells such as Markings of Isis, Plague of Locusts, Astral Travel and Feeding the Mind come in handy. The exhibit items, such as the series of masks, tend to afford the investigators more flexibility in using their skills or resources. I also like the Elder fragments which are somewhat less powerful Elder Signs. Overall, I would have liked the exhibit items be a little more powerful. I would have also liked more permanent items instead of the many use and discard items. Allies such as Erica Carlyle, David Packard and Dr. Ali Kapour can really boost investigator skills.

The big downside to this expansion is the herald. The designers should have thought this one through a bit more. The Dark Pharaoh Herald discourages players from using the main component of the expansion because it curses any investigator which gains an exhibit item. Since a cursed investigator is virtually useless in the game, players tend to avoid having exhibit encounters at all costs. In addition to doling out curses, this herald also makes investigators lose sanity and/or stamina on a regular basis. It makes for an extremely difficult game.

On a side note, the Miskatonic Horror expansion contains many new Exhibit Encounters and a few powerful Exhibit Items. They are worth giving some plays.

The Curse of the Dark Pharaoh Expansion for Arkham Horror is a not a must have expansion but would still make a fine addition to your Arkham Horror collection. The exhibit encounters are a new mechanic that could change things up a bit when used from time to time.

9
Go to the Arkham Horror: The King in Yellow page
57 out of 64 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
The King In Yellow (KiY) is the second small box expansion for Arkham Horror. KiY is centered on the mysterious insanity inducing play developed by worshipers of the Great Old One Hasteur. The play has sowed chaos in every town or city it has touched. The investigators must uncover the truth of the play if they are to have a chance at defeating the Great Old One.

COMPONENTS
The quality of the expansion components is on par with the base game and very good. There are thick cardboard playing pieces and fairly durable cards with very good artwork. The expansion rules are 2 pages and pretty straight forward. No complaints about the components.

This expansion includes additional location, Mythos, Gate, Common Item, Unique item and Spell cards to beef up their respective decks.

SET UP
Set-up for Arkham Horror is not made more difficult or longer with the inclusion of the KiY expansion. The KiY expansion offers three different set-up modes to give the game a different dose of the expansion. In the Touring Performance Style all the KiY expansion cards are shuffled and then placed on top of their respective base game deck. Players will get the full flavor of the expansion for most of the game. The KiY expansion cards are shuffled into their respective base game decks for the Permanent Performance Style. The flavor of the expansion is watered down a bit in this mode. The Herald variant shuffles all the expansion cards into their respective deck and also adds the Blight deck. This mode has a healthy dose of the expansion while increasing the difficulty a bit too. The Blight deck is simply shuffled and set aside. That’s it.

GAME MECHANICS
The KiY expansion will change the mechanics of the game slightly only if the Herald Variant is used via the yellow tokens and Blight cards.

The yellow tokens are placed when the Terror Track rises. The tokens either function as a Doom token on the Great Old One’s Doom Track or bring a Blight card into play. The players choose what the yellow token will do.

The Blight cards represent a minor character in Arkham going insane from either seeing or reading about the King In Yellow play. The loss of the character causes a global game effect such as increasing the price of items, closing locations or making it tougher to seal gates to name a few.

THOUGHTS
The KiY expansion is one of the most favorite expansions among Arkham Horror players with good reason. This expansion is easy to incorporate into the base game, was the first expansion to make the Terror Track a viable threat, and is a lot of fun.

There are a ton of common and unique items and spells, many of them very useful. Some of the best items that come to mind are the Sedanette, Press Pass, Safety Deposit Key, and Gladius of Carcosa. Some awesome spells include The Yellow Mist, Storm of Spirits, and Call The Azure Flame.

My favorite part about this expansion is the Herald and the Blight cards. The Terror Track becomes a bit livelier with the KiY expansion. However, the Herald variant makes managing the Terror Track a challenge. It is always fun to flip a Blight card and see the play take its toll on Arkham. All of the Blight card effects seamlessly fit into the game mechanics too.

The King in Yellow Expansion for Arkham Horror is a must for Arkham Horror fans! This expansion is one of my favorites because it is easy to use, is a nice difficulty level and is a lot of fun! I highly recommend the King in Yellow expansion.

7
Go to the Arkham Horror: Black Goat of the Woods page
67 out of 74 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
The Black Goat of the Woods (BGotW) is the third small box expansion for Arkham Horror. BGotW is centered on the mystique of the Great Old One Shub-Niggurath. Shub’s worshipers have formed a very powerful and corrupting cult. The investigators must neutralize this brutal ‘One of a Thousand’ cult if they are to have a chance at defeating the Great Old One.

COMPONENTS
The quality of the expansion components is on par with the base game and very good. There are thick cardboard playing pieces and fairly durable cards with very good artwork. The expansion rules are 2 pages and pretty straight forward. No complaints about the components.

This expansion includes additional location, Mythos, Gate, Common Item, Unique item and Spell cards to beef up their respective decks. BGotW also includes additional monsters.

SET UP
Set-up for Arkham Horror is not made more difficult or longer with the inclusion of the BGotW expansion. The expansion cards are simply shuffled into their respective base game deck. The Cult Encounter and Corruption decks are shuffled and set aside. The additional monsters are tossed into the Monster Cup. That’s it.

If playing the Herald variant then set-up will take a moment longer. The BGotW Herald requires the hexagon monsters to be separated from the Monster Cup to form the Hexagon Monster Cup.

GAME MECHANICS
Unlike most other Arkham Horror expansions, the BGotW expansion does not significantly change or add mechanics to the game. Cult Encounters replace regular encounters at the Woods, Black Cave and Unvisited Isle locations for investigators with a Cult Membership.

Depending on the level, the Difficulty Level cards generally subtly change set-up, game mechanics and scoring. Most of the Difficulty Level cards either give extra or take away clue tokens. Others either bless or curse investigators at the beginning of the game. The most difficult level has an extra Mythos card drawn and resolved during the Mythos Phase. This is the most significant game change by the Difficulty Level cards.

The Corruption cards offer the largest change in game mechanics. Certain events occur which require a player to draw a Corruption card for his investigator. When a Corruption card is activated it could be a nuisance or minor annoying event which hinders the investigator in some way. It could be something like give a Cult Membership to another player, or deny the use of certain items for a turn or even make the investigator lose sanity and/or stamina. The Corruption cards are smoothly integrated into the game mechanics as they are activated when their symbol appears on a Mythos card and can be removed when a gate is closed.

THOUGHTS
The BGotW expansion is perhaps one of the least favorite expansions among Arkham Horror players. However, there are some things to like about this expansion and I find that I enjoy using it on occasion. There aren’t many items and spells in this expansion but it does include several notable items such as the Military Motorcycle, .357 Magnum, Ancient Spear, Ritual Blade, and the spell Steal Life. All of these items are very useful and fun.

My favorite part about this expansion is the Corruption cards. Over the course of the game a character is bogged down by small hindrances. It feels as if the investigator is slowly getting mired in corruption. This mechanic is also well integrated into the base game mechanics and flows nicely.

When I’m in the mood for a beat down, then I use the Herald variant. If you like creature combat in Arkham Horror, then this is the variant for you. This variant places an additional monster out anytime a gate opens. Not only that, but it puts the nasty hexagon monsters into play! The BGotW Herald also forces more Corruption cards into play as well. To top it all off, you’ll mostly likely get the mother of all creature combat as this variant will most likely force the Final Battle with the Great Old One! In my opinion, this is one of the most challenging Heralds to use.

I have never used the Difficulty Level cards. I’m not sure why, I guess it is because I always felt as though a certain difficulty level is built into each expansion. I use the expansion(s) corresponding to how difficult I feel like making the game according to my mood.

The Cult Encounter mechanic I’m neither here nor there with it. It’s relatively easy to get a Cult Membership as some of the Location Encounters dole them out, but once the Corruption cards get into the act, then the Cult Memberships start a flowin’. The problem with this mechanic is that the Cult Encounters tend to be terribly negative, so players avoid the locations where a Cult Encounter can be had. I think the folks at Fantasy Flight recognized this because the Miskatonic Horror Expansion includes a whole slew of new Cult Encounter cards. These cards generally have a negative AND a positive affect which makes the mechanic useful.

The Black Goat of the Woods Expansion for Arkham Horror may not be for everyone, but it has its bright spots. In my opinion it’s definitely good enough to warrant making it a part of your collection.

6
Go to the The Downfall of Pompeii page
117 out of 125 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Around 79 AD the Roman city of Pompeii was buried by the volcano Vesuvius. The Downfall of Pompeii is about this cataclysmic event. Each player will place his citizens in Pompeii and once Vesuvius erupts, will attempt to move them out of the city to escape the on rushing lava. The player who has saved the most citizens is the winner. The game mechanics do the theme justice. The Downfall of Pompeii is for 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up and plays in about 60 minutes. This game plays best with 4 players.

COMPONENTS
The component quality is above average. The board is mounted on thin cardboard and colorful. There are thick cardboard tokens and wood playing pieces. The cards are marginally durable and have above average artwork which sets the theme nicely. The English version of the rulebook was not translated well and makes some aspects of the game unclear.

SET UP
Set-up for the Downfall of Pompeii is quick but can be slightly tricky. Each player takes a number of citizen tokens in his color depending on the number of players. The more players, the fewer citizen tokens the players receive. Setting up the draw pile can be tricky because the rules are not clear. Certain cards are removed from the deck and then seven piles of four cards are dealt. Each player takes a pile to form his starting hand. One pile is removed from the game and then the remaining cards are shuffled together with the cards initially removed to form the draw pile.

GAME MECHANICS
The Downfall of Pompeii is played in two phases with each phase consisting of two parts as follows:

PHASE I: Positioning the People
Part 1: Placement of Citizens
Part 2: Further Placement of Citizens

PHASE II: Escape from Mount Vesuvius
Part 1: The Lava Arrives
Part 2: Escape

PHASE I, PART 1 – PLACEMENT OF CITIZENS
Each player plays a card to place a citizen in the building corresponding to the number on the card. Once the citizen is placed, the player draws a card from the draw pile.

PHASE I, PART 2 – FURTHER PLACEMENT OF CITIZENS
Once the 79 AD card is drawn, Part 2 begins. The79 AD card is shuffled back into the draw pile and play resumes. Players continue to place citizens as in Part 1 but with additional effects. Players can place additional citizens according to the number of ‘relatives’ in a building. For example, if the player places a citizen in a building with two other citizens, that player may place an additional 2 citizens in neutral buildings. Omen Cards can now be drawn. The player who draws an Omen Card can remove an opponent’s citizen from play.

PHASE II, PART 1 – THE LAVA ARRIVES
Phase II begins once the 79 AD card is drawn again, or when a player declares a volcanic eruption. A player can declare a volcanic eruption if his hand consists of all Wild Cards. Players draw lava tiles and place them on the board.

PHASE II, PART 1 – ESCAPE
Once six lava tiles have been placed, Part 2 begins. Each player in turn order first draws a lava tile and places it on the board. Players try to place lava tiles on grid spaces with opponents’ citizens. Then the player may move two citizens. Citizens move a number of grid spaces equal to the number of citizens in its starting grid. Players try to move their citizens out of the city through several city gates.

The game ends when there are no lava tiles to draw, there are no citizens on the board, or all the city gates are blocked by lava. The winner is the player who has saved the most citizens.

THOUGHTS
The Downfall of Pompeii is an easy game to learn and play. There is enough strategy to keep avid gamers interested and at the same time this game is just light enough for casual gamers too. There is a bit of luck involved due to the draw of the cards and lava tiles. This may appeal to your more casual gamer.

The Downfall of Pompeii has a different feel than most Euros and features above average player interaction. This game does not use a typical worker placement mechanic to collect resources and turn them into something else. As a matter of fact, players aren’t building anything at all. Player interaction occurs when players use Omen Cards to remove other player’s citizens and place lava tiles to block or remove other players’ citizens. Players also jostle for position when initially placing citizens and also must take into consideration their opponents’ citizens when moving their own citizens.

The heart and major strategy part of the game is in moving citizens during the Escape part of Phase II. There are a few possible strategies in moving your citizens. Some even involve possibly helping your opponent.

The Downfall of Pompeii has a macabre theme, and if you can get by its gruesome nature, it is a fun game. It is a Euro with a different feel and would be a fine addition to your collection.

8
Go to the Railways of the World page
40 out of 46 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Railways of the World (RotW) takes place in the 19th century during the golden age of the railroads. Players take on the role of rail barons who are trying to build a rail empire. Players take out bonds to build track and upgrade locomotive engines in order to deliver goods and obtain income. The theme is well represented in the game. The object of the game is to score the most victory points (VPs) by delivering goods, constructing major rail lines and achieving a Railroad Baron objective. RotW is for 2 to 6 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 2 hours.

COMPONENTS
The components are excellent, hats off to Eagle Games. I cannot rave enough about the components. There are two different mounted beautiful boards. The Railways of Mexico board accommodates 2 or 3 players and the Railways of the Eastern US board is used for 4 to 6 players. There are thick cardboard tokens, hard and soft plastic playing pieces, wood cubes, a cloth bag, well detailed paper money, and fairly durable cards. There are separate Railroad Operations and Railroad Baron decks for each board. The artwork on the cards is below average but does set the theme. The rulebook is only 5 pages and well written and organized. The rulebook also has some examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for RotW is easy but takes a moment. Each player receives their playing pieces and is dealt two Railroad Baron cards. The Railroad Baron cards have a secret objective that the player can obtain for VPs. Each player chooses one Railroad Baron card and discards the other. Each city on the board is seeded with the indicated number of goods cubes, the indicated number of empty city markers are set aside and the Railroad Operations deck is shuffled and the indicated number of cards drawn and placed face up near the board. The youngest or most inexperienced player becomes the first player.

GAME MECHANICS
RotW is played in a series of turns consisting of the following three phases:

1. Auction for First Player
2. Player Actions
3. Income & Dividends

AUCTION FOR FIRST PLAYER PHASE
The current First Player starts the auction and bidding proceeds in clockwise order. Each player must outbid the previous bidder or pass. Bids are made in $1,000 increments. The player who made the highest bid pays the amount he bid to the bank and becomes the First Player, receiving the First Player card.

PLAYER ACTIONS PHASE
This phase is the heart of the game. There are three rounds of player actions in which each player performs one action. The actions a player can perform consist of the following:

Build Track: Build up to four track tiles to create ‘links’ between cities. The cost to build each track tile depends on the terrain in the hex where the tile will be built. The player places one of his playing pieces on the link to claim ownership.

Urbanize: Place a New City tile and two random goods cubes in any gray city. It costs $10,000 to urbanize.

Upgrade Engine: Increase the engine level of your locomotives. The higher the engine level, the more links a goods cube can be moved.

Deliver One Goods Cube: Move one goods cube from up to your current engine level from one city to another city. The goods cube must be delivered to a city that is the same color as the cube. The active player as well as inactive players can gain income depending on which links were used to deliver the goods cube.

Take Railroad Operations Card: The player can select one available Railroad Operations card. The Railroad Operations card give bonus VPs, discounts on building rail tiles, give additional actions and grant free urbanizations to name many.

INCOME & DIVIDEND PHASE
All players receive their income and must pay $1,000 interest on each bond they have. Incomplete links are removed, the round marker returns to the ‘1’ space and a new Railroad Operations card is drawn. The players are ready for the next turn.

When the last empty cities marker is placed on a city without cubes, then the current turn is finished and one more full turn is played. At the end of that turn VPs are tallied and the player with the most is the winner.

THOUGHTS
Railways of the World is an easy game to learn and play. It is a step up in complexity from Ticket to Ride, but not as complex as the 18XX games. In my opinion, it is a medium weight game with enough depth to keep veteran gamers interested yet not too much for a casual gamer to handle.

There is a good amount of player interaction in RotW. Outside of the first player auction, players race to build major lines, use other players’ rail links, grab a Railroad Operations card before you can, or deliver a goods cube you had your eye on.

RotW has high replay value. The initial goods cube seeding of the cities can change the feel of the game and make some areas of the board more attractive than other areas. You’ll probably have a different Railroad Baron secret objective every game and there is no telling what Railroad operations cards will be drawn during the game. I’d also like to point out that there are several expansion boards available to keep the game fresh.

This game is a lot of fun and a big hit with my gaming group. The two hour game time always seems short, and I find myself hoping that the end game will not be triggered. Railways of the World is a great game and would be an excellent addition to your collection.

5
Go to the Fury of Dracula page

Fury of Dracula

76 out of 83 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Fury of Dracula takes place in Europe at the turn of the 19th century. One player takes on the role of Dracula while the other players take on the role of a Hunter (Van Helsing, Lord Godalming, Dr. Seward & Mina Harker). Fury of Dracula is in the same vein as Scotland Yard and Letters From Whitechapel but with combat and much more theme. The Hunters play a hide & seek game with Dracula in which they try to find and kill Dracula before time runs out. Fury of Dracula is for 2 to 4 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 3 or 4 hours.

COMPONENTS
The components are excellent. Hats off once again to Fantasy Flight Games. The board is mounted on thick cardboard. There are thick cardboard tokens, plastic playing pieces & dice, cardstock character cards and marginally durable cards. The artwork on the board and playing pieces is beautiful and really sets the theme. The rulebook is about 30 pages and fairly well written and organized. The rulebook contains some examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for Fury of Dracula takes a moment. The Dracula player places the 15 blood markers on his character sheet, gathers the Dracula powers and tactical cards and draws 5 encounter markers. Each Hunter places his health marker on his character sheet, gathers their respective Hunter tactics cards and places his hunter miniature on the board in any location except Castle Dracula & the Hospital of St. Joseph and St. Mary. The Item and Event card decks are then shuffled and you’re ready to go.

GAME MECHANICS
Fury of Dracula is played in a series of rounds in which each character takes a turn consisting of a movement phase and action phase. There is also a timekeeping phase at the beginning of Dracula’s turn which tracks the number of days in the game. Upon the dawn of each day, Dracula advances his Vampire track by one and the Hunters advance their Resolve track by one. If the Vampire track reaches six days before Dracula is killed, then the Dracula player wins. Round order is as follows:

1. Dracula
2. Lord Godalming
3. Dr. Seward
4. Van Helsing
5. Mina Harker

MOVEMENT PHASE
Movement is generally made along links between cities.

Dracula – Dracula secretly chooses a card from the Location Deck corresponding to the location Dracula moves to. The card is placed in the left most slot on Dracula’s Trail on the board. In subsequent rounds, cards already on Dracula’s trail slide to the right. Dracula can move by road, sea or use one of his special powers such as Hide, Feed or Wolf Form to throw the Hunters off his trail.

Hunter – The hunters can move by road, rail or sea.

ACTION PHASE
Dracula performs one of the following actions:

Attack – Dracula can attack a Hunter in his current location.
Place Encounter – If there are no Hunters in his current location, he must place an encounter.

Then he can Mature any encounters which ‘fell off’ Dracula’s Trail by resolving the effect on the encounter. Finally, Dracula refills his encounter hand.

The Hunters can perform one of the following actions:

Search – The hunter searches for Dracula and could stumble upon Dracula’s Trail revealing a location card, find an encounter left by Dracula or even find Dracula himself.
Rest – The Hunter regains health
Resupply – Allows hunter to draw item and/or event cards depending on where the hunter is located.
Trade – Allows a Hunter to trade items with another hunter at the same location.

If Dracula is found, then combat immediately ensues. During each combat round, the Hunter(s) and Dracula play a tactical card facedown. The cards are revealed simultaneously and then each player rolls a die and adds the appropriate modifiers. The result is then resolved. Characters could receive damage, items could be destroyed, combat continued or someone escapes.

THOUGHTS
Fury of Dracula is a game that takes a play or two to learn and explore the strategies. This game has a tremendous amount of theme and great looking components. I really want to like this game but the game can become a frustrating exercise in futility. The board is huge with many places for Dracula to hide. It can take a very long time for the Hunters to even get a whiff of Dracula’s trail. Most of the time it’s just dumb luck finding his trail. Finding Dracula is another matter. Even if the trail is found, Dracula can use his special powers to fool the Hunters. The Hunters may quickly lose Dracula’s trail and need to start the search all over again.

Fury of Dracula has combat which other games along similar lines do not. Great, an added dimension! Unfortunately combat is another frustrating occurrence. When the hunters finally find Dracula, combat begins. The problem with combat is that about half the cards in Dracula’s tactical deck are escape cards. So the Hunters may do 2 or 3 damage to Dracula before he escapes. With 15 health, the Hunters will need plenty of combat to kill Dracula. If Dracula escapes that means starting the frustrating search sequence again. Realize that the search, combat, search, combat and so forth makes for a long game. Expect a minimum of 3.5 hours for a game. This can be painfully long if you are playing a Hunter. The Dracula player has much more fun. There are some items which can help pin Dracula down during the search and even temporarily prevent Dracula from escaping combat. However, it takes game time to draw these cards and put them to use.

I had only one good game where the Hunters for the most part stayed hot on Dracula’s trail and defeated him in a reasonable time frame. However, the majority of my plays have been long drawn out slogs of frustration. I strongly recommend playing this game first to determine if it is right for you and your gaming group before you buy.

8
Go to the Axis & Allies 50th Anniversary Edition page
125 out of 134 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Axis & Allies is a game that needs no introduction. However, for the few who are not familiar with this classic, Axis & Allies is about the epic struggle of world powers during World War II. In this game the forces of the Axis (Germany, Italy & Japan) are in a struggle for worldwide domination with the forces of the Allies (Russia, Britain & the USA). The 50th Anniversary Edition of Axis & Allies (A&A50) game features a huge beautiful map and over 600 hundred playing pieces. The object of the game is to destroy your enemies’ armies and conquer their territory. A&A50 is for 2 to 6 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 5 hours.

COMPONENTS
The components are very good. The ginormus 24 inch x 46 inch board is mounted and very appealing to the eye. There are over 600 plastic playing pieces consisting of infantry, artillery, tanks, fighters, bombers and various ships! The pieces are sculpted to represent the equipment used by each power during the conflict. Quite a nice touch! There are also thick cardboard tokens, plastic ‘poker chips’, plastic dice and paper money. The rulebook is roughly 25 pages and very well organized, and contains many examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for A&A50 will take some time. Each of the six powers starting forces must be placed on the map. Each power also receives its starting income and players must choose a nationality bonus for their respective power. A half hour later, you’re ready to play!

GAME MECHANICS
I’m going to skip my usual detailed write-up on the game mechanics. The mechanics in A&A50 have only been tweaked from earlier versions of the game. In a nutshell, players move military units from territory to territory engaging in battles with enemy units and taking control of territory to gain more income, which is used to purchase more units. Battles consist of rolling a die for each unit, with different units hitting on a specific die roll. The game ends when one side has lost all territories or a side controls a certain number of victory cities.

I will focus instead on some of the major changes between A&A50 and earlier versions.

1. The map includes several changes. Yes, the map is much larger. However, it is also broken up into many more territories as well. Eastern Europe has triple the territories which translates into more army maneuvering. An impassable Sahara desert is introduced in Africa confining game play for the most part to North Africa as in the conflict. China has been broken into many more territories making the game much more interesting for the Japanese player. An impassable Himalayan Mountain range now separates India and China which makes it difficult for the Japanese player to conquer India. Sea zones have also undergone some changes which bring about more strategic movement of naval fleets. All in all the map changes are excellent and enhance the game greatly.

2. There are more powers. Italy is its own separate power with units of its own instead of sharing the German units. China is also semi-autonomous and has its own infantry which it can build. I like the way China was implemented in this version as it represents the actual conflict better and presents a fresh angle to the game. On the other hand, Italy is rather boring to play because of their limited ability to purchase certain units and lack of multiple fronts. I usually have new players start with Italy in order to break them in to the game mechanics.

3. New units and revised rules on existing units. This version introduces Cruiser units to sea battles. It’s another ship to contemplate purchasing. While some earlier versions of the game contained Destroyer or Artillery units, this is the first version to include them together. Another major change is the submarine mechanic. Air units must be accompanied by a surface vessel to be able to destroy submarines. This makes submarines a bit more survivable and useful.

Other noteworthy changes include two-hit Battleships and a revamping of the strategic bombing rules. It now takes two hits to destroy a Battleship which makes them very tough. Bombers not only reduce income but also cause damage to factories. The damage must be repaired if the player wants to build future units in that territory.

4. Research & Development is revamped. There are now 12 technologies to obtain! The cost to develop these new technologies is not lost. The player continues rolling for any R&D attempts each turn until success is obtained. The purchase cost of an R&D attempt used to be lost on a failed roll, making R&D extremely expensive. This discouraged the use of the R&D mechanic. Not so anymore!

THOUGHTS
A&A50 is a relatively easy game to learn and play. However, because of the long playing time I would not recommend this game to casual gamers. It is a medium weight game which can scratch the wargame itch quite nicely.

A&A50 does have some minor issues. Luck rears its ugly head in all Axis & Allies games due to the sheer volume of dice rolled. However, with such volume of dice rolling, each player should see his share of good and bad luck, so it should even out in the long run. A&A50 packs a lot of goodness into one game but it comes at a price. This game requires 5 or 6 hours to play as opposed to 2 or 3 hours for earlier versions. Believe it or not, there are later versions of the game which could take up to 8 hours to play!

The major changes above along with other minor rule tweaks not mentioned makes A&A50 the best version of Axis & Allies. A&A50 is a solid fun game which would be an excellent addition to your collection.

5
Go to the Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game page
114 out of 130 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Dead of Winter takes place in an ordinary town in present day. Each player controls a number of characters trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Dead of Winter is a semi-cooperative game with a traitor mechanic. Players are required to work together to complete the scenario objective in order to have a chance to win the game. The theme is well represented in the game. Dead of Winter is for 2 to 5 players but is best with 4 or 5 players. Game length is about 100 minutes.

COMPONENTS
The component quality is average. The main board is mounted on thin cardboard while the secondary locations and character cards are cardstock. There are thick cardboard tokens and character/zombie playing pieces with plastic stands. However, the stands do not fit the cardboard playing pieces well. The cards are of marginal durability. Overall the artwork is above average at best. The rulebook is fairly well written and organized. As a whole, the components are acceptable; however, this game has a high price point, and I feel the quality of the components is not a good value for the price.

SET UP
Set-up for Dead of Winter is quick and easy. Players draw two starting characters, the location and other decks are shuffled and the crisis deck is constructed. Players are dealt a few starting items and you’re ready to go!

GAME MECHANICS
I’m going to skip my usual detailed game mechanics write-up in favor of the following summary.

All players roll their D6 dice pool simultaneously. Players receive dice according to the number of characters they control with a minimum of two dice.

Then in turn order players use the dice to perform actions. Each character has a fight and a search stat plus a special ability. For example the search stat may require a die roll of 3 or better to take that action and the fight stat may require a 5 or better. A character can be moved to a location such as the gas station and then a die spent to take a search action. The player then draws a card from the location’s deck and adds it to his hand. The cards are generally items such as gasoline, medical supplies or food.

A fight action can be used to kill a zombie at a character’s location. A fight action automatically kills a zombie. However, the player must roll a D16 to find out if the character was bitten during the fight. If he is, then the character is eliminated from the game and any other characters at the location check to see if they are bitten. Whenever a character moves to a remote location, an Exposure check is required. A character can suffer frostbite, a wound or get bitten on an Exposure check.

Players can also perform other actions during their turn such as construct barricades, play cards from their hand and contribute cards to the crisis. Any die roll can be used to construct barricades at a character’s location. A player can play a card from his hand such as a medical supplies card to heal a frost bitten character. Cards can also be played towards the current crisis.

At the end of the round, all characters and helpless survivors must be fed. A check is made to determine if the current crisis has been completed, then a new crisis is drawn. Zombies attack the colony and new zombies are placed on the boards.

The game ends when the players meet the scenario objective, the number of rounds for the scenario run out, or the morale track reaches zero. If the rounds run out or the morale track reaches zero, then all players lose except the traitor. If the scenario objective is met, then the player who has also meet his secret objective, excluding the traitor, is the winner.

THOUGHTS
I am going to play Devil’s Advocate here as all the other reviews are glowing. This game received a lot of hype and in my opinion did not deserve it. The mechanics are borrowed from other games and nothing new. The Crisis event aspect and traitor mechanic are very watered down versions of Battlestar Galactica mechanics. The traitor mechanic is so watered down that there is virtually nothing for the traitor to do in this game. It is difficult for the traitor to try to sabotage the crisis contributions or hamper the survival effort without getting caught. Therefore, the traitor lets the crisis events and zombies reduce the morale track to zero. This game could also do without the secret objectives. Many of the scenario objectives are difficult enough without players doing goofy things to meet their secret objective. I feel the secret objectives also hurt the coop aspect of the game.

The dice mechanic is extremely similar to the mechanic in Castles of Burgundy, Alien Frontiers and Stone Age. In these games, a player rolls his dice, and performs actions based on the numbers rolled. The downside of the dice mechanic in Dead of Winter is that it is based on the number of characters a player controls. Unfortunately this game suffers from what I call the ‘Snowball Effect’. The more dice you have the more actions you have and the more likely it is you’ll find other characters to play which will give you even more dice and so on. I have played games where players are reduced to one character and games where characters are killed on the first move made with them. This game becomes torture if you’re stuck with only two dice. You need to get very lucky at this point to find another character to get more dice. Unfortunately, the team needs you to find another character fast too, so that you can start contributing to the survival of the colony. The dice mechanic also naturally makes some characters unbalanced due to their special ability. This game will almost always be won with characters that draw an extra card on searches. Drawing an extra card allows a player to find additional characters easily, thusly gaining more dice, feeding into the snowball effect.

Onto the good stuff about this game. This is a theme heavy game; if you like zombie themes, then this could be the game for you. Dead of Winter is a fairly light game and will not burn your brain from heavy planning. As with all coops, this game has heavy player interaction, but beware the alpha player. I like the fact that if the fight action is taken, a zombie automatically dies. I’ve played zombie games where you’re just as likely to kill your character as much as the zombie. It should be easy to kill them, right?

Overall, Dead of Winter is a mediocre game; however, in my opinion it is the best zombie themed game out there. I suggest you try Dead of Winter first before you buy it.

8
Go to the Washington's War page

Washington's War

13 out of 14 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Washington’s War, designed by Mark Herman, is a refined version of We The People, which was the first Card Driven Wargame (CDW). Washington’s War covers the American Revolution from beginning to end. Players engage in a political and military struggle for control of the American colonies. The object of the game is to control a number of colonies to meet your victory condition. The conflict is well represented in card events and other game mechanisms. Washington’s War is a two player game which plays in about 90 minutes.

COMPONENTS
The components are excellent. The board is mounted on thick cardboard and colorful. There are thick cardboard counters which present information well, plastic stands, and cardstock player aids. The cards are fairly durable and have nondescript artwork depicting the time period. The rulebook is 23 pages long, very well organized and contains many examples. The rulebook is a little wordy but still fairly well written. The game also includes a playbook which contains an extended example of play and strategy tips. Very helpful!

SET UP
Set-up for Washington’s War is very quick and easy. Two game turn markers, and a few military units and Political Control markers are placed on the board, and the deck is shuffled. Cards are dealt and play begins, that’s it!

GAME MECHANICS
Washington’s War is played in a series of turns in which each turn represents a year. The game begins in 1775 and must absolutely end after the 1783 turn. The game rarely lasts until the 1783 turn as there is a variable end mechanic in the game. Each game turn or year consists of the following seven phases:

1. Reinforcement
2. Strategy Cards
3. Strategy
4. Winter Attrition
5. French Naval
6. Political Control
7. End

REINFORCEMENT
Any captured generals are returned to their respective reinforcement box. The British player places Combat Units (CUs) equal to the number listed for the current turn on the turn track in his reinforcement box. CUs are a generic representation of military units used in the game; types of units such as artillery, cavalry and infantry are NOT used.

STRATEGY CARDS
The deck is shuffled if it is depleted or if a card event requires shuffling. Each player is dealt seven cards.

STRATEGY
Players alternate playing Strategy Cards until all cards have been played. The British player may choose to go first if he has a Major or Minor Campaign card. Otherwise the American player chooses who will go first.

Strategy cards can be used as either an OPs Card or an Event Card, but not both. If used as an Event Card, the player carries out the specific instructions for the event on the card.

If a card is used as an OPs card, then the player uses the numerical rating (1 to 3) in the upper left hand corner of the card to perform an action. Playing a Strategy Card as an OPs Card allows the player to do ONE of the following:

A) Place Political Control markers (PC markers) equal to the OPs number. The American player can place PC markers in any empty space or a space which contains a Friendly general or CU. The British player can place PC markers in an empty space adjacent to a space with an existing British PC marker or a space containing a British Army.

B) Activate a general with a Strategy Rating equal to or less than the OPs number. Generals can move up to four spaces with up to 5 CUs. British generals can also make a naval move from port to port.

C) Bring reinforcements into the game. The American player can bring reinforcements in the game up to two times per game turn and the British player can bring reinforcements in the game only once per game turn. The American player can bring in one general and CUs up to the OPs number, and place them in any neutral or friendly controlled space. The British player can bring in one general and CUs up to the maximum in the British reinforcement box, and place them in any neutral or friendly controlled port space.

During the Strategy Phase, while units are moving there are a few actions which can occur:

Interception: An American Army can attempt to intercept a British Army which enters an adjacent space. The American Army successfully intercepts on a 1D6 roll equal to or less than the American general’s Agility Rating. If the interception fails, then the British Army continues movement. A successful interception allows the American Army to be placed in the space prior to the British Army entering the space, causing an immediate battle.

Retreat Before Battle: An American Army may attempt to retreat instead of fighting a battle. The retreat attempt is successful on a 1D6 roll equal to or less than the American general’s Agility Rating. A successful retreat allows the American Army to move to any adjacent friendly controlled space as long as it is not the space from which the British Army attacked. A successful retreat also causes the British Army to end its movement.

Battle: A battle occurs whenever an Army enters a space containing enemy CUs and the defender cannot be overrun and cannot or chooses not to Retreat Before Battle. First the attacker, then the defender declare if they are playing a battle card. Then each player rolls 1D6 to determine the Battle Rating of their respective general. On a roll of 4-6 the general has his full Battle Rating as shown on general’s playing piece. On a roll of 1-3 the general has half (rounded down) the Battle Rating shown on the playing piece. Players then determine their Die Roll Modifiers (DRM) which comes from the number of CUs, Battle Cards, General’s Battle Rating, successfully intercepting, Militia bonus and British special bonuses from their naval and regular troop advantages. Once each player determines their respective DRM, they each roll a 1D6 and add the DRM to it. The higher total wins the battle with ties going to the ATTACKER. A separate roll is made afterward to determine battle casualties.

WINTER ATTRITION
CUs are checked for possible winter attrition losses. Each British army which is not in a winter quarters space (square or star outline on map) or south of the Winter Attrition Line loses one-half (rounding down) of its CUs. Each American army loses one-half (rounding down) of its CUs. Washington’s army is treated similar to the British.

FRENCH NAVAL
If the French Alliance is in effect, then the American player can relocate the French navy to any blockade zone. The British lose all naval advantages in the blockaded zone.

POLITICAL CONTROL
The American player places the Continental Congress if it was dispersed during the Strategy Phase.

Each player places PC markers in spaces containing his Armies.

Remove isolated PC markers. An American PC marker is isolated if a path from the marker cannot be traced to either an American or French general, an American or French CU, the Continental Congress or a neutral space. A British PC marker is isolated if a path from the marker cannot be traced to a British CU, neutral space or port.

END
Check for automatic victory. An American automatic victory occurs if there are no British CUs in the 13 colonies. A British automatic victory occurs if there are no American or French CUs on the map.

Check if Lord North’s government has fallen. The game ends if the “Lord North’s Government Falls – War Ends” Strategy Card in the War Ends box states the game ends on this turn or an earlier turn. If Lord North’s government falls then the game ends and victory conditions are checked by counting each side’s controlled colonies (including Canada). The Americans win if they control 7 or more colonies. The British win if they control 6 or more colonies OR if both the Americans and British achieve their victory condition.

If the game does not end, then all OPs cards in the Reinforcement boxes are discarded, the Game Turn marker is advanced to the next year and a new game turn begins.

THOUGHTS
Washington’s War is a very accessible CDW and a great starting place for those who are new to CDWs. It is easy to learn and play; although it may take a play or two to fully grasp strategies. The game plays quickly with little down time between turns. Obviously player interaction is heavy so players are engaged even when it is not their turn.

If you’re looking for a historical simulation of the American Revolution you won’t find it in Washington’s War. Significant people, places and events are in the game. However, you won’t fight the same battles or play events along the same timeline or even at all. This makes the game very replayable.

Washington’s War is a lot of fun and has a flare for the dramatics. The political battle can be fierce while the military battles intensify in the later turns. I have had many games decided in epic fashion on the last card play of the game! Washington’s War would make an excellent addition to your collection and I highly recommend it to avid and power gamers.

7
Go to the Village page

Village

103 out of 116 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Village takes place in a middle-ages, well,… village. Each player controls the fate of a family which strives for prominence within the village. Players will send family members to learn a craft, join the clergy, farm, become a Politian, or travel the countryside. The theme is well represented in the game. The object of the game is to develop the career of each of your family members so that they accumulate prestige and thusly, Prestige Points (PPs) during their career and upon their passing. Village is for 2 to 4 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 100 minutes. This game shines with 4 players and I would recommend this game for players ages 17 and up due to its complexity.

COMPONENTS
The components are excellent. The board is mounted on thin cardboard and colorful. There are thick cardboard tokens, wood playing pieces, and two cloth bags. The artwork on the board and playing pieces is beautiful and really sets the theme. The rulebook is 12 pages and fairly well written and organized. It contains some examples of play, but still could be clearer on some aspects.

SET UP
Set-up for Village is quick and easy. Each player receives their farmyard, eleven family members & eight markers in his color, and one starting gold. The family members labeled “1” are placed on the farmyard. The family members are labelled 1 through 4 representing generations of a family tree. There are 4-first generation, 3-second generation, 2-third generation, and 2-fourth generation family members.

The customer tiles are shuffled and drawn to fill the market. The Next Starting Player token is placed on the board and other tokens/cubes are sorted and placed near the board. The oldest player is the starting player and receives the starting player marker.

GAME MECHANICS
Village is played in a series of rounds in which players take turns performing an action. A Round consists of the following three phases:

1. Seed Action Spaces
2. Actions
3. Mass

SEED ACTION SPACES
Influence and Plague cubes are placed in the green bag per the number indicated on the set-up card. Influence cubes consist of orange (skill), green (persuasiveness), brown (faith) and pink (knowledge). Black cubes represent plague cubes. Plague cubes immediately cost two time when chosen. Cubes are drawn from the green bag and placed on the seven action spaces per the indicated number on the set-up card.

ACTIONS
This phase is the heart of the round. Each player in clockwise order chooses a cube from an Action Space and performs the corresponding action. Actions consist of the following:

1. Grain Harvest
2. Family
3. Crafts
4. Market
5. Travel
6. Council Chamber
7. Church
8. Well

Grain Harvest: Family members at your farmyard produce grain. A player produces 2, 3, or 4 grain depending on whether he has equipped his family with a plow and a horse or ox. A maximum of five grain can be stored at the farmyard.

Family: A new family member is born. The new family member is taken from the player’s supply and placed on the player’s farmyard. A player may instead, return a family member on the board to his farmyard.

Crafts: A player can pay the indicated amount of influence cubes or gold to acquire goods OR train a family member to become a blacksmith, wainwright, banker, or stable hand to produce goods. A scroll, wagon, plow, horse, oxen, and grain can be acquired. It costs time to train a family member and time to produce a good. The player keeps time on the Life Track on the farmyard board. Once the time marker has passed a certain point on the time track, a family member passes away. The player must remove one of his oldest (lowest number) family members from the board. Each location on the board is color coded with spaces on the Chronicle. If a space is open on the Chronicle for the corresponding location of the passing family member, then the family member is placed in the available space. A player scores greater PPs for more family members on the Chronicle. If no space is available in the Chronicle for the corresponding location, then the family member is placed in the graveyard.

Market: There is only one Market action per round. However all players participate in buying customer tiles. The player which chose the action buys his first tile without paying an additional green influence cube and time. To serve a customer and acquire the tile, a player must pay the indicated amount of goods, whether it is grain, horses, oxen or a plow. Each customer tile is worth the indicated amount of PPs at the end of the game.

Travel: A player sends a family member out of the village to travel the countryside. If the player already has a family member on the travel map, then the family member continues his journey, earning influence cubes, gold, or PPs at the cost of time.

Council Chamber: A player places a family member in the Council building. The player spends green influence cubes, scrolls and time to acquire a higher standing within the council. The family member can earn, the starting player position, influence cubes, goods, gold and/or PPs.

Church: A player sends a family member off to join the clergy. A family member is placed in the black bag along with several monks. It costs brown influence cubes and time to train a family member to become a monk

Well: Instead of choosing an Influence Cube from the board, a player may return 3 cubes of the same color to take any action listed above.

MASS
When all the Action Spaces are empty (free of cubes), then the Action Phase has ended and Mass is said. First, four figures are drawn from the black bag. Family members are placed on the right most window space of the church. Black monk figures are tossed back into the bag. A player may pay gold prior to the draw to automatically remove his family member from the bag. Next, players may pay the indicated amount of grain to move any family members already on the church one or more window spaces to the left. The higher the family member in the church hierarchy, the more PPs the player earns at the end of the game. Finally, the player with the most family members in the church earns two PPs.

After Mass is completed a new round begins. The game ends when either the Chronicle or the graveyard is filled. Players tally up PPS for family members in the Council Chamber, Church, and Chronicle, and the number of cities visited in the countryside, gold, and customer tiles. The winner is the player with the most PPs.

THOUGHTS
Village is a game that takes a play or two to learn and explore the strategies. I would consider Village to be on the heavy side and recommend it to seasoned Euro gamers. There is a tremendous amount of planning in this game, which could burn your brain. There isn’t a lot of player interaction in this game. A player could pick the cube you wanted, maybe grab the last cube in an Action Space before you or grab the customer tile you had your eye on. That’s about it. I must say that paying for actions with time and preparing workers for their death is a unique mechanic to boardgames. It is a refreshing take on the worker placement mechanic. Despite the cube pushing, the flavor of the theme does shine through and it is fun to develop your family members’ careers. Village is a good game and would make a fine addition to your collection.

7
Go to the Amun Re page

Amun Re

84 out of 91 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Amun-Re takes place in ancient Egypt. Players take on the role of wealthy land owners. Players will acquire provinces, build pyramids and obtain farmers in an effort to build prestige. The theme is somewhat represented in the game. The object of the game is to develop provinces by building sets of pyramids, obtain temples and collect gold to score the most victory points (VPs). Amun-Re is for 3 to 5 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 100 minutes. I would recommend Amun-Re for 4 or 5 players.

COMPONENTS
The components are very good. The board is mounted on thin cardboard and colorful. There are thick cardboard tokens and ceramic playing pieces. The small size cards and summary sheets are marginally durable. The rulebook is 11 pages and well written and organized, and contains many examples of play. Overall the artwork is done well and sets the theme.

SET UP
Set-up for Amun-Re is quick and easy. Each player receives a summary sheet, two player markers & three province markers in his color, one Builder Power Card, and twenty starting gold. The province cards are shuffled and the temple stand-up placed on the board. A starting player is determined and given the Amun-Re figure and you’re ready to play!

GAME MECHANICS
Amun-Re is played in two Kingdoms (Old and New) with each Kingdom consisting of three rounds with the following six phases:

1. Place Province Cards
2. Acquire Provinces
3. Actions
4. Sacrifice for Amun-Re
5. Harvest & Income
6. Scoring (Round 3 & 6 only)

PLACE PROVINCE CARDS
Draw province cards equal to the number of players and place them in the corresponding province on the board.

ACQUIRE PROVINCES
Players acquire provinces through a bidding mechanic. In turn order, the players place their player marker on a numbered space on one of the province cards on the board. Once all players have placed their marker (bid) any players outbid must rebid. He cannot rebid on the province he was just outbid on. There are some Power Cards which allow a player to rebid on a province or block players from making a bid on a province. When bidding is complete, each player pays the amount of gold to the bank, discards the province card and places his marker on the province. Players also collect any free power cards, farmers or stones the province produces.

ACTIONS
This phase is the heart of the round. Each player in clockwise order may buy Power Cards, Farmers, and Building Stones. One item of a kind costs 1 gold, 2 items of a kind cost 3 gold, 3 items of a kind cost 6 gold and so on according to the price table on the board. For example during a player’s turn, he may buy 2 Power Cards for 3 gold, 1 farmer for 1 gold and 5 stones for 15 gold for a total of 19 gold.

Power Cards grant the player a special bonus, such as gold, VPs, or farmers. Purchased Power Cards may be used immediately or saved for another round. There is no limit to the number of Power cards a player can have in his hand. A player can discard a Power Card at any time for 1 gold.

Farmers earn players gold during harvest time. They must be placed in empty farm slots in a province.

Building Stones are used to build pyramids. It takes three Building Stones to build one pyramid. Building Stones are also immediately placed in a province.

SACRIFICE FOR AMUN-RE
In this phase, a sacrifice in gold is made to the King of Gods, Amun-Re. The size of the sacrifice will determine the size of the harvest to follow. Each player secretly chooses an amount of gold to sacrifice and then reveal their sacrifice simultaneously. Amun-Re rewards the highest sacrifices with Power Cards, Farmers and/or Building Stones. The player that offered the highest sacrifice can choose any 3 items. For example, two Building Stones and one Power Card can be selected. The second highest sacrifice receives any 2 items. Other players who contributed to the sacrifice receive 1 item.

The total amount of all player’s sacrifice is compared to the temple track on the board. The temple stand is placed on the corresponding total sacrifice value. For example if the total sacrifice was 11 gold, the temple would be placed on space 2 of the temple track which has a sacrifice range of 3-12.

HARVEST & INCOME
Each player receives gold equal for each of his farmers. The value of the harvest is the number of farmers times the value depicted on the temple space with the temple stand. For instance if a player has 10 farmers on his provinces and the temple stand is on space two, the value of the player’s harvest would be 2 times 10 equals 20 gold.

Players also take any additional income that their provinces produce.

SCORING (Round 3 & 6 only)
Players earn VPs at the end of the Old Kingdom (round 3) and the New Kingdom (round 6) for their efforts. VPs are earned as follows:

1 VP for each Pyramid
3 VPs for each complete set of pyramids (one pyramid in each of the player’s provinces)
5 VPs for the most pyramids on the East & West side of the Nile River
Each temple the player controls. The VPs depend on which space on the temple track the temple stand is on.
3 VPs for fulfilling the task on a Power Card
6 VPs for the most gold, 4 VPs for second most & 2 VPs for third most

If it is the end of the Old Kingdom, then all provinces markers and farmers are removed from the board and players begin the New Kingdom. If it is the end of the New Kingdom then the game is over. The winner is the player with the most VPs.

THOUGHTS
Amun-Re is an easy game to learn and play. I would consider Amun-Re a medium weight game and would not recommend it to casual gamers. Similar to most Eurogames, there is some planning to do; however, the planning in this game won’t melt your brain like many Euros. Amun-Re features above average player interaction for a Euro. Obviously the auction in the Acquire Provinces phase has heavy player interaction, and this intensifies during the New Kingdom because provinces with pyramids are at stake in the bidding. Players also interact when determining their sacrifice to Amun-Re and can also influence the size of other players’ Harvest too. I’d like to point out that there are no cubes to push in this game! Instead, players race to build the most pyramids. Most info in the game is open knowledge but there is just enough to always cast doubt on who is in the lead due to hidden gold and power cards. Amun-Re is an older game but has withstood the test of time. It is a fun game with a different feel from most Euros and would be a good addition to your collection.

8
Go to the Cyclades page

Cyclades

54 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Cyclades takes place on an archipelago off the coast of ancient Greece. Players become the leader of a great Greek city-state, namely Sparta, Athens, Corinth, Thebes and Argo. Players move their city’s armies and fleets, build structures, use mythic creatures and seek favors from the Gods in their quest to dominate the Cyclades archipelago. The theme is very well represented in the game. The object of the game is to acquire through conquest, building or other methods two Metropolises. Cyclades is for 2 to 5 players ages 13 and up and plays in about 100 minutes. The game has measures to scale for fewer players; however, I would recommend Cyclades for 4 or 5 players.

COMPONENTS
The components are excellent. The board is double-sided and has two halves which are put together to form different boards depending on the number of players. The boards are mounted on thick cardboard and have very colorful thematic artwork. There are thick cardboard tokens and plastic playing pieces. The large size cards are marginally durable and have great artwork. The rulebook is 6 pages and fairly well written and organized, and contains many examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for Cyclades is easy and fairly quick. Each player receives a reference screen, their troops and fleets, and five starting gold. The board halves are placed together per the number of players and then starting troops and fleets are placed for each player according to the set-up diagram in the rulebook. The mythological creature deck is shuffled and placed on the board along with the priests and philosophers. A starting player is determined and you’re ready to play!

GAME MECHANICS
Cyclades is played in a series of cycles consisting of the following five steps:

1. Mythological Creatures
2. The Gods
3. Revenue
4. Offerings
5. Perform Actions

MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES
The top card is drawn from the Mythological Creature deck and placed in the leftmost slot on the board. There are three slots on the board. When a new creature is drawn all creatures already on the board move one slot to the right and eventually are discarded if not used by a player. A player can use any of the three creatures on the board as long as the indicated amount of gold is paid. Any temple the player controls reduces the cost of the Creature by one gold per temple to a minimum of one gold.

THE GODS
The four God tiles are shuffled and randomly placed in the God spaces on the board. Some Gods are not available depending on the number of players. There is a tile for Zeus, Poseidon, Ares and Athena. Apollo has a permanent space on the board. The God tiles are mixed every turn because it determines player order for the Perform Actions step. The player who wins the favor of the topmost God goes first and then proceeds down to Apollo.

REVENUE
Each player receives one gold for each prosperity marker he controls.

OFFERINGS
Players seek favors from the Gods through an auction bidding mechanic. In turn order, the players place their offering token on the corresponding space for a God they wish to seek a favor. The offer is made in gold. If a player is outbid, then he immediately replaces his offering token to another God. He cannot place his token on the God he was just outbid on. The bidding continues until all offering tokens have been placed, and then each player pays the amount of gold corresponding to their offer minus 1 gold for each priest the player controls to a minimum of one gold.

PERFORM ACTIONS
This step is the heart of the game. Gods are activated in order as determined in The Gods step. Players take their actions according to what each God will allow them to do. The Gods grant the following abilities:

Zeus: The player receives one free priest. The player can obtain an additional priest by paying four gold. A player can also build a Temple for two gold apiece. All buildings are constructed on an island the player controls within the solid white lines on the board. If a player does not have space to place a structure, then he cannot build.

Athena: The player receives one free philosopher. The player can obtain an additional philosopher by paying four gold. Once the player has four philosophers he must return them to the deck and construct a Metropolis. A Metropolis is placed on an island the player controls within the dashed red lines. If there is no space to build the Metropolis, then the player must destroy building(s) to make space. A player can also build a University for two gold apiece. A university does not give any benefit accept that it is one of the four buildings needed to construct a Metropolis. Once a player has constructed a temple, university, port and fortress, then the four buildings are removed and replaced with a Metropolis.

Poseidon: The player receives one free fleet. The player can obtain an additional 1, 2, or 3 fleets by paying 1, 2 or 3 gold respectively. Fleets are placed on sea spaces adjacent to an island the player controls. A player can also build a Port for two gold apiece. A port gives the player’s fleets a +1 defense combat bonus if the fleets are in a sea space adjacent to the port. The player can also pay one gold to move the fleets in one space up to three spaces.

Ares: The player receives one free troop. The player can obtain an additional 1, 2, or 3 troops by paying 2, 3 or 4 gold respectively. Troops are placed on any island the player controls. A player can also build a Fortress for two gold apiece. A fortress gives the player’s troops a +1 defense combat bonus if the troops are on an island with a fortress. The player can also pay one gold to move the troops on an island. The troops can move any number of sea spaces to another island as long as the player has a fleet in each sea space.

Apollo: The first player to activate Apollo receives one gold and a prosperity marker. The prosperity marker must be placed on an island the player controls. Other players that activate Apollo receive only one gold. If a player controls only one island, he receives four gold.

During their turn players can also purchase Mythological Creatures. There are 17 Mythological Creatures such as Medusa, Chimera and the Kraken which grant a host of special abilities such as destroying troops or fleets, obtaining gold, and destroying buildings to name a few. Once purchased, the Creature is used immediately.

Combat in Cyclades is straight forward and quick to resolve. Whenever a player moves either his troops or fleets into a space with enemy troops or fleets respectively, combat begins. Players simply add up the number of troops (or fleets), and adds the roll of a special 1d6 to get his total. Defenders also add one for any fortress (or port in case of a fleet battle) to his total. The lower number loses a troop (or fleet). The battle continues until someone retreats or is destroyed.

Even if a player obtains two Metropolises, the game does not end until the current cycle is complete. This gives players a chance to take a Metropolis away from the player who has two of them before the game ends. If a player has two Metropolises at the end of a cycle, then he wins. Ties are broken by the player with the most gold remaining.

THOUGHTS
Cyclades is an easy game to learn but takes a few plays to learn the tactics. In my opinion, Cyclades is a medium weight game and I would not recommend it to casual gamers. There is a lot of strategy in what amount the player offers to a God, which God he chooses to make an offer and how he uses the ability of the God he has obtained. There are clashes between player’s armies and fleets, and the Creatures also give an element of screw your neighbor so player interaction is very heavy. In fact the end game can get quite crazy. Players need to keep tabs on opponents’ situation and be ready to deny them the victory while simultaneously working to achieve victory themselves.

The knock on Cyclades is that often times the game does not end well. A player with a lot of gold on hand can use Zeus to troll through the Mythological Creature deck to find a Creature which will win him the game. There are a few Creatures which in certain situations can give a player the victory, Pegasus is the most common. Pegasus allows a player to transport troops from one island to another without the use of fleets. I understand this concern, but the Creasures are meant to be powerful. Players could House Rule that Zeus’ ability can be used a maximum of three times. This may also be rectified in the expansions.

In any case, Cyclades is an excellent, fun game with great theme play. I strongly recommend Cyclades to avid and power gamers.

6
Go to the Dark Tower page

Dark Tower

12 out of 12 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Dark Tower is set in a generic fantasy world. Players lead a party of warriors on a journey through three kingdoms to find three magic keys. On their journey, the party will fight Brigands, suffer attacks from dragons and wizards, and lose warriors to plague and starvation. The party will also visit tombs, ancient ruins, bazaars and sanctuaries along the way. The magic keys allow the heroic party to storm the Dark Tower and retrieve the Ancient Magic Scepter, which was stolen by a tyrant king. The theme isn’t very strong in the game. There are no fancy names for places on the map or heroic characters to play. And each of the four kingdoms has the same spaces, with the same buildings at the same locations. However, when this game was released in the early 1980’s it was worlds ahead of anything at the time. Like many longtime gamers, I have fond memories of playing this game when I was younger.

Unfortunately, the game was quickly removed from the market due to licensing issues and has never returned. Although, a search on the internet will bring you to several sites which have reimplemented the game in various forms.

Dark Tower is for 1 to 4 players ages 12 and up and plays in 60 minutes or less. Dark Tower is at its best when played with 4 players.

COMPONENTS
The components are excellent. The circular board is mounted and very functional, but has fairly drab artwork. There are plastic buildings, plastic playing pieces and an electronic tower. An electronic tower in 1981!! The tower kept track of all game functions and had some pretty pictures which would light up to depict events which happened during your turn. Unfortunately the tower did not withstand the test of time very well. The tower ceased to operate fairly quickly, and today it is very difficult to find an operating tower. There are some websites which offer to refurbish the tower for a pretty penny or two. The rulebook is 45 pages, very well written and organized, and contains many examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for Dark Tower is easy but did take a moment. The two halves of the board must be fastened together and the 16 buildings affixed to the board. Each player receives a score chart which indicates his party’s number of warriors, bags of gold, food rations and other possessions. Each player starts with 10 warriors, 30 bags of gold and 25 food rations. The number of players and the desired difficulty level is punched into the Tower. When the Tower plays the epic starting overture, then you’re ready to begin!

GAME MECHANICS
Nothing fancy about the mechanics. Players move their party one territory on the map during their turn. Then the player presses the corresponding button on the Tower and the Tower indicates what happens. Every turn costs a minimum of one food depending on the number of warriors in the party.

Players start in their own kingdom and move counterclockwise around the board back to their home kingdom where they hopefully make an attempt to storm the tower. The territories on the map consist of the following:

1. Open
2. Tomb
3. Ruins
4. Bazaar
5. Sanctuary
6. Citadel
7. Frontier
8. Dark Tower

OPEN
There are no locations here to visit; however, there are several events which can occur. There is the possibility that no event will occur or one of the following events will occur:

Fight a Battle against a roving band of Brigands. The Tower sounds a battle horn and will play out a battle between your warriors and the Brigands. A player can choose to fight or retreat. If the party wins the battle it will obtain treasure.

Dragon Attack. The Tower shows a fire breathing dragon and makes a high-pitch screeching sound. The dragon steals gold and takes some warriors.

Plague Strikes. The tower shows a skull and plays a ‘Death March’ tune. Two warriors perish.

Lost in Uncharted Territory. The Tower shows a picture of jumbled tree limbs with multiple pairs of eyes peeking out from the dark corners and plays a sad tune. The party must move back to the space from which it came.

Wizard’s Curse. The Tower shows a warrior lying on his back and plays a negative tune. The wizard steals warriors and gold and gives it to another player. The party has also lost its turn.

TOMB/RUINS
When the party enters a tomb or ruin the sound of a creaking door can be heard. But what’s behind that door? It can be nothing, it can be a room filled with treasure, or it can be battle ready Brigands!

Anytime a party wins a battle against Brigands or finds treasure in a Tomb/Ruin it will obtain bags of gold as indicated by the Tower and possibility one of the following items:

Pegasus: Pegasus allows the party to move to any territory in their current kingdom or to move to any territory in the kingdom to the right. Pegasus can only be used once.

Dragonsword: The Dragonsword will slay any dragon which attacks the party when it moves. The party receives the warriors and gold the dragon has been accumulating during the game. The Dragonsword can only be used once.

Wizard: The Wizard allows a player to curse another player. The player using the Wizard receives 25% of the cursed player’s warriors and gold.

Magic Key: The party must collect a brass, silver and gold key to be able to lay siege to the Tower.

BAZAAR
The Bazaar is where a party can stock up on supplies or purchase something to help with the journey. Warriors, food rations, a Beast, Scout or Healer can be purchased at the bazaar. The Beast carries up to 50 bags of gold. Normally 6 bags of gold are carried by each warrior, but warriors can perish! The Scout negates the effect of being lost and gives a bonus of one extra move if the lost event occurs. The Healer negates the effect of the plague event and provides two additional warriors if the plague event occurs. The player can Haggle with the merchant if he feels the price for an item is too high. However, the player must be careful not to haggle too much or the merchant will become angry and close the Bazaar. If this happens, the player loses his turn.

SANCTUARY
The Sanctuary gives a beaten and battered party warriors, food, and/or gold so that the party may continue its journey.

CITADEL
A Citadel functions as a Sanctuary with two distinct differences. The Citadel cannot be used until the party returns to its Home Kingdom. The Citadel doubles the amount of warriors in the party.

FRONTIER
The Frontier spaces separate the four kingdoms. A party cannot cross a frontier into another kingdom unless it has the required magic key.

DARK TOWER
Once a party has collected the three magic keys and returned to its Home Kingdom, it may enter the Dark Tower space and begin to lay siege to the Tower. Hopefully the party has gathered many warriors by this time too! Before entering the Tower to fight the final battle, the player must unlock it by solving the Riddle of the Keys. The player must determine the order in which the keys are used to unlock the Tower. Once the player has solved the Riddle, the battle horn sounds and the final battle is on!

THOUGHTS
Dark Tower is an easy game to learn and play, and very accessible. My family and I had loads of fun playing this way back when. The game doesn’t quite measure up to today’s standards but even so it is still a good game. My Tower has long ceased to function, but every so often I find myself playing it on line yearning to hear the epic victory overture. Such a sweet sound! Dark Tower is a classic game that every gamer should endeavor to play at least once!

6
Go to the Black Gold page

Black Gold

63 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Black Gold is set in 1922 during the Texas oil boom. Players take on the role of prospectors exploring West Texas in search of the most valuable oil sites. Players will explore the landscape, survey well sites, build derricks, and auction off their oil to build wealth. The theme is well represented in the game. The object of the game is to collect the most wealth before the big oil companies move in and take over West Texas. Black Gold is for 2 to 5 players ages 13 and up and plays in about 100 minutes. I would recommend Black Gold for 3-4 players.

COMPONENTS
The components are generally very good. The modular board tiles are mounted on thin cardboard and have fair artwork with drab colors. There are thick cardboard tokens and plastic playing pieces. The small size linen cards are durable and have average artwork. The rulebook is 18 pages and very well written and organized, contains many examples of play, and a few pages of optional rules.

SET UP
Set-up for Black Gold is easy and fairly quick. Each player receives a reference sheet, their playing pieces, and $15,000 starting cash. The map tiles are arranged to form the game board, well markers are shuffled and placed on the map tiles, the oil price sliders are set to $5,000, and the cards are separated into a Sales License, Standard Action and Special Action deck, and shuffled. A few starting tokens are placed on the board and you’re ready to play!

GAME MECHANICS
Black Gold is played in a series of rounds consisting of the following 8 steps:

1. Adjust Oil Prices
2. Draw & Choose Action Cards
3. Deal Sales Licenses
4. Prospect & Drill for Oil
5. Extract & Transport Oil
6. Sell Oil
7. Check for Overflow
8. Pass the Die

ADJUST OIL PRICES
The Market Die is rolled for each oil company to determine if the selling price or going rate for oil increases or decreases. Each company’s slider is adjusted accordingly.

DRAW & CHOOSE ACTION CARDS
A Special Action Card is drawn and the Oil Baron’s train moved forward the indicated spaces. The Oil Baron’s train is a game end timing mechanism. Standard Action cards equal to the number of players are also drawn. Each player then chooses one Action Card. Action Cards indicate how many Sales License Cards a player draws, how many movement points a player has to spend, and any bonus actions such as extra oil and price fluctuations a player receives.

DEAL SALES LICENSES
Each player receives the number of Sales Licenses indicated on their Action Card. The value of the licenses (either 1 or 2) is kept hidden from other players. The licenses will be used later during the Sell Oil step.

PROSPECT & DRILL FOR OIL
Players in turn order spend their movement points to move their truck around the map tiles and/or move their train along the track. The train is used to transport oil to market. During this step, players can also survey well depths, build an oil derrick and/or perform any Special Action.

EXTRACT & TRANSPORT OIL
In turn order, each player removes one oil plume from each of his operating derricks. If a player’s train is on the same row or further than his derrick, then he may transport the plume to the market for free. If a player cannot use his train, then he must pay another player $3,000 for transport or lose the oil plume. The player then places his transported oil plumes in the storage tank of any of the oil companies.

SELL OIL
In this step, players sell their oil. An auction is held at each of the three companies. The player who bids the highest value in Licenses wins the auction. The winner of each auction secures the right to sell his oil to the market. The player receives the going rate for each plume he sells.

CHECK FOR OVERFLOW
Players must dispose of excess oil at a significantly reduced price. Each company can store a maximum of 2 plumes for each player. Players receive $1,000 for each excess plume.

PASS THE DIE
The Market Die is passed to the player on the left. This player becomes the starting player for the next round.

When the Oil Baron’s train reaches the last space on its track, the established oil companies of East Texas have arrived and snatched up the remaining well sites. The game immediately ends and the players tally their wealth. Players receive $1,000 for each plume and a bonus for each derrick depending on the position of their train (furthest along receives a greater bonus.). The player with the most cash is the winner.

THOUGHTS
Black Gold is an easy game to learn and play. However, I would not recommend this game to casual gamers. The Sell Oil step is the heart of the game and is a lot of fun. If you like an auction/bidding mechanic then this is the game for you. Unlike most games where there is only one auction per round, there are three auctions per round (depending on number of players) in Black Gold. Players need to spend their Licenses wisely if they hope to make money selling their oil. This mechanic also allows players to lie about the value of their licenses, but beware the penalty if you’re caught! Outside of the Sell Oil step, there is not much player interaction. Other players can choose the Action Card you wanted or develop the well site you had your eye on.

There is a moderate element of luck in Black Gold. The draw of the licenses can be one aspect. However, the big one is the draw of the well sites. The well sites can yield anywhere from 2 to 6 oil plumes. The designers must have recognized this as a problem because there are two variants which minimize the well site variance. Although I have not experienced this problem, a complaint about the game is that the luck factor could lead to a runaway winner.

Black Gold is a solid, fun game with good theme play. However, because of the auction mechanic and luck factor I suggest you try it before you buy it.

7
Go to the Hansa Teutonica page

Hansa Teutonica

61 out of 68 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
The Hanseatic League (aka Hansa Teutonica) was a medieval alliance between merchant guilds of cities in lower Germany which expanded into the North and Baltic Sea areas. In Hansa Teutonica, players take on the role of merchants seeking to increase their standing with the League. Like many Euros, the theme is not well represented in the game. The object of the game is to establish counting offices along trade routes and improve your trading skills to score the most Prestige Points (PP). Hansa Teutonica plays with 2 to 5 players, however; I would recommend this game for 4 or 5 players.

COMPONENTS
The components are very good. The mounted board is colorful and very pleasing to the eye. There are thick cardboard chits & player mats, and wood playing pieces. No trouble discerning player colors here. The rulebook is my one complaint with the components. It is only 10 pages and has examples of play, but could have been organized better, and the English translation makes several rules unclear.

SET UP
Set-up for Hansa Teutonica is quick and easy. Each player chooses a color and fills the abilities on their board with cubes. The player board represents his desk in his headquarters and indicates the player’s current abilities. Each player places a disc on the Prestige track. Players also set up their personal Supply consisting of merchants (discs) and traders (cubes) according to turn order (the starting player has the smallest starting Supply and the last player has the largest starting Supply). The 3 gold bonus markers are randomly placed on the board at one of the taverns.

GAME MECHANICS
Players take turns until the tenth city is completed, all the bonus markers are gone or a player reaches 20 or more PPs. Players start the game with 2 actions but can increase their number of actions to a maximum of 5 during the game. Players can perform the following actions as many times as they like and in any order during their turn:

1. Take Income
2. Place One Trader or Merchant
3. Displace Another Player
4. Move Your Own Pieces on the Board
5. Claim a Route

TAKE INCOME
The player moves the number of traders and/or merchants indicated by his Money Bag ability from his Stock to his Supply. The Stock is a pool of pieces out of play and the Supply is a pool of pieces ready for immediate use.

PLACE ONE TRADER OR MERCHANT
A player places one trader or merchant from his Supply onto a vacant house along a route on the board. The board depicts cities with trade routes connecting them. Along the trade routes are houses.

DISPLACE ANOTHER PLAYER
a. A player may displace another player’s trader at a house along any route. The player must also move a trader or merchant from his Supply to his Stock. The displaced player then places his displaced trader plus one trader or merchant from his Stock on houses in an adjacent route.

b. A player may displace another player’s merchant at a house along any route. The player must also move any combination of two traders/merchants from his Supply to his Stock. The displaced player then places his displaced merchant plus any combination of two traders/merchants from his Stock on houses in an adjacent route.

MOVE YOUR OWN PIECES ON THE BOARD
A player can move a number of traders and/or merchants already on the board equal to their Book ability to other vacant houses along any route.

CLAIM A ROUTE
When a player fills all the houses along a route between two cities he may claim the route. He removes all traders and/or merchants in the houses and may place one in an empty office in either city adjacent to the route. The player also takes any bonus markers along the route and/or scores a PP for any existing offices in the adjacent cities. Bonus markers grant additional actions or abilities. Any bonus markers picked up during a turn are replenished at the end of the player’s turn. Instead of establishing an office in an adjacent city, the player may improve the indicated ability.

When one of the three endgame conditions is triggered, the game ends and PPs are then tallied to determine a winner. Players receive PPs for fully developed abilities, bonus markers, controlled cities and the largest chain of cities. The winner is the player with the most PPs.

THOUGHTS
Hansa Teutonica takes a few plays to master the rules and strategies. It is a heavy game and I would not recommend it to casual gamers. Hansa Teutonica is not like most Euros as it does not use a typical worker placement mechanic and does not ask players to collect resources and turn them into something else. In addition, it has direct conflict and heavy player interaction! Most Eurogamers are not used to direct conflict and even avoid games which have it. I have seen many players hesitate to use the Displace Another Player Action which is unfortunate as this is the heart of the game. Conflict is softened somewhat in Hansa Teutonica making it easy to handle for those on the receiving end. Hansa Teutonica isn’t very thematic, and can feel like a cube pusher for those who like theme in their games. Game time is anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours with little downtime between turns. Players are engaged in play even when it’s not their turn so the time goes quick. Hansa Teutonica is a unique Eurogame and would be a good addition to your collection.

8
Go to the Macao page

Macao

15 out of 15 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Macao takes place in the 17th century when the small island off the coast of China was the largest trading center in the far east. Players take the role of an influential Portuguese adventurer risking investment in the trading activities of Macao. The theme is not well represented in the game but some mechanics do fit the theme. The object of the game is to make lucrative trade deals, expand influence in the city, and fill important offices and positions to score the most Prestige Points (PP). Macao plays with 2 to 4 players, however; I would recommend this game for 3 or 4 players.

COMPONENTS
The components are nice. The board is mounted on thin cardboard and colorful. There are thin cardboard chits & player mats, wood dice, and wood playing pieces including cubes and pieces in the shape of a ship. The marginally durable cards are small size with average artwork reminiscent of 17th century Europe. The rulebook is only 8 pages, fairly well written and organized, and contains many examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for Macao is easy and fairly quick. Each player receives 5 gold, and a tableau, wind rose, and ownership markers of his color. Each player places his ship, player order disc and scoring disc on the board. One Goods Tile is placed on each of the 24 city spaces on the board and the 6 joker tiles are placed on the dark city spaces. The 24 Office Cards are shuffled and placed face up in sets of two along the edge of the board in the slots provided. Lastly the 96 Building/Person Cards are shuffled and placed face down in a stack near the board.

GAME MECHANICS
The game is played over 12 rounds with each round consisting of the following phases:

1. Cards
2. Dice
3. Actions

CARDS
1.1 Four Building/Person Cards are drawn and added to the two Office Cards for the Round.

1.2 The tribute value for the Round is determined according to the numbers on the bottom of the cards and marked on the Tribute Table located on the left hand side of the board.

1.3 Building/Person Cards are discarded depending on the number of players. Zero cards are discarded for 4 players, 1 card for 3 players and 2 cards for 2 players.

1.4 The players in turn order choose one of the available cards and place it on their tableau. The tableau only has room for 5 cards. Players receive a Punishment Marker (-3 Prestige Points) if there is no room on his tableau for a newly drawn card.

DICE
2.1 The 6 D6 dice are rolled. There is a blue, green, red, purple, gray and black die.

2.2 Each player in turn order picks 2 dice (not taking them) and places the indicated number of Action Cubes in the corresponding space on his Wind Rose. For example: The player picks the red die which shows 2 pips and the blue die which shows 6 pips. The player takes 2 red Action Cubes and 6 blue Action Cubes, and places them in the 2 space and 6 space on the Wind Rose, respectively.

2.3 After all players have selected their Action Cubes, they rotate their Wind Rose 1 space. If after rotating the Wind Rose, the arrow points to a space with no Action Cubes, then the player receives a Punishment Marker.

ACTIONS
In turn order, players spend their Action Cubes to execute the following actions in any order or combination:

a. Activate Cards- Cards on the tableau are Activated by paying the Action Cube cost shown in the upper left hand corner of the Office/Building/Person Cards. A player can Activate as many cards on his tableau as he wishes. Once Activated, the card is removed from the tableau and placed in front of the player.

b. Obtain a City Quarter- Once per Round, a player can take possession of a city quarter by paying the indicated Action Cube cost on the board. The player replaces the Goods Tile in the city quarter with an ownership marker and then places the Goods Tile on his ship (tableau).

c. Move Further on the Wall-A player can spend Action Cubes to move his turn order disc along the city wall on the board. The player furthest along the wall goes first on the next Round.

d. Move Ship- A player spends 1 Action Cube per each sea space he wants to move his ship. Players move their ships to ports and sell any goods for PP.

e. Acquire Prestige Points-Once per Round, a player can spend gold to buy PP according to the Tribute Table.

f. Use Cards-A player can use the function of any Activated cards in front of him. Cards can only be used once per Round unless otherwise indicated.

g. Pass-When a player cannot or chooses not to perform further actions in a turn, then he must pass. Any remaining Action Cubes are discarded to the supply.

When the 12th Round is completed, PPs are then tallied to determine a winner. All players take a Punishment Marker for Each card remaining on their tableau. Activated cards and each player’s longest city quarter string are scored. The winner is the player with the most PPs.

THOUGHTS
Macao is easy to learn but takes a few plays to master the strategies. I consider Macao a heavy game and would not recommend it to casual gamers. Overall the game has a good blend of several mechanics that work well with one another. The Wind Rose is a very unique and interesting mechanic. And like many games with cards, Macao has its share of powerful card combos which players must look for either to obtain or deny other players. Similar to most Euros, player interaction is minimal. Players jockey for turn order on the wall, can grab a card or city quarter before you, or sell a good at a port before you, but that is the extent of interaction. The one aspect of play I do not like is the Punishment Markers. I’m OK with assigning Punishment Markers for each unused card at the end of the game. However, I feel that getting a marker when your tableau is full or your Wind Rose is empty is harsh. If these events occur it means you are already struggling with the game and the punishment markers exasperate your situation. It makes this game very unforgiving. Game time is about 2 hours, but because you are very much engaged in the game, it goes by quick. Despite the punishment Marker issue, Macao is a very good game and would be a nice addition to your game collection.

7
Go to the London page

London

18 out of 20 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
London takes place shortly after the great fire of 1666 and ends about the beginning of the 20th century. Each player takes on the role of a developer who constructs monuments and buildings, making London the grand city it is today. The object of the game is to build great monuments and create a booming economy to score the most victory points all the while limiting poverty within the city. London plays with 2 to 4 players.

COMPONENTS
The components are very nice. The board is mounted on thick cardboard and well done. There are thick cardboard chits, plastic coins, and wood playing pieces. The cards are marginally durable with average artwork reminiscent of 18th or 19th century Europe. The rulebook is only 8 pages, well written and organized, and contains many examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for London is easy. The deck is sorted into three eras, with each era shuffled and then stacked together to form one large deck. Each player is dealt six cards, and receives five pounds (money) and five poverty points. London scales OK as the Card Display is smaller with fewer players. However, I would recommend this game for 3 or 4 players.

GAME MECHANICS
Players take turns until the deck is exhausted. On his turn, a player draws one card from either the deck or the Card Display and then performs ONE of the following actions:

1. Take Three Cards
2. Buy Land
3. Play Cards
4. Run City

TAKE THREE CARDS
A player takes three cards in any combination from either the deck or the Card Display.

BUY LAND
A player chooses a borough on the map adjacent to an already owned borough, then pays the indicated amount of pounds and draws the indicated amount of cards.

PLAY CARDS
A player plays as many cards as possible into his Building Display in front of him. To play a card into his Building Display, the player must Expend (discard) one card of the same color to the Card Display. For example, if the player wanted to play a blue card (represents science & culture) into his Building Display, then he must place a blue card onto the Card Display. The Building Display is made up of stacks of cards. The number of stacks is up to the player’s discretion.

RUN CITY
The player activates some or all of the face up cards on the stacks in his Building Display. The cards give benefits such as money, victory points, and/or reduce poverty. Once the player is finished running his city he takes poverty points equal to the number of cards in his hand plus the number of stacks in his Building Display minus the number of boroughs he owns.

When the deck is exhausted, players pay back any loans, if they can, and then tally victory points (VPs). Players receive the indicated amount of VPs for each monument in their Building Display and borough they own. Players also convert money to VPs, 1 VP for each 3 pounds. Players gain one poverty point for each card left in their hand at game end. Players then subtract VPs for any unpaid loans and poverty points. The winner is the player with the most VPs.

THOUGHTS
London is an easy game to learn and play, but still may be too much for casual gamers to handle. It is essentially a card game in which players must develop an economic engine. And like most card games, London has its share of powerful card combos which players must look for either to obtain or deny other players. The theme comes through as you build monuments such as Big Ben and the Parliament Building, and use industries such as Ship Building to generate income, plus you need to purchase land parcels. The game is a constant balancing act between the number of cards in your hand, the number of stacks in your Building Display and the number of Boroughs you own to maximize your economic engine and minimize poverty. There are tense moments, like anticipating the second part of a combo coming up, or hoping the card in the Card Display or borough is still available on your next turn. The end game can also get tricky because it is a variable end mechanic, and players need to be prepared to pay loans and minimize the number of cards remaining in their hand. Game time is about 90 minutes and goes by quick. London is a very good game and would be a nice addition to your game collection.

8
Go to the Navegador page

Navegador

17 out of 18 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
Navegador was designed by Mac Gerdts who is known for games which incorporate a rondel mechanic, and published by Rio Grande Games in 2010. Navegador is for 2 to 5 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 90 minutes. In the early 15th century Prince Henry the Navigator gathered up the best cartographers and maritime persons to explore the South Atlantic and Africa in attempt to find a trade route to the East. Their efforts brought forth a new age of exploration and made Portugal a world power. In Navegador players represent wealthy trade dynasties which take part in building the Portuguese colonial empire. Players will explore the South Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, establish colonies in South America, Africa and Asia, and build factories, churches, shipyards and ships in order to build a powerful economy.

COMPONENTS
The components are excellent. The board is mounted and has artwork depicting a 15th century map. The tokens and coins are all of thick cardboard. The wood pieces are above the typical Eurogame. All playing pieces have colors which are easy on the eye. The almanac sets the game theme and is a nice touch. It gives a ton of historical background on the period and the significant personalities. The rulebook is only 8 pages and very well written and organized. Top notch components!

SET UP
Set-up for Navegador is almost as easy as it gets. Each player is given a player sheet and their playing tokens. A few starting tokens are placed on the board and player sheet, then starting gold is given. You’re ready to play!

GAME MECHANICS
Navegador progresses through three phases until the last sea region is explored or the last building is constructed. Players receive only ONE action during their turn. A player moves their Stone around a circular rondel which has seven different actions depicted on it. The Stone may be moved up to three spaces for free. For each space moved above three, the player must remove one of his ships from the board. The actions on the rondel consist of Sailing, Workers, Colony, Privilege, Ships, Building, and Market.

SAILING
This action allows the player to move all of his ships on the board and explore uncharted sea regions. Ships move from sea region to adjacent sea region. In the first phase, ships can only move one region. Ships move up to two regions in the second phase and up to three regions in the third phase. A minimum of two ships are required to move into an unexplored sea region because one is lost to unchartered waters. The player takes the explorer disk from the sea region and places it on his player sheet to be scored at the end of the game. This sea region is now explored and can be freely entered by any player.

WORKERS
Recruit a worker in Lisboa (Capital of Portugal) for 50 Cruzados per church. Additional workers can be recruited at a steep cost, and this cost increases as the game phases progress.

COLONY
The player may found a colony if he has at least one ship adjacent to a colony marker and has at least two workers in Lisboa. The player pays the indicated amount of Cruzados on the colony marker and places it in front of him. Colonies are used when taking the Market action and scored at the end of the game.

PRIVILEGE
The player pays one worker to seek a favor from one of the five significant personalities working to make Portugal a world power. The privilege gained gives a one-time cruzados bonus and makes your factories, shipyards, churches, explorer markers or colonies worth more victory points at the end of the game.

SHIPS
Construct a ship in the sea region adjacent to Lisboa for 50 Cruzados per shipyard. Additional ships can be constructed at a steep cost, and this cost increases as the game phases progress.

BUILDING
Construct a factory, shipyard, and/or church. The player pays the required amount of cruzados and must have the required amount of workers to construct the building(s).

MARKET
Players sell the raw materials produced by their colonies or the finished products produced by their factories. Navegador has three resources – sugar, gold, and spice. Players may sell either raw materials OR finished products for each of the three resources. For example, sugar raw material, gold raw material and spice factory goods can be sold during a player’s Market action. The price for the goods fluctuates with demand. If raw materials are sold, then the market is flooded and the price drops. However, if factory goods were sold then raw materials were taken out of the market and the price increases. This action gives players gold to recruit workers and construct ships or other buildings.

Once the last player has taken his action, victory points (VP) are tallied. A player receives 1 VP per worker, ship on the board and for every 200 cruzados. Then VPs for explorer markers, shipyards, colonies and churches are tallied according to the privileges on the player sheet. A player may have three privileges in shipyards which would make each of his shipyards worth seven VPs instead of 3 VPs.

THOUGHTS
Navegador is a fairly easy game to learn but will take a few plays to grasp the strategies. This game has many interesting mechanics. The market is the trickiest mechanic of the game. Knowing when to take the Market action to maximize your profits from the sale of your goods could be the difference between having empty pockets or pockets lined with cruzados! I played a couple other games with a rondel mechanic and did not enjoy them. I was a little apprehensive about trying Navegador because of the rondel; however, the rondel just fits this game perfectly! Another interesting mechanic is the privilege system. Players compete directly for a limited amount of privileges. There are so many things you need to do and getting a privilege is a drain on your resources, but you must find a way to get them to maximize your VPs. If you are not all that crazy about the worker placement mechanic then Navegador is the game for you. The worker placement mechanic is minimized in this game. Navegador is a great game; one of my favorite Eurogames. It is a lot of fun, but still has tense moments like when you’re trying to beat other players into the market. I strongly recommend Navegador to avid and power gamers.

8
Go to the La Città  page

La Città

16 out of 17 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
La Citta was published by Rio Grande Games (U.S.A) in 2000. It is Gerd Fenchel’s second published game. In La Citta each player is an Italian prince who controls two castles in Northern Italy. The object of the game is to create cities from these castles and attract population to your cities. La Citta is for 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up.

COMPONENTS
1 board
141 cardboard building counters
22 cardboard terrain tiles
130 ceramic citizen figures (dark gray)
20 ceramic citizen figures (4 per player color)
32 cardboard gold coins
65 cardboard food counters
74 small size cards
5 player aid cards
1 starting player token
1 cloth bag

The components are generally very nice. The board is mounted on thick cardboard and colorful. All the building and terrain tiles are colorful too. The cards have very decent artwork and are language independent. The game’s artwork is reminiscent of renaissance Europe. The ceramic citizen tokens are a nice touch too. Two minor quibbles with the components are the color of the player tokens and the rulebook. The tokens are not primary colors and somewhat difficult to discern. It is obvious the rulebook has been translated and could be better organized and written.

SET UP
Set-up for La Citta is easy but takes a moment. It consists of sorting the building counters, shuffling the two card decks, handing out starting gold and food, and placing the terrain tiles on the board. There is a beginner and an advanced mode for setting up terrain. In beginner mode, the terrain tiles are placed according to the arrangement shown in the rulebook. Terrain tiles are shuffled and randomly placed in the advanced mode. It should be noted that La Citta scales very well as areas of the board are not used with fewer players.

GAME MECHANICS
The game is played over six years with each year consisting of the following 8 phases:

1. Change the Starting Player
2. Layout the Voice of the People Cards
3. Quarry Earnings
4. Population Growth
5. Political Rounds
6. Tally the Voice of the People
7. Citizen Relocation
8. Feed Citizens

CHANGE THE STARTING PLAYER
For the first year, a starting player is chosen and given the starting player token. In subsequent years the starting player token moves one player to the left.

LAYOUT THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE CARDS
Four Voice of the People Cards are drawn and placed along one side of the board. Three of the cards are placed face down and one card is revealed.

QUARRY EARNINGS
In clockwise order, players collect one gold for each of their quarries built adjacent to a mountain terrain tile.

POPULATION GROWTH
In clockwise order, each player adds one citizen figure to each of their castles. The population of a city is limited until certain buildings, such as a market and a public bath, are built in them.

POLITICAL ROUNDS
There are five Political Rounds in which, in clockwise order, the players take turns playing a card to execute the action shown on it. On his turn a player can play either an Action Card or a Politics Card. Each player has three Action Cards which can be used to take two gold OR start a new city by constructing a castle, OR construct a small building. Small buildings are farms, quarries, schools, statues, market place and fountain. Medium buildings are palaces, public baths and hospitals. Large buildings are cathedrals and universities. Newly constructed buildings must be placed in one of your cities adjacent to an existing building. Then a citizen is taken from the castle and placed on the new building. Castles start with four citizens. Certain buildings provide services such as Education, Culture and Health which your cities will use to attract additional citizens. Instead of playing an Action Card, a player may take one (there are seven cards face up) of the face up Politics Cards and play it immediately. Politics Cards allow players to construct medium and large buildings, gain citizens, temporarily increase food production and peek at the Voice of the People cards.

TALLY THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE
The three face down Voice of the People cards are revealed. The service (Health, Culture, Education) with the most cards is the service in demand.

CITIZEN RELOCATION
In clockwise order, players check each of their cities for relocating citizens. If their city is within 2 hexes of another player’s city, then the cities are compared using the service in demand. The city which provides more of this service will attract a citizen from the other city. Any buildings without citizens at the end of the phase are demolished.

FEED CITIZENS
In clockwise order, players compare their food production to the total number of citizens in all their cities. If a player has more citizens than he can feed, then the excess citizens are removed and the player loses an action for the coming game year.

The game ends after six years have been completed. Players then determine their Victory Points. Each citizen is worth 1 VP and each city that can provide all three services is worth 3 VPs. Players who could not feed their citizens in the last game year lose 5 VPs. The winner is the player with the most VPs.

THOUGHTS
La Citta is an easy game to learn and a lot of fun, and still holds its own despite being an older game. It is not a typical Euro as there is conflict between the players during the game. Even though it is direct conflict, it is not in-your-face brutal and actually very enjoyable.

There is a good amount of depth to La Citta. Knowing which buildings to construct and where to place them is critical. Knowing when to muscle in on a neighboring city is also an important decision. Game time is just less than 2 hours but it goes by quick. La Citta is a big hit with my gaming group and I strongly recommend it to any avid and power gamers.

9
Go to the For the People page

For the People

14 out of 15 gamers thought this was helpful

INTRODUCTION
For the People (FtP) is the second Card Driven Wargame (CDW) by the designer who invented CDWs, Mark Herman. FtP is a strategic level American Civil War game which covers the war from start to finish. Players take on the role of either President Abraham Lincoln or President Jefferson Davis and manipulate the political and military resources of the North and South, respectively.

COMPONENTS
The game components consist of:
48 page rulebook
22×34 inch paper map board
130 Strategy Cards
2 Six-sided plastic dice (1 blue and 1 gray)
Player Aid
A plethora of 1/2×1/2 inch cardboard counters

The components are publisher GMT’s standard quality. The map is large, colorful and pleasing to the eye. The cards are somewhat durable and have fairly nondescript artwork. Owners will probably want to sleeve the cards. The counters are also colorful and present information well. The rulebook is very well organized, well written, and contains examples of play. Overall, the components function well but are not exciting graphically.

SET-UP
The rulebook contains set-up instructions for 5 scenarios in which players can play only a specific year of the war such as 1862 or play the entire campaign (1861-1865). Depending on the scenario, set-up time can range between 10 and 15 minutes. Only a few troop counters and turn markers are initially placed on the map, the deck shuffled and cards dealt.

GAME MECHANICS
The game is played in a series of turns which represent 1 season (spring, summer & fall) in a year. Each turn or season is played in the following sequence:

1. Reinforcement Phase
2. Deal Strategy Cards
3. Strategy Rounds
4. Political Control Phase
5. Attrition Phase
6. End of Turn

1. REINFORCEMENT PHASE
A) Both players place their reinforcements on the map. The Union has a fixed schedule of reinforcements. The Confederate reinforcements are based on how many states and ports the Confederacy controls.

B) Both players conduct Strategic Movement. Strategic Movement consists of shifting a certain number of Strength Points (SPs) by railroad to points around the map. SPs represent soldiers in the game. There are only infantry and cavalry types of combat units in the game.

C) Both players place generals available that particular season on the map. Generals are placed randomly.

2. DEAL STRATEGY CARDS
Each player is dealt a number of Strategy Cards, from a single deck, according to the game turn. Only 4 cards are dealt to each player in spring 1861. However, as the war ramps up, the number of cards increases to 7 in spring 1862.

3. STRATEGY ROUNDS
Players alternate playing Strategy Cards until all cards have been played. The Confederate player may choose to go first if he has a Major or Minor Campaign card. Otherwise the Union player goes first.

Strategy cards can be used as either an Operations Card (OC) or Event Card (EC), but not both. If used as an EC, the player carries out the specific instructions for the event on the card.

If a card is used as an OC, then the player uses the numerical rating (1 to 3) on the card to perform an action. All cards have a number called the Operational Card value in the upper left-hand corner. Playing a Strategy Card as an OC allows the player to do ONE of the following:

A) Move Forces: Players can move units from space to space on the map. Armies can only be activated if the Operation Card Value is equal to or greater than the general’s Strategy Rating. Generals have many ratings which I will touch on during the review.

B) Create an Army: A force containing at least one general and 5 or more SPs can be formed into an Army. Each player can have a maximum of 4 armies on the map. The general with the highest Political Value is designated the Commanding General.

C) Relieve an Army’s General: Playing an OC of any value allows the player to change the Commanding General of an army.

D) Reorganize Generals: Playing an OC of any value allows a player to shuffle any number of generals around the map. Generals can move up to 10 spaces via road or an unlimited number of spaces by railroad or from port to port via naval move.

E) Place Forts: The Union player may play any value OC or the Confederate player plays a 3 OC to place a fort in a friendly controlled space.

F) Place Political Control (PC) Markers: The player places a number of PC markers equal to the value of the OC. PC markers are placed in any space that contains a friendly SP or a Border State space that is neutral.

During the Strategy Phase, while units are moving there are a few actions which can occur:

Place PC Marker: An army can convert an enemy PC marker or place a PC marker in a space they occupy by spending a movement point.

Interception: An interception can occur whenever an active force enters a space adjacent to an enemy army. The interception attempt is successful if a 1D6 roll is equal to or less than the general’s Defensive Rating. If the interception fails, then the enemy force continues its move without possible interruption. A successful interception allows the force to be placed in the space prior to the enemy force entering the space, causing an immediate battle.

Retreat Before Battle: A defending unit with a general may attempt to retreat instead of fighting a battle. The retreat attempt is successful if a 1D6 roll is equal to or less than the general’s Defensive Rating. A successful retreat allows the defending unit to move to any adjacent friendly controlled or neutral space as long as it is not the space from which the enemy attacked.

Battle: A battle occurs whenever a unit enters an enemy-occupied space and the defender cannot be overrun and cannot or chooses not to Retreat Before Battle. In FtP, battles are characterized by size, determined by totaling the number of SPs from the combatants in the battle. Larger battles have higher casualties. Players then determine their Die Roll Modifiers (DRM) which can come from successfully intercepting, defending a fort, a general’s Offense or Defense Rating, force ratio bonus, and a few others. Once each player determines their respective DRMs, they roll 1D6 and consult the Combat Results Table for the corresponding battle size. The side which inflicts the most casualties wins.

4. POLITICAL CONTROL PHASE
A) Change Capital Segment: If a side’s capital was occupied by enemy combat units, then the capital must be moved to another friendly space.

B) Political Control Segment:
a. Players place friendly PC markers in any space containing an in supply friendly infantry SP.
b. Determine State control. State control is determined by a side having PC markers in the required number of spaces as denoted by the values on the map.
c. Assess Union War Weariness and Confederate War Guilt penalties.

5. ATTRITION PHASE
Spaces with 3 to 6 SPs lose 1 SP and spaces with 7 or more SPs lose 2 SPs.

6. END OF TURN
The game ends on the last turn or if victory conditions are met. Players check victory conditions, which are different for each scenario. Victory is determined by the Strategic Will level of each side. Each side begins with 100 Strategic Will (SW) points. Actions such as gaining control of a state, destroying a Confederate Resource space, relocating your capital, the elimination of an army, winning a large battle, losing control of a fort, the effectiveness of the Union naval blockade, changing army commanders and others all effect SW.

THOUGHTS
FtP is one of my favorite CDWs. It is a great game! FtP has a steep learning curve but is well worth it. There is a great amount of depth to this game and I find myself agonizing over the best play for each card.

Is the game historically accurate? To some degree it is. The significant people, places and events are in the game. However, will you fight the same battles or play the events along the same timeline or even at all? Probably not, that is a big part of why FtP is very replayable.

Overall, the game plays well and is a lot of fun. The political aspect of the game is done very well. It’s fun to watch the SW track rise and fall with the events of the game. It can be tense at times. The military aspect gives the players a great feel for the conflict. The combat system is simple and does not create downtime. I highly recommend this game to avid and power gamers!

8
Go to the Wallenstein page

Wallenstein

7 out of 17 gamers thought this was helpful

EDIT: This was my first review. It has been revised to upgrade it to the level of my other reviews.

INTRODUCTION
Wallenstein takes place in Germany during the Thirty Years War in the early 17th century. Wallenstein and other warlords marched around the countryside of what is now Germany seeking land and power. Players take on the role of one of these warlords. The theme is somewhat represented in the game. However, there are no faction abilities, no different types of army units, and no in-depth political intrigue. The object of the game is to acquire the most victory points (VPs) by dominating regions of the board through conquering counties (territories) and constructing buildings. Wallenstein is for 3 to 5 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 2 hours. Wallenstein is at its best with 4 or 5 players.

COMPONENTS
The component quality is very good. The game board is large and mounted on thick cardboard. There are thick cardboard tokens and player boards, wood playing pieces, a linen bag and somewhat durable small size cards. The artwork on the boards and cards is average but sets the theme. Unfortunately, the rulebook is not well written and organized, and unclear on some aspects of play. There is also a supplement rulebook which contains a rules overview, beginner army set-up tables, information on the cards and rules for one of the two expansions included in the game. Much of the information in the supplement should be in the rulebook, and if the rulebook was well organized there would be no need for the supplement. This is one game I needed to put together my own rules summary to get game play right. The game includes rulebooks and supplements written in about a half dozen languages. There’s a whole lot packed into the box!

SET UP
Set-up for Wallenstein takes a moment or two. Each player receives a player board, playing pieces in his color of choice, turn order bidding cards and starting Thalers (gold) depending on the number of players. Players place their armies in counties according to a balanced beginner set-up table in the supplement. If using the advanced set-up, then players take turns drafting counties. This method can take 30 minutes or more. Once armies are placed, some miscellaneous tokens are placed on the board and the dice tower is assembled. The final step is to seed the Tower with the players’ and farmer armies.

THOUGHTS
Wallenstein would be much easier to learn and play with a better rulebook. Even so, it is still fairly easy to learn and play. I would consider Wallenstein to be a medium weight game but still not suitable for casual gamers. It takes a few plays to learn the strategies and tactics. Players must be very mindful of their gold, the amount of grain they have collected and their standing in the various regions on the board.

Wallenstein is a Euro/American style hybrid also known as a ‘Wuro’. It sports player conflict featured in American style games with planning and bidding mechanics of a European style game. The dice tower, which is a unique mechanic, was introduced in Wallenstein. The Tower essentially replaces dice for resolving combat. The Tower really streamlines combat, creating little downtime, and injects excitement into the procedure. All gamers should experience the thrill of the Tower at least for one play! Wallenstein blends many mechanics, such as the Tower, area control, variable turn order, hidden orders and bidding, together well in a very elegant design.

Yes, luck can be a factor in Wallenstein. There may be no dice, but the fall of the army cubes through the Tower can make or break a player. The draw of the orders and the events can also inject luck into the game. However, these mechanics also give the game a great deal of replayability. And in the end it really boils down to how well players plan their turns more than luck.

Wallenstein is an elegant and unique game which delivers an interesting and fun gaming experience! It is a very engaging game which makes time pass quickly. As a hybrid game, it could bridge the gap between the tastes of players in a gaming group. Wallenstein would make a great addition to your collection and I highly recommend it to avid and power gamers.

× Visit Your Profile