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Go to the Twilight Imperium (3ed) page
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8
Go to the Fury of Dracula page

Fury of Dracula

86 out of 94 gamers thought this was helpful

This started as a comment in a news article. I thought it may have merit in the reviews of each game. Not my typical format, but I hope it helps!

Here’s my brief rundown of the three one-versus-many hidden movement/catch the bad guy games that I own.

Scotland Yard – Lightest of the three; Least amount of theme; Safest choice for family gaming, content completely kid friendly; Easy enough for children to play, but deep enough that adults will still enjoy; Mechanics mostly about the chase and deduction, with resource management as secondary game device; Fastest play time.

Letters from Whitechapel – Not many more rules than Scotland Yard; Theme present on components and lightly worked into mechanics; Theme most offensive of the three, would be difficult to use with family and many adults are put off or at least have qualms getting into the Jack role; Mechanics almost completely deduction oriented. Really convey feeling of sweeping the dragnet across the map and narrowing down the hunt. You know that scene in the detective movie where they use pushpins to narrow down the murderer’s hideout? This will give you the exact same feeing!; Play time not too extensive as long as analysis paralysis kept under control.

Fury of Dracula – Heaviest amount of rules, including easily forgotten once-a-game technical rules; Strongest theme of the three, to the point where rules are created just to satisfy it; All components and game mechanics dominated by theme, making this one the Amerithrash lover’s hidden movement go-to game (and yes, it has DICE! and MINIS! and COMBAT! too); could work for family gaming as long as horror theme doesn’t create nightmares; Mechanics have the least focus on the hunt of the three games. Semi-random encounters and powerful effects from cards, add another layer of strategy while often stripping away from the deduction element. The innovative combat system makes the game a “hunt and kill” game instead of just “hunt”; Longest of the three games, partially due to checking on rules that are not easily remembered.

8
Go to the Mascarade page

Mascarade

106 out of 113 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Mascarade is a hidden-role card game in which two to thirteen players use memory, deduction and bluffing to achieve victory.

Gameplay: All players start with six coins and a random face up role card that all may see. Each role card depicts a character from the Renaissance and has its own unique special ability. King, Queen, Peasant, Bishop, Judge and Thief are among the choices. All roles are turned facedown and the first four players, in turn, perform a Swap action with the player of their choice. During a Swap, a player takes his role and any other role card, keeping both facedown, and hides them under the table. He then places either in front of himself and the other in front of the player whose card he had. They may be the same or not, only the swapping player knows for sure.

Each player, on their turn, may perform one of three actions. They may swap their role with another player, they may peek at their own role card, or they can declare to be any role currently in the game.

When a player claims to be a role, every other player also has the opportunity to make the same claim. If no else claims the role, the original player takes the claimed role’s special ability, and does not have to reveal his role card. Special abilities allow a player to gain coins or manipulate opponent’s coins or role cards. If, however, any one else also claims they are the chosen role, all said players, including the original player, must reveal their role card. Whoever actually has that role may use its special ability. All false claimants must surrender a coin to the courthouse marker as a penalty.

Once any player has thirteen coins, they are declared the winner.

Pros:
– Large offering of roles enable immense variety for future games.
– Winning strategies involve going a few levels deep and a few moves ahead.
– Illustrations are highly detailed and richly colored.

Cons:
– Requires a group of strategically minded players to avoid runaway wins.
– Some players could become irritated by game’s chaotic nature.
– Card backs have black border and will show wear quickly unless sleeved.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Padme Naberrie

Mascarade is a fast-paced filler game best suited for a group of gamers who can strategize a few levels deep. A mixed skill set of memory, deductive reasoning and stone cold buffing will be required for success.

9
Go to the Suburbia page

Suburbia

128 out of 135 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Suburbia is a tile-placement game for 1-4 players who plan and develop their own unique city borough.

Gameplay: There are four elements that players track during the game. Population is essentially your current score, having the highest being the goal of the game. It is adjusted each turn by your current Reputation, ranging from -5 to 15. Thus increasing your Reputation gives you a steady rate of increase to Population. Money is measured in millions and is what you use to purchase new tiles. It is influenced each turn by your current Income, which functions the same as Reputation does for Population.

Players take turns purchasing hexagonal tiles from a Real Estate Market, a line of random tiles which decrease in price the longer they remain available. Then they add the tile to their borough by aligning it next to at least one existing tile. The Market is refilled from a face down stack each turn. There are three stacks which will be depleted in order, tiles generally increasing in price and power as the stacks progress.

Tiles represent various types of city elements, including residential, civic, commercial and industrial areas. When a tile is placed it will have effects based on its location, other adjacent tiles, tiles included in your borough, and sometimes, tiles included in opponents’ boroughs. These effects involve increases or decreases in Population, Reputation, Money or Income. Tiles’ effects are also retroactive, future placements can trigger effects from tiles that have been previously played. The effects make sense thematically, such as a Reputation penalty for building certain industrial zones next to residential areas or an income increase from a Farm whenever a new restaurant appears.

The final stack of tiles contains a One Last Turn tile which announces the end of the game after all players have had equal amount of plays. Players adjust scores based on results of both public and secret personal goals that were assigned at the start of the game. The player who has achieved the highest Population is the winner.

Pros:
– Simple game mechanics make it easy to learn and keeps game play fast paced.
– Excellent graphic design eliminates need for game text in many situations.
– Tiles’ effects make sense thematically and help you envision how your borough could exist.
– Replay value kept high due to random element of which tiles are used each game.

Cons:
– City building is not most appealing of themes to hook new players.
– Complication of various tile interactions can cause anxiety for more casual players.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Fred Rogers

Suburbia delivers a tight engine-building game with strong theme and simple mechanics. It has the ability to appeal to both strategic thinkers and casual players.

8
Go to the Merchants & Marauders page

Merchants & Marauders

81 out of 88 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Merchants & Marauders is a pick-up and deliver game which enables 2 to 4 players to sail the Caribbean seeking wealth and adventure.

Gameplay: To win, a player must be the first to score ten Glory points. They gain points through a variety of means, including investigating rumors, completing side missions, acquiring gold, purchasing larger ships and defeating enemy captains. These events take place on a game board featuring a map of the Caribbean Sea. Various tokens are displayed on the board representing neutral merchant vessels, ship upgrades and which trade goods are currently “in demand” at each port. Players receive a random Captain card and choose a starting ship. As the game title suggests, they now pursue victory through two very distinct paths.

Merchants will buy goods, from a shuffled Cargo deck, at ports hoping to find cheap prices for items that are wanted at nearby locations. Then they travel to another port while avoiding attacks from pirates, both player and non-player controlled. When they reach their destination, they sell their wares for profit. Selling three copies of an “in demand” item will also earn them a Glory point.

Players wishing to be on the other side of the law can choose to become pirates. As soon as a player attacks another non-pirate ship, he gains a bounty on his head. Until the bounty is cleared he is considered a pirate. Pirates can attack other players and attempt to plunder their cargo, selling it at nearby ports. They can also scout for neutral merchant vessel tokens and conduct Merchant Raids. The Merchant raid uses unique mechanics which involve drawing Cargo cards in a push your luck mini-game balanced between greed and damage to the pirate ship. If a pirate can survive a raid that collects a high enough reward, they will also gain a Glory point.

The game also features a random event deck which includes naval vessels from governing nations, various storms and random neutral pirate ships. There are rules for ship combat and crew combat. The battles are resolved, like many of the actions in the game, using six-sided dice and skills printed on the Captain cards. Ship upgrades and add-ons can enhance and influence the results of these attacks.

Pros:
– The game offers so many options (including two main modes of play) it creates an immersive open-world sandbox feel.
– Gameplay and components (it even has skull and crossbones dice resembling bones) combine to build amazing pirate theme.
– Highly detailed and sturdy game components with richly colored artwork.

Cons:
– The depth of the options provided and the infrequent occurrence of some of them make rules explanations lengthy and difficult.
– Port Actions can cause turns to drag and create considerable downtime for other players.
– Player interaction is easily avoidable under original rules. Official variants exist that do correct this.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Elizabeth Swann

Merchants & Marauders provides a highly thematic high seas adventure. The multitude of options it offers will create many entertaining evenings.

8
Go to the Shadows over Camelot page

Shadows over Camelot

69 out of 93 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Shadows Over Camelot is a cooperative game for 3 to 7 players who attempt to protect Camelot despite a possible traitor amongst them.

Gameplay: Players begin the game by drawing a Loyalty card and keeping it secret from the others. Seven cards will declare them loyal knights of Arthur and one will confirm them as the traitor. Throughout the game, knights attempt to complete various heroic quests. Success will add white swords to the Round Table, which can hold up to twelve. Failure will add black swords instead. After all spaces are full, loyal knights win if more than half the swords are white. Otherwise, they lose and the traitor wins. The knights also lose immediately if there are seven black swords in play, all loyal knights are dead or twelve siege engines surround Camelot.

To start their turn, a player chooses to progress evil in one of three ways. They can sacrifice one of their meager points of life, add a siege engine outside of Camelot, or draw from a deck of evil cards which will randomly cause havoc to a quest in the game. Then they are able to perform a heroic action such as drawing cards, healing, attacking a siege engine, moving to new quest or performing a specific function to advance a quest towards victory. The quests include searching for the Holy Grail or Excalibur, defending against Pict or Saxon invasion, and combat quests against the Black Knight or the Dragon. Each quest has unique rewards or penalties based on its outcome. The method of accomplishing each quest is varied also, usually involving discarding cards or playing numerical cards to the table in different patterns and sequences. A separate rulebook is provided as a reference for the quests to speed play.

The traitor begins the game pretending to be loyal and must work their treacherous schemes in a subtle manner that does not attract attention. At game’s end, a concealed traitor may switch two white swords to black, helping his cause greatly. Eventually the loyal knights may attempt to discover the traitor by accusing knights who have made questionable actions. If they are correct, the traitor is revealed and continues to progress evil on his turn, but loses his ability to sabotage Arthur’s plans from inside. An incorrect accusation will cause a white sword to convert into a black sword, so care must be taken to not blindly charge others.

The game provides many difficult choices for players to make, and brews an atmosphere of suspicion and doubt. The mechanics of the game are not complicated in isolation, but the traitor dynamic is what supplies the game its depth.

Pros:
– Gorgeous components including highly detailed plastic miniatures and colorfully illustrated boards and cards.
– The Camelot theme is well known and makes it easy to introduce players to the game.
– The mostly cooperative nature of the game enables new players to join in almost immediately, learning as they play with assistance from more experienced players.
– Hard choices create situations that breed suspicion and amplify the traitor dynamic.

Cons:
– Some players may become bored while waiting for their turn if they do not actively join in the search for the traitor by paying attention during others’ turns.
– Traitor assignment is random, and this role may not appeal to all players, especially those that don’t want to be opposing the group.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play With: Arthur Pendragon

Shadows Over Camelot provides a challenging game system to defeat. The addition of a possible traitor expands the threat and creates an experience loaded with intrigue.

8
Go to the Dixit Journey page

Dixit Journey

88 out of 107 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Dixit Journey is a party game in which 3 to 6 players use creativity and psychology to communicate through intricately illustrated cards. This can be used as a stand-alone game or combined with another Dixit set for expanded card options.

Gameplay: Each player receives a hand of cards portraying a myriad of full-color illustrations. They contain many fairy tale and storybook inspiring images with many details. Players take turns being the “Storyteller”. They select a card, placing it face down on the table, and say a word or phrase about it. The other players add a card from their hand that they feel matches the phrase as a “bluff”. All the cards are shuffled and placed face up on the table. Everyone votes on which card they think was the Storyteller’s.

Players receive points by choosing the original image and by having their bluff image selected. The Storyteller scores by having some, but not all, players select his image. This dynamic is what creates the psychology of the game. The Storyteller needs to use his knowledge of the other players to choose phrases and images which will only be correctly translated by at least one, thus keeping him from being too obvious and too vague simultaneously.

Everyone takes a few turns as the Storyteller until the draw deck is depleted, which typically takes less than an hour. The player with the highest score wins.

Pros:
– The included game board is a large improvement over the original, with numbers to identify played cards and the rules for scoring boldly printed on it.
– The rules are short and easy to learn, making this accessible to all ages and perfect for casual gatherings.
– Can be combined with original to expand the previously limited pool of cards.

Cons:
– The relatively small pool of cards can limit the replay value of the game involving the same group of players.
– The artwork is not as ambiguous and themes do not crossover as much as in original set, creating more of a challenge for Storytellers.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Sigmund Freud

Dixit will challenge your imagination as you strive to understand your opponents’. It provides fast, lighthearted fun which can be added to almost any occasion. This should be anyone’s first Dixit purchase.

10
Go to the Android: Netrunner page

Android: Netrunner

118 out of 125 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Android: Netrunner is a Living Card Game for two players depicting a cyber-battle between a mega corporation and a shrewd hacker set in a dark future.

Gameplay: The corporation player wins by scoring seven points worth of “agenda” cards. He must use resources to “advance” them before the runner can steal them from him. The runner’s deck contains no agendas. He wins by stealing seven points worth of agenda cards directly from the “corp”. This can be achieved by making successful “runs” on the corp’s “servers”, including his draw deck, discard pile and even his hand. The corp also loses if they can no longer draw a card from their deck. The runner can lose if he is forced to discard more cards than he has in his hand.

To protect his agendas, the corp plays defensive cards, called “Ice”, face down in a line in front of his servers. These create obstacles which stop the runner or cause damage to his hand or cards in play when he encounters them. In turn, the runner can play “icebreakers” which allow him to spend “credits” to cancel the effects of the Ice. The corp can also play cards that can be advanced and appear to be agendas but are actually dangerous traps set to harm the runner.

Each player, on his turn, has a limited number of actions to take. They include drawing cards, playing cards, gaining credits, advancing cards (corp) and making runs (runner). The player is free to choose which ones he performs and in what order. What ensues is a race involving action and economy management that includes careful timing and bluffing.

Players can custom build their own decks, selecting cards that fit their preferred strategies. The game offers four different corporations and three runner factions each offering a unique play style. Factions can be combined, but is limited by an “influence” system. This assigns a cost to individual cards when used out of their primary faction and caps the amount that can be incorporated. The base game provides 252 cards to explore deck-building but new cards will be introduced gradually over the year through mini-expansions called “data packs”.

Pros:
– Every card has its own illustration depicting an element from the game’s cyberpunk setting.
– Replay value is incredibly high with all the customization offered by LCG format.
– Open but limited choices combined with the corp’s deceptive card placements create an anxious race between players.
– Gameplay is fast and two-game matches can be completed in 90 – 120 minutes.

Cons:
– The game utilizes cyberpunk jargon to name many game elements, building theme but confusing new players and raising the learning curve.
– While not as bad as a traditional trading card game, the monthly expansions can squeeze a game budget maybe too often.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: William Gibson

Android: Netrunner is a brilliant card game requiring critical timing and bluffing. It successfully achieves what its designer Richard Garfield intended it to be: “With Magic, often the cards played you. In Netrunner, I wanted a game where you played the cards.”

9
Go to the Through the Ages page

Through the Ages

105 out of 112 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Through the Ages is a resource management game for 2 to 4 players which allows them to develop a civilization from ancient times through the modern age.

Gameplay: Each player receives a player board on which he uses wooden bits to keep track of his various statistics. His decisions will manage all of his civilization’s properties including population, food, resources, science, culture, happiness and military strength. Four decks of civil cards are shuffled individually, each representing a different age of time, from Antiquities through the Third Age. The “card row” is filled from cards from Antiquities to start the game. Players will draft cards from the card row to select new technologies, leaders, wonders, and actions. The longer a card remains on the row, its cost becomes less. New cards are replenished from the current civil deck. When a deck runs out of cards, the next civil deck is used thus starting the next Age.

Based on his current government, a player has a set amount of civil and military actions that he can make each turn. Civil actions can be used to draft cards from the card row, play action cards, develop new technologies, build farms, mines and urban buildings or manipulate existing resources. Military actions can be used to build military units, start aggressions with other cultures or draw political cards.

At the beginning of his turn a player is allowed to play a political card. This will consist of starting an aggression against another culture, seeding the event deck, or playing a strength boosting tactic card. The game is heavily favored towards defense and it is difficult to succeed in military actions if your opponents are maintaining moderate military strength. Those that choose to neglect military will make themselves open targets however. The event deck will cause random occurrences which can help or hinder players based on various criteria.

Gameplay continues until all four civil decks are exhausted entering the Fourth Age. The player with the highest culture is declared the winner. Two other versions of the game are also included each playing through less ages and utilizing less rules facilitating shorter and simpler games.

Pros:
– Many strategic choices allow players to control their game with very little random influence.
– Multiple paths to victory exist, keeping gameplay fresh.
– It features an abstract map-less game system, avoiding traditional territory control aspects.

Cons:
– Full game can take 4+ hours to play.
– There can be significant down-time while waiting for your turn.
– Many tiny wooden bits can be fiddly.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Sid Meier

Through the Ages provides deep strategy by offering a multitude of choices. Reliving history has never been more entertaining!

8
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep page
70 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Dungeons and Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game for 2 to 5 players in which they manage resources to complete quests in an effort to gain control of a fantasy city.

Gameplay: Players take turns placing “Agents” on different locations on the board. Each location has a limited number of available positions, and once they are occupied, may not be selected for the remainder of the round. The player receives various resources based on what location was chosen. The most common are “adventurers”, represented by wooden cubes, and gold which are used for completing quests, the game’s main source of victory points. Other locations allow you to choose new quests, acquire or play “Intrigue” cards, and purchase new buildings.

New buildings provide additional agent placement options with increased benefits compared to standard locations. They also give the player who built them a benefit as a form of “kickback” when others visit them. Construction and use of these buildings is key to much of the strategy in this game, always being aware of what resources your opponents require and how to either lure them into giving you free benefits or to deny them the ability to find what they need.

After placing an agent, a player may spend his resources to complete a quest, which will provide victory points and sometimes other bonuses. Each player has his own secret “Lord” card which provides extra victory points at the end of the game for finalizing specific quests. Players continue placing agents until all have been used. The board is cleared and a new round begins. The winner is the player with the most victory points at the end of eight rounds.

The theme of this game is present if you choose to accept it. The requirements, and rewards, for the quests do make sense thematically for a player that wants to enjoy the fantasy genre. However, a fan of abstract games can completely ignore the theme and enjoy the game just as well.

Pros:
– Short, simple rules make this accessible to almost anyone, causing this to be an excellent choice for introducing worker placement games.
– Eight rounds enable enough strategic choices to be made but ends the game before it drags on.
– Player turns are fast, preventing major periods of downtime.
– While not standing out in any area, the game supplies “just enough” in almost all areas.

Cons:
– The bonus provided by the Lord card almost forces you into specific quests, which can feel confining.
– The theme is very thin and will disappoint players expecting a combat oriented dungeon crawl.
– The Dungeons and Dragons property carries a few stigmas which may prevent some gamers from trying this game.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Goldilocks

Dungeons and Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep utilizes many slightly better than average elements to deliver an extraordinary game. It is neither too much nor too little. Almost everyone that plays it finds something they like and looks forward to playing again.

9
Go to the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game Starter Set page
95 out of 102 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game is a miniature battle game for two players that recreates starfighter dogfights in the Star Wars universe on your gaming table.

Gameplay: One player controls an X-wing, while the other has two Tie fighters. They are placed on opposite sides of the game area, three foot square being recommended. For every ship they control, each player secretly chooses how they want it to move from their “maneuver dial”. These dials have various choices specifically tailored to the speed and maneuverability of the ship. In ascending order, based on each pilot’s skill level, ships are relocated using “movement templates” that match the move from their dials. This is a very simple process. The template is held in front of the model. Then the model is moved to match up in front of the template, eliminating complicated measuring and angling common to most miniature games. Upon completing a move, each pilot can take an action, such as focusing his concentration or acquiring a target lock on an enemy.

Now, in descending pilot skill order, each ship is allowed to fire its weapons at an enemy within range. They roll special eight-sided “attack dice” while their target rolls “defense dice”. The successes from each are compared and damage is applied if the attacker has more. Combat damage is tracked using an interesting mechanic also. For every point of damage assigned, a card is drawn from a “damage deck”. Regular hits are kept facedown, while critical hits are placed face up, revealing text that adds further complications to the ship. When a ship has damage cards equal to its hull it is destroyed. Play continues until only one side remains.

The game also provides the ability to assemble customized squads. Players use a mutually agreed upon point total to select various pilots, skills and ship modifications, each providing new abilities and actions. Additional ships can be purchased enabling larger squadrons and offering more options.

The miniatures in this game are exquisitely detailed and painted. Original models used in the filming of the Star Wars films were referenced in creating these fine components. Looking at these ships on your table transports you into those epic conflicts from the films.

Pros:
– Amazing component quality. Ships detailed enough to satisfy non-gaming collectors.
– Simple rules very easy to learn/teach.
– Dials and templates keep movement intuitive and not technical.
– Combat and damage system avoids referencing of complicated charts.
– Expansions and squad building offer strong replay value

Cons
– Replay value limited while using only one core set.
– Need for more ships and expansions sets price point rather high.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Jek Porkins

Much like the films it is based on, Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game provides a fast, brutal battle, light on the technical side. Its swift gameplay keeps it exciting and easy to include in a gaming session.

9
Go to the Twilight Imperium (3ed) page

Twilight Imperium (3ed)

120 out of 127 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Twilight Imperium: Third Edition is an epic game where 3 to 6 players race to develop their own alien civilization to determine who will claim the throne of the Galactic Empire.

Gameplay: The goal of the game is to score 10 victory points by completing various secret and public objectives. These objectives represent development of one’s civilization, such as researching new technologies, expanding into more planetary systems, and several military aims.

The game is comprised of elements borrowed from many other great games. Each is simple in concept, but when all are added together, form an amazing symphony of strategy, seducing many but intimidating some. The military units and combat system are very reminiscent of Axis and Allies. Strategy cards are drafted in a way similar to roles in Puerto Rico. Controlled planetary systems are “exhausted” to utilize their resources much like “tapping for mana” in Magic: The Gathering.

Unique in design, and possibly the game’s greatest strength, is the Command Counter system. Players receive limited amounts of counters which can be distributed to determine the capacity of their fleets or used for actions during a round of play. In rotating order, they take turns “activating” systems in the galaxy, moving units into them and battling for their control. Once a player has activated a system he must wait for the next round to revisit it. The result is a representation of simultaneous movement, also preventing players from becoming bored while awaiting their turn.

Strategy cards, which must be played during each round, further the advancement of the game. They provide bonuses for the player who drafted them but also some benefits to all players. One enables production of units, whole another replenishes Command counters. A few, introduce their own form of mini-game. The Trade card allows players to form financial agreements which will provide them with additional resources. This also creates diplomatic situations as players may make substandard trades just to garner favor and prevent attacks from nearby aggressors. The Political card forces all players to vote on a rule-changing agenda, giving a handful of smaller civilizations the ability to group together to oppose a dominant one.

This game provides and endless combination of variables which guarantee no two games will ever be the same. It provides ten different alien races, each with their own special abilities. The galaxy (gameboard) is built out of randomized modular hexagons representing planetary systems and others like nebulas and asteroid fields. Players build their fleets from a choice of nine different units. They also choose from a variety of technologies to develop, each altering their civilization in a unique way.

Pros:
– Many alternative rules are provided with the base game, facilitating customization to personal taste.
– Immense amounts of variety supply ultimate replay value.
– Multiple paths to victory combined with diplomacy and player interaction generates depth of strategy like no other game.
– Alternating actions during each round of play maintain player involvement and prevent wandering attention spans like many other epic games.

Cons:
– Sheer quantity of rules and options make this overwhelming to new players and very difficult to introduce.
– Extreme game length demands full day commitment to playing, thus making it less likely to organize a play session.
– Randomly assigned secretly objectives do not always play into strengths of your alien race causing frustration.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Gene Roddenberry

Twilight Imperium: Third Edition delivers an epic science fiction gaming experience. It’s immersive theme and myriad of strategic options will satisfy any hardcore gamer.

7
Go to the Dixit page

Dixit

88 out of 95 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Dixit is a party game in which 3 to 6 players use creativity and psychology to communicate through intricately illustrated cards.

Gameplay: Each player receives a hand of cards portraying a myriad of full-color illustrations. They contain many fairy tale and storybook inspiring images with many details. Players take turns being the “Storyteller”. They select a card, placing it face down on the table, and say a word or phrase about it. The other players add a card from their hand that they feel matches the phrase as a “bluff”. All the cards are shuffled and placed face up on the table. Everyone votes on which card they think was the Storyteller’s.

Players receive points by choosing the original image and by having their bluff image selected. The Storyteller scores by having some, but not all, players select his image. This dynamic is what creates the psychology of the game. The Storyteller needs to use his knowledge of the other players to choose phrases and images which will only be correctly translated by at least one, thus keeping him from being too obvious and too vague simultaneously.

Everyone takes a few turns as the Storyteller until the draw deck is depleted, which typically takes less than an hour. The player with the highest score wins.

Pros:
– The illustrations contain many details with some crossover themes, thus enabling decoys to be chosen easily.
– The rules are short and easy to learn, making this accessible to all ages and perfect for casual gatherings.

Cons:
– The relatively small pool of cards can limit the replay value of the game involving the same group of players.
– Score is kept track by moving wooden bunny tokens around a numbered track printed on the game box. Bumping this knocks the markers over and hinders accuracy.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Jim Morrison

Dixit will challenge your imagination as you strive to understand your opponents’. It provides fast, lighthearted fun which can be added to almost any occasion.

8
Go to the War of the Ring page

War of the Ring

143 out of 154 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: War of the Ring is a thematic wargame for 2 to 4 players based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, allowing players to not only conduct the battle for Middle-Earth, but also the journey and hunt for the One Ring.

Gameplay: One player controls the Free Peoples (Men, Elves, Dwarves) trying to rally nations to war and defend against the forces of evil long enough for the Ringbearers, guided by the Fellowship, to reach Mount Doom. The Shadow (Sauron, Isengard, Southrons) player must use his significant military advantage to capture key locations before the One Ring is destroyed, or he can attempt to hunt the Fellowship and corrupt the Ringbearers. These asymmetrical goals create the main strategic dilemma as players decide how to use their limited resources, either to further themselves or to hinder the opponent. Games can vary widely based on which agenda receives more focus.

Players roll “Action Dice” at the start of each round to determine what they can do. The results include moving and attacking with units, creating units, advancing the Fellowship, and playing event cards which provide surprise thematic advantages. The Shadow player gains the upper hand as he almost always has more actions than the Free Peoples. Some of these actions can be diverted towards searching for the Fellowship, thereby slowing their progress or causing their demise if they push on too quickly.

The Free Peoples strength lies in the companions of the Fellowship which may be separated to directly assist in defending important battles or encourage nations to join the war. Companions in battle provide leadership, enabling rerolls of combat dice, and facilitate the playing of certain character driven event cards.

The battle system is very simple, keeping the focus on theme and not military details. Strongholds, such as Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith, may become “besieged”, limiting the quantity of defenders but giving them strong bonuses. This provides a feel for the importance that these locations had in the story.

Pros:
– Two large board pieces depict the map of Middle-Earth.
– Over 200 plastic figures representing eight different races.
– Asymmetrical victory conditions put game “on the clock” and prevent traditional wargame glut of forces.
– Multiple military targets and variable pacing of the opposing win conditions helps replay value.
– Game delivers the flavor of The Lord of the Rings immersing players in Middle-earth.

Cons:
– The rules are fairly complex and it took our group several plays to iron out overlooked details.
– The multi-player rules seem to be an afterthought. This game is best for two players.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Andy Serkis

Fans of Tolkien will love War of the Ring. The theme oozes out of Mount Doom right onto your gaming table. The unique victory condition “race” will cause many gamers to go there and back again and again.

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Pandemic

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Overview: Pandemic is a cooperative game in which 2-4 players team up to contain and cure catastrophic diseases threatening the global population.

Gameplay: Each player is randomly assigned a role card which gives his character special abilities to use during his turn. Four different colors of wooden cubes, representing the diseases, are seeded on the board by drawing cards from the Infection deck

During your turn, you must choose four actions to take, including moving around the world, reducing disease buildup, and finding cures. Next, you will draw two cards from the player deck. These cards will usually be locations which can be used for faster travel and curing diseases. Also in the player deck are Epidemic cards. They will increase the rate of infection and reset the Infection deck, creating an unpredictable situation and hampering your current strategy. Lastly, you will draw cards from the Infection deck based on the current rate of infection. These will add infection cubes to the board and possibly force an outbreak during which an additional cube is placed on EVERY adjacent city!

The players win by discovering the cures for all four diseases. They can lose in three different ways: failing to prevent eight outbreaks, running out of cards in the player deck, and running out of infection cubes from any of the four colors.

Pros:
– Random roles and difficulty to win increase replay value.
– Innovative game mechanics.
– Takes about an hour to play, can be used as filler game.
– Excellent gateway game as players do not need to compete and can learn as they play.
– Difficulty can be customized by choosing amount of Epidemics
– Unpredictable Epidemic draws create tension because victory is never guaranteed.

Cons:
– Experienced players may dominate strategy discussion causing negative play.
– Unpredictable Epidemic draws create tension because victory is never guaranteed.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play With: Louis Pasteur

Pandemic is one of the best cooperative games available. It combines quick, strategic gameplay with a random antagonistic game system to generate an entertaining experience.

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