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Luke

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Use my invite URL to register (this will give me kudos)
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Go to the Arkham Horror page
Go to the Dominion page
Go to the Warmachine page
Go to the Quarriors! page
Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
Go to the Khazad-dûm Expansion page
Go to the Kingdom Builder page
9
Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
73 out of 80 gamers thought this was helpful

Lord of the Rings – The Card Game is a co-operative, Living Card Game that pits the heroes of Middle Earth against the forces of darkness. The game is loosely set in the time between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy and is broken down into a variety of modular quests. The game is highly customizable as both the quest and players assemble decks of cards which modify the play experience.

It’s worth a little side discussion to define a Living Card Game (LCG). A LCG is Fantasy Flight Games’ proprietary term to describe a customizable card game with a fixed distribution of cards. This simply boils down to how the cards are distributed and purchased. Rather than buying randomized cards, an LCG will provide you with a set of cards in which the contents are fixed and known prior to purchase. Once purchased, the cards can be played as deemed useful to the player, keeping the customizable element, but reducing the need to purchase blind packs of cards in hopes of finding the rare cards a player wants to play with.

Prior to playing LotR – The Card Game, a single quest must be selected by the players. The base game includes three quests to choose from and they have varying difficulties; further expansions increase the amount of quests available. With a quest chosen, players will create both an encounter deck (composition is determined by the quest), which represents the forces of darkness, and player decks (composed by the players) that represent the hero’s resources. As with most customizable card games, the cards interactions are what drive the complexity and strategy of the game and both encounter and player cards are broken down into a vast amount of sub-groups and sub-types. Quests are typically broken down into multiple stages that are revealed in sequence and the individual stages as well as the overall quests have variable requirements for success.

At the core of the player decks are the heroes that are in-play from the beginning of the game and generate the resources necessary to play the remaining player cards. As a player, the heroes and remaining cards from the player decks are used to address three conflict areas presented by the encounter deck for each quest: questing, defending, and attacking. Players can typically only commit their heroes and supporting cards to one of these conflict types at a time, so the game is essentially the management of all three conflicts with the resources available to them. A game is won when the players meet the various requirements of the chosen quest. The game is lost when all player heroes are killed or accumulate too much threat (essentially a negative resource) thematically receiving the wrath of Sauron.

I have intentionally written this review to provide a basic overview of the game, and avoided detailed discussion of deck assembly. Players familiar will collectible card games will find many aspects of deck construction comparable, but may find the mechanics to make this game co-operative innovative and exciting. Since LotR – The Card Game is based on a LCG business model, be prepared to make further investments in expansions to get the full value of out this game!

Replay: Customizable player decks and multiple modular quests are what drive the replay value of LotR – The Card Game. Played alone without expansions, the base game is slightly limited since it includes only a starting amount of cards and the depth of strategy grows with each expansion. Unlike many other collectible card games, the LCG model and co-operative play encourage a gaming group to pool funds to take full advantage of the expansions and expanded replay. The game also includes a point tracking system to rate the success of given quest, allowing players to compare final score or play again to beat their own records.

Components: The cards are standard quality, however the artwork is fantastic and completely new. While I enjoy the artwork of Alan Lee, John Howe, Ted Nasmith, the Hildebrandts, and Tolkien himself, the game has made a wonderful decision to create their own art to illustrate their vision and does not use images from the recent films either. The game also comes with a handful of tracking tokens and threat trackers for two players. As the game will support one to four players, the choice to only include two threat trackers seems odd – my full thoughts on this are included in Personal below.

Learning Curve: Medium. The rules are designed to work under a variety of quest scenario and are fairly straight forward. Basic terms will need to be learned, but the rulebook is very helpful and provides good player guidelines. As the game expands, individual card updates and errata will be released and card interactions may need to be clarified.

Defense:
Co-op card game? – While this game can be played solo against the quest, the game really does shine with multiple players. The innovation to combine the customizable elements of the player deck and a modular quest experience is amazing.
Collectible games cost lots of money – Yes, however the LCG model reduces the costs considerably and you can choose to pay for the cards you want to play with. Additionally, the co-operative game play makes pooling funds an option that doesn’t work as well in a competitive format.
Another Lord of the Rings game – I will admit that I get a chuckle out of the name “The Card Game”, but that aside I really feel like the co-operative game play and individual quests really support the theme. The game designers have done an excellent job capturing many of the elements of Tolkien’s world.

Personal:
I agonized over purchasing this game because I love the Lord of the Rings setting but worried about the execution and many of the reasons listed above. I should say I agonized until someone showed me a demo of the game – I fell in love instantly. I have a history of enjoying collectible card games, but like to be conscience of my budget so I really appreciate the LCG format.

The only issue I have is the starter box card distribution and threat trackers do not fit with the larger LCG concept. The game allows a maximum of three copies of a single card in any player deck, however the starter box provides only a single copy, or two copies of some of the more “powerful” player cards where as all the expansions provide three copies of every card. Combined with the inclusion of only two threat counters, it’s as if it was intended for players to buy two starter boxes, but you end up with useless extra quest, encounter, hero, and many player cards. It would make more sense to me to provide three copies of every player card, and if the price point needed to be managed, split the starter into two parts with two quests and two player spheres each half. This would keep with the overall LCG concept of only purchasing what you want to use. Based on their website, FFG’s deluxe expansion, Khazad-Dum, (which kicks off the next story block) has learned from this issue.

9
Go to the Arkham Horror page

Arkham Horror

92 out of 105 gamers thought this was helpful

In my opinion, Arkham Horror is the epitome of a story-based co-operative board game. I’m an unabashed fan of this game, but will not shy away from the fact many struggle with this game, based primarily on its delicious complexity. I will try to keep this review focused solely on the base game and provide some thoughts to each of the expansions in turn.

Arkham Horror attempts to tell the story of a New England town that is beset by all kinds of trouble. An unfathomable evil, taken directly from the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, stirs and threatens to take over the world and the investigators are the only ones who have a chance to stop the horrors from being released. Each player takes on the role of an investigator, such as the local librarian, handyman, or professor, and uses their skills, accumulated items, and unique powers to deal with all the issues occurring in town. The game is co-operative with all the players working together and sharing in the difficult tasks of fighting of nightmarish monsters and closing gates that open up to alternate worlds.

Game play is complex, varied, and non-linear. Players will constantly be reacting to the challenges that appear on the game board and will struggle to use and maintain a variety of resources including health, sanity, and numerous items. The game’s difficulty plays perfectly into the thematic horror of the setting and the wealth of story elements really allows players to get into character.

Replay: Variety is great, set-up and game length are not favorable to multiple games. The base game provides plenty of unique investigators, items, encounters, monsters, and a pool of Ancient Ones of which only one is used per game. Gameplay is highly variable due to all these elements, however, don’t plan on playing more than one game in a sitting. Set-up alone can take 30 minutes and a full game can take multiple hours. Number of players, familiarity, and good cooperation all play a role in the game length, as well as a little luck of the draw to make things a little harder or easier on the investigators.

Components: There are a ton of components; tokens to track character stats and board conditions, multiple stacks of cards, investigator cards and player tokens, monster tokens, and of course the board. The graphic design is consistent and well done. The wealth of little bits makes an organization tray almost a necessity for easy set-up and play. The great artwork throughout the game to really drives home the setting and provides a visual to players who are not familiar with H.P. Lovecraft or the Cthulhu mythos.

Learning Curve: Very High. You better hope your gaming group has a rules guy – that special person who likes learning the rules, teaching others, and keeping track of them during gameplay. The basic mechanics are simple, but there are so many little details to recall at the right moment and they can potentially change turn to turn. Provided you have a veteran Arkham Horror player, it’s fairly easy to integrate one or two players directly into the action and coach them until they grasp some of the basic actions to take. If everyone at the table is new to the game, be prepared for at least an hour or two of reading through the rules together, figuring out the phases of play, and determining some of the specific scenarios as they are encountered early in the game.

Defense:
The game is too long – I personally enjoy the length, but fully appreciate that some folks cannot sit still that long or put up with the complexity for long stretches. You’re the best judge of your gaming group.
My group is anti-social and not very co-operative – Don’t even try playing this game with that group, everyone will be frustrated.
I don’t have a table large enough to play this game – Hehe, time to go shopping!
I don’t like the setting – Theme is a big element to some people and Arkham Horror is full of theme. I find the Cthulhu mythos to be more quirky than terrifying, but some folks might never get into it or have a strong aversion.
We never win! – I have a positive record playing this game, so it can be done. Feel free to customize your play by pulling out a few of the harder monsters or use an easier Ancient One. The point is to have fun, so find the right balance for your group.

Personal:
Arkham Horror is easily one of my all-time favorites, however I will not play this game with a select few of my friends or with complete strangers due to the level of co-operation needed and complexity. I’m a theme gamer and while horror isn’t my favorite theme, the Cthulhu mythos is just wacky enough to feel more like fantasy to me. The first night I bought this game, my friend and I played to an ungodly hour in the morning, like little kids on Christmas. I have since purchased all the expansions and still love the game!

Word of Warning:
There’s almost always a point in the game where you feel as though you’re constantly behind, making no progress, and the Ancient One is just going to burst forth and gobble up the whole world… welcome of to the horror effect of Arkham Horror. Seriously, this game is designed to be challenging and can really get to you. My advice is to take a break, grab a snack, and recharge those gaming batteries particularly if you’ve got more social gamers at the table who didn’t know the challenge they were getting into.

9
Go to the Warmachine page

Warmachine

101 out of 108 gamers thought this was helpful

First and foremost, Warmachine is a hobby miniatures games. The “hobby” means your game pieces will require varying amounts of assembly and/or painting; and “miniature game” means you will be using those models to represent your army on the table, and physically position those models to determine what game effects you can and can’t accomplish. Without going into too much more detail about the whole genre of hobby miniature games, understand you can spend tons of money and time creating your army, making it look magnificent, and providing an equally stunning terrain table. This is a dream for some, and a nightmare for others.

So let’s try to define Warmachine a little more. It is a skirmish game, meaning individual models have individual actions and consequently you can construct an army and effectively play with a smaller model count. It is set in a fantasy setting that includes magic, steam-powered battle constructs, or Warjacks, and multiple warring factions that fill a rich and extensive world. And last but not least, your army is led by a Warcaster who empowers your Warjacks and casts magic spells and is the lynch pin to your force, both the most powerful and most vulnerable model in your army.

For those new to Warmachine, I strongly recommend a demo at your local game store and that you start your army with a Battlebox from your chosen faction. The demo will provide you an introduction to the hobby miniature game as well as some of the great mechanics specific to Warmachine, whereas the Battlebox will start you will some core models at a great price. The Battlebox also provides you with quickstart rules in case you’re having a hard time finding someone friendly enough to demo a game.

Replay: As with all hobby miniature games, replay is fantastic. Army creation alone is an art in the variety of models available (depending on your purchases). It should also be noted that simply switching the Warcaster leading your army, a single model, your entire army’s tactics can change and provide a huge amount of variability for a relatively low price. Game time will vary based on the participants’ familiarity with the rules and various models being used, but plan on a couple hours with set-up and clean-up included.

Components: As a hobby game, the components are what you make of them. The models out-of-the-box are amazing quality and should be for the price you’re paying for them. I have seen games played with unpainted models and some played with such high quality painting and custom terrain that I’d be afraid to touch any of the elements.

Learning Curve: High. Both the hobby and game mechanic aspects take a multitude of skills and dedication to reach the pinnacle of hobby gaming. Fortunately, you can have tons of funs with just a portion of the time and effort the masters of the game put into their craft. Oh, and once you’ve mastered Warmachine, you can play it against its sister game, Hordes.

Defense:
Hobby games take too much time/money – yup, hobby games are not for everyone
X faction is too powerful, it’s not fair – the game is designed to have powerful combinations and synergy between models; if you’re not using them and your opponent is you will come up short unless you get lucky. Also, pick a faction that fits your strengths as a gamer – not all factions play the same and maybe there’s a natural fit for you in another faction.

Personal:
There’s so much that you could say about this game to try to convey what the game is, how it’s played, and the rich setting that surrounds the models. I really enjoy both the hobby and game playing portions of this game. Besides watching a demo and/or purchasing a Battlebox, I strongly recommend reading the Prime Mark II rulebook from cover to cover to get an excellent understanding of this amazing hobby miniature game.

6
Go to the Acquire page

Acquire

63 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

Acquire is an extremely nostalgic game for me. My mother’s side of the family is a bunch of avid classic game players, of which Acquire was their crown jewel. On big family gatherings, my mother and her three brothers would always play at least one game and the sibling rivalry would take center stage. I remember the day when I was finally allowed to play this game with them; my uncles confident that I wouldn’t make stupid plays because I was just learning or too little to understand the impact of my decisions. I lost of course, but I was in!

One of my uncles also made his own computer version of the game using GW Basic back in the early days of computers, and to this day my mother still plays that old software with the two color screen. You type in the first letter of your stocks: ‘LLL’ for three Luxor, or ‘AFW’ for American, Festival, and Worldwide. It cracks me up, every time my parents get a new computer I have to go setup the old Acquire game.

Alright, story time behind us. Acquire is a solid, classic game of managed risk. You invest in hotels as they grow in size and value, represented by tiles on a board, and try to keep your opponents from taking your number one stake in the company as it grows. Of course you can also merge hotels to change the market and face of the board to suit your bid for the most wealth.

Replay: Replay is really good due to the tile board mechanic. While you may want to grow your own company, you need to have tiles adjacent to the ones currently representing it. You also have a huge benefit when you can start new companies or merge existing ones based on your tile options. Without tiles, this game would be a rote math exercise.

Components: The original version had nice wooden tiles and solid, if dated, graphic design. The recent versions of the game are adequate to play but there is very little visual appeal when comparing to modern worker placement games or artwork on collectible card games. Thankfully, nobody has ruined the classic game by glitzing up the components (cheesy electronic boards with poor British accents of butlers, etc.) but you’ll be purchasing this game for the game play.

Learning Curve: High. My opinion of the learning curve may be jaded by my youthful introduction to this game (see above), but this is not going to be an intuitive game to most. It also can be highly frustrating when you see your opponents doing things that you simply can’t due to the tiles available to each player.

Defense:
Looks old and stuffy – it is old, but a solid game and not worth dismissing out of hand.
I get so frustrated! – yeah, I have to agree with you there, but it still has that family charm despite the frustration.

Personal:
I purchased a newer version of the game for my mother’s birthday a few years back to avoid doing the whole old computer software setup thing (see above). She of course asked my sister, my wife, and my father to play with her as part of her birthday celebration. The game was a little too competitive for my father and wife (not game players), but it continues to be a game of fond family memories and a classic that can hold its weight in the modern resurgence of the board game.

8
Go to the Stone Age page

Stone Age

131 out of 138 gamers thought this was helpful

I love the theme of Stone Age – build up a civilization and come out on top. It’s common and relatable, and the artwork beautifully captures what it may have been like back in the time of early civilization.

So what is worker placement? In worker placement games, workers or meeples (mini people) are your primary resource and you assign them to specific tasks within the game. Stone Age has tasks like hunting, collecting physical resources (wood, stone, etc.) making tools, and so on. Imagine yourself as a tribal leader telling your people what to do. Strategy in these games typically comes into play in that there are a limited number of available tasks (only one person can make tools or seven people can collect wood in a turn) so you take turns filling up the available tasks, or placing your workers, gaining the benefit of each task you place a worker at.

Worker placement games can get very involved and intricate in how the various tasks play off each other. Stone Age, however, is a great beginner’s game in the genre as the strategies are straight forward and dice rolling is a core feature. There are many worker placement games that do not use dice at all, so the random element reduces the complexities.

Replay: Replay is fun and you’ll get your money’s worth, but since it is not the most complex worker placement game out there, the available and effective strategies will eventually prove themselves. The dice element adds a little extra replay, but can be frustrating if you’re expecting your great strategy to work every time.

Components: The components really shine in this game. The board artwork is fantastic and you could start telling stories just by pouring over the details. It’s fun to look at the places where the cards and hut are usually kept as well. The meeple and collectable resources are also nice, easily distinguishable, wooden bits. While you won’t usually run out of the resource bits, the rules do allow you to substitute in more of a high demand resource – or you could up the difficulty a little and force a hard cap on the resources.

Learning Curve:Medium. The game is very easy to teach and the theme has a lot to relate to compared to some worker placement games. If you’re dealing with a casual game player, you should instruct new players as to some simple optimal placement options, otherwise you could easily run away with the game early on. It will generally take one to two complete games to get a strong grasp of your style of play and what your opponent may be trying to do.

Defense:
Stone Age hits a sweet spot between casual and strategic gamers, so I have yet to hear a ton of complaints. There will be folks who don’t like the dice (there always are). Most folks are happy to play a fun game of Stone Age and then “graduate” to other worker placement games when they feel they have exhausted it. I have yet to reach this point.

Personal:
I purchased this game because I loved the theme and wanted a worker placement game to teach my friends. We have yet to grow tired with it, but also confirmed that we generally like co-op games to the average worker placement game. Since the overall complexity keeps it approachable and keeps the game length within reason, I’d recommend this game to anyone looking to get into worker placement games.

8
Go to the Quarriors! page

Quarriors!

63 out of 71 gamers thought this was helpful

So just admit it, you want play/buy this game because it has a lot of dice.

What gamer doesn’t like rolling dice? Quarriors! takes the fundamental urge to roll dice and mixes it with the recently popular deck-building strategy for entertainment galore. The game consists of both cards and dice, but rather than collecting cards to build a deck, players collect dice to build a pool and use the cards as a reference. The interesting twist is that each dice represents a host of game options due to the multiple faces available – not only are you hoping to pull the dice you want, but also to roll a favorable result on that die. Fortunately the player interaction is fun and straight-forward and thus Quarriors! is just plain fun.

Replay: Great! Similar to the deck-building games available, Quarriors! has replay value built into it by way of providing more reference cards and dice than are used in a single game. The very fact that your turn also hinges on the roll of the dice make for a high replay value. The game is addicting with all the dice rolling.

Components: Fun artwork, smaller than average dice with hard to read details, would benefit from a play mat. The artwork is definitely light-hearted and has a graphic novel feel with decent graphic design. You can’t complain for the price point, but the dice are smaller than your typical d6 and the details stamped on the faces can be hard to determine at a glance. I’d imagine folks with poor eyesight would also have their issues with the dice details. I’m a fan of play mats in general, but Quarriors! would benefit even more than its deck-building brother as you can’t easily turn your dice or change their facing like you could with cards to keep track of what area of the player’s space they should be in.

Learning Curve: Turn by turn: very simple; strategy: medium. Once a hand or two has been played, your turn flies by making this a very easy game to pick-up and is part of its addictive quality. The overall strategy is very similar to a deck-building game as you choose which dice to add your pool, but is less strategic as your still roll those dice for a random result. Some of the card interactions could be explained better in the rulebook, but nothing game breaking.

Defense:
Dice are random – yup;
Dice are random – I like dice;
Dice are random – re-roll for another answer.
Obviously there are folks who will not like this game; don’t take the game too seriously. Based on the artwork and snippets from the designer/publisher, they don’t intend for you to take it too seriously either.

Personal:
I haven’t played a ton (yet) as the game is still new, but it is definitely going to take a top spot for the quick, easy, and fun games I like to have on hand to fill in the free-time. I think I’ve said this before, but I love rolling dice so Quarriors! had my name written all over it from the beginning. I also think there is some room for improvement, so I’ll be keeping my eye on what may be in store for the future.

9
Go to the Dominion page

Dominion

76 out of 84 gamers thought this was helpful

Deck-building game: a game where you build the deck as you play.

Sounds simple, but before Dominion is was practically unheard of. Dominion has created a whole genre of games, while staying relatively fresh (with the help of expansions).

Replay: Great! The base game has replay value built into it, not to mention the expansions. Even games with the same card sets play out differently due to the shuffling and card purchase choices. For folks who find no replay value, perhaps deck-building games are not your style.

Components: Wonderful art, functional storage tray, lacking play mats. While the play mats are not necessary, it would help to teach the game and be a great showcase for the artwork. Can’t say enough about the artwork and graphic design. Storage tray does work.

Learning Curve: Turn by turn, simple; strategy, medium. In my opinion, one of the best qualities of Dominion is that you can teach the turn sequence easily and enjoy your card combinations as they happen, while savoring the strategic complexity game to game. Teaching how to setup the card combinations can be a bit tricky depending on the learner’s grasp of probability and general strategy, but does not require remembering tons of rules or figuring out contradictions.

Defense:
Don’t like deck-building games – fine, we can enjoy other games;
Would like more direct competition (ie. cards that control opponent’s deck composition) – try more Attack cards. I wouldn’t consider Dominion to be a favorite of uber strategic and competitive gamers due to the randomness involved, but I do find the “polite” competition of buying Provinces before someone else quite enjoyable.

Personal:
I love this game and own it and all the expansions. I have taught family, friends, and co-workers how to play and look forward to teaching more folks and playing more games.

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