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4
Treasure Map
Explorer - Level 2
Go to the Codenames: Pictures page
8
6 of 6 gamers thought this was helpful
emspace {Avid Gamer} Jan 21st, 2017
“Another game to test your ability to think laterally”

The mechanics of Codenames: Picture is the same as in the original Codenames: Two teams appoint one member each to be a “Spymaster” who will give one-word clues to their team to help them identify that team’s codename cards. The first team to identify all of their own cards wins. If a team chooses the card assigned to the assassin, they lose.

It’s a very simple set-up and the rules are easily explained. I’ve found it doesn’t take more than a couple of rounds before everyone gets the idea.

This does not mean the game play is as simple as it sounds.

In the original Codenames, since all the cards were words, the Spymasters were constrained by not being allowed to give clues that included any of the codename words laid out or included parts of any of those words. This added a level of difficulty in choosing the best clue word, and sometimes resulted in forfeiting the turn when a Spymaster accidentally picked a forbidden word.

With Codenames: Pictures there’s no restriction on not using the exact word to describe any element on any picture card in the grid.

A question that comes up with new players is, “so, why can’t the Spymaster just say ‘duck’ to point to a card with a duck on it?” Ah, well she can, but that might only result in that team identifying the single card, while the challenge is to identify as many cards as possible each turn to beat the other team. There’s no joy or tension or creativity with each team picking out only one card each turn.

The fun is also partly in having everyone get a chance to play the Spymaster in order to understand the challenge of coming up with the best clue to uncover the most of their own team’s cards at one time … without giving away any of the opposing team’s cards or, worse, the assassin’s card. Even when Spymasters make mistakes — which is bound to happen — this often ends in hilarity and group in-jokes for years to come.

Great high-five moments come when a Spymaster brilliantly picks a word that helps her team uncover 5 cards that don’t at first glance have any obvious similarity.

Other times, when spy teammates are arguing over which card to pick from the clue, it might come down to ceding to the person who best understands the mind of the Spymaster and what he might be thinking.

YOU WILL PROBABLY NOT LIKE THIS GAME IF:
• you can’t take teasing when you mess up
• you tend to take words or pictures too literally; or you get hung up on only one possible meaning for a word or one possible interpretation of an image
• you find illustrated drawings difficult to interpret
• you don’t like team competitions, even very friendly light-hearted ones

YOU WILL PROBABLY LIKE THIS GAME IF:
• you really enjoy word association games
• you enjoy lateral thinking challenges
• you enjoy games with lots of social interaction and table chatter
• you often get together groups of 4 or more friends or family who might not otherwise play board games
• you enjoy games with minimal set-up and break down and explanation for new players
• you want a game that is playable in any language

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
6 out of 6 gamers thought this review was helpful
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1
Gave My First Grade
Go to the Mage Wars: Academy page
9
Sir Andrew {Avid Gamer} Jan 20th, 2017
“Magically Unique Battling System”

While I have only played this game a few times, I already love it. The core mechanic of the game, which sets it apart from any other game I’ve played, is that the game is not dependent on the luck of the draw. Not only can you build your own customized deck for your Mage, but you have full access to each and every card at all times. Instead of having your cards in a deck, you have all your spells (cards) in a Spellbook (mini card binders) that you can play at any time, as long as you have built enough mana to cast the spell. The two Mages in this set, Beastmaster and Wizard, play completely differently from the other and really require you to study your Spellbook and strategy for success. There is a bit of a learning curve, but it’s worth it to get the depth of gameplay and replayability.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
1 out of 3 gamers thought this review was helpful
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8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter
Go to the The Kids of Carcassonne page
7
6 of 6 gamers thought this was helpful
Artem Safarov {Avid Gamer} Jan 18th, 2017
“My First Carcassonne – big meeples for little gamers”

“Roads go ever on and on” – Bilbo Baggins

As the board games hobby becomes increasingly popular, the demand for games that are accommodate the youngest audience grows. It is no surprise that a modern classic like Carcassonne would be among the first to receive this treatment. How does this simplified version stack up against its cherished predecessor? Let’s chase after that chicken for a while!

How it works:

My First Carcassonne (previously known as Kids of Carcassonne) is intended for players as young as 4. It uses large, chunky tiles that only have one element on it – roads. Some tiles have termination points on them – a road going into a building or towards a courtyard. When a road “terminates” at both ends it is considered to be finished. Most road segments will have a little kid figure on them, belonging to one of the four players’ colours. When a road is finished – players may put one of their seven large chunky meeples on that tile. Whoever gets rid of all their meeples first is the winner.

The components are nice and big and unlikely to be misplaced by mischievous younglings. The tiles are chunky and don’t slide around easily as kids try shuffle them around trying to find best placement. It is a robustly crafted game that caters to its audience. The art, cartoony in style, is somewhat busy and far from the quaint greens of the base Carcassonne, but the bright colours and the fun scenarios of kids chasing after goats and chickens adds to the game.

How it plays:

The game accommodates 2-4 players with an expected age of 4. My son started playing it when he was three and had a great time with it. Because the only element on the tiles are roads – all tiles are compatible and there is no “wrong” way to put a tile, minimizing frustration. The rules are also simple to grasp, though developing an effective approach might take the smallest kids some time as they grasp it. Great thing is that the process of figuring it out (hopefully with some gentle adult guidance) is not frustrating as it’s a good engaging time regardless of whether the kid is winning (clearly, mileage will vary depending on kids’ temperament).

The decisions are bite-sized and because there are no wrong ways to play a card – the wait time is easy. The game goes 10-20 minutes and adult supervision are required only if players are 3-4, with older kids able to play by themselves.

Will my kid like it? Will I?

We had a great time with My First Carcassonne and it is one of the staples in our collection. It is not a particularly engaging game for adults but the fun of playing together more than compensates for it. The games can drag a bit, especially with more players, resulting in loss of patience for younger kids. If you know that the attention span is a concern – I suggest playing with a few less meeples to start. I can’t say how well the game plays with older kids but I imagine it would be too simple for them to enjoy (though “supervising” a group of younger kids might be a fun responsibility!).

The game teaches spatial reasoning, with deciding how to place a tile so that it connects to roads where your existing figures are or so that the game is closed. Some minor math is involved as you count number of figures of each colour on a closed road or a number of remaining meeples.

Conclusion:

My First Carcassonne is a really simple game that teaches key core concepts of taking turns, winning and losing. It also provides necessary life lesson of what a meeple is. While it won’t blow your or your kid’s mind – it is an approachable stepping stone to get your kid comfortable with games as an activity, paving the way for the more advanced fare in the future.

If you enjoyed this review please consider visiting the Altema Games website for more neat board game materials.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
6 out of 6 gamers thought this review was helpful
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3
Go to the Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn page
8
5 of 7 gamers thought this was helpful
Kitkanan {Avid Gamer} Jan 17th, 2017
“Different twist on card game with superb Art ”

I got this game at Christmas and played for the first time this week. The first thing I must say about this game is the that the quality of the Art on the cards is simply amazing. Fernanda Suarez did an incredible job in rendering a fantasy setting that as a lot of potential and that looks and feel different from most of the other card game I own.
That being said, let’s jump into the review of the game play itself. It’s a pure PvP game that can be played by 2 to 4 players. There is absolutely no co-ops option. So if PvP is not your style, this game is not for you. Out of the box come 6 pre-made deck that are ready to use. I would recommend using those for your first few games. They are diverse enough in play style that it will give you a good idea of what you like to play before you jump into constructing your own deck. There is also a draft option which I have not tried yet but that looks interesting.
What differentiate this game form a lot of other card games is the fact that it contains dice that act as your Mana pool. It adds a layer of strategy to how you will play your cards, but it also adds a layer of pure luck of the role as you might be stuck with not being able to play you most powerful abilities.

All in all , after having played several games, I really like the mechanic of the game and how the different character give a different feel to each game.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
5 out of 7 gamers thought this review was helpful
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3
Go to the King of Tokyo: Power Up! page
10
5 of 6 gamers thought this was helpful
nicoletergeist {Social Gamer} Jan 15th, 2017
“My love for this game just evolved.”

This expansion is absolutely a critical part of King of Tokyo. In fact, recommend buying them together. Once you play it this way, you will not want to play the game without it again.

With Power Up!, each character gets its own personalized evolution cards. This actually differentiates the characters and gives them their own special abilities. For example, the Kraken becomes great at healing, the King gets even better when in Tokyo (of course!) and Cyber Bunny loves to get energy and therefore buy more cards. Make sure to read through all the evolution cards before choosing a character next time you play.

Have fun storming Tokyo!

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
5 out of 6 gamers thought this review was helpful
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4
Noble
The Bronze Heart
Go to the Superfight! page
7
Reader Geek {Casual Gamer} Jan 13th, 2017
“Debate team + Comic Nerd = Awesome Card Game”

It’s a great game for those who like to do something without a lot of prep work and who like to think outside the box with a lot of things. House rules are great and encouraged, and there’s never a penalty for not knowing something since you can always pick another card. Pulling this out while waiting for dinner to cook (or let’s be honest – the pizza to show up) and arguing over whether Jason with Laser eyes and a unicycle for legs beats Doc Oc with chainsaw hands and an army of poodles is… I don’t know. It’s something else. It’s bizarre. But it’s something that you don’t really know you want to do until you’re in the middle of doing it and suddenly you really wish that he had the rocket skates because Jason can get away faster from the poodles than you thought.

There’s definitely an edge from people who were rules lawyers in their D&D groups, or actual lawyers in real life, or teachers probably. But you really do hone debate skills and learn how to think of things from other perspectives. We’ve gotten a couple expansions from nerd things and loot crate so adding things like locations (In a volcano! Falling through the void! Inside the Tarrasque! On the moon!) gives you more things to argue from since poodles need oxygen on the moon and laser eyes if you miss will definitely probably puncture the stomach of a Tarrasque and things like that. Fun game. Much discussion. So argument. Wow.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
3 out of 3 gamers thought this review was helpful
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2
Rated 25 Games
Go to the Shear Panic page
5
4 of 6 gamers thought this was helpful
FlickShackleford {Avid Gamer} Jan 13th, 2017
“I want to like it more...”

I really do want to like this game more than I do. The pieces are fun, solid and unique for a board game. The mechanics of the game are interesting and each players changes things up.

However, the games instructions are not written very well and thus making it difficult to explain to others. And the game is unique enough that the mechanics and rules don’t stick as easily as some games. Every time we pull this one off the shelf, I have to spend 20 minutes reviewing and deciphering the rules to understand how it works and then try to explain it to our friends.

If I had a consistent group that would play this regularly, it would be much more fun. As is, it is too much effort to relearn and then try to teach every time we decide to play it.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
4 out of 6 gamers thought this review was helpful
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1
Gamer - Level 1
Go to the Carcassonne page
9
3 of 8 gamers thought this was helpful
NilsV {Casual Gamer} Jan 10th, 2017
“Great family fun”

This is a game that is easy to pick up, but also involves strategy that takes time to learn. As such it’s very accessible for new games, but also has plenty of depth for more experienced gamers and for replay.

It’s easy to go along, lay tiles and place meeples (playing pieces) on roads, cities, farms and cloisters to claim them. Points are accumulated for the size of the cities, the length of the roads, the number of tiles around the cloisters and the number of cities being supplied by farms. Even younger players can easily manage this.

But the depth comes out of strategies that can be applied to the play, particularly involving farmers and the fields that they claim. Because farmers gather points for each completed city that touches their field, a good farmer will get busy building lots of small cities. While larger cities score better points as cities, lots of small cities can be great for the farmer. Of course the farmer’s opponent should try to cut off the growing field using roads, etc. So while it appears simple, and can be played casually, situational awareness and a bit of thought can add to the success and ultimate enjoyment.

The game is also beautifully made. Its components are sturdy – nice sold cardboard tiles and painted wooden meeples (except for one of my meeples that only has one leg). It’s very bright and cheerful, which again helps it appeal to casual gamers who don’t yet know how much fun it is.

Carcassonne usually takes less than an hour to play when there’s no need to explain the rules. So it’s great for a quick game. Or if you’ve just introduced somebody to it, it’s very doable to have another game or two to apply those new-found insights into the game. Set-up is very quick. Just separate out the river tiles (which are the first tiles laid down, and form the core of the landscape that the rest of the tiles then adjoin) when you pack up, and starting out next time is almost instant.

And if the original game gets a bit stale, there are heaps of expansions that allow you to add further rules and complexities, as well as additional tiles for an even bigger playing world.

Highly recommended for a wide range of gamers and even their non-gamer friends.

Replaying the game allows for greater depth in strategy, particularly in utilizing farmers. Farmers can yield rich rewards and require cunning use of cities. Or if another player is using farmers, the laying of roads to curtail the size of their farms.

Highly recommended!

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
3 out of 8 gamers thought this review was helpful
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1
Gamer - Level 1
Go to the BattleTech page
7
3 of 6 gamers thought this was helpful
NilsV {Casual Gamer} Jan 10th, 2017
“Brutal, fun but complex.”

There’s something incredibly satisfying about designing your own massive combat Mech, then squaring up to your friend(s) and having these hulking machines beat the crap out of each other. Build something long range and fast, to keep sniping from a distance while moving to not get hit, or something with heavy armour and short range weapons (AC20 anybody?) that will move in and blow them away at close quarters.

The level of customization and optional rules give this game incredible replay value. But it also makes it complex to learn and teach It’s hard to pick up and introduce a group of friends to this game for an afternoon of casual gaming. And when using the pre-made Mechs, it is difficult to get the balance right. When I played it was usually a matter of “pick 150 tons of Mechs and see who can be last standing”. Brutal but fun.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
3 out of 6 gamers thought this review was helpful
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1
Gamer - Level 1
Go to the Diplomacy page
7
3 of 5 gamers thought this was helpful
NilsV {Casual Gamer} Jan 10th, 2017
“If only it didn't take so long”

I have tried a couple of times to play this game in a co-location environment, where all players are present at the same time. However with each turn taking a fair bit of time, we never managed to get more than a few turns into the game.

What worked really well, and was a lot of fun, was playing the game via email with 24 hour turns. I did that a couple of times and it work very well. 24 hours gives everybody enough time to communicate in between leading a normal life, and then submit orders that can then be resolved by one player tasked with managing the game. I have to say, this was in the mid-90s, the early days of the internet, before online play became a thing.

When there’s a lot of time available, it’s certainly a game with a lot of depth, requiring skill and guile without relying on any luck. With 7 countries to choose from and different combinations of players taking the roles of different countries, this game has plenty of scope for replay – if you can find the time. Prepare to be heartbroken as your best friend or spouse stabs you in the back!

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
3 out of 5 gamers thought this review was helpful
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