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3
Go to the Settlers of America - Trails to Rails page
8
4 of 5 gamers thought this was helpful
Oridyne {Avid Gamer} May 2nd, 2016
“Settlers of America - My Impressions”

This is another in the Catan series of games, this time with another twist it includes trains and rails.

The components, as always, are high quality wooden pieces with some excellent cards and a well made large board. The only let down for me are the money pieces which seem an afterthought and do not match up with the other parts. This is a minor gripe though and not a distraction from the great game.

There is a lot going on in this game, which plays a lot longer than most Catans but you hardly notice the time when playing. It has a few changes that help both gameplay balance and removing downtime.

The game is played until one player has delivered their last good, goods only being released for transport when you build a city.

On your turn you roll dice as normal collecting resources from hex\’s that match that number where you have a city, if anyone does not receive anything they now get a gold. Trading resources is same as normal Catan except you can now buy up to 2 cards for 2 gold each or trade resources to the bank at 3:1, you can even trade 3 resources for a gold.

There are development cards, now themed to fit the new game so there are a few neat little bonuses. One addition of note is the extraordinary build phase between turns, this helps balance out people building players into a corner. After each players full turn, every other player gets a chance to build (they cannot trade or move pieces) this can be extremely useful, they can also buy development cards. This latter option means, if you get the timing right, you can buy one just before your actual turn and then use it.

To build new cities players first have to build a Settler and move him to a new city site, the settler is then removed and replaced with a city. Each Player starts with one train which can be moved along rails as they are built, players can also build a second train to help then deliver there goods.

As the Railways move from East to West some of the resource number tokens get moved depleting the reserves in the East forcing players to settle elsewhere to maintain a steady flow of precious materials. To deliver you goods you must send you train to another players city so this makes for some strategic choices as you have to pay a toll to use another players rail system.

I like this game a lot, it plays well and so far every game we have played of it has been pretty close near the end. If you like the Catan series of games then this is a must, even if you are not it is still worth a look as it does address a few shortcomings of the original games.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
4 out of 5 gamers thought this review was helpful
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3
Go to the Thebes page
8
Oridyne {Avid Gamer} May 2nd, 2016
“Thebes - My Impressions”

The components of this game are extremely well made and very in keeping with the theme. Each location has a bag of “Treasures” to discover, each player has a dial to aid them in deciding how much time to spend digging vs potential reward.

This game has a great theme and the mechanics work really well to enhance the theme. The game is played over a set time (a number of years + weeks depending on the Number of players) where each action or move costs a number of weeks marked on a track around the board.

The further person back always goes first so making sure you optimise your turn is important, initially you move around the world collecting Knowledge, in the form of cards, each move to a city costs a week and each card collected costs a number of weeks depicted on the card. Cards can only be collected by being in the city marked on it. Once you think you have sufficient knowledge you can go to one of the Dig sites. Once there you look at your accumulated knowledge and using your dial determine how many weeks to spend digging this will then determine how many tokens you can grab out of the appropriate bag. In each of these bags are a number of different valued Artifacts as well as a number of blank cards, after you draw you keep the Artifacts which are now your VP’s and replace the blanks into the bag.

During the game you can also use your collected Artifacts to put on exhibitions, in order to do these you will need a certain number of artifacts from each dig site and be in the appropriate city. These can then be collected and add VP’s, but as new ones appear old one’s are removed and later exhibitions require a lot of artifacts to put on.

This game is extremely fun to play and whilst it does involve an element of luck there are strategies and tactics needed to win the game.

Overall I would thoroughly recommend this game to anyone as it appeals to all levels of gamers.

The 4 player game as laid out in the rules plays differently to other numbers of players. This is because the game is played over 2 years in a 4 player rather than the normal 3 years. Having less time significantly changes tactics and strategies.

We’ve found that for a 4 player game if you set it up the same as a 3 player game it works much better.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
2 out of 2 gamers thought this review was helpful
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7
Gamer - Level 7
Book Lover
Canada
Go to the Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition page
 
7 of 7 gamers thought this was helpful
Write_By_the_Edge {Avid Gamer} May 2nd, 2016
“One of the top RPGs available”

I first started playing Call of Cthulhu with the 3rd edition and am now among those awaiting the arrival of the long anticipated 7th edition. That being said, this 6th edition of the game has been gracing my shelves for many a year. It’s without question my favorite RPG, and in my humble opinion one of the best RPGs and *the* best horror RPG out there.

THE SYSTEM

Call of Cthulhu uses a customized version of Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying System. The rules are simple and easy for players to pick up (there’s also usually a free Quick Start available on the Chaosium website for people to try out before they buy the game).

Creating a character (“investigator,” in the terminology of the game) is relatively easy and quick, especially once you’ve done it a few times. Attributes are generated using six-sided dice, so that will be familiar to the majority of players already familiar with systems such as D&D, and skills and attribute-based checks are done using a percentile system. Degrees of success and failure relative to those percentages can result in extremely good or bad results, depending on the roll.

Investigators earn experience “checks” for using their skills, and then between games they get a chance to improve their skills by rolling against the checked skills. Rolling over the current skill value lets the player improve their investigators rating in that skill, so the better an investigator gets at a skill the less likelihood that they will be able to learn from their experiences.

As a horror game, what makes Call of Cthulhu stand out for me is that investigators’ health and sanity are genuinely in jeopardy. These are normal people facing horrors beyond the comprehension of humanity. While some of the lesser horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos can be faced with physical combat, many cannot and all of them threaten the sanity of the investigators. The games includes detailed rules for temporary and permanent madness that results from exposure to the horrors of the Mythos, and combat can be quick and lethal. As one might expect, as investigators the player characters best approach is research and study in order to find a way to foil the dark forces that they are confronting.

Magic exists in Call of Cthulhu, but it is the kind of forbidden occult lore that is described in the stories of H. P. Lovecraft and those who came after him. Dabbling in magic is dangerous and even studying many of the tomes of ancient lore can weaken an investigators sanity, forcing them to walk a fine line between the benefits and perils of mystic knowledge.

THEME

Call of Cthulhu is, of course, rooted in the stories of H. P. Lovecraft and others who have added to what has come to be known as the Cthulhu Mythos, or sometimes the Lovecraft Mythos. It has some components for using it to tell “conventional” horror stories, but it’s true strength comes in telling tales of the unspeakable eldritch horrors of the Mythos. The rules even suggest that if you are going to throw in a zombie, mummy, or vampire that the game master (referred to as the Keeper) add a Mythos twist to the monsters. The sheer volume of material (creatures, tomes, arcane mysteries) to be explored gives this RPG massive replay value–players will be able to come back to the table and never know just what it is they are confronting.

The game has a strong horror aspect to it. Many of the horror games out there (Beyond the Supernatural, Chill, etc.) have characters with special abilities such as psychic powers or membership to an organization of paranormal investigators to aid them in their struggles with the supernatural. Not so in Call of Cthulhu–investigators are regular people, and their lives and minds are fragile compared to the horrors they will face. Players will often have to make difficult decisions about whether or not their investigators can bear the strain of continuing to delve into things humanity was not meant to know. In the end, even successful investigators will rarely emerge from their experiences unscathed.

IN CONCLUSION

I consider this one of the best RPGs on the market. The system is easy to learn and play, letting the players focus on story and role-playing, and the thematic and atmospheric elements are excellent. It can be used to run ongoing campaigns or shorter stories that can be told in just a session or two.

This is my personal favorite RPG. It was one of the first ones I ever purchased, and it’s been on my shelves ever since in one edition or another. Horror fans, and particularly Lovecraft fans, will enjoy this game. That being said, if you have a play group that likes to have epic battles and face the monsters head on, they probably won’t like this one as much–I had one player who refused to play the game because “you can’t fight the monsters.” But if you’re looking for a great horror game, this is the one for you.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
7 out of 7 gamers thought this review was helpful
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BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Go to the Blood Rage page
8
5 of 8 gamers thought this was helpful
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} May 2nd, 2016
“Overkill and Dumb Ways to Die”

I almost left out this Kickstarter, luckily there was a late pledge (sounds fishy) which I immediately pledged, didn’t want to lose this out.
There went my money down the sink, but it’s all worth it, every penny.
I love the minis (rockin’ cool, all of them, except the ones with bent parts, oh Chaos in The Old World all over again), the amazing arts by Adrian Smith and of course the Viking theme, splendors, big time!

So for me those all do not suffice to own the game (with this price tag, kinda) so the game play must be good. Is it good? Well, the first time, there’s a buzz that this was a Chaos in The Old World killer. Wow, just Wow… I love Chaos and definitely intrigue to see this one, especially this one is from the same designer, so it’s less biased (isn’t it?). But it turned out to be a different game. Yes, no dice involved, and drafting, but still area control and majority (in a way). Less conflict punishment, but more tight in actions.
In this game, players represent Viking clans (Wolf, Serpent, Bear and Raven) that compete to appease the God with their blood-lust battle rage actions. The game is played over 3 ages, with Ragnarok (doomsday) in the end of each age. Players will draft cards, take actions in turns, complete missions and participate dying in Ragnarok. The map comes as the realm of Asgard, where lies Yggdrasil as the center of it with 8 areas encircling it (4 regions). Drafting phase is very essential, it will determines players’ actions in the next phase. They will draft several kinds of cards, battle cards, quest cards and upgrade cards.
In the action phase players will take actions based on their cards or units withing the board. The actions are Invade, March, Quest, Pillage and Upgrade. These actions are mostly cost Rage points (just like Chaos) and cannot be taken if players have no Rage left even the cost is none, they automatically pass if they ran out of Rage points.
There are different kind of units, warrior, leader and ship, also monster. Leader units have high strength and cost free to invade but only limited to one per player, where warrior units are plenty but only contribute one strength. Ships can only be assigned to Fjord (a sea space between two areas that can support both areas) but cannot be included in March action. Monsters are powerful beasts that have special abilities, so players will get them by playing specific monster upgrade cards.
An area has a various limited number of slots that can be assigned with units, hence getting there first is essential for players, priority is the key.
Players take part in battle by Pillage action, whoever taking the pillage action can decide where the battle takes place (as long as they have a unit there and the areas is still available to pillage). Battle is very simple and quick. Starting from the player to the right of the pillaging player clockwise, each player can move a unit from an adjacent area once as long as there is at least one open slot left in the pillaged area. After that players involved in the battle must play a card from their hand, the cards are revealed simultaneously and the battle is resolved. The winner get glory points where the losers’ unit perished in battle to Valhalla. If the winner is the pillaging player, the area is pillaged and the player gets the pillage token benefit (either rage / horn / axes advance or glory points). If not, the area can be pillage again next turn.
Players can also submit quests which can give them points if it’s fulfilled (this usually based on majority).

Once the age ends, units in area where Ragnarok currently happening were sent to Valhalla and generate points based on the current age.
Oh there are many battles take place, many dead units, many victories, many losses. But the God are demanding nonetheless.
I like how simple the game is, how unique each play is, you can combine some combos from the cards, tactical plays also have critical role. The game seems provide a lot of conflicts (of course, they’re Vikings anyway) but inside the punishment is not that big and dismaying, since there are many ways to gain points aside from winning battles. There are secret agendas, where dying can be better than winning with certain favors. So, surprises are just about anywhere, in the air, in the corner, beneath your very step. The game length is also not that long, you can play back to back just withing one and a half hour with 4 players. But of course for first play, the cards could be overwhelming, since getting to know the cards is essential. With this players can predict, determine and plan their and opponents’ moves.
I think this is more light than Chaos, more simple, more streamlined and straightforward conflict. A bit of take that with the battle cards but still light enough to move on, where Chaos more on the long run side. The complexity of asymmetric elements are not that high as Chaos is, also clever plays are short and instant unlike Chaos which requires long run plan and commitment.

The downsides are storing the game with those fragile (looks like it, more if you pain them all) minis. The game comes with some plastic inserts and for me these are good enough. But getting all of the minis (including the expansions and exclusives) into the core box are impossible, so there you go another thing to solve. The leaders are hard to differentiate against warriors. So even with colored plastic base, it’s not helping players to mistakenly recognize units as leaders and vice versa.
Some combos can be overkill and devastating, which once formed are not easy to counter. But overall having this big bad monster in my collection is heavenly feeling!

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
5 out of 8 gamers thought this review was helpful
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BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Go to the Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia page
6
5 of 9 gamers thought this was helpful
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} May 2nd, 2016
“Sweet turned sour!”

I really wanted to love this game, the artwork and components are in top quality, the mechanic is somewhat a unique blend from several mechanics. But my first play denied me that chance.
I dislike racing games and this one is a racing game from skin to bone.
The first player who placed all of their stars, win the game (close enough). So whoever get rid of their stars will highly win the game.
In this game you will support some factions and will drive factions toward progresses. You will have workers in the form of dice and can recruit more or even lose some.
During your turn you will assign one of your workers to a location, to gather resources, getting new workers, build markets, dig tunnels and more.
You also have two recruits and a secret agendas. One recruit will be placed face up and active since the start of the game while the other is placed face down, secret from other players. This recruit can only be declared once it’s corresponding faction reach a level where they must be revealed.
These recruits give you certain benefits and also possible Star placement (if the faction reach the highest level in the faction track).
Also players can complete a secret agenda by paying with artifact cards, in which players will need to choose whether they want to place one of their star or get a new recruit card.
Other ways to place stars are with participating in the construction of markets (where having a star there will protect them from a detrimental effect the market triggers when it’s built) or by placing them on artifacts in certain places around the factions. So in short, players will gather resources with workers and spend these resources to get other resources (workers included), cards or place stars.
Players can also lose workers when their dice roll exceeding the allowed knowledge limit which can be adjusted by doing some things. So players need to be cautious to get their hands with more workers than they can chew at a time. There’s a unique mechanic where players, aside from allocate dice, they can also retrieve them back from the allocated spaces (from one die to all) to be able to use them again in subsequent turns. After retrieving the dice, they have to immediately roll them, which will be evaluated whether the total amount exceed the knowledge limit or not. If exceeded, that player needs to lose one or more dice so the amount is equal or lower than the limit. Also there are some locations where players can kick out other player’s die in that location, which can also resulted in losing a die for the owner’s of that kicked-out die, for he must immediately roll the kicked-out die and check the limit.

I found the game very interesting, smooth and very engaging. Though this smoothness somewhat omitted some real and meaningful decision in each player’s action, but it’s very streamline and simple. You can feel that your play is progressing by getting more benefit from factions’ progress but definitively it’s a racing game, which I pretty much dislike. So once the winner is decided, it’s kinda anti-climax or turn off the feel. It’s hard to change the situation (which reminds me of Istanbul) once you’re in, and the game play doesn’t feel rewarding if you lose the game. It’s kinda pointless when you lose, since the process are kinda dull and flat though simple and streamlined, for the sake of your purpose to win the game. So whatever sweet things you get from playing it, the after taste turns all of those to sour.
I don’t say the game is bad, it’s just not working for me. I enjoy the game play, just not the result (unless you’re winning of course).
Let me compare this with Lewis and Clark. It also a racing game and yes the winner often can be decided early on before the game ends (anti-climax) but I don’t feel sour when lose, I feel rewarded by the clever plays during the game, the efforts, the struggle to keep moving forward, the puzzles between the corners of your mind give you all of those sort of accomplishment. So yes, that’s my issue.
Aside from that, the retail copy has good component quality, even better if you have the KS exclusive copy with realistic resource tokens.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
5 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful
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BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Go to the The Voyages of Marco Polo page
8
1 of 6 gamers thought this was helpful
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} May 2nd, 2016
“Clever Use of Dice”

Tzolkin is very much different with this one. So the designers basically succeed in making a new game that really different from the previous one, a good one. This game’s essential components are dice, so it’s true nature is a dice game.
The game sets in the Marco Polo exploration period where He venture the East in 13th century. The game board shows a portion of Eastern countries’ map where players will visit during the game.
At the start of the game, players will start at the same location (this shows the beginning location of Marco Polo’s journey). In each round players will roll their dice and use them to do a single action each turn. The actions available require the players to spent some amount of dice in a specific value. Players will fulfill contracts (resource management), setup trading posts (complete objectives) and getting their pawns from one place to another place (networking). Though most of the dice actions are not blocking, but there are some that block actions, because the slots are full or blocking certain dice values.
It’s a fun medium Euro game about dice placement, the players also have variable player power, this makes the game more interesting.

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1 out of 6 gamers thought this review was helpful
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BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Go to the Seasons page
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3 of 7 gamers thought this was helpful
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} May 2nd, 2016
“Dice, Drafts, Combos!”

Cool artworks, no doubt! But how about the game play?
Well, played this game a lot back on the time it was released. It still reminds me of the feeling right now. If I can make it short in one sentence, the game is “about getting it right in the first place and keeping it right til the end!”

Now to explain that sentence.
This game is abstract, so nothing to explain here. But if you take it as it is, it’s kinda fun and interesting with amazing arts. In the game you will have to transmute energy to gain crystals (points). There are 4 different kind of energy in the game based on the 4 seasons in a year. Players will play 3 years, which means 12 seasons. In each year, players will draft cards and then roll the season dice (each season). Starting from the first players, they will choose a die and gain it’s effect. Then players will play a card from their hands.
Dice give either crystals, energy, cards and transmutation action. Playing cards cost you energies and some of them give you benefit, either instantly, one time, by activation or passive ability that can help players to gain profit or disrupt their opponents. By combining the die, cards, energies they have and even crystals, they will try to get more than they spent.
When the game ends, player with the most crystals wins the game.
The components and the arts are spectacular, amazing visuals and presentations. Wait till you see the season dice with your own eyes and get the feel of them in your own hands, those chunky dice are fun to hold and roll. The game play is really simple but learning and mastering the combos are the real fun this game can offer. The cards have moderate text which for first / new players this would seem overwhelming (but in one play this would change significantly better). After knowing the cards’ abilities and possibilities, you will learn more and more how to play the game.
The draft phase is essential, because this phase practically seals player’s fate during the game (unless mis/fortune interferes). This might take quite some time, but once it’s done, players should already come up with some plans. The rest is how they adapt to the dice roll and players’ actions. So make sure to draft good hands and play them out correctly and efficiently but don’t forget to have a backup plan.

Back in the day, I’ve played it quite often and it’s kinda a hit among our groups. I like this better than Lords of Xidit (another game with the same universe and theme, but different genre, programming).

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
3 out of 7 gamers thought this review was helpful
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3
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Go to the The Castles of Burgundy page
 
4 of 6 gamers thought this was helpful
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} May 2nd, 2016
“Great Choice to Enter Medium Euro Level”

For new players, getting into board gaming hobby can be a challenged. Taking a great leap of faith from among small, party filler games into more serious and challenging experience is not that easy and a walk in the park. Okay you know Splendor or even Carcassonne but are those enough? Well don’t look the other way, The Castles of Burgundy is the right choice to help you guide into the light.

This game is quite simple to learn and so smooth in game play, but offers enough challenge and interesting plays in the same time. Players will build their own estate with buildings and interesting things that can be found in 15th century castles (pastures, castles, mines, rivers, knowledge and such).
The game consists of 5 rounds with each round has 5 turns where in each turn players will roll 2 dice and use those dice to do actions.
The actions refer to the die result (1 to 6) and can be used in many ways (very innovative dice slash worker placement game). You can use any dice to acquire tiles from the main board (the value of the die decides where you can get the tile from), place it to your estate (same procedure), selling goods, and getting workers for modifiers.

Completing your estate basically giving you points, but the number of points depends on when you complete the region on your estate. Earlier scoring and bigger region will get you higher points.

The game is simple, roll dice, take turns based on turn order to use those dice. But maybe for new players there seems to be a lot to take in, many building types and many scoring possibilities. But once you play it for the first time, everything will make sense in such an enlightening way. I successfully managed to introduce this game to new players several times ( quite often).

The artwork is kinda dull, it’s a classic Euro which explains it. The components are also slightly below par, which I think could be better, such as thicker tiles and player mats.

The last but not the least, the game also comes in different variants in the player mats so this hugely adds the replay value to the game. You can try with different maps.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
4 out of 6 gamers thought this review was helpful
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BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Go to the Above and Below page
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3 of 5 gamers thought this was helpful
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} May 2nd, 2016
“Above and Beyond Expectation”

I think this is the best of Ryan Laukat, in terms of game play and illustration. I love the art and how the game plays.
Ryan did a great job to create an original setting of the universe in this game and it is remarkably full of imaginations.
In this game players will lead their villagers to venture deep inside the tunnel into fascinating world of underground in rich story telling aspect that drives the game in such a compelling way to keep players interested, while building their villages into something more advance and getting points to win the game.

The core element of the game is that players will explore new places underground which they will be facing a certain encounter from the book of encounter based on their die rolls. The outcome is countless, many combinations of encounters can be found that lined up as a one big story for a player in a single game.

I love how the story telling really works in this game, it keeps you engaged within the story, the character and the game. It drives you to make an important decision along the way, which everything has consequences while keeping it simple and easy to resolve.

But aside from the story telling, you can still enjoy Euro aspects of the game by building something up and by doing that getting the maximum points you can. I enjoy it very much and this will likely stay in my collection forever.

The good thing is if Ryan want to make expansion, he can easily make a new book of encounter with different plots and stories to be included to make new and fresh things.

If you can get the KS edition, the wooden resource tokens are way much better than the tiles.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
3 out of 5 gamers thought this review was helpful
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3
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Go to the Potion Explosion page
7
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} May 1st, 2016
“Attention Center Marbles”

I bought the game because it has interesting visual presentation. Yes, all of you would agree with me looking at the game essential component, the marbles and the dispenser. When anyone looking at some players playing it, the first thing that they will see is the huge dispenser thing in the center of the table with marbles on it, yes colorful marbles.
The game is simple, on your turn you pick one marble from one of the slide and it will cause chain reaction(s) which makes the marbles explode (yes they explode because of the same color marbles collide with each other. You also take the exploded marbles. You then will assign those marbles to potion tiles you have matching the colors or if no slot available, place the rest to the pool (up to 3 marbles can be placed here). Once a potion is complete (all the slots are filled with marbles) the potion is finish and you can flip the tile and move it from your brewing area. This potion gives you two things, game points and also the potion effect (if you drink it). There are 8 kind of potions (but only 6 will be used in a game) and each has different effect.
If you managed to collect a set of 3 potions of a kind or 5 different potions, you will get a skill token (worth 4 points). The game ends if the countdown stack runs out (the amount is different based on number of players) or the available potions on the supply is runs out. The funny thing about this is, even if you drink the potion for it’s effect the points are still counted toward your points. So no reason to not get drunk with potions.
It’s a fun light game, all you have to do is pick one marble and see how other marbles explode and get those potion effect combos doing your work. This game is pretty much attract any non-gamer or casual gamer.
I found it quite amusing, the marbles and seeing them roll over on the dispenser, its quite nostalgic by the way.
Unfortunately I found the setup to be a pain in the ***. Before playing you need to sort out the potions first, to determine which potions you take out from the game, and then you need to sort the starting potions to be chosen by players and then shuffle the rest to create 5 different piles. It’s fiddly and takes quite a while.
I also found that the dispenser suffers a lot with the surface of the table. It needs to be played in a very flat surface (I mean not only the table) to be really really works. Because if not, the distribution of the marbles when you return them into the dispenser will favor to one side.

In overall, it’s a fun little game with great looking components. Love to have in my collection.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
3 out of 4 gamers thought this review was helpful
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