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Agent Minivann

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Explore select games by completing a series of exploration actions. learn more »
Go to the Summoner Wars page
Go to the Summoner Wars Master Set page
Go to the Summoner Wars: Fallen Kingdom Faction Deck page
Go to the Summoner Wars: Cloaks Faction Deck page
Go to the Heroscape page
Go to the Summoner Wars page
Go to the Heroscape Marvel: The Conflict Begins page
61 out of 68 gamers thought this was helpful

Heroscape is the mass market board game with hobby game sensibilities. The master set was a steal when it came out, more so with sale prices that were easy to find. It was a genre bending battle with warriors from all over time and space. It had a thriving online community of hungry fans, eager to see the next sneak peak offered at Gencon, or some other con. Then Hasbro announced Marvel: The Conflict Begins.

Compared to the other offerings in the Heroscape family, the Marvel set contains significantly less terrain and figures. It has a small amount of terrain, a warehouse ruin with break away section, and 10 figures. (Spider-man, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Venom, Red Skull, Doctor Doom, Abomination, and Thanos for those keeping score at home) In addition, Marvel has much more powerful heroes than in the original. As a result, you throw big handfuls of dice around when your super powered heroes go toe to toe with your opponent. While it is built on the same engine as the original Heroscape, and therefore compatible, the experiences are different. While a comparable army, measured in points, in classic Heroscape is typically more of an army with squads and heroes, Marvel is full of big powerful heroes. The ramped up powers and attack values help to give the game a more epic feel.

Unfortunately, Marvel Heroscape didn’t last long. The Marvel set was the only offering to see the light of day. A planned expansion was previewed at conventions, but never made it to stores. The set, while readily available (recently at least), is out of print with no signs of revival. Ironically, I think the game is better than ever today.

The terrain can be found here and there, well designed and tested customs (as well as instructions to make buildings for your maps) are freely available at (look for C3G sub-forums there), and figures from other games provide the minis. Recent games I have played have included some original terrain, toy cars and incidental terrain features, some foam-core buildings, custom army cards, and some Heroclix minis, and they have been some of the most enjoyable Heroscape games I have had since the early days.

I just recently played a game with an irregular version of the Fantastic Four teamed up with Tony Stark and a fleet of his remotely controlled Iron Man suits vs a bunch of Hydra guys and a team of Avengers including Thor. Apart from the unholy alliance of Hydra and the Avengers, it was what a big epic superhero throw down should look and feel like. It got even better when Hulk started throwing cars at people (using some custom rules from

It was fun when it came out. It stinks that the expansion never saw the light of day. It stinks that the underlying system is a board gaming fossil. I gave it an 8 a while ago, and I think that pretty accurately sums it up for me, as published. Do a little work, and start playing with some of the customs, and it takes me back to Heroscapes golden days. Then it becomes a 10.

Go to the Dixit Journey page

Dixit Journey

90 out of 98 gamers thought this was helpful

I game mostly with my kids. They love Apples to Apples to the point that I want to get rid of the game. After seeing this game as an explorable game and in the store, I picked it up. This scratches a lot of the same kind of itch that Apples to Apples hits, but this does it in a better way. Apples is more simple, but Dixit really executes better.

Play is pretty basic (rules fit on one sheet of paper). The active player picks one of his or her cards and gives a clue for the card. The other players then pick one of their cards that fits. The cards are put together and the other players make guess (through numbered counters) which one is the active player’s card. If the active player gets all or none of the guesses, the other players get 2 points. If one or more, but not all of the other players guess the active player’s card, the active player and each correct guess gets 3 points. There are also bonus points for each of the other players who get a guess for their cards. First to 30 points wins. It’s that simple.

Apples has the non-active players throw in cards to match whatever whim the active player has, and there may be no rhyme or reason to that whim. Dixit instead urges the active player to give a clue that will describe the card so at least one player picks it, but not so obvious that all the other players pick it. The other players also can keep hold of the driver’s seat by giving a card that will try to steal the guesses.

This is a cool little game. It’s simple, it’s fun, and the art on the cards is really cool just to look at.

Go to the Summoner Wars page

Summoner Wars

47 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

The Summoner Wars iOS app is a really nice implementation of the Summoner Wars expandable card game. It is free with one playable faction (the Phoenix Elves) and you can play against AI playing one of the original 4 factions. Make an online purchase through the app and it opens up more playable factions (the first eight), online play, and reinforcements.

The translation from physical to virtual was well done. If you have played the game in meat space, you can play the iOS game without too much trouble. I think the biggest challenge to veterans of the physical game is when choosing to use a special ability rather than an attack. Dragging from the left side of the card will attack while dragging from the right side will use the special ability. It also will highlight an attack target with red, and it uses a green highlight for abilities. This can be a problem on the smaller screens of the iPod touch and iPhone, but you can zoom in to make this easier. Those unfamiliar with the physical game can make use of a tutorial and/or read the rules on the device.

The AI for the game can be anywhere from silly to downright stupid at times. Considering the kinds of decisions that can come up in a typical game, this is almost to be expected. It could have been better, but making it better would probably make the app a lot bigger and/or make the app seriously slow down the device. I think that is really kind of a moot point, however, because online play is where it’s at. You can play multiple games at the same time, and you can choose to play a quick game or a leisurely game that takes days. It’s really cool to be able to play a game with the designer.

Where the game really shines is in the ability to customize decks. I never really tried it out with the physical game apart from swapping a mercenary for one of my champions. The iOS app (with reinforcements purchases) allows you to make custom decks and save them. After building a selection of custom decks, you can start a new game with either the original or the custom deck. Just a couple taps on the device and you’re good to go. In the physical game it might involve pulling out cards, and putting others in. Some gamers might feel the need to reset to the originals, or to have another copy to maintain the original plus the custom. Instead I can have the original, or a whole lot of customs, and I can get started with either fast.

I really like this app. It is a good value, and it really opened up a previously unexplored aspect of the game.

Go to the Mice and Mystics page

Mice and Mystics

206 out of 217 gamers thought this was helpful

I have to start this by telling a brief story. It seems appropriate.

About 7 years ago I picked up Heroscape after seeing commercials for it on Saturday morning cartoons. I remember reading through the rules and thinking that it was a special game. I saw it for almost unlimited possibilities that it presented. It could be played as a simple kill em all skirmish, or if could be a RPG-lite game. Put some thought and creativity into map and scenario design and it was a great toolbox for a lot of gaming fun and memories.

Fast forward to today (well a few days ago), and I find myself reading the Mice and Mystics rule book. I had some of the same feelings about this one that I did about Heroscape. Sure it is a little more limited in its wide open potential, but it presents an excellent toolbox for fun.

The game pits the forces loyal to the king, magically changed to mice, against the minions of Vanestra. You work together to thwart her evil designs as you negotiate the familiar, and suddenly much bigger, castle environment. You can explore the places familiar, and unfamiliar when you go through the holes and tunnels in floors and walls.

Each game tells a chapter of the story book. There is a reading section that sets the stage for what you will try to accomplish. You explore the castle trying to accomplish your mission, and fight Vanestra’s minions all along the way.

Cheese is kind of the currency and time keeping resource of the game. As you roll dice in combat you can collect cheese (one face of the dice awards cheese in combat). Cheese powers special abilities, it allows you to “level up” and gain new powers, and as minions collect cheese, it advances the story one page closer to the end of the chapter. You cheer when the cheese side of the dice comes up on your rolls, and you groan when the minions get cheese and you get that much closer to a surge of baddies.

The components are excellent. The minis are very cool and detailed even without compensating for their stature. The multipurpose dice are likewise very cool. The double sided (human areas and mouse tunnels) board pieces set the stage perfectly for the tales of adventure you will play out. A really nice touch is an index at the end of the rule book.

There is a finite number of chapters in the story book, and I’m sure there will be some who complain about there only being that many plays in the game. Plaid Hat Games already has a pdf download of a chapter for a buck. More of those in the future along with using your own creativity to write your own chapters lend a feeling of almost unlimited replayability.

While circumstances seem to be dictating that the Heroscape chapter of my life may be coming to a close, Mice and Mystics is stepping up to the plate and aiming its bat at the center field wall like Babe Ruth. I have that same feeling that it is a special game like Heroscape was and still is, and it has that extra bonus that my daughters are a lot more interested this time around.

Go to the Battleball page


26 out of 28 gamers thought this was helpful

Battleball is an older mass market boardgame where players play a game of futuristic “football”. Game play revolves around moving your players to pick up a ball and move it to the end zone to score. It is a very easy game to learn, and it is a lot of fun.

Each player starts with 11 players on the field. Each mini has a base with a color with corresponding dice. The guys that are traditionally bigger and stronger (and slower) have d6 dice, while the faster and comparatively weaker have d20 dice, and all the typical dice in between. The mechanics are simple in that each mini uses their color’s die to both move and tackle. For moving, the higher the number, the more spaces you can move. The fast guys can potentially move up to 20 spaces. For tackling, the lower the number, the more successful the tackle attempt. So the d6 guys are much more reliable in tackles. Seeing how they are dice, randomness ensues and a d6 guy could outrun a d20 guy, and a d20 guy could bring down a d6 guy.

There are also simple rules for passing and fumbling. Also there are rules for minis getting injured and having to sit out the half, or the remainder of the game in severe cases. Each team also has a few optional special abilities that could come into play. The rules can be taught in minutes, and you can be up and running in no time. Games go for two “halves” where play starts and ends with a score. Essentially the first team to score twice wins, so if it is tied after the two halves it goes to overtime.

It is out of print, but it is a common thrift store or garage sale item. If you can get your hands on a copy, it is worth your time. Don’t expect real deep play, and it will be a gem. It wouldn’t be that difficult to find enough thematically similar minis from other games to make additional teams, and it would be fun to form a league with friends. It gets pretty decent game play for a light weight mass market game, and it could get more with a little customization and tweaking.

Go to the ROOK page


66 out of 82 gamers thought this was helpful

A trick taking game. Functionally it is a deck of cards with an extra in each “suit”. 1-14 in four colors plus the Rook. You start out bidding how many points you can win (5, 10, 14, and Rook cards score points). The winning bid declares what color is trump. Then you start playing tricks trying to score points. The bid winner tries to claim points totaling at least the bid, the other players try to prevent this, of course.

It is simple to pick up. Replay value is going to vary person to person; it’s either your kind of game, or it isn’t. I can enjoy it, but I really don’t want to play this one with my in-laws. To them it is a tradition, and they take it far too seriously.

Go to the Risk page


47 out of 49 gamers thought this was helpful

Almost everyone who plays board games has played Risk. Almost everyone who played Risk with any regularity has a good grasp on some basic strategies to employ, what continents are easiest to hold, how quickly to push the front. The most recent release of Risk has some subtle new tricks that make it feel new again.

For the most part it is the same game it always has been, and it can be played that way with up to 5 players. The components are updated a bit, but it is still a mass market game. It isn’t going to wow you with finely detailed and painted minis, or even wooden pieces. Some might even complain about the new arrows that are used to represent armies, but it brings a war room feel to the game.

The subtle changes are where things get interesting. For one, each player gets a capitol. The capitol is good for an army every turn as long as the player controls the territory where the capitol resides. The capitol can be in a different position each game, so that can alter the strategic value of territories substantially. Another change is the addition of cities. Essentially cities double the value of the territory where they reside. New armies every turn is determined as usual by adding up your territories and adding one per three territories, but you also add cities into the tally. Placement changes from one game to the next, like the capitols, and it also can have a significant impact on strategy.

Another change comes with the objective system that determines the games winner. Each game the winner will be the first to claim a number of major and minor objectives. The objectives are all in plain view of everyone, and everyone is gunning for those objectives. The objectives also carry with them rewards. Claiming an objective might also give you an extra defense or attack die. This objective and reward system, along with the cities and capitols, makes previously foolish decisions become wise and sometimes prudent. The objective system cuts game time down dramatically, either through early victory or a seriously weakened player after a failed attempt at an objective. The reward system makes going out on a limb much more profitable by giving the victor an advantage in future battles even if claiming the reward left he player spread a little thin.

It’s still Risk. It’s still a game about strategy and knowing when to stop attacking. It just has a few tricks up its sleeve that make it more interesting.

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