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Go to the Summoner Wars page
Go to the Legendary Encounters: An ALIEN Deckbuilding Game page
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Go to the Tyrants of the Underdark page
Go to the Ethnos page
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Go to the Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer page
Go to the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game Starter Set page
72 out of 79 gamers thought this was helpful

By way of introduction, my son and I love Star Wars. I was four years old when Episode IV was released, and he was almost four when Episode III was released. We have both seen all the movies and enjoy the Clone Wars animated series. For him, Star Wars is the prequels and the TV series. It’s all about squads fighting on the ground and Jedi Knights leading clones (like the Star Wars miniatures game). For me, Star Wars is all about the intense dogfights between Rebels and Imperials and immense explosions in the vacuum of space. For me, Star Wars is the X-Wing Miniatures Game.

Starting with the components: this game looks amazing. The core set comes with three prepainted miniatures (two TIE fighters and one X-Wing) that are extremely detailed and wonderful to admire. The miniatures are designed to sit on a clear peg (you can put multiple pegs together to add height) that attaches to a base. A cardboard indicator is attached to the base and provides all the necessary stats for the different pilots that can be used for each ship. There are a variety of corresponding pilot cards (some common and some unique, and yes, including Luke Skywalker) that detail the pilots, as well. Various upgrade cards that can be used to customize the ships are also included. A variety of cardboard markers are also included, along with maneuvering templates, a color-coded range finder, and some really impressive maneuver dials that also correspond to the different ships. The entire production is top notch, has great artwork, and just oozes Star Wars theme.

The gameplay is straightforward and offers some great mechanics. At the start of each round, the players secretly dial in maneuvers for each of their ships. Once all maneuvers are chosen, they are revealed individually, and each ship makes its move, the order of which is determined by each pilot’s piloting skill (lowest skill moves first, followed by next lowest, and so forth). Once everyone has moved their ship, each ship gets to fire, starting with the pilot with the highest skill and moving down. In this way, the pilot with the highest skill moves last and shoots first, which can provide an advantage, particularly if the pilot destroys a ship with a lower skill before it even gets to take a shot. There are a variety of actions and upgrades that can be used to modify attack and defense rolls. Additionally, some maneuvers are more “stressful” than others and can prevent your pilot from performing certain actions (as in, the pilot is so focused on successfully performing the maneuver, he/she can’t divert their attention to an enhanced attack or evade, etc.). The game really gives players the feel of a dogfight (at least a Star Wars dogfight), with ships weaving in and around others, trying to outguess the opponent and line up the perfect shot, all the while trying to avoid the other ships’ guns. it feels like a Star Wars space battle. I can almost hear Vader saying, “I have you now” as the members of Red Squadron prepare to make the Trench Run…

The various ships have different capabilities and upgrades, depending on the ship type. TIE fighters are more nimble and have less armor, while the X-wings don’t have the maneuverability but can stand up to more punishment. The different pilots also offer varying abilities and play differently. They range from Luke, an excellent pilot, to guys that are fresh from the academy. The pilots and upgrades have different point costs, encouraging players to experiment with a variety of squad builds and leaving the way open for multiple expansions, the first of which have already arrived.

A few negatives: The MSRP may seem a little high for gamers not accustomed to paying for miniatures. However, if you look at everything that comes in the box, it really seems to be worth the money (at least for me). Also, gameplay may become repetitive if every match comes down to just destroying the other side’s units. This can be overcome by playing scenario games. Three are included in the core set, and there are multiple fan-made ones already available on the web. And the biggest negative: I have to wait until the end of the year for more new expansions!

Overall, this game is a huge amount of fun. It does a great job of capturing the feel of Star Wars squad battles in space, is easy to pick up and play, and looks great on the table. This game is a must for any Star Wars fans and should provide lots of fun and entertainment for gamers of all types. I highly recommend it.

Go to the Bears! page


82 out of 90 gamers thought this was helpful

Bears! Is a light family-friendly dice game that is easy to teach and lots of fun to play. The premise is the you and your friends are on a camping trip when your camp is overrun by bears. At this point, you only have three options: run away, shoot the bears, or sleep through the whole thing. Each player rolls dice and matches sets to earn points doing the different options.

In terms of components, the dice are great. They are solid with nice clear images engraved on them. They seem to be capable of holding up well, and the game is packaged in a sturdy, well-illustrated box with simple, clear instructions.

The game plays with up to 4 players, and each player has a set of five black Player dice. Twenty Camp dice are rolled in the middle of the table, and then it becomes a race as each player simultaneously rolls their dice and grabs dice from the middle to make sets with their Player dice. When all the leftover dice have the same face (either bears or tents), someone yells “bears!” and the round ends. Each player scores their pairs of dice, and a new round starts. What adds a bit of strategy is the scoring. Shooting bears or running away always count for the same number of points, but sleeping through it counts as five points if there are only tents remaining (you got lucky) but causes you to lose points if there are any bears left showing (you got eaten). This adds an extra bit of fun and provides a bit of a push-your-luck aspect to the game.

The game is easy to understand and frequently results in a frenzy of chaotic dice-grabbing and rolling that is enjoyable enough to be played by adults and simple enough to be enjoyed by even young children. It works well both as a fun, quick filler or a light-hearted family game. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in a portable game that is appealing to adults and kids alike.

Go to the Summoner Wars page

Summoner Wars

46 out of 53 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ll start by saying if you have an IOS device and you haven’t purchased Summoner Wars for the IOS, you should stop reading now, go to the App store and download it. If you don’t have an IOS device, you should stop reading now, go to a real store to purchase one, and then go to the App store to download the game. It is really that fun.

For those not familiar with Summoner Wars, it is a skirmish-style card game played on a grid. The cards act as units and are moved around on the grid, interacting and attacking your opponent’s units. The goal is to destroy the other player’s Summoner. The various cards have different abilities, and there are multiple factions that have their own strengths and weaknesses. Destroying units provides magic that you can use to summon more and stronger units to the board. The game plays quickly and has a generous amount of tactical depth, requiring tough decisions that can have a tremendous effect on the outcome of the game. And it really is a blast to play!

The initial free download comes with one faction, the Phoenix Elves, and they can be used to play against the four AI factions that are currently available. The AI is passable and acts a decent primer for learning the strengths and weaknesses of various factions. However, once you purchase at least one other faction, you can play online in asynchronous mode against human opponents, which is what really makes the game shine. Facing a variety of live opponents allows tons of opportunity to experiment and really explore the multiple levels of strategy the game has to offer.

The IOS app was produced by Playdek, the same company that created the excellent Ascension and Nightfall apps, and they not only lived up to expectations, they surpassed them with their version of Summoner Wars. The graphics are very functional and well-done, and the gameplay is extremely polished and intuitive. If you’ve never played the game, an easy tutorial allows you to jump right in. If you have played the game, you’ll be summoning champions and building magic in minutes.

Obviously, I’m a fan, and the reason it took me so long to write a review is because I was too busy playing the app, but I do have a few small criticisms. The AI can sometimes take a long to process its move, which can slow down solo games. Also, there are a few particular special abilities that can be misplayed by a button press at the wrong time. It only takes a few instances of adding wounds to your Summoner for no reason to figure out how to avoid this, but it can be frustrating when you press the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Overall, this is an amazing app. It offers a huge amount of replayability and depth as you face different opponents online and experiment with building different decks for every occasion. It is easy to learn, and the price is quite reasonable. If you have an iSomething and even a small interest in a tactical skirmish game, you should definitely try Summoner Wars.

Go to the Last Night on Earth, The Zombie Game page
63 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ll start this review with the statement that I’m not a huge fan of zombie movies. I’ve seen my fair share of them, so I’m familiar with a lot of the cliches that go along with them. I don’t hate zombie movies, but I don’t seek them out to watch them. Having said that, I love Last Night on Earth: the Zombie Game. This game makes you feel like you’re living out a classic zombie movie, and, in my opinion, that is way more fun than watching one.

The first thing ot talk about is the theme because this game just oozes theme (along with various other disgusting and unidentifiable bodily fluids :)). The components, artwork, and gameplay all combine to produce the sensation of a frantic, losing struggle against a slow, overwhelming mass of enemies. The quotes on the cards and the situations the hero players find themselves in could have been pulled from any number of late-night B-movies, and it’s all done with the same kind of tongue-in-cheek feel. There are lots of opportunities to laugh and groan in equal measure. As an example, in a recent game, we witnessed the following events unfold: the troubled teen, in a fit of angst, bickered with his father, the sheriff, forcing them to lose a turn; that same sheriff later sacrificed himself to save his son; the high school sweetheart and the jock happened to be alone in a building and thought, “you know, this could be our last night on earth…,” and they lost a turn (just like in the movies!); that same jock was later trying to sprint away from zombies, only to be tripped and surrounded (he subsequently destroyed three zombies with his baseball bat and survived). The game really makes you feel like you’re immersed in a cheesy movie.

The components of the game are also great. It comes with 14 miniature zombies (in two colors, in case you end up with two players on the zombie team), 8 hero miniatures, hero and zombie card decks, a variable game board, multiple thick cardboard scenarios and hero cards, a ton of small dice, and various other cardboard counters and markers. Oh, and it comes with a soundtrack as well (more on that later). The miniatures are nicely sculpted, and while I at first thought it would be better with more zombies, the game is hard enough for the heroes to win, so having a limit to the number of zombies on the board does even the odds somewhat. The hero minis are also great, but it did take a little work to identify who was who. The gameboard is well done with a double-sided center piece that serves as the town square in some scenarios and as the manor house in others. Attached to the center square are randomly-chosen L-shaped pieces that include various locales. These are well-done and offer all the small-town places that zombie movies love to have, including a church (and graveyard), farmhouse (with cornfield), school (with gymnasium), and gunshop (with guns!). The scenario and hero cards are over-sized, thick cardboard pieces that look great and offer room for counters and card effects. And the best (or worst, if you don’t like cheesy zombie movies) part is that the various hero and zombie cards all depict scenes from a fictional zombie movie with live actors and over-the-top make-up and gruesome effects. These cards also include various quotes from the movie, as well (like, “Stand back! I’ll hold them off!”, and, “Urghhh!”). As I mentioned earlier, to complete the zombie movie feel, a soundtrack is included, but, while a nice touch, it doesn’t necessarily add to the game.

The gameplay is very straightforward and easy to pick up, making this very accessible to casual gamers. Depending on the number of players, one or two people play the zombies, and the rest take the role of four hero characters. These characters are all the usual zombie movie tropes, including a troubled sheriff, his angst-ridden son, a farm girl, a preacher, a nurse, the high school quarterback, and several others. Each round is made up of a zombie turn, followed by a hero turn. In the zombie turn, the zombie player moves the sun track marker, which acts a timer in the game (when the sun goes down, zombies overrun the town, and the game is lost), draws more cards, moves all zombies and fights with any that are able, and then adds any newly-spawned zombies. On the hero turn, each hero character has the option to either move (based on a D6 roll) or search (if he or she is in a building). They can then exchange items if they share a space with another hero, make one ranged attack if they have a gun, and fight any zombies in their space. Fights are based on rolling dice. The humans roll two and keep the highest; zombies roll one but win on ties, and the humans only kill the zombie if they roll doubles. What adds to the fun and drama of the fights is that the zombie and human player have the option to play various cards and items that help to modify dice rolls, add additional dice, or potentially cancel the other player’s cards. Also, depending on the weapon, certain rolls will result in the weapon breaking or the gun running out of ammo (doesn’t that always happen in zombie movies?).

In each game, the players run through a scenario, which determines the winning conditions for the heroes. There are five scenarios with the base game, and they vary from killing a certain number of zombies to gassing up the truck and escaping to saving the townsfolk. The scenarios vary in difficulty, and the same scenarios play out differently, depending on the special abilities of the hero characters in the game and the makeup of the gameboard. Flying Frog also has several downloadable scenarios available, as well as some included in various game expansions. This makes for a great deal of replayability.

In terms of negatives, the game definitely has some themes that may be inappropriate for younger audiences (just like a zombie movie). I actually take out the “last night on earth” card when playing when my son, but he thinks the zombie cards and pictures are great. Also, the rules may seem a little clunky to game purists (I think they work quite well, but I can understand that others may disagree). The game may also be a little too light for some gamers. The fun really comes with the player interactions and the general zaniness associated with hordes of flesh-eating monsters trying to devour innocent townsfolk. And if you don’t like zombie stuff, you probably won’t like this game.

Overall, I think this is a great game. It is really simple to teach and to learn. In fact, in some ways, this could be considered almost a party game because it is so accessible and fun. It has some great mechanics and fantastic theme, and it does an amazing job of producing an engaging narrative that will have you reliving game moments long after you finish playing. If you’re okay with zombies and some occasional off-color and over-the-top humor, this game is definitely one to get.

Go to the Hisss page


40 out of 41 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a great quick game that is simple, fun, and easy to learn. It is well-suited for young players, but it can be enjoyed by older players as well, making it perfect for a fast family diversion.

The premise is very staightforward and simple. The players take turns drawing and playing snake tiles of various colors to try to complete snakes. To add on to a snake, you have to have a piece that matches the color of one currently in play. Each snake has to have a head, a tail, and at least one midsection. If you complete a snake you get all those tiles, and the person with the most pieces when the last tiles are played wins the game.

The components are great, with nice chunky cardboard tiles. The snake pieces are very colorful and wonderfully illustrated, with lots of little details in the background. When not playing the game, our 5 year-old daughter just enjoys making as long a snake as possible.

One of the things that makes the game fun is the fact that it requires players to make decisions nearly every turn. Players are often faced with a choice of where to place their tiles and have to decide to risk extending a snake that someone else might get or make shorter snakes for less points.

The game is definitely geared towards a younger crowd and is great as an introductory game, especialy for toddlers and preschoolers. It provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about colors, matching skills, and counting. Additionally, the decision-making aspect can make the game enjoyable for older siblings.

Overall, I think this is a great game for young children and families. It is extemely easy to learn and plays very quickly, so kids stay engaged. It can be a lot of fun for the whole family, even one with older siblings, and it provides ample opportunities to reinforce color-matching skills. It is definitely one to look for if you’re interested in a game for kids that involves more than just rolling the dice and moving around a board.

Go to the Risk page


47 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful

Risk is another one of those classic games that many people remember fondly from their childhood. I can vividly recall multiple games with my brothers that involved nearly miraculous comebacks and amazing holdouts against overwhelming foes. I can also recall that we probably only finished about half the games we started because many just kept going on and on and on.

Risk always seems to start as a great idea. Multiple opponents square off in a high stakes contest of global domination, which sounds like great fun, but it ultimately seems to devolve into round after round of dice rolling without a lot of strategy. There are particular spots you want, and anyone with those has a decided advantage, so it frequently can come down to the luck of the draw with starting countries.

Having said that, it is very easy to get lured into the game because it just looks like it should be really enjoyable. There are multiple licensed versions that offer more appealing game pieces and some rule modifications, but again, the game usually ends up being the same old Risk with cooler pieces.

I do recommend that gamers should own a copy of this game (the five or six that don’t already own one) mainly because of its status as a classic, but that doesn’t mean you should play it regularly. It is probably worth owning, even if only for the nostalgia that it elicits in most of us.

Go to the UNO page


45 out of 51 gamers thought this was helpful

What can you say about Uno? It’s been around for years and years, most people can remember playing it as kids at some point or another, and it still works as a quick and easy family game that provides a decent amount of fun. Although it won’t make the top 10 for most gamers, when you consider what it’s meant to be (see first sentence), it’s a pretty good game.

One of the best things about Uno is the ease of teaching the game, particularly to kids. Even if the player can’t read, they can still quickly get the hang of playing and have fun. It’s also an excellent game to reinforce color and number recognition for younger (preschool) players. And it’s a nice introduction to a “gotcha” type of game, with it’s many opportunities to sabotage the other players. As a family, we have had many heated Uno games where fortunes can turn at the drop of a hat (or a draw 4 :).

Uno is also very portable and great to take on trips. It can be played anywhere and only needs a small amount of flat surface. There are multiple varieties of house rules that also add to the game’s replayability.

Overall, Uno isn’t necessarily a great game, and it’s definitely not one that most gaming groups will cheer for if you pull it out, but it works well as a family game that can be played quickly. The large amount of player interaction, simple rules, and fast, fun gameplay are reasons that this game is a staple for familes everywhere.

Go to the The Hunt for Gollum Adventure Pack page
69 out of 76 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ll offer this disclaimer up front:  I am a very big fan of the Lord of the Rings Living Card. The reason I’m a big fan is because it is a fun game with excellent artwork, amazing theme, challenging gameplay, and an engaging narrative. Since I really enjoy the base game, I am predisposed to have a positive view of this expansion, so keep that in mind. Having said that, this isn’t one of the best expansions available, but if you’re interested in the game, you should still pick this one up.

The quality of the components is great, as usual. The cards are well-made, and the artwork is up to the usual high standards. 

The gameplay is not changed significantly with this expansion, as it follows the same mechanics as the core set. One thing that stands out when playing through this adventure is the sheer number of locations that keep coming up. This may be frustratingly tedious for some players, and it will probably make this one of the adventures that isn’t replayed as much. Knowing how the rest of this adventure pack cycle plays out, I have to say that I like how the number of locations really adds to the narrative of the game. This expansion is setting the stage for ones to come, and it does a good job of presenting a long and exhausting search for signs of an elusive prey. By the time you’ve continued this hunt to it’s conclusion with the Return to Mirkwood, you will feel like you have participated in an engaging narrative arc. The story may start off a little slow, but it will be rewarding to stick with it until the end.

Even if you don’t care for this quest, it is a worthwhile pack to get for the useful cards it adds that you can use to build your deck for later expansions. Dunedain Mark provides additional attack for your heroes, Song of Kings provides a leadership icon, and Bilbo Baggins provides a realitively low-cost lore hero that can be useful with his additional card drawing ability. There are also a few useful Eagle cards for anyone interested in focusing on an eagle deck.

Overall, I think this is a nice expansion to a great game. It doesn’t shake things up, but it’s not meant to. It does offer more gameplay and sets the stage for an ongoing story, all at a reasonable price. It also provides some nice opportunities to expand your deck and play options. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys the base game and is looking for more adventures.

Go to the Summoner Wars Master Set page
76 out of 83 gamers thought this was helpful

Summoner Wars is one of those games that tends to defy classification. It’s a card game, but your cards move and act like miniatures on a game board. It’s collectible in that you have multiple factions and expansions available to add to your armies, but there is no blind purchase element to it. It’s a tactical skirmish game with variable unit abilities and strategic decisions, but it only takes half an hour to play. So what kind of game is this? It’s all those things combined, and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.

For this review, I’ll focus on the Master Set, but I will provide some information on the various options for purchasing. The game started out with the release of two different starter sets, each containing two different factions, some dice and makers, and a folded paper gameboard. After that came several faction packs, reinforcement packs (to add to existing factions), and a limited run of a premium game board. Last fall, Plaid Hat Games released the Master Set, which contains six completely new factions, a sturdy game board similar to the premium one, and updated rules. All told, there are now over a dozen different factions to use, and each one feels different from the rest. In addition, there are plans to release updated versions of the starter sets, which can be difficult to find.

The main components of the game are the cards, and they are really well done. They are solidly made and will stand up to regular use, although sleeving them is always a consideration. You definitely won’t need to shuffle these multiple times in every game so they should last awhile, even unsleeved. The artwork really does a good job of presenting each army as a re-imagining of a lot of the classic fantasy races. The counters and dice are also functional (although the custom faction dice are really the coolest way to go). The board that comes with the master set is a definite improvement over the paper mats that came with the starter sets, but the paper mats are much more portable.

The gameplay centers around destroying your opponent’s summoner. Each turn you can summon units (if you have enough magic to pay the summoning cost), play events, move three units, and attack with three units (not necessarily the same ones that moved). This simple-sounding formula is made much more complex by the special abilities of the individual units, as well as the special abilities of the various summoners. The magic used to summon is earned by destroying your opponent’s units. Every unit you destroy goes into your magic pile and can be used to summon more units during your next summoning phase. In addition, at the end of your turn, you can choose to discard cards from your hands into your magic pile, speeding the buildup of magic, but also reducing the units you have available to summon. And when your deck runs out, there is no shuffling the discard pile; you play with what you have left in your hand. This really makes for some challenging choices as you have to constantly maintain a balance between summoning units and building your magic. Do you go for a rush of cheap common units to overwhelm your opponent or save magic for the big heavy-hitting champions? Do you save that great event in your hand until you can use it, or do you discard it to build magic?

As I mentioned earlier, the game designer has done a nice job of reworking some of the old standby fantasy races. These aren’t just elves and dwarves and goblins (oh my!). They are Shadow Elves, Deep dwarves, and Sand goblins (and more!), each with distinct mechanics that really make them stand apart. Each faction feels very different from the others, and each one requires an entirely new set of tactics, which just multiplies the replayability. In addition, the various factions are all competitive, although some are a little tougher to master than others. A lot of the fun comes from trying out the different factions against a variety of opponents.

Overall, this is a great game that keeps getting better. It provides great tactical choices and strategic decision-making in a session that plays out in thirty minutes. The gameplay is quick, straightforward, and just plain fun. The factions are extremely well-balanced and offer loads of options. I would recommend this game to anyone.

Go to the Legions of Darkness page
40 out of 41 gamers thought this was helpful

Many gamers may not be familiar with Victory Point Games, so I feel compelled to offer a little background on my introduction to the company. I am a big fan of Space Hulk and (what is essentially the source material for Space Hulk) the movie Aliens. In my research before purchasing Space Hulk, I stumbled upon discussion of a game called Forlorn: Hope by VPG. I bought it, played it, and now have several more titles from the company, including this one, Legions of Darkness,  which is strictly a solitaire game that plays in 45 minutes.

Now to the details: The most important thing is that you have to know what you’re getting when you buy from Victory Point Games. The company is definitely not concerned with flashy components or the fanciest miniatures. In fact, a lot of materials look like they were done with a printer at someone’s home, and the cuts on the markers aren’t always lined up correctly. In addition, the whole game arrives in a ziploc bag, so when you get one, your first thought will likely be, “what the heck is this?” Despite the game’s presentation, the company does seem to be concerned with fun mechanics and gameplay, so if you’re willing to overlook the components, which may be difficult, you will find a great game waiting to be played.

The basic idea for Legions of Darkness is that you are defending a castle from an onslaught of fantasy monsters. You have no hope of defeating these attackers, but if you can only hold out for three days, reinforcements will arrive, and you will be saved. The game is played on a map that includes the castle at its center, with five pathways for the attacking armies. As the defender, you have men-at-arms, archers, and priests, as well as five heroes with various abilities to protect your castle. The defenders can also use spells and castle upgrades to slow the advance, but again, there is no way to defeat them; you can only delay their advance or push them back. Each turn, a card is drawn that determines which armies move on each track, what events occur, and how many action and hero points the defender has for the turn. The action points are used to attack, build upgrades, cast spells, or restore your spells or divine energy. Additionally, some of the cards have quests that can attempted using hero or action points. The number of action points you have is affected by morale, which drops at each dawn. The cards also serve to advance the time track, and there is a separate deck for daylight and night. At night, the fifth track, the terror track, is used, but these armies retreat when the night ends.

Overall, the game does a great job of presenting a tight, quick, solitaire adventure. From the start, you never have enough points to do what you want to do, so you are constantly forced to make tough choices, and the decisions go a long way towards making you feel as if you are caught in a hopeless struggle, just trying to hold out a little longer. Admittedly, the components can sometimes prevent the player from being truly engaged, but the theme plays well despite this. If the game came with a large cardoard map, thick markers, and detailed miniatures like a typical Fantasy Flight product, it would likely sell many more copies and would be recognized and appreciated by a much larger collection of gamers.  Unfortunately, because of the way it is presented, a lot of gamers will be unaware or unwilling to play it. Anyone willing to overlook the components and give this one a try will find a well-designed solitaire game that is lots of fun to play. 

Go to the Space Hulk page

Space Hulk

114 out of 121 gamers thought this was helpful

I can’t claim to know the entire history of Space Hulk and its multiple editions. I came too late to the boardgaming hobby to experience the earlier versions, but I do know that this game had been considered a classic for a long time, and there was a great deal of excitement when it was rereleased in 2009. Having now played the game multiple times, I can understand what the excitement was all about. Ths is definitely one of the most engaging and intense games I have played.

I have to talk about theme first because the game just oozes theme. For anyone who has seen the movie Aliens, the story will seem very familiar. A small team of space marines is moving through dark, cramped corridors in a derelict space ship while a seemingly never-ending horde of alien monstrosities stalks the halls, seeking to eliminate them. This is combined with the Warhammer 40K universe, so they aren’t just marines, but terminator marines in huge, powered armor suits with stormbolters and chain fists. And the aliens are a swarm of razor-clawed genestealers with a towering broodlord. The marines are always outnumbered and always one die roll away from being shredded, despite their seemingly-impenetrable armor. The game truly does an amazing job of bringing the feel of a “desperate battle” to the table.

The components are just awesome, and they make this one of the best-looking games I have ever played. Included with the set are 23 plastic genestealer models and 12 space marine terminators, all produced with excellent detail, from the chains and trophies on the armor to the pile of skulls at the feet of the broodlord. Even unpainted, the miniatures look great. The modular map is made up over 60 wonderfully-detailed carboard pieces that do an amazing job of presenting the twisting confines of an abandoned wreck. Even the stand-up doors are individualized and come with detailed sturdy plastic stands. From the moment you open the box, you can tell a lot of thought and love went into the making of this game. And a game in progress just looks beautiful sitting on the table.

The gameplay is staightforward and simple to teach. Each unit has action points that can be used each turn. The game does an excellent job of representing the relatively slow movement of the hulking space marines by giving them fewer action points than the genestealers and incorporating a timer into the marine turn. The genestealers are strictly melee, and their superiority is represented by their ability to roll more dice in an attack (the highest numbers are compared). The marines attempt to overcome this with sheer firepower. They have a ranged attack, as well as what is arguably the coolest mechanic in the game: overwatch. Each marine with a bolter or autocannon can spend action points to go into overwatch, which is akin to being on a sort of adrenaline high. When on overwatch, everytime a genestealer makes an action in the marine’s line of sight, the marine takes a shot, but on overwatch, the stormbolter has a potential to jam, which takes an action point to clear. This makes for some really fun moments when the marines are firing down long corridors at aproaching aliens, picking them off one by one, only to have the gun jam as the last one gets closer and closer.

The biggest downside to the game is that it was a one-time limited release and can be difficult to find at an affordable price. Also, there are a limited number of missions included with the game, and some have complained that this limits replayability. In my opinion, creating custom scenarios is easy and fun and greatly adds to the game’s longevity. It is also enjoyable to effectively double the number of scenarios by playing first as one team and then as the other, to experience both sides of the fight.

This game does almost everything right. It really does have a cinematic feel, and I have found myself reliving game moments in my head for days after the last play, thinking about getting just one more lucky roll without my bolter jamming and my marine being ripped to pieces. I would recommend this to anyone. It might take a little effort to get beyond the sticker shock, but if you can afford it, this is truly a classic.

Go to the Forbidden Island page

Forbidden Island

130 out of 137 gamers thought this was helpful

It’s hard to argue with this much family fun in such a small, inexpensive package. Forbidden Island can easily be found for less than $15 these days, and it is quite a value for your gaming dollar. Overall, it offers fun, light, cooperative gameplay with a fair amount of replayability and simplicity. In this way, Forbidden Island can appeal to families with a variety of age ranges, can serve as an introduction to co-op play, and can act as a quick filler for more experienced gamers.

First the components: These are top notch. The four treasures are well-constructed and solid with a nice feel to them. They add to the fun theme of searching for ancient artifacts and provide a nice distraction for younger players. The cardboard pieces that make up the “island” are sturdy and well-made, with great thematic artwork. The player tokens are also nice, and the cards are quite functional. The metal box is also a lot of fun and makes the game stand out on the shelf (although this may be considered a negative by some, as it does’t fit on the shelf as well as some of my other games).

Anyone who has played Pandemic will find the games share a lot of similarities. The players are attempting to collect all four treasures and evacuate the island before it sinks. The game is a cooperative one, with all players working together, and if one person doesn’t make it, everyone loses. Each turn players have a limited number of actions they can perform, which includes moving their pawns, sharing a treasure card with another player on the same space, or “shoring up” adjacent spaces that have flooded. After taking their actions, players must draw additional treasure cards and then reveal flood cards that correspond to the tiles that make up the island. If an island space is revealed by a flood card twice without being shored up, it disappears into the ocean forever. This can drastically affect the game, as the various treasures that must be collected are only available on specific island tiles. If those tiles sink before you collect the specific treasure, the game is over. Also, to add to the tension, hidden in the treasure card deck are multiple copies of the dreaded “waters rise!” card, which increases the number of flood cards drawn each turn and causes the flood discard pile to be shuffled back to the top of the flood draw pile. The game becomes a race against time, as the flood rate increases, and the island tiles sink around you. To add flavor to the game, each player assumes a role, and each role has a special ability that alters the rules of the game.

Overall, this a great family game. It is simple to teach and easy to play, yet provides a challenge, particularly to younger players. It makes for a great introductory game to non-gamers, especially those with little experience with the cooperative aspect. With the randomized island tile placement and the various possible roles available, the game offers a great deal of replay value. My only complaint is that it can be easy to beat at lower difficulty levels, but this is easily remedied by starting the flood rate at a higher level. I would definitely suggest Forbidden Island to anyone looking for a quick, entertaining co-op, particularly one that will be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike.

Go to the Heroscape Marvel: The Conflict Begins page
62 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve already posted a glowing review of Heroscape as a game in general, but I thought I’d offer a review on Marvel: The Conflict Begins. This is actually the set that initially sparked my interest in Heroscape and ultimately opened my eyes to the wider world of hobby boardgaming. It offers a great combination of fun tactical gameplay, excellent quality miniatures, and easy-to-learn mechanics that provide varying degrees of difficulty.

Like classic Heroscape, Marvel Heroscape (Marvelscape for short) is a miniature-based tactical skirmish game using a customizable map and terrain. When comparing this master set to other master sets, you will notice that there is a smaller amount of terrain and fewer miniatures, but the same great level of detail is present in every piece. Marvelscape uses the same rules as classic Hersocape with some minor alterations, most noticeably in the use of variable glyphs and destructible terrain elements. The biggest difference is found in the units, with the superheroes having, on average, much higher stats for life, attack, and defense. They also have stronger special abilities that fit their unique superhero flavor, and they have, for the most part, much higher point costs, with the Incredible Hulk being the most costly unit in Heroscape.

As far as the components go, this is Heroscape, so the quality is top-notch. The miniatures are fantastic, with some great sculpts, and the terrain is the same nigh-indestructible stuff we’ve come to expect. The types of terrain have been updated to reflect the theme of this as a cityscape battle and includes cement, asphalt, and a brick wall with a destructible piece. Although not as much terrain as the earlier master sets, the components are still extremely high quality. A great touch is that each hero comes with a corresponding villain to encourage some great archenemy matchups.

Regarding the gameplay, again, this is Heroscape, so the rules are straightforward and easy to learn or teach. Players take turns moving and attacking with the various units, using a variety of special abilities. Playing with these units really does give the feel of super-powered heroes slugging it out in the middle of town. The designers have done an excellent job of approximating the comic book powers as Heroscape special abilities. One thing of note: the game designers have been quoted as saying that Marvelscape was not necessarily meant to be played with Heroscape, so although compatible from a rules standpoint, the characters are noticeably overpowered when compared to standard Heroscape units (which makes sense; they are superheroes, after all). Many of the various Heroscape tournaments will restrict Marvel units to specific matches as a result of this.

Overall, this is a great game. It really functions well as a stand-alone game, but it can also be incorporated into classic Heroscape as long as you recognize the potential issues. The theme is great, and this set serves a great role as a gateway to Heroscape. It has started many a Heroscape player (myself included) on the road to addiction. The units are a lot of fun, and it would have been great to have more official superhero units, but, alas, this was not meant to be. There is, however, a large portion of the online Heroscape community that is dedicated to producing custom super units, and these can fit in well with the characters from Marvelscape. Additionally, this set can still be found in some stores at a reasonable price, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone, particularly someone interested in a taste of Heroscape at an affordable price.

Go to the Heroscape page


70 out of 77 gamers thought this was helpful

I can’t say enough about Heroscape. There is definitely something for everyone in this game. If you want a great variety of detailed miniatures, this is your game. If you want a tactical skirmish game with unlimited replayability, this is the game for you. If you want some of the coolest terrain available and endless options for customization, it’s here. If you want a game that is just plain fun and can be appreciated by adults and kids alike, this is definitely the game for you.

Heroscape can be described in a lot of ways, but I would characterize it as a tactical miniatures skirmish game using customizable terrain. There is definitely a bit of a collectible game to it because many expansions, both units and terrain, were released at various times. But it has never been a blind purchase game, as the content of all the master sets and the various expansion sets were known prior to purchase. It also doesn’t fit into any particular genre, as the units being used cross over into multiple historical periods and pull from various science fiction and fantasy staples, from samurai to Roman legionnaires, from alien biotech monstrosities to World War II soldiers, from elves to dwarves to orcs to dragons. It’s all there, and they are all fighting alongside and against each other.

I’ll start with the components. These are great miniatures. They are well-made and detailed and can withstand a huge amount of use. It seems pretty evident that a great deal of imagination and love went into creating these units. And the original master set includes an orc riding a dinosaur, which just makes the whole thing pretty darn cool. Along with the miniatures, you have the terrain, which is made up of multiple hex-shaped pieces that fit together and stack to make any type of map you need. The terrain pieces are extremely sturdy, fit well together, and just look great when put together to make a map on the table. In addition, there are great custom dice that help to complete the fun.

In terms of gameplay, Heroscape has both basic and advanced rules. The basic rules are really just meant as an introduction to the game. The advanced rules (not necessarily advanced meaning difficult because I have been beaten by many a 7 year-old who has a great grasp of these “advanced” rules) are where the real fun lies. Each player takes turns moving and attacking with a portion of his or her army. The units come in a huge variety and offer multiple options for movement, range, and attack strength. In addition, different units have special attacks and abilities that come into play and can offer damage and defense bonuses as well as other options. Also, very straightforward rules for height and line of sight are used when resolving attacks. The gameplay is simple and elegant and yet offers a great deal of strategic depth. And most importantly, it is really a huge amount of fun.

As I said, I really just can’t say enough about Heroscape. The only negative I can think of is that it has been discontinued for about a year now, and it is getting harder to find the master sets and expansions without paying obscene amounts of money (been there, done that). The game offers a wealth of imaginative and varied units and infinitely customizable terrain, coupled with easy-to-learn rules and multiple strategic options. It is a great game, and I recommend it to anyone.

Go to the Survive: Escape from Atlantis! page
88 out of 95 gamers thought this was helpful

My first impression of Survive: Escape from Atlantis was, “wow, that’s some awesomely thick cardboard!” My second impression was that this is quite a fun little game for kids and adults alike. There is ample opportunity to play relatively nicely with the younger ones, coupled with many chances to play brutal, laugh-as-you-sink-your-opponent’s-boat-amidst-a-pool-of-circling-sharks, high stakes competition with older players. This game has a little something for the whole family.

Stronghold Games has done an excellent job with the components for this game. The wonderfully decorated gameboard and the thick, chunky cardboard combine with the great wooden pieces to produce a game that’s as fun to look at as it is to play. My 5 year-old daughter, although she doesn’t quite get all the nuances of play, still thoroughly enjoys moving the wooden people, boats, and monsters around the board.

The game is a blast to play. It is extremely easy to learn and to teach, and you can be playing within 15-20 minutes of opening the box. Turns move quickly and can affect any player on the board, so even the youngest players will stay engaged. There is a fun sense of tension throughout, as the island sinks piece by piece each turn, and you never know when your boat that’s on the way to safety may end up capsized by a whale, dumping your helpless passengers in the ocean to face circling sharks or sea monsters. There is also great opportunity to do unto others, as each turn you control one of the ocean denizens and can guide it to where it will do the most damage to your opponent. The chance to mess with the other players can really result in a good-natured game of sabotage and backstabbing, particularly if you play with the right group of people.

Overall, this is a great family game that can be a lot of fun for adults as well. The simple rules combined with the fast gameplay make it ideal for a quick game night or as an entertaining filler. The engaging mechanics and multiple opportunities to hose your opponent may make this a filler that gets repeated multiple times. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a light game that can be enjoyed by a variety of players.

Go to the Zombie Dice page

Zombie Dice

32 out of 36 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve read mixed reviews of Zombie Dice, so I thought I’d add my own opinion to the mix. This can definitely be a fun little game as long as you don’t expect too much from it. It has a great theme; who doesn’t love the idea of being a zombie eating brains while avoiding the hated shotgun?

The components, what few there are, are top notch. The dice are heavy, fun to roll, and look great.

The game is easy to learn and simple to play. It’s about as straightforward as a push-your-luck-game can get. You roll the dice and decide if you want to risk rolling again. If you stop, you count the brains you’ve accumulated this turn, if you get a total of three shotgun blasts, you lose any brains you’ve earned during your turn. The first to get 13 brains wins, although everyone gets to go the same number of turns, so I’ve had games where someone thought they had won with 13, only to have the last person roll 8 in a row to win with 14. With the right group there can be lots of cheers and laughs as you slurp your way to victory or get splattered one brain away from a win.

This is definitely a short filler game. There isn’t a lot of strategy or particularly tough decisions to be made, but it can be a lot of fun. It’s relatively inexpensive, so I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, brainless (pun intended) diversion while you’re setting up for the next big game or looking to kill some time.

Go to the Elder Sign page

Elder Sign

73 out of 80 gamers thought this was helpful

When I heard about Elder Sign, my first thought was, “thwarting an otherworldly eldritch horror and getting to roll a bunch of dice at the same time? Where do I sign up?” For anyone with an interest in the Lovecraft theme and an appetite for dice-rolling like me, this would seem like a no-brainer. After playing several times, I have to say that I definitely enjoy the game, but it isn’t quite a lighter version of Arkham Horror.

From a components standpoint, Fantasy Flight Games has lived up to their usual reputation. The dark artwork and flavor text on the cards really help to convey the sense of otherworldly dread that is expected to accompany any trip into the Lovecraft universe. The cards and markers are well-made and come in the usual variety of sizes. The clock that is used to mark the arrival of yet another midnights is very functional and sturdy. And the custom dice are just plain cool!

In terms of gameplay, I was a little skeptical at first, but I find that I enjoy the dice mechanic that is used to resolve the various adventures and move the game forward. There is a bit of resource management as you decide when to use clue tokens and items to reroll or add extra dice, and there are some strategic decisions to make as you determine which investigator is best suited to tackle each adventure. The random nature of the dice may turn some players off, but I found it to be very fun and engaging. It’s a great feeling to roll those two “terror” symbols to complete the task when you’re down to your last two dice. The addition of random monsters based on the adventure and mythos cards also adds a challenge to the game.

Which leads me to one problem with the game. If your luck is with you, it can definitely be easy. I have won pretty handily on a couple of occasions because the dice just went my way. On the other hand, if you’re having a bad juju day, you might not be able to complete a task to save your life (or your sanity, for that matter). Some have complained that the game is too easy, but I like that it has the potential to be won in under an hour. I do wish the narrative was a little more developed. Sometimes, instead of feeling that you’re part of a dark race to save mankind from unspeakable horror, you feel like you’re just moving your marker and rolling some dice, and then moving your marker and rolling some more dice, etc.

Despite this, I thoroughly enjoy the game and would recommend it to anyone. The game is easy to teach and to pick up for someone who plays casually, and the cooperative nature may be more fun for those who are not be well-versed in other heavier games. There are enough decisions to keep players engaged, and the theme is enjoyable enough to attract those who enjoy games with a little more substance. The relatively short duration makes it an easy game to play more than once in a night and also makes it less intimidating than a full-on attack of Arkham Horror. This is definitely a game that I will continue to play.

Go to the Omen: A Reign of War page

Omen: A Reign of War

46 out of 47 gamers thought this was helpful

As gamers, we have a need to categorize games, saying, “this is a miniatures game,” or “that’s a co-op game, ” or this one has worker placement or deck-building, etc. With Omen: A Reign of War, John Clowdus has developed a card game that seems to defy typical classification.

One of the most striking things about the game is the artwork. Small Box Games has done an amazing job with the illustrations on each card. Michael “Riiven” Ng’s work really helps to pull players into the dark atmosphere of the game. Although the pictures may not be appreciated by some, I feel the artwork alone is worth the price of the game.

The object of the game is to earn victory points. This is done in two ways: by accomplishing various feats, which are achieved by playing specific patterns or types of cards or forcing your opponent to discard certain numbers of cards, and by earning rewards, which come from winning wars in the the five cities. The game is made up of turns that are divided into multiples steps. In each turn, the players have the opportunity to gain coins or draw cards, play units into cities, take advantage of special abilities from any active “oracles” present in the cities, resolve any “war-torn” cities and potentially earn rewards, and then make offerings to convert cards from their hand into additional cards or coins.

What makes the game great is the variety of difficult decisions you are forced to make from the very start of each turn. In your “wealth” step, you can choose some combination of three coins or cards, but if you decide to choose only one type, you get a bonus resource. Do you choose to pick cards and coins, or do you sacrifice earning coins to get an extra card? The decision may come back to haunt you when you don’t have enough coins to put the extra cards into play. The beast units can be played into the cities to provide strength in a war, or they can be discarded to utilize their special abilities. The reward cards gained from winning in cities can be used for special advantages on a turn, but then they are worth less victory points at the end of the game. In playing the game, you continuously make difficult and fun decisions that can have significant effects on the outcome of the game.

To me, a telling point about the quality of gameplay is that my wife, who is definitely not a gamer, will ask, ” do you want to play that card game tonight?” It is visually impressive, competitive and tense with lots of complex decisions, and can be played in less than an hour without feeling like a “filler” game. And it comes in an extremely creative package (an old VHS tape box). I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a fun, engaging challenge.

Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
68 out of 76 gamers thought this was helpful

I continue to be a sucker for theme, and Lord of the Rings the LCG certainly has theme. It is very evident that the game designer has an appreciation and understanding of Tolkien’s works. Obviously some artistic license has to be taken, but they really seem to have done their best to work this game into the narrative established by Tolkien.

The components are excellent, with beautiful artwork on the cards and a heavy, durable threat indicator (which you will use a great deal). There is bit of a learning curve, but after a few practice playthroughs, the game moves along smoothly. The gameplay, although at times a bit abstract (you are representing dangerous quests and fatal confrontations with enemies using cards, so what do you expect?), does an excellent job of presenting the hardships and dangers faced by the heroes of middle earth.

The novels seemed to represent the various races as always on the brink of being swept away by the encroaching wilderness or the rise of dark forces, and this is certainly how it feels in the game. It can be extremely challenging and what appears to be imminent victory can quickly turn to ignominous defeat with the aopearance of a few well-placed treachery cards. The game also appears to scale well, presenting an enjoyable solo experience as well as a fun cooperative game for multiple players.

The addition of affordable monthly expansions should keep the game fresh, and that, along with the prospect of experimenting with a variety of deck builds provides for a great deal of replayability. There are complaints that multiple core sets will be needed for more extensive deck-building, but for the more casual enthusiast like myself, this probably won’t present much of a problem.

I would recommend this to any gamer who enjoys Tolkien’s novels, as well as to anyone who likes LCG’s. The rich artwork and the obvious appreciation for the subject matter, coupled with a solid, enjoyable solo and multiplayer game, really make this an excellent game to own.

Go to the Monsterpocalypse: 2 Player Battle Box page
32 out of 33 gamers thought this was helpful

I’m a big fan of theme, and Monsterpocalypse has plenty of theme to spare. If you’ve ever enjoyed those cheesy giant monster movies, this could be a great game for you. It really recreates the feel (or what I imagine the feel would be) of crashing through a metropolis, trading blows with a colossal foe while puny tanks or auxillaries take potshots at you.

The first impression always counts, and Monpoc definitely makes a good one. The components are top-notch, with excellent detail and a variety of playable units. The buildings are sturdy and well-made, and the box contains enough to get started right away. Most importantly, the monsters are just plain cool, whether you’re playing a giant mutated dinosaur, an evil entity from another dimension, or a genetically-engineered cyber ninja. And they all come prepainted, definitely a plus for me.

What makes the 2-player battle box great is that it contains two fully-playable factions right out of the box. This is a huge improvement over the original blind-purchase model, in which each starter set contained a monster and a variety of random units. Now, there’s no need to chase down booster packs; you can play a two-player game with the quick-start rules within minutes of opening the box. In addition to the armies provided, you also receive a good number of buildings, which helps to fill the maps from the start and opens the game up for its special brand of resource management.

Which brings me to gameplay: The great minis are complemented by a surprisingly deep resource management system that utilizes a variety of dice. The dice are used for movement, spawning units, and a huge variety of attacks for your monsters as well as your units, and you are constantly trading dice back and forth from units to monsters. You have to choose between activating units or your monster each turn, and this means that you are frequently making hard decisions on how to use your scarce resources. With that in mind, there is a lot of fun to be had in surprising your opponent with an unexpected monster activation and throwing him (or it) through a building.

That is where a great deal of the theme shines through. Using the various special attacks really makes the game feel like a clash of titans. You can destroy buildings, bodyslam your opponent or charge into him and knock him into a burning pile of rubble, and even pick up hapless units and toss them through the air at the opposing monster. The variety of attacks and abilities is staggering.

Which brings me to the biggest downside of the game: the variety of abilities is difficult if not impossible to remember and makes for a steep and intimidating learning curve. Playing involves a lot of stopping to look up effects, which does pull the player out of the game. Using the rulebook for this can be difficult because of the small type, but reference cards can be downloaded and make looking up abilities easier. Additionally, purchasing a DMZ pack, which contains multiple monsters, units, and buildings from the same faction, will provide you with a reference card to use, as well.

Another negative is the occasional issue with the minis breaking off the base, which has happened to me on at least two occasions. They are fixable with super glue, but this is less than desirable. Privateer Press will provide a free replacement miniature, no questions asked, so the excellent customer service somewhat made up for this.

Overall, this is a great game with an amazingly cool theme. The monsters are extremely detailed and cover all the fun giant monster stereotypes. The factions appear balanced, and the units and buildings, along with the unique resource management, offer a good degree of strategic depth. If you’re willing to work through a fairly steep learning curve, you’ll be sure to find an entertaining title that is loads of fun, and it is now available in a great new format. I highly reccomend giving it a try.

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