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Follow a total of 10 games
Go to the Twilight Struggle page
Go to the Dominant Species page
Go to the Innovation page
Go to the Agricola page
Go to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords (Base Set) page
50 out of 64 gamers thought this was helpful

I really wanted to love this game, I love the pathfinder RPG and the card game system on paper sounded amazing. Differing levels of actions based on where the cards you use end up (i.e. recharging onto bottom of deck, banishing back into the box and out of the deck permanently, etc) sounded like there would be some interesting decision to be made, and of course there would be theme right?

Well…after playing this 5 or 6 times, I can say that I honestly have no desire to ever play it again, and it will only happen if my group needs me to help finish a campaign. Even as a game you can just easily shoot the **** over, it fails. The theme? Completely non existent. Each scenario plays out EXACTLY the same as every other. The villains have some small differences in abilities, and there are different names of the locations you are visiting, but the game play is exactly the same, over and over again. There are no real interesting decisions to be made. Find a villain? Close the location. Wash, repeat. Most of the classes get to the point where most combat is meaningless and you will surely win, unless you will ***************** lose (which is rare). The upgrades are nice but really favor the melee classes, though there are some nice spells you can pick up. But even the feats and traits you can level up into never really give a sense of there being an organic character you are playing, it’s just a rote recipe repeating itself over and over.

Like I said earlier, perhaps this will work for your group if you want something light you can play while throwing a few beers back and catching up with friends, but there are SO many games out there now to fit every conceivable need, that I just cannot recommend this one.

Go to the Dominant Species page

Dominant Species

139 out of 148 gamers thought this was helpful

Dominant Species is an incredible worker placement game. I actually hesitate to call it that because it’s so different than most of the worker placement games out there. It’s really almost a wargame with a worker placement engine, and a great theme. Each player takes the role of one of 6 animals, each with its own special ability, and with its own place on the food chain. Players start out in an almost completely equivalent situation on the earth, and control both the expansion of the earth itself and the glacier turning all of the different land types into barren tundra via actions. They also control the placement of elements onto the earth (after setup), and an animal can only live on a tile of earth if it has a matching element on its card.

Every animal starts with two of the same element (the amphibians’ special ability is a 3rd, making them more specialized), and can gain new elements via an action, but have to be wary because they can lose the newly acquired elements through card effects and via random draws out of the element bag that are not mitigated. During tile scoring, one of the most important actions, the animal with the largest number of species (cubes) on the tile scores the most points, and the most valuable tiles award points not only to the most abundant animal but to the second, third, and sometimes 4th most as well. ALSO, and this is what the people who decry the *massive* amounts of math involved in the game (sarcasm at full tilt there), animals can be dominant on tiles. This has nothing to do with the number of species you have there, you can be dominant with just one species when someone else has 20 there. If you match more elements than any other animal, and you have at least one cube on a tile, you are dominant on that tile. The rulebook explains dominance clearly, but for new players it can be hard to keep track of because there are elements constantly being added and removed from earth. When a tile is scored, the animal that is dominant (not necessarily the one that scored the most VP from it) must execute a domination card effect, of which there are 5 available each turn. These are often extremely powerful and useful, and the fight over dominance is sustained and important.

This is a truly fantastic game. In fact, it’s SO well designed that it’s kind of shocking at times. But it can be hard to see this clearly at first, because the sheer number of available actions can initially be a bit overwhelming, and the best path to victory may not be clear. It’s important to explain to new players the importance of the survival card (where the animal with the most species on tundra tiles scores bonus points for the number of tiles they are spread across, as the game progresses this can score MASSIVE points), and the Ice Age card’s bonus scoring (where you score bonus points for the number of tiles you dominate, and then the game ends with final scoring).

The different animals all play differently and it’s fun to pick them randomly and try to score well with each different one. There are interesting 2 and 3 player variant rules where each player controls 3 or 2 animals respectively, and their final score is the LOWEST amongst all their animals, which requires you to try to score well with all of them (definitely not recommended for a first play!).

Perhaps the only thing I can say about the game that’s negative is that it can definitely play a bit long, though this is mitigated tremendously with a group of people that have all played before. If euro style games and/or war games aren’t your thing, and you aren’t into games with a deep mix of strategy and tactics, this won’t probably hit for you. If you don’t feel like thinking tonight, don’t table this. But if you’re willing to dedicate the time to learning this and playing it a few times, you’ll be richly rewarded. In large groups I introduce this to, most of the group loves it, but there is often one guy for whom it doesn’t click. Part of the problem is that when playing against more experienced people, you can end up in an unwinnable situation and be forced to slog it out, though I personally feel that learning a game while losing just gets me ready to run it back and win in the future!

One of my highest recommendations for sure

Go to the Nightfall page


61 out of 68 gamers thought this was helpful

Dominion is the granddaddy and offers tons of replayability, but I really think Nightfall gives it a run for its money. There is so much good here:

1) You draft. This is a great addition and adds a layer of intrigue to the game. When you draft the resource cards, you are choosing two piles that ONLY YOU can draft from, and you are also choosing one card pile to be removed from the game.

2) There is no downtime. Waiting for other players to complete their turns, especially in other deckbuilders, can be extremely annoying. In Nightfall the chain mechanic gives you something to do every single turn. Deciding when to play your chains is really important too! Playing cards at an inopportune time can really hurt. The last-in-first-out stack nature of the chain is really important, and will familiar to magic players.

3) You have constant interaction with other players. Kind of related to point number 2, but one of my biggest problems with deckbuilders in general is they feel like a group solitaire session. Yeah dominion has attack cards, and Ascension allows you to banish cards which can hamper plans, but overall you are kind of in a bubble. Not so here. You are constantly attacking other players with your minions, giving them wound cards. These wound cards determine who wins the game at the end (but unlike curse cards, a couple wounds can actually speed your deck up!).

4) Chaining is fun. It really is. Buying cards to facilitate creation of huge chains, chaining on someone else at just the right time to foil someone else’s plans…it’s a blast and it keeps you highly engaged.

A possibly significant con:
This game does play with serious political consequences. Since you are able to attack anyone, if you stir up some bad blood early on you can be ganged up on, and in a multiplayer game you won’t have much chance of winning. Since wounds are mixed into your deck there isn’t much of a visual indicator to tell who is winning, but there can be a pretty obvious feel for it. If you take your games too seriously / are a poor loser/ that sort of thing, it might cause some rage. Fair warning.

Definitely buy this game if you are into this style of game, and even if you aren’t a big fan of Dominion/other deckbuilders, there’s enough different here to give it a shot. I’ll say this, my group has dozens and dozens of hours on record with dominion and ascension, but when I bought this game, it was played by a rotating group of people for 12 hours straight, and people wanted to keep playing at the end of the session. I haven’t tried any of the expansions yet but i’ve heard great things. Definitely check this out.

Go to the Android: Netrunner page

Android: Netrunner

89 out of 97 gamers thought this was helpful

While I love truly balanced games, asymmetrical games can be very fun as well (not that they have to be exclusive), and that’s what Netrunner is. One player plays a megacorporation trying to score agenda points and/or kill the pesky runner, played by the other player, who is trying to hack into the corporation’s servers and cause as much damage as he can while attempting to steal corp agenda. This game is strictly limited to TWO players as a result. The rulebook does a fairly good job of explaining things (one of FFG’s better rulebooks I’d say), and includes a helpful flow of play diagram on the back which you will probably want to leave face up the first couple of times you play. The quality of components is high as well; sleeves will likely be required if you care about keeping the cards in good condition, but this is true of most any card game. The tokens are made of very thick cardstock and will keep for a long time. Also, if you like to punch things out, congrats, you’re in luck when opening this box! While there are enough baggies included to both sequester all of the tokens, and initially separate the corp/runner cards, you will probably want to invest in something else to store the cards. This is doubly true if you are interested in building different decks. That being said, the box is more than large enough to both accommodate not only the included cards, but also cards you may purchase in the future. You will just probably need to get a little creative as the included cardboard support can probably only hold about double the cards you’re initially supplied with (if you removed it you could fit about 5 times that many, but they’d be free to fly around inside).

A quick note: For those unaware what an LCG is, it is a format that Fantasy Flight has chosen to move to for their card games. Instead of booster packs containing a random assortment of cards from an expansion (sorted by rarity that give the cards differing collectible and monetary value), they release new material in 20 card increments, in packs that contain a fixed list of cards, with 3 copies of each (3 being the maximum number of copies you are allowed to include of any one card in a deck). This allows the game to grow and the environment to change without requiring you to spend a fortune to keep up (like with Magic: The Gathering). The expansion packs still have a MSRP of $15, however, so it isn’t exactly cheap either.

To return to gameplay: the runner and corporation are governed by similar but differing rules. For example, the corporation can perform 3 actions per turn, but always draws a card each turn. The runner can perform 4 actions but doesn’t draw a card unless he uses an action to do so (this is a nice bit of theme attached to an interesting decision – I can totally see a hacker exclaiming ‘I don’t have time for this!’ while staying up all night to complete a run). The runner attempts to access corporation servers which include the corp’s hand, draw deck, and discard pile, as well as any additional server they create in order to try to score agenda points or host valuable resources. The corporation guards these servers with ICE, which have a wide range of effects that the runner must use certain installed programs to defeat. What becomes interesting is that while the runner plays their cards face up, the corporation plays their cards face DOWN, so what is on their side of the board is a mystery. The corporation can and often will attempt to bluff the runner into believing one type of card is another, and since running can be expensive, in theory this can force some tough decisions. After playing for some time, in practice many times it can be obvious for the runner what is going on, but that kind of metagame depends some on who you play with and your local scene.

There are three different runner factions, and 4 different corporation factions. They all have a unique feel, and they are all adequately represented in the base set, which gives it a good degree of replayability. I will say that the base decks as they are suggested in the rule book (i.e. including only the cards of one faction and the neutral cards) will result in some matches being completely one sided. You will want to tinker with and substitute some cards (after reading the deckbuilding guide if you are new to this kind of game) in order to improve the quality of the gaming experience. Even after doing so, some of the corporation builds can feel woefully slow, it’s frustrating to be a supposed megacorporation and feel like you have absolutely no money! I’d say at this point the metagame highly favors the runner, but if you’re just looking for something to play with friends and don’t have interest in the game being absolutely balanced, this is definitely worth picking up, even if you don’t have any intention of purchasing any of the additional expansions.
(xpost from my amazon review)

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