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BC Indy

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Go to the Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game page
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Go to the Fleet page

Fleet

181 out of 189 gamers thought this was helpful

Background
Boardgames can be a bit like art in that they are a form of self-expression, can come from unexpected sources and can be solely judged on their own merits rather than their pedigree. Fleet is a game by first time designers Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback. Matt and Ben are lifelong friends who grew up and now work together as engineers at a Fortune 500 company in Detroit. After a few years of playing various ‘euros’ decided in their spare time (lunch hours) to create “the best game ever”. While they use that phrase tongue-in-cheek, they were successful in creating a solid game that ultimately picked up by Gryphon Games, who ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and published the game. At GenCon 2012, I was able to sit down with Matt to learn and play the game of Fleet.

Overview
Fleet is a card game set in the harsh high seas of the Arctic Ocean. Players will control a fleet of ships trying to most successfully fish the treacherous waters and, of course, score the most victory points. The main mechanics of the game are auctions and hand management. It has some of the essence and feel of Race for the Galaxy without all of the hard-to-learn iconography and with a well-connected theme.

The game accommodates 2 to 4 players and initially plays in about 45 minutes. Subsequent plays will reduce the average playing time to about 25 – 30 minutes per game. It is easy to learn and teach and has a similar complexity and weight to games like Dominion, Thunderstone, Eminent Domain, and Ascension (but with fewer cards than most of those).

Gameplay
The game is played over several rounds whose number is determined by certain game end conditions. Each round has five phases:
Phase 1: License Action – Players bid using cards for various fishing licenses’ of differing types.
Phase 2: Launch Boats & Hire Captains – Players may launch a boat by paying boat costs in cards and/or hire captains to boats by placing a card from their hand face down over one of their boats.
Phase 3: Fishing – Players place a crate of fish onto each of the captained boats with space available.
Phase 4: Processing and Trading – Players can process crates of fish on processing vessel and later trade them for a boat card.
Phase 5: Draw – Players draw two cards form the boat card supply and discard one.

The game ends on the round that one of the following occurs: there are not enough license cards to completely refresh the license auction, or there no more fish crates available.

The winner is determined by adding up victory points listed on purchased license cards and launched boats. And one victory point for each crate of fish on a boat and bonus victory points gained for the King Crab license.

Summary
The game is dripping with theme. You really feel like you are at sea fishing. The game is easy to learn but has deep veins of strategy. There is a lot of open information, so you can see what is happening without a photographic memory. The game is low in confrontation so feelings unlikely to be hurt. The gameplay is solid and fun. It reminds me of a San Juan (the cardgame follow up to Puerto Rico) with simpler gameplay and better art. It is fresh and different enough to put in any collection.

This game is great for:
• New players. You do not need a lot of experience to play this game.
• Players looking for a solid cardgame or medium weight filler game.
• Fans of deep sea fishing or deep sea fish TV.
• All types: Family, Casual, Social, Avid, and some Strategy and Power Gamers.

This game probably won’t work for:
• Someone looking for a long, heavy strategy game.
• People who are looking for direct conflict in their games.
• Power or strategy gamers who need strong levels complexity to feel satisfied.

Notes and acquisition
Currently, the game widely available in online game stores for about $20. I doubt it becomes a standard game in every boardgamer’s library but a nice change of pace.

8
Go to the King of Tokyo page

King of Tokyo

141 out of 157 gamers thought this was helpful

Background
Richard Garfield will forever be known as the man who invented Magic: The Gathering . It is a collectable card game (CCG) from 1993 that is considered the grandfather of all other CCG’s and still widely played today. People have spent tens-of-thousands of dollars building their decks and collection (a few weeks ago I sat next to someone who had over $100,000 worth of Magic cards with them). Garfield is also the creator of another CCG called Netrunner that is making a resurgence with the newly published Android: Netrunner. But Garfield also has ventured outside of CCG’s before with games like Pecking Order and Roborally. So is King of Tokyo another successful venture outside of CCG’s? Yes!

Overview
King of Tokyo is game where monsters fight to be “king-of-the-hill” in Tokyo. Players control a monster that they use to score glory points and inflect damage on other players’ monsters. The first monster to 20 glory points or the last monster left alive wins the game.
The theme is captivating but it has been done before. There was Avalon Hill’s Monsters Ravage America (1998) and its remake Monsters Menace America (2005) in which players control a monster they seek to keep alive the longest. More recently there was miniatures game called Monsterpocalypse where players control monsters that try to kill each other and destroy the city.
But King of Tokyo wins on more than just theme. Ultimately, I think its greatness comes from the sweet spot it hits for gamers of all types. It has a cool theme, great artwork, is easy to learn and to teach, a little strategy, the right amount of luck, plays quickly and is very fun. I know strategy and power gamers that love the game. It is a perfect warm up or filler game. And it is great for when your head is spinning from a 3+ hour heavy game like Die Macher or Roads & Boats.

Gameplay
On a players turn they roll a set of six die up to three times. The six sides of each die are 1, 2, 3, a claw, a lightning bolt and a heart. The numbers represent glory points but must be rolled in sets of three, with each additional matching number adding one glory (example: If you roll two 2’s that is worth zero glory points, if you roll three 2’s that is worth two glory points, and if you roll four 2’s that is worth three glory points). A claw either attacks (causes one damage to) the monster(s) inside Tokyo, if you are outside of Tokyo, or attacks everyone outside of Tokyo, if you are in Tokyo. The lightning bolt gives you power cubes which can be spent to purchase cards to give your monster special powers. The heart heals your monster one life point outside of Tokyo but does nothing inside of Tokyo. Player have a total of three rolls in which they can choose to reroll any amount of die each turn. The dice are passed clockwise after the current player has resolved their turn.

Summary
That is it. Simple. But the strategy comes from when and what to reroll, when to enter and when to leave Tokyo, and what cards to purchase and use. I have not played this game with anyone who does not like it. The game varies in play length from 10 to 30 minutes.

This game is great for:
• Players who like to have fun.
• New players. You do not need a lot of experience to play this game.
• Players looking for a filler game.
• All types: Family, Casual, Social, Avid, and some Strategy and Power Gamers.

This game probably won’t work for:
• Someone looking for a long, heavy strategy game.
• People who can’t take direct conflict. Other monsters are going to attack your monster with the goal of killing it. This is not a peaceful, multi-player-solitaire farming game.
• Gamers who often complain about luck. This game does use dice and people often equate that to luck. This game has less luck than Yahtzee but there is a strong component of luck.
• Power or strategy gamers who can’t stand dice.

Notes and acquisition
This game retails for $45 but can be found in online retailers for around $30. It has had issues with being out of stock but is currently widely available. When looking for a copy, make sure you get the 2nd edition which has engraved dice rather than the painted dice (which are pictured above and can wear off with frequent play). There is also an expansion that will be coming soon called King of Tokyo: Power Up!. It gives specific variable powers (in the form of cards) to each monster that add another level of strategy to the game.

8
Go to the Libertalia page

Libertalia

102 out of 133 gamers thought this was helpful

One of the biggest points of excitement about Libertalia is the theme: pirates. But it is not the first pirate themed game to exist (there are probably more than 150 including at least one collectable card game and one miniatures game). The question is, “How does Libertalia stack up against these other pirate games?”

Here are my top ten pirate games:

1. Merchants & Marauders (2010) – a 3+hour massive game where players choose to make a fortune through trade, treasure hunting or stealing others treasures. Great for avid, strategy or power gamers.

2. Libertalia(2012) – a very innovative simultaneous role selection game that involves direct conflict and plays in about 45 to 60 minutes. The card role interaction will remind some players of Citadels but on a much grander scale. Great for casual, avid, or strategy gamers.

3. Jamaica (2007) – a game of racing pirates who collect treasure along the way that plays in 45 minutes. This game uses dice and simultaneous action selection. Great for family, casual, or avid gamers.

4. Broadsides and Boarding Parties (1982) – a classic light, tactical game for two, where you command a pirate ships try to sink each other. This game could be #1 on either physical size (the pirate ships are a foot tall) or on nostalgia (old MB Gamemaster Series). Gameplay lasts about an hour. Great for family, casual, or avid gamers.

5. Cartagena (2000) – a game of pirates escaping from imprisonment in the fortress of Cartagena. Each player control six pirates that they try to lead to freedom. The game plays in about 45 minutes. Great for avid, strategy or power gamers.

6. Rum & Pirates (2006) – a Stefan Feld game where pirates compete for honor and the best sleeping quarters on the ship. This is probably one of Feld’s lightest games (in terms of game weight or depth) and plays in about an hour. Great for family, casual, or avid gamers.

7. Der Schwarze Pirat (aka: The Black Pirate- 2006) – the best pirate game for children under the age of 8 (Loot would be the second best). Each player commands a sailing ship (with a real sail) that actually is propelled by a bellow. You blow the ships around the game board to collect treasures, while avoiding the dreaded black pirate. Great for family and social gamers.

8. Pirates of Nassau (2012) – new “euro-type” pirate game with lots of choices and scoring options. Needs more exposure to move up (I have read about but not played). Lighter in weight, scope and length than Merchants & Marauders. Play time is around 2 hours. Great for avid, strategy or power gamers.

9. Blackbeard (2008) -a remake of Richard Berg’s 1991 Avalon Hill hex and counter game by the same title that changed to card driven battle system mechanic in the newer version. This is really a war game with a pirate theme. Great for war, strategy, or power gamers.

10. Pirate’s Cove (2002) – another simultaneous action selection game that involves hand management, as players try to capture treasure from six different islands. If one or more players end up on the same island, their ships battle using dice to decide who gets the treasure. A lighter pirate game that takes 90 minutes. Great for family, casual, and avid gamers.

Libertalia is great game with a fun theme. While it is new, I believe it does have “legs” and be a game that I am still playing 3 or 4 years from now. You may not need all ten of these pirate games but you should consider at least owning a couple (I own five of them – #s 1, 2, 4, 5 & 7). Pirates (in fiction) = more fun.

 
Go to the Pathfinder: Beginner Box page
172 out of 182 gamers thought this was helpful

What the heck is an RPG?
When someone says “role playing game” often people either think of people dressed up like elves or other mythical characters beating each other with foam swords. That is most likely what is called a live action role playing (or LARP for short). Pathfinder is what is termed a paper RPG, meaning it uses pieces and a game board and is designed to play on a table (think Dungeons and Dragons). There are more rules than a boardgame but less restriction and more room for creativity. RPGers are usually loyal to one or two systems and often play them exclusively for years (not in one sitting). Consequently the financial investment by these players in a particular system can be great, as more and more characters, miniatures, scenarios and rulebook revisions come to market. With RPG’s (especially Pathfinder)it is as much about the journey (the story created) as it is about the destination (winning).

What is great about the Pathfinder: Beginner Box?
If you are interested in investigating an RPG, the Pathfinder: Beginner Box is the way to go because:

1) It has everything you need to get started. The Beginner Box is a complete RPG introduction kit designed to welcome players new to paper RPGs and the Pathfinder system. It includes everything you need to run a full campaign in one box such as counters, dice, maps, character sheets, rules for players and GM. Also included are cardboard stand-up pawns of heroes and monsters which allow you to play the game without buying expensive miniatures. Miniatures are available to make the game better, yet painting, collecting, and storing minis is expensive and time consuming. The most important components are the two rulebooks: The Hero’s Handbook (64 pages) and the Game Master Guide (95 pages). The Hero’s Handbook has rules for the four classes: cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard. The majority of the The Hero’s Handbook is dedicated to character creation, while a third of the pages present illustrated and detailed equipment lists and combat rules. Half of the Game Master Guide consists of monsters and their magical loot, while the other half is spent on a full intro adventure and tips for leading game sessions. It has ideas on creating a story, how to draw dungeons, level design tips like avoiding symmetry, mixing up the encounter with puzzles, roleplaying opportunities, and other useful tips.

2) You will have people to play with. At GenCon 2012, the line at the Pathfinder booth was one of the longest. There were lots of people standing there with Pathfinder items in there hand ready to checkout. I have heard that it is currently outselling Dungeons and Dragons. Because there is an investment of time in any RPG, you will want to make sure that you are investing in something that you will actually get to use.

3) It is new. This may sound like a bad reason at first but it isn’t. Many RGP systems often have life cycles. You do not want to start in one that is in its last years, where players are leaving for other, newer systems. You get to get in on the “ground floor” as Pathfinder has only been in existence for about 3 years (D&D 3.5 has been around longer though). You won’t be playing players with 10+ years’ experience in Pathfinder but players close to same starting point as you.

4) A solid publisher. A good publisher means the world to a RPG and Paizo Publishing definitely fits the bill. Solid design, great art and the assurance that they will still be in a couple of years. They have experience in the RPG (with D&D 3.5 – which can be compatible with Pathfinder) and boardgames (with games like Kill Dr. Lucky and Falling).

5) Solid gameplay. I am not an experienced RPG player but those I have talked to say Pathfinder is a very good system. The introductory adventure they give is simple but effective and is extended online by a continuation adventure. The game can be played solo to help learn the materials. There is also a wealth of D&D 3.5 materials by Paizo to expand your game immediately. For a more in-depth gameplay explanation see pookie’s review and the official rule book link.

So if you are interested in dipping your toe in the water of RPG’s this is the way to go. And feel free to dress up like an elf and beat someone with a foam sword anyway.

9
Go to the Stone Age page

Stone Age

156 out of 163 gamers thought this was helpful

Background
If you are somewhat new to boardgaming you either don’t think about the mechanics of the game (mechanisms that are used in a game) or think that the worker placement mechanic has always been around. The worker placement mechanic requires players to draft individual actions from a set that is available to all players (translation: you place one of your pieces on a certain place on the board to take a certain action linked to that place). This mechanic is found in popular games like Agricola, Le Havre, Carson City, Kingsburg and new games like Lords of Waterdeep and The Village. It actually did not become popular until Caylus in 2005, and there were only a handful of games before it that pioneered the mechanic. Today there are over 200 games that use the worker placement mechanic but one of the best is Stone Age which came out in 2008. Set in the Stone Age (appropriately), players control a tribe that competes for resources and ultimately points with the other players tribes.

Overview
Stone Age is medium to light worker placement game that has set collection and dice rolling. It appeals to variety of gamers and has a very high replay value. It is considered one of the best games in the family games category and work well for children 10 and up. Despite being easy to understand, experienced players can find deep and varying strategies to achieve victory.

Game Play
Players share in central game board that is simply one of the most beautiful boards in any boardgame (created by Michael Menzel). On this board are resources (food, wood, brick, stone, and gold), three huts (a tool hut for tools that modify dice roles, a love hut that makes another worker and a farming hut that increases food production), buildings (that require resources but produce points) and civilization cards (which cost resources but produce an immediate effect and end game scoring bonus).

Players also have individual player boards, that they keep their resources, cards, buildings and unused workers.
In clockwise order, players take turns playing workers into marked spots on the main board. Once all of the workers have been placed by all of the players, the first player resolves all of his workers actions. Resource spots require rolls of dice to determine the effectiveness of the resource gathering. The player rolls one dice for every worker placed in each area and divides it by the predetermined number for that area (example: Player 1 places 4 workers in the wood gathering area, so he rolls four dice getting 1 + 4 +5 + 3 = 13 divided by 3 for wood = 4 pieces of wood gathered). For huts the effect is applied immediately if a worker is placed in that area. For buildings a certain combinations of resources is turned in and victory points are gathered immediately. For cards a specific number of resources are turned in and there is an immediate effect and they are kept for a game end scoring bonus. After the first player resolves all of his workers, then the next player resolves all of his and so on until all players have resolved their workers.

Next all of the players must feed their workers. If a player does not have enough food, then they incur a ten point penalty. The first player marker then rotates one player clockwise and the board is refilled with cards and buildings.

The game ends when either the buildings or cards cannot be completely refilled. Players reveal end game scoring cards and scores are totaled to determine the winner.

Summary
I love this game. It plays in an hour and a half, is simple to teach, fun and contains enough strategy for every type of gamer. Setup will take 20 minutes but cleanup is much quicker. It also scales well and makes a great two player game with the two player rules provided in the game.

This game is great for:
• Worker placement fans. If you like his other with the worker placement mechanic (see background section for examples) you will most likely like this game.
• Player who like to have fun. Some worker placement games feel like work, this one does not.
• New players. You do not need a lot of experience to play this game.
• Family, Social, Avid, and some Strategy and Power Gamers.

This game probably won’t work for:
• Someone looking for a filler game. Playtime will be 1½ to 2 hours.
• People who suffer from analysis paralysis (translation: they take long turns analyzing the perfect move or freeze up with tough decisions). There are lots of choices
• Gamers who often complain about luck. This game does use dice and people often equate that to luck. I would argue against the luck factor in this game, but some would still complain.
• Power or strategy gamers who can’t stand dice.

Note:
There is an expansion called Stone Age: Style is the Goal which is not a stand alone game, it requires the base game to play.

8
Go to the Thebes page

Thebes

40 out of 42 gamers thought this was helpful

Background
Thebes is a fun medium to light game about archeological exploration during the early 20th century. The board is beautifully designed and painted by Michael Menzel. Menzel is arguably the best artist in boardgaming. Examples of his work include Stone Age, The Pillars of the Earth, Shogun, World without End, A Castle for All Seasons and many other beautiful boards for board games. Thebes is actually a remake of a 2004 German game Jenseits von Theben. This Queen Games 2007 version mainly remains true to Peter Prinz’s hand made original with few tweaks and great art and component upgrades. The result is a game that has a great balance of strategy, tactics and luck. It really feels like you are an archaeologist digging for treasure (lost artifacts).

Gameplay
The game drips with theme but the mechanics shine even brighter. I will briefly talk about some of the unique aspects of the game:

The Time Track
Around the outside edge of the board is track that is numbered 1 to 52. These represent weeks. In the upper left hand corner are three years 1901, 1902 & 1903. Every action a player can take costs time. The player moves the amount of spaces that the action requires on the track and then takes the action. Usually better actions cost more time. A clever component of game is that only the player the furthest back can take an action. So player are constantly changing order of play and leapfrogging each other on the time track. Occasionally one player may fall far behind as all of the other players take time heavy actions. This player can choose to take several actions back to back as long as he or she is still the last player on the time line. The game ends when all of the players have finished 1903. So what are these actions that cost time.

Types of Actions
1. Research can be done in the European cities Berlin, London, Moscow, Paris, Rome or Vienna, by paying for the cards located in those cities with time.

2. Excavation is the best part of Thebes. It can be performed in the ancient areas of Greece, Eqypt, Crete, Palestine or Mesopotamia. The way excavation works by using a special decoder wheel (probably one the best pieces in any game) to calculate the value of the “dig”. The wheel takes into account how much research you have done and how many weeks you plan to dig and gives you a number. This number represents the amount of tokens you can pull from a bag full of tokens for each dig site. Some of the tokens have treasures that equal victory points and others are no more than dirt. After you have pulled your allotted number of tokens, you keep the treasures and return the dirt tokens to the bag. This makes digging for treasure progressively harder as the game goes on.

3. Exhibitions take place in the European cities and require certain types of treasures and time as well. This is another way to earn victory points.

4. Travel costs time and is combined with any other action.

Summary
Thebes is a game that is wide open with players deciding how they want to pursue getting the treasures for victory points. There is balance on going early with less knowledge (research) and having a better ratio of treasure to dirt or going later and having more token pulls. The game is fairly easy to learn and teach with the steepest learning curve coming on the time track. It scales well for 2 to 4 players. Thebes sets up in 5 minutes and plays in 45 – 90 minutes depending on the number of players. Most of all it is a lot of fun (even though I have terrible luck with my treasure pulls).

This game is great for:
• Anyone with a sense of adventure. The theme is apparent and you really feel like you are going on archaeological digs in the early 20th century.
• Fans of medium/light games like 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, Tobago, and Alhambra.
• People who like a little luck in their games.
• Children over 10 with some adult help.
• Avid, Family, Casual and Social Gamers.

This game probably won’t work for:
• New gamers. This should not be a game you should try out on someone who is new to the hobby. This is a game to work up to.
• People who can’t stand any luck in their games.
• Strategy and Power gamers.

9
Go to the Steam page

Steam

40 out of 42 gamers thought this was helpful

Background
There are a lot of train games out there. There is Ticket to Ride, 1830, Chicago Express, Union Pacific, 1856, Steel Driver, Last Train to Wensleydale, On the Underground, Stephensons Rocket, Empire Builder, Silverton, Days of Steam, and at least 600 other train games. But Steam is, in my opinion, the best. Steam was developed over several years by Martin Wallace. Wallace had many incarnations of the game that were published along the way: Age of Steam, Railroad Tycoon and Railways of the World. Steam is most likely the final version of this game that will be published. It rides perfectly between the simplicity of Ticket to Ride and complexity and dryness of the 18xx series (any train game that begins with 18 and refers to year of the 19th century such as 1830 or 1870). Let’s take a look at what makes it great.

Gameplay
Steam is all about the law of supply and demand. All of the players share in one main game board that is a map of the Eastern United States. The map contains major cities which contain goods that players will compete to deliver to other cities with a demand for that type of good. Your goal in the game is to score victory points by transporting goods over routes that you build to cities that are in demand of those goods. The more circuitous the route the higher the score.

Steam takes place over 7 to 10 turns (determined by number of players) with six phases each turn. Let’s look at the flow of Steam’s gameplay for a turn over these six phases:

Phase One – Action tile selection
Players will choose from various action tiles (very similar to role selection in other games) which will determine player order and any special abilities. These special abilities include building extra track, building first track, upgrading locomotives, restocking city goods and upgrading towns into cities (to hold more goods).

Phase Two – Build Track
Unless a player choses the Engineering action tile, which allows them to build four, players will be limited to building three pieces of track on their turn. The goal is to create routes to deliver goods from one city to another but track costs money and there are limitations to where you can build. These limitations will present the steepest learning curve of the game. One limitation is that a player cannot build where someone else has. This is where people can be “mean” and cut one another off.

Phase Three – Move Goods or Improve Locomotives
Moving goods is how a player wins the game. When a player moves goods they have the choice of scoring victory points or earning income. Another option during this phase is to improve their locomotives. There is no point in having a nice long route if a players train is not powerful enough to cross it.

Phase Four – Collect Income and Pay Expenses
Money is tight in Steam. Based on goods delivery and the debt a player is carrying, they could either be collecting money or paying it during this phase.

Phase Five – Determine Turn Order for Next Turn
Based on the action tiles selected, the player order for the next turn is determined.

Phase Six – Set Up New Turn
All action tiles are returned and the turn marker is moved forward one space. Rinse and repeat.

Summary
The beauty of Steam is the tension in the game. The tension comes from the need to balance routes, trains, debt, cash flow and victory points. You don’t get the same tension in lighter games such as Ticket to Ride (another favorite of mine). It isn’t as dry or as long as 18xx games, which can last from 4 to 10 hours. Play time for Steam is 90 to 150 minutes. Set up the first time will take 10 minutes and 3 minutes on subsequent plays (where as Railways of the World will take 20+ minutes each time). I would recommend reading through the rule book once or twice and watching a video (like the White Glove video above or a Tom Vassal video from the DiceTower) or just find an experienced player to teach you.

As you can tell, I love the game but let me give you my thoughts on who probably would or would not like the game.

This game is great for:
• Experienced players looking for something more challenging than the entry level train games. It has more depth than Ticket to Ride, Chicago Express, Union Pacific or TransAmerica.
• Martin Wallace fans. If you like his other games you will probably like this one. If you tried Aeroplanes at GenCon, this is a heavier game than that, on par with Automobile, Age of Industry and Rise of Empires.
• Players who like a game with tight economics.
• Strategy, Avid, and Power Gamers.

This game probably won’t work for:
• New gamers. This should not be a game you should try out on someone who is new to the hobby. This is a game to work up to.
• People who don’t like player interaction. Someone is not only going to take your route but also the action tile you wanted and the goods that you were about to deliver. If just reading this upsets you, this is not your game.
• Young players. There is a lot to keep track of and they may get their feelings hurt when the above happens.
• Family and Social Gamers.

9
Go to the Trajan page

Trajan

113 out of 115 gamers thought this was helpful

Background
Trajan (rhymes with Cajun) is a game that was designed by Stefan Feld and released in 2011. Stefan Feld is considered by many to be one of the best designers in boardgaming right now. Recent outputs include The Castles of Burgundy (Die Burgen von Burgund), In the Year of the Dragon, Notre Dame, Luna, The Speicherstadt, Macao and Stasbourg. I believe Trajan to be his best so far, but it has not been widely available in the US until recently. It was released at Essen (Spiel) in Germany in October of 2011 but did not find distribution in the US until August of 2012. I have had an imported copy for a while and have really enjoyed it. Let me tell you why.

Gameplay
The theme is probably the weakest part of Trajan so I will simply say that it is a development game set in ancient Rome and you are trying to Roman type things like control the Senate, military conquest, and trading goods.

There is a main board where all of the players compete for victory points by taking various actions and individual player mats where players select those actions and store the tiles they win. Victory is achieved by having the most points after three rounds.

The mechanics of Trajan are where it shines. As you look at the main board you see six distinct areas where you can perform actions:

1. Seaport
You draw goods either face up or blind or ship goods for victory points. Shipped goods also assist in end of game scoring.

2. Forum
The forum is the easiest action to undersand; just pick a tile from what is available. The tiles collected here can help you meet the people’s demands or perform bonus actions.

3. Military
With the military action you are either building up your military camp, capturing tiles (same types that are available in forum), or claiming regions for victory points.

4. Senate
The senate action is the most direct way to score victory points. You get points for simply taking the action and the two with most votes get a special end of game scoring token

5. Construction
The construction action is all about capturing certain building tiles. These tiles will give extra actions or end of game bonus victory points.

6. Trajan
The Trajan action lets you choose a Trajan tile from 6 different piles. The Trajan tile is placed on your individual player mat in the appropriate spot and allows you to perform additional actions and score points when it is later fulfilled. Let’s look at how this works.

One of the best mechanics of the game is how one has to activate an action or fulfill a Trajan tile. To look at this we will turn our attention back to the individual player mats. If you have ever played Mancala, this will sound familiar. On the player mat there are six bowls forming a circle. In each of these bowl s are some action markers (there 12 of them in six different colors). On your turn you pick up all of the action markers from one bowl and begin placing them in the bowls in a clockwise fashion. The last piece you place determines the action you take as each bowl has one of the six above actions associated with it. For example, if you pick up three action markers from Bowl #1 (the seaport action bowl) and placed one in Bowl #2 , one in Bowl #3 and the last one in Bowl #4, you would take the action associated with Bowl #4 (the senate action). This is not a difficult mechanic but at times you realize that you really want to take a certain action and cannot land there on this turn. The Trajan tiles add another degree of challenge to this mechanic. To activate them not only must you land in the correct bowl but you must have the correct color combination in that bowl (hence the six different color action markers). It is actually very fun and challenging but you must plan ahead.

Summary
The game plays surprising fast for its depth at about 30-35 minutes a player and scales beautifully for 2, 3 or 4 players. I would recommend taking 20 minutes to read through the rule book together if all new players or better yet, find someone who has played it before and have them teach you. Set up will take about 10 minutes the first time as there are a lot of pieces (200+).

As you can tell I love the game but let me give you my thoughts on who probably would or would not like the game.

This game is great for:
• Stephan Feld fans. If you like his other games you will probably like this one. Like I said, I feel this is the best game he has made so far.
• Experienced players looking for something more challenging than a standard worker placement game. It has more depth than say a Stone Age or El Grande.
• Players who like to think about strategy and tactics in their gaming.
• Strategy, Avid, and Power Gamers.

This game probably won’t work for:
• New gamers. This should not be a game you should try out on someone who is new to the hobby. This is a game to work up to.
• People who suffer from analysis paralysis (translation: they take long turns analyzing the perfect move or freeze up with tough decisions).
• For players who want to feel like a Roman soldier or senator. This game is not dripping in theme.
• Family and Social Gamers.

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