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Go to the Mansions of Madness (1st ed) page
Go to the Mansions of Madness (1st ed) page
84 out of 91 gamers thought this was helpful

From the moment I saw this game demoed by Rodney Smith on Watch It Played (that’s on Youtube), I knew I wanted this game. It has creepy pieces, complicated rules, a ridiculous number of cards, puzzles and items, as well as great storytelling. At least…2 times out of 3.

The game setup time is massive. It is critically important that everything is done correctly, as the entire game falls practically on its face if setup is not PERFECT. Only once you’ve run a few games, will you be able to quickly recover any mistakes you might make with minor oopses and apologies all around. Your gaming group will lose faith in you if you mess up enough though. So make sure you either have a forgiving group or you are confident that you understand the rules FULLY before playing.

I’d have to say my favorite thing about the game is that no one really knows by and large what their objective is. Or, to put it more correctly, no one knows how to ACHIEVE their objectives. The investigators are set loose in one of five possible game storylines and pushed towards the first of a series of clues. But they don’t know if they need to stay alive, stay sane, or prevent something sinister from happening.

The keeper is actually a player, whose main job is to stop the investigators from achieving their goals. Even though the keeper is aware of his objective at the beginning of the game, it is often a challenge to determine how to bring his or her evil plans to fruition. It is also very difficult to keep track of the whats and when and whyfors of all the various impediments you can generate as keeper to foil the investigators.

All players can get frustrated when they realize that they can’t do the things they think they need to in this game, but I’ve realized that the game stays interesting when playing with a group of players that create their own subobjectives. For instance : I must help this character with a broken leg escape certain death even if it means not discovering the mystery, or this zombie may be killing me, but I’m taking it with me for the sake of the others.

Also, let someone else play Keeper once in a while you twisted monster! Friends do hold grudges when you try to kill them enough times. Let them savor the sadistic glee that comes with being an evil overlord from time to time. It will help you to understand what it’s like to be a puny -I mean- courageous investigator as well.

Another thing that is satisfying to me is that although there is a lot of possibility for combat within the game, you never know as investigators whether or not you should potentially waste time confronting a monster or whether you need to get as far from them as possible to uncover more clues. That goes the same for the keeper. Your objectives are not always best met by bashing an investigator’s skull in. Sometimes you can actually create tension by NOT taking opportunities to cause harm to your players. It’s really much more fun to make them stark raving mad.

Some of the storylines included in the box are better than others, and more entertaining, at least to our group. The enclosed storylines do have diverging story arcs that make playthroughs of the same map lead to a different outcome/objectives. I would say that playing with a full house is a much better way to play…and if you ever play with just two make sure your player runs two investigators. It really doesn’t play well otherwise. In fact, it may even be impossible for a lone investigator to do all the things that would need to be done on some of the “larger” maps.

It is pricey. But as each play through lasts a long amount of time(2-3 hours) and the basic game includes 5 different stories, 15 hours for 4 people is about the same as attending 7 movies, and the price of this game is definitely less than 28 movie tickets. OK…so I guess you don’t pay for movies for your friends very often(cheapskate), but you probably have more than 4 friends that you could try playing this game with. If you don’t, then I would steer you away from this game since you can probably find 2 or more cheaper games that might be more compelling.

I’ve played this game with several different groups. And to date, even with bad playthroughs, I’d still say it’s the best game I’ve ever purchased.

Go to the Munchkin page


27 out of 35 gamers thought this was helpful

I don’t actually own the core set of this silly card game, but I’ve got four of the, shall we call them, spin-offs.

Each one has it’s own cast of hilarious characters, classes, races, and abilities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been playing this game and something new jumps out from the seemingly un complex art work that cracks me or my gaming group up. Look for lots of cameos from your favorite boss monsters/items and lots of snuck in bathroom humor. Puntastic as well.

The rules are purposely written to be a little oblique and a lot tongue in cheek. This encourages heated debate at the table…just remember whoever owns the game gets the final say and everything should be OK. The prerequisite for a really good game of munchkin is genre bending…and oh yes, a little gender bending too.

Although the instructions encourage combining sets, I’ve personally found that some sets don’t exactly play well with others. In my opinion, for instance, Munchkin Cthulhu is best played without mixing. This also could be because I just haven’t played a set that would pair up well with it yet.

One criticism, however, is that once one player gets to a combined level of above twenty with all of his items and powers and various other treasures they can usually handle anything even the entire table can throw at them. You really need a ruthless group of players that are willing to crush each other from level one in order for the game to really be rife with the alliance-betrayal-truce sort of play that was obviously envisioned when creating the game.

Go to the The Settlers of Catan page
30 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is very simple. It is a fairly easy game to get a small group to try as an introductory game. At first glance it looks kind of simple and not altogether very interesting. But the easy setup and easy explanation of the basic game elements tend to be a great catalyst for a successful board game night. Overall game time allows for multiple games in an evening. Usually I’ve found it’s easy to get a group to move along to something else after “warming up” with this one.

The board gets a little crowded with the maximum number of players. That’s kind of the point, but I still prefer to play this one most of the time with just three people.

There are some other games out there like this where individual turns can go kind of long, but this one moves right along at an even pace.

Sure, there are plenty of other games out there with a more compelling “storyline” but there is something to be said for simplicity. This is a great game for when you don’t want the evening to be deep and full of danger and strategy, but more casual in scope.

Go to the Magic: The Gathering page
60 out of 75 gamers thought this was helpful

Great Fun, but will sap your game budget for years. New sets almost always add a refreshing twist to the game and its evolution through over a decade has made it interesting to learn and relearn. If nothing else the card art is worth looking through and playing helps discover the rich storyline woven through and around the game elements and mechanics.

From a structural standpoint, the most frustrating element is the requirement for basic mana for every spell in the game. There will be times when you have a “god hand” and it does nothing because it’s missing the key ingredient that allows it to see play. At a competitive level there really isn’t much relief when your opponent is stricken with bad luck. Gamers play games to play them. And if either player fails to launch, it does imply a fundamental problem with the game itself.

Part of the fun is learning the rules. When new to the game they are explained to you a lot by others, often erroneously. Several aha moments make the game fun, even if there are times when it is frustrating because your annoying friend (we all have one) continually beats you with a seemingly cheaterrific combo. Sometimes the satisfying moment comes when you get to teach your teacher that something they misconstrued makes their entire strategy ill founded, and sometimes your own mastery will allow you to finally out fox their combo. Live events like local game store tournaments and pre releases are by far the most fun experiences connected with this game. Even if you don’t go home a winner you get to experience a good time with other like minded gamers. There really are only a few bad sports in the fold.

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