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122 out of 134 gamers thought this was helpful

Pyramids tower in the sky… Armies gather for battle… Priests chant to their gods… Massive creatures amass for combat… And the gods send their troops against one another to capture temples, cities and demonstrate their superior power. Ancient Egypt is on display here as armies trek across the desert in search of victory and glory for their gods.

Publisher: Asmodee Games

Game Designer: Jacques Bariot, Guillaume Montiage

Artwork: Dimiti Bielak, Emile Denis, Nicolas Fructus

Players: 2 – 5

Ages: 13 to adult

Playing Time: 90 minutes

Game Mechanics: Area Control, Area Influence, Area Movement, Campaign, Battle Card Driven, Card Drafting

Contents: 1 Board, 48 Power Tiles, 7 Creatures, 25 Divine Intervention Cards, 32 Battle Cards, 53 Victory Point Tokens, 3 Silver Action Tokens, 1 Golden Action Token, 1 Card Index for Divine Intervention Cards and Power Tiles, 60 Army Units, 25 Action Tokens, 5 Prayer Point Markers, 5 Player Boards, 5 Player Order Markers, 18 Pyramid Die

Suggested Retail Price: $69.99

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Kemet from Asmodee Games is a strong game that plays in a short amount of time that provides plenty of theme, punch and strategy. Designed by Jacques Bariot and Guillaume Montiage, players vie for victory points while trying to battle each other, acquire special powers to make their armies stronger and controlling temples for their gods. Players will battle back and for temples that give victory points, also achieving victory points if they attack and are successful in combat and race to build their pyramids fast enough to acquire power tiles that also give victory points and special creatures to use in combat. The first player to eight victory points wins! The long version is 10 victory points.

I am not going to do my usual breakdown of rules in this review. Why? Because most of the gamers have seen game before or a million reviews and for those that are just now discovering games again, my thoughts are probably more relevant. Let’s just say that for such a deep game, the rules are very simple, the rule book is very short and it won’t take long at all to learn how to play this game. Kemet is a surprisingly deep game of combat, strategy and thematically very strong. Everything about this game drips its theme, which in my opinion makes it stand out even more. I love a strong theme backed up by sound mechanics and this games has both. I love the fact that everyone starts out exactly the same size and strength and is able to “customize” their army with power tiles that give them completely different sets of strengths and weaknesses. There are never more than two of the same type of power tiles in the game and players can never have more than one of the same tile. This provides for a ton of game re-playability.

Players build up their Pyramids which allow them to buy more powerful power tiles. The Pyramids are ranked level 1 – 4 and if you control any level 4 Pyramid. that gives you a victory point for as long as you hold it. Holding Temples also gives you a victory point at the end of the day phase if you still hold it at that time.

Players may also teleport a section of their army (never more than 5 units) to other parts of the board their Pyramid and landing at any Obelisk on the board for a cost of two Prayer Points (money.) This is an incredible mechanic which moves the game along quicker and allows for players to be in the action more. This is limiting though. The players may only travel from Pyramid to Obelisk. They can’t travel from Obelisk to Obelisk. The players will have to strategize some of their land movement to attack or take over territory.

City walls help protect a players Pyramids to an extent. A player may not attack a city wall unless they are adjacent to it even their movement ability is raised to two spaces. The player must be adjacent to attack another players city. Players must enter into combat if in the same region so this lends to very short alliances and no ability to gang up on another player.

The combat system in Kemet is incredibly simple and most definitely has its risks and rewards. Players choose from six different Battle Cards. Each Battle Card depicts what strength, defense and army loss (if any) they offer. Each battle has the opponents chose two cards, keep one and discard one and play any relevant Divine Intervention cards which may help them achieve victory. The players then total the army strength in the zone, plus any Creature benefits (if one is present,) plus the Battle Cards bonuses and any Divine Intervention Cards effects. The player who has the highest strength wins the battle but not necessarily without loss. Kemet The components for this game are top-notch. The creature figurines are gorgeously sculpted, the board and all the artwork are beautiful and the Pyramids are everyone’s favorite. They are large 4-sided marbled die in red, white and blue colors. The Power Tiles are very thick and of course covered in beautiful artwork. The Battle Cards and Divine Intervention Cards are of typical stock but you shouldn’t need to worry about sleeving them. The army figurines are also very well done especially for their size and all of this can be painted for those that love to do that to add even more of thematic edge to the game.

The one big issue I have with this game is the one player aid they give you in english. That being said there are 5 total in different languages, but being this game is only supposed to be 60 minutes long, having only one player aid to review all the Power Tiles and Divine Intervention cards severely slows the game down. I recommend you make a few copies of this player aid so each player can have one so they can plan before their turn comes back around other wise I promise without fail, people will be passing this back and forth and somehow the person who needs it most gets it last.

Players need to make sure they understand the victory points system and how the temporary versus permanent victory points work. They also need to understand the various ways to achieve them in order to have a chance of winning, especially against warmongering players that love the power of battle and bloodshed.

Kemet is one of the most fun board games I have played this year. It provides an immense amount of strategy, the perfect amount of game stress and immerses the player in the theme quite effectively. The who set of mechanics are incredibly simple to learn and with in no time, players are involved in a deep gaming experience that is very satisfying but not so heavy to ever really be bogged down. I know a lot of people compare it to Cyclades but I have yet to play that game but if you like area control games like El Grande then you will love this game. One caveat is probably not for players who don’t like combat games. Even though this is a simple system and the combat is very minimal in any kind of violence, it isn’t for those who don’t like conflict. For those of us who think of games like Risk, this game makes that game look antiquated and archaic.

Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):
Artwork: 10
Rules Book: 8
Re-playability: 9
Component Quality: 9
Club Fantasci Overall Score: 9

I am giving Kemet 9 out 10 stars because it truly brings so many things into one game effectively. Strategy, thematics, depth and fun all combined into a short 60 – 90 minute game that feels like you really accomplished something when you win. Excellent game and a must have for any gamers collection.

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Go to the Mascarade page


119 out of 132 gamers thought this was helpful

In a time of Kings, Queens, Spies, Witches, Inquisitors and even fools, the court has gathered. The plots are laid out, plans are hatched and minions are made scapegoats. Manipulation runs throughout the courts as it gatherers try to out maneuver each other with disguise, guile and misdirection. Do you have the ability to see who is really who or whom is posing as someone else? Can you withstand the Inquisitor or are you the courts fool? Find out in Mascarade!

Publisher: Repos Productions/Asmodee Games

Game Designer: Bruno Faidutti

Artwork: Jeremy Masson

Players: 2 – 13

Ages: 10 to adult

Playing Time: 30+ minutes

Game Mechanics: Variable Player Powers, Memory

Contents: 13 character cards, 1 blank character card, 1 courthouse board, gold coins, 14 character tokens and 5 game aids

Suggested Retail Price: $24.99

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Awards: N/A

Mascarade is a fun game of character bluffing and misdirection in an attempt to get 13 coins faster than your opponents! Author Bruno Faidutti is well-known for his game design and bring us another great game in which strategy meets social gaming in an explosive way!

The object of Mascarade is to out bluff your opponents by switching character cards and keeping them guessing while trying to remember who their character card is or could be based on the switching between players. It takes a keen memory and a the ability to read a persons bluff! Each opponent is using the characters cards powers in an attempt to gain 13 coins without going bankrupt. If this happens, then the game ends and the richest player wins.

The Character cards are as follows:

The Judge
The Judge receives all coins currently on the courthouse board.

The Bishop
The Bishop takes two coins from the richest players.

The King
The King receives three coins from the bank.

The Queen
The Queen receives two coins from the bank.

The Fool
The Fool receives a coin from the bank and then may swap two cards from other players.

The Thief
The Thief takes one gold coin from the player on their left and right.

The Witch
The Witch can swap her fortune with any other player.

The Spy
The Spy looks at another players card or one in the middle before swapping her own.

The Peasant x2
The Peasant receives one gold from the bank unless both peasants are revealed in the same turn. Then they both receive two coins.

The Cheat
The Cheat wins the game if they have 10 or more coins.

The Inquisitor
The Inquisitor accuses another character who must guess what their character card is. If they are wrong, they pay the Inquisitor four coins.

The Widow
The Widow receives coins from the bank to bring her fortune up to 10 gold in total.

The Beggar
The Beggar is a blank card.

Mascarade starts with the players showing their character cards and then the first four players swapping or not swapping cards under the table to start the bluffing and misdirection of the other players. Now who has what? Did they swap or not? The player themselves don’t know and sometime the person taking the action forgets what they did!

The game consists of three possible actions per round. Each player may either swap or not their cards under the table with another player. They may secretly look at their card or they can “announce” their character. This is the meat of the game. Once a player announces who they are, any other player may call their bluff either because they think they are the character announced or to stop the player from achieving their action. At this point all players involved flip their cards to see who was actually telling the truth or bluffing. If the player who announced was actually the character they said, they get the character benefit. Any player who was wrong, pays one gold coin to the courthouse. This is how the Judge gets his coins.

Mascarade is a very fun game that should have the table laughing and having a great time. It takes maybe on game for everyone to finally “get” how it works and start to really fill out their role in the game. There is a bit more strategy to this game than you might realize and you are likely to forget yourself what you just did as the game has a way of distracting your thoughts while everyone else is bluffing or calling each other out. This is my favorite character driven/variable power card game so far, especially for a party game or light filler.

Courthouse board – Mascarade
Courthouse Board – Courtesy of Jeremy Masson
This game scales very well depending on the amount of players. There are even two and three player game variations for experienced players. I find myself comparing this to Dread Curse from Smirk and Dagger Games.They are both good games, but I prefer this one a bit more. It’s a bit simpler but still provides the fun and strategy that a great game should. People will probably want to compare this to Citadels another Bruno Faidutti game or Red Planet maybe but other than the variable character powers, they comparison ends there. These two games are much more involved and very good in their own right.

As you can tell from the previous artwork, it’s amazing. The artwork fits the theme perfectly both in the renaissance feel and the slight edge to the characters themselves. The components are well done as well. The coins, character tokens and courthouse are thick and should last a long time. The character cards are a bit oversized compared to a standard card size and made of a decent thickness of card stock. I don’t see any need to worry about damage in the short-term. The player aides are simple to understand a good reference tool for the players, especially since not all characters are in the game. This is where the character tokens come in, to help the players remember what is in play.

In conclusion, Mascarade is a very good, solid and most importantly fun game that does well as a party or filler game. Fun will be had by all providing great laughs and plenty of socializing. It’s perfect fit for serious gamers and players that are more used to games like Apple to Apples or Say Anything type party games. A great bridge between designer games and mass market games.

Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):

Artwork: 10

Rules Book: 8

Re-playability: 8

Component Quality: 8

Club Fantasci Overall Score: 8.5

I am giving Mascarade 8.5 out 10 stars because it does such a great job of meeting a good balance of fun, strategy, theme and social gaming.

This game is Club Fantasci Certified!

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Go to the Freedom: The Underground Railroad page
22 out of 25 gamers thought this was helpful

Staring at the map covering the large table, we started planning the routes to get our friends to the north to freedom. “If we can avoid the slave catchers, we can move them up the east coast or maybe by ship into Canada out of Charleston.” We just kept staring at the map, thinking, strategizing and trying to plan the safest routes. Waiting for the answers to just jump out at us. ” Going by sea is probably the safest route I’d say… What about heading up more on the west side through Arkansas and Missouri? There is a lot less congestion up through that route.” One thing was for sure for us, time was running out and the slave catchers were constantly on the look out to capture the slaves and re-sell them at auction. We needed our underground rail road to be kept completely quite while still incredibly networked. Nothing less than that would do to get our friends to freedom and out of the hands of the plantation owners and slavers.

Publisher: Academy Games

Game Designer: Brian Mayer

Artwork: Jarek Nocon, Steve Paschal

Players: 1 – 4

Ages: 10 to adult

Playing Time: 90 minutes

Game Mechanics: Co-operative play, pick up and deliver, point-to-point movement, variable player powers

Contents: 1 lead player lantern, 17 support tokens, 13 fundraising tokens, 27 conductor tokens, slave catcher & movement dice, money tokens, 96 slave cubes, 5 slave catcher markers, 52 abolitionist cards, 6 role cards, 18 slave market cards, game board, 4 victory condition cards and 6 player mats.

Suggested Retail Price: $70.00

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids and educational

Awards: 2013 Club Fantasci Best Historical Game, 2013 Club Fantasci Most Innovative Game, 2013 Club Fantasci Best New Designer, 2013 Drive Thru Review Game of the Year, 2013 De Tafel Plakt! Theme of the Year and 2013 Board Game of the Year – The Wargamer

Freedom: The Underground Railroad could easily be taken the wrong way if you just look at the box. You might ask or say, Why? Who needs a game with that kind of theme? That is offensive! I can understand that at first, but once you open the box, oh my, what a surprise! This game is so much more than it appears at first glance. Is it a game about slavery? Why yes it is, but it’s also a game that teaches, educates and provides not only a fun gaming experience but a very deep gaming experience. Freedom: The Underground Railroad was the biggest surprise hit of the year for me.

The goal of Freedom: The Underground Railroad is to purchase all the support tokens (not an easy task) and get all the slaves (determined by the Victory Conditions Card) to Canada from the plantation before the end of turn eight. This game goes quicker than you might think, takes a great amount of co-operative strategizing and will not ever be an easy game to win. It is simply wonderful!

The game plays in 5 different phases. The Slave Catcher Phase, Planning Phase, Action Phase, Slave Market Phase and the Lantern Phase.

Slave Catcher Phase – In this phase the slave catchers might catch wind of slave movement or their whereabouts and try to apprehend them by moving through the different cities. There is a Slave Catcher Die that is rolled to determine which catcher is moved and a Movement Die that determines in which direction that catcher is moved.
Planning Phase – During this phase, the players determine which tokens they will acquire. This phase has three eras which are opened to the players in succession after all the support tokens are purchased from the previous era. Here the players also get their conductor tokens which determine how many slaves the can move and also how far. This is also where players can get their fundraising tokens. This allows the players to obviously raise cash to help their cause. Money is so important in this game and must be handled appropriately.
Action Phase – The Action Phase allows players to take their actions in any order to include: Gain the Role Cards benefit, use the Role Cards special ability, play a Conductor or Fundraising Token, play a second Conductor or Fundraising Token and purchase an Abolitionist Card and resolve it.
Slave Market Phase – This phase has the slaves being sold to the plantation owners of the south. The bottom most Slave Card (there are always three out on the board populated to better plan for what is coming) is removed from the board and the slaves are placed on the open spaces in the plantations. If there are no open spaces available, then the slaves are placed on the Slaves Lost Track. This is one of the ways the players can lose the game. If the players lost track fills up before the winning conditions are met, or the end of turn eight, then the players lose the game.
Lantern Phase – This phase is basically the re-stocking phase. The Abolitionist Cards are re-stocked, a possible Opposition Card maybe resolved then and discarded from the game. The games Victory Conditions are then checked and if the game has not ended, then the Lantern Token passes to the left and a new round begins.

Freedom: The Underground Railroad forces the players to really think, work together and sweat bullets trying to out think the game and get their slaves to freedom. There are so many possible choices. Which slaves to move and in which direction to go. Do you move them and activate the abolitionist closest to them and either sacrifice them to open up a route for other slaves to possibly escape or try to play it safe.

The mechanic that has the abolitionist moving closer to the slaves moving across their path makes this game very strategic and delicious to play at the same time. There is no “easy” way to get passed the abolitionist usually. Making a move could very well lead to sacrificing one or more other slaves in an attempt to open up possible routes for other slaves. Trying to figure out which Conductor Tokens to play and when or how to get the slaves out of the plantations quick enough so that you don’t lose slaves later to the Slaves Lost Track is always a tough decision. Do we place slaves in that city to acquire more funding at the risk of them being captured?

There is so much here in this game it is amazing! The first time I played it, I sat down and played it solo three times in a row and was amazed at how difficult but yet enticingly fun this game is. It is quite possibly the best solo version of a game I have yet to play. The various roles lend a lot to the game as their abilities are better suited for some things than others. A couple of roles like the Conductor are definitely more advantageous in the solo version to play than others.

The other great thing about this game is the learning of the history behind the movement. The Abolitionist Cards give brief glimpses in to people, Acts and points in history that dramatically affected the slave movement. Additionally, Academy Games does a nice job of summarizing what was going on at that point in history at the back of the rule book to give greater depth and meaning to the game, especially for those who might not be well-studied in the history of the underground railroad.

Freedom: The Underground Railroad components are well done. The artwork is superb, the pieces are well done, heavy cardboard for the tokens and a nice linen finish for the Abolitionist Cards. The Slaves Lost Cards are very heavy as well and will last forever. If you place this game a lot, I would recommend sleeving the cards just to protect them as they will be handled a lot. The rule book is well laid out, easy to understand and I was playing within minutes of reading it. The game also comes with two large player aids, which help immensely in the game play.

If you like deep games or games that cause you to really think and work extremely well together, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Can this game cause AP? Of course, but it should. It’s a deep game. It is one of the finest examples of co-operative play I have ever come across. There is so much riding on your decisions and the possible outcomes based on your decisions that you most definitely felt like you played a real game by the end of it.

How does it compare to other co-operative games? Well I haven’t played them all, but it is deeper than almost that I have played, just as fun and now where near as long as say Shadows Over Camelot or Battlestar Galactica. It provided the sense of urgency and danger of a quick ending like Pandemic but has a much sweeter spot and victory feeling to me. It’s a more strategic game and a little less luck based. It rides high on the list of games like Police Precinct, Ghost Stories. Pandemic and Battlestar Galactica that provide that wonderful nail-biting tension and rush to beat the clock before it’s to late.

Freedom: The Underground Railroad is one fine game. It was such a tight race between it and Francis Drake for Game of the Year in the 2013 Club Fantasci Board Game Awards because it is such and amazing game. You will not be disappointed in this game if you purchase it. It is well worth the time and money, will provide a great amount of re-playability, great socialization and provide stories for years due to its theme, nature and game play. Definitely my #2 game of the year for 2013 and one of the best solo and co-operative games ever to come out. Well done Academy Games and Brian Mayer. You have outdone yourselves and made one **** of a game that will always be welcome on my game table. Thank you for this wonderful, wonderful game.

Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):

Artwork: 8

Rules Book: 9

Re-playability: 10

Component Quality: 9.5

Club Fantasci Overall Score: 9

I am giving Freedom: The Underground Railroad 9 out 10 stars because it is simply one of the best games I have ever played.

This game is Club Fantasci Certified!

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Go to the Francis Drake page

Francis Drake

23 out of 25 gamers thought this was helpful

“The breeze flows against you as you stare out over the bow of your ship. The seas lap up against the hull, making white, frothy lines as “The Morning Star” cuts through the oncoming waves. “Land Ho!” comes a shout from the crow’s nest. “Check for other ships in the area” you shout back. As Captain of the “Morning Star,” you can’t take any chances of being followed to the bounty or risk a confrontation. You have been out at sea for months and your provisions and ammunition is limited. A few seconds later, the voice shouts down again. “Two ships north-east of us about 2 nautical miles Captain!” Your stomach sinks as you know things will not be easy. Your mind races through all the possible actions you can’t take as you decide and start barking orders. “First Mate, take us straight south! Don’t stop moving till I tell you! Lookout! Keep an eye on those ships and let me know as soon as they follow!” You start charging up the deck to the wheel to confer with your First Mate. With ships on your tail, what is sure to be soldiers and canons at the fort half a day south that you are heading for. You will be lucky to make it out of this alive.

Awards: 2013 Club Fantasci Game of the Year, 2013 Club Fantasci Best Game Production, 2013 Golden Geek Best Board Game Artwork/Presentation Nominee.

I know I am bit late getting this review out as Francis Drake just won the 2013 Club Fantasci Board Game of the Year and 2013 Club Fantasci Best Game Production awards from our awards platform recently but I was not prepared for the onslaught of games right at the deadline of submission so I wasn’t able to review as much during the play time needed to actually give out the awards properly. So let me tell you why exactly this game was such a hit with us.

Francis Drake feels like a full on board game that keeps you engaged the whole time the game is being played. From the moment you begin till the moment it is completely over, every player is involved every second of the game. The players are engulfed in watching to see what every one else is doing, planning their next move, anticipating, debating with themselves in their heads about what they should or shouldn’t do. It has a great feel to it, a theme that comes off very well, lots and lots of choices, great socialization and is easy to pick up and understand quickly while still satisfying every itch for every type of board gamer. It’s almost a perfect game to me . It is easy enough but still challenging enough for strategy lovers. It is engaging, thought-provoking and due to it’s two different phases, it’s like playing two different games rolled into one that meld perfectly together.

In Francis Drake, each players takes on the Captaining of a spanish galleon to travel to the New World and either get resources, combat other ships or attack forts to gather treasure. Each player is looking to gather as many resources in the Provisioning Phase as possible to be able to take as many actions and travel as far as they want in the Sailing Phase. The one with the most victory points after 3 rounds is the winner!

As previously stated Francis Drake is divided into two phases. The Provisioning Phase and the Sailing Phase. I am not going to go into great detail rules wise, but I will give an idea of what happens so you get the basic idea.

The Provisioning Phase:

During the Provisioning Phase, players try to get as many resources as they feel they will need to complete the Sailing phase to their satisfaction. How many crew will the players need? What about guns or supplies? Will they need trade goods? How about upgrading the galleons, buying a pinnace for easier fort plunder. Do you need to get in good with the Governor or the Admiral and be able to use their abilities/influence to maximize their turn?

Players will need crew fight soldiers at the forts. For every soldier the player will need at least one crew to match it. The ships need guns to fight the other Spanish Galleons for their treasure or forts for the same. The players need to gather supplies to sail farther and be able to make it back home. Trade good are needed to trade for commodities later used for victory points. Political demands are in order as well as you have the Queen, Admiral and Governor who all want a stake in your success. What about the informer for sneaky abilities or Frances Drake himself for a big boost in guns and crew?

There are so many choices in this phase. Each player has to try to figure what they want to accomplish in the next phase and plan for it here. It could be difficult because once you pass a resource, there is no going back for it, or other players may take all the available spots! Do you play it safe and place as close to the last player to make sure you get goods you need or do you leap-frog to grab the good stuff you think you need and hope there is opportunities for the basics later down the docks? This portion of the game gives you plenty to think about or AP over alone. Each round the dock changes so your strategy will vary every time. What fun!

The Sailing Phase:

During this phase, the players how begin to place their mission tokens hoping to either outwit their opponents or be the first one to go at a specific location. There are four zones to sail to but only if you have enough supplies, otherwise you can only sail as far as your supply total allows.

There are so many options here as well. Players can attack other spanish galleons in hopes of getting their treasure. They can also attack forts or towns for their treasure. Each of these brings their own challenge. Did the players bring enough crew or guns along to beat the blind token that may add 0 to 2 extra guns or soldiers to a location? Do the players trade for commodities which are worth more points for each set of 4 different types they may have.

It is during the Sailing phase that players accumulate victory points. There are points for the sets of commodities a player have. There are points in the treasure with attacking Galleons, forts and towns. There are also additional points to be had if a player defeats a galleon, fort and town. More points are awarded for all three than just one of them. There are even more ways to score points than this! This game is full of great ways to score and strategize a way to win.

This is all accomplished by placing mission discs. Each player has four mission discs and places them in turn order on the spots they want to take an action against. You can either player your low numbers to try to be first at that spot or you can try to bluff your opponent into making a bad move so you can grab something else you wanted. There are two additional discs that be used if they were acquired in the Provisioning Phase. The Golden Hind allows a player to go first no matter what. The Ghost Ship disc is a bluffing mechanism. Another great mechanic that keeps the players on their toes and guessing the whole time.

There is a lot I am not going over here, but trust me, this is a game you have to play and I am sure once you do, it will suck you in and then you will of course have to buy it and it will be in your top 10 list for sure.

The components for this game are outstanding. The artwork is incredible. Way beyond your average artwork for a game. The game board is large and beautiful. There is a lot going on in the game but the board never feels cluttered. They did a very good job on this. The pieces are all either high quality plastic, very thick cardboard or glass jewels that all look amazing and will last a very long time. The box insert holds everything nicely and the game never spills out all over the place. Each time you open the box, everything is very neat and organized. Well done! This is why it won the 2013 Club Fantasci Best Game Production award. It is just superbly done.

Francis Drake is about as close to a perfect game that will fit anyones gaming style that I have ever come across. The balance is so good it screams best game of the year! It is great for worker placement lovers, thematic game lovers, strategy game lovers, first time game players even. While it may look hard at first glance, after one round, it become pretty evident what needs to be done and the flow really picks up. It’s a very intuitive game that really nails it on all levels. I won’t even compare it to other games other than to say, it blows other recent favorite worker placement games like Lords of Waterdeep out of the water (pun completely intended.) The only other game that really grabbed me like this recently was Belfort.

If you are looking for a fun, euro themed with an actual working theme game that is easy to learn, explain and play in under two hours. Frances Drake is the one for you. Even at the $80 price tag, this game will get more than its value in re-playability.

France Drake is hands down the best new game I played in 2013. My hat goes off to the designer and the teams of Kayal Games and Eagle/Gryphon Games. Very well done indeed!

Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):

Artwork: 10
Rules Book: 9
Re-playability: 9
Component Quality: 10
Club Fantasci Overall Score: 9.5

I am giving Francis Drake 9.5 out 10 stars because it is simply one of the best games I have ever played.

This game is Club Fantasci Certified!

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Go to the Koryŏ page


13 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

“Caught in a unichronian politico-steampunk universe, you must learn to navigate the treacherous political landscape and wild power shifts that come with the Koryo universe. Do your best to manage, manipulate and covertly steal power from those around you and you may come out ahead in Koryo!”

Koryo is a quick card game set in a steampunk universe that has decent depth for such a short game. The games lasts eight rounds and in those rounds players are trying to lay down as many cards of the same type as they can to have the most of that type to score the point value on the top of the cards. Each round card dictates how many cards a player may have in front of them. This is where the strategy comes into play. What to keep? What to discard? Fighting for majority of a family with limited space to hold these family cards is a interesting dynamic to the game. At the end of the game, the player with the most of a certain type, scores that point value and adds all their winning families together to see who wins Koryo.

The phases are:

The Card Distribution Phase – Each player is deal a number of cards according the Seasons card for that round

The Order Phase – In turn order, starting with the first player, each player must lay in front of them facedown, any number of identical cards to be played this round. All cards not played from the players hand during this phase get discarded and shuffled back in the draw pile.

The Action Phase – In turn order starting with the first player, each player reveals their cards and plays their effects dictated by the cards powers.

In the Koryo card game, there are nine families of cards. Each family has its own distinct power to allow the players to manipulate their turns to their advantage… or so you hope. Each character has as many cards in the deck as dictated by their point value. Let me lay them out for you.
•The Omniscient: Point Value 1 – The Omniscient allows the player who has it in their player the ability to break ties with other families. There is only one Omniscient in the game.
•The Spy: Point Value 2 – The Spy has two powers to use. Power 1 is if the player has the majority of spies out, that player may steal a victory point token. Power 2 is Spies also protect against lobbying events.
•The Senator: Point Value 3 – Senators allows players having the majority to keep in play by 2.
•The Priest: Point Value 4 – Priests allow the majority holder to destroy one of their negative effecting events cards, either Lobbying or Barbarians.
•The Ship Owner: Point Value 5 – During the Order Phase, the majority owner may play two cards of 2 different types instead of playing any number of cards of one type.
•The Banker: Point Value 6 – Each turn a player has the majority, they gain one victory point token.
•The Guardian: Point Value 7 – The majority holder may not be targeted by a Barbarian event.
•The Broadcaster: Point Value 8 – The majority holder allows the player to draw one additional card in the Card Distribution Phase.
•The Merchant: Point Value 9 – This card has no special power but is worth 9 points to the player with the majority at the end of the game.

Koryo in and of itself is a very simple card game to learn and play out of the box in 10 minutes. That makes it perfect for many gaming situations and great for new gamers in general. There is some depth to this game and the strategy shifts from round to round as majorities change and the closer it gets to the end of the game, the less a player can do. This makes the early game crucial as you don’t want to get stuck with low cards or lots of events which count negatively against the player.

Koryo is a nice filler game that fits very well into the beginning of a game night when people are still waiting for others to show up or at the end of the night when people are winding down and down want a heavy game. It is a light strategy filler game that for me personally doesn’t really feel like anything else I have played so I like it for that reason alone. Koryo also has a decent re-playability factor.

There isn’t much to the game but the artwork is beautiful and the cards stock and finish are both well done. The victory point tokens are thick cardboard so they will last awhile and should resist getting dirty easy if played a lot. The rule book is small and the print is very tiny so it can be hard to read. That is my only knock against it though. It was well organized and the rules were easy to understand and implement immediately.

The steampunk theme is nice, but really isn’t of major impact in such a quick, light game. The cards are beautiful to look at, easy to discern and that is really the effect in its entirety.

Koryo is a solid, well thought out light weight game that won’t amaze you but will certainly be a decent addition to your game collection. Like I stated earlier, it is so short it really does do a nice job as a filler and has just enough strategy to keep you engaged without getting bored. This game is great for people who like social games, don’t mind a bit of antagonist play as majority power plays do happen just about every round and aren’t really into long games or are distracted easily. You don’t have to pay a lot of attention to stay in this game.

Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):

Artwork: 8
Rules Book: 7
Re-playability: 7
Component Quality: 7
Club Fantasci Overall Score: 7.25

I am giving Koryo 7.25 out 10 stars. It is a nice, light weight game that fits many styles and personalities of play.

The game is Club Fantasci Certified!

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Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.

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Go to the The Witches: A Discworld Game page
8 out of 10 gamers thought this was helpful

Publisher: Mayfair Games
Released: 2013
Game Designer: Martin Wallace
Artwork: Peter Dennis
Players: 1 – 4
Ages: 13 to adult
Playing Time: 45 – 90 Minutes
Game Mechanics: Co-Operative play, dice, hand management, point-to-point movement
Contents: 1 game board, 55 cards, 80 counters, 4 trainee witch displays, 4 wooden hats, 4 custom dice, 1 player aid and a rulebook.
Suggested Retail Price: $60
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

This is first video review we have done here at Club Fantasci:

So please pardon the roughness I as did not use my professional production team. They aren’t cheap! I have also included a written review below.

The Witches by Martin Wallace and published by Mayfair Games based on the Discworld series of books by acclaimed author Terry Pratchett. That being said, there was a lot of people salivating for this game for the Pratchett fans of Discworld and of course in anticipation of a Martin Wallace game as he is an extremely well know board game designer. So was it worth the anticipation?

Well I’ll be first to say I was a little surprised at how simple the game was. It has its “Wallace” type moments but for the most part this is a gateway game and is very easy to learn, teach and play in 20 minutes or less.

The Witches is co-operative but with limited interaction. The players get to pick one of four trainee witches from the Discworld novels, each with a special one time use power and travel around solving problems such as a sick pig, death or an invasion of Elves. The object of the game is to have the most victory points at the end based on problems the player has solved. So while the players are out trying to prevent to many problems from happening, so as to not trigger the end of the game early, they are also competing for the most victory points at the same time.

There really isn’t much to game rules wise so I’ll skip that part for this review and just focus on playability. The Witches is a bit deeper than one would think based on it’s simplicity yet still very easy to teach anyone including kids. My 11 year old daughter had no issues with learning this game and playing it well. It’s simplicity and being fairly quick to play making it great for game night with non-gamer friends or family game nights for those that don’t wan’t anything to heavy. I know some parents might balk at a “witch” theme but there is nothing hear to offend or worry about either.

The Witches is a solid, simple game that most should enjoy enough to purchase especially if you are looking for good games to play with kids. This will certainly fill the bill. I know how kids like to be distracted while playing board games and this one will allow for that a bit.

I am giving The Witches 7 out 10 stars based on how easy to learn, teach and streamlined it is.

This game is Club Fantasci Certified!

Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.

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Go to the Fury of Dracula page

Fury of Dracula

122 out of 155 gamers thought this was helpful

Fury of Dracula is a great deductive game that has a ton of theme as well as a great social game. 4 players team up to hunt down the 5th player Dracula and try to kill him before night time arrives when he is his weakest. They need to accomplish with in 7 days or before Dracula sires 3 Vampires.

I love playing this game especially as Dracula because it provides a great amount of tension when the players are close to capturing you in a city. With the limited movement ability of Dracula vs. the hidden movement cards it makes it pretty easy to find him once the players get a whiff of the trail. The only issue here is one card that can allow Dracula to escape to anywhere on the board. However, that card must be played immediately once it comes out and Dracula can’t keep it like his other cards. Making it most likely it won’t pop up when Dracula really needs it.

The combat is simplistic but not as bad as many people make it out to be. The trick is to find Dracula again during the daytime when he doesn’t have all his powerful combat cards.

If the team works well together and makes smart decisions they should come out on top most of the time.

This is a longer game at 3 – 5 hours so plan for it, but it is completely worth it to me.

A must play Halloween game!

Go to the The Walking Dead Card Game page
63 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

In this post-apocalyptic card game, you are out for as many Walker kills as you can muster in this fast paced endeavor. Will you come out on top, or will walkers overrun you? Only making good decisions will help you survive!

Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment

Game Designer: Wolfgang Kramer

Players: 2-6 Hero Mode/3-10 Survival Mode

Ages: 15 to adult

Playing Time: 10 – 30 minutes

Contents: 104 walker Cards, 6 Hero Cards and a rulebook

Suggested Retail Price: $15.00

Parental Advisory: Parental Warning – 4 different zombie pictures.

In The Walking Dead Card Game you have two different modes to be able to play in, Hero Mode and Survival Mode.

Hero Mode: 2-6 Players

In this mode, The players are trying to kill as many points as possible in Walker cards. They do this by collecting rows on the table and there are 4 rows going at all times. The cards have a number of bullets in the top right corner which tell the player how many points each card is worth.

The players will set out 4 random cards in a line top to bottom to start the 4 rows. Deal each player 15 cards to their hand, which they can look at the whole time. In each players hand they will pick and add one Hero card for a total of 16 cards. This allows the player to play first if they lay down 2 cards this round. Hero cards may only be played when paired with a Walker card. If more than one Hero card is played in a turn, then those cards will be played in numerical order, before the rest of the non Hero Walker cards are played.

Each round, each player lays down 1-2 cards, face down simultaneously in front them. They then flip them over at the same time and go in the order of the number of the cards laid down. Each card has a number in the up left corner from 1 – 100. Lowest goes first unless, someone played a hero card, then that player goes first this round.

Each player takes turns placing the cards in so that the card being placed has the highest value the card furthest to the right in the row. For example if the row had cards 42, 56 and 61 and the player’s card was 53, that card couldn’t be placed in that row. The card being played has to be higher than all the cards placed before it. If the card was 72 for example, then it could be played in that row. Whichever player, plays the 6th card in that row, they capture it, pick up all the cards and adds them to their victory point pile. A new row now begins in that spot with that 6th card.

If the card being played is lower in value than all the rightmost cards in all the rows, then that card gets placed in the row with the card of the highest value to the right of that card.

If a player runs out of cards, they then sit out till all the cards have been played. When all players have played their cards, then everyone counts the bullets in their victory piles and the highest total wins.

You can play a Solo hand Game or a Match Play Game which would be three hands.

Survival Mode: 3-10 Players

In Survival Mode, each players objective is to not capture any Walker cards.

Deal 10 cards to each player. There are no Hero cards in this mode. Set up the 4 rows as normal.

Each player places 1 card facedown in front of him or her. Again all cards are simultaneously revealed and then the cards are placed in numerical order, lowest to highest in the rows. Cards are placed in the same manner as Hero Mode except in this instance. If the card played is lower than all the right most cards in the rows, then the player must capture a row of Walker cards of their choice. Of course, the row with the fewest points in it is the usually the best choice here.

Scoring rows works the same way in this mode. Once a 6th card is played, that player captures the row and places the 6th card to start the new row.

The game ends when all 10 cards from each player has been played. Then count up the total score and the lowest score wins.

Again a Solo Hand Game or Match Game can be played.

The Walking Dead Card Game is a very simple, easy and quick game. It’s a nice little filler game when a group is waiting for people to show up for board game night or if you are just killing a quick few minutes. It’s not a deep game but there is a bit of strategy to it in how each player play their cards. It’s not my first choice for a filler game but it isn’t bad either. It’s basically a remake of 6 Nimmt in the way the mechanics operate.

The theme of The Walking Dead plays no real part in this game. You could have put anything on these cards and it wouldn’t have made a difference. There are only 4 different zombie pictures in the game, so if you are a Walking Dead fan and are hoping this is a cool zombie game, it’s not. It’s a quick card game and the theme is irrelevant. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that is a nice light game and certainly worth the price. This is a good social game, as it doesn’t require a lot of thought for strategy and people can talk freely and have a good time with out upsetting anyone for not being serious about the game.

The card thickness and weight are of decent quality so they wont wear out right away but if you plan on playing this a lot, getting card sleeves is always recommended. It comes in a box that isn’t oversized and the artwork is typical of a licensed TV product.

I will give this game about a 6 out of 10 stars as it does lack depth and it was certainly done without a lot of theme put in mind. It was a chance to grab a popular show license and put a game to it. However, again, for people who aren’t into heavy games and just want something quick and fun, then The Walking Dead Card game isn’t a bad choice.

Go to the A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (2ed) page
54 out of 62 gamers thought this was helpful

“Winter is Coming” – House Stark

With the Game of Thrones TV show at an all time high, I thought this would be a great time to introduce the A Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd Ed. to those fans who many not know about it or who or not savvy with the latest rage of board games. A Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd Ed. is put out by the board game publishing juggernaut Fantasy Flight Games located in Roseville, MN and is based on George R.R. Martins bestselling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

A Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd Ed. is set up to play three to six players. With rules to adjust for the amount of players in the game. The game itself is not for the casual gamer per sey. It’s a long game of strategy that can easily go over four hours but oh what a four hours it is! All the theme and feel you could ever want in a strategy game is locked in this incarnation. All the houses: Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Tyrell, Greyjoy and Martell, are in this game as you battle for territory in Westeros with political intrigue, back stabbing and hard fought war campaigns.

First off let me tell you about the quality of the game itself. The components are outstanding. The board and artwork are top notch and to me really provide a rich, warm gaming experience which I love. I think it’s important to feel like you are a “part” of the game in the sense of actually being their and the new version does this a bit better than the original version released 10 years ago. The map is large and easy to grasp and gorgeous in imagery and laid out so no matter where you sit, everything is easy to reach and understand.

The rule book is pretty well laid out so that even though there is a lot in it, it is not real hard to understand. If you read it a couple times you should be able to get a good handle on the basic operation of the game and only need to refer for special situations hopefully. Also included in the game are two quick reference sheets help shorten the game by not needing to dig in the rule book. Each player gets a screen to hide their tokens with more quick reference tidbits which is another great help to keep gameplay time down.

You vie for control of the Iron Throne while trying to be the first to acquire a total of seven castles and strongholds before the 10th round ends. If no one has acquired seven castles by the end of the 10th round, then whomever has the most wins.

During the game you have phases that you go through that the player order is determined by who controls the Iron Throne and the order of players that follow down the influence track (which is bid upon during “The Clash of Kings”.) You have the Westeros Phase” (skipped in round one), the Planning Phase and the Action Phase.

The Westeros Phase concludes advancing the game round maker, drawing Westeros cards which may have to be resolved and advancing the Wildlings track. You may have to deal with the Wildlings in which the players secretly bid an amount of power tokens to stop them. There is a consequence to the players who bid the least if the threat is not beaten.

The Planning Phase is where you assign orders (in secret by placing them upside down on the board) such as raids, marches, defense, consolidate power or support tokens. Raid tokens allow you to possibly interrupt another players token, hence messing up their plans and causing a bit of frustration. Always a fun tactic in a game like this. March tokens allow to advance on another players position or empty position for combat and taking over that territory if successful. Defense tokens are self-explanatory and help bolster your defense from attack from opposing players. Consolidate Power tokens allow you to gain power tokens for bidding later in the game or to muster units (armies) into an assigned area.

The Action Phase begins with resolving raid orders based on the order of players on the Iron Throne Track. All moves in this phase are based on this order. Note this means that if you have a five player game, then the first player resolves one order, then the second player etc… in order and comes back around to the first player if any tokens are left to be resolved. March orders are next, again one battle at a time per player and finally Consolidate Power tokens. Then you clean up the board making sure armies and tokens are removed from the board.

Combat is resolved by first a call for support. Here you may ask for a players support and they may or may not help you. They may decide to help the other player instead. This gives said player a bonus based on the support played. You then calculate strength of both sides and include the “Valyrian Steel Blade” token (explained later). Then you choose a “House Card” from your hand to help you with a strength bonus and hopefully a text that will hurt the opponent. This is then calculated as the Final Combat Strength. Combat resolution is: Determine the victor, casualties, retreating and routing and clean up.

During the game you will have the opportunity to silent bid on the three tracks when the “Clash of Kings” card appears during the Westeros phase. The first track is the Iron Throne Track which determines the order players go in and allows who ever holds this token the ability to break ties outside of combat. The Fiefdoms Track allows whomever holds the “Valyrian Steel Blade” to win all combat times and add +1 to their combat strength. This may only be used once per turn. The King’s Court Track determines the amount of special order tokens available to each player. It also allows the holder of the “Messenger Raven” token to change on of his or her orders that was placed before the action phase begins and the order tokens are revealed.

You also have ports and ships in the game. This allow for unit movements over large areas and ship to ship battles as well. An extremely important part of the game and critical to winning in my opinion if done right. Obviously House Greyjoy starts off strong in this type of unit.

The units in this game are Footman (1 unit each), Knights (2 units each), Ships (1 unit each) and Seige Engines (2 points each.) Based on your Supply Track on the board determines how many units and the size of each army allowed per house. Taking over territories with barrels in them and holding them when a “Mustering” card comes up will allow you to increase your army of force you to decrease in the case of having more units than you can support with food.

Strongholds are the larger castles that allow of two points of mustering and castles allow for 1 point of mustering. Again this happens when the “Mustering” card appears during the Westeros Phase. If you control enough territories with barrels then new units will appear at these places.

The alliances you form in this game are a major part of the game play. You can try and align with a player but beware as there are no rules to the players actually doing what is agreed to. They may be secretly plotting with someone else at the same time. While you may align with someone, you are never allowed to show hidden order tokens or silent bids. You also may not bribe anyone with power tokens, dominance tokens, cards or any other type of piece of the game. This part is all about trust and not for the weak of heat.

“I did warn you not to trust me.” – Littlefinger

There are other parts of the game that come into play such as Neutral Force or Garrison tokens. This stops you from just walking in someplace to take it over. You have to actually commit units to a battle to grab that territory.

In my opinion this is my favorite game of all time. The amount of political backstabbing, tension from the placing of orders and whether or not you just made a mistake based on alliances with other players provides so much atmosphere and incredible game play that is hard not to love. You don’t find that a lot in games these days.

Although there is a lot to it, the game is pretty easy to grasp after a couple of rounds. Don’t let the length of time dissuade you from trying it. It is well worth the time and money it costs ($59.95 retail). The theme is excellent, the game itself is well done in terms of art, components and rules.

I give it a 10 out 10 stars and highly recommend it to any board game fan and especially to Game of Thrones fans. [rating=10]

Go to the Piñata  page


8 out of 10 gamers thought this was helpful

One of my favorite 2 player games of all time is “Balloon Cup” from Rio Grande Games. Now comes Pinata, a re-implement of “Balloon Cup” in a new package with a few new rules from designer Stephen W. Glenn. I was excited when this came in the mail because it’s something I new my daughter would also love. It is rated at about 45 minutes or less to play and for ages 13 and up although like I said my 10 year old daughter has no issue playing this game.In order to win you need to be first player collect three of the five “medal” cards. The rules are a bit simpler than “Balloon Cup” and provide an easier time learning the game and a slightly easier dynamic.

In Pinata you must play on your side if can before playing being able to play on your opponents side. This takes away much of the “screw your opponent” mechanic although it does say to use the old rule as a “variant.” Also new are the “wild cards” which can be used at any time on any side. The cards aren’t numbered as high in this version and you can start with the mats in any arrangement as far as high or low sides.The mats are at least twice the size as before and very thick in stock. The come with two sides, one being the “high” side and the other the “low” side. The card quality is nice and the art work is great and I am sure will be loved by the kids. After testing it out with my daughter, she loved the version just as much as the original.

Candies are used in place of cubes in this version and the colors red, green, yellow, purple and pink. The number of colored candies on each tile is the amount of cards you need to play on each side. For example, if you had a green, pink and purple candy on the mat 3 with the high side up, then each player plays on card of each color (or a wild/s) as high in value as their hand allows. When a player plays a card, they draw a card from the draw pile to keep their hand size at 8 cards. When all six cards have been played, then whomever has the highest total on their side gets the candies. The cards are discarded, the mat flips over and three more random candies get put on the low side. Once you get low on candies and can no longer fill a mat, the mat is discarded and the game continues until with fewer mats until some one wins.

The wild cards add a different feel to the game but a positive one. When the wild card is used on a mat, the player doesn’t announce the color of the wild card. This way it doesn’t restrict the placement of cards on the mat later in the game.All in all, Pinata is still a fun, quick game to be enjoyed by people of all ages. The suggested retail price is $29.95 and I feel it is worth it and justified based on the quality of the components. A great game for couples and kids!

I give it 7 out of 10 stars.

Go to the Forbidden Island page

Forbidden Island

51 out of 59 gamers thought this was helpful

Forbidden Island is a co-operative board game designed by master game designer Matt Leacock and published by Gamewright ( In this game you join a team of adventurers trying to capture 4 sacred treasures on a perilous paradise that is sinking into the ocean. Will you have enough time? You and your team must race against the rising waters to accomplish your mission before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!

Players: 2-4

Ages: 10 to adult

Playing Time: 30 minutes

Contents: 58 playing cards, 24 island tiles, 6 pawns, 4 treasures figurines, 1 water meter, 1 water level marker and the rules of play.

Suggested Retail Price: $17.99

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids


Mensa Select

Creative Child Magazine Game of the Year

FunFare All Star Award

FamilyFun Magazine Toy of the Year Award

Parent’s Choice Recommended

Games Magazine Top 100 Game Golden Geek Award

MTV Geek, Top Board Game of 2010

Benefits for children: Cooperation, strategic thinking and problem solving.

In Forbidden Island your team of adventurers must work together to try and keep the island from sinking long enough to gain the 4 treasures and then get out alive by flying off the island at Fool’s Landing. To do this you will pick from a team consisting of an explorer, pilot, engineer, diver, messenger and navigator. Each team member has its own special ability to use in the game, which allows for greater teamwork and cooperation.

You start the game by shuffling all 24-island tiles and randomly placing them face up (non blue & white side) in a 4×4 square and then adding two tiles each side in the middle. Then you place your 4 treasures, The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire and The Ocean’s Chalice on the outside of the corners of the island.

Then you take your flood deck and shuffle it and place it face down on one side of the island. This forms the Flood draw pile. Draw the top 6 cards and flip over the tiles to the flooded (blue & White) side they represent to start the island sinking. Now place your pawns on the appropriate start tiles for each player.

Shuffle the Treasure deck and deal 2 cards to each person. Each person lays their cards face up in front of them so all team members can see what everyone has and how to best trade cards later in the game.

Now set the Water Level Meter to difficulty you wish to start at for the game. By no means think that this game is easy so if it’s your first time playing, set it the Water Level Meter to the novice level.

The order of play is as follows. Take up to 3 actions, draw 2 treasure cards and then draw Flood cards equal to the current water level. During your 3 actions you may move, shore up (sand bagging,) give a Treasure card to another player or capture a treasure. Moving allows you to move vertically or horizontally. You many never move diagonally unless you are the Explorer. That is the special ability of that card. The Pilot may move to any tile once per turn. The Navigator may move any other player up to 2 adjacent tiles per turn and the Diver may move through one or more adjacent flooded or missing tiles for 1 action. Shoring up allows you to flip one tile over to prevent it from sinking and obviously transferring cards to another players allows that player to capture a treasure on their turn in they have 4 of the same treasure card.

In order to capture a treasure, one player must get to a tile with a treasure symbol on it and turn in 4 corresponding treasure cards in for once action before that tile sinks. Each treasure has two tiles in the game.

After a player has taken their actions, they then draw 2 treasure cards into their hand. Draw one card at a time because if you draw a Waters Rise card you then follow the instructions on the card and this is when tiles either get flooded or sink. Move the water level marker up one on the Water Level Meter and then shuffle the discarded Flood cards and put them on top of the Flood deck. Now draw the number of cards indicated by the Water Level Meter and flip any tiles over that you draw. This will with flood a tile or sink it. Once a tile is sunk, there is no brining it back so it is critical that you manage shoring up properly in certain areas and also that players don’t get stranded where they can’t get back to the Fool’s Landing. If any player gets left behind you lose the game.

In the game you have special action cards that can help the team. You have Helicopter Lifts and Sandbags cards. Playing one of these cards does not require and action.

If the team recovers all 4 treasures and all players are able to get back to Fool’s Landing while playing a Helicopter Lift card, they then win the game. There are 4 possible ways to lose the game. If Fool’s Landing sinks, you automatically lose the game. If both of one treasure’s tiles sink you lose the game. If a player is on an island tile that sinks and they can’t swim to an adjacent island tile you lose the game. If the water level reaches the skull and crossbones on the water level meter you also lose the game.

Component wise, the game has incredible pieces. The tiles are thick and don’t fray on the edges, the cards are of good quality with a texture feel and the treasures are nicely done as well and could look even better for those that like to paint their minis. The game pawns are simple colored pieces of wood which actually work perfect so it doesn’t distract from the art on the tiles or the treasure pieces. The artwork is amazing which makes the overall appeal of this game even higher. My only complaint is the tin box. Although the box art is awesome, a tin box is hard to stack with other games and many times the lid comes off very easily causing major spillage. Fortunately, both of my copies of this game the lid holds tight. The box fits all the components perfectly so when you open the game it is nice and neat and easier to get set up.

Forbidden Island is an outstanding gateway game to teach new players about co-operative games and for children. It has simple mechanics but also adds a good amount of tension and fun interactive game play between all the players. This game is not easy by any means and you will be stretched with basic strategy and challenged every time you play it. The ability to switch different levels of difficulty from the start also gives it replay value. This is also accomplished, as the tiles are never the same at the start of the game so you basically never play the same game. If you are looking for a good family game or a gateway game to either get in the board game hobby or to teach other new players, this is a great one to start with. Obviously it has won many awards and although it’s not a “deep” game for experienced gamers I still feel is extremely enjoyable and offers enough challenge for just about any level of gamers. The fact that it is so good for kids is a real bonus.

Although my star rating may not show it based on the level of difficulty , depth of play and tin box, that in no way should reflect negatively on this game. It is a solid effort and a great game for people who love to interact, be social and want a challenging game that isn’t a brain burner.

I give it 7.5 out of 10 stars. [rating=7.5]

Go to the DC Comics: Deck-Building Game page
57 out of 64 gamers thought this was helpful

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Martian Manhunter, the world’s greatest hero’s join forces to vanquish the super-villains and archenemies. Each bent on the destruction of the Justice League. In the DC Comic Deck-Building Game, you get to pick the role of one the famed heroes and compete with fellow heroes to defeat all the super-villains lined up to take you out.

Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment

Game Designer: Matt Hyra and Ben Stoll

Players: 2-5

Ages: 15 to adult

Playing Time: 30- 45 minutes

Contents: 214 game cards including, 36 punch starting cards, 16 vulnerability starting cards, 114 main deck cards, 16 kick cards, 12 DC Comics super-villain cards, 20 weakness cards, 7 oversized DC Comic super hero cards and 1 rule book.

Suggested Retail Price: $40.00

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

In the DC Comics Deck-Building Game you are randomly dealt a Super Hero to play. If you are dealt The Flash, you always go first. The Flash super Power allows for you to go through your deck quickly which makes sense, as he is the fastest man alive. Other heroes have benefits like Batman gives you bonuses for playing equipment cards, Superman likes super Power cards, Wonder Woman lets you draw more cards for every super villain you defeated each round.

You start with a hand of 7 Punch cards worth one Power each and 3 Vulnerability cards worth nothing. These effectively water down your hand and need to be purged as soon as possible. Each of your Punch cards comes with 1 Power, which is the currency in the game to either buy additional cards or defeat Villains and Super-Villains. You shuffle and draw 5 cards for each hand. Once you have played your hand any cards used or drawn are discarded and then 5 new cards are drawn for your new hand.

The main deck comprised of 114 cards (not including Super-Villains, Punch, Kick, Vulnerability or Weakness cards) is shuffled and placed in the middle of the table. Place 5 cards out in a line for the line-up. This is where most of your deck will come from.

The Super-Villain stack is set off to the side of the main deck on the table. The Super-Villain deck can be comprised of 12 different cards but usually 8 cards are used unless you prefer to play a longer game. The Super-Villain card Ra’s Al Ghul is always the top card to start any game. All the other cards are placed facedown underneath the Ra’s card. Make sure to shuffle this deck and randomly draw out the cards not being used so that the deck is unknown to the players.

The Kick and Weakness cards are also place at the end of the Line-Up with the Super-Villain cards. The Kick (+2 Power) cards are always available for purchase at the cost of 3 Power if the cards in the Line-up are either to expensive to purchase or the players doesn’t like the current cards in the Line-Up. Weakness cards are given to the players in the form of an attack either played by the Super-Villain cards being revealed or a player invoking the attack of a villain they put into play. Weakness cards again water down the hand and provide a -1 victory point per card at the end of the game.

Once play begins you can purchase cards from the Line-Up to improve your decks and can purchase as many cards as your total Power allow. The purchase or defeat cost is on the bottom right corner of the card in the Line-Up or Super-Villain stack. Once you purchase a card, the space in the Line-Up is left there until after that players turn is done, then the Line-Up is refilled back up to 5 cards.

Cards are played in any order and the text on the cards is resolved immediately. This makes it very important to know what is in your hand and what order to play the cards in. Villain cards played may have an attack against the other players, Equipment cards may give you bonuses or allow cards to be destroyed, and Location card text may be triggered as well as your Super Hero Card. You may purchase cards from the Line-Up at anytime during your turn even if you haven’t already played all of your cards. During a players turn, if they defeat a Super-Villain and completed all their actions, they draw back up to 5 cards and then the next Super-Villain card is flipped up and the First Appearance text is resolved against all players in the game.

If during an attack be either a player or a Super-Villain, a player may have a card in their hand with a defense. They can then play this card if they chose to ward off the attack and resolved the text on the card for defense. Once the player has finished their turn, all cards purchased or defeated go face-up in the discard pile to be redrawn later, this includes all Villain and Super-Villain cards.

Once all of the Super-Villains have been defeated the game immediately ends and the players count up their victory points on the bottom left corner of the cards in their deck.

Cards my have certain benefits such as Location cards once played stay out in front of the player the rest of the game and may be triggered each and every turn. Super-Hero cards like Superman for example, have their abilities triggered every time a Super Power (orange) card is played.

There are quite a few variants of the game that can be played as well:

Two Heads are Better Than One – This variant is a 1 on 1 game, where each player plays two different Super Heroes at the same time. This allows for game text to apply to both Super Heroes.

Team Game – This 2 on 2 variant has one team working together to defeat the opposing team. Teams alternate turns and are free to discuss strategy. Attacks do not affect your teammate but if you are attacked, you may defend your teammate. Once the game is over, both players add their totals together and the team with the highest total wins.

On Patrol: This is basically the standard game except you may immediately fill any holes in the Line-Up on your turn after a purchase or defeat of a villain. If any attacks appear during the refill of the Line-Up they affect you and only you.

The game cards are good quality and weight and the artwork is extremely well done. The rule book is laid our fairly well and easy to understand making the game easy to pick up quickly and get playing immediately. The Super Hero cards are of a much larger size than the playing cards and unfortunately don’t fit well into the box. The space provided makes it very difficult to get them out and could lead to damaging the cards. The other cards slots leave a lot to be desired as well. If you decided to sleeve your cards to protect them, the current box will provide major fitting issues for putting away your game. Good box design is critical for deck building games and this is one area where the game fails but I am glad to say the only area.

The DC Deck-Building Game is really a lot of fun. It’s a very easy game to learn and teach. It’s playing time make it an easy filler while waiting for other people to show up or something you are able to play several times in one sitting for those that really get into it. While not as strategic as some deck building games it really fills the void for those looking for something that keeps the action going and this game will suffer a lot less from those people with analysis paralysis. While the theme is DC Super Heroes, the theme isn’t really a factor in the game. When you are supposed to be a Super Hero like Batman, but yet you are playing villain cards that you previously defeated, that really doesn’t make sense but it’s okay. The game delivers on many levels while any little nit picking things really don’t matter or take away from the game play. After playing this game at many different game nights and teaching it to other people who don’t normally play board games or usually only play Magic: The Gathering, the response has almost been very favorable and the game store it was played and demoed at sold all their copies to these people.

I will give this game about a 7.5 out of 10 stars as it does lack depth but it is certainly worth the price and wins in the fun department. [rating=7.5]

Go to the Arctic Scavengers page

Arctic Scavengers

63 out of 83 gamers thought this was helpful

The year is 2097 and the earth was transformed from a climate shift of cataclysmic proportions plunging the earth and all its inhabitants into an ice age. An estimated 90% of the earth’s populations was decimated forcing the survivors to join together in tribes. Does your tribe have what it takes to survive? Will your tribe be able gather enough resources, medicine and tools to make it? Can you combat rival tribes for these incredibly scarce resources? In this battle for survival the largest Arctic Scavengers tribe wins!

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Game Designer: Robert Kyle Gabhart

Players: 2-5

Ages: 13 to adult

Playing Time: 45-60 minutes

Contents: 1 rule booklet, 1 rule summary mat, 1 junkyard mat, 1 contested resources mat, 1 initiator card, 149 play cards including 20 refugees, 69 mercenaries, 46 junkyard cards and 14 contested resources.

Contents: HQ Expansion – 1 expansion rules summary, 1 engineering schematics mat, 1 storage cover, 49 playing cards consisting of 12 buildings, 10 tribal leaders, 8 junkyard cards, 8 medics, 8 engineers and 3 gangs.

Suggested Retail Price: $34.95

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Rio Grande Games originally released Arctic Scavengers back in 2009 but with the release of Dominion and it being the hot game of the moment, Arctic Scavengers really took a back seat to its counterpart. With the new re-release of Arctic Scavengers, it is very possible that you are getting a better game at least from the visual point of view.

In Arctic Scavengers, each player works to grow their tribes as large as they possibly can. They do this through hiring mercenaries, scavenging through the junk pile and winning in player skirmishes against the other competing tribes. The player with the most tribe members at the end of the game is the winner.

The card anatomy is as follows:

The upper left corner is the card type. The upper right corner is the cost of recruiting this card to your tribe. Down the left side you have in order; draw cards, digging, hunt and fight. If any of these spots are empty, then this card does not that have ability as in the card below as it does not have the draw or dig abilities. Finally the bottom left corner is the amount of people represented by the card. This is where you total your victory points at the end of the game as well as it has its part in the player skirmishes but we will cover that later.

Every card has some ability to it. Some have medicine (+) not shown or sub-type actions such as +modifiers to certain abilities. All these are needed to recruit better people to your tribe or to dig deeper in the junkyard or be stronger in the skirmish.

Each player starts with 4 refugee cards (these water down the deck) 3 scavenger cards, 1 brawler card, 1 spear card and 1 shovel card. I should note that one person could only handle one tool such as a spear or shovel at a time. You can’t combine both a spear and shovel with a scavenger for instance.

Each round of Arctic Scavengers is broken up into 3 phases:

The Drawing Phase: Draw 5 new cards and discard any old cards from the previous round. After round 3 begins, the starting player (this rotates each turn) gets to peak at the top card of the contested resources deck that players will skirmish over to set the tone for the bidding war.

The Resource Gathering Phase: Each player uses any resources to gather resources to accomplish the main actions during this phase.

– Draw – Take one or more cards from the deck and add them to the players hand depending on how many draw resources have been played that turn.

– Dig – Here the player digs as many cards out of the junkyard as resources have been played that turn. For instance if 3 resources were played, the player can then draw 3 cards from the junkyard pile, keep 1 of those 3 secretly and put the other 2 back under the pile facedown so no one can see what they are.

– Hunt – This allows the player to produce one or more food for use in recruiting a new member to the tribe.

– Fight – This action is used during the Skirmish. The players commit cards secretly to the table to be revealed during the Skirmish Phase. These cards can not be used for any resource gathering during this turn. Highest score wins the skirmish and collects the contested resource and discards it secretly.

The Skirmish Phase – (following round 3)

– Once all the players have gathered their resources and put down cards they committed to the skirmish (they can’t be used for gathering resources), they then reveal their cards and the winner is determined.

– The winner puts the card in their discard pile and the first player moves to the next person.

There are additional free actions that can be taken as well.

– Hire – Select on mercenary from the table and pay its cost with food and medicine.

– Trash – Select one or more cards from the players hand and place them on the bottom of the junkyard pile.

There are special action cards as well such as the Sniper Team and Saboteur cards. The Sniper Team cards allow a player to snipe another players tribe member and can be played from a players hand or in the Skirmish phase. The Saboteur cards allow a player to disarm another player’s tool and can be played the same way.

Some the key ideas to think about while playing Arctic Scavengers are that a player wants to take all unused cards in their hand to the Skirmish and bluff their opponents into thinking they have played more fight than really has been. Each player may also make multiple actions per round as well as playing multiple cards for single action as that can make the action much stronger. A player may also only perform any given action once per round. Once a players has used one card for once action it cannot be used for a separate action. In order to use a tool, group leader or any card with a modifier to it, it must be paired with a card that has the base ability even if the base ability is 0. If there is no icon in the spot on the card, it does not have that ability. Once again, only one tool per tribe member card.

The game ends when the last contested resource has been taken from the pile. At this point, all players go through their decks and up all the people in the bottom left corner of their cards and the biggest tribe wins!

Arctic Scavengers also comes with the HQ Expansion for free! The expansion is 4 different modules that can be used any combination in play. The basic premise is a basic headquarters or base camp for each tribe leader as well as being able to construct buildings that can be used during play for strategic use. This introduces new victory paths, new mercenaries and tools. The engineering schematics deck are also included. The basic game is basically the same when the modules are added.

Module #1 – Medics, Tools and Gangs

– Medics have a draw of 1, can be played to represent medicine to recruit new mercenaries or they can be played from the hand to save another tribe member from a sniper attack.

– Save – a new action to protect a tribe member from or leader from a sniper attack.

– Rifle – A tool for hunting and fighting Skirmishes. This gives you a +2 in 2 categories.

– Toolkit – This helps digging for both junkyard and engineering schematics or can be used by another tribe member to speed up building. This also allows for cards to be removed from one building that is under construction.

– Gangs – There are 3 new gangs introduced here for a new concept. These gangs hide back until all the contested resources have been gathered and then try form an alliance with whichever tribe best meets its needs. The gangs are “The Gearheads,” “The Pharmers” and “The Masons.”

Module #2 – Engineering and Buildings

– Engineers may dig in the junkyard but their main purpose is to dig in the engineering schematics pile as they are the only card that can do this. This is of course how you go about building the buildings as well.

– Buildings – Players use engineers to construct buildings at the player’s HQ. These buildings take time to build but offer strategic advantages once built. Buildings are normally used during the players turn and never during the Skirmish.

– Building Types – Amory (stores 2 tools for later use,) Bunker (stores 3 tribe member cards for later use,) Hydroponic Gardens (generates 1 food per round, which does not accumulate) and the Pharmacy (Enables 2 medicine cards to be stored here for later use. Not including medics and not during the Skirmish.)

– Store – a new action that allows the player to take one or more cards of a particular type from their hand and place them, face-down, under a building.

– Retrieve – a new action that allows the play to take one or more cards from an active building and place them in your hand. This can be done anytime except after the Skirmish has started.

Module #3 – Tribal Leaders

– Tribal Leaders – The concept is to give unique capabilities that no other player will have. Every player picks one leader from the two provided at the start of every game. This will impact the players strategy and game play.

– Butcher/Cannibal/Fanatic – Cards that are removed from play cannot be brought back.

– Butcher/Cannibal/Sergent at Arms – Leaders can use special abilities without the need for a refugee.

– Excavator/Fanatic/Gangster/Mentor/Organizer/Peacemaker/Ranger- This requires the use of a refugee to utilize the leader.

– Butcher/Cannibal/Fanatic/Mentor/Organizer/Peacemaker – Abilities can only be used once per round.

– Excavator/Gangster/Ranger/Sergent at Arms – Leaders grant abilities that are always activated and can affect multiple cards in any given round.

Module #4 – Dirty Deeds

– New Saboteur ability – The Saboteur may attack a building and disable it. This makes it unusable. No cards can be played to or from the building until it is repaired. This requires the player to discard a card their hand.

– New Sniper Team Ability – The Sniper Team may now attack a tribe leader, wounding that leader removing their advantage until a medicine is played against the leader to heal them.

Obviously there is a lot I couldn’t put in the review and there is a good amount of depth for this deck-builder. Arctic Scavengers while being a deck-building game offers a fair amount of versatility in it’s game play and separates it’s self enough from other games of the genre to make it a must have game. I really enjoyed this game and highly recommend it to people who love the deck-building genre or who may be on the fence on this since it’s original release in 2009. The interaction with the Skirmishes alone makes it fun.

The components are well done and the artwork is fantastic. The box isn’t to big and it is designed to break the cards down easily although I am not sure it accomplishes that. I prefer slots for starting decks myself to make game set up easier and quicker. Also, if you sleeve your cards, this system will not work as the slots are not big enough. This part could have been better thought out.

All in all, a very good deck-building game that is worth the price and should give you enough of a different feel that you don’t feel like it’s just another deck-builder.

I will go out on a limb and give this game about an 8 out of 10 stars as it achieves the depth I like in a deck-builder especially when the expansion is added.

Go to the Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game page
65 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

Alarm klaxons are blaring across the Gotham City night. A light cuts through the dense terror consuming the city. The people are panicking, as they know what those alarms mean, a jailbreak from Arkham Asylum. The one place all of Gotham City’s worst, most dangerous criminals are being kept off the streets from terrorizing its citizens. Across the night sky, the light is the beacon of hope for Gotham City as the signal calls for the criminal’s worst fear…. Batman.

Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment

Game Designer: Matt Hyra

Players: 2

Ages: 15 to adult

Playing Time: 30- 45 minutes

Contents: 126 Game Cards – 40 Villain Cards, 40 Batman Cards, 8 Utility Belt Cards, 10 Ally Cards, 10 Gargoyle Cards, 18 Setup Cards, 1 Batman Character Pawn, 8 Combat/Action Dice, 1 Batman Experience Die, 1 18” x 33” Game Board, 1 Utility Belt Board and 12 Charge Counters

Suggested Retail Price: $45.00

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Batman Arkham City Escape The Board Game is a two player that pits one opponent as Batman and the other as the criminals that Batman must face and recapture before escaping the walls of Arkham City Prison. The first player to 10 points either by Batman capturing 10 Victory Points worth of Villains or the Villains escape with 10 Victory Points of Villains and Hostages is the winner in this board game based on the wildly popular Batman Arkham City video game.

The game board is two sided to give a bit of variety to the movement and cards placements available to both players. Side A is the side recommended for use the first couple of plays. Each player then shuffles their 9 set-up cards (there is a set of nine for Batman and the Villains) and deals out 5 cards. Both sets of 5 are then shuffled together and randomly put face down on the board over the spaces marked by the The Riddler Trophy Symbol.

The player who is playing Batman takes the Utility Belt Board and chooses 4 Utility Belt Cards from the 8 possible and secretly and places them face down on the board in any order.

Each player then shuffles their deck of 40-cards and deals them selves 5 cards. There is no hand limit for either side in this game. Batman’s deck is full of combat maneuvers and the Villains deck is packed full of Villains and Action cards.

The Villain always goes first in this game. The villain starts every round rolling 4 dice to see how many actions they will have this round. Each A (Arkham City) sided die is a success, every Batman symbol is a failure so each turn the Villains will get between 0-4 actions unless card texts determine otherwise.

The Villain Actions:

Place up to 5 Villains from your hand onto the entry row of the map, face down.
You may perform this Action once per turn.

Move all facedown Villain cards 1 space in any direction.

You may perform this Action only once per turn.

Move 1 face-up Villain up to 2 spaces in any direction.

You may perform this Action multiple times during your turn, but not on the same Villain.

Move 1 face-up Villain holding a Hostage 1 space in any direction.

You may perform this Action multiple times during your turn, but not on the same Villain.

Draw 1 card.

You may perform this Action multiple times during your turn.

Batmans Actions:

Move Batman once per turn using one of the following 3 options:

Move Batman 1 space in any direction.

Grapple to a Gargoyle up 2 spaces away from Batman. Batman may move to any number of Gargoyles as long as they are no more than 2 spaces away.

Move from one Sewer space to the other Sewer space (2 on the board). Batman must currently be on one of the spaces to use this option.

Flip any number of Utility Belt gadgets face up. In order to use the gadgets they must be face up and have charges left on them to use.

Fight any number of Villains that in Batman’s space. Batman must fight when either he or a Villain move into the same space. If Batman starts a turn in the same space as a Villain he can chose whether or not to fight that Villain.

When Batman is in a fight, the player may play any number of Combat cards to aid Batman in capturing that Villain. These cards can becombined for Combo points or Batman may chose to not play any combat cards unless a card text says other wise.
Each Batman symbol is a success so if Batman ties or surpasses a Villains Capture Rating, Batman is successful in capturing that Villain and adding them to the Victory Point pile. After a successful capture, Batman get to roll the XP die and receive the reward shown on the die.

Batman can’t fight the same Villain in the same turn. If Batman is able to clear the board of all Villains and all facedown cards including the Setup cards, Batman instantly wins the game. If at anytime either player runs out cards to draw, reshuffle the discard pile.

Combat cards have a combo point value up in the left corner. Each point is worth 1 die to Batman during his combat roll. There are only 8 dice in the game so while Batman may play more that 8 combo points worth of cards, he will never role more than 8 dice. Many of the Combat cards have a text to resolve.

If Batman doesn’t roll enough Batman symbols to capture the Villain, many of the Villains have a retaliation text on their card to have a negative effect on Batman.

When the Villains move around the board, if they stay facedown, they have a better chance of making it to the other side and escaping. However, if they land or pass over a space with a facedown setup card, then they and the setup card are flip over and depending on what that setup card is, its text may activate almost immediately. Batman has some allies that get revealed this way, which give Batman a benefit. The Villain also has half of the board covered in their setup cards with give them bonuses.

Batman: Arkham City Escape The Board Game is a quick romp that really doesn’t feel like the video game it was based on at all. Batman is a bit trickier to play than the Villains and it requires a few plays to get the turn sequence down and see what the different Utility Belt gadgets really do and how to best use them. There is a bit of strategy to this game but it is not heavy by any means. It is a decent enough game especially for kids that are really into Batman or die hard Batman fans, but it doesn’t scratch that Superhero itch that needs to be scratched. While I enjoyed playing the game more after a a couple games, it isn’t one that make have to have it in my collection. I wouldn’t turn down a game, but there are much better 2-player games out there that give you that satisfied feeling of having really just been challenged. This is just another fun game that is decent to play but doesn’t really knock it out of the park.

The components on this game are well done. The cards are good weight; the board is large with plenty of room for the cards to be played on it. The artwork on the board is ok, but not amazing. The box art on the other hand is visually eye catchy and well done. The rulebook sticks with Cryptozoic Entertainments usual format and is easy to read. The game is easy to understand but the rulebook could do with a bit more examples or details to better understand how a few of the situations work out. The box itself is big and if no expansions are forthcoming, it is to big. But if expansions are forthcoming then there is room to spare to hold extra cards.

I am not sure that what you get is worth the $45.00 you have to spend to get this board game compared to others as there isn’t that much to it component wise except for understanding how much the licensing might have to play into that cost.

All in all, Cryptozoic Entertainment has put for a solid effort and made a game that is enjoyable for a light gaming session as long as you aren’t expecting a major Batman fix.

I will give this game about a 6.5 out of 10 stars as it does lack depth and doesn’t quite live up the game it is based on. However, for a quick game it definitely has its moments of providing a bit of that game excitement and stress we all love. [rating=6.5]

I was not provided a review copy of this game.

Go to the Puzzle Strike page

Puzzle Strike

8 out of 10 gamers thought this was helpful

Anime? Fantasy Strike? What’s not to love! Puzzle Strike: Bag of Chips 3rd Ed. is set in the Fantasy Strike Universe of fantasy martial arts fractured by political conflict in an Olympic-style tournament. Grave, Jaina, Midori, Setsuki, Rook, DeGrey, Valerie, Geiger, Lum and Argagarg, these10 Fantasy Strike Characters will be placing their skill on display in this exciting puzzle game!

Publisher: Sirlin Games

Game Designer: David Sirlin

Players: 2-4

Ages: 10 and up

Playing Time: 20 minutes

Contents: 342 Chips, 4 Bags, 4 Screens and 4 Game Boards

Suggested Retail Price: $49.99

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Object of the Game: The player’s goal is to overflow their opponents gem pile with to many gems. If any player ends their turn with a gem pile totaling 10 or more, that player loses and is out of the game while the other players continue on till there is only one player left.

Puzzle Strike is a unique deck-building game that uses chips instead of cards. It simulates a puzzle game amongst Fantasy Strike Characters. Or as the rulebook describes it “A card game played with chips instead of cards that simulates a puzzle game that simulates a fighting game.” In Puzzle Strike, gems all into the players gem pile each and every round. The player whose pile fills up first loses. The players combined gems to create bigger gems and then crash those gems to break them apart and send them at other players. The more full a players piles gets, the closer they are to losing. However, this also gives the players more chips to draw to potentially make a come back.

Each player starts with a “deck” or bag of chips and has the chance to buy more as they play to improve their “bag.” Each character has different strengths and weaknesses, which allow for different strategies by each player. This allows a great amount of re-playability, as the combinations possibilities are very large.


There are several modes of play for Puzzle Strike: 2-player, 3/4-player free-for-all, 2 vs. 2 Team Battle, and Custom Clockwork Mode where players build their own characters.

Turn Phases:

Ante Phase – At the start of the game, each players gem pile is empty. At the start of their turn, each player takes 1-gem from the bank and places it in their gem pile.

Action Phase – Each turn a player play one Action chip (chips with a banner.) Place it on the table and follow it’s text. Chips with a + -> allow for more actions to be played that turn.

Buy Phase – During this phase all players must buy at least one chip per turn. This chip goes into the discard pile. Players may play as many chips as they legally can from their hand to the table (not the gem pile) then add their values to the +gem the player may have gotten this turn’s action phase. Subtract $1 for each Combine played this turn. That total is the amount of money the player may spend this turn. Gem piles do not count as money.

Money is lost each turn if not spent. If a player has no money they must “purchase” a wound chip for $0.

Cleanup Phase – Players put all chips played to the table or left in their hand in the discard pile then draw 5 chips.

The Height Bonus:

The higher the total of a players gem pile, the more chips that player gets to draw that turn. Here is a hint to remember how many extra chips to draw. “If the players gem pile has 3/6/9 in it, then draw an extra +1/+2/+3 chips.”

The Purple Chips:

Combine – Combine two gems from a players gem pile into a single gem if the total is 4 or less.

Crash Gem – These gems break gems in a players gem pile and send them to any opponent the players chooses. The bigger the gem crashed to more gems sent at opponents.

Double Crash Gem – This gem works the same as a Crash Gem other than it breaks two gems from a players gem pile.

Crash Gems can also be use to “counter-crash” gems from an attacked players gem pile. This is a reaction indicted by the purple shield on the Crash Gem. This does not cost an action to play. Each 1-gem from players “counter-crash” negates a 1-gem sent by the player’s opponent.

4-gems are not “counter-crashable.” These gems cannot have purple shield gems played against it as well.

Other Types of Chips:

Gem Chips – In a players hand these are money, in a players gem pile, they are used to crash to send to a players opponents.

Character Chips – All 10 characters have 3 special chips each. These chips start in your “bag/deck” and tend to push a certain strategy. These chips cannot be crashed. These chips cost one action to play unless they have shields are and played as reactions.

Puzzle Chips – Puzzle chips all have a puzzle icon at the top with the cost of their purchase inside the icon. These are part of the bank until purchased. These chips cost one action to play.

Wounds – These chips are just taking up space in a player’s deck. They are useless and worthless.

Components – Sirlin Games has always done wonderful job with the components in Puzzle Strike. The only issue I see is being careful of tearing when removing the chips from the board when opening the game. The chips are heavy; the print is easy to read on them. The rulebook is well laid out and easy to understand. The bags are serviceable. I of course prefer a softer fabric but that is such a minor complaint. The game screens are well put together with cool 8-bit art on the inside wall. The box insert is the best I have ever seen for a game organizer in the box. Sirlin Games really did well with this and I wish more companies would learn from their actually going the extra mile to label the inserts. The biggest improvement here is the addition of the game boards. This will greatly improve playability for newcomers to the game and understanding when a player can draw extra chips.

I have been playing Puzzle Strike since it first came out back in 2010 so this 3rd ed. really fixed one thing that always kept it from being a great game instead of just a good game. In the original edition, you could only send gems to the player on your left and not at any player. While that is an interesting mechanic, it always felt very limiting to me. Now that you can send gems to any opponent, you have so many more options and strategies. This was a major fix for me and really makes the game more enjoyable.

The other high point for me is the way that this doesn’t feel like just another deck-builder to me. It operates the same and has gives you as many options but it completely stands out from the other deck-building games to provide a fun, unique experience. This is why theme and little bit of thought or originality can make such a big difference in a game. With a flood of deck-builders coming out every year, having to purchase them at $40-$50 each plus purchasing expansions, plus card sleeves to protect them, it’s nice to have a game that provides an experience to make it worth the purchase price and doesn’t need endless expansions to stay fresh and exciting to play.

I am giving it 8 out 10 stars as Puzzle Strike: Bag of Chips 3rd Ed. is a winner in my book. This game has plenty of strategy, options and re-playability to keep it coming to the table for a long time to come.

Go to the Call of Cthulhu LCG: Core Set page
85 out of 96 gamers thought this was helpful

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.¨ – H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Game Designer: Nate French

Players: 2

Ages: 13 to adult

Playing Time: 30 – 60 minutes

Contents: 1 rulebook, 1 folding game board, 165 cards, 36 success and wound tokens and 6 Cthulhu Domain Markers.

Suggested Retail Price: $39.95

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Call of Cthulhu The Card Game (referred to as CoC throught this review) is a LCG (Living Card Game) from Fantasy Flight Games originally released in 2008 with many “Asylum Pack Expansion Cycles” previously release but later discontinued and replaced with currently five different “Deluxe Expansions” which is great news for people just getting into the game. These “Deluxe Expansions” allow the players to build much stronger decks to either stop the horrors that are terrorizing the world or to dominate the investigators and reek havoc on their plane of existence.

In CoC the players take on the roles of courageous investigators or nightmarish horrors to succeed in accomplishing their dangerous and horrific missions while battling the opposition for control. They do this by fighting for Story Cards that are randomly selected and three are laid out on the game board. The first player to get three Story Cards wins the game or the first player to run out of cards in their draw deck immediately lose the game. Discards piles are not shuffled back into their decks.

Players can choose from seven different factions to make up their decks. There is no limit to how many factions can be used or which ones can be mixed together to form their decks. However Heroic or Villainous Characters cannot be in play for one player at the same time. That player will have to choose one and discard the other if they mix human and horror decks.

The factions are:

The Agency – A group of police officers and citizens that specialize in combat. They do the grunt work and head bashing. This faction favors players that are aggressive and like to do damage.

Miskatonic University – The scholars and learned professors that are best at information gathering and a bit careless. They don’t do horror or combat well and rushing can get them into trouble. Great deck for card draw, quick investigation and “rushing” players.

The Syndicate – The seedy underbelly characters that always seem to know what is going on. They use their info to their advantage and compared to the horrors can seem like the good guys. This deck favors being sneaky and slowing down the opponents characters.

Cthulhu – The cult of the Great One himself. This cult is world wide, intertwined through out Earth’s history and specializes in terror and utter destruction. This cult isn’t always nice to each other so be careful when calling forth Cthulhu!

Hastur – He who shall not be named cultists are raving lunatics and deranged artists. This cult is full of people that love to spread the slow poison of terror and insanity. This deck favors control, cancellation and appeals to the slower, more defensive players.

Yog-Sothoth – The Gate Keeper of where the spheres meet. Its cultists help navigate the ways between the worlds allowing for returning cards from the players discard pile and searching for cards when needed.

Shub-Niggurath – The horrid Mother faction of the Black Goat of the Woods with One Thousand Young floods the play area with monsters of all levels. This deck is suited for “rushing” players who love to combat!

There is also a set of Neutral cards that can be used by both players.

There are five different types of cards in CoC. Story, Character, Support, Event and Conspiracy. All cards belong to one of the seven factions or are neutral. Cards marked with an * are Unique and each player may only have one copy in play at a time. Cards put into play are put in the ready position and exhausted (turned 90 degrees) when used. Any character that goes insane is flipped upside down in the exhausted position. Attached cards are destroyed when a Character leaves play.

Turn Sequences:

Refresh Phase – Each player can choose and restore one insane character by flipping it face-up but it still remains exhausted until the next turn. Each player then refreshes any exhausted cards and Domains.

Draw Phase – Each player draws two cards from their deck. During the first turn only, the first player only draws one card as part of the first player penalty.

Resource Phase – Each player may choose one card from their hand to place under a Domain of their choice. The card goes under the Domain Card and upside down so the only the resource symbol at the bottom can be seen. Once a card becomes a resource, it may not be used for anything else. There is no limit to the amount of resources a player may have or the amount of Domains. Once a Domain has been exhausted, then the player places a Domain Marker on it and it cannot be used again until the next round. Each Domain may only be used for one card per round.

Operations Phase – Players have the chance to play any Character and Support Cards from their hand face up in front of them in the play area as long as their have the resources available to pay for the card. To play a card or activate it, the player must exhaust a Domain to do so. Unless the card is neutral, the Domain used must have a resource match (a card from the same faction) to the card being played.

Story Phase – The active player now commits any ready Characters to the Story Card by exhausting them and placing them in front of the Story Card of their choice. Each Character may only support one Story Card each round.

After the active player commits, then the opponent may commit their Characters to a Story Card in which at least once Character has already been committed.

Now the players resolved the Story Cards. This is done in any order chosen by the active player. Each Story Card is resolved by the four icon struggles found on the left side of the card by comparing skill values.

1. Terror Struggle – This is the tentacle icon on the card. The player with the most tentacle icons wins this struggle. The losing player choices on Character Card committed to that struggle to go insane. Here Characters with the willpower keyword never go insane.

Combat Struggle – This is the skull icon on the card. The player with the most skull icons wins this challenge. The looser must choose one Character Card committed to this struggle and give them a wound token. Most Characters only take one damage and are destroyed. The toughness keyword comes into play here and allow a Character to receive more than one wound before being destroyed.

Arcane Struggle – This is the tome icon on the card. The winning player may ready an exhausted Character Card committed to this Story Card.

Investigation Struggle – This is the magnifying glass icon on the card. The winning player may immediately place a Success Token on the Story Card.

Determining success: The active player now determines if they have been successful. Add the combined skill values (number on the middle left side of card) of all remaining Character Cards committed to the Story Card. If this total is one or more than the opponents, then they may place a Success Token on the Story Card.

If the active player succeeded and the opponents skill level was zero or less, then the active player may place one additional Success Token on the Story Card as being unchallenged.

If the player wins the Story Card by having five or more tokens on it, they then may take it and immediately resolve its effects. If both players simultaneously win, then the active player takes it. If the active player wins more than one Story Card at the same time, the active player chooses in what order to take the Story Card and activate it’s effects.

Once a Story Card has been won, all tokens are removed and returned to the pool and a new Story Card is flipped over in its place.

Conspiracy Cards:

Conspiracy Cards are played from the active players hand during the Operations Phase as a new Story Card in addition to the three Story Cards in play. These cards may also be used as Resource Cards attached to a players Domain. Each player may only have one Conspiracy Card in play at a time. If a players wins a Conspiracy Card it counts towards the players Story Card win total.


Fast: This keyword breaks ties during icon struggles. The player with the most Fast Characters committed to the Story Card takes this honor. A tie of zero is still zero and Fast has no effect on it.

Heroic/Villainous: A player cannon bring both into play at the same time (this includes card effects.) A player must discard one in order to play the other.

Invulnerability: Character Cards with this keyword can never be wounded or chosen to be wounded. They may still be destroyed by card effects.

Loyal: When a player wishes to play a Character Card with the Loyal keyword, they must drain a Domain that has enough resources of that cards faction to pay for the entire cost the card.

Steadfast: These cards have faction symbols in their tile. When a player drains a Domain to play a Steadfast Card, the player must have at least as many resources across all of their Domains to play that card as well the Resource Match.

Toughness: Character Cards with the Toughness keyword, may take additional wounds equal to X times. This may come from more than one source in which case the different cases stack.

Transient: The Transient keyword is accompanied by an arrow next to the resource icons and count as two resources when placed under a Domain. Once this Domain has been exhausted for what any reason, this card is destroyed and discarded.

Willpower: Characters with the Willpower keyword may never go insane either by effect or choice.

During each phase of play, each player my take actions by either using Character abilities or playing Event Cards and paying its cost. The active player always takes the first action each phase. No actions may be taken during the Resolve Story Card Phase until all three of the Story Cards have been resolved. All actions are taken one at a time, first by the active player and then with the opponents follow up action if that players chooses.

There are many different actions that happen such as Responses, Forced Response and Disrupts. In order for these to take effect obviously the card text and circumstances must align. These are described in the rulebook to greater detail.

Components: CoC component quality is top notch as it is a Fantasy Flight Game and they don’t skimp on quality. The artwork is taken from several other of the Arkham Horror series games and I am sure fresh new art was included. Of course the artwork is awesome and fits the genre perfectly. The cards are good quality, easy to read with the exception of the text at the bottom of the Story Cards which is a bit small to read easily. The board is solid, and small and is basically just chrome for the game, but I am all about chrome so its a nice touch.

CoC is a deck-building game that has a ton of depth to it which is no surprise as all of Fantasy Flights LCG’s are very good (I haven’t played Star Wars yet.) The Core Set might be a bit weak for the human player to start with at least until they get to know the cards and combos pretty well. CoC provides a good balance of the thematic element, strategy and a short playing time of 30 – 60 minutes which should be a big plus for many gamers. It’s a shame it isn’t more popular in the US as it is overseas as it is most certainly a very good game and should be in more players game collections. The wonderful feeling I get when playing thematically strong games like this always want to make me reach for these types of games first as for me the gaming experience seems more complete than just a good strategy game with a theme that doesn’t really matter if it is there or not. I love THEME and Fantasy Flight does it better than anyone else. If you are looking for a game that has great deck-building mechanics, great cards and effects and theme dripping from the start than this is the game for you.

Now is the time to get into this game if you don’t want to get behind on the expansions with Fatasy Flight having put our the “Deluxe Expansions” and there being only five of them. Deck-building games like this can get very expensive especially if the player is serious and tournament bound, but for the casual player, buying just the core set and seeing how you like it provides a fitting gaming experience with lots of theme, fun and discussion. From there adding the expansions should be easy and at the discretion of the what the player feels they need.

I will give this game about a 8.5 out of 10 stars as it brings a lot of depth, strategy and theme and it is certainly worth the price at $40. This game will never play the same so it’s re-playability is very, very high.

Go to the Shadowrift page


10 out of 13 gamers thought this was helpful

Haven Town is under attack! The Shadowrift has expelled hordes of monsters upon the town threatening total annihilation. The villagers are scrambling to defend their homes from Drow, Glacien, Zombies, Storm Lords, Necromancers, Demons and Fire Dragons. How will Haven Town survive? Who will step up and be the Heros of Haven Town? Do you have the skills, strategy and magic to protect Haven Town? You better hurry before Haven Town is full of corpses and everything is in flames.

Publisher: Game Night Productions

Game Designer: Jeremy K. Anderson

Players: 2-6

Ages: 15 to adult

Playing Time: 40 – 100 minutes

Contents: 1 rulebook, 25 1-point tokens, 6 5-point tokens, 454 Game Cards, 6 Scenario Cards, and 1 Heroism Marker..

Suggested Retail Price: $45.00

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

With this review I am going to do things a bit different the reason being as that the rule book for this game is so bad I don’t even want to consult it for this review so I will tell you about my game experience instead.

Shadowrift is a game from first time game designer Jeremy K. Anderson and while his first attempt at the rule book fell short (as is to be expected for a first time designer) his game didn’t. Shadowrift is a completely different deck-building game experience than any other I have encountered and that is a good thing!

In Shadowrift the players have the job of working as a team to protect Haven Town from total destruction from the creatures clamoring through the Shadowrift **** bent on wiping out Haven Town and everyone in it. This game is a truly co-operative affair in which strategy is paramount to actually fend off the denizens and come out on top. In a typical deck-builder, you may have to have light interaction with other players with the exception of a few LCG’s (Living Card Games) from Fantasy Flight Games.

As the Heroes in Shadowrift not only are you attempting to build a strong and powerful deck to use but you are also fighting monsters as well as building a separate deck for Haven Town in which you may have infiltrators, monster effects or a town full of dead bodies that slow that decks effectiveness with junk or even frozen areas of town that have to be freed up in order for the villagers to be helping the heroes with special villager card powers or benefits they may tap into. So in effect you have a trifecta approach to deck-building that is completely new and unique in my experience. It provides all kinds of interesting situations for the Heroes to have to decide what to do and in what order.

The game also comes with 6 different monster types that are basically scenarios for the Heroes to defend against and each one gives a completely different feel to the game. Not only is this very cool but it provides a ton of re-playability to the game. When paying $45.00 for a game, the last thing you want is to burnt out on it after a few plays due to already figuring out the strategy or it just not being deep enough to play over and over again providing a rich, rewarding gaming experience.

There are recommended cards for using with the 6 different monsters but you are not required to use them. The players may put together what ever cards into the purchasing area that the players feel make the most sense or have figured out what card combos work best through experience.

Experienced board gamers know that one of the dangers of playing a co-operative game is that sometimes you have that one person who likes to dominate the session and think that his strategies are the ones to use. They want to pick everyones moves for them and basically ruin the whole game experience for the other players. This game doesn’t stop that from happening, but if you can find a good group of people to play Shadowrift with you will have an amazing experience with it. It is a very solid game with great mechanics, lots of good game tension and decision making to do! The players have to figure out their roles and what cards are necessary to buy to defend Haven Town.

One of great things about this game is in the village deck. If your village ever comes up showing 5 cards that are not villagers or walls then you lose the game! The monsters are great about killing off your villagers which in turn puts lots and lots of corpses in to the village deck and at a much faster pace than you think. This makes managing the village deck a serious priority. A great mechanic that adds a whole other level of depth and game play.

The players have wounds and/or burns when fighting the Fire Dragons that populate their decks and you get one of these for ever turn you attack or one per monster attacked. This of course clutters up your deck very fast and now you have to implement an additional strategy with card purchases or villagers to clear out your decks.

The Monsters win if the whole village is corpse ridden or no villagers appear at the beginning of the next turn or if the corpse deck runs out of corpses.

The players when when they seal all of the Shadowrifts that appear out of the monster deck or by building eight walls in the village.

This is currently one of my favorite deck-builders and I hope to see more expansions for this game as well as an updated rule book.

Ok so now for the bad stuff. As I mentioned earlier, the rule book is atrocious. I had to do hours of research on to learn all the rules and what some the card effects, order of actions etc. I am still not sure what the pawn that comes in the game is for as I can’t find a reference to it anywhere so there maybe a part of the game play I am still missing. I know there are cards that effect whomever is holding the pawn but I am not sure how who holds the pawn is determined. So be prepared to do some research with this game.

When you open the game, it is not completely intuitive on how it breaks down into the card box for separation or ease of find cards. The cards should have come in order to break them down easily for the purchaser. There is no mention in the rule book how to do this properly.

There is also no reference in the rulebook as to how to set up the cards on the able. Since it’s release there are some player aids on to show you how to do this.

There are 6 black tokens that come in the game that I have no idea what their use is for, so I have been using them as the seals on the Shadowrifts.

The cards are also a bit of an issue. The art on the game is great! However cards were already flaking on the corners after just one play. You will want to sleeve these cards if that matters at all to you.

The suite spot for this game is 4 to 5 players. Any less and you are going to have trouble dealing with all the monsters, village issues and wounds in your decks. This game has a lot going on!

I know it seems like there is a lot of negativity about this game but please bear with me. While the rule book could be (much) better and the cards are a bit flakey the game play itself is awesome. Shadowrift is one of the best games I have played in recent memory and every person who loves deck-builders should own it. Aside for a bit longer learning curve most players should intuitively understand the mechanics and be able to find what they are looking for rather easily on for rules clarifications although my personal opinion of this is that should never have to happen. Publishers and designers need to become much better about their rule books.

So far there is minor talk of a 2nd Ed. game but date yet and at that time obviously a much better rule book should be included.

I am giving Shadowrift an 8.5 out of 10 stars for game play but a 6 out of 10 for the trouble of having to learn the game everywhere other than the rule book it’s self.

Go to the Thurn and Taxis page

Thurn and Taxis

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In my second installment of Revisiting the Classics I want to discuss Thurn & Taxis from Rio Grande Games. Unfortunately this game seems to be out of print with Rio Grande Games but is available with Hans Im Gluck which is good as it was a Spiel De Jahres (Game of the Year) winner in 2006.

Publisher: Rio Grande Games, Hans Im Gluck

Game Designer: Andreas ********, Karen ********

Players: 2-4

Ages: 13 to adult

Playing Time: 60 minutes

Thurn and Taxis theme is based on the original postal system started in 1615 in Italy and covering over 250 years of history in this game based on the Thurn & Taxis family. While some might think this an odd theme for a board game, it works very well, adds a touch of thematic history and due to the artwork which is beautiful and outstanding, a gaming experience that seems to transcend any gender lines, historical lines or need for something action oriented.

In Thurn & Taxis, each players is trying to build the largest network of postal routes in Eastern Europe. You do this by collecting cards and playing them in a row as allowed by the routes on the board. You cannot lay cards in the middle of your routes once they have begun, only on either end which if your cards are unlucky to draw from can leave you in a bind. Each player gets to add a city card to their hand, play a city card or may close and score a route. You also get the option of using one “official” during this turn. Think of this as a special power.

Players are collecting point chits based on the length of routes, minimum of three cites and maximum of seven to score any chits. Small routes such as three or four cites may help collect a regions point chits, but only five cities or up to seven cites collect point chits based on length of route. You may also collect a point chit for having at least on city in every region. During the closing of a route and scoring it, the player may also upgrade their carriage to achieve more victory points assuming all the requirements are met when doing so. The game ends when on player has three or less post offices to place. The player with the most victory points at the end wins!

Thurn & Taxis is a fairly simple game to learn and play. I find it is a very good gateway game especially for a euro style game. The other thing I have realized is that a lot of women have really liked this game when introducing them to it. It is not confrontational, it has a bit of a solitaire element to it. It’s easy to socialize over and yet still offers a fair amount of strategy and play within its 60 minute time frame without fail. If a player fails to complete a route then it can make it a bit hard to catch up and add that extra tension that comes with a good board game.

I personally like Turn & Taxis a lot. It’s a solid game with beautiful artwork and I always like a good theme in my games. While this might not be a brain burner, it is a good medium-light game that is easy for most groups of gamers. With all the new games coming out today, this doesn’t see the table as often as it used to, but it used to see the table a lot. If you can find a copy I highly recommend it especially for the more casual gaming groups or introducing new people to board games.

Go to the Star Trek: Catan page

Star Trek: Catan

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Space…The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprisess Their one game mission: to explore strange new worlds. Seek out new resource cards, block resource production from other opponents and boldly win by gaining 10 or more victory points before anyone else.

Publisher: Mayfair Games

Game Designer: Klaus Teuber

Players: 3 – 4

Ages: 10 to adult

Playing Time: 75 + minutes

Contents: 2 Dice, 19 Sector Tiles, 6 Frame Pieces, 95 Resource Cards, 25 Development Cards, 10 Support Cards, 4 Building Costs Cards, 2 Special Cards and the game pieces in 4 different colors contain 4 Starbase Expansions, 7 Outposts, 15 Starships and finally 1 Klingon Battle Cruiser

Suggested Retail Price: $55.00

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

In Star Trek Catan the players scour the universe looking for resources on new planets to build Outposts, Starbases, creating the “Longest Supply Route” and having the “Largest Starfleet.” Players can trade, block, and meet up with the dangerous Klingons while facing having to build in locations that may be plentiful in resource production or very minimal.

Each player is trying to build Outposts (worth one Victory Point each) that eventually upgrade in to Starbases (worth 2 Victory Points each) in orbit of the Federation Territories (planets.) Each planet has a random number 1-12 on it, this allows a player to gather the type of resource that planet produces if that number is rolled by a player.

Red Planet produces Tritanium

Yellow Planet produces Food

White Gas Planet produces Oxygen

Green Planet produces Dilithium

Blue Planet produces Water

Asteroid Field produces nothing

Each player starts with 2 Outposts and 2 Starships and 1 Support card chosen at random. Because of this, each player automatically starts the game with 2 Victory Points. Players pick where to put their first Outpost by starting with the oldest player first. The first player then places one of their Outposts and an adjoining Starship on any Federation territory junction and this continues clockwise till the last player places 2 Outposts and then it moves counter clockwise until the players have placed both of their Outposts and Starships on the game board.

The Turn Overview looks like this:

The player must roll the dice for resource production. This result gives all players with an Outpost or Starbase on that number a resource from that planet. A player may get more than one resource depending on how many Outposts or Starbases are located there. Each Outpost produces 1 resources and each Starbase produces 2 resources.

The player whose turn it is may trade resources with any other player during their turn. That player may listen to offers and any counteroffers. A player may not trade if it is not their turn unless it is only with the current players turn. The current player may also trade with the Border (bank) by trading any 4 of one type of resource for 1 of any other type of resource. If the player has an Outpost/Starbase that borders trading post, then they may be able to trade at a 3:1 or 2:1 rate.

The player may build as many Outposts, Starships or Starbases as their resource cards allow.

The player may also play 1 of their Support and/or 1 Development card any time during their turn.

Building allows a player to increase their resource production as well as giving them more Victory Points. To be able to build, a player may not build closer than 2 space intersections from another player.

To build requires the following:

Starship – I Dilithium and 1 Tritanium resource card. These are built along the space intersection connecting their Outposts/Starbases together. They may not be built of any other player’s routes or Outposts/Starbases. Once a player has built a route of 5 or more Starships that do not branch off, they may receive the “Longest Supply Route Card” worth 2 Victory Points. This card may change hands many times during the game. If there is a tie for the longest route, no one holds the card.

Outposts – 1 Food, 1Dilithium, 1 Oxygen and 1 Tritanium are required to build 1 Outpost. The player must build the Outpost adjacent to one of their Starships and the player must make sure they are 2 space intersections away from any other (including their own) Outpost or Starbase before building. When building a new Outpost, that player now has the possibility to increase their resource production if that planet number is rolled.

Starbases – 3 Water and 2 Oxygen are required to build the Starbase upgrade to the current Outpost. This attachment goes on top of the current Outpost and doubles the resource production of the current Starbase. The Starbase must be built on a current Outpost and cannot bypass the Outpost building stage.

Resource Cards – 1 Water, 1 Food and 1 oxygen are required to buy 1 Resource Card. This card is drawn from the top of the stack and held in secret until the player chooses to reveal it. Most Resource Cards may not be played until after the turn in which it was purchased.

Victory Point Cards – The players must keep their Victory Point Cards hidden until they have 10 Victory Points or more and then reveal them. These cards may be played on the turn they were purchased to win the game.

Starfleet Intervenes cards – If a player plays this card, they must move the Klingon Battle Cruiser (more on how this works below.) Once this card is played, it will remain face up in front of the player that played it adding to their Starfleet size. Once a player has 3 Starfleet Intervenes cards face up in front of them, they may claim the “Largest Starfleet” card worth 2 Victory Points. This of may change hands many times during the game. In case of a tie, no one holds the “Largest Starfleet” Card.

Progress Cards – These cards have text on them that the player may then activate to receive its bonuses. Once played, these cards go out of the game.

Support Cards are Star Trek: TOS characters with special text on them to help the players who holds it. They have both an A and B side to them. Once a player uses side A, they have the option to either flip it over to side B and use it again later or they may return it to the Support Card display and choose another that is available. If the player chooses to keep the Support Card after using side A, once they use side B, they must return it to the Support Card display and choose another card. A Support Card may not be used the turn that it was acquired.

The Klingon Battle Cruiser is activated once a “7” is rolled by a player or if a “Starfleet Intervenes” Card is played. The following is what happens when a “7” is rolled or a “Starfleet Intervenes” card is played.

If a “7” is rolled on a players turn, no player will receive any resources that turn from production.

Any player that holds more than 7 cards in their hand at that time the “7” was rolled must put half of their hand back into the resource supply rounded down.

The player that rolled the “7” must move the Klingon Battle Cruiser to a planet sector or to the asteroid sector although moving it to the asteroid sector usually doesn’t make much sense.

The player then “steals” 1 resource from 1 opponent who has a Outpost/Starbase currently in orbit of the planet on which you placed the Klingon Battle Cruiser.

This planet no longer produces any resources as long as the Klingon Battle Cruiser is on it.

Play continues as normal.

The game ends as soon as a player reaches 10 Victory points through any combination of Outposts, Starbases, Victory Point Cards and Special Cards such as the “Largest Starfleet” or the “Longest Supply Route”.

The components of Star Trek Catan are exceptional. The photos are taken from the Star Trek: TOS from the “Wrath of Kahn” or after. The tiles and edge pieces are very thick and will last forever; the Starships, Outposts and Starbase pieces are detailed and very cool. The cards stock is thick enough to not bend to easily but they are glossy which does make them slippery and they are all smaller than the original Catan. It would have been better if they were normal size so they could have been sleeved if needed and textured just to be easier to handle. That is my only complaint though. The box art is very cool, and the box insert is nicely done as well.

Star Trek Catan is a remake of the famous “Settlers of Catan” and so much of it is very much the same with the exception of the theme and the Support Cards. I know a lot of people were like “another Catan?” or “Isn’t this just over kill and license gouging” but I say nay! The theme works very well with this game. Star Trek has a huge audience and let’s be honest there have been a plethora of bad Star Trek games through out the years. Attaching Star Trek with the Catan game library was a smart move and it fits very well along side all the others. The addition of the Support Cards adds a whole other dimension to the game no pun intended. It allows people to get back in the game easier as well if they are struggling due to placement. This version of Catan has become my go to version to play and it has completely refreshed it for me. This was a win/win situation for the both Catan and Star Trek.

We already know that this game has a ton of re-playability as the board is never the same and there are so many different variables to chose from. Adding the theme just makes it MORE fun that it already was. Catan being the game the re-energized the board game industry has done a good thing here and made a great game slightly better than it already was. This game belongs on every board gamer’s shelf and most certainly every Star Trek fans.

Due to the theme, added Support Cards built on a game that was already great and revitalizing a game many of us had played out, I am giving this 9 out of 10 stars.

I was not provided a review copy of this game.

Go to the Hot Rod Creeps page

Hot Rod Creeps

61 out of 68 gamers thought this was helpful

Start your engines! On your mark! Get set! Go! The latest race in the PUSCAR (Psychotic Union of Severely Crazed Racers) Cup is on! Team Monsters, Rockabilly, Underworld, Aliens, Food Fight and Battle Wizards rip it up on the track to see who is the best of the best. Watch out for hazards, curves and dirty play as each team tries to take you out and capture the checkered flag!

Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment

Game Creator: Cory Jones

Game Designer: Matt Hyra

Players: 2-6

Ages: 15 to adult

Playing Time: 30- 45 minutes

Contents: 6 Team Decks, 1 Nitro Deck, 4 Upgrade Decks, 6 Plastic Hot Rods, 6 Hot Record Sheets, 50 Double-Sided Track Tiles and Extras, 1 3-D hot Rod Creeps Motor Speedway Standee and Others, 1 Rulebook

Suggested Retail Price: $45.00

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

In Hot Rod Creeps Customizable Racing Game the ultimate goal is to be the first across the finish line. Players can race 1 lap or a whole circuit and climb the leader board to see who comes out on top. Each player can pick from 6 different teams that each have certain strength you try to exploit against the other opponents.

The Teams are:

Team Aliens – Collect upgrgades as quickly as possible.

Team Battle Wizards – Have one card in hand to access the nitro deck.

Team Food Fight – Play cards in a sequence.

Team Monsters – Play cards quickly out of their Tank (draw pile) and maintain between empty and half full.

Team Rockabilly – Play or flip the top card of their Tank whenever possible as they have more flip cards than any other team.

Team Underworld – Track cards in their Tank and hand to avoid getting burned.

During the set-up phase a player can build any design of track they can think up. Start with the starting grid and complete it with the finish line. Each player then places their car on the starting grid by drawing them from a cup randomly. There is a rule for whomever has the closest birthday to go first if you chose to do that.

A number will be on the starting grid under the players Hot Rod, this is the number of cards that each player draws of their Tank to star your hand. They closer to the front, the fewer amounts of cards are drawn of the Tank.

The cards themselves are very simple to read and understand. In the upper left corner is the move value in other words how many spaces a Hot Rod may move when played. Down the left side is the card name and on the bottom is the game text. If it says “Flip Only,” than this card text is only in effect when flipped of the top of the Tank or a deck.

As you would assume the pole position goes first and then turn order is clockwise for the rest of the game. Each player may then choose one of the 4 actions for that one action that turn.

Play a Move card from your hand. This option allows a player to move their Hot Rod forward the number of spaces of the Move value. This always for planning a bit easier so the player can land in Pit Stops, avoid hazards and take the corners more safely avoiding damage. Any card played this way with “Flip Only” in the text is ignored.

Flip the top card from the players Tank. This option is of course random and the player must announce it before revealing it to other players. This is where “flipping” comes in so a “Flip Only” text card will be activated here. The Move value of the card still applies here as well.

Flip the top card from the Nitro deck. The Nitro deck is a shared deck between all players and most of the Move values on this deck are between 6 to 9 making it a risky option. These cards can have some nasty effects so play with caution. This may cause you to burn cards off your tank, hit a wall turning a corner taking additional damage. To take this option, the player must have at least one card in their hand.

Draw 4 cards from the players Tank. This won’t allow the players Hot Rod to move and it is a more strategic action. If the players tank is almost empty and doesn’t have 4 cards left, then they just draw what is left with no reshuffle.

The order of events is resolved by playing the card text first, then the Move value. This is because the game text may alter the actual movement of the Hot Rod. After the Hot Rod has moved then any Upgrade cards a player may have such as weapons or engines upgrades are resolved. These effects could further still affect the Hot Rods movement. Lastly any effects from the track such as hazards, corner damage or Pit Stops are resolved.

Pit Stops are spaces that a player must land in directly on the end of their FULL movement turn. The Move value of a card may not be shortened to effect where a player may land. When a player effectively Pit Stops, they then have the option of either Gassing Up or drawing an Upgrade card. A player may not attempt an additional Pit Stop by not moving a second time and drawing 4 cards. If a player chooses this option, then that player on draws 4 cards and their turn is over.

Gas Up allows a player to shuffle their discard pile into the remainder of their tank. The players Tank does not have to be empty to do this however, it may be more efficient to draw an Upgrade card if the players is not in danger of running out of gas.

Draw and Upgrade card allows a player to draw from 1 of 4 different types of Upgrade cards: Weapons, Engines, Wheels and Pit Crews. This card is put in the appropriate slot on the players Hot Rod Sheet. You can only have one of each upgrade at a time in the appropriate slot. If a player draws Weapons upgrade but already has that slot filled with another Weapons Upgrade then the player chose to replace the current Upgrade or discard it. These Upgrades improve a player Hot Rod and often allow that player to hurt another player.

Weapons Upgrades will typically trigger when a Move value of 4 or 5 is played. This affect triggers whether the Move value was played from a hand or off the top of the Tank. This is obviously to harm a fellow opponent.

Engine Upgrades again usually trigger when a Move value of 4 or 5 is played either from a players hard or their Tank.

Wheels Upgrades come into player when one player Drafts one or more other players. The number of Hot Rods Drafted does not increase the Upgrades effect, but it may affect multiple opponents at once.

Pit Crew Upgrades trigger when a player Pit Stops. A player who runs out of gas is forced to Pit Stop and this cards text is triggered.

There is a only one Hot Rod per space allowed so if an opponents turn would end in an already occupied space then, that opponent then “Drafts” the Hot Rod already occupying that space. Drafting allows that player to end in the space directly ahead of the occupied space and is trigged by any card or affecting moving a Hot Rod. You can also draft backward as well if a card text forces a Hot Rod backwards. This puts the moving Hot Rod in the space directly behind the occupied space.

If a card moves past a Hot Rod, Passing may be in effect. Passing triggers some certain card text and Drafting is considered Passing in this instance as well.

Running out of gas occurs when a players Tank (draw deck) is empty and as long as the player has cards left in their hand they are safe. If a player ever has no cards in their hand or tank, they then must move their Hot Rod backwards to the nearest Pit Stop. This is not a movement action, so no Passing, Drafting or other effect takes place. After reshuffling a Tank, then the player draws 2 cards to their hand.

A player can take damage called Burn. This effect removes cards from the top of a Tank. Burn can come from cards, hazards, Upgrades etc. When Burn takes effect, the player takes that many cards from the top of their Tank and places them in their discard pile.

Damage is an effect that removes cards from a players hand and can happen from card text, corners, hazards and so on. Damage forces a player to discard cards from their hand but if they do not satisfy the damage amount, then that player must Burn the additional cards from their Tank to satisfy the Damage amount.

When a players Hot Rod comes screaming around Corners, there could be trouble! A bold red line that has a difficulty maker assigned to it distinguishes a Corner. If a players Hot Rod is going faster than the assigned number than that Hot Rod will take damage.

There a few Hazard and Bonus spaces to be aware of as well. These can be added to the track to bring additional mayhem to the gaming experience. You have Banana Peel, Fan Frenzy, Oil, Potholes, Varmint Crossing and Rain Slick hazards while only to bonuses, those being The Spotlight and Sponsor’s Row bonuses.

The components are a good quality. This stock for the track, fire hoop, crowd stands etc. However the ramps for the fire hoop could have been much better done as my copy it’s worthless. The cards are of nice quality and the player sheets are ok. The art work is amazing especially if you enjoy Rat Fink style art. Some of the track parts don’t quite fit together perfect but that is to be expected and doesn’t detract from the game experience. My copy came with a Monsters Team sheet missing while I got 2 Underworld Team Sheets. There was a slight bit of damage on a couple of track pieces and to the manual, but I did receive a review copy not a retail copy.

Hot Rod Creeps is a very little but very fun stick it to your opponent game. Playing once is a bit of a let down as the game goes quick and the set up and take down time is more than most games so I recommend running a circuit to really get the feel and effect. Running a leader board definitely adds to the game experience. This game has a ton of replay ability to it as the track never has to be the same and the randomness of peoples decisions, Upgrade cards and effects. This is a great game for kids or people who aren’t into heavy strategy. It’s got a comical feel to it and provides for great social gaming and jokes. There is definitely some strategy to this so please don’t think I am saying their isn’t, but it’s light and fun as opposed to anything causing analysis paralysis. If any player suffers from that in this game, don’t play with them again lol.

I am giving this game 7 out of 10 stars for fun, replay ability and social gaming.

Go to the Cinque Terre page

Cinque Terre

107 out of 118 gamers thought this was helpful

Life in Cinque Terre is a beautiful sight to behold. A rugged coastal land on the Italian Riviera with five villages close to each other to do business in. Each Player is a farmers vying to harvest and sell produce in each village and become the most popular by fulfilling the most Produce Orders.

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Game Designer: Chris Handy

Players: 2-5

Ages: 13 to adult

Playing Time: 60 minutes

Contents: 1 Rulebook, 1 Game Board, 16 Dice, 5 Player Cart Tokens, 5 Scoring Markers, 128 Produce Pieces, 1 Dice Bag, 5 Most Popular Vendor cards, 5 Fulfillment Cards, 80 Produce Cards, 80 Produce Orders, 16 Starting Orders.

Suggested Retail Price: $54.95

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

In Cinque Terre, each players plays a farmer that operate carts and harvest and deliver produce to sell in the 5 local villages. Players will also compete for Produce Order cards, which will give the player Lire for each successfully filled order in specific villages. The player with the most Lire, most popularity and most fulfilled Produce Orders at the end of the game wins.

The object of the game is to earn the highest total amount of Lire. This is scored by a scoring track around the edge of the board. Lire can be aquired by:

• Selling produce at a village for its value in that village

• Fulfilling Produce Orders, this can either be from the players hard or next to the board.

• Selling the most produce at a village to become the Most Popular Vendor.

During a players turn that player may take up 3 of the following 4 actions in any order they choose.

• Move up to 4 spaces in a clockwise direction.

• Draw 1 Produce card.

• Harvest Produce – They player may harvest up to 4 Produce pieces at any 1 of the 3 Harvest spaces. A player may not have more than 4 Produce pieces at any one time.

• Sell Produce at a Village Market – A player my sell up to 4 Produce pieces at any one of the 5 villages they are currently occupying.

Players may perform the same action more than once per turn.

Move up to 4 spaces – There are 8 spaces a player’s cart may land on. There are 3 Harvest locations and 5 villages. A player may move up to 4 spaces in a clockwise direction only. Players may occupy the same space.

Draw 1 Produce card – A player may draw 1 Produce card. Of course as stated earlier a player can take an action more than once. There are 8 types of Produce cards and 10 of each of those. The cards are colored coded to match the Produce pieces and 8 colored dice.

• Black – Olive

• Grey – Funghi (Mushroom)

• White – Agli (Garlic)

• Purple – Uva (Grapes)

• Green – Zucchine (Zucchini)

• Yellow – Limoni (Lemon)

• Orange – Arance ( Oranges)

• Red – Pomodori (Tomatoes)

If a player choses to draw a Produce card, they can draw from either of the 4 face up cards on the board or from the Produce draw pile.

If a card is taken from the game board, it is immediately refilled from the draw pile.

There is no hand limit and if the draw pile runs out, the players reshuffle the discard pile in to a new draw pile.

Harvest Produce – The players must harvest Produce in order to sell it. There are 3 Harvest spaces on the board from which the players may harvest. The players may only harvest the Produce attached to that particular harvest space. The first and third space has 3 types of Produce attached to it while the second space has only 2 attached to it.

To harvest Produce, the players must discard the appropriate card type for each produce they harvest i.e., 1 Olive card for 1 Olive produce piece. A player may never have more than 4 unfulfilled Produce pieces at one time on their cart, however a player may harvest up to 4 Produce pieces for one action.

Yield – A player may discard 2 resource of the same type to harvest any 1 other type of Produce piece they are currently sitting on.

Sell Produce at a Village Market – This is how the players make a profit and move their counter along the victory point track around the edge of the board mainly. A player may sell any type of Produce at any village but some types of produce will be more valuable in certain villages based on what the appropriate colored die says for that village. If a player sells an “Uva” at a village that has a purple die with the 5 showing, that Produce is worth 5 Lire each. Players may only sell the village they are currently occupying as well.

Each village will have dice to the right of it with a particular number showing, which was rolled before the start of the game and place in the appropriate space next to each village. If there is no die associated with a particular Produce color than that Produce is worth 1 Lire only.

To show that a Produce piece is sold, a player must move the piece to the corresponding cube space in the appropriate village row on their fulfillment card. Then the players adjust the scoring track to reflect the sale as well. A player may sell as much or as little at this market as they wish.

Produce Orders/Starting Orders – These are pretty much the same thing. Every player starts with a starting order to fulfill and will also fulfill more Produce Orders from the side of the game board. Each Order has Produce symbols next to each village. The player must sell on Produce for each symbol type shown to the corresponding village on the card. Once a player has sold a certain type of Produce in a village, they are now eligible to claim future orders requiring the same type of Produce in the same village. The player may sell several of the same type of Produce to the same village as it may be more profitable but not necessary.

Claiming Fulfilled Produce Orders – A player may only claim a Produce Order card from the side of the board at the end of their turn and only if their Fulfillment Card meets the requirements shown on the Produce Order. A player may only claim 1 Produce Order per turn. When a player draws a new Fulfillment Order, they look at it secretly and make keep it or refill the empty space on the side of the board. If they choose to refill the space, they must take the next card drawn.

Claiming Most Popular Vender Cards – Players ending their turn with all 8 spaces filled on their fulfillment card may take the MPV Card at the end of their turn. That card is worth a certain amount of Lire and the player then adjusts the scoring track accordingly to the Lire amount on the card. Any forgotten MPV Card to be claimed MAY be claimed by another player. Only one MPV Card may be claimed per turn.

Starting Orders are hidden throughout the game and are scored at the game end. Unfulfilled Starting Orders will result in a victory point loss at the end of the game.

The game end is triggered in one of these two ways:

– After the turn in which a player claims a fifth Produce Order card or MPV Card (any combination), each player then gets one final turn including the trigger player. Orders in the player’s hand at game end do not count against them.

– After the turn in which 2 different Produce types have been depleted, all players get one final turn including the trigger player.

Players then total up their final scores to determine the winner.

The components in Cinque Terre are high quality in every respect. My only complaint is the scoring track around the board couple be a bit better. That is a very minor complaint though.

Cinque Terre is a very good euro-style game that gives you plenty of strategy in a short, manageable game that plays a time frame to make almost anyone happy. This fits so well into so many different situations that it solves what most people complain about. While it isn’t innovative so to speak, it is deep enough, short enough, and the quality is solid.

This game is easy to learn and play almost immediately so it makes it a great choice as a gateway game for first time gamers not used to a euro-style game. Designer Chris Handy did a great job here and I know it wasn’t easy for him. This game took awhile to get out and I am sure that it went through lots of revisions before doing so.

I will give this game about a 7.5 out of 10 stars as even the theme comes across well here which can be unusual for a euro-style game. For those players that love cube pushers but don’t always have time for games like Caylus, this could very well scratch your itch.

Go to the Dungeon Roll page

Dungeon Roll

52 out of 59 gamers thought this was helpful

“Two giant stone doors tower before you, covered in moss, vines and deep battle scars from ages gone by. Upon further inspection, a dank smell permeates the air as you approach the doors. The smell of death, decay and something not quite right makes your parties skin crawl. With a word, your wizard opens the doors to complete darkness and the unknown is tugging at your senses. The wizards staff lights up, the warrior moves in first, one member after another. What will you find in the Dungeon? Why is the hair standing up on the back of your neck? Why is there a giant red scale on the ground before you? Do you have the metal to brave Dungeon Roll?”

Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Game Designer: Chris Darden

Players: 1-4

Ages: 8 to adult

Playing Time: 15 minutes

Contents: 1 rulebook, 7 white party dice, 7 black dungeon dice, 1 10-sided level die, 36 treasure tokens, 24 experience tokens, 8 hero cards, 4 player aid cards, 1 hero book.

Suggested Retail Price: $15.99

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

In Dungeon Roll each player receives a Hero Card either at random or the player can choose from the following characters: Bard, Battlemage, Beguiler, Chieftain, Commander, Dragon Slayer, Necromancer and Paladin. Each Hero also has a Special Ability that can be used anytime and and Ultimate Ability that can only be used once per delve into the Dungeon. Hero can level up once after gaining enough experience points to help their special abilities.

The game is played in the rounds or each playing delving into the dungeon three times each. The first player then rolls the 7 white dice to determine their party that may include Champions, Fighters, Wizards, Thieves and Clerics. The person to the Players left is the Dungeon Lord and rolls the Dungeon Dice as well as tracks the current players lever with the Level Die.

The players turn consists of four different phases:

The Monster Phase: The active player uses his companions (Champions, Fighters, Mages, Thieves and Clerics) to battle the Monster Dice (Skeleton, Goblins and Oozes.) Any Dragon dice rolled are set off to the side to be faced later if three or more Dragons are rolled. Once a companion is used to battle a monster is put in the graveyard and cannot be used again unless brought back with a potion later in the turn sequence. Dungeon Dice are returned to the Dungeon Pool to be reused again. The current player can press their luck and go deeper into the dungeon increasing the level on the Level Die and gaining more experience points. Level 1, one Dungeon Die is rolled, Level 2, two Dungeon Dice are rolled etc. If a player fails to defeat the current level, they must flee the Dungeon and their delve is over with out gaining any experience.

The Loot Phase: The player can choose to do these in any order.

Open Chests: One Thief or Champion may open any number of chests and all other companions can open a single chest.

Quaff Potions: Any companion (including scroll die) can be used to quaff any number of potion dice. One potion equals on companion resurrected from the graveyard.

Dragon Phase: If there have been 3 Dragon Dice rolled then the current adventurer must battle the Dragon! The adventurer can only defeat the Dragon if they have 3 different companions to battle it with. If there are not 3 Dragon Dice, skip this phase.

Regroup Phase: Here the adventurer retires to the tavern. They collect experience points equal to the level they achieved on the Level Die. If the adventurer was brave enough and somehow made it all the way to Level 10 on this delve, they must retire and collect 10 experience points. The adventurer can keep seeking glory by going deeper into the Dungeon if they have not achieved Level 10 yet. Remember if the adventurer cannot defeat all the Monster Die, they must flee the Dungeon and no experience points are gained.

Once the delve is over, the adventurer passes the dice to the left and play begins again with that player.

Once all the adventurers have completed all three delves the game is over and the players count up their experience points. The one with the most wins!

Treasure: When a chest is opened during the Monster Phase, the current player gets to retrieve treasure from the Dungeon. These can be used during a players turn if applicable like a fighter token or a mage token which acts as an additional companion die. Once the toke is used it is returned to the box. All unused treasure tokens count as experience points at the end for the player that has them.

The components for Dungeon Roll are very good. The artwork is very nice, the dice are high quality with cool graphics and the tokens are small but serviceable and sturdy. The box is a cool treasure chest look for the packaging but I can see the lip on the inside getting damaged fairly easy so take care when closing the box. The Hero Cards are very attractive and of decent quality. As much room as in on the card, the text could have been bigger for people with eyesight issues but that is a super small quibble.

Dungeon Roll is an very fun, quick romp through the dungeon and in some ways the theme really comes through. This is a great filler game or travel game as it all fits in the small treasure box and is playable anywhere anytime as it really only lasts about 15 minutes each game. Designer Chris Darden did a great job of finding a way to mix the luck of dice rolling with strategy and the feel of a dungeon crawl in such a small, compact quick game. This is a winning design and game. Great job Chris and Tasty Minstrel Games.

I am giving this game 7 out 10 stars as it is very fun, quick and thematic at its core with just the right amount of luck and strategy for a filler game that keeps everyone engaged and is going to be great fun for kids and adults.

Go to the Belfort page


107 out of 121 gamers thought this was helpful

“What the ….?” The lumber yard is bustling more than ever as you look upon scores of elves picking up wood for whatever project they are working on. “What is going on?” you ask the yard foreman. “Seems that the King has requested a lot of building to be done.” he replies. “What? I was given the license to build for the city. I won that job!” Hastily making your purchase you take your load to the job site where currently underway, you have a tower going up.

As you walk towards the site, a dwarf runs up to you handing you a letter. Reading the apology sent by the Assistant Deputy of the Assistant Deputy, it states the King has decided that because of a clerical error, many master architects have been hired to build for the city. When building season ends, the King will hand the Key to the City to the one master architect who truly deserves it. “I can’t believe this!” you scream. “Grunt! Get over here!” A dwarf red of hair, stout of build and covered in dust and dirt from the morning work ambles up to you. “Yes sir, what do you need?” he grumbles as if he is to busy to be bothered. “Hire, all the help you can, elves and dwarves alike! Get as many gnomes as we can muster and get to building as many building as we planning all at once. Make sure you are first to the quarries, lumber yards and gold mine. We need to be ahead and better than everyone else. Well don’t just stand there! Move!” you shout. “Yes sir!” Grunt starts yelling at workers, giving them orders and point in directions for them to go. Then he scurries off to attend to his mission.

Shaking your head, you mind reals from all the work, long nights and personalities that will create issues you will now have to deal with. “It’s always something” you mutter to yourself. You set your mouth in grim determination and your mind to make sure that you will have that Key to the City at the end of building season and no one is going to stop you.

Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Released: 2011

Game Designer: Jay Cormier, Sen-Foong Lim

Artwork: Joshua Cappel

Players: 2 – 5

Ages: 13 to adult

Playing Time: 90 – 120 Minutes

Game Mechanics: Worker placement, Area Control/Influence, Card Drafting, Hand Management

Contents: 5 Game board districts, key to the city, calendar board, collection board, 50 property cards, 5 turn order crests, 1 calendar marker, 5 player boards, 12 guild tiles, 30 wood logs, 30 stone blocks, 20 metal bricks, 46 gold coins, 6 multiplier chips, 35 dwarves, 35 elves, 22 gnomes, 60 property markers and 5 scoring markers.

Suggested Retail Price: $59.99

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

In Belfort, each player is sending their loyal crew of Elves and Dwarves to the tasks of gathering resources, gold and constructing various buildings that have unique abilities for increasing influence in the city. Hiring Gnomes as staff for the building thereby, activating many of the special abilities and helping the player achieve success. Likewise, players can hire guilds to help along the way.

As each player is building in the five districts, their influence grows and knowing what and when to build can be critical to their success. According to the calendar, the scoring will be done three times throughout the building season. This will based on each players influence in each of the five districts as well as the size of their workforce of Elves, Dwarves and Gnomes. By the end of the seven rounds, the player who has earned the most points wins the Key to the City!

First let me state that Belfort is an amazing worker placement game. It is very well thought out and offers plenty of strategy while it is still simple to learn and understand. With all the worker placement games out there (and there are tons of them,) this one to me stands hands above most of them. With the popularity of gateway games of the genre like Lords of Waterdeep, Belfort brings much more to the table. The theme stands out to me immensely. I am not sure why exactly but it probably is a combination of many things such as the artwork, story and feel of the game. Many games of this style have themes that are just pasted on such as Lords of Waterdeep and have really no effect on the game. The mechanics of cube pushing are really all that matter in providing the character of the game at this point.

Belfort somehow manages to incorporate their theme into the overall experience and make it absolutely critical to the experience. The strategy of the game is quite deep and yet only feels like a medium weight game. If the players are familiar with euro style games, they will pick this up very easily and a great game will be born every time you play it. Yet as stated before, it is a good game for new gamers to learn and pick up quickly. This also serves very well as a family game as there is nothing for adults to have to worry about theme wise.

The artwork of Belfort is top notch and really, really adds a lot of flavor to the gaming experience. The components are some of the best yet for a euro game. The boards, guilds and other pieces are thick and colorful. There was no warping whatsoever in my copy. Everything is easy to read and understand. The cards are of good stock, weight and good artwork. A little assembly is required as you need to put stickers on the different colored playing pieces when breaking open the game.

My only complaint may be that player boards might have been a bit better as you need a lot of room to play this game. The building costs are on the player board and on the cards again. I have yet to see anyone use the board to determine the cost of building. Some space may have been saved here and there, with the calendar board, resource board and player boards and a little better planning, but this is a very minor complaint. As over all this game is awesome.

Belfort has become my go to game in worker placement genre. I have to play anything of this weight that is this fun, deep and easy to learn. While there are many great games out there, Belfort should be a table favorite for a long time to come. You don’t shelve great games and Belfort is a GREAT game.

I am giving Belfort 8.5 out 10 stars.

This game is Club Fantasci Certified!

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Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.

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