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Go to the Age of Steam page
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Go to the Memoir '44 page

Memoir '44

74 out of 81 gamers thought this was helpful

Memoir ’44 is a game in which you recreate battle scenarios from the Second World War. The base game focuses on D-Day and the battles after that day, but a lot of expansions have appeared in which you can relive the battles of the Eastern front as well as fight in the Pacific theatre.

The game is played on a gameboard consisting of hexagonal tiles on which terrain tiles (like forests, hills, cities and the infamous hedgerow) can be placed. At the start of the game the two players select a scenario they want to play and set up the board according to the starting positions of the scenario. There might be special features like points in a city either the Germans or the Allies have to take.

After the terrain is set up the army units (infantry, tanks and artillery) are placed according to the scenario set up. The players are dealt command cards with which they can give orders to their units. The game board is divided in three sections (left, middle and right) and most command cards only work in certain sections of the board.

The players need to think ahead, because moving a unit into a section of which he or she doesn’t have a command card might mean it is stuck for a while.

When units attack dice are rolled which determine if damage is done and how much. This introduces a chance element into the game that can be frustrating. However, proper planning and strategic manouvering is very important in this game. While some plans fail because of bad dice rolls, more fail because of bad foresight or bad tactics.

Memoir ’44 is a fun stragetic game. It’s not so heavy as some strategic games (and doesn’t last very long – a scenario typically is over within one to two hours) and if you want to play a campaign that is possible (campaign books are available). Perhaps the only drawback is that it’s a two player game. There are extensions which allow up to 8 players, but still there are only two real combatants in the game.

Personally I like the game for it’s variety (*lots* of scenarios) and replayablity. Also you can put the game away after two scenarios and pick up where you left months later. Well worth the playing time!

Go to the Risk: Legacy page

Risk: Legacy

69 out of 81 gamers thought this was helpful

Risk: Legacy is unlike other Risk variants in the sense that every game is unique. You will create your own game board while playing the game and the decisions you and you fellow players make will shape the future games. Bad decisions will haunt you and good ones will reward you many times over.

Because the game evolves a lot, it’s hard to give a spoiler free overview and still give information. Suffice it to say that the way the game starts (everyone rolls a die and the highest first selects one of the factions) will not be the same the whole game. I quite like the way the selection of factions and other things evolves during the game.

Another feature is the changing game board. At first there are no cities and the continents are nameless. By winning a game you may put a major city on the board (and name it) or name a continent. This gives extra bonuses (only you may start in a territory with a major city in it and occupying a continent gives an extra army each turn). The losers of the game also get a chance to found cities or to add coins to territory cards (yes, they may be exchanged for a lot of armies during the game, just like in regular Risk).

There is also the usual Risk game turn. At the start you get armies from occupied territories, continents and other possible sources and you can attack adjacent territories or move into unoccupied territories. Personally I experienced a lot of strategy in this version of Risk. Usually Risk is just a dice nightmare. A great battle plan can fail because of constantly throwing 1s. In Risk: Legacy strategy and tactics play a greater role. The right faction with the right bonus chosen at the right time can change the game considerably for you. And if all else fails: use your missiles (changes one die rolled to a 6)!

Yes, me and my friends had a lot of fun playing on two game boards. Only trouble with the game? After 15 games each we never played it again. I would like to try another board, though…

Go to the Arkham Horror page

Arkham Horror

87 out of 96 gamers thought this was helpful

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of playing Arkham Horror for the first time. And it was indeed a pleasure! I’m pretty familiar with the Cthulhu mythos, because of friends introducing me to the role-playing game. The idea of a never-ending battle, victories being actually just delays and the ever-ongoing creep of insanity, well, I knew about them. And they have been implemented in the right way in this board game.

In Arkham Horror you play an investigator that has to stop the invasion of other dimension into the lovely town of Arkham. The action starts right away, because a portal opens during the start of the game. You and your fellow investigators have to travel through town to the sites with open portals and attempt to close them. However, monsters and strange entities may come through the portals, making approach and closing more difficult.

Your investigator has stats (like a role-playing game) with strengths and weaknesses. Also each investigator has a special ability and receives random abilities and/or items at the start of the game. Looking for a good way to use them in conjunction pays off. For example, I played a character that could remove one sanity point by expending one health point each turn (received ability) and recover one health point each turn (investigator ability). As I was the one with spells, these abilities helped a lot. Spellcasting usually shifts you towards insanity with all its drawbacks.

The game is very intense from the start. Portals pop up all over the place and you have to be quick to close them. A friend who was more experienced in the game insisted on getting Elder Signs and indeed, this won us the game. Every time a portal opens you advance one step on the Doom Track. This track has a certain number of steps and when the end is reached a terrible horror (like Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath or even Cthulhu himself) is unleashed on Arkham. You can fight it, but the chances of winning are next to zero. So not advancing on the Doom Track is very important. The only way to insure this does not happen is play quickly or use Elder Signs when closing a portal. Using an Elder Sign means taking one step back on the Doom Track. Without this I would have lost my first game.

All in all this game is great. Many people complain about its length in setting up and playing, but I rather play one good long game than several short less interesting games. But do prepare for its length. If you don’t like long games, don’t play Arkham Horror. But if you like a tense, immersive game with great scope (and endless ways of extending it – it has a lot of expansions), try it! Personally I’m looking forward to playing it again and giving Arkham a little more time before its inevitable end.

Go to the Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game page
66 out of 75 gamers thought this was helpful

For fans of the series Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game gives the same feeling as watching the show. The same amount of intrigue and stress (“Basestar jumping in – Launch all vipers!”) as the series portrays is present in the board game as well.

In Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game you choose to be one of the characters from the show, observing the rule that you cannot choose a role already chosen (unless all roles are chosen – when you’re playing with five or six people). So the first choices have to be Military Leader, Political Leader, Pilot or Support, before a role can be chosen twice. After that everyone receives a card saying whether they are a Cylon or not. This information is of course secret! So nobody knows who is human and who is Cylon.

The object of the game for the human players is to reach Kobol (a ‘safe’ planet) by jumping the ship through space. Prepping the jump computers takes time and all kinds of bad stuff can happen during that time. Each player can move and use an action during their turn to combat Cylons, repair the ship, boost morale, et cetera. Of course pilots are better at shooting and Political Leaders are better at politics…

After each turn of a human player (or an unrevealed Cylon) a crisis card is drawn and the players have to deal with it by playing cards. These cards are received at the start of a turn by the current player according to his or her role in the game.

You can use the cards in a normal way or to face a crisis (by using the number on the card). Because each card has its own category and crisis cards count the right categories as bonus, but the wrong categories as malus (and Cylons can throw in cards to frustrate the attempt) it might be difficult to face a crisis without the right cards. Some crisis cards are Cylon attacks, which require quick action before the ship is destroyed or overrun.

The Cylon player tries to sabotage the human crew by throwing in the wrong kind of cards when facing a crisis and fostering intrigue among the characters. When a Cylon is revealed he leaves Galactica and tries to thwart the quest to reach Kobol from a distance. This might be done by sending a Cylon fleet or making the crew face a Super Crisis (when rightly timed it has devastating effects).

The humans win when they reach Kobol without one of the resources (colonists, morale, food and fuel) reaching 0. The Cylon(s) win when one of the resources reaches 0 before the humans reach Kobol. That sounds simple, but Battlestar Galactica is an intricate game which fuses elements from Diplomacy with combat tactics. Every game is a race when a Cylon plays his cards well. And before a Cylon is revealed mistrust may prove to be the greatest threat to human survival. So say we all!

Go to the Ticket to Ride page

Ticket to Ride

50 out of 60 gamers thought this was helpful

Ticket to Ride is a very friendly game for non-gamers or people that have just started gaming. The board has a lot of colors, there are sturdy trains to put on tracks and the cards are nicely illustrated. The rules are not hard to comprehend, so anyone with a little time and patience is able to learn the game quickly.

Each round a player has two choices. Either he takes cards (train tickets) from the deck or he puts his trains on a track connecting two cities (by exchanging the appropriate number of cards of the right color). This scores points, but you should not randomly build tracks. At the start of the game you have received a number of route cards, which you have to try to build on the board. So if your trains cover the map from San Francisco to New York and you have the appropriate route card you will score even more points.

So you have to collect cards of the right color to be able to cover the right tracks with your trains. The locomotive cards are wild, so you can use them in any combination you need. However, you can select your cards at random (from a face down pile) or choose between five face up cards. Selecting a face up locomotive counts as selecting two cards, so only one is allowed per turn. You may select two non-locomotive cards (or two face-down cards that may contain a locomotive – but then you’re just lucky).

In the end this is a game of carefully choosing when to put your trains on a track (there is not that much room for trains) and when to go for collecting the right cards combinations. When a track is covered with opponents’ trains you will not be able to use this track to finish your route. So be careful when you play the waiting game. You might miss out on important connecting tracks!

The amount of room on the board is the only drawback. Tracks get filled quite easily, so strategic planning might cost you a track. Other incarnations of this game handle this in a better way, but playing Ticket to Ride is still a fun way to spend an evening.

Go to the A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (2ed) page
73 out of 84 gamers thought this was helpful

The second edition of A Game of Thrones: The Board Game incorporates the first edition and all expansions that were released over the years. This edition streamlines the rules and tweaks the game in a very pleasing way. First of all the Westeros cards are redone in a less random way. In the first edition you sometimes had to wait ages for a muster or a supply readjustment card to come up. In the second edition those cards come up more often and they are tied in with possession of the Iron Throne – thus you might not get a muster because the person holding the Iron Throne doesn’t want that. This reduces the randomness and gives even more incentive to bid for the Iron Throne. Even then, you can muster with a special order token to slowly increase your army.

The addition of ports is nice. In the first edition you had a big problem when you lost the sea adjacent to your home territory – you couldn’t build new ships in that sea area anymore. The addition of ports makes it possible to attack from that port, so you have a chance to break naval blockades.

Also there is a new unit: the siege engine. It is useless in the fields (strength 0) or when attacked, but when you attack a castle with siege engines in your army, each siege engine has strength 4(!). This gives sieges a better chance than in the first edition.

Also this edition has six possible players (playing House Stark, House Greyjoy, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Tyrell and House Martell). The last house is an addition, in the first edition the far south contained only neutral castles.

The rest of the game is left unchanged, so you still have to use diplomacy to get what you want and you have to out-think your opponent at every turn. I am still impressed by the design of the game board itself, which offers you a lot of possibilities to get castles just shy of the last one you need. For that last castle you always have to fight. Winning is thus never easy and that it how it should be.

For when you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die…

Go to the Catan: Cities & Knights page
87 out of 103 gamers thought this was helpful

Cities & Knights changes the Catan game profoundly. The basic working of the game (throwing dice, building roads, villages and cities) is left unchanged, but a lot is different from the basic game. For starters, you begin the game by placing a village and a city instead of just two villages. This is probably done to ensure everyone is able to profit from the new way of resource production. Tiles with forests, grasslands and mountains no longer produce two wood, wool and ore, but produce one of these basic resources and one trade resource (paper for forests, cloth for grasslands and coin for mountains). These trade resources you can use to build city improvements, which in turn might give you development cards.

The development cards are thus no longer for sale, but are earned by those with improvements in their cities. Each turn a red die is rolled along with the white die and if a third die (completely new) shows a city symbol the players with the appropriate color in city improvements (green for improvements built with paper – science, yellow for improvements built with cloth – trade – and blue for improvements built with coin – politics) receives a development card with that color. These development cards give a lot of different bonuses when played.

The greatest change is the addition of the barbarian fleet and the subsequent change in the use of knights. This fleet is placed a number of spaces from the coast of Catan and advances one space when the barbarian fleet symbol is rolled on the die which also contains the three city symbols (so barbarians move one space every two turns on average). The strength of the barbarians is equal to the number of cities on the board. Players have to commit knights to the defense of Catan – these knights are now pieces on the board and have three strength categories.

However, the knights need to be activated by spending 1 grain (the army must eat!). So at the start there usually is a race to get an activated knight on the board, because the player committing the least strength to the defense of the island will lose a city (it is reduced to a village). This only happens when the barbarians win, so when the players do not commit more knights than there are cities on the board. When the strength of the combined knights is equal or greater than the strength of the barbarian fleet, the player with the greatest strength in knights wins a point (Savior of Catan) – in case of a tie the tied players each get a development card of their choice. Also note you can use activated knights to send an adjacent robber to another tile!

Still afraid of the robber? You can build city walls in this expansion, which add two to the number of cards you can safely hold in your hands. And last, but not least, players can build metropolises by finishing all city improvements. They get to place the metropolis piece over their city which is protected from barbarians from that time. In addition a metropolis is worth two points!

Personally, I like both the original Catan and this expansion (or changion?) Cities & Knights. The latter gives players more possible avenues of growth and more strategies are possible. Just sitting on grain and ore will not work anymore and players that get stuck in one part of the game have room in another. It does add some length to the game, but I think it’s well worth it. When I play with experienced Catan players, Cities & Knights almost always hits the table! If you haven’t played it yet, try it. I highly recommend it!

Go to the Catan: Seafarers page

Catan: Seafarers

106 out of 117 gamers thought this was helpful

The Seafarers of Catan introduces a small but definite game changer: the ship. All the old rules of The Settlers of Catan still apply (there is a big island, players get to choose their starting locations, villages and cities may be build, roads connect to new villages on the island), but now a player can enter the sea tiles by building ships (cost is one wood and one wool, so sheep tiles are more useful in this extension). Ships are subject to the same rules as roads, but you may move them around (not breaking the line) as long as they don’t connect to a village – more flexibility than roads!

This extension also introduces the scenario. Where previously the only difference between Catan games was the initial setup of the big island, a lot of different games are put forward in the scenarios of The Seafarers of Catan. Some are small extensions of the basic game (adding a few islands of the coast of Catan itself), while others create a whole new game concept – exploring unknown tiles by creating ships reaching into the unknown (you reveal tiles as you build a ship along a reversed tile). Some scenarios add extra ways to earn points, so playing a scenario creates a whole new game experience.

Also, a black ship is included in this extension. This is a pirate ship that will prey on your shipping lines. When a 7 comes up, a player chooses if he or she wants to use the robber or the pirate ship. The pirate ship does not block a number, but you still get to steal a resource and prevent other players from building more ships on the tile the pirate ship is in. Ships may not move away from the tile the pirate ship is in too!

The Seafarers of Catan blends seamlessly with the original game. So if you want to add new flavour to your Catan experience and are ready to explore the seas, try it out! You probably will always use this extension when putting Catan on the table. It doesn’t really add complexity, but creates new possibilities and more ways to enjoy playing Catan!

Go to the Ingenious page


32 out of 35 gamers thought this was helpful

Ingenious is an interesting and challenging game. The concept is simple. Each turn a player places a double-hexagonal tile showing two colors (and corresponding symbols) on each hexagon (the colors can be the same on a tile) on the game board. For every matching color (or row of colors) the tile is placed next to the player scores points. For instance, when a yellow tile is put next to a row already containing three yellow hexagons in a row, three points are scored. This is done for each hexagon connecting to the tile placed. At first the scoring looks difficult, but after one or two games it becomes crystal clear.

The board size itself depends on the number of players and already has six hexagons of each color printed on it. When the first player puts his or her tile next to one of these starting hexagons no one else may place a tile next to it until that player has played another tile. This is to ensure the starting player isn’t penalized for putting the first tile on the board. The next player gets the same advantage at a different staring hexagon until all players have placed one tile. Then you can place your tiles anywhere on the board!

The points scored are tallied on a scoring sheet. When a score reaches 18 (or higher, but you cannot mark a score higher than 18) the player calls out ‘Genius!’ and gets to make another move. A string of ‘Genius!’ can create oppurtunities for one player, while destroying them for others.

Now the most interesting part of this game is the way you win. Your overall score is determined by the color you have scored the least points in. So you might have got ‘Genius!’ four times already, but green is still at zero. Then you overall score is zero as well (and that will not make you win!).

Ingenious is challenging, fast and fun to play. Trying to get the most points yourself while thwarting the plans of others keeps you on your toes. “If he just didn’t put a tile there, than…” is a frequent thought during a game. If you are into abstract games and like a challenge, Ingenious is a game to try out. I think all age groups can learn the concept and will enjoy it.

Go to the Magic: The Gathering page
62 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

Magic: The Gathering has been around for a while now. Thousands of cards have been printed and the variety of decks is pretty much endless. The game is still a favorite of many and the professional circuit is alive and kicking. This game will be with us for a while longer!

The premise of Magic: The Gathering is simple. You build a deck of 60 cards (this is for constructed formats, limited formats like Sealed Deck and Draft set the minimum at 40 cards) with which you try to beat your opponent. In the world of Magic: The Gathering you are a Planeswalker who can draw upon the power of the land to gather mana to cast all kinds of spells. In game terms you need to include lands in your deck (about 22, but that is just a basic amount for a basic deck), because the lands give mana (there are five basic lands, giving white, blue, black, red and green mana respectively). With this mana you cast creatures to attack your opponents, search cards in your deck, reanimate creatures gone to dust earlier and create all kinds of effects, depending on the deck you play.

In most matches it is about life. Both players start with 20 life and when one’s life total reaches 0 that person has lost. However, it is also possible to win by emptying the deck of your opponent – when he or she has to draw a card and can’t, he or she loses also. And in the long run of the history of Magic other cards have been printed that give different winning conditions.

The basic game is easy to learn and new players can get into action quickly. Most people start with a basic deck with lands and creatures and some spells that give cards or help creatures to survive. Later on you might try other decks that use different approaches to winning. On the Web you can find many, many different deck lists, each tailoring to a specific format or type of player. In essence, the possibilities are unlimited.

Of course, the game is a Collectible Card Game, so you have to watch out not to spend all your savings on this game. Personally I played a lot during the past ten years (also in tournaments), but these days I play less because a tournament isn’t as cheap as it used to be. Also the amount of cards in cupboards and drawers in my house is reaching its limits. Still, whenever I play (mostly at pre-releases – tournaments just before the release of a new set), I enjoy myself, because Magic: The Gathering is a smart game which challenges you to make the best of the cards you get.

So, if you have never played, try it! There are probably a lot of people who would give you a stack of lands and commons for free and otherwise a few boosters isn’t that expensive (if you leave it at that). Then if you want to really play you can find all kinds of tournaments to play in. But you might just enjoy a game with your friends. Magic: The Gathering games usually don’t last that long, so you have time enough to play a lot of games on a game night. Good luck! Have fun!

Go to the Pandemic page


116 out of 123 gamers thought this was helpful

Most cooperative games are meant to be fun. Most aren’t very hard, but just promote a sense of working together instead of competing. With Pandemic it’s different. This is a cooperative game that is hard, very hard. It is so from the first time you play it and when you grasp the basics, there are always higher levels of difficulty to try out. Teamwork and strategic thinking are essential to winning, for the diseases don’t wait…

In Pandemic you are a member of a disease-fighting team (part of the CDC – Center for Disease Control and Prevention) based in Atlanta. The world is on the brink of a global disaster, because of four diseases that have infected some cities already. You need to combat the diseases and find a cure for them before it’s too late. Every player will randomly get a card with a specific role (like Scientist, Dispatcher, etc.). Each role has a special ability that will be vital to winning the game.

Each player gets four actions which for instance allow him or her to move around the board (depicting the Earth with some major cities on each continent), treat diseases present in a city or try to help discover a cure for one of the diseases. Players can also use their special abilities (the Scientist for instance can more easily discover a cure).

For most actions you need cards. These cards are dealt to you at the start of the game and they might represent cities on the board or some special action that gives free stuff (like a free research center – you start with just the one in Atlanta).

After each player has done his or her best to limit the spread of the diseases, the infection phase starts. A deck of cards has been created at the start, containing some city cards. Depending on the infection rate (this increases when an Epidemic card is drawn) cards are drawn and disease spreads in the cities (add cubes of certain colors to the city). When a fourth cube would be added, there is an outbreak and the disease spreads to adjacent cities. This might trigger a chain of outbreaks, so players need to reduce the number of cubes in cities to prevent this. Too many outbreaks and the game will be over!

When the players find a cure for all four diseases they win. However, when there are no more cubes of one type of disease left to place or there is an eighth outbreak or the draw pile from which players draw two cards each turn is empty, it is over and the players lose.

At first glance Pandemic seems a straightforward game. At the start there is not that much disease on the board and you have a lot of actions to do something about it. This is deceptive, however. The board might quickly explode with disease rampant all over the place and you and your fellow players having a hard time even keeping a status quo. I remember my first games (at the easiest level) that all ended in losses (and big ones!). So you really need to learn and replay this game to get the hang of it. Some roles greatly interact and some don’t, so you need to talk a lot and try to plan ahead. Playing alone is no option. When one player decides to try something not agreed on, you will probably lose fast. In that sense this is a real cooperative game with no room for single glory. You win as a team or not at all!

Personally I think Pandemic is a smart take on the cooperative game genre. While some cooperative games are fun they are mostly not difficult or challenging enough. With Pandemic you are constantly challenged and at the edge of your seat when cards are drawn. Will there be an outbreak just where you hope there wouldn’t be one? How will get out of this new situation? You really need to think strategically and get all players to make their best effort. Otherwise the world is doomed and a global pandemic will crush humanity…

Go to the Flash Point: Fire Rescue page
220 out of 248 gamers thought this was helpful

Firefighters are true heroes. Voluntarily entering burning buildings to save people and risking life and limb to fight fire is very dangerous. Not many people are willing to do that on a daily basis. Flash Point: Fire Rescue gives everyone a chance at being a hero in their own (small) way.

In this game the players are firefighters that have to rescue a certain numbers of people from a burning building. At the start of the game a building is selected and a small fire is put on predefined coordinates. Players take turns to move into the building in search of “points of interest” (POI) that might contain a victim in need of rescue. These people need to be bright outside where an ambulance is waiting for them.

After every player’s turn the fire might (and probably will) spread. Die rolls decide how seriously and where. So a new location might only start to smoke, while adding fire to existing fires might trigger explosions (these are not good news!).

The players need to rescue their set of victims before the building collapses (when too many supporting walls have burnt through). Of course when too many victims die in the fire it is also over.

This game is all about cooperation and theme. It really simulates the effects of spreading fires and the urgency of getting people out. When first playing it, everyone is a generic firefighter (you use the Family Rules). Later on, when you get used to the rules, you can play specific roles (an echo of Pandemic) that have special abilities (you use the Expert Rules).

Personally I rather play Pandemic, because I like the abstractness and theme better. However, this is talking like the hardcore strategy gamer I am and I think Flash Point: Fire Rescue has a different audience. Especially children will like the idea of being a firefighter and rescuing people from a burning building. So I’m not grading this game very high personally, but I see it’s appeal to a different class of gamers. So if you’re not into hardcore strategy and like a break from the unforgiving Pandemic try this game for a change!

Go to the Space Alert page

Space Alert

349 out of 373 gamers thought this was helpful

Most board games don’t set time limits. Players get all the time in the world to think about what they want to do. It is up to the players together to decide what is an acceptable time to think about their actions during their turns. This probably leads to shunning players with incurable ‘Analysis Paralysis’, because they slow down the game considerably. Everyone who plays board games knows there will be times when you just have to wait for another player to finish his or her turn.

Space Alert blows this traditional waiting-your-turn-gaming from the table. The game only lasts 10 minutes (yes, that’s right) during which you have no time to endlessly debate your actions or keep your fellow players waiting. Doing that you will almost certainly lose the game big time.

In Space Alert you and your fellow players are officers on a spaceship. You venture out into space and as usual you are attacked by aliens. These attacks are announced by an audio CD, which you play during the game. One player has to keep track of all the information given by the audio CD. Not doing so means missing the arrival of a hostile spaceship that may blow you out of the sky. So the role of the communications officer is vital!

All players can move around the spaceship (there are upper and lower levels and three rooms in each level) where they can power the shield or guns or shoot the guns. You put cards that you get at the start of the game on your action track to log your actions through the game. There are three phases in the game (so you get three stacks of cards), but once a phase is past you can no longer change the actions of that phase. When the audio CD ends the game is over and you check what actually happened to the ship. Did you fire the gun in time? And if you did, was it powered at the time? Those are the most important things to know if you want to survive this game.

Space Alert is frenzied! That would be the way of things if you were on a real spaceship under attack by hostile aliens. You need to confer with you fellow players, but you have to do it fast and efficiently. Endless debates are counterproductive as new aliens might arrive during that time. One player acts as captain, but he or she is more a manager and overseer than someone that bosses you around. There just is no time for that!

The game offers scenarios in various difficulty. You should start with the simplest one when new to the game. You might still lose that one, but it is a good way to learn and familiarize yourself with all aspects of the game. Then when you start winning the simplest scenarios it is time to move on to the next one. It does not get easier and adrenaline rushes are more frequent when you move up the ladder.

Space Alert is a very enjoyable game. The madness of getting it right in just 10 minutes is a welcome change from all other game concepts. You really need to work as a team, listen and plan, but within the time constraints. The joy of surviving a scenario is great. You really feel it’s an accomplishment. As cooperative games go this one comes highly recommended!

Go to the 1830: Railways and Robber Barons page
25 out of 28 gamers thought this was helpful

During the nineteenth century train companies arose across the United States. They were founded, a lot of money was made and some of the owners got away with lots of it, while some got almost nothing. Welcome to the world of 1830: Railways and Robber Barons!

In this game you play an investor with some capital to invest. At the start of the game there are several small train companies operating, which are for sale for the players. These small companies give a certain benefit later in the game. After this initial auction the game starts its first round.

Each round players start by buying or selling stock (when its first two stocks are bought a train company is ‘floated’, receives starting capital and can begin to operate). Buying the first two stocks (in the form of the president’s share) also gives the player an opportunity to decide on the value the stock. This starting value determines the price of the stock in later stock buying and selling phases and determines the starting capital of the company (starting value times 10).

So at the start of the game a lot of decisions have to be made. Do you go for cheap stock and quick capital, some quick earnings and dumping the company on a fellow player later? Or do you go for a long term, more expensive strategy, so you are able to keep running the company throughout the game? As the person with the most stock is the president (and receives the president’s share) he or she makes this decision. So if you bought heavily into a company, don’t be surprised when its president sells all his or her stock and dumps the company on you. As repeated selling lowers the stock value this can be a major problem.

After the stock phase, train companies get to lay track on the game board and operate their newly created train lines. The game board is divided into hexagons. Some contain cities (like New York, Boston and Baltimore), others are empty and track can be placed on most of them. Train companies need to connect cities and/or towns to create a train line they can operate. After laying track the company runs its trains and after that it buys its trains. That’s right, the first turn no trains will run and your company will not yet make a profit (costs before gains).

When a company earns money its stock value goes up, when it doesn’t make money its stock value goes down. Because train development is also incorporated in the game the cheaper and older trains become obsolete later in the game, necessitating new train purchases. This might be difficult when a company has no more money, but a wise investor has already sold his or her stock by then…

In the end the player with the most money (cash and stock) wins. Watch out, money left in companies does not count, even when your its president!

This game is hard, difficult and mind-draining, but very rewarding. It will appeal to hardcore strategy gamers who don’t mind leaving their fellow players bankrupt. So it is not meant for people who enjoy a more cooperative game or a game that does not allow for harsh competition. Still, I think this is a brilliantly designed game and worth the effort to try out. The suspense during the stock round is one thing, seeing people build track in just the way you did not want is another. In a sense this game is a logical follow up to Age of Steam, where you can further hone your economic skills!

Go to the Galaxy Trucker page

Galaxy Trucker

63 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

In most games players take their turns and the game flows steadily on. This, however, is not the case with Galaxy Trucker. Frantic building and a race across space afterwards may leave some players by the wayside. Still, it’s a lot of fun!

In Galaxy Trucker you are commissioned to ferry cargo across space. Because cargo is expensive it is built into your ship – your ship is the cargo! Every player gets to build a spaceship every round from all kinds of material (square tiles). There are a lot of different types (living quarters, energy cells, weapons and connecting tubes) which you all need to build a space worthy spaceship.

However, your opponents are building their ships at the same time! During all this, time is running out, measured by hourglasses. When time runs out, your ship is finished. Even when it’s not. And you might not find the right component during the building phase, because someone else already put it in their spaceship!

After that players go on a space trip to get their ships to their destinations. During the trip cards are drawn that (mostly) are hazardous obstacles to overcome. The ships have to navigate meteor showers, battle space pirates and might find precious materials on distant planets.

If you build your ship without guns or with open tubing you will be in for trouble. Your ship may be hit on a connecting part and break in two. The part with the most people carries on. No people left? Then it’s over (don’t worry, next round you get to build a new and bigger ship). The player who collects the most points (by defeating pirates and bringing cargo and the most intact ship home) after three rounds, wins the game.

In Galaxy Trucker no two games are the same and you can increase the difficulty of the last level by choosing a different ship type (more space equals more places to get hit). Most laughs in the game come from the realization that some parts of the ship aren’t that well connected, when a meteor approaches… Guaranteed hilarious situations! Still, there is some strategy in the game. Will you build a small ship that cannot be hurt easily? Or will you grab all guns to shoot anything that approaches? Yes, I will always join a game of Galaxy Trucker!

Go to the Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game page
88 out of 101 gamers thought this was helpful

Sid Meier’s Civilization has been a familiar brand of computer games for years now. I have played about five incarnations of the computer game and own the previous attempt at creating a board game out of it. This game, the second attempt, has been better designed and thought about than the previous one.

In Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game you start with a city, two armies and a settler on one of the corners of the game board. The game board consists of square tiles that are face down at the start of the game (except for the starting tiles). So your armies and settlers will truly explore the world! They might encounter friendly villages or hostile barbarians that (when found of defeated) might give them some precious resource or advantage.

Settlers can found new cities, while armies can attack other armies or cities. The components are (wisely) limited, so no more than three cities can be on the game board for each player and the number of armies isn’t infinite either.

Each turn the players collect trade (needed for advancement in technology), after which each player performs actions with their cities. The cities might build buildings like banks, temples or harbors or devote themselves to the arts to collect art tokens. Of course new settlers, armies and cards representing the armies’ content can be build also.

At the end of the turn the players can research a new technology. Fortunately the technology tree is replaced by a technology pyramid. This means you need two technologies of a previous level to ‘build’ the next level onto it. This creates a lot of flexibility in choosing the technologies needed for your specific strategy.

Players win the game either by researching a level five technology (Space Flight), reaching the end of the culture track (by spending culture tokens), getting 15 coins or conquering a capitol of another player. These are the Scientific, Cultural, Economic and Military victories of the computer game. Because each path to victory has been accused of being overpowered, they are actually quite balanced.

I really love this game. Playing it is like playing the computer game. You discover new lands, found cities, research technology, engage in trade and warfare and create cultural monuments and wonders (yes, they are also in the game!). They even got the governments into the game! And still the game does not last very long (about two to three hours with veteran players). Compare this to the previous incarnation of this board game, which usually took a whole day to play!

So if you like the computer game and want to try it in real life with some friends: play Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game!

Go to the The Settlers of the Stone Age page
23 out of 25 gamers thought this was helpful

This variation on The Settlers of Catan takes us back to the a time 100,000 years in the past when our species, Homo Sapiens, started leaving its cradle, Africa, and colonized the world. First Europe and Asia, but later even America and Australia and the many Pacific islands. In Settlers of the Stone Age you get to recreate this journey!

The familiar resources are replaced by more contemporary ones (food, ivory, flint and skins) produced in hills, steppes, mountains and woods respectively. At the start of the game each player receives three villages in Africa (you can choose either to place them Settlers-style [advanced rule] or in the configuration shown in the rulebook [starter rule]). These villages border pretty good numbers, so resources will pour in at the start.

Now the migration starts. Every player can build nomads which can move across the map and are able to create villages at a spot a player fancies. Moving a nomad takes food (obviously) and the amount of steps is tied to the advances in food development. There are four types of development (clothing and building, food, hunting & fighting and culture) in which a player may invest resources. Some advances in development are needed to pass certain obstacles in the game. America and Australia cannot be entered without the required advances in development, for instance.

At the edge of the continents players can ‘discover’ new tribes, move around the Neanderthal or saber tooth tiger (the robbers in this version, also moved when a 7 comes up) and may trigger the desertification of Africa. That last event is a major incentive to move your villages from Africa to other, more fertile places in the world.

All in all this is a nice and enjoyable variation on The Settlers of Catan. Perhaps the only drawback is that the numbers are fixed (printed on the game board), which may hamper the replay value. However, as a occasional break from the normal Settlers game this is a good choice. The theme is woven into the game very well and it teaches us something about our species in a very playful way.

Go to the Diplomacy page


160 out of 179 gamers thought this was helpful

Diplomacy is one of the best games I know. This is a game that is based on skill only, in which you cannot rely on Lady Luck to save you from a bad situation. Every victory and every loss is due to your efforts and yours alone.

At the start of the game each player takes control of one of the Great Powers of Europe at the start of the 20th century: France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Turkey (it should have been called the Ottoman Empire, but it isn’t). Each country has three supply centers within its borders in certain regions (the exception is Russia which starts with four supply centers), which entitles them to 3 armies and/or fleets. The rest of the map contains neutral supply centers that will be conquered during the game.

The game is divided into years (starting in 1900) with a Spring and Fall turn each. Every turn the players have to hand in orders for each of their armies and fleets, which are revealed and resolved simultaneously. At the end of the Fall turn countries can build armies or fleets if they have acquired more supply centers than they had or have to disband them if they lost supply centers.

Before the orders are handed in the most interesting part of the game takes place: negotiation. Each player can invite any other player to talk about alliances, promise support, threaten or simply confuse. During the negotiations other players may try to listen in (espionage) if they can get away with it. No promise in Diplomacy is binding, so until the orders are revealed no one is really sure if the other player is true to his or her word.

However, you need to work together to win. There is no way to achieve the objective (controlling 18 supply centers) on your own. You need the support of other countries to achieve your goals. Among others this has to do with the way orders are resolved. If you order your army into a region and someone else does the same both armies will ‘bounce’ and stay in the regions they came from. Only when someone supports an army moving from one region to another their strength goes up (becomes 2) and they can defeat a lone army ordered into this region.

Every region can contain only one army or fleet. Armies cannot enter sea regions and fleets can only enter coastal region aside from sea regions. Therefore fleets cannot be used to support armies going inland.

All these rules seem difficult at the start, but become easier when seen enacted on the board. For new players a few test rounds are advisable, to get used to the way orders are given and resolved. After that it is up to the wit, cunning and persuasiveness of the players to get their country to conquer 18 supply centers!

One important note is that this is not a short game, nor one for casual gamers. A typical game lasts about six to seven hours and can be quite exhausting. Because you need to conquer and destroy a few countries to win, players will be eliminated. Also, it can be frustrating to be languishing on the board with just one fleet or army. However, comebacks are possible! If you can strike the right tone with a more powerful neighbor and lent your support he or she might help you get back your former territory. Anything is possible in Diplomacy!

Go to the 7 Wonders page

7 Wonders

85 out of 92 gamers thought this was helpful

The draft mechanic (pick a card from a certain number of cards and pass on the rest) has been known in collectible card games for a long time. It is one of the staple formats in Magic: the Gathering. However, for every draft new packs of cards have to be opened, so drafting becomes expensive pretty soon. Enter 7 Wonders. In this game you have all the fun parts of drafting, without having to spend more money than this game costs.

At the start of the game you receive one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, each of which has special abilities you can use by building each stage of your wonder.

The game itself is played in three ages (rounds) in which you receive the according pack of cards at the start and continue drafting until the last card (which is discarded). The cards represent various structures that give resources (brown gives basic resources like wood and brick, grey special resources like paper and cloth), points (blue), science (green), military (red) and trade (yellow). You need resources to play certain cards, while other cards are free provided you have the prerequisite card. Building your wonder means putting a card face down under it. This is useful when you have to pick a card you don’t really want to play face up.

You have to choose (wisely…) what path you will follow. Blue cards give points immediately, but green cards can build up to a great amount of points at the end (you receive the square of the amount of the same type of science cards you have), while red gives points during the game. After each age there is a military strength comparison, with the winner receiving 1, 3 or 5 points (increasing per age).

An interesting part of the game is that you only really interact with your neighbors. With them you might trade (provided you have played the appropriate yellow cards) and you compare your military strength only with them. This and the fact that drafting is simultaneous speeds up the game considerably. In my experience games rarely last more than 45 minutes and are usually shorter.

I must say I really like 7 Wonders. The concept is simple and after a first game even new players grasp the basics pretty quickly. It has all the benefits of drafting, without the need for having deep pockets. And it is always a different game, for the wonders change hands, the card packs are shuffled and dealt differently and everyone has his or her own ideas about strategy.

Even though I hardly ever win a game of 7 Wonders I am always enjoying myself. And last but not least is that more people than ever know which are the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World! In the past most people never got past the Great Pyramid. Try out this game if you haven’t already, it’s fun!

Go to the The Settlers of Catan – 5-6 Player Extension page
26 out of 29 gamers thought this was helpful

With this expansion you can have more players enjoy the settling of the familiar island. Tiles are added to create a bigger island than before, while the basic rules are unchanged.

So you still start out with two villages and two roads and have to carefully select your starting places. After that the dice decide if you receive the resources to build villages, cities and roads.

One big change to the rules is the extra building round. Emphasis is on build, for you cannot trade in this extra round. After a player’s turn, but before the dice are thrown by the next player everyone (in clockwise order) gets the chance to build something with the resources they have. So you have to watch out when someones passes the turn. When he or she has enough resources roads thwarting your plans may be build outside that player’s turn.

In my opinion it is a wise rules change. The probability of no 7 with five players is only 40% and it drops to 33% with six players. So without the extra building round the game would consist of throwing resources away a lot. It also helps players that need just one more resource to build without having to wait 5 or 6 turns. That gives more balance to the game and rewards players for good placement of their initial settlements and shrewd trading during the game.

Of course you don’t need this expansion if you never have five or six people playing Settlers of Catan. However, organizing game days and nights usually involves more than four people, so this expansion makes it possible to still put Catan on the table!

Go to the Dominion page


102 out of 111 gamers thought this was helpful

With the release of Dominion deck building games began their rise in popularity. Nowadays there are numerous games that use this format, but Dominion was the first one that became well known.

Before the game starts you select the kind of cards to use. There are recommendations about the cards that work well together, but you could select them randomly and see what happens. Every player receives five cards (3 copper cards and 2 estate cards [worth 1 point each]). Every turn you draw five cards. You can buy cards according to the amount of money in your hand and you are allowed to play one action card (at the start of the game you have none – you have to buy them first). After your turn finishes your discard the cards you did not use and draw five new cards. This may mean shuffling the discard pile and starting your deck anew. This happens frequently in a game of Dominion.

The action cards allow drawing of extra cards, playing extra action cards or have other effects on your deck and your hand. So you have to buy wisely in order to make your deck work better than that of your opponents.

You can also buy money cards (silver and gold) that make it possible to buy more expensive cards. After some time getting rid of you copper cards may be a good strategy as your deck grows in size. A good deck is not necessarily one with many cards, but one with a lot of synergy.

Dominion is a smart game in which strategic thinking is important. Randomly buying cards will not make your deck better, so you have to think which cards you need and how many. The only drawback is the lack of interaction between players. Everyone is trying to build his own deck, but what the others do doesn’t really influence your deck. Some of the expansions fix this.

The game ends when two piles of cards are gone (all bought) or the duchies have all been bought. The one with the most points wins!

Personally I rather play Dominion with some of the expansions (like Intrigue), because you can do something about a person going too well. However, I have noticed not all players like this kind of interaction, so if you prefer no one being able to touch your deck or influence your strategy; stick to Dominion. Otherwise, pick up one of the expansions (like Intrigue), which adds more flavor to the game!

Go to the Power Grid page

Power Grid

52 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

Power Grid (or Funkenschlag in the original German version) is an economic strategy game of grand proportions. In this game you have to power as many cities as possible by buying and operating power plants. Every round starts with an auction of the power plants available. These range from coal and oil burning facilities to waste using and nuclear power plants. There even are windmills for the more environmentally-minded. The auction is a time of cunning planning and strategic bidding in order to get the best plants you want (and leaving the worse plants to others).

All these power stations (except the windmills) need resources to operate, so after the auction you are able to buy them on the open market. But watch out! If a lot of people want a certain resource the price will go up. There even may be no resources left if the demand is too high.

After that you build houses in cities to power a city. Your power plants may be able to power a lot of cities, but if you have less houses in these cities than you can power, you only receive money for those you can power. So balancing your power output to the amount of cities you can power is very important.

When money is collected the new round starts. During the game the order in which certain phases are carried out varies according to the amount of houses on the board and the power plants you control. This way players that are ahead are kept in check, for the resource market becomes more expensive if you’re last in line to buy!

Overall this is a very well designed game and great fun to play it. Strategic thinking and planning is needed and you have to watch your opponents closely for opportunities to get ahead and leave them behind. Also the game board already has two sides in the basic version and more boards are available as extensions (each with an extra set of specific rules).

I love to play Power Grid and I have noticed that all kinds of player love the theme and the way the game is played. Winning is never easy and often comes down to a small difference in money. So every thing you do in this game matters! And the way resource prices change in this game is still a marvel to me. Well, enough recommendations, I suggest you try it out!

Go to the Infinite City page

Infinite City

19 out of 22 gamers thought this was helpful

Infinite City is an elegant tile-laying game in which planning and cunning are rewarded. The game starts with five tiles lying upside down in a cross shape and every player getting five tiles. Every turn a player may lay a tile connecting to the sides of existing tiles. This player places a token of his or her color on it. After that the text in the tile is put into effect, which may move tiles around, shift tokens or even take away existing tiles.

Points are scored by having districts (connecting tiles [non-diagonal!] with your tokens on it, with a minimum of 3), having tokens on tiles with points and having the most tokens on special tiles (a chain symbol is at the bottom: only the one with the most special tiles gets these points). This score is tallied after the last token of any player has been put on a tile and everyone else has had an extra turn.

The rules are simple, but the strategy comes in with planning your moves. Some tiles like Housing, Library or Construction Site make it possible to play more tiles after the one just played. Getting a good sequence going and thus building districts that are hard to reach for other players may insure winning.

I liked this game a lot. You have to think about your moves carefully, work with the tiles you are given and you have to watch what your opponents are doing. If someone gets ahead you have to thwart their plans, while at the same time getting out of this with more points. Even so, games don’t last very long, so you can easily play it when you have some time to spare, but aren’t in for a very long game.

Go to the The Settlers of Catan page
51 out of 58 gamers thought this was helpful

Many have already noticed that The Settlers of Catan changed board gaming in a profound way. Of course there were more board games besides Monopoly before Catan came out, but somehow Catan triggered an avalanche of new board games with (I believe) 600 (!) new board games this year released at Spiel in Essen. The importance of Catan can therefore not be underestimated.

The game play is well-known these days. The game board consists of hexagonal tiles representing resources (wood, brick, wool, wheat and ore) on which a number is placed. At the start of the game you place two village on the vertices of three tiles (one or two might be a sea tile) and you add one road placed on two adjacent sides of two tiles connected to the village. This is a very important phase in the game, because afterwards you have to build roads and villages connecting to the roads first placed. So a bad selection can spell certain doom. “Choose wisely…”

The game consist of game turns taken by each player. You throw the dice and when a number of a tile comes up that is connected to a village you get one resource of that type (or two if you upgraded this village to a city). With these resources you can build new roads, villages and cities (replacing existing villages), but you seldom have exactly what you need. Therefore you are allowed to trade with other players. Crafty trading makes building much easier, but when you get too far ahead players might not want to trade with you anymore.

You score point for villages and cities and by having the longest connected road (with a minimum of five roads) or by having the largest force of knights (which comes from development cards that you can buy with your resources, with a minimum of three). The first one with 10 points wins!

The Settlers of Catan is a well-designed game and easy to learn for almost every age. Building things (and not destroying) appeals to almost everyone, so you are able to put Catan on the table for almost every audience. Also the nice wooden figures are a great improvement over plastic or paper. Nowadays it is very common to find wooden figures in board games, but I remember my first game of Catan (the German version, must have been in 1996 or 1997) and I was impressed by this use of wood.

Of course there is a luck factor in this game, but by carefully selecting the starting locations and building to resources and numbers you don’t yet have you can get around this. Some knowledge of probability theory helps, for dice do not remember the numbers thrown. So any number is as likely to come up. Most of the time the most experienced and cunning player wins, but close finishes are common. And sometimes Lady Luck does not smile on you and it does not work out. So everyone has a chance to win or at least score some points without need of much deliberation and thought.

Is it a gateway game? Yes and no. For some people Catan is about the limit with respect to rules. Especially if they don’t play that many board games. So Catan might easily be put on the table, while more complex games stay packed away. Of course, for seasoned gamers other games are appealing as well, but I find myself returning to Catan now and again (even with friends deep into gaming), because of it’s simple elegance and plain fun.

“Anyone got wood for my sheep?”

Go to the A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (1ed) page
59 out of 73 gamers thought this was helpful

I am a big fan of the game Diplomacy in which the Great Powers of Europe fight for control of the continent. You have to make deals with your opponents to speed up your conquest, but you need to betray them at the right moment.

A Game of Thrones is a game like Diplomacy, but less abstract and with much more flavour. Again you are a great power (in this case a great house) and you have to conquer the continent of Westeros (at least some castles in it) to be proclaimed ruler of it (and winner of the game).

In order to facilitate your conquest you need armies (footmen and knights) and ships (you get them by random musters during the game). Each round you give these troops orders (attack [march], defend, pillage or consolidate power [provides power tokens]). However these orders are secret, so nobody knows exactly what the other house will do. Negotiations and agreements are allowed, but none are binding and only when revealing the orders the loyalty of your ‘friends’ will be established. Those familiar with George R.R. Martin’s books will recognize this style of play.

Several things are needed for succes. First there is supply as your army must eat. You can take provinces with extra supply, but supply is adjusted randomly (determined by cards), so watch out if you leave provinces rich in supply to others.

Also there is the Iron Throne track, the Messenger Raven track and the Valyrian Blade track. Randomly a Clash of Kings can be drawn (like supply adjustment) and then the houses will bid for their positions on the aforementioned tracks. For this you need power tokens, so the more, the higher you will come out of the Clash.

Finally the Wildlings may attack and every house has to supply troops to combat them. Again this is done in secret, so an agreement to help each other may turn to Wildlings overrunning your defenses. Nothing is certain in Westeros!

I really like this game. The fantasy theme is well woven into the Diplomacy-style gameplay. The board is well designed and although the rulebook seems daunting at first, after some play it becomes easier. Every fan of the books should try it, especially if you want a change from Diplomacy!

Go to the Monty Python Fluxx page

Monty Python Fluxx

105 out of 130 gamers thought this was helpful

Do you like Fluxx? And do you like Monty Python? Then you will probably like this game, if only as a diversion.

The game works like standard Fluxx. You draw cards and play cards according to the current rules on the table (yes, the rules can change *during* the game, just like in Fluxx) and somehow try to reach the winning condition. However, as this winning condition is also in ‘flux’, it’s very hard to play seriously.

My advice: don’t! Fluxx is just for fun, when you are having a drink with friends and when you’re not in the mood for a serious game. In this version most of the keepers (cards you play on the table, hoping they stay there) are replaced by incarnations from the world of Monty Python. So expect the Killer Rabbit, references to dead parrots (it’s resting!) and coconuts (what is the average speed of a swallow?) and of course the shrubbery (Ni!).

Perhaps this game gets a bit more silly, so I think I would prefer the standard Fluxx. However, when faced with the Spanish Inquisition I might cave in and play… And now for something completely different…

The Larch!

Ok, this review is getting too silly! Ni! Ni! Ni!

Go to the Runebound: The Frozen Wastes page
12 out of 17 gamers thought this was helpful

This expansion/addition to Runebound brings a whole new game board full of snow and ice. This means that you need the right equipment! Without it moving becomes difficult. So difficult in fact that sometimes you can’t move at all. This makes it very hard to battle the monsters in the field (which are again divided in green, yellow and red) or find the clues you need to rescue the princess (captured by an evil being).

The encounters in this expansion are somewhat easier than in the base game. Where yellow encounters could outright kill you and red encounters were saved to the very last in Runebound: The Frozen Wastes the encounters are not so steep as before. So you may level a little quicker, provided you can get to the encounters.

A problem is moving around as mentioned previously. You throw dice to move through terrain that has a matching symbol. However, because of the ice age you may lose some or all of your dice to throw with. So sometimes you just have to stay on your spot and don’t do anything.

The extra items are nice and overall this expansion plays like the previous edition. The main drawback is movement (or lack of it), with which you have to deal. Also the flavor of the game is strange. They mixed a SF-theme into the fantasy to explain where the ‘evil’ being came from. I thought this a bit superfluous. Just stick to the fantasy game, guys!

Go to the Runebound: Second Edition page
135 out of 152 gamers thought this was helpful

If you enjoy roleplaying, but have trouble finding a Dungeon Master (someone to run the game for you) and you are mostly interested in the combats and encounters this is a game for you!

In Runebound you choose between a lot of characters who each have their own special abilities (and sometimes drawbacks). Your hero can excel at ranged attacks, melee attacks and magic attacks (in that order).

Once chosen your hero can travel across the game board by throwing the right kind of dice (forests to travel through forests, roads to travel over roads, etc.). Some areas have encounters with monsters. The color of the encounter indicates how difficult it will be to beat that monster (green for light monsters, yellow for intermediate encounters and red for the dragons, who are really, really hard to beat).

When you have sustained too much wounds or have the money to spare you can visit the towns to heal and buy new stuff. You’ll need good equipment to win the game, so really start with the simplest encounters first! Of course you have to keep track of what your opponents are doing, for only one can win by beating the great dragon!

I really like this game for its theme, execution and all the fun it brings when playing (e.g. the banter between the characters). The only drawback is its length. The game can last for hours, so be prepared for that. However, as a typical roleplaying session might last a day, you might not think this a problem. Have fun playing it!

Go to the Age of Steam page

Age of Steam

27 out of 30 gamers thought this was helpful

Age of Steam is one of my favorite games. In this game you are at the head of a railroad company that lays track, transports goods from city to city and collects money to pay its hungry investors. In the beginning of the game it is hard to stay solvent, but later in the game you are able to earn fabled riches.

The game is divided in game turns which consist of several steps. First of all, you can issue shares. This is at first the only way to get money as you have no track on the board and therefore no income. But watch out! The shareholders expect dividend and too many shares might spell bankruptcy!

After that you bid for the turn order. This is an important part of the game, for going first will give you any of the available actions. You have to think about investing in going first or letting it go if less prime actions are good for you too. Especially Urbanization (turning towns into cities) and the Locomotive are actions that everyone wants.

Then you can build track. You have to consider which cities to connect, because the color of the cube (representing some trade goods) in a city corresponds to the color of a city. Only cubes of the same color may be transported to a city. At the start you will have few links (the amount of cities and towns you may travel through), so lay track between two nearby cities first to ensure a starting income.

Transporting goods is next. In this phase you might steal the trade goods of someone else to deny them the best income. Later in the game that becomes very important.

Most of the time more goods are transported than added to cities, which empties the cities of goods quite quickly. So track building to new cities that still have goods becomes essential, but luckily you can also use existing track of your opponents, even if that gives them some income too.

Age of Steam is not a simple game. My first game ended in complete bankruptcy of everyone (also because we misinterpreted one of the rules). Later on we did better, but newcomers to the game have a hard time. It is easy to do things wrong and before you know it your money runs out and shareholders are banging on your door.

However, if you practice and pay attention this game really pays off. It’s not a family game, but a game for people who like a challenge. And this game opens up the way to games like 1830, where shrewdness is even more important.

Go to the Le Havre page

Le Havre

96 out of 170 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really like worker-placement games. Agricola has the nice farm theme, which sometimes made me play it, but other games like Dominant Species I rather not play.

Le Havre I played only once with some friends, which took about five hours and gave us a headache. By then the game was not completely finished, but it ended due to overheated brains. Why?

This game gives you too many options. While in Agricola there are some options, in Le Havre it seems a possibility tree opens up every time you try to select some action. This makes it humanly impossible to foresee the outcome of your actions (also difficult in Agricola, but at least manageable). Thus the game becomes more like “I like this building, so I build it”.

Although I like involved games which take a lot of time (still trying to get people to play Europa Universalis), but this game gives little in return. If you like the farm aspect of Agricola and don’t mind much about strategy, don’t try Le Havre! For me it was once and never again…

Go to the Guillotine page


54 out of 83 gamers thought this was helpful

Guillotine is a fun game. Don’t expect anything more and you’ll have fun too. Each turn players may play a card and have to behead a noble in the line to the guillotine. However, when you play with three or more, strategic thinking does not really work anymore. By the time it’s your turn, the guillotine may have been switched to the other side and the order of the line may have changed completely.

So just focus on getting the most points in your own turn and just have genuine fun when someone’s plans are completely foiled. I think that the probability of winning is 1 divided by the number of players, so don’t pick it up if you expect a grand strategy game.

And to quote Highlander: Don’t lose your head!

Go to the Gosu page


6 out of 26 gamers thought this was helpful

If you like Magic, you will instantly recognize a lot of mechanics. Especially connecting cards (playing them one after another) is very strong in this game and is a staple of Magic too. Because you use the cards as ‘mana’ and as the card itself, you never have to worry about being not able to do something (unless you run out of cards of course).

The artwork is pretty funny, as are the names (I guess I always have to laugh about goblins – overwhelming stupidity in overwhelming numbers).

So if you want a change from a game of Magic, but stay with the same typ of game, this might be one to try. I liked it a lot!

Go to the Fluxx page


20 out of 43 gamers thought this was helpful

Usually I don’t go for randomness in games. But Fluxx is the exception. This game is so completely random that is becomes hilarious. So don’t plan ahead, don’t try to anticipate the moves of your opponents and above all don’t focus too much on winning, because the winning condition changes constantly.

In the end the absurd changes to the rules (yes, the change *during* the game), winning conditions and game state (the cards on the table, mostly things like toasters of concepts like love or war) is there to make you laugh. I have enjoyed playing this game a lot. Especially at the end of a gaming session or just for fun during a party. As there is no need for real thinking anyone can play it at anytime. Fun guaranteed!

Go to the Merchants & Marauders page
62 out of 129 gamers thought this was helpful

If you like a pirate theme in a game and you don’t mind having all your plans crossed by randomness, this is a game for you. If you like careful planning and executing plans on the basis of anticipating your opponents, this game is not for you.

As I like to have as little random things in a game as possible, this game does not work for me, alas. But if you’re a social gamer wanting to have some pirate fun (and don’t mind losing on random events), this game’s for you!

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