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Go to the Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients page
Go to the Eclipse page
Go to the Citadels page
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Go to the Pandemic page


144 out of 152 gamers thought this was helpful

Pandemic is one of those games that defies logic; it’s one of the few purely co-operative games out there — with no one set to turn coat and become a traitor later on — and it actually gets harder the more people you play with, not easier. Pandemic is the sort of rare game that appeals both to strategic/power gamers and social/party gamers. It’s relatively lightweight as boardgames go, and the rules for the game and the objective of play are both fairly straight forward.

The premise is simple: up to four diseases are spreading around the globe, infecting cities at a geometric rate, and players take on the role of one of a handful of biomedical doctors, researchers or support engineers in a race to outpace the spread of each disease. Each role has a unique ability that can be used in the fight to stop the spread of disease, to find a cure, or in the final eradication of each disease, but it’s only by working together, synergising each role’s effect that players will start to make inroads into the spread of the disease.

And that is where Pandemic shines. As a truly co-operative game that calls on players to very actively work together, Pandemic excels. A group of players each playing their own game — even experienced players — will never beat the epidemic, even at the game’s tamest setting (and yes, the game comes with three progressively more difficult settings of play), and part of the strategy of the game is learning to identify synergism between the abilities of the roles on offer to maximise their effectiveness.

The theme of the game both sets and suits the pace of play perfectly. As play progresses, the diseases spread from localised areas, using a nifty mechanic that both ratchets up the intensity of the spread of infection, and keeps the base of infection in localised hotspots. There is a minor ‘take that’ element to the game; players have a very limited pool of very special effects and events they can call on in emergencies … but the game effectively has these too, and the rate and pace it which throws out these curve-balls means players can rarely rest. Mechanically, the game does an excellent job of keeping the levels of anxiety high, and it’s usually only a matter of time before that spills over to panic as various outbreaks slowly yet inevitably get out of the player’s control … do you focus on one disease in one area, hoping to eradicate it from the game completely while a second rages out of control … or should you try and keep every disease fenced in, on the chance that a slight reprieve will give you the time to push for a cure?

The game board is pleasing to the eye, with little chrome (superfluous components or rules details added to a game to add a feeling of theme, usually at the expense of mechanical balance and efficiency), and a good level of iconography provides intuitive information without continually having to read detailed card effects, or seek rules interpretations, keeping the pace of play lively.

Co-operative games aren’t for everybody. People play boardgames for many reasons, and the direct competitive element is one of them. But while Pandemic is a co-op, at times it definitely feels like the board itself is playing against you, and players will come to dread the growing sense of anxiety that builds as the diseases start spreading faster than they can contain them.

Go to the Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients page
38 out of 39 gamers thought this was helpful

The Rise of the Ancients expansion to Eclipse is what all game expansions should be; it’s a sizable and weighty box with lots of tiles, chits, ships, cubes and discs, it actively expands the game by offering the scope for additional players beyond base game’s six, and it offers a number of balanced, modular rules that gaming groups can use or not as they see fit. With no material being mandatory for play, groups can pick and chose the direction they want their game to go in, and what strategic options they’d like to add to their game.

Improved Alien Ship design: new Alien Cruisers and Dreadnoughts are a very welcome addition to the base game. Alien Dreadnoughts are a much-needed step up from the underwhelming GCDS, and Alien Cruisers have multiple/variable upgrade specifications, making battle with the ancients on critical hexes tougher, and less predictable.

Alien Homeworlds: a variant for use when playing with less than six, Alien Homeworlds fill out Middle Sector hexes where additional player’s homeworlds would have been, balancing out the gaming space with higher risk/high reward hexes. A second variant suggests shuffling unused Alien Homeworld hexes in with the general Sector II draw pile, making exploring the middle sector a little more risky.

Ancient Hives: High value/high resource hexes with multiple, mobile ancient ships that actively move to invade neighbouring hexes. With Wormhole Generators and Neutron Bombs. It can be a bit of a shock to wake up next to these guys on your doorstep, but if your fleet is ready, the resources and alien technology potentially on offer make keeping the tile more than worthwhile.

Rare Technologies: New, unique technologies that sit outside the usual tech draw, but contribute to filling a player’s tech tracks, and can even lead to prematurely completing a tech track and so blocking acquisition of additional tech on that track. Many are designed to balance commonly-perceived imbalances in the base game (Point Defence, anyone?), but all add interesting options, variation and balance to fleet upgrades. And as there is only one of each Rare Tech type per game, these will have players looking at the tech drawn each round with renewed interest, and eying up the First Player pawn.

Developments: Alternate tech-like upgrades that are bought with Money and/or Materials instead of Technology on a Research action, these are a boon for Technology-low/Material-high races. The limited array of development tiles available for the game are laid out during game setup, adding a strategic element to gameplay.

Alliances: Variant rules allowing for team play, to the extent that allied players average their total scores at the end of the game, either wining or losing together. Players may move ships into or through hexes occupied by their allies’ forces without aggression, and in battle fight together, meaning multiple players can finally gang up on an obvious leader. Like Diplomacy, being in an Alliance is worth VPs in itself, or negative VPs to the player who decides to break off an Alliance and seek the glory alone.

New Races: Three entirely new races (in three new colours), and three varietals of a more balanced, human-like race. The Enlightened of Lyra (Beige) can build exclusive “shrines” on inhabited planets for bonus techs, the Rho Indi Syndicate (Grey) are highly mobile space pirates that can’t build Dreadnoughts but receive money in addition to Reputation tiles when they destroy opposing ships, and Exiles (Magenta) whose Orbitals are treated as Starport-like ships.

7-9 Player Game: Variant rules that let up to three more players squeeze around the board, including a Simultaneous Play variant for use in such large games that essentially permits two players to have a turn at the same time.

Variable Play Direction: Variant rule that allows the second player to pass determine the direction of play in the subsequent round. This adds an extra tactical consideration to the game — especially when playing Alliances and swinging the play order to favour your allies while simultaneously depriving your opponents can be a strong tactical move — and promotes strategic management of a players economy over bleeding it dry.

Rise of the Ancients is an excellent, weighty expansion. Its balanced, modular variants allow gaming groups to add what rulesets they wish to maximise their enjoyment of the game and enhance the strategic options of their play, making it a worthy addition to any Eclipse game.

Go to the Citadels page


66 out of 73 gamers thought this was helpful

Up until about six years ago, I thought boardgames meant rolling a couple of dice, moving your marker along the board a little, and doing whatever the square you landed on told you to do. Then a friend introduced me to Citadels, and I saw how engaging, interactive and subtly strategic games without dice could be.

Players are city leaders, who seek to increase their city’s prosperity by building new city districts. Each round, players select one of a handful of roles that represent characters hired in order to help them acquire gold and erect new buildings. But not only will other players be competing for these same characters, they will be seeking to assassinate the powerful, and rob the rich … Citadels is as much a game about second guessing your opponent’s intentions while hiding your own than strategic city building.

Every character has a special ability, the usefulness of which depends on a player’s situation, and the situation of the player’s opponents. What’s more, player interactions are based on the characters they’ve hired instead of the players themselves, and as this role selection is hidden and never guaranteed — worked via a clever mechanic meaning you’ll never definitively know what role any player has until they reveal it — Citadels is ultimately an excellent game of bluffing, misdirection, and how well you know you friends.

Citadels is the grand-daddy of the role selection/draft genre, and must be Bruno Faidutti’s best title to date. It’s an elegant game of bluffing and second guessing, and it’s well balanced and relatively simple rules lead to rich player interaction without without the direct and blunt aggression of wargames. The medieval theme may be a little heavy for some, but for those that are fine with castles, cathedrals and catapults, Citadels makes for a fine evening’s social gaming that will even have the more strategic Eurogamer sitting at the table.

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