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Alan Gerding

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Go to the Kingsburg page
Go to the Ascension page
Go to the Mage Wars: Core Set page
Go to the Ascension: Storm of Souls page
Go to the Monopoly Deal Card Game page
Go to the Hike page
8
Go to the Bears! page

Bears!

76 out of 87 gamers thought this was helpful

My apologies, this is going to be quick.

Bears is super light, and can be learned in a minute. By the time you finish reading this review, you could have learned the game or played a round. It is my favorite of the dice light games (2nd: Martian Dice, 3rd: Pass the Pigs, 4th: Zombie Dice).

Here are some reasons why it is awesome:
1.) Simultaneous play. No longer do you have to wait for your turn. Everyone goes at once.
2.) Learnability. As mentioned above, the learning curve is very shallow.
3.) Responsive Strategy. What do I mean by that? If you want to win this game, you have to pay attention to the dice that everyone else is grabbing. If you can think quickly enough, you can provide your opponents with negative points, or you can provide your self with major bonus points.

This game is hard to dislike. It is so light that even if it isn’t your thing, you’ve only invested minutes of your life. Bears continues to hit my gaming table regardless of the audience. It is a great filler and warm-up game.

9
Go to the 011 page

011

36 out of 37 gamers thought this was helpful

I will preface this review with a quick explanation of my typical gaming group. My friends get together every Tuesday. We do different activities based upon the season. For instance, during the summer time, this Tuesday group usually plays volleyball and swims. In the winter and often the evenings, we play games. My point is this, my group has several people that are not traditional gamers. They want something fun, relatively light, and relatively quick to learn.

011 was a hit with my group of non-traditional gamer friends. It has a strong Clue type feel to it, while also causing many players remembering evenings playing Scotland Yard. Therefore, it has a classic feel to it almost immediately. After the first few rounds, all players are comfortable enough with the rules as the basic mechanics are repeated every round.

The game really is a work of art, and it does exactly what it ventures to do. It will transport the players to an alternate Steam Punk time filled with mystery. For my group, it is a difficult investment, but one that pays off in the end. Allow me to tell you the worst three things and the best three things about it.

Here were the three biggest complaints about 011:

1.)Learn-ability. My social gamers like to sit down and get right into a game. If rule explanation takes more than 15 minutes, I’ve lost most of them. Initially, the rules seem daunting. There is a whole lot going on, and the board reflects that as do the several components to the game.

2.)Playtime. With my group, guests may arrive and leave throughout the night. Depending on the players with whom you play, a single game can easily take over an hour. For my group, that simply is too much time. However, I would be amazed if there was a better way to locate the “Inscrutable Organ of Eternity”, figure out who is the “Chosen One”, and play the sacred “Song of Making” with less time.

3.)Relearn-ability. Fortunately, the game really provides an amazing experience for the group. Unfortunately, you’re likely to have to relearn the entire game if you go several months without playing. This happened to my group as they remembered how “worth” the time-investment was in learning the game and wanted to pull 011 off the shelf again. We all thought we would remember how to play the game instantly. No. You’ll have to relearn the game without regular plays.

Here are the three biggest compliments about 011:

1.) Learn-ability. But wait! Didn’t you just say that this was a complaint of the game? Yes, it does take a bit to learn… at first. My advice is to simply have players play a round or two. Because the mechanics repeat every round, any player should know the rules confidently by round 3. My advice is to explain very little at first, and then simply take players through each step of a round. It is much easier to digest, and the flavor lasts.

2.) Visual Appeal. The quality of this game is off the charts. The cards feel thick and durable, and the board is a masterpiece. The gears work well and look awesome. Even the plastic minis add to the experience of playing a “quality” game. When players simply see this game, they want to play it.

3.) Gameplay. This is the most important aspect to any game. 011 has this in spades. The gear mechanic works so well, and really adds to the decisions a player can make. Using time as a currency is brilliant. If you like any deduction games, 011 is your game. If you like hidden betrayer games, you’ll enjoy 011. I thoroughly feel that after playing 011, I can’t go back to Scotland Yard, Clue, Kill Doctor Lucky, Nuns on the Run, or any game that even shares a little of 011‘s appeal. This is saying a lot, because 011 shares the appeal of so many classic games.

Overall, this is game is absolutely beautiful for what it is. It has a bunch of interesting mechanics that meld together wonderfully. I recommend putting the time investment into learning it and the time investment into playing it. Once you do, 011 will be requested by players anytime they have the deductive itch.

10
Go to the Mage Wars: Core Set page

Mage Wars: Core Set

113 out of 123 gamers thought this was helpful

Lady luck has been murdered, or at least injured. No longer are we at the mercy of the luck of the card draw. Strategy and immersion has a new name, and that name is Mage Wars!

Mage Wars is the Thunderdome for two mages. The game has four mages, each with a distinct feel to them. For instance, the Warlock is a direct damage loving pyromaniac that doesn’t seem to need to rely on summoning creatures (because he himself is a tough cookie of magic). The Beastmaster is totally the opposite, in that he can summon a whole bunch of creatures really fast. No matter what Mage you choose, you’ll do your best to crush your opposing Mage.

But here is the epic part of it all… Spellbooks. Yes, spell books. Instead of having a deck of cards from which you must randomly draw a card, you have EVERY spell available to you in your spell book from the beginning of the match. This means that you are constantly changing strategies and adapting to what your opponent is doing.

Also, Mage Wars gives you the biggest bang for you buck. I can’t emphasize enough how many goodies you get when you open the box. You get everything you need for a two player game, including the 300+ spells (yes, over 300 spells!), the four different Mages (Warlock, Beastmaster, Priestess, and Wizard), two spell books (to hold all of your spells), plenty of attack dice (the random element to the game) and tons of condition markers (burning, poison, stunning, dazing, oh my!). Plus, all of this awesomeness comes in a package made to hold ALL OF IT!!!!

This game can’t get old. Move over Magic (MTG), get lost Summoner Wars… there is a new king in town. Mage Wars!!! Why am I writing this review when I should be playing!?!

9
Go to the The Resistance: 3rd Edition page
37 out of 42 gamers thought this was helpful

To say that I’ve played this game a couple of times is a complete understatement. Since it’s release, I’ve played this game with my friends a minimum of 3 times a week. At GenCon 2011, I worked a bit at the Cambridge Games/Indie Board and Card Games booth and ran many… many games of The Resistance.

GAMEPLAY
Each round, a leader choices a predetermined amount of players to go on a mission (leadership rotates after every round). The players that go on a mission give the leader one of their two mission cards face down, and then the cards are shuffled. The two mission cards consist of a “Pass” card and a “Fail” card. The leader (after shuffling the cards) reveals the mission cards. If just one of the cards revealed is a “Fail” card, the mission failed as there was obviously at least one spy on the mission. If all the cards are “Pass” mission cards, then the mission was a success. The game is played until one faction (either spies (with failed missions)or Resistance (with passed missions)) wins three rounds.

Before The Resistance, I played Werewolf/Mafia an incredible amount. This game provides a very similar experience without elimination. If you are discovered as a spy (a bad guy sabotaging missions), the game isn’t over for you. You keep playing, but a leader is not likely to put you on another mission.

COMPONENTS
This is where the game really falls short. I really don’t understand how some of these mistakes made it all the way through to the 3rd edition.

First of all, the cards do not have symmetrically designs on their backs. This means that there is a noticeable “top” and “bottom” to every card. So when someone gathers the mission cards or deals the character cards, if you noticed which cards where upside down… you can determine who got/used which card. If the cards were symmetrical, my group wouldn’t have to make sure that all the cards were aligned the same way.

Secondly, the character cards have unique character images printed on them. This was a big mistake, even though the artwork of the characters is great. Talking about what your character looks like breaks the game. “The character on my card was a female with red hair.” An experienced player knows what the spy cards look like and can determine who is what faction by character description. The character cards should simply be a spy symbol, or a resistance symbol. Even better, just have the spy cards be red and the resistance cards be blue. That way, color is the only topic of conversation on “What did your card look like?”

Finally, there are more cards in the game that are needed. There are cards that leaders are supposed to give to players they nominate to go on missions. This is ridiculous as they leader could simply give the players the mission cards. This wouldn’t be a big deal, as getting more cards in a game is usually a good thing. The problem is that the game doesn’t fit in the box as well as it could without those cards.

OVERALL
The game is not for everyone, as it does indeed force you to lie. You’ll be put in a situation where you will have to look friends and loved-ones in the eye and lie to them. Other times, you will have to work hard to convince players that your friend/loved-one is lying, that they are indeed a villain. Needless to say, this game requires a lot of good sportsmanship to prevent hurt feelings. I’ve seen friendships destroyed and relationships ruined. This game can burn bridges with people.

That being said, I play this game more than any game. Be a good sport, remember that it is just a game, and that the goal is fun. Do this, and you’ll enjoy a game that will be played for centuries to come. No, I am not exaggerating.

9
Go to the Eminent Domain page

Eminent Domain

94 out of 115 gamers thought this was helpful

Components: 5 of 5
The quality simply can’t be any better.

Gameplay: 5 of 5
Deck building where every player gets a turn, even on other players’ turns! If you play cards on your turn, then other players can play the exact same cards as you on YOUR turn, or they get to draw a card. This means absolutely no down time or boredom.

Replay Value: 5 of 5
The strategies are limitless and they must also be adaptive to what other players are doing on their turn. You may have a strategy at first, but then you may have to change it because other players are “piggy backing” off of it too well.

Simplicity: 4 of 5
Once players are in the flow of the game, Eminent Domain is easy to understand. Do your group a favor though and do not play with the Tech Cards their first time through. This prevents the initial “overwhelmed” feeling.

Overall: 5 of 5
This deck building game has enough to set it apart from the others while still remaining simple enough for all gamer types/levels to enjoy. Eminent Domain is easily a “go-to” game for my gaming group.

4
Go to the Dungeon Lords page

Dungeon Lords

75 out of 156 gamers thought this was helpful

I will keep this short. Sometimes games get so involved and complicated that you eventually realize that this game is more work than it is fun. A began to get a flavor of that with my 3+ hour initial run of Dungeon Lords. My experience may be isolated and more rare than not, but it did indeed happen. I just can’t see myself pulling this off the shelf to play again unless it is someone’s favorite, and I can’t see this being anyone’s favorite game.

7
Go to the Thunderstone page

Thunderstone

49 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

Thunderstone is a solid deck building game. Inevitably, when someone asks, “What is Thunderstone?” someone answers, “Oh, it’s Dominion but with a DnD theme.” This is relatively accurate in that it is a deck-building game, but there are definitely some mechanics that separate it from its predecessor.

For one thing, Thunderstone is a bit more complicated than Dominion. Players not only have to choose what “action” to play, and what to “buy”, but now they must also decide if they will forgo shopping entirely to fight one of the available monsters to score victory points. There is a lighting mechanic that makes monsters deeper in the dungeon harder to see and therefore harder to hit unless you have appropriate lighting. So now a player has to keep track of card prices, attack values, defense values, lighting effects, point values, and special effects.

So here is by far my biggest beef with the game… the symbols on the cards to keep track of the aformentioned attack, lighting, VP’s, etc. All of the symbols look similiar?!? What!? What were they thinking?! Now anytime I pick up this game after not playing it for awhile, I have to reference which symbol means what because they are in no way intuitive. Why didn’t they make the “lighting” symbol look like a flame or even a lightbulb? Victory point value… shouldn’t it be a star or something?

The ambiguous symbols make this game that much more difficult to teach a new player. Be prepared to continually remind someone of what symbol on the cards mean what.

The Theme
Most players into gaming enjoy the fantasy theme. It is well implimented.
4 of 5

The Artwork
The artwork on the cards is your solid fair of monsters and dungeon delving. Each picture looks like one you would find in a player’s guide or monster manual.
4 of 5

Game Components
This is where the game takes a hit. Dominion has an awesome card organizer built right into the box. Thunderstone does not! The cards are of a good cardstock quality, and deserve no negative marks for their feel. However, the symbols on the card are the most confusing aspect of this game (see initial commentary)
2 of 5

Game Play
If you like leveling up heroes in a single play session, attack monsters, and earning spoils while playing a deck-building card game, this is definitely the game for you.
4 of 5

Replay Value
If you liked it the first time you played it, you will enjoy the second and third time you played it. Thunderstone has a good shelf life, only hurt by its competition (Dominion, Eminent Domain, Ascension, etc.)
4 of 5

Easy to Learn
My honest recommendation is to teach someone Ascension first. Then teach someone the concept of limited actions and buys in the game of Dominion. After they understand this, then they are well and ready for the added rules of Thunderstone.
3 of 5

Overall
What holds this game back is the learning/re-learning curve. I’ll always remember the rules to Ascension and Dominion, but have to look up the rules for Thunderstone again and again. This is mostly due to similiar symbols/icons used on the cards. And let’s be honest with ourselves, having to reopen an instruction manual is one thing that keeps so many people from pulling something off the shelves. Otherwise, this game is a contender for one of the best deck-building games.
4 of 5

10
Go to the Rowboat page

Rowboat

16 out of 21 gamers thought this was helpful

I am going to keep this review short, but to the point. If you like Spades, Hearts, Cribbage, or (especially) Euchre… you will LOVE Rowboat.

Rowboat takes the principles of trick taking, bidding, and earning sandbags, and implements them with even more strategy. While most players don’t realize this, most trick taking games are reactionary. You are to plan and bid on your hand that you think will be the most versatile based upon what “trump” card other players might play.

Where Rowboat takes the cake is that all of the “trump” cards for the round are already laid out in front of the players. This transforms the game from being less reactionary and provides players with even more control.

Trust me. If you like any of the other trick taking games… you will LOVE Rowboat!

6
Go to the Quarriors! page

Quarriors!

50 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

My group’s opinion is that this game relies too much on luck compared to other “deck” building games.

First, there is the luck of which cards are available for the game. Sometimes cards will come up that are useless compared to the rest of the cards in play, making it so that no player buys the dice on top of them.

Second, there is the luck of which dice you draw out of your bag. If you drew nothing but quiddity (the currency in Quarriors), you’ll only have one buy to use it all.

Third, there is the luck of which of the six sides of each die will show after you roll them. The game is so short that I’ve played a few games where someone has won the game before anyone has rolled a creature to put into play. Literally, a player wins before another player even scores a single point. Perhaps if the game was longer, the luck would thin out with the buying decisions.

Here is a much quicker game, but not as fun: every person rolls a regular six-sided die. The person who rolls a 6 first wins. At least in this game the luck is more obvious.

10
Go to the Hike page

Hike

84 out of 93 gamers thought this was helpful

Hike is a game that literally takes less than a minute to learn. In fact, I’ve had players join in the beginning of the game never having played before, and they know how to play the game before it is even their turn. This is why this is a “go-to” party card game for up to 8 people.

The only complaint that I’ve heard about the game is that there is not enough strategy. There is strategy in the game, but certainly not an overwhelming amount. So while this may not be a hardcore “gamer” game, it is certainly a pick-up and play game for all types. In the end, it is a hard game to dislike because an entire game can take less than 15 minutes.

Moosestache games has really kept their promise to make quality games that transcend all ages and tastes.

7
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: 4th Edition page
51 out of 57 gamers thought this was helpful

Metagaming has a few definitions. However, the primary definition of “metagaming” is playing a game outside of the most basic game.

There are two great examples of metagaming found in Poker, and in Magic: The Gathering. In Poker, metagaming comes in from reading other players, providing false “tells”, and talking during the game to manipulate others. This metagaming is much more than simply trying to get the best hand in the game. In Magic: The Gathering, metagaming takes the form of players spending creating a deck between games. Both of these examples show the basic concept of how a game is much more than the rules found in a book.

DnD 4th edition is more of the latter example of metagaming. Players will spend a whole lot of time looking at the player’s guides and/or the online character creator tool (a valuable resource) planning on which abilities their character will have once they level. In 4th edition, when a character gains a level, they typically gain a new ability. However, players much choose only one new ability from a list of several.

This is my favorite aspect of DnD 4th edition that separates it from all the other editions. Players will spend a heck of a lot of time reading the Player’s Manual, dreaming and anticipating what new ablility their character will have. This is especially valuable because combat is very structured, and you might be waiting awhile before you get your turn to play your move. Unfortunately, many RPG’s suffer from the dreaded “combat crawl.”

8
Go to the Monopoly Deal Card Game page
48 out of 74 gamers thought this was helpful

Time to Learn
5 minutes

Genuine Play Time
20 minutes (10 with my family)

Luck
3 of 5: You do need to draw the cards that can help you most.

Strategy
3 of 5: You do need to play the right cards at the right time, but you should never have to punch grandma in the throat for taking more than 5 minutes on her turn.

The cards get to straight to the good part of the Monopoly board game without all the hassle, but lacks the haggling you do with other players.

6
Go to the 7 Wonders page

7 Wonders

33 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

I first played 7 Wonders with a couple of new players and a few experienced players. I won the game by a landslide. However, I have no idea how.

The game has a scoring/math sheet that is used at the end of the game. This alone is evidence that the game requires quite a bit of figuring and crunching to understand who is winning. During the game, I honestly didn’t think I was doing well. Other players, thought they were doing awesome! Yet, the end was a total surprise for all.

The experience can be fun. Many players will cry foul at my suggestion that the end score is extremely surprising for some, yet many other players will agree. Regardless of where you stand, you can’t argue that the learning curve is relatively shallow and the playtime is comparatively quick. With that in mind, it is a small time investment for the amount of fun you can get from the game.

6
Go to the Citadels page

Citadels

53 out of 80 gamers thought this was helpful

You can’t please everyone all the time, but you can please some people some of the time. This platitude really does describe Citadels.

Like many games, Citadles really relies on the people with whom you play to make it an enjoyable experience. Several people claimed, “This is the best game!” Even two gamer associates said, “This is my favorite game… period.” With such high accolade, I had to buy a copy simply off of blind faith.

Well, the game didn’t go so well for me. I played with 7 other people. Only one other player was new to the game. Long story short, the game was not enjoyed by myself, nor a few of the other players. Perhaps I simply played with the wrong group… but that is my point in this review:

Citadels fun can rely on those with whom you play

8
Go to the Forbidden Island page

Forbidden Island

44 out of 58 gamers thought this was helpful

I have my “gamer” friends (avid gamers) and then I have my “regular friends. My “gamer” friends only get together every once in awhile (usually during game night at the local hobby game store) and my regular friends get together a whole lot. So the best games for me are the games that strongly appeal to both groups.

Forbidden Island definitely leans towards the Family/Casual gamer side. It has great visual appeal, a shallow learning curve, and a cooperative feel that truly brings the players together. My female cousin who just went to her first year of college says (about Forbidden Island), “This is my favorite game ever!”

However, the heaver gamers will long for Pandemic and more complicated games. Oh, they’ll still enjoy Forbidden Island… but they’ll inevitably say, “If you like this, then you’ll love (plug in “gamer” game here).”

8
Go to the Pandemic page

Pandemic

30 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful

Pandemic is a great and intense cooperative game. The first time I played it, I was with four friends. We beat the game, but barely. It was an intense time.

The initial learning curve was a bit steeper than I would have liked. I’m usually pretty savvy in learning rules as I am an avid and frequent gamer. However, Pandemic required a bit of “going back to the (rule) book.” Certainly not as much as other games, but also it wasn’t immediately an intiative learn. It has been a couple months since I last played this game, and I know that when I bring it off my shelf again… I will need some refreshers on the rules.

It is only this curve, and ONLY this learning curve that keeps the game from being a “go-to” game when I have friends over.

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