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Dogtorted

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Review 3 games and receive a total of 40 positive review ratings.
8
Go to the AquaSphere page

AquaSphere

24 out of 26 gamers thought this was helpful

Ah Stefan Feld…why did I have to discover your games? Why do you have to be so prolific? You clever, devious ******* you. I’m a Feld fan through and through, so take this review with a grain of salt!

Apparently this game has something to do with research in an underwater laboratory. Apparently. I mean, it’s a Feld, so it’s really about scoring points in as many different ways as possible. The term “point salad” gets thrown at Feld a lot, but whether you interpret that as a positive or negative completely depends on your taste. I like salad, so it’s definitely a positive for me.

This game hurts my brain, but in the best possible way. As with all good brain burners, your turn seems very simple (you either “program” a bot on a programming side board so you can take an action on a later turn OR you use a bot that you’ve already programmed to take an action on the main board right now) but fraught with hard decisions.

Killing Octopods nets you points, while having octopods left in a lab section steals points at the end of round.
Gaining time pays for your movement around the lab, and for placing subs, but there is only so much you can hold at one time.
Crystals get you points at the end of the round, but you also need them to advance past certain points on the scoreboard. No crystals to get across that red line? No points for you!
Placing submarines gets you more time at the start of the next round, and you get points for having all of your subs out at the end of the game.
New lab sections allow you to hold more time, more crystals, kill more Octopods and gets you end game points.
Technology cards help get you around the lab more efficiently, program more bots, get you additional time.

What I like most about the game is that all the information you need to plan your strategy is right in front of you. You even know what the board set up will be for the next turn and how the programming area will change.

What I hate most about the game is that all the information you need to plan your strategy is right in front of you…which can lead to some serious downtime while you figure out exactly what you want to accomplish.

If you’re looking for a deep, rich, thematic experience, this is not the game for you.
If you’ve never played a Feld game before, this is not the game for you.
If you don’t like games with low interaction between players, move on my friend.

If you like a puzzly, mildly brain bruising game with nice components (Octopod meeples!!) then I’d give it a try. I love it, but it’s definitely a “try before you buy” game. Unless you’re a Feld fanboy who loves to eat his salad…

8
Go to the Macao page

Macao

14 out of 18 gamers thought this was helpful

Despite only having played three of his games (Macao, Castles of Burgundy and Trajan), I’m definitely a Feld fanboy. I also had to spend some time and effort to track down a used copy of Macao (complete with a creepy trip out to an industrial park by the airport to make the transaction like the most nerdy drug transaction ever) so keep that in mind while I gush.

I love this game. It’s a bit daunting to jump into, and your first game is probably going to be a bit of a mess, but it really opens up once you know what you’re doing.

I love the amount of replayability thanks to the sheer number of cards you have access to. You’ll only see a fraction of them in every game, so it keeps things fresh.

I love the central dice/windrose mechanic. Do I go for a big reward in a future turn or for some immediate gratification? Lots of agonizing decisions to make.

I love that despite it being a Euro, you still get in each others way and thwart each others plans, whether deliberate or “accidental”

I love the massive turns you can take towards the end of the game. It’s a great exercise in maximizing the use of your resources.

I love that you have to switch up your strategy on the fly based on what cards come out. That may not appeal to everyone but there’s something delicious about having this brilliant idea of how to play your turn, only to have the game go “uh…nope!”

I love that with only 12 rounds the tension ratchets up each turn as you realize that you won’t have enough time (or cubes!) for your clever plan to hatch.

It can be a little frustrating when playing with someone who has trouble making decisions (like my primary gaming partner who will agonize over every single decision!) but that just shows me how important each decision you make can be.

It’s a solid title, and definitely a favourite in my house. I don’t think it’s a good choice for your first Feld (I think Castles of Burgundy is a better entry level game) but it’s a gem that every Euro loving cube pusher should try out. Assuming you can find a copy!

10
Go to the Cosmic Encounter page

Cosmic Encounter

58 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

I love this game. Like loooove it! Like want to marry it and have its little Cosmic Babies kind of love. Why you ask? Here’s some of my favourite things about this sexy beast of a game.

It’s easy to learn!
I’m definitely the most hardcore gamer in my group of friends. I do exhaustive amounts of research, buy the games, teach the games and host the games nights. Other than my partner and one good friend, the rest of my gang aren’t regular gamers, so I have to be careful what I present them with. CE seems pretty complex when you first bring it out, but people catch on so quickly that it only takes 1/2 a game for everyone to “get” it. I always leave out the flare cards for the first run through and add them in for Game #2. There is ALWAYS a game #2 after the learning game.

No down time!
This is a rarity in games. You are always engaged, whether it’s your turn or not. Even if you aren’t a main player, you might get asked to help with the defense or the offense. Or you may just decide to play a card to shaft people just because.

Infinite replay value!
OK, it’s not infinite. That would require a box full of aliens that would be so massive it would create a black hole on my gaming shelf. Math was never my strong suit. But with 50 aliens in the base game alone there is a remarkable amount of replay value. The way the different alien powers interact with each other changes depending on which ones are included. I keep thinking I have a “favourite” alien until I play again and have a new favourite.

It doesn’t overstay its welcome!
I love a meaty, epic, hours long game as much as the next guy….unfortunately the “next guy” isn’t in my gaming circle. This is not an epic game by any means, and sometimes is over really quickly, which just means we get to play more than one run through every time it hits the table.

It embraces silliness and chaos!
If you are a heavy strategy gamer who likes to plan out their entire game and then just apply your decisions, this is NOT the game for you. If you’re in the mood to be silly, to laugh and backstab and generally have a ridiculous time, this is MUST buy. There’s plenty of “serious” games out there…this is not one of them.

No ganging up on one player!
This is why all the chaos is so much fun…who you attack on your turn is determined by a deck of cards. It’s not personal (OK, so maybe it’s a little personal, and there are wild cards so you can seek revenge) which makes everyone loosen up a bit. It really helps get into the fun when the newb you’re playing with doesn’t feel like everyone is taking advantage of them.

If you like fun, screaming, laughter, “how could you DO that?!” and a hefty amount of silliness in your gaming, I highly recommend that you give it a try. I’m truly obsessed with this gem, and I haven’t even gone down the expansion rabbit hole yet!

8
Go to the Deus page

Deus

119 out of 128 gamers thought this was helpful

For those of you who don’t want to read my entire review I’ll give you a summary: I LOVE this game!

Ignore all the people calling this a “civilization” or “civ-lite” game…it’s not. It’s a fun Euro game trying to be deceptive. If you go in expecting a world building epic you’ll be sorely disappointed.

In a nutshell, you’re trying to play cards from your hands for points. The cards correspond to one of the Roman gods and you can play them in one of two ways. Either place the card down in the corresponding space on your tableau (paying the cost in resources and/or money to do so) then place a building out on the game board and then get the bonus listed on the card OR you “sacrifice” the card (and any other cards you don’t want) to the corresponding god and get the bonus associated with the god. You’ll either get money, resources, extra cards, victory points, or extra buildings to place.

The twist is that when you place another card down you not only get the bonus for the card you just laid, but the bonuses for every other card in that column, starting at the bottom with the first card and ending with the card you just played.

It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but after a play through you’ll start to get the ebb and flow of the game. Do I have a good set of cards to work with? Yes? Super! Erm, except I don’t have the resources to play them! Do I have any cards to get the resources I need? Uh…OK, time to sacrifice to the gods!

The great thing about the mechanic is you aren’t constrained by your cards, because if you hate them you can just toss them for a benefit and draw some new cards. I’ve played games where I had an incredibly good opening hand full of cards that had good synergy and games where I was sacrificing left right and centre in order to get something I needed.

Like most Euro’s, there’s not a huge amount of player interaction. You can definitely block people on the board from building in a certain area and a few cards let you steal victory points but it’s mostly a solitary experience.

http://www.Boiteajeux.net has a nice free version so you can “try before you buy”!

(Oh, and to whoever did the main write up…the reason you start with some victory points in hand is to prevent you from being penned in. You can pay victory points to break the rule that says you have to build adjacent to one of your own buildings)

9
Go to the Seasons page

Seasons

58 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

This is the new favourite game in my house!

First off…please ignore all reviews that compare this to 7 Wonders. Yes, there’s a card drafting element to it to set up your deck off the top, but that’s it. It would be like comparing it to Yahtzee because there are dice involved. Anyhoo…

It’s a terrifically well designed game that borrows from other games but still manages to come across as fresh.

The concept is you’re wizards competing in a “Most Luxurious Beard” competition. Something like that. Well, you’re wizards at any rate. The why isn’t as important as the how.

To start off with you choose the 9 cards you’ll be playing with by drafting your hand. It’s fun seeing what cards your opponent is choosing, and fun to see which card they’re clearly avoiding so you can make sure to leave it for them. You then divide your cards into 3 piles (1 for every “year” of the game) and start off with just the first pile in your hand.

Then you get to roll ENORMOUS dice. They’re huge. Definitely not a choking hazard unless you have some sort of Kaiju baby roaming your house (in which case you have other things to worry about than the size of dice, like how do you change that beast without being killed?). The dice let you pick up energy tokens (which you need to play cards), advance your summoning track (which dictates how many cards you can have laid out in your tableau), exchange energy tokens for points, draw new cards and advance the game time through the 3 years of play. Plus you get to roll different dice for each season of the year. So, yeah. Lots of big fun dice!

The learning curve isn’t too steep, but once you get to know the cards and the best way to play them the game really opens up. You can play as many cards (some of which have instant effects, others can be used throughout the game) each turn that you can pay for and have space to play. The energy tokens that let you play cards can also be “transmuted” into crystals (points) with a different exchange rate depending on what season you are in. There is nothing more sweet than using your cards to maximize the number of tokens you have and then converting them all into sweet, sweet crystals. I thought having such a limited number of cards to play would be a draw back, but it really makes you think about the way to maximize their effects.

My only quibble is that the scoring track is deranged and easy to knock your marker cube off of it. We switched to using actual (probably fake) crystals to keep score, which really adds to the feeling that you’re scheming wizards. My other quibble is that this game drove me to make my own dice rolling tray, which means I’ve really fallen down the rabbit hole with my board game obsession.

Board Game Arena has an excellent online version if you want to try it out before you buy.

5
Go to the King of Tokyo page

King of Tokyo

28 out of 34 gamers thought this was helpful

I really wanted to like this game. Like really wanted to like it. I mean, what’s not to like? Big monsters beating each other, big chunky dice to roll, designed by Richard Garfield (of Magic:The Gathering and Roborally fame), almost tailor made for good natured trash talk (which my gaming group ADORES!)

Maybe I raised my expectations too high, or maybe I just got off to a bad start.

I do not recommend playing this game with fewer than 4 people. My first few runs-through were with 2, which was great for learning the game. Which literally took all of 2 turns. The game play is simple and straight forward and the rule…(well, I won’t call it a book) pamphlet is well laid out. We thought it had good potential, but that with 2 players there wasn’t enought GAME there.

So we tried it a few times with 3 players. It was still over in about 5 minutes. Maybe we were rolling too quickly? Should we have added to the challenge by all wearing oven mitts? Nobody bought any power up cards, so we tried again and basically house ruled that you couldn’t win without using a card first. Sigh.

I finally played it with 4 players and it sort of clicked, but by then I’d kind of soured on it. It’s just over too quickly for my liking.

It’s a bit too light of game for me. I’d love to try it out with 6 players (and I hear that the expansion makes it a lot more fun) but it has been struck off of my “must buy” list.

8
Go to the Pandemic page

Pandemic

44 out of 51 gamers thought this was helpful

I’m early in my board game hobby/obsession and this was the first real co-op game I played. I’m hooked! I tried it out the iPad version first (my concession to budgetary restraints so I don’t waste money on lame games) and it was fun but I really wanted to get my hands dirty.

This is definitely keeping its place in my collection. It’s a great gateway co-op game.

Pros:
The theme fits and the gameplay nicely ratchets up the tension. We definitely lost more than we won when we first started.

The learning curve isn’t very steep but as this was my first co-op game we definitely overcomplicated things for ourselves!
Cubes! Glorious cubes! (please tell me I’m not alone in my weird component fetish!)

Cons:

If you are playing with new people there’s a tendency to play the game FOR them, which really mars their first experience. If they are new to the co-op game experience allow them to make their own decisions and their own mistakes…it’s the best way to hook them and then play a real game.

Maybe we just played it to death, but it feels like we ‘solved’ the game. Winning became really easy at one point. Picking the roles at random definitely helps with this. I’m looking forward to the expansions so we can mix things up again!

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