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James Orr

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Go to the 7 Wonders page
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7
Go to the Telestrations page

Telestrations

63 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a structured version of a game that goes by many many names.

Essentially, you’re drawing a clue, and then someone’s trying to guess what you were drawing. It gets translated to and from that a bunch of times, and then you see how far you’ve strayed from the original. You can even play it with the game in place if you want, where points are awarded for getting it right between drawings. So accuracy counts. Or at least a proper representation that someone else can guess.

This is dressing up the core game, but it’s a good job of dressing up a basic game. It includes a lot of good ideas, so you don’t have to come up with them yourselves, and don’t have to deal with people unable to fold things correctly.

The sand timer is pretty good quality as well. So really, I’ve seen this on sale a bunch, and it can make it an excellent entry level game for non gamer people of any age that can read.

9
Go to the Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 page
88 out of 114 gamers thought this was helpful

This is an almost required expansion for Ticket to Ride. Anyone that’s played for a while can usually tell what you’re up to in your tickets without having seen them based on what you’re buying and where.

1910 adds in a slew of new ticket cards, which makes it a lot harder for someone to tell where you’re headed. Also it replaces the train cards with normal size cards. That, is fantastic. At least, for someone like me, the little cards are hard to handle, especially when you’re hoarding them.

Get this. It’s worth the cost and is completely needed for the game.

8
Go to the Arcadia Quest page

Arcadia Quest

83 out of 90 gamers thought this was helpful

My wife and I finished our campaign 2 player playthrough not too terribly long ago.

Let me tell you about how it worked for us playing the two player version, and how I think it’ll differ with more players.

First, it has a fair amount of replay-ability, insofar as much as you’re only going to play half the total missions in any go. And there’s no assurance beyond consensus as to what you’ll end up playing any time that you do.

Even then, playing the same scenarios several times might not be terrible. The individual levels are well designed to be symmetrical and balanced with the placement and routes that are available to any player. Playing with more players, or the same number, you’re likely to get a slightly different experience in playing.

Part of that, comes in the way that the objectives are set. You’re going to not just need to complete environmental goals of killing monsters, or rescuing nobles, but there’s the ever present option to fight the other players for victory. It engenders a great amount of kill stealing and pressing people when they’re weak.

Then again, that depends greatly on how your table is going to be playing it. Maybe you’re not all bloodthirsty monsters that pounce on any moment of weakness. 🙂

Either way, we had a bit of a run away victory, so that there was no real good way to pull out a win at the end of the game for one side. Things weren’t that close. That’s probably my only real qualm with things.

Beyond that, it’s fun to buy new abilities and equipment at the end of things. It can turn some of the heroes into truly monstrous tanks, or incredible glass cannons, or for that matter open up entirely new strategies and options with certain spells. Some of them are simply upgraded versions of things that you’ve started with. Others present entirely new avenues of attack.

Of course, the action ramps up as you move on. Certain victories in previous levels unlock other options and reward possibilities. The monsters get tougher across the board, so even though you’ve gotten more powerful, the level of difficulty remains the same.

There’s also enough variance in team dynamics to make how you’re going to approach everything a little bit different every time that you’re going to play the game through.

You also don’t have to play it as a campaign every time either. You can play skirmishes on any of the maps, and can vary the difficulty as much as you’d like to.

The minis are also well sculpted as long as you don’t mind chibi minis. They look great painted, and there’s not too many of them to make it an unapproachable idea.

 
Go to the Scion page

Scion

49 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful

Scion is a limited run of books that was released by White Wolf in 2007. The three main books are Hero, Demigod and God, and basically take player characters from “Scions” of the gods of mythological pantheons ranging all over the world.

You’ll start out as a hero and gradually along a story course grow into a god in your own right.

Pros:
The system is really open to how you’re going to be building your heroes and what you want to do with them. Everything is larger than life.
It feels a lot like Exalted in the power levels.
There’s a lot of powers to choose from, and paths to go. You can get lots of things, or have lots of powers, or have epic level stats and skills.

Cons:
There can be a serious arms race regarding combat ability. If you have PCs that are extremely hard to hurt, to actually challenge them, you may need to send truly deadly things up against the party, which can result in too tough encounters for social or mental characters.
A lot of the powers involve player fiat, which for some GMs can be a little hard to wrap their heads around.

All in all, I like the system and setting. That the legend of the heroes calls monsters to come looking for them makes it easier to get them into some action, even if it’s a random ice giant or some nonsense.

8
Go to the Orléans page

Orléans

51 out of 57 gamers thought this was helpful

I got a chance to play Orléans at a game night at a local game store this past week. Here’s what I gathered from my first play.

You’re going to get something from repeated play beyond failed tactics and refinement. The event cards that come up every turn, weal or woe, are going to be pretty much the same ones every time. If you can keep it in your head as to what is going on, you’ll know how many of each event are left.

Beyond that though, it’s about building an engine to do something, and then trimming that engine up to work as good as it can. You can do that in a couple of ways, from putting discs to the beneficial deeds board, which will get you money and maybe the little citizen tokens if you manage to fill up one of the deeds sections first. The other thing that could thin out your bag is random and hardly ever useful from what I can tell, and that’s the plague event. The problem there, is that you’re picking a worker out of the bag at random to lose.

On top of that, something I didn’t expect going in to my first game was running out of worker tokens in several different areas. In our game, it was the monks (seemingly of course) and the university, as well as the tech one. It seemed to be rather difficult to get anyone back on to the board as well, since any of the markers that go into the shared board stay there. Pretty much the only way that it comes back up is if someone dies in the plague. Apparently there’s more space in the workforce for whomever.

The other part of the game that’s interactive is the travel board. And travelling will get you goods, and you can build guild houses that go up in value depending on how far along you are on the bottom track. That bottom track affects how much the citizens are worth at the end as well

Also worth noting that the deluxe edition is what I played, and the bigger harder tokens were pretty neat. It’s too bad that they’re not going to keep that up. If you can find an edition of it out there, though, it was exceptional.

10
Go to the T.I.M.E Stories page

T.I.M.E Stories

65 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

Let me start out by hitting up the reply value here. It’s a star higher, because I’m including the fact that you’re only going to be playing the base scenario one time fully. You might be running through it 3 or 4 times to get the full run, but after that, there’s no real point.
However, I believe that since you’re going to be using the base set to play additional scenarios (sort of an episodic content model) it still gets that additional star. On top of that, you COULD assist in moderating the game for a different group of people. I feel like watching the reactions and thought processes of another group as they go through it would be nearly as interesting as playing it for yourself.

I enjoyed the writing, and while I found a few of the game elements to be frustrating at times, it was still a superb experience for working through with friends.

I do wish that there was a training scenario that you could run that would give you a bit of a better idea for what you should be keeping an eye out for, or how the system works a little better rather than feeling like you’re going into that first scenario unprepared. Thematically, that’s still solid, as you’re supposed to be fresh out of the academy.

I enjoyed choose your own adventure books when I was younger, and this is sort of a riff on that. There’s variability and randomness added in both the time die that determines the amount of time that it takes for you to traverse locations, and in the amount of time and dice luck that it’ll take you to tackle any of the individual challenges. Most of the brain part of it is deciding who remembers certain facts, and where certain things are, so that when you’re going to have to run it again, that you’ll be able to streamline your run.

Beyond that, the rules were easy to learn, and there were very few things we had to look up after getting into the groove. Personally, I tried to make sure that everyone was on the same page and knew the rules as well as we could before tackling it, knowing that we’d only have one real chance to play through it fully.

The box does an excellent job at storing the components if you’re going to pause play, or need to move the game in media res.

I think that one of the best arguments for the lack of true replay-ability in this game is that it’s one of the few games in existence that you could actually divide up the cost of and split between players. Everyone can chip in on the chance to play a new scenario. You’re sort of buying a seat at the table for the experience. And that, for me, works.

This is hands down my top game for 2015, and I’m looking forward each new scenario that is slated to come out next year.

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