Player Avatar
Amateur Advisor
Critic - Level 1

Steven Backues

gamer level 3
1279 xp

Use my invite URL to register (this will give me kudos)
profile badges
recent achievements
Give 50 hearts (loyalty points) to a single game
Followed my first game
Followed my first game
Follow a game by clicking "Follow" on the game page
I'm a Real Player!
I'm a Real Player!
Claim that you have played a game today by clicking the "Played Today!" button on a game page 25 times.
Amateur Reviewer
Amateur Reviewer
Review 3 games and receive a total of 40 positive review ratings.
Go to the Puerto Rico page
Go to the Hey, That's My Fish! page
Go to the Magic: The Gathering page
Go to the The Settlers of Catan page
Go to the Power Grid page
Go to the Caylus page
Go to the Vikings page


147 out of 154 gamers thought this was helpful

Vikings is a fairly light but still strategic game of settling a set of islands with hard-working vikings. Each turn you draft one island tile/viking combo, and use it to build up your personal island chain. Each viking has a different ability, such as earning money or points or fighting off invaders. At the start of each round the island tile/viking combos are arranged around a circular drafting wheel with ascending numbers indicating how much each combo costs. As the cheaper combos are purchased, the price of the more expensive ones comes down – but if you wait too long for something to become affordable, it might be gone! The advanced version of the game adds additional bonus tiles to be had if you buy the most expensive island tile/viking combo, encouraging you to spend big.

I have played Vikings primarily as a 2-player game with my wife, and have liked it pretty well. It isn’t too long (under an hour for us) or too complicated, but still has a good bit of strategy and is always very satisfying. I do not like it so well as a 3-4 player game. It certainly works for 3-4, but for that number I prefer games with more interaction (e.g. Settlers or Puerto Rico). With 4 in particular you don’t really have any power over the person to your right. But with the back-and-forth drafting in the 2-player game there is more tension, and I think it works well.

The standard version of the game (without the bonus tiles) plays well, and is a good way to start, but can be rather bland, and seem quite similar from session to session. The bonus tiles, some of which strongly boost certain strategies, give the game some extra inhomogeneity that I find makes it more interesting, and I enjoyed the game more once we started playing with them.

Still, the biggest weakness of this game overall is its lack of excitement. I’m a full on Eurogamer; I’m not looking for splash and bang, but Vikings is still a little lacking in the fascination department. There is optimization, and certainly some strategy, but I never feel like there’s something I’ve just got to figure it out. I enjoy playing it, and always feel satisfied after a session, but never have a strong itch to play it again. The components are also very attractive, contributing to the generally pleasant experience. So overall it is solid, enjoyable, and recommended (particularly for 2), but not a must-have.

Go to the Hey, That's My Fish! page
52 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

Hey, That’s My Fish! is a quick abstract strategy game that plays 2-4 players. Really, though, the 2-player game is different enough from the 3-4-player game that its almost like two games in one. The rules aren’t any different (only the number of penguins per player changes), but the play experience very much is.

For 2 players, Hey, That’s My Fish! is a solid positional strategy game, as you move your penguins around to block your opponent onto smaller and smaller bits of the ice. It is luck free past the initial setup, and rewards advanced planning and careful, aggressive play. Think Chess, but with penguins and a hexagonal board.

With 3-4 players, the game becomes much more chaotic, as other players’ actions can ruin the best-laid plans. This might be expected to lead to a lot of politicking, but in my experience it doesn’t, just because the game is so short and light that it doesn’t seem worth it to start negotiating. Instead, it becomes a light filler – quick, easy, fun, yet still with some strategy to think about. You have to play much more defensively, worrying less about blocking others and more about not getting blocked yourself.

So the 2-player and the 3-4-player games are very different, but both are fun. 2-player is better, of course, but we also play it quite often with 3-4. It is the perfect game to whip out while waiting for something longer to start; short, but not mindless like some other games that get “filler” billing. It is this utility that makes it one of our most-played games.

(Note – I have the Mayfair version, so my rating of the quality of the components for this version is irrelevant, but the system forced me to choose something).

Go to the Caylus page


149 out of 161 gamers thought this was helpful

Caylus is the best resource management game I know. Resources are always tight, so you have to think carefully to make the most of them, but it doesn’t get bogged down in calculations. The competitive worker placement forces you constantly reconsider and reprioritize, and the provost(which lets you deny your opponents their actions if they get too greedy) adds even more tension to this already tight game. The balance is excellent, with even turn order under your control. There is no randomness past the initial set-up, so there is nothing to undermine the strategy.

Like any game with little to no luck, the tactics in Caylus are unforgiving, with no room for error. But it is not just number-cruncing: there is subtlety in deciding when and where to push. Part of the key seems to be moderation – it is important to build as much as possible each turn, but at the same pushing too hard for one great turn is usually a mistake. You have to be careful not to overextend yourself. Also, while in the end the game is about points, in the meantime it is really about resources: gaining a resource advantage over your opponent and using it to scare them out of the castle.

Caylus does have a couple of minor disadvantages – it is a little long, it can be a little dry, there isn’t a whole lot of opportunity to form long-term strategies, and I wish that the favor tracks were more balanced. Overall, though, Caylus is a fascinating resource management game that really makes you think hard about every move.

Caylus works great with 2-players, and that is how I have mostly played it: 2-player with my wife. Some feel that is weaker with more players (although others prefer it that way); the few muliplayer games of it I have played also seemed like a lot of fun. In particular, the provost can become much more active with more players, so you really have to watch the way the mood is swinging that turn.

Play-length is a little bit on the long side – even as experienced players, a 2-player game takes us 1.5-2 hours, and with more or newer players it is more like 2-3 hours. More than that, it feels intense and draining the whole way. It’s not something to pull out unless you are up for the experience. But if you are up to it: wow, what an experience!

× Visit Your Profile