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Granny

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8
Go to the Finca page

Finca

80 out of 87 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little Merchants and Merchettes,

Today, we are going to be contemplating yet another Euro game centered on the theme “Merchants in the Mediterranean.” This theme is usually just pasted onto a set of mechanisms, and Finca does not completely blow that cliche out of the water. However, what sets Finca apart is its re-playability as a 2-player game…it excels with two. It also contains a pretty high level of interactivity for games in this genre.

How do you play?

Finca was my first experience with the Rondel mechanism. Each player has two workers on a windmill (a circle with fruit on each blade). There is also a map with various locations to sell your fruit once you have collected the correct combination. On your turn you can…Harvest from the Rondel, make a delivery to a particular region, or use one of your 4 bonus tiles. The fruit harvest is by far the most interesting mechanism, as you move one of your farmers exactly as many spaces as their are farmers on your current tile. The tile you land on provides a particular fruit in the amount of farmers on that tile. So, you are constantly weighing how much fruit you want versus the number of spaces you are giving to opponents. This is particularly tactical in a 2-player game.

The rest of the game is pretty straightforward and smooth in its implementation. In each region, there are several chits with a combination of fruit and the victory points if you earn it by collecting those fruits from the Rondel. you also have 4 single-use tiles you can use on your turn where you can…move a farmer to and blade on the Rondel, make two farmer moves in a row, make a 10-fruit delivery, and a one fruit discount on a delivery.

I almost forgot to mention the Donkeys! In order to make a delivery, you need a donkey. You collect a donkey every time you pass one of the two donkeys on the Rondel…creating yet another interesting decision point every time you decide to harvest. Fantastic!

What do I think?

Finca is a fantastic introductory Euro…especially if you have not played a game with a Rondel. Even though it is good with any number of the 2-4 player range… it is EXCELLENT as a 2-player game. Usually 2-4 player games are not really good with 2….but that is not the case with Finca.

I’m not certain this game would work with Ameritrash lovers. However, it can be played in 45 minutes, and is more interactive than 75% of all other Euros as you play “tug of war” on that Rondel. It’s also pretty gratifying to swoop in and take a chit you know someone else is saving up for.

All in all, I highly recommend this for people looking for another family weight Euro game, or a great game for 2 players (great for couples). It might even appeal to non-Euro gamers due to the interactivity that can really get tactical on the Rondel. It’s out of print right now, but if you can find a copy at a reasonable price… get one!

8
Go to the Splendor page

Splendor

68 out of 76 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my Splendid Gamers and Gamerettes!

Today, we are going to take a look at a wonderful little filler game called Splendor. If you like engine building games, Euros, or short easy-to-learn fillers…this may be the game for you. How does Splendor manage to fill all of these needs? Grab some tea and a biscuit, and let Granny give you the scoop!

How to Play

Well, Splendor is a pretty easy game to learn and teach. The layout of the game includes three rows of increasingly expensive cards that cost different combinations of gems. Initially, gems are picked up from 6 stacks of chips in six different colors (excellent components that many rave about). You can grab 2 of the same color or 3 different colors on your turn, and use these to purchase cards. The cards, in turn, have a gem picture at the top that can now be used in addition to the chips to buy more expensive cards. Thus, the engine building begins. Of course, a game can’t be Euro without Victory Points (Prestige). These are acquired through various cards that have points printed on them or on several noble tiles that can be grabbed if you get the right combination of cards first. The first person to 15 points signals the end of the game…but you finish the round. Whoever has the most points wins!

What do I Think?

I really like this game. There is ABSOLUTELY NO THEME, so gamers who require even a little theme to pull them in…this game is not for you. However, if you like quick engine building Euros, this game is Splendiferous. It really is fast too. If you sit around waiting for just the right card, YOU WILL LOSE! Splendor is a game best played quickly. Once you start seeing the patterns, everyone should be able to do there turn in a few seconds…time it if you have to. I won’t play this with someone who is AP prone. The game should get down to 30 minutes if you play regularly. For a filler, this game provides some satisfying strategy and tactical decision making.

Note: Many experienced gamers who have not played Splendor take too long to get their engine perfect. Experienced Splendorbs will crush them. Play quick and adapt to the cards available.

Granny approved!

8
Go to the Dragonheart page

Dragonheart

118 out of 125 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little dragonslayers!

Today, we are going to talk a wee bit about the 2-player came called Dragonheart. The story behind this game is that the Great Dragon has been put to sleep by the evil wizard, and you are on a team trying to awaken the dragon, or a team working for the evil wizard to keep him asleep. There are trolls and knights, and huntresses… and, ultimately, the theme is really just something pleasant to look at while you play a very simple hand management card game. However… this is a fantastic game to have in your collection, and I’ll tell you why at the end of this review.

How to play

Dragonheart is super easy to set up. You place the board on the table, put the dragon on the board, give each player their deck of cards of which they pull 5 into their hand. Done.

The object of the game is to collect as many cards as you can by playing cards on various spots on the board. each spot has different rules. Some of the spots allow you to take cards from other areas. The dwarf area can be taken when it is full, and the ship area brings you closer to the end of the game if you fill it (and allows you to take a pile of cards that has been filling up from other areas)… and so on…

…I don’t think I’ll go through each area step by step, because I don’t think it will serve in convincing you this game is worth your time… because it is. Which leads me to…

Why buy this game if it is so easy?

This game is so easy to set up, play and play again… it’s almost relaxing. That may not sound appealing, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suggested playing a game with my oldest son or my spouse, and this one comes up. It is enjoyable and quick (15-20 minutes tops), without the brain burn that sometimes isn’t fun at the end of a long workday. It is a filler game in the best possible sense, as it fills a niche…

There are definitely more complex 2-player games with more strategy, and there are games that are more fun. However, there aren’t too many games that are this simple, but still enjoyable. The art is cool and the theme does give the rules some initial meaning… which won’t really matter much after 5-10 plays.

I can almost guarantee you’ll wonder why you bought this game when you first start playing it. You may even wonder after the first couple games. Then, a few months later, when you are pulling it out on game night between bigger games for the 10th time as a quick filler… or your wife actually asks you to play this with her… you’ll get it. This is why you have games like Dragonheart.

Dragonheart is a great “couples” game…. especially if you have a significant other that isn’t a “gamer.” It’s also great to play with the younger folks in your life. I’d give it a 7.5 if possible… but rated it an 8 to not lower the score. It’s a solid game in the “filler” category.

Granny approved.

8
Go to the Haggis page

Haggis

136 out of 148 gamers thought this was helpful

Hellooooooo my little kelpies!

Today, we are going to talk about a game that needs a little more love here on Boardgaming.com. Haggis is a game named after possibly one of the most disgusting combinations of internal organs ever to grace a dinner plate. As I am a quarter Scotch-Irish, I do believe I can say this without offense. I’m not saying I will never try it… but the list of ingredients makes me rethink hot dogs and other “sausages.”

Well, onto the card game…

Haggis is a climbing card game similar to Tichu, but can be played with 2-3 players. The beauty of this game is the ability to play it with only two players… and that’s how I like it best. I want to point out that Indie Boards and Cards have made a habit of taking some traditional games and making them playable with smaller groups… Resistance and Avalon are redesigns of Are you a Werewolf that require no mediator, elimination or large numbers of players to enjoy. I applaud Tom Worthington for this.

Haggis includes 54 cards in 5 suits (you remove a suit in a 2-player game), numbered from 2-10 with 3 sets of jacks, queens and kings of which you remove one set for the 2-player game. It comes with 3 player aids and rulebooks in several languages. The quality of the box and cards is excellent.

How to play?

It’s really a pretty easy game to play. Each player gets a set of Jack, Queen, and King laid out in front of them. These are wild cards. They are then dealt a hand of 14 cards each. The leftover cards are set aside and not looked at. This is the Haggis… leftover organs for dinner!

The stated goal of the game is to be the first to get rid of all your cards. At the beginning of a round, you can bet on whether you will get rid of all your cards first (0, 15 or 30 points).

Now, the starting player lays down a set or sequence of cards. These combinations are shown on the player aid. Sets include standard singles, pairs, 3 of a kind, etc. Sequences (or Runs) are like straights in Poker (1,2,3) or can be multiple pairs/sets (2/2, 3/3, or 7/8, 7/8). The second player needs to use the same type of set or sequence but use higher value cards (first player played 2,3,4 , so second player needs to play 3,4,5 or higher). If you can’t beat it… you lose the trick. Remember, you can use one of your wild cards to complete a set or run as well.

The winning player puts his/her cards in their pile, and gets to start the next hand. You play again with the cards you still have, and play as many hands as needed before someone runs out. The first person to get rid of their cards gets points for their bet (if any), 5 points for each card the other person still has in their hand (or most cards in 3 player game), and the value of the cards they won in the round. The “losing” player gets all the points from the tricks they’ve won. The “losing” player could very well end up with more points if the “winning” player didn’t bet, and didn’t get as many high cards.

You play as many rounds as are needed for a player to get to a predetermined total of 250 or 350 points for the win.

NOTE: There are also “Bombs” which are special combinations of cards that end a hand… and this might be used strategically (to lose on purpose). The hand goes to the player who does not play the Bomb. However, you win the trick and get to go first.

ALSO NOTE: The player who goes out first gets the Haggis in both 2 and 3 player games. This can be the clincher… especially in the 2 player game.

What do I think?

I think it’s one of the best 2-player card games available. It plays well with 3… but I go for other games when I have 3 or more. If you like climbing games like Tichu… Haggis is a no-brainer addition to your arsenal. If you are low on quick 2-player games… give this a try. You can re-purpose a regular set of cards, but, if you like it, I think it’s worth getting the Indie Card box (just in case you want to play with 3). If you are NOT a trick taking fan… don’t bother.

I’m a big fan of the game… not the “food”, and I’m glad people are exploring it. Bon Appétit!

8
Go to the Qin page

Qin

26 out of 31 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little soldiers,

Today we are looking at the digital version of the tile laying game by Reiner Knizia called Qin (pronounced chin).

For those of you who have not played the boardgame yet, here is a brief description of this deceptively simple and short game.

How to Play…

The goal is to get rid of all your pagodas.

Each player starts off with three tiles with two squares of one of three colors (think dominoes with color instead of dots to decide placement), and a certain number of pagodas depending on number of players. Each player must place one of his/her tiles next to a square on an existing colored tile. One you get two squares of the same color together, you get to place one of your pagodas on the “province”. Once you connect 5 of the same color, you can add a second pagoda and protect your province… and the two pagodas.

You can also get rid of your pagodas by connecting to one of several villages. If you are the first one to the village, you can drop one in. However, your pagodas are not safe. If someone can get more adjacent pagodas next to the village… he/she can replace your pagoda. Provinces under 5 squares are not safe either. If someone with more squares connects to your same color…they can steal your province. This does make for some conflict.

The iOS gameplay is the same. However, you can play against a pretty decent AI making it quite flexible. The game is very short, so it is the perfect game to play when you have 10 minutes to kill. The design is perfect with smooth controls.

My Conclusion…

This is another fantastic digital version of a great little board game. I love this game, because even my six year old can play it. There is no text, only three colors to match, and simple win conditions. It is also over in 10 to 20 minutes… a rarity.

I highly recommend this game to people who enjoy abstract games and/or need some good games to play with multiple ages. I think it could be an excellent gateway game, and will try it out with newbies. The digital version is going to make it easier to get some interested.

If you don’t like abstracts, conflict, or any luck… do not get this game. You randomly draw three tiles, and not getting the right tile towards the end can be fatal. Hard feelings can occur when someone steals a village or province as well. If this does not bother you… download and try the game. It’s a steal.

9
Go to the Samurai Sword page

Samurai Sword

49 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little Samurais and Sumurettes,

Today, we are going to talk about a little card game called Samurai Sword. This game is based on the wonderful hidden identity card game BANG!, but does not have the dreaded “player elimination” some people dislike in that western gun-fest.

Samurai Sword is made my an Italian game company, and has a different feel from other Euro games that avoid interaction… especially direct conflict. In Samurai Sword, you are beating the living tofu out of each other.. and I love it!

How to Play…

The setup: You start off by getting a secret identity (shogun, samurai, ninja or ronin). What group you are in is determined by the number of players, but there is always one shogun and a couple ninjas. Now, the shogun is the only one who has to show his/her card, and they are a target for the ninjas. The ninjas, in a game of 4 or more, try to keep their identity hidden… but this is feudal, as they must start attacking the shogun quickly. The samurai are supposed to protect the shogun, and quickly deduce who the ninjas are. Meanwhile, the ronin’s secret agenda is too kill them ALL! Each player also gets a character card with a name, flavor text, and special power. Player variability adds greatly to the replay value of the game. Finally, you start off with a hand of cards determined by the position you are to the shogun, a number of honor points, and life points based on your character.

Gameplay: On your turn you take two cards and start swinging. How many times you can attack are determined by character and action cards you are able to set down in front of you. You can always play as many action cards as you are able. Attacks are easily described on the cards with a number for distance and damage. There are cards that increase the distance between you and attackers… and cards that steal those cards… and so on. The game is on!!!!

The beauty of this game is the life point/honor point system. When you get attacked, and you can’t parry, you lose a heart (life point). When you lose all you life points, you don’t die, but instead give one of your honor points (lotus) to the player who “killed” you. On your next turn, you get all you life points back to fight again! The game ends when any of the players have lost all their honor points, and the winner is the player/players with the highest total score at that moment. There is a mechanism to remove an honor point from every player each time the deck runs out. This eliminates the other problem BANG! has… going on too long… like this review.

My Conclusion…

Samurai Sword is a great game to play with a varied group of players. I even taught my parents to play it in a few minutes. It’s cheap, can play up to seven, and, with the new rules, takes about a half hour to play. This is a great filler game for 4 or more. My only problem with the game is it isn’t quite as fun with three as I would like… it’s just 2 against 1 with no secrets between you.

Should you get this game? Um, duuuuhhhh! This is really a no-brainier for even strategy gamers. You’ve got to have a good game to play when non-gamers are around, and a game heavy on tactics is your best bet at not spending the evening playing Taboo(no offense to Taboo fans, as I fancy a game every now and then). So, yes, do yourself a favor and buy Samurai Sword, and join the Spaghetti Fu revolution!

Granny loves stabby-stabby!

9
Go to the Kings of Air and Steam page

Kings of Air and Steam

119 out of 144 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little air pirates! Today, we are going to talk about a little game called Kings of Air and Steam. This is a beautifully designed pick up and deliver game by Tasty Minstrels who have been on a tear lately making high quality strategic games. This one is a gem!

How to play…

KoAaS has a standard pick up and deliver mechanic, but adds a few twists that raise the replay ability that I normally don’t find. First, it has variable player powers. Second, it has two levels of movement for the goods (train and airship) where most games only have one. Finally, it has the coolest little airship minis. How can you pass up on a game with zeppelin minis? Well, I can’t. The components raise this game from an 8 to a 9.

The goal of the game is to pick up good at factories with your airship , move them to one of your train stations, and then move the goods by rail to a city that wants them. On a given turn you have multiple options to choose from, uincluding a unique ability based on the character you have chosen. Some of these options require money which you earn when you bring goods to a city. This amount of money you earn per type of good is determined by a marketplace that changes each round. All of this adds up to a deeply strategic endeavor where every decision has consequences. I really enjoy games that keep me thinking and paying attention to my opponents activity. Watch they don’t fill up my city before me.

Another great feature of the game is the ability to upgrade your ship and train. This becomes evident as the game moves on and may prove more beneficial depending on the character you have chosen. This is another plus in the replay ability of the game. I find the upgrades versus building stations to be a balancing act. In the end, you get points for levels of upgrades, stations, and money you have. Making sure all of these are maximized stretches your brain just enough without snapping it.

My Conclusion…

I find this game to be an excellent example of a pick up and deliver game. Thigh it is strategically deep, it is an easy game to teach and learn, making it a good candidate as a gateway game. Not only that, it can handle up to seven players. Aside from Seven Wonders, there aren’t many good seven player strategy games. I’ve only played this with three and four players, but I imagine it will work quite well with more, as your tactics will need to change, but the ultimate goal remains the same. More interaction is always a good thing in my book.

Is this game for everyone? Well, it might be too brain burning for some casual gamers, but this game borders the same realm as Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne… with just a slight moe complexity. It’s beautiful board and components tend to interest new players and they are willing to overcome the strategic hurdles placed before them. One other possible issue with the game is the player interaction itself. Some powers allow you to steal goods, and you always have the ability to fill up a city someone else needs. Some people hate this, but even Ticket to Ride has this anguish as part of its allure. You just need to manage your disappointment and move on.

All in all, I highly recommend this game for its strength in strategic decisions, components, and ability to go up to seven players. I think this game will come out a year or two from now, as well as next weekend…making it the kind of game worthy of any collection. Try it first, but I think you will agree. This is one fine game.

Granny loves Zeppelins!

8
Go to the Sentinels of the Multiverse page

Sentinels of the Multiverse

113 out of 124 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little superdudes and dudettes! Welcome to another review by the ever-aging Granny.

First off, I need to explain the disastrous rating I gave this game a couple years ago. I had funded the game on Kickstarter,and had high hopes it would be a fantastic game to play with my two boys. The rules were a bit clunky, and the cards required so much sorting… by the time we got to playing the game we were tired and never fully figured it out. We loved the art and the cooperative aspect, and I gave it a 7 here… because I loved the idea of it… just not the execution.

Cut to two years later and a completely different experience. If I could, I might give the game a 10… but most assuredly a 9. The new edition of Sentinels includes greatly simplified rules that show you just how easy this game is to learn. In fact, they could have just used the rules on the back in a one-sheeter and saved some money on printing. All the real instructions are on the cards anyway. They also provide handy-dandy dividers to keep all the cards in place… making it easy to organize, pick a team, and get cracking!

How to Play

Umm… 1) Play a hero card and use a power. 2) Play an environment card. 3) Play a villain card 4) Rinse, repeat.

I know… sounds repetitive and stupid, right?… WRONG!!!! This game is the best thing since the invention of Silly-Putty. The collection of superheroes, villains and environments makes for what appears to be an unending supply of game combinations (If you believe math is real, you might argue that there could not be an unlimited number of combinations, and may even give me some EXACT number of combinations… to which I say “BAH!”…you are obviously not taking into account the variable of unending parallel and possibly perpendicular universes a Multiverse contains… ’nuff said.). Nevertheless, once you get over your “logic,” and throw yourself into this mind-blowing cornucopia of delicious gaming goodness… you will truly know my bliss.

My Conclusion

Ultimately, this game may not be for everyone. However, just like chocolates… if you don’t like eating superheroes, there’s more for me. They are tasty… and Sentinels of the Multiverse is the Whitman’s Sampler of superhero games. Sometimes, you might get a bad hero… but there is always a scrumptious caramel around the bend.

I highly recommend this game if you like cooperatives, card games, superheroes, or being tolerable to fellow humans. If you don’t like superheroes… you will probably not like this game. I repeat, if you do not like superheroes… you probably will not like SotM (cool shorthand for Sentinels of the Multiverse).

Another example of this game’s greatness are the expansions. For a measly 5 bucks you can get a new hero, villain or environment deck that expands your endless combinations even further. And, yes, again, you can expand endlessness in the Multiverse.

This is unlike my other reviews, but I have been forever changed by SotM, and will probably look even more critically upon all games from now on… or not.

My only beef with the game is there are no superheroes over the age of 40 (except maybe The Scholar). What happens to old superheroes? Eh… I digress.

Granny says, “Buy this game!”

9
Go to the Infiltration page

Infiltration

118 out of 126 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little droids and droidettes…

Today, we are going to discuss a little game known as Infiltration. Infiltration is a Push-Your-Luck game for 2-6 players set in the Android world (with obvious Phillip K. **** and Blade Runner roots). Each player takes one of several varied “characters” and infiltrates a corporate research facility to steal as many Data Files (DF tokens) as possible. Each turn time runs down on the “proximity dial”… you must get what you can, and get out before security gets to you. Time is running out!

How to Play…

The game area is basically two rows of cards (6 cards each) that represent the first and second floor of the building you are infiltrating. Floors are revealed the first time a player lands on the card. Some cards have events that occur immediately. All cards have something to earn or do when you move to them.

A round consists of four basic steps:

Selection Phase: Each person selects an action card from their hand (move, break locks, gather tokens, etc) and sets it aside.

Resolution Phase: On your turn, you reveal your card and resolve your action card in order from whoever is starting player this particular round. If you are last… your play may have already been foiled.

NPC Phase: The Non-Player Cards are activated and do whatever their card says they do. NPCs show up on certain floor cards and do various harmy stuffs.

Security Phase: The first player for that round rolls a die and move the Proximity Dial up. Once the dial gets to 99, security shows up, and anyone still inside the building is toast!

The game includes a fair amount of luck, but unlike other push-your-luck games, strategy and tactics play a roll. How far you go into the building has a lot to do with your experience playing the game (spoiler: the second floor has two ways out of the building). You might also decide to stay on the first floor…gather as many DF tokens as you can, and get out before anyone can screw you.

Did I say “screw?” Yes, this game can be very backstabby! There are action cards you can get that allow you to move people into danger, obstruct their exit, or jump the proximity dial one way or the other. A devious soul might raise the proximity dial just before he/she escapes… trapping you with security.

The person who makes it out with the most DF tokens wins! Of course, you have to actually get out.

My Conclusion…

There are not many games my game group says, “let’s play again, and again, and again.” Yes, it’s random, but there are enough tactical decisions to keep most gamers happy. Going in with a strategy is also useful… but you may have to change based on events… keeping things interesting. I don’t always like games like this, but Infiltration is very well done.

Other Infiltration pluses, are the fact that it is very easy to learn and teach. The FFG rulebook is surprisingly small for this one. It also supports 6 players… which everyone knows is a good thing when you have a slightly larger group. IMO this game could probably be played as a one player game (haven’t done it yet), but it works quite well from 2-6. Itplays in about 45 minutes once you get the hang of it.

Granny highly recommends this game.

6
Go to the 1st & Goal page

1st & Goal

60 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

Well, my little sportsters. Today, I have to do something I really do not like to do. I have to give a bad review.

Game designers spend a lot of time working on games, and I can tell the people who made 1st and Goal really loved what they were doing. But, 1st and Goal is a little broken.

The game is purely a luck-driven affair. It is far too convoluted and long. I’ll provide a breakdown of the game play first, and then explain my criticisms. I think there is a good party game in here… but it’s going to take some house rules.

How to Play…

The game is pretty simple once you figure it out. I thought the rules made it seem more difficult than it really is.

You have several colored dice with yardage on them. A Play die is used with all the plays and has events like Turnover, Penalty or Breakaway. You also have a Ref die to decide who the penalty is on, and a Penalty die to decide the yardage for the penalty.

The gameplay is as follows…

1) You decide who is home or away.
2) You flip to see who is receiving.
3) Kickoff rules are easy. You either start on the 20, or roll red,beige,brown,blue and Play die and add it up to show where you start. Follow the rules for the Play die if any.
5) Now, you are ready to actually play. Each player has either an Offense or Defense deck. You get 8 cards to look at. You pick the card you want to go with… and show the card simultaneously. You compare cards to see what dice are to be rolled and follow the dice based on yardage and the Play dice event. Discard and draw.
6) You get 4 downs to get 10 yards or you need to punt, fake or decide to go for it… which may result in turnover on downs.
7) Repeat this FOREVER!!!!!!!

My Conclusion…

The game really does mimic a football game. For those who love football, like myself, there is a lot to “want” to like here. Unfortunately, unlike football, there is absolutely no skill involved in playing this game. You are basically trying to guess if the other player or team (you can make two teams if you have more that 2 players) is going to run or pass. Then, you roll a bunch of dice and do some simple math.

The components are a mixed bag. I love the field, football and yardage marker. The ball and marker are magnetic… stick to the field. However, the dice are cheap plastic boxes that require a good half hour to stick on all the stickers. We’ll see how long these stay on. I would have liked etched dice… or even painted dice would be better.

The game is also very long. You are supposed to go through the entire Offense deck for each half. We decided it would be more bearable if you split the deck and played half a deck for each half. If I’m going to play a board game that takes longer than an actual real life football game… it better be Arkham Horror.

Nevertheless, there is a fun party game in here somewhere. I think it needs to be shortened and house ruled. It might also be fun to make some wagers. It needs work, and maybe I’ll find some time to fix it. Until then, I can’t recommend it.

Granny likes real football best.

8
Go to the Hisss page

Hisss

73 out of 83 gamers thought this was helpful

We have quite a few easy kid’s games in our cabinet that got our kids into board games, but the two games most played were Animal Upon Animal and Hisss.

What makes Hisss so compelling to children? The snakes are very simple cartoon creations with bright colors that are easily identifiable as red or orange (little ambiguity) or blue or green or purple. Other little bug touches make the cards more fun… and the rainbow wild cards are always the favorites.

The component quality for toddlers is second to none. Big, thick cards make this the perfect game for toddlers who may still like to chew… or have some sort of liquid still on their little paws. Our game made it through two dirty boys.

The game is simple to learn, but requires simple decision-making skills… a perfect way to introduce game skills to a child without overwhelming them. All you have to do is match colors, have a tail on one end, and a head on the other. Eventually, you can teach them how to count the cards they’ve won.

The game is over quickly. This is one of the MOST important aspects of a toddler game. The game must be over before the parent commits suicide. Hisss is perfect in this regard. Besides being a somewhat painless affair to begin with, the game is over before you or your child get tired of it.

Oh, I almost forgot the best part. Everyone loves yelling “Hisssss.”

If you have a young child and like playing games, you owe it to yourself to have Hisss in the cabinet. It’s the perfect gateway game for toddlers.

Happy Gaming!

7
Go to the Martian Dice page

Martian Dice

68 out of 76 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little green minions,

Today we are going to talk about a game called Martian Dice. Martian Dice is a game for 2 to {{fill in number sitting at the table here}} players. There are 13 custom dice, a cup, and some instructions. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

How to Play…

Martian Dice is extremely easy to pick up. You roll the dice, set aside the ones you want to keep, roll the dice again, and so on… until you can’t roll anymore. The rule are simple:

1) You must have as much or more spaceships (death rays) as tanks in order to score at the end. You can set aside as many death rays as you want, but you MUST set aside any tanks you roll.

2) There are three sets of dice you can set aside and earn points with… chicken, cow, and human. You can only set aside one type on each roll (choose wisely). These are worth 1 point each at the end of your turn.

3) If you manage to collect some of each (chicken, cow, human) by the end of the turn and still have more or equal death rays than tanks… you get 3 BONUS points.

You keep track of the score by using a piece of paper and a writing implement of your choice. Something probe-shaped would be appropriate. The last round is triggered by the first to reach 25 points… which can happen quickly.

I find some amount of “ack ack” and “take me to your leader” talk is inevitable. My group has several Marvin the Martians. Your group may be more mature than my group. I hope not.

My Conclusion…

Is this game much different from Zombie Dice? Nope. Do you need both? Nope. Should you get both and support game designers everywhere? Of course.

I like dice games for their portability, durability, and flexibility. You can take this game to the family reunion or the pub. You can play with your 5 year old nephew and your boss. It’s not brain surgery, but it gets the job done.

I find the little nudges in rules and a theme have given this an edge over Zombie Dice for now. As a side note to developers… the urge to create Vampire Dice may be great, but please… let’s refrain. I feel we’ve covered the mechanic quite well.

TTFN!

10
Go to the Fiasco page

Fiasco

146 out of 168 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little dudes and dudettes…

Today, we are going to discuss a little RPG known as Fiasco. It’s great to see Jason has come by and provided a review on his most excellent RPG. However, just in case you do not trust the author himself, I am here to corroborate his story… no really, you can trust me.

How to Play…

All you need to play Fiasco is the inexpensive paperback book of “rules”, some black and white 6-sided dice (any two colors will do), and some “friends”. You don’t need a GM, as the dice help narrow your options, while each player chooses the various elements that will ultimately be played out by the characters you each create on the fly. There is no preparation necessary unless you want to download one of many playbooks off the Internet or create your own. However, we’ve had plenty of fun with the playbooks included in the Fiasco book… and every game has been unique due to rolls of the dice and choices we’ve made to start the game.

Jason has described the game quite well, but I think a few points need to be driven home. This RPG is a true storytelling experience. It isn’t about leveling up, or huge battles with dragons or beastmen. It’s more about the story and the people you create it with. These are the things that keep us coming back to RPGs when we could just play video games. Fiasco is pure.

Game-play is easy: all you do is roll the dice, choose some options from your playbook, and start telling the story. On your turn, you either choose to establish or resolve your character’s scene, and your friends get to create the mayhem for you one way or another. In this way, everyone is the GM, taking the burden off of one person to be in control, and ultimately, left out.

My Conclusion…

Why do I love this game? Well, there is no GM (of which I am most of the time in other games like Warhammer FRP). It’s over in an hour… unlike most RPGs. It’s all about the story. You get together a group of friends and create a world in 60 minutes or less. It’s brilliant!

Is it for everybody? No. Some of my friends excel at creating characters and fighting battles in traditional RPGs. In Fiasco, you really don’t have a blueprint… and the battles are created in your mind. This is difficult and frustrating for some. If the rule set sounds too loose… you may want to play before you buy.

Ultimately, I love it! The initial attraction was that the RPG was like a Coen Brothers movie… which I love, but it’s much more than that. The RPG is only limited by your imagination, and I love how some of the sessions stick with me… like D&D used to when I was a kid. This game is a creative workout. It deserves a look.

9
Go to the Tsuro page

Tsuro

94 out of 101 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello my little Dragons and Dragonettes,

Today we are going to discuss a little game called Tsuro. This game is perfect for all ages (my 4 year old to my wife’s grandfather have played), requires only a few minutes to teach, and has never failed to please. Let’s take a closer look…

How to Play…

Tsuro is a beautiful tile laying path game for 2 to 8 players (I will add the solo variant at a later date). Each player starts with a stone at the edge of the board and 3 tiles to lay. You lay a tile next to your stone, follow the path with your stone, and pick another tile from the draw pile. That’s it.

No wait. Tsuro is all about staying on the board and/or knocking the other players off the board. It can be as offensive or defensive as you like, but the only way to win is to be the last stone standing. This makes Tsuro a purely tactical game, because you are constantly reacting to what tiles other players have laid. You do not want to end up on a path that takes you off the board or crashes you into another player… so you hope you have the tile in your hand (luck of the draw) to keep you alive.

My Conclusion…

A game like this would get boring if it lasted longer than 15 minutes, but it usually doesn’t. It’s a quick game that’s great to start off a game night, or just get some family time in before the kids go to bed. I can count on one hand the games that can play 8 in 15 minutes, and Tsuro is one of them. This makes Tsuro a very valuable game in my closet.

Is Tsuro right for everyone? Well, no game is the be-all and end-all. If you don’t like tactical games with little strategy and an element of luck… you will not like Tsuro. However, if you like tactical games, have an occasional need for a game that can handle a larger group, or a quick filler for game night… this game is a winner. Not to mention, it’s beautifully designed. I’d say it’s worth a look.

Side Note: I’ve had this game for about 4 years now, and it’s probably come out as often or more often than most of my “great” games. It’s a very flexible “good” game.

6
Go to the Cthulhu Dice page

Cthulhu Dice

68 out of 75 gamers thought this was helpful

Notice: This is not a strategy game at all. If you want a game that is not purely luck based, and requires making any sort of decision other than rolling dice… this game is NOT for you. Don’t even bother reading the rest of this review. There, I saved you 45-50 seconds of your life.

Hello my Lovecraftian poptarts,

Today, we are going to talk about Cthulhu Dice.

Cthulhu Dice is really not much of a game. You pick someone to attack and roll the die. Oops, I gave everything away already. Yes, it’s a simple game with a pasted on theme, but it is easy to carry, teach, and learn… which accounts for something. Let’s take a look. You can make your own mind if this little thing is right for you…

How to Play…

Cthulhu Dice is a game for 2 or more players. The game consists of a 12-sided die, 18 glass stones, and a rule booklet. Each player takes three sanity tokens (stones). The starting player picks a target player and rolls the die. Here are the possible outcomes:

1) Tentacle: You take 1 stone from the target (extra token for you). If you are already mad, the stone goes to the middle of the table.

2) Yellow Sign: Your target loses 1 stone, and pushes it to the middle of the table (Cthulhu).

3) Elder Sign: You get a stone from the middle pile.

4) Cthulhu: Everyone loses 1 stone to the middle pile.

5) Eye: Is wild, and you can do any of the options.

Now the targeted player gets to roll the die at you. Same rules apply. Once completed, the player to the left of the initial attacker gets to target someone and roll.

That’s it!

Conclusion…

I may be a little hard on this game, as it’s supposed to be simple, but I just can’t get into rolling a die to attack someone over and over. For me, Zombie Dice succeeds because it is a press-your-luck game, but this game has even fewer decisions to make… All you do is choose someone and roll the die… that’s it! (What is the quota for saying “that’s it!” in a review?) I wanted to like this game, but it does fall flat for me. I also wonder if I expect too much, because I’m a huge Cthulhu fan, and want some theme… which this game doesn’t have AT ALL. In that respect, I feel like there is major marketing manipulation going on… with no follow through. No amount of candle lighting ambiance is going to make this game spooky.

My kids like it OK, so I’ll give it a 6. However, they usually choose Zombie Dice instead. Here’s hoping that Elder Sign gets it right. That might be the better option.

Happy Gaming!

7
Go to the Zombie Dice page

Zombie Dice

64 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

NOTICE: If you are looking for a strategy game in ANY way, shape, or form… this is NOT it! Close this review and DO NOT BUY! No need to read any further.

Hello, my little braineaters!

Today, we are going to talk about Zombie Dice.

Now, I see many have chosen to score this game on its complexity or lack thereof. To me, this ignores the true purpose of the game… it’s simplicity. Zombie dice is a Beer and Pretzels game… a few rules, some beer and pretzels, and a whole lot of fun.

How to Play…

The game comes in a cup full of 13 dice and a rules sheet. That’s it! It’s very portable, and ahs ZERO setup time. The dice come in three colors; yellow, green and red. Each dice has foot prints, shotgun and brains on them. Each color has more of one symbol than the other two…

The object of the game is to roll as many brains as you can without getting shot. The first player who collects 13 brains wins! Keep track using other dice, tokens, or a piece of paper and a pencil.

On your turn you roll three dice from the cup. Roll three shotguns… your turn is already over! If you roll a brain, you set the brain aside and any shotguns. You can keep rolling three dice at a time until you have three shotguns (lose your turn) or decide to stop on your own so you can add the brains you’ve collected to your total. Footprints do not get set aside, they are re-rolled… so the number of rolls you get is almost always different.

The only “strategy” to the game is paying attention to what dice are left in the cup. Green dice have more brains on them, and red dice have more shotguns. That’s it for strategy. 🙂

So… a turn goes like this:

1) Roll dice
2) Set aside brains and shotguns.
3) Decide if you want to roll again based on total number of shotguns and brains (and dice left)
4) Repeat, Die, or Stop

Remember, if you get three shotguns, you lose ALL your brains this turn. You only get to count your brains if you stop rolling before you get that third shotgun.

Conclusion…

Zombie Dice is barely a game. It’s a pastime in every sense of the word. It takes two to five minutes, and can support however many players you can get around the table. It’s theme is what you make of it. Don’t play if you are unwilling to moan and groan “brainssss” at least a few times per evening. It’s the perfect fun filler down at the bar, or between long games while waiting for friends, or with your kids. For a game about brains, it is brainless, and somewhat expensive for what you actually get. But, it’s extremely portable, and perfect for the right group. You just can’t expect more than a simple luck-fest from this one.

Happy Gaming!

7
Go to the Alhambra page

Alhambra

118 out of 128 gamers thought this was helpful

Hello, my little pumpernickels,

Today, we are going to talk about a little game called Alhambra.
Alhambra is one of the first Euro games I played… oh so long ago. Along with Ticket to Ride and The Settlers of Catan, it is an excellent “gateway” game. It is easy to teach and learn, so it works well as a Euro introductory, but its ability to keep you interested long-term may depend on using the expansions. Let’s take a look at what you get, so you can make your own choice…

How to Play…

You start the game with a number of money cards that total at least 20 in face value (number of actual cards may vary). Four money cards are displayed face-up on the game board and replenished from a draw pile. Four tiles are placed in four slots representing four different architects using yellow, green, blue and orange to differentiate the card slots (only necessary for money exchange). These are replenished as well. Each turn, you may take money from the bank, buy a tile (using money in matching color), or rearrange your Alhambra.

In Alhambra , the goal is to build the best palace in Granada, Spain. You do this by purchasing tiles from the game board and placing them in your own area. Tiles represent pavilions, seraglios, arcades, chambers, gardens and towers. Tiles come in at cost of 1 through 9, which translate into VP later… so pay attention my lads.

Some interesting rules:

1) A player may take any number of money cards from the bank as long as the total value does not exceed 5… interesting? Well, there are cards that are worth more than 5… but, you need to have different colors to get what you want sometimes, and…

2) If you buy a tile with exact change, you get an extra turn. Eureka!

3) Starting player is decided by the first person to 20 with the fewest cards. No arguing over who was the last person to build a Spanish palace, thank goodness.

4) There are three scoring rounds. In the first round, the player with the most building tiles of a particular type gets points (ties are split). In the second round, the two players with the most and second most score. In the final round, first, second and third most totals score.

5) For scoring, and other added rule is you get points for the longest contiguous wall.

There are other rules about tile/wall placement, etc. that work into your strategy as well. You can also set aside tiles for later use, but it is not recommended unless the tile is fantastic, as you lose a turn if you are just moving a tile from your reserve.

Conclusion…

The game can play from 2-6 players. However, the more players you have the longer the wait time. Alhambra is very susceptible to Analysis Paralysis. I’d recommend 2-4 players for maximum enjoyment (3 is best). Also, the game is relatively sparse of interaction… other than taking what someone else needs. You are building in your own sandbox. Carcassonne has much more interaction, because you are playing on the same “field”. How you feel about this game may depend on how much interaction you feel a game should contain.

All in all, I think it is a good game to introduce new players to gaming. It’s lack of evilness is appealing to those who do not like competitive games, and even an experienced player can’t really destroy your chances by stealing a tile they think you need (unless they are way ahead and have the luxury of taking several). I also think the expansions add a lot of value to the game, and recommend forking over the extra dough to get the Big Box. You will thank me once the base game starts to get a bit stale.

Happy Gaming!

7
Go to the SET page

SET

100 out of 111 gamers thought this was helpful

It’s good to have a few games in your closet that are quick to teach. Set is a pattern recognition exercise. There are no strategies, tactics or knowledge required (other than a few simple rules). Some people will not be good at first, so keep this in mind if you’ve been practicing…

How to Play…

Set is just a deck of 81 cards. Twelve cards are dealt on the table face up. The players quickly try to find a “set.” A set consists of 3 cards that are all the same or all different. What?!!! Well, each card has a certain number (one, two, or three) of shapes (oval, diamond, or squiggle) in and color (red, green, or purple) and fill (open, solid, or striped). A set is 3 cards that could have all solid or one of each solid, open, or shaded… but can never have 2 of one (2 solid) and 1 of the other (1 striped)… make sense? It will if you take this tutorial:

http://www.setgame.com/images/tutorial/flash_version/set_flash_tutorial.htm

When a player finds a set, they take the cards, and the 3 blank spots are filled with 3 new cards. Play again! The player that collects the most sets wins the game.

You can also play an online version at:

http://www.setgame.com/set/puzzle_frame.htm

Conclusion…

Set is a great filler. It will be tricky for someone to figure out the first time they play. You may get a feeling of superiority. That feeling will quickly fade once they figure it out. I do not believe this game can decide if someone is smarter than another. Our brains work differently, and even though pattern recognition is used in IQ tests… it’s only part of the test. I know a kid who can crush everyone I know at this game, yet he can’t win at most strategy games.

The game may frustrate some people, but I think it would be valuable to test yourself online. It’s been proven that such a thing as “exercising” the brain can provide favorable results. This game is perfect for that. The online version will help make sure you don’t miss anything, and once you are good… buy the card game and show your friends how brilliant you really can be.

8
Go to the Ticket to Ride: Alvin & Dexter page
85 out of 92 gamers thought this was helpful

The Alvin & Dexter Monster Expansion is a small expansion for Ticket to Ride that includes 2 plastic figures (Alvin the Alien and Dexter the Dinosaur), a rule book, and some cards. This expansion creates a new level of interaction to a game that really didn’t have much interaction other than “blocking” other players’ routes through luck or intuition
How to Play…

After you have selected Destination Tickets, two players stick Alvin and Dexter on a city of their choice. Now, you cannot build a route in or out of the city Alvin or Dexter are sitting on… as they are “Cities in Chaos.” This, of course, can immediately change your route plans.

The problem won’t exist forever, because in the next round you may be able to play a Locomotive card and move Alvin or Dexter to another city (1 card up to 3 cites away, 2 cards up to 6 cities away). You then get a card for whatever creature you moved in front of you (stacks up), and that creature cannot be moved again this round.

At the end of the game, Destination Tickets with a city where Alvin or Dexter still sit are only worth 1/2 their value. This is bad if you completed the route… but this can be good if you have some Destination Tickets that are not completed, as this cuts your negative value in 1/2 too! There are two Bonus Cards for the players who moved each monster the most, They are worth 15 points each… so this can really affect the game.

Conclusion

Is Alvin & Dexter a good expansion? Well, it does make Ticket to Ride a more tactical game. I personally enjoy all things expansion, as it usually creates a new game at a lower price point. This does that (even if the price can be high for what you actually get in the box). Also, this expansion can be used with any version of TtR… which makes it even more valuable for those with several versions.

Ultimately, my wife can’t stand getting her routes messed with, so this does not get played as often as I’d like. My couch is not comfortable, so I choose to play this with friends who like a little more interaction in their games.

Happy Gaming!

7
Go to the Small World: Tales and Legends page
71 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

Tales and Legends is an 54 card expansion for Small World that adds special events and rules before each round as you play the game(except the first). Most cards only last through one round, but some are persistent. I like the cards, but it does turn Small World into a more tactical experience, as it can force you to change your strategy from turn to turn. It does change the flavor of the game if you’ve been looking for some new blood.

There are three ways to set up the game (provided in the rules). One way is to shuffle the 54 card deck and randomly pull out cards. The number of cards to use is the number of rounds the game will last minus one (first round). There is a Current Event and Upcoming Event card Marker… which allows you to see an upcoming event and think about what your strategy will be one turn ahead.

The second way to setup the game is to use one of their predefined sets of cards (they use symbols to distinguish the sets):

The Gods Must be Crazy
One For the Ages
Miracles for Sale!
Bloody Well Right
A Wind of Change
Pax “the Menace”

The final way to setup is hand-pick the “craziest” cards and remove the upcoming event mechanic. Now, you really don’t know what’s going to happen. This can be truly chaotic.
They also provide two blank cards if you want to see what kind of mayhem you can cook up.

Conclusion

Tales and Legends is not too expensive, and it does provide a new experience. I’m an expansion junkie, so I had to get it. However, it is not a necessary expansion for the enjoyment of Small World. It will get played from time to time, but I don’t see it getting used often. However, it’s a definite “nice to have” expansion, especially for those of us looking for ways to spice up SW.

Happy Gaming!

8
Go to the Small World: Necromancer Island page
71 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

Necromancer Island is a variant expansion for Small World. It adds the Necromancer Race… a player who is against everyone and everyone is against her/him (and each other). This is a nice twist for those of us growing tired of the same ‘ol SW. Here’s what’s different about the Necromancer:

1) He is an enemy to all others players, because he can end the game.

2) He has several special powers he can get during the game (persistence is brutal).

3) When a race token is conquered, it goes to the Well of Souls.

4) When 4 tokens go in the Well of Souls, the Necromancer gets a ghost.

5) When there are 14 ghosts on the board, the Necromancer wins.

This makes for a challenging game, where ALL the players need to make sure they kill enough ghosts to keep the game going. In a small way…this makes the game semi-cooperative. Of course, there is always the player (traitor) who lies about what they intend to do and takes out another. This makes the game feel even more cutthroat than before… by adding a social interaction component to what used to be a relatively quiet affair.

Conclusion

This is a very nice addition to the Small World game. It truly refreshes the concept for me and other gamers who had started to refuse to play. You have to house rule some things, as the book does not fully explain what to do in certain circumstances. I will add some of ours when I have time.

Overall, a great variant. I think it’s worth the money if you’ve found the game to be getting stale. I’d wait if you are still having fun with the base game (I wouldn’t, but I’m trying to be sensitive in these harsh economic times). Nah. Get it!

8
Go to the Small World: Be Not Afraid page
72 out of 79 gamers thought this was helpful

Yet another expansion for Small World. I am a sucker for expansions… so I got it, but is it worth your heard earned tokens? Let’s take a closer look at what you get…

New Races…

Leprechauns
The Leprechauns have pots of gold. You put them into any of your regions at the end of your turn. If the gold is still there on your next turn you collect it for a VP. However, other players can conquer the region to take the VP.

Pygmies
When you lose a Pygmy, you roll the die and get as many Pygmies back as shown on the die. You may still lose him… or get even more!

Barbarians
You can get up to 14 of these guys. It works like other races with large numbers. They do not get to redeploy after conquering.

Homunculi
These guys are interesting. When they get passed over you add 1 VP AND 1 race token to their banner. The player who finally picks them gets all those race tokens, but they do not have any power on their race card. You’ll need a good combo.

Pixies
There are 11 Pixies at your disposal , but only 1 Pixie can be put in a region. This is a good early game option, as you can spread fast… but weak.

New Powers…

Catapult
You can conquer a region 2 spaces away from one of your regions at 1 less token. Obviously, this is great for jumping defenses.

Barricade
When you occupy 4 or fewer regions, you earn +3 VP each turn. This is great for races without large numbers to begin with.

Corrupt
Makes an opponent pay you 1 VP each time they conquer one of your regions. This would make Pixies more valuable, as they are easy to conquer.

Imperial
With Imperial you get 1 VP for every region you control above 3 at the end of your turn (5 regions equals 2 VP).

Mercenary
Mercenary lets you spend a VP to conquer a region for 2 less tokens.

Conclusion

This expansion does not have too many new twists. However, there is always something to covet, and Catapult is the New Power I crave. And, even though the rest of the races and powers are not fantastic, there are more total options (10) than the previous two expansions provided (5 and 7 respectively). I think this makes Be Not Afraid a good deal.

8
Go to the Small World: Cursed! page
65 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

The Cursed! expansion is more of the same… aside from the Cursed power… thus the name. I’m a sucker for adding new races and powers, so this was a no-brainer for me. However, if you are not addicted to expansions like me, you may want to decide if the Cursed power is enough reason to shell out your hard earned cash. That, of course, is not for me to decide.

New Races…

Goblins
Goblins prey on declining races. Goblins receive a one token discount when attacking races in decline. You’d take this when there are a lot of races in decline of course.

Kobolds
11 armies with the restriction that you may never have less than two race tokens in a region. The restriction is restricting, but you get a lot of tokens…especially if you get the Hordes of…

New Powers…

Hordes of…
The Hordes of… power provides you with two additional race tokens in addition to the five provided by the power.

Marauding
The Marauding power allows you to attack twice on the same turn.

Were-
The Were- power gives you a two token discount to attacking on even numbered turns (equivalent of night). During the “day” the power cannot be used.

Ransacking
With this power, you take over regions occupied by an active race, the conquered player must pay you one victory point for each region you’ve won.

Cursed
This one is interesting. It has NO special power and requires 3 VP’s to not take it rather than one. An interesting wrench in the system.

Conclusion…

I didn’t find anything awe-inspiring in this expansion, but it is still nice to add even more races and powers. The Curse does add a little kink… but you’ll have to decide if it is enough of a twist to purchase the expansion. DoW components are excellent as usual… art is great as well. So there you have it.

8
Go to the Small World: Grand Dames page
83 out of 93 gamers thought this was helpful

It was only a matter of time before Days of Wonder started adding expansions for Small World, as it screams for them! Grand Dames is the first of what promises to be quite a few in years to come.

What do you get?

New Races…

White Ladies
You only get two White Ladies, but don’t let that fool you. During decline, they are indestructible. Yes! Girl Power!

Gypsies
The Gypsies gain VP by moving around the board. You place a VP from the bank on regions you abandon. At the end of the turn you score normally plus you get each of the VP coins you placed on abandoned regions.

Priestesses
Priestesses ability activate in decline. You pile her leftover tokens in a region she was already in to create the Ivory Tower. You then score a point for each token in the Ivory Tower every turn.

New Powers…

Historian
Gets points for declining races.

Peace loving
Gets points for not attacking active races… but, still attacking declining ones.

Conclusion

After using this expansion in a few games, I think it is a nice addition. I especially enjoy the White Priestesses. The best part about Small World is the variety of characters and powers, so adding expansions is a no-brainer if you love the game like the rest of my family does. Adding female characters created by fans was a brilliant move by DoW, because there was a dearth of ladies for all the wives and daughters of the World. Good move.

7
Go to the Mystery Express page

Mystery Express

69 out of 74 gamers thought this was helpful

OK, maybe it’s a bit like Clue, but it is a little more complex, offering a step up for those who are all Clued out. The design is the same high quality Days of Wonder is known for. The game can be long, but given a few plays, I think it gets better once you have a feel for it. If you are not a deduction fan, don’t get this game. If you like deduction games, Mystery Express has a lot to offer with its multitude of deduction mechanisms.

The game does use the Clue-like mechanic of peeking at other player’s cards. Other than the murder theme, this is the most similar connection to the classic mystery game. However, Express differs in that here are several different ways to view cards by selecting actions (putting your pawn in various cars of the train). This helps you to mitigate getting the same cards over and over, as well as trying to hide what you know from other players.
Express’s use of “hours” to keep track of the rounds in the game is also unique. The game may end before anyone knows who the killer is. This adds a sense of urgency.

Another nice twist is the conductor. He is placed in a different car every turn. If you are in that car on your turn, you get to pick up one of three cards on the board and replace it with a card of your choice. This gives you yet another way to eliminate options and gets cards out of your hand.

Yet another mechanism is the time cards you look at 3 times during the game at certain “stops” along the way. This can be an important component to winning the game come score time. The cards are dealt out three different ways… just to make it that much more complex. New “passengers” also come on board at 2 specific “stops” with yet more cards to eliminate. These are important aspects of the game that make it intriguing.

Finally, the telegram allows you to make a guess before the end of the game that gives you a chance to get a few more points.

All in all, I enjoy this game more than Clue, because everyone gets a chance to figure things out or just make a wild guess. Points decide who wins, but you can also keep track of who comes in second if that’s important to you.

This game will not be for everybody, as it can be frustrating… looking for that one card that cements your investigation. However, that’s what makes it fun for some of us. This game comes out every now and again. It’s not a game I play incessantly, but it scratches the deduction itch. I think the theme sets it apart from other games. It is well-executed.

8
Go to the Magic: The Gathering - Rise of the Eldrazi page
33 out of 52 gamers thought this was helpful

This is the set of cards I started my son on at 8 years old… so it holds a special place in my heart. It was actually a great set to start with, because it is fairly straightforward. The Eldrazi are brutal creatures, providing a more obvious tactical strategy of “get big cards and crush Dad!” There are fewer new combinations or rules in this set, so some gamers were a little disappointed. However, now that it is out of date and the prices are dropping, I’d recommend these cards as a good introduction to MtG. Get a used set on Ebay… it’s what I do now. My son loves it!

8
Go to the Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 page
82 out of 92 gamers thought this was helpful

The expansion includes:

1) 35 NEW Destination Tickets
2) 1 Globetrotter Bonus Card
3) ALL Large Card Versions to replace the tiny original cards

The new destination tickets can be added to the original destinations for added variety. There are also some new rules (Mega Game and Big City). The 15 point Globetrotter bonus card provides a bonus for the person with the most tickets.

Ultimately, my favorite part of this expansion is having the larger cards. The small cards were unwieldy, and this expansion makes the game more enjoyable at a decent price point. The extras are nice as well. I consider this a good buy.

8
Go to the Dominion: Prosperity page
81 out of 95 gamers thought this was helpful

This might be the best expansion in the Dominion line. Why?

1) COINS. You can get victory points in the form of metal tokens. These tokens aren’t in your hand and are visible to everyone as you collect them. This adds some spice!

2) Colony Cards: These cards are similar to Provinces (if you’ve played with them). The game is over when one of the piles of Colonies or Provinces is gone.

3) VERY Powerful Cards: The cards cost more, but do more… which gives you the ability to catch up if you’ve been saving to get them. This adds a layer of strategy.

IMO The base game is great, but Prosperity makes the game “different” . It’s not as balanced or elegant, but it’s nice to add a little brute force to an otherwise mellow game.

8
Go to the Dominion page

Dominion

96 out of 106 gamers thought this was helpful

Dominion is a game that has been easy to teach to new players, as well as pull Magic players into “other” games. Yes, MtG is not the only game in existence.

Setup is easy: The way the game works is you choose the cards you want to play with (or randomly draw them), lay out the stacks, and start building.

Interaction: Many people will argue that there is not enough interaction in the game, but with the right card combos, there can be quite a bit. The game is flexible enough to where you can have a more cutthroat or benign game based on a couple card choice.

Expandable: There are quite a few expansions and always more on the way… but, you don’t HAVE to have ALL of them, so you can just get one or two if you feel you need to add some spice. The base game is quite re-playable.

Flexibility: Not only can you make the game evil or friendly, but you can play with kids 7 or older, and both newbies and hardcore gamers like it too. You can’t beat that!

My Only Complaint: It’s really only good with 3 or 4 players. The 2 player game is drab IMO. I’d like to be able to play with more than 4, but the wait would be too long. Ultimately, it’s best with 3 players, and this limits the game to some degree.

8
Go to the Power Grid page

Power Grid

86 out of 101 gamers thought this was helpful

Power grid is a classic economic game that scales well from 2-6 players. I recommend 3 or more, as the two player game doesn’t feel nearly as rich. It’s been around since 2004, and it shows no sign of slowing down in popularity. If you like auction or resource games… this may be the game for you.

The game play is not too difficult to learn, but it can be difficult to grasp the strategy, as it does require the ability to keep track of money, resources, and routes all at the same time. There are auctions for Power Plants, Resource Purchasing to fuel the power plants, and City Network building rounds. It’s not for the faint of heart.

As others have said… this is not a game for someone who does not like math or finances. However, there is an element of direct conflict you don’t get from the real world when you are balancing your checkbook. And, because it is not real money, you can take risks or mitigate them by waiting for the best factories.

Ultimately, this game is a classic I recommend trying before purchase. However, if you have six players regularly, and like deep game play, this is one of your best options.

8
Go to the Survive: Escape from Atlantis! page
46 out of 71 gamers thought this was helpful

I love games where you get to interact with the otehr players. I love Euros too, but sinking someone else’s boat or causing them to get eaten by sharks is just too much fun. However, like Junta, Lifeboat/s and other direct conflict games, there are people who just can’t take the heat. Make sure you know who your playmates are before pulling this game out. My only gripe is the game plays only 4… but, there is an 5-6 player expansion coming out soon. I can’t wait to get it.

If you do get this game, and like it, I highly recommend Lifeboat and Lifeboats (two different games). They are evil fun. 😉

7
Go to the Small World page

Small World

81 out of 97 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is OK. I know there are a lot of people who love this game… including my son. I can understand why some people love the game even…

Pros:
1) Beautiful artwork and fun theme.
2) Variable Player Power means a different game every time (to some degree).
3) Area Control Games are fun!

Now, the problems I see are…

Cons:
1) The game is one of the most fiddly I’ve come across… and it’s a family game! I have carpal tunnel from picking up all the pieces and putting them in their little spots… and OH how I love it when they fall sideways.
2) You can have a runaway leader, and it becomes dull for the player/s waiting for the end.
3) The game sometimes seems longer than it is fun. If it took half the time to set up and play… I’d be happy.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Days of Wonder’s quality family games. The components and execution of this game are fantastic! It’s a great game for kids, and your kid will probably love it. I’m just not into it anymore, and my kid pulls it out like its coated in candy.

The expansions are cool though. 🙂 I’m a sucker for expansions.

6
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Starter Set page
164 out of 204 gamers thought this was helpful

Dungeons and Dragons will always be the game that started it all for me. This starter set might be perfect for someone who has never played it, but having experience with D&D, this was actually quite disappointing. It’s a little over-simplified, and the encounters will only last a night or two. I wonder if it could sustain a newbie for very long?

If you want something simple, I’d suggest Castle Ravenloft or Ashardalon. Or, get the 4th Edition Rulebook and skip the starter set if you know what you are doing. This is purely for new players only.

I much prefer the breadth of Warhammer’s Core set. However, the cost is more substantial. My friend works at Wizards, and I’ve had discussions about oversimplification, but he assures me that a lot of people prefer the simplified versions more. Am I in the minority?

6
Go to the Nuns on the Run page

Nuns on the Run

61 out of 75 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a game I wanted to love, but can’t. It’s too hard to teach non-gamers, and gamers tend to find it a bit boring. It missed it’s mark in my house. The theme is good, but the game needed some more play-testing. It’s too hard to keep track of what’s going on, and easy to cheat (I mean fib… I mean forget exactly where you are… sort of.). 🙂 The components are a little bit cheap as well.

I have a group of friends that get into silly games, and we just didn’t buy this one. A BIG problem is having a game like Letters from White Chapel available to us. It’s a much better game… art, execution, fun factor. That’s the one we play while Nuns catches dust. Of course, playing a serial killer is a big jump from playing a grumpy nun.

8
Go to the Stone Age page

Stone Age

41 out of 75 gamers thought this was helpful

Agricola, Caylus, Endeavor, etc. are all to much game for my family. Stone Age is straightforward worker placement… limited number of workers… well laid out options for resources, and a relatively easy learning curve on how to win. The one thing new players neglect are the cards… and the cards are the key to winning this game. The card score compounds the more you get. This is important!

Stone Age is a must for families. I always suggest this game along with Carcassonne for tile placement.

6
Go to the Apples to Apples page

Apples to Apples

57 out of 79 gamers thought this was helpful

This is the game that comes out with people who don’t know anything else. i.e. I ask if they’d like to play Dixit, and they say, “never heard of it, let’s play Apples to Apples.” It’s fun enough… my wife and little boys like it. So, it remains in the rotation from time to time. Eventfully, the repetition of the game gets tiring. It would be better if you played it with different groups, so as to benefit from the social aspect of the game. However, I’d much rather play Dixit. 🙂

8
Go to the Magic: The Gathering page
60 out of 93 gamers thought this was helpful

I always enjoy a game of MtG. I enjoy playing ti with my son, but it is difficult for him to get the deeper strategy. He takes a more tactical route… which can get you into trouble. I’d say the game is easy to learn on the surface, but you will almost ALWAYS lose to a more seasoned player (or one with deeper pockets). This game can be a money sucker, so I just stick with the decks I already have, and make everyone play with similar decks… or choose one of mine. I refuse to go the tournament route.

9
Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
41 out of 93 gamers thought this was helpful

The best part of this game is the flexibility. There aren’t too many single player games that are enjoyable, and this is one of them. It also works well as a cooperative game. I really enjoy the LCG games, because FFG provides some excellent upgrade decks that don’t strain your wallet too terribly. Warhammer Invasion is my favorite, but this is a close second. If you are a Lord of the Rings fan… get it!

9
Go to the Puerto Rico page

Puerto Rico

39 out of 87 gamers thought this was helpful

This is the classic Euro that really got me into board gaming. It’s a rich/deep game with a ton of replay value. Even though I’ve played my copy to death, I can still pull out Puerto Rico any time. Unlike Agricola, most people I play with seem to still like Puerto Rico as well. I do believe all homes should have this game instead of Monopoly. I’m not sure if this can be made into law… but it should. I’d give it 10 stars, but I reserve that for my Ameritrash love. This could change if the site someday allows the editing of reviews.

6
Go to the Fluxx page

Fluxx

41 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

Fluxx is an interesting game that seems like a fantastic idea at first. Then, you have the two hour marathon . Finally, you have the game that never ends… so you just quit. It can be fun, and I recommend Pirate Fluxx (or Zombie), but it’s not a game to take seriously, and it does wear after awhile. I find there are just better alternatives, as it’s not a predictable filler game, and there are much better two hour games if you end up in one. I suggest a game like Coloretto for a filler or Lifeboats if you want to have fun playing a dumb game.

7
Go to the Monopoly Deal Card Game page
48 out of 84 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is great for a quicky. My wife loves it… built in nostalgia without the pain. I HATE Monopoly, but this game has taken the best parts and made it fun. A top 10 filler for sure.

9
Go to the Pandemic: On the Brink page
36 out of 102 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a great addition to the game, as it adds new cards and the ability to add a new player. Love the petri dishes!

8
Go to the Pandemic page

Pandemic

35 out of 81 gamers thought this was helpful

This game introduced me to Co-ops. It seems to be subject to the pushy-control gamer more than other games (not sure why). Nevertheless, I’ll never turn down a good game of Pandemic. Get the expansion when you want to breath new life.

6
Go to the Cranium page

Cranium

23 out of 51 gamers thought this was helpful

We played this game for awhile, but it gets old. I think it tries to do too much, and I start to feel like I’m at a business retreat learning team-building skills. It’s not my favorite.

8
Go to the Hive: Mosquito page

Hive: Mosquito

25 out of 51 gamers thought this was helpful

Just like the Ladybug, it’s nice to have another player/power at your disposal. Freshens up the game. It’s not necessary, but that never stopped me. 🙂

9
Go to the Hive page

Hive

43 out of 105 gamers thought this was helpful

I sometimes think this is the best 2-Player game out there. Not because I love it most, but because it never gets stale. It is a very solid game that stands the test of time. I imagine it getting played 50 years from now.

9
Go to the Hive: The Ladybug page

Hive: The Ladybug

19 out of 57 gamers thought this was helpful

I love Hive, and the Ladybug is a nice expansion. Freshen things up!

8
Go to the Rattus: Pied Piper page

Rattus: Pied Piper

21 out of 49 gamers thought this was helpful

This expansion actually makes the game better. I was tempted to give it a 9. This is a go-to game… always happy to play it. It’s good for a wide range of ages and skills.

8
Go to the Rattus page

Rattus

24 out of 56 gamers thought this was helpful

This is actually one of my favorite area control games to play. I like ti better than SmallWorld. The variable player powers work better. The art is nice, and the theme fits well with the mechanics. Winner!

8
Go to the Loot page

Loot

41 out of 73 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is a great game to whip out on vacation, or when you don’t have a lot of time, but want to have fun with the family. It’s easy to teach and learn… so, newbies like it.

7
Go to the Tobago page

Tobago

81 out of 160 gamers thought this was helpful

We had a great time with this when it first came out. It’s absolutely beautiful. The problem is the setup time for a family game is a bit long, and the kids forget the rules. It’s not quite strategic enough for adults to play over and over. Thurn and Taxis is better.

9
Go to the Forbidden Island page

Forbidden Island

37 out of 87 gamers thought this was helpful

This is is easily the best family co-op game on the market at the moment. I’m getting a little tired of co-op games, but this one is very well executed. It’s made by the same guy who did Pandemic, but I feel this is actually more streamlined. Pandemic is more for gamers.

9
Go to the 7 Wonders page

7 Wonders

41 out of 99 gamers thought this was helpful

This is one of the best games for seven players (there aren’t many). It scales quite well from 4 to 7 players. It’s gone over well with newbies and hardcore gamers… which is a plus. I’m a bit burnt out on it now, but it will come out again.

8
Go to the Ticket to Ride: Europe page
32 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

This is the best Ticket to Ride of the bunch. Tunnels help make the game less cutthroat… allowing the family to enjoy the game a little more. My wife gets irate when her route gets cut off. 🙂

9
Go to the Cyclades page

Cyclades

54 out of 130 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is like a Euro with Ameritrash trappings. It’s one of the best 5-person games out there. It’s a little complex for kids, but it’s not hard to learn. It’s strategic, but fun. I highly recommend it.

9
Go to the Letters from Whitechapel page
60 out of 162 gamers thought this was helpful

We have a great time playing this game. Being Jack is the best, but the right group can outsmart him… with a little luck. The theme drips off this game… it is not for little ones.

6
Go to the UNO page

UNO

28 out of 56 gamers thought this was helpful

No, it isn’t the best game out there, but I have a lot of great memories of this game. It’s still one of the only games we can get the Gramps and Grams to play, and that is important, right? Yes, it is.

8
Go to the Blokus page

Blokus

34 out of 64 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is an all-around excellent family game. Even my 4 year old enjoys laying tiles, and has won on occasion! This is one of the best abstracts out there. It’s definitely one of the best mainstream games in existence.

9
Go to the Jaipur page

Jaipur

57 out of 111 gamers thought this was helpful

Jaipur is an economic game for two players. I find it is easy to teach and learn, but has enough strategy to keep me coming back. I’m always happy to play a game of Jaipur.

8
Go to the Ingenious page

Ingenious

24 out of 62 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is a combination of Qwirkle and Blokus style games. However, the scoring track brings the strategy up a notch, making this one of my favorite games to play with the family.

8
Go to the Ticket to Ride page

Ticket to Ride

30 out of 74 gamers thought this was helpful

This is the one my friend introduced me to this new world of board games… saving me from Monopoly forever! It’s not my favorite game, but a good one for the family, and the wives love it.

8
Go to the Carcassonne page

Carcassonne

50 out of 98 gamers thought this was helpful

This is another review in my series of reviews where I fix terrible reviews I did when this site first started.

Hello my little knights, thieves, farmers, and priests,

Today, we are going to talk about the game of ol’ called Carcassonne. Over ten years later, and this is still one of the best Gateway games available. It is a true classic. Carcassonne holds a special place in my heart, because it introduced my family to Euros, and it still proves to be one of the best games to introduce to newbies. Let’s talk a bit about it.

How to Play…

I don’t think I need to go into much detail about the game. It is really simple. You have stacks of tiles that have sections of roads, cities, and farmland on them. You also have 7 meeples in the color you choose. On your turn, you flip over one tile and place it. The tile must fit against an existing tile (and make sense). You can’t cut off a road or a castle wall. It must look right. You can also place one of your 7 meeples if you want to. These are what will be used for scoring later. Remember, you don’t get the farmers back.

Scoring in Carcassonne is fairly ingenious. When you place a meeple on a road it becomes a thief. When a road is finished, you get your meeple back and score 1 point for each tile between intersections (including the intersections). Place a meeple on a city piece, and you get 2 points per city section when completed (+2 for pendant tiles). If you placed a meeple on a cloister, you will get a certain number of points in the end, unless your cloister is completely surrounded… in which case you get the meeple back and score 9 points immediately. Farmers are scored at the end. Farmers can be the key to victory if you play your tiles right (and don’t use up too many meeples too early).

My Thoughts…

Carcassonne is a fantastic game. It has dropped a few points over the years due to the fact I’ve played it so much, and my tastes have changed. However, there are not too many games that are this easy to teach a newcomer, play with 2 players just as well as 5, or have as many expansions. Some might argue that Settlers is better… but they’d be wrong. Carcassonne has aged much better IMO.

On the Mt. Rushmore of Euro games, Settlers, Puerto Rico, Agricola, and Power Grid are the kings… and Carcassonne is right up their with them. In fact, Carcassonne probably comes out more than any of those due to its amazing flexibility. This is a testament to it’s beautiful design.

Granny hopes she ages half as well as Carcassonne .

8
Go to the Mansions of Madness (1st ed) page
41 out of 71 gamers thought this was helpful

I love Arkham Horror, but it take’s so long to play, it rarely makes it to the table. MoM is a lot of fun, with great atmosphere. The only problems with the game are that it requires a GM, and it has limited scenarios. There promises to be many more expansions, and maybe someone will develop a GM-less version, or an expansion with GM-less options in the future.

8
Go to the Merchants & Marauders page

Merchants & Marauders

63 out of 109 gamers thought this was helpful

Since this game was chosen as an Explorable Favorite, I decided to fix my bilge-sucking review from the not so distant past…when I was just a wee lass.

Ahoy me hearties!

Today we are going to gab about a little game called Merchants & Marauders. A game where you either peacefully trade or wave the Jolly Roger and take what’s rightfully yours. A game where rollin’ bones can decide your fate. So, down some grub and kick back some rum… we are taking to the high seas!

M&M is an interesting hybrid of sorts. It’s not a Euro, but it does have many Euro trappings, especially if you decide to go the merchant route. You gather goods from one port, and take it to another port for precious doubloons (can be 5 of the 10 glory points you need to win the game). You can also complete missions or investigate rumors for more glory points.

Of course, we all know M&M is really about trying to create a pirate theme. In my opinion, it has done this for the most part. The art is fantastic, the ships are cool (albeit a little flimsy), and the various characters (captains) roles are well thought out (but not completely balanced). Event cards create an ominous threat of storm or NPC ships closing in, and combat could actually destroy your ship… requiring you to pick a new captain and start over.

The game used to be one of my favorites. I haven’t been able to remove it from my top 10 yet, but it might. Why? Well, it is very luck driven and long. Actual interaction with players can be few and far between. Spending turns just moving on the sea might be more “realistic,” but it can become tedious. Combat can drag out, and if you do die… the game is really over for you, because its so hard to climb back into contention. This is why many people who want to win tend to just stay merchants and avoid conflict.

I hate to sound like a landlubber, but the perfect pirate game has still not been made. Merchants & Marauders was a valiant effort, and I do think everyone should try it a few times. However, I think most people will find it does eventually move to the back of your game closet. My current favorite pirate game is Libertalia. It gives me the flavor of pirates (pirate flavor…sounds like the worst Jelly Belly yet) in an hour instead of 3-4.

Edit: On a side note. I do play a lot of games, and my grading has become more and more stringent.I take into account my ability to get a game to the table as well as the time to play/fun ratio. If a game is ALMOST as fun, but takes 3 hours less to play…it’s bound to get a better score. That does not mean a long game is bad… far from it. I am just more careful about how I spend my precious gaming time when there are so many crazy good games out there.

Happy Gaming!

9
Go to the Dixit page

Dixit

36 out of 57 gamers thought this was helpful

Great tidings to you my little Pierre’s and Amelie’s,

This is the first of what will be a long task of rewriting quick reviews I made when I first discovered this site over a year ago. I made the mistake of just writing down quick comments about games that deserve much more deliberation and reverence. Dixit is one of those.

Dixit is the French party game with the very strange name. It is very French, and delightfully strange. I believe French culture has a foundation in art that rivals any country, and it is aprapos that a game with art as its foundation has become its biggest game export.

To say this is my favorite party game is both true and inaccurate. I love the art and find the game ingenious, but it is not without a fault or two. Let’s explain the rules first,and the get into the reasons to buy it or not. If anything, you owe yourself the time to play this gogeous game at least once.

How to Play…

It’s really quite easy. Each player has a hand of cards with beautiful images on them… images that can only be desribed as if Salvador Dali went on vacation in Alice’s Wonderland. Each turn, one player is designated the storyteller and says/sings/acts out something that desibesone of their cards (cards are kept secret). Each player chooses the card they think fits this “story” best and gives it to the storyteller who shuffles the cards we sometimes let others shuffle them too). Then, the cards are layed out in a line from 1 to x, and everyone uses their numbered tokens (or peg cards nowadays) to vote for the card they think is the storytellers. The goal is to get as many votes as possible without getting ALL the votes… So you need to be tricky with your quote. The score is kept by hopping cute little wooden bunnies along a track. First one to the end wins!

It’s an deceptively simple game, but with the right group it can be mesmerizing and even hilarious at times. It is always a unique gaming experience. There aren’t many games that my six year old can play in a party setting, but he can play Dixit.

Now, I only have a couple problems with the game, and it really comes down to the group you play with. One, some people hate it. Why? Because, it does require you to be creative, and some people don’t like doing this… it’s more work than fun… and I respect this. Two, some people take forever choosing a card. This can cause the game to drag. I’ve played games where we’ve called it halfway through, because it was just too painful. Three, like any games of this design… You start seeing the same cards after awhile. However, unlike Apples to Apples, you can’t whip out a 150 painting expansion every two weeks. There are a couple, but you always need more to keep it fresh.

My Conclusion…

This game is not for everyone, but if you like art, or acting, or basic tomfoolery, I think you’ll really enjoy Dixit. It’s not just a party game. It’s a shared experiment in strangeness. It can be frustrating, but it can also be quite rewarding, and it’s most assuradely not like anything else if you are looking for something new.

Again, I think everyone should try it at least once, and see how you feel. If you aren’t sure, try it with a new group. You may find this makes all the difference! Go ahead and Dixit!

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