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Go to the Komodo page
Go to the Android page
Go to the Storm Hollow: A Storyboard Game page
Go to the Small World page
Go to the Forbidden Island page
Go to the Citadels page
Go to the Citadels page


54 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

I write reviews for a game shop in Australia, but before I was writing I was a consultant selling games face to face. Citadels was my favorite game then, and I still hold it among my top classic choices.
This is an excerpt of my full review, which can be found here:

“Citadels is sometimes known as a game without mercy. It’s heartless and majestic, and it can be infinitely rewarding, but it won’t stop to baby you if you stub your toe or, more accurately, get assassinated and miss your turn. I’ve known people to dislike Citadels because of this, but despite its wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command (literature!) I still find it an exciting and worthwhile game.

In Citadels, you take on the role of a seedy building developer trying to improve your own slummy quadrant of a city that is, in itself, both seedy and slummy. What this translates to is the playing of district cards, each with its own value, until one player has played eight cards, at which time the person with the most points from their districts wins. This is hardly the crux of the game, though. The big idea revolves around the crooked officials who will help you build your rent-controlled hovels.
Each turn, the players each select an official to represent them that turn. There are eight or nine officials in each game, ranging from a greedy Merchant who will get you more money on your turn to a doddering King who procures you the starting player token. But the officials also include disreputable types like a Thief who steals from other players and the dreaded, notorious Assassin who has the power to snuff out entire turns. These more sinister characters are where the game gets its cold reputation. It’s certainly disappointing to plan out an entire turn just to have it denied, but there are ways to avoid the heartache if you don’t telegraph your intentions too much. This is one of the reasons I like Citadels. It’s about bluffing and predicting your opponent’s moves just as much as it is about choosing effective officials for yourself.

To break it right down, Citadels is a very fun game. It’s easy to learn, plays in less than an hour, and there’s also enough variety in the gameplay for it to stay interesting across multiple plays. I also love it with two players, since each player chooses two officials to represent them each turn, maximizing options and lightening the blow of finding some nightshade in your tea. But despite its merits, Citadels is not a game where you’ll come away clean. You will take a few hits. It’s really a game about shrugging off the little blows and dodging the big ones. Be prepared to see the Bishop who helped you so willingly last turn wind up in the pocket of your enemy in the next. Be prepared for the Warlord to destroy your buildings and for the Thief to run off with your wallet. Be prepared for change. Nothing is constant in Citadels. The game has such a message of transience that it’s easy to imagine how even after your masterful victory in which you beautified your slum with universities and wizarding schools and dragon gates with unknown purposes, in a few short years its all going to be dust again, with the lone and level sands stretching far away.

Go to the Dixit page


49 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful

I write reviews for a game shop in Melbourne, and one of our best selling party games is Dixit. This is just an excerpt from a review I wrote of one of the finest party games to emerge in recent years.
For the full review , follow the link:

“Dixit is partially a game about telling stories and partially a game about knowing the sorts of stories your friends are likely to tell. It’s more a game of perception and deduction than a bluffing game, and since there are no skill requirements aside from the ability to look at a picture and think of a word, it’s a game that anybody with two fully assembled cortices can play.

The game is played using a deck of some of the most gorgeous and surreal cards you’ll ever see in a game. Each card portrays a picture, often loaded with nonspecific symbolism and unattached metaphors. There is no right answer to what these icons represent – the interpretation is purely up to the players, and this lack of restriction must have made the artist just giddy when he was creating the art.

Now, the cards aren’t exactly scrambled in their complexity either. There’s usually some discernible theme or motif that multiple viewers can pick out, and that is where the game begins.
To play Dixit, the players all hold a handful of these image cards and take turns as the storyteller. The storyteller picks a card, tells a story about it, and then places it face down. I use the term story loosely. Typically, it consists of a simple phrase, or even just one word.

“To the stars!” “Seven.” “No more slices.” “There’s a fly in my soup.” “Drip drip drip drop.”

Listening to a game of Dixit from outside the room is often akin to visiting a psychiatric ward. But the stories don’t end with mere words, oh no. Instead of speaking you can whistle a tune, tap out a series of Morse Code knocks, or just give it a cryptic bobbing of the head. The point is that the storyteller just needs to communicate something about their card to the other players.

The real challenge of Dixit is when it’s your turn to be the storyteller, since in order to get points you can’t make your story too obvious or too oblique. You get 0 points if everyone guesses your card, and 0 points if nobody guesses it. For the storyteller to gain any points at all, only a few of the players can guess his card. It’s a fine task of threading the needle and appealing to certain people’s thinking while obfuscating others’.

Dixit is a gripping game because it’s all about the people that play it, and their reactions to the cards. It can be joyful or uplifting, but it can also be sad, be tragic, or lonesome. It’s often funny, and can also be sobering. But the one thing Dixit always provides is fun.”

Go to the Forbidden Island page

Forbidden Island

160 out of 170 gamers thought this was helpful

I write reviews for The Games Shop, a retailer in Australia, and Forbidden Island is one of the games I have the most praise for. Below is an excerpt, but if you want to see the full article, which has pretty pictures, you can follow:

“Forbidden Island, which in fact has nothing to do with the US embargo of Cuba, is a game where you play as a team of treasure hunters intent on plundering an island full of fantastic locales. The map is randomized each play so the locations are transient, and in fact it is the inconsistency of these locations that forms the main conflict of the game. You see, the moment you set foot on the island, it begins to sink in an Atlantean-curse style countdown to destruction. As your team explores the island, drawing cards so that you can claim its four treasures, areas become flooded and, if not properly sandbagged in time, eventually vanish from the board altogether. The result is a game where you need to be constantly repairing the map so that key locations (including the precious helipad at Fool’s Landing, your only escape) stay afloat. In a way it looks like reverse Carcassonne, with the map starting in perfect condition and slowly becoming more and more patchy. Collect the four treasures in time to escape in your helicopter and you’ll find victory, but if you lose any critical locations, allow the island to flood too often, or just straight up drown in the treacherous waters, the game wins. It’s us against the machines, people, and if you thought computer chess was bad, just remember that it can’t drown you. With good teamwork, Forbidden Island can be a breeze to play and is appropriate for younger gamers. But even though Forbidden Island is published by Gamewright, predominantly known for its children’s games (albeit fantastic children’s games,) don’t assume that its appeal is limited to the lil’ guys. The difficulty of this game is on a sliding scale that can be ramped up to a point where even the most seasoned player can still barely draw their first card through the slippery morass of sweat they’ve already produced.

If all of this gameplay sounds familiar, it may be because Forbidden Island is made by Matt Leacock, the same designer who created Pandemic, a similar game in which you fight off global disease in an Outbreak-style race against the clock. The games are, in fact, almost identical with a few exceptions. Namely, Forbidden Island is much more streamlined than Pandemic, with fewer options, a smaller scale, and less setup. The result is that Forbidden Island plays faster than Pandemic and is easier to learn, although may offer fewer strategic options for keen tactical gamers. This simplicity focuses the game though, and makes the actions more intuitive and less contrived. My games of Pandemic tend to transform into elaborate planning sessions detailing all of the things that need to get done across the next several turns with a level of detail that stops just short of needing PowerPoint. When I play Forbidden Island with my fiancé though, our plans tend to be more “you take the four on the left, I’ll take the four on the right.” It’s fast, it’s punchy, and the sense of personal danger intensifies the gravity of each move. In fact, we tend to speed up as we play until we’re racing through every turn just because the feeling of impending doom grows to the point where you’re convinced that if you pause to breathe your whole coffee table is going to cave in on itself.”

Go to the Small World page

Small World

40 out of 46 gamers thought this was helpful

I write reviews for a game shop in Australia appropriately named The Games Shop. One of the first reviews I did was for Small World, because even though it’s become common knowledge for the most part, it’s still a game worth talking about.
This is an excerpt of the review below. For the complete article with pictures, visit:

“Small World is played in geologic time, on a scale far longer than most war games. That isn’t to say that it takes long to play, oh no! No, no, you’ve misunderstood. The game is brief, perhaps 40-80 minutes. Certainly nowhere near the length of a game of Twilight Imperium. But each 45 minute game will span several centuries of existence in this small… world.

Rather than take control of one army and fight for dominance, in Small World you will control several great empires, watch them expand, and then witness their demise as they crumble into the history books and are replaced by a new fledgling society. It’s like watching a time-lapse video of Europe being swept clean by the Huns, who then fall back to make way for the Mongols, the Turks, the Moors, the Germans, and so on.

In fact, one of the first lessons in playing Small World is not to get attached. In the game’s 9-10 turns (depending on the number of players), one person can control up to 6 nations at the most prolific, with an average being around 3 or 4 in one game. But in Small World you can typically never replenish units, which means that if you hold on to one nation for too long, you’ll be unable to expand, desperately clinging to your territories with a skeleton crew (not literally, since the skeletons are one of the only races that can replenish.) But letting go of your nations? Letting them fall into decline while a fresh army sweeps the board? It’s hard! It’s hard because the races are the thing that make Small World so fun.

Each game, you have access to a jumble of races that become available in a random order. Each race possesses a unique quality, and is also paired with a power that is also randomly chosen. This means that every game, new combinations of races and powers emerge, and that is where the entertainment starts. The races and powers all have a whimsically cartoonish fantasy slant, which makes the game amusing to look at as well as more friendly for children (some controversy did follow the game’s release concerning the scantily clad amazons, but compared to most modern video games, Small World looks about as racy as a turkey sandwich.)”

Go to the Android: Netrunner page

Android: Netrunner

98 out of 114 gamers thought this was helpful

This is an excerpt from a preview I wrote about Netrunner earlier this year. It still sums up some of the finer points of the game.
For the full preview, go to:

“Netrunner was, is, and will be once more, a fantastic game. The ads all seem to focus on the fact that it is an ‘asymmetrical card game,’ meaning that each of the two players has a totally different set of cards and options, and this is definitely one of the key selling features of the game. One player takes on the role of a powerful multinational corporation,*bent on advancing its agendas and protecting its secrets. The other player is a lone hacker, a netrunner, one puny figure who stands in the shadow of legions.

Like my favourite war game, War of the Ring, this is a game where one side holds all the power. The corporation sets up the board, creating secretive data forts that can be used to advance their agendas. The runner can try to crack into these forts, but will be opposed by the corporation’s defences. The runner’s advantage is that they can dart and weave and strike at exposed areas in the corp’s network.

Not even the corp’s hand is safe, in fact. The runner can attack the corp’s hand (thematically referred to as the ‘HQ,’) their deck (R&D,) or their discard pile (Archives.) The corp, however, can lay traps in any of these targets to cripple, wound, or even kill the runner. Indeed, the life of a renegade hacker is perilously fragile.

The beauty of Netrunner, though, goes beyond the dynamic nature of an asymetrical game or the ingeniously employed theme (no wonder Android took it over – barely a change needs to be made.) Even when it was a true CCG, surrounded by peers that were largely dominated by deck building and tactical purchases, Netrunner has been a game of choices. Each player is given multiple options on their turn that are not exclusively tied to their cards, making a player’s skill more important than the hand they drew. Indeed, I’ve heard whispered rumours of netrunners so talented that they’ve won games without playing a single card.
Such fairy tales are, of course, best left at the Wyldside club if you want to survive in the harsh, oppressive reality of running.”

Go to the Android page


63 out of 70 gamers thought this was helpful

I write reviews for the Australian retailer The Games Shop, and Android is one of my favorite games that I can never get anyone to play. The theme is so rich it totally overcomes how clunky the actual gameplay is. This is an excerpt from my full analysis about game theme, the complete article on which can be found at:

“At a surface glance, Android might not seem that embarrassing. It’s just a strategy game about solving mysteries. In the future. While portraying a conflicted archetype of a hard-boiled detective or a crooked cop. Or a robot. Who will either sink into despair or rise above their demons. A game in which you attempt to solve a crime not by determining who did it, but by pinning evidence on the patsy you want to go down. While you’re dealing with your estranged ex-wife. Or your daddy issues. Or racial tensions surrounding artificial intelligence and the nature of the soul.

You can see the slippery slope here. Android is a game that revels so much in its theme and pulls so few punches that it has spiraled into depths that would terrify a casual gamer. The game demands so much character development that if you play while wearing a pair of sunglasses, you’re practically LARPing.

But I love Android for this. For standing its ground without compromise to make a game that is more myth than mechanics. But after fifteen minutes of setting up the conspiracy board, arranging the totalitarian corporations on the board, and learning your character’s backstory, it does make you wonder about the role of theme in board games, and how far it should be followed.”

Go to the Komodo page


6 out of 10 gamers thought this was helpful

I write reviews for a retailer in Australia, The Games Shop, and I was extremely impressed by Komodo, the first game by New Zealand based ShilMil. Here is an excerpt from the preview I wrote, which can be found in its entirety at:

“At first glance, Komodo has a familiar format. The game map is constructed by using variable tiles in a similar fashion as games like Carcassonne. Unlike these games, Komodo’s tiles are malleable, and a variety of action cards allow players to do things like rotate tiles that have already been played. Fans of visually precise tile laying games might be hesitant about Komodo, since its tiles do not bear the same restrictive placement rules as something like Tantrix. Since water doesn’t have to touch water, sand doesn’t have to touch sand, and so forth, the board tends to look more jumbled than the clean, meticulous lines of Tantrix or Carcassonne. The lack of restriction opens opportunities in gameplay, though. Players can block each others’ progress with a ferocious ease, but are typically held in check by a desire to claim a large plot of land for themselves.

Players will compete to capture portions of the budding territory by playing animals in any region large enough to support them. In this way, the game also resembles Zooloretto and it’s refined successor Aquaretto. SchilMil’s website does reveal that the game was originally planned as a zoo game. In its current form though, Komodo’s plot revolves around biologists trying to preserve as many rare animals as possible before a meteorite strikes the South Pacific. In this theme, Komodo scores another success.”

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