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Grant Barisenkoff

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7
Go to the Farmageddon page

Farmageddon

124 out of 133 gamers thought this was helpful

Farmageddon is frenetic, fast paced, and fun. The game moves really fast – you pretty much always have access to enough Crop cards to harvest a crop the turn after you plant it. But if you don’t, it will certainly get stolen or destroyed or attacked in some way – that’s the nature of the game, and it will happen even if you harvest as fast as possible. Fortunately, the fast-paced nature removes what could be frustration when your crops constantly get stolen or destroyed – you can easily plant new crops, or just steal and sabotage other player’s crops. You’re never out of the game, and the action cards are varied enough that you will be able to do something to help yourself or hurt others.

There isn’t a whole lot of depth here – but the game isn’t going for that. It’s best when played quickly – if you spend too much time plotting your strategy, you will likely get frustrated when it gets completely foiled. However it’s not a mindless game – you feel like your choices matter, and there are different ways to play cards depending on what you think might happen. Cards interact in zany ways that are funny and make the game spark with laughter a little.

There is definitely a lot of opportunity for spite here. Some cards definitely hurt everyone, but most target a single player – and it can be easy to really target someone, especially if you’re the leader. Of course, being the leader also makes you a target, so it goes both ways. As long as no one playing is too sensitive, all the attacking happens on equal, open ground.

If there’s one flaw in the game, it’s that it is vulnerable to outside conditions. Allow me to explain; in many board games, if one player is really bad (inexperience, lack of strategy, whatever), the poor experience is usually contained to that person. They may unknowingly give an advantage to another player or something like that, but otherwise it doesn’t necessarily skew the experience. But in Farmageddon if one player is bad, it can completely deride the experience. The balance rides on players continuing to do things that make sense – stealing other player’s crops and then harvesting them, destroying Crops to free up a planting field and then planting a crop in that field, etc. But I had a game where one player would just destroy all the crops with a dust bowl… and then pass his turn. Sure it freed up planting fields for the next player… but then that player couldn’t play any of his attack cards since there were no other crops out there. So he would plant his crops, then the next player would destroy or steal them, then the next player plants another crop, then back to that first player and… BAM! Another dust bowl. For several turns this happened and no one could harvest anything, and it wasn’t a winning strategy for the dust-bowler, by the way.

Another issue that arose from this is that, because we couldn’t play our action cards, our hands grew and grew while the action deck shrunk and shrunk. By the end of the game the action deck was so small, the 3 Dust Bowls just kept coming up over and over again. It made for a somewhat frustrating experience.

But still – that was due to player inexperience. One would hope that after a few plays, everyone would learn the basic strategies and things would balance themselves out. When they are balanced, it’s quite a blast. [side note – shuffle your decks well. A poorly shuffled deck can also result in a similar effect at least for a while.]

When played the way it was meant to be played, Farmageddon is a hilarious, action-packed experience that is a whole lot of fun. Even when imbalances arise, the game only lasts about 30 minutes, so you can try again and hopefully everyone has learned from their mistakes. The art on the cards is brilliant and delightful. The theme is fun and well-implemented.

8
Go to the City of Remnants page

City of Remnants

130 out of 158 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: The game centers around 4 rival gangs in a prison world. They are fighting amongst themselves to control areas while building up their empire by constructing buildings. Also, each round there will be new gang members players can recruit and special equipment to purchase in a black market. This all adds a slight deck building mechanic which is unique to this style of game. At the end of each round, non-playable police will appear in the city which will need to be fought or bribed.

Replay Value: City of Remnants is another one of those games that I would want to play immediately after the first session. But unlike other games, where the pure joy of game play inspires me to play multiple consecutive games, the desire to run this one back is mostly because I want to play better/make fewer rookie mistakes in the second game.

Component Quality: the cards, tokens, minis, and map were all of decent/high quality.

Conclusion: While I’d like the game I wouldn’t recommend running out to buy City of Remnants unless your gaming group is more hardcore.

8
Go to the Hansa Teutonica page

Hansa Teutonica

96 out of 117 gamers thought this was helpful

After 3 plays this is one of the best euro games i have played, not just this year, but ever. It’s certainly on par with Puerto Rico and Caylus.

It plays fast (i.e. 60mins) and i have played it with a relatively slow group and the time is indeed accurate. So you can easily play two very satisfying games back to back in one night. Also the individual turns are quick because players don’t have that many actions/activities to do. So, you have enough time to plan your turn but not too much downtime.

There are so many ways to play and win this game. Just messing around with the different strategies is fun in it’s own right. This is something i don’t see very often. Of course that could change once we play it some more.

The mechanics are not complicated. Although there are many ways to score points, in fact we made a few mistakes when we played it, it’s easy to understand once you have a few games under your belt.

I was in a hurry when i read the rules of Hansa Teutonica and i did not explain it as well as i would have liked. However, i think this game can be taught to more casual gamers who are up for something more challenging. It plays very well with 4 (which is the number i played it with) and I’ve heard that it’s best with 5.

9
Go to the Small World page

Small World

83 out of 104 gamers thought this was helpful

Like so many other civilizations in history, your goal in Small World is to earn the most victory points; all couched in terms of “conquer thy neighbor.” At the start of the game, 5 race banners and 5 power badges are randomly drawn from their separate decks and then matched together in order. The player with the pointiest ears obviously goes first and can choose one of the 5 race/power combos on the table to begin. However, there is one catch. The first available race is free, but if you see a better race/power combo up the line, you have to pay one coin for each race you skip to avoid a guilt trip. Those are placed on the people you just stiffed and will go to their eventual owner upon selection. The banners/badges also specify the number of tokens of that race you receive; these are your “troops” which you’ll send forth to subdue this world that is too small. Warfare is simple math. An empty region takes two of your race tokens to conquer, plus one more for each additional piece of cardboard occupying it. Those impediments could be in the form of another player’s tokens, or some other defensive obstruction such as mountains or encampments. After all, everyone knows how stubborn cardboard can be.

Now, as is true of all war games not dealing with Napoleon, you’re not just conquering territory for the sake of conquering territory. No, instead, you want to capture regions that will score you points. While occupying any old space will indeed earn you one victory point, your race’s special ability and unique power will give you even more by going after certain areas or attacking in particular ways. Each new turn, you’ll pick up all of your tokens, less one per territory already owned, and spread the love again as best you can. With so many race and defensive tokens lying about, the board will very soon be more crowded then my laundry room and you’ll be out of men. “Now what,” you ask. In that case, as has so inconveniently befallen many a great civilization, you will put your empire into decline and choose a new race/power combo to begin anew.

Personally, I rate Small World a 9 on the Board Gaming scale. It is light, easy to learn, fun to play, pretty to look at, changes every time, and provides a variety of useful choices.

9
Go to the Pandemic page

Pandemic

88 out of 95 gamers thought this was helpful

This cooperative game differs from most board games in that players are all working together, rather than playing against each other. The players, as a team, must coordinate their actions to stop a global pandemic.

Components

96 wooden disease cubes, 5 player pawns, 6 wooden research stations, 6 little markers, 115 Cards (48 infection cards, 59 player cards, 4 role cards, and 4 quick reference cards), and one board depicting a map of the world with connections between cities.

Gameplay Summary

Players are each dealt a role, and place the appropriate pawn in Atlanta to start. Nine infection cards are revealed to populate the board with disease markers, and then the cards are placed in the discard pile. On your turn, you get four actions. An action can be moving to another city, removing a disease cube from your current city, building a research station in your current city, or curing one of the disease types.

After your four actions, you will draw two more cards, which will likely help you travel to different cities and cure diseases, but may be one of the dangerous EPIDEMIC cards that increase the infection rate. Once you have drawn your cards, you must reveal the top few cards of the infection deck, and add disease cubes to the cities revealed.

If a fourth disease cube would ever be added to a city, that city suffers an outbreak, spreading cubes to all adjacent cities. If eight outbreaks happen, or if too many cubes of one color are added to the board, the players lose the game. If the players manage to cure all four diseases before the draw pile runs out, the players win the game.

Good Stuff

As a cooperative game, Pandemic provides a refreshing change of pace from most board games. Rather than competing against each other, players all have to work together to try to defeat the game itself. This makes Pandemic a fantastic game for players who don’t like overly competitive games, or players who normally might not enjoy a board game because other players always beat them. In Pandemic, everyone can share in the victory.

Another side effect of the game being cooperative is that a lot more conversation and interaction between players goes on that in many other games. A game of Pandemic will have all the players discussing strategy and options together on almost every turn. As opposed to a game like Chess, where players can play silently for hours, Pandemic encourages players to talk with each other about the game while it is in progress.

Bad Stuff

Although players should work together evenly to solve this puzzle, there is the potential for one aggressive and outspoken player to essentially play the game single handedly and give orders to everyone else. If you let the most experienced player in your group make all the decisions, it won’t be very fun for the other players.

Also, since you are playing against the game instead of against other players, games of Pandemic may start to feel similar over time.

Conclusion

Pandemic provides a pretty interesting cooperative experience at a level that doesn’t take too long to learn or play. As long as you make sure that your players are working as a team, rather than one puppet-master and three minions, it should be fun for many plays.

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