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Go to the Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game page
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Go to the Zombie Dice page

Zombie Dice

47 out of 53 gamers thought this was helpful

Zombie dice is a great, mini, filler game. Got fifteen minutes, or just want to have a laugh with a group of friends around the table? Then this “no brains”, push your luck game is a great fit. Personally, I like to call it “lunch time play”.

You’re a zombie and the goal (of the game) is to accumulate “brains” by rolling three random dice at a time. There are three possible facings to a dice: brains, runners, or shotgun. “Shotgun” is never good, it means a survivor you encountered shot you. “Runners” are those survivors who’ve kept up with their cardio in the apocalypse so you need to continue to chase them down (ie the dice does not resolve). “Brains” are the yummy center of the human lollipop, and you want 13 of them to win.

There are 13 dice total, all have the three facings, however, the chance for a particular facing depends on the color of the dice: Green – 50% brains, Yellow – 50% runner, Red – 50% shotgun. There are more Green dice then Yellow and more Yellow than Red. However, you must choose your three dice randomly from the game’s container and role to resolve. You can keep rolling, resolving, and rolling again until you resolve 13 brains or 3 shotguns, or anything in between.

Again, it’s a great filler game for all gamers. Family gamers might want to consider the theme prior to playing or purchasing. Definitely great to have around to fill in gaps in game nights or just for a laugh.

Go to the Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Rumble at Castle Tentakill page
53 out of 59 gamers thought this was helpful

Let me begin by stating that I really enjoyed the original game “Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre”, below is an excerpt from that review:

“My thought regarding Epic Spell Wars…is that it spends less time worrying about being a decent card game, and really just focuses on entertaining the crowd. No one really walks away from this game with any stories of great triumph (or loss), since nothing has been really invested into the game, ie Casual Gamer paradise. No gain, no loss, great filler. Frankly, it’s my guilty pleasure game…”

The tragedy of this stand-alone expansion is that instead of appreciating the original for being true filler and casual gamer paradise, this expansion went from RomCom gold to Drama tragedy. It’s the equivalent of Ben Stiller’s character, Tugg Speedman, in “Tropic Thunder”. An awesome action star in the “Scorcher” franchise losing it all in an attempt to play a serious, Oscar-bait dramatic role in “Simple Jack”.

Tentakill is “Simple Jack”, which is considered one of the worst films of all time.

For those unfamiliar with the original “Epic Spell Wars…”, it’s a simple card game. Each player takes the role of a Wizard, and you draw cards at random to build your hand of 8 cards. Cards are classified into three types: Source, Quality, and Delivery. Each turn each wizard builds a spell using 1 of each classification and resolves the “spell” composed of the cards placed down in front of him/her. Simple, straightforward, and not a lot of thinking or strategy required. Basically a round could be completed in less than 20 minutes, even with 5 players, and the game in roughly 60 minutes or less.

However, Tentakill went and added addition mechanics to the game. It went ahead and added poor mechanics to an already mechanically simple game. It took itself seriously as a game…the horror. Two of which are “pets” and “blood”, which basically serve to drag the game…on and on. Where the original allowed wizards to cast powerful spells that end the lives of the other wizards after 2-3 turns, Tentakill does its best to preserve those lives. So, when life is finally driven out of a loser of a wizard, the player is made to suffer by waiting…with more waiting. Even the reward of the “Dead Wizard” card, which are additional bonuses that help you in the next round, aren’t worth the constant and present waiting and dragging. Fifteen minutes of filler has now been extended to 1+ hours of…time I’ll never see again. And there at least another 2-3 rounds of this…that’s a 3-hour investment!

I like big games (and I cannot lie), but for games to go on for hours, there has to be a lot of personal reward for the investment. I want a story of great tragedy or victory to be told after a 3-4 hour epic throwdown. Tentakill is not that game. The original Epic Spell Wars is not that game!

I love games, but this one went into my trash receptacle. The only other game in my collection to receive such treatment was The Resistance, and that’s because it ruined friendships. Seriously, it got really bad one night. However, Tentakill deserves a place in the trash because it’s just plain **** (and not even human ****, because that get to go down in a toilet).

Go to the Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre page
66 out of 73 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a stupid game…not opinion, it really is a ridiculous and stupid game. It doesn’t have any redeeming mechanics or strategy. It’s a simple luck of the draw and placing cards. But, my God, why is it so **** fun!?!

Epic Spell Wars….is a draw from the deck card game and play 3 cards from your hand per turn. Yes, there are some simple rules in addition and what you might call “strategy”, but it’s basically playing one of each card type: “Source”, “Quality”, and “Delivery” cards that most appeal to your liking, either due to artwork, name, or you happen to like it’s effect, with the later being of lower priority.

In essence, it’s like a multi-deck game of War. I don’t mean “war” as a general term, I mean “War” as in the card game you played as a child. And that game would be very boring for 20-30-something year olds to be playing around a dinner table. Yet somehow, Epic Spell Wars…a game directly related to “War” in its play-style is extremely entertaining around a dinner table of 20-30-something year olds.

What is it about this game that makes it so “good”? Okay, firstly, it’s not a good game, it’s pretty terrible, but it is enjoyable and really fun. Perhaps the charm of the game really wins people over. I’ll agree the artwork is in that 80s style and almost “Adventure Time”-ish, rock ‘n roll sort of thing going on. But not everyone likes that style, I frankly hate it. It could be because the game is easy to pick up and everyone is an “expert” after the first round, but that’s the same as “War”. Maybe it’s just entertaining to play with friends and eliminate them one-by-one, again “War”, but yes Epic Spell Wars…does this a lot quicker.

My guess is that Epic Spell Wars…is able to be so fun because it has enough of that “party game” factor without having to be a party game. The game is specifically designed to be fast: pick three cards using the acronym S.Q.D. and place them in front of you. So, rounds fly by pretty quickly, even a 5 player game will last only 10-20 minutes; if more, then you’re doing something wrong. The game even rewards impatience by supplying eliminated players with “Dead Wizard Cards”, which are power-ups to be played on the next game to eliminated players given to them when eliminated and every subsequent rounds their sitting around waiting for the next game to start. You won’t be waiting long, as by the time one player is eliminated, the remaining wizards are also dead that round or most are on their last legs.

My thought regarding Epic Spell Wars…is that it spends less time worrying about being a decent card game, and really just focuses on entertaining the crowd. No one really walks away from this game with any stories of great triumph (or loss), since nothing has been really invested into the game, ie Casual Gamer paradise. No gain, no loss, great filler. Frankly, it’s my guilty pleasure game, that gets me a little giddy inside whenever a visitor to our game group asks, “What’s that?” Often times I play this with coworkers on our lunch break, great fun.

Conclusion: Stupid game, internal conflict within as to why I like it, really great for a laugh.

Go to the Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion page
110 out of 120 gamers thought this was helpful

My review is based on the assumption that you’re familiar with the base Machi Koro game, so I will not be expounding on any particulars of the base game other than for comparison or changes that the expansion brings.

When you look a Machi Koro after the setup of the many colorful and charming buildings which you can add to your little village, you think: “Wow, there’s so much potential here; I can build whatever I like given I can afford it.”

When I purchased Harbor Expansion, I thought, “More Machi Koro, now I will have a bountiful plethora of buildings to chose from and make my little town so full and unique.” So, I got my gaming group together to play Machi Koro, excited about playing the expansion for the first time.

I proceeded to lay out all the lovelies and everyone giggled and squeaked as they saw the new buildings and major establishments. And there’s Jim in the “corner” looking through the expansion’s rules and politely pointed out that I had a setup error. He offered to correct it and I let him proceed…the horror. He removed my well-placed and orderly stacks of buildings and began shuffling…and uncontrolled gasps were uttered by all. Then Jim placed just 10 unique piles of buildings.

What happened to the Machi Koro I knew? Where were the options that afforded the immediate change in strategy when one of the buildings ran out? NANDE-YO!

Machi Kuro: Harbor Expansion is one of the more surprising expansions I’ve seen to a board game. While some expansions may highlight and go into depth of a particular aspect of the base game, or just literally expand the original, ie Dutch Blitz: Expansion Pack, Harbor Expansion adds a brand new mechanism to the game that I would claim make Machi Koro and Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion two different games.

A brief impression of the original game is that it’s a very light Euro, with a dice roll mechanism to activate purchased cards/buildings which you can gain income from when activated. Yes, dice rolling is involved, ie luck, but at it’s core, Machi Koro is Euro in style since you’re wagering on cards/buildings which will favor certain dice rolls and picking cards that will help achieve your strategic goal. However, once Harbor Expansion is added, the base game once Euro, now becomes Ameri-trash.

Harbor Expansion definitely adds a greater number and variety of cards to the game. Though, I would argue that some cards are really the same, just a different picture on the front. Mechanically it changes how players can purchase cards/buildings. As stated above, instead of all cards being available for purchase, only 10 unique cards at a time are revealed and accessible by the players, and often times it’s just one card of the multiples in the deck. This changes not only how the game is played, but I would even say the mentality of the players.

With the base game, players are purchasing and strategizing around the single dice and two dice game (short versus long game) and yes, there are stakes involved, but because cards are readily available to you, you can quickly change course and deter the “snowball” effect of a veteran player. Yes, Machi Koro can snowball, but with the games I’ve played, you may have only one player lagging, but not too far that all hope is lost. The remaining players are often neck-and-neck, waiting for that big roll to complete their final Landmark.

With Harbor Expansion, the game is now dependent on both dice rolls and the luck of the draw. Frankly, the game can “snowball” extremely quickly. If only high-priced cards are available for purchase, you’ll typically get a single player buying them up, while the rest sit and wait for single coins to come in with the hope of purchasing something of value on his/her next turn. Also, the mentality of the player changes completely, instead of carefully planning and building the city you desire, you’re now frantically purchasing any card that you can afford in hopes that it will have some payout in the end.

Please don’t get me wrong Harbor Expansion is still a really fun game with all the charm of the original Machi Koro; however, it is a very different game. Which can be really polarizing, and, frankly, shocking to the players of the base game. I will say, it’s very exciting and cool to see that a single mechanism change can take “two” games of a common theme, common mechanics (except the one), common artwork, common etc., and make them so different. Not just how the game works, but how players interact with it and strategize to win.

Harbor Expansion is still for the beginner gamer, the family gamer, the casual gamer, the avid gamers, and in some cases the social gamer like it’s base game. The dichotomy between the expansion and the base game will come with Euro versus Ameri-trash preferences. Both are light in game play and depth, and I feel both quite enjoyable.

However, beware of the “snowball”, if you’re trying to introduce people to modern board gaming stick with Dixit or even Catan, “how about a nice co-op?”, Harbor Expansion can really leave players hanging out to dry if you’re not careful.

Go to the Forge War page

Forge War

32 out of 38 gamers thought this was helpful

Forge War is a fantasy-theme, heavy, Euro, resource management, worker placement, hero building, full of components that the box doesn’t close all the way, so many cardboard punches you’ll get blisters on your fingers, board game. You still there?

Yes, it’s a very intimidating game, and no, you won’t convince the newer players in your game group to play. After all, on the front cover it states 1-4 players with a minimum play time of 60 minutes. One interprets that as: even if you play by yourself and know all the rules and play a game it will still take you at least 60 minutes to complete. That’s 1 hour for those using metric. In fact much of the game is like moving through a textbook converting empirical units to metric. Yes, once you do it, it all makes sense and plays beautifully, but is all the effort of reading through the rule book, and watching “how to”s, and reading the rule book again worth it…sadly, yes.

It is actually worth the effort to punch out all the little cardboard bits, and place them in order into tidy little bags. Even going to your local game/comics store to pick up a couple of plastic deck boxes to hold the equally impressive number of cards. And the pieces pertaining to the mine, who the heck knows what to do with those. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Forge War is set in a fantasy realm where there’s a trouble-a-brewing. Think “D&D: Lords of Waterdeep”, and you’ve been recruited by the king to recruit, manage, and equip your band of mercenaries (“heroes” if you like, but there’s a payout, so you’re mercenaries), by utilizing the town’s merchants and available technologies (blueprints of fancy weapons and equipment), except, the town-folk are kind of lazy so you’ll need to also manage the mine that allows you to get the necessary materials to forge the equipment. Also, apparently this king is a capitalist because competition makes for the best band of mercenaries, so you’ll have to outplay your fellow players to get the resources you need, the equipment and technology to complete quests, and a good amount of tactics and strategy to come out with the lead in victory points.

I wish I had a simple, straight forward paragraph that could explain this game’s mechanics, but I don’t, which speaks to the game’s flaw of being extremely intimidating, yet also supporting the game’s deep and rich complicated gameplay. So instead, let me walk you through the scenario of what I’ll call the “short-term” game and the “long-term” game, and hopefully by the end of it, you’ll begin to appreciate how these two “games” coinhere with one-another to give you a rich and satisfying gaming experience to be had by all who are willing to put forth the effort.

There are really two games happening in Forge War:

The puzzle-like mine which will make you think, “Huh, when did Reversi and Checkers have a love child?” There’s a big payoff of learning how to manipulate the mine by converting over other players’ miners to your team and coaxing them to move their foremen so you can get another player’s miners to strike causing much laughter (on your part) and gnashing of teeth (on the other player’s part). Unlike its forbearers, the mine in Forge War not only leaves you feeling satisfied for a move done well, but also cute little cubes to fund your on-going war mongering.

That war mongering is the second game where you tactically plan out what items are best purchased, or heroes to upgrade and recruit, or what quests your mercenaries should partake in. Each of these decisions have to be decisive, because unlike other games where purchasable items linger around waiting for a player of monetary surplus and “why the heck not” mentality, each market item is discarded at the end of the round. The game is purposefully setup so that it’s impossible to purchase all items in a given round…it’s a bit wasteful, but this makes for a really awesome game mechanic. In fact, there’s a guarantee that not all players will be able to purchase items or equipment, as “Forge War” adopts a similar mechanic to that of “Stone Age” where the number of “workers” to be given to a certain task is purposefully limited. Hence, leading to many an evil-eye across the table, as you take the only available technology on the table which basically everyone needs to complete the final leg of a 3-tier quest.

The two “games” come together when deciding player turn order. Turn order is determined by the number of miners a player has in the mine. The player with the fewest miners gets first crack at the available items and actions in town. Because the availability to perform tasks in town is so limited, you’ll be regretting that great move you just performed in the mine as you have a handful of resources but nothing to spend them on or build. There are a lot of nuances to the game mechanic that can really spot-light a great player, who’s not only thinking tactically for the round currently being played, but also strategically, putting things in place to secure quest advancement and completion, hence victory points in his/her pocket. You’ll initially laugh at the player who “mistakenly” caused all his/her miners to strike losing all of them in a single move, to a feeling of nerd-rage to see him/her get first turn order and purchase the Holy, Mithril, Hand of God, Power-house Thingy.

This is not a game for beginners; in fact I would say casual gamers are candidate “table-flippers” of this game. Forge War is for gamers that are able to see through all the rule sets and complexity and spend the time to settle down and get comfy, because they know at the end of this session is going to be one, glorious, happy ending.

NOTE: There’s a distinction in Forge War between a “Normal” and “Epic” versions of the game. Skip the “Normal” once you get familiar with the game and just play “Epic”.

Go to the Roll for the Galaxy page
39 out of 44 gamers thought this was helpful

“Roll for the Galaxy” is a sci-fi themed game where dice represent workers of your expanding empire. Each empire will start from humble beginnings but as you put your workers to use, based on their roles (rolls), you’ll settle new planets, develop new technologies, and gain victory points by shipping out your plethora of planetary goods. The game ends when an empire hits its peak, arbitrary threshold of planets/developments, and victory points are counted and a winner proclaimed.

My gaming group, as well as visiting guests to my home, had no problem learning the mechanics of “Roll for the Galaxy”. Its rules are not completely intuitive, but familiar enough that those who understand worker placement and dice games can pick it up pretty quickly.

Once becoming familiar with the “Development” and “World” cards of the game, things move pretty quickly, which is good and bad. Good, in a sense that it’s a fast paced; Rhado Runs Through calls it a “filler” game, I disagree. In summary the game mechanics are based on Workers, each represented by a D6 dice, are secretly rolled at the beginning of each turn (simultaneously). Each facing of the D6 dice has a unique function corresponding with a phase: Exploration, Development, Settle, Produce, Ship. It’s an enjoyable experience, especially figuring out how best to place your fresh rolls to your advantage, wagering on other players to activate a phase that you desperately need. However, the “bad” is that’s the extent of the interaction with other players.

The total interaction between/among players is based on the activation of different phases. A single player may only activate a single phase per round. Hence, if you’re hoping to perform multiple “actions” with your ivory, cube workers, then another player around the table must activate it. Some social interaction can be had to convince another player to activate a phase that you need in addition to one you’ve chosen, but it’s a fleeting plea that few participate in and none dare repeat.

Games of “Roll for the Galaxy” with my wife have now boiled down to the two of us shaking dice, lifting screens, and doing our own thing with the active phases…all in silence.

Definitely a fun game, good for those new to board gaming, or an avid gamer seeking to experience “Race for the Galaxy” Yahtzee style, but replay value may diminish over time with the underwhelming interaction with other players.

It’s in my collection and will remain. I think it appeals to the gamer who really likes a worker-placement game with a little bit of luck required to accomplished your desired goal. I would definitely place this title more on the Euro-game genre, with a mix of Ameri-trash due to the necessary dice roles. It’s on the lighter end of the spectrum, but there are moments throughout the game that you definitely need that additional minute or two to think through how best to place your workers. I like to think “Roll for the Galaxy” is the perfect game for a Settlers of Catan player who loves Catan, but hates the mechanic of trading and the robber.

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