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Jay Bee

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Terra Mystica

73 out of 81 gamers thought this was helpful

OK, I realise that not everyone has the same taste, and my 10 out of 10 may be someone else’s 9.99, but here’s my view . . .

The strongest point in Terra Mystica’ s favour is its level of complexity. I like complex games with interacting aspects of the game being used by the other players. TM, as you can read above, has no dice and so all the results are down to player skill, or perhaps more honestly, their correct assessment of what their opponents may do. But please don’t get me wrong! While I like complexity, I don’t like huge rule books with tiny modifiers applied to virtually every action (I heard there’s a WW I I war game where the Italian units get a dice modifier because they had pasta the night before, or something like that). TM is detailed but largely intuitive. The rules give a wide scope of actions, but the options are clearly shown on your own card and game board.

So often I have played games that would be better if they were just a little deeper, and from time to time, I give in with a game or lose interest because it’s not so much a game as an alternative life! TM, for me, is that very rare class of game where the complexity level is just right and necessitates planning, strategy adaptation etc etc but you don’t get a migraine.

I play with friends on a competitive level, but the play is the game and winning isn’t the only goal. Therefore, with TM, there are times where we point out ‘Don’t forget this round you also get victory points for that sanctuary you just built!’ Perhaps in National Championships you should only get the points you remember yourself, but good sportsmanship doesn’t spoil the game, and actually helps everyone get used to the rules.

Right, enough about complexity. Next strong point . . . Replayability. With all of the 14 different classes, their individual bonus strengths and the combinations of their interactions, plus different initial placements, the variety of results is incalculable. This game could be played every week for a long long time and you would still be trying different tactics to improve your game.

I genuinely tried to think of negatives about TM, as I don’t vote a 10 if I can find a fault. I did consider that perhaps the playing pieces (in a perfect world) could have been miniatures instead of wooden cubes etc, but actually, in spite of all the flavour of witches, giants and fantasy, this would not improve the game. TM, at its very heart, is an abstract game which, I would argue, has more in common with chess than Dungeons and Dragons. Well, maybe.

Anyway, I hope this review is not spoiled by my over enthusiasm. My daughter is less keen on the game than I am, and says she just doesn’t quite see why there is just so many aspects to the game ‘Why religious cults, why rivers, why such convoluted power system?’ All the little elements of imagination and originality that I love!

Some few games are destined for immortality. Monopoly, Risk, (long pause of many years) Settlers of Catan, and, I think, Terra Mystica. If you haven’t tried it yet I couldn’t recommend it more.

Go to the Alhambra page


52 out of 60 gamers thought this was helpful

Well, it’s been 18 months since Alhambra has had a review, so I thought I would remind people about it.

It’s one of those games that you don’t want to play every week, but every now and then you remember it and want to have another go. You keep on thinking that a slight change in strategy will get you further and give you a win. As the luck aspect is low this would seem reasonable but every game seems to throw slightly different challenges at you and you have to adapt your tactics. This is the key to the games replayability.

I would agree with the earlier comments about downtime when 4 or more play, but with 3 players it is very very good. You see places you need to buy, and don’t find that it’s gone by the time it’s your next turn. The size of the surrounding wall is always important, and juggling the positions to ensure the wall is continuous is a big step to victory. An unusual mechanic which I’ve never seen in another game.

The components are sturdy and well illustrated.

Not heavy or demanding, but quite engrossing and highly recommended if you’ve not tried it before.

Go to the Risk: Legacy page

Risk: Legacy

61 out of 68 gamers thought this was helpful

A word of apology to begin with . . . . If this review is a bit lacking in detail, it’s because the greatest plus of the game is the surprise element and I wouldn’t spoil that for you.

Everyone knows how to play Risk, and obviously this is basically the same – but if I gave the original game 7 out of 10, this would certainly have to rate a couple of points higher. Why? Well, for a start, instead of just being a colour, you have individual miniature armies. Not the most fantastic play pieces you will ever see, but it gives the game a lot more flavour as your army is genuinely different from your opponents. If you do well in a game or win it, you may feel inclined to choose the same faction next game too. If you utterly fail, you likely go for another group. You don’t get that element when your choosing red, blue or black!

The replayability element is further and strongly enhanced by the modifications that come into play when the new envelopes and boxes are opened. The desire to get to these ‘secrets’ actually influences play and strategy because you will find occasionally that you would rather do something that triggers a new opening rather than just bash your neighbour again.

The fact that once a decision is made, there’s no going back is a great plus for the game. OK, you can’t pass on or sell the game when your done, but by the time you’ve played, say, 9 or 10 games I think you will feel you’ve had your money worth.

The board is pretty much the standard world Risk map, but the customisation and personalisation of it as the game progresses from match to match is another of the very satisfying elements to the game.

Risk Legacy is easy to learn – again it’s just basically Risk – but the alterations gradually accrue over time, and the physical addition of new rules is inventive and really makes you want to try another game using the adapted rules.

Downside? Well, without going into specifics, in later games you can sometimes have several amendments and new rules occurring at the same time, so that dice rolls are first ‘plus one’ then ‘minus one’ then ‘plus one’ again. This perhaps is slightly tedious but RPG enthusiasts will have no problem with this, and it certainly wouldn’t stop me from recommending it.

Risk Legacy is quite an old game now, but if you haven’t heard the spoilers I would give it a try.

Go to the Munchkin page


83 out of 106 gamers thought this was helpful

OK, don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game. Really is a good laugh when played with like minded people . . . . For the first few goes. There’s a good selection of cards (and obviously umpteen expansions) so the replay value is quite high but when you reach the stage where you actually recognise bits of equipment and monsters, and what effect they have, you find yourself wishing that you’d drawn a card you’d never seen before to do something new.
The artwork is good and appropriate but the board is pretty weak and ultimately unnecessary. It’s only a way of counting up to ten and logging your score.
The rules are I feel a little confused from time to time. Cards have effects that overrule the basic rules, and it’s not rare to decide “well, yeah, that seems fair . . .lets do it that way” rather than go through the rules book again.
Perhaps I’m just getting old and miserable but after a couple of games it just seems a little bit too silly. Silly is fine, but not something I’d want to do on a weekly or monthly basis. Just a good game to dig out now and then when you’ve forgotten the cards a bit and can play again with a touch of the novelty you get when you first play.

Go to the Gloom page


57 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

I’m not going to discuss the game mechanics which everyone seems to have covered, I’m just going to talk about how much fun Gloom is. Yes, the morbid humour is great but the game only really works if the players are prepared to embellish the stories as they go along. Just playing the cards one after another to gain points or punish others would be boring quite quickly and its one of those rare games where the winner of the game doesn’t matter so much. It really is the taking part that matters.

When several characters have simultaneous stories running at the same time it can get a bit confusing . . . was he the drunk, or did his partner die? . . . but that’s part of the fun. If you have uninhibited broadminded and imaginative players it’s well worth playing. otherwise think twice.

The only downside I would mention is a slight limit on replayability. The same kind of story lines keep recurring even with inventive players. I haven’t tried an expansion game yet, but am starting to think that after only three games I need an expansion for more variety.

My favourite card in the game is the one that cancels out a planned death. it’s just so satisfying when another player announces “Tragically they fell down a well to their death” to say, according to the card, “Ah, but they din’t . . they saw little metal rungs in the well and against all odds climbed out and lived!”

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