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Holy Knight

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Go to the Arkadia page
8
Go to the Word on the Street page
12 out of 12 gamers thought this was helpful

Although I am not a big fan of word games, I find Word on the street a game of particular interest. The main reason for this is its great variety, which is lacking from several word games (and this makes them somewhat mundane to my opinion). By variety, I mean two things: First, the game’s objective is not solely focused on creating words, but also (and to a great extend) on thinking along the category that is specified by a card. This usually does not require specialized knowledge, but it challenges players to expand their scope of memory, in order to come up with as many answers as possible appropriate for the current category, within a certain amount of time. Secondly, variety is being apparent in the game through strategic aspects. That is, a word which may be a very good answer in one instance of the game, may be a weak choice at another instance. Therefore, players are required to combine their ability of quickly conjuring a wealth of words/answers appropriate, and simultaneously which makes the best choice according to how the gameboard exists at that point of the game session.
Each round is made up of a simple turn sequence, one for each of the 2 opposing teams, in order(not simultaneously), that flows in the following manner: The active team draws the next card and reads the question on it aloud. Next, the opposing team starts the time countdown, using one of the two provided hourglasses. Until the time limit elapses, the members of the active team have to come up with an appropriate word for the question on the card. They are free to exchange proposals among them, but in the end they must agree on a single word and announce it. Immediately after that decision is made, the team members manipulate the gameboard to reflect any changes brought about as a result of their having selected the particular word. To be specific, that entails moving large (and relatively heavy) squares with the letters matching the word towards their side. Meanwhile, the opposing team is responsible for supervising, although any disagreements are to be resolved after the time runs out. Then, play passes to the other team, which follows the exact same steps.
The game’s objective is to collect 8 letter squares, by consistently drawing them closer to your team’s side. Those squares all initially exist along the same lane on the gameboard, which represents a street with 5 lanes. During the game, they change lanes, according to answers given by the players, moving closer to one team or the other. Only once a square is moved off the board is considered as collected and counts towards the winning condition. Therefore, this element of moving the letter squares in a clever manner constitutes the main tactical part of Word on the street and also increases replay value because the same answers differ on how valuable they are depending on the state of a game session and the team’s plan.
Components include a gameboard, 216 cards with a tray to hold them, 2 hourglasses and the 17 letter squares (obviously not all letters of the alphabet exist), all of which are, to my opinion, of good quality and interesting design.
Although Word on the street is mostly thought of as a party game for up to 10 players (5 on each team), it can be well appreciated when played by even just 2 players. All together, it makes an intelligently designed word party game, that also appeals to a wider audience of gamers by blending tactical elements to its game play.

7
Go to the Forbidden Island page

Forbidden Island

84 out of 91 gamers thought this was helpful

Unlike the majority of board games, Forbidden island does not place players in an opposing position against each other, rather as teammates. The objective of this adventurous and thrill-seeking team is to venture to a mythical island and claim its fabled treasures. However, the risk they are encountering is great, for the empire known as Archeans, foreseeing this kind of event to come about, designed the island to submerge to the depths of the sea, along with the daring treasure hunting team! It is therefore up to the players to escape from the forbidden-sinking island via helicopter, after having brought all 4 valuable treasures to their possession in time, before the island is lost beneath the waves.

Components
Forbidden island makes use of 24 square tiles to randomly generate the ‘game-board’, which eventually turns out unique on practically every game. The tiles, which are printed on both sides, represent 24 different locations of the island. 9 of them are of particular significance: The temples from where the treasures can be obtained and the heliport, the only means of connection with the rest of the world (only way of escaping from the island). The artwork done to depict those locations is attractive enough in my opinion, although there is an impression of lack of coherence between the various location-tiles. This setting creates a good yet also weird atmosphere for the game.
Besides the tiles, the rest of the game’s components are cards, 4 rather detailed plastic treasures’ figurines, 6 players’ pawn in different colors made from wood and a water level scaleboard that along with a separate indicator keeps track of how much flooded the island is at any given time.
The cards are of 3 different types: The flood cards, supposedly played by the island to pose a challenge to the team of adventurers; the treasure cards, which are to be collected by the players and 6 adventurer cards which bestow each player a unique ability, whose clever use during the game will considerably increase the likelihood of a victorious outcome.

Game-play
Since it is a cooperative game, Forbidden island expects players to collectively plan their actions, for mutual benefit. This is probably simpler than ideal, as the interaction between players is confined to the exchange of cards and a few other elements on special occasions (like a privilege that is granted from certain adventurer cards). Naturally, players are supposed (even encouraged) to discuss on potential plans and exchange advise.
To my opinion, the game’s complexity is somewhat insufficient, both at the cooperative part, as well as overall. I would prefer it if it featured a somewhat wider array of options, so to offer a greater degree of choices discrimination. An example of this simplicity is that the 24 different locations of the island, with the exception of the 8 temples and 1 heliport, are equal as far as the game-play is concerned. I believe the game would be more interesting if there was some kind of special characteristic to each of the locations, or at least some of them, to differentiate them in practical terms (other than just by the name and artwork) and therefore adding extra variety. By that I am not implying that a game of Forbidden island feel boring; on some occasions however, the correct decisions can seem too obvious and consecutive players’ turn may turn out quite repetitive.
Players take turns in order, choosing how to spend their, up to 3, action points in any combination of the 4 possible actions (an action can be selected several times during the same turn). At the end of each player’s turn, it is time for the island to do its part: A certain number of flood cards must be turned over in order to identify which island locations will become flooded, or even sink and be removed from the game, if they were already flooded.
One of the game’s best features is the adjustable difficulty level; players can choose among 4 different settings. This actually defines the starting water level, with higher difficulty moving it up closer to the defeat condition, meaning that the adventurers have less time at their disposal to complete their mission. However, the water level indicator reaching the final mark is only one of the 4 possible occasions where the team may face failure. So, they will have to be cautious of avoiding several things from happening. For the first 2 difficulty levels, mistakes are quite forgivable, but beyond that (on settings 3 and 4), prudent planning and caution will usually be required for attaining victory.
In Forbidden island, the elements of luck and strategy are existing in a pretty much balance state, slightly closer to the strategic part. The most noticeable aspect of luck and randomness are how the initial ‘board’ setup will turn out and in which order cards, particularly flood cards will be drawn. Memorization affects this game only slightly.

Generally, Forbidden island presents an interesting and enjoyable gaming opportunity that is quick paced, easy to learn and strikes a nice balance between luck and strategy with a good artistic/aesthetic back-up. The variable difficulty level makes it appreciable to players of various experience and/or skill. I only wish there was more variety to it.

7
Go to the Arkadia page

Arkadia

24 out of 24 gamers thought this was helpful

Arkadia is a strategy board game for 2-4 players set in medieval times. In Arkadia, players assume the role of architects; they are responsible for the construction of the city as well as the castle. For their efforts, they are rewarded gold by the 4 wealthy families that reside in the land of Arkadia. The completion of the castle (whose construction advances gradually, along with the city) signals the end of the game. After one last scoring round is carried out, players count their accumulated gold; the wealthiest one is the winner.

Gameplay overview
The game is based on tile placement for the most part, but good timing is a very important aspect of it as well. It offers a substantial level of strategy and so even demanding strategy gamers are likely to appreciate. The existence of cards and the element of luck, which, however, is light compared to the strategic part. Memorization also is quite important, for remembering the seals opposing players have gathered (the seals player have are kept hidden after they are dealt) will very likely affect one’s decision when it comes to adding parts to the castle.
Players take turns in a structured order. In a turn, one must either place one of the 8 different buildings on the board, or assign some workers to work on completing an already placed building instead (when a building tile is placed on the board, it is in an ‘under construction’ state). Whenever a building is complete, all players that participate in its construction gain seals of the same color and symbol as the family to which the particular building belongs. These seals can be exchanged for gold during various stages of the game. The exchange value can greatly vary, as it is directly relevant to the state of the castle.
As an optional move, a player can use a banner to gather additional workforce and exchange some, or all of the seals he/she has collected up to that point, if desired.

The game components are significant in variety and number, featuring a rather elegant design, although not extraordinarily nice. That sets a fair atmosphere to it; to my opinion, it is acceptably enticing; I would like it if it was a little more pronounced though.
The game board is divided into many squares by a grid that serve as possible placement areas for the buildings. The castle, located at the center of the game board, begins as a 2D representation, but at the game advances, it evolves in an interesting manner by the addition of plastic pieces with different symbols on top of them. As for the buildings, they are represented by card-board components with detailed and accurate illustrations upon them (on both sides). Their shape and even size varies a lot, depending on the type of building and the correct placement of them is a key tactical element that will greatly influence how well a player will do during the game.

A game lasts for about 1 hour. Even though good performance matter throughout its entire duration, the last few turns will usually make a stronger impact on the final outcome. Consequently, the suspense and interest of the game escalate towards the final stages.

Pros:
+ Average difficulty in learning to play
+ Considerable amount of strategy and tactics
+ Interesting combination of components
+ Requires good timing skills and memorization
+ Interest increases gradually as game progresses.

Cons:
– The atmosphere is slightly weak.
– The beginning of the game unfolds in a somewhat random manner.

6
Go to the Archaeology - The Card Game page
24 out of 24 gamers thought this was helpful

As the case is with many card games, this is a simple and quick to learn to play game, actually among the easiest. Even so, there is a significant amount of strategy to it, which makes it particularly interesting and challenging! Moreover, there is a considerably degree of luck present.

Cards are the game’s only component. They are divided into 2 main categories: The treasure cards and the special events cards. The treasure cards include several different types of treasures with different values for each one. The special events cards are thieves and sandstorms. They add a nice variety to the game and the element of surprise. Sandstorms in particular, affect all the players and are posing a strong issue of risk management; that is, the more cards a players has in hand the more he/she will be affected by the sandstorm (there is no limit on how many cards a player can have in hand).

The turn sequence follows a partially structured order, one player following another after completing his/her turn. There is no interaction among the players, except on the occasion of the thief card. During a turn, a player draws a single card and then can perform several actions in any order and as often as wanted. These actions can be: selling treasure cards to the museum, exchanging treasure cards with the marketplace, or exploring one of the three pyramid chambers for treasure cards (under conditions).

The winner of the game is the player with treasures which have the highest combined value after there are no more cards to draw and all players have finished their last turns. All cards sold to the museum will score points.

The primary strategic element in this game is the creation of sets of cards of the same type of treasure. Each treasure (card) has a value that increases when there are several of the same cards at a set. Usually selling a single card to the museum will not wield much value and there are occasions that only the complete treasure set will have a significant value. Therefore, players will want to collect treasure cards of the same type before selling to the museum. That is usually achieved by making exchanges with the marketplace which is a collection of face-up cards accessible to all players. The exchange value of a card is not the same as its sale value by the way. When exchanging cards with the marketplace, one can offer as many cards desired and receive cards with a combined exchange value equal or less to the value of the ones offered.

As far as the game’s design is concerned, it’s okay to my opinion. Not really beautiful, but pretty nice and befitting the theme of the game quite well.

Overall, Archaeology – The card game is a nice and clever card game. I do recommend it for anyone looking for a quick and light game and a reasonable amount of challenge and strategy.
Game duration is around 20′ and the allowed numbers of players from 2 to 4.

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