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Go to the Puerto Rico page
Go to the Splendor page
Go to the Formula D page
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Go to the Terraforming Mars page
Go to the The Great Zimbabwe page
Go to the Evolution: Climate page

Evolution: Climate

4 out of 7 gamers thought this was helpful

Lovely is not the correct word, it’s cutt-throat. You need as a non carnivore to sacrifice cards to become too big to be eaten. The game has countless combinations.

You can influence the climate, preferring your species and hurting others.

The only negative is the take-that (picking on the weaker ones, me in this case, 3 times in a row, is not fun at all; i even considered walking away. The solution was of course to become instantly bigger, but I learned this lesson too slow. Still the dynamics are off the scale.
Highly recommended, this and only this version. The species tracks have holes that keep the blocks in place. The food bonus/malus is very elegant. We didn’t trigger the climate events, but they are there.

Requires shuffling a lot and at least 1 round of playing to have the game click.

Go to the Peloponnes (4th ed) page
7 out of 7 gamers thought this was helpful

Peloponnes starts with drawing a random starting city, each with a different number in red (center) that determines the initial order of play. I also ordered the ocean expansion, adding a handful of other starting cities.

On each card there are numbers and icons, basically ordered as
left = what you must pay
right = what it gives you
top = once
bottom = systematically every turn.
Once you repeat that a few times everyone gets it.

Each round 5 tiles are drawn from deck A until it is depleted, then from deck B then C, and if you have the ocean expansion and decided beforehand on the longer game, you also do D, otherwise it’s done after C.

You bid in order on one tile or pass, if you don’t have enough money, and some events come up that require you to pay 1 grain for each citizen or else the part of citizens that can’t eat dies. If you come up grain short, you can supplement from luxury goods ( luxury goods thematically are sold to the barbarians outside Greece and you get 1 ‘grain’ for each 2 lux).

You can focus on being exceptionally well in wood or stone, which overflows and becomes luxury goods. People often forget that grain tiles are very important, so they get underbid a bit.

Furthermore there are some distasters that flavor up the game a bit, but it’s mostly tableau management. What makes this game so much fun?
1. Replayability. Each faction is different enough and the combinations are many ( 10! ~3.7 million)
2. managing your tableau and buildings/land starts off easy but becomes more complex in a linear fashion.
3. game doesn’t take long, under 30 minutes, with no downtime.
4. exciting bidding and events invite you to adapt.
5. the components shuffle well, and setup and teardown time is minimal, under a minute.
6. No dice, no card shuffling, but random nonetheless!
7. Almost no explanation needed (provided you know the rules) people can immediately learn on-the-go.

I did get a cloth drawstring bag to make the drawing of lots (starting cities) a bit more thematic. And I added a black drawstring bag for increased drama if a possible disaster fiche had to be drawn.

I did have some difficulties understanding the rules there were some caveats that required re-reading but after setting it up myself and playing against my alter ego I quickly got it. After that it is easy to teach.
I introduced the game to about 2+5+3+3+3 ~ 15 different persons and except for my gf that always hated when she had to let her population starve, everyone else liked it and would like to play again.

There is no take-that, but it’s not autistic my little kingdom either, it has some interactive moments, namely the bidding. You can sometimes outbid someone that desperately needs some resource, but then again they probably should have managed their kingdom better, so it’s not really that aggressive.

Highly recommended, there is absolutely nothing I can criticize the game on, only the box is a bit big, it allows for expansions, but this version is the only one I will ever want anyway, so I might cut up my box to make it half the size it is.

On the light side for gamers, a bit too light for heavy euro gamers, but for them it would be a nice warmup/cooldown game.

Go to the Hardback page


8 out of 8 gamers thought this was helpful

I ordered Hard Back (hb) because my non-gaming gf liked word puzzles like scrabble and wordious and spends many a Saturday solving cryptos from the newspaper.
We played it twice. First time to 10 points, just to figure out the basics, second time the full game, to 60 points. It was exciting because when she got 60 I was about 8 points behind and by pushing my luck all the way got 61 points, so it was exciting.

While it is engaging placing letters and making words, it has several drawbacks:

1) the 200+ cards, 7 decks of 30-ish cards are very hard to shuffle so that the distribution is random-ish. You need a card shuffler but many card shufflers under $100 were poorly rated on the Internet.

2) HB rewards playing cards from the same suit (Red/Romance, Blue/Detective, yellow/mystery etc) in the same word, so you need to get rid of other cards, and draw more from the same.

3) while I am a fan of economic boxes, and hate to shelve boxes full of air, this one is a bit extreme in the sense that the cards almost don’t fit back in the box. As this is the final action and causes a bit of stress, it’s not good to asscociate with HB.

I’m not sure this will on the long term give enough joy about replayability. Of course assuming a lot of games, you will choose say 2 out of 6 colors, and your opponent also, in the order of 6*5 *5*4 = 30 *20 ~ 600 different combinations to explore.

That’s just the basics of the game, there are some other game modes like special player powers, and a coop mode vs the AI called evil penelope with her own rules, but that’s good for practice if you need to become better because your opponent is better than you. The hurdle of shuffling 200-ish cards well will deter you from any “casual solo”.

To be complete, not that it’s essential, the special powers on the cards that you play that trigger have some variability, and some give you ink and/or eraser ink. The ink/eraser stuff becomes clear while you play it.

Can I recommend it? Well, if you
like light games like star realms or hero realms and
are fed up with classical deckbuilding like dominion, and
are good at shuffling 200-ish cards, and
like word games and are not dyslectic,
you might like this.

If you are not yet fed up with dominion, get paperback instead: same charm, but less convoluted.

If you hate any form of deck building, get Wordious instead.

Go to the The Mind page

The Mind

6 out of 6 gamers thought this was helpful

I played a 3p game of The Mind once on a game con, read about it that it had a lot of rave. Well, there is a deck of 100 cards numbered from 1 to 100, and you get one, say 3. You know the other gamers have a different card. You are supposed to read each others’ minds but not really, and play the cards in a rising sequence. If a player looks away as if not in the mood you can infer he has a high number and intends to go last. If some player is eager by placing the facedown card near the (initially empty) pile, you can infer he has a low number.
Because of the 1-100 range the first round is usually quite clear who must go first and who is next.

Second round each gets 2 cards, so in a 3p game the 6 cards must be placed in increasing order. If you get two cards with numbers near each other it is easy to signal that if you played one you intend to go immediately after that; but say you have cards 43 and 62 it becomes a bit less clear.

Next round, each draws 3 cards and so on, until 10. If someone fails everyone loses and you note your high score (#rounds).

There are a few levels where you get an extra life, but it’s basically all there is. It’s simple to set-up, provided you shuffle well, but it’s themeless and while you can play it on-the-go, you probably won’t.

It’s a gimmick that may grow stale less with children, but it’s not for gamers. Then again, there are far more games that children will like.

Go to the AquaSphere page


7 out of 12 gamers thought this was helpful

We all know the board setup of AquaSphere and if you don’t you should watch some reviews. Problem is however that youtube reviewers are so positive. Well I didn’t like it.
From the first move you get the feeling that the game grabs you by the throat and it doesn’t let go until the end. And not in a good way. There are so many things that you are not allowed to do. Furthermore it is so hard to plan ahead because a lot of things are random.
An example is the resource Time. It’s hard to get time to achieve something, and then when you score you can’t pass the 25/50/75 point mark because you have to sacrifice a black stone. Why?
Then there are octopuses, you get 1-3-6 points for removing them, but you need to build your own ship so it can actually hold 3 octopuses, and if you end the turn on a hex with octopuses you get penalty points. Why?
You can program a robot to perform a role but only some are available at any point, and destroying one gives you time – why?
Pushing robots away so that only 1 of each color remains – why?

The game has a theme but it tries to implement too much, losing everything.

Furthermore, explaining the game takes 20+ minutes before you can even consider making a move, and the game just takes too long.
Some may like it.

Go to the Small World page

Small World

3 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

Played with 5 and didn’t like it. The game is not deep, and still takes on forever. Before playing you should decrease the game turns (8) to an agreed upon number (like 5 or 6).

The idea is to raise a people, have them conquer some part of land, and then not do anything a whole turn, and raise another people. Do this 3 times and get the most points of all your peoples on the board and win.

This might sound like a civ like building game with lots of conquest and deep thinking but it’s rather lame and there is no civ like progress at all.

The sea-faring goblins and other verb/noun combinations suggest much replayability, but while initially quite humorous, everything feels too random and too bland to even consider replaying it. Just because you are raising and declining multiple races in series, you lose that attachment to the small world, and in a new game different combinations will come up, each with their own properties, but meh.

The game simply does not deliver that excitement other games do, there is not much immersion in the game, and while you can do some thinking ahead while it’s not your turn, the board is so small that your plans will have to change when it becomes finally your turn…
the downtime becomes boring quickly.

I recommend to play it once, with less turns, but not to buy it, nor to play it again.

Go to the Port Royal page

Port Royal

4 out of 11 gamers thought this was helpful

Initial impression: shuffling the 120+ cards in itself is not easy.
It is a deck builer, but the end game is so depressing. One player has 9 other 8 points and then it all depends on the luck of the draw.

Also the heart of the game, the manual, is atrociously written, unclear.
the traders cards feel unbalanced.

Gave it away and heard nothing about it.
Becomes stale very quickly.

The end game is similar to the pirate phase in Friday, in the sense that the table is filled with all kinds of cards – but at least in Friday most cards actually do stuff.

Go to the Formula D page

Formula D

1 out of 6 gamers thought this was helpful

Fun from turn 1. Easy rules. Complex interactions.
The gears are fantastic.

Board does not take up too much space, and you can take away those race track parts that everyone passed already.
You should play with the character effects, everyone will instantly role-play the character. Game does not take long.

For an old game, amazing. Only minus is player elimination: once your last hit point is gone, you’re eliminated.

Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
5 out of 18 gamers thought this was helpful

The box the game comes in is too big: lots of empty space; if it is to hold expansions, would this game be any good as core?

scoring involves cardboard tokens (a lot of them), and cards (120 or so).
is it too abstract: you place cards on cards and move threat up to 50 where it is said sauron appears and you die. I miss any lotr feeling here.
The ‘adventures’ don’t even appear in the book, and are too lame for my taste.
The rule book is super complicated and explains badly. Review videos are so boring to watch I fall asleep.

A waste of my dearly paid 30 euro. There are better solo games. If you really are interested, post on a forum if anyone near you would be willing to teach and show you, only then you can decide.

Go to the La Città  page

La Città

2 out of 11 gamers thought this was helpful

La citta has many little components that you use to populate the city you are building on a hex grid. There are two interactions: the commonly shared board + the voice of the people.

While the game scales well with the amount of people, we often got stuck building a city in 2-player games, due to the fact that for expanding we needed more food/water than we could produce. If that happens to your two starting points it’s over.

It has a good premise, but just doesn’t work in practice.

Go to the The Settlers of Catan page
8 out of 18 gamers thought this was helpful

Catan is the game that started the whole board gaming industry, enough reason to play it a few times, but not a reason to own it anno 2017. I won’t explain the rules here, just the mechanics.

1) It is weakly random (using the sum of two dice) and has some traps in it – you can get stuck if you don’t pay attention. It isn’t player elimination per se, but comes close enough.

2) The snake-like order of placing (first player gets first choice for first settlement, for second settlement gets last choice) was at the time revolutionary, and has led to the invention of the card-drafting mechanisms in modern board games (for example terraforming mars).

3) it has multiple dimension interaction: at a commonly shared board, plus trading cards.

The random setup of the board, and the atmosphere of how the players play makes for a different game every time, but the components are just too simple, a few streets and villages. Its expansion Cities & Knights makes more interesting, it has (at least partly) popularized semi-coop (fighting off the barbarians together), but as a game it just took too long, having to place these metropoles and gaining levels in the three techs, and moving knights around to block routes of opponents.

A normal playthrough of C&K took us 3 hours, never less, sometimes 4 and the end game was meh. In practice once I had the C&K, we never played Catan because it was inferior to C&K, and never played C&K either because it took too long, so I sold it. Never looked back.

Go to the Forbidden Desert page

Forbidden Desert

8 out of 12 gamers thought this was helpful

Everything is perfect in this game. The acceleration of the sense of danger, the winning by the skin of your teeth, the smart combining of cards, everyone is engaged most of the time, planning and arguing…

What i found most appealing was that after setting it up on non gamers table with the question Would you be interested in a fun game? I just gave everyone a random role, and without more than a “You are adventurers in a helicopter following the rumours of an ancient city buried in the sands, you crashed. This is the eye of the storm. Try to survive.” Roll for first turn and GO. Amazing how everyone picks up the game after that.

Played it about 2 times at non gamers table and everyone loved it. Now for myself the variation and balance in the game make it very exciting.
Another plus is that it does not take too long: 20-40 minutes. This is important in the age of ADHD and smart devices that make people stupid.

Lastly: the game sells for about 20 euro’s and it is remarkable that the box is non-cardboard, the artwork is amazing, and the components durable.

There is a very good FAQ at bgg for those who want to squeeze the most out of the rules – and who wouldn’t?

Go to the Friday page


13 out of 17 gamers thought this was helpful

Disclaimer: I played 3 times and lost every time.

Game is hard to win, but very addictive: once you “get it”, there is that One More Play feeling. There are enough choices at each turn, theme feels good. At first it may seem there is not much variation in the cards but there is plenty in the combination of the cards.

Manual: the manual does not take you by the hand. It consists of two leaflets. One shows the setup, the other describes the game round. It is important to sort the cards on the amount of green “hearts” in the corner first, and keep the special -3 very stupid out. The manual does not mention that. I had to re-read the manuals several times, and after watching some yt reviews I finally got it right.

A minus point for the bad manual and the fact that even on easy the game will be too hard for the majority of gamers (let alone the human population).

The game has 22 wooden chits that don’t even resemble hearts, but the 2 are never used so what’s the use? I can’t see how anyone can say this game is repetitive – the pirate ships are very different each time and sensational.

I bought the dutch version for 10 euro from summoner, sealed and new and all. Highly recommend!

EDIT: the manual is terrible. When you lose a conflict you can pay by discarding cards. If you come up short, AFTER paying with cards, you lose life. If your cards overpay the difference (e.g. a stop card displaying 2 life, vs. a green challenge that requires 1), you may not use the card if it overpays. The manual didn’t explain this, and I (as well as many others) misunderstood and thought we always had to pay the full difference with life, and had the option to discard cards.
Now that I play with the new rule, actually ‘building for pirates’ makes more sense, and also it is possible to have more life than the 20 you started with so that also makes more sense.

The game shines brightly in the combo’s that you will be able to make in the middle game.

Question: how can I rate games on this site?

Go to the Power Grid page

Power Grid

2 out of 10 gamers thought this was helpful

Beautiful board and interlocking game mechanics. Play it whenever you have the chance. The game scales well with any amount of players. Takes about an hour but you will be occupied also when it’s not your turn, there is objectively downtime with 6 players but it never feels that way. The resource market and power plant markets are great. Will never sell it.

Buy it, play it, but I don’t think non-gamers will be amused.

Go to the Terraforming Mars page
7 out of 12 gamers thought this was helpful

Played it once
The 90 minutes advertised are a big lie. It took us 2 1/2 hours, 5 players.

Initial appeal:
every card is beautiful, the components are pretty. The idea of terraforming mars is great, and you can actually terraform, ehm, mars.

the passing through of cards feels interactive. You do some deck building based on the preferences of your corporation, enough randomization to ensure replayability. The plastic grid holding the tokens, the owner had bought from bgg, was good but too big for the current scoring cards. But nevertheless, the tactile experience was nice.
We never actually got to terraforming mars, mars in the end had just 2 cities and one on phobos or deimos or whatever. Some of the cards are very aggressive (for a euro game at least).

Would i buy it? never.

It is too expensive and how much will you play it? 10 times? of which 6 times solo? There are better solo games out there that take up less time. Not many people nowadays have such amounts of time to play. Also you need a bigger table than we have atm.

Go to the Terra Mystica page

Terra Mystica

4 out of 8 gamers thought this was helpful

Played it two times on different occasions. I did not feel the desire to play it (ever) again. It is just so convoluted and its micro management amounts to not much in the end.

initial appeal:
The components and the board look ugly. the purple circles remind me of brains or internal organs and i don’t want to touch them.

Each player takes so long, and picking a special ability, meeting the requirements, everything feels like .. work. And in the end you build a temple, and some cities, that look like wooden chips, and the game ends.

Long term inters: for something that takes 2+ hours with nothing much happening most of the time, no thanks!

Go to the Tigris and the Euphrates page

Preparing this game before explaining it to my group took a whole evening, and it was a lot of fun. The trouble with grasping the rules is in the fact that there are 16 disks. 4 lions, 4 vases, 4 bulls and 4 goats, but also there are 4 blue, 4 black, 4 green and 4 red icons.

Instead of normal games where you choose a color, here you choose a symbol, representing the king/leader of your dynasty (say the Vase dyn). Each color has specific meaning.

By laying tiles you can get conflicts depending on the color of different clashing leaders, that get resolved and you get the spoils of war in the form of little blocks, also in 1 of 4 colors (there also jokers (yellow) that you get when connecting to edges).

Instead of normal scoring, your end score is not the most blocks, but the most of the least color.

Initial impression is: quite confusing, and quite complicated, let alone figuring out a sensible strategy.

Setup: game takes not much space, world board is quite small-ish, and the amount of bookkeeping is also small.

Downtime: there is downtime if an opponent takes too long.

Long term interest: at first everyone found it beautiful and interesting, but after <10 games it was never played again. Reason is, I think, the overall 'meh' factor. Even the sensational external conflicts that laid half the board to ashes, did not appeal enough. Or perhaps it was too conflicty for a euro game. I dunno.

So, just like Tzolkin, while it is a classic, and a gem to play and touch, it should not end up in your closet.

Go to the 1830: Railways and Robber Barons page
5 out of 5 gamers thought this was helpful

We played 1830 at least 50 times now, since it came out long ago (1994-ish) so I think I am qualified to review it.

1830 is conceptually a simple game. After an initial purchase round (IPR), there is a stock round (SR), and an operating round (OR), then an SR and so on, alternating, until during an SR or OR either a player goes bankrupt, in which case the game ends immediately; or until the bank breaks.

The game has it all:
+ bidding for private companies
+ a financial market that comes alive
+ an evolving play board
+ plunder and dump corporations
+ run trains!

In spite of the above, I would never ever invite non-gamers or women to play it. They always go yuk when they see us in action. It is an old-school hard-core game in the Avalon Hill style of almost unreadable 30 pages of legal scribblings, as in this x is allowed on y unless z applies as described in section 23.5 and so on. There is a more modern version which we play nowadays that clarified a lot of the rules and made it more modern, but still. We all know all those rules by heart of course.

OK, back to the game, assuming you are a gamer:

During the IPR, players are handed out starting money, and get a random intial ordering. In player order, each can bid on one of 5 private companies (pc) that are up for sale, and the more expensive ones have all kinds of benefits later in the game. This bidding war aspect is quite fun, and it ends when all pc are owned, and the first Stock Round (SR) starts:

During a SR it is about players: players buy shares from the bank, that has an enormous amount of cash; during an OR trains run, and get profit, which the bank pays to players. So that is the basic money flow.

During an OR it is about the corporations: players put on the hats of Directors of operation: the running corporation (order determined by stock market), places a tile on the hex board (the Eastern US during the 1830’s), pays the bank to place a blocking token on a hex, runs his trains on the resulting grid, then buys trains. So that is the ever-revolving theme: ’tile,token,run,train’. There is much more to it of course, when you have your corporation pay dividends it becomes more popular, and in the stock market figure the stock rises, which may mean your corporation will go earlier next turn.

A standard game of 1830 takes forever: to break the bank you have to end up with diesel trains that run $1100+ per track. Also there is a website that points out some blurred rule cases on which a group can agree, and it is important to adhere to such rule conventions. We use a set time, from 12:30 to 18:30 to play, and when we end on an OR we play until the 3rd, and if we are in a SR we stop.

The trouble with a fixed group of players is that some habits grow, for example a player that never dumped B&O or PRR will tend to have people blindly buy stock from his corporation. It’s a lot about psychology of the stock market.

Why this game is a masterpiece is explained in the back of the rule book: it has undergone five years of playtesting, and it shows. The game elements evolve by certain events that trigger a new phase:

Initially, there are only 2 trains, meaning they connect only 2 cities. The only tiles to lay are yellow (simple) train tracks. There are 7 of those, and whenever one player buys the 6th share of a company and has track from his starting position he must buy a train. If the 2-trains are already sold from the bank, the player as a director must buy a 3 train. This train is more expensive but can connect 3 cities, and will give his corporation more revenue, and if he declares dividends he will receive part of this revenue via his shares of that company.
But there’s more: the event that the first 3rd train is bought, green tiles are available, indicating the progress in technology. When the last 3-train is sold, and a player wants an extra train, he must buy a 4-train. At this moment, all 2-trains are immediately removed from the game! This can cripple players running corporations having only 2-trains, because a corporation must buy a train when it has track, so not only they lose their trains, they also must pay $300 to forcibly buy a new train, and they are personally responsible, so if the corporation lacks funds, the player must fork out his personal cash, and if he has not enough, he must sell his stock. But he must remain president and so may not sell of his stock stock of the troubled corporation such that another player becomes president. If he still has not enough cash, he goes bankrupt and the game ends immediately.

Also as the game progresses, more and more OR take place in-between SR, indicating the acceleration of technological progress.

What makes this game so brilliant is the constant vigilance you need to have so that you don’t get backstabbed, while at the same time you want to plunder your corporations, and dump them on others.

The game is so rich… however you won’t want to play with non-gamers, because the look and feel is too dry for them. Most of the fun is in your mind, as you hatch plots and avert others. You really feel a director with all the director problems, but as I said in modern terms it just takes too long. Modern games take up at most 90 minutes, at least in my environment.

A final word of warning: there is a dosbox version of 1830 the board game on pc, but while the AI is fantastic, you are not playing the board game really: the pc game does not respect the conditions that a ‘legal extension’ (of laying track, by the running corporation) must satisfy as explained in the rules. It goes too far here to explain, you will see when you try.

Go to the Splendor page


3 out of 8 gamers thought this was helpful

I always start with this question. Give 5yo and youngers a card in advance, same for 60yo and older, and everyone will have a great time. For games a bit light, but for non-gamers or casual gamers a delight.
+ Takes not too long (20 mins)
+ simple but highly interactive
+ allows for wow factor (sensational)
+ different every play
+ no runaway leader (unless you play stupidly).
+ components are beautiful.

Some reviewers complained that the engine building gets old quickly, but I like it so far (after 20 games).

Go to the Puerto Rico page

Puerto Rico

If you play this correctly, you will feel a certain flow, where everything goes your way. The mechanisms of slaves/buildings/plantations/wooden production thingies intertwines in a unique way.

It has specific rules for different amount of players. The only drawbacks are for a modern game the rules are a little convoluted for some corner cases, and for some ADHD types it might take too long.

I would hesitate to expose non gamers (family) to PR, because it might overwhelm them. Even when you take them by the hand.

Every gamer should have played this game and experience how it works. It’s the tactile grabbing of mais, indigo, sugar, coffee and tobacco, the placing of a worker in your building that makes it so concrete and great.

Highly recommended. Never mind the difference between the old and new version. Grab the first one available.

It’s a bit boring with 2p though, 4-5p is best.

Go to the Carcassonne page


3 out of 9 gamers thought this was helpful

We always play with 1 expansion. I forgot the name of the expansion, it’s the one with the big meeple (called He-Man) and cathedrals. The river expansion I cannot recommend, it adds more tiles but is not a game changer.

The great thing about carc is that on non-gamer family religious meetings I can immediately let 6 people play, all have a great time, and everyone ‘gets’ it. Except for the farmer scoring end-game of course.

With gamers, you need to verify and agree upon the farmer scoring, which is either (1) 4 points for every town you supply as a majority, or (2) 3 points per city that is supplied by the majority.

As a final note, the game will grow old quickly with gamers (after about 20 games), because it is very situational and luck-based. Expect after n games with m gamers to win n/m of the time.

Because it’s such a classic, every gamer should know this game, not own.

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