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42 out of 44 gamers thought this was helpful

I recently got the chance to play this at the 1st Annual Dice Tower Convention in Orlando last month. I didn’t even know the game existed before that so I had no idea what to expect. When I saw it, I was skeptical at first – you mean you actually flick your adventurers to attack monsters?

Here’s how it works:
One or more players take the side of the adventurers (heroes). The basic game comes with an Elf, Thief, Warrior, and Wizard, but there is an expansion that adds more heroes. Each hero is represented by a wooden disc that you flick and try to hit the monsters. The really neat thing is that each hero has different special abilities. The Elf has ranged attacks (shoot with smaller separate discs), the Thief can move twice, the Warrior can rage (attack several times in a row, but tires himself out), and the Wizard has a slew of special powers represented by cards.

A sole player takes the role of the overseer and gets to command an army of various monsters that all have different powers and start off from easy to kill to very difficult. He in turn gets to flick his discs and try to hit your heroes.

Each hero comes with a reference card that shows their powers and has a track for life points. Once a hero’s life reaches zero that hero is out of the game. If all 4 heroes are eliminated the overseer wins. For the heroes to win, they have to traverse through 4 increasingly difficult boards and then fight a boss monster at the end. Each board also has slots for obstacles (larger wooden discs), which really add to the strategy of the game and make it more of a strike/counter strike than an all-out assault.

Help comes in the form of a healer and a merchant room in between dungeon rooms. This is where players can spend the money they earned for killing monsters to buy equipment and earn some life back. Even still, the game is tilted in favor of the overseer and the heroes will have to use excellent strategy and have great flicking skills to even stand a chance.

In the game I played, we actually made it to the final boss (a dragon – but there are various ones to choose from) and had him down to 2 life before succumbing to defeat!

I really enjoyed this game and would jump at the chance to play it again. There is a definite skill level with flicking the discs, but not too much that it becomes frustrating. It can be really satisfying to make a really nice flick to knock out a monster from one side of the board to the other. I also really liked the teamwork needed to work together as a team of heroes, but I can imagine that playing the overseer is equal amounts of fun.

– You “feel” like you are playing a dungeon crawler
– Game is balanced (not too easy)
– Setup is quick
– Rules are straightforward and easy to learn
– Components are of nice quality

– Artwork on the discs is a bit difficult to decipher and match with the cards.

Overall, I highly recommend this game. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea… flicking games require some skill and patience. But for those who are in to these types of games, you are in for a treat.

Go to the Arimaa page


38 out of 39 gamers thought this was helpful

Arimaa has existed in an online form since 2002 and has only been since 2009 that Zman games published it in physical format. That being said, I still vastly prefer it as an online game and my review is based on that format.

Here is a quick rules run-down:
In Arimaa, your goal is get one of your 8 rabbits across the board to the other side. Doesn’t sound too hard right? Each player is given a set of pieces that match Chess in number, but not in utility. You are given one Elephant piece. He is the general who will command your troops and cannot be pushed or pulled around. He freezes all others in their tracks. He can’t be killed unless you decide to suicide him. The Camel is the 2nd strongest piece and you get one of them as well. He will spend the majority of the game trying to stay away from the Elephant while still creating havoc on the opposing horses. The horses are 3rd in command and you get 2. They are key pieces as they work very well in attack with the Elephant and also as defense of your own home traps. Dogs are next, followed closely by cats. They are support pieces which can get more powerful later in the game should Camels or Horses get captured. Finally, the 8 rabbits. Rabbits are of a different breed altogether as they are the only pieces that can’t move backwards. They are also frozen and can be pushed and pulled by all other pieces save enemy rabbits. But the beauty of this game is that you need those weak rabbits (well 1 of them anyways), as that is how you win the game.

To setup your pieces, you can place them in any manner you see fit in your back two rows (although over time there have been some preferred setups develop).

On your turn, you get to make 4 moves with your pieces (all pieces move one space horizontally or vertically regardless of strength). You can move 4 pieces once or 1 piece 4 times, or any other combination. You can also push and pull enemy pieces which take 2 moves, one to move yours and one to move your opponents.

There are also 4 traps on the board in which your piece will be captured unless you have a supporting piece next to it keeping it alive. Then there is the freeze rule. Basically Elephants freeze all other enemy pieces, Camels all others except Elephants, and so on down the line to cats who can only freeze rabbits. Pieces are frozen ONLY if there is no other supporting piece next to it.

Within a few games, you will have mastered all of the rules of the game. Heck, my 6 year old son knows HOW to play the game. But to play the game well is another matter entirely….

Reasons Why Arimaa is a 10:
For me, Arimaa is not just a game, it is so much more than that. It is easy to learn and extremely deep at the same time (the ratings among human players at range from 1000 to the 2600’s). It is a game I never get tired of no matter how much I play (nearly 2000 games over 5 years). It is a community (there is so much to do and get involved in – tournaments, leagues, championships, bot bashing records, bot development, postal matches, forums, etc.) It is challenging (no shortage of opponents or bots to play at any level). It is infinitely replayable (no two games are alike, it is amazing how many different ways a game can develop). It is versatile (you can play brain-burning postal matches or blitz games at 15 seconds per move and they are equally as enjoyable). It is an investment (every game played feels like a stepping stone to learning a new trick or tool to play better the next time). I could go on and on.

My Final Impression:
Arimaa is an abstract strategy game, but for me it has just enough of a theme and flavor to it that keeps me engaged. Many other abstracts fall flat for me because I feel no connection to the game. Arimaa feels more like a miniature battle game (albeit with no luck).

Arimaa is a game that I keep coming back to again and again after the newness of other games wear off. I can picture myself still playing this 10 years from now which is something I can’t say for sure for any other game I own.

If this review has at all interested you in the game, I would highly recommend you try it out at You will be glad you did.

Go to the Thunderstone page


36 out of 39 gamers thought this was helpful

*Note* This is a review for the web version of Thunderstone created by Zabu Studios and playable only on Facebook.

Being a fan of Dominion and Ascension, I had always wanted to try out Thunderstone but I had heard some negative comments about it from my game group and I don’t think anyone owns it. So, when I heard about Zabu Studios (who also created web versions of some of Knizia’s games on FB (Lost Cities, Take it Easy, etc), creating a web version of Thunderstone, I had to try it out. And I wasn’t disappointed.

First off, the tutorial is very well done and will get you off on the right foot (although it doesn’t explain everything completely clearly – but you will learn by playing). My first few games were definitely a learning experience and I lost horribly to the amazingly decent AI. One thing that I didn’t realize was that you can’t trash your VP cards and keep the VPs! Once I figured that out, I was finally able to win against the computer some.

Aside from the tutorial, the game features three modes of play – Campaign, Skirmish, and Multi-player. Campaign is the only mode I have played to date. After about 20 plays, I am still only on stage 8 of 10 on Campaign One. Unfortunately, Campaign One is the only free Campaign while all of the others require the purchase of card packs that range from 15 to 25 FB credits per pack($1.50 to $2.50). Comparing this to Ascension on the iPad, you will definitely get more for your $ with Ascension.

Skirmish allows the selecting of cards (but only the basic cards unless you have purchased card packs) to compete in a game versus 1 to 3 other AI computer opponents. Multi-player mode sounds great in theory, but I have yet to see anyone on the site to actually try it out with.

The interface in Thunderstone is top-notch and the graphics and sound are very well done. The game offers full-screen mode and each individual card can be clicked on for each reading of the text. All card shuffling is done for you as well as all calculations of gold, experience, attack values, light, and victory points. Never having played the actual game – I don’t know how much of a pain it is, but it is very nice not to have to add up values in my head constantly and just focus on playing the game.

The only thing with the interface that I think could be improved is if there was an option to see a running total of victory points (and I realize you couldn’t do this in a face-to-face game, but it would still be a nice option in a web version). The AI is actually pretty good and only after playing several games did I key on some of its weaknesses and have been able to beat it fairly consistently.

Outside of the actual gameplay, you are given experience and a level for playing the game (not sure what this is really used for), and also some achievements to try for such as having a total of 50 gold or more in your deck at the end of the game.

Overall, I highly recommend this version of the game for those who enjoy deck-building games and Ascension on the iPad. Just be prepared to shell out some $ if you want to continue to play after you conquer the first campaign…

*Edit – Thunderstone is now available on the iPad (under the name Thunderstone Gateway) and it is the same exact interface as the Facebook version. In fact, progress and purchases transfer from one to the other.

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