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Marvin K.

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King John's Treasure
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Lost City of Paititi
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Go to the Scythe page
Go to the Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century page
Go to the Defenders of the Realm page
Go to the Le Havre page
Go to the Root page
Go to the Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City page
Go to the Keyflower page
Go to the Mice and Mystics page
Go to the Rising Sun page
Go to the A Dog's Life page
 
Go to the A Dog's Life page

A Dog's Life

5 out of 5 gamers thought this was helpful

I am reviewing this edition pictured. There is an earlier edition from 2001 with most of the same dogs but there were a couple of different dogs and the art work was not(in my opinion) as nice. Basically, you ,as a dog, wander the streets marking your territory, begging for food, hiding from the dog catcher, drinking from a public fountain, burying bones, delivering newspapers, escaping from the pound and occasionally fighting with other dogs. Each dog has it’s own deck of cards showing success or failure at the six different actions a dog can take and how many action points it has to take actions on a turn. Smaller dogs are generally more likely to succeed at begging but more likely will lose a fight. When you spend action to do an activity such as beg you turn over the top card of the dog’s personal card deck and look up the results. If you are just walking or drinking water or marking your territory,done by leaving a pee marker on a lampost by the way, that costs action points but not a card. The game play is fun and innovative and has a light strategy to it as to what to choose and when to choose it, for instance you cannot beg at the same location twice in a row on the same turn, but you can beg at location A, then go to B and beg and then return to A to beg again if you have enough action points,however, it is also legal to arrive at A and beg and end your turn and then beg at A again on your next turn. There is supposed to be a kickstarter version of this game with some rules changes and new dogs coming out in September that I will be watching for.

 
Go to the Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City page

I have enjoyed Maji Koro since it first came out but this edition solves the major problems. There is a good video review of how to play the game by Tom Vassel on Boardgamegeek.com so for this review I want to concentrate on why I prefer this version to the original. The original version, which is in a light blue box was fine. It is a city building game using cards to build your 6 key buildings to win the game. These buildings have game effects once built. This version of the game uses many of the cards from the original game (+) cards from the 2 expansions (+) new cards. As I said earlier I enjoy the game and so does my wife, but if you buy the first edition and the 2 expansions you end up with a huge deck of cards to draw from and this can slow the game down so much as to make it unplayabe because you cannot get engines started. Engines are combinations of cards that let you earn money. On your turn you may buy one card to add to your city-the display of cards in front of you- after you first roll the dice. You need to build engines that give you larger amounts of money at a time because some cards steal money from you on your dice roll or allow you to steal set amounts of money based on your dice roll(1-3 dice) and the cards people have face up in front of them. There will be a set amount of cards available for purchase in a common pool area and when one is bought it is immediately replaced for the pool from various decks of cards. This edition was a Target edition and so availability may depend on your local situation. Check it out and see if you like it.

 
Go to the Wildlands: The Unquiet Dead page

The Unquiet Dead is the first expansion for the Martin Wallace game Wildlands. You can play this as an optional 5th faction although it is still limited to being a 4 player game. The differences on this faction are minor but should only be added to the game after the base game has been played a few times. The first difference is that the undead team has 6 characters instead of 5 like the other teams. Additionally, they only have 2 symbols for the team members. This is why I recommend some experience with the game concepts before adding this team. The 2 symbols are a skull and a hand rising out of the ground. To help reduce confusion in early plays of the game I painted an S and an H on the appropriate figure bases so a player can easily distinguish who can play which cards during the game. The other optional use for this set is as a game obstacle for all players to use. I have only played this expansion a couple of times so far and only as an optional team but plan to try it out as an obstacle in the near future. So far I do like it and plan to keep it incorporated in the game.

 
Go to the Koi page

Koi

7 out of 7 gamers thought this was helpful

I enjoy this game very much. The components alone have made me start watching for a used copy of the game so I can have them for use in other games. The game lasts 7 rounds highest score at the end of the 7th round(day) wins the game. Each player is a koi(goldfish) swimming in a large pond. You start with a hand of cards to which you add 3 cards from a common deck. Some of these cards will allow you to move your koi. Other cards allow you to add rocks, cherry blossoms, frogs and lily pads to the pond.The movement cards gave symbols to tell you how to move your koi. If the symbols are in black ink they are mandatory and when you play them you must do the moves. Some are in blue ink and are optional. The symbols are in a vertical column and are read from the bottom of the card upwards. On your turn you can play as many of your cards as you want in any order you choose but may only keep 5 cards in your hand for future play but in general this will not be a problem. There is a deck of weather cards that you will shuffle separately and draw six from laying these out above the board face down before the game starts. Starting with the 2nd round(day) you will reveal a card that will have a game effect for that round. During the game your koi will eat dragonflies and frogs to score points by landing on the space where those components are. If, at the start of a player’s turn there are no dragonflies place more flies on empty lilypads. Most points at end wins the game.

 
Go to the Wildlands page

Wildlands

8 out of 9 gamers thought this was helpful

This is one of Martin Wallace’s newer games. I introduce it to people who are fans of his game designs as his idea of a fluff game. For those who may not be familiar with his games he tends to create heavier games with more mechanisms in them. I like those types of games but know they are not for everyone. That being said this is a much lighter game than he normally does. I enjoy the game very much and have gotten the 1st expansion and am waiting on a game order which has the second expansion in it. Rather than going into a detailed explanation of the game(for that I recommend going to the Osprey Games website and watching the video) I want to mention why I liked the game. First, the game overall appearance is very nice. The miniatures are nicely detailed and were done with a black wash so details stand out even without painting the miniatures. The game board is 2 sided with the outdoors side adding some additional game rules. The game components are in fitted plastic trays with clear covers on each of the 2 trays so the components do not scatter all over the box when taking the game to your game night. The rules are clearly written so you should not have arguing over what happens when. A player has 2 ways to earn points and will probably do a combination to win the game. If you want a solid game that plays in 1 to 1 1/2 hours playtime I can strongly recommend this game.

8
Go to the Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit page
31 out of 59 gamers thought this was helpful

There have been good versions of the Star Wars movies in boardgame forms before. My previous favorite was Epic Duels. This one has what I look for in such a game. Thematic miniatures instead of generic pawns. Novel playing system and innovative boards. You will face an opponent battling simultaneously on 3 boards. You each have a deck of cards and from that have a hand of 10 cards. You assign 4 of them to the boards and then reveal them. Each board has separate goals for each side. Can you win for the Light or the Dark sides of the force? With over 150 miniatures in the game this game is fun to play and looks great when set up. My only caution is that this game was released several years ago and is popular for all of it’s miniatures and so the demand has led to it’s being fairly expensive so good luck finding a copy.

9
Go to the Ascension: Storm of Souls page
27 out of 33 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a good addition to the Ascension family. If you are not familiar with the game this is a deck construction game where everyone starts with a deck of 10 cards and 5 of those are randomly drawn. At the start of your turn you draw 5 cards and try to use the cards to defeat or obtain cards from a row of face up cards. When you get a card a new one will be drawn to replace it. The card you obtained is put in your discard usually and will be shuffled into your deck for future draws when you shuffle the deck. The cards are worth varying amounts of points and at the end of the game the person with the most points wins. You will also earn points by killing monsters during the game and the game ends when all the crystals(bonus score rewards) have been claimed.
That is the basic concept of all Ascension games. This is a worthy expansion for the game which can be played as a stand alone game or mixed in to create a larger deck of cards to play with. This game also has trophy monsters which give a player a one time use reward and events, which when revealed interact with cards in the game in various ways. This version of the game does not really favor one faction over the other as some of the previous editions did. All in all a welcome and balanced addition to the system.

6
Go to the Apples to Apples page

Apples to Apples

32 out of 50 gamers thought this was helpful

Until the appearance last year of codenames this was a high(if not the top) go to party/group games. You have 2 decks one of red cards and one of green cards. Each player has a hand of red cards. Each turn one player sets his hand aside and draws a green card and reveals it. The other players then choose a card that fits the green card which is generally descriptive. i.e. if the card might be fuzzy. Then you look at your cards and choose a card and place it face down in a pile in the middle of the table. The person who drew the green card then shuffles the cards and then reveals them all. All players can then make explanations/arguements on which card to choose(does not have to be theirs). The fun comes from the fact that you usually don’t have any cards to fit the category, after all which is fuzzier a hippopatomus or a battleship? The green card player then chooses one and that player gets a point. The green player role then rotates around the table to the next player. When one player gets a set number of points the game is over. This is a good social game especially if you have people who don’t play a ;ot of games. Additionalyy, if you like the game there are several expansions available on the market.

8
Go to the Settlers of America - Trails to Rails page
32 out of 38 gamers thought this was helpful

This is the Catan game with some interesting extras added. The basic concepts of Settlers of Catan are here, so if you don’t know the game you might want to look at a review and play the basic game first. The theme is the colonization of America. Players start with 2 settlements on the right side of the board. You can play a pre-setup layout or randomize some of the game. Where the numbers are have fixed resources on the spaces for some of the board but some have an empty space by the resource so the number can be random. At the start the empty spaces on the right side have tokens with numbers on them. As the game progresses the number tokens will be moved to new locations. Once a location loses it’s number token it will no longer produce. You will build trains and wagons to expand with new settlements and build tracks trains and wagons. Every time you build a settlement you will gain a cube that must be shipped to a settlement via train. You cannot ship your cubes to your own locations so you will build tracks(road equivalents) to travel to other cities with your train(s). The board is full of locations and when a wagon arrives at a location you build a settlement there and replace the wagon with a settlement marker. There is no choice when you arrive at a location, but only 1 settlement per location. There are paths your wagons travel on, so you can bypass a location but you will take longer to get across the board. You win the game by having 10 settlements and delivering the 10 cubes. This is an enjoyable variant of the game that is more strategic than the base game but still uses the same luck mechanism(dice rolls) to drive the game. If you have not played a lot of board games or are unfamiliar with the Catan system I recommend playing the base game first, but if you are ready for a challenge or change try this one.

9
Go to the Heroscape: Game System Master Set page
27 out of 44 gamers thought this was helpful

The base games comes with plastic hexagonal tiles that represent different terrain types and can be linked together to form a playing field map. You have individual heroes and squads of 3 figures per squad. Each figure(s) belongs to a faction and has a point value. Pick a point value and build an army(usually for fighting) and face off against other armies. There is no restriction on combining different figures really but it is easier to challenge one faction versus the others. There were 9 character expansions with 4 sets per expansions as well as a superhero version and a D&D version with a couple of expansions for that one. It has been a few years since any of his game was produced, but last year a new version called Magic The Gathering: Arena of the Planeswalkers was released. It is the Heroscape system with a few new tweaks and new factions. If you like the original system or want to try it out this is a much less expensive version of the game.

9
Go to the HeroQuest page

HeroQuest

34 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful

This game was the beginning of a new sub-genre which Games Workshop dubbed 3-D role playing. The idea was to combine tabletop miniatures gaming with board gaming and role playing elements. In the game you and your party are adventurers. You choose and adventure from a book of adventures and prepare the board and then play the adventure. Some expansions were made for the game adding more adventures, monsters and heroes. The other breakthrough was that prior to this game the common wisdom was that only metal miniatures had a decent quality and detail to them. this was the 1st game to have quality plastic miniatures. The game is popular and expensive to find intact copies. However, if you want the game look for the later more detailed version called Advanced Heroquest which added more of a roleplaying element to the game. Also, look for Space Crusade and Advanced Space Crusade which are the sci-fi versions of the game.
Additionally, A few years later GW released a new version of Advanced Heroquest called Warhammer Quest. Again, this is a good version of the game. Since then nothing new but there was a quickstarter version for the 25th anniversary that did not seem to be as good as far as most people that have played it have commented.

8
Go to the Descent: Journeys in the Dark page
31 out of 44 gamers thought this was helpful

I am not going to do my usual rules explanation on this one. There has been plenty of information done already. Instead I am focusing on some general information you should have. First, and most importantly, If you do not already have the game make sure that the copy you purchase is 2nd edition. I bought it when it 1st came out and my group played it a few times and then stopped as we were getting slaughtered every time we played and never made it past the 1st scenario. The second edition had significant rules changes and made the game more enjoyable while keeping it playable. Secondly, if you do own a 1st edition copy see if you can find a conversion kit. The company put these out for a while and they have everything you need to convert 1st edition copies for 2nd edition play. Third, the components are fantastic and worth the cost. I believe that the fact that so many of today’s boardgames have impressive minis(both in quantity and quality of design) are due in large part to the outstanding work that Fantasy Flight has been doing on their games. Finally, this is a “dungeon crawl”- a team of heroes with a goal. You can play as bunch of 1 time adventures or run it as an ongoing campaign with the same heroes each time and watch as they grow. There are plenty of expansions available if you enjoy the game.

 
Go to the Patchwork page

Patchwork

77 out of 93 gamers thought this was helpful

Given the theme(making a patchwork quilt) I had not played this before and was therefore surprised by the playability of the game. I am however, a big fan of Uwe Rosenberg’s games and so I was talked into playing it. After playing the game will I buy it? No. I have a lot of games and I’m still not a jigsaw piece style game fan, however I don’t think I can get people to play it much. but would I play it again? Sure, and without desperately looking around for something else to play. If this seems like a contradiction in terms don’t misunderstand me, I enjoyed playing the game, but it is not one I want to own and bring to the table.
That being said, feel free to judge for yourself.
Each player has a blank board with an 11×11 grid on it. Pieces are laid out in a random order in a circle. A wooden marker is placed out as a starting point. There is a separate spiral path board that each player has a marker on at the starting point of the spiral. The players start with some button tokens and these are the currency of the game. The pieces have different shapes, sizes and 2 values. The first value is the cost of the piece in buttons and the second is the cost in time to attach the piece to your quilt. Going clockwise from the start position you can buy 1 of the next 3 pieces counting around the circle. Purchase a piece, add it to your quilt and move your token along the spiral a number of spaces equal to the time spiral. However, the location marker moves to that location and you now buy 1 of the 3 pieces available from that new location. Some pieces have 1 or more buttons on them. There are 2 important types of spaces on the spiral. 1 gives the 1st player to pass it a 1 square piece to fill in a gap in your quilt. The other earns buttons for you. Additionally, you can choose to move to the front of the group. This earns you buttons based on the # of spaces moved but burns time off. The 1st player to build a solid 9×9 grid gets a reward of 7 buttons. When you hit the end of the time spiral you are done. When all players are done you count the number of uncovered spaces (x) 2, (-) number of buttons and this is your final score.

 
Go to the Arboretum page

Arboretum

12 out of 17 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a card game with beautiful artwork. However, the scoring is going to take a couple of game plays to understand, let alone master.
There are 10 different trees with 8 cards of each tree type, numbered 1-8. The dealer deals each player 7 cards. Then deals 1 face up card to each player except the dealer. The face up cards start each player’s discard pile. Then starting with the dealer the players will draw 2 cards then play 1 and place 1 in their own discard piles. The cards drawn can be from the deck or from the top cards of any player’s discard pile or a combination of choices. Your goal is to create paths on your display and score the most points at the end of the game. A path must begin and end with the same type of tree and must be at least 2 trees long and be in ascending order, 1-3-5 etc… but does not need to be sequential. It can also include other tree types along the way. If there are 4 or more trees in the path and they are of the same type each tree is worth 2 points otherwise each tree is worth 1 point regardless of type. Other bonuses are payed for playing the 1 and 8 of each type. Additionally, trees may be part of more than 1 path, but cannot be moved after placing them. The game ends when all cards have been drawn from the deck. The really tricky part of the game comes then. You look at each tree type individually. You look at the 7 cards in your hand. For each tree type the players reveal the cards of that type they have. Only the player with the highest total of cards gets to score points for that type of tree. If there is a tie or no player has points left in there hand then all players who have a tied hand value (0 in case all trees were played out) score the trees they played in their displays. The game has a nice relaxed, gentle feel while playing, but the scoring turns it into an aggressive game during the scoring. Do you play the card for points or save it to protect your score? I’ve enjoyed it so far and hope you will too.

9
Go to the Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport page
105 out of 147 gamers thought this was helpful

The scoundrels of Skullport expansion adds 2 new expansions to the game that have very different effects on the game. The basic changes for both expansions is the addition of everything you need to add a 6th player. Additionally, there is a new chart for the # of pieces per player if you want to play a longer game.
The 1st expansion is Undermountain. This adds some new Lords, buildings quests and Intrigue cards. The main effect is to vastly increase and encourage playing Intrigue cards.
The second (and to me more interesting one) is the Skullport expansion. This to adds new Lords, buildings, quests and Intrigue cards as well as a new game element involving negative points and represented by blue skull markers in the game. The second expansion gives the feel of a new game and has proven to be the more popular of the 2 expansions in my game groups. I do recommend that you try both expansions separately and then if you are feeling really adventurous there are rules for playing all of the game and expansions as 1 mega game. This has definitely added new life to the game for our group and I hope you will enjoy it to.

 
Go to the Diamonds page

Diamonds

14 out of 20 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a simple trick taking game with a neat little twist. You use a deck of cards with the standard four suits(diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs, but with the cards numbered 1-15 and no face cards. Each player gets 3 gems to start the game with The gems are placed in front of a screen each player has. The dealer deals 10 cards to each player. If you have less than 6 players in the game the extra cards are set aside. The dealer then chooses that all players will pass 1-3 cards from their hand to the player on their left. The pass is always to the left and the dealer must choose to pass at least 1 card. After the pass is completed the player to the left starts the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible. There are no trumps in this game. Each suit has a power so when you win a trick you get the bonus power of that suit. Diamonds-take a gem from the general supply and place it behind your screen. Spades- place a gem from those in front of your screen and put it behind your screen. Hearts- place a gem from the general supply in front of your screen. Clubs- take a gem from another player’s pile in front of his screen and place it in front of your screen.
The game is played a number of hands = to the number of players with each player getting a chance to be a dealer. During each trick if you cannot follow suit you may play any other card and immediately get the effect of that card. At the end of each hand if you took no tricks you get 2 gems from the general supply and place them behind your screen. For the rest of the players check and see who has the most cards of each suit and that player gets the bonus use of that suit’s ability. If 2 or more players tie on #of cards then nobody gets that suit’s bonus.
The game is easy to learn and fun to play.

9
Go to the Splendor page

Splendor

66 out of 98 gamers thought this was helpful

By that I mean I have never set down to play with others and played just one game. It’s short game length(20-30 minutes) and ease of teaching makes it a great filler for experienced gamers and a great introductory game for new players. The components are attractive-cards from which 3 distinct draw piles are laid out, and 5 basic colors of poker style chips that are coded by color rather than denomination.
The rules are easy: on a player’s turn he/she can do 1 of 3 different actions. A) draw chips- Draw 3 chips 1- 1 each of 3 different base colors or 2 of the same color if there are at least 4 chips in that color stack. Each chip represents 1 gem of a type based on it’s color B) Each card has a cost in gems that you pay and can then claim as your own card. A card will produce 1 gem of a type thereby giving you a discount on future purchases. 3) Reserve card for future purchase(you also get 1 “wild” chip which can be used as any color when purchasing any card). You may at any time have a total of 10 chips and have a total of 3 cards reserved.
Winning the Game: Some cards have a point value on them of 1-5. Additionally, there are “Noble” tiles available for purchase. The nobles can only be purchased by having the required number of cards under your control. Each noble is worth 3 pts. You win by getting 15 or more points. by the end of a round. At the end of your turn a player can claim 1 noble, if they meet the requirements, as a free action.
The game is easy fast and fun. Try it out sometime.

 
Go to the Machi Koro page

Machi Koro

78 out of 105 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a fun game that has a wide variety of choices and a healthy dose of luck. You start with a wheat field and a bakery. You also have 3 coins. You also have 4 cards “under construction” meaning you don’t get them until you have the money to pay for them. Every card in the game has game effects and also costs coins. The game effect is usually about collecting coins from the bank or other players. On your turn you roll 1 6-dided die. Later you will earn the choice of rolling 1 or 2 dice. After you roll collect or pay rewards based on what you rolled and then you can purchase 1 card. Card effects stack- for instance, a wheat field costs 1 coin to buy and pays 1 coin when you roll a 1. If you have 3 wheat fields and roll a 1 you would get 3 coins. Different cards are attached to different numbers. Cards are also colored and there is an order that cards are paid out in. Red cards, for instance, collect coins first from the player who just rolled and are paid out before other cards. This is important, because if you roll a number covered by a red card you will pay what you can and then collect from the bank so you will always have a chance to buy something. the game ends with the 1st player to build all 4 of his/her “under construction” cards.
Choose wisely on what order you build your special cards as the game effects will depend a lot on the choices others make. It is a fun, quick game I think you will enjoy.

4
Go to the Catan: Seafarers page

Catan: Seafarers

86 out of 130 gamers thought this was helpful

This is one of the 1st 2 expansions for the game and reflects the divided approach to the game expansions. If you are a big fan of the original game, but don’t care as much about later editions you may really like this expansion. There are 2 primary differences added to the game. The 1st is an additional use for sheep which puts it on a level of necessity with the other resources. Sheep now are used to help generate boats which overall work as roads to help span water areas. The second difference is scenarios which result in variations in the board and gameplay depending on the scenario. There is also now a 2nd robber which gives you a choice of which to use when 7s are rolled. Overall, the game changes are slight enough that you can add this and it is an extra minor change that did not add much of a “new” feel to the game. If you like later editions like “Trails to Rails” you will not find enough to warrant adding this, however, if you are purist you may very well enjoy this addition to the game.

 
Go to the Haggis page

Haggis

110 out of 160 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a nice niche card game. There are plenty of games that are fun for 2,4 or up to 6 players but very few are designed for smaller game groups. Haggis is a good 3 player one that, more importantly, is designed as a 3 player game. Using a deck that consists of 5 different colored suits the elements will be familiar to those who already play euro style card games. For instance a key element is the “bomb” which allows players to override the current play. I first learned the concept when I was taught Tichu, a german card game, and it is one that adds strategy to the game. If you play cards none of the elements will be hard to learn or master. If you have a friend that has a copy try it out, otherwise, take a chance and buy a copy, I think you’ll like it.

8
Go to the Star Trek: Catan page

Star Trek: Catan

63 out of 72 gamers thought this was helpful

There are plenty of Settlers of Catan reviews so I want to concentrate on the differences. This edition is based on the original TV series.
Instead of villages, cities and roads you have outposts, starbases and starships. The robber piece is a Klingon warship and the desert is replaced by an asteroid field. The resources are dilithium, food, water, oxygen and tritanium. The main difference is the addition of special character cards. Each card has a different special power. You start the game with a card and must use it once before you choose a new one or keep it to use a second time. After you use it a second time you must choose a new card. The development cards are similar to the deck in the original game but redone to fit the theme.
There has already been 1 expansion of extra mapboards based on the map iof the federation in Kirk’s room. It is a fun alternative to the regular base game.

3
Go to the Ender's Game Battle School page
13 out of 21 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a simple to learn gamw. While that can be a good thing it can also be bad if that easy teachability is due to restricted play as here. If you have seen the movie read on. If not: STOP! Ahead is a movie spoiler. Read at your own peril. The game is based on the part of the movie involving the gravity trining Ender and friends learn by playing a sort of war game in zero gravity. I highly recommend you skip this game and if you must play it, borrow a friend’s copy. The captain of each team gets to choose which of 2 powers he will play with. Unfortunately, my big complaint is that for the sake of “movie accuracy” the game is designed in a manner so that Ender wins. In my case I consistently wiped out Ender’s team with minimal or no losses only to have the Ender piece single handedly wipe my entire team out. Dice are involved, but my rolling was average (normal hit/miss ratio with occasional lucky hits or woeful misses, but it just doesn’t matter! Ender should always win. I recommend you find any other game immediately.

9
Go to the Keyflower page

Keyflower

114 out of 151 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is a tier 2(about a 2.5 really). It is for gamers with some experience with games that are more strategic and less luck driven. That being said there is still some luck involved and for it’s strategic value it is very easy to teach. It also does not punish 1st time players for their mistakes. It is part of a series of games with “Key” in the title and this is the best one done in the series in the last few years(IMO). The game plays 2-6 players, but I like it best at 4 and will review it with that # in mind. The 1st 3 seasons are played identically so let’s start with that. The “board” components are hexagonal tiles. To start the game each player gets a “home” tile and draws 8 little men called “meeples” in gaming of random colors(red, yellow and blue) which they place behind a player screen where they are not seen by the other players. Next 7 tiles are drawn from a stack of 12 for that season and placed season icon side up in a general area. Additionally, a number of boat and turn order tiles are placed in the general area loaded with random meeples and skill tiles. The season tiles in the seasons grant victory points, a player bonus or an action that can be taken. Not all tiles for a season will be available and this is part of the replayability. whoever gets the purple meeple starts the game and places the 1st bid/takes an action. On your turn you may bid for ownership of a tile or if it is an action tile may take the action. Bidding- you may place 1 or more meeples of the same color(all yellow or blue or red or green on a bid) on the hexagonal fedge facing you. Future bids have to be a higher number AND match the color already bid. Alternatively you may place meeples on top of a tile to take the action of that tile. If you are the 1st person to use an action you can place 1, 2 or 3 meeples on the tile. The next time the tile action is used by anyone they have to place at least 1 meeple than the last time the action was done-i.e. if I put 1 meeple the next time 2 or 3 must be placed to use the action and there can never be more than 6 meeples total on a tile. All meeples must be the same color just like when bidding and bid and action meeples must all match, i.e. if you bid yellow as the 1st thing that happens at a tile than all future bids and actions on tha tile must be with yellow meeples. The actions range from collecting skills and resources to drawing extra meeples from the bag. You may “pass” and not do anything on a round and still take actions on a future round, but the round ends when all players pass in succession(in the same round). If someone outbids you you may increase your bid or move your bid to another tile. At the end of the round the winning bids get the tile and all meeples on the tile and their bid goes in the bag. All failed bids go back to their owners. Additionally in the 1st 3 seasons if you bid on turn order you now choose a boat of workers and skills to add behind your screen. If you didn’t bid you get a choice in turn order starting from the holder of the purple meeple. Then you place out your tiles you collected attached to your home farm by matching the edges(road or blank edges) together. Most tiles can be promoted on future seasons to give you more od the action(i.e.- draw a meeple from the bag when promoted becomes draw 2 meeples) Promotion also usually give end game victory points. Starting with summer(2nd round) you can also place meeples on someone else’s tiles to take the action of that tile following the same guidelines as taking actions on unclaimed tiles. The difference is no one can steal a tile from someone and the owner of the tile will get all meeples placed on his tile at the end of the round. All resources collected from other tiles (owned by others and unowned are placed on your home farm.. Resources produced for you on your own tiles are placed on those tiles. This is important because to promote a tile to it’s flip side requires resources and/or skills and in the case of resources they have to be on that tile being promoted. Taking the “farm” action allows you to move resources around and promote tiles. Thye final season is winter and no new meeples arrive. All of the winter tiles are about end game scoring bonuse so there are no actions to be taken. No meeples or skills are available, instead you will claim boats(guaranteed) for end game bonuses as well as turn order(if bid on) tiles. The winter tiles are not laid out as normal. Instead at the beginning of the game each player gets a random set and for winter must place 1 or more in the general area to be on. One last note- You’ll notice Imentioned green meeples at 1 point. There are tiles in the non winter seasons that can generate green meeples. They may or may not be available in a round(not all tiles will be available). Green are very powerful. The victory points are based on gold resources, green meeples , promoted tiles and end game bonuses.
I enjoy the game because it is easy to teach, fast to play, good replay, and challenging choices to make.

9
Go to the Tokaido page

Tokaido

72 out of 88 gamers thought this was helpful

Before I review the game I want to take a moment to say what a beautiful game this is. Halfway through the game take a moment to stop and look at it.
Now for the review. The game is simple and easy to teach.
Your token is traveling from one end of the Road to the other. There are locations along the way that trigger various game effects. Each location has 1 or 2 spaces on it. Each space can only be occupied by one player’s token. The spaces are as follows: Souvenir stand: To stop at this space you must have at least 1 coin. You draw 3 cards. The price ranges from 1-3 coins. Each card has a symbol on it. You immediately score points for the cards you purchase. The goal is to collect sets with different symbols on them. A full set has 1 of each symbol on it. Throughout the game you will have chances at these sites to add more cards to your sets. This is one of 2 weakspots in the game as you can rack up the largest amount of victory points(VPs) on this space. HotSprings: Stopping here gets you a card worth 2-3 points. Temple: This is the other space you need money to stop at. You donate 1-3 coins for a corresponding amount of VPs. At the end of the game you earn up to 10 VPs based on how much you gave relative to other players. Panoramas: There are 3 different panorama spaces. When you stop on one you get the next card in that sequence for VPs worth the number on the card sequence. There are panoramas with 3,4 and 5 cards in them. The drawback is once you complete a panorama you can no longer stop at that space on the road. However, if you are the 1st to complete a particular panorama you get a 3 pt. bonus. Visitors: Stopping here lets you draw a card. The visitor grants you a bonus. It can be anything from money to bonus cards. Inns: You must stop at the inns and cannot leave until all players have arrived. At this space you may purchase a meal for 6 VP. Farms: You gain 3 coins.
The unique part of this game is that you may move along the road as much as you want. However, The person in last place,by position, moves next. With some careful timing you can end up moving more than once before another player gets a turn.
At the start of teh game everyone blind draws 2 characters and chooses one to play in the game. The character you choose determines your starting money(2-9 coins) and gets a special power that works in relation to one of the game spaces. This is where the other problem in the game appears, because if 2 people pick characters with powers based on the same space it can be a big handicap.
The game is fun and there is enough tension in the decision making process to keep you focused. Money is tight throughout the game..
As I said earlier this game is easy to teach and has good replay value. Check it out.

8
Go to the Le Havre: The Inland Port page
35 out of 39 gamers thought this was helpful

I have played the game twice now and there is good news and bad news. First we will deal with the basics and the good news. The game is fun. If you liked Le Havre and/or Ora & Labora you should like this game. It is easy to learn and easy to teach, but there is plenty of challenge in the decision making process.

To start with you will sort out the building tokens by the letter on the back of each one into 12 groups. Each player takes a wheel with a spinner and a counter board as well as a set of counters-you have the choice of 2 sided counters or matching colored cubes- and 3 francs.

Then place each of the counters on it’s matching color coded start space. Brown=wood; blue=fish; yellow=wheat; and red=clay.

The A buildings are placed face up in the play area between the players. The spinners on the wheels are placed at the top of the wheel(A for player 1 and G for player 2). Under each letter is the total # of actions the players get to take that round. The number of actions is odd and ingreases by 2 after every 3 rounds i.e. 3-5-7-9. The start player for any round has a sunburst at the top of their letter and yellow line around the letter. On the inner part of each player’s spinner is a circle divided in 6 sections. the sections are 0-2-3-4-4 with a money symbol and a building silhouette with an exclamation mark.

The first player now starts. You have 2 choices-A) build a building. At the top of each building token is a cost, in the main area of the token is the game effect. Buildings require wood or clay or both, food(fish or wheat or combination), or money to build. When you build a building to pay for it move the counter to the proper spot on the counter board. The bosrd is numbered 0-10 across the columns and each level is numbered starting at 0 and increasing by 3 for each level. After paying you place the token in the 0 section of your wheel. B)The second Action you can take is to use a building. to use your building look at the section it is in and use the effect(per the instructions) that many times and then place the building in the 0 section. To use your opponent’s building you must first pay him 1 franc. In the 1st round there are 3 actions so the players will alternate 1-2-1. After that each player moves their spinner counter-clockwise 1 space. Player 1 will be on B and 2 on H. The B buildings will be added to the play area and you will see that there are 3 actions and player 2 goes first so play will be 2-1-2. You will also notice that buildings placed in the 0 sector are now in the 2 sector.

This repeats until the last round when all buildings are now available for play. The winner has the most money from building values and unspent money. Warning if on a turn any buildings end up in the section showing the special symbol you can take the action to sell them to the bank for 1/2 of their value and they are open for either player to buy on their next turn. If the spinner would pass them back to the 0 they go back to the playing field and you lose them and have to rebuy them. The pressure of when to buy buildings and how long to let them ride, to long and your opponent might pay you to get the game effect help make the game challenging and fun with a good replay value.

Now for the bad news I mentioned. The game tokens are small. I understand why they probably did it- any larger and they wouldn’t fit on the wheel- but I would have paid a couple of more bucks for a larger set up. Secondly, there is only 1 copy of the building effects at the back of the rule book. I recommend making 2 reference cards , 1 for each player. Overall, I am glad I got the game and with a play time of about 30 minutes I will take the game with me as a filler.

6
Go to the Hooyah: Navy Seals Card Game page
284 out of 379 gamers thought this was helpful

The publisher’s review gives a very good explanation of the actual game play so I will concentrate on my impressions of the game.
Rulebook- For a fairly straightforward game I found the first reading of the rules to be a bit haphazard and confusing. Read the rulebook THUROUGHLY before playing. By this I mean read the examples and sidebar materials. Also and comprehensive reading will clear up a lot of terms. Overall, our 1st play after 1 reading led us to misplay a major rule and consider the game too easy. When we replayed with our mistakes corrected it was a much better game. Now I know that every time you 1st play a game you miss things in the game, but the rulebook is not organized in such a way as to make everything easy to pick up. Game terminology especially should be explained to the players before it is used as an explanation for something in the rules. It would also help if all of the relevant information for an action or game component were located in the same place in the rulebook.
After we corrected our understanding of the game’s rules the subsequent games were much more enjoyable and we found it to be a decent, fast game.
However, there are only 5 missions to undertake so I wonder about replay value in the long run.
Sadly, there are a lot of games on the market and more arriving all the time and I just don’t see this one holding it’s own at the gaming table.

 
Go to the Toc Toc Woodman page

Toc Toc Woodman

81 out of 110 gamers thought this was helpful

WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE. You have a plastic tree stump. On top of this you place 9 “rings” each ring consisting of a core and 4 pieces of bark which slide into grooves on the edge of the core piece. You also have a plastic axe with an oversized head that you use to tap the rings. if you knock the rings far enough out of line the bark pieces will fall out of the groove and land on the table. Each piece of bark is 1 point. But, be careful! if you tap to hard the “tree” collapses and the game is over. Whoever did not cause the collapse and has the most bark pieces wins. The game plays in 1-10 minutes depending on how careful you are. It is fun and visually appealing to people of all ages.

7
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep page
59 out of 82 gamers thought this was helpful

The box resembles one of the old 80s/90s D&D base Sets. One of my friends kept asking if I was sure this was a new game. There have been several new D&D boardgames over the past few years. This has nothing to do with them. Also, if you prefer strong thematic games thsi is not it. This game could easily have been called Farmers of Rivendell or even Farmers in the Dell. Despite that, this is a good fun game. It is easy and quick to teach and has good replay value.
The Game- The board has several permanent locations(buildings) most of which can only be used by one character token at a time each round. Each player starts the game with 2 quests, a player board, 2-4 character tokens(based 0n # of players), 2 Intrigue cards and an amount of money based on where the character starts in the player order and also a Lord of Waterdeep card(which is kept secret from others). There are 5 “resources” in the game- money and 4 different colors of cubes representing different D&D character classes-Warrior, cleric, wizard and rogue. Your player board represents a tavern. During a round you place a token in a building space and immediately get a benefit. Mostly, these are colored cubes which are then placed on your player board. For instance, one space gives 2 orange cubes. You take 2 orange cubes(warriors) and place them on your board(tavern). Everytime you place a token you may then complete a quest. Quests are completed by turning in to the supply the correct quantity and combination of cubes and money. The reward is Victory Points and sometimes money, cubes or quests. There are 5 different types of quests-Arcana, Piety, warfare, Skullduggery and Commerce. A warfare quest requires more orange cubes(Warriors) to complete, while an Arcana requires more purple(wizards) to complete. This is important as most Lord cards give you bonus VP at the end of the game for 2 different quests which vary from Lord to Lord. Other spaces allow you to build more buildings or get more quests.
One space allows you to play Intrigue cards. Intrigue cards can benefit you and or benefit/hurt your opponent at the same time. The game has a built in timer track on the board and ends after 8 rounds.
At the end of 8 rounds you add any end of game bonuses to your score and high score wins.
So will I keep playing it. Yes. Do I recommend it? If you like Eurogames-then yes. As I said earlier the theme does not have game influence nor is this connected to earlier D&D boardgames, but don’t let this discourage you from at least trying the game.

9
Go to the Can't Stop page

Can't Stop

80 out of 102 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a fun game that has been around long time. This edition is the 3rd version and nothing has been changed.
To start choose a color and take all the markers of that color. The board shows the numbers 2-12(values of a pair of dice). These numbers are each at the top of a column of spaces, the number of spaces is based on the probability of rolling that number, which are different amounts. There are also 3 white(neutral) markers and 4 dice. The goal is to advance your markers up the columns and be the first to place your marker on a number for that column. On your turn roll 4 dice and separate them into 2 pairs. Then place a white marker on the space for that number showing your current progress-if you don’t have a marker in that column place the white marker in the 1st or bottom space, if you have a colored marker in that row place the white marker in the space above it in the column. Do this for both numbers if possible. You may then roll again. If all 3 white markers are on the board you may continue to roll but must roll 1 of the 3 numbers with a white marker on that column. If you stop advance your colored marker to where the white markers are. However, if you continue to roll and don’t roll 1 of the 3 numbers needed to move a white marker your turn is over and you lose all the progress you have made for that turn and do not advance or add colored markers. The winner is the first person to place their colored markers on 3 numbers. Only one person can cover a number, but all can try for it at the same time. Note: Once a number is covered by colored marker it is out of the game and is useless if rolled even by the player who covered it. i.e. no player can have a marker in that color or advance a marker.

9
Go to the Defenders of the Realm: Hero Expansion #3 page
28 out of 35 gamers thought this was helpful

This set adds 4 new characters(bringing the total to 21 characters) and another pack of randomized event cards. The 1st expansion strengthened your fighters, the second strengthened your support character possibilities, this set seems to focus on mobility and increasing your card use flexibility and by that I mean that as a whole these characters can build up hands of cards for attacking the generals a little quicker. Again, this set is not useable without the base game. Here are the characters: FELINE- If she is on a location with other heroes once per game round she can “shadow” a hero, that is move with them if they move on foot or by horse. More importantly, if she is on a space with a general she can use this ability to move with them if they move, every time they move, so the generals cannot get away from her. She also gets to reroll all combat 1s rolled the first time she rolls them and this does not cost an action. SEEKER- At the start of her turn she draws the top Darkness Spreads card and reveals it so she knows what the first bad event happening at the end of her turn will be. She only draws the 1st card even during mid and late war. Additionally, she may use any purple cards as battle luck cards(reroll all failed dice in an attack) and she may use the dice the special(purple) cards can be used for as if they were wild cards-so she can use them to attack any general not just the ones they are allocated to. Finally, she may spend an action to scatter all minions on a location she is at to adjacent locations, although she cannot use this ability if a general is present at her location. SHAMAN- The Shaman starts as a human but once per turn may shift into a bear or wolf or back to human when in animal form. When he shifts to bear he automatically heals one wound and he may reroll all dice(successes and failures) once per combat. When he shifts to wolf form he may move up to 2 spaces per action and will take no wounds(except fear) from minions if he ends his turn on a green location. The Shaman may not enter Monarch City or an Inn while in animal form, but may shift while at those locations. Shifting is a free action. In human form he may also spend an action to eliminate all minions on a location he is at, but must roll 1 die, if it is an odd number he taints the location. THIEF- May draw 1 extra hero card at end of turn for each adjacent location with 3 minions or a general on it., however, if the card drawn matches the color of the location that caused it to be drawn the Thief takes 1 wound. When she draws the 1st darkness spreads card at end of her turn she draws 2 and chooses 1 that will happen, the other one is discarded or put back on top of the deck, her choice. Additionally, she gets to reroll any failed combat die rolls once per combat if she is on a treasure chest. This ability may be used against generals. Finally, if she defeats 2 or minions in a single combat roll she immediately draws a bonus Hero card.
There you have it. These characters when mixed in with the others will give you the ability to focus on attacking the genrals quicker and hopefully winning thw game more often. Good Luck.

9
Go to the Defenders of the Realm: Hero Expansion #2 page
31 out of 36 gamers thought this was helpful

This set adds 4 new characters and another pack of randomized event cards. While these may not be the strongest set of characters in terms of fighting, but their overall support of the party makes them vital additions especially if you play some of the later scenarios created for the game and published online by the game creator. This is an expansion and is only useable if you have the base game. Here are the characters: DRUID- He gets to roll 2 dice and on a 5+ removes a taint crystal from a location he is at without needing to use a Hero card. Additionally, if he is on a green location he can attack minions on any other lgreen location on the board at a -1 to his dice rolls. Finally, if he ends his turn on a green location he can heal himself of 1 wound and takes no minion or fear damage. ELF LORD- He is always 1st in the game. He has a re-roll token which he may use once per turn to reroll 1 failed die roll. If he does not use it he may give it to another player to use on their turn. Additionally, he can move to an adjacent green location for free once per turn as long as he still has an action token available for use. Finally, on his first attack against minions at a location he gets to roll one extra die, but must choose a specific color before rolling. More importantly, this ability works against Generals. HEALER-First, for 1 action she can heal up to 3 wounds of any heroes, including herself, at
her location. Furthermore if she ends her turn at a location with other heroes they heal 1 wound automatically. Additionally, she may spend 1 action at a tainted location and roll 1 die for each minion located there. Each roll of 5+ removes a crystal without using a hero card. Finally, she ignores a General’s combat skills. This has been explained in an addendum sheet to include Varkolak’s ability. What this means is she gets rerolls during combat and may play battleluicks that she has on other players or have other players play their battle luck cards on her. MONK- This character starts with 2 quests and always has 2 quests. Additionally, all natural 6s count as 2 hits except against Dragonkin. Finally, when she would take any wounds from minions or Generals(except fear) she rolls a die for each wound and on a 5+ does not take the wound. As I said earlier they are not strong overall fighters, but their special abilities can have a major impact on whether or not the party wins the game.

9
Go to the Defenders of the Realm: Hero Expansion #1 page
40 out of 45 gamers thought this was helpful

If you like the Defenders of the Realm game you will enjoy this chance to add 4 new characters to the game. In addition to the new characters you get a new Paladin Figure that is in a scale that fits better with the other figures. You also get a package of, unfortunately, randomly packed Global effects cards to add to your game. The Global Effects cards were first added to the game in the Dragon Expansion. Some are good and some are bad for the players and you add some of each to the darkness spreads phase of the game. When one is revealed it takes effect and stays in effect until a new event is drawn. You also draw a replacement DS card for the turn in which you draw the effect card. If the new DS card is a Global card discard the second card without effect and continue to draw until you get a regular DS card.
*************THE NEW CHARACTERS***************************************
The Captain of the Guard-His primary ability that you will use is the fact that he can give unspent actions to other players to use on their next turn. THis is helpful when you have 1 last action and no good use or by planning ahead to help another character who needs 1 more action than they have to accomplish something useful(like joining the group to launch the attack on the general).
The Adventurer-The most attractive ability here is a handsize limit of 14 cards. A 40% increase in hand size is nothing to sneeze at.
The Chaos Wizard-His abilities to rain down destruction all over the board(at random) helps a lot when minions are about to overrun the board.
The Assassin-Shadow Walking(disappearing from the board as your last action and reappearing up to 3 spaces away at the start of your next turn) means this character is a powerful and flexible threat all over the board.
These characters add a lot of new options to your gameplay.

8
Go to the Kingdom Builder page

Kingdom Builder

99 out of 137 gamers thought this was helpful

Andy has given a good explanation of the mechanics so I will focus on the strength and weaknesses and who will probably like it. This is another good tier 1 game(Settlers, etc…)If you are trying to encourage players to try boardgaming. The placement is entirely luck driven. There are 5 terrain types and at the end of your turn you draw a card and that is the terrain where you will do your mandatory placement(of three settlements) on your next turn. In my first 2 games I did not draw a single flowers terrain card. The rule that all settlements must be placed adjacent when possible adds a little strategy for the more experienced gamer while limiting choices for the novice. The player interaction is indirect, since you don’t know what terrain your opponents are holding you cannot interfere on purpose, however, since you all play under the same scoring conditions a given location will usually be equally attractive to all and keeps anyone from feeling to picked on.
So, if you like luck based games with only a little in the way of planned strategy or are looking for games to ease your friends into the world of boardgames this is a good choice. If you like deep strategy, control of your fate, and/or heavy player interaction this is not the game for you.

8
Go to the Coloretto page

Coloretto

97 out of 118 gamers thought this was helpful

There are already a couple of good reviews on how to play the game so I will focus on who should play and why. This is a good game to try if a) You are curious about German Card Games. GCGs are different from there American counterparts because they focus on a more aggressive interaction between players and tend to have negative point values that outweigh the positive points. Coloretto is one of the “lightest” of these games. b)You are looking for a game that is quick enough to be a “filler” game, but challenging enough to hold player interest for your gaming group. This game is easy to learn, plays quickly, and has enough basic strategy to be challenging. c)You want a game for friends and family that can be played by a wide variety of ages and gaming aptitudes. It’s always hard to find a game that will allow a mix of hardcore gamers, newbie gamers, and kids to play together and have a good time. This game, because it is easy to teach and learn, has some basic strategy, and has player interaction provides such a gaming experience. d)Finally, this is a crossover game. If you get people playing who are not board gamers once they are hooked on the game you can introduce them to Zooloretto. If you are not familiar with it this is a tier 1 (introducing newbies to boardgaming) that takes Coloretto and turns it to a board game that adds a few simple elements to the game, but keeps the original concepts of the game. I recommend the game, I have been playing it for many years now and am still using my original copy, which if you new how much I game means that this statement is actually an impressive testimonial to the durability of the components.

6
Go to the Star Trek: Fleet Captains page
126 out of 178 gamers thought this was helpful

The differences of the game components reflect the hit and miss elements of the game itself. This game has an MSRP of $115. What do you get for that? 12 gorgeous ship miniatures for the Federation each visually distinctive and nicely detailed. 12 Klingon ships(5 different hull designs) which while nicely detailed will need painting or some way to differentiate easily(the ship names are on the base) at a glance which ship of a given design are which. The board is made of hexagons randomly laid out facedown at the start. These are a good quality linen stock paper that is light and flimsy and cut poorly. While I saw no miscuts the hexagons were not cut to a uniform size. The cards are equally flimsy and will need to be sleeved for use. The dice look like something you might get out of a gumball machine and need to be replaced before you play much. On to the gameplay:
You have a deck of 12 ship cards with ratings of 1-6. you begin drawing random cards to build a fleet with a total value of 10. There is a mechanism so you will not have a value of more than 10 and it works fine. There are 3 types of missions-combat, influence and science. Each has a rating for each of these types. Step 2 is to draw missions from each deck, again you will have a total of 10 missions. Next you go to the master decks for your side. Similar to some other card based games you now choose 5 of the 10 decks available to build your play deck for the game. This is one of the problem areas as with deck familiarity you will have a huge advantage over newer players. After my first game I reviewed my choices and realized 2 of the decks I chose were virtually useless for my fleet.(I had a Klingon fleet which was strong on science and weak on combat of all things!) You shuffle these cards together and then draw four. Now you are ready to play. Each ship has an adjustable dial on the base that can be set to any “click” in one of three sections. The white section is an undamaged ship, the yellow area is yellow alert and represents taking 1 damage, and the red is red alert and represents taking 2 damage. 3 damage destroys the ship. At any time you will have 3 a choice of 3 missions available to score 1 or 2 points. Some missions are secret and you do not reveal them until completed and you can also receive points by destroying enemy ships. 10 victory points wins the game. This is the next unbalanced point in the game. My opponent had a mission to control to adjacent areas of space for 1 victory point. I had a similar mission for 2 victory points if I controlled EIGHT adjacent spaces. Since the missions only give 1 or 2 points it quickly became obvious that a bad mission draw really unbalances the game. Most of my missions involved controlling huge amounts of territory or performing some task all the way across the board in my opponent’s territory. The final score was 10 to 5 and my opponent had 2 ways on the last turn to achieve the final point which he tried and he achieved with ridiculous ease. As for the rest, on your turn you can do 3 actions, but normally each ship can only be assigned 1 action. These actions are to scan an area before moving into it or to attack or teleport crew or cargo to or from ships and planets, and cloaking Klingon ships. Each click on the ship has a stat for engines, sensors, weapons and shields and different clicks represent feeding power to the different systems. Non action token actions include playing cards from your hand, moving each ship, doing power adjustments(resetting the ships stats), discarding mission cards and a few other game activities. The first play of this game can be confusing as to what you can do when, as I know we had some confusion and my friend had printed out some nice player aids to help us reference everything.(sidenote: most games have a 1 or at the most 2 page player aid, ours was 3 pages) I love Star Trek and would play again hoping that I missed something. I would also play in the future again with the idea that future expansions might fix problems now in the game,but at this price I expected better components and a better game so I will not be buying it anytime soon, unless a disgruntled friend offers me a cheap copy.

8
Go to the Zooloretto page

Zooloretto

76 out of 90 gamers thought this was helpful

This is another very good tier 1 game. There is enough strategy for th regular gamer and still light enough on the rules for the nongaming gamer. This game uses the same basic mechanism that drives the card game Coloretto. The idea is that you start with a zoo with some exhibit areas that are empty. each area can only be filled with one type of animal and can only hold a set amount of tiles. There are a wide variety of animals pictured on tiles. There are also tiles showing money and vendor stands, etc… The majority of the animal tiles show a picture of an animal, but some also have a male or female symbol on them. If you get a male/female they immediately have a baby to put into the enclosure. There are 5 “trucks”, wooden pieces that hold up to 3 tiles each. You start the game with a board with exhibit spaces and a barn space on it as well as additional boards that you can pay to develop during the game, and a small mount of money. All but a few tiles(enough are set aside facedown for 1 complete final round and covered with a wooden marker) are then placed in a cloth bag. You use as many trucks as there are players in the game and they go inthe middle at the start of a round(empty). On your turn you may take an action-1)Draw a tile and put it on a truck. 2)Claim a truck, even if it is not full. 3)Pay to remove an animal from your barn space. 4)buy a new exhibit area. 5)Buy an animal from another player’s barn and put it in an exhibit area. 6)Pay to move animals to the barn or another exhibit area.
Most of the actions are straight forward each turn and will be pretty obvious early on. The tension comes in later turns when trying to decide the timing of your actions. Money is always tight in the game and is earned by claiming trucks with money tiles, selling animals to other players or completing some of your enclosures that grant a onetime payment when completed. Scoring at the end is positive-completely or almost completely filled enclosures, different vending stalls,etc… and negative-different animals in the barn. This is a game about pushing your luck vs. timing your actions. The game is popular enough to still be in print and to have several expansions and spawned a spinoff Aquaretto.

9
Go to the Le Havre page

Le Havre

128 out of 195 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is one of 3 connected games and is my favorite of the 3 by this designer. The first was Agricola. This game was, as I understand it, brought about because of the criticisms of Agricola. If you are not a fan of Agricola you should check it out, if you are a fan you will probably consider it Agricola light.
There are a number of rounds based on the # of players. In each round you will get to do a number of actions dependent on the number of players. The game is about earning victory points through building buildings that have game effects and earning additional money through shipping and “renting” the buildings to other players or using buildings that generate money. All money=victory points. The resources are wheat, fish, francs, wood, clay, iron, coal, and cattle. On the board are spaces for each resource and you start the game with2 francs, 2 wood, 1 clay, and 2 fish on there respective spaces. There are 7 markers in a row on the board. These are placed randomly face down on the board and will not change order when revealed for the rest of the game. Additionally there are 3 building slots on the board. The buildings for the game are shuffled and divided randomly between the slots. They are numbered and placed in ascending order on the slots. Each player starts with 5 francs and 1 coal. The 1st player then places their token(a small wooden ship) on the 1st marker revealing it. Each marker adds 1 each of 2 different to the proper spot on the board, i.e. 1 clay and 1 wood, or 1 franc and 1 iron, etc… The player then takes an action. The actions are 1)claim all of a resource that is on a space on the board, 2)visit a building, pay the rent if any(gold or food), and then use the building’s ability. You may additionally buy as many buildings as you can afford or purchase ships(this does not happen often), pay off loans and sell buildings for 1/2 their value. There are 3 buildings that start the game owned by “The town”. These are all places that allow you to build buildings. Buildings require a combination of wood and clay and sometimes iron to be built. To use a building you have a disk you place on that location, pay it’s rent to the owner, then use the action indicated. Besides building, actions include gathering extra resources, earning money through selling resources, converting resources, etc… All resources have enhanced versions of themselves that can be created for game purposes by visiting the proper building. Once all players have their ship token on a marker, let’s use 4 players as an example, the 1st player moves his to the next unrevealed marker and takes an action, followed by the 2nd, and the third. In this way the 1st,2nd, and 3rd get 2 actions in the first round and the 4th gets 1 action.(7 markers) The 2nd round the boats are moved in order that they are on the board to the beginning of the row of markers, so the 4th player is now 1st, 1st is 2nd, etc… There are enough rounds that each player gets an equal number of turns. At the end of each round you have to feed your workers. The amount depends on the 3 of players. At the beginning of the game there is only fish, but whenever food is required gold can be substituted. If you cannot feed them you can take a loan to make up the difference. The card indicating the amount needed is then flipped over and reveals a ship that can be built. Ships allow you to automatically provide some food at the end of each round and they are used to ship goods to earn additional money. Additionally , at the end of the round if you have at least 2 cattle or 1 wheat you will get an additional 1 of the appropriate type if it is a harvest round. These are the basic rules of the game. As well as being a great 3-4 player game, it is an excellent solo player game.

9
Go to the Defenders of the Realm page

Defenders of the Realm

106 out of 152 gamers thought this was helpful

First of all, I game a LOT. I support several area gaming groups. This is not all I game. That being said Let’s get to the game- It is a cooperative game. The goal of the game is to defeat all 4 of the evil generals who are gradually approaching Monarch City. That is the only way to win. However, there are multiple ways to lose- An enemy general reaches Monarch City, Monarch city is overrun by minions(enemy troops), You need to put minions on the board and have none of that type available, or the lands become to tainted(12 “taint” crystals are placed on the board). There are 8 characters in the base game + 1 mini expansion character who is worth getting(The Barbarian). You randomly select a character who starts at Monarch City. The spaces on the board are linked by pathways showing how to travel from space to space. You have a hand of hero cards (2 to start) and a quest card to attempt. There is a number in the lower left hand of your character card. This is the number of action tokens your character has. This represents how many actions you can take per turn and also how much life(hit points) you have available the average is 5, a few have 6 and one has 4. Movement-For 1 action you can move 1 space. The Hero cards you have can increase your movement up to 4 or let you teleport to various places on the board if you spend them as part of your action. The good news is that you do not have to stop in a space that has enemy minions or a general, but can move on through that space unhindered. Other actions you can take include building Magic gates(these increase the number of places you can teleport too); healing the land(attempting to remove a taint crystal);healing your own wounds; and listening for rumors at an inn(attempting to increase the number of cards you you have of a specific color). You can also fight. Fighting against minions is easy. Simply use one of your action tokens to attack all the enemy minions(max of 3) at a location you’re at. Roll 1 die(of a color matching the minion color) for each minion. Check if you hit, if so remove the minion. If you do not remove them all you can spend another action and attack again. If you end your turn on the same space as a minion you will automatically take 1 wound for each minion there. The minions of each race have a different power so that is one reason to fight them. The other is that whenever a fourth minion would be placed on a location you place one of that type of minion on each adjacent space and place a taint crystal on the space where the fourth minion would have gone. As there are only 12 crystals and it is one way to lose the game(when all 12 are on the board) you will want to thin the minions out throughout the game. Fighting the generals is the point where cooperation is needed the most. The generals ignore your character(s) completely until you attack. You get 1 chance at it. When someone attacks a general any other players that are at that space can join in. This is the other use for the Hero cards. At the bottom of the card is 1 or 2 dice. The regular cards are color coded- red Hero cards can only be used to attack the Red general, etc… Some cards are labelled Special. They grant either a special one use game effect or 1 or 2 dice towards attacking any general. Everybody who is part of the attack commits the number of cards they want to too the attack and the person who launched the attack decides the order of attack. Each general has different abilities that interfere with being attacked. If your group succeeds in scoring the necessary wounds on a general he is removed from the game and the character credited with the kill becomes the slayer of that race(when attacking minions of that color matching the dead general they are automatically killed without having to roll dice. You can also attempt quests throughout the game, if you succeed at the quests you get a reward that can aid in the game, although some are more helpful than others. You end your turn by drawing 2 Hero cards, making sure you have no more than 10 cards in your hand and then drawing a darkness spreads card. The Darkness cards put 1 or 2 minions on each of 2 different locations on the board and may move one of the generals 1 space towards Monarch city.
I enjoy the game a lot obviously, and part of that is that there has been excellent support for the game by the publisher and the creator of the game. To date there are 4 expansions and several scenarios published online.

8
Go to the Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm page
32 out of 45 gamers thought this was helpful

This takes an enjoyable Tier 1 game(Games to play with non-gamers to introduce them to modern boardgaming) and makes into a fun and enjoyable Tier 2 game(Games for those same nongamers to introduce them to a new level of strategy and decision making). My only advice would be start with the new boards and characters and then add the strips and events as your players get comfortable with the first 2 add ons. Save the chips for the last element to try as you will be surprised how sharply this divides your group.

9
Go to the Puerto Rico page

Puerto Rico

52 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

One problem boardgame lovers run into eventually is having enough people to play games when you have the time to play them. Sooner or later you have to try to recruit players from outside the player pool. This usually involves friends or family members who don’t normally game. What I call tier 1 games are games that are more intricate than what they are used to, but introduce novices to a lot of basic game concepts. An example of this is Settlers of Catan. A good game with lots of basic strategy elements and enough luck to allow non-gamers to play. After awhile you want to take some of these gamers to the “next level” or Tier 2. These are games with very little luck, more decision making, and a couple of choices on strategy. Puerto Rico is an excellent Tier 2 game. Experienced gamers will enjoy the game and it’s replay value. Newer gamers will be introduced to a more tactical game than Settlers, but one that has limited choices on a given turn. My only advice is teach them the rules, mention the 2 prime strategies(build vs. shipping) and sit back and play. A last caution let them play their own game. Win or lose if they make their own choices they will like the game much more. As for those not teaching games to newbies this is a fast, usually tight game with enough decision making to keep it challenging.

8
Go to the Martian Dice page

Martian Dice

16 out of 43 gamers thought this was helpful

13 dice. 1 cup. 5 icons on the dice. Push your luck game. Some surface similarities-cup, 13 dice to Zombie Dice but it is a totally different game. If you like Can’t Stop and other dice games of that type you will like this one. Humorous(or cute) theme of Martians grabbing humans, cows and ?chickens??? while the military bravely 🙂 attempts to fight them off. Enjoy.

8
Go to the Runewars page

Runewars

45 out of 56 gamers thought this was helpful

Your first play of this game can be overwhelming. There are so many bits and it seems to take a while to set up. However, if you’re looking for a meaty strategy game this is it. After you have played it once and gotten the hang of it you should go with the more advanced set up method as the pre-generated set up in the instructions while a good way to learn the game also means the elven faction is pretty much at a disadvantage for most of the game and will not normally win. Once you are past your learning game though you will find a nice balance between strategy and luck and enough options from start to finish to give the game good replay value. The game has very nice bits and nice touches that weren’t strictly necessary, but show consideration for the gamers. An example of this is the small 3D mountain pieces for the board. A nice visual touch and a handy reminder of the terrain type(which matters in the game). This is a strategy wargame and if those interest you you will like this one.

8
Go to the Roll Through the Ages page
60 out of 88 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is a great filler game for those small bits of time during game sessions when you are waiting for someone to show up or otherwise don’t want to start a longer game. Be sure to download The score sheet for “The Late Bronze Age” if you want a more challenging game without adding a significant amount of gametime to play.

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