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Go to the The Great Fire of London: 1666 (Second Edition) page
42 out of 48 gamers thought this was helpful

Please note this review is based on the original edition of the game.
The artwork on the board and cards is very good
The playing pieces are well thought out and suit the theme of the game, especially the Fire Tokens which make the board look on fire, work well and are of good quality

However, The Hero of London card looks a little odd and my game board has warped slightly but this does not adversely affect playing the game.

25 Fire tokens are placed in Pudding lane to depict the seat of the fire.

Each player is then dealt 5 Fire Move cards, if they 5 identical cards they show them and are dealt 5 new cards until at least 1 card is not identical. You then take the Fire Stack cards based on the number of players and build the draw deck using the remaining Fire Move cards. Any remaining cards left over are placed back in the box.

5 Houses of each colour are mixed and then placed out at random into one region on the board, the first 30 are placed into the Orange region. Each district within a region has a number of House symbols indicating how many houses should be placed into it.
This is repeated until all 4 regions of the map are filled with the houses.

The six colour cards are shuffled and one dealt to each player at random, these depict the colour of the houses they need to protect within London.

The black tokens are placed face down, shuffled and then distributed randomly among the districts with yellow labels.

Shuffle each of the three Special mission Decks I, II & III and then deal each player one of each deck.

Finally, starting with the First player a number of Trained Band cones are placed on the board, the amount again is based on the number of players.

This process does take some time and it is certainly worth bagging the houses in the sets of 30 mixed to make the initial setup a little bit quicker.

The rules are a little complicated but once you start playing they make more sense.
The game plays for a set number of turns as you build a deck of fire move cards, based on the number of players, with fire intensity cards dispersed within the deck.

The idea is to protect your Coloured houses, whilst helping to put out fires across London. Each player also has 3 secret missions to protect specific districts of London, if these areas still have houses on at the end of the game the players scores the value of that card.

Unusually each player starts with Victory points, this total is slowly eroded as play progresses as each of their houses that burns down reduces their score by 2. This game was immense fun and the gameplay fits the theme really well, we managed to get a few of the rules wrong (there are a lot of things to remember).

On a Players turn they move the Fire by playing a Fire Move card from their hand, each card has a compass depicted on it with a direction highlighted with arrows. This shows where the fire is to spread on this turn and the player picks a space with at least two fire cones on it then follows the Fire Movement Priority outlined in the rules. Players can then take 4 actions either moving a Trained Band or their Landowner pawn or both (1 space per action), or put out fires in contained areas and Finally they take a new Fire Movement Card to take their hand back to 5 cards. This is the main part of the game and as this progresses the fire spreads through London damaging areas as it goes.

The black tokens dotted around the board are collected if the player moves a fire token into a district containing one. These provide either an explosive charge (which can be used to demolish a district to create a fire break), a Double-Move (Allowing the player to move a 2nd Fire cone in the fire moves phase) or a 1VP.

The Trained band cones can be moved to help contain fires and stop them spreading (the number of Trained Band Cones must be equal or higher then the number of fire cones to contain fire)

At the end of the game players total up what points they have left on the score track, plus any fires they have put out and any points from the areas on their secret mission cards. The player with the most Points wins, ties broken first with the number of fires put out then by the number of intact houses.

I really like this game, but I think it will take a few more plays before we get all the rules down, a player aid would have been a useful addition to the game to remind players of the options and fire movement rules.

I did feel the gameplay and components fitted the theme well and you do get a sense of fighting the fires as you play. The game plays with up to 6 players, which is always useful and certainly plays well with more players.

It is certainly fun to watch players squirm when they realise you have just spread the fire into one of their scoring zones.This is where the game is devious as you are all working to save London but with the hidden missions and the specific houses to save, players are more protective of certain areas.

Go to the Fresco page


45 out of 51 gamers thought this was helpful

I was undecided as to whether to buy this game but I am very glad I did. This game is extremely well made, the components and artwork are superb suiting the theme well and it is a delight to play. The main board is double sided one side is for 3 players the other for 4 players this seems to be a trend with newer games and it works very nicely.

You each play a master painter with a team of Apprentices whose task is to help restore the Cathedral and its Alter. Having not played board games all that long I can not comment on whether the mechanics in this game are anything new but they are certainly used well and fit right into the central theme of the game. There is plenty of things to think about on your turn and various actions you can take. The turn order for actions is determined by the players choosing what time to wake up, this selection is done in reverse order of the Scoring track (random on the first turn). This effects the mood of your workers and the cost of your paint in the market. Going first gets you the most choice but costs more, going last is cheaper but you only get to chose from whatever the other players leave. You start with 5 apprentices but if their mood is really bad you will lose one but if they are really happy you gain an extra one. Each action you can take you can allocate up to 3 apprentices to perform it, so you have to decide carefully what actions you can take this turn and whether you want to do some more than once. During the last turn the actions you can take change so you are able to blend paints and then restore a Cathedral piece this is very important as for most of the game blending paints is done after restoring the Cathedral which makes your choice of paints at the market and paints used to restore Cathedral pieces very important.

I really enjoy this game and every game is different with the added benefit that the game comes with 3 expansions right in the box allowing for plenty of tweaking helping to keep the game fresh and exciting. The rules are short (always good) and mostly quite good and well explained. There are a couple of areas where the rules are less than clear and the examples given do not add much to the clarity, that said getting them wrong did not harm the gameplay that much, I read a thread here on forums that helped clarify the rule.

The game plays equally well with 3 players as it does with 4 and the expansions also provide rules for playing this 2 player, though I have not tried these yet. Whilst the rules and mechanics are quite simple to pick up there is a lot of depth here even with the basic game.

Go to the Settlers of America - Trails to Rails page
73 out of 80 gamers thought this was helpful

This is another in the Catan series of games, this time with another twist it includes trains and rails.

The components, as always, are high quality wooden pieces with some excellent cards and a well made large board. The only let down for me are the money pieces which seem an afterthought and do not match up with the other parts. This is a minor gripe though and not a distraction from the great game.

There is a lot going on in this game, which plays a lot longer than most Catans but you hardly notice the time when playing. It has a few changes that help both gameplay balance and removing downtime.

The game is played until one player has delivered their last good, goods only being released for transport when you build a city.

On your turn you roll dice as normal collecting resources from hex\’s that match that number where you have a city, if anyone does not receive anything they now get a gold. Trading resources is same as normal Catan except you can now buy up to 2 cards for 2 gold each or trade resources to the bank at 3:1, you can even trade 3 resources for a gold.

There are development cards, now themed to fit the new game so there are a few neat little bonuses. One addition of note is the extraordinary build phase between turns, this helps balance out people building players into a corner. After each players full turn, every other player gets a chance to build (they cannot trade or move pieces) this can be extremely useful, they can also buy development cards. This latter option means, if you get the timing right, you can buy one just before your actual turn and then use it.

To build new cities players first have to build a Settler and move him to a new city site, the settler is then removed and replaced with a city. Each Player starts with one train which can be moved along rails as they are built, players can also build a second train to help then deliver there goods.

As the Railways move from East to West some of the resource number tokens get moved depleting the reserves in the East forcing players to settle elsewhere to maintain a steady flow of precious materials. To deliver you goods you must send you train to another players city so this makes for some strategic choices as you have to pay a toll to use another players rail system.

I like this game a lot, it plays well and so far every game we have played of it has been pretty close near the end. If you like the Catan series of games then this is a must, even if you are not it is still worth a look as it does address a few shortcomings of the original games.

Go to the Thebes page


43 out of 49 gamers thought this was helpful

The components of this game are extremely well made and very in keeping with the theme. Each location has a bag of “Treasures” to discover, each player has a dial to aid them in deciding how much time to spend digging vs potential reward.

This game has a great theme and the mechanics work really well to enhance the theme. The game is played over a set time (a number of years + weeks depending on the Number of players) where each action or move costs a number of weeks marked on a track around the board.

The further person back always goes first so making sure you optimise your turn is important, initially you move around the world collecting Knowledge, in the form of cards, each move to a city costs a week and each card collected costs a number of weeks depicted on the card. Cards can only be collected by being in the city marked on it. Once you think you have sufficient knowledge you can go to one of the Dig sites. Once there you look at your accumulated knowledge and using your dial determine how many weeks to spend digging this will then determine how many tokens you can grab out of the appropriate bag. In each of these bags are a number of different valued Artifacts as well as a number of blank cards, after you draw you keep the Artifacts which are now your VP’s and replace the blanks into the bag.

During the game you can also use your collected Artifacts to put on exhibitions, in order to do these you will need a certain number of artifacts from each dig site and be in the appropriate city. These can then be collected and add VP’s, but as new ones appear old one’s are removed and later exhibitions require a lot of artifacts to put on.

This game is extremely fun to play and whilst it does involve an element of luck there are strategies and tactics needed to win the game.

Overall I would thoroughly recommend this game to anyone as it appeals to all levels of gamers.

The 4 player game as laid out in the rules plays differently to other numbers of players. This is because the game is played over 2 years in a 4 player rather than the normal 3 years. Having less time significantly changes tactics and strategies.

We’ve found that for a 4 player game if you set it up the same as a 3 player game it works much better.

Go to the Lewis and Clark page

Lewis and Clark

41 out of 46 gamers thought this was helpful

Based on the historical exploration across America the game expands on this by making players part of competing exploration teams racing to reach the goal first. Along the way they will recruit other adventurers and Indians to aid them on their quest, all of the cards represent real people from that time and the rule book provides a brief description of their history as well as their ability in game terms. This makes it quite interesting but does not distract from the game itself as you can read all this additional text at your leisure.

I have the the 2nd edition reprint which apparently has some component changes from the original, like a smaller gameboard and changes to the card stock as well as a different sized box. I can’t comment on the quality of the original print run but I can certainly say that I am generally pleased with the quality of this version. This is a **** pretty game with lots of colour and attention to detail, the artwork throughout is superb with the resource tokens being wooden hexes. The cards are decent quality stock, though a little on the thin side so as they will be handled a great deal would be prone to bending. I have sleeved mine, which I always do if the cards are likely to get a lot of handling, and this makes them feel a lot more robust. The player boards and their upgrades are a decent thickness cardboard and well illustrated which is nice.

The cards themselves have multiple uses and the players start with the same basic abilities 4 x resource gathering cards, 1 x movement card and 1 x Interpreter. On a players turn they have a compulsory action and two optional actions, the optional actions can be done before or after the compulsory. The compulsory action is to either play a card for its action or use an Indian in the Village on the board to activate one of the actions there. To power the cards action you will need to either use another card (flipped over and slid under) and/or use Indians. The optional actions are to camp (take your cards back) or recruit Characters.

I like the mechanics of this game and it causes you to make harsh choices fitting the theme of the game. Whilst this can be described as a race game, it is so much more than that with a good feeling of tension as players try to make efficient use of their actions to keep up with the other players.

Essentially you need to build an efficient card engine that allows you to move and camp progressing you up the river route to your destination. Overloading your boats or keeping too many cards in your hand when you camp causes you Scout to be moved backwards down the route undoing all your hard work. Though your camp can never go backwards, you Scout certainly can hindering your progress. There are actions to be taken that can help strip unwanted cards from your hand helping you to streamline your options. It is also worth noting that partway through the river the terrain turns to mountain meaning you need to switch what resources and methods of movement you need. This provides a great catch-up mechanism in the game as players have to adapt their strategy to cope with the new requirements. The game also comes with tokens to change the layout of the mountains and river to enable you to make the game easier/harder for future games making for a lot of playability.

The first couple of games feels like the game is a little over long but this would be doing the game an injustice. I say that because there is a lot to take in when you first run through this game and I feel it takes a game or two to really appreciate what you can do with the right combination of cards. With experienced players the game turns will be a lot slicker and the overall gametime will reduce. All that said it never really feels like it outstays it welcome and in fact you hardly notice the time ticking by as you are constantly looking at your options in between turns. This is another game that manages to engage the players in its theme allowing you to feel the tension and pressure as you try to make your expedition the first to reach the goal.

Fantastic game, which always results in a close end game, the fact there are always different cards out each game keeps it fresh and interesting.

Go to the Undermining page


47 out of 53 gamers thought this was helpful

The components of this game are excellent. The colours are vivid, the artwork superb, the UMV Mini’s are just Cute, the player boards well thought out suiting the theme well as well as providing what you need to play. The cards are maybe a tad thin and I did feel the need to sleeve these, as I suspect repeated use may start to tarnish these.

The player aids are too small, the writing is in a very small font and is white on a dark background making it hard to read unless you have very good eyesight. Alternative Player Aids, provided by a user Sanders can be found on the internet. This is much better with all the information you need to play the game.

Players compete to extract resources from the mine to either upgrade their UMV or complete contracts to earn Star bucks. In order to achieve this on their turn each player has 7 actions they can take using one of the initial 3 Action Points.

1. Drill – Allows you to drill one of squares adjacent to your UMV, if the square is a Rock piece it is turned to rubble and if it is a rubble it is removed from the game. If you get additional drill bits this gives you an extra drill for each Action Point spent, so with one additional Drill bit you would be able to either drill 2 adjacent sqaures or remove one rock. Any resources are stored in the containers (your UMV starts with 2)

2. Drive: Allows you to move your UMV 2 spaces on the board, with each additional Rocket you get to move one more sqaure for each action point spent. So with 1 rocket you would be able to move 3 squares. On the surface UMV’s can move freely and occupy the same squares but underground UMV’s can not occupy the same space nor move through other UMV’s unless the player spends 2 battey tokens but they have to have enough movement to end on a free space.

3. Portal – Allow quick movement around the board, you can only move between “Open” portals, ie no UMV’s or tokens sitting on them. The Portal on the surface is always classed as open.

4. Recharge – Allows the player to charge their UMV’s batteries (1 per action point spent). (Batteries are used in two ways: Spend 2 for 1 Additional Action or spend 2 to move through a UMV underground.)

5. Contracts – Whilst at the Refinery on the surface a player may spend resources from their warehouse to complete a contract (1 per action point spent), taking the top star buck from the pile underneath as payment. (These reduce in value on each stack).

6. Build – Whilst at the Refinery on the surface a player may buy and attach upgrades for your UMV.
Container – which adds an additional storage to your UMV.
Drill Bit – Increases your drilling by 1 for each Action Point spent.
Rockets – Increases your move by 1 square for each Action point spent.
Reactor – Increases you total action points by one.
Each UMV has 5 slots (4 slots in a 5 player game) in which to place these upgrades

7. Unload – Whilst at the Refinery on the surface a player may unload their containers into their Warehouse, unlimited resources can be stored in the warehouse.

If you managed to drill an Alien Tech token when you take the unload action you take a card from the deck. You can use this alien tech at any point on your turn and they give you various bonuses to aid your mining efforts. These include extra drilling, extra movement, unload anywhere, teleport and extra battery charge all of which enhance you ability to plunder the resources on the mine.

The game turns play very quickly and there is a lot of competitive play available here as everyone attempts to get to all the good “stuff”. You can go for early wins buy completing contracts for the higher payouts or go for upgrades early to enable you to dig more, deeper and faster.

You count up all your star bucks, you get 1 for each resource you have left in your warehouse/cargo and you also get a sliding scale of points awarded for how many upgrades you managed to build and you also get 1 point for each unused alien tech card.

This game is just pure fun, it plays very quickly and is easy to teach. I have played this with 2 & 3 players and everything works really well with these numbers. Obviously the more players you get the better this game will be as there will be more competition for everything.

In all the games I played the scoring was close, even between people who upgraded a lot vs people who just went for contacts early.
This is a well balanced game, which is quick to setup and play with lots of fun. I enjoyed this game and it already has seen a lot of play and I can see this being a popular game with my group.

The only negative I have is that the rulebook whilst very pretty and simple to follow could have included details of the alien tech cards, with maybe some extra details, list of the resource names with pictures as this would make it a more useful resource

Go to the Lost Temple  page

Lost Temple

43 out of 49 gamers thought this was helpful

Excellent quality, the artwork is especially good on the board and the cards. The player meeples are good but do suffer from falling over as players bunch up on the board squares, also the cards to show what colour player you are the red/orange are way to similar and you have a purple card but a black meeple.. not an issue but a bit of a shame everything did not match up better.

At the start of the game players are dealt one of the 9 character cards, on the bottom right of the cards are symbols showing what that player will start with, a number of gems and possibly a machete, most importantly it shows there starting position on the game board. After this initial placement all the cards are handed back to the start player who is the person at the back of the race.

The cards are shuffled then the start player deals out a number of faceup and/or face down depending on the number of players, then selects a card from the remainder. The rest are handed to the player on his left and so on until everyone has chosen. The start player then announces each character in order and the player who character is called reveals the card, takes a gem from the bank and takes the action of that character. This continues until everyone has taken their turn.

There are certain spaces on the board with chance tokens, these have both positive and negative results on you race to find the lost temple. There is also a chance token that gives someone the start player for next turn which helps mix things up a little. There is also several space of Deep jungle which you need to have a machete to move through otherwise your movement ends on that space.

Each of the characters has a unique ability that helps you in some way on you quest to find the lost temple and a careful choice and use of these characters is essential to doing well.

The character mechanic is similar to Citadels as is the downtime this produces whilst people ponder their selection, though once you are more familiar with the roles this should get a bit faster. Otherwise this is a very different game from Citadels and is good fun to play.

The winner is the first person to land on the Lost Temple (There are two on the board, the first is used with 6-8 players the 2nd for less players)

I really enjoyed this game, I have only played it with the full 8 people so far but even with this number it was fun and not overly long. It certainly engenders a lot of banter around the table, with everyone having a good time.

I like the characters better in this than Citadels, there is still plenty of opportunity to mess with someone’s turn but still leaves them with something to do, whereas I felt in Citadels some of the characters were overly cruel and could sometimes stall someones ability to play a turn for too long.

All in all an extremely fun game that will certainly get a lot of play with my group.

Go to the Guards! Guards! A Discworld Board Game page
42 out of 48 gamers thought this was helpful

This game has some excellent quality components combined with some really great discworld artwork. There is a lot of discussion around the board for being abstract, well for my 2 cents the board looks great and suits the gameplay, some of the text could be easier to read but it is not a show stopper.

The players are newly recruited members of the City Watch, the eight great spells are missing from Unseen University and they have been tasked to collect a set of the spells and bring them back to the university. Each recruit selects a guild to infiltrate giving them which spells to collect and unique guild abilities to aid them in their tasks.

The winner is the first to bring their selection of 5 spells back to Unseen University which is achieved by working your way through the city collecting volunteers to help you run the spells past the gauntlet of saboteurs, Luggage, magic and other obstacles. You can collect magic and items to aid your volunteers in their tasks or to hinder your opposing players.

As you return each Great spell your selected team has to pass different Wizards challenges in order to safely return it. You selection of volunteers needs to have the right combination of attributes in order to stand the best chance of succeeding.

Throw into this mix a secret society trying top summon Dragons to the City which, if successful, block quarters of the city from being used for anything other than passing though and which the players have to battle to get rid of them. So there is a lot to this game and it just feels like you are there in Ankh-Moorpork.

The rules are not overly complicated but there are some gaps and the layout is not the best. These are things that can be overcome and the designers have been extremely quick to respond to questions on various forum threads which is really good. A revised rulebook was released with the reprint,

This is a game that requires a few rounds / games to get the hang of it but the games we have played so far have been close and there is a lot of fun to be had here.

I really enjoyed playing this game and feel it fits well into the theme, yes there is an element of luck but I just feel that adds to the theme of the game. This will get a lot of plays and I think it will just get better the more you play.

Go to the Kingdom Builder page

Kingdom Builder

64 out of 71 gamers thought this was helpful

As with other Queen Games the components are of a really good quality. The artwork is really excellent, though a quick glance the Chasm and Desert art looks very similar on the cards, thankfully the Hex symbol on each card is a good match for those on the board. The main game boards have the score track printed on the reverse so one unused one can be turned over to score. The artwork on the Location tiles and guides are well done and fitting for this game.

From the 8 game boards 4 are selected and arranged to form the game board. On each of these boards will be depicted some Special Locations. The tiles matching these are stacked on each one (2 on each), again there are 8 different types but only 4 will appear each time.
You then shuffle the Kingdom Builder Cards and deal 3 of them faceup near the board. There are 10 of these but only 3 are used each game and they provide the many ways of scoring this game.

The Terrain cards are shuffled and each player dealt one to start with.

At the start you have only one action – which is a Mandatory build of 3 settlements which have to be placed on hexes matching your terrain card and adjacent to one of your settlements if possible.
When completed you discard your card and draw another.

As things progress you may end up building next to one of the special location tiles, if so you grab one (but only one from each stack) which can be used on subsequent turns. These tiles provide means of making additional builds or moving your existing pieces, these allow you to improve your scoring chances by manipulating your settlement placement. These tiles can be used before or after your mandatory action so sometimes careful planning is required to maximise the benefits.

The mechanics of this game are really simple to pickup and teach, but with the various scoring methods (some of which fight against each other) it is difficult to try and score on everything especially as getting your settlements down in the right places can be hard. The variety provided by the random setup means that each game is unique, presenting a new challenge meaning it is difficult for someone to come up with a single winning strategy to use each time. This game is really good fun and is one of the few games I have played multiple times in one game session.

The game progresses well with very little downtime and you can think about your moves between turns, although the turns are usually quite quick even when people have the additional actions. There is also the opportunity to use your placements to block or otherwise scupper your opponents plans.

The end game is triggered once someone has placed there last settlement, the round is then completed back round to the start player and then the game is scored.

There is a fixed score each game of 3 gold for building next to a castle, the rest is determined by the various cards which I will not go into detail here but you score each card for all players. The player with the most gold at the end wins.

This is a real gem of a game that will see a lot of time on the table for me, I love the way it plays and the fact that no two games will be alike. The total game time is reasonable and the game does not drag it always feels quite pacey.

There are real decisions to be made here as well as opportunities for strategy, there is a degree of player interaction as your placements can seriously disrupt other players plans.

All in all a great game worthy of a place in your collection.

Go to the Traders of Carthage page
41 out of 47 gamers thought this was helpful

You play as merchants buying and selling goods between Alexandria and Carthage. The artwork on the cards and the board are very nicely done and suit the theme very well, the quality of all the pieces are very good given the reasonable price tag.

Setup involves dealing out cards to each player until they each have at least 8 coins worth of cards (The cards are marked in the corner with various values of coin). Each player also takes an Achievement Token of their choice. Then the player with the least total value of cards becomes the first player. One half of the game board shows a map of the area depicting several ports between the main cities which ships have to travel via, the other half hold the cards, discard pile and has a places marked for Farm and Market.

The rules are short but did prove a little confusing until we actually played a few rounds, finding that we were playing certain rules wrong . Once we got the hang of how to play it turns out this is a real gem of a game and I really like how it plays. The cards represent everything in the game, from Goods, Coins, VP’s to Storage. This is what confused us for a while but actually works very nicely.

On your turn you get to do one of the following:

Buy the Market:
You have to buy all the cards in the market (including your reserved card if you have one), except cards reserved by other players. To do this you spend cards from your hand to the same or greater value to total value of the goods in the market. These are then placed in front of you face up as your goods. When you buy from the market the ships advance towards Carthage One square if you have only a single good of the corresponding colour or a maximum of 2 squares if you have 2 or more goods of the same colour.

Take Coin:
You can take your reserved card OR any one unreserved card into your hand as coin.

Reserve goods:
You can place your reserve token on any card not already reserved in either the Farm or Market.

Replenishing the Market
If someone buys the market or you start your turn with only cards reserved by other players in the market it is first refilled from the farm, 2 cards added and then 3 cards are placed back in the farm.

When a ship or ships enters Carthage there is a payday on goods the same colour as the ship. You look at all the goods you have of that colour, take the highest valued card and times it by the number of cards rounded up to the nearest 5 or 10. These are your VP’s starting with the lowest value good you place one card face down for every 5 VP’s you have, if you do not have enough good cards to convert to VP you take them from the draw pile. You also collect an Achievement Token for that colour good. Achievement tokens add 1 point to the highest value card when calculating your VP’s. Then ships then return to Alexandria.

When a payday occurs and there are ships on one or both of the pirate squares gods of the corresponding colour are raided by pirates. To protect your goods you discard cards from your hand with matching colour and storage icons marked on it. For each storage icon you have you may store one good card (tapped 90 degrees). If you have no storage cards then you lose ALL of the goods of that colour. The ships then return to Cyrenaica.

The game ends when one person has collected 8 Achievement Tokens, the winner being the person with the most VPs ties resolved using the number of Achievement Tokens.

This game is fun, plays quite fast (once you get the hang of it) and is a pleasure to play. I think this would be a worthy addition to anyone’s collection.

Go to the Africana page


41 out of 47 gamers thought this was helpful

The Artwork for this game is very good, the card stock for the larger Travel cards is a little flimsy but the graphics on them are quite good. The Smaller cards are better quality with some more great artwork. The player pieces are wooden and there are two wooden card holders to make the adventure cards look like pages in a book. The rule book is well laid out with pictures and examples but is large and rather than being a book, folds out making it awkward to use at the gaming table. Fortunately there is a PDF of the rulebook available so I was able to print out a much smaller version easier to reference at the table.

Players represent explorers from various nations trying to uncover precious artifacts by taking part in various expeditions to earn money to buy adventure cards leading the way to their locations.

From their starting locations players use travel cards to move around Africa gaining rewards for taking part and completing them but in order to travel they need the right travel cards to get to each location on their chosen route.
On each turn players have the choice of one of these actions:

* Drawing New Travel Cards (2)
* Moving through Africa (Playing an appropriate card for each destination)
* Buying Adventure Cards

The adventure books are a really nice touch with players being able to pay a coin to flip the “pages” to reveal another card before they decide to purchase or not. The number of rounds being set by how quickly players complete the expeditions, the game end triggered when they are no cards left to replace a completed expedition at the end of that players turn. The round completes so that everyone has had an equal number of turns.

As each expedition gives the player a reward for joining (each player can join a max of 4 at any one time), either coin(s) or Travel cards, it can be a tactic whilst moving to join an expedition just to get another card which then may help your current move action. To join an expedition you playing piece needs to be on the Starting location for it, which can be where they start moving from or any destination they pass through along the way. The first player to get to the end destination, as more than one player can join an expedition, gets the final rewards VPS’s for the end of the game and an amount of coins.

Whilst there are only 1 of 3 actions you can take each turn there is a lot behind each choice and certainly tactics to be thought of as well.

This game is easy to teach someone new how to play but is another of those games where there is always different ways to play to win.

The mechanics of this game are really easy to grasp but executing the perfect timing of your actions, spending your money wisely and getting in on the right expeditions takes careful thought. I really like this game and lately have played this quite a lot. There is a lot here for all levels of gamer with plenty of replayability as the cards play out differently every time. Whilst there is a certain amount of luck in this game with the random draw of travel and expedition cards the Joker card everyone starts with plus the ability to spend 5 coin to turn any card wild means you are never truly stuck without an option.

The fact that most games I have played of this have resulted in fairly close scoring shows how well balanced this game is, it is also a lot of fun to play and also frustrating as you always need to do one more thing on your turn you can not 🙂

Go to the Gear & Piston page

Gear & Piston

42 out of 48 gamers thought this was helpful

I have to confess that although being interested in the original Kickstarter Campaign I was initially wary, so waited for it to make general distribution.

Having now bought and played it I am loving it more and more each play.

The artwork is superb throughout and invokes the theme of the game rather well from the New Shiny Parts through to the scrap parts. The quality of the components is really great, the cardboard is decent thickness and the wooden components fit the theme well. The board itself is well layed out, though the symbols to aid your understanding on what each sections does are a little small and hard to see from around the table but once you have played a round you no longer really need these as they game is simple enough to pick up.

I am really liking this game which pits you as one of the unsung engineer’s of the auto-mobile era trying to win investment for your prototype against other engineers.

Each game you play will be different as you choose a number of scoring tiles (Investors) based on the level of game you wish to play, chosen from 3 different stacks.

You compete for the best parts as well as scavenging the junk yards in order to put your vehicle together with the right criteria to meet your investors exacting needs. You can visit the back alley to do deals to further your cause, at the cost of actions in later turns. Planning is key and rushing for the shiny new parts can end the game quicker than you expected leaving you to finish your vehicle with scrap in order to have it ready in time.

Though the starting player can be changed by who goes last in the Workshop area, which does give the advantage of first choice of action next round, player order for taking the actions selected is determined by the order players placed their tokens their. This then can have very strategic implications of where you choose to place your early tokens.

Players have a hand limit of Blueprints (parts) they can hold in their hand and holding on to them may mean you will not be able to take any actions that allow you to take more.

There is potential here for a lot of player interaction, especially with the Back Ally actions so thinking carefully about the order in which you do things can be crucial.

Great game which scales well and is quite fun to play but brutal to learn the right strategy.
The designers/publishers warn you that new players tend to always go for new parts, I agree but I would add that the game board layout for the actions encourages that behavior to a degree as well. In the games I have played most have ended due to the new Part pile being depleted. This has led me to look at the variant page in the main rulebook and I have adopted the Patent office variant from there, this has slowed the amount of New part tiles being discarded enough that it gives players more time to get their cars together. For me this improves the gameplay quite a lot and makes it a more even competition, I will also have to introduce the expansions next as it looks like these will improve the gameplay still further.

I have now played this a few times and I am liking it more and more each time I play. Despite my initial doubts this has quickly become a favourite game of mine and has seen regular plays at my gaming group. The designers have done a fantastic job and look forward to seeing whatever they produce next either for this or something new.

Really fun game I can recommend as it plays really quickly, even with 5 players, and there is plenty there to allow many more plays

Go to the Steampunk Rally page

Steampunk Rally

59 out of 66 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a fun race game with a Steampunk theme, which has to be said fits perfectly for this game. Think Wacky Races and you will get the idea of the essential core of the game
Utilising Card Drafting and dice players build fantastic inventions and race them across one of two different variable courses.

I will start by pointing out that I have the Kickstarter version, though the main difference other than some additional box art is that the dice are translucent and it comes with metal cogs.
The artwork is absolutely spot on fitting the theme and looks fantastic overall, the cardboard components are of good quality as are the cards, though they are a tad on the thin side, which are also really well designed. The only negative really are the Standee’s for the player pieces which understandably are a bit small but the main problem is the colours are very similar so easy for players to move the wrong piece. I generally now advise players to focus on the picture.

I wont go into a full rule description as the full rules are available on BoardGameGeek. The game is really relatively easy to teach, though players usually need to follow the advise in the rulebook to play the first couple of race phases in turn order rather than simultaneous in order for everyone to help each other work through their machines. The game is played in various phases, most of which are played simultaneously except when boost cards are played then it is done in turn order.

Draft: Each player is given a card from each of the four different decks and from that hand they place a card into their machine, discard a card for Dice or Cogs or keep a boost card hidden for later use.
Vent: Each Dice used on a previous turn can be reduced by 2 pips by spending a cog or two dice reduced by 1 pip. If all the pips are removed then the dice is removed back to stock freeing up the machine part to be re-activated.
Race: All dice collected in the draft phase or help over on storage cards are now rolled and can then be placed on parts to activate them.
Damage: During the previous phases as shields and damage are generated they are added/removed from the tracker. Any damage recorded during the previous phases is now applied by removing the number of parts of you machine equal to the red number on the players dial. If shields had been generated and not used up these are kept for future turns.
End of Turn: Unused dice are returned to stock and lightbulbs reset and the order of play marker is flipped.

After the initial learning rounds the pace of these phases picks up as people get the idea of what is going on and the end game usually comes quicker than you expect. There is a lot going on here with plenty of scope to plan and use strategy in order to win. There is a degree of luck, there are dice after all, but the cogs provide a means to mitigate this and it helps provide a little bit of chaos which seems fitting to the theme as well as the race aspect. I enjoy playing this game immensely and each time is different thanks to the 16 different inventors with their unique machines as well as the vast array of machine parts. There has been some errata on a card and rules so worth keeping a weather eye on their website and others but otherwise this for me comes very close to the perfectly designed game and will see plenty of plays over the coming years. The simultaneous Race phase gives that feeling of being in a race and adds to the overall atmosphere of the game.

The other very satisfying thing is as you build your machine and power it with the dice it feels like you are running a machine. You can get that great feeling of achievement when you find your carefully constructed machine has a nice flow as you start to power the various components, especially when you get combo’s of parts working to create extended abilities or motion in the race. I can feel my face beaming as I type this thinking back on the fun I have putting these machines together.

Great game and worthy of a place in my collection, it does have some niggly bits but nothing that truly detracts from the gameplay. This is almost a perfect 10 game for me so well done Roxley

Go to the Ad Astra page

Ad Astra

39 out of 45 gamers thought this was helpful

These are of a very good quality and the artwork is superb.

The shame is that the colours could have been more distinctive on the cards and score tokens. The other let down is the movement cards which use icons to represent the various Suns which are replicated on the Sun tokens. The problem is that you end up looking at the Picture of the sun not the small icon on the edge which causes a little confusion in the game.

Each player has 11 action cards, 3 scoring, 3 movement, 3 Production, a Building card and a Trade Card. At the start of a round each player picks an action card then starting with the first player places it on one of the 15 (or 12 if 3-4 players) action slots on the main board. This continues until all the spaces are filled. The game then starts by revealing the first card an acting on it. The owner of the card gets an advantage for playing that action but everyone normally gets to do the same action in turn as well (Trade is only carried out by the card owner)
The idea is to explore various planets settling on some to generate resources to build or upgrade your assets. Then, and this involves careful planning, you need to start playing your scoring cards (which only get returned to your hand after you play all 3). You are unlikely to score high on all 3 so the trick is to minimise your loses on 1 or 2 of the cards and try to maximise on the 3rd so you can try and get a couple of good rounds scoring with it. The various planets produce either one of 3 different ores, energy, food or Water. Amongst these planets are Alien worlds that hide artifacts that give a variety of bonuses or special abilities usable during the game. The Alien worlds do not produce goods but you can score bonus points for building colonies and upgrading these to factories.

Each player colour has a different pairing of resources on each production card which means you need to plan carefully what resources planets you build on. Each player also has a different pair of systems on each movement card and has all but 2 of the systems represented on the 3 cards. This means that for the other systems you will be reliant on other players movement cards.

The rules are not that complicated and can be explained quite quickly, but there is depth here and further plays of the game will reveal different strategies to win with the ability to play with a different colour set adding to the games longevity.

Also, as a Douglas Adams fan, the Alien Artifact Card: “Omnibus Rebus Responsum” (Answer to Everything) where you win at the end of the game if you score exactly 42 points is just perfect

When either the last planet is explored or someone gets 50 or more points the current round is completed, then simply the person with the most points Wins.

This game plays extremely well and generally remains quite close until the last few rounds. The theme is well suited, the various mechanics work well together leaving a lot replayability.

I would recommend this game, with the caveat that it will take at least one game to get to grips with how all the elements tie together so that your second game you will be much better placed to use subtle strategies needed to play it well.

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