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7
Go to the Kingsburg page

Kingsburg

54 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

Quick Summary
In Kingsburg, the players are Lords in a kingdom, tasked with building prosperous lands that are self sustaining. This is accomplished by sending out workers (dice) to consult the King’s court of advisors where they’ll receive resources, aid and information which can be used to construct buildings. Those buildings will be used for prosperity and training as well as defense against winter invading monsters. Whoever, after 5 years, has pleased the king the most, wins.
Primary Mechanics
Dice Rolling/Placement – Players simultaneously roll their color dice. These dice determine where you may place your workers, and in which order players will go, starting with the player who rolled the lowest. When placing the dice, you can place them in any combination on any advisor that does not already have another player on that advisor. Anyone familiar with Worker Placement will recognize this part of the mechanic. You’ll then continue in player order until everyone that can, has placed all of their dice. What sets this apart from most Worker Placement games is you do not immediately get the resources or advantage of that spot when you place your dice there. Instead, you go, from lowest to highest, grabbing resources. This allows you to set up some interesting combinations that can gain you an advantage to some of the lowest rolled numbers, where you’d maybe just normally just get a wood, you’ll now be able to trade that wood for a stone AND gold at the trader.
Buildings – You’ll need to collect resources so you can exchange them to build buildings which grant you a special ability or benefit as well as usually giving you some victory points. The abilities can include ways to manipulate your dice, give you extra dice, better ways to manage your resources, or give you defenses against the end-of-year invading monsters. This is where the majority of the game’s strategy comes through, as you try and figure out which combination of buildings you want.
Invading Enemies – The game takes place over 5 years, each consisting of 4 seasons. During the spring, summer and autumn seasons, you are allowed to build. But during winter, everyone must face an unknown foe. Each year. the difficulty of these enemies increases more and more, and players will gain rewards for defeating them, but risk losing resources, points or even buildings if they fail. But before facing the monsters, a player will roll a die which shows how many reinforcements the king is sending to all of the territories. This die, in combination with your building’s defense values and any other special benefit you gain from the advisors, determines the success or fail. Sometimes this will feel a bit like a “Push Your Luck” type mechanic.

Balance & Difficulty
This is a pretty straightforward game. I’ve taught it to several players who are new to board games. And it provides enough fun as a gateway game for people new to board games, but enough to think about for experienced gamers too. It isn’t too thinky, but it can be bogged down a little bit by going over the choices you have on advisors.
Since the higher rolls tend to yield better results, there can be a lot of perceived advantages to those that are lucky in their rolls, but players who win are usually those that can best use their resources, not those that gain the most. So there may be some imbalance with the luck of the rolls, players who lose will more often lose because of their own mistakes, and not because they didn’t get a break. Still, not getting good rolls can be very frustrating.

Theme
The basic premise of the theme is very vanilla. It’s a medieval fantasy setting. Not a lot of thematic flavor really comes out on this one. How the theme blends with the game mechanically is sufficient. I assume the dice represent a worker’s persuasive talent, which allows them to seek aid from those higher on the king’s court, even up to the Queen and King themselves. There are some +2 tokens, which have no thematic explanation, but I’ve always perceived them as being a sort of “favor” granted by the court, which you can always cash in later. I can’t say the mechanics really flesh out the theme, but they ultimately don’t detract from it either. I wouldn’t present this to any player as a “Thematic experience”. In fact, it is probably one of Fantasy Flight’s most euro-style games that they continue to publish.

Components
– Main Board – The main board is well laid out. Everything is very clear, everything is language independent. The only thing is that there are some instances where players “tie” for a special benefit, and the board doesn’t really clarify what you should do. So you’ll have to consult the manual if you can’t remember. But the graphic design is clear enough that it doesn’t’ really barricade new players.

– Player Board – These are pretty straightforward, but they do have a lot of written language, as every building is unique from each other, you’ll have to read through them a few times to really grasp a good strategy and combination. You’ll be placing tokens on them, to keep track of what you’ve built, so you’ll want to keep them in a spot that you won’t bump them easily

– Dice – The Dice are incredibly average. They are indented, painted dice with rounded corners. So they aren’t made for rolling across the table like casino dice, but just shaking in your hand and placing them down.

– Cards – There aren’t many cards in the game, but they are included. They have a good quality to them. They have a black edged border and you’ll only shuffle them a little bit when setting up the game, so they won’t scuff too much. But if they do scuff and start showing wear, it can be a huge advantage to players who recognize the markings. If this happens, you’ll want to sleeve the cards with an opaque back.

– Chits – There aren’t too many types of chits. There are a handful for each player and some +2 tokens. All are great quality though. Fantasy Flight has a bit of a reputation for their punch board components.

– Wooden Pieces – There are some uninspiring but incredibly practical wooden cubes, a handful of wooden discs, and a little wood piece that is suppose to represent the King’s Envoy. Not too detailed, but sufficient. No real complaints about the quality or application of them.

– Insert – The insert is a molded plastic extrusion. It’s functional, but it doesn’t store the components in any organized manner. It’s a bit oversized for what it actually holds. Overall, I like that it is plastic, but it’s still just a very generic insert.

– Rulebook – Fantasy Flight has a reputation and knack for unorganized and convoluted rulebooks that are very hard to reference. A lot of their games are quite complex monsters, but even some of their other, smaller or gateway games have these problems too. Kingsburg is the exception. It’s a very concise rulebook that is very easy to learn and reference.

Art
The art has a good style but it’s hard to really feel it is original, mostly setback because of the theme. Without really taking a risky stylistic approach to the art, there’s just not a lot left to do to make a high fantasy theme feel fresh and unique.

Replay Value
I’d like to say that the game presents a lot of random elements that really brings a lot of replay ability, but in my experiences, players seem to really settle into a set strategy. After a while, the game always seems to feel very similar. I’ve seen a lot of Inn>Market>Farm>Merchant’s Guild strategy so that players get flexibility with how the place their dice. Until I really started experimenting outside of this, I was getting quite bored with Kingsburg, but there are only so many build orders you can have in Kingsburg. I would love to say there is a lot of replayability, but I find so many games just end up going down a similar path. There is replayability, but it takes a player that is willing to really try something different, sometimes at the risk of being competitive.

Who May Be Interested in it?
This really should have a pretty broad appeal for gamers. If you’re an avid gamer, you should consider having this in your collection for those that aren’t is in to games as you are. It provides enough game to be enjoyable with an occasional play, it’s light enough for new or casual gamers or family members to take some time and play. The game is very much a light-to-medium Euro game, but it isn’t soulless.

Who Should Avoid it?
There will be a subset of gamers who will feel like they’ve moved on beyond what games like Kingsburg provide. Those that are looking for a very in-depth and strategic game should keep looking past Kingsburg. Those that are also looking for a wild theme park ride or thematic experience should also consider passing on this. It doesn’t provide a rich, thematic experience. The game doesn’t have a lot of direct interaction. You’re mostly just trying to get in the way of other players and cause them an inconvenience.

Final Conclusion
Kingsburg is a decent game. It’s a game that will stay in my collection. But it won’t get played frequently. The game is a good, light introduction to some more complex mechanical concepts used in other games. It has a good place role for dice and it has enough of a challenge to keep me engage for an occasional game.

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. I try to judge the game as it is designed. (No house rules, variants and expansions are reviewed separately). While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

7
Go to the Tales of the Arabian Nights page

Tales of the Arabian Nights

48 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful

Quick Summary
Tales of the Arabian Nights is a bit of challenging game to really critique, because when you look at it, you really have to ask “Is this actually… a game?” There are objectives. There are decisions. There is a “win condition.” But all of it is just so arbitrary. Your objectives are either set by you… or the game. It’s up to you. The decisions are made illogically and uninformed. The “win condition” is there, but it’s more of a catalyst to just end what you are doing.

Primary Mechanics
Note: There are several mechanics within the game, but they all really take a back seat as they are all there to really support the thematic experience that is set by the Book of Tales. I could take a clinical look at the mechanics of this game. I could talk about earning points, the dice rolling, the skills and cards, but doing so would be a complete disservice to this game. All of those are entirely secondary to (and in service for) the focal mechanic of the game, storytelling

– Storytellings- – Throughout the game, players will decide on their movement, land on a spot, draw a card, reference a matrix, carry the two, find X, solve for theta, and call for a pizza until they get to a cryptic number. The paragraph number in “The Book of Tales”. Now if that sounds ominous or daunting. It’s because it is. The book alone will cost $27 in cross-continental shipping due to the weight alone. It contains 2002 different stories and tales for you to explore. The whole game plays out as a giant, multiplayer, choose your own adventure book. Characters you encounter, are determined by cards you draw, there’s a dice to add uncertainty and variety. This is an odd mechanic to really try and judge fairly because it’s mostly up to the players to make the most of it.

Balance & Difficulty
The game plays best with 3 players. 4 players would be a stretch, and anything more would be unimaginable. The game goes up to 6. You would be crazy to attempt that. With 1 player, i’d recommend reading a novel, and it plays well with 2. A big reason for this is because it can take a while to resolve a player’s turn. And there are enough “duties” to keep everyone occupied with 3 players. There is the active player, who makes decisions in their encounter. Another player meanwhile can help reference the matrix, and another player can read the active player’s encounter. If you play up to 6, half the game you will literally be doing nothing but listening. This is when the cell phones get pulled out.
In terms of difficulty, the game is mechanically simple, but every turn you’ll be asked to make a decision, and there’s no real foresight for making informed decisions. There also seems to be no real correlation between your skills and your decisions. For an example, you may be charming and attractive, so you try and court a beautiful princess, and suddenly you find yourself needing skills with weapon as you end up fighting a jealous beggar and you are getting pursued by the city guard. Chaos is an understatement.

Theme
Despite that chaos, you just had an experience no game before it has ever offered before. You were this charming handsome, man trying to marry into wealth and power only to **** off some street bum that was trying to make sweet with the princess. You ended up getting charged with assault and now you’re fleeing the city to avoid imprisonment. And that was only one turn of events.
This isn’t just a book. This isn’t just a game. It’s the setting of djinns, saultens, and Aladdin. Ali Baba, thieves, magical caves and “open sesame”, the voyages of sinbad and the lake of color and YOU get to not read it, but experience it. Tales of the Arabian Nights is only as successful as you let it be. If you are getting bogged down with analysis paralysis, maximizing your skills or generally trying to win, you are playing it wrong. The theme is the game. The mechanics are nothing more than there to support that. Story points? Destiny points? They are only gauges for how far you’ve gone until your character’s story has been told.

Components
– Main Board – The main board is a large, beautiful, map. It’s a hair glossy, so glare can be an issue. There are some tracks on the board, and they are pretty clear. There are also coastal regions which aren’t exactly clear WHAt they are. Some of the landscape can be a hair difficult to interpret, which can be important with the cards. Older prints have a slight printer error with a missing connection. But overall, the board is really good quality and functional.

– Player Board – Similarly, they are a bit glossy. They also look a bit overwhelming too, but overall, not too shabby. It essentially shows a matrix of all the possible types of skills and decisions you’ll make. It also has a spot to show which gender you are (Which is significant, as your gender can change). Overall, the player board is a very handy aid for the players.

– Dice – Dice quality seem very average. There is one unique dice with + and -, and this is essentially used to mix up the stories a little bit. So if the matrix says “532” and you roll a +, you read 533 instead.

– Cards – Cards have a great quality to them. A very nice feel and cut. A little bit of texture to grab. There are several different decks, some you want to have shuffled, and some you want to have organized. The information on them are very straightforward. Some will have a story driven goal for you. Others are treasure, statuses and encounters.
The status cards are what really make the game’s stories cohesive, because you have encounters where you’ll be given a status, and it’s something that carries with you on future turns until you are able to get rid of it. They can be quite humorous and thematic. Such as “insane”, where other players essentially act as the voices in your head as they make the decisions in your tales for you.
There is some shuffling, but it really isn’t worth it to sleeve the cards at all, unless you just want things to be kept in pristine condition. The game doesn’t really have any strategic advantage to gain, where scuffing would be an issue.

– Chits – There are a lot of chits in the game. Most are pretty easy to spot, but there are skill chits which can be a bit cumbersome to sort through, as there are a ton of them, they all look similar, but they aren’t similar at all. So when someone either chooses to get Weapon Use or they learn Weapon Use, you have to dig through a mountain of cardboard finding one that says “Weapon Use”.

-Cardboard players with plastic stands – The fitting of the cardboard into the plastic stand seemed to be a tight fit. The good news, they won’t fall off, but take caution not to rip or bend the cardboard as you try and put them on.

– Insert – The paper insert felt a bit awkward. A little loose around the book, but not enough room to store all the cards in their own deck. So you’ll probably have to fan out the cards a bit if you want to keep them together, or just mix them up a bit to keep the stacks even. There’s no room to really use a plano, because the book is so large. The insert does a decent job keeping the book in good condition, but for the chits and cards, they may have their own character and adventure.

– Book of Encounters – This is the heart of the game. It’s pretty well organized, but it would be nice if there was a cross reference with the page number and not just the paragraph number. The writing is quite good. Some passages would even live up to the standards in the referenced material of One Thousand and One Nights. (Often cited as “Arabian Nights”) The print quality puts the majority of book publishers to shame. The only thing that can often be a bit awkward for many is when it references characters, it uses the general term of “This One”, so for the game to really run smoothly, all players really need to learn how to elaborate, spice up, and personalize each entry.

– Rulebook – The rulebook is VERY clear. There isn’t a lot to get confused on, as the game is pretty straight forward. It also really encourages the players to go after the aspect of thematic immersion, and not mechanical victory.

Art
The art is really quite good, but I would have liked some of the content to be a little more spiced up and stylized. The cover of the box and rulebook is really quite stunning, and that doesn’t quite carry over to the art on the cards.

Replay Value
The replayability of this game is really going to depend on the players. If they enjoy the storytelling experience, there are hundreds of hours to be had in this game. If they are wanting something where their choices matter, something strategic, or something with gameplay, they may never want to reach for the game again.

Who May Be Interested in it?
Avid gamers who want something a bit light, fun, and just to share stores and laughs with friends may be interested in this. This game is also something between a board game and a roleplaying experience. Writers, storytellers, and people are interested in foreign cultures and ancient folk tales may absolutely adore this game.

Who Should Avoid it?
Anyone looking for a game with interesting mechanics, strategy, or any sort of important decision making should avoid this game.

Final Conclusion
This isn’t a game I would expect to enjoy. But the concept of it was just so intriguing to me, I had to give it a try. Did it live up to my expectations? Well.. sort of. I don’t think it’s something that really cater’s to my ability to really flesh out a good story. I don’t find many fictional novels that interesting, but this was different. My character’s name may have been Ali Baba, but I wasn’t living the story of Ali Baba, I was living my story in that setting. The world feels living and vibrant, and in so many ways, I would almost call this game a masterpiece.
But there is one significant issue I haven’t touched on, which is narrative disconnection. Narrative disconnection is when a player’s investment in the story is withdrawn because something exists that removes meaning, purpose, or immersion. This happens in Tales of the Arabian Nights when an encounter happens multiple times, or an event or occasion happens that makes a player stop trying to achieve their goals. A good demonstration of this is found with movie “The Truman Show”, in that movie, the main character lives in a fabricated reality, and his connection to his reality becomes disconnected as his suspicion raises. A light falls from the sky, people begin to act irrational, and all that tries to get explained away. Finally he finds the door with the word “Exit” and his immersion within what was his reality, was shattered. In Tales of the Arabian Nights, when an encounter is reread, the exit door appears.
This is an issue more often associated with video games, as content or mechanics are implemented which directly contradict the environmental immersion. This isn’t a typical board game concern, because games usually ARE a mechanic-thematic disconnect as they are an abstraction of a theme.
It’s a forgivable error, and with clever enough players, it can even become a non-issue, but those player have to have a very specific talent.
This is a good game which lately has had an enormous explosion on the wantlist of gamers everywhere. It would have stayed in my collection if I hadn’t decided to keep a similar storytelling game, Agents of SMERSH, over it.

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. I try to judge the game as it is designed. (No house rules, variants and expansions are reviewed separately). While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

8
Go to the Small World page

Small World

50 out of 56 gamers thought this was helpful

Quick Summary
Small World is a game based on variety and extracting and executing strategy from that variety. You take on fantasy-based races that have a racial ability and an additional bonus powers and over the span of “ages” to conquer tracts of land to earn victory points.

Primary Mechanics
– Area Control – The basic premise is that players earn victory points by controlling areas on the board. The board is laid out with several different types of terrain types and environments. To conquer an area, you need to send a specific number of armies in. This is basically 2+ the number of cardboard pieces there are. So if you’re going in to an empty space, you need 2 armies. Empty mountains? 3 armies. A mountain with 3 enemy armies? You’ll need 6 armies. It’s a very elegant combat system that makes the numbers your race & bonus combos provide very important.

– Variable Races and Bonuses – This is where the game shines. the Area Control mechanic is more of the canvas while the racial abilities and power abilities are the paint. The game comes with 14 different fantasy races and 20 bonus powers, all are different, and all randomly get combined together for 280 different potential combinations. They all provide bonuses and benefits that cover all the aspects of the game. This is where the complexity and depth of the game comes out, because you have to figure out how Merchant Skeletons can take on Fortified Trolls and Flying Halflings.
– Bidding/Drafting – Since there is a huge range of combinations, it is inevitable that some combinations will be weaker or stronger than most. So the game has this bidding system in place where you spend your points to skip over combinations you aren’t interested in. The points can then continue to accumulate as players continue to pass on the race. This can often lead to weaker races being taken because they come with a large accumulation of points. That lump sum can often be a significant moment at the end of the game.
– Races going In-Decline – Over the course of the game, either due to attrition, or strategic maneuvering, you’ll get to spend a turn to send your active race in decline. They’ll stay on the board and continue to earn you points as long as they remain. But you’ll no longer be able to use them in combat. You’ll then begin your next turn by picking a new race/power combination.

Balance & Difficulty
The game has a nice feature where there are 4 different boards to play on for the different number of players. This insures conflict and player interaction regardless of the player amount, and they also scale the number of players, so when there are a larger number of players, the game doesn’t drag on for too many rounds. The game is pretty simple overall, but it has some good level of strategy. Some of the combinations may seem a bit complex or confusing to players new to board games. But overall, it really is quite easy.

Theme
The theme is standard high fantasy, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s hard not to chuckle when Flying Halflings show up, or Diplomatic Orcs are on the table. There’s nothing that really seems to detract from the theme, but the mechanics don’t really seem to support the theme either. In fact, the game is a reimplementation of Vinci, a game made in 1999 by the same designer.

Components
– Main Boards – I love that there are different boards for different players. The quality of everything is top-notch with the board. The only thing that is difficult is to keep track of the turns. I’m sure I’ve played many games where we went 2 or more rounds than we should have because we forgot to move the round marker.

– Race & Power Tiles – These are great quality as well. Nice thickness. Nice feel. Nice print quality. They are shaped well so the Power Tile fits nicely within the Race Tile.

– Die – The game has one reinforcement die. It’s very clear and light. It has nice rounded corners so it isn’t made to roll across the table, but just to localize the roll in front of you.

– Chits – There are an absolute TON of cardboard chits in this game. 168 just for the races alone. There is no secrets with these chits so if some have a little tearing when punching, it’s okay, but the quality of everything is so top notch, that it shouldn’t be an issue.

– Insert – The insert is a plastic extruded insert which works pretty well, but it does have flaws. The race chits can be very difficult to put in and take out of their spot in the insert. The victory point chits have a similar problem, and will fly all over the place without something that can stay on top of them. While I love plastic inserts that keeps things safe and organized, the insert in this one does fall short for me. I know Days of Wonder can do better with this.

– Rulebook – The rulebook is pretty straight forward and easy, but I do think it lacks some information and clarification. For as long as the game has been in print, there should be a whole appendix with clarifications. The race and power combinations will create questions, many of which have been answered online, but that has never translated to the rulebook.

Art
While I’m not a particular fan of fantasy, the art is very whimsical and stylized with vibrant colors. It is a really nice looking game. The race art is really spectacular. And while most fantasy art has a tendency to be dark and sexualized, this game is so bright it’s almost ironic for what could be considered almost a war game.

Replay Value
The game presents a lot of variety with the combos. And trying to maximize the benefits of the races to reach for the most victory points does have replayability, but over time, despite the variety, I’ve found the replayability to die out a little bit. The races do have difference, but a lot of them tend to be different takes of the same thing. Dwarfs want places with mines. Wizards want places with magic. Humans want farms. That’s where they get their bonus. Some races and bonuses are a lot more exciting, but they’ll get played out.

Who May Be Interested in it?
Small World is a good gateway game that can lay the foundation for Euro games and modern games in general. It is something that can add to an avid gamers collection and will have a broad appeal for families, casual players, and strategy gamers. You could probably even talk Power gamers into it for time to time.
It’s a good, all around introduction to modern board games.

Who Should Avoid it?
But it does often play a bit dry. It’s often cited as being the Euro-version of Risk, with the area control, but the victory point aspect really is a drastic difference than player elimination. Goals and strategy have to be set different. It’s too light for power gamers. It’s too complex for party gamers. I also think it will get a bit stale for avid gamers over time. They may want to have it in their collection for other players, but may eventually look to trade it off too.

Final Conclusion
This was the first modern board game I bought. I had a lot of fun and played it a lot when I first got it. But as time went on, the strategy just started feeling very similar. It’s not a game for everyone, and it’s a game that left my collection because the strategy just ended up feeling very similar. I think it’s a good game. I think it’s good what what it does. It’s a game I’d recommend to lots of people, but it eventually left me wanting either a richer experience, or a quicker experience. Still, a solid design. Great production. Lots of variety. I’ve found the game experience is improved by many of the expansions.

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. I try to judge the game as it is designed. (No house rules, variants and expansions are reviewed separately). While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

8
Go to the Las Vegas page

Las Vegas

14 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

Quick Summary
Las Vegas is a quick and light Area Control game that has heavy elements of luck, risk and confrontation. Players attempt to gamble over control of Las Vegas casinos to attempt and gain the most money from those casinos.
Primary Mechanics

Area Control– Casinos are placed with cards that represent an amount of money that can be won at that casino. Each casino will have a minimum of $50,000.
Players take turns rolling their dice and placing all of that one type of dice on to the corresponding casino. After everyone has placed their dice, whoever has the most dice gets the highest valued card at that casino. If there is a 2nd or 3rd place, they will get the 2nd or 3rd highest valued card, respectfully.
But ties is where the game really sets itself apart from other filler or area control games. All ties get canceled out. If green has 1 dice, blue has 4 and red has 4, green wins.
Official “Ghost Dice” Variant – This is a clever variant to add either a dummy player or just to spice up the game. Players split the dice of a color equally among the players and roll them. The dice is placed along with other dice that match the number that the player places. These dice can be used to try and block other players, used to try and tie another player, or if you aren’t careful, can screw you up as well.
Balance & Difficulty
This game is so quick and simple to teach, by the time you’ve finished reading this review, I could have taught it to you, your friends and your family.
In regards to balance, it is a vegas themed game, so there’s a lot of luck involved. Sometimes you just need to roll a six, and it won’t happen, meanwhile other players will have rolls with astronomical probability. But the luck is all even, and part of the tactical nature of the game involves mitigating that luck.

Theme
The theme is Las Vegas, and thats what it feels like. I can’t tell of players are suppose to be gambling investors or just high risk gamblers, but it still works well.
Components
– Casino Boards – These are large cardboard pieces in a similar shape to the Las Vegas sign. They can be arranged on the table in many ways which helps with the game’s portability.
– Dice – There are an absolute ton of dice with this game. It comes with enough for 5 players. They are all standard plastic dice of average quality with filleted corners and edges. The dice aren’t made for rolling across the table, just rolling in your hands and setting them down on the table.
– Cards – The cards in the game come in a good thick card stock. Scuffing may happen, but it won’t be a significant issue of imbalance. The cards are sort of designed to look like American money with the portrait of George Washington, but you can tell it’s a european take with their use of a dot instead of a comma.
– Insert – It has a nice plastic extrusion insert that fits most of the components nicely, but it only has 3 slots for 5 colors of dice. A very odd decision. Either way, I’d recommend bagging the dice up separately and then everything works fine.
– Rulebook – Rulebook is short and sweet, much like the game.
Art
The art is really trying to give the Las Vegas vibe, and it works. I wouldn’t say it’s fantastic art work, but it’s a lot of art about the lights, show, and glamor of Las Vegas. The art on the money cards is a bit underwhelming, as I would have liked a little more design variety other than color and numbers.

Replay Value

For a filler, this has had great replay value. In game nights at home or at the game store, this usually gets pulled out. However, after about 3 consecutive rounds, you’ll usually feel “done” with the game. Like many filler games, it suffers from the risk of being overplayed. But busting it out for three rounds at the beginning of a game night is a great way to waste time as people show up. Three rounds can easily be played in 15-20 minutes, as long as people don’t try and think too much about it.
Who May Be Interested in it?
Someone looking for an easy and combative filler should look into this one. It’s also a game that seems to do quite well with families. So if gamers are trying to bridge that “party game” gap, this can be a really good addition. Social gamers, party gamers, and casual gamers should all give this a look. Avid gamers should consider adding this to their collection as well.

Who Should Avoid it?
Power gamers that don’t want to spend their time with fillers should avoid this one. Gamers who hate high influences of luck should avoid this one too. It isn’t swingy luck, but it’s very random – as with any dice based game. Strategy gamers won’t find much strategy here. It has some elements of strategy, but it’s mostly a tactical game to adjust things turn-by-turn.

Final Conclusion
I’m not particularly fond of games with a lot of random aspects. But that only really gets to be a problem with things depend on a particular roll or have huge power swings. This game does random, but it does random well, and it doesn’t take too long to play, so it isn’t like a long term investment that turns sour. This is a game I’ve enjoyed playing. I don’t care for direct conflict in games, but this game has it in spades, and it makes me laugh.

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. I try to judge the game as it is designed. (No house rules, variants and expansions are reviewed separately). While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

10
Go to the Amerigo page

Amerigo

128 out of 137 gamers thought this was helpful

Quick Summary
Players take on the role of New World discoverors, like Amerigo Vespucci and his contemporaries like Christopher Columbus. Like many Stefan Feld games, the game centers around a unique mechanic for presenting available actions. In this case, a large cube tower.

Primary Mechanics
– Cube Tower
In Amerigo, the available and number of actions you have is determined by a cube tower. At the beginning of the game, the cube tower is populated by dropping all the cubes through the tower, where some of them will get “trapped”. The cubes that fall through the tower are then separated and placed around the rondel. For the rest of the game, at the start of every phase, you will take the cubes from a section of the rondel, and drop them through the tower. This may trap some of the cubes you drop, but knock some of the cubes that remain in the tower through.
The cubes that fall out of the tower are the available types of actions you can take. So if blue, green and yellow cubes fall out, you can take the blue, green or yellow actions. The number of action points you get is equal to the largest number of cubes of a color that come out. So if 4 blues, 2 greens and 1 yellow comes out, you have 4 action points to spend on blue, green OR yellow actions.
It’s a very clever design that ends up presenting 2 or 3 different actions each round, and it seems to sort of balance itself out in a very interesting way. If you drop very few red cubes in, it means there are more reds in the tower, so you can expect them to pop out a bit more regularly than some of the other colors.

– Modular Board
The main board consists of several other smaller boards that are all different. The number of these smaller board scales for the number of players and they combine together to make islands with harbors, and locations with resources and even treasure chests. Throughout the game, you’ll gain tiles which act as buildings and settlements, you’ll then place these on the islands to gain access to the resources and populate the land to gain victory points.

Balance & Difficulty
There are a lot of things going on, but they are all very straight forward. The cube tower doesn’t really overwhelm you with choices. While there may be 7 different colors, all with their specific types of actions, you’ll only be focusing on 2 or 3 of them at a time. And it’s mostly predictable as you go around the rondel clockwise, you know when you’re dropping red cubes in, you’ll likely get red cubes out. And in two turns, you’ll be dropping green cubes in, so you’ll probably get green cubes out in two turns. The whole system is very elegant and very clever. This is still a Stefan Feld game, and “point salad” is still an applicable label for this game. But, despite the size of box and number of components, it’s a rather light game for Feld. It doesn’t lack strategic depth, and the game still gives path for clever plays, but it isn’t going to be some grand strategy.
Since everyone essentially has the same opportunity of actions, the game is very well balanced between players. There is an advantage to the starting player, but it’s not usually difficult to gain that spot, nor is the advantage that significant.
This is a game that would be overwhelming at first glance for new players, but in application, it would be very easy for them to pick up on it.

Theme
The theme of exploring and discovering is there. Though most of the discovering is essentially “done” by the time the game starts. It’s more about exploring around, placing settlements, and setting up trade for resources. All of these aspects of the theme come through the mechanics. The most abstract aspect though, will be the cube tower. I’m sure this can be developed into the “work seasons” and “weather” throughout the year, but that thematic presence doesn’t shine through. It feels more like a mechanical element to randomize actions. The theme is present, but definitely not the strength or emphasis of the game.

Components
– Main Board
The main board is randomly placed together with smaller modular boards. The graphic design of these seem to be decent. It’s easy to relate X with X and Y with Y. It’s nice that this will be different almost every time you play the game, between tile selection and orientation. It’s also scales to a larger size depending on the number of players. But as the size increases, it does change a few parts of strategies.
In addition to the main board, there is a bit of a sideboard that isn’t modular. This has the scoring track and is very much more of a “bookkeeping” board. This is where the rondel and other tiles are placed and kept track of. It’s very functional even if it does appear a bit like a spreadsheet.

– Player Board
Player boards are also a bit like a spreadsheet. It has different tracks and places to hold resources. The area with the resources could be a bit clearer, as it’s confusing which are your resource tiles and which are your production tiles. This is important as you’ll have to multiply resource and production tiles with each other for end game scoring.

– Chits
The game has a lot of chits. This is also where some graphic design seems to fall a hair short. There are an absolute plethora of tiles, but it is a little laborious to go through and make sure you only grabbed the 2 player or 3 player tiles. You also want enough table space to display a lot of the chits. Keeping track of a lot of the chits and where they are and why they are there is a bit of a task and demands a lot of space.

– Wooden Pieces
There are a lot of wooden pieces in this game. There’s a metric ton of cubes for the cube tower, there are settlements, there are ships, there are markers. They all seemed to be in decent quality. The brown, green and red colors all seem to have a similar vibrance about them which could be difficult for some colorblind people. Specifically the brown and green cubes may be difficult to distinguish.
– Insert
A great insert for this game. Very well designed and laid out. It’s designed both for safe shipping and safe storage over everything. I don’t know how well it would store vertically, as the box is massive, but if you can find a way to keep the lid on well, it would probably stay just fine. I recommend placing the spent punchboards under the insert to bring the insert closer to the lid. This makes the lid useful in holding down the components in the insert as it shifts around.

– Rulebook
Queen delivers another clear rulebook. They seem to always break down difficult concepts into simple illustrations and directions. It’s very easy to reference. It didn’t leave anything unclear the first time it was played. It’s a bit sterile, but it does the job well.

Art
The art is a little all over the place. There are vibrant colors, but some pastels with the boards. Not a lot of life giving art or flavor to anything, except the cube tower, which is laid out like an old lighthouse. The main board is very pretty, but ultimately a bit lifeless. Some of the tiles you lay down have some very nice art work on one of the sides that has buildings and villages in the color of the player.

Replay Value
With replay, I find that the game has a lot of different ways to go about strategy. You can go heavy in technology, heavy in exploration. Heavy in managing resources and trade. You can go and claim small islands, or try and focus more on larger islands. And then there is anything in between. Strategy alone, this game offers a lot of replayability. Then you add in the random elements of the modular board setup, differing strategy with number of players, and just how the cube tower determines the type and number of actions. I see this game getting played for years and always having something new to try.

Who May Be Interested in it?
Avid euro gamers looking for something a bit lighter and quicker to play. People who want to try something in the euro-style games. Gamers who want to try a Stefan Feld game for the first time. Those looking for a simple to learn – difficult to master game. Strategy gamers that don’t care too much about a random elements. Power gamers looking for a “quick” 60-80 minute game.

Who Should Avoid it?
Thematic gamers should probably avoid this one. The theme is present, but a little dry and the mechanics don’t really “invoke” the theme. People who don’t like games that may feel a bit fiddly should avoid this one. Those that are expecting a heavy “typical Feld” euro game should either reset their expectations or avoid this one as well.

Final Conclusion
I found this game to be an absolute joy. It’s fast, light, but it isn’t shallow. It has random elements, but it isn’t swingy luck. It’s a random element that seems to have a bit of a fair memory. I wasn’t expecting too much from this one, but it’s another Stefan Feld game that delivered for me. It’s a game I would be up for playing almost any time, and place, which isn’t something I can’t say for the majority of games. It seems to fit the sweet spot for me of not being too light or casual, like with Ticket to Ride or Lords of Waterdeep, but not too big or intense like Terra Mystica or Twilight Struggle.

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. I try to judge the game as it is designed. (No house rules, variants and expansions are reviewed separately). While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

5
Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep page
56 out of 66 gamers thought this was helpful

Quick Summary
Lords of Waterdeep is a Dungeons & Dragons themed Worker Placement game where each player is a puppet master in the city of Waterdeep. As they try and force their influence and control of the city of Waterdeep. They’ll do this by using their agents, and hiring adventures to complete quests and trip up the other Lords over the city.

Primary Mechanics
Worker Placement – Every player starts off with some workers, or “Agents”, which you’ll place on an empty spot on the main board, and get to carry out the action or gain the resources of that location. When you place on the board, you’ll be the only player allowed to be in that location. So you’ll be in type of a race of priorities. Turn order will become a vital part of the game as the number of available actions deteriorates with each player. At a later point in the game, you’ll gain an additional worker to help you gain additional actions.
Intrigue Cards – In the game, players will have and receive Intrigue cards throughout the game. These will usually either benefit the player who has it, by gaining a special ability or resources, or will hurt the opponents in some way, either by blocking or removing resources from the opponent. This creates a good amount of player interaction. Usually to play an Intrigue Card, you’ll have to play an agent at Waterdeep Harbor, but later in the round, you’ll be able to replace that agent on another open spot on the board, being able to gain two actions from one agent within a turn.
Quest Cards – Quest cards are where you’ll generate the majority of your points and they come in a variety of types. To complete a quest, you have to have a particular number of resources, and you’ll usually gain some points and resources, and sometimes even a game-lasting special ability.
Hidden Roles – At the beginning of the game, players will be given a .ord which has a hidden objective, which usually consists of bonus points for completing two types of quests at the end of the game. Some will give you bonus points in other ways, but the majority of them gain points through completing quests.

Balance & Difficulty
For what is usually a genre considered to be quite heavy, Lords of Waterdeep is actually a very light and easy game. It’s a good introduction to the Worker Placement mechanic. It also adds some more direct conflict and player interaction that is often lacking in other Worker Placement games with the intrigue cards.
Another thing it does a bit differently than other Worker Placement games is having a higher amount of random mechanics. Not dice rolling, but I don’t find it to be too far off, either. The Quest Cards cycle around but what is available tends to be very random and often situational. The game gets thrown off when two or more players have Hidden Roles with the same quests type bonuses. You’ll be fighting over the same quests as other players who don’t share those cards have free reign over their own, and it’s just up to them to not fail in how they execute it.

I also find many of the intrigue cards to present a very swingy feel to the game. Some of the intrigue cards are mandatory quests which prevents a player from completing any other quests until they complete that one, and it can often be a game ender as they often have to end up wasting several actions to get rid of the quest. The rewards for completing a mandatory quest are very small in consolation

Theme
The game could have very easily been many other things. But I found many of the mechanics to actually be at odds with the theme. The quests feel more like fulfilling an order for pizza or shopping for a Thanksgiving Dinner than gathering adventures for power and treasure. Worker Placement is a mechanic that feels more about middle-management than chicanery and wielding control.

Components
– Main Board – I really enjoy the look of the mainboard. It has a great graphical layout and it is functional. It’s almost like it was drawn by a talented city cartographer without sacrificing at all in the functionality. Everything is very clear. Great print quality, board thickness and design.
– Player Board – A nice little method of sorting and organization. It’s a bit long for it’s purpose, and a little thin and glossy.
-Workers/Agents/Meeples – These are nice colored wood pieces. They are clear, clean and fitting for a good Eurogame.
-Cubes – The cubes are good quality. Bright colors with good contrast. But there is a serious player/theme disconnect with using these cubes and not small meeples for the adventures you are hiring. There’s no mechanical reason for them to be cubes, as there aren’t any blind draws.

– Cards – Card quality is okay. They feel a bit thin and prone to bending. Colored edges make scuffing very apparent. There are some very oddly shaped cards which makes it challenging for sleeving, and some of the mechanics, like hidden roles, really would be broken with any visible damage to the cards. Further, the intrigue cards are all printed with portrait texts except for mandatory quests, which are landscape. You can tell when a player draws a mandatory quests, because they either flip the card to their side, or tilt their head. This is a dead giveaway to try and hold back and stop being in first place to avoid getting the mandatory quest. I don’t know if this is intentional or not, but I don’t particularly like that design.

– Chits – Good thickness and print quality. Really, great looking quality. A few of the chits seem to be rarely used and unnecessary. The gold is a hair fiddly with the different denominations. I wish they were a little more clear.

– Insert – It has a nice plastic extruded insert which seems to do a pretty good job holding everything in place, for the most part. A pretty good design and a good thick, smooth plastic was used.

– Box – I’m making a special category for this one. The box has a half-lid, meaning it doesn’t sleeve all the way down, just half way down.This makes it impossible to store the box vertically and it’s very fussy. It’s smaller and any damage ot the box makes storing the game a torture. The nice insert is almost rendered useless by the poor design of the box lid. They went for something unique and stumbled in the functionality.

– Rulebook – The rulebook is very clear and concise. Half the book is just a nice appendix for things in the game. Some lore, some mechanical details. And it has a very nice rule summary on the back.

Art
The art is very well done. Not really my particular style, but for the theme, it is oh so fitting. I previously mentioned the board art, but all the artwork is very consistent. It’s dark, but almost whimsically. (Much like the difference of modern DnD vs Pathfinder).

Replay Value
There is a lot of random elements with the setup, cards, and tactical decisions that will bring a lot of replayability for many people. But in my many plays I’ve found the strategic ceiling to be extremely low. It doesn’t stretch the creativity or clever play. There’s no room for a grand strategy or multiple paths to victory. In fact, the hidden roles seem to very much determines what your strategy should be. So I’ve found that often times the choices and options, hence the game, plays itself.

Who May Be Interested in it?
People looking to sample and try out Eurostyle or worker placement games. Casual players looking for something a bit more strategic. Avid gamers that aren’t expecting too much out of their games or what their games to go by quickly. RPG players wanting to take a stab at modern board games. People with very vivid and creative imaginations that can weave stories to fit the lore and experiences. If your group like games similar to 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, and Small World, but don’t like heavier games, this would fit in pretty well.

Who Should Avoid it?
Social, Power or Strategy gamers. There are many games with comparable complexity but have deeper experiences. Those who find games like 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, and Small World to be for “filthy casuals” shouldn’t consider this for their collection, and should consider Stone Age, Kingsburg or others as their “Light Worker Placement” for their collection.

Final Conclusion
I’ve played this game several times, and with each play, I’ve liked it less and less. Every time I play, I’m usually left thinking “That’s it?”. I think the game has a lot of potential, but it just fails to deliver on almost every mechanic for me. This is a game for many people. This isn’t a game for me. I want something richer and leaves me thinking “Oh, I can do better next time” and not “Those stupid quest cards just never came up for me.”

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. I try to judge the game as it is designed. (No house rules, variants and expansions are reviewed separately). While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

10
Go to the Bora Bora page

Bora Bora

129 out of 138 gamers thought this was helpful

Quick Summary
You can’t really talk about Bora Bora without using the phrase “Stefan Feld”, who has sort of his unique feel of a designer. He’s almost has his own genre of games. When you play a Feld game, it becomes the baseline of which you judge all over Feld games. Bora Bora is a “Feldian” point salad game that takes place in a Pacific Archipelago. Players are running tribes which are settling islands, building huts, and presenting offerings to gain favor with the gods.

Primary Mechanics

Dice Rolling & Placement
The game centers around each player having and rolling three dice in their color. Each player will then place a die on an action spot to show which action they will use with that die. The catch is, every die placed must be lower than the lowest die on an action spot. There are several actions available, but how a dice is used for those actions is done in a similar way. The higher the die is placed, the greater your options are for that action. The lower the die is placed, the more you’ll be able to block other players from taking or benefiting from that action. This creates a humorous situation where everyone seems unhappy with their dice roll. Roll high, you’ll get blocked. Roll low, your options won’t get large benefits.
The action spots vary in what they do, which includes gaining men or women workers, expanding by land and sea, placing priests in the temple, build your village, or adjust several aspects of your player board and cards.

God Cards
To help assist with the strategy and mitigate some aspects of the dice, there are God Cards which you can play, paired with an offering. The cards come in several varieties, such as being able to place a die when it normally would be blocked, or treating a low numbered die as a 6. The cards cover most phases in the game.

Task Tiles
A central part of the game’s tension comes from the task tiles. At the beginning of the game, you are given 3 task tiles. They are all unique from each other, and may include tasks such as having 3 of the same god cards, having a number of specific type of men and/or women, having a lot of different men/women. Having a number of a type of resource. They are tasks which pretty much are related to every aspect of the game. The big catch is you need to be able to complete a different task tile every round. At the very end of the game, you’ll also want to complete EVERY task tile you have remaining for bonus points. These task tiles will really be a huge tactical aspect in the midst of your overall strategy.

Point Salad
Feld games became the inspiration for the term “Point Salad” which refers to being able to gain points in such a huge variety of ways. In Bora Bora, you can sometimes just gain some points because there’s nothing better to do. The end of the game can take a while tallying up all the points because there are several categories which you can earn points and gain bonus points. You’ll gain points at the end of each round, and sometimes you’ll gain points in the middle of a round.

Balance & Difficulty
The game is actually pretty straightforward in a lot of ways. You roll your dice, you place your dice in order, and when you place a die, you do the thing. Gain some points, and whoever has the most points, wins. But the game really can sometimes be unforgiving. You didn’t complete a task? You not only lost out on points for that round, now you can’t get a bonus at the end of the game. And with a game this tight, that bonus can be the difference between a win and a loss. The good news is there are God cards with can mitigate a lot of that, you just have to make sure you have offerings. But now you’re spending actions to gain offerings and god cards, and not spending it on taking other actions which can further your strategy. Sometimes you have to just forego your losses to try and make ground through other means.
With a lot of dice centered games, it can feel very swingy, and if you don’t roll well, you’ll lose. I never found that to be the case with Bora Bora. Rolling low often hurts your opponent just as much as it hurts you. And sometimes, with the god cards, you can pull some very mean combinations, such as placing a “1” die with a god card that treats it like a 6. You’ve essentially maxed out your benefit while blocking everyone else from taking that action.
The game has parts that allows it to scale between 2-4 to keep conflict existing, but options still numerous.

Theme
While the mechanics and theme aren’t at odds with each other, they don’t really complement each other either. All games are some sort of abstract of something, but often times the mechanics really simulate the theme. I can’t say Bora Bora is a game that does that. Nothing really feels like a “thematic” experience. The mechanics don’t really enforce the theme as it’s more of just being present with the theme. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what the role of the player is. Tribal chief? Island manager? Sea Shell Broker? Tribal Tattoo Logistics Coordinator?
Components
– Main Board – The main board is very functional. It depicts the islands, has some player aid of the order a rounds goes. It is very colorful and straightforward. The onyl thing that can be a little hard to spot would be the location of where fish tiles go (Which has a role with scoring and starting locations). On one side of the board, it is well laid out and is layed out in order of what happens when the third phases of the round happens. The jewelry tiles can be used as a round tracker as a column of jewelry disappears every round. The board is average thickness and doesn’t take up that much space.

– Player Board – The Player Board is very overwhelming for first time players. But it really fills two functions. The left side of the board is a very helpful player aid, that illustrates what the god cards do, their associated costs, what a “fire action” is, and what that “hand holding a dice” action actually does. The center-and right side of the board is essentially where you will put all of your “stuff”. Spots for the huts that you can build, a place for your men and women tiles to be. Where your resources go for constructing your village. A little place for jewelries, bonus god tiles. After a quick briefing of everything, it really makes a lot of sense.

– Action Spots – These are essentially large chits. The game is language independent, so they use some iconography that will take a bit of explanation.

– Dice – The dice are a light plastic with. They seem to be average in quality, with rounded corners. Nothing you’ll be chucking long distances. Just a roll in your hands and set-down type of thing. Pips will fade over extensive use.
– Cards – The god cards are very standard mini-euro cards. A bit difficult to shuffle, and the art doesn’t don’t bleed to the white edge. They’ll scuff over time, but that shouldn’t present any significant imbalance. Only sleeve if you’re obsessive or you expect to play the game extensively.

– Chits – There is a small tree’s worth of cardboard chits with this game. There are two types of task tiles which can be very challenging to differentiate from each other, so you’ll want to try and keep those separated from each other. There are a ton of jewelry tiles, task tiles, men tiles, women tiles. There are Bonus god tiles, and dice tiles and fish tiles. The quality on all of them is pretty good, but the print can feel a little bit flimsy on some of them, so be careful when punching.

– Temple Pieces – There are tiny plastic temple figures in each player. They are very small and roll very easily. You’ll want to keep these from the edge of the table.

– Wooden Pieces – The huts, score tracker, and tattoo tracker are standard and decent quality. No odd cuts in my experiences.

– Insert – The game doesn’t come with any sort of insert. but there is a very nice looking box liner on the inside. You’ll want to be obsessive with sandwich bags or Really Useful Boxes (Found at Office Max, Office Depot, Staples, etc.)

– Rulebook – The rulebook is pretty good, but often times vague. There have been several scenarios where things just didn’t seem to really be clear, so we had to discuss what was the most fair. That can be frustrating, but it isn’t hard to reference at all. Overall, it will teach the game pretty well.

Art
Very vibrant colors and design. It has great use of complementary yet contrasting colors. When it is all set up, I find the game to be visually stunning.

Replay Value
There are so many varieties of strategies, tasks, goals, and tactics to extract from this game. It has some variable setup and a lot of random elements, but none of them detract from the strategic depth of the game. If it’s a game you like once, you’ll like it after many plays.

Who May Be Interested in it?
People who like Stefan Feld/Point Salad games should like this one. It’s a bit more high in conflict and meanness than some of his other games. Anybody who is looking for an easy to learn, difficult to master board game. Those that are looking for an interesting dice mechanic that isn’t about pure chance but fair and strategic should consider this game.

Who Should Avoid it?
People who find a lot of games to be “Spreadsheets”, or too much about numbers should avoid this one. It has great strategy but it’s a lot of number crunching. It can present a lot of analysis paralysis for players. If one is looking for a rich thematic experience, they should just walk past this one.

Final Conclusion
Bora Bora is complex and ever changing masterpiece of a puzzle. The task tiles have a lot to make-or-break you, and you need to be careful to make sure you dictate them and that they don’t dictate you. This is my favorite game designed by Stefan Feld, and one of my favorite games period. I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody, but for a baseline of what I like in games, this is a good sample. Casual and Social gamers may enjoy it, but it wouldn’t be one I’d reach for them. This will be more down the ally of Power and Strategy Gamers. Avid gamers may find themselves on either side of the fence.

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

2
Go to the Tomb: Cryptmaster page
14 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

Quick Summary
Players take on a primary role of tomb raiders, crawling through a labyrinth of crypts and sepulchers to take on monsters, find treasures, and become the most grave robber. It’s a massive dungeon crawling experience that can demand the majority of a night.

Primary Mechanics
Character, Equipment and Power Selecting & Tableau
The game starts off in the Inn where you’ll recruit characters and equipment. This immediately gets into one of the strengths of the game. There are 84 unique characters, all with their own skills, abilities, and art. They’ll come in a few different standard classes. Rogues, Fighters, Clerics and Wizards. Many characters are double and even triple classed characters.

At any time, whether starting, the party dies, or you just find yourself in the Inn, you can recruit characters up to a limit. Characters will also draw cards related to their character’s class. They also can gain some basic equipment at the Inn as well. The entire time in the Inn, you’ll mostly be tooling up for adventuring.

Combat
Combat is heavily relied on with with several dice. Characters come with base stats that will determine what type and quantity of dice you will throw. Treasures, spells, weapons and statuses will heavily manipulate the base statistics as well. Combat is basically done as a skill check where you need so many successes to pass.

Memory
During the setup, players will be given several “tomb” cards, which will contain monsters, treasures, traps and curses. They will then go in turn order and populate the crypts with these cards, until the crypts are all full. This brings a memory mechanic as you can maybe populate a tomb full of nice treasure while placing nasty traps and monsters in crypts where you think your opponent may be doing the same.

Raiding & Overlording
When a player reaches a crypt, they may decide to try and raid whatever treasure may be inside of it. A different player, determined by the board, will then grab the cards on that crypt, and play them in a particular order, to try and trip up the opponent. They’ll roll for monsters when they are in combat with them. And finally, they, or other players, may actually play Cryptmaster cards which can influence what happens against the involved players.

Balance
If you’re looking for balance, look elsewhere. This game feels severely under playtested. Some cards are completely pointless, some characters are outright annoying or weak. And some combinations of characters and equipment is downright godly. The Cryptmaster mechanic just makes a whole new level of “swingy” that stops being fun, and gets to be irritating. Players will want to stop playing cards just to get the game to end.

Theme
The theme is extremely dark and grotesque. It clearly takes a heavy inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons, but only a more guided board game experience. The game is heavy, and complex, but it is that way for the purpose of supporting the theme. The theme is neither an attraction nor a detriment for me. I can’t say I was interested in it.

Components
Main Board The board is double sided with a smaller, quicker game on one side, and a larger, complex labyrinth on the other side. The overall print quality was decent, but it did have an odd cheap paper feel to it.

Characters
Fantastic but inconsistent artwork on them. The pieces are extremely thick. But there has to be a huge penalty given for the graphics design of the character pieces. You have the fantastic art work, which gives the thematic personality on one side, and all the stats, skills, name, and biographic information about the person on the other side. The game would have been much better if it were just a large deck of cards with all the information up front with the artwork to show off.

Dice
The dice comes in D8s of three varieties, essentially a “low chance, medium chance and high chance”. The quality is decent, but the quantity is extremely lacking. You’ll be rolling dice several times.

Bag
It comes with a good sized back for the characters to randomly be pulled out of. It’s a good size and felt like an average quality.

Cards
The cards have inconsistent artwork for the rest of the game, but overall the standard size cards are sufficient.

Rulebook
Since all the characters and cards have their own special abilities, I’m going to include what is written on them with this part as well. This is, bar none, the worst rulebook I’ve ever had to break through. It is a chore that took several hours and attempts to figure out. Terminology is inconsistent. Definitions are missing. The organization is non existent. I had to download and read the rulebook to the original Tomb to find some answers on some things. This rulebook almost made the game itself unplayable. Every time someone would draw a new card, we’d have to try and reference something in the rulebook to try and understand the timing. It isn’t because it is complex. I’ve played many games that are far more complex. It is a broken, almost useless rulebook. It uses lots of words to teach and inform very little.

Art
This may have been the biggest reason why I purchased this game. I wanted a big monster of a game, and this looked to be it. The art was dark. The creatures were unique. It had a good gothic vibe from it.

Replay Value
The vast number of characters would almost make it worth it. The equipment, spells and skill card variety seem a bit lackluster. A single game eventually starts to feel very “samey” by the end of it, and all my other plays always had people wanting the same items.

Conclusion
I can’t shake the feeling that this game is a hair away from meeting the definition of “broken during design”. It’s a game that drags on and gets extremely repetitive. If it took 60-90 minutes, it would be more forgiving, but you’ll be lucky to be a third of the way done by then. This is a game that has a good spirit about it, but mechanically it is incredibly flawed. I couldn’t recommend this to any group. There are several other games I’d recommend before suggesting people try this one.

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. I try to judge the game as it is designed. (No house rules, variants and expansions are reviewed separately). While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

8
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Village

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Primary Mechanics
Action Pool Selection
While technically this may be considered “Worker Placement”, every round there is a pool of cubes in six different locations. Each location usually has a range of choices for you to take. When you take a cube, you’ll usually you’ll place or move a worker (Family Member). Placing a worker doesn’t block other players from that location, as long as a cube remains in the pool for that location. The cubes come in a few different colors and when you take a cube, it will go to your inventory. Later you’ll use these cubes in conjunction with other actions throughout the game. A huge part of the game is being efficient with the order of your actions, the color of cube you take, and how you spend the cubes you gain.

Time & Death
The next mechanic, and probably the more original one that sets this game apart from other games would be the time & death mechanic. All your family members have a number on them that shows their generation. You’ll start with all your 1st generation family members, and throughout the game, they’ll have children, and those children will have children, etc.

Paring with the generation is the concept of time as a resource.. Most actions you take will require some amount of time. You’ll have a marker that revolves around on some hourglass icons around your player board. After it goes around the player board once, a family member of the oldest generation will die. When they die, they’ll go to one of two locations: the village chronicle or the grave of the unknown. The village chronicle has a limited number of spots related to various parts on the board. When a family member dies in a particular location, they’ll fill the associated spot in the village chronicle. If there is no spot left in the chronicle, they’ll go to the grave of the unknown. When either one of these get filled completely filled, the end of the game is triggered.

Theme
Thematically everything usually makes pretty good sense. A lot of it seems to surround around having a prominent family dynasty in an old, if average, medieval european village. There isn’t anything particularly remarkable or inspiring about the setting, as it more of focuses on average lives. There’s no knights, thieves or wizards. Just people trying to make the most of their life. There can be some situations that feel like a possible thematic conflict as you manipulate where you want a family member to be when their time is about to come up. They can spend their whole life being a great craftsman, but in their final hours, they’ll die being known as a great politician. And sometimes you aren’t really trying to have your family members live healthy and fulfilling lives. You are trying to escalate plague and pestilence to get family members to die quicker than anybody else, in the name of gaining Victory Points. Still, the theme and mechanics work well together, despite a rather ordinary theme overall.

Components
Main Board
The Main Board is very functional. It’s separated into a several areas. The graveyard and book for the event of death. Six action spots. And a well that shows you can convert 3 cubes of the same color to take an action in any of the six action areas. Some of the buildings and placements blend in with the art too much, so it isn’t always clear where a player can place a worker. When traveling, you place a marker to show where you’ve been, and the designated spot for the token covers the reward for visiting that location. This sort of thing clears up with multiple plays, but can present a challenge for new players. The board is surrounded by a score tracker, which is quite clear and easy.
Player Board
The player boards are similar thickness as the chipboard. Some things are a little vague at first sight and, similarly to the main board, could benefit from things being a little more distinctive. There is iconography that just blends in with the art a bit too much.
Chipboard
Chipboard is good quality and thickness. There is not a lot of confusion over the pieces.
Meeples
The meeples are good quality wood, but the game requires you to apply very small diamond shaped stickers, and this can be very tricky if you lack dexterity applying small stickers.
Bags
There are two bags that come with the game. They may feel a little small for some larger hands. But their application are great.
Cubes
Mechanically the cubes work very well. Thematically, it’s very dry. They cubes are to represent types of favors and influence, but that never really feels like it comes through. You’re taking an orange or green cube, not using physical skill or persuasiveness. The cubes are very pastel which can make it very challenging for red/green color blind players.

Art
The art is very colorful, but not very stylized. It doesn’t show a very saturated range of colors, so it comes off a little dry. And as mentioned, the art and graphic design seem to blend together a little too much.

Replay Value
The game has a few random elements, such as cube population, the market customers, how the church mechanic works, but it isn’t always up to pure luck, as there are elements to mitigate those elements. So there is a variety in setup, but it’s not modular or significant by any stretch. The real replayability comes with the bevvy of strategies that can pop up. Each area, the Church, Workshops, Market, Traveling, City Council – all play dramatically different and are elegantly intertwined. You have to pay careful attention to what your opponents are doing, what they are trying to accomplish, and when they’ll transition their strategy. Getting in their way while not hurting yourself is a very careful and tight objective. The game seems extremely balanced between drastically different strategies while rewarding the player who executed and adapted their strategy the best.

Final thoughts
The first time I played this game, I was thinking it may have been a mistake purchasing it. It felt all over the board, and it didn’t match my expectations. I’m so glad I gave this more of a chance. It’s a solid game that has deceptive depth and balance. It’s not the thematic experience many look for, and it isn’t a complex algorithm awaiting to be unlocked. It’s a welterweight game that knows how to deliver a strategic knockout. It isn’t a game that I think will have broad appeal, but it a game I would recommend to avid gamers that enjoy many euro-style strategy games.

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. I try to judge the game as it is designed. (No house rules, variants and expansions are reviewed separately). While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

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