Player Avatar
Novice Reviewer
I Own a Game!
Explorer - Level 3


gamer level 6
8433 xp

Use my invite URL to register (this will give me kudos)
profile badges
Reporter Trainee
I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
recent achievements
Professional Grader
Professional Grader
Grade 200 more reviews or tips by clicking "Yes" or "No" in response to the question "Was this helpful?"
Follow a total of 20 other gamers.
Follow a total of 30 games
Junior Reporter
Junior Reporter
Earn Reporter XP to level up by completing Reporter Quests!
Go to the Flash Point: Fire Rescue page
Go to the Xia: Legends of a Drift System page
Go to the Dominion page
Go to the Raiders of the North Sea page
Go to the Colt Express page
Go to the Star Realms page
Go to the Virus page


7 out of 7 gamers thought this was helpful

Your team has found the entrance to the corporation’s hive medical facility where the virus was released. Your job is to find the antidote and escape while fighting off mutated creatures that can see, smell, and hear you. You can erect barricades, breach walls, and RUN!

How it works
This exploration game is divided between real-time and slow-time phases. You plan, make purchases, and prepare during the slow-time mode and then execute your plan in the real-time mode. You layout tiles from a selection of tiles you have in front of you. You have more tiles in front of you if you have increased your knowledge in some way. You can forfeit tiles to save yourself in different ways.

You drop action cubes as you go as you explore, move, and search. This makes noise that the creatures will be attracted to. You do combat in real-time. As you go, you pick up clues about where the cure may be located. These clues are general rules, such as North or 10 spaces away from the entrance. Get to the room where all the clues are true, and that is where the antidote is. Get to the exit control rooms to open the exit doors, and then get to the exit before the creatures get you.

What is interesting
• Combat – cube rolling
It is a system where you roll cubes onto your player mat and see how many cubes are touching squares on the grid. Each cube is a bullet. The more bullets you shoot, the more likely you will hit. You can also purchase other “cubes” that will have different effects if they also “hit”.
• Slow-time – purchasing
Each slow-time, you will purchase more bullets, adrenaline, bombs, etc. You can just get more bullets, but there is an interesting mix of other things to buy.
• Creatures AI
Players select what creatures to put out. You can put out ones that are faster but weaker. You can decide you can afford to put out a stronger creature that moves slower.
• Bosses
Boss creatures come out- just like in the movies/video games
• Player infection
As players get wounded, there is a chance that they get infected and become creatures hunting the other players. This is an optional mode, but very thematic.
• Modes of play
There are various modes of play you can choose from. It is a basic cooperative game, but it can be changed into semi-cooperative and competitive. You can also remove the timed element of the game if that bothers you although I like it. Rolling cubes is more interesting when it is done in real-time. It is a good option when first starting the game- perhaps removing the real-time for just the first round.

Go to the Flip City Board Game page
11 out of 11 gamers thought this was helpful

Flip City is a deckbuilder where you are developing your city (deck) in a race to produce one of two conditions in a single turn.

How it works
The deck, in this deckbuilder, is a deck of buildings you have in your city. The deck is held in your hand and you know what the top card of the deck will be. It is a push-your-luck style game because some cards with “sad faces” have to be played if they are the top card of your deck. Three sad faces and you bust – your turn is ended immediately. This is very similar to how you place out cards in Mystic Vale.

When you decide to stop putting out cards, if you didn’t bust, you count up the currency your turn has generated and you either purchase new cards from common piles in the middle to add to your discard pile or you can pay the cost to flip a card that is in your discard pile, upgrading that card. Because all the cards are double-sided you have to be careful when shuffling – but I am careful when shuffling with a typical deck so it isn’t that big of a deal.

The upgraded sides have more powerful buildings or buildings with just different effects. Some of them have victory points. If you can get a turn where you are showing 8 VP points, the game is done and you win. There is also another card that allows you to win if you have a turn where you have 18 cards showing (without busting).

My thoughts
Turns are pretty quick. There are about three strategies you can take. Strategies change a little depending on how risk tolerant the players are. Knowing your deck and keeping track of what cards have been played are crucial for knowing when you can or can’t risk playing the next card.

There is a newer version of this called Flip City: Wilderness that is a stand-alone sequel. Just like with other deckbuilders, the cards of the expansion can be mixed into the original game if you would like.

My family likes this one. It is a bit faster in gameplay, setup and clean up than Mystic Vale. So as a filler, it works but if we have more time we would probably play Mystic Vale.

Go to the Word Domination page

Word Domination

8 out of 8 gamers thought this was helpful

Word Domination is a creative word game where you are battling for dominance.

How it works
The game is a grid of tiles that are laid out. On your turn, you place a new tile somewhere on the outside of the grid. You then come up with a word using the letter you just placed and any other letters that are on the grid. Letters do not need to be connected. You can also use letters you have collected in front of yourself. When you come up with your word, you place your colored markers on the letters you used.

The next person does the same. When they create a word, they place their markers on the tiles. If they use the same letters as a previous player, that other player’s markers are removed. If you use a letter that still has your marker on it, you claim that tile for yourself and it gets moved in front of you (not part of the grid anymore). The tile if replaced with an upside-down tile (no replacement letter) and your marker is left on it.

After a set amount of rounds, the game is done.

You get a point for all your captured letters. You also get a point for every tile in a grouping of tiles (3 or more).

What is interesting
• Coming up with similar words as others (or as yourself) so you can use essentially the same letters as an opponent or to claim letters for yourself is the challenge
• Do you go for removing all the markers of other players or do you concentrate on getting as many of your color out there so some will survive until it is back to your turn?
• There are special tiles that, if captured, give you special powers
• There are also special character powers that can be added in
• The tiles are random and as you capture letter tiles, some off the stack take there place upside-down- thus continuing with the randomization of what tiles are and will be available
• If there is only one copy of a letter showing and a player captures it, only they can utilize that letter in future words
• The area control scoring gives you the incentive to battle over specific tiles that will block someone from joining up groups of areas
• The theme (Didn’t I mention that? Players are villains trying to dominate the world – sort of fun but not necessary).

Go to the One Deck Dungeon page

One Deck Dungeon

14 out of 15 gamers thought this was helpful

One Deck Dungeon (ODD) takes an adventure (or two or four) into a dungeon with the goal to get through three levels and defeat the boss. I play this primarily as a solo game so my references will be to a single hero rather than constantly put hero(s). This is a good cooperative game for 2 players and there are rules for expanding it out to 4 players but I have not played it with more than 2.

How it works
ODD contains oversized player cards, some health markers, a pile of dice, dungeon cards, and a deck.

The cards in the deck are used in several ways, but the most obvious way is as obstacles for your hero to overcome. These obstacles are either perils (traps) or foes. The cards are also used as a timer. Some obstacles will cost you time rather than life. Each time you go through the deck, you have descended a level into the dungeon and the challenges become harder. The deck is also used as rewards for the hero to use to become more powerful. After facing a challenge (usually, win or lose), you take the card and use it as experience, a new skill, or to increase your stats. Each card has a skill, item, or experience reward, so you have to select how you will use the reward when you get it. Harder obstacles will have better rewards.

Your character has several different stats; strength, agility, mana, and health. The number you have of that stat is how many d6 dice you have to roll for that stat. They have colored dice that match the color of that stat. The number of health is how much damage you can take.

Facing a peril card gives the player a choice of two ways to get past a peril. These usually give you a choice between two stats and one usually costs more time than the other. You choose the method best for your character, gather the number of dice you have for that stat, add bonuses that you might have, and roll. If you succeed, you gain the card for the reward. If you fail, you pay the life or time and then gain the card.

When facing foes you roll all your dice. The foe may have a special effect, but all foes have boxes with different target numbers to fill for different stats. A foe may have 3 strength boxes, each with targets of 4. A foe may also have 2 agility boxes. The first is a larger box allowing you to put in as many agility dice as you would like but have the target of 6 and another may be the small box only allowing one die to be placed with the target of 5. Some boxes may require they get filled before you can fill other boxes. Each box has a consequence that will take place if the box is not covered appropriately by dice. These consequences are primarily damage and time. Using acquired skills and character abilities, along with heroic dice that can be used as wilds and some other mechanics, it is a fun puzzle to see how you can best defeat the foe and suffer the least amount of damage.

When you get to the bottom of the deck, you find the stairs to the next level of the dungeon. The dungeon card (there are several to choose from with varying levels of difficulty) shows a unique added rule that applies to all encounters that take place on that level. When you descend to a new level, you reveal the next level challenge that increases the difficulty of the dungeon. When you descend past the 3rd level, you flip the dungeon card over and face the boss of the dungeon. When facing the boss, it will take several attempts while you both take damage.

There are other details about leveling up your character, healing and other potions, and dice manipulation, but that is the main points.

What I think
Timer mechanism – using the cards are a timer has you discarding cards from the deck all the time. This is a thematic approach that says if you are able to accomplish something fast, you will have more time to explore before you have to descend. If you take the safer path, you will have less time to spend on that level (before the difficulty ramps up). This also allows you to only encounter a fraction of the cards each time you play a level. It randomizes the encounters and you don’t know which you will get this time or not.

Hard game – the game gets harder as you descend levels, but you also get stronger the further you go. Even with that, it is a hard game. I tried time after time on the easiest of dungeons and failed all the time. Then I tried the campaign mode. Campaign mode allows you to adjust the starting conditions to tailor the difficulty to your situation. You are rewarded for incremental accomplishments (levels achieved and floors cleared) by checking boxes off a campaign sheet where you can unlock new abilities. This allows you to face harder dungeons with new starting abilities after you have unlocked them in earlier delves. You get more rewards if you choose a more difficult starting condition.

I don’t play solo games much. This is the exception. The campaign mode makes the game for me. It is also an enjoyable two-player game I will play with my son. I don’t care for confrontational games so most 2-player games are out. We both enjoy this one.

One Deck Dungeon has a new version that was kickstarted in May 2017, Forest of Shadows. This new version is an independent version of the game that introduces some new effects. It can be combined with the original ODD. I am particularly looking forward to getting the optional player mat add-on they offered during the campaign.

Go to the Star Trek Panic page

Star Trek Panic

21 out of 21 gamers thought this was helpful

Star Trek Panic is a tower defense game in space. It is the Castle Panic game that adds objectives and scenarios that hamper your efforts. Your castle is the star ship enterprise, your characters are from the original series, and the oncoming orcs are enemy starships. It is more of a marathon as you attempt to complete multiple missions without being able to heal up between them. You can adjust the difficulty if needed so don’t worry too much about it.

Players select or are assigned different crew that have special abilities before you start. Your ship starts all shiny with full shields on all 6 sides. You start with a random mission and several advancing threats coming from all sides.

Each turn you can trade a card, maneuver the ship, and play cards. Trading a card might be best for the immediate turn or you may be setting up a teammate to be able to do something on their turn by combining cards or being in position to shoot at threats. Maneuvering the ship involves rotating or moving the ship forward. When the ship advances, objects in the two front sectors move closer. Ships on the sides or behind stay where they are – basically keeping speed with the Enterprise. Playing cards allows you to shoot at your enemies, repair damage, or have other effects. At the end of each turn, threats advance, attack, and new threats are added. When I say threats, I really mean Klingon, Tholian, and Romulan Starships. They will shoot, disrupt your ability to maneuver, and board your ship.

Missions are things to accomplish on top of defending yourself from a constant flow of enemies. Mission scenarios will adjust the rules while they are in play and give you a goal to complete. Most missions will give you a number of turns in which to complete them. Successfully completing 5 missions is the goal for a basic game. It is too hard, decrease the number. As you get better, try to complete 10 missions.

What I liked
1- Since it is a coop, working together to figure out the most efficient way to address the threats and complete the missions is interesting. We are often trying to plan 2-3 turns out as we use our abilities, cards, and trades.

2- The theme comes through as you are taking damage, repairing the shields and ship, and utilizing crew abilities.

3- We always blow up the ship.

What I didn’t like
– Lack of variety in the missions. It would be nice to have more missions so you are not seeing so many of the same ones every game.

– Some missions set parameters that are very hard. The ship will take a lot of damage while we are hampered for the length of those missions.

– I wish that repairing would be slightly easier

The best part of this game is where your ship blows up. This is in keeping with many of the movies–they like to destroy their beloved starships. The damage and destroyed sections markers that you put on the ship is fun to see. It sets the visual of how bad things are. When we complete our last mission (if we survive that long), we don’t stop the game and celebrate. The ship is burning, there are hull breeches, and if you have shields, there is damage on them. We continue until the ship blows up. It is the best part.

Go to the Raiders of the North Sea page
54 out of 60 gamers thought this was helpful

Raiders of the North Sea is the second of a trilogy of games from Garphill Games. Each game of the series are set in the same setting so the theme and artwork are similar from game to game but the each provide unique game mechanics. Each game is a stand alone game- they are not expansions.

How it works
Raiders is a worker placement game for where 2-4 players gather resources to be able to raid different locations on the board. This game is both tactical and strategic with an interesting 2-action worker placement mechanic and having several approaches to earn victory points.

In Raiders, players can earn points for boosting their armor, getting crew killed in battle, making offerings to the village elders, collecting resources, or in raiding locations. Players take two actions each turn; one when placing their single worker and one when removing a single worker. The player can choose locations in the village to collect silver or provisions, hire crew, obtain more crew cards, activate a crew action, or purchase armor. As you go, you get different levels of workers that can access different locations on the board.

The primary goal in the game is to collect enough provisions and hire enough crew so you can raid harbors, outposts, monasteries, and fortresses. Each of these earn you victory points and new resources that can be used in special ways. Play continues until one of three end conditions are triggered. Once triggered, all players get a last turn, including the player who triggered the end of the game. Players total up the victory points to see who the winner is.

What I think
I purchased Shipwrights of the North Sea, the first game in the series, through kickstarter over a year ago. While I enjoyed the game and find the artwork to be superb, it had more player interaction than I cared for and it doesn’t make it to the table that often. Shem does a great job running a kickstarter and keeping his backers up to date on what is happening. I ended up also backing Raiders on kickstarter since the art was still great and the mechanics seemed to interest me more. I am really glad I did.

Raiders is straightforward enough that my reluctant 13-year old was able to understand it on her first play and do well. She even suggested playing it a few days later. Players don’t get blocked out of actions. You can be blocked from doing the action in the most convenient way, but you can still take the action. While there are interaction cards where you can cause problems for another player, the opportunity costs are such that the cards rarely get used for this purpose.

I really like the challenge of figuring out what steps I will have to take in order to have everything I will need in order to raid where I want in an efficient way. I can do two actions each turn, but if I pull them off in the right order and end up with the correct colored worker at the right time to attack a specific target. I will not have to “waste” a turn and perhaps lose that juicy target to another viking. Another thing to figure out is the mix of armor and crew I should spend actions and resources on. It is an interesting challenge. My family has enjoyed our plays of Raiders and play to continue to play it in the future.

Go to the Harbour page


128 out of 135 gamers thought this was helpful

Harbour is a small-box game from Tasty Minstrel Games. In Harbour, players buy buildings that are worth various victory points. The players earn the money to make these purchases by performing different actions that will increase the numbers of goods that they have in stock. Players will collect livestock, fish, wood, and stone. When a player has the needed goods, they can ship them, earn the money, and purchase a building. When a player purchases their 4th building, the rest of the players take their last turn and the points are totaled up.

On a turn, players can ship goods or take an action. Most of the time they will take an action. Available actions are on a number of building cards that are laid out on the table. This is like a worker placement game where taking an action blocks other players from taking that action. The main difference is that you only have one worker. When players earn enough goods, they can ship those goods based on what the market is offering at that time.

Shipping is done using a unique market mechanism where it not only sets the price, but also the demand for quantity. The four goods will each take a separate place on this track that ranges from 2 to 5 dollars. If wood is on 5 dollars, you will get $5 for the wood, but you have to have 5 wood or more to be able to sell it. If the market has wood on 2 dollars and you have 5 wood, the other three are wasted–when you ship, all of that good is shipped (with some exceptions). After you ship a good, that good is moved down the market scale and other goods are moved up. You do not collect money and save it from turn to turn. You ship goods, earn the money, and purchase a building all in the same turn. Extra money, just like extra goods, are wasted if not used at that time.

When you purchase buildings, they move in front of you. You can use the space just like the buildings in the center, but if another players wants to use one of your buildings, they will have to pay you a good to do so (with some exceptions). New buildings are drawn to replenish the center supply so there are always a lot of options for actions.

What is interesting
1- The market is a very interesting mechanism. You watch what others are doing and figure out if they are going to ship before you will be able to ship. If they are, the higher priced fish and wood are about to shift to a lower position and you should be collecting cattle and stone. If you don’t plan it right and two opponents ship before you, you might be sitting with a bunch of goods that you will only be able to ship for a small amount of money. Being able to predict where the market will be by the time you are able to accumulate the right amount of the right goods is the trick of this game.

2- There are a lot of rule changing/breaking items in this game. Some actions on the buildings will give you exceptions or changes to some rules. Players also can play with different player powers, that, again, change and break rules. This brings more interesting choices and depth to the game.

What I liked
– Turns are quick
– Planning out the market movement is a struggle that I am GOING to get at some point.
– They have a couple of ways that you can start simple and add complexity to the game. It makes it so much easier to learn as a family when you can start with the basic cards and suggested starting setup before you add in all the rule breaking elements. There is actually one more mechanism that we have yet to add and we have played it 10 times so far.

What I didn’t like
– There are a few cards I dislike. There are two that allow players to change up the market. You just worked over 4 turns to get 5 fish and 4 stone. The player in front of you notices this and takes the action that allows him to reorder the market anyway he wants. Grr- I can’t get on there and change it back because he is now blocking that space. I don’t like that card. There is another one that steals resources from each other- it just slows down the game. Other than that, I can live with the other 33 cards or so.

I am a bit addicted to this one. It seems smaller so my wife is more apt to play with me and my son. I haven’t won but I would have if only…

Go to the Xia: Legends of a Drift System page
136 out of 145 gamers thought this was helpful

Players start off as captains of small ships. They can decide to be merchants, miners, explorers, or pirates to pick up fame points (victory points). The small ships can be upgraded to bigger ships. The ship’s outfits (weapons, shields, and engines) can also be upgraded. It is a sandbox where you can choose what direction you want to go and what you want to do.

The game ends when the first player reaches the preset fame point limit. Short games will play to five fame points and longer games may go to 20. You can decide what the end point is at the beginning of the game.

Players have 4 actions per turn. They can choose to perform actions from a list of actions. There are also minor actions that they can do for free if the situation presents itself. When they are done taking their actions, they use the ships energy to reset their action markers. When they are out of energy, they are stranded and can only move on impulse power each turn (not very far). Energy recharges when they get to a planet.

Players have painted miniatures of their ships on space tiles. As players fly to the edge of the map, new tiles are added so that the modular map is created at random each game. Each ship has a special ability and when you upgrade ships, the ability of the first ship continues with you to the new ship. Ships have a ship mat that shows how much space there is in the ship. Outfits, like weapons, are cardboard shapes that have to be able to physically fit into the ship. Smaller ships will not hold all the most advance outfits. When there is damage, players place damage markers onto the ships – possibly destroying empty areas, damaging outfits (making them less efficient), or making you lose your cargo out to space.

Lets look at the game play based on what type of strategy you might take.

MERCHANT: A merchant player might equip their ship with just an engine or just shields or a little of both. They want to leave plenty of room in their hold for cargo. Their actions would involve going to a planet and purchasing goods before traveling to another planet to sell those goods.

MINER: Similar to Merchants, miners would need shields as they will go into dangerous areas and mine them for valuable cargo. They then travel to planets that will purchase that cargo. Merchants may start out as miners if they don’t see good trading routes in the initial setup of the star system (if there is no planet out there that will purchase the goods that are available to buy).

EXPLORER: Explorers will tend to want large engines so they can travel around. When they come to the edge of a space tile, they can either spend an action to scan the next tile, or save the action point and just move into that unknown tile. They may put themselves into dangerous locations but that is a risk that we often take when exploring. Most the tiles have spaces where exploration tokens are placed. The first player to reach that location will either get nothing, credits, or a fame point (victory point). Explores often start to pick up missions in mission spaces. These tend to be pickup and deliver sorts of things that earn them fame as well as credits.

PIRATE: Load up your ship with weapons and you can attack other ships for fame and loot. Killing an innocent ship will earn you a bounty. The more ships your blow up, the greater your bounty grows.

Players do not declare or decide on any one of these tactics. It is a free flowing game system where each time you leave a planet you sort of decide what types of direction you will take in order to earn credits and fame. You may try to stay innocent, but accidentally get a bounty and change up what you are doing. You may decide to trade in your big engine and shields for missiles so you can go after that other player who has a large bounty.

Additionally, the game comes with three non-player character ships; the Merchant, Scoundrel, and Enforcer. The merchant flies from planet to planet, getting richer at each stop. After a while, players may see the merchant as a target and a way to earn the credits to upgrade their ship. The scoundrel attacks the closest innocent ship and runs away back to his outlaw planet home. Lastly, the enforcer flies a patrol and will attack any ship that has a bounty on it that is within range.

Xia is a game that replicates a style of computer game that goes back a long way. Gamers who are familiar with those games are going to love this game. Xia does a great job of replicating the sandbox aspect of those games. I am not sure if gamers who do not have that background will like it as much. The economy and combat systems are not intricate. The game is more about the experience and the story that comes out of the play.

The components are really good. The ship outfits (shields, weapons, etc.) are thick board, as are the ship mats and the space tiles. The metal credits are wonderful. The cargo cubes and damage crystals are cool. The box is strong and sturdy. I usually bag up everything and get rid of the insert, but this insert is working well. There is a smaller insert that we remove and set on the table. They also have it set up so cards can be stored with or without sleeves.

Some people have complained about the painted miniatures. When I first got it, I looked very closely at the details of the miniatures and painting and saw some small flaws here and there. They are painted better than I probably could have done it and I probably would not have put in the time to paint them if they came unpainted. The paint helps to identify what ship they are and in our game play, they have worked very well. I haven’t noticed them at all since the inspection on the first day.

My teenage sons who have played the video games Xia is based on (on my ancient computer in the basement) love this game. My 16-year-old has set it up and plays it almost daily with his mom these past 2 weeks. I have only been able to get a weekly game in due to my work schedule. My wife thinks it is ok, but does not understand why we enjoy it so much. She wins just as much as anyone else.

We have only played 2-4 players. The higher player counts would slow down the game. There is a lot you can do on your turn and, depending on how your game is going, you could have very little player interaction. Two players was fun. We don’t play a lot of 2 player – head to head conflict games. This game can be played 2 player where we don’t interact that much, but we try to race to that fame point goal doing our own things. We found 2-player variant ideas online that were useful in making it more interesting and fun.

I am happy I got this game. Being a kickstarter, it was what they say kickstarter is all about–helping an individual realize their dream. It is the best kickstarter I have ever seen with weekly updates posted through the entire post-campaign. We have begun thinking of new space tiles we would like to see or different types of missions. The developer has posted files with the artwork so fans of the game can develop quality custom content. I am looking, for the first time ever, into getting sleeves for the cards in the game so we can print up custom missions or titles and mix them in.

I really like this game.

Go to the Australia page


13 out of 14 gamers thought this was helpful

Australia is a board game where you travel around the map dropping off guys and picking them up. The scoring is on a track that runs around the board like ticket to ride. It plays from 2-5 players. The parts are punched car board and mini-cards. There are also plastic planes and guys. There is also a cool windmill.

The game a big old map of Australia that has lines and colored sections that subdivide the map into different regions. Along the region border are icons for camps. Each turn you fly around the map and place workers (rangers) on these camps. You have to play a card of the region’s color to be able to place the workers so you are somewhat limited to where you can place them. Rangers will score when you get the right number of them in a region (completing an industrialization project) or you get all the camps in a region populated (completing a conservation project). When one of those projects is completed, the person completing it gets a small bonus. Then every player who has rangers that are part of that region gets a point. The game continues with players flying around, playing cards to drop off rangers, and picking up workers to move them to another area. When all the cards are gone, the game is complete.

What is interesting
1- You have to share points with others who contribute to that total or are populating some of the camps. I get a bonus if I complete the project by placing my rangers there, but everyone who is there scores. If I am the last one to a region, place a worker, and complete one or both projects, it may score more points to the other players than for me.

2- Since these camps are on the borders of regions, if I place a worker to complete on region, it may, inadvertently, trigger the completion of a project in another region. In that case I say, “I meant to do that,” as I take my points. In our family game, we help each other out. The rules say that you don’t have to. If someone misses something, a following player can score it and take the bonus for doing so.

3- Some of the cards you play will give you money. The money can be spent to move workers or change the color of a card. Sometimes the benefit of doing one of these actions will not generate enough points to cover the cost. At the end of the game the money counts as points.

4- I have only described the basic game play. There is an advanced mechanic that adds some scoring and worker allocation decisions that I haven’t touched. This is what the windmill is for.

What I liked
– Turns are quick- just two actions.
– I love Australia.
– It takes some planning and you can be tricky with getting others to help you without them realizing it.
– Basic game rules and advanced game rules.
– It didn’t take too long – just about an hour in our initial play.

What I didn’t like
– Theme: I would like my kids to know more about Australia at the end of the game. Other than the outline of the country, there isn’t much there. It comes out in conversation and I try to identify where main cities or features would be, but otherwise, they would not get it without my teaching influence. It turns out to be an abstract game when I didn’t expect that.
– If you play with fewer players, the game dictates what colors you can choose from. They didn’t just put in 20 of each color of ranger. That way you could choose whatever color you wanted and you would only use the number of pieces needed for that player count. It turns out they only included 20 pieces in black and white, but if you play with a 3rd player, you have to use Orange since it has the 14 pieces each player gets. Black and white players discard 6 pieces each. My daughter wanted to play brown, but there wouldn’t have been enough pieces. Brown is only for a 5 player game.

With color choice and educational considerations as my only negatives, it is pretty clear that I liked the game. After we play it a few times we will switch over to the advance rules. That will give us a few more plays. The only variability in game play is the target for the industrialization project–how many rangers you need in each region–will change from game to game.

I don’t think I will pull it out for non-gamers–the theme is not strong enough for that.

I could see only playing this with 2-3 players. We commonly play games with 5 but, again, the theme wouldn’t keep us engaged. Engagement is needed since what the other players do is important to developing your own optimal move.

Go to the Quarantine page


16 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

Players place tiles to represent rooms in their hospital. They purchase more rooms as the game goes. Each turn more patients come to their doors and they earn money by efficiently admitting and curing the patients.

Players start with a lobby and 4 starting room tiles. The room tiles are different colors and have pictures showing what walls have doors. When arranging the rooms, the doors must match up to another set of doors and not a wall. You have 4 actions per turn and a list of actions you can select from.

– Purchase a basic room
– Start an auction on a special room (more on that later)
– Admit patients
– Cure all patients of a specific color
– Decontaminate rooms
– Reorder your waiting line
– Renovate
– Reserve an action to use in a future turn

Each turn you will draw 4 patient cubes from a bag. You can place them in your waiting line or in the wait line of another player. Patients come in 4 colors. Patients can only be placed into rooms of the matching color. When admitting patients, you can admit as many as you want but they have to be the order they were in the line and you have to stop when there is no more room. If you have three blues and only 2 blue rooms, you will not be able to place the red and the yellow that are after those three blues until you cure the blues. You can use an action to reorder the line — moving one patient to a different location in the wait line. So, from the previous example, moving that third blue to the end of your line would allow you to place those red and yellow ones in on that same action.

When you cure the patients in the room, the cubes are moved to your personal supply and act as money. With these, you can purchase additional colored rooms or select from the 8 randomly selected special rooms that do special actions. Regular rooms cost two cubes of any color. The special rooms are sold in a more unique way. A player can open a bid for one of these special rooms. They set a price for the room by putting some of their cubes on the special tile and placing it in front of them. Actually there are two of each special rooms so there are two tiles that are available for purchase, each for that price set by the player. Other players can purchase the tile if they have the exact matching cubes. If not, it makes it around back to the player that started the bid and they add it to their hospital (those cubes are spent). If someone purchased one at that price, then the second one would go to the player who opened the bid. If no one purchases it in that round of turns, the player that opened the bid gets one copy of it and the other stays available for that price.

Special rooms are really useful. They can give you more money per turn, allow you to cure more patients, or manipulate your wait lines in different ways. They are also each worth a point in final scoring.

Finally, when drawing patients, grey cubes may be pulled. These represent disease and can be placed in rooms of any player’s hospital. Contaminated rooms can not be used until they are decontaminated–using an action to do so for every room that is affected.

The end of game scoring is based on how many completed nurses stations you have in your hospital. Nurses stations are created when you get a 2×2 square of tiles together. The downside of laying out your hospital with a lot of nurses stations is that if you get a disease cube onto a space with a nurses station, you get another disease cube in an adjacent room. You also score points for every 2 color cubes in your supply (at the end), 1 point for every special room, and a bonus if you have no wait line.

There is much more to explain about the game, but that is the basics. This game is so true-to-life; it seems that every hospital out there has some construction going on while still operating and admitting patients (who are waiting in line). Not really- the patients and money are the same colored cubes. The tiles you purchase layout into your personal tableau, similar to Alhambra and how you lay it out will determine your hospital’s efficiency as well as end of game scoring.

Replayability is pretty good since you don’t use all the same special rooms each game. The tiles are cubes are good quality and the draw bag is big enough to get my hand into. The rule book is clear and has some humor. I did have to go online to clarify the rules for some of the special tiles. To teach this, I would select some straight forward special tiles.

I play this with my family and they really enjoy it. My power-gamer son (15) usually wins. My 11 year old daughter gets into the theme and worries about not getting all her patients cured. We have found some variants that we like to play with that help ramp up risk/reward situations with the nurses stations along with some other things. I may add to house rules in the future. I also use this game in my medical careers high school class as a filler activity for those days when a team goes to state and I am left with 2 students in class.

Go to the Blueprints page


127 out of 138 gamers thought this was helpful

Blueprints is a game where players draft dice to build a building following (or not following) a blueprint design. Each building is 6 dice. There are 4 colors of dice and each score in unique ways. Players will take 6 turns selecting a die from a common pool of dice to add to their building. Buildings are kept behind a screen so you can hide what type of prize you might be going for. After you select a die and add it to your building you draw a new die from the bag and roll it. It is added to the pool of available building resources (dice).

Scoring for each building determines who gets victory points for that round, but then the scoring resets and you play three rounds before counting up the victory points. You can follow your plan or go for some other unique (and riskier) victory points. It is about getting what you need to boost your score while also denying your fellow players of what you think they need. It is simple enough for young children to complete but there is strategic and tactical decisions that make it deeper. My 11 and 15 year old have no trouble challenging me right away exploring the different ways to rack up points.

More critically, the slowest part of the play is waiting for the person before you to pull out a new die from the bag. You probably already had a plan, but that new die may change that plan.

They don’t seem to have enough ways to score points or enough to do in the game without just making it longer. With limited points and limited types of activity, it seems that ties will come up fairly often. They have a list of ways to break ties. During my first game we ran through all the steps and ended up shaking hands and sharing the win because we had tied in every way.

I don’t see this having great replayability. There are different blueprint cards, but the challenge isn’t really being able to build those structures. I think we will play this a few times in the coming month or two, but then it will get pushed back in the shelf and not get much play after that.

Lastly, the bag that came with the game did not work to draw dice from it. We replaced it right away with a cloth bag that some pillow cases came in from Target. It was slightly larger and worked perfectly.

Blueprints is fun to play as a family game or to use as a filler game. It is short and it has contributed to enjoyable family time around the table.

Go to the Titanium Wars page

Titanium Wars

12 out of 13 gamers thought this was helpful

Titanium wars sets the players as different factions who compete to win planets that produce titanium. The goal is to secure a specific amount of titanium by capturing 2-4 planets.

Each turn the factions will battle for a planet. There is also a special condition that is in play for just that turn. My son loves this feature. It changes a rule here and there or makes it so players cannot negotiate.

Players have a set amount of money to spend. They spend it on ships, upgrades for ships, or improvements for their planets. They can build up their defense, offense, or improve their capacity.

Players start with only being able to hold three cards at a time and three ships. Everyone starts at Tech level 0. Everyone starts at $1000 per turn. Improvements can increase your tech level (Tech level 3 is the max), increase your income, increase your card size, or increase your fleet size.

Players usually spend all their money and purchase what they can afford and what they have room for (planets have limited capacity for buildings and ships have limited room for upgrades). Generally everyone buys at the same time. Everything is available to everyone – as long as you have room for it, you have the money, and you have the tech level required.

After all the purchasing is done, players select a Tactic card from the 3 in their hand. This is the attack they have chosen. Each card lists what types of units can attack and what types of units they can attack. If I had only cruisers in my fleet and my three tactic cards allowed me to attack with fighters, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. Or I might have a card that only let me attack other large ships, doing me no good for attacking the fighters my opponents had. Everyone who is in the fight (you can choose to sit it out) reveals their tactic card at the same time (or you can go by initiative). The actions resolve based on the initiative of each tactic card (zero initiatives go first, then 1, 2, etc.). If you get destroyed before you get to attack, to bad. After all the tactics have been resolved, remaining players can retreat or discard some cards, draw more, and go again with another tactic card. Be the last one standing with ships and you win the planet. You now have more slots to build more improvements, you get any other benefits listed on the card, and you have some titanium deposits (VPs).

Everyone starts over getting money, buying stuff, and competing over the next planet. The game is over when a player has enough titanium (listed on the planet cards) they win.

My View:
This game has a lot of shifting allegiances. Players need to team up so that the person who already has a planet with 4 titanium doesn’t get the current planet of 4 since 8 titanium wins the game. The player who is being teamed up against often has benefits from the planet they won that help to counter the players massing against them.

It seems like the VPs to win is quite low. Winning 2 or 3 planets wins the game. I am tempted to increase that. I think players would do more strategic withdrawing if the number of planets needed to win were increased. We could then play around more with some of the higher technology items. We may just start everyone off at an increased tech level. My teenage sons love this game and I will continue to play it with them. Someday, perhaps I will figure out a strategy to beat them.

Go to the Paperback page


46 out of 47 gamers thought this was helpful

So my wife’s favorite game is dominion. She is also known to do crossword puzzles and other word games. This game blends the two very well.

Dominion like
Player deck: Players start with 10 cards in their deck.
Hand size: They draw 5 cards.
Player action: On their turn they lay cards down and review how many points you have to spend on purchasing cards from the center.
Special actions: Some cards have special actions.
Duration cards: Some cards have actions that last for the whole round and affect the play of others.
Victory point cards: Cards that have victory points should be collected since the player with the most points wins the game.
Expansions: There are various expansion modules to choose from that continue to add challenge and interesting twists to the game.

Unlike Dominion
– When you lay down cards to make a word, all letters have point values. Wild cards do not. Spell out a word and add up the letters you used. That word score is how many points you have to spend on purchasing newer cards.
– Special actions do not have their own part of the turn. If you use the letter in the word or in the right way, the action is activated.
– There are victory point cards – but they work as wild cards rather than just dead weight in your deck.
– There is a common card (like a vowel) sitting out on the table that anyone can refer to and use in their words.
– There are incentives to making longer words.

I like it. My wife likes it. Even my poor speller 15 year old joined us for a game and won. He had to check with us about if something was spelled right, but he came up with great words. My mom who is a scrabble player also enjoys it.

We decided that paperback does take more brainpower than Dominion. Sometimes you are up for the challenge and other times you just want to relax and play the standby.

Go to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords (Base Set) page
76 out of 83 gamers thought this was helpful

Pathfinder ACG is a card and dice based game. Players build decks from different categories of cards, including weapons, skills, allies, armor, spells, items and blessings (a type of bonus). Different characters can have different mixes of these cards. One character can have no items, but a lot of armor and weapons. Another can carry a lot of items, but is more limited on weapons. Some may not allow any of one type (like no spells). That doesn’t mean they can’t use them, they just can’t be part of their deck and their ability to use them is not that great. They can acquire and use them during the game but at the end of the game, they have to reset their deck back to the original configuration. They can decide what weapons to hold onto, but each character is limited to the number they can have in their deck to bring with them into the next scenario.

The 15 card player deck forms the player’s hand and makes up the life of the character. If the player runs out of cards, the player dies. Damage, using items, casting spells, etc. comes out of these cards.

Players have 30 turns to play through a scenario. Scenarios typically involve players choosing a location to explore and encountering a card from that location deck. Location decks are made up of cards that went into the character decks but also have monsters and barriers (traps). Adventurers can pick up allies, items, and other good stuff from different locations or have monsters to fight. Randomly hidden in one of the location decks is a villain that must be defeated to with the scenario. There is a little more to it than that, but that is the main idea.

Each scenario will give special rules or rule changes to give color to the situation. Each location also gives little changes to the rules. With these rules in mind, players have to choose carefully what locations will best be suited for their abilities.

Setup and 1st play through
Setup was not that bad. I opened the rules and followed the tray layout for placing the cards. Just doing this introduced me to the cards. I also watched a setup and play-through video. I played through a scenario on my own with 2 characters. I stumbled through the first adventure, read through rules a little as I went, and was ready to introduce this to my family.

2nd play through:
I could not talk my wife into playing-in a way she likes us boys having our game that we like play. I thought this was adventurey enough for her to enjoy. I was joined by my 15- and 18-year-old sons. We played through and were successful on our first scenario. The boys naturally took on the role of their characters and automatically described their actions in thematic ways. It was quite enjoyable.

They really like collecting better equipment and they really like playing to their character’s strengths.

3rd play through:
We didn’t win the second scenario and immediately tried again (we had run out of turns). We did much better and won it the second time.

4th play through:
I did terribly the 4th play through with bad rolls and poor cards. My character was low on life for the second half of the scenario. We got low on turns but on the last turn my son was able to explore 4 times, found the villain, and received assistance from the rest of us to defeated him. It was a memorable experience that finished the set of scenarios and allowed us to choose a skill to add +1 on. They really liked choosing a skill to boost.

Final thoughts/tips
– Paizo provides printable character sheets. These allow you to avoid writing on your cards if you want to keep them unmarked.
– One set of dice is provided with the game. I suggest adding in sets of dice so when you are deciding how many dice you are committing to a roll, you physically set them up. You may roll your strength (a ten sided), your weapon (an 8 sided), and another 8 sided die from an ally. It would be nice to have that second 8 sided so you can keep track of what you are rolling and what you have already rolled.
– Setting up for a scenario takes a few minutes – and it is basically a solo thing. I find that I send the kids off to finish some chores at the end of the game (after they have traded equipment and decided what to keep for themselves for the next game) and I set up the location decks for the next scenario ahead of time–when I am putting the game away. This way, when we sit down to play, it is all set up to go.
– I have introduced 20 board games or so to my family in the last year or so – 6 just this Christmas. This is the only one they request independently. Other games they will play and get into when they are brought out, but this one they talk about when we are not playing it.
– The family will be gone this weekend and I am planning to solo two new characters through the scenarios we have played to bring them up to the level of the other characters we have used. I don’t usually play solo games of anything.

I have become a Pathfinder ACG fan (although I want to try it with a different type of character). We have the first actual adventure deck to now add in – that will have materials for another 5 scenarios (included in the base set). Two more adventure decks have been released and more are being released every 2 months.

Go to the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game page
137 out of 158 gamers thought this was helpful

My boys are 14 and 17. They had not yet played roleplaying games. This game did a great job of teaching them what role playing is and the mechanics for this game as you go. They strictly followed the rules of reading the rule book last. The only problem is I don’t think they have really got around to reading the rule book. My brother and I played the included adventure with them with me as the GM. They made it through and it was a fun time, but they haven’t done more with it since then. I had suggested that they have two neighbor kids over to play it. My oldest felt he could run it, but it hasn’t happened. I think it gets more to the fact that the kids really don’t play board games (or RPG) if I am not around. Left to their own choices, they are on their computer, tablet, and iTouch games. They also don’t have friends over much in the winter. But that gets me off on a different rant.

I do think they could play through this adventure another time with another group of friends. They may make the exact same choices as they did the first time but there will be time for them to delve into original role playing and story telling in future adventures. I downloaded the PDF of the first adventure sequel. Fortunately I can print quality color at work so it turned out nice. I wish it had been included.

I see the possibilities of creating adventures – they give some hints at where the story could go after completing the first adventure but it would take some work to create those adventures. I would need to introduce the idea to my 17 year old and see if he goes for it. For that, he could use some more materials than what has been provided. There is a rule book the gets into the details that the adventure introduces, but for truly novice RPGers, they either need more spoon-fed adventures OR good support for creating their own (maps, world information, organizations, big name characters, etc.)

I think I will go ahead and create some content for the kids and next time by brother is around, we might pick it up again and move forward. I have experience in creating some objectives, npcs, and obstacles. I hope my kids can pick up on what I do and do that themselves.

The review turned out to be more critical than I planned on. Why did I get it? To introduce the kids to role playing. What is easier than doing that in the Star Wars Universe. They are intrigued by Lord of the Rings but they have not interacted with that type of world nearly as much as they have in Star Wars. Was it successful? Yes. They learned the RPG method of play as well as the mechanics of this game. Did they have fun? Yes. With that in mind, I guess I can’t complain.

Go to the Flash Point: Fire Rescue page
123 out of 222 gamers thought this was helpful

Being a firefighter- it has been great to see the kids really get into this game. It is our first cooperative game so we found that to be enjoyable also. They love the theme and working together. We have also got the 2 expansions so we have additional maps and alternate rules. There are a lot of rule variants out there also. I work with high school students and like to have them play this game. It tricks them into learning teamwork.

× Visit Your Profile