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Travis Cooper

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Go to the Puerto Rico page
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Go to the Dominion page


74 out of 84 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a great fast paced game. I normally don’t like the amount of luck in card games, so when I saw the components for this was 500 cards I was put off. Needless to say, it took me a while to finally buy it. I really enjoyed my first play through, and after my second I was hooked.

The game starts everybody off with 10 cards, 7 treasure cards, called copper, and 3 victory point cards, called estates. You are trying to build up your kingdom to be the winner. You have 25 different kingdom cards, or action cards, to choose from. Of those 25 each game will use 10. There are a few defined sets in the rules, the first one being a beginners set that introduces you to most of the types of cards, or you can pick your favorite 10, or you can randomly pick the 10 to use, or any other mechanism you want to choose the 10 kingdom cards to play with. You then start using your money to buy cards, hopefully you are buying cards that make your deck stronger. The actions will help you play more actions(so you can chain actions), draw more cards, have extra money to spend, attack other players, etc. The ultimate goal is to get a deck good enough so you can buy the big victory point cards, called provinces. When the provinces run out, or any other 3 stacks of cards, the game ends and you count up your points.

I really enjoyed this when I first got it. We were playing a lot though, so I kind of got burned out. I still love to play it, but I’m not playing 5+ games a day now like I was at first. I gave this an 8 because I think I’ll be able to pick this game up about any time and play it, plus it is easy to teach, and gamers and non-gamers a like enjoy playing this. At work on our lunch break we can easily get in 3 games and a lot of times we play 4 in the hour.

Go to the Dominion: Intrigue page

Dominion: Intrigue

65 out of 73 gamers thought this was helpful

This is the first expansion to Dominion. It is also listed as a stand alone game. I really like intrigue because it gave me more desire to play dominion again. I had 150+ plays and was starting to feel like I was playing the same game. With intrigue there is a lot that mixed that up.

In intrigue, just as dominion, all players start with 7 copper cards, worth one coin each, and 3 estate cards, worth one vp each. The object is to use the 10 kingdom cards in play to build the most efficient deck that will get you the most vps by the end of the game. In dominion all vp cards were dead cards in your hand, but intrigue has added 4 different vp cards, 3 of which actually help you during the game, two of them are actions, and one of them is treasure. The game comes with 25 kingdom cards, as does dominion, to choose your 10 from. We usually do this randomly, and they have supplied one extra card for each deck to shuffle in order to do this. They also have some pre-defined setups, or you can come up with any method you want for getting the 10 cards to play with.

I really like the interaction that intrigue provides. It definitely has more than dominion. Most people say this is just more luck being added to the game and it hurts the concept. However, I feel it is a good change of pace. I also like the options on the cards, there are now more hard decisions to be made more often. Some say this means you don’t have to build as good of a deck, you just buy this card and it acts like anything you need it to be at any time. I disagree and think it just means you now have harder decisions to make during your turn, which is one complaint from dominion.

I don’t know if I would suggest intrigue as a stand-alone game. We played it stand alone at first so we would have a better chance of seeing all the new cards, but I really feel like combining the two really gives the best play. We usually do 5 random cards from each. Also, the cards are a little more complex for somebody just learning the game. For those reasons I’d say get dominion first, but definitely look into getting both, because the two together really make the playing experience the best.

I gave this an 8 rating, because there is too much luck for me to rate it any higher. My most favorite games have less luck involved and I really think the more strategy involved the better the game is in a lot of cases. This is a great game and as a expansion to the 2009 spiel des jahres winner, you can’t go wrong.

Go to the Tobago page


98 out of 107 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a great family game. It is nice and simple to pick up and it is still enjoyable even with a fair amount of luck involved.

In Tobago the players are treasure hunters on an island. At all times there are 4 different treasures that players are trying to locate on the island. This is done by playing clue cards that eliminate possible locations of a treasure. For example, a card may say that the treasure is on a beach, later somebody could add that it is also next to a river, then somebody could say it isn’t within two spaces of a hut. Eventually the location of the treasure is down to only one possible spot. Then one of the players needs to drive their atv over to the spot and dig it up. Your reward for digging up the treasure and for adding a clue card is a stake in the treasure. The treasure cards range from 2 to 6 coins. In reverse order that you place clues people are offered treasure cards in which they can pass, letting the next person choose, or they can take it.

This sounds nice, but of course there needs to be some twists as well. After a few treasures have been dug up the treasure cards have a couple of curses randomly mixed in. When these come up everybody who had a stake in the treasure lose out. Also, you need an amulet (these are spread around the island and can be picked up with your atv) to protect yourself or you lose the best treasure card you’ve received so far. After all the treasure cards have been depleted the game ends and players count up their coins.

I think this works great for a family, or some new gamers. For sure this is a great gate-way game.

Go to the Ticket to Ride: Europe page
46 out of 53 gamers thought this was helpful

This is by far my favorite version of the TTR series. For more information on how the general game play works see my comments in the original version. I will mostly be talking about differences here.

There are three differences in rules in the Europe version. On top of those the cards are larger, I really don’t like the small cards in the original version. I know you can buy expansions now that give you a full set of cards that are larger, but it’s not worth the money to me. The first difference is that there are tunnels that are harder to build. For example there may be a purple connection that needs two trains, but it’s a tunnel. So you announce you want to try and build a purple tunnel and first three cards are turned up from the top of the train cards. For each of the cards that are turned up that are purple (since that is the color you’re trying to build) you would need an extra card. So for this 2 train connection if you were unlucky you would need 5 cards to build it on this turn. You have the option to not build, either because you don’t want to or don’t have the cards, and you can try again on another turn, but you can’t do anything else on your turn so you effectively lose your turn. The second change is when going over bodies of water you need to build a ferry. For each of these routes a certain number of locomotives are pictured, this tells how many wild cards you have to have in your set. The last rule change are train stations. When you get blocked on a connection, you can now build a train station at one end and use your opponent’s connection as your own.

Probably the biggest difference that makes this game the best for me is the lengths of the destination routes. There are 6 long routes (worth around 20 points) and everybody gets one of those in their initial 3 routes. You can still throw it out if you want, but usually you want to keep it. From here on out there are no more long routes, I think the longest after that is only 13. I think this just makes things more even and doesn’t allow somebody to get those two long routes that are basically the same route so the scores will be more competitive. If you are looking to buy one version of TTR, this is the one you want.

Go to the Ticket to Ride page

Ticket to Ride

73 out of 80 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a classic gateway game that works well with most families or non-gamers. If you are new to gaming or need something to introduce others to this hobby this is a great choice. However, my favorite of the series is the Europe version, so after reading these comments go check out my Europe comments.

In ticket to ride players are fighting to build train connections between cities. Also enough of these connections will make a destination route from one city to another that isn’t next to it. Whoever can do the best will score the most points and win.

To start the game each player is dealt 3 destination routes. These have point values on them where longer routes are worth more points than shorter routes. So going from El Paso to Denver isn’t worth as many points as going from San Francisco to Atlanta. Before starting you may give up one of your routes if it just doesn’t seem to fit well with the others, because it is advantageous to work on multiple routes all at once.

Now play will continue around the table with each player getting to choose one action from three options. The first, and probably most commonly used, is to take train cards. Five of them will be face up, with the rest face down. These are a bunch of different colors that match the colors on the map which are required to get a certain connection between to cities. You can either take a face up wild card, or you can take any two other cards, either face up or face down. The other option is to use these train cards to actually build on the map. One key here is once you take a connection nobody else can use it, so getting blocked and having to go around is common. Each of these connections will score you points as you go. The last option is to draw additional destination routes. You draw 3, but you only have to keep 1 of them. You can keep all 3 if you want, but this isn’t common.

The game ends when somebody uses up almost all their trains (until they have less than 3) and each player then gets one last turn. Then you add on to your points for each destination ticket you completed, and take away points for each one you don’t.

This is very simple, for new gamers it can be very addictive. This is a must have for any collection, although as I said before, I prefer the Europe version to this one.

Go to the Stone Age page

Stone Age

45 out of 53 gamers thought this was helpful

I think this is by far my favorite worker placement game right now. I would rather play this over Agricola any day.

In Stone Age each player begins with 5 meeples and some food to get started. Each turn is played in a series of rounds. The first round is for placing your meeples on the different actions available on the board. You can go get resources, go get food, get more farms, more tools, go to the love hut and get another person, buy cards (mostly for points at the end of the game) or build some buildings that give you points for the resources you use to build them with. After everybody has placed their meeples the starting player in the round resolves all the actions in the order needed. So if they placed a meeple on a building, but still need a stone in order to build it, they could try and get that stone with the meeple(s) they placed to gather stone first. After resolving actions you have to pay one food for each meeple you have.

The biggest reason I like this better than Agricola is because it has more ways to actually win. While you can get blocked on what you need to do, it doesn’t happen too often. Also, while you need food, it isn’t so difficult to get that you feel like all you are doing is getting food.

I think Stone Age is a game I’ll play for a long time to come. I really think it should have been the Spiel des Jahres winner for 2008.

Go to the Dominion: Alchemy page

Dominion: Alchemy

45 out of 51 gamers thought this was helpful

I actually really love most of the actions in this set. It seems to change things up to offer more winning strategies. Most of these games feel like provinces just aren’t as important as they were before. Perhaps this is mostly due to the limited number of cards, so the vineyard shows up fairly often. After more plays I may decide that it might tilt too much in that direction and wish for province strategies again.

Aside from that, I really don’t enjoy the new potion mechanic. Now setup is a little more difficult. You now have to decide if you want Alchemy or not, so you can enforce the 3-5 card rule, but even that you really decide how many you want up front. Some of the online tools and even iphone apps help mitigate this, but it is just another hassle. On top of that, it almost feels like you have to buy a potion. In a gardens game, if you don’t go for gardens you can still slow down those players by buying a few of them to slow them down. However, you can’t stop the vineyard players unless you first buy a potion. I have also seen in other games that I just needed to end the game and the closest stack to running out required a potion and nobody else wanted it to end, so I get stuck. It would be nice if the actions could have been adjusted to work out without needing the potion at all.

The interesting actions have me giving this a good rating, but the potions made me drop it a little.

Go to the Alhambra page


89 out of 97 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a fun “stock” collecting game. Most people wouldn’t categorize it as collecting stocks, but I think that is clearly what the main goal of the game. When the first scoring round comes up you have to have the majority in a type of tile, on the second, you need to be first or second, and at the end of the game the top 3 are rewarded. If you aren’t scoring majority in some of the tile types you aren’t going to win. That is why I consider it a stock game.

The other aspect of this game that makes it interesting is that you have to be able to build your Alhambra (I think that was a city in Spain) in such a way that the tiles you buy can be added on. If you buy a tile and can’t add it, you don’t get credit for it. The tiles have sides with or without walls which makes things tricky at times. You also get points for the longest wall you create.

This game gets worse as you add people. With all 6 players the tiles you saw at the end of your turn will most likely be all different on your next turn. Then it turns into more of a timing game, if the right tile comes up on my turn I’ll do well, if not I lose. I think 3 players is the best for this game. The 2 player game has a good mechanic by adding a 3rd phantom player. This player gets a pretty even number of tiles and jumps into his place for majorities in scoring rounds, but doesn’t score walls. He usually doesn’t win, and probably should be in last place every time, but he does add a good twist that would otherwise ruin the 2 player game. If you are playing with more players, especially 5 or 6, get the vizier’s favor expansion. That can help break up the timing factor, but I would still recommend playing with 3.

I gave this game an 8 because I enjoy playing it, with 3 players (sometimes 4), and I would never turn down a game if offered. I enjoy building up my Alhambra as well as having to pay attention to the tiles others are collecting.

Go to the Acquire page


54 out of 62 gamers thought this was helpful

This was my first stock game. I enjoyed it on my first play and I think I’ll always enjoy it since it introduced me to this type of game.

In acquire you are building up hotels (at least most versions call them hotels), and you are buying stock in those hotels. At the end of the game you get to sell your stock back and see who has the most money. Each turn you will add one tile to the board. If the tile makes a new group of tiles you choose a hotel that isn’t in play yet and add it to those tiles. For starting up the hotel chain you get a free stock in that hotel. You then are able to buy up to 3 stock in any company or companies that are on the board. The value of the stock depends on the size of the company which is based on the number of tiles that make up the company. At the end of your turn you draw a tile to bring your hand back up to 6. The interesting part comes in with mergers. If a tile is placed that attaches to two or more companies everything gets merged into the company with the most tiles. It is very key to be involved in mergers in the beginning and you need to have stock in the company that is being dissolved. Because the company going away will pay the majority and minority stock holders a handsome bonus, as well as giving those stock holders the option to sell, keep or trade up their stock. This is important because mergers are the only time you can get more money. If you run out of money for too many turns it is hard, if not impossible, to catch back up.

I give this a high rating because it is fun having to manage who has what stocks while everything is hiding. There is a lot of tense decisions trying to decide which company you need to stay up with to keep some majority and minority holdings. I couldn’t go up to a 9 or 10 because there is one major flaw. If you aren’t lucky enough to draw any merger tiles you are at the mercy of those that do. Sometimes this means companies that you need to merge in order to keep pace with everybody won’t get merged. This isn’t a huge deal breaker because it doesn’t happen all too often, but it does happen enough to cause some frustrations.

Go to the Pandemic page


52 out of 59 gamers thought this was helpful

Pandemic is the only coop game I’ve ever played. I never really saw the appeal of coop games until somebody brought this in to work. After my first play through I knew I needed to buy it.

In Pandemic you and the other players are all trying to cure 4 diseases before they outbreak too much and just become unmanageable. You will start with 9 random cities with disease cubes on them, the first 3 get 3 cubes, the next 3 get 2 cubes and the last 3 get 1 cube. The world is grouped into 4 regions (denoted by colors) for each of the 4 diseases. The starting cities get the color of disease cube for the color of city they are.

Each player now takes a special role that will help them specialize in things that will help out in the game. Now the players need to build research stations, remove disease cubes, share knowledge, and eventually cure all 4 diseases.

The difficulty comes from the constant onslaught of disease cubes. After each players’ turn the next cities are flipped over and receive disease cubes. If a city gets flipped over and it is already at 3 cubes it then outbreaks giving one cube to each city attached to it. Throughout the player deck epidemics are included, as these come up you get a brand new city with 3 cubes. In addition all those cities you’ve already been adding cubes to, yes those ones you’ve been removing cubes from as well, get shuffled and thrown right back on top to add even more cubes.

This is a rewarding game. It is fun to work together and not have to come up with the strategy all by yourself. It might be good to play the first few times with open hands, but I wouldn’t do that for long. It might be easier, but it seems like it turns into 1 or 2 people running the whole game.

I gave this a 7 because it is quick to play and offers a lot of tough decisions in that short amount of time. If you lose, at least it was only 15 or 20 minutes so you can easily get in another game to try and win. If playing with only 4 epidemics becomes to easy, just add one. Once you get up to 6, which is the most for the base game, things get really tough, so you will never feel like this game is too easy.

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