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The Board Game Critic

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Go to the Draftosaurus page


I love the look and feel of the game. Basically players are taking dinos from their hand and putting them in their zoo habitats. You get rewards for different placement bonuses. Once you have played around 20 times you get to a pretty comfortable strategy but there is enough that gets mixed up to keep you thinking each time you play the game. A perfect filler or warm-up game. I highly recommend for kids as you can put the dinosaurs anywhere and get some kind of points, and it is enough for adults to have a good time as well. Your hard-core gamer friends might not be too impressed, but I would be very surprised if there isn’t something in here that everyone can enjoy.

Go to the Everdell page


9 out of 9 gamers thought this was helpful

How to Play Everdell:
Everdell is a worker placement game that takes place over 3 seasons. You represent a group of small critters that is expanding the growing city of Everdell with new communities. As you build buildings, hold events, and attract other critters to live in your suburb, you will gain victory points in an attempt to prove that your growing neighborhood is the best! Each turn you may do one of 3 things: place a worker to gain resources of some kind, play a card from your hand or from the meadow (a pool of cards in the center that all players have access to), or call your critters back to prepare for the next season. The game takes just a little to get the hang of, but offers a lot more dynamic fun than you would expect. I have not played the expansions yet, but I hear they are absolutely necessary and worth the money.

Play Count –
I give Everdell the play count bonus because over the course of one weekend I played it about 7 times. Not only did I want to fully understand the game and its intricacies, but I was amped to play it! I played the solo mode 3 times and enjoyed it almost as much as playing with other people! A game that I don’t get burned out on after 7 times (let alone in the same weekend) is worthy of this pip.

The Freshness –
Worker placement games are nothing new, but there is a lot of freshness packed into Everdell. The introduction of the limited space in your city is perfect. Other players may build quickly at the beginning and struggle to find space for things they want to build in the late game, while you may have the opposite problem and are concerned about not filling your city before the onset of winter! I tire of worker placement games and they all feel relatively similar, but there is something in Everdell that feels fresh.

Accessibility –
Everdell offers a lot for a broad variety of gamers. Casual gamers won’t have a problem playing a game or two, and there is enough meat in the game to keep a seasoned gamer coming back for more. On top of this there are several high-quality expansions, but we will talk about that in just a second.

Quality –
Okay, I know it seems like Everdell has a bit of a large price-tag on it, but believe me when I tell you that it is worth it. 4 resources are very different types of plastic that were done perfectly to suit their materials. The soft PVC (i’m assuming) of the berries vs the translucent resin is such a beautiful piece of design. The large Evertree that sits at the top of the board is not only functional but beautiful. Everdell really brought the heat with its design and I have yet to find a bit of artwork that I thought was less than amazing.

Expansions –
The final pip I give Everdell is for its expansions. There are 3 large expansions for Everdell and a couple small expansions that you can pick up as well. This is comforting because you know Everdell is a world that is here to stay. There isn’t much worse than investing in a game and finding out that the company has just pulled the plug and you won’t see any more of it. Everdell is a game that you can get now, and as soon as you find the expansions for a good deal or you get a little tired of the base game you can breathe new life into this gem.

Go to the Terraforming Mars page

Terraforming Mars

7 out of 7 gamers thought this was helpful

Play Count –
Terraforming Mars qualifies for the Play Count pip in my opinion because of its depth, access to expansions, and the varied ways to win. Maybe this won’t be a game that you want to play all the time, but I think it is one that you will keep on your shelf forever and find something new every time you play it.

The Freshness –
Now this one was interesting for me. As far as mechanics go it is a pretty simple blend of resource management, tile placement, and engine building, however the part that was really fresh was the theme. I can’t say it sounded like the most intriguing topic, but once i got into it I was amazed at the depth surrounding the theme. This is a game that you could seriously play in college to educate people on the theories surrounding how we might actually cultivate life on mars! Commitment to theme on that scale earns it this pip.

Accessibility –
I was unsure whether or not to give this pip for a while, but I decided to go ahead and award it. There are complexities to this game that may drive people insane, however it is really simple once you have a game under your belt. Even if it is your first time playing I think you will be able to compete in a reasonable manner. The rules have an alternate setup for first time players to make it faster and easier to see the end goal which I thought was brilliant.

Theme –
This is one that I touched on a little bit earlier, but I thought it deserved its own point. I don’t think I have ever seen a game commit to a theme as strongly as terraforming mars. At least not one of this play depth.

Depth –
There is a lot of this game to go around. The expansions (though I haven’t played yet) have good reviews and seem to be a real boost to the game’s depth if you want that, and the core game itself just offers a lot of meat to get into. The first game we played we really didn’t see animals and microbes pup up much until the very end (probably by brilliant design) and I can’t wait to try it out again to see the full scope of possibilities.

NOTE: There is one clear reason why I didn’t give this 6 pips. The components felt cheaper than I would have liked. The board felt a little light and a little warped (due to the lighter material) and the artwork when illustrated was beautiful, but there were a lot of cards that just had photography on them. The mixture of these was just a little jarring to me and I wish there was a version that had all unified artwork.

Terraforming Mars was introduced to me through our Best Board Game Still in Print Bracket on Instagram. Feel free to join us on Instagram as we crown more winners in different categories.

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