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Go to the Carcassonne page
Go to the Small World page
Go to the Agricola page
Go to the Elder Sign page
Go to the Love Letter page
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Go to the Brass page


49 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful


Brass puts you in the shoes of a magnate of the industrial revolution in North West England. Want to build a business empire? With canals? And railways? This is your game!

This is not a “railway” game in that the main aim of the game isn’t to create a transport network. Rather you will spend the game developing and building industries, which may need those connections to either be built or become profitable.

How does it play?

The game is split into two halves. The first canal era involves you placing lower level industries and linking them with canals. The second rail era involves you placing more advanced industries and linking them with rails. The canals you place in the first era are removed in the changeover, representing them being at capacity.

Depth wise Brass is a heavy game. There is a huge amount of strategy here and you can really benefit from thinking a few turns ahead. You won’t be able to think more than that as there are too many variables from other player actions and too much information on the board to perfectly process. Not that this wont stop some players trying, so I suggest holding turns to a time limit (an egg timer or little hour glass works perfectly).

Mechanically, Brass is actually not heavy at all. It is elegantly designed and is intuitive despite the complexity. Turn order is as follows:

1. Look at the income track for each player, so each player receives / pays in cash from / to the bank.
2. In player order, each player plays two of their eight cards (as to what they can do, see below).
3. Reset player order based on cash spent (the first player is the most frugal – not that this is always an advantage).
4. Each player draws two more cards (if available).

The game ends at the ends of the rail era, and each era ends when players don’t have any cards left to play.

So what can you do with the cards? Well, with the exception of establishing an industry, which is limited to an industry in the place depicted on the card or of the type depicted on the card, anything. In this way, Brass is actually a bit like a worker placement game – you have freedom to do with each card whatever you want, whether it is taking a loan to pay for more industry buildings, developing higher level industries, building canals or rails, or shipping cotton to advance up the income track.


– Depth without rules overload
– You end the game feeling like you really are an industry tycoon
– Great replayability


– Board could be more colourful
– Analysis paralysis can be an issue


Mechanically simple but deep industrial revolution tycoon style game.

Go to the Love Letter page

Love Letter

61 out of 68 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a short, transportable, cheap game. Being such a “filler game” I would rate this slightly differently to a heavier game.

So what do you want from a filler game?

– Quick to play
– Light enough to be a fun break from other games
– Interactive a social
– Easy to play with non-gamers as an introduction
– Compact and transportable so you can play it on the go
– Enough strategy to make you feel you are playing the game rather than just following the turn of cards
– Inexpensive

Love letter has all of this. If there is a better filler game out there I haven’t played it and, to be honest, can’t imagine what it would be.

There are 16 cards in the deck each of which has a value and represents a character at the court of Tempest. You want to end a round holding the highest value card as then your love letter will reach the princess first. There are 13 red wooden cubes representing a successful delivery and the first player to the winning number of these (for 2 players its 7) has delivered enough letters first to the princess to win her affections.

The cards each have a power on them which normally applies if you discard that card. And as a player’s turn is pick up a card and then discard a card and follow the text of that power, this happens fast and furious!

Most of the powers involve interaction with your other players, allowing you to look at another player’s card for example or knocking a player out of the game if you hold a higher card than them (which can also knock you out!), meaning its a great social experience.

Definite buy.

Go to the Pandemic page


96 out of 104 gamers thought this was helpful

This modern classic of a game will suit many types of gamers including relatively casual or novice gamers, family groups or strategy gamers. It is a short game, clocking in at under an hour for set up and play through and it has more depth than you would expect for that game length. (So more avid gamers might even use this as a filler.) However (like most co-op games) once you have a winning stratergy or two you will find the challenge dissipates without an expansion.

Thematically the game is simple to understand. There are diseases breaking out across the globe (which you are free to name – black is definitely the zombie plague!) and you have to cure them all before they spread too much, cause too many outbreaks, or before time runs out. You and your fellow gamers (each of whom has a different Role) can move around the board dealing with diseases and working towards cure and eradication.

Although there a different Roles thus is not a role playing game per say. You don’t need to and aren’t encouraged to get into character. Rather the Roles compliment each other so are a way of getting players to co-operate. The Dispatcher can move the Quarantine Specialist, for example, so that there are two critical areas that are defended in one round of play rather than one. The game wants players to talk to each other and to work as a unit; without this you won’t win.

This game can be susceptible to one player bossing the others, particularly if they know what to do, but that is a feature in all co-op games. The game tries to minimise this by keeping hands hidden, but in practice you have to communicate what is in your hand to the team as part of normal gameplay. The best plan to mitigate this is to grow into this game with others or to just be aware if you might know too much and so bite your tongue.

The tension in the game is great, and you will frequently find yourself dreading a particular card or cards which will lose the game for you. So it’s inherently exciting as a game and one that you want to play and want to beat!

Even once you have beaten the game once there are 3 difficulty levels and enough role card combinations to make you want to play through a few more times. Unfortunately, and it’s the biggest flaw of this polished and otherwise excellent game, once you get to that point you will be looking for an expansion to reignite the challenge because you will just keep winning. That said, it’s worth buying for the play throughs you will have!

TL;DR – You want to play this game, and beat it, and then get an expansion

Go to the Twilight Struggle page

Twilight Struggle

68 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

It is clear from many of the reviews and scores given to this game that it is enjoyed by many people, so it would be wrong to say that this is an awful game. The key to it is the balance and complexity – both the US and the USSR in this board game representation of the cold war have a near equal chance of winning notwithstanding the huge variety of cards, events, combinations and so on.

So why the low score? Well, to my mind this game has three key characteristics which make this game suitable only for the most avid gamer.

First, the game is long. Very very long. If you are playing a balanced game without knowing what you have to do with each combination of cards instinctively (more on that below) then set aside 4-6 hours for a game including set up.

Second, before you play the game properly you need to invest a massive amount of time reading the rules, the cards, and understanding the game mechanics. Unlike most games where reading the rules and perhaps having a practice turn or two will suffice, you need to do more. Much more. There are 110 cards, and you need to know the events on all by heart. Those events are not always straightforward, so this is more than reading the card. Understanding that De-Stalinisation is one of the only ways for the USSR to get into South America for example is key – players will want to trigger this event as the USSR at an opportune time and as the US ensure that this card is held / neutralised / sent to space even though the event seems innocuous in and of itself. The game is balanced, so messing up just one of the card combinations can lose you the game. You won’t see that you have lost because of that until a couple of hours later but the inevitability of the loss against an equally matched player will be there. So if you do want to play this game, read and memorise all of the cards and their explanations at the great first. You need to commit 15-20 hours to this as a minimum.

Third, rules technicalities abound. Be prepared to have to play alongside a computer or tablet so that you can resolve these by checking forums, Twilight Stratergy etc. And again, because this game is so closely fought, accept that you might win (or lose) on a rules technicality. This is in the vein of many other ‘wargames’ (c/r Warhammer ‘game of arguments’ for example), and there are resolutions available if you put the time in, so for a truly avid gamer this won’t be too much of a drawback.

So before you play this game ask yourself if you are a hardcore avid gamer with time to burn. And if you are, do you have an equally hardcore avid gamer (also with time to burn) to play this game with. If so, ignore the points above and dive in. But for everybody else, I recommend looking elsewhere for your gaming fix.

Go to the Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals page
52 out of 58 gamers thought this was helpful

In this expansion you get:

1. All the pieces for a sixth player, in fetching pink.
2. A big meeple for each player.
3. Extra tiles, some of which have an Inn or a Cathedral on them.

You also get a 50/100 point token for each player to help keep track when you make a loop of the scoring track. I haven’t really considered this as it’s a nice to have and doesn’t change game play. Still, it’s a nice to have!

So let’s run through the three parts to the expansion. Three parts because – and this is key – you don’t have to play with them together. Want a 6 player game? This expansion is for you! Want another way of stealing a field / city / road? The big meeple is for you! Want to add a more direct way to let players thwart each other’s moves? The Inns and Cathedral tiles are for you!

1. Extra pieces for a sixth player game
This works as you would expect. Carcassonne is still a great 6 player game, although do consider playing with some extra tiles. These don’t have to be Inns and Cathedrals and could be another (mini) expansion. Even just adding the River helps no end.

2. Big meeple
The big meeple counts as two when considering ties between players as to who gets the points from a road / city / field. It doesn’t double the score. Brilliant therefore, for stealing a field from another player (or a city).

3. Inns and Cathedrals
The title to the whole expansion, within the 16 extra tiles you get with the expansion (some of which are themselves really interesting in game play terms – the four single edges of cities on one tile is a personal favourite), there are two Cathedrals and a handful of Inns. Cathedrals are a full city piece – in itself an annoying piece to finish – that makes every city tile worth 3 points, but only if the city is completed. If not completed, the city is worth nothing. Inns work similarly on roads to make every tile of a completed road worth 2 points, and an incomplete road worth nothing. The city difference is staggering – complete a city with a Cathedral and you are likely to win. In reality you won’t win because other players will make sure that you never finish the city. Much better for adding to your opponent’s city than yours. Inns similarly are better for nerfing other player’s roads (although some of these might be played on completeable roads).

TL;DR – Great expansion, loads of gameplay options

Go to the Munchkin page


56 out of 63 gamers thought this was helpful

Summary and conclusion

Munchkin is something of a modern cult classic. It takes a dungeons and dragons type theme which appeals to many hardcore gamers, adds in great artwork and humour for the more casual gamer, and packages it into an easily transportable card game.


It has a couple of drawbacks. Most games are roughly the same, and once you have become familiar with the cards you will be looking for an expansion to keep replay-ability. You win through a combination of luck and the choices of who your fellow players pick on, both of which can be very frustrating (and don’t play this with a sore loser).

Set up and learning the rules

Set up is straightforward and quick. Shuffle cards, deal cards, done.

Learning the rules is less straightforward. The first time play through is a little frustrating, and the first couple of times my group played this we misunderstood some of the rules. Even knowing how the game plays you will find yourself scouring the rulebook and debating particular effects of cards. I believe that this is meant to be part of the character of the game, a nod to D&D etc., but for casual gamers this is a turn off.


You start off as a level 1 human of your gender with no class (heh). This matters, as it is a character based role playing game, and the aim of the game is to get to level 10.

You have a hand of cards which you can play, and which get refreshed / bolstered throughout the game, to get you to level 10. Importantly, you will also have plenty of cards which will stop other players getting there.

On any turn you turn over the top card of the “Door” deck. This might be a monster to fight, a curse to curse you, or helpful stuff which you can add to your hand.

If you didn’t draw a monster from the “Door” deck you can either play a monster to fight from your hand or draw another card to bolster your hand.

As you might be able to tell, fighting monsters is key. It’s the main way that you level up your character, and you have to do it to win. Different monsters have different strengths, and generally give better stuff if they are stronger. You need to be stronger than the monster to beat it. Your strength is equal to your level + bonuses from items + the strength of anybody else who helps you. If you beat it you level up and draw as many “Treasure” cards as the monster told you to (if anybody helped you they will have normally have done so in return for them, not you, drawing these “Treasure” cards). If you don’t beat it you get to try and run away (a dice roll). If you escape, fine, if not the monster does bad stuff to you. Bad stuff could be anything from loss of an item, losing a level, or death.

When you are fighting, as well as helping you, other players can play cards to hurt you. The wandering monster might give you two monsters to fight, they might curse you, bolster the stats of the monster, or weaken you. Choosing who to use your player interaction cards on is key to winning this game, but it can get really nasty.

Fun element

Munchkin is fun. The cards are very funny, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it assumes that you will all be mean to each other in the spirit of the game. Don’t take the game too seriously, and don’t worry if you don’t win. This isn’t a grand strategy game; it’s very very silly and it knows it.

Go to the Agricola page


65 out of 73 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is fantastic, and is rightly considered a modern classic. The strategy is intellectually challenging whilst being carried out through a simple worker placement mechanic. Play this once and you are going to play it again and again.

The trick is that you need to play this once first! You need somebody who knows the rules to guide you through this for the first time, and for my game group that meant that I had a solo run through ahead of our game, which took me about 90 minutes. The first game then took about 3.5 hours for a four player game, and that was using the simpler “Family Game” mechanic (no occupations and no minor improvements are used, so it’s just the board without each player also having a hand of cards).

Once over that barrier though (and we all enjoyed the “barrier” game nonetheless), the game speeds up and the strategies are easy to understand – just difficult to implement! Our second game (again 4 players) with the occupations and minor improvements took just over 2 hours, far quicker.

From the second game on you are then playing an outstanding game. There is an obvious core strategy of growing your family (it’s worker placement so more “family members” means more actions each round), but to do that you have to find a reliable way of feeding that family. There are several options for this, broadly falling into the categories of baking bread, raising livestock, and selling goods. There are sub options within these paths and finding the right one to fit your strategy is key.

Once you have a “food engine” you then need to upgrade your farm, turning it from an untended wilderness into a rural farming ideal. Rebuild your home in stone, build pastures, plough fields and build improvements all over the place.

The re playability of this game would be high enough without the various extra decks. The base game comes with two. On is the “Komplex” deck, which as it suggests is trickier to master and in there for those players who want a real challenge. The other is the “Interactive” deck, which ups the level of player interaction with other players giving you benefits or hindrances through the actions they take – beyond the standard blocking actions that permeate every worker placement game.

You need to play this game. Commit to that first game, and take it from there.

Go to the Small World: Be Not Afraid page
70 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful


– The variety of races and powers in this expansion is really very good.
– You get a box to hold the extra components in (and others from other expansions you might get).
– None of the extra rules are too odd / make this feel like a completely different game.

Any downside?

– Not with the races, they are all brilliant.
– Some of the powers are not as fun in practice as they seem on paper. Mercenary is a case in point as the power is just too expensive to make you want to use it.

So in summary, if you like Small World and want more re-playability, get this, play it, work out what you like and refine your gaming experience!

Go to the Small World: Cursed! page
64 out of 71 gamers thought this was helpful

As some of the other reviews have mentioned, this is more of the same Small World fun. Small World is a brilliant game, and presumably you want more of it as you are reading this. However, if you are looking for a first expansion I would go and check out Be Not Afraid. That has more new races and extra options so it’s a bit more bang for your buck.

Already got Be Not Afraid? This is a great accompaniment to that and to other expansions. The two new races are interesting – Goblins especially who get an easier attack on races in decline – but it’s the powers which will do it for you.

Cursed makes whichever race it joins with very unattractive. And it costs 3VP to skip it. This has a massive effect on when people want to go into decline as you don’t want to be the person taking the cursed race or paying to skip them.

Marauding is also excellent as a way to charge through big stacks of enemies – great for knocking out the player who doesn’t defend in depth.

Were- is also very interesting, making a super powerful attacking race, but only every other turn.

In conclusion, an excellent addition to the Small World universe.

Go to the Elder Sign page

Elder Sign

88 out of 97 gamers thought this was helpful

This game fits it’s theme perfectly. Play it at least with some role playing element to really make the most of that. Disclosure: I’ve never read Lovecraft.

You are an investigator working through the night whilst the museum is closed trying to stop the awakening of an Ancient One by earning Elder Signs. To earn the Elder Signs (and clues or items which are needed to help you do so) you have to enter rooms of the museum. All of the rooms are beautifully drawn in terrifying artwork and have some backstop as to what’s in the room.

A little bit about the investigators briefly. They are all horror classics like the curious photographer, the eager student, or the mentally tough nun. Some have more stamina, some have more sanity (lose all of either and they die) and all of them have cool special powers. You can change the difficulty or theme of the game by either drawing these randomly or assigning players different characters.

Every time your investigator enters a room (and they must do so each turn) they have to make a dice roll (normally a series of dice rolls) to beat the room. Succeed and they get the benefits of the room – albeit it some rooms have mixed effects and aren’t all good. Fail however and bad stuff happens, like losing stamina or sanity or, worse, bringing the Ancient One closer to return. There are actually a significant number of different things that can happen and lots of potential modifiers to dice rolls so I was lucky to have a friend introduce this to me who already knew how to play – otherwise you would need to spend some time reading the rules.

The basic premise sounds pretty straightforward though,so where does the tension come from? Well the bad stuff that can happen is really bad. To complete rooms you are risking death. Yes it’s coop but you don’t want to die at the hands of the horror! And the difficulty ramps up brilliantly throughout the game, with monsters arriving in rooms and players naturally working through the easier rooms leaving harder options to cracking.

It’s the theme which makes this game great so come prepared to get in character, bring your best film noir narrator voice and go enter that museum!

Go to the We Didn't Playtest This At All page
51 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

I played this several times with some friends who love Munchkin and similar games. Weird should be good right? Well sort of…

We enjoyed the randomness, and you have to be prepared for quite how random this is. There is zero stratergy here. But it is entertaining and the cards are humorous. There are great inclusive mechanics based on rock paper scissors / counting fingers.

So why the low rating? Well it’s actually too fast! Playing with between 3 and 5 players we rarely got two rounds of play. More than once the game was won / lost before more than one person had even had a chance to look at their cards. This is hugely frustrating, and often you will spend more time shuffling and dealing the cards than playing the game. It’s a shame because this obviously could be a great game – if it were playtested!

Go to the Munchkin Apocalypse page
95 out of 118 gamers thought this was helpful

I love original Munchkin and it’s great to have the expansion options. This will add additional life to the game and refresh interest in the game. You should definitely consider buying this if you like the original Munchkin game.

The theme of this expansion is self explanatory. Seven ‘Seals’ being opened (certain cards tell you to do this) spells the apocalypse and the player most equipped to fight it (highest combat) wins. The obvious benefit is that players who aren’t levelling up so fast keep their interest in the game through this mechanic.

All of the cards are done with the humour and polish you would expect of a Munchkin game.

So the only downside is that this doesn’t always fit happily with the main deck. It’s difficult to work out how some of the classes work across the expansion / main game and some of the rules could be a little clearer. The upshot is that if you are mixing this with the main deck (which you don’t have to, or can do selectively) then there is an increase in the luck element of the game.

Still very much worth playing though!

Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep page
52 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons or similar RPG type board games, so the concept and the universe could be alien to me. No fear though! Whilst the Lords and the city and quests were all steeped in that universe, I felt the game had plenty of character and depth without me having to know additional background. The mechanics of the game as a worker placement game were also new to me but make sense and are easy to follow. It’s not very competitive in that there is little conflict in the game, but it has more than enough stratergy to keep me entertained, at least for a few games. Replay value is mediocre.

Go to the Small World page

Small World

52 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

Played this game for the first time when a friend bought it for a game day. I looked for some stratergy ideas online and was disappointed not to find anything definitive. But there is a reason for that, and it’s brilliant. Small World is a game where the random combination of races and traits which are seamlessly generated each game creates a plethora of different scenarios which revolve every time you play. Add to that the super important ‘stratergy’ of reacting to other players’ moves, and you can understand why there is no easy way to win this game. Notwithstanding that, it’s fairly straightforward to pick up and learn. The best test is that every time I have played this we have always immediately had a second game by popular demand!

Go to the Carcassonne page


50 out of 67 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve played this with a wide variety of people, from 12 year old cousins, avid gamers, and people who wouldn’t normally play games. Everybody loves it. The mechanics are simple but the strategy is relatively deep and it’s always worth thinking about your moves. Due to the random tiles no game is exactly the same and there is a balance of luck and strategy (leaning to the stratergy) which is highly entertaining.

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