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Go to the Dungeons & Dragons: 4th Edition page

Dungeons & Dragons: 4th Edition

70 out of 83 gamers thought this was helpful

4th edition Dungeons and Dragons is the best D&D rules system to date, hands down. Many people will disagree. They are wrong. The most important part about reviewing D&D 4e is dispelling one very silly myth about it.

“4e is all about table-top combat! It’s not an RPG anymore!”

Yes, this is kind of true. What is a myth, though, is that it must be a bad thing. Role playing games need rules to function, otherwise it is just cooperative story telling and you wouldn’t be playing D&D in the first place. Asking a DM to consistently remember (and continually describe) a combat environment without a play-aid mat is ridiculous. Does anyone get mad when he passes out a note or shows a picture of an NPC? No. Same should go for the combat mat. You remember your character’s stats with a character sheet, and you remember where that orc was standing with a battle mat.

That being said, actual -Role Play- is entirely up to the players themselves. A rules set cannot force a player to talk in-character and decide upon actions that are in keeping with that character’s personality. So, the one thing that really needs to be handled with numbers is combat. And that’s what D&D 4e does remarkably well. This emphasis on a unified combat mechanic bleeds into class design, as we shall see, but it also makes the game very welcoming to beginners.

The primary complaint about D&D is that this focus made it bland. All of the classes work, essentially, the same way. Players pick powers- at will, encounter, and daily powers- at the same progression, and they function the same mechanically 99% of the time (Roll your ability, compare against enemy ability). What this does is create balance, which is something 3.5/Pathfinder seriously lacks. Wizards and Clerics were obscenely powerful, while Fighters and Monks are really just a sad joke. The differences between classes were more flavorful, yes. But that lack of any sort of game balance just kicks all the fun you might have in the dice-bag. D&D 4e has a well balanced class abilities mechanic that looses some flare because it relies on the players to describe (role play?!) their character’s actions, which as we all know, is like pulling teeth.

Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition suffers one serious setback which might deter your investing: horrid product releases. The Wizards of the Coast model is to continually release splat books with heaps of new content. It makes it very hard to keep track of things. Some say this is remedied by their online character builder program, but in my opinion it is just as hard sorting though those hundreds of menus and options as well. And it’s another fee. The more information-driven books targeted to DMs are quite good though, and full of great inspiration for games. Pathfinder’s greatest achievement was the Adventure Path products– D&D 4e published adventures are often quite terrible. You could, in theory, use the Adventure Path stories, scrapping all the game content in favor of 4e stats, but that would be a bit of work. At the end of the day, if you (or your DM) can create your own engaging stories, D&D 4e is a fantastic game that is well balanced and encouraged role playing.

Go to the Rune Age page

Rune Age

35 out of 36 gamers thought this was helpful

The other reviews here give Rune Age a great deal of well-earned credit. Rune Age is a deck building game, wherein each player chooses one of four factions with their own set of exclusive cards to pull from when growing your deck. This gives the game a unique twist on other deck building games where all players pull from the same communal set of cards, making each deck look very similar.

The four factions are, essentially: generic humans, elves, undead, and barbarians. Each faction has a 1, 2, 3 and 5 cost unit, each with progressively higher strength and more powerful abilities. At least one of these units is intended to use its ability against enemy players, while the others are just as effective against both player and non-player opponents. All players also have a set of three identical stronghold cards they can purchase through the course of a game. There will also be a set of three neutral cards and some neutral cities for all of the players to buy from.

Cards cost one of three resources: gold, influence, or combat. There tends to be a circular scheme in which these resources are acquired… Gold is used to buy units, units then provide combat to conquer cities, and cities provide influence to get more gold. There are a few exceptions, but that general rule proves true for most of the cards.

The last thing to note are the objectives to win the game. There are numerous different victory conditions to pick, from being the first to kill a dragon, to being the last man standing. Each objective card dictates which neutral cards are available for use in a given game, and comes with a deck of event cards that flip each turn and hinder the players’ attempts at winning.

Rune Age really is a fun game. The factions are suitably different from one another, all of the art is fantastic, the price tag is fair, and the different objectives ask for different tactics. I’ve really enjoyed this game and am always excited to play it again. One serious downfall it has is the small pool of cards to pick from when building your deck. Each faction has only four units to pick from, and players will quickly understand which combination of those units is best, and future games will begin to look the same. That being said I very much recommend Rune Age and am eagerly awaiting expansions.

Go to the Evo page


41 out of 43 gamers thought this was helpful

Evo is a game of prehistoric survival in the face of rapid climate change on a small island. If you have played Smallworld and Cyclades you will be familiar with some of the game mechanics right off the bat. To begin with, each player selects a color that represents a different human tribe and the species of dinosaurs they control. There is no difference in play between the five options other than color. There are four game boards of growing sizes used with different numbers of players, from three to five. Each player gets an initiative token, a player’s card to track mutations, and eight dinosaur tokens. Once the board is in place and each player has placed two dinosaurs on the board play begins by flipping a random climate tile.

Each turn begins with a change in climate according to movement around the climate wheel. Each turn changes the climate of each section of the map, with new environments becoming deadly and others becoming ideal. There are four environment colors: white, yellow, brown and green. There are then four types of climate: ideal, deadly, cold and hot. The climate wheel tells you which areas dinosaurs can survive in. Dinosaurs can always survive in an ideal spot, will always die in a deadly spot, and will die in hot and cold locations unless they have mutated the appropriate genetics to deal with them.

After climate each turn the players will add a number of mutation token to the initiative board and bid their victory points to acquire them. Mutations represent the genetic diversity of your dinosaur herds and aid in survival and combat. For example, each layer of fur you win in the mutation phase can save one dinosaur trapped in a cold climate, and each set of horns gives the player a better chance at winning combat when invading a rival dinosaurs territory. There is always one less mutation than there are players, with the last option being a draw from the deck of cards. The cards all provide abilities like the mutations, but often stronger, and always a one-time use.

Once players have finished bidding on genetic mutations, they move dinosaurs across the map. Each player starts with two movement points and can gain more by winning leg mutations. There points are then divided among your dinosaurs on the map (note: it is NOT the speed of each piece). Often times the number of dinosaurs a player controls will outpace their movement speed, leaving their slower dinosaurs to die in hostile climates. If a player wished to move into an occupied space, he makes an attack roll with the special die included in the game. The chance of success goes up with each horn mutation the players acquire. Horns on the defender serve to protect them as well.

After that, each player places a new dinosaur on the board. Player can gain faster reproduction rates in the mutation phase and place more than one each turn. Then all dinosaurs that did not make it out of a hostile climate are removed from the board, and each player scores one point for each of their surviving dinosaurs. With that, the turn ends, and a new turn begins with a new climate. Near the bottom of the stack of climate tokens will be a meteor token which ends the game immediately when it is revealed. Once that happens, the player with the most victory points wins the game.

The game is a lot of fun and will be a big hit with fans of Smallworld. The theme is great and the quality of the boards and art is top notch. There are some issues with components that I would like to see addressed. First, all the dinosaur tokens are the same. It would have been nice to see different tokens representing different species for each player. That could be remedied with tiny plastic dinosaur toys, like those mentioned in the comments section. Also, the game does not come with enough one-point victory point tokens, forcing people to constantly turn over their tokens in an effort to make change for each other. Beyond those minor issues, game play is fun and production value is great. The game is much better with 4-5 players because it places more mutation tokens each turn, giving each player more options when bidding. It was a great buy and I would recommend it to most any gamer.

Go to the Last Night on Earth, The Zombie Game page
53 out of 60 gamers thought this was helpful

Last Night on Earth is a classic zombie movie played out on a game board. LNoE is a scenario team game, in which players divide among the human and zombie teams, each with an objective to complete to attain victory. Players can randomly or intentionally choose from different human characters, which the zombie players will always have the same generic zombies. Scenarios usually involve collecting certain items from the players’ card deck then meeting at an objective spot on the map. Each team gets a deck of cards that modify their fights, give bonus dice to roll, or frustrate enemy actions. The game has a built in timer marking the sun sinking toward nightfall. If the heroes haven’t won by the time the sun sets, the zombies overwhelms them and the zombie player(s) win the game.

The humans have access to a deck of weapons, actions and allies that help them kill and escape zombie attacks. They will move across the map with a d6, or sacrifice their movement to search a building if they happen to be in one. Searching is the card draw mechanic for human players. After that, they have the option to trade equipment, shoot firearms, and engage in melee combat.

Zombie players draw cards at the beginning of each turn and roll dice to randomly decide if more zombies will appear in a given turn. The more zombies you already control, the lower your chance of placing new zombie figures. Zombies move across the map once space at a time in an attempt to mob the heroes and kill them. Many zombie cards add to movement or combat dice.

Firearms and melee are how damage is done. A firearm weapon card possessed by a human character will list its range and the d6 roll needed to successfully kill a zombie. In melee, there is an opposed roll in which humans roll 2d6 (choosing the highest result) and zombie roll 1d6. Zombie win ties, but human success does not inflict wounds on zombies, it merely prevents their suffering a wound. For a human player with kill a zombie in melee, they must roll higher than the zombie player AND roll doubles.

Turn order is clearly spelled out on the reference cards for each player. That being said, since players are on different teams, there can be times when player order becomes confusing. Also, the timing of some cards is confusing and the FAQ in the rulebook isn’t always the most helpful. Reading online FAQs and forum posts on rules clarifications is very helpful. More clarity in the rulebook would have been helpful. That being said the rules are fairly well balanced for each team in each scenario.

The components are all excellent. The plastic figures are great sculpts and easy to distinguish from one another. Character cards, scenario cards and map tiles are all high quality, thick stock, with easy to read printing. The art is stylized photography. Most of the content’s style is identical to Flying Frog’s other titles like A Touch of Evil and Invaders from Outerspace. Each scenario can be played through multiple times on different teams before they get stale, giving the game respectable replay value. Most players will find the game entertaining, but zombie fans especially will return to Last Night on Earth again and again.

Go to the Cyclades page


112 out of 119 gamers thought this was helpful

Cyclades is one of the first board games I played after years of wargaming and RPGs. I grew up with Risk and Monopoly and the like but moved on to other forms of gaming as I got older, and in the meantime left board games behind. About two years ago I got the chance to sit down with some friends and learn the game Cyclades, and it pulled me into the hobby of more advanced board games. Because of that, it is a game that I recommend to everyone.

Cyclades is a board control game, similar to Risk in that players move troops around a map attempting to gain control of more regions. This makes the game style easy to understand for most any player. The map is broken up into islands and sea locations that give players access to their turn-by-turn income and open spaces to build different structures. The map is semi modular, with four different distinct options that are changed based on the number of players. More players means a bigger map with more available areas.

Each turn begins with players using their gold to bid on the favor of the Greek gods Ares, Poseidon, Athena, Zeus or Apollo. The number of gods available to bid on is always equal to the number of players. Each god gives a different benefit to the player who earns their favor. Poseidon lets the player build and move ships around the seas to bridge the gap between islands. Ares gives the player more troops and the ability to move troops across islands that have been bridged by ships. Each god also allows the controlling player to build a specific building with certain benefits. Apollo is always available to all players, with each player choosing him receiving at least one gold and the chance for more monetary rewards. This struggle is one of the game’s central mechanics.

The game is won when a player ends a round controlling two metropolis buildings. A metropolis can be acquired in one of three ways. If a player has one of each of the four unique building on the board they are immediately replaced with a metropolis. If a player ever owns four philosopher cards (bought when you control Athena) they are immediately traded in for a metropolis. Last, a player can use troops to conquer and island with a metropolis already built there.

This means that each player will continue to fight for the favor if different gods in each turn to diversify their holdings and military options. This makes the game very unique as conflict occurs off the battlefield and new tactical options become available based on which god you control in a given turn, and which god you plan to follow in subsequent turns. This is all further complicated and enhanced by the mythological monsters deck. Each turn a new monster is revealed (up to three total) that has a unique one-time ability that can be used by the active player if they have the money to purchase the monster card. Some monster give gold or move troops, others destroy building or protect items. Zeus allows players to build temples that reduce the cost of monster cards.

Cyclades’ great strength lies in the variables on the board. The order of god on the board, gold available, monsters available, and the threat presented by other player all factor into the decision making. The theme of competing for the gods’ favor is very well executed in their differing abilities and tactical strengths. Direct combat, sneaky use of monsters, and staunch defense are all valuable play styles. The games components—board, figures, cards and tokens—are all very high quality. Their art and durability are top notch. The rule book is short and easy to understand, and each player is given a game screen with summaries of every item in the game. You really get your money’s worth in both game play and production value.

This game gets a solid A rating and is highly recommended.

Go to the Gosu page


44 out of 45 gamers thought this was helpful

Gosu is a card game in which players draw and play Goblin cards into three tiers. There are five different Goblin clans, each represented by a color, such as red Fire Goblins or green Alpha Goblins. There are three levels of Goblins, played into three rows. Level 1 Goblins go into your first row, level two Goblins go into your 2nd row, and so on. Each row can have at most five Goblins. Your first level 1 Goblin is free, but any level 1 Goblin of a different clan costs two cards (discarded) to bring into play. You cannot bring in a higher tier Goblin unless you have a lower tier Goblin of the same color.

No row can have more Goblins than the row bellow it, so if you have three Goblins in row one (level 1), you could have a maximum of three Goblins in row two as well. If you wish to replace a Golbin in any given row, many have a mutation cost, that lets the player discard cards from their hand to replace a Goblin with a new one from their hand. This is the only way to add new Goblins to a full row, unless your opponent starts killing them for you. Every Goblin has a combat value that it totaled at the end of each round to determine the round’s winner, who receives a victory point. Level 1 Goblins have 2 Combat, level 2 Goblins have 3 Combat, and level 3 Goblins have 5 Combat. Highest total combat in play at the end of the round wins.

Each goblin has some game text that might trigger effects when coming in to play or when being destroyed. Some of these effects let the player draw cards, make opponents discard cards, or “Trap” enemy cards (flipped them face down for the round, rendering them useless). Many of these effects grow stronger if other players have more victory points than you. Some cards have actions that must be activated with an activation token. You start each turn with two activation tokens which you can use on Goblins with actions or use to draw cards. There is no card draw each turn like in most other card games, so Goblins with card draw effects and activation tokens are a players only way to draw cards after the beginning of the game.

Gosu is a very simple game. The rulebook is short and well written, with some odd humor thrown in. See if you can find the crack on Warhammer 40,000 hidden in the rules! The game is played from one common deck, so it is mostly luck. If you don’t draw Goblins with card draw effects, you will probably lag behind other players. That being said, it’s not to difficult to keep up, and since many effects are more powerful if you are behind in victory points, catching up isn’t very hard. It is a great game to pass the time, though I doubt it will be many people’s top pick.

The replay value might lag a bit, because the goal is always the same: draw as many cards as you can, play as many cards as you can. Some of the level 3 Goblins give alternate victory conditions (like having fifteen Goblins in play, or eight of the same faction), but they are rarely achieved before someone gets their third victory point. The card art is great and I am quite pleased with the production value. I would have liked to see a little more variation in the level 1 and 3 cards’ abilities. For one deck of cards and a few tokens, though, the $30.00 price tag is a bit steep. If you can find it on sale, don’t hesitate. I don’t regret it one bit!

Go to the Mad Zeppelin page

Mad Zeppelin

33 out of 35 gamers thought this was helpful

Mad Zeppelin is a poorly executed game. I say this mainly because it is boring, and there are better choices in the genre. It is entertaining enough to pass the time but I doubt it will find its way on to anyone’s favorites list.

Game play in relatively simple. Players draft two characters from the available pool, then go around taking turns. On a turn the active player reveals one of their characters, draws a card and takes a gold, and plays cargo cards. Each character has game text that can effect their actions. Either it will restrict their drawing, gold or cargo playing, add to the one or the other in some way, or give them a separate action to take in addition to the others. Some of these action are defensive, others offensive.

Each turn begins with a set of three dice being rolled. Each side has a color. A given character can only play cargo card from their hand if one of the colors on the dice match the color associated with their character. Some characters have the ability to re-roll dice or change the facing to a color of their choice. These characters have an obvious leg up on meeting the victory condition of reaching X cargo points before all the journey cards are dawn from the deck. If a journey card is drawn, it is immediately revealed and replaced. When they are all gone, the game ends.

This game is almost identical to Citadels, which is probably a better executed game based solely on character design. Some of the characters in Mad Zeppelin are hamstringed by their own restrictions, others overwhelmingly better than the rest, and still others’ offensive abilities are infuriating annoyances that detract from the fun of the game. Cute, good art and theme, but poor design.

Go to the Chaos in the Old World page
62 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

Chaos in the Old World is a military board control game. Much like risk or Cyclades, players bring their forces into play on a map from their reserves and move into conflict with opposing players in an effort to control regions. That is a very basic generalization, but is an accurate foundation before considering the theme. The theme of the game is captured very well in the unique aspects of board control. Each player plays one of the four Chaos gods: Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch or Slaanesh. As one of these evil gods the players summon cultists and demons onto the board. Each type of figure has different stats in keeping with their deity. For example Khorne’s demons have high combat, while Nurgle tends toward higher defense. Some even vary in number, with Korne having the fewest cultist because combat is far more important to his game play and story.

If a region has figures from multiple players in it during the combat phase, each play will total their combat values and roll that many six-sided dice. Each result or 4+ is a hit that can be assigned against an enemy figures defense to kill it. Combat happens simultaneously in each region so everyone with figures will get the chance to attack their enemy. Each region on the map has a numerical value that is associated with victory points. If a player has more figures than a given region’s number AND has the most figures in that region, a corresponding number of victory points are scored. The Empire has a resistance of FIVE; if Slaanesh had SIX figures in The Empire he would gain FIVE victory points.

Every cultist a player has in a region adds one corruption token to that region at the end of the turn. When a region has twelve or more corruptions tokens in it at the end of a turn it becomes Ruined by the forces of chaos and the players who contributed the most corruption to the region score victory points. The Chaos gods also have dials that are rotated clockwise throughout the game when certain conditions are met. Many rely on placing corruption tokens in certain regions, like Nurgle who must place two corruption tokens in a populace region to advance his dial. Each player could win by advancing their dial many times or scoring 40+ victory points.

There are a number of cards in the game. There is a deck of ruination cards that list the number of victory points awarded to players for ruining a region. Each god has their own deck of chaos cards that can be played to assist themselves or hinder their opponents in a variety of ways. Lastly there is a deck of events called the Old World deck that functions as a game timer. Depending on the number of players participating, a given number of Old World cards are randomly selected to make up the Old World deck. Each old work card have a global event that effects the game in some way, usually negatively for the players. One Old World card is revealed at the beginning of each turn. If the Old World deck ever runs out, the world has resisted the forces of Chaos and all the players lose.

The game has a large number of tokens and high quality miniatures. The tokens each add some effect to the game like Nobles adding to the victory point value of a region or Heroes killing one chaos figure each turn. The miniatures are unique for each god except for the cultist who all look the same, save for color. The boards has an amazing print, though it is sometimes hard to see defined lines between map locations. All of the components are of the highest quality. The game is a lot of fun, with excellent lore backing it up from the Warhammer franchise. Fantasy Flight did an excellent job with the license. The game does suffer a bit from the huge amount of token pieces and somewhat complex and ponderous turns, but the instructions are all very clear and easy to follow, and reference sheets are provided for each god with their powers and the turn order. Recommended at 3+ players for the consistent player-vs-player conflict.

Go to the Ascension: Return of the Fallen page
39 out of 47 gamers thought this was helpful

Return of the Fallen is a great expansion to the core Ascension game. Many new cards are added for all four factions as well as a host of new monsters to defeat. RotF adds a new game mechanic called Fate. Cards with Fate text have an immediate effect on the game when they are added to the center row. Examples include “all players may draw a card” and “banish all cards adjacent to this one.” These Fate effects are clearly marked on each card in a separate black box of text, making it easy to identify when a Fate card has entered the center row. This was a great design move, as including it as normal text would have made recognizing Fate cards much more complicated.

One flaw the expansion may be guilty of is too much synergy. There are some cards that manipulate the top card of a players deck. When playing with just Return of the Fallen as a two-player game, these cards are useful. When these cards are mixed in to the core game it dramatically reduces that chance of these cards turning up in the center row. This can sometimes cripple their usefulness. It is somewhat worrisome that the trend for Ascension expansions will continue to be “more of the same,” adding cards to an already bloated center deck with little innovative new game mechanics. That being said, the cards are wonderful additions and it is highly recommended for fans of the core game.

Go to the Ascension page


35 out of 40 gamers thought this was helpful

Ascension has quickly become one of my favorite deck building games. It is superficially like many other games in the same genre, so many people will be familiar with the basics. You have two types of resources, combat and runes. Combat is used to defeat monsters and gain victory point tokens and beneficial game effects. Runes are used to acquire heroes and constructs that go into your deck. Hero and construct cards have printed victory point values. Hero cards have one time effects when played, while construct remain in play and give their controller a constant benefit. All cards bought with runes go into the players discard pile and are shuffled into a new deck when their existing deck runs out of cards. Once all the victory tokens are gone from the board all players tally their total points from tokens and cards in their deck. The player with the highest total wins.

There are three cards that are always in play. Two of these are heroes that add combat and runes to your deck– the Mystic and Heavy Infantry. The third is a simple monster that can be defeated repeatedly for one victory point token– the Cultist. In addition to these there are six random cards from a larger deck laid out on the game board’s center row for players to pick from. As monsters are defeated and heroes/construct are acquired the empty slots are immediately refilled from the main deck, changing the available card pool every turn. This means play tactics shift each turn depending on what cards are available, unlike games with a static pool like Dominion or Eminent Domain.

The game’s theme centers around an evil god who must be defeated. The most powerful cards in the main deck represent his most powerful agents and your most powerful allies. There are four factions at play among the heroes/constructs. The Lifebound faction centers on gaining victory point tokens without defeating monsters while chaining better effects from playing multiple Lifebound cards on your turn. Mechana cards focus heavily on constructs which help pay for more constructs at reduced costs. Void cards focus on combat and thinning the players deck by allowing the player to remove their lower value cards from the game. Enlightened cards provide the best card draw in the game while adding some cards that auto-defeat monsters without having any combat stats themselves.

The core game is set up for up to four players and it functions best when played with three or four. Two players get somewhat tedious as there isn’t nearly as much card turn over in the center row. Each player gets ten very simple cards to start with. The first expansion adds two more of these starter decks allowing up to six players. Games of that size tend to drag as players wait for extended periods of tiem for their turn to come around. There is very little player interaction except for a handful of monsters that punish enemy players when defeated. The only other active way to mess up enemy plans is to purchase the cards that would benefit them most before their turn allows them to do so. This can of course be risky because those cards may not benefit you as well, and a varied approach to deck building often means that there are at least one or two good options on the table for everyone each turn.

The variety of card types and ever changing pool of available cards makes Ascension: Chronicles of the Godslayer a very fun game with lots of replay value. It is quick to play, easy to teach, and graphically appealing. Gary Games has supported it with two expansions and a number of promotional cards available through their website and at conventions.

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