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The Ice Jester

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Review 3 games and receive a total of 40 positive review ratings.
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114 out of 130 gamers thought this was helpful

I bought Defenders of the Realm when it was first released last year under the premise that “I’ll play it with my kids eventually”. What I didn’t know is that the time would come so soon!

My son is 7 and every weekend for the past few months he and I have played Defenders of the Realm. It warms my heart when he chooses a boardgame over a videogame. 🙂

What really sets this game apart is the active community and the incredible support from the designer. Richard Launius releases official variants and downloadable “expansions” faster than anyone in the industry. He has created a game that is different with every play depending on the characters, the enemies, the variants, and the scenarios that are chosen.

But even though this game is incredibly fun and challenging for my son and I, that’s not what keeps me coming back. It’s the high fives we give each other when we roll a 6 at the last second and slay the dragon. It’s cheers and pumping fists when we narrowly avoid catastrophe. And it’s even the pain of defeat we share when our heros fall. There has yet to be a game that I have ever played with my son that I enjoy as much as Defenders of the Realm. I foresee us defending the realm together for a long, long time.

Go to the BattleLore page


62 out of 98 gamers thought this was helpful

Initially, I steered away from this game for 2 reasons.
1. Lore. I have played Commands & Colors a lot and I really like the fact that you can basically play the cards and the strategy that you want without your opponent somehow negating it. I was worried that Lore would add too much of a “nuh uh” factor in the game. But it really doesn’t..
2. The MANY expansions. I was really concerned that I would go crazy and have to own all expansions. So far that hasn’t happened. So far….

After giving in and playing it on Vassal, I find that it’s equally strategic to Commands and Colors and has a very strong fantasy theme and feel. I really dig it.

Go to the Loot page


43 out of 49 gamers thought this was helpful

Every gaming session needs one of those segue games. The type that’s quick, fun and takes your mind off of the heavier fare. For our group, Loot fits the bill perfectly.

The game consists of 78 cards. There are 25 merchant ships, each carrying 2-8 pieces of gold, 48 pirate ships (12 of each color) with denominations from 1-4 “Skulls”, 4 pirate cards (1 of each color) and one Admiral card.

The premise is simple. On each turn you either play one card or draw. If you choose to play a card, you can either play a merchant ship, play a pirate ship on a merchant ship to try to win its gold, or you can play a pirate to help one of your pirate ships (of same color) win the merchant ship’s gold. There can only be one pirate ship of each color trying to claim a merchant ship. After the last card is drawn, you subtract the value of the merchant ship cards in your hand from your total, and the player with the most gold wins.

Once a merchant ship is played, anyone can play pirate ships on it until that ship is claimed. You must continue playing the same color that you started until someone claims the ship. At the beginning of a players turn, the player examines the open seas to determine if he has the most pirate skulls on any merchant ship(represented by the total number of skulls on all the pirate ships he has played on that merchant ship). If he does, he takes the merchant ship. If the player played a merchant ship on his previous turn and there are no pirate ships played on it, he may also claim that ship. If someone plays a pirate on one of their pirate ships (of same color), they win regardless of the skull count. If there are multiple pirates, the most recently played wins. The player who originally played the merchant ship may also play an Admiral on that ship without having played any pirate ships. The Admiral card is resolved just like a pirate card.

The fun factor of the game is highly influenced by the group of people that is playing. If your group is a swashbuckling bunch of rapier-swingin’ plunderers like mine, you’ll have a blast. The draw pile is almost like the stopwatch of the game. You see it slowly ticking down while you try to plunder the open seas for all its worth. The subtle strategies of the game are it’s beauty. For instance, when there’s a few big-money ships on the board, it’s always fun to try and slip a few low value ships in under the radar. And it’s always entertaining to have a pirate ship shootout over a big money ship.

And if you don’t throw in a few ARRRGGH jokes in there…you’re really not getting the full-on Loot experience. Enjoy it for what it is…a quick little session game to play in between the big-hitters. My group decided we need a few games just like this to fill the gaps. Now, what are you waitin’ for? Grab a few of your peg-legged, eyepatched, pillaging friends and have some fun!

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