Board Game of the Week- Dungeon Roll

  • Game Title: Dungeon Roll
  • Release Date: 2013
  • Number of Players: 1-4
  • Average Game Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Edge Entertainment
  • Website:  boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/138778/dungron-roll
  • Game Designer: Chris Darden
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

Dungeon Roll Chest

Dice games seem to be rarer to me than the other types of games out there, so whenever I find a game focused around dice rolling I always go out of my way to give it a try. My friend pulled out his copy of Dungeon Roll last weekend and I was immediately intrigued. The game is based on the classic Dungeons and Dragons story; a mysterious stranger goes into a tavern and recruits a party of adventurers to complete a task for him. These adventurers journey out into the world and fight monsters, gather treasure, and gain experience as they move toward their goal. This theme is then simplified from an all-encompassing and complex tabletop game to a straightforward dice-rolling mechanic where the goal of the game is to get the most experience of the group after three rounds of play.

Dungeon Roll Cards

To start off the game, each player is given a Hero card that has both a passive and an active ability (passive can be used any time, active can only be used once per round). These abilities can be used each round to help defeat monsters, change dice rolls, and any other number of abilities to help you succeed in the game. Each Hero card has two sides, one regular and one upgraded. If you are able to get at least 5 experience points in one round, you are able to flip your Hero card over to the upgraded sidDungeon Roll Party Dicee and gain even stronger abilities. Once each player has a Hero card, the player who starts first rolls the white party dice to assemble his/her “party”. This party can consist of up to 6 different options, including five different classes (Champion, Wizard, Fighter, Rogue, and Cleric) and also a scroll dice which allows you to reroll any dice once. Once the party has been assembled, the player to the left of the one who rolled the party acts as the Dungeon Lord. The Dungeon Lord is in charge of rolling enemies for the party to fight.

Dungeon Roll Enemy Dice

There are four different monsters (goblin, skeleton, slime, and dragon) and there are also treasures and potions that you can pick up after the monsters are destroyed. In order to destroy any goblins, skeletons, and slime, you have to sacrifice party members by removing the dice from your party. If a dragon is rolled, it is taken out of play until there aDungeon Roll Treasuresre 3 dragon dice total. Once the third dragon is rolled, the party has to fight the dragon, which can only be defeated by sacrificing three different class dice. Once you defeat a dragon, you can an extra experience and can grab a treasure chip from the treasure chest.
The more enemies that a party defeats, the more experience points the party gets and subsequently the more dice the Dungeon Master rolls. The player’s turn ends either when they decide to leave the dungeon, or they run out of dice cannot defeat all of the monsters, which causes the party to fail that round. If the party left the dungeon, the player keeps all of the experience earned up to that point. If the party dies, the player doesn’t get any experience from that round. Once three rounds of the game are finished, experience points are calculated and the person with the most points wins.

The game is certainly engaging and I had a lot of fun when I played with my friends. There is a lot of luck involved, but there are also important decisions about how you use your dice and your treasures that need to be taken into account. It took some time figuring out the best strategy for conserving versus using dice, but once you get the hang of it the game moves fairly quickly. The Hero card abilities also add an important layer of strategy, especially the active ability you can only use once per round. The game works better with a smaller amount of people, because with four people there are always two players that aren’t doing anything while the party and the Dungeon Master complete the turn. Apparently the game can also be completed with one player, but without other players to compare scores to I feel like this isn’t as exciting as with 2-3 people.

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Board Game of the Week- One Night Ultimate Werewolf

ONUW Logo

  • Game Title: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Number of Players: 3-10
  • Average Game Time: 10 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Bezier Games
  • Website:  http://beziergames.com/products/one-night-ultimate-werewolf
  • Game Designer: Ted Alspach, Akihisha Okui
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

This board game of the week is thanks to my girlfriend, Mary, and a group of our friends. I had heard a lot about “that Werewolf game” from them for a few weeks until I finally got a chance to try it out myself.  The result was a group of 7 people in their mid-20’s arguing about how I was obviously a werewolf, even though I continuously told them that I wasn’t. Lack of trust aside, the game is based around the childhood game “Mafia” and is a fun and engaging way to spend your time. The game is very fast-paced, so the expectation would be to play the game at least 2-3 times in a row in a single sitting.

ONUW Roles

One Night Ultimate Werewolf starts with everyone choosing what “roles” they want to include in the upcoming game. The game comes with 16 different roles that all have different effects during the game. Every game must have at least 2 werewolves, 1 seer, 1 robber, 1 troublemaker, and one villager. Depending on the number of players in the game, additional roles are added before the game starts (must have three more roles than the number of players in any game). Once the role cards are chosen, they are shuffled and one card is given to each player and the remaining three are left face down with nobody viewing them. After you check your role, the “night” phase of the game begins. This is where the Mafia style of game mechanic comes into play- during this phase, everybody closes his/her eyes, and players with certain roles “wake up” (open their eyes) at specific times to complete tasks related to their roles. These actions change depending on which roles were picked, but the order for when everyone opens and closes his/her eyes remains the same no matter what. Once all of the roles have completed the necessary tasks, the night phase ends and it switches to the “day” phase.

Once it becomes the day phase, everyone openly discusses who they believe is the werewolf. The werewolves then try and divert the blame from themselves by accusing others, while the villagers are all trying to determine who the werewolves are. You can say anything you want during this time, but you cannot show your role to another player- they will have to take you at your word. The day phase usually only lasts about 5-10 minutes and once time is up, everyone votes for who they believe the two werewolves are (this is done by pointing, either at a person or at the face-down cards in the center if you think nobody is a werewolf). The two people with the most votes are then accused of being the werewolf and must show their card. If one of them was the Werewolf, then the villagers win. If neither of them was the werewolf, the werewolves win.

ONUW App

There is, in fact, an app for that

This description of the game is very basic and glosses over details of how the different roles affect each other. There are certain roles that switch role cards between players, look at other player’s roles, or even take on the role of another card that you view. After the night phase, you could find yourself in a situation where you have no idea what role you currently have in comparison to when the game began. This makes your strategy and the voting process all the more complicated, and certainly adds to the intrigue of the final results. Another big factor in the game is the speed- it is supposed to be a very quick game which only allows for a specific amount of time to discuss and vote. In order to help with the timing portion of the game, I highly recommend someone from your group download the free app that goes with the game. This app not only keeps time for you throughout the whole game, but also announces the phases of opening and closing eyes during the night shift according to the roles your group is using.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a difficult game for me to review- on the one hand, its gameplay and fast-paced style are quite engaging. On the other hand, there are some flaws in the way the character roles are structured, and the time limit feels constricting at times. I like the fact that you can choose what roles are involved in every game, but I am not a huge fan of the idea that your role can change without you knowing it. The fun of the game is certainly apparent- bluffing and trying to trick your friends into thinking you are one thing when you’re actually another is a staple of many board/card games. Still, the concerns should definitely be noted; knowing what the game is about is important, and will make it more fun because you’re going in with a full understanding of what to expect.

ONUW Text

I feel like you have to be in a very particular mood if you want to play this game- it is certainly a lot of fun when you get a group of people involved, and the positives certainly outweigh the negatives, but I would recommend understanding the rules and formulating a strategy before you dive headfirst into the game.

Jack’s Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Board Game of the Week- King of New York

  • Game Title: King of New York
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Number of Players: 2-6
  • Average Game Time: 30-40 minutes
  • Game Publisher: IELLO
  • Website: http://www.iellogames.com/KingOfNewYork.html
  • Game Designer: Richard Garfield
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

king of new york box

Back in December of 2015 I wrote an article about the board game King of Tokyo and described a dice-rolling game with a fun and adventurous theme. Board game publisher Iello took the success of their original game and ran with it, creating the alternate version King of New York. King of New York takes the same gameplay mechanics as King of Tokyo and adds to them/enhances them, creating a game that is similar to the original but with a different feel to it. Since the gameplay is so similar, I am not going to go into a description of how the game works in this article (for details on that, check out my King of Tokyo article above). Instead, I am going to go through a list of the changes/adds Iello made to this game compared to the original:

King of New York Board

  1. Expanded Board with additional locations (boroughs) – In King of Tokyo, you were either in the city or outside of the city and that was it. There were no other locations available, so if you weren’t in Tokyo your monster was off of the board completely. King of New York altered this idea so that every monster is in the city during the whole game. Instead of having “in or out” you have 5 boroughs of New York that you can occupy. The largest one, Manhattan, acts as the Tokyo-esque area in this situation, where you gain points but take massive damage from being there. You can also move from lower Manhattan to Middle and Upper Manhattan, which provide you with additional benefits.
  2. Different Dice Options- While the dice in King of New York have three identical sidesKingOfNewYork-dice to King of Tokyo (energy, heal, and attack) they added new sides to the dice for different effects. Instead of numbers 1-3, the dice now have destruction, celebrity, and Ouch! sides which provide different effects.
    1. Destruction allows you to get rid of buildings
    2. Celebrity allows you to gather more points if you have roll at least three of them
    3. Ouch! causes damage based on the number of enemy units located in your borough
  3. Superstar and Statue of Liberty Cards- King of New York added two special cards to the game,
    the Superstar card and the Statue of Liberty card.King-of-NY-Superstar-card

    1. The Superstar Card transfers to any player that rolls 3 celebrity symbols in a turn, and provides added victory points to the player whenever they roll the celebrity symbol
    2. The Statue of liberty happens whenever someone rolls 3 Ouch! symbols in a turn, and gives the player a victory point boost if they survived all the damage
  4. Buildings and Enemy Units- At the beginning of the game, each borough gets 3 stacks of building units which can be destroyed by any monster in that borough. When you roll enough destruction symbols to overcome the unit’s durability, you can destroy it and take whatever reward is listed on the building (energy, health, orKing-of-NY-Battles victory points). Once the building is destroyed, that building tile is flipped over to become an enemy unit. Enemy units attack you when you roll an Ouch! symbol, and can also be destroyed by destruction symbols for varying effects.
  5. New monsters/cards- The new monsters are only for aesthetics, but the new artwork is nonetheless a nice improvement. The 6 monsters you can choose at the beginning of the game are completely different than the ones from Tokyo. The cards that you can buy in the game have also been changed- I can’t confirm that they are all different, but a number of cards have been created based on all of the new rules listed above.

I think that because this game is so similar to King of Tokyo, it isn’t really possible for me to separately rate it because it is so similar to the other game. What I’ve found is that both of these games are fun for different reasons and both can be used in different situations. King of Tokyo is a more straightforward game, which works well when king of new york new cards and monsterssomeone is new to board gaming and better for more casual game nights. King of New York’s additions make the game more complex, which makes the game better for high-strategy groups and a more intense gaming experience. King of New York should not replace King of Tokyo in your collection, and in fact they both complement each other quite well. Because of this, I feel that King of New York deserves the same rating as King of Tokyo did: a fun, challenging, and engaging game with beautiful artwork that is great for your collection.

Jack’s Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Kickstarter Campaign: Sans Allies

sans allies logo

Over the last 6 months of blogging, I have been lucky enough to connect with a number of other bloggers who share my passion for board games. Geoffrey Greer, writer of Past Go Gaming & Geeking, has been a big part of that connection. Geoff is a teacher with a passion for history and geeky topics, so he has a ton of great articles about a number of interesting subjects from Monopoly in American Culture to Howard the Duck. Going back the past few months, it’s rare to see a post I’ve made that doesn’t include a like or a comment from Geoff. I have always appreciated his activity on my blog, and the articles he writes are all very cool, so when I heard about his new game I jumped on the chance to try it out. Geoff and his wife Valerie have created a solitaire game called Sans Allies that is currently on Kickstarter. They have also added a prototype online, which I printed out and played over the weekend. Below is a brief description of the game and its rules, as well as a few important points about the game’s strengths and why I think you should back it on Kickstarter!

Sans Allies is a single player game with a very similar style to Pyramid Solitaire. The game has a 20th century war theme and revolves around fighting through enemy lines to capture the Enemy Capital before time runs out. The Enemy Capital is always at the very top of the pyramid, which means that in order to reach it you have to make your way through a number of different types of land, all while trying to build up your own forces and stop the enemy from developing their “ultimate weapon.” The game mechanics seem daunting when you first open up the instructions, but they are quick to pick up as long as you thoroughly read through the rule book before you play and then keep it on hand the first time you try the game. All in all, it only took me about 10-15 minutes to learn the “Limited War” gameplay (simplified rules) and only an additional 5-10 minutes to learn the “Total War” rules (complete rules). The first game I played took about an hour, but once I got the hang of it and was playing at a faster pace I found myself finishing a round in slightly over 45 minutes.

The game feels a lot like a single-player version of Risk to me – in order to “invade” a space and move closer towards the Enemy Capital, you roll two dice and either lose or maintain troops based on the number you rolled. This means that how and when you sans allies cardsdedicate your troops to an invasion is a crucial part of the game. You gain troops each turn, but after every turn the enemy has a chance at improving their ultimate weapon, so you can’t sit around and stockpile troops for too long. Sans Allies is also similar to the game Axis and Allies because there are different types of troops that can be used; you have personnel (ground troops), vehicles (tanks), aircraft (planes), and ships. Each type of territory you try and invade has specific types of troops that can and can’t access it. For example, only aircraft and ships can invade sea territories, and only aircraft and personnel can reach mountain territories.

There are plenty of other rules and tactics to the game, but I don’t have the space to go into everything in this post. Instead, here are the main reasons why I believe that Sans Allies is well worth backing on Kickstarter:

  • Easy to pick up – I mentioned before that it took me about 20 minutes total to learn the complete rules of the game (both Limited and Total War rules). This may seem like a significant amount of time, but that is mostly because I read through the entire instruction book once and re-read specific chapters beforeSans Allies 1 trying to play the game. This meant that by the time I actually started playing the Limited War version of the game, I only had to check the rules a few times for my first play through. When I upgraded to Total War for my second play-through, I felt comfortable enough with the Limited War rules that I only checked the rules for Total War additions. Ultimately I’ve played through the game four times in total, and feel like I know pretty much everything I need to play the game moving forward.
  • Challenging (but not too challenging) Gameplay – I’ve found that game difficulty is a big part of what makes a game good or great. If a game is too simple, it’s boring, but if it’s too complicated nobody will want to play it. Sans Allies found a good balance with its combination of strategy and luck, giving it a feel of a game that isn’t easy but is certainly beatable. I won each game that I played, but there were definitely some rounds that were pretty close and I never felt like the game was “in the bag.”
  • Easy to Carry (good travel game) – Speaking of in the bag, since the game is mostly made up of cards and no boards are necessary, it is the perfect game to take on a trip. Whether it’s a family vacation or a work function, sometimes having a game you can play during your travels can be a lifesaver. Most people bring a deck of cards and play solitaire, so why not enhance your experience by bringing a more complex travel-sized game instead?
  • Cheap – Large-scale board games are getting more and more expensive as time goes by; most games nowadays cost around $50-$60, and while they are usually worth the price in my opinion it’s difficult to justify buying certain games because of the price tag. Smaller games usually register around the $30 range, so Sans Allies being $20 for this Kickstarter is a good deal in my opinion. I have enjoyed playing the prototype online, but as someone really into the aesthetics of a game I’m seriously looking forward to getting a copy of the real thing!
  • Good way to pass time – As someone who is almost constantly busy, this isn’t something that I experience very often…but I could see Sans Allies as being a great game for people with an hour to kill who want to do something different for a stretch. It’s also a game that you can leave and come back to if necessary without losing your place in the game.
  • “Scratches the Itch” – Geoff used this phrase in his video about the game (you can find it on the Kickstarter page) and I think it’s extremely accurate. Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a strategy game, and maybe you don’t have anyone around to play with or you don’t feel like getting a group together at the time. Sans Allies is the perfect game for that situation, because it’s a game that gives you what you’re looking for in a fun and engaging way.

So there you have it – I really hope you consider giving this game a shot. You can try out the prototype yourself, or just take my word for it and wait until the real game is out. Whatever you decide, I hope you know that any pledges you can make are much appreciated. If you have any questions about the game, you can contact Geoff at geoff@pastgo.net or on Twitter at @PastGoGames. And once again for good measure, here is the link to the Sans Allies Kickstarter. Thanks to anyone who is able to provide their support!

sans allies kickstarter

Board Game of the Week- Stratego

  • Game Title: Stratego
  • Release Date: 1947
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Average Game Time: 45 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Hasbro
  • Website: http://www.stratego.com
  • Game Designer: Jacques Johan Mogendorff
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Uncommon- available online

Stratego is an older game that has been around for multiple iterations throughout the years. Games like Stratego- strategy games based on one-on-one high level strategy- seem to be much more uncommon nowadays. Most games are meant for more than two players and have a larger scale than squaring off directly with your opponent. These types of games, such as Battleship or even Chess, force players to think critically and outwit their opponent. Stratego matches this idea and also expands on it with a “fog of war” element where you can’t see your opponent’s pieces.

unnamed

The game ultimately acts as a form of capture the flag; similar to chess, where the goal is to get the king with a piece, the goal in Stratego is to have a piece reach the opponent’s flag. The big trick in the game is that each player places all of their pieces, including the flag, wherever they want on their side of the board. Because of this, coupled with the fact that you can’t see your opponent’s pieces, means that you have no idea where the flag is at the start of the game. In addition, you have a number of “troop” pieces, with strengths of 1-10, that can fight each other and search for the flag. Finally, there are “bomb” tiles that, if a troop tries to attack one, blows up and destroys the piece. Bombs can be defused or avoided, but the placement of bombs becomes a huge factor in how the game is played as well.

Stratego-Original-SetupThis game focuses more than any I know on pre-game setup. How you choose where to put your pieces effects the game almost more than your strategy for the game itself. Whether you put your flag as far away from the enemy troops as possible, try some form of misdirection, place the bombs near or far away from the flag, place your high powered players up front or use your weaker troops as shields, all of these ideas and more effect the game experience. Not only your choices, but your opponent’s choices and figuring out their strategy is crucial to success in this game. This doesn’t mean that the strategy stops when the game starts- memorizing your opponent’s pieces, understanding when sacrifices must be made, and adapting to new scenarios all become crucial as the game goes on. Being able to shift strategies and compensate for losses is one of the hardest things to do in a game, and Stratego takes this idea and runs with it.

There isn’t much about this game I can truly criticize, other than that it is complex enough to not be a “casual” game with friends. Similar to chess, you have to be in a very specific mindset in order to want to play the game. It’s not a game I would pull out for a game night, and I don’t see myself playing it a bunch of times in a short period of time. The game pulls you in when you’re playing, but it isn’t the type of game that jumps off the shelf. Overall if you’re in the mood for a fairly intense, but not too complex, strategy game, this is a great one to have available if you have a friend who wants to play a game and compete with you.

stratego-header-home-transparent

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 Stars

 

Board Game of the Week- The Resistance

  • Game Title: The Resistance
  • Release Date: 2009
  • Number of Players: 5-10
  • Average Game Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Indie Boards and Cards
  • Website:  http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/resistance.php
  • Game Designer: Don Eskridge
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

IMG_2875

The concept of a dystopia has always peaked my interest, no matter the genre. Whether it is a book, a movie, or even a video game, I’ve always enjoyed engrossing myself in a world that takes the idea of perfection and warps it into something twisted and wrong. Books like The Anthem, Animal Farm, and The Hunger Games, as well as games like Bioshock and Injustice: Gods Among Us, always make it into the upper echelon of my favorites. IMG_2877That’s why when my girlfriend got me The Resistance (The Dystopian Universe) for my birthday, I was immediately drawn to it. While the same level of story detail isn’t the same as in books, movies, or games, the theme adds a lot of character to a cool collaborative card-b
ased game. A similar style to Werewolf or Mafia, The Resistance is based on a group of people trying to overthrow a government by completing missions. If the resistance completes at least three of the five missions, they win the game. However, there are also spies that have infiltrated the resistance, and if they are able to sabotage three of the missions then they claim victory instead.

The game starts with all the players randomly choosing a card to find out if they are a Spy or part of the Resistance- the amount of spies depends on the number of players. Once that is decided, everyone closes his/her eyes and the spies rIMG_2876eveal themselves to each other. This means that the spies know each other, but nobody from the resistance knows who is a spy and who’s not. The leader of the round then chooses a team of people from the whole group to go on the first mission (they can interrogate them beforehand) and the entire group votes on if they approve the choices. Once a team has been chosen or approved, they secretly play either a Success or Fail card. If anyone chooses a fail option, the mission fails and the spies get closer to victory. However, if nobody sabotages the mission, then it is a success and the Resistance moves closer to winning. A new leader is chosen, and the following rounds follow the same pattern until one team has three victories.

The gameplay in Resistance is a lot of fun, especially when you’re a spy. You have to think a lot about how you’re going to keep your identity a secret. If you choose to fail every time, you will be found out easier, but if you choose to succeed to throw people off your scent then the resistance gets closer to winning. Playing as the resistance is also fun because you are constantly trying to assess who might be a spy and making sure they don’t go on missions. The game is engaging, but also doesn’t drag too much since there are only five missions. The number of potential players is pretty high (up to 10) so it’s great for larger gatherings of friends. Finally, as I mentioned before, the theme is a lot of fun and you can expand on the dystopian world when you interact with the other players if you have a theatrical mindset.

The one potential downside I saw about the game is that it feels like the spies have a huge advantage. I played the game twice, and both times the spies wonIMG_2878 without even going to the fifth round. Because the spies know each other, they can try and signal each other to choose if they are going to pass or fail for a mission, as well as supporting the other spies when they are chosen for a mission. You have to be much more attentive when you are not a spy because if you miss something you will most lik
ely make the wrong choice and wind up losing the game. Overall, the ability to misdirect as a spy makes their position much better than a resistance member. This leads to an accurate portrayal of the situation, but also could be slightly annoying to those players who are not chosen to be spies. Still, after playing both as a spy and a resistance member, I had a great time with both and really hope to work on a strategy to catch the spies next time I play!

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Board Game Expansions/Alternates

At the risk of sounding like an old man, I’ve always preferred the good old days with games where it was a one-time purchase for the product and that was it. There might have been a few alternative versions to games, but they were separate from the main game and had their own style/content to offer. More recently, it feels like alternates and expansions are being made en masse as a way of capitalizing on a game’s popularity. Most of these expansions or alternates provide some additional perk or benefit, but if you really look closely it can sometimes feel like you’re paying just as much if not more to expand on a game when you’d rather it simply come with the original. This is especially true with video games; my N64 games had hours upon hours of content with no additional purchases associated with them. However, now when I’m playing on my PS4 it feels like every game is somewhat incomplete due to all of the DLC that you have to pay money for. Now, if an expansion is more than just a new outfit or weapon and actually significantly enhances the story then I will be much more likely to give it a shot, but I will always be slightly skeptical until proven otherwise.

Board game expansions usually have a different feel to them. Sure, they aren’t necessarily needed to play the game, but they always add a new layer, a new strategy, and sometimes even allows for more players. Alternate versions of games can also have a lot of cool new differences to their originals, adding different gameplay and new themes. These kinds of games are the reason why I try to keep an open mind when an expansion to a board game I love comes out, or there’s a new game based on one I’ve played before. So as a tribute to the games that keep on giving, here is my list of 5 great board game expansions/alternates:

1) Settlers of Catan: All of Them-This might be a bit of a cop out, but there are so many expansions and changes to Settlers of Catan thaSeafarer'st it’s impossible to choose just one. Other than the most basic expansion which bumps up the number of players from 4 to 6, you also have the Seafarer’s Expansion, then Cities and Knights, Traders and Barbarians, etc. Then on top of that there are alternate games that are separate from the original. As one of the premier board games of our generation, it’s no surprise that Settlers has found ways to grow on its success through expansions. If you haven’t tried any of the cool additions to the game, I definitely recommend them, especially the Seafarer’s expansion.

2) 7 Wonders: Leaders- An add-on that is actually less known than t7 Wonders Leadershe 7 Wonders: Cities expansion, Leaders adds additional regular cards and also brings in 42 historical leader cards, which you play at the beginning of each age. It also adds another Wonder so that 8 people can play rather than 7. Overall if you like 7 Wonders, the Leaders expansion does a great job of adding additional layers to it and also giving an extra person a chance to play.

 

3) Munchkin Card Expansions- One of the best parts about the game Munchkin is all of the hilarious cards that can be played. From monsters to power-ups toMunchkin Clerical Errors curses, each card has its own personality and is a great way to make you laugh. While the expansion packs don’t create any major changes to the
game, the added cards are a great way to keep the game fresh and add to the laughs. Expansion 3: Clerical Errors is my personal favorite of these expansions. The game also has a number of sequels (Zombies, Apocalypse, etc.) for anyone who wants to try out a different theme other than the original D&D spoof.

4) King of New York-When Iello created King of Tokyo, they made a game that is immersive and clever and yet somehow straightforward to play. The concerns I hKing of New Yorkad with King of New York went two separate ways: either they would make the game exactly like the original, or they would completely abandon the style and make a completely unimpressive game instead. Luckily enough neither of those things happened, and the game King of New York found a way to take the same principles of King of Tokyo and expand/revise them to make something different, but with the same feel as the original. Having both games in your board game collection is definitely worthwhile.

5) Ticket to Ride: Europe- Ticket to Ride is one of my all-time favorite gamesTicket to Ride Europe, so when I tried out Europe I was surprised at the subtle yet powerful differences between the two. It took some time to get used to the different geography, but the addition of ferries and tunnels plus the additional railroad markers made the game subtly more challenging. While this version might not be able to replace the original for me, it was a lot of fun and I plan on adding it to my collection soon.

 

Board Game of The Week- Hanabi

  • Game Title: Hanabi
  • Release Date: 2010
  • Number of Players: 2-5
  • Average Game Time: 25 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Cocktail Games
  • Website:  http://cocktailgames.com/en/cocktailgames/produit/hanabi
  • Game Designer: Antoine Bauza
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Uncommon but Yes

Hanabi LogoCooperative board/card games have been becoming more popular over the past few years, with games such as Pandemic becoming more common for mass consumption. Cooperative games can have varying types and nuances to how they’re played, but the major theme is that rather than playing against each other, you play together against the game as a common enemy. Usually this involves completing some type of objective in order to win, while not meeting the objective will cause you to lose. Hanabi is a cooperative card game that actually goes by a different objective- work together to earn as many points as possible, with a point scale giving your group a grade at the end of the game. There aren’t any official winners or losers, but the competitive nature of the game is still tough to beat as you attempt to get a perfect score.

The games’ theme is preparing for a fireworks performance- in order to create the best fireworks display possible, the players are trying to play cards in order based on color. There are five cHanabi 1-5olors of fireworks, all with numbered cards of 1-5, and the objective is to play all five of each color before the time runs out. The big catch in this game is that instead of players looking at their own cards, they face the cards outwards so that all players can see the cards except for the person holding them. Rather than simply telling a player which card to play, the other players have to provide hints about how many of a certain color or number is in the player’s hand. A player can also choose to play one of the cards in his/her hand; if they chose a card that chronologically matches what’s already been played, the card is added to the stack of the card’s color. Otherwise, the card is discarded. You also have a certain number of clues that you can give, which can be increased by a player intentionally discarding a card. The game ends when there are no more cards to use, and then points are tallied based on what cards were played by the end of the game.

Hanabi has a surprising amount of strategy involved considering how few pieces it includes and how the game is structured. Each player has to use his/her turn wisely in order for the team to succeed, and the way clues are used will drastically effeHanabi Rowsct a player’s choice to play or discard cards. Memorization is also a key factor in the game, because you need to remember where each card is based on the clues you are given. The game is a lot of fun right off the bat as you are gathering information about your hand, and as more cards are played it is more difficult to play the cards in the correct order. There are also fewer of the higher value cards in the deck, so if you accidentally discard a 5 you can’t get a perfect score because there is only 5 card for each color available. All of this combines strategy combines into a game of subtle hints, careful decision making, and surprising amounts of tension whenever a card is played.

The biggest advantage of the game to me was that it wasn’t just a cooperative game, but individual play also was a heavy factor in success. In games like Pandemic, the most experienced player will sometimes take control of the game and tell others what to do in order to have a cohesive strategy throughout the game. The downside to this type of play is that players who are newer and aren’t a part of the strategy will be excluded and will most likely not have any fun. Hanabi doesn’t have this issue, because no matter what clues are given in the game ultimately the player who holds the cards is responsible for how they are played. A perfect combination of teamwork and individual merit, Hanabi allows for both working with others and making individual decisions in the same atmosphere. The game also has a great aesthetic appeal, as well a simple yet elegant design that is easy to travel with and use in most settings.

I didn’t find many downsides to this game, but one thing I did see a lot of was players trying to influence the game with facial expressions. A lot of the time when giving a clue, a player would talk really slowly or give a particular look in order to try and influence the other player’s actions.

Capaldeyes

YOU HAVE ONE THREE! I REPEAT: ONE. THREE!!!

I found myself doing this a lot myself, mostly because it is easy to misconstrue someone’s intent when they are giving a clue and sometimes a player will accidentally discard a card he/she should have played, or vice versa. I felt like using this advantage, while entertaining in a way, took away some of the challenge. I think that in order to get the full experience, clues should be given in a straightforward manner and the player getting the clue should interpret its meaning without outside help.

If you like card games that involve a lot of strategy, I recommend this game as a good one to add to your collection. I also think it is a good option for younger audiences as a way of building memorization and teamwork skills.

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 Stars

Board Game of the Week- Sheriff of Nottingham

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  • Game Title: Sheriff of Nottingham
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Number of Players: 3-5
  • Average Game Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Arcane Wonders
  • Website:  http://www.arcanewonders.com/sheriff-of-nottingham
  • Game Designer: Sergio Halaban
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

I am not a good bluffer. I like to think I am, but looking at it objectively I really don’t have the best poker face. So when I opened up Sheriff of Nottingham and realized the game is based around bluffing and misdirection, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pick it up well. Luckily enough, the game is based on so much more than bluffing and there are many different types of strategy while playing, so I was able to find a strategy that works for me without too much struggle.IMG_2835

Sheriff of Nottingham focuses on merchants trying to bring their goods into the city to sell. The basic mechanic involves drawing cards and choosing what types you want to load into your bag. Everyone then declares what foods he/she put in his/her bag (4 apples, 3 bread, etc.) either truthfully or untruthfully if IMG_2837they have extra foods or “contraband”. The added twist to this is that every round someone acts as “sheriff” who then can choose to inspect each person’s bag. If you were truthful about your goods then the Sheriff has to pay you, but if not the extra goods get confiscated and you have to pay the Sheriff. This means that you can try and smuggle contraband in for big point totals, or you can tell the truth and hope that the Sheriff tries to catch you. A number of other nuances in how you draw cards and what goods you choose to play add up to a very inventive and interesting game.

I found that this game can be a lot of fun, but how much fun depends on the company you are in. My friends and family are all very outgoing, energetic, and goofy, so when we started playing we immediately turned it intoIMG_2838 an improv show where everyone put on different accents and asked silly questions to try and get a reaction from the group. This caused everyone to be more engaged in the game and the enthusiasm built up as we went. I feel like if you were in a group of more straight-laced people that wanted to play it normally it could be less exciting, though the strategy and gameplay still appeal to the average player. The game tends to drag at times if the Sheriff takes a long time to ask questions, so 5 players can take a while. Playing with 3 players, on the other hand, adds an extra round to the game so it doesn’t exactly shorten things. I recommend the game with 4 players if possible as the best middle ground option.

Jack’s Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Tabletop Monthly, Family Subscription

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With the holidays coming and going, I finally had some time to take a look at the second box I received from Tabletop Monthly. This is actually perfect timing, because it looks like Tabletop Monthly has officially begun their services as of January 1st! A quick recap for those of you who forgot, Tabletop Monthly is an up and coming company that sells subscriptions for monthly mystery boxes of games and accessories. They have two different types of subscriptions, one for more hardcore strategy games and one for lighter, family games. I’ve already reviewed my copy of the hardcore subscription, so this time I’ve taken a look at the Family subscription. Let’s get to it!

Board Game, Eat Me If You Can A smaller game with cards and tokens, this Iello game focuses on rotating rounds where players play as either the wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, the three little pigs, or the sevin young kids. When you’re the wolf you try to surprise the other players and avoid traps set by everyone else. A cute adaptation/combination of multiple children’s stories including an evil wolf, the game looks slightly more complicated than I initially anticipated, but it seems like it’s easy enough to pick up. I had heard of this game before and was interested in playing, so it’s a great addition to my collection.

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Card Game, Timeline: Historical Events A card game based on historical events, timeline focuses on playing historical cards in order from your hand until you use up all of your cards. If you play a card in the wrong order, you have to draw another one from the pile. Getting the correct timeline becomes more difficult as cards are played out. I’m not much of a history buff, but I’ll admit I’m intrigued with this game. I feel like depending on the cards in your hand it could be really easy or really difficult. For example, one of the cards is “Fall of the Berlin Wall” and another card is “The invention of Chinese Calligraphy”. I plan on trying this game out with some of my history buff friends soon.

Mini Game, Bus: Transit Demands ItNow this game is the most intriguing to me- the size of the game is smaller than a stack of gum,IMG_2821 but inside there are 30 road cards that create a fairly engaging game IMG_2822when spread out.  Created by a company called Perplext, Bus focused on players navigating b
us routes based on randomly laid out roads. After the road is created, each player then chooses what they think is the most efficient route to pick up passengers without driving too far to earn points. The fact that I can fit the game in my pocket is certainly appealing. I plan on taking this game on road trips in the future.

Overall I have enjoyed both boxes that I received from Tabletop Monthly. I like the games from the Family box more, but the expansions and accessories from the Hardcore box are cool value-adds to the box. I think that you can enjoy subscribing to both depending on your preferences with games. Ultimately it’s a fun way to increase your game collection without breaking the bank, as well as potentially being a good gift idea for board game enthusiast friends.