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Games with Two

Chronicles of playing games with my wife.

Archive for Jason Moslander

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Looking Forward to Newness in 2013

Jason Moslander
United States
Fenton
Missouri
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Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2013/01/looking-forward-to-...

2013 is upon us, so what games are we looking forward to this year? Well, to get a sense of what was coming out, I did a search on Board Game Geek for games with a 2013 planned release date. So, my list is mostly comprised of games that were on that list. I am sure that I missed some awesome games that are scheduled to be released, so be sure to mention them in the comments section.

Nothing Personal - This is a mafia game that recently finished it's Kickstarter campaign. It is designed by the famous reviewer Tom Vasel and his friend Steve Avery. I am really excited about this one and looking forward to see how it plays.
Island Fortress - This game is a long time coming. If you have seen Going Cardboard (which I highly recommend), Bryan Johnson the designer has been trying to get this one published for several years. Last year he finally decided to create his own game company and put the game on Kickstarter. It is due out in early 2013, and I cannot wait for this labor of love.
Mars Needs Mechanics - From Nevermore Games, this one has a great theme. I am excited to see how it plays as Steampunk starts to gain more steam as a board game theme.
Batman: Arkham City Escape - It's a 2-player Batman game, need I say more?
Rogue Agent - I don't know much about this one, but it looks intriguing. It will be interesting to see if our friends at Stronghold Games bring this over to the states.
The Great Heartland Hauling Co. - A game about trucking? I am in. I love unique themes and this one has it. I also love small card games that don't take up much shelf space. This fits the bill.
Compounded - This one we may have to wait awhile as it is due to have a Kickstarter campaign in 2013. It looks interesting. Can't wait to see more on this one.
Hegemonic - I love 4x games and this one looks great. I don't know if I'll get a chance to play it as I don't know many who are willing to partake in games that are this long and in depth.
The Lord of the Rings Dice Building Game - Lord of the Rings & Dice sounds like a good combo to me.
Roll for the Galaxy - I just ran across this one; as a fan of Race for the Galaxy, it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.
Ghooost! - A new offering from Richard Garfield, I am interested to see how this one will play out.
Viticulture - a worker placement game about owning a vineyard. Plus I have a local connection with the designer. This one was also on Kickstarter and is due out around May. I am excited to give this one a try.
Targi - This one is already out in Europe, but a US release is due in 2013 from Z-Man Games. It's part of the Kosmos 2-player series, so I can't help but want to give this one a try.

I hope this list gives you a few games to look forward to in 2013. If there is anything that you are looking forward to that I didn't mention, please mention it below.

see more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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Sat Jan 5, 2013 1:28 pm
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    Chilling at Coney Island - Carnival Review

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/11/chilling-at-coney-i...

    In the late 19th and early 20th century, people flocked to Coney Island in New York for entertainment: roller coasters, Ferris wheels, bumper cars, swings, and delicious food (we have the Coney Dog because of that beautiful island). Now, you have the opportunity to get into your DeLoran and head back in time to the early 20th century and build your own Carnival. You can be a traveling Carnival or setup shop on the famous island, it's up to you. However, you have competitors who are vying for the parts and materials you need to build your rides. It's a race to see who can get their Carnival up and running first. Will you be the "winner?"

    Overview
    Carnival is a dice and card game for 2-4 players. The game plays in 30 minutes and was designed by Cherilyn Joy Lee Kirkman and was published by Dice Hate Me Games. In the game, each player is trying to build 5 rides at their Carnival. The first player to build 4 rides is the winner. Players build rides by playing cards on their Midway (area in front of them, that has five cards that represent the five possible rides to build). Once a ride has four different cards on it, it is completed. The fun part of Carnival comes with how you obtain new cards. This is accomplished by rolling three dice. The player then selects two of the dice and allocates them on a tableau in the middle of the table. Based on the player's dice roll, they are able to draw a card from the deck, draw a card from the discard pile, steal a card from another player's hand, trade cards with another player (cards in each other's hands), trade cards with another player (cards that are in each other's Midways), and steal a card from a player's Midway. If a player rolls three of a kind, they are able to do all three actions. Players can also chose to discard their hand, granted they have a wild, and draw the same number of cards back into their hand. This action is more to keep the game moving, when a player doesn't have any playable cards. After players take their actions, they may play cards into their Midway. This process is repeated until a player completes his fourth ride.

    Review
    Components

    Carnival has some beautiful components. It comes with three wooden dice--they look as if they have come right out of the early 20th century. A very nice touch to add to the theme. The artwork and graphic design are great as well. It has a simple look and feel to it. This gives you the sense that this is an easy game to play and learn. It also reminds you of a simpler time; a time without blogs, smartphones, tablets, jet airplanes, etc. I love that in a game. The presentation of a game can go a long way in bringing out the theme. One of the issues I had with the game was that the card stock. The cards, tickets, and board have a glossy finish, and I prefer more of a matte finish. This a personal preference, and doesn't hinder the game in any way, and the quality of the components is still very good. The only other issue I had was the rule book. It explains the game play, but we found ourselves asking questions about "legal" trades, especially when trading from one Midway to the other. I do believe this has been corrected though, as there is a 2.0 version of the rules available on the Dice Hate Me website. Finally, the price is right on with this one at $20; you really can't go wrong.

    Game Play
    The game play of Carnival is great. I love how they mixed a card game with a dice game. Instead of having a list of actions you can do, you have to follow the actions that you roll. I also love that you can block another player's actions. This brought me great joy as Mrs. Games with Two was about to steal one of my cards (which she managed to do anyway, but it made her use up some of her resources). The game play is also fast pace and simple to learn. This game can get to be pretty cutthroat as you are constantly stealing and trading cards with one another. If that is not your thing, than you may want to stay away. Mrs. Games with Two doesn't always care for that style of game, but when it's just the two of us or the right mix of people, she loves them. I think it stems from her love of Rummy and this game really does have a rummy feel to it since you are laying down sets of cards and picking up from the discard pile. If that is you style of game, or you know someone who loves Rummy, this is a great choice.

    How is it with Two?
    Carnival works very well with two players. If you like a back-and-forth game between players, this one may hit a sweet spot for you. The game can also get very tense, especially when both players are close to completing their fourth ride. Our game became very tense once we each had three rides completed. As for playing with more than two, I believe you can have a good time with this, but I am weary about the possibility of having a "gang up on the leader" mentality, especially late in the game. Of course, this is the case with most games, but it seems that this style of game may encourage it more. Other than that, this one is a gem, that can work well with two, three, or four players.

    Final Thoughts
    We had a great time with Carnival. We love the compact size of the game box, and the simple game play. It's a great way to start off a game day. It's also a great game to play on a weeknight. It doesn't take long to setup, teach, or play--that is our style of game. With our limited time on most nights, this is a great addition to our collection. And if you enjoy a little "take that", with some dice rolling and "Rummy Style" card play, you will probably enjoy this one as well, especially if you have ever dreamed of being a carny.

    See more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:25 pm
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    Tossed Salad- Chicken Caesar Review

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/12/tossed-salad-chicke...

    The salad that got me to love salad was the Chicken Caesar Salad. Something about the creamy, cheesy goodness with romaine lettuce and Parmesan cheese, made it just taste better. I guess all my previous salad experiences were iceberg lettuce (nasty) with an unhealthy amount of Fat Free Ranch (no thank you). Anyway, the Caesar Salad has made me enjoy salad and even venture into other dressings and toppings. So, does Chicken Caesar the board game have the same effect? Does it make you love games even more? Does it give you a love of history and chickens? Does it make you want to explore other games in the gaming world?

    Overview
    Chicken Caesar is a pure negotiation game for 3-6 players. The game plays in 90-120 minutes. It was designed by Bryan Fischer and John Sizemore and was published by Nevermore Games. In Chicken Caesar, a chicken coop has decided to model their government after that of the Roman Empire. The goal of the game is to have the most influential chicken family. This is either by actually influencing via holding offices and collecting taxes, or by creating great monuments to those chickens who have come before you.

    Game Play
    The game play for Chicken Caesar takes places in a series of turns with each turn consisting of 6 phases. Since all the players are in government, there are not individual player turns, but rather each seat of government takes a turn. The six phases of a turn contain Advancement, Action, Award, Attack, Attrition & Adjustment, and Accolade. Just remember the 7 As and you are good to go.

    Advancement
    This is the phase where Chickens will advance to higher offices from the lower ones. This is accomplished via votes and nominations. Unless there is the same number of chickens available for promotion as there are seats, all the chickens move forward. This continues until all available seats are filled.
    Action
    This is the heart of Chicken Caesar. Each office takes an action except Caesar. Each office decides on one of the following: taxes, security, exile, and the building of monuments.
    Award
    During this phase, the office in control of taxes and the Caesar take their tax cuts. Then, all the players take an insignia of the office they are holding and places it on the respective Chicken. These will be worth points at the end of the game
    Attack
    The security action phase is resolved and if the number of traitor guards outnumbers the number of vigil guards for any office, a chicken or chickens will get carried away by the fox.
    Attrition & Adjustment
    If any chickens died or if Caesar is in his second term, he dies and the Censor returns to the lowly ranks, because he can only serve one Caesar. Taxes are adjusted and game end conditions are checked.
    Accolade
    Any chicken may propose upgrades to the monument of a dead chicken. This will be resolved in the Action phase of the next round

    After the Accolade phase, you return to the Advancement phase and continue in this fashion until one of the end game conditions is met: Not enough roosters to fill all the open offices, an insignia stockpile has run out, or one family has no living roosters.

    Review
    Components
    The components for Chicken Caesar are nice. I love the graphic design; it really gets you into the theme. The look and feel of the board and cards are unique and it gives the game a great feel that differs from most games. I think the board is very functional, however, I wish there was a quick reference guide on the board, and a reverse side with a simple or advanced game would have been interesting. I know the second part is more difficult, but quick reference, even just what the 6 phases are would have been nice. I did like that there were quick reference cards though, since those came in handy, especially when trying to keep track of 6 phases. The only other complaint about the components was that the chickens were simple wooden blocks. I think it would have been great to have wooden or plastic chickens. Again, I know that adds to the cost, but it would have made the theme come out a little more. I can also see how a color blind person could have trouble distinguishing which color is which, a symbol of some sort of each wooden block would have been helpful as well. Other than that, the components are solid, the rule book is good, but not great as I had to reread some sections a couple times. Finally, I think the price of $50 is right on.

    Game Play
    As I said this game is filled with negotiation There is really no luck or randomness in the game. It is solely based on how well you can influence other players to get them to do what you want to do. For some groups, this is going to be great especially if you are into politics, history, chickens, etc. Groups that love stabbing each other in the back and cutting deals under the table are going to have a blast. However, if you hate negotiation, and you can't stand getting stabbed then this is not going to work well for you. If you hate politics, this is not going to be one of those game you enjoy. And finally, if you are an animal rights activist that can't even imagine the death of imaginary chickens in the shapes of wooden blocks, this one is going to be too much for you to handle. However, if you do like those things, you are going to have a blast with this one: cutting deals you wish you didn't cut, and influencing votes through bribes and office positions all for your own political gain. These are the kinds of beautiful things that Chicken Caesar does so well. Finally, it's a great place to bring out the puns (and you have a two-headed monster to work with, Chickens/Salads and Rome/Politics/Shakespeare--can it get any better than that?

    Chicken Caesar is a well put together game. It is very deep with tons of strategy, I don't think we even began to scratch the surface (see what I did there) as to what this game has to offer, and that is good for the gamer that loves a deep game. However, the theme almost seems to be false advertisement. When you hear about a group of chickens running their coop like the Roman Empire, you immediately think this is going to be light-hearted fun, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is going to be a knockdown drag out blood bath that ends in the deaths of many a roosters via foxes and the farmer having dinner. This is not a game to bring over to grandmas or even to breakout amongst casual gamers. This is the one you bring to the game night at the Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS), for they are the die-hards that can handle just about anything. My last nasty thing to say is that the game does not play well with just 3 players. This is really a 4-6 player game. It can work with 3, but it is painful. There is little negotiation that can take place, and any that does occur feels like 2 players ganging up on the other. Don't even attempt this with 3, as it really needs a higher player total to be successful.

    Final Thoughts
    Overall, Chicken Caesar is a solid game. It has quality components and quality game play. The game is more on the difficult side, so be sure you give the rules a good reading so that you have a good understanding of the game play before teaching it. I would also be selective in who you play this one with as it is not going to be universally welcomed. However, if you love negotiation and climbing the ladder to success, this could be an excellent option. And who doesn't enjoy throwing some terrible puns around about chickens and politics. I don't know if there are two subject matters that would be better, and for that I say "well done" Nevermore Games.

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    Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:57 am
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    The Magnificent Seven of Board Games - Revolver 2 Review

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-magnificent-sev...

    One of my favorite Westerns ever has to be Magnificent Seven. Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, and Steve McQueen are at their best in this one. I love the story of a group of men deciding to protect a town from a group of vigilantes In the end, it cost most of them their lives, but they defended the city until the end. The original movie has inspired a sequel and a TV series. There was also a spoof of the famous movie, called the Three Amigos, with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short. The story of the Magnificent Seven is told once again, but this time in board game form. Sure, it doesn't have the classic name, but the story line is the same in Revolver 2.

    Overview
    Revolver 2 is the second stand alone game in the Revolver series. The game cannot be combined with Revolver 1 (Red box) or any of it's expansions. Revolver 2 is a 2-player card game that takes 30-45 minutes to play. It was designed by Mark Chaplin and Leigh Caple, and is co-published by Stronghold and White Goblin Games. In Revolver 2, the town of Malpaso is attempting to defend itself against the Outlaw "General" Mapache. The citizens of Malpaso have hired the "Padre" Esteban to assemble a team of hired guns to protect the city from Mapache. The game pits Mapache against the "guardians" that have been hired by the city of Malpaso. The main game play of Revolver 1 is still there. Each player is given a deck of cards and plays them on a series of battlefields. After each player has had a chance to play cards on the current battlefield, the firepower of each player is assessed. If the Mapache player (bad guys), manages to kill one of the guardians during the round, he is considered the winner for the round. He is able to do this, by either playing a card that kills a guardian, or if his firepower exceeds that of the guardians. If the Malpaso player manages to survive the attack, they are able to remove a sombrero from the Mexican Army card (If the Malpaso player is able to remove all the sombrero tokens, he wins the game). Play continues in this fashion until all the rounds on all the battlefields have been played, and at least one guardian is still standing, if all the sombreros are removed, or if all the guardians are killed. The Malpaso player (good guys) wins if one of the first two conditions is made. The Mapache player (bad guys) wins if the last condition is made.

    New Features
    The above game play is almost identical to that of Revolver 1, however there are differences in how the overall game is played. First, you start the game by playing a poker tournament. This is used to determine the first three cards of the battlefield. Whomever wins gets to determine what these cards are, and thus giving them an advantage in the game. These first three battlefields also give the Malpaso some unique options. At the start of the game, he only has seven guardians. However, the first three battlefields allow for him to recruit new guardians to protect the city. There are also options to skip rounds on certain battlefields, or to stay longer to get more guardians. The last major change is the addition of two cards that allow the Malpaso player to clear the opponents firepower cards on a given battlefield. The Mapache player, has a special card that can be used on the last battlefield. It is a Gatling Gun card that can be used to devastate the Malpaso guardians. And trust me, if you are patient, the Gatling Gun can really swing the game in the closing seconds of the game.

    Review
    Components and Value
    The components for Revolver 2 are comparable to those in Revolver 1, however, there are some nice upgrades. First, the wooden tokens are nice green sombreros, rather than just red cubes. This really helps thematically. Second is the artwork. The style is the same as the first game, and is done by the same artist. However, one of my biggest complaints about the first game was that some of the artwork wasn't always appropriate for younger players. The artwork in this game, though, is much better suited for a wide variety of players, and some of the cards are down right funny (talking to you crazy lady holding a cat). The only complaint that some people may have is that once again the game comes in a metal tin. If tins aren't your thing, you may have an issue with this (personally, I like it). Value wise, you get about the same amount of cards and components as the first game, and the price of about $30 is right on for the components and game play that you find in the Revolver series.

    Game Play
    As I stated above, the main game play of Revolver 2 is almost identical to that of Revolver 1. As I stated in my review of Revolver 1, I thoroughly enjoy how the game plays out. The back and forth on the battlefields is highly entertaining, and deciding when to hold cards and when to commit them to a battlefield has always been an interesting decision for me. The added elements of Revolver 2 really do bring the game to a new level. The poker tournament along with the special ability cards, allow for players to make some critical decisions in the game. They also keep you guessing as to what cards are worth committing to a battlefield, because they may just be wiped away by a mine cave in or a bridge being blown to kingdom come. These are elements that I have really enjoyed in Revolver 2, and in my opinion make a better game than the first.

    Red vs. Green
    Revolver 1 and 2 are both excellent games, however, as a consumer and a gamer, I cannot see having both of these games in my collection. In the end, they are just too similar. Revolver 1 does have some more customization available with the 2 expansions and a third one on the way, but I believe that if Revolver 2 garners enough support, we could see expansions for it as well. So, which one should you buy? Well, Revolver 1 (Red) in it's base form (no expansions) it is a more streamlined game. The game play is more straightforward, and is easier to learn. Revolver 2 (Green) on the other hand, has a better story, in my opinion, better components, better artwork, and is just more fun than the original. If I had to pick just one, it would be Green. If I already had Red, I just don't think I could justify the purchase of Green. I think at that point your money is better spent on Red expansions. However, if you just cannot get enough of Red, and it's one of your favorite games, and you are needing a bit of a change up to the game you love, Green maybe a welcome change. And if you find yourself not playing the Red edition, you can always give it to one of your close gaming buddies so that if you ever get the itch, it is not far away.

    How is it with Two?
    As with Revolver Red, this to is strictly a two-player-only game making it great with two. If they decide to continue to build on the Revolver series, I would love to see a four player version or even a board game implementation. If you are looking for a two player game, and you enjoy westerns either one of these games is a good choice.

    Final Thoughts
    Revolver 2 is a good game. It has some welcomed improvements from the first game, and tells a great story (think reboot instead of sequel). I have thoroughly enjoyed the series and the both games are wonderful. However, I just don't see how one could justify owning both games. Especially if you are trying to be Jones' Theory compliant. The only other reason to own both is that you are a sucker for cowboys, or you are just a huge fan of Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, and Sergio Leone. Then, by all means collect them all.

    see more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Tue Dec 4, 2012 11:13 am
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    Have Designer Games Entered the Mainstream?

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/11/have-designer-games...

    I was first introduced to designer board games by a roommate in college. They introduced me to Settlers of Catan. I was then introduced to Ticket to Ride through another friend who had played Catan with me. Once I found a local gaming store, the rest is history. However, it seems to me that in the last 2-3 years, games have become more mainstream. Before they were isolated to small groups of people who played in the back of comic book stores, but now it seems that games are everywhere. So, it begs the question, are designer board games, no longer an obscure subculture? Are they now part of the what everyone is talking about?

    Location Location Location
    First of all, 5 years ago you had to go to a specialty store to buy designer games; now, you can find them at Target, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc. Target has a special section now for designer games and contains several Catan games, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, and about a half dozen Fantasy Flight titles. My local Barnes and Noble has a whole area devoted to games, and about half of them would be considered designer games. This just wasn't the case a short time ago. Retail companies are beginning to see that there is a market for newer, and I would argue better board games that Monopoly and Sorry!.


    Media
    From Settlers of Catan being on Big Bang Theory, to applications on phones, video game consoles, and tablets. Board games are becoming more visible. Before you had to seek them out, now they have commercials, YouTube channels, and the like. Just do a search for Will Wheaton and I am sure you can find out about the latest board game. I also saw that the latest offering by Plaid Hat Games, Mice and Mystics, is on Yahoo's top toy list for Christmas. Finally, Rich Sommer of Mad Men has been doing a segment on G4TV's Attack of the Show, discussing board games. The fact that all these media outlets are taking the time to feature games in some fashion is just another indicator that games are becoming mainstream.

    In the past, the gaming hobby was mostly spread by word of mouth. Although I still believe that this is the way most people get into gaming, the gaming megaphone has become louder over the past couple of years. The introduction and discussion of designer games in the big box stores and into the media has brought gaming to the attention of some who would otherwise not know about it. In the end, it can only be good for the hobby to have more people engaged in it, whether through apps, tv shows, or a friends table. In the end, it means more gamers. So, has designer gaming become mainstream? Not yet, but soon when you tell someone you played Ticket to Ride, they will be saying, "Oh, I've played that", instead of "Oh, what's that about?"

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    Tue Dec 4, 2012 12:35 am
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    Sliding into the Mainstream - Sorry! Sliders Review

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally Posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/11/sliding-into-mainst...

    I know what you are think seriously, a Sorry! game? Games with Two has lost it. They have gone off the deep end. They have gone mainstream. They have forgotten their roots and are doing a review of a Hasbro Game. Well, hold your horses. It's not the end of the world. This offering by Hasbro is a little outside their general realm. Sure, they used the Sorry! license to help drive sales, but this game is nothing like the original.

    Overview
    Sorry! Sliders was first published in 2008, is for 1-4 players, and takes about 20 minutes to play. The game was published by Hasbro and was designed by Craig Van Ness. The object of the game is to get all four of your colored pawns to home. You do this by sliding four other pawns (they have ball bearings in them) down a track toward a target. Each player takes turns doing this until everyone slides all four of their pawns. Your scores are then tallied and you move your pawns up the scoring track. The first player to get all their pawns home is the winner. This is the basic game play, however there are several different setups and rule variations in the rule book to bring some variety to the game.

    Review
    Components and Value
    You can find Sorry! Sliders at most big box stores for around $20. I found my copy at a thrift store for $1.50, and I purchased another copy on clearance at Target for $10. So, you can find this one pretty cheap if you look in the right places. Either way, $20 is a good value for this game. You get 16 ball-bearing pawns and 16 regular pawns. You also get a couple different boards and rails for custom setups. The rules are easy to understand, some of the scoring rules are not all that clear, but you can figure it out. Overall, it's a great value.

    Game Play
    If you enjoy light dexterity games, this might be one you should consider picking up. This is especially a good choice if you have children, since this is a wonderful family game. My 2 year old even enjoys "playing" this one because she can slide the pieces around (Of course, she did she a checkerboard setup once and tried to flick the pieces across, like in Crokinole--I was so proud.) In reality, you probably need to be 4 or 5 to get a handle on the actual goal of the game, but if you are playing and the toddler wants to give it a go, nothing is going to get destroyed. What I have found is this game is the best for is a "travel" version of Crokinole. Crokinole is so big and heavy that I really don't want to throw it in the car and risk damaging it, so Sorry! Sliders is a viable option. The game is also a great way to get someone who may not game normally into playing a game with you. Everyone knows Sorry!, so this could be a great opportunity to show them some other games after introducing this one.

    How is it with Two?
    Since the board is modular, this game works great with 2, 3, or 4 players. You get some more player interaction with 4, but it is still a good time with 2. I don't think it would be my first choice, when it is just me and Mrs. Games with Two, but it is a good one to bring out when you have a mix of kids and adults, especially since the kids have a good chance of beating the adults.

    Final Thoughts
    Overall, this is a solid offering by Hasbro and the Sorry! line. It isn't the greatest dexterity game, but it works, and it fills a niche. This is a great one for families especially, however, I can see a gaming group breaking this out as a starter or finisher. to a game night. Finally, if you are just looking a game that is a good value and has good game play, then I would seriously consider picking this one up, you know, for the kids.

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    Mon Dec 3, 2012 11:34 am
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    Get Your Flick On - Crokinole Review

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/11/get-your-flick-on-c...

    Ever since I started doing searches on Board Game Geek (BGG) and listening to gaming podcast, I kept hearing about this game called Crokinole. First, what an odd name for a game. Second, the fact that it was game made completely of wood, that people would display as a trophy on their walls intrigued me. Then, I saw that these things start at $150--I was bummed. There was no way I was dropping that kind of cash on a game that I have never played before, and then where would I put it? I guess that is why people hang them on the wall. Either way, it was a pipe dream for me.

    Then, it became a pipe dream for us (Mrs. Games with Two and I). Back in May, we attended our local convention (Geekway to the West), and had an opportunity to give Crokinole a try. We were both immediately hooked. Mrs. GwT was saying we have to get this game, but then I told her the price and she was sad. Luckily, we were able to obtain a board quicker than expected. Through the sale of some of our games in an auction, we made enough money to purchase the board at a cost of about $10 out of pocket. This made us happy. So, what is Crokinole? He is the rundown.

    Overview
    Some boards have beautiful artwork - Death Star Crokinole
    Crokinole is a game for 2 or 4 players (you can play with 3 but it's difficult). It is a dexterity game that takes about 30 minutes to play. The designer for the game is uncredited on BGG, but it is believed the game was originally designed in Canada in the 1860s. I like to think of Crokinole is tabletop shuffleboard or curling. The board is a circular piece of wood with a hole bored out in the center. There are a series of three circles that go out from the center and get progressively larger. The first circle is surrounded by a series of pegs, but the two outer circles are pegless. The circle also split into four equal quadrants (think 4 pie slices). If you are playing with 2 each player gets 12 disc to try to shoot into the center hole. While a four player game consist of 2 teams with each player receiving 6 disc. Players then alternate turns attempting to get their disc into the center hole or as close as possible. You opponent(s) must then try to knock your disc away from the center or off the board. This goes back and forth until all the discs have been shot (shooting is done by flicking your disc from the line that is furthest back [the last circle]), and then the score is tallied. Players receive 20 points for each disc they shot into the whole, 15 points for the smallest circles, then 10, and then 5 respectively. You then take each teams score and subtract the lower score and the difference is the higher team's score for the round. You continue in this manner, until a team scores 100 points.

    Note: This is a very basic rule breakdown. There are some differing rules based on region, and house rules. And since the game has been around for a 150 years, there are plenty of variations.

    Review
    Components
    The components of this game are hard to breakdown because every board is different. The game is public domain so everyone is making different boards with different wood, specs, etc. Personally, we purchased a Mayday Games edition of the game. All I can say is that our board works well, and it functions for our purposes of in home use. There has been a lot of complaints about these boards and how Mayday has handled them, so I would use caution, if this is the route you choose to go. Our board has some slight scuff marks on it, but they are under the finish, so they don't effect the play of the game. Other than that, our board is fine. If you are just wanting something to play on, I would say that Mayday is the best option. However, if you want a board that looks nice, and plays nice you will have to go with a different company or build one yourself.

    The only other real problem component wise with this game is the price, and this is an universal issue. These boards are not cheap at all. You can get a used antique one online for about $100, but then you don't know what you are getting. Mayday has also had some sales on theirs, but I believe they are the reject boards. So, you really have to watch with these. I think the cheapest option would be to build it yourself, but then you need a good wood worker and the proper tools to make it. It's just sad that the cost of these is so high.

    Game Play
    The game play for Crokinole is amazing. We received our copy at the end of July and I think we have already played this game over 20 times. It is just a blast. It is very easy to learn, and then the back and forth just makes you want more. Our only problem is that sometimes we get too into the game. Mrs. GwT has threatened to "flip the game", but then she realizes how heavy and expensive it is. If you like dexterity games, I just don't think there is a better option out there.

    The only problem with dexterity games, and this is usually a universal problem with them, is that they are a skill game, I would say 90% skill 10% luck. So, if you are significantly better than someone else, you will consistently beat them to the point where they may not want to play with you anymore. So be careful. If you are playing teams, try to even out the skill levels. If you are playing one-on-one, you may not want to crush your opponent into submission, as they may never want to play with you again. Just something to keep in mind.

    How is it with Two?
    Well, we love it with two. There isn't any thinking involved in the game, expect where you want to shoot your disc. This makes it really easy to break out and play after a long day, where your brain is just turned to mush. So with two kids and work this one comes out early and often (the kids like to get it out and flick discs around too). I really think that we have been getting our money's worth out of this one.

    Crokinole has made it into several of our Top 10 lists. It is really one of our favorite games, and I don't see it leaving anytime soon. There is just something about flicking disc that gets the adrenaline flowing. I know it's not for everyone, but it is for us. If you think you may enjoy this one, but you are afraid of dropping the money before you buy it, or you just don't have the money for it; I would recommend you try Sorry! Sliders, it is an option that gives you a similar feel, without the $150+ price tag.

    See more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:23 am
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    Sphere of Influence - Others Who Play with Two

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    So, I am not the only one out there who talks about playing two-player games. There are others who enjoy playing games with their spouse; talking about games with their spouse; and even blogging and podcasting about playing such games. They even bring their wives onto the podcasts to talk about games with them. This week's Sphere of Influence continues with a look a two couples who have an impact on me and how I view games, especially when looking through the lens of playing games with Mrs. GwT. I believe couples have some more insight that I can offer, so give them a read or a listen.

    Dice Hate Me
    Chris Kirkman does everything. He has a blog, podcast, and a successful game company. You can find links to all of his stuff on his website. First, the blog: he writes about just about everything, from games they are publishing, to reviews, to session reports. He has some great insight because he can give you multiple perspectives from the gaming world. This is great because so many of us have a limited scope. We see things as bloggers, reviewers, podcasters, designers, publishers, gamers, etc.


    One of my favorite aspects of Dice Hate Me is the State of Games podcast. Chris does this with his wife @monkey238. I love that they refer to each other by their Twitter handles the majority of the time it-- cracks me up. Having monkey238 on the show gives a lot of insight to the podcast that other podcasts just can't give-- the female perspective. I love that I can listen to them and get a better understanding of what she enjoys and then compare that to what Mrs. Games with Two enjoys. It gives you a better cross section of what the female gamer is looking for in a game. And this fills a real hole in the podcasting world since the number of female podcasters focused on board gaming are few and far between.

    Great Big Table
    A newer podcast that I absolutely love is Great Big Table. This is another husband-and-wife duo from Indiana. They do a wonderful job of not only telling people about great games to play with couples, but also ones that work well with the whole family. Jim and Adrienne do a wonderful job at producing this podcast. They discuss thrift store finds, what they have been playing, and then go into a topic of discussion. The great thing is that they really want the podcast to be interactive. So, they pose questions on Twitter, Facebook, and their blog, and then reference those questions and comments on the blog. They also have a voicemail line for people to call in and leave messages about the show or to comment on a question. I love that they are so willing to have their listeners interact with them, which can be a difficult feat on a podcast.

    Additionally, these two love to talk about their gaming experiences together and with their children. This gives you some good insight on games to play with your significant other and your children. My only complaint about Great Big Table is that they are not on a regular schedule of releasing episodes yet. I hope that they can get on one. I understand that they have kids and jobs and podcasting is probably not the first thing on their minds, but I love them so much. They do a wonderful job and I hope they stick with it and continue to pump out some great content.

    Wrap-up
    Be sure to follow all these guys and gals on Twitter I will post their handles below. I am glad that I found some other lovers of playing two player games with that special someone. Getting more knowledge on gaming is always a plus, and if they tend to game in the same fashion you do, then that is a double bonus.

    @Dicehateme
    @Monkey238
    @GreatBigTable
    @BabyToolKit
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    Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:57 pm
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    2012 Christmas Gift Guide with Two

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/11/2012-christmas-gift...

    Well, it's that time a year again. That time where I avoid the malls and all roads leading to the mall at all cost; otherwise known as the Christmas shopping season. So, what do you get that special someone this year? Well, I have gotten together with www.BitsofBoardgames.blogspot.com to put together some suggestions for gift ideas for those people in your life that love games, or maybe who you want to love games. As we are Games with Two, we will give some wonderful ideas for getting some great two-player games.

    Morels
    This is a wonderful little card game. We did a full review on it about a month ago. It's a quick and easy card game where you are walking through the forest hunting mushrooms. This set collection game is great and I really haven't heard many bad things about it. There isn't any confrontation in the game, so if that is your style, you may want to stay far away, otherwise, it is worth picking up.

    Fastrack
    This dexterity game is great fun. You shoot wooden discs through a small hole using an elastic band. Clear your side of discs and you are the winner. We have had a blast with this one. It's very easy to play and learn, but the fun it brings to the table will keep bringing you back. This is a good choice for just about any age (my two-year can fling the disc, although she doesn't really get the objective yet).

    Smash Up
    As one of the gems from GenCon, this is a great choice for families who have some older kids. It plays 2-4, but works great with just 2. There is a lot of conflict in this one, and if you are a fan of zombies, robots, dinosaurs, ninjas, pirates, etc., this maybe the game for you. This game has treated us well in the short time that we have had it. It is not without it's flaws, but we have had a good time.

    Seasons
    I will be honest, I have not played this one, but it is on my wishlist. @freelunch_ said it was a good two-player game, and I have heard that from others as well. This one also received a bunch of hype coming out of GenCon, and I am interested to see if this one holds up. The artwork looks great, and the mechanics seem solid. This looks like a good choice for that Eurogamer in your life. I know that I am interested.

    Revolver 2 (Preorder)
    This game is not available as of yet, but it is available for preorder from Stronghold Games. We have Revolver 1, and have had a blast with it. If you like the Old West and enjoy card games, this is a great thematic card game. Revolver 2 looks to be just as promising. I haven't had a chance to play this new implementation, but it looks like it is going to be just as good, if not better than the first. Also, the idea of a sequel in a board game intrigues me.

    I hope that these give you some good gift ideas for gaming with two. If you are wanting some more ideas, head of to www.bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com or www.gamerchris.com. They both have gift guides for the Christmas season. And if you prefer listening to your gift guide, The Dice Tower has also prepared a guide for your listening pleasure.

    see more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:36 am
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    Time to Bring the Smack Down - Smash Up Review

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/11/time-to-bring-smack...

    Dinosaurs, Lasers, Zombies, Wizards, Robots, Aliens, Gnomes, Ninjas, and Pirates; need I say more. I didn't think so, but I will. A game that brings together some of the most popular genres of the day. What is more popular than zombies right now (although this is not a trend Mrs. GwT is a fan of)? How many times have you seen the ninja vs pirate stickers on the back of people's cards. Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, it goes on and on. So, what makes more sense than to combine all these together and create the genre of all genres; the one that has all of them. Smash Up attempts to do just that. So, does it accomplish it's goal? Does it embrace all these genres at once? Lets see.

    Overview
    Smash Up is a 2-4 player card game that takes about 45 minutes to play. The game was designed by Paul Peterson and published by AEG. In the game, each player selects two factions from dinosaurs, zombies, wizards, tricksters, aliens, robots, pirates, and ninjas. You then shuffle the two decks for each of those factions making a unique deck--pirate-robots or alien-dinosaurs, etc. Each faction is made up of action and minion cards. On your turn, you can play one of each of these cards. The actions usually give a special ability that has a one-time effect or it can be played on a certain faction or base, and have an ongoing effect. Minions are then played on bases. Bases are what you are trying to destroy in order to gain points. Each minion has a point value. Play the highest number of points on a base and you score the highest point value on the base card (1st place scores the first number, 2nd place scores the second number, and third place score the third number). Each base also has a special effect that can change how scoring is done, or it can add and destroy cards that have been played on it. There are also special cards that players can play as a base is scoring. This can can the scoring for the card. After bases are scored, you the current player draws two cards into their hand, and the next player begins their turn. Once a player scores 15 points, the game ends and they are the winner.

    Review
    Components & Value
    Smash Up comes with 176 cards for $30. Personally, I felt that the game was a little overpriced. Especially if you consider games such as Dominion and Sentinels of the Multiverse come with over 500 cards for about $40. The game also didn't come with anyway of keeping track of points. Sure you can use a pen and paper or some D20s (that was our choice), but a score pad or scoreboard of some sort would have went a long way. Finally, there were some special abilities in the game that were ongoing. Some markers to show this would have been great. I would have also liked some cards to show who had which faction each player is. This would make it easier to decide who you want to attack and where you want to place your minions. Just some simple enhancements would have made the game a better experience. Finally, I really did like that the box insert had spots for what appears to be future expansions. I hate having to have 3-4 boxes for one game, it appears that this won't be the case with Smash Up. I do wish they would have had more factions in the base game, but what can you do.

    Game Play
    Smash Up plays great. It fills that light-card-game-with-a-heavy-theme niche. It's very easy to learn and play. It's a little bit longer and more in depth than a filler game, but it doesn't drag. It plays in just the right amount of time. There is also lots to explore in this game, with 8 different factions that all have different abilities. Then, you get to explore which combos work the best together, as you can mash them in so many different combos. And then, by the time you get these 8 figured out, you know they will release more factions for you to explore. I also love all the different bases. Each one has it's own environment that changes how you play your minions on that base. From trying to play a bunch of little minions to playing your biggest and baddest. This adds another level of depth to the game. If you like games that are just soaked in theme, and you enjoy combining some of the most popular genres of the day, then you are in for a treat. If you love games with tons of depth and strategy, this may not be the game for you. It really is an Ameritrasher's dream.

    How is it with Two?
    We have tried this one with two and with three and it worked very well with both numbers. I really think the game scales well. I do think the game does shine more with more players, as the smack talk can reach it's full potential. It is still fun with two and we have enjoyed it with just the two of us, but if you can find a few more friends, you may want to. I could see this one being on our Couple of Couples and on our Games We Play Together Top 10 Lists in the future. It is that much fun. I do wish that it would play with 5 or 6. I am sure that if and when they release expansions they will allow for more players, until then, it is fine with 2, 3, or 4.

    Final Thoughts
    Smash Up is a good game, I couldn't help but compare it to King of Tokyo. Although both of them are very different, they both fill that Ameritrash 20-40 minute game niche. If I had to choose between the two of them I would pick King of Tokyo, since it accommodates more players and it is a little bit easier to learn. You also get a little more for your money with King of Tokyo. I know I have already harped on it, but I just feel like you don't get your monies worth out of Smash Up. If it have a couple more factions I think it would have been a better value. In the end though, it's a solid game with solid mechanics. I am excited to see what kind of expansions come out for it, as I can see this one being more than just a flash in the pan.

    See more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:14 pm
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