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Games with Two

Chronicles of playing games with my wife.

Archive for Jason Moslander

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A Couple of Couples - Top 10 - #10 & #9

Jason Moslander
United States
Fenton
Missouri
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See more at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-couple-of-couples...

Many times when we have a game night it is with another couple. We like to have dinner and then play some games. We have some regulars that we do this with, and then we have others that are more sporadic. With two or three couples the number of players obviously increases. We can no longer break out our favorite two player games. Since this is probably a problem for others as well, we have decided to list our Top 10 games to play with another couple. These are games that work well with four and some of them work well with six. These are not necessarily the best 4 player games, but they work well with another couple. There are some games that work better when the guys are coming over, or we have some serious gamer friends, however, these games work for most situations where you have a couple of couples.

Honorable Mentions
Three games did not make the final cut, but work well with couples. The main reason I left them off the list is because I just talk about these too much, and if you don't have them in your collection yet you are just missing out in general. These games are Dominion, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan.

Number Ten - Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan
Ninja is a 2-4 player hidden movement game. If you play with four, two players are ninjas trying to break into a facility and the other two players play the team of guards that are trying to catch the ninjas. We have had a great time playing this with another couple that likes to game with us on a regular basis. They actually own the game and have said that the game is "bad for their marriage" (it can get intense). When we played it with four, it was a really good time. We all like hidden movement games and the team aspect was a new twist on the genre. The rules can be hard to understand at times, and the game can run long, but we still enjoyed it quite a bit. As you will see, later on this list has another hidden movement game. I think we really enjoy this genre especially when it involves couples. It also makes it fun if you put spouses on opposite teams, for some reason people's competitive nature really comes out when you do this. Of course, if that isn't your thing and you do not want to end up on the couch, you may want to rethink my idea.

Number Nine - Small World
Small World is probably one of my favorite area control games. This game is played on a map that has been split into different territories that each have a different terrain. Each player takes the role of a different race that is paired with a different power. Each player then tries to take control of and hold as many territories as they can. At the end of your turn, you score points for each territory you control. At the end of a set number of rounds, the player with the most victory points wins the game.

Small World gives the feel of that back and forth that you can get in Risk or other area control games without the random dice rolling, and the feel of a "war game". The game has some nice artwork that gives it a light feeling and the powers and special abilities make the game fun and give the games tons of variety and replay ability. The game also scales well. It plays from 2-5 players and gives you a different map for each number of players you have. We have found that the game really plays best with 4 or 5 players. The game is easy to learn and plays quickly, you can normally get a game finished in 60-90 minutes. If you don't have this one, I can't recommend it enough.

Our look at games seven and eight will involve sea serpents and traffic cones.

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Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:01 pm
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    Let's Give This a Kick - A Look at Kickstarter

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/10/lets-give-this-kick...

    Kickstarter, it's been the latest craze to hit the internet. From video games, to albums, to graphic novels, and board games. Anything and everything seems to have been kickstarted. There have been many a debate in the board game community about "crowd-funding" sites. Are they good or bad for the community? Should we support or not support these projects? What is going to be the end game? Many questions and not many answers. I don't think I have any either, but I wanted to share my opinions on why I believe that Kickstarter is good for the hobby of board games.

    For starters, I have no vested interest in Kickstarter. I have not supported one project and I have not created a project. There have been some projects that I like that I have shared with others via facebook, twitter, and even this blog, but that is as far as my personal interest go. A quick rundown of what Kickstarter is. It's a "crowd-funding" site, which means that anyone can put up a project on just about anything. The goal is to reach a funding goal in order to make the product/idea that the person is pushing a success. People pledge support and if the project meets it's funding goals within the time frame that the project creator set, the project is funded and the supporters have their credit cards charged. If the project fails to fund, no one is charged and the creator is stuck trying to find another means to get their project/idea funded.
    Personally, I think that Kickstarter is good for the gaming hobby. First, it allows for new companies and designers to get their product out their without too much risk. One reason many people have not had their game published in the past is due to a lack of funds. Getting a game published is an expensive process. Even before a game is ready to be put onto Kickstarter, a company/person has had to invest in getting artwork made and creating videos and a good pitch to ramp up for their launch onto Kickstarter. Otherwise, their project can get lost in the endless number of projects. I think it's great that this is now a viable option for that company just getting started to get funding up front, rather than having to take out a loan or front their own money, and they may never get it back, and thus go into bankruptcy, and we don't like to see that happen.

    Crowd funding is also great for existing companies, and many now use it as a preorder system. They can get publicity for their game before it comes out via Kickstarter. It's also a great gauge to see how many units they should produced. It's also a great gauge to see if their is actually an interest in a game. Many projects get funded, but the number of backers is so small, that it may cause someone to rethink the number of prints they were originally going to do. Finally, existing companies who use Kickstarter are able to print more games, because there is less of a risk of failure, because "investors" have already thrown their support behind a game. This also frees up more capital to print and make more games. So, in the end, the consumers get more games to chose from.

    The last major argument is that Kickstarter dimenishes the quality of the games that are coming out. This is based on the concept that Kickstarter games were not good enough to be published by a company or that the company doesn't have faith in the game, so they put it on Kickstarter. I would have to disagree. There are just as many games that are terrible that are put out by major publishers. Have you heard of Crocodile Pool Party? Also, some of these designers don't want to deal with publishers. We have to look no further than Bryan Johnson. He won a contest that was supposed to guarantee that his game got published. It never did, and the company ended up going out of business. After troubles with other companies, he eventually decided to start his own company and publish the game himself, he used Kickstarter to get the funding. His game is finally going to be coming out later this year, and that's after dealing with publishers for several years. I don't blame these guys for going to Kickstarter.

    In the end, if you do like Kickstarter, no one is forcing you to go on there and support games. If a game that is bad gets made, shame on the people who made it for making a bad game, and shame on those who backed it for not doing enough research to see if they were supporting a good game. Even without Kickstarter we are going to have small companies and big companies and we are going to have good and bad games. That is why it is up to us to make an informed purchase when we are supporting the hobby of board gaming, and hopefully when we do, we'll get a great gaming experience, and that is what we are all looking for in the end.

    See more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Tue Oct 9, 2012 11:42 am
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    Sphere of Influence - Dormant

    Jason Moslander
    United States
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    Missouri
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    Originally Posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/09/sphere-of-influence...

    As the years go by, shows, videos, movies, musics, etc. come and go. New stuff pops up and the old stuff goes away and is quickly forgotten. This is especially true with the board gaming hobby. The "Cult of the New" they call it. Well, if you are not obsessed with the latest and greatest all the time, if you are looking for something a little older and a little wiser for your gaming collection; these guys maybe able to help you out. These are all reviewers and podcasters that have gone onto bigger and better things. One is now a big football star, another is exploring games in new ways, and some of them are at the podcasting retirement home rocking in their rocking chairs and sipping lemonade while playing Battlestar Galatica.

    Board Games with Scott
    Scott Nicholson was the man of reviews. He used to do a video review show, and he was the third chair on On Board Games. Scott has since stopped doing the video reviews and stopped being on the podcast. Mostly because Scott loves to try new things and when something gets stale he doesn't just keep doing it for his adoring fans, and I appreciate that. And although Scott has stopped doing his video reviews, he still holds a special place in my sphere of influence. That is because Scott was one of the reasons I even got into gaming. I remember when we were first starting to get into games, and my friend told me, "You have to see this guy, he does game reviews and has an awesome beard and wears a kilt." And that is when I was first told, "Hi There!", by Mr. Nicholson. Mrs. Games with Two's eyes rolled (as they tend to do when I watch board game reviews), but I loved it. The reviews were informative and entertaining. You could also tell that Scott was having a good time doing them. He was creative and was always trying new things in his reviews--I loved that.
    Although Scott has stopped making his long video reviews, he is still contributing to the hobby. He has a new website called "Because Play Matters" where he chronicling some of the research he has been doing for games (He is a professor at Syracuse University and was working at MIT last school year). Scott has also produced some "InPlay" videos recently, where he will take a camera around and ask the players what they think and what's going on in the game. These are usually quick 2-4 minute videos, just giving a quick overview and opinion of the game. If you aren't familiar with Mr. Nicholson, I encourage you to go check out some of his work; you won't be disappointed.

    Games with Hayden
    Hayden and his dad started doing some video reviews a couple years back. Hayden is an adorable little boy who started doing the reviews when he was 5 or 6 years old. These video reviews really intrigued me because you had this little kid playing these games that are way above his age level. However, he plays them and loves them. If you are looking for a good family game, or a lighter designer game, Hayden has probably played and done a video on it. He and his brother Jackson also review a lot of kids games. This is an area

    Game On! with Cody and John
    One of the best gaming podcasts ever came to an end earlier this year. Game On! with Cody and John was changing my life (okay maybe that's not true, but I did enjoy it). The guys' back-and-forth banter was great, and their constant talk of what the Colts were doing was awesome--until the Colts started losing and they both fell into a deep depression and decided to end Game On! Well, that may not be true, but earlier this year they announced the end of the show, and had a five show send off. I love that they did this instead of just pod-fading away.

    The content that Cody and John brought was also great. The Top 11 games of the year, so much better than a Top 10. The brought us the "Jones Theory" (which people are still talking about). They gave you rundowns on the games they were playing, the new hotness in gaming, and previews and reviews of GenCon. The show was one that I really looked forward to, and now it's over. I still try to update my Cody and John podcast on iTunes, hoping that maybe, just maybe they have returned, but that just hasn't happened yet. They have made some guest appearances on different shows though, and that is great. It's awesome to hear their voices again and go on and on about their theory and GenCon. I am glad that they are still contributing to the gaming world. Maybe someday we will see the return of Cody and John to the mics. If Michael Jordan can unretire, so can Cody and John.

    See more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Mon Oct 8, 2012 6:18 pm
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    Ambushed by Evil Nuns - Revolver 1.1 Review

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/10/ambushed-by-evil-nu...

    Westerns. Those wonderful, wonderful movies. Well, the game Revolver tries to build on that wonderful genre in card game form, and recently Stronghold Games and White Goblin Games have released a couple of expansions for this game, with more in the works. "Ambush on Gunshot Trail" is the first of these expansions. It includes some new cards and a small punch board, that adds some more tokens. So, does this expansion make the game better, worse, or about the same?

    Game Play
    The game play for base game of Revolver can be found on our review of the full game (http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/04/pop-pop-revolver-re...), so I won't go over it again here, but I would like to let you know how the game play changes with this new expansion. There are two new mechanics and the rules describe them nicely (these are described as modules in the rules).
    The first module is the new Ambush mechanic. At each of the locations, the Colonial New McReady player (the good guys) will take a deck of six cards and shuffle them. They will then discard one face down, look at the remaining cards, and place one face down on each of the locations. These cards behave just like cards played by the McReady player, and are revealed on their turn when the players reach the site. A couple of these have no effect, but one kills a Colty gang member, two of them add a character to the location increasing McReady's strength, and another card allows for both players to draw a card and then discard a card. This module also gives a new advantage to the Colty player. He receives two more gang members, one of which is a nun with a gun (hence the title). These are used just like all the other gang members and just increase the size of the gang. This was done to balance out the new ambush cards that the McReady player gets to use.

    The second module uses most of the cards that come in this pack, and is going to be an ongoing mechanic for this game. This module introduces deck construction/deck building. Before the game starts, each player has an additional 11 cards. Players can now add in these new cards and take out old ones. The only catch is that they have to be 'like' cards. For example, a character must replace a character and an action card must replace an action. Finally, your deck can only have 62 cards in it. This adds some customization to the game and allows players to create a deck that fits their playing style more. With two more expansions on the way, this part of the game is going to continue to grow and become more and more unique based on a player's preferences and playing style.

    Review
    Components & Value
    The expansion comes with 30 cards and a small punch out board with six more tokens to use. It comes in a small cardboard box. I was able to store the cards in the tin insert and I put the box under the insert. The instructions fold out and have a nice back story for the new expansion as well as some more information on the characters on the back. The rules portion was clear and concise, and a big improvement over the rulebook from the base game. The card quality is the same as the base game, if you were a fan of that then it's not going to be a problem here either. I know some people had an issue with the black outline, but I haven't had any problems yet, and personally, I think a little wear on these cards would add to the old west theme. The artwork is well done, but as with the base game there are some cards that are not G-rated. If that sort of thing bothers you, I would suggest taking a look at the artwork before making your purchase. My only other complaint is a small one, I felt that the price maybe a little high at $14.95 MSRP. However, when you compare to other like games, such as the LCG series from Fantasy Flight, the price point seems to be in a good range.

    Game Play
    The mechanics of this expansion add to the game play. I like the suspense and uncertainty of what is under the ambush cards. These cards add to the game and I like that one of them benefits both players. The mechanic is also easy to learn and pick up. I don't think I would have a problem adding this in with a new player. Many expansions add lots of complexity that makes it difficult to use with new players, but with Revolver, they are slowly adding new things in each expansion and increasing the complexity slowly, rather than all at once.


    The deck construction element of the game is cool. I liked a lot of the new cards. I especially enjoyed 'Chinese Fireworks' as the Colty player. I was able to cancel out any one card Mrs. Games with Two played (she was not as big of a fan of this card). I saved this one for the end of the game, and she was not very happy when I played it. I believe she had a card that was going to kill about half of the firepower cards I played, and luckily I was able to stop her. The cards add some variety to the game and give the game some freshness. The game is also now customizable which is a big selling point for some players. Many people love the meta-game of constructing a deck to play with, hence the popularity of Magic: The Gathering. I can see this element of the game helping to bring in some CCG (Collectible Card Game) players into the more standard board/card game genre. Hopefully, some crossover will happen, that will benefit the gaming industry.

    Final Thoughts
    Overall, this is a solid expansion to Revolver. If you are a fan of the base game, I think you will enjoy this expansion. As I said, it adds to the game play without adding too much complexity, and those who love customization are going to have a blast with this one now. There is also more to come in the Revolver series. There is already another expansion that is out on the market and a third expansion is planned. There is even an entirely new game called Revolver 2 that has the same wild west theme, but in a different setting with a different story line and mechanics. I like what Stronghold & White Goblin are doing with this series. It has a really unique feel, that most games just don't have, and that's this story telling element woven throughout the game. I hope the trend continues with this series and I also hope that some other games take a cue from Revolver.

    See more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Sun Oct 7, 2012 9:36 pm
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    'Shrooms! - Morels Review

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/09/shrooms-morels-revi...

    Have you ever gone out hunting for mushrooms? I know I haven't, but I know people who do. I think the fun part here is just going out and spending time in the woods. Of course, there maybe a science to it, but I am just ignorant on the subject. It is something that I would like to try sometime that seems like it would be a good time. Until then, I have a brand new card game on the subject to keep me entertained.

    Morels is a new card game from first time publisher Two Lantern Games, and first time designer by Brent Povis. It is a 2-player game that uses hand management and set collection mechanics and takes 30-45 minutes to play. The game components consist of 92 cards (84 daytime and 8 night time), along with 2 frying pan tokens and several forging stick tokens (in early versions you get actual mini-frying pans and sticks, which can still be ordered at an additional fee). The theme of the game is that you are out forging for mushrooms that you will then cook to score points, or sell to gain information for the locals. Each player starts the game with a hand of three cards, and has a had limit of 8 cards. There are eight cards in the middle of the table that represent that path that you are on. The two cards at the end of the path represent your current location, and the cards further down the line represent items that are further down your walking path.

    On your turn, you can do one of five different actions. These include picking up a card (you can pick up either of the cards at your feet, or pay one forging stick for each spot that is further down the line, and pick up one of those cards). You can pick up the 1-4 cards that are currently in the decay pile (the last four cards to be discarded, you must take them all). You can sell 2 like mushrooms and receive the amount of forging sticks on each card. You can lay down a frying pan card. Finally, you can cook 3 like mushrooms for points (you will also need a frying pan, either already played, or one from your hand that you may play with the mushrooms. Cooking the mushrooms scores you points. After you do your action, you take the card that is furthest in the line and put it into the decay pile. If the decay pile already has four cards, you discard these and start a new pile. The path is then refreshed to eight cards. This continues until there are no cards left on the path (the deck runs out), and the players count up their points, and the one with the most points is the winner.

    The deck does not consist solely of mushrooms. There are baskets that expand your hand limit by 2 cards, and cider and butter that give you bonus points when you play them with a batch of mushrooms. There are also moon cards that allow you to take the top card from the night deck. These cards give you 2 like mushrooms on one card. Then, there are frying pan cards that help you cook more mushrooms. Finally, there is the Destroying Angel card. If you collect this card, you must discard down to 4 cards (if you have a basket, you can put 2 cards in your basket) and then you must remain at a hand limit of 4 cards for the number of turns equal to the number of mushroom batches you have cooked. This of course will not be good for you, so if you must take one, do it early, before it as a large affect on you.

    Review
    Components & Value
    Morels comes with some nice components. It comes in a Kosmos 2-player size box (Lost Cities sized), which is great for me. I hate games that take up a ton of space. The artwork is very beautiful and fits the theme of the game well. I also like the tokens used for the frying pans and the forging sticks. The cards are nice, but they are a little flemsy. They are functional though. I would suggest just getting some card sleeves, and you should be good to go (Mrs. GwT will tease me for this, but it's for the good of the game). I like the option to be able to get some upgraded components if I desire. Mini-frying pans and forging sticks sound like they would enhance the game play experience. Morels runs at a price of $24.95. The price is right on target with the play experience and the components. It also lines up with games of a similar nature.

    Game Play
    I have found that I really enjoy Morels. The game is fast moving and there are lots of difficult decisions. Your hand limit of 8 cards makes it difficult to continually pick up the best cards. The fact that a card is always being put into the decay and could be paired with a Destroying Angel card. Then, you have decide if you want to save your mushrooms for points, or throw sell them for forging sticks to get the best 'shrooms before your opponent. The decision making drives the game, as you always have multiple options, and it's difficult to make the right call, and hope you can still do the second and third thing you wanted to accomplish on your next turns.

    The game play also reminds me of Lost Cities. The game plays quickly, and has little player interaction. As with Lost Cities, you can take the card that your opponent was wanting, thus throwing off their game. If you enjoy the game play of Lost Cities, but desire a little more theme and difficult decision making, I think Morels maybe a winner for you. However, if you want a lot of back and forth direct conflict, it's not going to be found in Morels.

    Overall, we enjoyed Morels. I think it plays really well for casual gamers. I do not think it's a good fit for non-gamers, as some of the mechanics and cards can get confusing. This is especially true with the special cards, i.e. the night cards, Destroying Angel, Cider, Butter, etc. However, for those familiar with modern games, this one shouldn't offer too much trouble. Morel is a wonderful little card game. I think that Brent and Two Lanterns Games is off on the right foot with this one. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one to be nominated and possibly win some awards in the coming months.

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    Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:44 pm
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    Live Long and Game - Star Trek Catan Review

    Jason Moslander
    United States
    Fenton
    Missouri
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    Originally Posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/09/live-long-and-game-...

    I am not a "Trekkie" or a "Trekker" or whatever else people call those who follow Star Trek. However, the concept of a hobby game company taking the license for Star Trek and then using it to put a new theme on one of their best selling games intrigues me. Mayfair Games recently did this with their release of Star Trek Catan. So, does the game stand on it's own? Is it unique enough to warrant owning both Star Trek Catan and the Original Settlers of Catan? Does it invoke enough of the Star Trek theme to get fans of the series excited?

    Game Play
    Star Trek Catan is a 3-4 player game that was designed by Klaus Teuber and is published in the US by Mayfair Games. The game takes 60-90 minutes to play. The game play is the same as the original Catan game. You can get the details on the basic game play by clicking here (http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/08/monopolizing-catan-...). The main differences and additions to the original game play are mostly aesthetic in nature. Instead of being on an island, you are in space. Instead of building roads, you are building trade routes with Enterprises, outposts and starbases replace settlements and cities. Finally, the resources are all space oriented. You have water, food, oxygen, dilithium, and tritanium instead of wood, sheep, brick, ore, and wheat.

    The big difference in Star Trek Catan is the inclusion of a set of role cards. Each player starts with one of these cards and there is also a pool of six other cards to chose from. Each of these cards has an A and B side with the same ability. Once you use your ability you can flip the card to it's B side and use the same ability again, or you can exchange it for a card in the pool. After you use the card a second time, you must trade it with a card from the pool. These cards allow you to do a number of different things: you can force a trade, you don't have to discard cards if you have more than 7 cards when a 7 is rolled. You can also get a road or a develop card with one less card than you normally need as long as it is replaced by any other card. My favorite was being able to look at another player's hand and taking the card of your choice.

    Review
    Components
    Star Trek Catan has some nice components. The spaceships and outpost are really cool. They all stand on clear plastic stands to give the illusion of floating in space. The outposts and space bases are cool too; and in order to upgrade, you put a disc on top to make it a space base. I liked this as it feels more like an upgrade than just a replacement. The cards are all of good quality. The artwork is pretty basic. The plants and resources are pretty bland. The character cards are original artwork, which I think is better than old photos from the show. One of the problems with the components is the border that holds the tiles in place. Mine fit a little tight and like in my regular Catan set, it did not lay completely flat. I hope this is something that is fixed soon in Catan games. The simple solution is using a thicker stock for these pieces. Finally, the insert for the box is a tight fit. The insert is obviously for the standard Catan game, and it's difficult to fit all the pieces in the box. I think most people are going to just throw this out (as you will do with most Mayfair games). Finally, the price on this is listed at $55. That's $13 more than the MSRP of $42 for the standard game. The game is also only available at Target stores. So, you pay more for the game and you cannot support your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS).

    The fact that this game is not at FLGSs is a big negative for me. A large part of the gaming hobby is supporting the local stores, and if that is not possible, at least the online game stores. However, with Target having exclusive selling rights neither of these are possible. I get that Mayfair is probably getting a nice deal for going exclusive with Target, but in the end it seems that they are alienating their market. I guess, in the end, we will see if this move pays off for one of the largest hobby game companies.

    Game Play
    I love Settlers of Catan. It holds a special place in my heart, as it does with most gamers. For lots of us, this is the game that introduced us to the hobby. You would think that Star Trek Catan would bring back memories of playing the classic game--wrong. I really hated Star Trek Catan. The whole game I was confused. I couldn't figure out what resource did what, as not all the colors lined up with the original game. For example, the yellow cards corresponded with sheep (light green/white in the original game) instead of wheat (yellow in the original). For experienced players, this made it difficult to realize what we wanted/needed. It ended up prolonging the game. My second problem was the new role cards. The idea is good, but in practice it made the game longer and more confusing. The wording on the cards was sometimes confusing, and there was a whole almanac that didn't go into detail on what the cards did. These also unbalanced the game significantly. I was able to score four victory points with these cards, which ended up being the difference in the game. I was able to steal whatever I wanted from two players, which allowed me to build two settlements--I mean outposts. Then, I had another card that allowed me to buy a development card with only needing two of the three resources, plus any resource I wanted. Then, once I bought the card, I could look at the top three cards in the development deck and pick the one I wanted. This allowed me to get two victory point cards. Although this was a good idea, the cards were just too powerful. I would like to see the new mechanic added to the original Settlers with more balanced cards.

    The new game terms tended to confuse us. We ended up calling all the items by their original names and the resources we would just call by their colors. Finally, the theme just doesn't fit. I get that the theme is just pasted onto the game for licensing and sales purposes, but if this was it's own game the theme just did not make any sense to me. Why are we building outpost in this galaxy? And why are a bunch of federation ships competing against each other? There could have been some little things to just make the theme come out more. Each player could have had a different race, and their own pool of cards to pull from. This would have at least given a better sense of competition.

    Who is Going to Like it?
    If it wasn't clear above, I didn't care for this one. There are going to be people who do like this game. Those who love Star Trek may enjoy this one. It will also be a good way to get someone who would normally not play a board game into games. The Trekkies and Trekkers are going to enjoy seeing some of their favorite characters and seeing the plastic miniatures. Mayfair made this to be another means of getting new people into the hobby. I don't know how well it will work, but their "Target" audience is pretty clear.

    How is it with Two?
    Star Trek Catan is a 3-4 player game, so it doesn't play at all with two. If you are looking for a two player Catan experience, I would suggest picking up a copy of Rivals for Catan. It's your best option for a two player Catan experience.

    Final Thoughts
    Star Trek Catan missed the mark for me. I thought the theme took away from the game, rather than enhancing it. The game ended up being an unpleasant experience for all the players, there was a time where we actually considered quitting, and that is a rarity for me. As I said I love Settlers of Catan, but Star Trek Catan ruins the game. Even if I was a "Trek Person" who took pilgrimages to the future birthplace of James T Kirk, I don't think I would have enjoyed Star Trek Catan.

    See more photos at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.414445398617755.98...
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    Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:37 am
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    Civ Building Dice - Roll Through the Ages Review

    Jason Moslander
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    Originally Posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/09/civ-building-dice-r...

    Matt Leacock has had some home runs when it comes to designing games. The first game of his that I played was Pandemic. I then learned about Forbidden Island and immediately picked it up. Then, since I am behind on the news, I found out he had a game in between those called Roll Through the Ages. The amazining thing is, that all three of these games were nominated for the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year in Germany) in consecutive years. Although he has not won the coveted award, all three of these games are highly regarded. Pandemic and Forbidden Island are two of my favorite games, and there is a chance that Roll Through the Ages may make it there.

    Basic Game Play
    Roll Through the Ages is the little brother to Through the Ages by Vlaada Chvátil. Through the Ages is a civilization building game that is both complex and long. Roll Through the Ages (RTtA) tries to bring that same civilization experience into a 30-40 minute dice game. RTtA was published by Gryphon Games in 2008, and is for 1-4 players. The basic game play uses a Yahtzee-style mechanic. You roll three dice and then you get two re rolls. You can then take your rolls to feed the people in your city, collect goods and money, send out workers to build monuments and cities (give you more dice up to seven), and finally one side of each dice is bad, if you roll too many skulls you can lose points and have bad things happen to your civilization. Finally, you can take your goods and money to buy developments. These help you break the rules or give you better benefits for your dice rolls. You keep track of all this information on a wooden peg board (think of a Cribbage Board or one of those golf-tee games they have a Cracker Barrel) and a paper score sheet (don't worry they give you about 500 of these things, I don't think you'll be running out). The game ends once all the monuments are built or someone has researched five developments. The scores are then tallied based on the monuments completed, developments researched, disasaters (result of skulls these lose you points), and then any bonsuses you may have gotten through your developments. The person with the highest score is the winner.

    Review
    Components & Value
    Roll Through the Ages gives you some very nice components. The game comes with seven custom wooden dice, 4 wooden peg boards, and a massive amount of paper scoresheets. Then, they manage to jam all that into a small box (Gryphon Games Bookshelf Series). The MSRP is $34.99 which maybe a little on the high side for the game play, but the components make up for it. The wooden dice are beautiful and the wooden peg boards are also very nice. The solid components make it great for situations where cards or a game board could be easily damaged. I don't really have any complaints about the components. The rule book is not perfect. There are a couple things that I was confused on, but overall it does a good job. It's easy to reference and there are sample turns, which are both good in my book.

    Gameplay
    This is a simple game roll the dice and decide how to allocate what you rolled. The score sheet and peg board can be a little scary for new players, but if you just let them know that all you need to do is roll the dice Yahtzee style, that should give new players enough comfort to jump into the game. Mechanically the game works smoothly, and plays in just the right amount of time. I like the concept of taking a game mechanic that most people are familiar with and improving upon it. There is more purpose to rolling the dice than to just scoring random points. You need certain dice on each turn in order to do what you want or need to accomplish. This brings some strategy and thought to the game. As for the theme, it's a little lacking. I don't think you really get that civilization building feeling. This is due to the nature of the mechanics. It is difficult to have a game with lots of theme, when you are chucking dice. King of Tokyo does this well, but it's one of the rare exceptions. If you are looking for that short civilization feeling here, I don't think you are going to find it here.

    How is it with Two?
    Roll Through the Ages scales very well. The game has almost no player interaction (unless you roll a bunch of skulls, or beat someone to building a monument), and can be a solo experience that you are simply playing with others. The game maxes out at 4 players, and I really don't think you want to go beyond that, as the game would begin to drag and just take too long. It works great with two as a filler for game nights or to bring to a restaurant to play while you're waiting for your food. Finally, this game also plays very well as a solo game. I am not a solo gamer by any means, but I have actually broken this one out on a couple of occasions to play by myself. The solo game is a little different from the regular play, and you have an opponent in trying to top your previous score. I would still rather play with Mrs. Games with Two, but that's just not always possible.

    Parting Thoughts
    Roll Through the Ages is another solid design by Mr. Leacock. The game offers a solid game experience with great components. The game also shows the skills of the designer in making different style games that can appeal to different audiences. Although RTtA did not win the Spiel des Jahres, it's still a great game, and that bookcase series by Gryphon Games, looks great on your game shelf.

    see more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:59 pm
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    A Game Night Experience

    Jason Moslander
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    Missouri
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    See original post at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-game-night-experi...

    It was time for another game night. We haven't had a big one since July so the time had come. Labour Day weekend seemed to be a good weekend for us so we landed on Sunday night since most people are off on Monday. We also decided on a theme for our night: DnD otherwise known as Dice and Dexterity. I know, I know big surprise, I am on a huge dice and dexterity game kick. Therefore, I had tons of games that fit these two categories that I was itching to play. So, the invitations went out and the tables were setup, it was time for a game night.

    Our gaming marathon started around 4:30 as our first guest began to arrive. We started with a two-player game of Roll Through the Ages (review forthcoming). This was the first time I had a chance to play this with another player. The Yahtzee variant plays very well, and the pieces are beautiful. I ended up winning the match, and it was a solid way to begin the evening. As we finished up, a couple more players showed up. Since more were bound to be coming soon, we played a four player game of Martian Dice. This was a hit with all the players at the table, and the game went down to the final turn. This little dice game as quickly become a go to game when we have 20-30 minutes. It's a great little filler and travels very easily (we even played while waiting for some Shakespeares Pizza on a trip to see the Mizzou game).

    Once Martian Dice ended, the party began to kick into full gear. About 10 people showed up within a 15-20 minute time frame. This is when throwing a large game night in a small apartment can get really interesting. There are people everywhere and there is no end in sight to the madness. For me, it's just part of the fun. I'll grab a game and sit down and just yell and see if anyone wants to play. Then, someone else will grab a game and start playing with the 3 or 4 people they are talking to. One such group wanted to play Dominion. There were two new players and two other who had either just learned the game, or hadn't played in some time. I gave them a quick overview/rundown of the rules and tried to stay close by to answer any questions. In the meantime, I grabbed Villa Paletti and rounded up three other players. Villa Paletti is a "Jenga" style dexterity game, where you are pulling out support beams of a tower and placing them on the next level to make it taller and taller, until it crashes to the ground. This one was a blast, even though I am pretty sure that I lost both rounds and was the cause of the tower crumbling. If you are looking for a twist on Jenga, this might be a good option.


    At this time, our food selection was growing with all sorts of delicious treats. The biggest hit was two pretzels stuck together with a ball of cookie dough and then the end was dipped in chocolate. These were amazing. I don't mean to brag on our friends, but they bring the good stuff to our game nights, and I think the food is the real reason that people come back to our game nights. It was also at this time that the game of Dominion was ending and we had a large group looking for games to play, so I suggested Liar's Dice. We brought two tables together and started the insanity. I didn't get a chance to play this one very long, as it was time for my two-year old (who had been playing Don't Break the Ice non stop with her aunt) to go to bed. So, I got her situated just in time for the game of Liar's dice to end, and a game of King of Tokyo to begin.

    King of Tokyo brought the game night to another new phase. Some of the early arrivals began to leave and some new folks began to join the party. Long game nights, allow this, which I love. It makes it easy for people to stop in and play a game or two and then do whatever else they needed to do. Some come early and others come late, but either way a constant flow of games can be had, especially with the crowd we had.
    After our rousing game of Tokyo, we got rid of one of the tables, brought out the Crokinole board and also began a game of Werewolf. We had about 12 players in Werewolf and then another four playing Crokinole and then yet another group socializing in the kitchen. Since Werewolf is more of a social game, it worked out well with the large group we had. Normally when we play, I prefer for it to be the only game being played, but not everyone is into Werewolf, which is fine by me. Our game was great. The Seer played the game great (except for the fact that he put a lot of trust into one of the werewolves), he did find one werewolf on the first turn, and then the bodyguard figured out who the Seer was and protected him from death 3 times. It was pretty impressive. After endless searching, the Seer found the last werewolf close by. This is a great game for large groups, you need the right person to moderate the game, but once you have that the game works pretty well.

    I ended the night with a game of Sentinels of the Multiverse. This was my first play of this one, and I enjoyed it, but I really need another play to get a grasp of the game. Before and after this game, I spent a good amount of time socializing with the other people at the party. I really think this is my favorite part about throwing a game night. I get to see and interact with a lot of my friends. Some of whom I just do not get to see very often. It is also a great opportunity to meet some new people and for your friends to meet your other friends. So, for me, the key to a great game night is not the games you play or the food you eat, it's who you spend it with. Game night for us, is just an excuse to throw a party and jam a bunch of people into our apartment, and just enjoy each others company, and if that happens around dice, cards, and pieces of cardboard and wood than so be it.

    see more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:48 am
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    Questioning Wine Theory - An Interview with Designer of Viticulture

    Jason Moslander
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    Originally Posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/09/questioning-wine-th...

    Ever wondered what it would be like to own a vineyard? Or at least talked to someone who designed one? I recently had an opportunity to do just that, (well, sort of) as I conducted my first interview. I interviewed Jamey Stegmaier, one of the designers for the new game Viticulture and one of the owners of Stonemaier Games. I asked Jamey a series of questions about his new game and his company. The game is on Kickstarter until 8 October 2012, so be sure to go check out the game after you read the interview.

    How did you get into gaming and game design?

    Hi, my name is Jamey Stegmaier, and I’m the lead designer and creator of Viticulture: The Strategic Game of Winemaking, which is on Kickstarter until October 7. I’ve been designing board games ever since I started playing games as a kid. Though I wasn’t aware that a whole category of “Euro games” existed until about 8 years ago when a few friends invited me to play Settlers of Catan with them. That really opened my eyes to the larger world of board games and mechanics.

    Designing board games has always been a hobby on the side for me. It wasn’t something I seriously considered pursuing until I started following the success of board games on Kickstarter starting back in early 2011. Not only was it the perfect platform that requires a large up-front sunk cost, but it also seemed to be a place that gamers were drawn towards to discover new games. So I started working on a game, and when I started testing it, my friend Alan (another avid gamer and burgeoning designer) joined me to found Stonemaier Games and create Viticulture.

    What is Viticulture about? What is it's theme?

    Viticulture is a worker-placement, resource- and time-management game in which you take the role of a vineyard owner with a small winery at your disposal. Your goal is to become the most successful vineyard in Tuscany, with “success” quantified in the game as victory points, which you primarily gain from filling wine orders (which is one of many ways to gain them, but the best way to gain them in big chunks). You play the game in seasons and in years, with different actions available for your workers in each season.

    What is your favorite feature of the game that sets it apart from other games?

    The way it scales from 2-6 players. Scale was really important to me as I created the game, for several reasons (one of which applies specifically to your blog). First, I wanted a game that played well with two players. Other than a solitaire game, it’s the easiest to find a playing partner if you have a 2-person game. There are plenty of games that accommodate 2 players, but usually you have to play with a ghost player or each player controls two different colors of pieces. I’ve never been a fan of that because I want a game to feel the same no matter how many players are involved—I like that consistency when I’m concocting strategy. So a 2-player version that was 99% the same as a multi player version was really important to me.

    Second, I wanted to design a game that 6 players could play—one more than the somewhat standard 5—without significantly increasing the playing time. That way, three couples can play the game.

    Through many iterations of the game, I think I’ve accomplished both of those goals through a 3-point scale for worker placement on the board. One spot per action is available for the 2-player game, two spots per action for 3-4 person games, and three spots for 5-6 player games. The vineyard mats do not need to scale because only you can control what happens on your vineyard mat (there’s no interference there).

    What has been your favorite part about designing the game?


    The break-through moments. Sometimes when you’re designing and testing a game, you can pinpoint little issues, but there are so many moving parts that it can be difficult to realize when some element or component is really holding you back…until you have that break-through moment. I think this is where Alan was particularly instrumental in the design process. He was able to look in from the outside to say: This isn't working, and here’s a solution. I think my favorite solution of his was the way you stack cards on your fields to create custom vines. Not only does it work in terms of game play, but it adds a lot of flavor to the game, as you feel like your vines are uniquely different than the other players’.

    Most companies and KS projects don't offer a money back guarantee, why have you included one?

    People are taking a risk when they pledge to support Viticulture (or any game on Kickstarter). Aside from a few early reviews on Kickstarter, they have no idea as to whether or not they’ll like the game. They are trusting that the game is good. I’m reciprocating that trust by offering a money-back guarantee if people play the game, don’t like it, and return it within the first month after they receive it. Of course, I wouldn't offer this unless I thought the game was great.

    How can people support Viticulture and Stonemaier Games? When will Viticulture hit FLGS shelves and how much will it cost?

    You can take me up on my risk-free guarantee by going to our Kickstarter page and preording a copy (or a few copies) of Viticulture. We’re currently 122% funded, so I can assure you that we are publishing this game. I have estimated the time of arrival as May 2013, but I will do everything in my power to get it in your hands before then.

    A single copy of the base game is $39, or $49 with the Arboriculture expansion (which is exclusive to Kickstarter—it won’t be available in stores until the far future if Viticulture is successful and we can bundle it with other expansions). There are also a number of special levels that are only available through Kickstarter. Once published, the game will retail at $45 (or $60 for the game/expansion, if your local game store or winery pre-ordered through Kickstarter).

    If someone has more questions how can they contact you?

    I could probably list 20 different ways to contact me, but the #1 fastest way is email: jamey.stegmaier@gmail.com. You can also comment below, reach me through Kickstarter, or check out the Stonemaier Games Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/StonemaierGames). Engaging the Viticulture backers is really important to me—they’re making a dream of mine come true, after all—so I can assure you that if you reach out to me, you will hear back from me within a day, if not sooner.

    A big thanks to Jamey for taking the time to do an interview with me. Again, be sure to head over to Kickstarter and check out Viticulture. I hope you enjoyed the new format. Let me know what you thought.

    There are links to the Kickstarter Page and Jamey's sites on our website www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:49 pm
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    Sphere of Influence - Fake Radio Shows - Part 1

    Jason Moslander
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    Originally posted at http://gameswithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/09/sphere-of-influence...

    Recently, with the help of the internet, people have been able to create their own radio shows. The kids call them "podcasts." These are recordings that thousands of people put out on a daily, weekly, monthly, and pretty much whenever they feel like it. About a year and a half ago, I discovered that there was a whole slew of these just dedicated to board games. In that time frame, I have discovered some really good podcasts, and some not-so-good podcasts. There are a few that I tend to listen to every time they have a new episode, and others where I am just an occasional listener--usually when they are covering a topic I am interested in. What it comes down to is that most of these podcasts are just a audio form of blogging. They talk and discuss board games rather than just writing about them. Through podcasts, I have discover a lot of games that I would have otherwise never heard of, and you get a vast about of knowledge to annoy your wife and friends with (this is my favorite part).

    This list is just going to be the start of our list of podcasts. There are too many that I enjoy, so I can't really leave it to just one post. The first thing we need to look at are some criteria of what makes a podcast worth listening to. Being an avid listener, I have a few things that I look for in a good podcast: #1 Charisma - One or both of your hosts needs to have a fun personality. This boils down to the host being comfortable in front of the mic. It's so easy to get uncomfortable talking to your computer, but those who have this down make the show intriguing and worth coming back to for multiple listens. #2 Format - good podcasts have a consistent format for their show. Whether it's interviews, round table discussion, etc. there needs to be something that defines the podcast. Just like blogging, you need something that you are going to be focusing on. With those two things in place a show has a much better chance of holding my attention and sharing the information with others. So, let's take a look at some podcast that you should be listening to.

    On Board Games
    OBG is a round-table-discussion led by Donald Dennis and Erik Dewey. They used to have Scott Nicholson on the show, but in recent months, Scott has decided to take a break from the podcast. Normally, there is a third person filling in and they discuss one of many different topics: from Kickstarter, to sports games, to rule books, to just about anything involving games. The round table discussion usually lasts about 30-45 minutes. After the discussion, Erik and Donald have a review session and try to review about 3 games. They take turns asking each other questions about the game in an "interview"-style format. After they review their games, they will occasionally have a contributor share a few reviews as well. Finally, after the show ends they have a blooper reel which is always fun.

    On Board Games does a great job of discussing the hobby. The hosts have different personalities and tastes in games, which gives you some different view points that sometimes leads to some lively discussions on the show. This is one of the few shows that I listen to every time it comes out, which is normally every other week. I love the banter and the topics. It's also fun to see who is going to be filling the third chair. I can't recommend this one enough. It's a great listen and worth the time.

    Flip the Table
    In Soviet Russia, "Table Flips You!" This is the tagline for this podcast. Flip the Table is a newer show, and only has 10 episodes right now. You are not going to find out about the latest games from FTT or what great games the group has been playing. Nope, this round table plays and discusses terrible games. These are mostly games that they picked up at their local thirft store, or that listeners have donated. The show is split into three parts. First, they discuss the theme of the game. It's normally some show from the 80s or 90s or the culture from the time period of the game. This helps give you the context. Then, they talk about the game they played and how the mechanics worked and who won. Then finally, they have a "trivia style" game amongst themselves usually over something loosely related to the game they played.

    I love Flip the Table because it is something so different. No one else does what they are doing. Playing terrible games and then podcasting about their terrible experience, for the listeners enjoyment? How could that be fun for anyone? Well, it's a blast, and the guys on the show are hilarious. I usually listen at work, and there have been multiple occasions where I have had to contain my laughter. From a pure entertainment standpoint, this is one of the top podcasts that I listen to. It leaves me with a smile on my face, and I think that is the goal of Flip the Table.

    Next time, we'll get into some more podcast that I really love to listen to. Some are new and some are old and some have stopped making podcast and I wish they would come back.

    see more at www.gameswithtwo.com
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    Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:24 pm
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