After 3 plays: I don't feel qualified to rate this... the game hasn't opened it's "magic box" to me just yet.
It seems *fun enough* but every time I'm left with a "is that all there is?" feeling.
After 4 plays: After sitting down to play this again over bowls of tortilla soup and Thai veggie stew I get the impression it's more of an activity than a game over which you can exert much control. Tick the "throwing cards with friends and family" box.
Truly *fun enough* but waaay too random to take seriously or bother burning brain cells over.
The Nyarlathotep expansion—we play with the Big N and the Dark Pharaoh herald.
Played this once, and incorrectly. The experience was... diluted. Looking forward to playing this for reals.
UPDATE: The problem with the first play was running the Permanent Exhibit with all the cards shuffled into the base game. This made the Dark Pharaoh cards very rare and the game near-indistinguishable from a base scenario. For our second play we used only the DP cards (replacing the Mythos, Gate and Arkham Encounter decks) and it made for a sweet bit of ugly: things looked utterly bleak by turn two, and when Nyarlathotep arrived (something that never happens to us anymore in the base game) we had only shut a single gate. Two players got scrubbed and it literally came down to the wire before we beat him back and shut him out of our world.
Does what it's supposed to. My neices would give this a squealing 10!!! and I have to say my time spent playing this with them gets an 11. Is it Puerto Rico? Hell, no. But you didn't start there, either...
UPDATE: This one works if daddy drinks because he shot Nazis, less so today.
Only really necessary if you play this game an awful lot, and love it accordingly. The wooden king piece is nice, but I already had a weighted Staunton king that I spray-painted gold and accessorized with purple felt... The replacement cards are nice, but I already keep 'em in sleeves... So, in the final analysis, all I really get are the new district cards.
I have to say, in all seriousness, my favorite part of this expansion is the box. It's much smaller than the original and has a nice linen finish AND IT HOLDS THE ENTIRE GAME!!! At last, I have a nice box that matches the form-factor of the game itself.
PURGED as redundant since acquiring the 2005 FFG Silver Line edition of the base game with the expansion included.
A classic prelude to games like Pente and Go Moku. Moderate (read: easy) look-ahead combined with just a smidgen of planning, this game works great with younger kids. As with most games like this they'll outgrow it pretty quickly—but in the meantime their brains will swell & pulse with incredible power…
This game is deliciously broken—it's all about the player interaction; the most "metagamey" game I've ever played.
UPDATE: Giving this classic the 10 it deserves.
Hasbro/Avalon Hill edition: 7
2008 Fantasy Flight Games edition: 10
Bluffing, gambling, negotiation, backstabbing, outrageous reversals—this game has it all. And a thick, gooey science fiction theme to boot! The rules are simple, almost laughably so, but that's not where the game is. The game is in finding the most clever way in which to use those rules to your advantage, no matter how bleak the situation. Taken at face value, it's pretty lame, and I can see why some people hate it so. Add in a bunch of raucous, cunning friends and the game surprises and delights every time. I'm constantly surprised at some of the subtle ways "I'm screwed" moments can turn into a big win.
Negotiated (or even forced) multi-wins are great since they keep the playing time more than tolerable (Read: occasionally too short—but what the hell, let's play again!)
I'm not really sure about this one yet. It plays a huge number of people, it involves shooting your "friends" and yet... so many turns began with a simple, "I shoot Tod!" Right or wrong, somebody got a card.
UPDATE: Downshifting from a 6 to a 5. My desire to "figure this one out" has shrunk and winked out of existence.
Yeah, it's a stitched-together Frankenbeast agglomerated from the parts of other games: Trivial Pursuit, Charades, Pictionary, Barbarossa, various word games, etc., but that just means that everyone can find something they're better at than everyone else. It also allows for varying levels of interaction (or inebriation)—a key feature for both imbibers and designated drivers. If you remember that this is less about the game on the table and more about about the friends around the table, it's hard not to have a good time. Fun murderers, or groups with one, should probably wave off and go play something more serious like Carcassonne.
Lucky for me, my group likes snorting drinks through their noses, making the little people-pieces hump each other, and laughing until their tummies hurt. We wore out the original Cranium and two booster boxes, and, just last night, looped all the cards in the WOW edition... Unfortunately, the people I game with are sharp enough to not only remember getting a certain card months ago but they can also remember what someone did (or didn't do) specifically in the attempt to win that card for their team. Sometimes I wish I gamed with dumb people... I know I'd win more.
Booster boxes, anyone? Please?
UPDATE: We're on our fourth edition of this, having burned through three others and both booster boxes. I guess you could say this works for us.
UP-UPDATE: WARNING—MAY CAUSE HEADACHE, CHEEK-ACHE AND RIB-ACHE
"Oh god, stop—I have a headache from laughing!"
"What? You knew this was the laugh-headache game when you sat down—sack up and play!"
This is San Juan to Cranium's Puerto Rico—it takes the best things from the base game and distills them down into a streamlined format and makes it co-op to boot. The addition of time pressure increases the tension (in a fun way) while ensuring the game doesn't overstay its welcome. All in all, better than the source material. (Rating and comments reflect "party" play with three couples.)
UPDATE: No love since Jen admitted that she hates this.
Great family game. Seeing what everyone picked for you is like Christmas morning—my wife felt especially loved when our two boys, a nephew, and I made her ranking of selections particularly difficult; we all picked things she enjoyed, every time. That's when she knew how well we knew her, and how much attention we pay to her likes and dislikes.
Awright—that's enough sap.
The game can be learned in 4.3 blimfarks (that's really, really fast) and doesn't last as long as you wish it would. Calls of "let's play again!" are not uncommon. Recommended for families.
A decent-enough light party game. Think of it as advanced Uno with more to do than simply pitch cards. You get to match or complete sets, spell rude words, add card values to make 11... all with the wee-est bit of "take that" thrown in to keep the game spiny. Works best as a super-short family game before bedtime.
Contrary to the box art, there are no actual boobs involved in the gameplay. I suppose you could just use the "magic of imagination" to see juddering mammaries bursting above the strained zippers of the sexy-small bomber jackets of the nubile tank commanders as they ride, straddling massive cannons, across the surging, curving hills and valleys. You could, but it would take the same four-dimensional sudoku required for a Buddhist monk to imagine baby-stabbing while motor-boating a godlike pair offered up in a clench of lace.
Rating & comments are for the 1st Printing with the screwed up rulebook; the Revised (2012) Printing gets a 7.
tl;dr — As an Arkham Horror & dice game fan I like what it does, though rules & timing ambiguities keep it from being great. Like AH expect to play it entirely wrong the first couple times, and then find it far too easy once you do get the rules down.
tl;dr After the FAQ: A kinder, gentler Arkham—and not in the good way—this game is mild and crazy-easy. The first printing is a total loss.
Progression through the first 10 plays with the rules out of the box (pre-FAQ first printing):
Thoughts after one play: I'm pretty sure that all the various reports of "too easy/too hard" are due to incorrect play (a critical issue with other co-ops like Lord of the Rings, Ghost Stories & Pandemic)—missing a single, small rule* or even just altering the order of certain events** could make the entire system cascade in one direction or the other.
The rulebook is needlessly obtuse for what is essentially a push-your-luck dice game—assemble dice pool, roll, bank or re-roll shouldn't be so hard to explain. We hit many, many rules ambiguities in our first play, several of which were only answered with a very careful line-by-line rereading of the rules afterward, as the answers were often a single sentence hidden inside a paragraph, and thus easily missed. Still other questions await an offical FAQ.
Other than that the game is pretty, the components excellent, and rolling dice is fun. Also, I think no fewer than three people got eaten by the Shoggoth in the Koi Pond.
After 3 plays: The key to all push-your-luck dice games is, of course, banking and re-rolls. It took a couple plays to figure out when and where this is possible, as the rulebook is less than effective at spelling (hah) it out.
• Success = keep going You can keep rolling as long as you are successfully completing tasks, but, of course, that shrinks the pool, making future tasks more difficult.
• Clues Clues are HUGE as they are the primary mechanism that lets you bank and re-roll. Spend a clue to re-roll any or all of the dice in the pool. Most games of this ilk allow a certain number of bank/re-rolls—e.g., three in Yahtzee—but here you're limited to how many clues you have.
• Focus/Assist You can bank a single die on yourself, or a single die on a fellow Investigator on the same Adventure card... but you must fail to complete a task first. A small booby prize, though with the die you lose for failure you're down two dice in the pool, so it's a gamble.
• Spells Cast before the roll (a dangerous gamble) and bank one or two dice out of a roll (though this could be brutally bad if you are required to bank). Post-FAQ update: Spells are now cast after the roll, to bank dice you already know you want to keep. Does the double-whammy of making the game easier (?!) and removing any downside to spells—removing all thematic coherence. Lovecraftian spells are supposed to be dangerous, but it's all happy fairy magic now.
Elder Sign doesn't feel like a true push-your-luck experience until you understand how to pull off clever combos with all these mechanisms. Then the game really opens up and delivers.
Still, as a tuned co-op machine it misfires badly if you forget the small rules*** or get the sequencing of certain choices or events wrong. Looking very forward to an offical FAQ to clean this thing up.
After 67 8 plays: I almost get the sense I'm playing it correctly. Almost.
After 9 plays: Okay, I finally get it. Elder Sign is a light, storytelling larf, along the lines of Talisman (Revised 4th Edition), rather than a tight, cruel co-op engine like Pandemic. Expectations reset accordingly.
Final Analysis: Man, I wanted to love this game. It's totally in my wheelhouse—Lovecraft, dice, quick co-op. But the first printing is a total loss. The rulebook is wrong on several fundamental issues (spells, focus/assist, etc.), three of the characters need to have new rules scrawled on their cards, and the FAQ changes make the game stupid easy.
Lovecraft + co-op + easy = WTF?!
A good co-op needs to have an out-of-the box win-rate below 50% in order to bear repeat play—the tension of not knowing whether or not you're going to survive is the game. It also incentivizes "beating" the game and gives big emotional payback for a hard-fought win. Elder Sign has none of this. I'm not even sure we've ever lost.
Yes, I could make up rules to increase the difficulty but that's not what I paid FFG for. If I wanted to make my own games, or houserule the hell out of the ones I own (and then blunder through personal playtesting to see if they work) then I'd be doing that. If a game is a "make-your-own" kit then say so on the box.
I'm sorry I was an early adopter on this one. Rating dropped to a barely deserved 5.
* Like adding a Doom Token to the Doom Track whenever an Investigator is devoured.
** Like what happens when you complete an Adventure card:
1. Receive reward(s) 2. Move Investigators to Entrance 3. Remove dice & take card as trophy 4. Draw new Adventure card
is important as monsters in the "reward" line cannot be put on the new Adventure card. An easily missed, teeny-tiny detail. Post-FAQ update: Nope! Monsters are now an exception and can be added to the new card. This change does the double-whammy of making the game easier while adding an exception to the rules. Just what it needed...
*** "Lose sanity/stamina" is entirely different from "adjust your sanity/stamina"—thus, the stamina cost on something like the Hallway on Fire cannot be prevented with Food, for instance. Another tiny detail that is merely implied by word-choice in the rules... and, upon closer inspection, the rules use both interchangeably. So, the question is, can you use a steak dinner to save yourself from a fire? Or kill a Ghost with Whiskey? Post-FAQ update: Yes. Yes you can.
Giving this a tentative 7. It's got a lot going for it on the surface—portability, theme, art—but the simple system feels just the littlest bit clunky. If it smooths out with more plays, I could see this being a staple... we will see.
(NOTE: Comments refer to the 2005 First Edition; this issue has reportedly been corrected in later printings. Not sure about the last bit, though...)
The idea is great, the execution not so much. The main problem lies in the printing on the cards—it's small, fussy, and blurred. Also, the card backs are not printed opaque enough to obscure all of the info on the front. It's not difficult to discern what kind of card you're drawing next.
In the end the transparent overlay is a gimmick that gets in the way of the actual game.
HIDEOUS TOXIC UPDATE: I went and dug this out—ten years later—and found that the cards had done something stinky, sticky and industrial. The clock turns all things to poison eventually; these just got to it sooner than expected.
Light, random filler that successfully evokes the feeling of slap-happy martial-artsy mayhem. Only for those who know what a flying guillotine looks like, can name the Five Deadly Venoms, and can list the contents of a six-demon bag.
"Magnificent invincible flying spinning bamboo pole to the head!"
Decent-enough Knizic bidding game, especially when played in partnerships. The only sour note is the lame kiddie artwork on the US version... After seeing the elegant Korsar version I wished I had a rusty, serrated hook hand so I could pull some art director's duodenum out through his farewell-sphincter.
Oh, the rules... I can't for the life of me figure out how this game flows. I suppose I'll just have to trick three "friends" into giving it a go and hoping there's some magic element not present in the game's description.
The production ethos mirrors that of the weird mini-era of confused optimism between the end of the Cold War and the nose-bloodying of 9/11. Curiously, none of the elements reflect the real zeitgeist—the paranoia of religious End Times mixing like crap-n-vomit with the carpet-bagging shitsacks who gorged themselves on the Y2K Bug hoax. (Now THAT'S a Monopoly theme if I ever heard one!)
The prismatic foil board is migraine-inducing and the translucent money, while funny at first, is far less effective than nice paper would have been. The money also holds grease stains rather well.
I rate the base game a 7 when played:
- by the rules as written - with four adults - ending at the second bankruptcy.
(Gave this to the kids or the garbage, not sure which.)
Outside of the theme, the equipment for this version is super sweet—the title deeds are pasteboard tabs that slot into the board, making it easy to see what's owned and what's up for grabs; the snap-in hotels and houses are nifty, though you have to be gentle with them; and the raised plastic board creates a natural arena in the center for dice-chucking.
But then there's that whole theme thing... no blind hate for Phantom Menace here; I'm just a purist when it comes to Monopoly. All the crazy re-skinning of the base game detracts from the entirely appropriate and well-integrated Roaring Twenties feel of the original. I want gin, jazz and flappers—not blue milk, forlorn symphonic swells and Droids—with my financial dickery.
I rate the base game a 7 when played:
- by the rules as written - with four adults - ending at the second bankruptcy.
The theme really, really doesn't work for this one. The idea of Frodo buying Mount Doom becomes a recursive negative feedback loop arcing ever-larger bolts of purple lightning between the whirling triad of monopolistic capitalism, franchise licensing, and the realities of Tolkien's work. Oh, the pain.
I rate the base game a 7 when played:
- by the rules as written - with four adults - ending at the second bankruptcy.
Thin and lacking game-wise, but rich in theme and thick in fun with the right people. It's random as hell and the end-game is a simple dice-off, but my two boys love playing it with me. And that makes it all worthwhile. Treat it as a party game, a past-time, as silly as whipped cream on a pig and you just might enjoy yourself.
What do you get when you combine the best of tabletop RPGs with a perfect-information abstract? Nothing at all like this steaming dung-hill. Just because the queen can talk AND move in any direction does not make a funny voice a tactical consideration. Traded away for a llama and a gallon of tequila.
Low speed, high drag. This game is a lot better on the planet where they never invented Tichu. I understand that Rook glows warmly with nostalgia for some folks; unfortunately I came to this way too late in the game for it to matter.
All the pleasure of a CCG without any of the abject agony. Branded with the usual Knizia hallmarks: complexity arising from simple rules, intuitive gameplay that leads to counter-intuitive strategies. All this and easy to learn, fast to play.
Several plays with my wife, not sure what to say about it yet... It manages to evoke some of the same feelings as the board game, and the nasty knob can be turned up or down as the players wish. The memory aspect is minimal. After our first intentionally nasty game (lying in wait to purposefully torpedo each other's efforts), I rather like it.
Remember that for those folks anything more than three rules is complicated and intimidating. Getting into this one is as easy as dumping the pieces in front of everyone, grabbing the sand timer and saying: "You need to completely cover the shape on your card with your puzzle pieces. First one done screams
and runs around the table slapping everyone else in the head."
Okay, that last part is actually a house rule. There are a couple of other things, like second and third place rewards, and the free draws from the bag, but you really don't need to know about any of that crap to get started.
Also, being an EXXXTREEEM!!! game it goes better with a belly full of Mountain Dew while hanging upside down from a rope.
PS. Winning at this probably means you'll be rounded up and shot into space on the tip of a nuclear missile; it's okay, though—the rest of the chimps get euthanized.
This game rocks it all hard if you've got some "issues" you want to "rap" about. Otherwise, you've got a one-way ticket to the Worry Wharf. What this really needs is some real-time LARP-style hand-to-hand combat rules to spice it up.
"The next person who says 'feelings' is going to get slapped."
Not nearly as nifty as it appears. The game has a tendency to lock up horribly, with players passing in turn, unable to do anything, often ending the game before it could develop into something interesting. Even when it does manage to wheeze and chug along, it usually comes down to a four-letter-word cussathon with various stacked permutations of words like "DUCK". (And just in case yer wonderin', I do has a Lit degree, so vocab ain't the problem.) Play Scrabble instead.
This is pure, unapologetic, stomp-the-leader PvP in the same vein as Munchkin and Wiz-War. It all comes down to take-that card play, requiring constant groin-booting, constant expectation of multiple boots in your own groin AT ALL TIMES and a solid how-to-lace-18-eyelets understanding of the contents of the deck.
It is the antithesis of all things Eurogame—in fact, it is the shadow of the very tongue that licked Euros from the original ice so long ago, hot, hateful and mean-spirited.
This means two things:
1. Most people on this site will be severely allergic to it.
2. A single play tells you nothing about what it actually does.
It was clear to me after that single play—as a rabid fan of take-that card games—that intimate knowledge of the deck will cause the game to open up like a lacerated artery and splash our laughing faces with color to please the Gods. We really didn't get the hang of it until about halfway through when we suddenly figured out how to deploy triple groin-bootings, how to chain cards like the stanzas of a Saga, how to monkey-wrench those chains, how to get more cards to keep it up... and how best to use the sea monster. (Hint: CONSTANTLY.)
You know by now whether or not you like this sort of thing. It has "Viking" in the title, and those people weren't famous for gathering sea cubes and converting them into salt-fish disks to impress the Jarl. We know them for their "cultural outreach program" where they aggressively traded iron for gold. This is lots of that.
Besides, how can you not like a game where you can make people vomit and/or throw them overboard? Seriously.*
*I mean, have you even read the original Norse myths? Not the ones that have been scrubbed for children, but the ones where Thor hurls a boulder into a menstruating giantess' vagina, for actual example.
An incredible value for beginner and veteran alike—a bucket-load of better-than-average minis for Ork/Space Marine players, scatter die and blast templates, and all the rules in a super-handy handbook (small form-factor paperback).
It's kind of funny to claim I own this, as I've already cannibalized and parted out the entire box contents:
- Orks, dice, templates and rulebook to my sons
- Terminators into my previously-raided Space Hulk game
- Space Marine minis into my bitz box.
I'm using the box proper to hold all the random 40k crap—rule book, dice, templates, rulers & tokens.
UPDATE: Marking as "previously owned" for the sake of honesty.
Really, really wanted to like this more than I do. The Warhammer world is fun, the art is fantastic, and the component quality* and presentation are like a gingerbread house in the middle of the woods.
In the end the problem, to quote my son, is that "it's not Magic."
Not that it has to be, or even that it's trying to be. But I get where he's coming from: why play this when you could be playing Magic: The Gathering? It's a better game, a deeper game, a more satisfying game. And if we're going to be playing a fantasy-themed card game for the next 20 minutes, I'd rather throw some Magic around.
*With the exception of different-sized cards in the expansions. I hate card sleeves, and when the cards are even fractionally larger or smaller or funny-shaped it affects the shuffle. (And, no, pile sorting doesn't randomize the cards—it just makes sure no two cards are next to each other.) If you overhand or monge shuffle with different sized cards, they end up clumped by size. Riffle shuffling is better, but the bigger cards get mangulated faster. Ah, well. I should count myself lucky to have such problems, no?
This better not suck, or some of my GeekBuddies have 40 bucks worth of 'splainin' to do!
UPDATE: Nothin' wrong with the game itself—it just turns out I'm not a World of Warcraft fan. I don't MMORPG (pronounced "more-pig") and I never really got into the turn-based version back in the day. If this had been themed as a Runebound adventure game, It would get played to death around here. (Runebound? In less than four hours? Yes, please!) As it is, the license kills it. Might as well be about Hannah Montana* for all I care.
GAME ENGINE: 8++ THEME: 4-
Dear GeekBuddies: You gots 40 bucks worth of 'splainin' t' do!
(Donated to college games library.)
*And not the 2013 has-crummy-handlers version, either.
... dead walk the earth lightly and with much luck ... shell casings dance in hazy gore-spray ... send more cops ...
This rates a 5 played with the rules as written out of the box. With the proper amount of house-rule spackle this can climb as high as a 7 or even an 8 with the right music, mood and people.
How much spackle? All of it. You'll want to come up with new rules for movement, combat, endgame and victory conditions, using any combination of your own tasty brains, the Quick(er) Play Rules, Yugblad's suggestions:
1. Throw out the rulebook. 2. Pick and choose from the variant rules on the Geek - remember to keep it SIMPLE! 3. Do not lay down tiles after finding the helipad. 4. Forget counting "dead" zombies for the winner - this is a kill-the-zombie-to-escape game. Let the most bloodthirst player place the helipad. 5. When a player dies, have him/her/them control the zombies, etc. 6. Trim the card deck to a custom-picked 50-60 cards. NO more, no less. Keep it 50/50 to screwage/benefit cards. 7. Use a timer - this keeps a panicky atmosphere ticking over. 8. Mount the town tiles on 2mm-thick card. 9. Use the subway expansion.
and the smorgasbord of rules salad on the Twilight Creations website.
I have to admit that I was very put off by this at first—if I wanted to make my own game I would have made my own game, not spent money on an unfinished product. With time, however, I've very much warmed to the idea of Zombies!!! as a sandbox/tool kit experience game, a gaming hot rod that can be fiddled with and tuned until you get the custom ride that perfectly suits you & your game group.
If you dig the theme, have the time and are so inclined to tinker, this is pretty darn good.