Having never played Racko, I can't make comparisons, but this is a decent little game of drafting cards to link a chain. Simple and pleasant. Might make a good geography learning tool for my daughter someday.
A darn good kids game from the New Hasbro. The mechanism for drawing cards by putting people in danger in genius, and the chart of money moving down the possible inheiritors is pure brilliance. The dice and chaos keep it a children's game, but one that adults won't mind playing with their kids. Two steps up from King Me! because of the fun factor.
Gosh, a few part of this game are great, especially the asymmetrical sides, play balance, hidden info, and the wonderful wind mechanics.
But overall the abstractions do not go far enough for my tastes, and it leans quite far into the realm of simulation instead of a game. Far far too much fiddling with chits and chart-consulting. Lots of hours consumed by flipping and re-arranging chits instead of back-and-forth decisions.
If your goal is to re-enact an alternate Napoleonic naval history, this is awesome. Perfect for generating WSIM scenarios! But a replayable game that can be finished in one sitting? Not so much.
1830 is a genius design and an all-time classic, and my rating here only reflects my hesitation to play such a long game. It is very brittle and sudden powermoves can cripple other players in a hurry.
There is a certain amount of groupthink here: you can help others fund their IPO's or leave them in the cold and boycott them. You can build track to help out others or to shut them out of big cities. You can hold onto shares or dump it and trash the long-term value of their shares. Negotiation / persuasion is definately a factor that people underestimate in these, and I'd prefer to keep it to a minimum myself.
An epic luckless business management game. Players alternate between stock rounds and train company operating rounds. Money is tight and the Government is happy to loan out a lot of funds... at a stiff price!
There are a lot of great marginal decisions to be made throughout. However I think that 1856 has a few critical moments that really really impact geme, such as the obsolescence of the '2' trains or the creation of the Government rail [forces companies to repay all loans or fold!]. Experienced players are likely playing for those moments, as they are vastly important events. The fallout of these has an effect can outweigh hours of gameplay, so beware and plan! An interesting bit to the stock game is the sell rule: if you part even a single share, you can no longer buy shares... so insider selling is an invitation for a hostile takeover! But then again money was quite tight, so the stock market phases are not as wheeling-and-dealing as I was lead to believe.
It was my first 18xx game, and I am very interested in trying out the original 1830 now.
Updated now that I have played the published game: This is a lean card-driven influence game. It is similar to Twilight Struggle but with only a fraction of the rules overhead. It has a great new innovation to triggering events in the game. If an opponent's card has an t want, it might or might not happen depending on whether you want to the spend precious momentum tokens. But your opponent can also spend to affect this as well... a great new twist to the system. Also in the mix is a clever interaction between regional advertising, dominating the issues, and framing the relative importance of the issues. These are all great fun and make the whole thing an engaging, interlocking series of give-or-take decisions. My rating reflects my dislike of the fact that card draws trump board play. Highly tactical and you are just reacting to complicated cards. I felt this was a slight problem in Twilight Struggle, but here it is more pronounced. If this didn't bother you about TS, then there's no reason why you wouldn't like 1960 even more than TS. The production, art, and presentation are absolutely top-notch, kudos to Z-Man and the design team!
My introduction to the sports sim genre, and I was pretty impressed. Of course it has low-budget components, but i love the way it shows the importance of defense, reading the intentions of the offense, and working the uneven matchups. Pretty fast resolution once you learn the common results and it helps that you can throw all the dice at once.
Good CCG, full of thematic text and flavorful encounters. The boarding actions with back-and-forth dueling is genius, one of the best elements ever injected into a CCG. But the resource part of the game, wherein you built up huge crews and tap characters back-and-forth, seems a little pedantic... and is exacerbated by the large number of crew in play and the five resource types for every character. Like too many AEG games, there are heaps of coll little distracting things to do but it comes down to a climactic battle royale after a long sloooow buildup.
Apparantly this has eight or more sets of cards, so I'm thinking that it is a bit unwieldly to collect.
Awesome, elegant and just plain fun dexterity game. Best components in a game in a long time. A few decisions, a dash of luck, some chances to ruin your neighbor's dishes, and a coffee break when you need it.
Wow... I can't believe what I have been missing all these years! Don't make the mistake of passing this game by in favor of a newer title. It outshines the current crop of popular euro games by a longshot! It seems like a granddaddy to both "tile placement" and to "score majority" games. Sometimes seminal games can be less fun than their kin, but not in this case! It plays in about 45 minutes and is lean and elegant.
On the one hand, this is an epic game, and its great to watch these empires shifting, growing, and advancing. However the 8-12 hour playing time regretably is too long, and I rarely get to play except on unusual circumstances. Am proud to say that i have now actually completed an entire game in one sitting on 4/30/05-5/1/05.
I am really excited to try the original Tresham design without all the AH nonsense bolted on. With fewer calamities, less types of commodities, and advancements able to mitigate calamities the turn you buy them, I suspect that the game can be finished in a much shorter time frame.
Knizia really did a good job making it interesting, and fast-playing. There's a careful balance here in allowing minor interference and interaction between players, but preventing major screwage. It really feels lke exploration here, not a take-that game.
a great economic development game, akin to a cutthroat version of Power Grid. There's lots of factors in the equation: resource scarcity, building permits, payoffs for providing resources, track layout, and ultimately how those will end up creating victory points.
Yet with all those factors in the mix, the game clips along quickly since you only get two actions per turn. I'm a tad wary about the turn order rules, as people who are penalized by unfortunate timing have to pay more for things and then get again penalized by squashing them for turn order.
I highly recommend jumping to the America map as soon as everyone has had a single learning game! The Germany map doesn't really make nearly as many interesting decisions as the American.
This is one of the leanest, fastest card-driven game out there. The game really hinges no the use of withdrawls and interceptions on the board, as well as opportunistic use of any diplomacy cards you receive.
It succeeds in condensing a huge amount of action, diplomacy, and battle options into a very playable package. I feel like I make just as many tough decisions here as in long games like Napoleonic Wars or Hannibal. [note I'd rate it a bit harsher before diplomacy and card tweaks]
I definately see the attraction to this game, but I don't think this deserves the widespread gushing it receives.
This game uses the same "limited menu" of choices that Peuerto Rico pioneered and Wallace games have been using ever since. However, this game features a wide wide menu of actions, such that there is less cut-throat positioning and ruthless grabbing away from your opponents. If something you sought is gone, odds are you can do something else productive. In fact it seems that seeking the path of least resistance is a key strategy.
A bit convoluted the first time through, I expect a second playing will be much faster and coherent.
[Breese] Highly recommended bluffing/bidding game, I am shocked at how lackluster the following is for this spectacular, well-balanced, fun game. There's plenty of tricky moves and spells to keep you guessing too. Seriously underrated title.
[Colovini] Puzzling little eurogame with lots of neat mechanisms. I very much like the hand-managemnt decisions and the unique way that Alexander's path cuts the board into regions. Yet it lacks fun. Also it seems to be a series of dry tactical decisions that reward the player who can optimize the Alexander pawn by making high-yield regions and/or leave few options for the next player.
Yet another clue variation, though probably one of the best. Ask another player a question that can can be answered by a number. Pass some cards. There is an interesting point system for first accusation, collecting and revealing evidence, and for general versus specific accusations. If you were let down by Mystery of the Abbey, give this a try!
Potentially a good children's game, but only for the very patient or analytical types. It looks approprate for kindergarteners, yet every shift in tiles changes so many paths that it can be bewildering. The largest problem is that players of uneven skill level will not be able to compete well, so adults or serious players will thrash opponents.
[Dorra] Harmless game of "grab that route before the other guy makes it too expensive". It it a straightforward working-man's-eurogame: you optimize your own stuff (bid cards), interact with other players (route costs rise after others take them) and you manage random events (event deck).
I'd highly recommend for playing with people new to the hobby, but it's not a particuluarly engaging game for a group of veteran enthusiasts.
First things first: this game should be renamed "Body Count!", as the death toll gets pretty high no matter what you do.
Seondly, it has some great ideas that are well-executed for AI of the Germans and so on. However, who has the time and patience for this? The slight payoff is just not worth the immense effort here.
Perhaps a brief excerpt from my second playing will illustrate my point: An intrepid private guy catches up to the front of the line. This alone triggers a check on the chart for the hex he entered, the roll of a die, which leads you consult a second entry in the paragraph book, which in turn takes you to another paragraph, where you make a perception check for the highest value guy in the hex, which activates three enemies at various hedgerows and necessitates checking off sightings 2, 5, and 6. Which starts an initiative sequence requring every GI with LOS on enemies to make perception checks and get added to the initiative sequence and account for panic. The Germans proceed to immediately gun down two GI's, each shot requiring a 'Weapon Jam' check, a hit calcuulation based on stance and terrain of the target, a damage roll, but not the ammo expenditure roll you would have to make if it were a GI firing. So you charge the GI's to capture them, which will be a relatively simple roll for the sake of variety. But before you can get to the hex, you must check for events in every hex moved into. A few chart glances later, the enemies are captured, and this raises the condition from 1 to 4, so you haul out a new chart from the box into the slipcase, which also means you have to re-check for events in every single hex ocupied by GI's, which in turn activates more Germans.
Get the picture yet? This game suceeds at creating a one-player game of Squad Leader at the price of obsessive chart-referenceing, paragraph consulting, and die rolling. The volume of these activities goes beyond pedantic and into the realm of madness.
You are really better off finding a friend to run the Germans, but if you had a friend over, why would you be playing Ambush? I have a great amount of respect for the idea and the design, and would rate it much higher from taht perspective. But when you actually sit down, play a scenario for two hours, and look at the book you're reading or the NetFlix movies stacked up, you kick yourself for fiddling with a paragraph book for so long.
The jury is in, and this is officially a stinker. This is the most heartless, robotic and transparently mechanized of Knizia's auction titles. It feels like a prototype of a game that was made 5 years before Knizia's amazing auction games... but in fact it was released after. Boring, klunkly, unintuitive, and uninspired. Has pretty pyramid pieces though.
Probably the greatest introduction to wargames ever. Simple, elegent, and robust. Quicker-playing than the recent popular Command and Colors series, and with just as much strategy and fun. Highly recommended! Also, it is free to print-and-play, what more can you ask for??
Gosh, this game has some great novel ideas and mechanisms but it's too baroque. The developers didn't know when to quit! Great theme too, but too long and overly convoluted for the payoff. Recommend with 3 players, and doubtful about a fourth even with veterans. We tried with 5 and it was torture: too much to track, too much downtime.
I have been a rabid fan of NetRunner for many years, but finding anyone else with interest has been a nonstarter. Thanks to this re-release, I can finally get this classic back to the table.
This is the first thing Fantasy Flight has done right by me. With FFG's notoriety for unplayable initial releases that rely on expansion patches, there was deserved anxiety to find FFG had picked up the license. It's a releif that they didn't drop the ball on one of my treasured favorites.
Looking forward to more card options to expand the customizing.
Yet another example of Moon appropriating El Grande and failing again. Lots of card-trading to build sets... which let you improve your odds at scoring with the "Space Puck". Vaguely interesting card-trading phase, but what it gains you on the board is lame and it is overly long for what it is. Felt like Slapshot's card-trading meets El Grande scoring.
Soulless and unthematic in the extreme. Along with Capitol it is part of Alan Moon's famous "Undead Soulless Cyborg Games" series.
Fast, elegant, multiple paths to victory, knowledge advances, it all here. You are all racing to collect three commodities to build troops, tech, and temples. Gain VP's for tech, razing enemy temples, land control, sea control, and building temples. Pretty straightforward good stuff here.
Note that there is not an iota of hidden information. The late-game war can bog down with negotiators and mini-maxers, so this will determine whether of not this game is a chore.
Game comes with two maps and lots of wood in the box. Another great fresh game from Eggertspiele. One little extra twist away from being the "grail" everyone is looking for...
Superb civilization-building game which is the closest to a PC game I've played. Most of your game is solo play against a ruthless system, but what little interaction between players exists is crucial in order to obtain rare goods and spread into unclaimed turf. Unlike Tresham's Civilization, this is not an abstraction but a complex production and optimization puzzle. Elegant and challenging, highly recommended over any similar game. If you are willing to invest the time, get this on the table! I wonder about replayability, but then again, this may not hit the table often enough to worry.
My first impression didn't do a lot for me. At first blanch it seems like a bland little tile-placing exercise that lets you score in a stock game. For me this fell into the heap of forgettable tactical games like Attika.
Furthermore, the vibe of trying to avoid setting up the next player for a good move, when coupled with the tile-placing-to-capture, just gives me flashbacks to Knizia's Samurai. I find Samurai to be more strategic, more charming, and easier to understand what I'm doing and why.
I have many great memories of this classic roll-and-move game. The game was essentially Talisman but with a lot of improvements. More choices in movement, more variety of action choices, a co-operative rather than competitive goal, and of course the strange lovecraft setting. I will never forget Harney Jones' Shack or Dark's Carnival, no matter how long I game!
A success in the tough RPG-style boardgames vein. A co-operative effort to defeat a fairly difficult automated game challenge. Features a host variables to keep the game fresh: a different Great Old One to defeat every game, a wide and unique selection of heroes, and a deeper pool of encounters at vaious locations. At heart it remains a "kill monsters and advance your guy" game, yet it is a evocative and well-polished one. The more recent Last Night on Earth is a quicker-and-dirtier version, btu this one is ggod for a more involved experience.
A simpler hive-like game for children. There are no special powers, and the goal is to jump the frogs until they are all touching one another. Untimately the outcome is dependent upon how many frogs of your color you can randomly pull from the bag. Hopefully you get enough of your frogs to win... but not so many as to delay the unification of your pieces.
Spectacular big-box offering from Kosmos... I think it will be a preferred game for new players at my house. Reminds me of a more fun and less procedual version of Knizia's Marco Polo with several fun twists.
Probably deserving of Spiel des Jahres, in my very unexpert opinion.
Underrated design from great little indie publisher. It turns out that it is a longish, meaty game.
There's a little bit of Aladdin's Dragons happening here with rounds of face-down sealed bids on various locations, but the amount and the importance of so many decisions is denser in this game. The various special cards are needed to throw a variety into the game, though they seemed awful powerful for their expense. Amazingly, there were no unusual timing conflicts, which is a tribulte to the great job in playtesting of this game.
There is a slightly unforgiving factor in that each turn is focused on whether or not you end up earning a recipe card; being shut out of a couple could really ruin your day. Especially because the make-it-or-don't cut is pretty brittle at times. Also rather long considering the payout.
Initial impression very bad. It's another Dominion derivative, but the array of cards to choose from is always changing. Which could be good, but here it's not. Sure, you get to see more variety of stufff in a given game. But under almost the entire game your choices are randomly presented to by whatever is left by previous player and randomly flipped by the draw. Basically you take the best stuff you can afford every turn, there's no strategy to speak of.
So I may be crazy here, but I found this to be an incredibly fun game for the level of simplicity. Certainly an overlooked gem.
When I say easy, I mean easy. Much simpler than M'44 for sure. You don't actually manage a hand, you just draw off a common deck for activation. There is no need for LOS rules on the snowy plains of Hoth.
The two sides are unique: hulking AT-AT's, zippy speeders, rebel troops that pop in and out of underground tunnels, laser towers, the whole bit. The game also has a built-in clock, where you draw twice from the event deck until the fifth transport ecapes the Rebel base. Brilliant design choices all around.
Despite its simplicity, you do make some decisions, though not as many as I'd like. There's the hitch I guess: if you can handle the fact that it uses "chit-pull" activation then this game will be great. If not then you will find it a random waste of time.
Overall I'm in the camp that finds this a superb mini-game in a big box, and recommend it to everyone who can be talked into piloting a snow speeder.
[Henn] I really like hand-management games.. so this one hits the spot. I'm afraid that it it doesn't have the complexity and interactions at the level of, say Taj Mahal, but for a simpler title it is a pleasant game.
[Schmiel] A very good game which does not deserve its notorious reputation. I enjoyed the quick-playig phases and the clever blending of elements from some of the best games out there... E&T, Acquire, El Grande, Andromeda, auction games...
A simple, old American-feel boardgame from the king of German designs? Huh? It's easy to explain, a bit too long, and fairly harmless. I'd imagine it would be perfect for middle-school age kids and families. You bid on contracts, pick up loads, and truck them across Europe. The one-die roll movement adds a heavy random element, and cards drawn can throw further random wrenches into the best plans. Which is a good thing to prevent the most calculating players from walking away with the match. Also has one of the most notably awful artwork in recent memory.
Yet another improvement in Wallace's long line of great competitive economic games. Jockey for position in newer and newer models of cars, each newer plant you create nails the owners of older plants with more and more penalties. How to assure your cars get sold, and how to make a profit, are rough in this challenging economic game.
One factor that sets this one apart from many other are the vast number of incremental, meaningful decisions. A game like 1830 has lots of turns but a handful of hugely important, brittle events. This game has many more decisions that are all meaningful, and in sum add up to your progress yet one decision rarely sinks you. Thus, a single mistake will rarely cost you a game of misery.
Highly recommended, if this sort of agressive economic game appeals to you!
As simple and elegant as anyone could ask for - each player has an identical deck of race cards, and the board just has a lot of choke points and splits into shortcuts. If you can't play any of your three cards, you must pass.
Time has not been kind to this Tom Wham classic. I would not recommend this to the uninitiated, as it pales in comparison to the current offerings. But if you are the type who once read Dragon magazine, and loved the funny little freebie games that were once contained therein, this is a great flashback to those games!
There is much to like about this classic game. There are both tactical and strategic decisions to make and yet it is simple to play. Too many multiplayer wargames suffer from poorly-defined alliance problems, which A&A solved by simply mandating the alliances. The use of production and the possibility of technology improvements are great additions, which set the standard in empire games to this day.
However, A&A has many issues which detract from its playability. Islands are too unreachable and difficult to take, thus they can be nearly unassailable fortresses once defended. Boring stalemates occur after an hour or two of play, which are invariably won by lopsided Allied economic advantages. The fixed setup leads to scripted openings.
Despite my gripes, I am surprisingly excited to try out the 2004 revamped re-release of A&A, which looks to have solved many of the flaws in this one.
This is a great game that keeps the dice-hucking classic feel of the original and cleans up the wonky issues of the old MB edition. Unit costs are fixed, new units are added, geography is fixed, the victory conditions are now wonderful and tense. Highly recommeded for both old hands who re-acquaint themselves with a classic, and also for new players who want a great intro wargame.
Yet another top-shelf Kosmos offering. A non-collectible two-player card game with a lot of tense hand-managment decisions. A high-conflict game not suitable for those with thin skins. But a great game of decisions and hand management.
I'm a little baffled at the degree to which Germans are politically correct. Since when is killing all men in opponent's area called 'Eviction'? We call that putting them to the sword. 'Capturing' opponents looks an awful lot like enslavement, and removing an opponents temple looks like good old-fashioned razing them to the ground. Silly Germans.
Backgammon has the best mix of luck with skill in an abstract game ever. In a way it is more like a card game than a typical board game because you "play what is dealt to you" by chance and can "set youself up" for good positions by thinking ahead. Unfortunately, the subtleties are lost on many beginners who are quick to cry about dice without learning the fundamentals of the game.
To all of you morons who complain "too much luck" I have this to say: don't be so impatient. The learning curve is not as long as Go or Chess, but it takes a dozen games to realize that you make your own luck via your choices. Yes, dice will kill you occasionally, but that is why you play a match of several gams, usually to 7 or 9 points.
The best part of this negotiation game is that the offer-counteroffer system has clear structure and obvious limits to values. A bit random (because of dice and the simultaneous action selection), but that prevents paralysis and overanalysis.
[Borg] What an awesome, accessible game! In ten minutes you are ready to go, even with a newbie. I really wish that this had been existed ages ago: it is so hard trying to break in a new gamer on those fiddly old Avalon Hill titles from the 1980's!
I recommend this title for its fun, simplicity, and fast play. Sure it is a bit random as written... so check out the links here on the 'Geek and see what two simple tweaks can do to reduce randomness!
[Johnson] Honestly, it is one of the best intro wargames out there. And if you're strapped for cash and have a good printer/cardstock, it is free to boot!
Medium-density East Front WWII game is behind a thinly veiled GW veneer. The marshes and mountains and rivers have new names, but it's all there: Sevastopol, Moscow, Stalingrad, you name it.
Uses classic attack/defense/movement ratings on each chit, and a not-too-forgiving CRT that has a lot of retreat results. Even has a basic supply system! Honestly, it has got to be the best intro to wargaming I've played yet.
The definition of a classic SPI hex-and-counter wargame. A fun asymmetrical game where you each try and use German units to stall your opponent while racing to Berlin. The Russians will definately make it there in 5 or so turns, but the Americans have some dicey options. Not a game that demands a ton of re-play, but a classic that is certainly worth the price of admission.
My introduction to the system, and despite myself I'm drawn into it. The manually-intensive chit management slows down the game. Morale, causalties, formation, and often ammo tracked for each unit. To say "fiddly" would be understating the problems.
However Musket & Pike has some great stuff that make it worth the hassle. First, the guys do their own thing sometimes. Much like the video game Lemmings, the soldiers have a mind of their own. If you fail to change their orders, well, sometimes just keep charging until they disintigrate. Or refuse to charge until they're good and ready. When you most need it.
Melees are always chaotic and often catastrophic for both sides. Some of your guys break through, other retreat, some get worn down, and everyone loses cohesion. Your job is just to do what you can to keep everything from sinking better than the other commander.
Cheriton is a good condensed scenario: it practically excludes artillery. It focuses heavily on terrain effects and managing your formations. Also few units on the map. Highly recommended to learn the game.
So finally Days of Wonder delivers something that people have always wanted: a fantasy-medieval boardgame. None of the other titles like Warhammer Fantasy or Wizard Kings had the accessibility or quality fill this niche. So this was a long time in coming!
System-wise Borg has improved the general rules for morale and also done a great job of differentiating unit types in an elegant manner.
Regarding the production, Days of Wonder again aims too high and gets snagged. Lots of production issues should have been fixed: soft plasics are inferior for paints and they even warped. Low-quality dice, lack of a follow-on product, and too few scanarios in the base game also add to the woes. I applaud their ambition, but they clearly have problems executing their production vision.
I prefer the rules to C&C:Ancients because of the use of leaders, a better command deck, and widespread battle-back.
A medium-complexity space game that hits a lot of the right spots for me. And the use of hidden info on the cards is what shoots this way beyond the old 80's style space games like SFB.
The two fleets are differentiated somewhat according to the ships themselves. Humans are defensive, predictable, and have tough hulls. The buggy aliens have strong shields and cheap activation and lots more unexpected tricks in their deck of cards.
Also I think that the scenarios look great, kudos to the design team at HasBorg.
One quirk is that it seems as if there is a bit too much territory control for a vacuum; you are penalized for moving adjacent to an enemy vessel. On the one hand this makes it possible to screen capital ships, but on the other it reduces the feeling of being in the void of outer space.
I had high hopes that this co-operative game would de-throne Pandemic or Shadows over Camelot. But my hopes were dashed, it is ultimately a rinse-lather-repeat affair of contibuting cards to beat a target number. It is a sort of fun experience, but there just aren't enough moving cogs and levers to keep me coming back for more. I'll concede that FFG is improving their track record: components, proofreading, design, and (especially) playtesting are all getting better. Another base hit, but no home runs.
Boring, unimaginative, and unevocative CCG. It uses the Cthulhu CCG mechanic to solve resource shortage issues, and has very little in the way of creative mechanisms, thematic parallels to space, or flavorful interactions. Build stuff, have them duke it out, etc.
Another old wargame that never gets played anymore. While it had tons of chrome (history, world-building, factions, etc) there was no real mechanism for game balance and campaign-based replay. Wargames should not require a gamemaster. Battletech simplified the mechanics of Star Fleet Battles and put it it a cooler post-apocalypse future filled with robots battling over the galaxy. It uses heat capacity rules to limit overgunned units instead of SFB's energy capacity system , though the outcome is equivalent. The change from a phased-movement to a turn-based one made for a less thoughtful, less tactical game (ie a dicefest). Typically, the sides blast each other until reaching short range. At this point the winner of the initiative (who gets to move last) positions his units out of the enemies' firing arcs and blasts them from behind. As far as game balance, the "bristling with lots of little guns" advantage goes way too far: the damage-to-weight and damage-to-heat characteristics make units with a dozen tiny guns much deadlier than ones with the big guns. Therfore, many of the "heavies" are outgunned by their smaller peers. Too bad for the mechanics... such a well-done world. Play Silent Death instead, as it is in the same vein but much much better.
The notorius errata game. I found it heavily random, but light and evocative in our trial run... i'd like to give it another shot. Not a lot of decisions, but it tells more of a story than, say, Talisman and Arkham Horror.
[Delonge] Exceptional and overlooked Euro. Wonderful interactions as you try to grab real estate and cluster the right buildings into your real estate. Simple decisions keep the game flowing fast. Great interactions without allowing for payers to hose one another. Gameplay is fast and the limited pieces and space put a short clock on the game. Oh, anddid I mention I had fun, even when losing? I detest Carcassone, and I see this as my alternative to that game. Also, the spectacular production is a beautiful thing to behold, again proving that Goldseiber is synonymous with brilliant bits.
Possibly GW's best boardgame, but I have never played Fury of Dracula yet. The Third Edition is greatly improved but still suffers from a few faults. Not at all the tedious military game that 1st- and 2nd- edition were, it is a real action game now. Still too much "sit there while my opponent analyzes his move", but a timer limits that somewhat. Like all games Workshop games, in order to really have variety you need to blow tons of cash on their miniatures and paint them to get a cool experience. Also best in campaigns with a decent-sized group of gamers to create a "critical mass". All of these mean commitment and it is so much easier to just open up another game and go...
The Living Rulebook rules added a lot of balance to the teams... much recommended!
The Living Rules really tightened up the campaign system that had been slapped together so many times in the past. And Blood Bowl only shines in this context, so I consider this quite an achievement! Single one-off games are always a bit silly, but in a league context this is awesome and merits a higher rating.
A curiosity of a game. It's a thinky bidding game at heart. But its theme is the ultraviolent football of Orcs, Dwarves, and Elves. There is a well-balanced game here and it does a great job of integrating the heart of Blood Bowl tackle dice, teams, fans, etc. However the game is heavy on chaos, and I don't exactly feel like the often-obvious play choices make a big difference in the grand scheme of things.
There are a lot of good points to Blue Moon: non-collectability and gorgeous oversized cards being two key ones for me. One of the best two-player card games designs out there, and it is helped greatly by the attractive pre-constructed format. Buy as little or as much as you want without worries of collectability. It scratches the CCG itch and is better than most every CCG on the market actually.
Kosmos and/or Knizia must have put this through really really exhaustive playtesting because no cracks have shown in this game yet.
For the love of God, why did Kosmos make this a lame fantasy theme? This is honestly one of the best eurogames to bless our hobby in awhile, but rarely has a theme and look of a game been so disconnected from it's mechanisms. The game itself is a fast, clever building game with a lot of neat interactions and tough choices. The adjacency bonuses make for a lot of decisions, and the race for scales is also very interesting. I'll admit that I'm a sucker for hand management, but everyone should give this modern classic a chance.
Even as crossword fan I get crushed by people who know how to work the variations. This is the sort of skill some people learn that I have a hard time calling a game. To most folks a game involves strategic decisions, this is a brainstorming and visualization exercise.
Re-playing this after years has upgraded my opinion of it. I'm still not exactly a fan, but there is definitely a game here. The restrictions are a useful way to encourage trading, but chance of the draw and others' ebbing of stubbornness will overpower strategy and persuasion.
Innovative, compelling, and totally fresh game. Maneuver and movement are everything, and it takes seval turns of marching men about before you give the painful order to assault. You find yourself immersed in the period's military realities, accounting for marching out columns on various roads, concerned with teh placement of your few critical elite units, and becoming leery of the perils of a headlong charge unless necessary. And that's just the system! The specific tactical situation is a great challenge for both sides! I cannot recommend this instant classic highly enough.
Seems like a very well-playtested update of the classic I love. I see the merits of this, and they did a great job of shaving hours off the playing time while keeping the balance the same. You can complete it in a short night instead of an all-afternoon game.
All said I'd rather commit to the more baroque Hasbro edition and spend the time!
Classic multiplayer conquest game: each player tries to carve out a chunk of the British Isles and hold it against the others. Early user of VP's to encourage you to always strive for your goals instead of a convoluted backstabbing metagame. A long game but it flies by really fast, I think it deserves the classic status!
I sense that this game is unfairly trashed. I rather like it for what it is: a simple tactical naval battle. You program in three movements and fire volleys in a fast-paced sailing game. the Boarding rules are a dice-fest, granted, but I'd rather play that than dozens of tedious old titles...
I remember playting this at GenCon when it was brand new. God that makes me feel old. A friend just re-introduced to me to it and it is decent. Essentailly, the designer tinkered with "Axis & Allies" and threw it in a space setting. Unit types are nearly identical to A&A, economics were simplified, and the dynamic geography of "moving the planets" each turn prevents the typical tactical situations found in attrition games. You assemble a battle group and send it on its way. Less player grudges evolve this way, too. It also ends after 8 turns, which is a plus compared to the endless games of Risk and A&A.
[Dorra] Decent card game for children and family gatherings. More random than I like, and it seems to devolve into back-and-forth "artillery" duels over who can outlast the other by hammering away at their missing suits.
A frantic silly group game with a simon-says vibe. A changing set of criteria determines your score on the 'moose track' and the 'bunny track', and your final score is the lowest of the two.
The zany part is figuring out which orientation to put your hands in to get the highest score, yet every few seconds new cards area added which change the best play! Then play suddenly stops and you all look at each other in ridiculous poses, which is far more fun than you'd believe possible.
Yet again Moon borrows from El Grande, and a heinous result is published. It is a dry, boring, procedural game which features blind bidding. It fails to be either fun or strategic. Furthermore, it is shockingly derivative of EL Grande, yet seems pale and hollowed -out in comparision. I'd rather spend an extra 30 minutes and really 'get it on' with El Grande than be unsatisfied by this flat and procedural tease of a game.
The 3rd and final chapter of Moon's now-famous "Soulless Cyborg Games" trilogy, the others being Get the Goods and Andromeda.
Fourth Edition. Begging for a simper rules structure. This game is about min-maxing car designs and simulating real weight and scale of automobiles. It needs to be about fast-paced autoduelling in a post-holocost wasteland, a la Mad Max: Roadwarrior. Begging for fast, streamlined interaction and abstracted car design. Play Silent Death instead, as it is in the same vein but much much better.
It took me years to finally play this one. Not very enamored of this game, farmer scoring is wonky. Luck beats strategy every time. I sightly prefer H&G over the original, though both are pretty wretched.
Eh, don't see what the fuss is all about. A random and tactical game; a few meaningful decisions crushed under the tile draws, no long-term strategy to speak of. Neat gimmicks and good scoring. At least H&G is slightly better than the original.
Among the best two-player games created, right up there with Hellas, Kupferkessel & Co, and Lost Cities. Knizia features many engaging choices and lots of give-and-take decisions. Committing men can get you long-term points... but overcommitting can leave you unable to score at all! The sprinking of starting places means the board usually develops from various places.
A fast and furious hand management game, wherein everything clicks around halftime of your first game. You need to try and balance need for yardage and downs and still juggle the junk out of your hand. Can you get pairs or straights to make use of your bad cards? Do you risk lone aces or jokers when any pair can beat them? Or wait around for pairs of them? Tons of critical decisions... even has elements of clock managmement and red zone offense. Genius design that plays fast, incorporates all the detail of football in an elegant manner, and is most importantly fun.
All in all, it is the best game of 2005. Better than Shadows over Camelot, Louis XIV, Hacienda, or Caylus. It is a ridiculously fun release from an obscure publisher. Don't be skeptical about this just because it is a self-published effort from Canada!
Furthermore, for a low price you get a huge value in components - I do not know how the publisher makes any profit on this, I would certainly pay a lot more for this than they are asking. I give this my highest recommendation. Go buy this.
It feels totally natural.This game is not a Chess variant.It is pure Chess.Four player chess on steroids.What a great Endgame and teaching tool.An absolute must for any Chess Club to improve youth PR.Your tournament players will win more games.This game has change the attitude of our club.We can hardly wait for tuesday and thursdays evenings to come around.Thanks Cardchess.
Ack... a half step above monopoly. The 'move directly to' cards and 'move x instead of rolling dice' are slight improvements over monopoly, but we're still in the same neighborhood. Minimal thinking, negligable interaction.
pleasant, hamless introductory game with blind bidding and rout-optimising. One of hte best blind-bitting gmaes I have played, actually. Was not too crowded with 3 but I fear 4+ would not have enough boats to go around.
An interesting variaton on the settlers games. For me the beauty of Settlers games has always been the trading dynamics, but we didn't see a lot of trading happening here. But that was only in a first test-spin of half of a game, so it is too early to tell. Game goes a great job in having multiple paths to victory, being a non-confrontational game, and having lots of little puzzles to figure out. Looking forward to trying it out again.
Only useful to add replay when a group that has burned out on the basic set. Successful, but I will generally prefer the basic game because it is both shorter and has better trading dynamics. Seafarers introduces goldmines (which somewhat reduce trading once attained) and ships (which make the formerly "weak" wool commodity crucial), and adds to game length.
There is no children's game quite as charming as Caves & Claws. I can't say it engages the adults, but my daughter adores waving the stinky sock at the bizarre creatures. And there is a lot to be said for her enthusiasm. It encourages some planning and teaches teamwork and cooperation.
Little more than a long, dry, convoluted perversion of Breese's fun underrated classic Aladdin's Dragons. But unlike Aladdin's Dragons, there's no fun, no bluff, and no bidding, and no hidden info. Just sequential taking stuff and guessing what will be left when your turn comes around again.
The more players you add the less there is to go around for everyone, so beware the five-player game.
Along with Age of Steam, this game typifies the recent trend of long, overanalytical and ruthless economic games that reward exploiting procedure to the detriment of the other players.
Mediocre negotiation game in which nearly everything is open for trade. The very unstructured nature of this may attract some, but it doesn't work for me. If you also find it lacking, try try out Traders of Genoa for a similar game that is much, much better.
A clever game of development. A "middleweight" for sure. It has enough complexity to make it more interesting than Settlers, yet it is not so complex that the interactions and consequences lead to over-analysis of any type. Game has tradeoffs between quality of cities vs quantity (should I build those extra cities or improve my cities?) and also in resource gathering. Clever systems for the "will of the people" and the action cards too.
This may be the best thing to happen to CCG's in a very very long time! This is the 'area-impule' theory of games - each player takes one minimal action and play passes. You don't have to wait for a huge process of tapping and using a plethora of cards on a player's turn. This makes for a fast, enjoyable, furious card game where every action feels tense because you could be dead before you're done powering up!
My only concern is that there's not a exactly a captivating narrative to draw you in - the lean game engine in pretty starkly obvious through the veneer. Which is odd considering that this is an AEG, who _used to_ be the poster child for great themes with bad mechanics.
Decent King-of-the-Hill combat game. Plenty of dice, not too cerebral but fun nonetheless. Good starter game for non-gamers with testosterone. A bit conflicted, as it is very balanced and Euro-ized, but lacks the hack-n-slash you'd expect in a combat game. Probably better than people give it credit for. I sense some sour grapes from people wo expect too much just because of the designer...
While this has great components, the game itself is a bit shallow. Less tactical than it appears. It's pretty much Space Hulk for those late to the party. It is wonderfully quick to set up and fast to play, so that's a leg up over a lot of similar games.
Exceptional wargame on the age of sail. Fast, simple plotted movement system. The trick is paying attention to your wind facing and sail state. But more importnat is anticipating the positions of you and your targets. Great fun, can't wait to play more and also to do a fleet battle using the rules for signalling between ships.
My only gripe with the system is some of the complexity in the movement rules when you change facing, and how that can affect your speed. A lot of text is devoted to ironing out all cases rather than a robust simpler solution.
[Randolph] Superb, heavy deduction game. Each player needs to deduce the three numbers on their own stand from the clues given by their opponents. Certainly challenging and thoughtful for fans of the genre, but I found it a tad too analytical for my liking. Much respect for it despite the slight headache it induces!
If I was into abstracts or deduction, this would be a 9.
I was surprised to find that this is not just a novelty, there is a real game here. The theme and strategy are certainly well-done, I am really impressed. Great components don't hurt either! There is a good amount of luck and a dose of guesswork, but it is a good back-and-forth game of gamble, bluff, and strategy. I expect it will have a lot of staying power compared to other two-player card-games.
[Schacht] Pretty fast for a drafting-type game, and it often comes down to creating sets that are unattractive to every player. The clever factor of this game is that the "extra" cards in your hand more often hurt you than help you: more is not better!
I was very excited about the release of a new card-driven tactical game. But several major faults prevent me from liking this game. The game tries to use cards and leaders to simulate command and control limitations, yet even the most unwieldy of Russian recruits are very responsive. Having veterans just means fewer squads, not better command.
The second major issue is that it fails use hand management effectively. Small hand sizes mean that dumb luck is more important than smart play. Up Front also used small hand size but often both players spent turns cycling cards. In Up Front both players are struggling at all times!
However this game is a huge step forward in reducing the impenetrable wargame rulebooks. The designer took a page from CCG's and put the details on the cards! All of these chaotic details are elegantly handled via the event system and these succeed at adding a lot of flavor. The fun and elegance of this make this attractive to many new players, and I expect for most it will replace Squad Leader, ASL, Lock & Load, and similar games.
Also, the designer did an amazing job with maps, play aids, and rules. So despite the fact it is a GMT game we found none of the glaring errors that have long plagued most of GMT's shoddy productions.
This is Borg's best design by a wide margin. What sets it apart from the others is the use of leaders and the improved card deck that emphasizes line tactics. C&C:A does not sacrifice history or strategy to get playability: you really feel the huge impotance of leadership and unit cohesion.
I'll admit that there are a couple of downsides here. The game has confusing play aids, cheap dice, and uses wooden bits instead of plastic. But Borg's design really shines through these production glitches. Highest recommendation!
Perhaps the most boring CCG yet. Virtually no in-game decisions that need to be made because the decks pretty much play themselves after you have designed them. Uses simultaneous blind play for combat cards which pretty much kills the interaction in the game.
For a fun and interesting game with fighting try City of Heroes or even 7th Sea, both of which are much more interesting and fun to play. Even the Dark Millenium game has some decisions, but this one has nothing redeeming about it.
Amazing area-influence game that captures intrigue and influence peddling better than anything I've seen yet. Far more tangible than El Grande (another of my faves I'll admit). It is really could be reduced to an abstract, but the theme holds this together far better than anything I've played in quite a long time. Excellent production value and a very worthwhile package, kudos to this small-but-excellent outfit!
Very cool game that has a slight CCG-feel insofar as you ramp up resources then tap them to bring cards into play. But it has no direct attacking the other players. Instead you take turns placing cards, taking turf, and using the influence of your previously-placed cards to help you grab more turf. So it is a positional game at heart and it uses the cards to drive it.
Intersting and innovative, and probably deserving of some replay. At heart it is more chaotic spawn of Knizia's classic Samurai. Certainly worth a try, though not exactly easy to find [poor availability and high price tag].
An amazing no-luck bluffing game. You only get one action per turn: do you bribe, move, or blow an agent's cover? The groupthink in this game is spectacular. A euro-ized version of the old Yaquinto Mythology.
The improvements in the planes really changes the ballgame: more firepower and horsepower in the late war mean more hand management decisions. Using these planes allow for skill to take the larger part in place of luck, though knowing when to dive or flee is even more important than before!
Rating may rise. It's 3-player Sheepshead with a lot of great house rules thrown in. First is a clever victory threshold, wherein if one player gets too many points he loses. But if not then the players who score lowest and highest win! This keeps the game exciting up until the last few tricks!
The other amazing feature is that there are 32 "special powers", a la Cosmic Encounter, that allow you to break a rule or change a parameter of the game. This keeps the game fresh with a ton of possibilities!
These days, this doesn't come off the shelf too often. It is great for breaking the monotony of traditional trading / building / war games. You just try to win a few conflicts in order to spread out before someone else does it first. Everyone at the table has some say in the outcomes most of the time. One of the earliest games to solve the "turn angst" problem. Also quite a deal: I got 50 different "alien powers" in my edition and plenty of add-ins. It is a bit too much to explain to first-time players, and most of the non-gamer friends would rather try something less abstract. Which is too bad because I rather like this one. It would rate much higher if it weren't displaced by some of the newer games on the market...
Despite amazing production and graphics, the game didn't much grab me.
I'm not especially familiar with rugby, but I can see the attraction. There's some fun in blatant fouling, figuring how to best use your cards and punch holes through the defense. rugby is way harder than football: no blocking! Generally I find Blood Bowl better fills this niche.
Interesting game of bluff and outright political thuggery. You try to push through doctrines on your platform and railroad those of your opponents. Prostelyze opponents bishops over to your church, poach their flock, and even force them to change their docrine to match yours! Elegent secret mechanic for managing your worshippers, wherein certain actions remove your lowest-denominated flock card and others remove your highest. A very thematic and often hard-luck voting game.
Even using variants to improve the maneuver system, I'm not convinced this is a huge upgrade frm Wings of War. I realy think that what it gains in factions, special abilities, and unique units is kind of lost in the additional downtime. Which is odd, because I should love this sort of thing but I don't feel any mojo happening here.
Could be one of the best introductary eurogames out there... if it wasn't so rare.
A simple economic game of investment, production, and manipulating the prices of two goods. The price system was later used by Friese in Power Grid, and is pure genius. No trading, but great economic choices, adapting to the economic climate, and feeling the hit from random events.
Overall it reminds me of Settlers of Catan without the trading, as you stake out areas, upgrade your holdings, and try to squeeze out a victory.
Long overdue for a reprint, if someone could only dig up the piece molds from god-knows-where...
Play balance aside, this is a great little wargame. Despite having a lot of mechanics in common with Hammer of the Scots, the game situation is wildly different, probably having a more replayability too. Where HotS has chesslike strategy punctuated by bold strategems, Crusader Rex feels like a desparate knife fight in a phone booth, with all the chaos and randomness that entails. I look forward to further playings and rules revisions to see if this may improve with time.
Pleasantly surprised to find a cool little race game in here! Great passing mechanism and method for tracking the cars you have lapped. Game had real tactics and fairly balanced cards. Witty card text helps too. Recommended.
This one scores high on fun factor, otherwise would rank a bit lower. The game is essentially based on Risk, but with a much better Lovecraft twist. When is the last time your Risk armies called on alien monsters to help them take Kamchatka, or used a demonically possessed shopping cart to move an extra space? Some play for military victory, but usually winner is determined by ridiculous "missions" that each player can participate in. Best with four beer & pretzels gamers, which limits the "military conquest" factor. A tad long, but compared to the dryness of Risk, a blast!
I'll admit I'm not one for solo games, but this one really captures the imagination. You can see the shingle on the beach, the bunkers, the overlapping fire arcs, the ciffs you need to scale, the whole bit. Lots of puzzles to figure out, lots of chaos as you try to cobble together the right forces to the right places.
Dark Millenium is a decent CCG, as you'd expect from 40k universe it is a real slugfest! I've only just tried a single game using a not-too-cohesive Eldar deck and I'd like to give the game further play. I'm a little baffled that every unit needs all these special powers ... shouldn't some just have decent stats and leave it at that?
Unfortunately, I wasn't so impressed that I'm willing to pony up and buy this. In the unlikely event that Sabretooth abandons this before too many expansions come out, I would buy cards in bulk. But the expense is certainly not worth it otherwise.
The addition of the ships and using only 3 battle sites instead of 5 makes Dark Millenium better than the previous 40k CCG.
like Ascention or Thunderstone or too many games lately, it is sorely lacking in any long-term strategic decisions. You draw and then buy the best stuff that happens to be there.
Part of the cleverness of Dominion is that there are decisions that have include benefits and costs: buy several okay cards or just one great card? Take a VP card even though it is a dead weight card in your hand? Most of the imitator deckbuilding games lack these simple traits.
Based on theme and creative ideas [poker hands combat resolution, cheating, low-hand initiative, etc] injected into the game, this would be the Greatest Game Ever Made. But sometime between opening up the packs and awarding the title we'll need to evaluate how the game plays, which is in a word 'predictable'. The tired resource system, the myriad of distracting little abilities, and predictable buildup of forces to a huge curtain-dropping finale have been done, done and done. It is a shame to waste such amazing ideas on such a flawed foundation, but there it is.
Despite a large amount of initial skepticism, I have to acknowledge this is a well-produced adventure game. The adventures are great and the special powers are well done.
While not innovative, FF did a great job assimilating mechanisms from a bunch of different old Games Workshop games. The GW dice system saves a lot of charts and hassle once you get used to it. The thematically hokey runes or glyphs or whatever allow for mid-game powering up and prevent player elimination. Best of all is the wholesale porting over of the one-vs-many system from Fury of Dracula, in which the 'Overlord' moving the bad guys has his own challenges to face and resources to manage. All of these put Descent head and shoulders above most similar titles.
Alarmingly absent is any form of campaign system, which will be a huge sticking point with most players who are attracted to creating storylines or history and enriching the experience, and I predict some backlash beacause of this. Errata aside [yet again FF is guilty of a shameful lack of playtesting and pre-press editing], Descent is a worthwhile investment if you want to have one-night-stands of dungeoncrawling.
Unsightly production from Mayfair, but affordable and simple. It replaces some of the fiddlier elements from Daytona with different fiddly bits. The two are about equivalent, but the all-or-nothing choke points on both of these tracks leads to meaner games. Hence I am better at this, but somehow find it less of a puzzle than the classic Daytona 500.
Another trick-taking game with many good ideas. Yet my group noticed that the density of overly-complex cards in such a small deck made it a bit too fussy for the payoff. I agreed. Close but not there.
One of the best recent efforts by either of these designers... a perfect intro game of push-our-luck. Absolutely ingenious and attractive components too. Ideal for families and introducing the hobby to new people.
I played the newest boardless Schmidt Spiel (ie, $25) version, which is otherwise identical to the earliest copies (ie $35). I certainly won't be buying the overpriced old version just for the board!
My 5-year old is great at this, as she takes the first decent deal when everyone else plunges further on!
A bit random, a bit dry, but quite a thoughtful management game. I think recent titles like UP (event deck with payouts) and E&T (many-colored tile placements) and even Amun-Re (auctioning off regions) have a vague debt to this obscure old title...
Overall this game is a lot of stuff from other games thrown into a blender. The way some cards chain is pure Dominion; the area control is classic El Grande, and the hidden agendas go way back to Illunati. Though the combination does feel unique.
My gripes are limited to the lack of any sense of control. Everyone is looking around beating back those who get near a victory condition. Your hand is really random, and with a finite amount of special actions you may never see some crucial ones come into your hand.
We found it a very managable game to teach & learn in that the cards do all of the explaining.
Interesting social activity that sits in a vague space somewhere near "party game", but lacks the laughs. Despite my headscratching over definitions, it seems like a harmless and pleasant way to interact without too much stress or explanations.
Beware that this is very much an old school roll-and-move game. You wait your turn, move your dog, move the dog catcher, then wait for your turn agian.
Barring that, this is a cute little game with great bits that is awful combative at heart. You can piddle at most intersections to prevent opponents from entering major parts of the board; you can dig through strategic trash cans so as to make you opponents waste movement; and you can outright attack others and take their stuff! Curious to try out with adults for a taste of how a no-holds-barred dogfight plays out.
Dry, derivative and repetative. For awhile it feels like there's more than blind bidding, but after the first half-hour you can't help but wish this game would be over. Instead you just keep placing blind bids over and over and over and over and over...
[Teuber] Intriguing little puzzle game... cordon off areas and nudge for dominance over scoring and income. A fun middleweight eurogame for all kinds... fine-tuned balance and clever income mechanism that makes you tkae breaks and recharge from time to time. It feels painful to wait for your turn and watch what others spring on you !
In essence this is an overly-long and heavily-themed variant of El Grande. As the glaciers expand, species move into uninhabited biomes and compete for survival. Decent, but very chaotic and features the "I took that action so now you can't" mechanism that has been overplayed since Wallace games and Caylus were all the rage. Still, better than most of the genre but it's a genre I'm not inclined towards.
Futuristic dungeon crawl that leaves me cold. There's a good amount of decisions but it never allows for too much creatice approaches for the marines. It plays pretty smoothly once you add a few "mods" [ie: patches to glaring faults that weren't caught in playtesting].
But Doom lacks the robust simplicity and fun of Space Hulk. It provides less intersting decisions and happens at a slower pace.
[Delonge] A nifty middleweight little tactical game. However tactical games without long-term planning are not my thing; and I tend to dislike ones like Alexandros and Carcasonne. This has got to be one of the best of the pack, though.
I was skeptical that this would be better than the original 4-part GMT series, but it is a huge improvement!
Firstly, most of the cards now have a secondary use as maneuvers, so there's much less of "who drew the right cards" and much more canny flying and psychological guesswork. It feels a lot more like poker: will he chicken out because he;s bluffing?
Secondly, each plane's performance now is divided into two card-draw phases. Some cards are drawn early to give even weak planes a reason to take potshot or advantage an enemy. Then at the end of the turn thre is another card draw phase to replenish. So this adds a little for the under-powered planes to stand a chance against their high-performance brothers.
It contains a great cross-section of planes from all theaters and years, as well as six varied campaigns. I'm glad to have supported this one with my pre-order (something I've doen exactly once previously).
Rating is inital play. may rise due to simple fun and accesability.
Very difficult little financial game with a high dose of luck. It seems that bold tactics are punished, and risks are rarely worth it. You pay a higher cost to build two sites a turn than one site in each of two turns, and also have a higher risk of being crowded out, so only build multiple sites if you are pretty sure others won't be joining you! Try to be a great guesser! Should be played fast and light, but has a pretty long play time for its lightness.
Ok, I will be the first to admit that when you look it in the face, this is silly. A highly random and abstract game of fantasy armies duking it out.
But for what it is this is a great time. No set up, no hassle, no complications, just good old-fashioned slugging it out. The spells and army types are flavorful and have lots of variety. I like it because it is entertaining, tense, and there is strategy in both the army selection and the tactical slugging.
[Schacht] Probably one of the greatest games with blind-bidding ever made, but that's like saying Missing you Now is probably Michael Bolton's greatest song.
There is an early version of the role-selection thing from Verater going on here, and a cool majorities-thing with stacking goods on the boats. All of this would create a clever little manipulation game. But the whole thing become a trainwreck with an insane blind-bidding, pay-whether-you-win-or-lose and try-to-guess what-suit-the-other-guys-are-bidding going on. This wild crap-shoot mechanism dashes your hopes at creating any form of strategy at all...
Had some great potential though, but thrusting the inane bidding system wrecked this promising design.
[Eon] One of the real great games out there. Beats out so many other negotiation games in that deals and alliances are managed in the rules and changeable only at certain phases every few turns. The sparse board positions and ability to transfer pieces to board from your stock prevents it from devolving into a wargame. Dune was eons ahead of its time for sure, and still beats out all of the other negotiation and empire games I can think of. Easily worth the time investment for such memorable experiences.
Good for what it is: a competative 2-player dungeoncrawl in an affordable and compact format. However, in the grand scheme this is neither too engaging, thoughtful, or requiring meaningful interaction.
oh my god what a waste. This Games Workshop loser takes the already unsuccessful "move-and-roll-the-dice-and-do-whatever-the-space-says" mechanism and adds some twists: you get hosed and die several times every game. Oh yeah, and it also includes a novel tile-laying mechanism for the dungeon tunnels that assures that you will never actually make it to the dragon's lair in the middle of the board and have any chance of winning. Lovely way to get-screwed-by-the-game-mechanism twice before even considering your opponents. For true masochists only.
In the spectrum between a tabletop miniatures game and a hex-and-counter wargame, this one is in a blurry grey area that is awful close to a tabletop minis.
The dice conventions are dumb and the abstractions do not go nearly far enough. Way too much crap is in this game instead of on the editing room floor. Great minis though, and some of the ideas could be hopefully used in future boardagmes.
In the spectrum between a tabletop miniatures game and a hex-and-counter wargame, this one is in a blurry grey area that is awful close to a tabletop minis.
The dice conventions are dumb and the abstractions do not go nearly far enough. Way too much crap is in this game instead of on the editing room floor. Great minis though, and some of the ideas could be hopefully used in future boardagmes.
Good clean fun. A well-designed dungeon-crawl with hoser ["screw-your-neighbor"] cards. What strategies you devise will be certainly spoiled by your opponents... and that's a good thing! Reminds me of a simpler, more straightforward version of the classic WizWar.
Masterpiece game of WWII strategy. Manage the attacks and counterattacks across the Ukraine and Russia in WWII. Has all the breakthroughs, envelopments, and so on. It's actually a surprisingly straightforward game but it is on a big big scale. I can't image going back to chits for anything like this again!
I waited for the dust to settle in the ridiculous 2011 glut of space games: Ascending Empires, Core Worlds, Space Empires 4X, Eminent Domain. Eclipse is to me the best ever made for the genre. It has a clean economic engine, plays fast, and has lots of customizing and differentiation of player powers. You can see your ships fight and dice off in star battles that are simple and fun. It is however HIGHLY chaotic in regards to tech, battles, and exploration. Be warned!
Fun little building game with tight competition for space, and lots of opportunities to remove others' resource-productions and build your own. It is not quite as fast or interesting as the similar McMulti, and I really mean when I say not fast! This is a good design but the length is too much for the payout. A great potential 'next step' game but not enough going on to satisfy most hardcore gamers either.
Underrated game! Great fun and for all its seemingly randomness it is well-balanced in the end. A slow-the-leader factor is present but not overwhelming. Hidden scoring via secret pawn values is genius. shared boat movement provides benefits to partnership, and can also lead to backstabbing too! Great fun in a simple package, highly recommended for fun factor.
I'm going to say that the rules overhead, slow pace, and other niggling issues make this monster game a notch less fun than either Eastfront or Westfront. Perhaps more expertise with the base game would change my opinion in the future, but as it stands it's too much for the level I'm at.
A functional CCG is becoming a rare thing these days, but this one flies. It is interesting, has some good customizing, and lots of meaningful decisions.
EVE is very much based on ships slugging it out: it doesn't yet seem to have big concepts or fresh ideas in the base set. Hopefully future expansions will bring out more aspects, more modifier cards, and some big-picture stuff to advance the game beyond zapping each other.
If you ask me it is a real achievement to craft a fun, balanced CCG without noticeable flaws. Compare to recent releases like Conan [broken], City of Heroes [dry], Gallactica [broken], or the Universal Fighting System [tedious] and this is best CCG in a long long time. Worth buying the starters to see for yourself! Rating may rise depending on quality of expansions.
Interesting middleweight family game. Overlooked game for beginners and family-gaming types. I'd recommend this one right after Settlers for a good introductary game for all types. However, it can drag a little too long and it doesn't exactly have a ton of replay value. Always play with one less gene than the number of players; otherwise the auction fails to auction anything!
The great auction game for beginners... and it is a great way to get people over the fact that many of the great games are only available in German! This is a great, fast-playing little auction game. A little bit of bluff while trying to up the other players' bids, a litle bit of 'what is it worth to me?' factor as each player may need certian tiles over others, and a little bit of min-maxing your own movies. Our preferred auction game with new players. Awesome for getting people into the hobby.
Basically, you all flip over zany machine tiles and try to match up the outputs of existing machines to the inputs of the newly-drawn tiles. But you simultaneously flip over enough tiles for every player and whoever grabs first gets it! Make a mistake and don't want that one you just grabbed? Too late, gotta find a way to get it on the factory floor! Entertaining and cool, but not one I'd find myself re-playing with much frequency.
Rating based on 3-turn mini-scenario only. This looks like an interesting platoon-level game. I think I'll like the full game too. I have high hopes that the novel situation - paratroops, thin lines, lots of terrain, both sides holding out reinforcements - will make for some great gaming. Rating likely to rise when we try the Hague scenario.
Federation Commander has all the right elements to make it the premier space game: asymmetrical fleets, impulse movement, shields that add another tactical consideration, and a fairly fast play sequence. It dethrones Silent Death as my favorite space game.
They suceeded in streamlining the old convoluted SFB into a relativley straightforward game, keeping the strategic decisions and losing the trivial obscurities from the rules. Overall gamers seem to have overlooked what a great, fun game this is and focused on their personal expectations or technical gripes about the product. The fact is that this release is the best news in ages for anyone who has ever overloaded a photon torpedo.
I was skeptical of the idea of marrying deckbuilding to wargames. But Wallace absolutely pulled this off. AFAoS is a great game of asymmetrical warfare. The natural moneymaking styles and movement differences are really evident. I want to play a few more times!
I respect this one and want to like it more, yet it doesn't have a lot to offer experienced gamers.
It would be great for folks who like Days of Wonder titles or other involved games. More thematic than History of the World but somehow missing the interaction. I'm a bigger fan of Ragnar Brothers' other releases.
A full-fledged Card-Driven Game but in a very playable format. A decent handling of modern-era warfare (OK, slightly futuristic), but it didn't quite grab me. Felt like more of a puzzle than a psychological duel of wits and guesswork.
I finally got around to playing the much-maligned Fluxx... and boy does it suck. In fact it is the complete opposite of the great recent games that seem ahead of their time; this belongs in the "games-that-seem-like-1970's-rejects" catagory. A real trailblazer in a very lonely class. I am trying to think of anything redeeming about this game and I come up completely blank. Less fun than Solitare or War. Even solitare has room for fun compared to this one. Even at the affordable price of $10 this is a total rip-off, as far as dollars per fun ratio. Gets upgraded to a 1.5 (from a 1) based purely on the cute combinations to win the game, such as the Death/Taxes combo, Love and nothing else, etc.
This is another naval game in the Napoleonic era, though it encourages larger fleet actions. Instead of programming, you take turns activating squads of ships. I was lucky enough to test out a new variant with cards, and these really give a great flavor for details like morale, special situations, and so on and don't really increase the rulebook. These cards really bring the game up a notch in fun and flavor.
Ultimately I'm afraid Flying Colors occupies an uncomfortable place. On the one hand it is simpler than WSIM or Close Action which is definately a good thing. But there are still an awful lot of charts and modifiers that make game play pretty slow. The simplifications might not have gone far enough for me. I feel like the Close Action gives a better payoff at teh expense of a few more rules, as does an entirely gutted simplification like Man o'War.
[Dorra] Simple to teach and fast to play push-your luck filler!
You can never tell whether you will be the last bidder who has to pay full price, or if you will be outbid and get to pay only half your bid. The stressful highest-bidder-pays-a-lot coupled with the take-the-lower-prize-and-get-compensated factors are what makes Taj Maal such a great game as well! But this game compresses most of the fun and a fraction of the time and complexity as Knizia's Taj Mahal.
Initially unimpressive, but with customized cars, multi-lap play and only 4-6 players this would be quite fast and enjoyable. If i had this as a teen I'd have been set. But with my large gaming appetite and budget, I am unlikely to devote a lot when there are so many more intricate games out there.
Sadly I never played the older Milton Bradley version of this game. I wasn't expecting I'd like this, but there's a great fun factor. It's so charming and retro, jsut the simple fun of standing up your guys and then knocking them down. It's a bit harsh on rules to slow the invasion pace, so the grind factor is higher than i'd prefer. There's virtually no way to make sudden surgical strikes or pocket enemies.
An odd duck of a wargame. It feels like I'm playing a Columbia block game but it was actually a hex-and-counter chit game!
Frederick the Great has a lot of great features: it is chess-like, low-density, has a fun "fog of war", and the battles are decisive. The turns play very fast once you've mustered your forces and start tangling. The combat and supply system encourage a careful use of manpower for strategic aims, not a bloodthirsty attrition.
Having only played the province scenario, I don't really have a complete picture of the real game. And by real game I mean the full galactic game. From what I understand, it would take 30 hours to play and it becomes a real juggling act... managing rebellions in various sectors and the domino effects involved.
Even though on the macro-level the strategy may get really interesting, the minute-to-minute game play is pretty painful. Combat is grindingly slow and decidedly un-futuristic: typical add up combat factors and compare ratios. The mission resolution system is the real breaker: draw a certain number of cards hoping for a letter code that matches your mission to come up. More often than not you get the same random events again and again and again: being discovered by the eneny or fending off irate locals. Doesn't hold up, though nothing has yet replaced it successfully.
A much cleaner iteration of Up Front. In most respects it much improved: damage, firing, range, and maneuver are all mercifully simple.
Sadly the hand-management factor is one thing that made the original game cerebral and edgy. This game has reduced that in favor of brevity. I hope to play more soon to see what the game has to offer, and whether the game is overly deadly.
See comments for Power Grid, but add three or four hours to game length. There are more rounds, a less forgiving payout schedule, and you add hours of min-maxing the routes along a crayon-rails board. So people who have time to kill and a lot of experience in crayon rails games might have a leg up on others.
Merkle & Friese forge a fresh and fascinating game, which is full of fun! Sorry. But really, this is a great ironic take on life and the hobbies and excesses to which people strive. A lot of new ideas and ways of handling them, and it is fun to chat while playing and watch players "lives" unfold in story-esque ways.
Storytelling elements are what makes games like Ambush of Arabian Nights fun, but here they are just perfectly integrated into the game. A great achievement!
After one play so far, I am a little torn. One the one hand the game play and detail and mechanisms are awesome. However, there is a fair amount of cambat which is very uninspired. Too bad the dice factor heavily outweighs the weapon-interaction factor. Just one gripe in an otherwise awesome strategy game... scores high only on theme, as gmeplay is a tad slow and hunters spend an awful lot of time blundering about.
Cleaned up some of the elements in the earlier version, but remains only slightly changed. A classic AmeriTrash romp that has a lot of charm. A few strong cards can possibly end the game quickly, yet that maintains the sense of deadly risk that is required!
Charming in the extreme, never too taxing on the mind, and it clips along at a frantic pace. Even though some of the sub-games aren't exactly new, the synthesis feels quite fresh. It is certainly fun and unlike most other experiences, and I'd find it hard to turn down a game from.
First comes the 'race to grab parts and cobble together your spaceship' phase, which is amusing to try and see if you can even get the thing assembled! Then the ships line up and make it through a deck of challenges: pirates, meteors, war zones, you name it. As you make your way through you might pick up some goods, but more likely you'll have large chunks of your ship fall off. Especially if you build ships like me, where one little connection is the only piece keeping the whole right side attached to the rest of the ship! Rewards for being in first place, selling cargo, and for tidiest ship. Unique, positive, and especially fun!
Boring. And you make no real decisions. Also, a morally twisted game to indoctrinate children: you are penalized for choosing a careeer before atending college. If you fail to become a doctor or lawyer, you settle for teacher instead! You win by breeding children and making more money than everybody else. The rest is just random chance... what was MB thinking ?
There's lots of neat Euro bells and whistles here: diceless combat, blind auctions, card management and more. It was good attempt to update moldy old wargames. But these epic "empires" lack strategy: the game plays you into reactive and tactical responses. Long-term strategy is not feasible due to the lame "Westernos" cards. And at the end of the day it boils down to a zero-sum game of bickering over who wins, so the game hinges on alliances... yet there is no structure whatsoever to govern the alliances! Playing this has made me appreciate the qualities of AH's Dune.
This edition suffers from the same deep flaws as the first edition. The addition of ports did fix the navy blockade which prevents building of boats, but otherwise game is effectively the same. Ten turns of chaotic events and blind bidding, no real strategy in this one, and it is slow, long procedural time waster. Avoid.
Surprisingly fun AH title.... strange levels of abstraction in this title. Instead of charts cards to show levels of conrol or criminal activity, you have wargamey-type chits for your Thugs and Racketeers. You try to herd the public into your shadey Chigaco mob establishments. While odd, it is a satisfying and tense game. In no time you find yourself speaking the words "rub him out" and "get that vamp into his joint"... and assaulting your friends with the squirtgun (provided). A classic.
[Dorn] A very very good game in the negotiate/bribe/trade vein which adds several improvements over the classic Ponte Vecchio. I like the contraints that Traders of Genoa adds: it gives you good trading options and structure. The hidden orders avoid the chaotic-freewheeling-turned-math-equation of Chinatown. But why does the rulebook use the term 'movement tower' when it is plainly the horse dookey trail that marks your route!
Would be rated higher if it wasn't for the existance of die Haendler.
It is the elegent little civ-like little tile game, yes. The straightforward sequence of play keeps it moving along quicky, and the various ways that food, temples, wealth, and other resouces work are pure genius! But in my trial play we sure seemed to quickly merge and un-merge the same areas again and again, which is a lot of fuss for just doing and un-doing each other moves repeatedly.
A long-ish middleweight game with pretty simple rules and some straightforward choices. There's some scarcity of selling opportunities and storage space, so you compete over these intensely.
In our three-player trial, a couple of our auctions for selling oil had some overly wonky consequences [intended and uninteneded]. Similarly, auctions in Goa can break down with three, so it's not unique in this respect. Giganten is bordering on greatness, but I'd call this more of a flawed gem.
A great intro game for strategy games. It seems like the prototype, if somewhat bland, example of what elements a typical strategy game has: scoring majorities, set collection, drafting cards, action points, unexpected scoring rounds, and short rules set.
It would be a highly recommended as an intro game, if it had an ounce of fun or or a spark of life. Leave it to Alan Moon to re-animate the bleached corpse of Eurogaming. Really, even a German designer couldn't make a game THIS cold...
Part 1 of Moon's now-famous "Undead Soulless Cyborg Games" trilogy [continued with Capital and Andromeda", and far and away the best in the series of lifeless game corpses.
light filler with an auction theme. You bid via the priority cards from El Grande. From time to time people work out a strategy based on the 'random draw' shovel-carrying Gnumie, or a strategy on maxing out pairs. Simple and random way to kill half an hour. However, I prefer a smidge more depth out of an auction game.
Toyed around on the 9x9 board a little. Want to make it a 2-player regular but doubt I'll ever find willing players. I have the potential to become an addict but no outlet. Is that a good or bad thing?
Priced out a nice set but not ready to shell out $200, possibly seeking a nice used outfit.
This game just seems overwrought to me, but I concede it is a functional one where hardcore strategy fans will excel.
It has many many dozens of auctions over the course of the long game. You all slowly build up a rather same-y engine on your player mats. The amount of inputs required to get something accomplished is crazy. Eventually you build up technologies for growth, colonization, money income, etc.
It also features a bizarre phase where you select which upgrades will be auctioned off. There is a grid, and you must chain the tiles Boggle-style. Novel? Yes, but I fail to see what this phase accomplishes over any other selection mechanism; more weird experimentation at work I suppose.
Lastly the auctions rarely pay to the bank; the tile you selected pays to you (even more severe than in Traumfabrik where it pays out evenly between players). So the timing of the money flows can trip you up too. The money can even bounce between two rich players and leave others out in the cold.
Overall, it's an unbalanced and thinly-themed euro of pushing cubes around via auctions. Ultimately I find it too complicated for the payoff.
I'm an avid follower of Wallace's games, and this one really really hits a sweet spot for me. Modest play time, conflict, cooperation with competition. My favorite Wallace title, and that is saying quite a bit!
Players vie for prestige by expending their nobles to preemptively strike at neighbors, build up principalities, or sacrifice them for pure VP's ('Jesuit missionaries'). Each region offers different rewards and faces a different flavor of invader. If you fail to strike out enough at the neighboring nation, then they will invade and you must save the day, possibly calling up a national army or face invasion into neighboring regions! If you don't co-operate to some extent, Poland will fall!
An OK middle-weight game. No direct combat, you can sure do a lot of stuff to mess with your opponents in a race-like way : outdoing them in adventures, arranging newly-discovered tiles in unfriendly fashions, and so on. I'm not so sure there is much deep play or fun here, but there is a lot of fiddling with different bits and a few puzzles to figure out. Traded away my copy long ago.
Among the all-time greats. A perfect blend of medium game length, varied strategies, and a scoring system that keeps everybody in the running until the very end! Good level of strategic decisions, and even basic strategies can do well against more subtle and sophisticated ones.
A game ultimately very similar to King of the Tabletop. There is a huge pile of Things like leaders, armies, monsters, magic swords, etc. In this case there is a gin-rummy element used to draw cards, play sets onto the table, and sometimes steal sets from opponents. But at the end of the day, you are mostly staring at a map of the Whamite Isles and sending armies of Eskimos or nobles to battle for supremacy. Chaotic Wham fare with more rules overhead than most of his titles.