This feels like a more polished version of a game I would have designed in 7th grade. Theme is great, components are great, and the general theme of risk/reward and push your luck is well implemented. However, the game also feels disjointed because every section has its own rules. While there are decision points along the way, which way you go has more to do with what you feel like exploring rather than any strategic imperative.
I get what this game is trying to accomplish by providing a theme-rich sense of adventure. However, in the push-you-luck genre, I derive more excitement and sense of agency from less theme-intense but more mechanically focused games, such as Diamant, Exscape, or Can't Stop.
I think I will never like this game as more than a good friend. Despite the card decks, this game is Euro like Tom Willis is white (which means very very, not matter what crazy cards are mixed in or who he's married to). It does do a good job of evoking the appropriate angst of being a 17th century farmer, but actions are just so limited it feels like trying to swim in handcuffs. On one level I enjoy it, and on another I find it laborious. I think I'll play this one every once in a while, but I doubt it will become a favorite. After my latest game, my overriding thought was that I think that, for a heavy worker placement game, I prefer Caylus.
UPDATE: My love/hate relationship with this game continues. I still am not very good at it, but am enjoying it more. My problem is that I get distracted from my goals too easily, and there just aren't enough spare actions to do that.
This game is simple and fun. It is a roll-and-move game with some features to help you land on the spaces you are targeting. There's some educational and inspirational value here, with spaces called "Imaginiation," "Credability," "Flexibility," and "Experience." The game earns a bonus point for effective use of metaphor.
I also like that they used familiar brands and companies rather than made-up ones.
Wow. The game really challenges preconceptions. I think I am far more fascinated by this than put off by it. This is a really brave design. The group needs to approach the situation more like you would in real life and less like your typical Eurogame. If cooperation isn't a main focus, no one will win (except maybe that pesky separatist).
Great mechanic to balance speed with manuverabilty and ability to fight. I haven't yet decided if the other aspects of the game are too cumbersome for a "race" game. They may be for new players, but I suspect not once experience is gained.
Aug 2014: I've watched some playthrough videos, and this game looks really neat. I like the pacing of the pre-combat questing interleaved with a very interesting tactical battle system. The systems of Doomrock appear to be much more interesting than Pathfinder Card Game, and I'm hopeful that this game will have longevity for me where Pathfinder did not. This looks like a great solo game as well. I think this game deserves more attention than it is getting!
The $60 price tag feels at least $20 too high, but what the heck. If it's a as good as I hope, it will be worth it.
UPDATE Jan 2014: This is a damn fine game with a very original take on the card-driven fantasy genre. I love the combat tactical system, and it marries perfectly with the interesting but not overwrought adventuring phase. Important decisions face you at every turn. They could have called this game "A Million Ways to Die at Doomrock" but I really love the challenge the game presents. Yes, there is luck, but every time I've lost I've felt that I made critical errors that led to my downfall. You are not going to stride through to a win your first time through. You'll need to learn how to fight each enemy, and need to adapt every game as you bring in a different set of skills and abilities. It's a wonderful, flexible, challenging system, and I'm still enjoying it more with each play.
My initial hesitation at the price has evaporated. We, as gamers, should be willing to pay for good design as much as nice bits.
This is a great solo game, and also good for a group that knows how to closely cooperate. If you have alpha gamer problems, you should be steering away from co-ops anyway (and how empty does someone's life need to be that they feel the need to step on the fun of others to dominate a boardgame?)
UPDATE Jan 2015 (6 plays in) This game is just getting more fun. The encounters continue to be a great challenge, but I am also learning that the order in which you do things and the choices you make during questing phase are critical. Do you risk venturing forth with low HP? Do you focus or items or abilities? Do you take a less useful ability just for the stat to enable use of an epic item? Can you get a peek at the upcoming encounter and tune your adventuring around that?
I've raised my rating to a 9, and I see 10 as a possibility. This game is just a fantastic surprise. Tom Vasel, marnaudo, I love your videos, but I think you are misleading people away from this great game! Doomrock is a real challenge, but it feels so good when you when. The game has me totally geeking out, doing fist pumps whenever I am able to take an enemy down. Give this game a shot, people!
I consider this to be a medium weight game, but it still plays pretty easily and I don't find it dry at all. My wife also likes this game, I think largely because the bargain-hunter in her likes to set things up so she can build for free. Placing markers on built buildings really aids play.
I've been considering this one for a while. When the new Baker's Dozen version came out, I finally jumped on it. I've got plenty of games about witches and potions, but not nearly enough about food!
I think I like the variant where you deal out all the cards right at the beginning.
UPDATE AFTER SOME PLAYS: I feels a lot like a cross between Category 5 and Coloretto. It may be slightly easier to explain that those (admittedly already pretty easy) games, but I think that overall I would rather play one of those than this. However, the people I've played it with seemed to really like it. My kids especially enjoy it.
This game has a lot of things wrong with it. It's random, you don't have much control, there's player elimination, it's unbalanced... But man, it is FUN. This is one of my favorite games for 5-7 players. It would be a decent even without the hidden roles, but having the "werewolf" element takes the game to a higher level.
Bang! Express. Doesn't replace the card game for me, but it does fit better with a casual game crowd with limited time/attention span. The arrow mechanism is particularly clever and keep the game brief.
This is an enoyable game that I should play more than I do. I like the poker-like nature of the formations. I enjoy it both with and without the tactics cards, but find it more exciting with the latter (be sure to remember the rule that you may only play 1 more Tactics card than your opponent has played!). BL is rather similar to Lost Cities in that you often face the prospect of chosing where you'll have to screw yourself. This one is more confrontational than LC though. UPDATE 5/2006 - after playing this regularly with my wife, I'm bumping my rating up to a 9! The tactics and depth are really starting to come through for us as we get better at the game. It often comes down to someone winning by a single turn. We are now very stingy with the use of tactics cards, as we don't want to let each other play them.
This is a surprisingly enjoyable game that I'd play anytime. The neatest thing about it is the dice mechanic. Big, slow tackles get a d6, while the fastest guys have a d20. Rounding out the middle are d8, d10 and d12 players. To move a player, you roll their die and they move that many spaces. However, when players from opposite teams meet, they roll, and the LOW roll wins. Very elegant and effective. The game is simple to learn, and play is fast and brutal. Love it for what it is!
After buying nearly a complete set of Battlelore 1st edition, I found that the 2nd Edition is much more in line with what I hoped to get out of the game. Some of the improvements: * Better use of the dice. The color system made little sense in 1st ed, as each color was only on one face anyway (at least Battles of Westeros made better use of the colors on its d8s). The 2nd edition dice are much better use of those 6 faces. * Objective-based point system feels much better to me than the kill-based VPs of 1st ed. * Random scenario setup with army mustering is much cleaner and variable than the 1st edition, even with the somewhat kludgy Call to Arms expansion. * Full-on fantasy setting is more cohesive than the historic/fantasy hybrid of 1st ed. * I REALLY prefer the new new unit system of just having all the unit stats on the single card. The colors/weapon based system in 1st edition meant you had to cross reference 2 or 3 different cards to figure out movement and attacks. Once you added in the expansions, the whole thing became very unwieldy.
As a downside, the game really should have included boards and markers to track lore and VPs. The token-based system is needlessly fiddly. I think I may whip up my own, likely ugly but functional, score tracks.
Overall, I like this game a bunch, and it is even more fun than I expected! A light wargame should be easy to pick up and play, and this fits the bill much better than 1st ed. If I decide to go for a purer C&C experience, I will pick up ancients.
UPDATE Jan 2014: Loving the game. I am appreciating the mustering phase. The units each have their specialties, and tailoring your lineup to the specific scenario combinations is a fun challenge. With an expansion or two to ensure continued variety, this could become a 10. I would especially like to see a better campaign system. Also, they need to sell dice packs (they really should have included more dice in the box).
I like this style of gameplay on occassion, and I think this game tried hard to implement a lot of neat ideas. The theme is great, and I like the dice system. Thankfully, the second edition of the game fixed the shamefully poorly edited rulebooks.
UPDATE Nov 2014: This is generally a fun experience, but it is highly variable how good of a GAME you are actually going to have.
Black Gold is a fun design coupled with a very nice production. Each round consists of a series of market fluctuation, action card draft, board movement, investment, and auction, and it all meshes and flows quite well. The bidding can be especially vicious because winner-take-all situations are common. Timing of when to go for a big score is critical, because mistakes can be punishing. Assuming your family can handle that, this is a good family game.
Drawbacks are the game feels like it runs a bit long, largely because the rounds are fairly repetitive. If I could have only one oil-themed economic game, it would be Crude, but it would be painful to let Black Gold go. Black Gold also reminds me of Owner's Choice, a lighter game wrapped around a similar market fluctuation mechanism.
It took some thinking, but for now I believe I will be keeping this game. Given my tendency to purge a game that does not meet a very standard, that is high praise indeed. I will be curious to see how this holds up after some more plays, as I can imagine my opinion going either up or down with experience.
It is hard for me to invest in a game that seems even a little like Chaos in the Old World, because I usually just end up wanting to play CotOW instead. This does look interesting though, with interplay between the card draft, quests, battles, and upgrades. Even with all that going on, the gameplay looks fast and fun. I'm still on the fence about the Kickstarter.
My wife and I enjoy this one. When we first started, the Vulca were dominant, but now that we've got some experience with the game, I can't win with them (but she still beats me with them occassionally)! However, I'm getting closer to learing "Advanced Vulca" strategy that can compete with the Hoax's killer combos. I love the way every deck is a new play experience. Before I got into the game, I actually thought I wouldn't like having to work to figure out every new deck, but it turns out I enjoy it. The game is still opening up for me, and I like it more the more I play. I like playing to 5 crystals, switching decks after each round. That way we can mitigate inexperience with a deck by trying to get the least hammered using it.
Bohnanza seems to be rather friendly for a trading game, as trades feel more cooperative than competitive. I think it is essential to keep the game moving quickly, or it starts to feel long. I also don't see the need for the expansions, which would seem to bog things down, with the possible exception of the order cards from High Bohn Plus. Overall, I think it is a good game, but the people I play with like the game more than I do.
Game is a big hit so far. The major drawback seems to be that if you get off to a slow start and are sitting in just the wrong place in the turn order then it can be near impossible to come back. I'd love to see the expansion throw in some cards that alter turn order mid-game. Overall it's a lot of fun, but the game is not to be taken seriously, as the die rolls make the game very lucky.
I played this quite a bit when I was trying to get others into gaming with me back in 2004-2006. I recently broke this out with my kids 6 and 8 to try it again after a long hiatus, and I don't think I am so crazy about it. I'm not sure I ever was, but it was an easy gateway back when. For some reason I still really enjoy Carc: The Castle, but other versions of the game don't really do it for me. I don't mind playing them, but I wouldn't suggest them any more.
I own both Hunters & Gatherers and the Castle, and the two are definitely non-redudant. The Castle has fewer restrictions on tile placement, but the roads can still create tricky problems and are often as useful for blocking as they are for scoring. My wife loves to go after the bonus tiles on the wall, while I tend to try to maximize scoring and only pick them up if convenient. I need to make sure I stay way ahead, however, as in a close game, the bonus tiles will make the difference.
Lord help me, it was the cool plastic coins that pushed me off the fence and into buying this one. It's growing on me. This is a game where you need to break out of groupthink to prosper, and the wackier your move, the better you'll do. I love that. I don't agree with the assertion that this game is 'chaotic'. You can plan your moves so that you'll most likely get to execute them, but it will require you to devise a non-obvious course of action. Plays fast too. This game also looks great on the table. I've been playing games with my colleagues at lunch in the cafeteria for some time, but no one ever came up and asked us what we were doing until we played this.
SPARKS: This game makes me feel like I have something clever to do every move. You have just enough information to consider: perfect information about the next turn, and some probabilities for the next. Very tactical in increments, but still requiring an overall strategic discipline.
Wow, what an awesome game. Feld can go way overboard with putting too many mechanisms in a game, but he has shown nice restraint here. I really like that your goals are clear, and the way the dice limit your choices. However, if you are vigilant, you can set yourself up so that you can use nearly any numbers you roll. I think the use of dice here is more successful than the attempt made with Macao. The random tile draws add nice variability as well.
HOWEVER, ALEA, LISTEN UP! I have had it up to here with your shitty productions of great games. I MIGHT be able to forgive your standard substandard tile thickness, but why oh why did you hire a camouflage expert to do the graphic design of this game? Are you afraid of a drone attack on any pieces that are actually visible on the game board? Designers, please start selling your best designs to other companies that know how to treat a lady!
Castles of Mad King Ludwig certainly has similarities to Suburbia, but is a bit lighter and strikes a different cord. The Master Builder job of pricing the rooms adds a very nice element. I'm happy to own both this and Suburbia, as they are both good games, and complement rather than replace each other.
SPARKS: Each character has something that they are GOOD at, that suggests a strategy, but the player interaction and events mix things up so much that you have to be creative while you stay focused on your goal.
Each item I have played this so far, I have immediately wanted to replay as THAT character. This is really like 4 games in one as far as the enjoyment of discovery. This game actually made me wish there were fewer games in the world so that this could get played more in my group. I also wish there was a good way to play 2 player!
Takes CitOW to a 10! I find the new cards to be better balanced and more fun to play with. The Chaos cards are more subtle, but still as thematic for each character. Conversely, the upgrades are now somewhat more powerful and all are useful now. Basically the more powerful effects have been shifted from the Chaos cards to the upgrades, which I think works better from fairness and game pacing standpoints.
A great game where you need to balance several individually simple elements into a dynamic whole. Scales from 2-6 players pretty well. The game is excellent with 5, 6, or 3 players, and still good with 4 or 2 (but with those numbers I'd probably play something else). The cards in the Fantasy Flight Games edition are of disappointing quality. The character cards especially need to be made of stronger stuff, but this is easily remedied using standard baseball card sleeves for the character cards. I would rate this game a little higher if it wasn't so often the case that you get beaten down and there's not a thing you can do about it. The game entices you to plan more more strategy than you are actually likely to be able to execute, and that can be a little frustrating at times..
It's the bluffing aspect that really makes this interesting for me. It doesn't seem light at all to me when played with 2 - it's a real thinker. With 3+ it's a looser game. I probably have more fun with 3+ unless I'm in a real chess-minded mood.
A nice improvement on the original, which was one of my childhood favorites. The bigger board, minis, and ability to keep the cards on the board are very nice. I also like that you can find your "to-hit" number by color rather than having to read the card - better suited for my young kids. The art also got a nice upgrade in this version.
This is a current lunchtime favorite. I find it incredibly dynamic for such a structured game. There are no bad cards, only bad timing. This game reminds me of Lost Cities in two regards: 1) it fundamentally involves assessing your ability to complete a series of numbers, and investing in that series accordingly, and 2) women routinely destroy me at it. I think that with a "nicer" theme, this game might be up there with Lost Cities as an extremely female-friendly game. But as for me, I still like the monsters.
My 2 year old daughter loves this game, and I love playing it with her. I was amazed the way she instantly recognized one door could stand for its color, picture, count, and a letter. I highly recommend this for 2-5 year olds.
This game looks like a wargame, and acts like a wargame, but the strategy is really in the bidding phase. As such, it was a much different game the second time we played than the first. The first was more about positioning and maneuvers. We laughed at that 10+ spot on the bidding track - who would bid that much? The second game was all about saving up the gold to grab the crucial god and/or creatures at just the right time to strike the deathblow, and we had bids around 20 gold. The tension was delicious.
This game is very good, and is one that will really shine with repeated play.
A couple spins with the PnP convinced me to back this project (not to mention the mounting package of bonus items). Feels a lot like Roll Through the Ages, but is much better suited to solo play, and a lot more intense. This game has a lot of tough choices to make, and is a really masterful design.
Wow. Print out a single sheet, grab some dice and a pencil, and you've got a surprisingly engaging and thematic half hour of fun in front of you. I like trying to manage the balance between keeping a good pace, gathering needed resources, and dealing with events as they arise. Really, really well done.
If you have played Dice Town and enjoy it, you really should get this expansion. It makes a very good game great.
The secondary prizes are nice all around, both because they give you a choice of actions and they minimize the times you get frozen out entirely.
On the other hand, the secondary rewards make it very hard to get to Dr. Badluck when you want him, so fortunately that is now an action you may chose at the general store. Even with just the base game it is hard to get to Badluck with lower numbers of players, so I think this was a needed fix.
The outlaws let you preset some of your roll, and add some nice strategy, and trying to capture them for rewards is just fun. I like the way they are all worth an odd amount of $ - this makes that odd dollar in your hand worth something in VP!
The gold cards give you a nice option when you limp into the gold mine with a single 9, and the alternate bank action helps keep a player from getting stuck with no money.
Overall, the expansion adds a lot of options and strategy and fits very nicely into the existing framework of the game. It is nice that these options where kept as a separate expansion, as I think the whole package would overwhelm many casual gamers.
This is one that seems to really annoy women because points can be taken away! I like the way the card deck limits actions a bit and puts a time limit on the game. I find keeping track of the score and mine income a bit of a chore. Overall, I think it's a neat game, but I'm not sure that I find it a lot of fun. While I like it, but I think I'm more likely to reach for Elasund when I'm in mood for this type of game. However, I also feel compelled to try it again, so my opinion may improve.
This game captures the feel of the video game very well. There may be some balance issues, but the system is very ameable to house rules, so I see this as easily fixed. I actually enjoy the challenge of the initial scenarios - you just have to make sure the marine players understand they they are not supposed to succeed the first time through - they need to figure out the tricks! The single roll combat system is very well implemented. I think that DOOM and Descent have diferent priorities - DOOM is a much more intense experience, while Descent is more of an adventure.
UPDATE: July 2013. I purchased and played Descent 2nd Ed. I fully expected that it would replace DOOM for me. But you know what? I still think DOOM is the best iteration of the system. It gets you to the cool parts, namely tactics, upgrades, and dice chucking, with much less fuss. The DOOM levels are just the right length for a play session, whereas the shorty D2 levels involve a good amount of setup for a small amount of game. I did not find the "leveling up" of D2 to be all that engaging either - it just meant everyone can dish out and take more damage. Bigger numbers doesn't feel a whole lot like progression. For me, the variable upgrades in DOOM vs. the different monsters (+ expansion) give a better feeling of variety with less hassle. DOOM forever!
Duell is nearly perfect in its simplicity. The game has startling depth for such a simple set of rules and components. Successful play requires hand management, memory, tactics, and a healthy dose of bluffing. It manages to invoke the flow of an actual fencing match as well. The special round cards take the game to a new level, as each changes the rules only slightly, but each also requires you to rethink your strategy. The parts in the new edition are just the right production value: nice wood bits, attractive board, small box. Duell is easy to teach, a lot of fun to play, and is surprisingly satisfying.
UPDATE August 2013. This game is still amazing! I am very glad to have this edition, as I very much enjoy the "Olympiad" nature of the special cards.
I like Dungeoneer quite a bit. The Vault of Fiends added quite a bit by introducing scalable monsters. However, I'm at the point where I wonder if adding more sets will enhance the experiene, especially since at this point combining all the sets would make the game too darn big. The new cards look pretty much like the old cards with slight variations. Perhaps if there were some kind of campaign system to tie the whole thing together?
A slick little expandable hack-fest. Each player acts as dungeon master for the other players. The scope is limited, but that's part of the appeal. Good for a play every once in a while or when you don't want to lug along your Runequest or Talisman sets.
This is a very well done update to a classic. I like Runebound and all, but I'm ambivalent about placing this game in the Terrinoth universe.
The new combat system is very welcome. I find it plays fast and has a bit of strategy to it. Fortunately for the complainers, FFG has but out alternate combat rules, but I like it with the system it came with.
A really good tactical game with a bunch of innovative, well designed mechanisms. My main issue is that many of these are separate little mini-games that don't mesh with the theme and prevent my immersion in the narrative.
Catan for gamers. Now, I'm not at all a Catan hater. SoC is my gateway game of choice, and I'll always be up for a play. However, and I'm not sure if this is fair or not, I've got to drop my SoC score a half point after playing Elasund, as this game has really made me aware of what parts of SoC I like and which I'm happy to live without. Elasund maintains the struggle for higher-probability land but controls the luck factor much better. There's always something you can do on your turn, even if it's just to relax and earn some free gold. Lots and lots of tough choices here, and you can be as aggressive as you dare. I do miss the trading element a bit, but that's not what this game is about! Elasund also works very well as a 2-player game, which is definitely not true of SoC. The rating could climb after some more plays.
Another great Cthulhu game from Fantasy Flight that lands somewhere between Mansions of Madness and Arkham Horror both in feel and in epicness. My favorite feature is the way the mysteries and research cards are different for each Ancient One, giving the whole game a slightly different flavor for each AO.
HOWEVER, all this talk about EH "replacing" Arkham Horror is poppycock. Poppycock, hooey and malarkey I say! EH is a tighter design than AH, but this also means the game is more constrained and presents fewer possibilities. It is not really all that less fiddly than AH either. Having to check every game component for reckoning effects makes the Mythos phase almost as much of a hassle as AH. The influence roll to get items can be just as frustrating as trying to get money to buy items in AH, maybe more so because you can't accumulate successes. Now you need to track damage on the monsters. I miss taking the multi-turn journeys through the other worlds. I also feel like EH splits your attention between tasks more than AH. You can't just focus on the gates, monsters, and occasional rumors like in AH. Now you have to deal with the mysteries as well. And getting across the board can take forevers. You can't just boost your speed and run for it like in AH.
I think that a lot of the flight to EH from AH comes from people who have overexpanded their AH and lost sanity points as a result. If you eat yourself sick at the buffet, that's not the buffet's fault, people!
I can see EH being a good option for those who are new to this genre. EH feels about like AH + the revised Dark Pharoah in complexity.
That being said, EH is a great game that reworks the AH premise into a more compact but also less epic format while incorporating some of the features from MoM. EH, AH, and MoM will all coexist happily on my shelf, and I am very picky about which games get to live on my shelf.
UPDATE Nov 2014: I've been really enjoying playing this solo. I can run 3 characters without trouble, but I'm finding the game very difficult I win this way. While clues are plentiful, "# investigators/2 (rounded up) = 2, which makes the mysteries tough. I'll try 2 characters next and see if I fare any better.
SPARK: Great to play with my 3 and 5 year olds. Teaches them counting (dice recognition) and memory skills, with just enough interaction to also allow them to practice good sportsmanship. The way my son shouts "DOUBLES!"
Excellent kids' game and game for parents to play with their children. My 3 year old has the rules down and loves it! This game has improved his counting skills and he can now instantly identify the number on die faces without needing to count the dots.
Great dice game. Maybe not quite as exciting as Can't Stop, my other favorite in this genre, but it is easier to explain, supports more players, and has less downtime between turns. I like to use the first roll XX variant in the Excape rules. I think simpler is better when it comes to dice games and negotiation games, and this is a great example of the former. The theme of the new version feels very appropriate as everyone tries to pull back the leader and surge ahead themselves.
A great distillation of Pandemic down to a more kid and family friendly format. Great components! Not nearly as interesting to me as Pandemic, but I give it points for being easier to get to the table with casual gamers.