Very clever fligting game that manages to feel like a Kung-Ku battle. It reminds me a lot of Knizia's En Garde. Whereas Flash Duel attempted to expand upon En Garge by adding special powers onto the same chassis, 8 Masters brings a more elaborate but very effective mechanistic system. Positioning, blocks, counters, overextension, and sneak tricks are all encompassed.
On the negative side, this is the most ludicrously oversized box I own. I transplanted the game to a box that is half the size.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a really nice little game. Slapping down the coins is a fun activity, and there is surely some strategy here despite the quick playtime. It's not quite as simple as carrying around the card (because who regularly has 8 dimes?), but if you bundle it with the required coinage it's a great wallet game.
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.
This is a great game, and the only reason I sold my copy is that I think Dungeon Petz accomplishes much of the same feel in a more streamlined way. Also, I enjoy the puzzle of taking care of the Petz more so than the puzzle of thumping the adventurers. I will still happily play it any time, though. I actually like the dummy player you get to control when you play with 2, and missed it a bit when we played with 4!
UPDATE Oct2014: I sold this, but I find myself missing the game. I've been on a worker placement binge lately, and so many games have not made the cut that I have renewed my appreciation for DL. I intend to pick up a copy of the Happy Anniversary edition.
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.
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.
I have no idea what the proper strategy is for this game, and my wife routinely thumps me, but I still like it. I think I like it because the tactics you should use are NOT obvious, and are as psychological as they are material.
Simply, shiney, and fun. The expansions seem a little on the pricey side, but the base game is a good value. The worst part for me is the time required to set up a battlefield. In other circumstances that would be one of the most fun parts, as the terrain blocks are very cool, but my gaming time is currently too limited to spend too much time building the board. I like the game and have a bucket full of figures, but I think I'm done buying expansions for this one.
This one has a bunch of neat mechanisms. I like the way that that you cannot make change for your bid cards, which can make bidding agonizing (in a good way). The misfortune cards that you must bid NOT to take are a lot of fun and often an exercise in brinksmanship. The rule that the lowest amount of money at the end instantly loses is brilliant.
This game seems expensive, but wow is it well produced. Even the insert is perfect. I could do without the map-fold otu instruction manual format, though. The game is very fun, and was really liked by all! The POW on the combat die adds a lot of excitement. I found there to be a satisfying amount of strategy and risk management. It also has just the right amount of player conflict to keep things interesting but still light-hearted.
This game takes most of Lost Cities and makes it an underlying mechanism of a more involved game. It's like instead of rolling a die to move your pawn, you play a game of Lost Cities instead. There's a lot of interesting things going on at once here, but not too many. It still manages to give me that same "I don't want to play this card right now" pain of Lost Cities that I love/hate so much with that game. I like it!
King's Forge is a really smart design in one of my favorite genres: the Strategic Dice Game.
KF feels like the child spawned by the mating of To Court the King and a fairly attractive and spunky resource-building Eurogame.
The game has two main phases: The Gather Phase where you build up your resource pool, your resources being dice, and the Craft Phase where you roll those babies to try to Craft Items.
The game has a number of clever design choices that come together very well:
* You've got two main categories of things you can do during the Gather Phase: 1) Collect more/upgrade your dice and 2) Acquire tools to let you manipulate your dice when you roll them in Craft Phase. Balancing these two imperatives is very interesting, and has elements of strategy, tactics, and good-ol'-push-your-luck.
* The 11 Gather Cards used each game come from a larger deck of roughly double that size, so each game you will need to figure out different ways to build and manipulate your dice pool.
* The Craft cards you will use also come from a much larger deck, and these are presented in order of difficulty, providing a nice escalation over the course of the game.
* The requirements of all the current and upcoming Craft Cards are visible from the beginning of the game, allowing some nice strategizing as to how you should build your dice pool both for the short and long term. You need to make some interesting choices between going for the quick cheap grabs, or spending time upgrading your resources so you'll be better prepared for the more elaborate items when they show up.
* The optimal strategy is going to vary based on the cards that come up, the player count, and what the other players are doing, giving nice variety to each game, a feature I love. A few cards, such as the peddler and graveyard, add some player interaction, as does Craft card stealing. You also need to decide whether you are going to rely on luck and charge ahead, or go slower with more tools to let you mitigate the luck of the dice.
* The Queen's Jubilee is a rare expansion that actually speeds up and simplifies the strategy somewhat, allowing you to use KF as a super-filler, and perhaps more easily engaging more casual gamers who want to get down to the dice rolling.
* The game board is available as an add-on. It is, as advertised, completely unnecessary, but also very nice, giving you finely illustrated places to put all the cards and dice (helping you remember what they represent), and also replacing the dock cards with board spaces. The board also accommodates the Queen's Jubilee expansion.
Overall, KF is a really fine game, and there is potential for my rating to climb even higher than my current 8 with more plays. It hits a nice spot on the complexity curve, where you can get by with minimal thought, but the game will also reward deeper thinking. It also hits a nice vibe for families on the interaction curve, where you need to be aware of what other people are doing and compete in the craft phase, but there is not too much directly messing with each other.
My kids, 6 and 8, enjoy KF quite a bit, and I will be turning the blank Craft Cards over to them so they can design their own Craft items, making the game truly our own.
I hope the Game Salute limited distribution doesn't dampen enthusiasm and exposure for this game too much. It's a great production and deserves a lot of attention.
This is a nice little expansion that gives you some nice new Gather cards you can use in any game, and also an alternate set of Craft cards for a faster game. The new Craft deck is easier to build, so you'll need to invest less time and thought into building your dice pool, but you'll be crafting items faster (and more often more than one per turn).
This is a really rare type of expansion - one that speeds up and simplifies the game. However, I think it is a good idea, because as much as I love KF, it can take a while with 4 players. With this new deck, you can reign the game down into the superfiller category and perhaps play with more casual gamers who want more dice rollin', less Gather Phase strategizin'.
The rules for this one are dead simple, even for a Knizia game. However, when I played it, I was amazed at how tense and strategic it is. It feels a little like Lost Cities, except that rather than wanting desparately to not have to play a card, here you want to play each card two places. You also feel less like you need to draw certain cards - any hand is a good one (while in Lost Cities, every hand stinks). It is great with 3 players!
I'm having a harder time that usual making up my mind about LAST WILL after 2 plays. I do really like the theme, and I applaud the myriad of different paths available to lose money, such as buying, depreciating, and selling properties; keeping up with a bevy of expensive companions and clubs; running your farms; blowing large sums on one-shot events.
To make these paths work optimally, you need to get the right helper cards. Because the game is so tight, it can be very painful if you are unable to nab the cards you need, and maybe that's where my frustration comes with this game.
It is par for the course in worker placement games that someone else grabs the spot you need; that's the whole tension of the game. However, when your spot is taken, there needs to be something else you can do instead. While Last Will offers you other options, they likely will not be nearly as good. The 2-card limit at the end of each turn exacerbates this quite a bit as you can't really make up for a missed beat this turn on the next turn.
Overall, this is a nicely designed, easy to play Euro. Usually, when I find myself ambivalent about a game, I'm thinking "I would rather be playing X". But with Last Will, an X doesn't come to mind. That's commendable, because I don't play a whole lot of new games anymore that don't feel like something I have already played. But I don't love it. More plays will help me make up my mind one way or the other. I think the game will either open up for me as I gain a greater appreciation for its depths, or I'll become more convinced of its lack of replayability.
Sept 2012: Played again, this time starting with $120. I now understand that you need to adjust your strategy to the amount of money in the game. This adds some interesting game-to-game variation. I would play this anytime, but I am still not convinced of its long term replayability. And yet I keep wanting to play it....
December 2012 My tumultuous relationship with this game continues. I really want to like this game, and I am playing it quite a bit, and yet I still find it vaguely unsatisfying. I think I may just like my worker placement/engine games either heavier or lighter than this. Regardless, I have ordered the expansion in the hope it will add that missing something. I realize that this is akin to having a child to try to save your marriage, but I am going to give it a shot.
November 2014 The expansion adds some nice variety, options, and decisions, but does not fundamentally change the game. I do like playing this, but my vague dissatisfaction at game end persists. I think that I'm craving a little more depth and strategic variance than this game was designed to offer. This game perfectly meets my personal definition of a "7": very good game, happy to play it, but don't need to own. I will even break my "no fractions" policy and give this one a 7.5
Very fun game. Lots of luck, but you still don't feel like things are completely out of control. Very nice components overall, although I wish that the board spaces were easier to see. Also, there should have been some $100 included, as you run out of money in the endgame. (UPDATE: printed some up from the excellent file in the files section). I am impressed that every single card is unique.
While the mechanisms don't really match actual horse racing (horses move backwards, you bet and buy horses while the race is in progress, etc), it still manages to feel a lot like horse racing. I get the feeling that an entire racing season is being represented abstractly through the single race. In any case, in my first play the three of us had a great time, and I'll definitely be trying this with my lunch group. (UPDATE: They love this game at work too).
This doesn't replace my other horse racing game, Winner's Circle. I think they are both good, and target about the same audience, but have different feels. Long Shot is perhaps the more out-and-out fun due to all the card play. Winner's Circle has a bit more excitement around the die roll, as you can more quickly parse what the die roll means for the board situation, whereas in Long Shot there's a delay while the current player checks their cards before the turn is resolved.
There's nothing else like this game. I'm a fan of many of Knizia's games, but this one is special. Somehow it's very abstract and highly thematic at the same time. It's all about economizing of resources while under relentless time pressure. There also aren't many cooperative games to choose from, but that style of play works very well here. It only gets better with the expansions, and with Sauron you can mix it up head to head. While the basic progression of the game is similar every time, circumstances continually create new challenges. This game has been an amazing and memorable experience every time so far.
At first I was afraid this would complicate things too much, but it actually integrates very well and adds a nice additional layer of choices. It will prolong the game a bit, but the game is one I love, so that's fine with me.
I have owned both the original and deluxe editions, and wished that I could have the added features of the deluxe edition in the compact form factor of the original. This newest edition grants my wish!
On the plus side, everything is bigger. One the downside, everything is bigger. I do enjoy the new bits, and the variant game is an excellent new twist that requires new strategies. The art is fantastic. However, I miss the portability of the original. The box is too big - it could have been about a third smaller and still held the board and peices. I think on the whole, I would have liked for the Deluxe Edition to be released in the same form factor as the original. I must admit that Dungeon Twister has somewhat tempered my enthusiasm for Confrontation, as I find that DT has a similar feel and is overall more satisfying. However, Confrontation has the advantage of being the quickest high strategy game that I own.
Finally picked this one up, and yes, my wife does love it. Not for the reasons I usually see given though (non-confrontational, multiplayer solitaire). I find this game to be downright cutthroat. Our game is focused on denying each other needed cards (only to discard the 8 the turn after they play the 9) and on bluffing them into giving up the investemnt card you want. She loves it, and she repeatedly thumps me at it. While I like it, overall I find Battle Line to be similar but slightly better.
Really nice Euro design. No complex conversions of materials to victory points here - your gold is your points, and I love that. The economy escalates very nicely over the course of the game. The game has a lot of direct competition mixed with some grudging cooperation. The game lacks a lot of the convoluted mechanics I have seen in many Euros lately. It's not too hard to figure out how to accomplish your goals, so you can focus on outmaneuvering your opponents. My main reservation is I wonder how much replay value the game has, but I'd be happy to play this any time to find out.
This is a tense medium-weight game, although it will feel heavier at first until you figure out how to avoid screwing yourself. This is a game where even if you're not winning, as long as you're diligent, you can keep in the running. If you find yourself always one step behind then you're in trouble. At some point during the game, you'll need to sacrifice the current scoring round to set up for the next one, and the person who accomplishes this most efficiently will most likely win. I enjoy the simultaneous action planning and the potential for bluffing and doublethink.
My initial reaction to this game was that taking the auctions out of Modern Art was just a crazy idea, and MA is renown for being one of the premier pure auction games. But as I thought about, I realized that what I enjoy about MA is the manipulation of the artist values through the card play. The auctions were just a way to get to that, and were actually not the most interesting part of the game. In fact, I wonder if the reason that MA has so many different kinds of auctions is that they are not all that compelling on their own.
So, after this reflection, I'm thinking I would rather own Master's Gallery than Modern Art for a few reasons:
1) The valuation you need to do to play MA makes the game rather tough for newbies and also rather fragile. Someone who misvalues a painting or two can easily hand the game to someone else.
2) I really prefer the use of actual classic paintings in MG.
3) Having the essence of MA in a easy-to-teach filler package means I will get to play it a lot more.
4) Frankly, I have other games that I would rather play than MA when I'm in the mood for an auction. I think many of Knizia's own games have more interesting auction systems. I'd rank the auctions in Ra, Medici, Hollywood Blockbuster, Tower of Babel, Taj Mahal, Beowulf: The Legend all above MA for fun factor.
UPDATE: Sept 2014 FINALLY played the game, and as I suspected, the auctions are the worst thing about Modern Art. In contrast, Master's Gallery is a wonderful distillation of the best aspects of Modern Art.
I was turned on to this game by a Michael Barnes review singing its praises, and have been watching Ebay for it ever since. I finally stumbled across it in a game store during a business trip to Cologne. I played it that very night with a work colleague.
Even though two player is probably not the best way to play it, I think my life will be forever divided into the time before and after MillionenSpiel ("The Game of Millions"). It is just one of those crazy fun lucky games that has you up and shouting. The goal is to try to turn 5 dollars into a million. It has some really clever bits of design that keep upping the stakes at every turn, but the game is also not afraid to bust you down to nothing. Consequently, be prepared for games that vary wildly in length.
I highly recommend MillionenSpiel, and it's a shame it never made it to the USA. If you like dice and betting at all, grab this if you can!
This is a great blend of Eurostyle action points with American theme and dice-rolling. Yeehaw! It does require you to bring quite a few bits, however. Glass stones and poker chips work great for this, but I printed some paper tokens for gaming on the go. This is our go-to airport game. Deserves much more attention than it got! I would definitely buy a deluxe version with bits!
I am a big fan of Onirim. I nthe original edition, then upgraded to this one. The new expansions are nice, but not essential. The pawn is cool looking but rather useless gameplay wise, and feels like justification to pump up the MSRP price point for the game.
However, this new edition is a nice package for people who don't own Onirim, and I'm looking forward to the forthcoming new games in the Oniverse line.
UPDATE Jan 2015: Onirim has become my go-to solo game for when I'm stuck somewhere with a little time to kill. I like the way the various expansions can be played in isolation or together. Each of them adds more to think about, but is well balanced in adding both harmful and helpful elements. I was working towards an "all-in" game with all the expansions, but I now don't think that's the best way to enjoy the game. I keep the glyphs mixed in and choose one or max two other expansions each time. I enjoy the way the game has a different feel and requires different strategies each time this way.
There are a couple neat ideas in this game. One of the best is that movement away from the sun is more difficult than towards the sun - may not be realistic but it does make for an interesting game mechanism. This ended up being a bit lighter than I would have liked though. Overall the game is clever and pleasant, and I love the theme, but in the end it left my wife and myself with a "meh" aftertaste. I think that for me, this game is a victim of me having other games I'd rather play when in this kind of mood - both Jambo and Starship Catan come to mind.
UPDATE: OK, about a week after panning the game above, I find my self unexpectedly craving a game of this. This game does have a pleasant rhythm to it, and maybe that's what is drawing me back to it. I don't know if my wife will want to play this any more, though. The cards that do things like swap your ship locations or swap your cargo are not enjoyed by her.
I avoided this game for a long time on the assumption that the scoring mechanisms of Ra would be uninterested once divorced form the wonderfully tense auction present in Ra. However, I actually have found the Ra dice game to be really nice. The dice mesh with the scoring system surprisingly well, and the result is a very fun and fast game.
I was very surprised how much more interesting the game becomes with the addition of these new cards. The expansion definitely creates a host of new potential strategies, and makes me wonder how I ever felt the game was complete before. this expansion has definitely slowed things down for me, and I find myself changing strategies more mid-stream. However, I do enjoy the added depth and options.
I am not a fan of the takeover mechanisms, however. Too much bookkeeping for too little gain! From an interaction standpoint, I'd rather see ways to stop your opponents from taking particular phases.
I was skeptical about this expansion for quite a while, but after 50+ plays with my wife I finally decided to bite it off. Adding to RftG is not a no-brainer for me, despite how much we play the game. We don't play with takeovers. That whole thing seems like a mess to me - way too much bookkeeping for too little effect.
I was worried that prestige might also be a bridge too far, but after playing with BoW I do not find that to be the case. BoW is very much meant for experienced players, but the added rules burden is not too bad. I mainly like 3 things about the expansion:
1) The prestige mechanism gives you another interesting victory strategy to peruse. I don't find it overpowering as some have commented here; there are many other strategies that can also yield at least a point and a card every round!
2) I like the prestige super-ability one-shot. It is frustrating to get stuck at the midgame or even early on, and this feature gets you around that at a cost.
3) Green strategy gets some help. I felt that the green engine was relatively under-resourced before.
I could have lived without this expansion. I need to remind myself how prestige works when I pick up the game after a while, and I still need to look up some of the trickier BoW cards. Search also slows down the game quite a bit. However, it is hard for me to go back now, because BoW does introduce some interesting strategic options.
UPDATE Sep2012: Alright, dangnabit, I need to admit that this expansion completes the game. It definitely slows things down, but it also easily doubles the number of strategies possible. It's really well positioned at the end of the RftG line. When you're ready, get it, and you will come to appreciate it greatly. I take back what I said about being happy to live without this expansion - there's no going back for me now.
First order of business: before you even touch the cards, sleeve them. I know that is not possible, but try. They come new with some of he edges chipped already, and in this game it is critical to not mark the cards. Mayday purple sleeves fit very tightly, so I actually went with Mayday Premium Orange sleeves so the cards wouldn't bow.
With that out of the way, I have to say this is a very nicely designed game. I think it is the game I wished Panic Station was. However, this is a game where all the players need to internalize the rules before it can shine, so plan for a practice game or two before you get to the good stuff. Fortunately, the game is quick so repeat play isn't hard to do.
Slightly better than the original base game and do consider it to be an upgrade - to 1.5 though, not 2.0! They have staged it nicely to allow newbies to learn it easier.
My favorite aspect of the new version over the old is that now you have more control over the types of cards you draw. There have also been a few rough edges smoothed out that streamline the game.
I normally enjoy games with conflict, but some reason when players take things from one another in this game it just feels SO MEAN. I should probably avoid the "Era of Turmoil" theme deck, aka "Era of I built the Hedge Tavern and now I'm gonna be a dick."
This is a solid reimagining of the original Runebound. It has some different mechanisms, but generally gets you to the same place.
I do really like the way the story cards are integrated into the adventure decks. It reminds me of the way the decks are tuned in Eldritch Horror.
I also like the trophy system for learning skills.
The strategy seems to revolve around setting up a killer combo between items and abilities. For example, in my last game I won using a combination of a sword that could do 3 damage, an ability that let me flip a token, which let me be sure I could bring that 3 damage into play, an item that gave me a another doubler, letting me set up to do at least 6 damage a turn, and a +1 initiative ability to make it likely I could strike first. Margath didn't have a chance.
I conceived this strategy about 1/3 into the game, and spent the rest of the time pursuing it. Job one was to get gold to buy the sword. Then I had to cycle my ability cards until I got good ones to maximize the sword's power. Then I had to go after the right trophies to bring those abilities into play. It was satisfying to go from A to B to C to get the plan to come together.
I think I overall prefer 2nd edition though. A few reasons for this: * The token system is interesting, and I especially like how new items come with new tokens. However, the combat system ends up being a bit tedious, because the best way to resolve the tokens is generally pretty obvious. It just takes a few moments to puzzle it out. I think the system only gives the illusion that you are making decisions, and I am not sure it's worth the bother.
* There is a lot of contortion in the use of the terrain dice. Those dice are really only well suited for movement on the map, yet the game tries to use them for many other things. I find the new stickered terrain dice rather ugly, and having to use them for other types of checks is slightly painful. Would it have killed them to just throw in some d6's? The same types of checks could have been accomplished using a success roll system like Arkham Horror.
* I'm not crazy about the card-based ability check system. Using cards is justified in Runewars because it enables a number of effects you can't get with dice. Here, there just should have been success dice used. Once again, d6's man!
* The system of using the skill cards to also control fatigue levels works, but it like an overly streamlined way to combine skill training with fatigue. For a thematic game, it's an oddly non thematic mechanism.
* I miss the difficulty based gems that let you choose your challenge level. I also miss the hiring of allied to compensate for your hero's weaknesses.
* The pickup and delivery of goods for a few golds seems necessary to make money, but feels an awfully mundane way to do it. This game is supposed to be about epic heroes, but here I am taking odd jobs.
Overall, the revision of Runebound into the 3rd edition seems very similar to the imagining of Arkham Horror into Eldritch Horror. The streamlining has resulted in a more controlled experience that both gains and loses some things in the process. The new game stands on its own not as a replacement for the original, but as a next chapter. And just like AH vs EH, I may find myself pulling down the newer game more often thanks to the streamlined, more directed design, even though my heart belongs to the original.
Solid adventure card expansion. Challenges are a bit harder than average, with some interesting effects. Adds some new Events that could be potential huge pains in the butt, but that makes them meaningful. I like the encounter that allows you to attempt to loot a dragonlord.
The best part for me are the new Blue challenges that can only be damaged in a single combat phase. I like when you occasionally get something like this, and realize you need to run away for now! Also includes some Encounters that basically give you an extra hero to use just for stalking your opponents. I don't think PvP is a strong suit of Runebound (we usually avoid it), so these didn't do much for me. The other monsters are decent.
This is a very fun game. All the suspicion and betrayal of Werewolf in a 30 minutes or less. I love suspicion in games, so this is right up my ally. You don't have a lot of control over whether or not you ultimately win, but it's still a fun ride. Sleeve those goal and role cards right away though! Not many games easily accommodate 3-10 people, and this is the perfect game to have on you and bust out on any moderately sized group.
This is an excellent game. Sometimes I find it a little overanalytical, but when I'm in the mood it can be a perfect strategy fix. I think I like it slightly better than Through the Desert. I find this game unusual when played with 3 iun that it's not necessarily good for you when the other 2 people go at it and leave you alone, as you will often spend too many tiles to capture peices entirely by yourself.
Catan is great, and this is my preferred edition of it, but I'm at the point now where I don't enjoy it so much if it's not played at a brisk pace. I have been occasionally tempted by Seafarers, but I think this may actually be all the Catan I need.
After reading the rules... Looks like a nice game that would make a good gift.
While I would like to play it sometime, it does not seem to be a game I need to own.
UPADTE: Curse you Rhado, maybe I do need this game!
UPDATE AFTER PLAYING: This was the first game I sought out at Unity Games 20, and I got a chance to play it with some friends. After getting over my immediate reaction that I had played poorly, I liked it. I really enjoyed how thematic the tiles were; the action of each made sense. While I was punished by the impact of population growth, I appreciate why it is there. One must prepare for the growth of their suburb or one will get bogged down towards the end. I also did not mind the fiddliness of the scoring with each tile placement; I though that the interaction this produced was worth the hassle.
So, I would definitely like to play it again, and I think my wife would like it, but I am not quite convinced enough to buy it. Shelf space in my house is a prized commodity, and I am not sure Suburbia makes the cut. Suburbia gives me a similar feeling to two games that have earned shelf tenure: Attika and Vegas Showdown. Suburbia won't be knocking either of these to the trade pile. So, we'll see what the future brings for Suburbia and the Asher house.
UPDATE Feb 2014: Broke down and bought it. along with expansion. I want to play this some more to see if I can pull off managing the population growth. This game will either open up for me, or worst case I will find it a new home. It is officially interviewing for shelf space!
I like this game quite a bit, but I've played with people who really dislike the "luck" aspect (these are people who prefer the classic Eurostyle efficiency engine type game). It doesn't bother me, as it's not really luck, but odds at play in this game, and it does have a fair amount of strategy. Keeping tabs on your opponents is critical. As far as game enjoyment, it is important to keep the game moving along. It will seem too long if people take too long to take their turns!
I think this game deserves more attention than it's getting. In most games with trading, a player in the lead often finds that no one will trade with him. ToB has a brilliant mechanic that allows you to profit from even refused offers. This game is full of wonderful, tough choices for every player on every turn. My main concern about the game is that you can often be boxed out of being able to do anything on some turns simply because of your card draw. I'm not sure how big of a problem this is yet, however, as if you're short of one kind of card that usually means you're stocked in another and can make a big play with them. So far I've played with 3 and 5. Three is excellent even though cards were somewhat scarce. Five is also good, but the number of intervening players between my turns made the game feel a somewhat more chaotic to me. I suspect that 4 players is the ideal number for this game. I look forward to exploring the depth I can sense beneath the surface on this one.
I am not typically a fan of games with this many different, disjointed ways to score. You've got at least three independent set collections going on, with a area majority contest in the senate to boot. Yowza.
However, it all manages to hang together really well, and is very satisfying to play. The various scoring methods are very well balanced, so you do have a lot of choices as to how you want to play. Specializing or spreading around also seems equally viable, depending on what your opponents are doing. This plays well with 2, but I'd like to try it with 4, because I think this will make things even more dynamic, and give the Senate more importance.
This is largely a heads-down game as players study their mancala, but you do need to pay attention to your opponents because there is competition for everything on the board.
The game is beautifully produced, and is another game that makes me mad at the crappy production Alea gave to the otherwise excellent Castles of Burgundy.
This is a really clever but TOUGH solo dice game. All you need is 2 printed sheets (or even just 1 compact sheet), 2 dice, and a pencil with eraser and you've got everything you need for 20-30 minutes of fun. This is like a game I would have made up in study hall if I was a talented game designer. Grab a few more dice and some d6 Shooters printouts and you're all set for a plane or train ride.
The one suggestion I have is that it would be nice if there were a few more gameplay hints on the sheets, such as roll consequences for constructs and links.
Not a lot of games this good you can play with such large groups. I have the Lupus in Tabula version, which is excellent. The cards are high quality, but you'll want to sleeve them just because people will fiddle with them a lot and a marked card can ruin things.
Very fun racing and betting game! Excellent production by Face 2 Face. The horses could have easily been listed on cards, but here we get thick cardboard tiles instead (like in their production of "I'm the Boss".) The betting chips could have been nicer though; instead of small cardboard chits, wood bits or plastic chips would have been better. Gameplay is excellent, light fun!