Fun, light abstract game, with an interesting twist -- some of the playing pieces belong to both players, while others are mutually exclusive. And depending on the tiles you draw, you may be forced to play your opponent's pieces instead of your own.
[as a kid's game] Fun, light recognition game, suitable for kids ages 3-5. I think it would lose its appeal pretty quickly once you're familiar with the items represented. Still, for the price point (about $7) the game features great quality components, clear rules and a gameplay experience that helps stretch a kid's mind... Reinhard Staupe is a fabulous designer of children's games.
I can appreciate its place as a landmark game and the blueprint/inspiration for tile laying games to come, but that's about it. When I see Acquire's rating, I'm baffled. I see a game held up by staunch supporters who love what the game represents to them (either nostalgia or a game ahead of its time -- at the time) and not what the game currently is.
The allure of Acquire eludes me completely. I think it is an imbalanced, luck-riddled, rich-get-richer, plodding dinosaur. But for some, Acquire is their first kiss -- one of the first "real" games they played that they'll always remember fondly, regardless of the actual details. No matter how much better the kisser might be, and how many better kissers they've made out with, that first kiss still tantalizes the senses and triggers fond memories.
It's a game that was ahead of its time. Now that computers can facilitate the insane amounts of micromanagement, there are far better ways to spend my time. Even the nostalgia wears off after a bit. It holds a lofty place in the annals of gaming history, but it is a relic.
A game screaming to be excellent, but limited by minutae. This is the posterchild for a boardgame far better suited to being a computer game to help track the odds and ends. a typical AH game with tons of counters and rules rife with exceptions.
Very disappointed in the game. I've played very few games with more down time and less to do while you twiddle your thumbs waiting. The game rewards over analysis, and has no pace or cadence. Each turn can be analyzed to the Nth degree, and it boils down to mathematical projections and an ability to locate mathematically superior moves on the board. So rather than making clever or strategic plays, it's about spotting mathematics. I'm not good at these types of games, as I'm not willing to spend the time (ie, drag the game out) to map out every possible permutation of my turn actions. Horribly unforgiving game, as it seems like early mistakes can doom you from the start. That wouldn't be bad in a short game, but for such a long game, you could easily find yourself playing with no motivation for a long time. I can also see how one player feeling out of it could simply call it quits and declare a winner by shipping along another player's route, as the game features several elements which could be exploited for kingmaking. There are far many better games where I feel more involved and have more fun along the way.
This was a completely lukewarm experience for me. Nothing great here, nothing truly new, innovative or never-seen-before, but nothing (quite yet) overused. Suffers from Option Blur -- too many directions you can move in, and too many things that need to be accomplished by the end of the game. So even on turn one, you already need a pretty clear plan on how you're going to pursue things. Evaluating the different actions is extremely difficult - because you have no clear-cut context for what is inherently more important or valuable than something else. Competition and Screw Factor feels completely arbitrary. Early on a decision can completely derail another person. There's not necessarily any game context for it. No real reason, just arbitrary shit-disturbing. Felt like a hodge podge of things I've already seen in Caylus, Stone Age and even Age of Steam. I suppose I'd play again, but there are a LOT of other games I'd prefer to play first. I simply do not "see" what the rabid fans of this game see.
a fantastic game of building airline networks. There is plenty of player interaction and conflict, and little downtime between turns. At one point, it was the most requested game I own. Does show its age compared to more balanced and streamlined Euros, but among my favorite Avalon Hill titles for 4+ players.
an excellent game of secret bidding, outguessing opponents and subtlety. less than four and you feel like it's rock-papers-scissors rather than as deep as it truly is. clever, quick-paced and very fun.
Took several turns to get the hang of the main mechanics -- move Alexander around the map, cutting regions into smaller and smaller portions. Then place your soldiers inside regions. The more empty spaces in a region, the more it scores, but the harder it is to acquire. Also, you can choose Scoring as one of your actions -- the wrinkle is when you choose to score *everyone* in the game scores. You have to pay a card to score and allow your opponents to earn points, so you need to make sure you have a good point advantage to do so. Definitely want to play again.
Nice, slick little tile laying optimizaton game. Took me a while to get the hang of the negative space managment for tile placement, and the first round scoring seems almost trivial, but a very interesting game with some difficult decisions. I would definitely play it again.
Really liked my first play, but we missed several rules that could have had a significant impact. Lots of nice options, but like Merchants of Amsterdam, I got a very strong feeling that the game helps the rich get richer -- if you have more money, you get to spend more on your actions to get what you need to generate more money. Fall behind that curve, either through poor decision making, poor luck of the draw from the Power Card deck or a poor farmer payout when you really need it, and it seems like you can quickly find yourself out of the game by the halfway point. I've enjoyed my subsequent plays more, but I'm not completely convinced of the game's long-term strategic replay value, despite really liking the components, mechanics and decisions (few though they seem to be).
While not the heir apparent to Circus Maximus I was hoping for, Arena is a fast-paced racing card game that is easy to learn and ultimately satisfying -- I just wish it were a wee bit deeper to be able to make a meaty campaign/season game out of or offered greater variety among the chariot teams.
Barely a risk contender on its own. Though there are some neat options, some clever game mechanics and a dynamic feel push this toward the top of the "Risk/Supremacy" pyramid. The expansion is almost required. It improves the game so much, it's worth the investment. Bumps up to 7.5/10 with the expansion.
Was briefly a group favorite. There are lots of options, some clever game mechanics and a dynamic feel push this toward the top of the "Risk/Supremacy" pyramid. Still, without threaded turns, gameplay can bog down and introduce lots of down time. The game really needs this expansion to warrant seeing the table, IMO.
I really like the components and feel of the gameplay pacing, but I was taken aback at the huge role of luck. If one player gets their core city as the first draw from their stack of black tiles, they have a huge advantage over someone with that starting city further down the stack.
If that can be addressed, I do like the efficiency decisions facing players, and the cascade effect of building structures for free or reduced costs if timed properly. As is, the outcome is determined by the setup of the player's tile stacks more than their decisions. Once you balance the starting tile draws, the rest of the game is quite enjoyable.
Colorful, effective components and art can't save this shell of a game. Theme is barely even applicable. We found the game to be boring, despite the relatively simple game mechanics. Had potential, but failed to fulfull it.
Perhaps my favorite Party Game after Cranium Hoopla. Fun, engaging, and more frenetic and compelling to me than Apples ot Apples. For some reason, some folks have difficulty grokking whether they want to make a good or bad match. The only real downside is if you get a Red Sheep the turn you get to call the topic, you're virtually guaranteed one point, and have a great shot at two... However, since it rotates around the table, that's balanced out. Great fun.
I think it gets a bad rap. Good bits, interesting decisions, lots of things to consider. The bonus for triggering scoring is an interesting incentive to score something you have a minor stake in, just to prevent other people from scoring too much more. The premise, however, feels downright silly -- I can't help but think of this as "aggressive conservation" ... Surround the poor animals and make sure they're ok before you destroy their habitat to make way for industrialization.
a classic Steve Jackson game, pitting undermanned but technologically gifted crewman against the relentless numbers of aliens. tongue-in-cheek beer n' pretzels game. not a bad way to pass an hour, but better options exist.
I'm glad I played, but I don't think I need to play again. While repeated playings could help speed up the game considerably, the set up, rules explanation and sheer physical manipulation of bits (when purchasing units, placing/moving units or dicing in battles) simply takes far more time than I'm generally willing to commit -- especially compared to what I felt was a fairly limited pool of decisions to make. Our 3 player game took 3.5 hours, and we only completed 2-1/3 turns (Japan capitulated after his 3rd player turn). Perhaps more nuance would reward a player investing additional time into the game, but I think there are games that offer a comparable wargame experience in far less time, with less fiddly component manipulation.
Easy to learn, fun to play. Fast and furious action, where folks really get into shouting out BANG! every time they take a pot shot. A party game masquerading as a card game. My opinion is dropping quickly, though, based on some insanely long games where players perform seemingly random moves with no thought to the goals, or take exceedingly long amounts of time to play a card or two. This game should have a brisk pace and play in 30 minutes or so, otherwise, it's far too long and far too repetitive.
Nice, light game of guesswork, a bit of bluffing, and trying to figure out what your opponents want. I like the bartering system of escalating bids to bribe another player for the right to use an action. The board, however, is clumsy -- I can now see the attraction to the card decks used in Ein, Stein & Reich, the revisioning of Basari.
Really enjoy how much great game is crammed into a small deck of cards! Very clever and compelling design to use cards in lieu of figures. Interesting mechanics. Lots to like in the design and rules -- the gameplay easily lives up to my expectations. Lots of tactical options, lots of army-building options and lots of replay. Phenomenal value for your investment.
Shows some wear and tear, especially with the larger 10 x 10 grid. Easily updated with a few house rules. However, great, great fun with kids! Helps teach deductive reasoning, initiating a pattern, etc. Love to play this with my almost-six-year-old.
While the game mechanics are easy to learn, it is definitely not a simplistic game. There are always more things to do than actions to do em with. The game is all about options and choices. There are numerous ways to configure, customize and improve just about everything. An excellent cooperative/campaign boardgame with great expansions available.
Wow. What a great expansion. Great new items, abilities and ship modules... But this also includes one of the best campaign generation systems in any cooperative game. I love the campaign tracking element, with different missions having different ramifications (Economic, Political, Military, Scientific).
Based on the quality of the original game and this expansion, I'll be eagerly awaiting further supplements!
Fun game with tough choices masquerading as interesting, light decisions. I can see this holding fairly significant replay value for 4-5 players as it plays quickly and the decisions are important, but not taxing or paralyzing. Brisk pace, friendly competition and interesting risk/reward dynamics make this a refreshing game despite many familiar mechanics. Love the press your luck of risking and when to drop out, but a bad run of luck can ruin a single session -- still, in the long run, there's an awful lot to like here.
The real-time component of the game by itself almost prevents it from being a kid's game. If it weren't for that, then the fact that there are too many rules to keep in mind while playing real-time should do the trick. Also, the blue and purple suits are too similar in color/contrast to easily distinguish from each other. Box is extremely flimsy, with oversized, folded up rules that barely fit back into the box after play.
oh how we have tried to love this game. lots of depth and strategy lost in the typical AH rules structure with too many special exceptions to keep track of. if it were more streamlined, it would be excellent.
For an abstract strategy game, there are few games with the appeal of Blokus. Beautiful production, elegant rules, engaging gameplay. One of the best 4-player abstract strategy games I've ever played. Even after one play, it's easy to see why this game has won so many awards.
A very nice 3D abstract game with lots of replay value, but far, far more cut throat than Pueblo or Blokus, the two abstracts I find closest in terms of strategy/feel. However, Rumis plays in about 1/2 the time of either, so a particularly brutal session will end quickly, anyway.
An almost perfect adaptation of Blokus for 2... Small, portable, but I wish the grooves were deeper or the pieces magnetic so they weren't so easy to jostle -- the board gets displaced much more than the larger 4 player format.
the best game to build a league around. a single game has tons of strategy, while luck still plays a large part. however, in a league setting, this game really shines as your team and players improve. would be a "10" if played in a league setting... drops a bit if played as one-offs, since you're missing out on so much of what the game has to offer. I think a few of the teams are a bit imbalanced and cumbersome for casual play (I'm talking about you, Nurgle!) and it can be difficult keeping up with rules changes and tweaks, even with the excellent Living Rulebook available -- those are the only things that keep Blood Bowl from being a Perfect 10.
Great components, great strategy, nice use of the Blue Moon setting and established art/motif. I liked the number and type of decisions, and the fact that coming in second could be almost as beneficial as coming in first -- the rewards for participating in the scoring was tempting enough to warrant a lot of careful decision making, especially at the risk of letting someone resolve a region by himself and take all the credit solo. In that regard, it reminded me a bit of Marracash, where if it's gotta' score anyway, you at least want a piece of the action. Pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
One of my favorite word games of All Time. I literally played this hundreds of times growing up. I haven't gotten to play nearly as often since college, as my knack and experience keep folks from wanting to play. It's a fun game, but can be tense since it's timed, and some folks don't like the added pressure -- but in my mind, it keeps things brisk and challenging, as opposed to the overly long pauses in something like Scrabble.
It's an addictive, fun, and quite strategic game with 4-5 players. First-timers will need a few rounds to get used to a few singular game mechanics, but a nice introductory trading/negotiation game with limited "screw your neighbor" moments. [UPDATE 2/28/06] Rating dropped from 8 to 6.5. Drags on a bit with more people, and the illusion that mutually beneficial trades are equal is hard to overcome. Also, once you find yourself behind, it can be incredibly difficult to get back into the game as you have to constantly add value to other players to earn points yourself, effectively making null moves or marginal increments on most turns.
I really enjoyed the mechanics and gameplay, but the theme is quite thin -- it actually felt more "viral" than monk/master/philosophical. Still, neat mechanics, quick playing time and nice components. However, I am dreadfully awful at the game, and it can be very cruel -- you can find yourself out of the game fairly early on and become a spectator.
a classic 2 player game with wonderful strategy and very quick play. a great game to ease your way into more complex gaming as the night goes on. it suffers from symmetrical solvability -- where mirroring your opponents moves can virtually ensure a deadlock with a few exceptions. but still, it reminds me of days of yore, and heck, my 4 year old can play it (and play well).
Wow, what a great little game. Far more planning, hand management and strategy than it first appeared. A wonderful card game that's easy to teach, plays quickly and is wholly satisfying for its type of gameplay experience. The more I play Bucket King, the more I love it. More than meets the eye, as you have to manage your hand, your bucket pyramid and your opponents to succeed.
Nothing to write home about... Too easy to get hit in the crossfire when someone is trying to target another player. Felt I had very little chance to maximize cards drawn with stocks to pursue... Felt that there was a HUUUUGE advantage to being first to act in the 2nd or 3rd season, but having no such restriction as in the beginning of the game to only get 1 action when acting first. The opportunity to cash out 2 stocks before anyone else is enormous, unbalancingly so.
A very fun, fast-paced "Resevoir Dogs" style filler/bluffing/intimidation game. Just the right length (8 rounds) that even if you're eliminated, you're not out of the game long. Clever pacing of the game to capture a frantic feel. I strongly dislike the special powers, as some are more active/beneficial and others reactive.
Interesting blend of manual dexterity/flicking (a la X-Bugs, PitchCar or something like that) with area control -- flicking your little building blocks into regions on the board to score points. Nice bits, simple gameplay. And kids can play it, too... Dunno why it has such a bad reputation, it's a nice little game.
An excellent push your luck dice game. Yes, indeed there is a lot of luck via the die rolls, but there's also a lot of player control and risk management to contend with. Vying for progress along the various tracks is interesting, and makes for a nice blend of tactical and strategic decisions. I far prefer this with only 2 players, as opposed to 3 or 4. The BrettSpielWelt online implentation is wonderful, and plays very quickly.
I think Candamir's failure is in trying to accomplish too much. The game is easy to get into and seems to offer a lot of potential, but quickly becomes repetitive and drags on at the end, as players need to move farther and farther, taking longer and longer, to accomplish their goals. The mead item further drags the game down by pulling leaders back instead of empowering trailers. That said, I do like the adventure concept, as characters develop, earn experience, provide for the needs of the villagers, explore and do other adventure-y things. It's just too darn long. I think I'd play it once or twice with my nephew, but can't see ever playing this again with more sophisticated gamers.
Simply one of the best games ever made. Quick, simple rules, lots of strategy, agonizing decisions, and beautiful components. A must for anyone's collection. Opinion has downgraded from a perfect 10 with the inclusion of the expansions, which lengthen the game, and the introduction of Hunters & Gatherers, which is far more streamlined.
Nice variations provide enough differences to make it a unique experience from the traditional Carcassonne -- and a much more balanced, strategic game, in my opinion. The bonus tiles add quite a bit. A strong game, which helps streamline and fulfill the potential Carcassonne tempted us with.
I still like Carc: Hunters & Gatherers a bit more overall, especially for a larger group, but The Castle is a great 2 player edition. The scoring to snag bonus tiles adds a small tactical touch, and the ability to orient tiles in any fashion (as long as roads line up) is great. I don't see Reiner's touch on this, though -- there's nothing that smacks of RK's trademark wonky bizarrio math or scoring.
Very impressed. Luck of the draw is clearly evident, but not as overwhelming as in some games as I felt I could still make good decisions and score well despite tile draws. I had trouble adjusting to the complete change of negative space assessment -- the dark space was now what the light green space was in Carc: Hunters & Gatherers, etc. I also really, really like the city wall element, of slowly but surely confining the playing area. It adds a bit more tension, another tactical layer and helps alleviate the biggest problem of standard Carc - the interminable end game.
One of the few games I have ever played that is as solid with 2 as it is with 3 or 4. An excellent game of tough decision-making, and a strong design sense to pull together a rather abstract strategy concoction. While it may first appear "dry" I find the game rather lush and engaging.
Simply one of my favorite games ever made. Hard to explain, but offers a rich experience. Very high replay value with the different country/ritual set up each time and so many varying victory conditions. You never can do everything you want, so you have to make some tough choices!! A crown jewel in my collection. The beginning can be a bit slow as written, but the excellent variants make it far more managable. I'll never turn down a game of Castle of Magic. The roll and move portion and poor components drop it from a 9.5 to an 8.5, but it's still a wonderfully unique gameplay experience.
It's simply ok. Yes, it was revolutionary. Yes, it took the gaming scene by storm. But now many other developers have learned from the innovations and improved on them. For my time, if I have to choose a Catan game, I'd far rather play Starfarers of Catan.
Excellent kids game of visual perception and recognition. Match the one set of identical pictures from a card depicting 15 different items. I can see Benjamin's mind churning and going through a little check list to see if the items match or not. Excellent components, simple rules and engaging gameplay for kids. Good brain exercise!
Very classy, beautiful abstract game. The 3D pieces create the illusion that 3D placement and position is important, despite playing on a 2D field. The handful of mirrored pieces in each person's set presents simply mimicking your opponent's moves. The Cathedral positioning adds a great touch, and ensures each game is different. Wonderful game.
I can see why this game is so well received, and while I've enjoyed the games so far, I'm not completely sold on the game. I love the build-as-you-go path of actions, and there are a lot of options available to the players. The value of the actions also seems to vary quite a bit depending on how far into the game you are.
The biggest downside is that the turns get excessively long the further into the game you are -- more tiles and options open up, dragging the game to a slow grind as more and more calculations are required. The brisk pace at the beginning is soon replaced by a plodding finale.
Also, the game can get especially nasty, as players get targeted and hurt by actions meant to target the leader. The bridge/vizier movement (any actions after that counter are not taken) can be especially vicious... If someone wants to target the leader and the current last place person happens to be in the way, that last place person suffers even more. In fact, someone who feels "out" of the game early can heavily influence the game simply by jockeying that token around and threatening to play the kingmaker -- an element so easily abusable that it must certainly be intentional, which seems odd.
The game features many excellent strategic options and sports some very interesting and game elements. With more play, and better skills to evaluate the worth of buildings and actions, I could see this becoming an 8 or so... Still, Puerto Rico and Aladdin's Dragons provide some of the same experience, but in half the time or less.
Fun game with some novel twists on the classic tile placement and customization hooks. Lots of opportunity for customizing your "deck" of tiles and working off the neat abilities of the animals. One of the most pleasant surprises over the last year. Beautiful, solid components. Simple, deceptively deep an engaging gameplay, and lots of decision making. Love it.
Unfortunately, poor random picks of starters with a lot of overlap can result in very static, lockdown play as neither player wants to move lest they open up huge scoring options for their opponent. Greater variety in animal types between players = much greater gameplay dynamics.
The more starters you buy, the less likely you are to get what you need, which is really a shame. If they simply created 4 starters with 3 animals each, I'd buy all 4 in a heartbeat and supplement the starters with scads of boosters. As it is, I have no incentive to buy a starter, as the odds are very, very slim I'll pick up one of the new animals I need.
What a fun, tense manual dexterity game - the genius of the game is it's sheer simplicity. Grab colored shapes from the central bowl as fast as you can, and place them in the small bowl in front of you, all using your chopsticks. Works great with 2-3 players so long as everyone is roughly equal in skill with a pair of chopsticks. Greg also came up with a very, very clever solo game to hone your "chops" so to speak. Quite impressed.
Light, breezy filler featuring a push your luck race to collect sets of cards... Plays quickly, which is good since it lacks much thought. It's more a social exercise than a game, but it's still enjoyable -- especially when everyone hums some Carnival or Circus music when churning cards!
Waaah! I wanted to like this game so much. I love Circus Maximus, and thought chariots with monsters would be cool. The rules are clunky and don't capture the quick n' dirty feel I thought the game should have embraced.
Surprisingly solid game for 6 or 7 players, despite its faults. Don't enjoy it as much with only 3-4, as there's even less interaction between players. Gameplay should ideally be quick, dastardly and exciting to the very end. Or at least, should be -- but with the wrong group, it tends to drag on. I dislike a few character abilities (assassin, warlord) which lengthen the game considerably without adding anything to compensate.
I love this as a simple, short version of a civilization/expansion game -- you really need to balance expansion with internal development to make sure the population stays fed. With experienced gamers, this provides a great "Civ Lite" feel in about 1.5-2 hours.
Nice looking, quick playing strategy game. I can see why it garners such great reviews -- it is a solid game and is easy to teach newcomers. After a while, though, the game feels a bit repetitive and empty -- the first half dozen moves carry little weight, and only the end game has much riding on each action.
I have no idea why this is so poorly regarded. I think this is a great, light, fun and fast-moving game. Nice series of light decisions and just enough tension (and excitement watching the dice and odds) that I find it quite engaging. Underrated - perhaps because Knizia is usually associated with more mathematical and "precise" games?
Eh. Cute cards, interesting idea, but the game is too chaotic, even for a card game. Blind luck can set up phenomenally good moves for people that can't be overcome in such a quick game. Perhaps if you played to a higher score, like 50 or so, but the game lacks strategic depth to play for an extended period of time.
Harmless, light and fluffy filler fun. A bit of card counting and risk management is all the decision making there is to find in this breezy push your luck game. Quick pace, ultra-easy rules and a light theme work well. [UPDATE] This is a poor man's version of Diamant. Both games offer similar experiences, but far more lies out of your control in Cloud 9 by virtue of the dice.
Nice, sturdy cards, but the long game board is one of the most horribly warped monstrosities I've ever seen -- with so many pronounced folds and backfolds, it never lays flat, so the scoring markers slide all over the place.
Delicious, deceptive, tons of fun. This simple card drafting game has a lot going for it -- it's easy to learn, offers some interesting push your luck elements, plays quickly and has great replay value. A favorite!
Clever, fun, light bidding game. Exception based quirks keep the gameplay fast, furious and constantly in flux. Not the most sterling RK entry, but an excellent 'tweener game to get the game night started.
Wow. More fun than I would have thought. For a family game, I'm a bit surprised that the luck isn't softened (like it is in Princes of Florence). Nice art and production quality. Nice decisions. But the short 5-turn limit makes everything feel tense. I think the player with the Colosseum directly behind the Emperor is in a tough spot, especially in a 3 or 4 player game, as it's entirely possible (perhaps likely?) that the Emperor will never get that far. And being in the lead is a tough spot - you want to coast and draft, being in 2nd place as often as possible before a big final surge. So if you go first on the first turn AND you're behind the Emperor, you're really in for a tough game. Trading slows things down considerably, almost taking as much time as the rest of the game combined - which is a real drag if you happen to be on the outside looking in at people trading for mutually beneficial items and you're unable to participate. Interesting that only your single best event "counts" for your score, which several players found incredibly confusing. I'm actually surprised at how much I enjoy this.
I like C&C:A. I really like the leadership influence in the command cards and "formations" and the support modifier to reduce the retreat flags during combat. There are a lot of units to wrap your head around, and I constantly had to refer to the player aids to figure out whether a unit could evade, advance after combat, etc. But I could see this becoming pretty familiar after a few plays. I'm not a big fan of the production quality, though -- the blocks are arduous to sticker, sort and store. The map is fairly flimsy and holds the creases so it won't lay flat easily, the card "planks" don't shuffle well and the dice are horrible. I'm a dice fanatic, so ridiculously awful dice like this literally drop my rating down a half point.
At one point, this was the most requested and most played game I own. Simple to play, quick to learn, and loads of fun... strategic, confrontational and affordable. Despite the board, it's really a card game. But not trick-taking or even climbing. It feels far more like an Auction game using the cards as currency, with a bit of bluffing and push your luck introduced by the special cards. Still one of my favorite "gateway" games to introduce people to designer style gaming.
Nice, light Yahtzee style fun with nice components. It can go by very quickly, or go on for a long time, due to the luck. But pitting players head-to-head as they vie for control of the different scoring lines adds a nice light competitive element, and helps define some goals. I'm sure my wife and I will get a lot of play out of this.
Cosmic Encounter, without the $#%@ lucre expansion rules, remains my Favorite Game of All Time... depth, options, variety, replay... it's all in there. And lots of backstabbing, to boot! The Hasbro/AH version is an inferior, lackluster offering, and rates a lowly 4/10 -- nice production quality, but limited 4 player games, 1/2 the alien powers, no flares and lack of other options detracts from the game. Kevin Wilson did a fabulous job with the FFG to streamline the gameflow and create a more consistent game language to reduce timing conflicts and increase overall clarity.
Cosmic Encounter remains my Favorite Game of All-Time, and the FFG edition is my preferred version. Extremely faithful to the original. Great tweaks and updates to streamline gameplay, reduce confusion and really let the zany elements that make CE such a memorable game shine through!
As far as press your luck (or press and pass) dice games go, it's a step above something like Pocket Farkel, thanks to the special Nova die, but it still falls short of something catchier or more novel like Pass the Pigs.
What a great party game. Team vs. time instead of against each other. Working together against the clock works much better than I thought it would. Good mix of activities and cards (with nice photographs to provide visual cues and context) provide lots of variety to the game. An excellent game.
The game's only failing is the lack of more cards or an expansion... It is far too easy to run through all the cards! Thankfully you can make your own with some pre-perforated business card stock, clip art and some card sleeves.
Very nice, kid-friendly party game. Somewhere between Apples to Apples and Attribute, as players try to select what they think the active player's favorite thing will be from among a limited selection of cards they hold. Not quite as interactive or discussion-engendering as I was hoping, but that is largely group dependent. Fun for kids and great for family gatherings.
Simple, fluff game of Shogi/Chess Variant using clicky miniatures with gross-out booger humor. But the actual gameplay is quick, easy to pick up and a hit with the younger audience. Rates a 6-7 with kids, despite the Garbage Pail theme.
This is by far my favorite "traditional" card game, and has been a staple of my gaming life since I was a wee lad. Wonderful blend of strategy and outguessing your opponent -- do you play the strength of your cards, or your opponent's tendencies? I've easily played more games of cribbage over the course of my life than any other game.
One of the best manual dexterity games out there. Brings back such fond memories of Carrom. I am on the lookout for a high quality board, as it can last a lifetime and will see lots of use. So simple, so much fun!
Wonderful toy/game from my youth. Build your tower, and knock down your friend's fortress with discs propelled by rubber-band powered catapults and (essentially) floor slingshots. The components have been durable enough to last 20 years, but the box disintegrated long ago.
I really like trick taking card games, especially ones with a little twist that adds a layer of nuance to conventional trick games. David & Goliath provides that twist, as the cards gained during a trick ebb and flow in value -- grabbing 1 or 2 powerful cards is great, until you get a few more dumped on you, crashing their value from the printed value on the card to 1 point per card. Rewards card counting and a bit more thoughtfulness/awareness of cards played than other games, keeping it from being lightning fast like, say, Wizard, but still a lot of fun.
Fun game with a slight Attika feel of visualizing "efficiency patterns" to get reduced build rates for your tents. Since the complexion of the gameboard changes dramatically from turn to turn, it is very difficult to plan ahead or even start considering your options until it is actually your turn, whcih can slow the game down. Solid mechanics and nice components but poor graphic design decisions. The high contrast on the gameboard make seeing space outlines difficult, and the card colors do not match up well with the corresponding costs colors on the tiles -- a tent may cost 2 "red" resources, which are actually the brown camel cards, or 2 "purple" resources, which are actually the bolts of pink silk. That oversight knocks the game down from a 7.0...
I can see this getting a lot of play as a nice, light filler that scales out well to 5-8 players -- a range for which I can't think of a comparably light, quick game. Diamant's brand of press-your-luck risks and rewards felt a lot like Cloud 9, but with simultaneous decisions to press on or jump ship, rather than going clockwise around the table. I like how the later rounds may encourage greater risks, not only for the allure of greater scores, but through removal of some of the hazard cards, potentially extending later rounds while shortening the deck. The gems, while attractive and thematic, are pretty clunky to deal with, especially when having to divide 15 gems by 6 people, etc.
Fun game with the right crowd, but can get especially personal and nasty. Good for once a year or so, or via PBEM, but takes too long, and leaves too many bruised egos and hurt feelings to see the table more often.
Very impressed after first several games. Making the meta-game of deck-building into the game experience itself is both novel and incredibly compelling. So far all the games have been very close (if not score-wise, then turn-wise, such as "with one more turn, I could have done XXX for the win!").
Love the production quality, and love the planning and visualization to reroute the river, but there is little you can do before your turn to prepare yourself, as the board changes dramatically from turn to turn -- which means a lot of AP and downtime. Even with that, the game would be about an 8.5 for me if it weren't for the absolutely atrocious endgame -- reaching the point of foregone conclusion where the only turn option you have is to do nothing and let Player A win, or do something and let Player B win. That is not a fun position to be in.
I love this thing. The game is horrible, but the hilarious VCR video that comes along with it is priceless -- we've gotten at least 20 hours of enjoyment just watching that thing! A must have video for any true D&D nerd.
Clever game, but can hard to get the hang of. The fact you're a particular shape and not a color throws newbies and especially young players off a bit. Neat mechanics and scoring, relatively simple rules - a "kids game" for slightly older kids (8-10ish).
Great bidding/auction game with zero sum money in play -- winning bid payments get paid out to the other players. Felt a bit cramped with very few elements available to fulfill movies, so luck of the draw (especially for the party spaces) could really impact your ability to be competitive and complete a few films. A bit of "surging" in the games where a large bid may keep you out out of a few rounds as your resources are now in the hands of the other players, so you really, really need to time your moves well. Still, an interesting bidding system which I enjoy far more than Ra or Medici. FAR PREFER TRAUMFABRIK version over the Hollywood Blockbuster version - that's the only version I'm interested in via trade.
The more I play, the more I enjoy. Yes, I broke down and bought all the expansions. A great team game for smaller groups, with quick n' dirty enough rules that you can mix and match any of the characters, items and expansions with little difficulty. I'm a sucker for stuff like this.
For me this also covers D&D 3.5, which is very much a miniatures oriented game -- much like BattleStations in that regard. The "minis only" game isn't bad, but it's tailor made for use with the RPG - which our group tends to play out as a tactical exercise rather than story time...
Hardly a "game" ... Just roll dice and remove pieces from an oversized puzzle matching the numbers rolled on the dice. If no more pieces of that number exist, you miss your turn. *Yaaawn* ... You bored yet? I sure am.
A very nice, light, breezy filler game of Yahtzee-esque push your luck. This is kinda' what Pickomino should have been. Plays quickly and offers enough push-or-pass to keep it interesting for a few rounds in a row. As an added plus, it's one of the few games the wife will play!! That's worth +.5 in the rating right there!!
First game with 4 players left me feeling "meh." I can sense interesting mechanics, but the four player dynamic seemed very, very awkward -- often my best move was to try to outguess my opponent rather than plan for myself, and guessing wrong, rather than planning poorly, can lose you the game. Also, when one player gets an action while the other three players have their actions canceled, the unchecked advantage is very significant. The incredibly high screw factor of simply guessing wrong reminded me too much of Pirates Cove, which also unfairly punishes players for good decisions that go poorly.
Nice components, but a lot of blind guessing on what to do -- with more players, there's very little true strategy or outguessing your opponents on where to assign your actions. I do like the fact that combat cards cycle to other players throughout the game, so if you have a hand of bad cards, eventually they'll make their way to other players. Unfortunately, had a strong feeling of Pirate's Cove, with the fact that the player that is lucky enough to avoid conflict the most often has a huge advantage, despite the fact that there's no real rhyme or reason to avoid conflict, but a feeling of just luck.
Some vicious, confrontational elements, but a nice strategy game. Only semblance to any other Catan is the 2d6 resource roll, with something "bad" happening on a 7. For its length, however, there's still just a bit too much luck to be a serious contender as a strategy game to form an evening around.
I felt that Elfenland had just the right amount of long-term strategy, and just the right amount of short-term optimization for my tastes. I enjoyed playing with the destination cities as an added wrinkle, but felt the hazards were a bit overkill on targeting other players. You have to plan ahead just enough to end one turn in a position to give yourself several options to proceed on the following turn based on the card draw and available tiles -- but even with a poor draw, you can proceed, albeit it could cost you in the long run.
What a disappointing game! I was hoping for a more streamlined, engaging game that still felt like T&E, but was simpler to grasp and quicker to play. It does play more quickly, but the game feels so herky jerky, and it plays so incredibly differently than the boardgame that it's a shame it uses the same name -- aside from lowest common denominator scoring in four colors and what triggers internal/external conflicts, the game feels awkward and remarkably unlike T&E.
Sure, you get a larger hand size (8 instead of 6) but the fact that you need a card of whatever color you want to score in your hand when scoring is triggered means you have fewer actual options. Also exaggerating the problem of being short-suited as in T&E because, for some reason, there is NO option to exchange cards!! Have bad cards? Can you only play cards to trigger battles you can't win or score points for other players? Too bad!!
Also a strange vibe that the only way you can get two kingdoms close to external conflict is to play enough cards to let the player on your left trigger the conflict -- it's nigh impossible to set up external conflict w/o receing an "alley oop" from the player to your right (intentionally or not).
What a game! Scales well, lots of tough decisions, clear rules, and a load of fun. A fairly light game that can help introduce more complicated mechanics (bidding, in particular) to novice gamers. Love it. [UPDATE] My rating drops down to a 6.5 or so if using the X-1 variant where 1 fewer gene is drawn than players. It punishes the last player in the turn order too severely based on pure luck of initiative -- which is a greater sin in my book than allowing one player to play catch up by snagging a free gene. If one player loses initiative several turns in a row early in the game, the X-1 variant can quickly eliminate them from contention.
Clever, fun connect-the-paths game. This is what Ticket To Ride *should* have been -- easy to play, no wasted turns or downtime, interesting decisions, and a brisk pace. The gameboard is a bit cluttered, and some locations can be difficult to make out from a distance, but a solid light game.
Played the heck out of this in college, with "non gamers". Light card game with a brisk pace. Nothing fancy, but reliable. It was a fun rummy-ish/melding card game broken down into the different prehistoric eras for scoring rounds. Some horribly imbalanced card effects came into play from time to time, but overall, pre-Eurogame introduction, this was a lot of fun.
I really like the drafting mechanic, but found the art (in the Z-Man version) squeezed into a cluttered, ugly frame with the large icons. The strategy eludes me. Despite feeling that I make good personal and defensive drafting positions, I tend to come in last. There's something about the game that I just don't get. I'm not good at games requiring memory elements, and I can never remember what's missing from a hand being passed to me to deduce who has drafted what cards, etc. [UPDATE] The more I play, the more I do like it, and can appreciate the larger, blocky icons to easily see what other players have. Very fun with 3 or 4.
Odd game. The mechanics mesh with the theme very well, but there is very little direct control. In our first game, I never received any cards with my scoring icon, so I had very little influence on how the scoring took place, while other players dumped all the cards with my icons very early on. The entire game was based on minimizing how many points I handed away, and never about how many points I could score.
Great backstabbing game for deviants and traitors alike! Light, fast-paced bidding game with numerous ways to screw your neighbors. Down a point or two for actually having ways to be eliminated fairly early in the game and simply be a spectator for the remainder.
Innovative, well-developed 5 player trick taking game. The integration of suits and the "spread" that you're trying to match cards from is inspired, and the rotating partnership/solo dealer scoring works incredibly well. Takes a few hands to get the feel for how this plays differently from other trick games with trump, but is the best 5 player trick game I've played yet.
I suppose it's an upgrade to Monopoly, but that's not saying much. Terrible components, lots of roll and move, and horribly shifting fortunes based on the whim of the dice. And all that with the added fun of player elimination!
Great looking bits, easy to grasp rules, and several optional/advanced rules add some teeth, but there are some odd situations where your best option is to do nothing, or your options are eliminated by quirky board conditions. The production quality and monster mechanics are the highlights of this innovative game.
I really, really enjoyed this, and it felt like a "reverse Poison" card game - or perhaps, instead of various cauldrons boiling in the center of the table, each player is their own cauldron. Quick, simply dynamics, and fun gameplay. The variable length road sections are the only real problem - it's virtually impossible to "randomly" draw them before the game for each round, since their physical size impacts how you pull them out of the bag, so you tend to get clumps of road about the same length.
My favorite of J. Earnest's real time card games. You have to rely on lightning fast recognition skills while still following some basic order-of-operations rules in this incredibly fast-paced game of future sport. It's incredibly tense and chaotic. If you realize that one of the players just doesn't have
Mmmmm.... Fiji. I'm full. I don't know if I ever need to play this again. There's not so much a game here as a series of conditional if/then statements you fulfill based on only quasi-guessing what your opponents will do. Often it doesn't matter. In fact, often nothing you do in the game matters, as the spread of action cards will simply dictate a very specific order of operations, or everything ends up in ties and nothing gets resolved. Wretched game.
Used to be one of my favorite games, and still like bringing it out from time to time. Love the novel use of card sheets to create a 3D perspective. Luck plays a huge factor in the game, and the entire group can get themselves run into bankruptcy with several poor rolls of the dice early in the game. Still, the novel elements and interesting concepts keep me from disregarding the game completely.
Cute little game with funky plastic figures, geared toward kids. Lacks any sort of long term play or appeal to adults, but for kids (especially boys, I'd wager) in the 6-10 year old range, this would be a really neat little game to play with your "action figures." Figs are pretty decent looking for what they are, but expect a lot of duplication.
A nice, quick playing 2 player game. The comparisons to Carcassonne really are superficial - and only applies to half the game. The tile play is a bit more restrictive than Carc, as is the strategy of city placement. Felt a bit like roping off sections of territory a la Through the Desert, which is a good thing. Several of the elements feel comfortably familiar, but the game is fast paced and offers enough nuance and strategic decisions to stand on its own.
I wish I could find more Fluster sheets - I used to LOVE this game growing up, but haven't played it in a long time. The rating is based largely on nostalgia, not sure how it would really stack up if played again now.
Not even an average game. Hard to even call it a game, from my standpoint -- it's the card equivalent of LCR, but with less control. Lots of exceptions, lots of changes, lots of things going on at once. Will either be a phenomenal hit or a phenomenal bomb with most folks. At least the central concept is fairly simple to grok, making it pretty easy to teach to first timers.
Wow -- what a great little game! Not many better for the 10-15 minute filler category. I absolutely love the two phase approach, where you bid in the first half to "draft" cards you want to use to actually earn money in the second half. Incredibly clever, easy to teach/learn, and a lot of fun. I wish I would have come across this game years ago!
I have now played two games of Forged in Fire face-to-face. I have also thoroughly read the rules (three times now), set the game up and solo-played a portion of the campaign scenario. I'm eager to try Forged in Fire out again. The rules are interesting and lightweight enough to keep from being intimidating, while still detailed enough to provide what appears to be a nice, tactical experience. I really like the Confidence track dynamic, and the Union's need to keep its supply chain mobile. Forged in Fire looks like it might offer just the right balance of complexity and accessibility I'm looking for in a wargame. However, some rules could be more clear, and a few things feel like oversights in terms of mechanics. Still, a solid ACW game.
Simple mechanics and colorful components make it easy to get into. A rewarding experience, especially if you link multiple races together to form a season. My favorite campaign themed game after Blood Bowl.
I definitely don't have the faculty to easily visualize the road placement/blocking -- which means I just don't have what it takes to play well, and don't enjoy the game. Interesting concept, but far too difficult for me to plan ahead. I'd enjoy it much better as a light computer game.
A nice push your luck, get away with what you can card game. The Playroom Edition Cauldron's are pretty, but a bit clumsy to work with. Otherwise, stellar components, simple gameplay, quick play time, and enough decision making to keep this from being a mindless "ditch your cards" game. Very popular with the family.
A wonderfully novel game with many compelling and interesting mechanics. Has a touch of the GW randomness and unbalanced effects/cards, but is such a clever, classy game, that these blemishes are easily overlooked. A wonderful game with an experience unlike any other game I've played.
This is truly a dreadful game -- salvage operations in the deep see recovery/scuba industry. Roll n' move mechanics, horribly imbalanced decks of card and components that look like they were printed off on a home computer, this game is a real stinker.
Simply one of the more tightly designed games I have played, with a nice mix of short-term and long-term planning, as well as a great element of bluff and some real table-talk diplomacy. Beautiful components, compelling gameplay, numerous options. A fabulous game, made even better with the expansion.
A wonderful card game. Moving to the LCG format was a great move, as it's now easier to remain competitive in the field. Very fun for casual 2-player games, and supports one of the better multiplayer game formats I've seen in a CCG. Lots of clever moving parts, and I enjoy the deck-building strategies for AGoT far more than I ever did for M:tG... but the single best part is the integration of the Plot cards and a Plot phase, where you set your immediate short-term goals and guarantee yourself some level of resources. This and other design decisions helps reduce the "mana screw" effect of other CCGs. I'm always up for a game or three. Gets played a LOT at work.
Nice little Tichu-like game, with a few wrinkles. That said, the gameplay experience reminded me so much of Tichu, but without the elegance, that it competes for the same gaming niche in my book -- and in that regard, Tichu is a superior game, especially with 4 players. I'd play it, but if gaming with folks who also enjoy Tichu, Tichu would get the nod every time. With more casual card players (ahem, my in-laws) this would certainly be a better choice than Tichu, and with them (since Tichu would not be an option) this might get rated around 6 or 7...
I really like the theme and concept of the game, and thankfully the mechanics provide a nice gaming experience even after you've seen all the cards -- the humor doesn't evaporate and leave you empty handed like Munchkin does (for me, anyway). A fun little "wargame" with cards that I enjoy playing when I get the chance. I also absolutely love Chuck Whelon's illustrations -- they really bring the game to life. Can't wait to see some of the expansions.
Rather complicated and very difficult for novices to understand the relative values of the zillions of different actions and paths to victory. Felt that my decisions were forced or made for me by other players far too often, and I had very little control over my fate -- but this would probably be countered by a better understanding of the dynamics.
This is probably tied with Sorry Sliders as my older son's current favorite game. It's a game only in the loosest sense -- it's more of a "treasure hunt tool kit" ...
The box contains 20 or so sturdy cards with art depicting different environments and large arrows pointing off in different directions. A few cards split into two directions, and one card is a Bear -- indicating a dead end on the adventure path. There's also a large plastic ruby that's the treasure at the end of the right path.
Imagine those old Family Circus strips with the dotted lines showing where Billy ran all over the neighborhood/house/etc. You set up the cards pointing in the direction of the next card, which points to the next one, etc.
Our adventures usually take us up and downstairs, into different rooms in the house and sometimes require a bit of snooping if the cards are placed in a sneaky spot (like under a pillow on the bed, etc).
It's great fun and really stretches his imagination when he builds a path for me. And when he's on an adventure, he acts out appropriate actions for the cards -- he'll "swim" across the streams, and "climb" the trees and mountains, get down and "crawl" through the caves, etc.
Wow. Very impressed. A bit tricky to get the feel for just by the rules, but tons of options, lots of depth, virtually no down time and tough decisions make this a great game! Each individual action seems a bit fuzzy, though, as there are very few "bad" moves -- just shades of grey in how "good" they are at the time. [UPDATE] The more I've played, the more I'm convinced that the order of operations is largely irrelevant -- as long as you make progress, it's very hard to screw up. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, the only thing you need to time is taxation to get a monetary advantage for bidding, or when to seize extra actions.
Light, breezy fun. Plays very quickly, very easy to grasp, but gameplay is all over the place. Only real strategy is when to hop on a gold mine and commit a prospector -- but even that is a fairly simple, predictable move given the quick pace of the rounds and limited hand size/options. Quick n' dirty filler, or end of night fare, but little substance.
Excellent area control game with lots of indirect interaction (by virtue of muddling with people's scoring potential and bidding). Lots of difficult choices, and a large mix of different things to do (bidding, forced scoring, various actions, etc). The downside, like PR, is that a poorly planned move by one player can severely impact the score of several others, without their knowledge. The potential for kingmaking other players through poor (or even intentional) decisions is clear, but the fact that information and scoring are public offsets this disadvantage somewhat.
At first blush, feels like a combination of Samurai (individual player decks, a few pieces with special abilities, played to locations for effect) and Condottierre (vying for control of VPs instead of regions). Some interesting concepts, but the brinksmanship can reach levels of absurdity. In our first game, only 5 wall sections scored, so only 10 of the scoring tiles were even in play as no one wanted to yield a section. Biggest disappointment, however, was the strong kingmaking endgame. When the last player took her last turn, her card play could not win the game for her, but since she had to play somewhere to perform her actions, she was forced to decide who would win -- tie a section of a wall and allow no scoring, letting Player A win, or win the lower VP chip on another section of wall and allow Player B to claim the higher value token and win. Very disappointing, as I can see this happening frequently (especially with fewer players).
While the RPG gimmicks and jokes might appeal to someone a la Munchkin, the gameplay itself is tiresome. The game had great potential, but flow of the game suffers greatly from the number of special exceptions and clumsy mechanics. Another month or two of playtesting would have resulted in a great game.
Silly, wacky, crazy, chaotic game following the exploits of everyone's favorite bumbling barbarian, Groo the Wanderer. Great art and wackiness captures the feel of the comic. I'd rate this a 7.5 for the nostalgia and license-tie in, but based on today's standards, the gameplay and decision making are a bit lacking.
Very disappointing. Interesting mix of drafting board and placement board - trying to riff off of Goa - but the game ultimately falls apart halfway through. Fewer resources are available, leading to more "dead" turns with no meaningful decisions. Further, as you near the end, one of X people will be in a position to win the game based on what scores next - meaning several people simply delay the end by trying to not position the selection board where another person can claim victory. A worse end-game kingmaking position/situation than Dos Rios. Further, the components are inconsistent - the shades of brown used on the meeples, the tiles and the coffee bags are not consistent at all -- making it virtually impossible to distinguish some of the types of coffee from each other. Ugh.
Wonderful manual dexterity game with some decision making -- but really focused on the fabulous bits and the fine coordination to draw those little eggs out of the nest. What a great built-in balancing mechanism for kids to compete on equal terms with adults. Shines as a childrens game and has wonderful components. Benjamin is amazing at this game -- fearlessly digging into the nest and plucking out eggs with zeal. And rarely ever making the bird fall. I feel extremely clumsy next to him!
Comparisons to Ticket to Ride and Through the Desert are obvious, but the game does offer some interesting twists on both games. Unfortunately, it includes some of my least favorite aspects of TTR -- the face up draw piles, where having matching cards available on your turn saves you precious actions, while invariably some players have to churn actions to get into playable positions. I also was shocked that there was no balancing system to soften the player order advantage to going early (or rather, the huge disadvantages to going later). I'd play it again, but I think Through the Desert offers a comparable gameplay experience in roughly half the time.
**UPDATE** After playing it again with 3 players, I think a lot of the problems I had with 5 players are minimized... I've upgraded my rating from 5 (as a 5 player game) to 6 overall (with a strong recommendation to play it with fewer players).
Great use of the block system. Lots of compelling decisions and quick pace to the game. Luck can be a big factor, but good planning should still win out. Plus the game plays quickly enough and keeps you engaged that even a game lost due to bad luck can be enjoyable, and keep you wanting to play again.
A very good card-drive game with fairly tight focus, but the incredibly ovepowering role of luck in combat by virtue of the maneuver cards can really leave a sour taste -- you can lose a battle where you have superior numbers by virtue of a bad card draw without ever getting the opportunity to "do" anything... I do not like games where outcomes are predetermined and my decisions are made for me -- but the rest of the game is still fun. Has dropped from a 9.5 to a 7.5 after the last few playings, though -- as the huge swings in luck can be incredibly frustrating.
I enjoyed my 5 playings, and have finally won a game. I struggled a bit with my options and being able to plan far enough in advance to set up good moves, and balance that with not setting the next player up for a great move. With practice and the right group, this could indeed be a wonderful light-to-moderate strategy game. [UPDATE] I've now got 10 plays under my belt, including a few online. It's an excellent 3 player game, with lots of tough decisions -- including knowing "when to say when" and stop your turn instead of giving into temptation to spend everything you've got.
A classic, quick-playing baseball card game republished now by Out of the Box (originally published in 1962). It's a light, breezy way to pass the time with enough of a baseball theme to scratch the itch, and a good back-and-forth pace -- a great game value for about $10. [UPDATE] I'm simply amazed at how incredibly fun this quick card game is. Harry's Grand Slam Baseball is far more than the sum of its parts.
A nice twist on the classic memory-matching tile game concept. Instead of looking at the cards, you can only identify the cards by the sounds other players make when you reveal it to them... the guessing player doesn't get to actually see the cards. The rules as written are too tough for my 3.5 year old, but the rules do state 5+ ... Luckily the concept is easily convertible into a house rule version he loves to play.
Almost dreadful. Great components, as expected, but the incredible reliance on luck and the wild variance in power and utility in the cards makes this a frustrating game. The game is too short to work around poor draws. I was very disappointed.
This game is indeed close to perfection for what you get -- and what you get is a very simple game with incredible bits. Stellar components, incredibly modular terrain system, simple and clear rules. Very high replay value, ver high fun factor. Holds lots of attraction to a wide gamer base. The lack of real meat to the gameplay itself keeps it from reaching higher.
Great, clever little game... I've enjoyed this immensely both online and face-to-face, with 2, 3 and 4 players. Scales very well, plays quickly, and deceptively nasty gameplay. The rules are very easy to teach, and it often takes only one play to see how everything works together. Plus, it's got penguins! Benefits greatly from a tight online interface at BSW - but even face to face, it's one of the better 15-20 minute strategy games out there.
Brutal game with three, since you could easily hold back cards and force the others to resign themselves to one of them having to lose. It's awkward holding their fates in your hand, which doesn't necessarily feel the same with 4 or 5. Still, for a light, quick-playing game, I really like it. And wish more games had the "least money auto-lose" condition worked in. It works well with the theme and the gameplay. Definitely would play again, though more than 3 would be preferable.
One of my favorite games. Excellent replay value, interesting phased epoch turn system, and a great way to give a leg up to people in last place to help mitigate the runaway leader problem. High production quality and easy to learn rules only add to the value. Does drag out a bit when folks get incredibly large Civs, and there can be a bit of downtime if you go first in one era and last in the next. UPDATED 2/12 - Nostalgia painted this game in pretty, pretty colors. Actual play after so long was disappointing. Appreciated the simplicity of the rules, but the wide fluctuation in ability of the event cards and different Civs overshadowed everything. I has lucky enough to draw Rome, and by Epoch four, I had lapped the other players on the scoring track.
Clever, quick playing abstract with enough decision making and depth to provide a lot of replay value. Easy to learn and teach. Just enough variety in units, just enough brain bending wrapped up in this 10-minute package to make it highly enjoyable.
A truly light game of out-guessing your opponents while trying to position yourself the best. Quick, lighthearted and easy to play. Be warned, though -- with more people, you can easily find yourself having several turns in a row where you do nothing, simply by guessing wrong or mathematically having the weakest series of cards in a set (thieves/checks). A good 1/2 point of my rating is Nostalgia, as this is one of the earliest "Euro" games I played that was successful.
A phenomenal single player game. Lots of options and scenarios, high replay value, and an experience system to link scenarios together as a campaign. Quality components and easy rules make this a real gem.
Based on one play using just the Basic Rules. A very playable, entry level wargame. Time flew by and we had a blast, except for a monumental slugfest at the end which determined the winner... But everything leading up to that was a lot of fun -- wonderful components, neat promotion system, tough choices and several different approaches to take. Can't wait to try again with some of the advanced rules to introduce supply attrition and leaders. I can see this getting a lot of play, and going more quickly, with familiarity. Probably has the potential to be 8.5/10 material.
It's loud, it's raucous, and it's a hit with kids. Yes, it's barely a game, and more of a noise-fest, but kids dig it. I'm more than happy to play with my son, and it does hold some nice nostalgia for me from my own youth.
Not bad as a rummy variant, but there are simply too many suits (10) to track at once. With a hand of 12 cards, that's a lot of cards to manage and sift through while trying to pare down your hand to only 3 of the 10 suits. If played again, I'd probably ditch 1 or 2 suits when playing with only 3 players.
Nice negotiation game with lots of "take that" cardplay. Can get a bit overwhelming with freewheeling and dealmaking going on. The boss can force the action at a pace some players can't compete with, feeling left out of the gameplay. But still, easy to learn and plays quickly.
Very impressed. I love the quasi-combination of wargame, diplomacy and stock exchange. Novel elements blend together well to create a game with familiar elements that still feels fresh and engaging. I actually like the Investor rules as written (so far) and don't see the appeal of removing it -- making the control of countries more static seems to undermine part of the game's novelty and appeal.
What keeps this from being higher is the arduous endgame, where 1 of X different players/countries could end the game -- so it's necessary to count up points based on several different ending scenarios to see what the best move is... This can take a very long time, artifically dragging out the end of what is otherwise a brisk, tense game.
Also, having played with and without the investor card, I simply cannot imagine why some people prefer to play without the card - the added time alone should discourage people from that variant... not to mention the stale, static progress of the game. Oh, and never ever ever every play where you can simply grab $1 from the bank if you have no flags - it completely encourages the first player to lose control of a country to run the bank dry and purchase 2nd place in each country...
It was great back in college. But looking back through it now, the rules are poorly written and lead to far too many arguments. It's a great theme or setting for a game that hasn't been re-hashed in quite the same manner... but that can't save the cloodgy mechanics.
Very interesting after one play -- lots of options, lots of things going on. Needing to understand all the items, actions and cards at once is a bit intimidating, but you have lots of tough choices. Would definitely play again.
Very clever, very simple abstract game with wonderful components, easily grasped rules, and compelling decisions. Now with 20+ playings, I can say that this is fast becoming one of my favorite abstract games of all time. It scales marvelously and has deliciously difficult decisions for such a simple game. Love it.
Too much analysis paralysis. Imbalanced and awkward turn options. Never really felt interesting. It's been a while, so I'd try it again, but my memories of playing this are not positive. The game took forever and I felt I never had any interesting decisions to make. Sooo much downtime! AAARGH!
WOW! What a great game. I love the time investment aspect of action selection/resolution. I love reaching in and digging out artifacts & dirt from the dig sites. I love the variety of resources you can leverage in the different cities. I love the production value. Yes, there is a LOT of luck involved based on which cards are available on your turn, and how well you draw from the bags - but the game plays quickly, offers some nice push-your-luck decisions and is an enjoyable experience. Very impressed, and a game I will purchase as soon as it is available.
Fun word guessing game - try to guess your opponent's 5 letter word in as few turns as possible... I think the Gameshow LINGO is basically a Jotto retread. Fun, light casual game - also makes for a good travel game in the car.
Even after just one play, I'm convinced Katzenjammer Blues is not for me. Far too chaotic and clumsy in the short term, too unfulfilling to play in the long term. Especially when there are so many instances where a game can be "over" after just a few melds -- where it becomes impossible for anyone to seize a point advantage over the current leader, yet you still need to play out the hand unless you're content only having gone once or twice around the table as a "game." Blech.
I think comparisons to Settlers is not fair to Keythedral -- Keythedral is a much better game! Yes, it's harsh, confrontational and far more unforgiving than you might expect, but what a great game! Every decision is crucial. Every turn is important. And the game gets a full .5 bump from 7.5 to 8 by virtue of the AMAZING attention to detail in the art, with each token having wholly unique illustrations! A top notch, wonderfully strategic game.
Cute, quick filler with neat voting dynamics, push your luck and pseudo bluffing elements. Only real downside is there are sooo many characters, and the color scheme/font are hard to distinguish, so you need to constantly adjust the markers or get a closer look to evaluate what's going on -- and scoring at the end of each round is far, far too tedious. Still, novel enough to stand on its own and provide a different experience than other fillers of the same length.
This used to vie with Talisman as the best adventure game, but has much shoddier components. Early hybrid of RPG and boardgaming concepts shows its age nowadays, but was thrilling and engaging when we first got it. Would rate a 5 strictly by today's standards for the clutter in the rules and mechanics.
Nostalgia adds +1.0 to my rating, but I still think this is an exceptional game despite its age. Light wargame flavoring in a fantasy setting with some elements of bluffing. Lots of luck of the draw (combat rolls and tile draws) for its length, but still a fun romp.
I like the dice rolling and commitment combination. What originally felt a bit hampered -- since there didn't appear to be that many dice rolls to help smooth out luck over the course of a game -- isn't actually that big a deal, as there are several nice, subtle catch up mechanics and the game has a very brisk pace. Some of the special abilities of the buildings help soften the impact. And some nice planning out to block opponents' moves based on die combinations. Some players may experience a very slight slowdown by AP as more dice/number combos lead to more choice evaluations for a 5-player game, but it's minimal. Excellent components. A great 3 player game. [Update] After running exactly 50 demos of Kingsburg at GenCon -- I STILL love the darn game. That says an awful lot!
Klunker is a fairly engaging, light card game with some tough strategic decisions. The game play mechanics and strategy elements can take a few games to get the feel for, as it introduces some mechanics that players may be unfamiliar with. It's an enjoyable way to spend a half hour, although it may lack enough "meat" for serious gamers to play more than once or twice at any given sitting.
Light, fun fair, dominated by luck of the draw with fewer players. More people means more hand management, but also means whoever gets KO'd first just sits and watches while the game gets increasingly longer...
Fun game, simple and straight forward mechanics. The scenario greatly impacts gameplay -- dictating whether you simply react to the luck of the draw for your cards, or if you can set a strategy and work toward a goal. Still, does a good job of fitting the theme, and stellar components. A nice, fun zombie romp.
Light, fun, engaging "card" game with wonderful bakelite tiles - the use of tiles instead of cards adds a wonderful tactile sensation to the game, and somehow makes it a different experience than playing with just cards. I like the payment dynamic of paying out points to players who have fewer tiles left in their hand at the end of a round. I also like the very specific 5 turn limit - it can change your decision making based on your position. The sequence and rating of suits and eligible hands takes a bit of time to get used to...
Legend of Landlock is bright, colorful and engaging. Simple rules, light competition, lots of fun. Very light strategy for adults, but really shines with younger players, or as an introduction to other tile laying games.
Excellent achievement in game design and cooperative mechanics, but seems a bit forced -- you actually have far fewer options and choices than first appears. The expansions add depth, but additional frustrations. With a good group that wants to enjoy the experience of a game, this rates a 9. With a group looking for cooperative strategy and more meat, this rates a 7 or lower.
Wow. Excellent expansion to the base game. Adds some additional tension, and makes for even more difficult decisions on how to spend your limited resources. Has an influence on gameplay w/o dominating it and completely redefining the entire experience. Heartily recommended, and can't wait to play it again!
Nice expansion for the core game, introducing new perils and new ways to win. A good mix of elements that greatly expands on the game. If you like the basic game, this will increase your enjoyment of the overall experience.
Easy to learn, but has some depth and nuance to keep it from being simple. That said, it features an element I dislike in many games -- the need to know everything about every piece in the game to be competitive. Not only do you need to understand all the powers and abilities of each of your units, but you need to be equally knowledgable about every single unit/ability of your opponent. This increases the learning/entertainment curve quite a bit for me, although I can see that it would reward long term commitment to the game. But for a short game, this requirement seems strangely out of balance.
Quick, simple, engaging two player card game with a "push your luck" element I usually only see in dice games (like Can't Stop or Sharp Shooters). Fast pace keeps games short, and good luck of the draw can be easily mitigated by playing multiple games.
Interesting game with some elements reminiscent of El Grande and Shadow of the Emperor. Need a good understanding of all elements from the get go, since each bad decision may cost you a point or two, and with most Ruediger Dorn games, it appears scoring will be very tight. Felt that the luck of the shield draws/bonus was a bit overpowered given how close the rest of the scoring has been. I like it, but one poor move or bad decision can completely take you out of the running -- that's how important every single point is.
Fun game of cordoning off areas and trying to expand into other players' territories. The action card system takes a few rounds to get accustomed to, but once you are familiar with the rules, the game plays quickly and offers some good strategy and gameplay. By nature of the rectangular board, the game is almost specifically and only built for four players -- it's a bit odd and unwieldy with three.
Very meaty, heavy game ripe with compelling decisions that require advance planning. Lots of strategy, lots of bits, lots of things going on to keep track of. A bit overwhelming at first, but once everything starts to "click" and you can see the big picture, it's a masterful work of game design. It seems that luck can rear its head and force some players to be little more than spectators toward the end, but more playings will tell for certain.
Loved MK 1.0 and collected a zillion figues. Burned out by MK 2.0 (despite being a better balanced and clever design). I enjoy the click base concept and think it worked especially well for a miniature combat game. The sculpts got increasingly more impressive as the series went on.
At one point this was my favorite game. Still a lightning rod game for change in the industry. It created an entire genre, an entire industry (card protection), probably helped eBay survive, and made WotC a world-wide leader in gaming. Still playable after all this time, but overwhelmed by the choices and incredibly hard to get back into now that I've been MTG "clean and sober" for 2 years.
Maharaja had potential, but the horribly ambiguous rules (we had to reference the rules at least 20 times during play to clarify timing issues and accuracy of terms/actions) and odd gameplay was terribly disappointing. The action selection is clever, but the further you are from the top of the initiative order, the less likely you are to be able to perform things as planned. Where some see this as an opportunity for greater strategic planning, I found it too chaotic and irksome to be fun. Bleh. Oh, and the monk is totally broken - yeah, I said it... The "b" word...
Wow. Great game blending visual acuity with manual dexterity. Flip a card, build the figure as quickly as you can with the blocks - and get as many different structures built as you can before time expires. Scales fairly well for adults and kids by having cards with more difficult structures. Nice components, fun game.
[ORIGINAL REACTION] I picked up Mall of Horror based on several recommendations and Tom Vasel's excellent review. Sounds like a nice, bloody game of backstabbing, betrayal, deception and getting other people in trouble -- basically an entire game of Diplomacy that can be wrapped up in an hour or less. After a quick read through the rules, I can't wait to try it out!
[UPDATE] 2 Plays, and it's as exciting and engaging as I had hoped. The tension and flow fits the zombie theme wonderfully. Players can find themselves eliminated very quickly, though, and reduced to the role of spectator early in the game. I was a bit surprised that the game seemed to slow down as players were eliminated, rather than speed up, and the last half of the game takes much longer to resolve than the first half -- opposite of my expectations for the theme and how these mechanics would work. Could be based on our play group, however... Still, a solid game with lots of deliciously evil powerbrokering decisions.
[UPDATE 2] I've played quite a few games now, and it's still a rock solid game, working incredibly well with 5 and 6 players for all the diplomacy and duplicity goodness.
Wow. What a great game. Lots of interesting choices and decisions. Luck management, but still rewards good decisions. Deliciously wicked action at times. My only dislike was the arbitrary targeting of players (especially early in the game when folks are roughly equal in standing) by the pirate -- when you have to screw someone hard, for no apparent reason. It's hard to justify picking one player over another under those circumstances w/o resorting to metagame influences.
An odd duck. Theoretically a hand management game, but the pace was strange. Irregular surges of activity followed by incredibly long pauses of inactivity. More strategy may reveal itself as time goes on, but hording cards, and taking advantage of the first player to "blink" and act (and thus open up an opportunity for rapid advancement by subsequent players) appears problematic. Further play simply shows that the game is erratic, clumsy and perhaps even broken, as card hording can reach extremes where there are no more cards to draw and no one has the required cards to advance, leading to complete lockdown.
I was terribly disappointed with Mare Nostrum. It's got beautiful bits, but the trading/purchase aspect is tedious and repetitive. It was almost too "light" for my tastes, since there are really very few options given the small map and limited unit mix.
THE BOTTOM LINE: 8.5/10 -- A lot more engaging and nuanced than I first thought from just reading the rules. The fact that you can improve your own lot by helping others is difficult to evaluate... Is earning money for Bill (and getting a piece of the action) better than getting a bit of direct cash and possibly letting him net a huge windfall? For only two turn actions available, there are some really tough choices. And even though there is definitely competitive play here, the fact that you can make positive moves for several people at once helps keep this from feeling confrontational. I highly recommend it, as it's really provides a distinctive gameplay experience. It is well worth tracking down.
Cutesie little game riffing off the collectable miniatures wave. Can't believe how much memory plays in a kid's game. If you can't remember which hero you put in which die, and what all 6 of their stats are (plus any abilities they might have) you're pretty much screwed.
A very nice light game with excellent components. Creates the illusion of needing to plan in advance to take advantage of scoring cards, but with so much changing from turn to turn it's hard to do anything other than optimize your current turn while making adaptable plans for the next. I like the ability for the trailing player to cycle scoring cards, as some cards are far, far less valuable than others and the values change frequently during the game. Should "feel" lighter, but does cause some Analysis Paralysis.
An interesting push your luck/bidding/investment game from RK. The game fosters disagreements about the best use of turns, actions and bidding strength, which I think was a healthy discussion and showed that the game actions were not as obvious as I first thought they were. Overall, I wasn't that impressed, but I think the dynamic with more people would be more interesting -- so I'd try it again with 4 or 5.
Nice bits, nice illusion of 3D and pretty fun for what it is. Feels a bit like a "flat" Torres or even a bit like Marracash (sometimes forced to help other players, so pick and choose your spots). Can't wait to try it again, even though it can get pretty nasty at times.
It was a fun, lightly interactive game which I'd definitely play again -- but I felt for the gameplay experience and mechanics, it wore a bit long. The game feels like it should only last 30 minutes, not an hour. Vaguely reminiscent of Colossal Arena.
Clever decisions and interesting bid with the clock, but turn order heavily favors those going first. Luck of the draw can also have a significant impact with the timing of the event cards which move the turn marker along the event track. Taking out a loan is crucial, as the game seems to favor the rich getting richer -- they have the money to bid higher on items, gaining and advantage in the actions purchased, which leads to more money to spend on subsequent auctions, etc. Players with little money early in the game (missing a key auction or failing to take a loan) can soon find themselves bid out of the game by never having the option to bid on anything, as their maximum bid ceiling is far, far below what anyone else can (and will) bid to keep them bottled up.
(one play) Interesting game with superficial similarities to Tikal. Another game of having to maximize turn efficiency, as you get very few actions per turn to accomplish a lot of things.
The action cards seem a bit unwieldy and out of balance with the value of other actions, but that could just be based on how our game panned out. I wanted to like the game more, but it seemed that there was far more indirect conflict and interaction than direct (at least, efficient and direct) means to really target other players. It felt like it was missing something -- a mechanic, a scoring element, a turn option -- to jack up the level of immersion.
I won the first game, but I don't think I necessarily made better or more efficient decisions. I do think there's a definite potential for players to have turns that benefit other players more than themselves (such as in Hansa, by virtue of the final position of the boat), but it may be so subtle that it's hard to spot or evaluate.
Wow, I really enjoyed my first few plays -- very cut throat, very convoluted. Interesting to find the balance between aborting an opponents lines for minimal gains versus protecting your own lines with an eye toward lengthy development. Not quite as "friendly" as I was expecting.