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Angels: Michael's War (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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I do not really mention it here now, but I write a blog that seeks to connects my faith with the geeky things I love. One of the things I have done several times is review Christian themed games, to the point that I began to run out of options. In searching for possible games to discover, I ran across this one. In trying to find a Christian or biblical themed game this one stuck out because of the disclaimer the publisher put with it: WARNING: This game is about Angel Demons, faith, hope, love, God, the Devil, Jesus, and things from the Bible. If you are offended by such things, do not buy this game.

The game was kickstarted in 2014, is currently available by print on demand, and it has a free print and play version. So we printed and we played, but did we have fun?

Game Overview
In this game players are part of the Heavenly Host and they are playing angel cards to defeat demons. This is a card game where there is a common deck of angel cards as well as a deck of demons to defeat. Players are dealt a starting hand and three demon cards are turned faced up.

On a player’s turn they may play any number of cards to defeat demons. Each angel will have one or two faith, hope, or love symbols. Likewise, each demon will require one through three symbols of certain types to be played in order to be defeated. Card played and defeated demons are put into a score pile. There are also major victories that can come out in the demon pile. These require three symbols and they are worth the most points.

Some cards have special abilities. For instance the Healing Angel has the “Redemption” ability which is worth one extra point for each other card a player has with the ability. Another example is some demons have the “Human Form” ability and they can only be defeated by using angels that have the right symbols as well as the “Human Form” ability.

Once a player is done playing cards, they will draw one or three cards. If they defeated any demons they draw one card. If they did not defeat any demons then they draw three.

Demon cards defeated are replaced and once a player is done the next player begins. The game will end once all players have had equal turns and one of the three game end conditions has been triggered: There are three or more claimed major victories, the angel deck is depleted, the demon deck is defeated. All players then add up all of the acquired points, and the player with the most points wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: I do like that this game is fairly accessible and introduces more advance game mechanisms like keywords in a way that anyone can get the hang of. However, I was not a big fan of the mechanisms of this game. There is not much choice, not much tension, and zero excitement.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There is very little to this game. It is all very basic, very uninteresting and way too luck based.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: My problem with the theme is not the content. Angels vs. Demons is fine. My problem is how the theme was touted and presented. There is little biblical about this game. A White/Black magic duel deck set built around angels and demonic creatures would be as Christian in its themeing as this game is.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Personally I was not a big fan of the card art, and the theme could have been pretty much any conflict.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: With expansions the game does allow some mixing of sets to create new experiences, but there is not much compelling to bring people back to the table.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The huge amount of luck will ensure every play is different but they will all feel flat.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The flow of this game is monotonous. Every turn is play a couple cards, draw, repeat.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is the best part of this game because it is mercifully quick.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I was disappointed that this game did not deliver on the theme as promised, but worst the game just is not much fun to play. There are many better games than this one.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is just not fun.

Final Score

43/100

I know that this is a really obscure game, and perhaps there is a reson why obscure games are so unknown. Since there is a print and play version available I suppose you could check this game out for yourself, but we would not recommend it.
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Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:31 pm
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Onitama (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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I played this game a couple of years ago when it first came out. I am not the biggest fan of pure abstract strategy games, but I thought this one was fairly good. My wife tends to like the genre even less than I do, so I never took the plunge on getting the game. However we recently got to play it a few times together. Is Onitama the abstract game that finally captures her?

Game Overview
This is two player, perfect information, abstract game played on a 5x5 grid. Each player has five pieces, and one of those five is their master (sensi? samurai? I don't know what the game actually calls them). Each player is dealt two movement cards, and a fifth movement card is put in between the players.

On a player's turn they will pick one of the two cards they have and move one of their pieces as the card depicts. Then they will take the card in between the players and place the card just played there.

If a player is able to move one of their pieces into a space occupied by an opponent's they capture that piece. Game play continues until one player is able to capture the opposing master or they move their master to the opposing master's starting space.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The design here is stellar. I love how they made something that feels classic but has a distinctly modern twist. I also like how accessible this game is, but it also has some real depth of strategy. Since the movement cards are unknown it makes the back and forth feel very dynamic.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think the way the movement cards switches back and forth is really neat. However, I am not a fan of the basic moving pieces on a grid to capture other pieces game play.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: As an abstract strategy game, theme is not this game's strong suit. However, the game has an incredible presentation and it really creates this unique mix of ancient and modern

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is all abstract and it all feels abstract.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the game's best aspect. It plays quickly and every game is going to be different because the movement card combination will be different.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The way the movement cards works is clever, and it ensures this game has a lot of replayability.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: Problems in pacing and flow can be a result of player error, but this can potentially drag out if both players are playing defensively or miss a critical move.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like the flow of the turns with the cards switching between players, but this will almost always go on to long for what I want.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: Remembering, abstract strategy games are not my thing this game is great. I will likely always lose, but this is a game I will not turn down the opportunity to play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments:

Final Score

66/100

Please keep in mind you should keep in mind while reading this that this is an abstract strategy game review from a couple that tend not be abstract strategy fans. Given that huge caveat, I think it scored well for us. If you do have an interest in this type of game, then this is one you should really look at.
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Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:31 am
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Everdell (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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It seemed like this was one of the games that came out of Gen Con with a lot of buzz. My wife and I tend to love tableau building games, so we were very interested in playing this game of animals building a city. So is this game of the season or is it not worth the build up?

Game Overview
In this game players are placing workers and spending resources to build their own forest city that consist of constructs and critters to populate their cities.

On a player’s turn they may do one action, and there are three different things they can do. The first option is that a player can place a worker. There are basic worker spots that provide basic resources and cards. There are also four forest locations that change each game. The forest spots tend to offer more complex actions that tend to be more powerful than the basic actions. Some buildings a player eventually builds also offer worker spots. Towards the end of the game there are events and journeys that workers can be sent on for points. At the beginning of the game, players have two workers but they will get more as the game goes on.

The second option players have are playing a card to their city. Players have a hand of cards, but there are also eight cards out in the center available to all players. Each player’s tableau can have fifteen cards in total. Players may only have one copy of unique cards but they may have multiple copies of common cards. Each card has a resource cost. Buildings tend to require wood, amber, and pebbles while critters tend to require berries. Some cards link to other cards though, so if the player has the prerequisite card already built then they can play the successor card without paying the cost.

The cards come in four varieties. Some are production cards that provide resources and abilities. Others provide a one time ability when the card is built. The third type of card provides a passive ability or conditional bonus. Finally, the last type of card provide end game points.

The final option a player has is to advance the seasons. The game starts in late winter, advances through Spring, Summer, and Autumn. When a player advances season, they gain workers and get all of their placed workers back. After players advance to Autumn, they will eventually reach a place where they can not take an action on their turn. When that happens that player is done playing.

All cards have a point value and there are a variety of ways players could have earned points throughout the game. The player with the most points wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: I do love tableau building games because they provide so many options and synergy. This game adds the the competition and timing of worker placement which works so wonderfully. There is a lot of combos and efficiency that emerges, but each turn is a tactical puzzle.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like how this game builds up throughout the game. It starts off feeling like it is impossible to do anything but by the end the game presents an overwhelming amount of options. I really like the puzzle of optimization this game presents.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The artwork in this game is fantastic and really delivers the theme. What also helps is the structure of the board, which is a tree. The table presence of this game is amazing and that also helps create a more immersive theme.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The components are great looking, but it all feels a bit overproduced. Honestly this is a building game and it could be themed building just about anything.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: There is a lot of replayability built into this game. Being a game with a heavy tactical influence, helps with replayability. The inclusion of multiple forest cards and event cards also helps up the replayability.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like that there are multiple elements that change from game to game. There are so many options and card interactions that this is a game that practically begs to get played over and over again.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I love the flow of this game. It is like a snowball rolling the mountain. At the beginning it seems impossible to accomplish much but at the end everything is rolling in high gear and it feels like something has really been accomplished.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really like the build up in this game, but towards the end there can be a lot of options which creates some analysis paralysis.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I really like this game. I think the theme is charming and the game play is incredibly engaging. The synergy and options this game provides are wonderful and I have a remarkable amount of fun playing it.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is such a solid game. The game just all works together so well and it is is a lot of fun.

Final Score

82/100

This game is an absolute winner for us. This is the kind of game that really fires on all cylinders for us. Only the deluxe edition is available in retail right now, so we did borrow this game to play it. However, this is a game we will be picking up.
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Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:54 am
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End of the Month Recap

sean johnson
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The month that Gen Con falls in tends to always be one of the months with the most recorded plays, and this year is no exception. I am especially impressed that I managed to play 68 unique games this month.


Most Played Game of the Month: Race for the Galaxy (42 plays)
Number of New to Me Games Played this Month: 34(!)
Best New to Me Game this Month: Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

Backlong Progress
It feels like it is just easier to start over than try to keep an accurate count. Due to Gen Con game purchases and the Gen Con math trade we picked up several new games but we also played quite a bit. Overall, the amount of unplayed games we have grew a lot in August, but I feel like we made good strides throughout the month bringing it down.

Current number of unplayed games: 33

10x10 Challenge
We finally made some real progress on our 10x10 list. For the list we should be at 66 plays but we are a little behind that.
Pandemic Legacy: Season 2Complete!
Terraforming MarsComplete!
Century: Golem EditionComplete!
Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Memoir '44
Sentient
The Great Heartland Hauling Co.
Islebound
The Castles of Burgundy
Berserk: War of the Realms
504

Star Wars Destiny 1x100
We are currently about 17 plays off pace for this once. However, we recently got a lot of new cards and dice so we might make up some ground 51/100.
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Tue Sep 4, 2018 3:11 am
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Star Wars: I've Got a Bad Feeling About This (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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My wife was looking for Star Wars Halloween costumes on the Disney website, and while she was looking around she saw this game. It is a Star Wars game that is a 2018 release. She had never heard of it and she was fairly sure I never heard of it, so she ordered it for me as a surprise. It was indeed a surprise because it was a completely unknown Star Wars game to me. So this game was a surprise, but how much fun is it to play?

Game Overview
This is a party style card game. The goal is to be the last player left in the game. Each player starts with a hand of card that starts with an Escape card. Mixed into the deck are several "Noooo!" cards.

On a player's turn they can choose to play cards, and a player can keep playing cards until they play one that says to end their turn. Conversely, a player can choose to play no cards and just end their turn. Unless a card says otherwise, at the end of a player's turn they draw a card.

The cards do various things, but by and large they are take that cards (or defense cards). The whole point is to get the opponent's to draw a Nooo! card and not have an escape card in their hand. When a player draws a Nooo! card they will lose unless they can play an Escape card. Once an Escape card is played it is out of the game. These Escape cards will keep the player in the game, but they have a penalty. For instance one of them requires a play to say "It's a trap!" every time they play a card.

The Star Wars theme comes in the card art. Every card depicts a humorous cartoon-y Star Wars art and the card titles that match this art are lifted from well known lines from the movies.

As the game goes on the number of Escape cards available diminishes and players get eliminated. Once one player is left they are the winner.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: This game uses a lot of mechanisms I am not wild about. I do not like that what eliminates a player is a random card draw. This game also utilizes the mechanism of "make players be act wacky because it is funny." I enjoy that as much as Anakin Skywalker likes sand.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The rules to this game are very bland and not terribly exciting.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the best part of the game. The artwork is well done and generally very charming. People with even a passing interest in Star Wars will get drawn into this game just to see all of the card art.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The Star Wars cartoons on the card are all very cute, and looking at them is the best part of the game.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: Halfway through the first play this game has shown all it has to offer.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The first play is fun, but the novelty wears thin after that.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The game really works best with 4-6 people, but the problem is the game goes on to long. This is especially problematic if someone gets eliminated early.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There are only so many Escape cards, so it is impossible for the game to drag on and on.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: The rating for the first play would probably be like a seven. It is a light, party style game with great Star Wars art. However, it is a bit of a novelty and it is the novelty that brings the fun not the game play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The game is more funny than fun, and it is only really funny the first time. This game is targeted to non-gamers who only play games occasionally. It is probably great with that kind of group.

Final Score

53/100

Our third grade son found both the cards and the gameplay to be hilarious. My wife is also right about the right kind of group. We played with a group of complete non-gamers and they enjoyed it. This is not a game the two of will play together, but this does fill a group game that is not a typical party style game niche for us.
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Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:44 am
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Abaddon (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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We got this game in this year's Gen Con math trade. I got really close to buying it a while ago when it was marked down real low on Amazon, so I was happy to get the game in a trade. My main interest in this game is that the designer is Richard Borg. We are a big fan of the Command and Colors system. This game does not use that system, but it does feel a bit like a distant cousin. So did this game zero in on our gaming interests or are we ready to abandon it?

Game Overview
This is scenario based game of warfare using mechs (giant walking tanks). The scenario will dictate the map set up, starting hand size, and the units that each player has. There are different terrain types on the map but the differences tend to be cosmetic. All terrain blocks line of sight and is impassible.

On a player's turn they will first zero in by placing a market on a target square. All shots fire to that square will be plus one. Next players roll their command dice. Four of the six sides correspond with the four unit types (recon, medium, heavy, and infantry). The fifth side gives card draw and the final side is a wild that can be used as any unit type or draw cards.

Players will assigned the rolled dice. A single unit can be assigned more than one die for additional moves, but it still can only attack once. Each assigned unit can move its speed.

After units move combat can take place. To make a ranged attack, the player must play a weapon systems card. Often this will have a target number that is a die roll modifier. If the unit is adjacent to it's target then it is a melee attack and a weapon system card is not played.

The defending player can also assign a weapon systems card. If this happens both players roll the appropriate attack die ( a six sided, eight sided, or ten sided die depending on the unit). They then add the number on the weapon systems card. The higher number wins and the lower number loses one of their power tokens. If the winner is double the other number then it is two power tokens. These tokens become victory points. If the last power crystal is removed from a unit it is eliminated. This is the same for both melee attacks and ranged attacks when both players play a card.

If the defending player in ranged combat does not play a card then the defender just rolls their unit's die. The attacker still adds their card value. If the attacker wins they get power crystals from the defender still, but if the defender wins then they just prevent the damage.

If a 1 is rolled, this causes a critical and all other results are ignored. The unit hit by a critical will draw a wild fire card which often causes a system to malfunction or break.

Play continues back and forth until one player accomplishes the scenario objective.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The rules have been stripped down, and a lot of chrome that one might expect is not here such as terrain effects or different weapon types. However, the base rule system is solid. The game is tactical and light, but I enjoy the use of dice to determine actions. I also like how much of a component hand management is.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I thought the dice system was nice, but it can be frustrating when the dice do not allow for a card draw. I also found a couple of the models hard to tell apart.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The inclusion of a box full of miniatures helps deliver the theme. I also thought the wild fire cards were really thematic. I liked how units did not take hits, but I liked that systems could go out. It is a small inclusion but it really capture mech combat.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It felt like fighting and it looked good, but I am not sure what the giant walking robots are supposed to be.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the game's weakest point. This is not a two player only game so the 15 included scenarios are divided up between two, three, and four players. There is not a lot of unit variety either so I am not sure how long that small number of scnearios is going to hold up to repeated plays.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There is some, but the game seems to be lacking in variety.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The game has a good flow to it. Rolling and assigning the dice is easy but feels meaningful. I really like how since the defender can choose to play cards both players are always engaged.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I was surprised how quick this played and I loved that there was never really any down time.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I wish this game was better supported, because it is a lot of fun. It is not a super deep game, but it is engaging. There is just enough here to deliver the theme.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I was suspicious when I saw the box get opened up, but I am pleasantly surprised. This is intuitive, fun, and quick. It is an all around solid game.

Final Score

71/100


We both think that Richard Borg managed to deliver another fun game. For both of us the Achilles heel of this game is replayability. So I do not know if we will keep it around for ever, but we will be keeping until we feel we have played it out.
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Tue Aug 28, 2018 4:57 am
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Cambria (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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Towards the end of 2016 someone was running an auction on this site with the intentions of donating the proceeds to a suicide prevention resource center. As the auction wound down, this game had zero bids and a low minimum so I jumped on it. I did not know much about the game, except that it has the same designer as Zeppelin Attack. Because we clearly have too many games, it sat unplayed for a while. Now that Cambria has made it to the table did the game seize us or are we ready to surrender it?

Game Overview
In this game players have tribes of Celtic warriors and use them to capture Roman forts. Each fort is worth points equal to the number of roads connecting to it, and they are numbered 2-6

On a player's turn they will roll two dice. The player will then pick one of the numbers. The player will put one of their five cubes on a road adjacent to a fort with the number picked. When all cubes are placed the player can move one of their previously placed cubes. A player can also choose to completely skip their turn and not roll the dice.

If a player rolls a one then they have the option to place the legionary piece adjacent to the fort with the other number rolled. The legionary piece can displace any Celtic cubes and it will prevent forts from being claimed.

If a player rolls doubles then they gain the option of replacing an opposing cube with one of their own as long as it is adjacent to the number rolled.

If double ones are rolled then the legionary is place anywhere and the player puts one of their cubes on a boat. In a future they can use the cube on the numbered boat instead of the numbers rolled.

When a fort is completely surrounded it can be scored. The player with the most cubes around the fort claims it. If the fort is a 4-6 then the second most person gets a lesser victory point token. If there is a tie for the most, then no one claims the fort until the tie is broken.

Once there are six or less forts left on the board the game ends. Players add up the point value of the forts they collected and the most points wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: These rules are very simple and straight forward, but they work well and are solid. This is an area majority game that slots into the filler category. This simple and straight forward rule set ensure the game is playable in twenty minutes or less while still delivering an engaging experience.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The rules are simple and to the point. There is not a lot of flash or nuance to them, but they get the job done.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme here is easily the weakest aspect. It is half a step away from being a pure abstract game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think the theme could have been changed to literally any other conflict and it probably still would have worked. It is a little too abstract.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The board is double sided, so that was a nice touch. Since the game relies on dice rolls it is extremely tactical so it will not feel over done

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There is some replayability, but I think eventually I will hit a point in this game where I feel like it's all been done before.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is one of the strongest elements of this game. It plays quick and is an engaging experience. It pits players against each other but manages not to feel overly confrontational.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is just quick and fast playing all around. I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth it all plays.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a filler game in the same category as something like For Sale. It fits a small time period but it is not a party game or a time waster.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is pretty decent. My only real complaint is that it does not play well with just two.

Final Score

68/100

Despite not being terribly thematic, this game did impress us. However, it is kind of on the bubble for keeping. It fits the filler slot nicely, but it really needs three players to play. For the time being we will keep it and see if we can get it played, but when we eventually need to purge and reduce this game is a potential candidate.
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Sat Aug 25, 2018 3:08 pm
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Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

sean johnson
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Back in 2016 my wife and I played through Pandemic Legacy Season 1. I was recovering from surgery at the time and I was not supposed to move much so playing the game for hours on and was perfect. We played through the whole game in less than a week. We greatly enjoyed the experience, so we were all on board on getting season 2. We started playing it a bit earlier this year, got a little distracted by the other games we were playing. We recently decided that we would finish playing through it. . . We did not make it to the end.

Disclaimers: We have not played all twelve months of this game, and we are not going to. So if you want to be a stickler, I suppose you could consider this more of our impressions than a review. Also, this will be mostly spoiler free. By and large the information about the game we share is discovered upon the very first opening mission, but if you are looking to play this with a 100% blank slate then you probably should not read this.

Game Overview
Season 2 takes place a generation after the first game and has the goal of rebuilding a fallen world. The base game play follows the same structure of regular pandemic. On a player's turn they take four actions, and then draw infection cards.

In the base game play there is one fundamental change from typical Pandemic. It is still a cooperative game but instead of working to remove plague cubes players are attempting to keep supply cubes on cities. During the infection phase when city cards are drawn, supply cubes are removed from these cities. If there are no cubes there then a plague cube is added. If eight plague cubes are ever on the board it is a loss.

While players try to prevent these incidents from occurring they are also trying to accomplish objectives that change throughout the game. These objectives are often accomplished by utilizing supply cubes or cards the players collect throughout the game.

Win or lose a specific play, the players will get to make advancements and upgrades in between plays. Again without giving spoilers I will vaguely mention a large part of the game play in this has to do with exploration. There is also a narrative that slowly develops throughout each play, all the way to the conclusion. The game is divided up into months. If the first play in the month is a loss, then the players repeat the month, so that playing to completion will be between 12 and 24 plays.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: I did like the emphasis on exploration. I thought that part was well done, but I disliked most everything else. I am not the biggest fan of co-op games to begin with and the implementation rubbed me the wrong way. The whole removal of cubes was annoying, because in order to not lose several turns would just become treading water, to place a cube and have it come right off. The action economy started off tight and it became a lot tighter before it began to loosen up.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I liked the mechanisms that governed the legacy components and how the game expanded. I found the way it played out annoying though. We got stuck in a cycle where we would lose the first half a month just to set up so that we could win the second half.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: I did not like this part of the game, and it is clearly a personal preference. Over the past several months I have increasingly come to like post-apocalyptic stuff less and less. I dislike the oppressive atmosphere and the constant feeling of fractured hope found in those settings, and this game fully embraces that theme. For me it made for an experience that I did not want to engage in.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is extremely thematic and that theme really comes through. However, experiencing that theme is not very enjoyable.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: In one sense it is unfair to evaluate a game with a finite number of plays on replayability. However, I considered it by how much does this game make we want to get it back to the table. The answer is not at all.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There are a lot of games that get played less than 12 to 24 times so the amount of gameplay included is fine. I just do not want to play it.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: As my wife eluded to this was all off. After setting up from a loss, we won one in month in like three turns. Then later on after a really bad starting draw for infection we lost in two turns. The pace and flow was all over the place.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This part was awful. Being one turn into a play and then planning to lose was terrible. It really did seem to be our best play but it made the flow of the game tedious and a chore.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: We gave it a good go, and we played through over half the game, but this is the least amount of fun I have had playing a game in a long time. I consider attempting to play this game one of my most negative gaming experiences.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really enjoyed playing Pandemic Legacy Season 1, and I was looking forward to this, but it really, really was just not fun.

Final Score

37/100

We were setting up to play one of the plays in September, and as it was all set up my wife asked, "Are you having fun?" I paused and replied honestly: No. She quietly said "me neither." Then she asked, "Do you want to keep playing?" I thought for a second and said "not really." she nodded in agreement.

There is no beating around the bush, we hated this game. It made little sense for us to continue playing something that we were not enjoying, there are too many games that are a lot of fun for us to waste time playing a game we find the antithesis of fun.
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Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:41 am
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Wizard Kings (One Couple's Reviews)

sean johnson
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I first played this game at Gen Con in 2014. I liked it quite a bit so I did a Wizard Kings event again in 2016 (and then again this year). After the second Gen Con event though, this became a game on my want in trade list and I managed to get it in the Gen Con math trade last year. Unfortuantly, it then spent a year cooling on our shelves because in 2017 we were frantically trying to play through all of our games (that we started the year with) and this created a big back log from math trades to work through. Now that we finally played it together does this game cast a spell on us or should we count it as a (step) loss?

Game Overview
This game is mostly a scenario based game, so the set up and victory condition is dependent upon the scenario. However, in all scenarios units will be moving and fighting.

The board consist of map tiles (four come in the box and sixteen total are available) these maps are geomorphic. Each player will control a set amount of cities which will provide gold and city control of some sort often factors into some sort of victory condition.

Each turn follows a similar pattern. First players roll for initiative, and the high roller gets to move first. Next comes the move phase. The first player can move all of their units if they wish. However, terrain factors heavily into moving. A lot of terrain halts movement and terrain limits how many units each player can have in a given hex. The terrain feature across the hex faces also limits just how many units can move across it in a given turn. After the first player is done, then the second player moves.

The next phase is combat. If any player moved into the same space as an opposing player a fight is going to happen. Every unit in this game is represented by a block. The orientation of the block will determine the units strength which is how many dice it rolls. Each unit also has a combat rating. This rating will be a letter (usually A,B,C) and a number (1-4). The letter determines when the unit fights. All A's go, then B's, etc. The number determines the target number a hit. So a B2 with three strength will roll three dice after any A units and before the C units. Any roll of a 1 or 2 will cause a hit. Any hit causes an immediate step loss in an opponent unit, and these losses mean the unit rolls less dice. If both players have units with the same letter, then the defender resolves first.

After one round of combat then when a unit activates they can choose to keep fighting or retreat. After three rounds of combat, the attacker is then forced to retreat. One of the special unit types are wizards which can spells. These spells require spending steps but have a variety of special effects. Wizards always activate first.

After all combat is resolved the final phase is the build phase. Players count up the cities they own and that gives them an amount of gold to spend. Each unit has a cost it takes to raise them by one step up to their max. The gold can be used to increase injured units or bring new units on the board (initially at one step). Unspent gold can be saved until a future turn.

A new round begins with initiative and the game continues until one player wins or the pre-set time runs out.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The block game system used here is tried and true (Columbia games uses some variation of it in all of their games). It works really well and is extremely versatile. I especially like how it is used in this game. It is presented in a very flexible and open ended way.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I honestly like the block system and I think it is great. The way combat works is also good. The die rolling and limited number of rounds makes combat really exciting. I am not so wild about all of the movement rules. They can be hard to keep straight and remember in the midst of playing.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme is fairly generic fantasy without a lot to really distinguish itself. The theme also feels fairly abstracted,and there is no real sense of scale in this game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It felt like I was fighting and I guess there was magic. However, the theme seemed to be a little muted, and I am not huge into generic fantasy anyway.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The game has a few scenarios plus rules for a custom game that allows customizable units and different map configurations. Plus, there is a free scenario book on the company's website. There is a lot of game here and encouragement for players to invest into it more. Even in the base box there is a lot of replayability.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There seems to be a decent amount of replayability, and it does seem expandable. But I am not wild about the blind purchase model they use for expansions.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I really like the turn structure to this game and it flows well. I especially like the flow of combat. Occasionally bad dice rolls can make a whole combat be a bit of a waste though as marginal losses are easily recovered.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Honestly, this was a lot better than I thought it would be. There is little down time which is good. I do think by and large though I prefer this game playing scenarios with a turn limit.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I have played several of Columbia's block games and even though the theme here is not as strong as their historical games I think this is my favorite of their games. The block system engine that drives it is excellent and I especially love the versatility and large possibilities this game provides.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: When I saw this game getting set up I thought I was going to hate it, but I was genuinely surprised by how much fun I had.

Final Score

78/100

I knew going into this I was a big fan of this game, and I am thrilled my wife did not hate it. We will probably need to get a few more plays in to see if her feeling on the game stay positive, but if so this game can be added to the elite list of "combat themed" games my wife legitimately likes.
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Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:02 am
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EXCEED: Red Horizon (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
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I played this game for the first time back in the Fall of 2016. It was at a 24 hour gaming event, and I played in the wee hours of the morning. That particular play is a bit of a blur, but I remember thinking the game was neat. Based off of that faded memory, I got the game in the Gen Con math trade in 2017. It ended up sitting on the shelf for a little too long, but now that this game does this game achieve a flawless victory or does it lose in the first round?

Game Overview
Exceed is a game that seeks to simulate a fighting video game. Each player has an unique deck that is made up of several cards that both players have as well cards unique a player's character.

On a player's turn they can either take an action or strike. There are several actions a player can take. They can draw extra cards, move, or boost. Every card has two ways they can be used, and one of those is he boost effect. Boost effects can do a variety of things but they often boos the stats of the fighter or the next attack. A lot of actions require force, which is generated by discarding additional cards.

The other option is strike. When a player strikes, both players will play a strike card and reveal them simultaneously. The card with the highest speed will resolve first. Every attack has a range that has to be met, and every attack does a set amount of damage. This damage will be reduced by the armor of the opposing card. Finally, if the damage done is less than the guard of the opposing card then the second player's attack will also hit. If the damage is higher than the guard then the second player's attack will not happen.

There is a lot of details and interactions in the cards, which creates a lot of the strategy and nuance of the game. Turns will continue back and forth until one player is reduced to zero life.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The mechanisms and rules might be the strongest part of this game. They are very well done, and they pack a lot of complexity and tough decisions into a small package. I appreciate how this game incorporated movement, and this really helped deliver the video game fighter theme. There is a lot to balance and hand management is big in this game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I found it hard to keep track of what I was supposed to do in this game. I was never sure what the best use for a card was, and there were a lot of small things to keep straight and factors to consider.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: It feels like a fighting game which is good. The card is decent, but the character design felt very generic and not engaging to me.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I could really see the theme in this one.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: I am not wild about how they packaged this game by dividing it up into four different packages. One box has an OK amount of replayability but it is not going to hold up for long.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I feel like over the long haul this needs more fighters to be interesting.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The players kind of direct the pacing of this game. It feels like it can go between the extremes of going to fast and dragging out.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Not sure. I just know when the game was over I was glad.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This game captures the feel of a fighting video game with the kind of card synergy and combo decision making that feels CCG like. It is an engaging parring that works.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game sets out what it states to do, but if I were to actually play this kind of game I would rather play Yomi.

Final Score

64/100

I liked this game more than my wife did, but I honestly agree with her end assessment. If I am going to play a card game that emulates fighting video games, then I would also prefer to play Yomi. As long as we have that one, this one will not really get played, so this is a game we will be trading.
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Tue Aug 14, 2018 3:59 am
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