Joe's Gaming Blog

A collection of game night sessions and other gaming subjects that I hope folks find interesting (because I do!) :D

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Comment Corner - January 2016

Joseph Peterson
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Board Game: Karuba
Karuba - 9.2 - Game of the Month - Best Quality

I love Haba, so maybe I'm biased, but Karuba is an excellent game. To have all players start out the same, with the same goals and the same ways to reach those goals and then see how everyone goes about creating their paths is simply amazing to me. The game's almost like Bingo, but you're creating your Bingo board as you play. I love it, I really do. I haven't been this enamored by a game in awhile. This one really takes the cake.



Board Game: Carcassonne: South Seas
Carcassonne: South Seas - 8.8 - Game of the Month Runner-Up

Carcassonne: South Seas is another of many games which take the basics of Carcassonne and tweak them ever so much. The tweak here is collecting resources to be used to gain points. I enjoy not only the art, but the flow of play. The only thing that some may not like is that there is more hidden scoring than in other versions of the game. You're generally not going to have much of an idea of where your opponents are in way of points which may change how players place their tiles. All things considered, I really like it.



Board Game: Wasabi!
Wasabi! - 8.8

Wasabi! (or Sushi! in my case) is like Scrabble, but instead of creating words, players are creating sushi. It's overly (and awesomely) thematic with the menus, wasabi bowls...heck, even the board resembles the sushi rolling mats. Simply great presentation, but it doesn't end there. There's a great game in the package. While some players may get caught up in a tad bit of analysis paralysis, for the most part, turns go by fairly quickly. Great game with excellent gameplay and a really fun theme.



Board Game: Würfel Bingo
Würfel Bingo - 8.6

Yahtzee meets Bingo? That may be the best way to describe Wurfel Bingo. It's a lot of fun to watch how players who all share the same numbers wind up with such different boards at the end of each round. It's also nice that there are both 5x5 and 6x6 boards available allowing the game to change up from time to time. And I love any game that lets me root for the dice to roll a certain way.



Board Game: Blockers!
Blockers! - 8.6

Blockers! is an excellent abstract game which I feel should belong in everyone's collection. It's such an easy game to learn, but it really takes a lot to master it. I really like how the "capture" mechanic works and can be a big decision on whether to take advantage of it or not. While the components are limited, they're functional and the board is made so well, I could imagine playing this on a bumpy road and not running into many issues with jostling pieces. Seriously though, there's an excellent abstract strategy game here that I feel has been overlooked. It plays well from 2 - 5 and certainly plays different at each count. Lovely little game.



Board Game: Clue: The Great Museum Caper
Clue: The Great Museum Caper - 8.5 - Most Thematic

Clue: The Great Museum Caper is my first try at hidden movement and what a great introduction it was. I feel like the game is more balanced towards a full four player count, but works very well at two and three. I love the dynamic of thief versus captors and the flow of the game works really well. There's also a good amount of luck in that thieves may find themselves caught almost immediately just depending on how things turn out. At the same time, a thief may be able to clear out a whole side of the museum without even being seen. I like it though. It plays quick and, after one game, everyone wants a shot at being the thief.



Board Game: Wizard
Wizard - 8.5

Who would've thought adding 8 cards to a deck would create such an interesting game? Wizard is a basic trick-taking game with betting which changes one thing: The trump can be trumped. It's one of the most unpredictable card games I've ever played. As someone who grew up on card games, I don't know why this one never hit the table. It's now going to be permanently in reach of my person everywhere I go. I really like it.



Board Game: Serengeti
Serengeti - 8.4

Serengeti may just be the most clever bidding game I've yet to play. I love how when players gain a card, their bid can no longer end in the number displayed. As the game plays on, this can really change how bids may normally have gone. Also, payouts work in an amazing way, which again makes people think twice about their bids, hoping not to pay out their entire bid to one player. It fits the same niche as a game like No Thanks! and shares (or may even excel) in having a very clever mechanic to keep the bidding interesting throughout.



Board Game: The Climbers
The Climbers - 8.2

The Climbers is an abstract game that not only looks great, but plays great. It's a heck of a thing to have so many moves at the beginning and watch as those moves slowly slip away as the structure grows in height. The only thing that's a little unfortunate is that not all the pieces are perfect in that sometimes when the stacks grow, they tend to lean a bit. This doesn't necessarily break the game, but can result in a possible crashing of blocks and unintentionally end the game. Otherwise, a really great game with really nifty components. I love those ladders.



Board Game: The Great Heartland Hauling Co.
The Great Heartland Hauling Co. - 8.2

I haven't played many "pick-up and deliver" games, but if they're all at least somewhat like The Great Heartland Hauling Co., I think I'm going to have a good time. As for Great Heartland, what a neat idea. From the building of the map to moving trucks around, loading and unloading product, it's just a lot of fun. It's one of those games where you feel like it's going to take forever and then all of a sudden it's the end of the game. It's a whole lot of management as well. You can end the game, but if you've got a lot of product left in your semi, you'll probably lose due to the penalty. It's a great little game.



Board Game: Kreuzwort
Kreuzwort - 8.2

Kreuzwort is an excellent alternative to games such as Scrabble and adds in a neat element of rolling dice instead of drawing from a bag to pick letters. While it's solitaire, it's fun to go up against others and seeing what everyone does with the letters that have come up throughout the game. Since each turn there are two choices of letter, everyone's end game boards can look completely different and still find success with their own strategy. I also think the addition of the "?" wild roll is great and can come in handy when it's available. I really enjoy it and can see it going well with any player count.



Board Game: Montego Bay
Montego Bay - 7.5 - Best Art

Montego Bay is a light, family style game that not only looks beautiful, but plays well too. Now, there's not much for strategy here as it's mostly a guessing game, but that doesn't make for a bad time. While there is the chaos of movement on the pier, there is strategy which exists in placing barrels on the boats. As for player count, playing at any count other than three is going to make for a less enjoyable time, but the game does function at 4 (extreme chaos) and 2 (though barely). While it's not a game I'll return to often, it's one I can see myself enjoying each time it comes off the shelf (as long as there are three to play it).



Board Game: King Up!
King Up! - 6.8

King Up! is a voting game which adds in a small heap of bluffing which can really turn things on their head. The game is generally chaos no matter the player count, but seems to play better in the 4 or 5 player range. As much as I enjoyed it, which I did for the most part, I felt as if there was something missing. When we finished our first game, we were like, "Is that it?". And even with further plays, yep, that's pretty much it.
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Mon Feb 1, 2016 6:01 am
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Comment Corner - December 2015

Joseph Peterson
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Star Wars: Angriff der Klonkrieger - 8.8 - Game of the Month - Most Thematic

Star Wars: Angriff der Klonkrieger is a great cooperative game which takes the events from the battle on Geonosis and puts the players in the roles of the jedis Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, Kit Fisto and Obi-Wan Kenobi. I think my favorite thing about the game is watching after each round as the battle arena gets filled up with more droids, hoping the supply doesn't run out. A really great game that I wish would have had an English release, but am glad it's not mandatory to be able to enjoy.

Maori - 8.7 - Game of the Month Runner-Up

Maori is a pretty neat take on tile placement games. I love having that boat moving around, allowing players to be limited to what they have access to at any given time. I think that the volcanoes which may show up add a pretty neat element, blocking the ability to obtain tiles located behind it. It's also just a lot of fun to build islands and move that silly boat around. The variants also add just enough to not overly change the game. Good stuff.

King of New York - 8.3

King of New York takes all the stuff from King of Tokyo and ramps it up into a more "gamer game". This isn't necessarily a good thing. While it's not a bad game by any means, I think I'll stick with King of Tokyo. It's easier to play and get into and just more fun at its basic level. New York will come out once in awhile though if I play with folks looking for a little more substance, but Tokyo will be my go-to when in the mood for monster Yahtzee.

Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension - 8.3

Gravwell is a racing game with one of the more fun ways of getting around the board that I have experienced. I really like the way the mechanics work as it's all about sling-shotting yourself across the galaxy. It takes a round or so to get your head around how the mechanics work, but once you get it, it makes for a really interesting game. A good play can quickly turn into a bad one depending on the position of your opponents. I really enjoy it.

Carcassonne: Star Wars - 8.2

Carcassonne: Star Wars takes out farmers and adds some basic dice combat without making the game all about combat. It's a nice change to have some situations where players will fight over territory, but I like that it's never mandatory and doesn't come up a ridiculous amount of the time. Each battle has a chance to change the outcome of the game, but battles never seem to be the deciding factor. Quite enjoyable take on Carcassonne that doesn't drift too far from the basics.

Atlantis - 8.2

Atlantis reminds me a lot of Cartagena (Leo Colovini being the designer of both), though there are definitely more differences than similarities. I like the idea of moving to the next closest color of a played card, and that multiple meeples cannot be on the same space. I also think it's great that players take the tile behind them to slowly sink Atlantis. There's good strategy either rushing to the new land or slowly working your way, picking up big point tiles on the way and I can see either working depending on how the game plays out. It's a really good game and this design really works well.

Around the World in 80 Days - 8.2

Around the World in 80 Days is a pretty unique and quite enjoyable racing game. I like that there's a couple of things going on. You don't necessarily want to be the first to get back to London, you just want to take the least amount of days. On that same note though, you don't want to be last to London, because you can lose (unless you can get into London on the last turn). It's definitely best for more players (at least 5), but it still works well at lower player counts.

Quilt Show - 8.1

Quilt Show is like Ticket to Ride for Patchwork fans. Well, less Patchwork. It's really very Ticket to Ride-ish, but that's not a bad thing by any means. I think the idea of having each round end with a quilt show (while not only being the reason for the title) also breaks up the game quite nicely. Just when you think you'd like something else to do, there it is: quilt show. While I wish there was maybe a couple more things to do to break up the monotony that may occur, it's a good game that runs just a little bit too long for what it is.

Lift Off! Get me off this Planet! - 7.8 - Best Quality - Best Art

Lift Off! is a great gateway family game which is absolutely gorgeous and just feels nice to play through. It's a little mean-ish as players can really mess over their opponents, but it's all in good fun. I like that players don't have a lot to think about on their turn and so there's not a large amount of downtime between turns, even in higher player count games. It also has some great variants, particularly the one which has players cooperate to get everyone off the planet before it explodes. Good game with some amazing artwork.

Rummikub - 7.7

Rummikub is classic. I can remember playing time after time every time our family would get together. I no longer own the fancy version we used to with the heavy tiles and large case, but bringing out the plastic one is still pretty fun. One of these days, I'll need to track down that old classic case, if only for the posterity. Oh, and it was nice to reunite with the creepy smiley face joker tile again. More nightmares for me.

Meteor - 6.2

Meteor is a hectic and fast-moving game with just a little bit too much going on for my liking. I'm the kind of person who likes to take a moment or two to consider strategy. With Meteor, a lot of the time you feel like you're just throwing out cards and hoping for the best situation to occur. I can see the joy that people would have from this game, but this definitely is not my type of game.
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Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:00 pm
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Comment Corner - November 2015

Joseph Peterson
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Cacao - 9.3 - Game of the Month

Cacao is an excellent tile-laying game that uses the mechanic in a unique and excellent way. Having knowledge of what tiles are possible to be used and combating with your opponents' placements are key strategies to pulling out a win. Possibly the only thing I have against the game is if you don't follow a pattern when handing out rewards for tiles, you can get a little lost and may have to backtrack to make sure you scored everything properly. However, long as you take the same steps each time, this can be heavily negated. I'm definitely a big fan of this one.

Carcassonne: Gold Rush - 9.2 - Game of the Month Runner-Up

Man, I'm really having a lot of fun with these Carcassonne games. Gold Rush is so awesome to me. I love having the random luck factor of the mining areas. I also think how the cities work in this over vanilla Carcassonne is a lot neater of an idea with having the trains connecting everything. For such small changes, it still stays true to the idea of the game, but adds a high dose of fun, at least for me. I really love it.

Tokaido - 9.1 - Best Art

Tokaido is a very "zen" experience. Traveling down that long, winding road, stopping at temples, farms and inns along the way...it all feels very nice. There's no real confrontation and everyone is free to do their own thing, long as a space is open to do so. Everything flows so well and builds up so beautiful, especially in the way of gaining those panorama cards. I really dig this chill game.

Würfel Bohnanza - 9.1

Wurfel Bohananza is probably the best dice version of a game I've played so far. While it doesn't surpass Bohananza, it's got a great feel to it that is comparable to the card game. I love how on each turn all players are involved, checking to see if they're able to finish a needed combo. Just a really wonderful game that works so well in the Bohnanza world.

Cherry Picking - 8.7

I'm usually not too fond of blind-bidding type games, or auction-style games in general. However, Cherry Picking has changed my mind quite a bit. I really love how the game works out. After a couple plays, the ladders, fruits and baskets all make sense and work great, specifically the baskets. Being able to go last can honestly be the best move on many goes. I was also quite surprised by how close the scores were even when people were going for different objectives. For instance, I was trying to collect the highest point cards while also trying to get a "fruit salad" bonus. On the other hand, one of my opponents was focused on collecting ladders. We both wound up with extremely close scores for the round (47 and 48 points respectively) and even the end scores proved extremely close with everyone within 8 points of each other. It's safe to say I enjoy this great little card game.

Castle Panic - 8.5

Castle Panic is pretty super. I like the design of having monsters flowing into the center of the board (the castle). It's a really fun idea and plays out great. We've had a lot of luck, and then sometimes we don't. It really depends on how the tokens come out and how well established your team is at certain intervals. I like that there's a good balance of luck and strategy. Add to that the teamwork elements in the gameplay and you've got an excellent cooperative experience.

Heimlich & Co. - 8.4

My rating is for the basic version. I'm not big into the secret roles type of games, and so the simpler the better when it comes down to playing them. This really is about as simple as it can get. I like that players who just come out and show who they are can really get punished for doing so, while players who tend to hide their identity can do quite well. I wish to try it again with the new rules, but I need to get some translations going due to having a German version.

Hanabi - 8.3

Hanabi is a frustrating, but satisfying cooperative game. Having limited knowledge all the way throughout makes for an interesting experience. It's almost as players learn a language as they play, and multiple things can be discovered on one single clue if given at the right time. I like it and look forward to exploring it further.

Spinderella - 8.2 - Best Quality

Spinderella is just simple fun. It's basically a roll and move, but there's some really neat stuff going on that makes it so much better. The "spider" mechanic makes for a really enjoyable alternate move, allowing players to hopefully set up captures. We found capturing not always so simple to pull off, but the stump really came in handy in a lot of situations. It's a kid's game, and so I rated it a little higher than I normally might. Though, even without taking that into consideration, it's at least a 7 in my mind.

Blueprints - 7.8

Blueprints is a pretty fun little game. I like how the objective isn't necessarily to build your building, it's all about scoring the most points. Occasionally, building your blueprints exactly and grabbing the bonus points will knock you into first however, building the tallest structure can bump you. In the same, it can really hurt you to do either, depending on the "market". It's a cool idea and functions well throughout play.

Salmon Run - 7.0

I tend to enjoy deck-building games and I like the ones that add a little more to it than just the cards. Salmon Run adds just enough theme and board elements to make the experience a pretty good time. I like that each game can be different based on how the board is set up and how cards come out and are used. At the end of the day, it's nothing great, but it's still enjoyable.

The Grizzled - 7.0 - Most Thematic

I had really high expectations for The Grizzled when I first heard of it and saw it played a couple times. When going over the rules and playing around with it trying to get a feel for it, it seemed like it would be a pretty fun game. However, it really isn't fun. Don't get me wrong, it's a good game. It's just really sad. I don't generally get caught up in themes, but this one just really wears on you. Add to that, it just seems impossible to do well with certain distribution of cards. I'd like to try it again and at the same time, I'd rather not. Man, I don't know. Beautiful game though. Love the art.

Abracada...What? - 3.4

Abracada...What? is really just an overproduced guessing game. There's so much knowledge not available to the players from the beginning, and by the time information does come out in the round, you're probably already dead or wishing you were. Really didn't care for this one at all.
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Tue Dec 1, 2015 1:19 am
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Comment Corner - October 2015

Joseph Peterson
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The Downfall of Pompeii - 9.8 - Game of The Month - Most Thematic

The Downfall of Pompeii is a truly amazing game. In a way, it feels like two different games, and both games make up one excellent game. There's just enough strategy and just enough luck to keep me intrigued. I really can't say enough good things about this. It might just be my favorite game ever at this point.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 - 9.6 - Game of the Month Runner-up

Pandemic Legacy continues to be an excellent game. We're currently sitting at two games in and have seen some huge changes already. It really amazes me that even at this early point, there's so much going on. My only complaint would be all the paperwork being done when I'd rather be playing! This comment will be updated as we go on, as well as the rating, as we continue further into this very interesting "Legacy" system.

Dragonwood - 8.9

Dragonwood mixes cards and dice in an intriguing and enjoyable way. It's not just all about playing the right cards at the right time, it's got a little more luck to it than that. I can imagine many people not enjoying luck stacked with luck, but for me, it makes for quite an enjoyable time. I'm also incredibly surprised at how close the scores seem to be. Good stuff.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! - 8.9 - Best Quality

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! is the nicest little mean game I've ever played. What I mean is for a "take-that" game, a really mean one at that, it's actually a good amount of fun. I love how the board is set up randomly each game and slowly disappears into the ocean throughout play. Some of the tiles seem awfully powerful, but if you can deal with the chaos, and put your feeling aside for a bit, I think anyone will have fun with this one.

Machi Koro: Harbor - 8.8

Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion is a must for Machi Koro. I had always felt like the base game needed something extra to make it a full game. I feel like Harbor is that something. I really enjoy the randomness of the cards that come out and how quick turns go once you get into the swing of things. I'm glad I picked this up as it extremely improved a game I already liked. I can't imagine playing without it in the future.

Paris Connection - 8.8

Someday we'll find it...the Paris Connection...the economy...the trains...and me. Anyways, Paris Connection is a fun, little abstract stock market game. I love to watch as the market change as players fill up the map of France. It's also incredibly easy to teach and learn. It's one of those games where you finish it up and you want to just start up and play again. A really great stock market game with a pasted on train theme which really captures me.

Modern Art Card Game - 8.8

Master's Gallery is pretty darn excellent, I have to say. I really like the way the game flows from round to round and how strategy changes throughout. Sometimes you want to be quick to finish the round, and sometimes you sit their hoping it will last a few more turns so you can grab a couple extra points. Lots of fun and unique gameplay. We love it.

The Builders: Antiquity - 8.7

The Builders: Antiquity takes the gameplay of Middle Ages and expands on it the right way. The game seems even more tight and each action feels more important than previously. The addition of prisoners, tools, loans and schooling all make for a better experience. I liked Middle Ages, I love Antiquity.

Between Two Cities - 8.4

Between Two Cities is a very beautiful game with simple and enjoyable gameplay. I like how the cities unfold bit by bit and how players work together to build the city they're sharing. There is a lot of knowledge needed for scoring and luckily the tiles do a good job of making that information readily available. I like it quite a bit and look forward to playing again with a larger group.

UGO! - 8.4

UGO! is a great take on trick-takers that I haven't seen before. I love how winning tricks isn't just what this is all about. It's really about collecting farmers and placing your won tricks at the right place at the right time. But good luck! Your opponents can really mess you over if the cards don't play out your way. It's a bunch of fun though and definitely bumps itself up into my favorite trick-takers of all time.

Faras - 8.4

Faras is a memory game, but the addition of the cards really change it from pure memory to something more. At the end of the day, sure, you're just flipping over some tiles and hoping they're what you need, but with each play of a card, your strategy changes. Should you go for the tiles you're sure about, or do you go for the ones on your card in order to get more points? I usually enjoy memory games, but this takes it a step higher and makes it a full experience.

The Builders: Middle Ages - 8.3

The Builders: Middle Ages is a great card game that lasts just long enough and has enough strategy in it to stay interesting. I like that players are able to purchase multiple actions in order to continue their turn. I also like how the game always seems just out of reach for those who lost it. It makes me want to start right over and keep playing to try and win the next one.

Mare Balticum - 8.2 - Best Art

Mare Balticum first and foremost presents itself as a very beautiful game. To know all of the art was sculpted out of clay and then turned into the board and its components is a really great idea. Not only did they pull it off, but I'm not aware of any game that's done that before. Quite unique! Talking about the game now, I haven't played a lot of pick-up and delivery games, but I do like this mechanic. It's quite simplistic here, but it works really well. I like how the fish show up and don't mind the luck so much. I can see though that if the game were much longer in length, that luck would get a little grating. As it is though, it works out well and fills up a nice 30 minutes.

Gold am Orinoko - 8.1

Haba never fails to amaze me. Their target audience is children and yet I always find joy in their games as an adult. As in normal Haba fashion, components and art are top notch, and gameplay is pretty stellar as well. I really like that players are able to pick if they wish to move the explorer or log first. It's not extremely strategic, but makes the basic roll-and-move formula more enjoyable.

Fairy Tale - 8.1

Fairy Tale is a light game. It's basically draft and play. There is some lighter strategy in how you play, but it can sometimes feel like a crap shoot, at least in the first couple rounds. However, as you play through, you start to realize the synergy of the cards. There's still some luck, but getting those partnerships between the different cards is incredibly important. I like the ease and speed of play and it makes for an interesting time. Very nice artwork as well.

Money! - 7.9

Money! is a pretty enjoyable and quick card game. It's a mix of auction and set collection and is rather unique in that you're using your collections to bid. I really like the feel of that. Knowing that you could be breaking up a full set for a chance at a triplet or another full set is intriguing to me. I like it a lot. Quick fun.

Dr. Shark - 7.9

Dr. Shark is weird. Weird doesn't necessarily mean bad though. I can tell you this much though, there's not a lot to it, and it's a little too long for what it is. Again, this isn't bad, it's just not amazing. You're really coming to the game because it's insanely overproduced and it's got a good amount of fun in it. I don't know what I like more, digging around in that bag or snapping the shark teeth win time runs out. In any case, I can honestly say it's the most unique game I've ever played.

BUS - 7.9

BUS is a really nifty game tucked inside a small package. I like how players move around the route picking up and dropping off passengers as they go around. It's nice to be able to unpack a game, explain rules and play all in about 15 minutes. It's nothing you'd build a game night around, but for a quick filler or while waiting for dinner at a restaurant, it's a nice little game when you have 2 or 3.

HUE - 7.7

HUE is a pretty fun little game. I like how players are able to cover up a square on each turn in order to help themselves or hinder their opponents. The poison each player can play also adds an interesting element and can be used to spoil an entire run of colors if used at the right moment. For what it is, HUE comes in handy for a quick and fun game that plays with up to five.

High Society - 7.5

High Society is sort of Knizia norm as far as auction games go. However, the twist where the player with the least money automatically loses makes it really interesting to me. I wouldn't suggest it with three, but at four or five, it's really fun. Three isn't bad, it just doesn't seem to have the same feel at higher numbers. I like it.

Prohis - 7.4

Prohis is a pretty interesting bluffing game. I like that players can bribe their way through and get a nice collection. The game depends heavily on table talk and if you're in the wrong group, it's not going to play out the right way. It's also rather dependent on player count and playing at less than 4 is a no-no. Pretty good game.

Eight-Minute Empire - 7.4

Eight-Minute Empire is an interesting game and tries to pack a lot of game into a small 10 minute or so game. In the end, it doesn't fail, it just feels to be missing something. What is that thing? I couldn't tell you. It just left me wanting something just a tad bit more. I have some expansions so, I'll have to see if those add the something.

Polterfass - 7.4

Polterfass is a quick, fun little dice game. Being the innkeeper is the best part, but being a guest isn't so bad since you do have a wager in the final outcome. As the innkeeper, there is slight strategy. Pushing your luck can net you more points, but stopping after the first roll may result in getting more greedy guests. Good game with really neat little barrel dice.

Zoowaboo - 7.4

Zoowaboo is a really well produced and beautiful children's game. And it really is just for kids. I found it to be rather elementary, and that's what it's supposed to be. While it's not something I would ever go out of my way to play with adults, with children, that's a different story. I think I might send this over to my youngest niece as she would have a real blast with it. So, while it might not rank high for me, I think it's a pretty big winner for kids.

Pharaoh's Gulo Gulo - 7.3

Pharaoh's Gulo Gulo unique and interesting. Well, unique to me anyways. I know it's based on Gulo Gulo, but I had never played that before. I really like the unique way that players move their pieces. That little "mummy trap" is a blast to mess around with. I think my only little gripe is the mummy. He just doesn't seem to do much and seems a little tacked on. In any case, a great little game I'll be playing with my niece in the future, I do believe.

Five Cucumbers - 6.7

Hmm... I don't quite know what to think about Five Cucumbers. I love trick-takers and I understand that several card games seldom give players much choice in what to play. However, in Five Cucumbers, I almost feel as if I have no choice. Now that being said, there's something enjoyable about the game that I just can't put my finger on. I wouldn't really see this as one I would suggest for play (there's so many better trick-takers out there), but if a group of folks wanted to play, I don't think I would turn it down. So yeah, it's not much of a game, but it's not a bad activity.

LIE - 6.7

LIE is a pretty good take on Liar's Dice minus the dice. That being said, I'm not the biggest Liar's Dice fan so, my rating may be lower than others who enjoy the original game. I do like how the bids change over time as more and more players lose their cards. It's not the worst game in this line, but it's certainly not the best.

FLY - 5.2

FLY certainly isn't my favorite of the "Pack O Games" line of games. In fact, it may be the worst in my opinion, though I've yet to play them all. It's really pretty lackluster. Drop the swatter on the flies, collect what you get, and hope you collect the right ones you need. Meh. I've certainly played worse, but man, this one's pretty close.
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Patchwork - 9.3 - Game of the Month

Patchwork is now officially my favorite two player only game of all time. Simplistic and flowing gameplay makes for an amazingly enjoyable time. I'd love to see this expanded to add additional players, but at the same time I love it in its current state so much. Excellent game. I really can't say much more than that.

Bohnanza - 9.3 - Game of the Month Runner-Up

Bohnanza is really awesome. There's something so great about a card game where players are able to chat and make trades (or donations if you're me) and just allow time to pass in a really enjoyable card game. I love the idea of forced planting and allowing for a second planting if wanted. Add to that that really amazing way the cards push toward the front of your hand for planting, whether you want them to or not. I really love this one.

King of Tokyo: Power Up! - 8.8

King of Tokyo: Power Up! is a nifty addition to the game that makes a good bit of difference. I think my biggest problem with it is simply that King of Tokyo is such a fast game, if the dice roll your way or don't roll in your opponents' ways, the game might be over before you even get a chance to use your power ups. That being said, this is a really cool idea to add a little more to a neat game.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition - 8.4 - Best Art

Carcassonne: Winter Edition is Carcassonne in a beautiful winter landscape. While Carcassonne isn't new at all to me, this is the first one I got to play on a tabletop. It's beautiful to look at and makes for a really fun time during play.

Port Royal - 8.2

I've been getting really into these games that have cards that serve multiple purposes. I really like the whole idea of having the cards serve as both gold and workers. I know there are games who use it better and use it more, but Port Royal is a great introduction into that world. I also enjoy how each type of card serves a very different purpose and each one feels really great throughout. Very enjoyable game.

Dicht dran - 8.2

Dicht dran reminds me a lot of 6 nimmt! and 11 nimmt! and though I enjoy those games a bit more, I really like this one. What does it for me is the addition of that gap. It's not the most intuitive, especially when your gap is 12 - 25 and your goal card is a 93, but once you get your head around it, it's a really enjoyable game and something I'm glad to have in my card game collection.

Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition - 8.1

I'm not a huge fan of Werewolf, but One Night Ultimate Werewolf was enjoyable. When I heard of Inquisition, I figured I'd give it a try and it's also really enjoyable and certainly better than vanilla Werewolf. I think it also scales rather well. Even at three, it gives a decent feel of the real Werewolf, but keeps everyone in until the end. Lots of fun and something I'll have to bring out again with more.

Open Sesame - 8.1

Open Sesame really threw me for a loop. I wasn't expecting much, and while there isn't a lot there, for what it is, it's a great little game. I like the mix of memory and press your luck mechanics at work here and it makes for a fun experience no matter if you're Ali Baba or the thieves.

Dimension - 8.0 - Best Quality

Dimension is a really cool puzzle turned into a nifty little game. There's truly no interaction between players, but the competition of making the most points with each creation is enough to make it interesting. It's a lot harder than you may think, and I like how depending on how the cards deal out completely changes how the round plays out. Pretty darn good game.

Shadows in the Forest - 8.0

Waldschattenspiel. What can I say? This game is great. Who knew someone could design a game on light and shadows. I love it. It's not even marketed towards someone like me, but I can't help but get a real kick from it. Seriously, if you see this one lying around somewhere, get it. You won't be let down.

Stomple - 7.8

Stomple is a really good example of an abstract game for more than two that plays very well. I think it really comes down to how enjoyable it is to "stomp" those marbles down in the hole. There's also a decent amount of strategy and the game is so short, the randomness of each round doesn't bother me at all. Good stuff!

Friday the 13th - 7.7

Baker's Dozen is a good amount of fun in a neat little package. My only complaint is that it goes on a little bit too long for what it is. Aside from that, I think it's pretty intuitive and makes for a really fun experience.

Noah - 7.5

Noah is a neat little filler game that runs just a bit long. It seems that players can create a nearly unending loop once they get some kind of idea of what their opponents have in hand. As well, the penalty for not being able to play a card seems a bit harsh (more so in a 5 player game). Otherwise, I find it to be quite enjoyable.

Pictomania - 7.2

Pictomania is a neat idea for a game. It truly is Pictionary for gamers. My biggest gripe, and it's really silly, but for me, it seems to hinder players who actually are good, or at least decent, at drawing. Players who doodle something in 5 seconds and start making their guesses are handsomely rewarded (as long as at least one player guesses correctly on their picture) while players who take a few extra seconds to make their drawing somewhat legible are at a disadvantage. Like I said, that's a silly thing, but for me, it's enough to take it down a bit.

Dutch Blitz - 7.1

Dutch Blitz takes games like Skip-Bo and jumps them up to a new level. What I like more about Dutch Blitz than the aforementioned Skip-Bo is the real-time play and taking out the element of solitaire. You are still able to play cards on yourself, but a huge part of winning the game is getting your cards into the community stacks. It's not great, but it's a lot of fun, for sure.
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Lanterns: The Harvest Festival - 9.5 - Game of the Month - Best Art

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is amazing. From the tile-laying, to the card play, and everything in-between. It's not often that I immediately become enamored with a game, let alone a tile-laying game, but this one's seriously great. Go buy a copy now. Do it.

Cartagena 2. The Pirate's Nest - 8.9 - Game of the Month Runner-Up

Cartagena 2 takes the gameplay of the original and adds a simple dynamic (splitting the board in two) and it somehow makes it a better game than its predecessor. Maybe it's that little boat. I don't know, there's just something that, for me, makes this the better game.

Mystery Rummy: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld - 8.7

Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld is my second try at the Mystery Rummy games and it's another winner in my book. While it doesn't have as much going on as Escape from Alcatraz did, it still adds enough to separate it from rummy and to make it it's own game away from other entries in the series. I'm a fan!

Lift it! - 8.7 - Best Quality

Lift it! is a great dexterity/party game that's way harder than it looks. Plus, what other game can you say, "I built a structure using a hook hanging off my forehead."? Not too many! Aside from that, it flows really quick and, even when you're not building, you still feel in the game as you root for your opponents to succeed or fail. Duels also add a great little twist allowing players to play even when it's not their turn. There's a lot to like here in this box.

Barbarossa - 8.6

Barbarossa is one of those games that you don't really expect much from. It's got a weird concept. Creating riddles for Barbarossa in some cave. I don't get it. But what it does have is some really enjoyable gameplay. I really like how riddles come together throughout and, should everyone sculpt correctly, the riddles aren't obvious, but also aren't completely unguessable. I really like this as people with or without creativity can get into it and still have a good chance to win. Fun stuff!

Biblios Dice - 8.5

Biblios Dice is a great new take on Biblios. While I don't personally like the dice game as much as I do the original, it's still a fun game and it's different enough so that I can play one without tiring of the other. I really like how the tracks work and how it's sort of a point salad with end scoring. Simplistic with a lot of moving parts and a great game.

Qwirkle Cubes - 8.3

Qwirkle Cubes takes the excellent Qwirkle and adds some push your luck to it which, to me at least, makes it slightly better than the original. Qwirkles seem to mean a lot more when you get them from a lucky roll. Awesome game!

Lascaux - 8.2

Lascaux is a really fun and unique auction game. I like the way the market works in that not winning an auction does not necessarily mean not receiving any cards. However, getting into situations where you're after someone else who plays the same color token as you burns and destroys you a little bit each time. That being said, there's a lot of good game here for the simplicity of just being about the auction mechanic.

Byzanz - 8.2

Byzanz is a neat little auction game. I really like how the cards have multiple functions being used to buy and sell. I also think it's clever how the player who wins the last auction gets to take the first action during the market phase. A good game where the win always seems within reach.

Qwirkle - 8.1

Qwirkle is an excellent abstract game that's easy to get into and plays out fairly quickly, even with the analysis paralysis which will most likely come during play. There's a luck factor in what blocks will come up, but you generally feel like you choose your fate with how you play. Good stuff.

Black Spy - 8.1

If you like Hearts, you're going to like Black Spy. That being said, if you're at 3, 5 or 6 players, Black Spy would be your go to if you still want to play a "Hearts-like" game at a different player count. You could even play it at 4 and have a great time. I really like the spy cards, both in black and the other colors. Those black spies destroy you, but it's nice that the other colored spies help you out. Cool little game!

The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet - 8.1

The Little Prince is a lot of fun. Drafting is a mechanic that's fairly new to me and it works really well in this game. I like that players who go last get to go first and so get to make the first decision on the next turn. Volcanoes suck, but otherwise this is a really well done and enjoyable game.

Catan: Junior - 8.1

I'm not a big fan of Catan. I never really was. When I heard about Catan: Junior though, I figured I'd give it a try. I have to say, Catan: Junior made me enjoy Catan. I like how you're not dependent on your opponents for trades as much as you are in Catan. I also like the Parrot cards and the simplicity of rolling a single die and grabbing up materials in that manner. Good, little kids game that plays well even for adults.

Let Them Eat Shrimp! - 8.0

Let Them Eat Shrimp! is a quick and fun tile placement game which can scale to not only accommodate multiple players, but can also be changed for different skill levels. The turns are simple and the game doesn't hang up too much with each player's turn. While there are several decisions, there's usually going to be a "best" place to put a tile on each turn. That being said, there's a lot of variety and a lot of fun to be had. I enjoyed it quite a bit!

The Game - 7.8

The Game is an unfortunately named, but rather enjoyable card game. It's a simple concept and utterly frustrating. As we played, we couldn't help but think it's designed to screw over whoever is next. Like no matter what you do, you are setting up your friend to be completely screwed on their turn. In any case, we liked it quite a lot.

Little Devils - 7.7

Little Devils is a good game, and it's great for introducing people to trick taking games. It's one of those games where they put player numbers on the box, but they don't mean what they say. What I mean is, at 3 players, the game just doesn't work out how it does at 4, 5 and 6. That being said, I really like the idea of trying to play a card that is closest to the opening card. I also like that the next player after the opener chooses how the trick will go, either higher or lower. Really neat game and only gets better with the more players you have.

Konito? - 7.6

Konito? is a really clever and nifty party game for folks who like pop trivia, but don't have to answer questions, just have to finish popular statements or movie tiles. My biggest gripe is that it's just way too long. Of course, that's more on me than the game. Since the game comes with a modular board, you can shorten or lengthen the game easily. I've just learned to make a way shorter length of track for the future. Now, that being said, this one's pretty great and lots of fun.

Pirates, Ninjas, Robots, & Zombies - 7.3

What a cool, little tile-placement game. It's simple enough to just jump in and start playing and it's got enough strategy to make it more than just "pick a tile, place a tile". I like how the base works and the special powers are fun and useful. Cool game.

Lemming Mafia - 7.2

Lemming Mafia is a cute, little game. It plays quickly and is simple to learn. It's seriously all about luck. Sure, you can pick which lemming you wish to move (unless you roll two of the same color), but you're really just doing what you're told to by the space you land on. That being said, I still think it's pretty enjoyable.

Santa's Bag - 7.1

Santa's Bag is a super light, yet quite enjoyable game. It really brings out the theme of elves working in Santa's workshop. There's no deep strategy and you're very dependent on the trade mechanic, but if you're in the mood for a light Christmas game that you can play with the whole family, you're going to have fun with this one.

King's Kilt - 7.0

King's Kilt is a neat game that feels like a game I've played before, but I can't recall the name of that one. However, I do like the pyramid building nature of trying to push families up the pyramid to crown the king. I also think the influence cards add a good amount of added mechanics to make it more than just pushing cards up the pyramid. For the price and the amount of game you're getting out of it, I think it's all right.

Gold Ahoy! - 7.0

Gold Ahoy! reminds me of Ta Yü, with the latter being the better game. However, Gold Ahoy! is an okay game. I would use it as an introductory perhaps, and I can see it going over fairly well with kids who like pirates, or just like the idea of searching for buried treasure. It's super light, but it's an okay game. I wouldn't turn it down, but I would suggest Ta Yü after a couple plays of this.

Sushi Draft - 6.5

Sushi Draft isn't really fun unless you play with the "Wasabi" variant...and even then, it's wonky. Let me explain. The tie-breaker rule just seems broken. To just give the token to the player who has less sushi just seems unfair. With the "Wasabi" variant though, it at least works more often to clear up ties. Aside from this huge issue though, Sushi Draft is a nifty little game. I like it as an introduction to drafting. However, any day of the week, Sushi Go is the better game.

MammuZ - 6.3

MammuZ is a cute game of bluff. Unfortunately, it doesn't scale well below five players. At three, it's almost unplayable and at four, it's barely better. However, you can really feel the game working the way it should at five and higher with all cards in play and working to their full potential with the eights and nines. That being said, there are still better bluffing games out there and MammuZ sort of gets lost in the shuffle for me.

Ticket to Ride: Alvin & Dexter - 5.3

Alvin & Dexter doesn't really add anything to the game except for a mean spirit that's simply not needed. Ticket to Ride is an excellent game. This expansion is not. No bueno.
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Escape: The Curse of the Temple - 9.0 - Game of the Month - Most Thematic

Escape: The Curse of the Temple is a great way of adding suspense to simple dice rolling. Putting the players in a situation where they must rush through this temple, collecting jewels and trying to find the exit, is stressful, but mostly just plain fun.

Biblios - 8.9 - Game of the Month Runner-Up - Best Art

Biblios is a great card game which mixes up a couple of my favorite mechanics, auctions and set collection. The "gifting" phase is really unique and feels good, deciding whether to take that first card you see, or hoping something better comes up for you, but not for your opponents... And then that whole feeling of if you should put it in auction and hope you get it later. I really like that. The auction is really good too. Switching between paying gold for cards and then paying cards for gold, definite fun. There's a lot of great things going for this one and I enjoy it extensively.

Brew Crafters: Travel Card Game - 8.8

Brew Crafters: The Travel Card Game is a great game in a small package. I really enjoy games where the cards have multiple uses, in this case ingredients and special powers. The flow of the game is perfect. Pick two cards, brew, play a card into your brewery or pass. I like that there's almost always something to do. If you can't brew, you can usually play a card in your brewery. Very rarely do you feel it's a must to pass. Clever and fun game.

Rattlebones - 8.8

Rattlebones is an incredibly original and extremely enjoyable roll and move game. That's right. You're just going to be rolling and moving, but you're actually going to be having a lot of fun. The way the dice are manipulated through the game, with actually changing their sides, is really fascinating. Changing up strategy (yea, actual strategy in a roll and move game), is pretty important, as is catching some good luck here and there. I was really impressed with this one.

Where's Bob's Hat? - 8.6

Trick taking games are the bread and butter of my collection. I just can't seem to get enough of them. Let's go ahead and toss Where's Bob's Hat? in as one of my new favorites. I really like how, as the game continues, more cards are dealt out making bids more important. Bidding that you'll get the least tricks is worth only five points and if you miss out, big whoop...you lose five points. However, mess up your bid in round 12, you're going to be losing 16 points. Great trick taking game!

Flip City - 8.3

Design Town is incredibly clever for a game which uses only 5 types of cards. It's in how these cards work though, that's really amazing. Building your engine takes a good amount of time though and may slog the game down slightly. However, once you've got some good cards in hand (and flipped over those damn Residentials) you'll be in the swing of things. This one is a great little deck builder.

Camelot: The Court - 8.2

Camelot: The Court is great game that takes a good amount more strategy than I thought it might to win. Setting yourself up and screwing over your opponents are a must in order to score high without giving your opponents too many points. Since there are six cards in hand, you always have something you can do so that makes it interesting as well. While the game is kind of bland to look at, the gameplay makes up considerably for it.

HomeStretch - 8.2

HomeStretch is a really fun horse racing game where players not only bet on the horses, but also have a stake in them, pushing their luck and hoping they not only win their bets, but win the race with their horse. I really like how everyone has their own meta-game going on. Betting on your own horse and having it win the race nets you a lot of money, but it's not always easy to pull off. Spreading your bets around actually can work in your favor sometimes, especially if you're behind in the game. Helping another player to let their horse win if you bet tons of money on it, can surprisingly boost your bank. All in all, lots of fun and a lot more going for it than a basic "bet on the horses to win" game.

Korrigans - 8.1 - Best Quality

Korrigans is a great, light weight game which reminds me a lot of classic games, with a good amount more of gameplay to be had than those of yesteryear. The whole production is really beautiful and something to behold from start to finish. I also really like the randomness of both the game itself and when it will end, as well as where the game's end will take place. As long as you're not looking for much strategy, this one is right up there with some of the better luck-based games.

Parade - 8.1

Parade is a crazy, wonky little game that's a ton of fun. It definitely brings out the "Alice in Wonderland" theme due to how strange it plays. I really enjoy the simplicity mixed with the strategy. Good little card game for sure.

Deep Sea Adventure - 7.9

Deep Sea Adventure is a really fun game. I'll start by saying it's WAAAAAAY smaller than what I thought it would be, but big things come in small packages. I really like the idea of having a modular board and how carrying treasures "weighs you down" in a way, meaning your trip back to the submarine is slower and also takes up more air. It's really a push your luck game all the way. Deciding to go further down into the sea or turning back to the submarine are crucial decisions that make this game great.

The Sheep Race - 7.8

The Sheep Race is a fun take on the racing game genre. I really love how the breathing works and how a player can force a sheep to become exhausted in order put the sheep out of the race. Breath is extremely important and really makes or breaks the race for the players. It's a little bit too long for what it is, but in that time, you'll most likely be enjoying the movement of those cute little sheep.

Spit It Out! - 7.8

Spit It Out! is like a simple trivia game turn upside down. Giving wrong answers is key, except for a couple times during the game. That's where your brain will just give up on you, it seems. It's usually fairly easy to say stuff wrong, and as long as it's in spirit of the question, that's the way to do it. However, when you need to answer your second and fifth question correct, the brain doesn't like to work with you. Lots of fun, silly moments to be had with this one for sure.

Seven7s - 7.3

Seven7s is a pretty interesting game. I like how it's a deck of 49 cards, 7 cards of 7 suits and 7 numbers each. I like how each of the suits has a special power that's unique and can changed the game. What I don't like is the "Ages of Man" card. It's a clever card though and can push the game along well however, we had a player who constantly played them in their own column, which kept taking out the high cards. While most games tend to end in the low to mid tens, we had a game end with 5 being the high score. He single-handedly broke the game. Other than that, pretty cool little game.

Flea Market - 7.0

Flea Market is a fun dice chucking game that plays quickly. It's one of those games where it really comes down to sheer luck. Buying an item or not buying it only matters depending on how the dice come up. A good game that is fun to bring out if you've got 20 minutes to spare.

Ultimate Warriorz - 6.5

Ultimate Warriorz is a simple, pure combat game that plays quickly. That's a good thing since it really doesn't have much substance. I enjoy that each character has a couple of unique powers and different sizes and life pools. It also seems very well balanced with no character seeming to have any real advantage over another. The problem for me is that it's just sort of "bleh". I just wish there was more to it than just "fight each other". Not really my cup of tea, but I would play it again if in the right mood.

Canyon - 6.0

Canyon is a little too long for what it is. As well, at three players, this is not good. There's just so much more to it with more people. I would never play this with four or less. However, even at 5 or 6 players, it's just not much going to it. I like how each round there are different numbers of cards dealt out. However, there are rounds where just one card is dealt...one. I don't know. I just didn't really care for it. I wouldn't turn it down, but we better have at least 5 when we play it.
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Machi Koro - 9.4 - Game of the Month - Best Art

Wow. Machi Koro immediately jumps in to my top ten favorites. I love this idea of building your city with cards and having everything come down to the roll of a die. Begging and pleading with those dice to "pay" you has a fun appeal for me. I also found that I'm really good at buying buildings that never pay me back. That being said, it's a blast and a new favorite.

TransAmerica - 9.3 - Game of the Month Runner-Up

Man, I must have a thing for train games. It seems to never matter how the game plays, it's all about those trains. That being said, TransAmerica is awesome. I really love it. It's super relaxed and watching the rails grow across the board is really good fun. It doesn't quite reach the greatness of Ticket to Ride (in my opinion), but man, it certainly comes close. Excellent game.

Terror in Meeple City - 9.1 - Best Quality

Rampage is a blast. Watching the board be destroyed over time is really an amazing thing. Watching the meeples run for their lives or hide under structures is hilarious. I love tossing trucks, blowing down buildings and crushing them under my feet. So it's a lot of fun to be able to do that in a board game as well.

Fauna - 8.9

Fauna takes my interest in animals and turns it into a really enjoyable game. I'm not the greatest at knowing everything there is to know about animals, and if I didn't know that before, this game certainly makes me aware. That being said, you never really feel as if you're just terrible and you usually feel like you're in it for the most part. Even if you don't know a thing about the animal in question, you can usually follow your opponents and do well...or you all fail! Lots of fun and really turns learning into a fun experience.

Linko! - 8.8

I grew up on card games. Canasta, Hearts, Spades, if it used a deck of cards, I played it. I really wish this one would've been around back then, because it's something special. I can see this going over well with nearly any group who's at least somewhat interested in card games. The simplicity really draws me in, and there's a little more going on here than just the regular old "play a card, draw a card". It's really a great card game that I can see myself playing for years to come.

Coup - 8.4

It's not often that I enjoy games of bluff or games of elimination, but Coup makes both mechanics very enjoyable. Limiting players to only a handful of decisions per turn makes it easy to remember what to do so, after a couple plays, bluffing is easier since you don't have to constantly check your reference card. Also, making each of those turns start and end quickly, even if you are out immediately, you're never out very long. This is a very interesting and enjoyable game that plays in 5 or 10 minutes and can be played multiple times without exhausting the game itself.

Fast Flowing Forest Fellers - 8.4

Fast Flowing Forest Fellers (say that five times fast) is an excellent, extremely simple game. I love how there's confined strategy. What I mean is, at any time you can only move one piece and you can only choose from three cards. There's plenty of "looking ahead", planning your next move and hoping it doesn't get taken off track by your opponents. It's a really special game. Add to that the modular boards and those awesome little logs, you've got yourself a winner.

Hamsterrolle - 8.0

Hamsterrolle is a great dexterity game with some amazing wooden pieces. I really enjoy the whole aspect of trying to rid yourself of your pieces while trying not to gain additional pieces throughout play. Watching the loop change through play is really fascinating and each turn is something different. Fun little game.

Rent a Hero - 7.8

Seventh Hero is a very fast and quite enjoyable game. For a game which only has seven cards, there's a good amount of things going on. I like how each card has multiple uses, being a quest as well as a power. I can see this as one of those that comes out often and is played over and over without growing tired of it. The only thing I really don't understand is that box size. It takes up way too much room, but that doesn't take away from the gameplay.

Frank's Zoo - 7.8

I love trick-taking game and we can now add Frank's Zoo to my favorites list...that is as long as we have at least four people. Rarely do I see a suggested player count on the side of the box be so wrong. Sure, it works, but the game's all about partner scoring as the game continues. Aside from this, the game is still great.

String Railway - 7.7

String Railway is a crazy concept which somehow works quite well. Being able to move your string around and create tracks however you see fit is a really interesting, non-linear take on the railway building genre of game. Also, using your string as ways of blocking others to your station, or forcing an opponent into a bad situation is unique and strategic. This also affects yourself, never quite knowing how things will turn out based not only on the card you draw, but how the table has been set up on your opponents' turn. Being only a few turns also helps the game move along and not get overly congested, but just enough to make each turn feel like it really matters. Very enjoyable and original game.

Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise - 7.6 - Most Thematic

The Hare & the Tortoise is a good little racing game that's easily approachable for children, but still remains an enjoyable experience for adults. I like the mechanic of how movement works and how each animal has its own way of moving. It's all put together in a really cool little package to make for a really fun time.

Welcome to the Dungeon - 7.5

Welcome to the Dungeon is weird. I think I like it, but at the same time I'm sort of "meh" about it. I really love the artwork and the pieces are thick and feel good. The gameplay is just fine for the type of game it is. I don't know. There's just something about that game that's like, "I should enjoy this, I do enjoy this, but I don't enjoy this." Like I said, it's weird, but it's not bad. That's all I can really say.

Nile DeLuxor - 7.5

Nile DeLuxor is one of those games which seems like it's over before it's began, but in that time, you'll probably be enjoying yourself with the quick and easy gameplay. One of the players stated that it was just a sort of nothing game, and when I thought to defend the game from that statement...well, I really couldn't. But all games are pretty much nothing. And for me, this "nothing" was pretty darn enjoyable. I think it's one of those games which everyone should have to introduce their friends to gaming.

Elevenses - 7.4

Elevenses is a really enjoyable, unique card game which has a lot of variety and things going on even though each person only has 11 cards. I really like how the special powers and points are balanced. The lower scoring points provide some great powers, but very few points...while the higher scoring points have awful powers that hurt you, but give you huge points. It's a great, light weight card game.

Felicity: The Cat in the Sack - 7.4

Felix: The Cat in the Sack is a really cool little auction game mixed with just a tad of bluffing. It certainly plays best at 5, pretty good at 4, and at 3, it's still playable, but not great. It didn't fly to well with my crew, but I can certainly see its merits and I had a lot of fun with it.

Mascarade - 7.3

Mascarade could be called "Complete Confusion" and I think that would explain the gameplay just fine. That being said, it's somewhat controlled and a good amount of silly fun. Imagine bluffing without having any knowledge of what card you have. That's Mascarade in a nutshell. Word to the wise: play with at least 6 to get the real feel for it. Play with thirteen and it might just destroy your mind for life.

10 Days in the USA - 7.0

10 Days in the USA is really just themed Rack-O. The theme suits the game well though. I like how large jumps between states can be made with the airplanes, but how cars are able to cut off one state. It's a neat concept and plays pretty well and racks your brain without being overly complicated.
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Joseph Peterson
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Marrakech - 9.4 - Game of the Month - Best Quality

Marrakech is probably the best roll and move game I've ever played. As with most roll and move, there is a good amount of luck however, there is a high amount of strategy, both in turning the merchant and placing the carpets. Each of these can set you up for success, even if a die roll is involved. Trying to set yourself up to not have to step on any opponent rugs and being able to cover up their rugs as well is strategic and enjoyable. This an excellent one and something I'd love to play over and over again.

Mystery Rummy: Escape from Alcatraz - 8.9 - Game of the Month Runner-Up - Most Thematic

Escape from Alcatraz is the first game I've played from the Mystery Rummy series. If the others are even half as interesting as this, I think I'm in for some good times ahead once I crack in to the others. This one though turns rummy from a sort of boring, theme-less card collection game into something with a little meat on its bones. Add to that the action cards along with how sets are scored, you've got a winner.

Mord im Arosa - 8.5

Mord im Arosa is one of those games you might look at and think, "Gimmick!" and hey, you'd be right. However, that gimmick really does make for a cool looking and fun playing game. I love how after you listen you could swear that a cube is definitely on the fourth floor only to find out there's absolutely nothing there at all. Or worse, try to cover your tracks only to reveal 4 or 5 cubes of an opponent on the floor and none of your own. It's an excellent game that plays fast and has everyone on their toes trying to figure out who killed the victims!

Tsuro of the Seas - 8.4 - Best Art

Tsuro is a game I really enjoyed when I played. Tsuro of the Seas takes it up a few steps and changes the game slightly and, in my opinion, for the better. Adding in the movement of the dragons may make for a less strategic game, but it definitely adds to the fan factor as well. Never quite knowing how things will turn out from the end of your turn to the beginning of your next really makes it interesting. If you take it to seriously, you'll have a bad time, but if you just go with it, there's a really great game in this box, even better than its predecessor.

Pyramix - 8.4

Pyramix is a great game in a great package. As the begins and as it's played out, the game always looks great. The gameplay is simple, take a piece from the pyramid following a couple of rules and adding it to your collection, but through this simplicity there's a really strategic game to be played. While cranes and eyes score the most points, collecting ankhs is key. Excellent little game.

Pie Factory - 7.9

Pie Factory takes a lot of fun mechanics (card drafting, set collection and time tracks) and puts it into a great little card game about assembling pies. I love the assembly line idea and how it changes constantly at the end of each turn. This allows players to see into the future a bit for what might be free or, pay out right to get it now. Managing that strategy plus a little luck really helps this game to stand out and makes for a really fun and enjoyable experience.

Easy Breezy Travel Agency - 7.9

Easy Breezy Travel Agency plays quick and easy and makes for a fun game throughout. I think my favorite part is how ticket prices are increased through the adding tickets to your hand. I also like that there's never a clear winner due to how scoring is handled at the end of the game. If you're interested in a 20 minute, fast and fun card game, you can't do much better than this one.

The Dwarf King - 7.8

The Dwarf King is a great trick taking game which changes the rules a bit. I like that there are only three suits, a new special card introduced each round and, most interesting is how each hand is scored different based on the active quest for the round. It all fits together and makes for an enjoyable game.

Cash-a-Catch - 7.7

Cash-a-Catch is a great way of drawing in folks into auction-style games. While there's no fluctuation in purchase price (10 bucks being the price for one or ten fish, or anywhere inbetween), it teaches players how a market works. Paying $10 may seem like a bad move when purchasing one fish however, if that gives you ten total you'll be able to sell them all for $30. Being able to weigh out when the right times to make the right purchases is key in this one. We really had a good time with this one and recommend it.

23 - 7.6

23 fits right along with some other games I've played from AMIGO, namely 6 nimmt! and 11 nimmt!. The biggest difference here is that there's only one community stack that's manipulated throughout play. There's a good amount of strategy mixed in with the luck of the cards. Taking a moment to think of whether to play a card and take points, pass and take points, force the next player to play, etc. It's a very enjoyable experience and plays out quickly.

Take 5! - 7.6

After having played both 6 nimmt! and 11 nimmt!, Hornochsen is my least favorite. However, it's still a great game and one I would never turn down. As with the other games in this series, it becomes more enjoyable with the more people joining in to play. That being said, it still plays well even at the lower player counts.

Beasty Bar - 7.3

Beasty Bar reminds me of Guillotine although I feel Beasty Bar has quite a bit more strategy. I really like how each of the twelve animals has its own special power and how each one feels very different. I also like that it's all in this nice little package of game that takes no longer than 20 minutes. It's fun and strategic from start to end.

Meeples to the Mothership - 7.2

Meeples to the Mothership is a game I didn't expect much from given the score on here. I was pretty sucked in by the dice tower to be honest. However, after playing, there's a pretty enjoyable game in the box. I really like how the dice and meeples interact throughout play and how the dice work in general to allow for movement. Fun game!

Roar-a-Saurus - 7.1

Roar-a-Saurus is as simple as dice games (or any game for that matter) can get. As with most speed games, those with slow reflexes will certainly be punished. However, lucky rolls will allow players to get power-ups which can assist them by upgrading their dice and help them with damage control. All in all, it's a fun, little game which plays fast and doesn't ask too much from its players (beyond rolling quick).

Zooloretto: The Dice Game - 7.1

When compared to Zooloretto, I don't believe the dice game can stand up to the enjoyment I had with its predecessor. However, on its own merits, it makes for a fun, little dice game. There's truly only a couple of actions on each turn and yet, there always seems to be a feeling of being on the edge, hoping you either roll what you need or grab trucks that don't hurt you. Fun game!

Dabble - 7.0

I'm not a huge fan of most word games however, Dabble does bring a little more to the table than most. It's really a race to create your words and try to use them all as to not give up points to your opponents. I like some of the variations as well, such as coming up with a category that all words should follow. So yea, for a word game, not half bad.

WINK - 6.8

WINK is a game which works best with a crowd. There's quite a bit of interaction with players in a very unique way which makes for an intriguing, albeit rather quiet, experience. While it can be played with as few as three, I wouldn't recommend it with less than five, and six seems to be the sweet spot. It's a pretty fun game that doesn't last too long and makes for a different and distinct experience.

Flea Marketeers - 6.8

Flea Marketeers is a fun, if a bit random craziness, game. I like that everyone has good and bad flea tables to sell and trying to get rid of your cheap tables for the highest price is key. The biggest con lies simply in how the tables are earned through random draws during the game. It would be nice to mitigate that a bit. That being said though, it's a fun game.

Castle Blast - 5.5

Castle Blast is a game which doesn't have a whole lot going for it aside from knocking bricks around. That being said, it's not a bad game for what it is, though I think it may work better with the youngsters.

Flat Acting - 5.4

For us, Flat Acting fell, well...flat. It's really unfortunate as well since it seemed like it would be a fairly enjoyable little game. I think it boils down to the huge amount of luck that occurs. Having other players being able to control your own pieces really hurts for any strategy you may wish to have. I know it's pointed more at family/child weights and it may succeed there however, for three adults, it couldn't end soon enough.
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Joseph Peterson
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Pandemic - 9.6 - Game of the Month - Most Thematic

Pandemic is an amazing game which scales excellently and always seems to provide an "edge of your seat" type of experience. You always seem like you're about to win or about to lose and you're never quite sure which way it's going to go. Players may concern themselves with alpha gamers or possible broken role combinations but for me, this one is as solid as cooperative experiences get. Love it.

But Wait, There's More! - 9.5 - Game of the Month Runner Up

But Wait, There's More! is officially the best party game I've ever played and is probably in my top five favorite games of all time. First they bring us Train of Thought and now comes its successor and yet both are still great games. The Bamboozle Brothers do it again for me. Awesome, awesome game!

Wunderland - 8.5

I didn't know what to make of this game at first. Having eight pieces available to move at the start of each turn was insane to me. Add to that being able to "piggy back" with opponents on their turn, I wasn't quite sure what we were going to be in for. That being said, Wunderland is an excellent little game about, from what I've read, is an excellent little place with excellent little miniatures. Grabbing onto the concept of how to move tokens and when to piggy back and when to not are key. I also loved the photographs represented on the board and the postcards. A really beautiful game with some great gameplay. Highly recommended!

Love Letter: Batman - 8.4 - Best Art

Na na na na na BATMAN! Na na na na na LOVE LETTER! This game takes the proven and excellent mechanics of Love Letter and adds a theme which for me takes it a step up. I guess I'm a sucker for Batman, but I really like the added mechanic of using Batman to knock out an opponent and receiving a point for doing so. With or without that addition, it's still a great game and having Batman art added makes it all the better for me.

Wasserratten in Sicht! - 8.2 - Best Quality

Cooperative games are a great way to introduce children to the concept of gaming. I'd have to put Lighthouse Ambush as one of the best introductory children's games I've ever played and it plays well with all ages. Players are constantly in situations where they must make choices and the movement of Wally Walrus being how players take turns is ingenious. Excellent game.

Archaeology: The Card Game - 8.0

Archaeology: The Card Game is a great little set collecting game that plays in 15 or 20 minutes. My only complaint would be that those sandstorms seem to hit me only when I have really expensive items in my hand, but that's more of a personal thing. Otherwise, this one's really solid. Just enough stuff going on strategy-wise to make it really stand out in my collection.

Taxi Wildlife - 7.9

Taxi Wildlife is a great little game. I like how the cards dictate who will be going against who, meaning players will always get the same amount of draws from the bag. Every turn is tense as you dig through that bag, trying to pull the right animal to get the right road. Lots of fun and not just for kids.

Mars Attacks: The Dice Game - 7.8

Mars Attacks: The Dice Game was a game I was looking forward to if only for rolling dice. It's a thing I enjoy. Mars Attacks does a good job of taking the simplicity of rolling dice and turning it into a fun, little game. I really like the theme (pasted on as it is) and feel it blends well with the actions of the players throughout play. In summary, this is a good one.

Rumble in the Dungeon - 7.5

Rumble in the Dungeon is so light it could nearly fly off the table. However, if players are prepared for the lightness of the game, they're more than likely going to have a fun time. We sure did.

Bellz! - 7.4

Bellz is a great little game that takes advantage of a simple mechanic: magnetic force. I like how easy and quick the game is to play, as well as how well it scales between 2 and 4 players. There's nothing really to it, but it's enjoyable, more so than I originally thought it would be.

Assel Schlamassel - 7.4

Assel Schlamassel is the "We Will Rock You" of board games. Slapping the table and clapping haven't ever been more fun. It's a simple concept, but there's still a good amount of challenge in here since players are able to mix up their slaps and claps. We had lots of fun with this one!

Color Clash - 7.3

Color Clash will rack your brain, but not due to the complexity of the game. It's a super simple game where most of the time your goal is to hunt for colors. However, the way the colors are presented is where the trick comes in. I also like how many different types of games are presented in the box, making replayability huge. I really liked it!

Thumbs Up! - 7.3

Thumbs Up! is a pretty enjoyable game. I'd say this one is targeted mostly towards younger folks. There are variants to increase difficulty however, it's still fairly easy if you can count to ten and distinguish between four colors. I'd still play this one anytime because it only takes up a few minutes.

Heat - 7.2

Heat is a fun and quick playing card drafting game. I'm not very familiar with the drafting mechanic, but it succeeds in this form. You're never quite certain of what might be coming from your opponent so building your hand can sometimes not work out so well. That being said, you never really feel like you simply can't play because of bad cards. Each of the cards works well and let's you play your own game with a little interaction with your opponents to keep it interesting. Lots of fun.

A Fistful of Penguins - 7.0

I'm a sucker for dice games, even ones that just don't work simply because I love chucking dice. That being said, A Fistful of Penguins is successful at being a bit more than just a Yahtzee clone. I'm not saying there's a huge amount of strategy however, you are somewhat in control of your own destiny since you're able to purchase extra rolls and extra dice. Every once in awhile, you might get unlucky due to bad dice rolls, but in the meantime, you're going to be playing a pretty fun little dice game.

Sleeping Queens - 7.0

It's amazing that a six year old was able to design a game, let alone an enjoyable one. While certainly aimed at younger children, there's a fun card game in this and I believe can allow kids to grow and learn with the game. Having power-ups as well as using math as a gameplay mechanic makes it not only fun, but a good learning tool for children. Very well made and beautiful little card game.

Crab Stack - 6.9

Crab Stack is a quick, fun abstract game with great components and wonderful art. It's best with four and suffers a bit with less, but is still playable and enjoyable at three and two. The 'wave rule' is interesting and important to moving the game along and without it, I can't imagine this being as good as it is. A good little game that especially shines at four.

Scribbo - 6.9

Scribbo is word bingo and it's pretty darn fun. I think biggest flaw in the game is that for the most part, one box will be where most of the words will be made while the other box is mostly just throw away letters. Otherwise, the mechanics work well and it's a fun alternative to Scrabble.

Scallywags - 6.9

Scallywags is a good amount of fun for what it is. I like the randomness of the setup and the cards make for some interesting and fun interaction. The fun is certainly heightened when proclaiming the sayings in the card (though not necessary). It's not a brain burner and it's mostly king making, but it's a fun take that style of game.

Sub Shop - 6.9

Sub Shop is a good game. It's similar to many take that card games aimed at younger players. What makes Sub Shop stand out is the components. While they're not the best quality, they definitely fit the bill and match the theme of working in a Sub Shop. For the price, this is a nice, little game.

Perpetual Commotion - 6.5

Perpetual Commotion is like a speedy version of Skip-Bo where players are able to play at the same time instead of taking turns. There's a few more differences to it than that, but in essence, it's near the same game. For me, that makes it a winner and certainly something I wouldn't mind playing. I think it plays best at about four players. At five or six, I imagine it would be incredibly chaotic and obnoxious. Good game though.

Chip Up - 6.5

Chip Up is a decent little game that doesn't take too much time. Like many dice games, their not much strategy. In fact, beyond choosing opponents when making specific rolls, there's really no strategy. It's all luck here, but the game's short enough to not overstay its welcome.

tummple! - 6.5

Think of tummple! as a deconstructed Jenga where instead of starting out with the tower, you're building the tower. Where tummple! knocks out Jenga is how players are able to manipulate the tower as they see fit through building. I like that the game is not just about building blocks, there are also ways to create obstacles using the tumps. As with any dexterity game, your mileage may vary when it comes down to success and failure, but I'd play this one over most other "tower stacking" games any day.

Yikerz! - 6.3

There's not a lot going on here, but for what it is, it's pretty enjoyable. I think my favorite part of the game is when you're able to push magnets around using polarity. It's quick, it's fun, it's a pretty good little game.

Monopoly Deal Card Game - 5.7

I wanted to like this one. I really did. For some reason though, it just didn't sit too well with my group. It definitely works as a game and the mechanics fit in with the cutthroat style of the original Monopoly game. Maybe it's just that I've never been a huge fan of Monopoly anyways. I don't know exactly what it was, but it just didn't work for us. I'd be willing to give it another try, I just wouldn't ask for it.
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Fri May 1, 2015 3:00 pm
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