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Transamerica (Game #104)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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In 2016 I was fortunate enough to take a continuing education trip to Israel. On one of the nights there, I decided to walk the 2 miles or so from the hotel into the town center of Tiberius. It was a good choice. We stopped in a toy and stationary store and I was delighted to find they had board games. My selection was limited, and in the end this one was the least language dependent game that I did not have. It was the Hebrew edition, and I instantly bought it. It is probably my favorite souvenir from the trip, but how is it as a game?

Game Overview
This game is played over a series of rounds where players race to successfully connect five cities together. At the beginning of the round each player is dealt five cards (one of each color) that corresponds with cities on the board.

Players will pick a starting city and from there they will expand. On a player's turn they can place one or two track on the board. If the track position has a double line (mountains or rivers) then that can be the only track they place. Each track placed must either connect to the player's starting marker or be connected by previously placed tracks to the starting marker.

Once one player is able to have all five of their cities connected the round ends. Each player that did not finish their connections will lose points for each track spot that they did not connect. The board is cleared and a new round begins.

After the second round it is possible that the end game threshold moves up. Once a player's point total gets below the end game threshold, the game ends and the player with the most remaining 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 need to play this with five or six people. I can see how the game might be better at that point, as players play off each other and try to find ways to make routes that help them but not others. However, this game does not work at two players and it should not say it plays that number on the box.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is simple but I am not very impressed. Maybe it is better with more but at two players the rules are a snooze fest.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: I am fairly confident that we own four other train games about building routes between US cities that deliver the theme better than this one does.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There are much more thematic games with the exact same theme.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: When a game has multiple rounds of doing the same thing, that really decreases replayability for me. After I am done I feel like I have already played it multiple times.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is the same thing every time and that is not a good thing.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I do like the tension once routes get connected and players are close. It is always question who will finish it first.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Each round is fast, but then a new one starts and I wonder when is it all going to end.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I have only played this game with two, and based just on that this is not a fun game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Game is too boring to be much fun.

Final Score

47/100

That is probably a somewhat unfair score because we have only played with two which is not the optimal way to play. However, even at a better player count I do not think this would be a highly rated game for us. However, our copy is novel and for that reason along we will be keeping it forever.
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Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:13 am
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Loch Ness (Game #103)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. My wife won this game in a drawing at a local convention in 2011. For us getting this game played is about as elusive as actually seeing the Loch Ness Monster. In almost six years we have only played this game eight times in total. Have we finally found the fun in this game or is it just a legend?

Game Overview
In this game players are photographers trying to take pictures of Loch Ness monster. Each turn (except the first turn) players will pick a special ability. These abilities mess with the game a bit by letting players do things like peek at other cards played, add extra cameras, or move the monster.

Then up to three of the players will pick one of their movement cards numbered 1-5 and put it face down. Players will then take turn moving two of their cameras (or placing three on the first turn). The goal is to try and guess where the monster will appear. The board is divided into segments, and if the monster stops at a water spot associated with one of those segments all cameras there will score the value listed on them (3,4 or 7). Also, any players who have a camera right at the spot the monster stops will get to draw a card. Collecting sets of cards gives end game bonus points.

If playing the basic game, then players bring back the movement card they played. If playing with the hotel variant, then a player will have to play all of their movement cards before they can pick up the played cards.

Whenever the monster moves around the lake, a small monster also moves around the score track. When this monster reaches 65 the game ends. The players get bonus points from the collected cards, 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: The rules for this game are unique, and I can say I have not played anything like it. However, the start player each round has a big advantage. I am also not wild that memory is required to do well.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The mechanisms of guessing on partial information is kind of annoying but it is also engaging. It is unique and different than many other games.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: I think the theme is silly, and its implementation is only so-so.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The artwork helps reinforce the whimsical theme. I like it.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: I feel like the replayability is around average. It is not a game that I want to play regularly.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is a fun experience, but the experience does not repeat very well.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I do like the two phases to this game, but the game does feel like it goes on too long.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is OK, but for how light of a game this is I wish it went a little faster.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I am not wild about this game. It is OK, but I am not sure this is ever a game I will suggest to play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Despite going on a little too long, this is a fun light game.
.
Final Score

60/100

This game is merely average for us, and I do not think we are going to play it regularly. However, the game has a Scotland theme so we are apparently keeping it forever.
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Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:27 am
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Dungeon! (Game #102)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year.
We got this game (the pictured version even) as part of a lot of games in the 2013 Gen Con math trade. When we finally got around to playing it, we did not care much for this game. However, we both thought it could be a good family game. That was three years ago, so we finally played it as a family. Does that make this a game we want to continue to delve into?

Game Overview

In this game players take a character (elf, hero, super hero, or wizard) and delve into the dungeon to get treasure. On a player's turn they can move from one to five spaces. If the player enters a room or a named chamber on the board, they will draw a monster card to fight.

The monster card drawn will come from the pile that corresponds with the floor the player is on. The player looks at the number that corresponds with their character type. The player must then roll equal to or higher than that number on two dice. If the player succeeds in a room they may also draw a treasure card, and a marker is placed to show that the room is cleared.

If the player fails, they roll on the monster attack chart. This can range from no effect up to the player being killed, and having to start over. If the player loses treasure then it stays in the room for a future adventurer to collect (if they defeat the monster).

The first player to collect a set value in treasure and return to the start space 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: This game is very basic. I am glad they did not make this a roll and move. Even with the advance rules the game is a little thin rules wise.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is one step above simple rule and move.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has an old school charm. The game does feel like a retro-dungeon crawl.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The theme is there, but that art has some problems.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The replayability has some problems. There are not many monsters or treasure cards, and some cards are better than others. I feel like repeated plays would be a race for the magic sword, because that provides a huge advantage.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I feel like I would go a similar route every time.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I do like that they made this game a race. The play is kind of slow, but keeping track of who is winning and how far away everyone is from the end goal keeps the tension up.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game feels kind of slow

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: It is OK, and I will play with kids but that is about it.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I find this one more boring and dull than anything else.

Final Score

51/100

Our kids really did enjoy playing this game. We will probably keep it on the kid games shelf and play it with them. Given the age and condition of our copies, we will probably just pitch the game when our kids some day finish with it.
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Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:04 am
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Baseball Highlights: 2045 (Game #101)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. I played this game for the first time in February of 2016, and I really liked it. More importantly, I thought it was a game that my wife would absolutely love. At the time it was between printings, but later in the Spring we got the game as soon as it became available. My wife's reaction was mostly positive but she was not as blown away as I would have thought. In the past year or so we have played the game together four times. Now that the game is back up to the plate will it hit a home run or strike out?

Game Overview
This is a card game with deck building aspects that seeks to simulate a futuristic baseball season (baseball with robots!). There are several variations on how the game can be played, but I will be summarizing the standard two player game.

Both players have a starter deck for their team. The vast majority of the game consists of the "mini-game". This is where players put their teams up against each other. Each player gets six cards. Each card has two potential elements. There is an immediate effect that will take place the moment the card is played. Many of these effects are defensive, but some are things like stealing bases. Many cards also threaten hits. This game has an unique flow that is easier to see than it is to explain.

The first player plays a card and the threats the card threatens (like say a double) is put on their player board at home. The next player will then play a card, their immediate effect might say "cancel one hit" which will remove the threatening batter. If the immediate effect did not remove the threatening hitter, then the batter will advance to the base. This goes back and forth until all cards are played, and the player with the most runs scored wins the game.

After a round of this, then players will be able to draft new cards for their team. Each card that is played during the mini-game has a monetary value, and the total of the cards played is how much players can spend. There are six star player out in the center to draft from. When a player recruits one of these players, they must send another player down to the minors. This means that players decks are always the same size.

This process is repeated so that players play three mini-games and have three draft rounds. The player that won the most matches will be the starting home team in the world series, which is a best of seven. In between these mini-games there will still be draft rounds. The player that wins the world series, wins the game.

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 feels innovative. I love how it captured the feel of a baseball game without delving into statistics even a little bit. This is also an incredibly fresh take on deckbuilding. I think the base mechanism of every time a card is added another card comes out is one that will eventually be borrowed and used in other games.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I do not know why, but this game frustrates me more than other card games. It just feels like I never have what I need. I know it is not hard, but i find the basic turn structure to be not very intuitive.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: One of my gaming highlights of last year was doing a four person tournament in this game. We played a round robin to determine the tournament bracket. It was great to watch my team develop over the course of the season. This game brings out the baseball theme so well, and I like the retro-future flavor as well.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: To this game’s credit the theme is strong here.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: Even playing with quickplay rules, the mini-game that is the core of the gameplay is repeated multiple times. The downside to this is that once I finish the game I am good for a bit. Every time it comes out it is a new and good experience but it is not a game I want to play all the time.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It might be, but I do not want to play it.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: Much like the actual sport of baseball this game has a slower pace. However, it suits this game and it has a good flow as the game progresses and the teams become more and more unique.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is soooo repetitive.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I really like sports themed games that seek to create the feel of the sport without being a deep simulation. This game does that for baseball really well, and I think it is a lot of fun to play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I actively dislike this game and I do not find it fun at all .
Final Score

63/100

It has been commented in our game group that figuring out the kind of games my wife likes is tricky. That is probably true, but I tend to be decent at it. This was a big swing and a miss. I think the trade value is probably high for this game still, so hopefully we will be able to get something more to her liking.
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Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:07 pm
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Rallyman (Game #100)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. I bought this game at Gen Con all the way back in 2012. It was a Sunday morning purchase at a decent markdown from the Coolstuff inc. booth. Like so many other games, we played this one a decent amount in the first year of owning it. However, at this point it has been two years since the last time we played it. Can this game rally back onto our favorite games list?

Game Overview
In Rallyman players race three legs of a rally. These legs are made by assembling tracks from the geomorphic boards. The game's major mechanisms are dice with a strong "push your luck" element. Each turn, players may roll dice to move. There is one die per gear, and each die can only be rolled once. There also two white "acceleration dice" that can be used to get further movement. Since each die can only be used once, players have to plan carefully how they use their move.

Rolling a die, means the player will move one side. Most of the die facings are safe, but there are 1 or 2 "!" per die. When a player rolls one of these they still move one space. However, if a player ends up rolling three total on a turn they lose control and spin or crash. The player can choose to roll these dice one at a time, or they can do a "time attack" and roll all the dice at once. If the player does this and does not spin out they get second markers that will reduce their time at the end or can be spent to prevent a potential crash.

When players go through corners, they mus be using a certain die (or a lower gear die). Some corners be slid through, and other can be cut sharply and go off road for a short cut.

When a player stops moving they take a time card based on the gear they stopped on. If they stop in 5th gear the time card is 10 seconds, but if they stop in 1st gear the time card is 50 seconds. At the beginning of the next round, the player may use the die that corresponds with the current gear or one higher and lower.

When a player reaches the finish line they total up their time cards. Which ever player has the lowest total time after three legs is 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: I do like how this game uses mechanisms that naturally support the theme. The game is fairly simple, but the added damage rules ratchet the complexity up too quickly. Pushing too hard or just bad luck can be almost impossible to overcome.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think this is a clever way to do “push your luck.” The base mechanism is there but there are also more considerations and deeper rules.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This is easily the strongest aspect of the game. I have played a lot of the DiRT series of video games. When I was at the height of involvement with those games I even watched rally racing videos, and this game nails the feel of those races.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The theme comes through. I feel like I am racing on winding roads on the barest edge of control.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The map tiles add a lot of variety, though I wish there were more of them. Even though the same track segments can get used over and over, the different pairings create a new tactical challenge each time.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Being able to make different tracks helps but the base experience gets kind of dull after a while.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This just about kills the game. Rally racing is by definition multiplayer solitaire. I get that. However, it can be so boring waiting for other people. The count out, then they recount, then they lose count, and then they start all over. At four players especially this game can start to drag quickly.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The analysis paralysis is terrible in this one.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I think this game captures the theme well, but the play experience goes from fun to boring too quickly as it drags out.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is only fun when it is my turn.

Final Score

64/100


If played with people who naturally went fast, I find this game good. It really does such a good job with the theme. However, we both find the experience of playing together to be a little frustrating so it is time to trade this game.
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Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:30 am
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For Sale (Game #99)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. We got this game several years ago, because I wanted to use it for a youth group lesson. However, we ended up keeping it and it has been a go to game when playing with groups of non-gamers. Unfortunately, due to the player count requirement we do not get to play it together very often. So is this a game we are still sold on?

For Sale is played into distinct rounds. For the first round players are all given the same amount of money. A number of property cards equal to the number of players will be turned face up. These property cards are from 1 as the lowest and 30 as the highest. Players will make bids on the highest available card. On a player's turn they may bid higher than the current number or pass. If they bid higher, then the next player in turn order faces the same decision. If they pass, then they must pay half of their previous bid and take the lowest available card. For example if my previous turn I bid 3, and then on my next turn I have to either bid 7 or pass. I choose to pass, in doing so I pay 2 (half my bid rounded up) and take the 12 property card because it is the lowest available card. The last player left after everyone passes pays their full bid, and gets the highest value card. It is possible to pass without bidding, and just take the lowest card. Players only have the money they start with to bid on property cards. Once all of the property cards are bought the game moves to the second phase.

In the second phase of the game, players are going to sell their property for check cards. The number of check cards is equal to the number of property cards. Once again, a check card will be set out for each player. Players will then select one of their purchased properties. Everyone reveals at the same time. Whoever placed the highest numbered house gets the highest check, and so on down the line. This process is repeated until all of the check cards are used and all of the players have played all of their property cards. Players add up how much they got in property cards and add any unspent money from the first round. Whoever has the highest total is 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: I know it is a loaded word, but this feels like an eloquent game. It takes the concept and make it very simple to play and understand while still retaining depth.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think having two different phases are clever. The rules are very intuitive.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: I think this is kind of the weakest part of the game. It is a mechanisms different game, and thematic chrome is traded out of simplicity of play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think the theme comes through. The way to win is to always buy low and sell high.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The mechanisms are so intuitive and the play time so fast it is easy to play it again.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game has a strong classic game feel. This is one that does not wear out.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the strongest part of the game. For Sale has a near perfect pacing and flow. The flow between two distinct rounds is perfect. Both are quick and do not overstay their welcome. This game also offers decisions that are easy but weighty at the same time.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game plays really quick. It never feels like it drags at all.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This game is close to the perfect-filler. The game just works well. It is a shame that this game never received mass market pentration because it could be come a true classic.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is a lot of fun. We do not get to play it often, but I am always up for doing so.

Final Score

85/100

This is just one of a small number of games we have that can not be played with two. The reason why we keep it is that it we both think it is a good game, and we think this is one of the best gateway games for non-gamers that we have played.
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Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:29 am
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Star Wars: Imperial Assault (Game #98)

sean johnson
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. When Imperial Assault was announced at Gen Con in 2014, it became my most desired game. It was an instant buy for me. It released halfway through December of that year, and by January of 2015 we had it on the table. We started playing through a campaign, but my wife was not wild about that. However, the skirmish mode went over much better. I ran a mini-campaign at Gen Con last year, and I am doing it again this year. All told in the past 2 1/2 years this game has racked up a decent number of plays. While we are a couple of miniatures packs behind we have also stayed up to date with the endless expansions for this game. Has all of that investment been worth it?

Game Overview

Success is based on the specific scenario that is being played. This game has two sides, the rebels and the Empire. In general, the Empire has more but weaker units, while the rebels have less but much more powerful units. In a round, the rebels will activate a unit and then the Empire will active a unit, this goes back and forth until all units have been activated.

When a unit is activated it can perform two actions. Some units, like storm troopers, have multiple figures so each figure will get two actions. There are several actions that a player can take. The active figure can move as action. Each unit has a speed rating. Units can also attack, or interact with various objects (doors, terminals, supply crates, etc). Hero units also are allowed to take a healing action, and some heroes have special abilities that are actions.

To attack, the attacking player will roll the indicated attack dice. The defender will roll their defense die. Each hit symbol will cause a it, but each defense symbol cancels out a hit. There are also potential surge symbols that activate special abilities, but the defense die also has a symbol that cancels out surges. The hit dice also have numbers and this is used for range. For range attacks if the numbers on the die do not add up to the distance between the attacker and the target then the shot misses.

Each scenario takes place on a map that is made by putting geomorphic puzzle pieces together. There are various types of terrain that might block line of sight, movement, or cause extra movement to be needed.

When playing a campaign game, there are several things that carry from game to game. The Rebels get credits that can be used to buy new equipment and XP that can be turned in for new abilities. The Imperial player gets influence that can be used to bring in powerful cards in a scenario.

When playing a skirmish game both players bring a 40 point team and a custom built deck of command cards. A skirmish game is played to 40 points. Points are earned by eliminating opposing units but most scenarios give additional ways to earn points. Out of the box the skirmish options are limited, but each miniatures pack provides a new skirmish map with two scenarios playable on that map.

Each scenario has their own victory conditions, and when playing a campaign who wins decides what scenario is played next.

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 box advertising claims that this is two games in one box, and in this case it is true. At this point the majority of our games have been skirmish, and that is preferred way to play. However, I know there are people who play this game a lot and never touch the skirmish component. It is a great design achievement, that this game can deliver two different experiences so well.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The core mechanisms and dice usage are good. However, there are a lot of special abilities and small details to keep straight. This really clouds up the rules for me.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This game captures it's theme perfectly. For instance the last game we played, had the Dewback riding Captain Terro and a storm trooper commander working together to take on rebel troops in the Nal Hutta swamps. At the same time, Luke Skywalker was engaged else wehre against two jet troopers. The whole time I could practically hear music from the Star Wars soundtracks playing in my head.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think Sean likes this game so much because this is basically an acceptable way for an adult to play with Star Wars toys. The theme comes through a lot.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This is one of the strongest aspect of this game. There is so much game here. The skirmish is essentially a customizable miniatures game. The scenarios and options in that mode pile up quickly. I am also impressed how much replayability the campaign has. There are different heroes, different agenda decks, and branching paths.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It requires an investment but with all of the different teams, different scenarios, and different maps this game could be played over and over.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This might be the weakest aspect of the game for a couple of reasons. First in the campaign, the time limit on a lot of the scenarios is tight. This means that a lot of the time, the rebel player is just running as fast as they can. The other thing that hurts the pacing and flow is that set up time is a bear. To put out a map and throw teams together for a skirmish game is 30 to 60 minutes.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like the back and forth of the skirmish. The campaign mode frustrates me a lot though. It is annoying to have a “gotcha” everytime I open a door.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I love this game, and I think it is so much fun to play. The biggest issue I have with the game is that I do not get to play it enough. I would love to play this competitively but there are not any local options. I also would love to have a group to play through the campaigns with.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I will play this, but I would rather play a game like Memoir ‘44. It is a good game, but I think I like battle games to be a little more straight forward.

Final Score

84/100

While this game does get played and this game will continue to get played, I do have to admit that the cost/play ratio is not lined up very well. To go all in on this game is expensive (but cheaper than X-Wing or Armada). I think my wife might be on to something, this game might fulfill my inner child's toy desire. Which is why I still need to get Star Wars: Imperial Assault – Hera Syndulla and C1-10P Ally Pack. . .
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Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:36 am
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City of Spies (Game #97)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. Last year at Gen Con this was on my short list of games to check out. It was going head to head against Covert. I had more or less decided that I was buying one of these two games, and this is the one that won the day. This game came to the table multiple times in 2016, and it has even made it out a couple of times this year. Are we still happy we recruited this game?

Game Overview
In this game players control a network of spies that the continually try to grow for missions. Each player starts off with the same set of six spies. Each spy has a power and many have a special ability.

The board is made up of six tiles placed in a 3x2 grid. With one exception, each tile has one spot for a new spy to be recruited and three places for players to play their spies.

On a player's turn they will play one of their spies to this board. The spy must be placed on an exterior space of the board or adjacent to a spy of the same player. This means there is a strong spatial element as players need to consider what their next play might be.

Once players have placed the number of spies they are allowed, each of the six board tiles are resolved. They are resolved in numerical order. All tiles are turned face up. The three spots on each tile are numbered, so starting with the first position, spies are resolved.

Spies have a wide variety of special abilities. Some can move or assassinate other spies, some can switch out the prize card, and others can get stronger based on who is adjacent. The power of spies is figured out for the tile, by adding the value of spies belonging to the same player together. The highest value wins the recruited spy. If there is a tie then the player on the first position wins.

Each of these location tiles have special abilities as well that are unique to the tile, and there are spots on the tile that can grant the option to look at face down spies. After all six tiles have been resolved, a new round begins. Players have to discard down to only six active spies. Discarded spies are worth one point each. The board is then reset for the next round. There are eight tiles and only six are used. They are placed in a random orientation.

After doing this for four rounds the game ends and final scoring is done. At the beginning of the game four mission tiles are selected players win these by having majorities. Such as the most American spies or the most spies with the assassinate ability. The player that has the majority in one of these four areas gets six points. Each spy has a point value, so players get the points listed on their active spies, plus one point for each discarded spy. 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: This game feels very unique. It is not quite like any other game I have played. I absolutely love the team making aspect of this game and I like how this is a conflict heavy game without feeling combative.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think the mechanism of making a team each round from recruited agents is something new, and I really like it.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The cartoon art style hides some of the history in this game. The spies are all real people as are the locations. I like how the intrigue of playing tiles face down and being able to peak at some rally adds to the espionage.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: For me the theme feels kind of weak. The experience of putting a team together is fun though.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: There are a lot of small things that get changed up. The goals are different, the orientation of the tiles are different, and not every spy is guaranteed to come out. However, I feel like this game could benefit from added options that an expansion would add.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The game has built in variability that adds replayability. I wish there were some more options though.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the strongest part of this game. Four rounds is a perfect length. It allows the game to develop but still ends quickly. Individual turns have a great flow, as players battle over the locations. This goes into the instant reward of players getting to build their teams before doing it all again.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really like the sense of progression that this game has. It is fun to see what kind of spy team I end up with at the end.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I really enjoy this game. I like the theme, I think the game is really something different. It plays fairly quickly as well. It gives a great game experience in an hour or less.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is fine. I do not dislike it. I am generally not opposed to playing it, but I am not sure if I will ever request it.

Final Score

77/100

I think my wife has only played this as a two player game. While it works at that count, I think it is better with three or four. This is a game we will be keeping and the Double Agents expansion is on my radar.
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Tue Jul 11, 2017 4:16 am
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Tribbles Customizable Card Game (Game #96)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. We got this game in 2013. That year I had sold a lot of Star Wars memorabilia at Gen-Con, and I used a lot of those funds to get everything for Federation Commander. One of the online stores that I made these purchases from had this game for $5. Since I was buying Star Trek related stuff, we added it in. We played it a good deal after first getting it, but then we only played it once in 2014 and it has not made it to the table sine then. Is this game irresistibly lovable or just a big pest?

Game Overview
In Tribbles every player has their own deck of tribble cards that have values ranging from 1 to 10,000. A player begins by playing a 1 tribble card. The next player must then play a 10 tribbles card. This is followed by 100 then 1,000, and finally 10,000 (The go in multiples of ten, because it is thematic). If a player does not have the required card then they draw a card, and if it is the needed card it can be played. After a player draws a card, the next player may play the next card in the sequence or they can start over at 1.

Every single card in the game has special abilities such as skipping other players, reversing the way of play, allowing a player to take another turn, and more. Every time a player plays a card they may choose to use the card's ability or not.

Eventually, a player will play out their hand of cards. When that happens they win the round, and get to add up the value of all the cards they played to be scored as points. Five rounds are played, and the player with the most points is 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 is essentially UNO with special powers. This does add a bit of decision making since every now and then a player gets to decide which card to play in order to activate a power. The game has a lot of randomness. The poison ability for instance can score a player anywhere between 1 and 10,000 points.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is very easy, but it is silly and does not have much strategy.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This game does not have a theme to really speak of. Thanks to the cards though I now know a lot of Tribble trivia.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The theme is tribbles? But the goal is to score the most tribbles, and tribbles are a pest so it would seem I want the least of them. The theme is not really there.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The game is played over five rounds, and that kind of shoots the replayability for me. After those five rounds I am done with playing.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It does have that kind of classic card game appeal, but the high level of randomness detracts this a bit.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I think this is the weakest part of the game. For me, this just goes on a bit too long for what it is.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is fine I guess. It progresses fast, and I think five rounds is an OK length.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I would rather play this game over a Star Trek themed Uno, so there is that. It is OK, but it is not one of my favorites.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is not a deep game and it is probably not a good game, but I find it a lot of fun.

Final Score

57/100

This is not one of our best games, but my wife truly finds it fun. I think this probably has a very low trade or re-sale value, so until we absolutely need the space we will probably keep it. Some day we will have a Star Trek party and it will be the perfect game to have available.
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Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:40 am
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Islebound (Game #95)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. We got this game at Gen Con last year. It really impressed me on the show floor and we enjoyed playing it once we brought it home. However with all of the other games we had to play in the lat part of last year and with playing through all of our games this year, it has not made it back to the table. So is this a game we are bound to play again?

Game Overview
In this game players are trying to get the most points by sailing the isles, building buildings, and gaining renown. On a player's turn they will always move, take an action, and then they may do free actions.

Player's ships begin with a movement of two. They must move and they can not move back in to the space they just left. Next, there are four possible actions a player may do. They may visit a location. To visit a location there is a cost that must be paid. The cost is paid to the treasure map space unless another player controls the location then it is paid to them. Each location then grants a special ability. The location abilities are really the heart of the game. They provide resources such as pirates, fish, wood, knowledge, and influence. These resources can be used to do other actions or turned into renown.

The second and third option are a player can attack a location or ally with a location through diplomacy. Each location has a strength. if the number is red then it must be attacked, and if it is in blue it required diplomacy. To attack a location a player must commit pirate or sea serpent cards and roll dice to determine strength. If a player falls short they can injure their crew for additional strength. To do diplomacy players must spend influence by removing discs from the influence track. The influence must be meet or exceed the strength. In either event once a player beats this number they gain control of the location. They immediately get money equal to the strength of the location and the player gets to visit the location.

The final action a player can take is hunt for treasure. The play gets all of the money that has been paid to the treasure space. If nothing is there they get one coin.

Players may also take the two free actions. There will always be two events on the board at locations. If a player is that location they may do the event. Each event requires paying or meeting a certain condition, and events pay influence. In fact they are the main way to gain influence. Players may also build a building by paying the cost. Buildings provide special abilities as well as provide victory points.

There is a lot of small things not mentioned such as adding new crew with special abilities, the renown track that players work up to gain seven renown plus a bonus, and the rules for players attacking one another.

When a player builds a set number of buildings the game will end. Players get renown for buildings built, money earned, and renown tokens collected. The player with the most renown 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 really like how this feels like a 3X game. It has a sense of exploring with sailing around and completing events. Players exploit has they gather resources and build buildings to create even more synergies. Players also expand as they befriend or take over islands. The exterminate part is missing since players can not truly attack and hurt each other. The mechanisms all support this really well as players have to decide each turn which avenue they are going to pursue.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like all of the options this game provides, but I feel like a lot of the symbols are hard to keep straight. I am always asking what stuff means.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This game does a great job at creating the world it takes place in. It is a great experience, and the exploring a sea of islands while building up homeland is presented well.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The sense of exploration and sailing really comes through.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: For me the base experience is compelling enough to come back to. The game also has a lot of variability built into it so that each game will have different options than the previous one.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game has a lot of variability between the double sided boards, the orientations, and the different buildings.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: Th pacing of this game is so easy, as players move, encounter an island in some way, and then possibly build. I also love the flow as the game goes on and players build up their empire through taking an islands and buildings.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game has a big long game feel to it, but it gets it done in a shorter time than I expect.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I really enjoy this game. Mechanically it is pure euro game, but it is also a wonderful thematic experience in a world that is inviting.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There is a lot to do in this game and I love the sense of exploration and discovery it has. It is fun.

Final Score

84/100

We have one other Red Raven game (Empires of the Void), but I am really looking forward to playing Near and Far. This is a game we both like and we are looking forward to playing it more as soon as we can.
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Sun Jul 9, 2017 4:27 am
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