Back during the CCG craze of 1994 my friends and I joked about "Scrabble: the CCG". I'm pleased to see that it's finally become a reality. Paperback is a deckbuilding word game, and it's very well done. The gameplay is interesting, it commits to its theme and design, and the artwork is charming. Unfortunately, it suffers the same problems as Scrabble. You have to have exactly the right players for it, and those are few. There's also a lot of downtime while another player figures out the best word they can make with the letters they have. It's rough with two players and I can't imagine how it is with four or five. (The other caveat that comes with word games, which is a subpoint of "right players" is, be careful of knowing words that aren't "real everyday words" as nothing kills such a game faster than discovering you're playing with THAT kind of whiner.)
I've been told it's being developed for iOS and Android and I think it can really shine with some asynchronous play.
Also, don't let anyone tell you "DISHWASHERLY" isn't a word. It totally is and it means "In a manner like that of a diswasher" as in "He scrubbed the plates in a diswasherly fashion."
How eager am I to play again? Pretty eager, actually, though I know I've got an extremely shallow bench of opponents for this.
Is this something I'd like to own? Kind of, even though there wouldn't be much point in it.
Rating after first play? 7 or 8, depending on who you're playing with.
I got a ding-and-dent copy of this for cheap at Gen Con last year, but it's sat untouched for months. I couldn't get it out on either of my game days, and when I finally had an opportunity I looked at the rules and thought it was more complicated than I wanted to get into at the time. Turns out it's not complicated at all, and I've finally played it.
The result? It's okay. It probably works better with more than three. On the one had it's faster than, say, Cockroach Poker, but on the other hand despite the slight level of complexity over that game, not much really happens in it. I'll give it another try but I'm not clamoring for it.
How eager am I to play again? I wouldn't mind giving it a try with more players, but it won't break my heart if that doesn't happen.
Is this something I'd like to own? I already own it, for now.
Rating after first play? A 5? Maybe that's a little harsh.
This is a drafting game by designer darling Donald X. (Vaccarino, but I prefer "Donald X.") , who honestly hasn't made a game I'm really ga-ga for yet. It's got a unique them in that, while it uses the time-worn idea of mobsters and crime kingpins, it sets it in the late 60s rather than going with prohibition gangsters or modern mafia. It's a nice touch.
It's hard for me to really say much useful here, because it's possible (probable, even) that we got a wildly uneven arrangement of cards (you only use a portion of them). There are three types of cards: Holdings (locations), Thugs (people), and Actions. There was a dearth of Thugs in our selection, which meant that the one person who drafted a couple before they ran out was at a huge advantage. The two players who didn't get any were missing icons that made locations and actions even possible to play. That said, I, who wasn't the guy with the thugs, came very close to winning with the stuff I was able to play. The third player felt completely shut out, unable to play most of the cards he'd drafted.
With more players there'd be a larger pool of cards to draw from, and a simple reshuffle would have probably resulted in a different game, but although I didn't hate it, I also wasn't really eager for another immediate play.
How eager am I to play again? Not particularly, but I would.
Is this something I'd like to own? Nope.
Rating after first play? A 5. It's possible there's more here tthan meets the eye, but it also doesn't really cry for exploration.
When I learned this game was by Suburbia designer Ted Alspach, I was a little wary, and when the rules were explained and it sounded like Suburbia, I was a lot wary. I don't like Suburbia and find it bland and irritating. I was a little surprised my friend Matt was encouraging it.
Turns out it is a lot like Suburbia, except not in the ways that Suburbia is annoying. It's a vast improvement on the design. You still have to remember how rooms you previously played may affect your score, but you don't have to wonder if something on an opponent's board is giving you (or her) points for something you're doing. The retheme is also so much better. Instead of bland office buildings and parking lots, the unique rooms give the players a fun sense of what they're building, and it's amusing to see how one's castle turns out. (For a while my castle had a Study, an Observatory, a Greenhouse...and a Panic Room. I'm a scholar, not a fighter.) The shapes of the rooms also make for a nice sense of having done something at the end of the game.
Despite the meat of the action being in setting room prices as the Master Builder, there can be a sense of solitaire, which is not helped by the fact that the tiny icons make it difficult to see what other players may need. After only one play, though, I think you quickly pick up on how to scan the other players' castles.
I'm a little surprised at how charming the game was. Still not interested in Suburbia, but this iteration works for me.
How eager am I to play again? I'd have no problem playing this again.
Is this something I'd like to own? I think there are three copies already in my group, so I'm all set.
Race FTG and I have a tumultuous history. After panning it when it first came out, I later tried it again and warmed much more to it. I generally like dice games and had taken a shot at designing a dice-based space game myself, so I jumped on Roll FTG right away.
Despite some minor changes, the two games feel pretty much the same. There are even some interesting ways the transition was made -- for example, military worlds don't help conquer planets, they provide red military dice, which are weighted towards settling and development. The game plays quickly and, despite the attempt to make it look as complicated as possible, is pretty easy to pick up.
It does do one of the things which continually confound me with regards to dice games. As is so often the case, although you roll dice to select possible actions, there are so many ways to manipulate them that they quickly get derandomized. All three of us had major ways to do whatever we felt like with several dice, so what's the purpose of dice in the first place? If you have a problem with random elements, then don't play a damn dice game. But why bother designing a game around dice and then not use that element? It wasn't too long before I felt I was just playing a worker placement game instead of a dice game, and that bugs me greatly.
For this reason I would probably prefer the original card game, though I want more tries of this before I commit.
How eager am I to play again? I want to find out if I spent my money wisely.
Is this something I'd like to own? Already bought it.
Right away I need to point out that while there are in fact eggs here, the game does not, in any way, deliver empires. There are plenty of other games which provide empires, so if that's the draw, you may wish to look elsewhere. For egg fans, you're in luck.
This is a sort of Love-Letterish game in which you have a hand of role cards numbered 1-10, each with some kind of power. Some eggs are revealed, good and bad (positive or negative points) and you want to take the good and not the bad. You choose eggs in numerical order, high-to-low, so you want to get first crack (har!) at them.
I played this two player, which is a slightly different setup, but the gist is the same. It's pleasant enough, and it's quick to learn and play, but there's a single element I think would make it better. As it is, you pretty much always want to be the high card, which is kind of boring. I think if you put the eggs out and had to take them in that order, where sometimes you want to be second or such, it would be much more tense and interesting. But as a light game, it's fine.
How eager am I to play again? I wouldn't say no, but I'll never demand it.
I'm always a little wary when I take on the new Euro hotness because those have been going in a direction far away from what I'm interested in. Winning an SdJ is usually an anti-draw for me.
There's a lot of the usual faff on display here, but there's also some neat bits. I like that instead of just gathering points willy-nilly, you have a clear goal: get five gems first. How you do that is up to you, but some ways are easier than others and some ways are just plain better for others. For example, after one play, it seems clear that if you're the last person to get the blue mosque tile you are in dire straits, Sidi. There are some interesting elements at play here, but you're also dealing with some of the usuals, such as being a master trader with a small wheelbarrow you have to upgrade. I do love the element where a member of your family is in jail and you can spring him to do tasks for you but that risks him getting caught by the other players.
The short version is that this is a lot of the old familiar with a little bit of polish on it. It's quick and has some neatness about it, but honestly, in 9 months you'll look at it on your shelf and saying, "What was that one? I kind of remember it."
How eager am I to play again? Not in a mad rush, but it's not, say, Tzol'kin.
Not really new to me; I've played San Juan a kabillion times and love it. But this edition, with the expansion and bonus building is new to me and worth commenting on.
The short version is, the expansion cards breathe new life into a game I already like, but that had gotten somewhat repetitive. They add depth, not breadth, not bringing in any new mechanics and simply developing what's already there, providing some new tools to work with. That's a pleasant surprise. I'm glad to have this new edition put San Juan back on the table for me.
An oddball trick-taking game with "special power" cards: something I don't normally go for. Fortunately there aren't so many of them that each trick becomes more or less random. It does some odd spins on trick-taking, the oddest being that lead goes to the left of who won the trick, so you can neither get bogged down in a long suit nor set yourself up easily. The artwork is hilarious. Everything is pretty much black and white clipart except the Cthulhu monsters which are rendered in detailed color.
How eager am I to play again? Not my favorite trick-taking game, but I'd be okay playing it.
Is this something I'd like to own? The card games I already have don't get enough play.
I think I like dice games, but too often I don't like dice games. That is, I definitely like dice, but I often don't like what's done with them in games. I've tried a bunch and there's usually just something missing, and often it's the notion that having other people at the table makes a difference. Ciub, with its dumb name, is a good effort.
It's by Tom Lehmann, who also made the execrable To Court the King, a game as fun as watching someone else watch paint dry. Ciub is definitely better in that the dice manipulation doesn't get stupidly out of hand, and has a more interesting goal. Unlike TCTK, even though someone else's turn doesn't affect me too much, it's still fun to watch them pushing their luck and egging them on. Luck and the dice still play a big part in the game, even to the end; it's not a game about making dice less random. I also like the constant dice management that happening, and the fact that no single color of die is objectively better; moving back to the starting white dice is not necessarily a downgrade (though the blue dice seem objectively bad compared to others).
I like that Ciub is a dice game that doesn't seem to be embarrassed about having dice or seem like it wants to reassure people who don't like dice that they'll like it too. If you can't deal with randomness, don't play it; it's not going to coddle you.
I wondered as a joke and then for real, if this game started its life as "Power Grid: The Dice Game". Other than the way the card "market" works there isn't much similarity there, and yet I kept feeling like there was a connection.
How eager am I to play again? I'd have no problem playing this again.
Is this something I'd like to own? I don't think so, but I might trade for it.
Deus is a dudes-on-a-map game where most of the dudes will never move or leave. It's also a tableau game in a way. It's kind of a mish-mash. It reminds me of Terra Mystica, only without that game's fussiness and inability to know when to stop adding elements. Similarly, it's a game that looks like it's going to be more interactive than it ultimately is, with the map not really adding much beyond tracking different resource spots. It's pretty hard to describe, but my general impressions of it were positive. I liked the combos that were possible, and I liked the multiple ways cards could be used. I'm used to tableau games in which you try to make the best of what you're dealt and didn't catch on quickly enough to the tactic of just whipping through your cards quickly to get better cards or other goodies. Deus is fine, and a solid title, but there's just something missing for me, something that would give it that little extra push. And I don't know what that is.
How eager am I to play again? I'd play it again, sure.
This one is an improvement on the original Roll Through the Ages in that there are some more decisions to make and paths to follow, but it's still essentially a solo affair. There just isn't much difference in the fact that other people are playing as well. I don't see much of the point of it.
How eager am I to play again? I can't say I'd be raring to go.
I grabbed this when it first came out last year but haven't had the chance to include it until now. I'm not sure why I waited. My games since I got it have been teaching games, always with at least one new player, but I don't think this small expansion disrupts the base game enough to not include it for first-timers.
It adds some new cards for each faction and some new common cards. The most notable addition are "Open Production" cards, which are exactly like production buildings except opponents can send workers to them to get what they produce, and the owner gets the workers. That's a nice feature from 51S/TNE to have introduced. There are some buildings which store goods and then give benefits based on what's stored, which is another plus. And there's a single "Instant" card, which is a non-building card that can be played to wreck your opponents' stuff. It's a pretty gentle mini-expansion, and it rounds out the game pretty well.
My #1 complaint with it is that there's nothing (that I see) that identifies these cards as part of the expansion, so pulling them out will be a bit of a pain. Some kind of expansion symbol would have been nice.
How eager am I to play again? I'll keep this integrated into the base game. It's not essential, but it's fine.
Is this something I'd like to own? I already do.
Rating after first play? I have Imperial Settlers rated as an 8. Including this expansion doesn't do anything to change that.
I've barely scratched the surface of Robinson Crusoe (I don't own it), but the chance to take on a campaign of scenarios, especially one themed around Darwin's exploratory missions, was something I couldn't pass up. Crusoe is a great game, a next-level co-op that I enjoy playing every time, so committing to a series of games wasn't a tough choice.
We played with two characters each (plus Darwin) and it was looking like we were not going to do well this first time out. Nearly half of what we needed required the Pot invention, which required Hills, which were buried at the bottom of the stack. (Ironically our helper, the Lookout, messed us up; when we drew him we simply flipped the island stack over, sending the Hills on the top straight to the bottom.) We were also just not generating wood as fast as we should have been. Suddenly we broke out of the logjam and got both wood and the Pot, and we squeaked out a bare victory on turn 7.
The amazing thing about Crusoe, and this even applies to the base game, is how much of a sandbox it is, a perfect starting point for missions. Though the base rules remain the same, each scenario has a life of its own that the game easily flexes into. This first Beagle voyage was no different; being firmly a game of Robinson Crusoe, but with a different flavor from previous ones. I'm looking forward to continuing this.
How eager am I to play again? Quite. In fact, I'd willingly re-play this first scenario.
Is this something I'd like to own? This and the base game.
Rating after first play? Crusoe alone I have at an 8. That should probably be a 9, and this helps it get there.
Pretty fun fantasy co-op with a storytelling system that spools the details of the adventure out slowly, causing various surprises and twists. We played the intro scenario and did pretty well, but when we moved on to the second one we got slaughtered. It's nice for this sort of thing, but this isn't the sort of thing I'm really looking for that often. I'd rather play Robinson Crusoe or Thunderstone.
How eager am I to play again? I wouldn't say no, but I'm not aching for it.
I've enjoyed other John Clowdus games, and I heard good things about this one, so I backed the Omega Edition KS a while back. I'm glad I did.
This is a game of contesting sides of a space, like Battle Line, Battle for Souls, and Draco Magi. I like it the best out of all those, however, as the card powers are pretty neat without overloading with information. It's just complex enough to keep things interesting, but still easy enough to get going with pretty quickly. (It's especially nice after the slog that is Draco Magi.)
We played twice. First time we used just the base cards (we used the Hero and Spirit cards as they weren't much of a problem.) I had a pretty good lead, but a very swingy last play by my opponent turned it around for him. Some folks might be put off by that, but it was fine and fun. We then played with the Challenges. They weren't bad (though one is super easy compared to the others) but we felt this game was over far too quickly when all but two of the challenges got snapped up. The Relics and Whims didn't really do much for either of us and we didn't try them out.
The rulebook could definitely use another pass, as there are contradictions in it as well as important omissions. But Omen is a fun, quick game that I think will get played often.
How eager am I to play again? Somewhat eager!
Is this something I'd like to own? Already do.
Rating after first play? A 7, though that could go up a little.
This is a beautiful card game that can get deceptively vicious. It seems at first that each player will just be doing their own thing, but no, you will definitely be messing with each other. I also like how the simple and straightforward rules put the players in tough situations. Playing another card after playing one with an animal on it seems like always a good thing but nope, it can really bite you. And the endgame is especially tricky and full of tough choices. This is just a stellar game. It plays up to four, but it seems to me that it's perfect with only two.
How eager am I to play again? Very much so.
Is this something I'd like to own? Yes, I'll be adding it into an order.
So far, DXV doesn't seem to be a designer for me. I admire Dominion and Kingdom Builder, but I don't find them particularly fun or interesting. I wasn't expecting I'd be wowed much by this one. However, I really enjoyed it. I liked how the time travel and history-changing worked, and thought the flavor throughout it was a lot of fun. It was good with two, but I think a full compliment making it more chaotic will be even better.
How eager am I to play again? Eager to see how it plays with more than two.
Is this something I'd like to own? I don't think so.
Rating after first play? A 7, by which I mean a 7 and not "I don't know".
Yyyyeaahhhh, this is just not a thing for me. This just felt very dry and unengaging. Our game ended in the middle of the second round (of three) when the Arabs sacked Constantinople, which was an underwhelming but not unwelcome ending.
How eager am I to play again? Not terribly.
Is this something I'd like to own? No sir.
Rating after first play? A 3 or 4. Just not my type of game.
An attractive little tile-laying game that presents the players with interesting options each turn. The idea is to collect lantern cards by playing tiles and then turn in those lantern cards for points. However, the fact that there are only three ways that score points, they score similar amounts of points, and they're not too different to accomplish as far as difficulty goes, seems to indicate that the scores are always going to be very close and fall out in somewhat predictable ways. I'm sure with more plays the players will learn both how to gain more cards quicker and how to deny scoring cards to others, but I think that would change things only so much. I'll play again and hopefully be wrong, because otherwise it's not a bad game.
How eager am I to play again? Sure.
Is this something I'd like to own? No.
Rating after first play? Hard to say. The scoring thing could be a real problem.
This was technically not my first time playing this. I played a demo of it at Gen Con last year. However, my opponent (not an Asmadi person but another demoee) didn't get it and/or wasn't really interested in getting it so it wasn't a particularly satisfying experience and didn't give me a good idea of the game.
This is a tile-placement game in which the tiles, black on one side and white on the other, can flip or move other tiles, changing who is ahead at any given moment. Additionally, there are some tiles that don't activate until the end of the game. It's tough to get a feel for how things are going, especially when you're new to the game and don't know what kinds of tiles await you in the bag that could severely alter your position. It's more interesting than I initially gave it credit, but there are other things I'd rather play.
How eager am I to play again? I wouldn't have a problem if someone wanted to, but it's not a burning desire.
Is this something I'd like to own? No, I'm okay without it.
"I'm not a fan of baseball at all" let me just get that out of the way, as many reviews of this game will require it. In fact, the design of the game has helped non-fans of baseball warm to this game by setting it in 2045 and adding robots and cyborgs. So it's okay, it's not baseball, it's sci-fi, though there's no reason it couldn't have just been baseball.
Anyhow, the game is pretty neat, a sort of "Blood Bowl Team Manager" but for the dugout set. You call plays, buy new players (even during the middle of the World Series, which seems kind of odd to me) and the action is meant to be a sort of overview of the inning (a "highlight", if you will) instead of literal pitch-by-pitch action.
It works well, though it kind of needs an action flowchart at first to get used to. The action is pretty quick and interesting and it's not crazy complex. I enjoyed it, but it seems like there could be a little more meat on it.
How eager am I to play again? I had a good time and would happily play again.
Is this something I'd like to own? I don't think so.
I really enjoy Thunderstone, and I like the adjustments made for the Advance version. I haven't kept up with the sets because it doesn't come out too often (only one other person I game with seems to like it) but I like what I have.
I got this in a trade because hey, more Thunderstone. I don't know anything about the Numenera setting, and after one play I can't say I know much more about it. It's a little more technical, as there are chemical injectors and stuff, but at the end of the day it's still more or less Fantasy 101. Our one game barely scratched the surface of this set (we didn't do the settings or anything involving the cardboard tokens.) I like the idea of the XP tokens granting different abilities. Some of the cards we played with were pretty neat, but honestly, as the "world" of Thunderstone is generic to begin with, changing the setting is hardly noticeable, at least to me.
What I'm saying is, I liked this well enough, but considering that I've barely played the Thunderstone I already have I don't know that I need another entire box of it with some added geegaws. If it can be effortlessly mixed with the rest I may do so, but otherwise I'll just stick with what I have.
How eager am I to play again? I'm always up for some Thunderstone, even though almost no one else is.
Is this something I'd like to own? I already do, though it took me almost a year to play it.
Rating after first play? I never know how to rate an expansion. So far it seems like a perfectly adequate Thunderstone expansion, with one neat new idea, the colored tokens.
This is an interesting trick-taking game with some neat parts to it. It plays like a sort of speed 6 Nimmt! (not exactly, but for some reason that's what it reminds me of) where you have to weigh whether you want to go high or low and try to figure out what others are going to do. It's tough to wrap your head around at first, but once you start playing it becomes more clear. Another neat thing is that after each round you rotate hands, so that everyone gets a shot at every hand that was initially dealt, balancing out particularly good or bad hands. (The score pile is different each time, so you're not playing exactly the same game over and over.) In our game there was a particularly dismal hand going around and it was fun to see who could last the longest with it.
I liked this, though I tend to go for trick-taking games in general.
How eager am I to play again? I happily would.
Is this something I'd like to own? Yeah, if I thought it would get any regular play.