Board Game Lists · Board Gaming · Top Ten List · Wish List

Top Essen Games I’d Want to Check Out (If I Went to Essen)

As the title implies, I will not be attending Essen this year. As great as it would be to go, and as cool as Essen would be for a first convention, this one is just not in my cards for 2017. Probably not even 2018. But that won’t prevent me from being able to look at the releases and seeing what games I would be excited about.

There are two sections included here: games themselves that I’d like to check out at Essen (some are already out, some are rereleases, and others are new and upcoming games), and a section with a few expansions I’m excited to try.

There are over 1000 games under the Essen preview tool. Less than a hundred of these made my initial “look into these more” listing. But getting it down to these was a little difficult. There are some really, really good games coming out. And there are some smaller or less-hyped games that sound good and could be amazing. So, before I ramble on too long, here are the games I’d love to check out if I was at Essen (in no particular order):

Games I know are already out

Lisboa – Diving right into a heavy game here…I’m not sure why but this is one of the games that is near the top of my wish list. I haven’t played a Lacerda game yet, but I see no reason why this couldn’t or shouldn’t be our first. The theme and mechanics of the game drew me in as I listened to Heavy Cardboard talk about the game. It was enough to convince me that this is a game I don’t want to miss out on.

Raiders of the North Sea – If Lisboa is near the top of my wish list, this game resides at the pinnacle. A Viking worker placement game that doesn’t use dice for combat. I think we’ll both find a lot of things to enjoy about this game, and I keep hearing fantastic things about the mechanics within the game.

Tiny Epic Quest – I have played and really enjoyed a few of the Tiny Epic games. When this was described as Zelda in a box, I knew it would be only a matter of time before I would play the game. I’m still seeking that opportunity, and can’t wait until I get to experience this one.

Whistle Stop – Okay, so I’ve played this game once. But man, there are so many things about the game I’d like to revisit and try again. It was a really fun game, and my stock-heavy strategy fell just short of victory. A few wiser decisions along the way and I might have ended up with the win instead of a loss. Bonus points for this being a game I am sure my wife would enjoy.

Antiquity (3rd Edition) – This one appears up here because it is a new edition of an existing game. It would be my first play of a Splotter game, and why not jump in with this instead of something like The Great Zimbabwe? I really want to try some Splotter games, as I am coming to enjoy heavy games a lot. And so this one makes it onto my radar.

Iron Dragon (Second Edition) – A fantasy train game? This might be one that I could get my wife to try out, probably as a next-step after introducing her to Whistle Stop. It might take time to warm her up to trying an 18XX game, but this one should be one we’ll enjoy together.

The King’s Abbey (Second Edition) – A rerelease of a worker placement set in Medieval times. Are you kidding me? You get to construct an Abbey, go on crusades, and more during a period of history that I really enjoy? And since it is a worker placement game my wife might be interested, too? Sign me up!

Charterstone – No surprise here, this game had to make the cut. I’ve been so excited for the upcoming Stonemaier Games release, and nothing that I have heard has changed that. It is a legacy Worker Placement game that can be played by 1-6 players, it’ll allow you to build your own unique charters that are replayable when the campaign is finished, and I am yet to meet a Stonemaier Games game that I don’t like. This is as close to a must-have as it gets for me.

The Climbers – Capstone Games is tied to this release, and I’ve had the same track record with Capstone as I have with Stonemaier. If that wasn’t enough, this was Edward at Heavy Cardboard’s top “Thinky Filler” game, and this is a game that will command attention when played at a game night. I can’t wait to try this one out and find out why Edward has been singing its praises.

Hunt for the Ring – My favorite game of all time is War of the Ring by Ares Games. I was so disappointed by The Battle of Five Armies because it was, essentially, War of the Ring Lite and I found myself always wanting to play War of the Ring instead. This game promises to be something completely different, making it a must-try for me. The Tolkien fan in me demands it.

The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade – We enjoyed Haspelknecht so much that I am definitely interested in exploring the rest of the Coal Trilogy. We don’t play many pick up & deliver games, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for that in our collection. This one should be very solid, and being a Capstones Game is an added plus.

Shadows in Kyoto – The successor to Hanamikoji. If I knew nothing else about this game, that in itself would be enough. But this sounds fantastic, being a game completely different from Hanamikoji but with the same outstanding artwork. I really, really can’t wait to try this game.

Albedo – This one is a tough one to have make the cut, but I think it just manages. I’ve had my eye on Core Worlds this year, and this game takes some inspiration from that. It is a deckbuilder with what sounds like a built-in “trashing” mechanism that sounds fantastic. This will be a hard sell to the wife, but she’ll tolerate a few plays of a deckbuilder. Who knows, this might join Mystic Vale as a deckbuilder she actually enjoys!

Alien Artifacts – This game has been described as a successor to Race for the Galaxy. Considering that Race is one of my favorite games, and has been for years, that makes me immediately interested in trying the game. Will it replace Race? I doubt it is possible, but I would love to try this one out and see how it stacks up.

The Cousins’ War – This one is another small one that deserves to remain on my radar. I enjoy 2-player only games that have a small footprint, small component list, and play quickly. This promises to provide all of that in this duel representing the War of the Roses. My wife may not like that it has some dice in there, but from what I’ve read this has enough things going on that it won’t be a dealbreaker for her.

Fantastiqa Rival Realms – This is another 2-player only game that makes the list. I’ve heard great things about Fantastiqa from reviewers like Mina’s Fresh Cardboard in the past, and a 2-player spinoff game sounds like it is worth checking out. Players are magicians building the landscape, finding beasts, creating artifacts, and more in a head-to-head competition. Yes, please!

Harvest – We really enjoyed Harbour once we got the rules of it right, and so this game promises to be a worker placement game we’d like as well. It isn’t supposed to merely be a retheming of Harbour, so I am excited to see how this one turns out and what is different.

Keyper – Holy buckets, this is apparently the eighth game in the Key series of games which started the Worker Placement genre. I’ve really wanted to try Keyflower, but I think any of these would be a fantastic place to jump in and play. My wife loves worker placement games, and something tells me this one wouldn’t be a disappointment at all for us.

Nusfjord – Rosenberg. Worker placement. My wife would drag me along to try this one out just from those three words. I do like the idea of leaving farming behind and instead managing a fishing fleet. It also sounds like this has some similarities mechanically to Ora et Labora and Agricola, both great Rosenberg games. Yep, this had to make the list.

Game Expansions

Mystic Vale: Mana Storm – I was surprised when she loved Mystic Vale, and so of course I want to expand the card pool and strategies available in this deckbuilding game. And this promises to accomplish both of those things.

Scythe: The Wind Gambit – Airships in Scythe! No more need to unlock Riverwalk as your first mech in the game, although I bet there is still incentive to do so. I enjoy Scythe a lot so far, and this would be the first must-have expansion which adds several interesting elements to the game.

Agricola: Artifex Deck – My favorite part of Agricola? Figuring out how my fourteen cards can be used in my favor. My wife’s least favorite part of Agricola? The cards. We’ll be divided on this purchase, but I hope to win out in the end. After all, she doesn’t have to use the cards if she doesn’t like them…

Cry Havoc: Aftermath – I really have enjoyed my first plays of Cry Havoc and this is one I need to get back to the table. People claim there are balance issues between the factions, but I don’t buy into that. I like a game that rewards repeated plays and finding out how to adapt in order to win, which means the game will remain in our collection. This expansion promises to take what is a good game and make it even better.

Kingdom Builder: Harvest – We’ve determined we both really enjoy this game and want more expansions for the game. We have Nomads now, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t or wouldn’t jump ahead to grab Harvest before getting the other ones. This is the one game I think she might actually like getting expansions for.

Board Gaming · Review for Two · Wargame Garrison

Review for Two – Night of Man

Thank you for checking review #33 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this game in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Night of Man

Night of Man is a game designed by Mark H. Walker and is published by Flying Pig Games. The box states that it can play 2 players and has a 60 minute play time.

Night of Man is a card-driven, tactical board game. Set in a post-alien-invasion-of-Earth universe, the squads, heroes, and tanks of Earth’s Militia battle against powerful aliens with enhanced power armor, hover tanks, Mechs, and spider-like robots.

In each turn gamers draw up to a four card hand and may play a card, sometimes more, in each impulse. The cards activate units to move, fire, assault, and use special powers, such as explosive rounds, telekinesis, and more. Special cards, such as critical hit or bullet storm, can also enhance a unit’s attacks.

Each turn continues until three end turn cards have been drawn. Players then choose one card from their hand to keep, the administrative markers are removed from the board, and a new hand is dealt to each player. The players use that new hand, or the card kept from the previous turn, to bid for initiative in the new turn.

Night of Man ships with numerous scenarios, as well as a point system that allows gamers to put together their own battles in no time flat.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

This one is a tricky one to describe the setup because each game will be different. There are a set of scenarios to play through, each one dictating the boards used, how they are laid out, the armies fielded by each side, and where they are placed (or enter the board when moved). They also dictate the number of rounds played, the objective for each side, point values for destroying units (if the scenario includes scoring), and how many “End Turn” cards need to be drawn before the round ends.

The one consistent is that the deck of cards will be shuffled and four will be dealt to each player. If an End Turn card is dealt, it is placed face-up and a new one is dealt. The players then each select one card to “bid” for initiative. The player whose card shows a higher value discards the card and goes first, taking their turn with three cards. The losing player keeps their card and will have four to use on their first turn.

On a turn, the player plays one card from their hand. Each card has two possible actions on there, and the player uses only one. Most actions are marked with a green icon, but there are red and yellow ones as well. Red are interrupts, so to speak, allowing you to play them on the other player’s turn. Yellow are able to boost your action, making it so you can play more than one card for the round. After the action on the card is resolved, the player may discard any number of additional cards and draw back up to four. If an End Turn card is drawn, it goes face-up in the pile and a new card is drawn to replace it.

The core concept is simple: move your units toward the enemy and then try to shoot them into oblivion. This is an underexaggeration, to be sure, but it gets the core premise across. Some scenarios involve trying to find an object or gain and maintain control of a certain area of the board. The interesting thing here is that when a unit moves or fires, it gets marked with a token indicating that action is done. Which prevents them from activating for anything else this round unless a card, such as Second Wind, is played to remove those tokens.

My Thoughts

The premise and the theme for this game is great. I love the idea that the aliens have come and subjected the Earth to their rule. One side is playing those alien overlords, while the other is playing the role of a resistance of humans. The aliens are, of course, well-armored and hard to kill. The theme was what drew me to this game in the first place, and it didn’t disappoint once I got the game.

The counters are large and chunky and easy to maneuver and manipulate. Which is a good thing, because you’ll be adding them, flipping them, and removing them often. I couldn’t even imagine the headache this could have caused if the counters were really small. They also are clearly distinguishable on the board via color coding, and the artwork of the units and characters is done well. The board itself is a little bland art-wise, but the counters make up for it.

I love multi-use cards so very much. These are great because they not only make you choose between two actions on the card, but they also track the round’s end and are used in combat rather than dice. This might make it sound like you’ll be flipping that deck quickly, and you certainly can, but especially in that first round the deck goes one or two cards per turn. You’ll see a lot of repeated actions throughout the deck, especially Move actions and Fire actions, but there are enough to shake things up.

Combat is simple and dice-free. My wife is one of those who absolutely hates games that use a ton of dice. Her biggest rage during a game happened a few years ago playing Doctor Who Risk, and it was at that point that I knew I couldn’t play a game where combat relied solely upon who rolls better. This is a card-driven system for battle, which not only keeps things simple but also helps to flip through that deck. The modifiers used for range, etc. are relatively easy to grasp and follow, although the first few plays saw me triple-checking I had things right. The vehicles add complexity to the system, but not so much that it can’t be played. You’ll just be likely to have to check the process a few additional times the first play or two incorporating them into the mix. Something you’ll hear me mention often in this review.

There is no getting around it: this game is fun. And that, in spite of anything else, is what you want to find in a board game. Those first two scenarios are introductory, at best, and should be viewed as such. They are the equivalent of the first ten levels you gain in an RPG – meant to get your feet wet before introducing more complexity. The third scenario doesn’t add new rules, but it does provide a few new units and an objective for one side to chase. I’m halfway through this campaign and really enjoying the progress so far. I’ve seen there are other campaign packs, including a solo one, and those are very likely to enter onto my wish list.

The boards are folded in two and, at least with my copy, tends to not lay flat on the table as a result. This is a preference thing only, and worth noting, but it doesn’t end up affecting the gameplay itself.

The rulebook is hit and miss. I thought, upon first read, that it covered things well. And what it contains, it does cover well. But there are omissions throughout, such as what happens if enough End Turn cards are dealt into the opening hands to end the round, or what triggers the powers shown on the units’ counters (It was my third play when I noticed the small “Power” word on some of the cards and was able to make the connection). Or what happens when a unit is on fire from the Infantry’s special power? I’ve seen threads galore mentioning the Handler and his Spiderbots, and with good reason. The other thing I would have liked to see were more visual demonstrations of what was being explained. Blocks of text are great, but a small image (and there are some in here) would help to emphasize that and provide a quick go-to as a refresher.

And so I am torn on the use of cards to trigger the end of a round. Part of me wants to love it and proclaim the brilliance of this concept. It isn’t often that the game gets to a point where both sides can’t do anything (although the alien side is more likely to hit that point first) apart from toss cards and hope to draw a Second Wind or trigger the round’s end. So long as one side is able to do things, the round will keep going (it can end if both players pass consecutively). The variable round length is great in concept: there should be uncertainty in war about how long a battle will take. But what about when you draw all of the End Turn cards at the very start of a round? And if this happens a few turns in a row? On the reverse side, what if they all keep populating at the very bottom of the deck? This game could either run short or really long in those scenarios. I’ve had more games where rounds end super-early than running really long, but the chance is there and some players really won’t like that variable length.

The player aids provided are fine, but there were things that I found myself having to look up time and again in the rule book. So they are things I wish there had been an aid for, so that the finding of this information could have been a little easier. I had to look up what the various numbers on the counters represented, and there are two times when this really happened: the first few plays to get down the leg units, and then just when you get those few parts down the vehicles are thrown into the mix and double the numbers you’re looking at on the unit counters. The same thing goes with the cards. For the most part, things are easy to get down early but once vehicles come into play, I found myself checking and rechecking what the numbers were and when they were used. Finally, there are powers and abilities indicated by small icons on units. These are great, but I had to look those up repeatedly and found myself forgetting what some of them did. None of these three things are game-breakers, and they are all covered well in the rulebook, but I’d prefer not to flip through the book every time I need to reference these things. At least on the counter layout and the card layout.

Final Verdict

This is a game I really want to love, and I know with more plays and more exposure I can come to love the game. Right now I simply enjoy the game. It is a nice system, although a little more complex than I initially expected. There are a lot of things to remember, and if you can’t recall which number on the token represents the ABF or the HF, etc. then you’ll be grabbing the rule book often for reference. And that part is why I’ve hesitated so long in teaching the game to my wife. It isn’t bad in the first three scenarios, where you have all leg units, but the vehicles add extra layers and a lot more numbers become relevant. Which also makes more card abilities matter. Which means I need to have a good grasp on those things if I want to teach her in a manner that she can find enjoyable. Having me stop things to reference the rulebook every five minutes wouldn’t exactly be an experience she’d find to be fun.

I do enjoy a scenario system, and so I am glad this has that available to play. But it does also include the important skirmish system. This gives it life beyond the scenario plays, allowing each player to build and field a custom army to battle it out.

I’m still very early into my wargaming career, and I probably secured a copy of this about 6-12 months too soon. It was quite a jump from the Swords & Shields system from Stamford Bridge to this one. However, anyone who has a fair amount of experience with wargames should fare well when playing this game. And this game has been worth the effort I’ve put into learning things and I have no doubt it will continue to be rewarding.

The biggest headache will come from the text-dense reference sheet, no quick reference for what is shown on each counter, and those occasional things that aren’t explained well in the rulebook. Those things can usually be inferred based on how a player chooses to interpret things, but there will be questions that you simply can’t find a clear answer to. Which is always frustrating for a gamer.

Overall I have enjoyed Night of Man, and this is a game that I plan to play more times, both solo to sharpen my understanding of the rules and system as well as with my wife. I’ll need to be solid in my command of the game and what everything means if I want her to enjoy the next plays where we add more complexity and depth to the game. But I am confident this will be one we’ll both enjoy because we like games with conflict and where you need to use tactical maneuvering to be victorious. If you are just exploring wargames, this might not be the right purchase (yet), but if you’ve got a good command of consulting tables and modifiers, this game is definitely worth checking out.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

Board Game Lists · First Impressions

New-to-Me First Impressions 9/21/17-10/15/17

I began this last month and really enjoyed going through and providing these impressions. The thought was to give some coverage to those games that I may not play enough times to review, or which may never quite make it to a review due to the number of games played and the time it takes to review a game. So here are some brief first impressions of games I recently got my first plays with. I’m also including a “Replay rating” for each game on a scale of 1-10. 1 would be “I’d rather sit out and watch others play games than play this again” and 10 being “Save me a seat, I’d gladly play this any time!”

And, as a special bonus, when you see the meeple below that means the next thoughts are from my lovely wife on those games!

Night of Man – meeple This game seemed simple from my one play of it but has potential to get harder. The board art was boring though, and I disliked how some cards didn’t apply with the scenario we were doing.

Honshu – meeple Hate the name, but it was a fun filler game and I liked the building aspect with the card overlay.

Harbour – Tried it with two players and discovered a few things I had played incorrectly solo. This game became much better as a result, and we played it a lot over two days. Enjoyable and compact worker placement game. (7)

meeple I was so frustrated with this game at first because my logical brain didn’t like the buying process. Once we realized my husband was teaching it wrong it became a lot of fun and I wanted to keep playing.

Zero – A simple filler, with potential for fun. Probably much better at a higher player count. A strong starting hand can really decide this game early on. (4)

meeple Easy. Resembles Uno, only harder. Good filler game.

Valeria: Card Kingdoms – Great artwork, interesting concept behind the game. Wasn’t a huge fan of my solo play but could see this being great with more players and as a sort of gateway game for newer gamers. Better roll-for-resource system than Catan. (6)

Android: Netrunner – An LCG getting a reboot in the very near future. Really enjoyed the asymmetry between the two sides, and can’t wait to try playing as the Corp as well as exploring each of the different Runner and Corp factions. This killed the Destiny bug for me, being a deckbuilder where gaining the card pool isn’t up to luck. (10)

Aeon’s End – One of the better cooperative games I’ve played. Can be crushingly tough, but also can be relatively easy depending on card draws. Really like the deckbuilding aspect and the no-shuffle concept. Would gladly play again but may not want to own. (8)

meeple Wasn’t bad for a cooperative game. Not really my style of game but it helped that I could decide on my actions with my cards instead of someone tellimg me what to do.

Seven Dragons – This game was made by the creators of Fluxx? A very simple card-laying game with a few curveballs thrown in for good measure. A filler I’d definitely play again. (5)

meeple Easy filler. Wish the art was brighter colors. Needs more manipulating cards.

Custom Heroes – My wife isn’t a fan of trick-taking games and it has never been a big thing for me. That said, this is easily one of the better trick-taking games I’ve played, and I enjoyed the card crafting mechanism in this one. It isn’t quite as good as Mystic Vale, but this game brings some nice effects with that system. (6)

meeple Disliked at first because I didn’t understanding it until most of the way through and was playing with someone who is great at trick-taking games (**Note from husband: she is not referring to me, but a friend who was playing with us. He’s really, REALLY good at these games)

Neverland’s Legacy – I expected this to be the game in the Lynnvander/Jasco’s Legacy series that I didn’t enjoy. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised at the difficulty presented along the way as well as the system itself in the game. Each of the three plays very different from the others, in spite of having some shared mechanics and similar component design. Probably still likely to be ranked third of the three games, but not because it was a bad game. (8)

Lignum – Oh man, this game is so intense. I’ve played it a few times and every time I can’t wait to get it back to the table. I’ve played a lot of worker placement-style games in the last year because it is my wife’s favorite mechanic. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of them. And now I think I have finally found my favorite one. (10)

meeple Not my favorite worker placement but a lot of fun. I thought the game would be lame because its just about trees, but the challenge to it kept me wanting more. The thing I do not like is how the process of drying lumber takes too long to be worth it unless you have a really good card.

Zoo Ball – This was a review game that showed up without solicitation, which meant it stayed really low on the radar to try it. I had a buddy stop by for a short while and pulled this out to try. We both thought this would be a really fun one to pull out at 2 in the morning, after a long night of having fun doing or playing other things. And let me tell you, it is a lot harder trying to position these things via flicking than you’d expect. (6)

Portals and Prophets – A biblical-themed game that was fairly light. It will be a perfect gateway game, as well as the type of game you can play when you want to have something to do while maintaining conversation. It won’t tax you mentally, for the most part, but there is enough strategy here to make it a game worth playing and owning. I really enjoyed the artwork, Scripture on the cards, and seeing the various events as they flipped out through the deck. Shouldn’t be any issues getting this one back to the table. (8)

meeple I did not like how the board looked and some of the art, but I loved the concept of the game.

Sellswords: Olympus – For what this game is, it really succeeds. It plays fast (15-20 minutes), presents some interesting decisions, and has some nice powers on the cards. I like that you will always end up building a 5×5 grid with these, and the scoring on this is interesting. (7)

Guilds of London – My enjoyment of this game was higher than my wife, mostly due to having a little familiarity with the icons and symbols from reading rules, etc. I thought this was a fun one, and next time I will probably be a little more cutthroat in my choice of actions and the usage of those Neutral guys. (8)

meeple I hate the symbols and having to refer to the reference sheet. Would have preferred the text on the cards.

Jaipur – With all the praise I have heard over the past year for Jaipur, I was very disappointed. This was a fine game, one I’d gladly play again, but I can find well over a dozen games already in my collection that I find to be as good or better with 2 players only. I did, however, find the use of the camels to be an interesting mechanism. (7)

meeple This game bored me just because it was too easy. Just matching colors.

Kingdom Builder: Marshlands Expansion – Okay, so I saw only one new board/power for the game. But, this expansion feels like it really transforms the game. It adds a new terrain type, which also means you remove one of the other five from the game. Its power tiles give you an ultra-power if you manage to collect them both. And palaces score points only for the player with the most settlements around it. The game is still the Kingdom Builder I know and love, but this seems like it would really add variety and depth to the game. (9)

Century: Golem Edition – Everything I had grown to enjoy about the Century: Spice Road game but with better artwork and cooler components. This is definitely the version we must get, as I really enjoyed those chunky gems. I find that I do enjoy this game a lot, as there is some serious engine-building that goes into the game along with hand and resource management. Unlike Splendor, my play isn’t restrained by what my opponents do or take. (8)

meeple Loved the art and fantasy theme. So much better than the original because of the art. I wish the gems were not so chunky.

Dragon Run – An interesting filler. Even though everything in that game went against me, being the ONLY one to take damage (and die) and the ONLY one who had to discard down to four treasure cards (twice!), I still enjoyed it. Next time, I will be the Warrior and do battle with that Dragon…although it was fun being the Scout. (6)

meeple It is a fun filler. Perfect for older kids.

Longhorn – Variety seems to be the name of this game, which is a good thing. There are some interesting concepts in this simple 2-player game, and that makes it one I’d gladly try again. The decreasing value of the cattle as you take them makes this one have a delightful puzzle. (7)

Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City – Oh how I dislike the roll-for-resources mechanic when it is in its purest form. What was an otherwise fine, if light, game was soured by the inability to roll what I needed. Or, rather, to avoid rolling the numbers that gave me absolutely nothing of value. (4)

The Blood of an Englishman – Wow, this one surprised me. I love trying new 2-player only games. I love asymmetrical play. This takes a really simple concept and executes and interesting and elegant design. I’d really love to teach this one to my wife. It might not be one we add to our collection, but it might be one we play to kill time between games at our local FLGS during game days. (9)

Board Gaming · Review for One

Review for One – Chrononauts

Thank you for checking review #32 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this game in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Chrononauts

Chrononauts is a game designed by Andrew Looney and is published by Looney Labs. The box states that it can play 1-6 players and has a 30 minute play time.

In Chrononauts, each player becomes a time traveler, with a unique identity and a secret mission. During the game, players travel backwards and forwards through history, doing all those things people have always dreamed of using a time machine to do: Visiting the great moments of the past, peeking into the future, collecting up impossible artifacts and priceless works of art (at the moment just before history records their destruction), coming to grips with the paradoxes of time travel, and of course, changing pivotal events and altering the course of history itself. How would the timeline be different if Lincoln and JFK had not been assassinated? And is that the version of reality that you came from originally… the one you must return to in order to win? It’s all packed into a fast and easy Fluxx-style card game that will take you to the beginning of time and back again.

Setup and gameplay for 1 Player

The game’s TimeLine remains the same, with four rows of eight cards being dealt out into chronological order. The big change is that you do not use any Artifacts, Gadgets, Actions, Timewarps, or Missions in the solo game. That equates to about half of the cards in the box being unused. Shuffle the ID cards and deal out eight of them – these form your objective in trying to get all eight of the travelers to their home. Shuffle the remaining cards to form your play deck, which will be Patches and Inverters. The Inverters are used to change history by flipping one of the 13 “Linchpin” events to its alternate side. This will cause a ripple effect, having 1-5 other cards in the timeline potentially flip to their other side as well. When those are flipped, they form Paradoxes, which need to be Patched into an alternate history.

Each traveler has three years shown on their timeline: one being black (indicating that year needs to be unflipped) and two red (indicating those years need to first be flipped to their Paradox side and then Patched over with the appropriate Patch). There are going to be IDs that share some of these years, you’ll find Patches not needed on any of your cards, and there may also be the unfortunate situation where you have a card needing a specific year to be black and another to be red…meaning you’ll either need to get the one in black completed first or else you’ll have to find a way to reverse history back on the red after that one is completed.

The game ends when you either get all eight travelers home or when you are out of cards that can be played. You get one run through the deck, which means you’ll see every Patch you need at some point but you may not see them when you need them.

My Thoughts

 The time it takes to set this up, play it, and tear it back down is relatively small. I can usually do that all in under half an hour, especially since I already have the cards pre-sorted in the box. The cards used for the solo game fit perfectly in one half of the box. When considering solo games, time is often an obstacle that can prevent a game from hitting the table. That isn’t the case with this one.

 What seems like a simple game is really a challenge. Even when you feel like you’re doing really well and setting it all up perfectly, that deck runs out several rounds before you want it to. That one patch you need is too far down, or the Inverter you have to have isn’t coming up. The game forces you to make and act upon decisions without perfect information, but you are still the one making those decisions. Every once in a while it’ll make that decision for you, as some of those Inverters are very specific in usage, but most of the time you’ll feel like you are in control.

 Tying in with that above point, this game never feels like you lose because of luck. Yes, it is involved like any game where you draw from a shuffled deck of cards. And yes, there are times where a really bad hand early could compound into a bad situation. But most of the time you are able to make decisions based on what you’ve seen and what you need to accomplish. You won’t know what is coming out next, but you can set yourself up or, at the least, make moves that will interfere the least with what you need to accomplish. Every time I’ve gotten into that no-win situation, I’ve been able to reflect on a card usage a few turns back and see how a different choice there could have enabled me to take advantage of the current situation.

 The Travelers are all unique and contain a fun “backstory” on each card. This is fun to read and helps them to all feel different as well as provide explanations as to why their timeline requires the sequence of events listed on their card. This is a small and unnecessary touch, but an important once that is fun at least the first time you encounter each card.

 Seeing some of the events that happen as the result of a changed Linchpin is another fun thing. This game is not only educational in seeing the standard timeline and learning when those events happened, but it could provide some interesting contemplation on whether or not a change in event X would realistically have lead to Y happening.

 The cards themselves are really uninteresting visually. Yes, there are small graphics on there and the colors to help indicate things, but this won’t wow anyone while it is on the table. The good thing, though, is that the coloring of things does make sense and help you to see what you need. But man, this one won’t win any contests for prettiest game.

 I’m not going to call this a fiddly game by any means, but there is a lot of flipping and unflipping of cards as you play. If this is something that bothers you, then buyer beware. The worst is when you get that card that just won’t detach itself from the table no matter how hard you try. Yeah, it’ll probably happen at some point with as much flipping as you’ll be doing.

 I really like the solo game as it stands. I’m not saying anything about it needs to change. But there is a part of me that is sad using just half of what comes in that box for the solo play. It is like I’m only playing half a game, which I suppose is true in a sense. The multiplayer game is similar in some ways, but wildly different in other ways compared to the solo game.

 This isn’t a critique of the game itself, but a personal preference. I think American history is dull. I have no interest in it, which is why I never could be a serious wargamer. I’d have no interest in 90% of the products out there. There is so much material out there that Looney Labs could tap into. I know I wouldn’t be the only one signing up for a European history version. Or even by eras, like Ancient history and a Medieval history. There is so much out there, I’d love to see them explore something different.

Final Verdict 

The solo version of this game is the least Fluxx-like experience I have ever had from a Looney Labs game, and that is a positive endorsement. Fluxx has one of those divisive reputations in the hobby, much like Munchkin, where some gamers really hate the game while others enjoy it either with the right group or the right circumstances. I tend to enjoy the occasional Fluxx game, but it certainly isn’t a game I’d want to go to a game day to play.

The solo game, instead, offers a tricky puzzle. You get one run through the deck and you don’t know what cards will appear at which points in time. Yet there will come a time when you need to start making decisions because you’ve got Patches but none of them enough to get a Traveler home by themselves. Don’t be like me and have a hand of five Patches you need to win the game and have to discard one because you can’t play any cards. I’ve gotten as few as four and as many as seven Travelers home, but the victory has so far eluded me. Which is something I really respect about the game – it presents a great challenge without feeling swingy and luck-driven like a Fluxx game. Even when you get into that situation where you have to toss a card you need, you can trace your steps back a few turns and realize what you could have done to prevent that situation. Usually because you were either playing too conservative and holding those cards, or being aggressive and trying to set up for a different Traveler without leaving any method to reverse things back.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into my first game of Chrononauts, but I had heard it was a worthwhile solo game. It took about half of that first game to really grasp how the mechanics all worked together, but once that happened the game appealed to me. It has stood up over multiple attempts and left me wanting to reset and try again every time.

I don’t know if they plan to do anything more with this game system, but I would love to see them explore further back in the world history. A medieval-centered version would be an insta-buy for me if it maintained the solo play. I wanted this game to feel like Doctor Who, and it does accomplish that to an extent. With their upcoming Doctor Who Fluxx, maybe they can get a chance to revisit this and bring Doctor Who Chrononauts to us all. That would be the other insta-buy for me.

But as it stands, if you are looking for a small, portable, card-driven solo game that will offer a fast puzzle without an insane amount of shuffling, this one will deliver. You need some table space for the TimeLine, but barring that one factor this would be a great on-the-go solo game. It would also be great to have for when you only have 20-30 minutes and want to get a solo game in. If you are a solo gamer, I would definitely recommend this one. It isn’t my favorite solo game, but it is strong enough to earn a spot in my collection even if it never gets played at a higher player count.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

Uncategorized · Board Gaming · Review for Two

Review for Two – Unearth

Thank you for checking review #31 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this game in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Unearth

Unearth is a game designed by Jason Harner and Matthew Ransom and is published by Brotherwise Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 30-60 minute play time.

Long ago, your ancestors built great cities across the world. Now your tribe must explore forests, deserts, islands, mountains, and caverns to find these lost cities. Claim the ruins, build places of power, and restore the glory of a bygone age.

Unearth is a bend-your-luck game of dice placement and set collection. Designed by Jason Harner and Matthew Ransom, it plays in under an hour with 2-4 players. Each player leads a tribe of Delvers, represented by five dice (3 six-sided, 1 four-sided, and 1 eight-sided). Players take turns rolling and placing dice in an attempt to claim Ruins.

The game’s elegant core mechanic is accessible to players of all skill levels. High rolls help players claim Ruins, while low rolls help players collect Stones. This opens two paths to victory: claiming sets of Ruins or using Stones to build Wonders. Delver cards help you affect your dice rolls or dice in play, and Wonders can grant abilities that impact the late game.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

The game sets up in a very similar manner to a game with more players, with three exceptions: ten cards are removed from the Ruins deck instead of five, there are four Wonder cards available (2 per player +2), and only four Ruins cards are revealed at a time instead of five.

The game plays simply. A player’s turn has two actions, one optional and the other mandatory. First, a player may play any number of Delver cards, which can do things such as change the value of dice rolls, modify dice values on current cards, reroll dice showing a specific value, and more. Then, a player must roll one of their five dice onto a Ruins card. They announce before the roll (unless they play a Delver card stating otherwise) what card they are rolling onto and place the rolled die onto that card. If the value on the die is 3 or lower, they take a stone off that card (or, if the card has no stones, a random one from the stone bag). Then, they check to see if the value of all dice on that card is greater than or equal to the “Breaking Point” on that card.

Once a card breaks, the player with the highest-valued die gets the card and all other players draw a delver card for every die they had on that card. Ties on dice are broken by taking the highest-sided die with that value, and the next tiebreaker would be to look at each of those players’ second-highest valued die. If there is an unbreakable tie, both players draw delver cards and the Ruins card is discarded.

Stones collected are placed in front of a player, and you earn a Wonder by creating a circle of stones with a space in the center (it’ll take 6 stones to accomplish this). Some Wonders require certain combinations of colored stones, and the best Wonders need all six to be the same color. Play continues until the Ruins have all been explored, including whatever appears for the End of Age card that is at the bottom of the Ruins deck.

Points are scored for each Ruins colored card (having 3 reds are worth a lot more than 2 reds, for example), having a set of each colored Ruin card, for Wonders built, and for having 3 or more Wonders built. The player with the highest score wins.

My Thoughts 

 This game looks great on the table. The dice aren’t special, but they are colorful. The stones, apart from the blacks, are vibrant in color as well and have great design in them. This is the kind of game that people will stop to look at as they pass by, because it really catches the eye.

 I really like that you are rewarded both for high and for low rolls in this game. High rolls help earn the Ruins cards, which are usually the primary source of points in a game. Low rolls get you stones, which can be a viable path to winning provided you can get Greater Wonders or special ones worth a point per stone of a certain color. Yes, the high rolls are usually preferred but it is nice that a low-roller can still feel competitive in this game.

 Tying in with the dice rolling would be those Delver cards. Each player has some to start, and they serve as an excellent catch-up mechanic because you get one for each die on a card that you didn’t win. These allow you to manipulate and reroll dice in some fashion, making your rolls more (or less) effective as needed or affecting what your opponent has out there. We’ve found this helps to keep scores close by the end of the game, as one player is able to use these to close that gap in points.

 How many board games do you see using d8 and d4 in there? Not that many, which is yet another way that this game does something unique to make it stand out. Everyone is used to chucking those six-sided dice for games, but there is something fun about tossing a d8 and satisfying about watching that d4 drop. Having one of each also gives you a way to try and shoot to break a Ruins card or to be nearly-guaranteed to earn a stone.

 I really love building with those stones. The spatial element takes this game and adds a new layer to it. And how you are building with those stones will determine the points potential coming from your wonder. Do you try and get all six of the same color for the high-scoring Greater Wonders? Do you try and make the right combination for one of the four specials? Or do you just nab Lesser Wonders and use those to supplement your points? This aspect takes what would be a fine game and makes it even better.

 Some of the wonders that get drawn aren’t useful over the course of a game. Most of the games we played there were 1-2 that might get snagged, but for the most part the focus goes on either Greater or Lesser Wonders. There are some that are really good, while others just don’t appear to be worth the effort it would take to earn them.

 I felt the same about the End of Age cards. Some are great, making you have to roll a ton of dice to earn that card and get a big batch of points. But nothing is worse than needing 1-2 stones and seeing the +1 to all die rolls card come out. Some of them are going to be cards you enjoy seeing come out to mark the end of the game. Others will leave you disappointed. I do appreciate the variety, though, rather than always having the same card appear at the end.

 Regardless of the Delver cards and the stones, this game is still a dice-rolling game at heart. That means, in spite of the ways you can manipulate things or get rewarded for low rolls, this game can still get swingy. The last game we played, I took the first 4 or 5 Ruins cards because she wasn’t able to roll anything above a 3, no matter which die she used. She wasn’t enjoying that experience, which is something you always risk encountering in a game where you roll dice for results. So, in spite of the great mechanics in there to supplement the dice, this is still a game that dice-haters might not enjoy.

 Tying in with the above, there are far too many moments in the game where it feels like luck is as important, if not moreso, than skill. Perhaps that might change if you could always roll first and then place the die, allowing you to adapt your decision based on what is rolled. But having to choose before rolling makes the luck factor increase. Most frequently the decision of which card to roll on it based on needing a certain stone color or that Ruins color to add to your set, not based on what else is actually out there for possibilities.

Final Verdict 

This game is one of those games I hadn’t expected my wife to enjoy. After all, the core of the game involves rolling dice, something she isn’t a big fan of. Her initial reaction, upon seeing dice, was to groan. Her first play was peppered with complaints about rolling the dice. But that ended by the time that first game finished. Much like Castles of Burgundy, another dice-rolling game she likes, there are plenty of ways to manipulate and modify dice rolls. There are even rewards for rolling low (and many times when you’re just as happy to roll a 3 as you would have been with a 6).

So in the realm of dice games, this one gets a seal of approval through the various methods in which you are rewarded for both high and low rolls, as well as the Delver cards and how those are distributed in a catch-up mechanism. The removal of cards from the Ruins deck makes it so you can’t be sure what quantity of each color you might see, especially in a 2-player game. That can make some colors really valuable if there are a lot of them to collect, while others become worth less since they are scarce. The stones and the wonders provides a nice building aspect to the game that complements the entire system well.

The biggest problem with this game is that it is just another really solid game amidst a plethora of other solid games. For those who love rolling dice, this is going to be a must-have. It is easy to teach, quick enough to play, and something that will easily find its way to the table time and again. Yet there is nothing remarkable about the game to set it apart from some of the other games that fill the same time frame.

This is not a knock on the game in any way, as we truly enjoyed every play of the game, but for our tastes this one isn’t likely to see a lot of replay. That is no fault of the game itself, but rather a fault of the overabundance of good games out there. Even though my wife doesn’t mind the dice so much in this one, I know she’d prefer a game that isn’t all about rolling dice. And if I’m going to pick a game she’s playing just because I want to play it, I’d likely pick something a little heavier on the weight scale.

Would I recommend Unearth? Absolutely, especially if you enjoy rolling dice. It is a very well-crafted game that features a nice and balanced system. Like any dice game, there will be times when someone rolls really hot and claims a ton of Ruins. That can’t be completely avoided, no matter how many Delver cards you possess. This is a game even the dice-averse can play and enjoy, although they may not want to play it often. It is a great game that everyone should at least seek out a chance to play it, because this game delivers.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

Board Gaming · Review for Two

Review for Two – Crazier Eights: Avalon

Thank you for checking review #30 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this game in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Crazier Eights: Avalon

Crazier Eights: Avalon is a game designed by James Wallace Gray and is self-published. The box states that it can play 2-3 players and has a 10-20 minute play time.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

This game sets up in a simple fashion: you shuffle the cards, flip the top card to start the discard pile, and then deal 7 cards to each player. On your turn a player draws a card and then is able to play a card and to discard a card, in either order. Played cards are either one-time effects (which go to the bottom of the discard pile after use) or they are Assets, which stay in play in front of that player (they have ongoing effects). Discarding a card requires the card to either match the color or number of the card on top of the discard pile.

Play continues around the table until one person has depleted their hand of cards.

My Thoughts

I’m a sucker for anything Arthurian, so that immediately drew me in. I really enjoyed the artwork and the names of some of the cards. While there were generic names for a few things (which do fit in thematically), there were also some recognizable characters and places from the Arthurian lore. Any fan of King Arthur will enjoy this aspect of the game, although the artwork can be enjoyed by those who know nothing of King Arthur.

The game is very simple to teach, with a rules explanation taking 60 seconds. This allows you to grab new players into a game without a long, lengthy rules overhead. All exceptions are found on the cards themselves, and those are relatively straightforward in what they allow you to do. A player who has not played Crazy Eights is not at a disadvantage.

I am finding there is a part of me that can appreciate smaller card games like this one and The Fox in the Forest, which take a deck of cards and allows you to do something simple, yet more complex than what you’d get with the standard deck of cards. The essence is simple: draw a card, play a card, discard a card. But the text on the cards, with each one being different in some way, is what elevates this above the simplicity of a card game.

This game has the feel of a Fluxx game combined with a card game, but it is far less chaotic than Fluxx. The goal remains the same throughout, and there is a clear path to get there. There is some randomness in there, but it never feels like you’re winning or losing due to blind luck (which is something I’ve definitely felt while playing a Fluxx game).

While I received a prototype, so final quality may vary, the cards were noticeable getting some wear around the edges after only a few plays. This is something that many gamers are going to want to sleeve to preserve the quality, but I don’t think the box it comes in will hold the sleeved cards. Both of those could easily be fixed by the time this releases.

This game plays just fine as it stands, coming with numbers 11-15 and some cards that have multi-colors without numbers. It really does function as a stand-alone game. However, it always felt like it was an inferior experience to what you’d get with the first set of cards (Crazier Eights: Camelot), which I assume has cards 1-10 and is a larger set of cards. This is 33 cards, there are no wild cards to plan around, and so it just feels like you aren’t getting the full experience. Probably because of the lack of numbers and wilds. The multi-colors are great for discarding, but at the same time it makes this feel too easy since you can match color or number. Also, the player reference cards with the rules show cards from the first set and talks about eights, creating the potential for confusion. So yes, this set is all you’d need to be able to play the game and still enjoy it, but if you have the chance I’d recommend getting both Camelot and Avalon and combining the two into one larger experience.

If you’re looking for a game that does something new or groundbreaking, this isn’t it. This is a great retheming and addition to a traditional game, but it won’t provide an experience that isn’t similar to other games (Crazy Eights, Fluxx, Uno, and more). It doesn’t necessarily need to, as this game is fun the way it is, but not everyone will want a game that is similar to something they already have.

The cards are all unique in the text on there, but that text doesn’t really tie in with the character or location named on the card. This isn’t a deal breaker in any way, but if you are looking for thematic ties between the cards and what they do, you really have to stretch your imagination to make things fit.

Final Verdict

Overall, this game fits nicely in a niche category of games: small, portable, fast, easy games with a small footprint. These games are valuable to have in a collection, both because they are great for taking places (such as a restaurant)and perfect to play in those windows of time when you might only have 10-15 minutes to spare. There are many games that can’t even be set up in that amount of time, much less played to completion. And so that is an area where this game shines.

It shares striking similarities with two games in particular, merging the traits from two of them while discarding the random nature of one: Crazy Eights and Fluxx. This makes it a game I’d rather play over either of those, as it offers more than the deck of cards and a bit more stability to win conditions over Fluxx. This isn’t a game I’d pull out on a regular basis, but neither is Fluxx and so it fills that niche nicely in my collection.

If this game didn’t have the Arthurian theme, it probably wouldn’t appeal to me as much. There is not a lot to set this apart from other games, and it doesn’t do anything particularly well or innovative. It is a nice game that doesn’t take long to play and is easy to teach. This is a game I can have my wife toss in her purse when we leave the house, something to play at family get-togethers with gamers of all types, and a game that would function as a filler during a game day. There are many games to choose from which could fill those same needs, making it hard to advocate this over any of those others.

However, if you are a fan of the original Crazy Eights or of King Arthur, this would definitely be worth considering. If the price aligns with the previous set, it’d be an inexpensive addition to your collection. It definitely provides a fun experience while playing it, so long as you don’t mind games where you need to read the card’s text in order to see what it can do. If you wanted to like Fluxx, but hated the random changes it enforced, then you might really enjoy this game.


You may pre-order Crazier Eights: Avalon and find detailed rules and explanations at

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

Board Gaming · On the Table · Gaming Recap

September 2017 Gaming Recap

Over on BGG I provide a more detailed list of what games we play each month, who won/lost those games, and a full list of the games played in 2017 under three categories:

Games Played as a Couple

Games Played Solo

Games Played in a Group

For this blog, I want to approach my monthly recap posts a little different, and I will link to the BGG post at the bottom in case you want to see the more detailed list of data. I’ll still give the overall records, but my focus here will be to select a game that fits under each of several categories.

2-Player Gaming:

September Couples’ Record:
David – 18/35, 51.43%
Nicole – 15/35, 42.86%
19 Unique Games

2017 Couples Record:
David – 111/226 (49.12%)
Nicole – 115/226 (50.88%)
69 Unique Games (+12)

Most Played 2-Player Game: Harbour – This game went from being one she didn’t enjoy and turned into a game we played repeatedly while borrowing it. Things clicked when I caught one rule I had misinterpreted, and that made all the difference. This is a nice, light worker placement game in a small box. This has me excited to try out the “sequel” to this game, Harvest. I imagine we might want to get one of those games to have a fast and portable worker placement game.
Favorite 2-Player Experience & Best New-to-Us 2-Player Experience: Century: Spice Road – Okay, this one is for my wife. I’d have chosen something else here, but I’m only one half of the gaming couple here. She really liked this game from the first play, and as of last night we’re borrowing this one from a friend. I have a feeling I’m destined for about a dozen plays of this one before that goes back, which is fine by me. I don’t dislike this game in the same way I’ve come to with Splendor.
Most Surprising 2-Player Experience: Aeon’s End – This one was surprising simply because it was a cooperative game that my wife expressed she enjoyed playing it. I had actually played at a game day, the next day she had a co-worker teach it to her and she asked me about the game afterwards. To find out she liked it enough to want to borrow it for a play or two was a huge shock for me. Turns out this one is a pretty fun co-op, even though we’ve won 3 out of the 4 games we’ve played collectively.
Next Unplayed 2-Player Game to be Played: Lignum – Not only was this slotted here yesterday, we actually played it last night so there won’t be a repeat of this appearing. Why was it here? Because it promises to be a brain-burner much like Haspelknecht turned out to be for us. Capstone Games continues to hit it out of the park with the games they produce.

Solo Gaming:

September Solo Record: 7/13, 53.85%
8 Unique Games

2017 Solo Record: 38/76 (50%)
28 Unique Games (+4)

Most Played Solo Game & Favorite Solo Experience: Viticulture: Essential Edition – I’m working my way through the solo campaign on this one and having a blast with the added challenge each step brings. So far I’ve only lost once, but don’t let that fool you. These wins have all been where luck falls my way toward the end, allowing me to get that perfect card to just edge past 20 points. Really enjoying this solo play.
Best New-to-Me Solo Experience: Neverland’s Legacy – I shouldn’t be surprised that Lynnvander/Jasco delivered on yet another fun solo experience. I love Albion’s Legacy. I really enjoyed the first play of Sherwood’s Legacy a month or two ago. And then I tried the Peter Pan game and had a blast. It surprised me, as this was the one I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic to try. But I know this is the one my wife was most interested in, and I thought it would be a good idea to get a solo play in so I could play it with her. All signs point to us having fun when we try this one together in October.
Most Surprising Solo Game: Aeon’s End – And here is where the game appears again but for a different reason: I won my only solo play. And it was a true solo play, using one character against the Carapace Queen. Sure, it was a close one. Yes, I might have been walloped by any other boss in there since this one didn’t really do damage often. But I was a little disappointed that I won that first solo try.
Next Unplayed Solo Game to be Played: Star Realms – One of my favorite games from last Christmas was Star Realms. I enjoy the game a lot, and on occasion also like to play the app version. But there is something I really cherish about setting up the physical game and playing it. The time has come to pick up the Gambit set expansion for the game so I can play it solo. Something tells me I’ll enjoy it a lot.

Group Gaming:

September Group Games:
18 Unique Games

2017 Group games:
83 Unique Games (+13)

Most Played Group Game: Star Wars: Destiny – Still no surprise that this game reigns at the top of this yet again. However, its time may be nearing the end, as I have recently soured on the collectable aspect of the game. My hope is that this next game takes over as my most-played game each month.
Favorite Group Experience: 
Android: Netrunner – Oh man, the potential for this one is unlimited. It takes everything I enjoyed about Destiny (constructing a deck, head-to-head matchup, a growing card base) and removes the two things I disliked (random booster packs and dice rolling). This one has a poker-like bluffing aspect that at least one of my friends is sure to really like. This might be something I try to teach my wife and all of my gaming friends to see who might want to get together and play this on a semi-regular basis.
Best New-to-Me Group Experience: Seasons – These last three were hard to pick from, but I thought I shouldn’t just repeat games since I had so many. Therefore Seasons appears here. I loved the drafting at the start and the choice to use three in each year. I enjoyed the dice drafting for resources, etc. This is a simple game to explain, yet it would take a lot of plays to really master based on the card drafting. Since you’ll get 9-12 cards in a game to see and/or play, this one would have a ton of replay value.
Most Surprising Group Game: Whistle Stop – I like Ticket to Ride well enough, but it no longer satisfies the gamer inside of me. I wanted to find a more competitive train game, and this might be the next step up. I don’t think my wife has any interest in learning a massive 18XX game anytime soon, but this has enough interesting and new mechanics that I could see her loving this one a lot.
Group Game I Want to Play Most: Nations – I loved Civilization, both the PC game and the FFG version of the board game. My wife, on the other hand, wasn’t a big fan of the board game. This is one I am pretty sure she’d like, as it combines a bit of worker placement with some card selection, adding in a few elements of building your civilization while trying to mitigate potential negative effects. I really enjoyed the first play, and I know the second try will go much better in terms of scoring.

Be sure to check out the full slate of games played over at the BGG Blog by following this link:

Finally, an update on my Quest for Designers/Publishers. I’m sitting at 7/129 games played. If I had to throw them in an order of favorite to least-favorite, it would look something like this:

Argent: The Consortium
Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
Viticulture: Essential Edition
Eight Minute Empire: Legends
Caverna: Cave vs Cave

But, really, there are no bad games on this list. I’ll be updating this each month’s end as well, and maybe these rankings will fluctuate as well!