Review for Two · Two-Player Only

Review for Two – Imhotep: The Duel

A quick note: I am collected data from folks on their top games to play with 2-players. Not necessarily 2-player only games! Essentially, send me a message with up to your Top 20 games, ranked in order, and I’ll enter them into my spreadsheet. I am collecting data on this until 12/14/2019, and shortly after that I will begin unveiling the results. Currently I have nearly 50 lists, and the more we can collect the more accurate we can represent the People’s Choice Top 100 Games for Two. You can find more details here: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/33412597

Thank you for checking review #119 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.

**Note: The publisher provided a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. All opinions remain my own.

An overview of Imhotep: The Duel

Imhotep: The Duel is a board game designed by Phil Walker-Harding that is published by Kosmos Games. The box state it plays 2 players and has a playtime of 30 minutes.

The competition of the builders continues in Imhotep: The Duel!

In this game, players take on the roles of Nefertiti and Akhenaten, one of Egypt’s most famous royal couples. Game pieces must be cleverly placed so that players can unload the most valuable tiles from the six boats. While this is happening, each player builds their own four monuments in order to gain as many fame points as possible.

My Thoughts

 The 3×3 grid may be reminiscent of tic-tac-toe, but it is used in such a clever way that I think 3×3 turns out to be the perfect size for what they are trying to accomplish here. Because you each have four workers, it will never be completely full. And most of the time you won’t even have all four workers out at once, since there is a constant ebb and flow of people on the board (more on that next). I like a nice, tight space where you can continuously have your best plans thwarted in clever ways by your opponent.

 The game is simple, since you can either place a worker onto a space, or unload a boat (technically the blue action tokens provide a third option, usually some enhanced version of the two core actions). And each space on the grid connects with two of the six boats out there, meaning your worker is never fully locked in on which boat they help unload – only which tile position on said boats. Unloading is restricted only by the need for at least two workers to be in that row/column for the boat – but you also don’t need any of the workers to be yours in order to trigger said unload action. So this opens up the tricky play opportunities to try and slow down, or deny, your opponent the tiles they are working hard to set themselves up to gain. Since those workers will come off the board and need to be replaced, any time you force them into the unload they don’t want to take, you are slowing them down. And if you have at least one worker out in that area, you’re gaining something in return each time. Will they likely replace the key worker on the spot they really need for their next turn? Probably. But it might open up one of the spaces you needed also, making it totally worth doing.

 The blue action tiles are the only tiles which do not go onto one of your four boards. However, they are arguably the most important tiles to target because they allow you to either break the rules (such as unloading a tile off any boat, or swapping the position of two tiles on a boat) or to take more efficient actions (such as placing two workers in one action, or unloading two different boats). Depending on when these tiles come out, they can either be used tactically to gain a strong advantage during a key sequence of turns, or they can be stockpiled for a point each at the end of the game.

 Apart from those action tiles, there are four other types of tiles that all are sought after for different scoring aspects. Not only do they differ by type, but the side of each board you use changes how they are scored. Because there are a limited number of each of these tiles, and for the most part they are open information on what a player has gained, you can get a sense of what you and your opponent really needs and plan accordingly. This allows you to not only optimize taking what you need, but also potentially taking tiles you don’t need in order to deny them to your opponent – or making sure a boat unloads to discard a tile they need.

 If you are against games with negative player interaction, this game might have enough potential take-that opportunities to sour the experience for you. Granted, every step of it is based on choices you are making, but if one player is being cutthroat in their play it can feel bad for the other player. However, that is a player choice, not the fault of the game. It allows you to be as gentle, or as ruthless, as you would like. Which means this game should cater strongly to most gaming pairs. Just know what to expect based on the player sitting across from you.

 I do wish that some of the tiles were removed at random (apart from the three placed on the dock space, which may or may not come out). Some players prefer perfect information, knowing that X number of Y tiles will come out over the course of the game and can plan accordingly with their strategy. I, on the other hand, like when at least a small amount of information is imperfect (such as in Hanamikoji) and you must carefully try to adapt your plans as things are revealed. Personal preference here, and it doesn’t stop me from absolutely loving this game when it hits the table.

Final Thoughts

Imhotep: The Duel may or may not be like its predecessor – I cannot tell you how closely the two games align with each other. However, I can speak about the experience that came from this 2-player game and, quite frankly, it is really fun. I wasn’t sold, when reading the instructions, about the 3×3 grid for worker placement and everything but it all turns out to be a fine-tuned system with far more player interaction opportunities than I would have believed. With some clever timing, you can very much interfere with an opponents’ plans before they come to fruition, setting them back a turn or two on something they were working toward. Of course, it isn’t a forced thing and you can play and enjoy this completely as a pair of carebears, but for those who like a little meanness and the ability to interfere with an opponents’ plan…this will be a pleasant surprise.

The game moves along at a quick pace. With a small supply of workers and two primary choices of actions, it is bound to be a punchy pacing for the game. Yet within the simple mechanical confines there are riches of decisions to be made. Like the aforementioned aspect where you can play mean or nice, you can also base your decisions around what your own plans are, or play based upon what you see your opponent doing and try to capitalize on their action selections. After all, any time they can select an unload action where you have at least one worker, you put yourself a little further “ahead” – which might only be the appearance of advancement, but it is still a rewarding feeling to get something from their turns.

The real star of the show comes from the multiple tile types and how they are all used in different ways along your “player board” area. With four different sets to collect, each interacting in different ways, makes this a really interesting puzzle of figuring out how to value the tiles available – and how to value what your opponent is trying to gain. And with an A side and a B side to each of the four boards, there is a really drastic change in approach on some of these when you change sides. Suddenly what you used as a strategy in the first game might be a suboptimal approach in the second game because it scores very differently now. And I absolutely love that aspect.

This game is exactly what I look for in a dedicated 2-player title: quick setup/teardown, high replay value, “thinky filler” status, and a playtime that clocks in at around 30-40 minutes which enables multiple plays in one evening if desired. Imhotep: The Duel is an excellent game when considered on its own merits. You might be intrigued because of the experiences you’ve had with regular Imhotep and, again, I cannot tell you how it compares to that (yet). But don’t hesitate to pick up this game, because it is an above-average 2-player game that will be a welcome visitor onto my table any time someone requests to play it with me.

What's In Your Wallet?

What’s in Your Wallet #2: Button Shy Holiday Shopping Recommendations

One of my favorite publishers is Button Shy Games. Being 18-card wallet games, all of their titles are compact, affordable, and perfect for most gaming situations. Because they churn out a new game almost every month, it can be daunting to look at their catalog and determine what games to buy. Not to mention, some titles are out of stock right now, making it a challenge to pick them up.

So I wanted to get a holiday guide up, since I can never have too many of these wallet games. I’ve broken them down into categories, making up to 3 unique suggestions in each to try and help make sure you hit the free shipping amount ($25 in the US). Many of them also can add on expansions in the drop-down menu on their store (https://buttonshygames.com/collections/wallet-games-1)

And so, without further ado, here are my buying guide recommendations based solely on in-stock titles.

If you could only buy three: All other categories aside, these are the three “best” games in their lineup if I were asked to make a broad, general recommendation without any knowledge of the person looking to pick up some games. There is a good variety in here, with two of them having nice solo options (Circle the Wagons requires the Lone Cowboy expansion for that), two of them being for 2-players, and one being a cooperative game that goes up to 4.
Liberation – Hands down this is the best game in the Button Shy lineup for me. It contains so much tension packed into a 30-minute package, and with asymmetrical sides you’ll always want to play it twice to switch sides. It does a great job at replicating the cat-and-mouse hidden base aspect made popular in Star Wars: Rebellion.

Circle the Wagons – This is easily our most played game from Button Shy, and at a 10-15 minute play time it is easy to see why. This game has an interesting way of choosing cards, variable scoring conditions, and some card-laying to build your own little areas for scoring. A perfect game to always have present, as it is quick enough to play almost any time.

Sprawlopolis – Arguably best as a solo game, this delightful puzzle can crush up to four players with its challenging scoring conditions. If you like a game to play on your own, or are looking for something to play cooperatively with others, this one is one of the best-regarded titles. It has variable scoring conditions, the combination of which determines your win condition and don’t let the low numbers deceive you…those cards are among the most difficult to overcome.

For the Solo Gamer: While not an exhaustive list (Circle the Wagons & Sprawlopolis would be on here for sure. As would Antinomy, featured later) of the solo games worth picking up, these are three solo-only games that are enjoyable and provide three very different experiences.

SpaceShipped – If you like picking up and delivering goods – well, this might scratch some of that itch for you. You’ll be playing as a smuggler, like Han Solo, trying to buy and sell resources to collect gems. But watch out for marauders and untimely events that’ll get in your way and mess up your plans.

Banned Books – Even if you aren’t literary inclined, you will enjoy the simple mechanics and challenging task set forth in this game. The cycling of actions is a clever mechanism in this game, making it a very delightful solo experience as you push forward and try to avoid having your book banned from the shelves forever.

Twin Stars: Adventure Series II – If you like dice rolling, scenario-based gameplay, and endless variety then you want to check out the Twin Stars line of games. It integrates seamlessly with Adventure Series I (which is out of stock at the moment), so even if you begin with Series II you aren’t going to be missing anything critical.

For the significant other: Not limited to a spouse, but a category of 2-player games that are wonderful. Again, other titles like Circle the Wagons, Liberation, and others would fit here as well.

Seasons of Rice – A game that hit our table frequently when we tried the print & play during its Kickstarter campaign, it reminded us of Carcassonne with variable player powers and personal area-construction. Plus card drafting in two different ways, which presents plenty of interesting decisions to consider with every turn. This should be shipping next month, meaning it is likely to arrive in time!

Penny Rails – I’m not a train gamer by any means, but Penny Rails is a sheer delight. If you like perfectly-aligned maps then this game might trigger your OCD, but if you can think outside of that there are so many clever ways to interfere with your opponents’ route building while trying to enhance your own. With two different ways to score the game – offering drastically different experiences – this game has enough steam to power many plays in a collection.

Antinomy – A game that looks and sounds so abstract shouldn’t hurt the brain this much, but Antinomy does just that. It puts the Thinky into Thinky Filler, as cards have a color, a number, and an icon. You’re trying to move along a line of 9 cards to collect sets of 3 for Paradoxes, but moving forward can only be done using the numbers on cards from your hand and moving backward only to a matching color or icon. With a rotating tracker to mark an off-limit color for your Paradox, this game has so much brain-burn that it provides a delightful experience with some sharp elbows via Clashing.

For the group gamer: These are the games to look at if you consistently play with 3+ players, as they go up to 4, 5, or 6 players.

Handsome – Even if you never liked games such as Scrabble, there is a chance you will really enjoy the experience of Handsome. PLayable from 2-6 players, this word game is more about set collection and clever play rather than who can make the most impressive words. With a common pool of shared cards and cards in hand to make the word, and the cards being only consonants, there is a lot of open flexibility for wordsmiths and those who don’t enjoy words to equally enjoy the game.

Tussie Mussie – From the hit designer of Wingspan comes a game about using the language of flowers. Playable from 1-4, this one really shines at the full player count with a variation of the “I cut, you choose” mechanic combined with hidden information to create a quick and enjoyable experience that is perfect to break out during a game day.

Universal Rule: Second Wave – Another standalone game where the first entry is out-of-stock, but if you like 4X games this is a 3-5 player 4X game with 18 cards. Exploit, expand, explore, and exterminate your way to dominance against your foes by gaining Victory Points.

For the children: All 2-player games that are perfectly suited to play with children, or have them play with each other.

Why I Otter – A fun little game with otters of various shapes and sizes with art that little kids will love and cleverness that older ones should enjoy. Winning a hand will let you get more cards, but losing allows you to choose the scoring conditions so there is a nice layer of decision-making to be found in this small package.

Wonder Tales – A puzzly, tile-laying game about fairy tale creatures which children will delight to recognize. The cards are double-sided with the same character on each side, but different colored highlights. Players try to position the grid so that the right combinations of characters/colors are adjacent to their cards to gain the most points.

Potions Class – A game of set collection and press-your-luck, players will take turns putting three cards out: one in their potion, one in their reserve, and one in their opponent’s reserve. The twist, similar to Herbaceous, is that you see the cards one-at-a-time and must decide as you see them where to place the cards as you try to craft your own potions for points while trying not to help your opponent make their own.

For the Unique Experiences: Two games that don’t necessarily fit neatly into their own category, but are worth looking into if you want something that might stand out. If you can get your hands on a copy of Mint Julep (out of stock on their website), it would be a great choice for this category as well.

That Snow Moon – A dexterity game? Yep, and I have personally witnessed how much fun this game can be with the right pair of people. If you can set aside the frustration of cards not doing what you want them to, this will provide a unique experience set in the same Sci-Fi universe as many of the other Button Shy games.

Kintsugi – A very abstract theme with tile-laying aspects at unusual angles makes this one stand out as a unique game. With two different paths to victory, and a lowest-score victory condition this game for 2-3 players will be a standout game in your collection for how refreshingly different it is.

On the top of my wish list this season: I have a fair number of the above games (and there isn’t a single game listed above that I wouldn’t want to obtain!), but these three are the ones I’d be most likely to order for myself if I placed an order today.

HeroTec – It is a game with superheroes and it plays well (I’ve heard) solitaire as well as with others. Featuring card drafting and multi-use cards, this game speaks my language in all the right ways.

SuperTall – My wife will probably never try Sprawlopolis with me (cooperative games aren’t her favorite thing) so I need to turn to the competitive Supertall for city construction in our Button Shy collection. It sounds like a complete blast, especially since you can pass the card you draw to your rival – especially if you know that card is going to be worthless that round.

Seasons of Rice – For the reasons outlined above. I missed the Kickstarter, but I need to get this into my collection because I know we’ll play it a lot.

Review for One · Solo Gaming

Review for One: Dragon Keepers

Thank you for checking review #118 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.

**Note: The publisher provided a copy of the game at the cost of shipping in exchange for an honest review. All opinions remain my own.

An overview of Dragon Keepers

Dragon Keepers is a board game designed by Catalina Lacerda and Vital Lacerda that is published by Knight Works LLC. The box state it plays 1-6 players and has a playtime of 10-40 minutes.

In this fantasy universe, each player is the chief of a tribe of dragon keepers, defending the dragons from attacks by the evil hunter. The hunter wants to see those cute dragons dead, but must get past the dragon keepers. The keepers belong to different tribes but together they have the common goal of protecting the dragons. The keepers use magic in their duels with the evil hunter.

Dragon Keepers was designed by Vital Lacerda and his youngest daughter, Catarina. Says Vital, “She is the one who knows a lot about dragons and I could have never been able to do this design without her.” Dragon Keepers has two different games in the box:

KEEPER GAME: 3–6 players | 10–15 minutes | ages 6+
In this competitive mode, the hunter rolls dice to attack the dragons and the players choose which of the attacked dragons they want to defend. The game ends when one player manages to heroically defend three different dragons or if one dragon gets three hits. The winner is the player with more successful defenses.

DRAGON GAME: 2–4 players | 20–40 minutes | ages 9+
In this cooperative mode, the keepers work together to defend and train the dragons so that they attack the hunter. Players can take four different actions: Defend, Cure, Train and Attack. Those actions are limited and they need to cooperate and organized as a group to manage to stop the hunter’s attacks during the game. The players lose if a dragon is killed by the hunter, or if the battle event deck runs out. The players win if X dragons (where X is determined by the difficulty level) manage to successfully attack the hunter.

My Thoughts

 For a game that I expected to be a light dice-chucker…there are a serious number of thoughtful decision points in here. True, every round will involve rolling 1-6 dice for the Hunter. But that is the first thing that happens, and it tells you which of your six dragons are being targeted for the round, and you get two actions to try and minimize the harm to your dragons and try and make progress toward having all six dragons trained & successfully attack the Hunter. It is a challenge, especially since your pool of action tokens is limited, you have two of each color dragon card (in a solo game) to choose from before resting – meaning you can’t just repeatedly use the same dragon, and you can’t train a damaged, or targeted, dragon.

 The spell cards are a great addition to the game, oftentimes providing useful and essential abilities to help swing things in your favor, such as training damaged dragons, removing damage, or allowing rerolls of attacks. You can play one per dragon card/action token you put out, meaning you can use up to 2 per turn. Two of your four actions will give you new spell cards, taking one from the discard pile or from the top of the deck (both of which are face-up). However, that deck is also your game timer! Which means you’re punishing yourself by avoiding the draw from the discard pile. And since taking a spell card doesn’t read as being an optional reward, you might even be forced to speed up the game timer if you choose the wrong combination of actions. It allows some really tense decisions.

 There are a ton of ways to make the game more, or less, challenging. I find the “minimum” difficulty for solo mode (I believe it is Hard) to be a very strong challenge. It requires you to train and successfully attack with all 6 dragons, skipping over the easier versions where you only need to accomplish this with 4 or 5 dragons. How does it get harder? Making weak fireball die results count as misses, and making it so you need more hits on the Hunter. Also…

 The Shadow Hunter variant is brutal. Basically there are four different Hunter cards that are shuffled into the spell deck (Pandemic style, putting one in each quarter of the small deck). In the normal game, when they appear they are discarded and a die is permanently added to the Hunter’s die pool, meaning he’s going to be doing more from that round onward. That’s a challenge in itself. The variant makes it so each Hunter card does an additional effect as it comes out, which cranks the challenge up by a lot. I want to use this variant more, but I need to actually win a game first…

 The artwork is a huge win on this game. I absolutely love it. It can certainly be a subjective thing, of course, but this is the sort of game that I would see and immediately want to know more about.

 I like that there is incentive to deal damage to the Hunter as quickly as possible, because for every 3 Fireballs you hit him with, you can remove a die from his pool. This helps to offset the gradual ramp in difficulty, making it more likely the dragon you need to use is able to be selected. Because, again, if they are damaged or targeted by the Hunter they cannot be trained. Which means sometimes what you need to do gets trumped by figuring out what you can do instead.

 Let’s circle back to planning in the game. Not only do you need to manage your choice of when to use certain actions and activate/protect certain dragons, but you also need to keep in mind when to take your Rest round. Because you are forced to do it if you’ve played 6 cards (you play 2 per round, so every fourth turn is potentially a forced rest) where the Hunter rolls his dice but all you do is take all of your cards and tokens back into your hand/pool. Because the Hunter’s roll happens first in the round, you can see what is incoming and try to decide whether to play cards or to take the rest. I absolutely love that degree of planning. So why the half star? Because luck. I’ve had rounds where I felt like the right move was to press the advantage and take the forced rest. My dragons would be in good shape at the end of the current round, and barring a roll of X, I won’t lose. And then I flip a spell card and it triggers a hunter. And the next card is a hunter. And now they are rolling 2 more dice than I expected and, sure enough, three of those roll the same color dragon to make me lose even when I shouldn’t have been in a losing position. It doesn’t always happen. Nor does it happen often. But it can and will eventually happen that the 1-in-X chance of a perfect storm causing you to lose will come around

 The dragons each have their own special power, which is fantastic. However, it can be a challenge to remember which powers they have. It isn’t indicated on their untrained side, and even on the trained side it is iconography. To find out what they do you need to refer to the back page of the rulebook, where it provides better details. I would have liked 6 cards, one for each dragon, that I could place next to each dragon in the circle. Or 1-2 cards to have as a reference in front of me, outlining what each dragon’s special ability would be. Because it can be a challenge to remember. The same goes with the Shadow Hunter variant, where you need to open the rulebook to see what they do. Printing it on the cards, or having a separate 4 Hunters with that text on them, would have been a helpful addition. Neither are bad, but missed opportunities. No one wants to pull out the rulebook mid-game when it can be avoided..

Final Thoughts

Dragon Keepers is a light game on the surface but it contains a surprising number of decisions that run far deeper than expected from the box. I should, of course, not be surprised at this because it is a game co-designed by Vital Lacerda. Even a game like this is rich with decision points that have little to do with the randomness of the dice that are rolled. In fact, I would argue that the dice are (most turns) a non-factor overall in terms of their randomness because you get to see what the Hunter rolls prior to selecting your actions for the turn. Thus when you are making decisions, there is no randomness involved until you go to have your dragon attack the Hunter, and even then most dragons are rolling multiple dice and there are spell cards to help mitigate the random factor.

Did I mention that this game is far more difficult than anticipated? I am currently winless still in the game after a half dozen attempts, although I’ve had two games that were oh-so-close. One, the timer ran out on me by one turn. The other, I just needed a successful recovery round to close things out on the following turn (hopefully) and the Hunter capitalized. In none of my plays have I felt as though everything was hopeless, or even that random chance ruined me. Even the loss to the Hunter’s good roll, I could have rested the round before when I saw that the Hunter’s roll was a “safe” one for me to rest during.

And that is what I really love about this game. In spite of dice being rolled every turn, I always have control of my fate in the game. A bad decision is always what I can point back to, whether it is not Training quickly enough for all six dragons, or not taking the right token as a reward for Training, or taking a Spell card off the main deck instead of the discard pile, accelerating the game timer, or delaying a rest that I know I’ll need to take to try and maximize the plays from my hand (but then leaving me in a very prone position). It all falls back on me, and my need to play better.

You might wonder, since I’m heaping such strong praise on Dragon Keepers, why it is missing from my Top 20 Solo Games that was just posted. What a keen, observant reader you are! Yes, it isn’t in that top 15% of the solo games I’ve played, but it just narrowly missed that cut. Had the list been a Top 25, you would have found Dragon Keepers right where it belongs, as a really strong and not-at-all-light solitaire experience. It makes me think in all the right ways, yet is short enough that I can sit down and knock out three losses in about an hour. And eventually that Hunter will fall to all six of my dragon attacks, and I will be victorious until we have The Hunter Strikes Back to the tune of upping the difficulty. Or adding in the Shadow Hunters variant which gives the four Hunter cards in the deck a special ability when they appear rather than just adding to the Hunter’s die pool. And then the losing can commence once more.

And I will enjoy every minute of it.

Solo Gaming · Top Ten List

Top 20 Solo Games – 2019 Edition

Every year there is a people’s choice solo game list that gets compiled. And so every year they ask for solo gamers to share their top games, which are then weighted into a system to where games get points based on their rankings for each list. So giving a game the #10 slot on a list is worth more to it overall thank a #14 ranking, etc. It is a neat concept and I always enjoy seeing what gets released as the overall results. Since they need the final lists by November 4th, I figured I had better wrap mine up in an official way, and look for this to be a recurring post each year.

Before I begin, I want to kick off with five games that are high on my solo wish list to try them. Which means you will not find them included on the list:

1) Edge of Darkness
2) Street Masters
3) CO2 Second Chance
4) Marvel: Champions
5) Empyreal: Spells & Steam
Bonus: Too Many Bones, which I am borrowing as of today so it’ll be played soon. Hopefully this weekend.

***

d10-2d10-0 – Roll Player

This game is an anomaly for me, because it really shouldn’t be such a highly-regarded solo experience. It involves dice, bringing about a random element every round that can foil the best-laid plans. You can’t even control or predict when the color of dice you need will appear. You will have rounds where the market will have no cards you want, and then the next turn it will have 2-3 you need but can only choose one. And that is the crux of how it makes this list: it rarely gives you what you desire to use, but oftentimes forces you to make difficult decisions about how to utilize what is presented to you. The layers of decisions include what card to buy (if any) and how much you need said card, because the die you choose determines what chance there is of getting that card you need – the lower value die on the offer will ensure you a shot at the card but is far less useful in your character. And the die abilities you’ll trigger every round help this to not only feel more dynamic, but also helps to mitigate the randomness of dice rolls. The base game is all I have experienced, which speaks volumes to how much I actually do enjoy this game. It is a beat-your-own high score game, which I generally loathe, and the expansion of Monsters & Minions will change that and, by extension, give this game a chance to climb ever higher on the list.

d10-1d10-9 – Call to Adventure

This game fires on two cylinders for me: as a gamer and as a fantasy author. On one end, I am provided with a fairly simple set of mechanics and a core concept to try an overcome by the end of the game in order to avoid a losing condition (avoiding the dreaded beat-your-own-score symptom, which all but two of these games successfully avoid). On the other end, I have incredible artwork and a system designed for crafting tales around. And while my wife wouldn’t want to sit around and tell stories about how her character started life as a Student who Excelled in her Studies and, as a result, Uncovered Hidden Lore that allowed her to Heal the Wounded and led to her becoming an Honorable Sworn Protector, Catching a Criminal and fending off attacks from The Wolf on her path to become a Paragon of Light, and a Blessed Champion of Light to battle off her adversary, The Dark Rider. I mean, the story there practically writes itself.

d10-1d10-8 – Lisboa

This game being here should be a strong indicator that you can’t just go look at my Top 100 Games list from June and grab the 20 highest soloable games from that list. Yes, some will be on here. But some of them, like Lisboa, will end up in places you don’t expect. And it isn’t Lisboa’s fault it is this low, really. I just don’t often have the time for a big, heavy experience like this when I sit down to play a solo game. Which means it doesn’t get played often, which means that it isn’t as likely to creep high onto the list, at least not very quick. I want to explore this one more, as I get ruthlessly demolished by Vital time and time again. But I will enjoy every minute of that beatdown because this remains a wonderful game that should only move up a little as I get it back to the table a time or two in the near future.

d10-1d10-7 – Chain Mail

This is probably not on many lists, as it is very much a hidden gem and not easy to obtain for those not in the know. You see, Button Shy Games has a Board Game of the Month Club, and to join it you would need to be a Patron for at least $5/month. But in exchange, you get monthly goodies (that are admittedly oftentimes a month or two behind) from them. Every month this year has expanded the game known as Chain Mail: an RPG-like adventure with interchangable maps, character parties, enemies, treasure, and scenarios. Every month gets you a new map, enemy card, treasure card, and scenario. Many months bring a new character, too, to swap into your party of 4 characters that all interact with their cubes in very different ways to trigger unique abilities. And that is the part that really shines in Chain Mail: how different the characters play, and figuring out how to shift the cubes just right to make them play optimally.

d10-1d10-6 – Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set

My gaming history holds a rather rocky history with the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. It is a game I always wanted to love but could never quite commit toward because something always just seemed a little off. Maybe it was the limitations on free-to-play scenarios on the app that started it. Or the several different sets, each of which expanded out through a variety of add-on packs. Or the host of character add-on packs. While I can’t pinpoint why I never became enamoured with the older versions of Pathfinder, I can tell you that this is the best version of it out there. It brings a variety of new twists on the core mechanics, a fresh new look, and actual storybooks with adventure playing out as you advance from quest to quest. Most of the clunkiness is gone, although setting up is never a fast task, and it scales exceptionally well even with one character (although some are going to be more difficult to truly solo than others). Ultimately I love the customization of the character across a series of adventures enough to want to get this to the table any chance I get.

d10-1d10-5 – Maquis

Few games have surprised me more in a pleasant way than Maquis. This small game packs a huge punch for the variety contained in the box, and the difficult decisions it forces you to make. With each decision you make, the path you can take shrinks a little more. Do you play it safe and snake out from your starting location each turn, or do you gamble and try to pin down the place you need to go first and hope it doesn’t cost you the game? There is so much tension in every decision being made that this game absolutely stole my heart from the first play of it. I can’t wait for my Kickstarter copy of the game to deliver, because I know this is going to be one that I break out often when I need a relatively quick, yet thinky, solitaire experience.

d10-1d10-4 – Glass Road

Rosenberg strikes on this list with a game that, ordinarily, shouldn’t make a top solitaire game for me. While it isn’t his usual worker placement game, it is definitely about resource management and conversion to earn points. But that is the beauty here, with that clever resource wheel as you manage the push-pull to get what you need. And with the promo card for solo play that allows clearing some buildings from the market, this game’s biggest flaw was removed for solo play. The way it handles the solitaire game, giving you a differing number of actions each round and making it so you cannot use the same action card in back-to-back turns provides a nice puzzle experience that I really enjoy.

d10-1d10-3 – Albion’s Legacy

When I want to lose, there are a few games I could choose from on this list (#1, 6, 12, 18) but none of them feels more punishingly brutal than this game. I love the Arthurian love letter stamped all over every piece in the game, as it makes references to both the popular and the obscure in this game. The base game has limited legs, but I’ve since picked up two expansions on the cheap to integrate in when I reacquire this solitaire experience (because let’s be honest, it would be cruel to subject others to a no-win situation) where the theme draws me in and leaves me wanting to journey to Camelot with these famous figures.

d10-1d10-2 – Friday

This is heralded as a solo classic for a very good reason, and is the best of the solitaire deckbuilders out there (Shadowrift comes close, but I haven’t revisited that in ages since I loaned it to a friend, and I anticipate the announced expansion in 2020 for Mystic Vale will get that up here once it has an official solitaire mode). The concept of the game is extremely simple, but difficult to execute well because you start with a deck packed with mostly garbage cards. Not garbage like the normal deckbuilder where it gives you +1 of something, but garbage as in either +0 or -1 of your skill. And the last thing you want is to get further from your goal by flipping a card, so you need to thin the deck over the course of the game. Which you can do, but it requires both failing a test and spending your life points to accomplish this. And so it becomes this interesting dynamic of how aggressively you try to thin that deck early, and how to manage the aging cards as they make their way into your deck, which I absolutely love even more every time it hits the table.

d10-1d10-1 – Raiders of the North Sea

Worker placement games are, as a rule, difficult to make an effective solo play mode for. Most of the time the solution they come up with is to give you a limited number of turns and tiers of scoring thresholds to determine the level of efficiency. And so when Shem designed a solo AI for a game I already enjoyed a lot, I was really pleased to find out that it played quite well. It puts pressure on the player to optimize their approach as much as possible, which isn’t going to be easy because it will block a new space every turn from the town. It clears spaces on the map with relative ease compared to a normal player, which is also good because it means you need to be clever and creative at times in how you tackle the basic strategies with the game. And even better than that is its ability to work with any of the expansions, or no expansions at all, makes this a great add-on to your Raiders collection.

d10-1d10-0 – At the Gates of Loyang

This game genuinely surprised me when I first played it, because it was my first non-worker placement Rosenberg solo experience. And boy, what a difference it made because it delivered a game experience unlike what I had anticipated. I normally don’t like the beat-your-own score systems, and this marks the highest of those on the list. But when every point is hard-earned like it is in this game, it merits placement on the list. Rosenberg is my wife’s favorite designer, not mine, so I never expected to love his games so much. But this, and Glass Road, are anomalies in the Rosenberg world of design. The card system, and scraping every point you can over the course of the game, is what really makes this game shine for me. One of these days I might even score a 20 – what a joyful day that will be.

d10-0d10-9 – BattleCON: Devastation of Indines

This game probably takes you by surprise with its inclusion on a solo list. I felt the same way when I learned that this game, which is a brain-burning 2-player dueling game, had a solo mode in one of the boxes. Learning that one of my all-time favorite games could now be enjoyed even when I don’t have a second player…that was a pure delight. I love that I can pull out a new character (because there are so many I haven’t tried still) and run them through a gauntlet of smaller battles on their way to a boss duel. And I really enjoy that you can purchase items to make your character properly “equipped” to handle the task in front of them, giving it a light RPG element that I think works well so long as you remember the presence of said purchases. This game lets you know what each monster encounter is able to do on a turn, but you’ll never quite be sure if you are safe so it is all about choosing the right attack pairs, and positioning, at the right time to try and take as little damage as possible as you clear room after room in their BattleQuest booklet. Which is something I really hope they expand upon, because I really dig the system that was introduced via BattleCON: Devastation of Indines..

d10-0d10-8 – Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale

This might be the most unique entry on the list, and one of the more recent additions. It certainly caught me off guard about how much I enjoyed this game, especially since I have never really been drawn to the roll and write fad that has taken over the hobby. But there is something about Cartographers that is just different enough that it fascinates me and makes me want to play it again and again (which means I’ll be picking this up soon so that I can, in fact, play it again and again). It has the clever use of four seasons, each of which activates 2 of your 4 scoring conditions so you’ll want to balance all four of them in some way to try and maximize your points. The Ambush cards are a good balance to foil your plans and operate relatively easily when they trigger. All in all, there isn’t much to dislike about this…apart from my strong desire to get a set of colored pencils to use for my map-making skills to make it at least a little visually appealing.

d10-0d10-7 – The City of Kings

Welcome to the big, sprawling RPG-in-a-box on the list. No Gloomhaven. No Too Many Bones. I haven’t soloed either of those (yet), so this will have to satisfy all of our tastes. What I love the most in here is the combination of that monster creation system from a bag of abilities, combined with perfect information on how your stats function and what they can do. Enemy going to one-shot your hero? Find a way to reduce their attack or cleverly maneuver yourself so that you can deal damage without taking any in return. I’ve had dire, hopeless situations that I was able to puzzle my way toward a solution – and then it is on me to execute said solution. There is a good amount of content in this box, not to the level of a Gloomhaven campaign but more than enough to keep most gamers, solo or otherwise, content for many, many plays. I love and hate the character progression system, as you have complete control to min-max your character as they gain levels but there just isn’t as much to differentiate one character from another as I’d like. But for what its worth, this game is an absolute gem that I wish I could play more often.

d10-0d10-6 – Race for the Galaxy

The game that started it all for me so many years ago. I miss this game in my collection, although it was part of what sent me to Gen Con so I can’t be too upset. Plus now that there is a 2nd edition out there, it’ll be better than before when I finally get around to picking it back up. Because this remains a wonderful solo game with a brutal solo AI system to play against that forces you to play efficiently instead of seeking those amazing combos. If you ever wondered about the value of half the cards in the deck, they take on a whole new perspective when racing against the clock of the solo AI’s engine…even on Easy in this. My win rate is embarrassingly low, and I love that fact.

d10-0d10-5 – Oh My Goods!

I delight in the engine building of this game with multi-use cards. And thanks to the scenarios via expansions, this game squeezes past the game that started my love of solo gaming using “similar” mechanics. But oh, how I truly enjoy pulling off an efficient chain of production in this game. It provides just enough limitations to force you to pursue sub-optimal strategies in order to accomplish your objectives in the time allotted to you, and has some wrinkles it’ll toss in to try and slow you down. Plus that press-your-luck mechanic is a source of incredible joy and intense despair – sometimes a turn apart – as you try and squeeze the most out of every opportunity. This was the game that put Pfister’s games on my radar, and I can’t wait to get to try some of his other titles solo in the future.

d10-0d10-4 – Agricola, Master of Britain

One of these games is not like the others, and that game is Agricola, Master of Britain. I danced around dabbling in wargames for years but never could quite find the right one for me. I think that was because I was trying to find a game where it was a “play both sides” solo experience and that just lost the “interesting” factor in the same way that playing Dungeons & Dragons as both the GM and the party would get boring. This game solved that problem with the clever cup system and pulling chits. There are so many ways to lose the game to where you always feel like you are one bad decision away from a cascading loss. I’ve played this game’s big brother, Charlemagne, but haven’t gotten enough exposure to it to know where it would fall (and thus left it off this year, even though it probably should merit a spot) or even to know if I like it more or less than Agricola. So for now I’ll heap praises on this small game with so many fun, interesting, challenging decisions that it won me back over to enjoying the occasional wargame outside of War of the Ring.

d10-0d10-3 – Millennium Blades

This game might take some people by surprise, as few folks think of this as a solo experience. The Set Rotation expansion introduced bosses to play against, which opens up the solitaire experience to players and, surprisingly, it is both fun and good. The challenge level is ridiculously high at times, as it feels like they can score buckets of points while you’re scraping combos together to try and get more than 10 points at a time (sometimes) – which is part of the beauty here: learning the boss deck’s emphasis and capabilities and trying to counter them. All four feel very different to play against, and when that becomes “easy” for you, there is a mini-expansion that cranks all four of them to the next level. I can’t wait for Collusion to deliver in 2020 so I can have more bosses to lose to. And, of course, part of the fun of Millennium Blades is recreating that old CCG experience of patching together the best deck you can with the cards you get from those packs you’ve opened. Which is what keeps me coming back to this game time and time again.

d10-0d10-2 – Hoplomachus: Origins

Oh how this game came out of nowhere for me. Honestly, I had heard word of it but felt no strong desire to try the game. And then a friend was selling his all-in collection because it played best at 1-2, which caught my attention. After all, I specialize in 1-2. Sadly, he sold it before I could even get together to try it, but that didn’t stop me from jumping on a really good price for Origins a few months later. Well, the rest is history. It is absolutely a light, tactical, dice-chucking romp. But it is so much fun, and has a decent amount of variety even in the “small” box version I own. The Trials are a fun and interesting system, so much so that I am considering doing a series of videos on my YouTube channel in the near future where I attempt each of the trials in the game. This game doesn’t need more content, but there are a lot of packs of extra combatants you can pick up from Chip Theory Games that will expand your variety to enhance a game’s replay value that already has strong replay value. Did I mention that games are often 10-15 minutes or less, making this an easy game to pull out and play on any given night?

d10-0d10-1 – The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Speaking of endless replay value, there’s no surprise here about my #1 game. It offers so much variety once you expand beyond the core set, and even then you don’t need to own everything to have a lot of space to explore in deck construction. With over 100 quests now out there between all of the product, and nightmare modes of most of them, this game has so much endless variety that, at around 150 plays, I still have a ton of quests I need to try and deck archetypes to build that there is no shortage of opportunity to get another thousand plays out of this collection. This game is so much fun and, as a Tolkien super fan, this is the one game I would choose if I could only take one game with me to a desert island and the one game I would save if I could only retrieve one from a burning building. Yes, it requires investment to grow beyond a Core Set and investment in time to build your decks, but it is worth it. One of these days that 30-31% win ratio will hopefully creep back up to 33%, which is about where I like this game’s win/loss ratio to reside because it often pushes me, and my deck construction abilities, to the limits.

First Impressions

Cardboard Caucus Recap Post

The inaugural Cardboard Caucus has ended, and I wanted to take some time to really put down my thoughts on the convention itself, as well as the host of games I played and taught over the course of the three days at the convention. Overall it was a really good time, with a lot of foot traffic and tables full of gamers playing games. But it wasn’t all perfect (no convention could be, I imagine, and this wasn’t intended to compete with the bigger ones like Essen, Origins, Gen Con, UK Games Expo, etc.) and so let’s start here with the things I wish could have been done a little differently, although no one of these would be considered to be “bad”. But stick around, because I will be ranking all 16 games I played with the caveat, up front, that I didn’t dislike a single game that was played. Which makes ranking these far more difficult than expected, even with Pub Meeple’s assistance!

Improvement Areas

Event Advertisement – Yes, there was a website to sign up for events. And yes, they had white sheets of paper on clipboards at the check in table. But I feel like there could have been a little better advertisement about the events. I’m sure many attendees weren’t sure what to expect from their daily flow and so didn’t really sign up for many events (I didn’t sign up for any because I learned that hard lesson at Gen Con). There weren’t a ton of events, but having even a basic flier that they get with all of the events, times, and locations listed would have been helpful to browse between games to see if there might be something coming up I wanted to see if they had open slots for. I probably would have missed the 7 Wonders Duel tournament event anyway (I was tempted into finally getting to play Le Havre around that time), but I know I never really went back to the check-in table after arriving on Friday so the clipboards didn’t help me – others may have had far better experiences with it. Announcing an event with open slots an hour before it began would have been cool, too, because that would likely prompt those extra slots to fill up by impulsive gamers like me.

Play-to-Win Library – Personal taste here, but there wasn’t much in there that grabbed my interest. Not one of them was a must-try for me, although I did end up grabbing three of them over the course of the convention and played a fourth by teaching it to a couple that looked lost (more on that later). They were all smaller and/or lighter games and most were older titles rather than hot games just released this year. And it showed, with the table usually looking to be about 60-70% full most of the times I went in there to check out games. It can be a challenge to manage this well, and it is a 100% subjective thing about your excitement for the titles. But I, for one, didn’t find much on there to be excited for. And I know at least a few others who felt similarly about the selection.

The Hot Games “Room” – I know the BGG hotness on the main page fluctuates constantly, and so I have no doubt the games on display in there were, at one point, part of the hotness. I had heard buzz about several of the games in there, mainly Wingspan and Quacks of Quedlinberg (or whatever it actually is). I was a little surprised at the lack of Tapestry there, and I never saw that area packed. Maybe because the game selection, maybe because it was in a hallway rather than a room. I think the hallway location was both smart and a deterrent. Smart, because it was right outside the game library, so any time you go to check out a new game you see those games out on the table. But a deterrent because it would very much feel like you are on display out there. Even if there had been a game there I was interested in playing, I probably still would have tried to find a copy in the game library to take back into the open gaming space instead because of that location. That’s probably the introvert in me talking and maybe it was a huge success. But it seemed a little odd to me.

Vendor Space – There weren’t many vendors there at the convention. I knew there wouldn’t be any game companies present, as they selected the weekend of Essen to hold the convention. And the vendors that were present were all really neat and friendly. As the convention grows going forward, it would be nice to see a stronger variety in vendor presence, and even some representation from game publishers with booths to at least demo their latest titles. There are a few companies that, if they asked, I would gladly set up, operate, and tear down a booth for during the next Cardboard Caucus convention.

What it did well

Friendliest staff – Every one of the people there helping, whether organizers or just volunteers, were outstanding in personality and helpfulness. I mean, I already knew many of the gamers helping out from playing alongside them over the years but it was awesome seeing how genuinely interested they all were in helping people who needed it, and providing a fun and inclusive environment for gamers of all sorts.

Teachers/Players Wanted Signed – Tall table signs in the form of a large red or green meeple were available in the open gaming room, and were free to take and place to indicate either the need for more players or the need for a teacher for a game. While neither of those had a perfect response rate, after all people might not know whatever game was sitting in front of said people with the sign, it did present some great opportunities for someone looking to find a game to join in or, in at least a few instances I know, to be able to find someone knowledgeable about a game to stop by and teach it quickly. There were three different instances where I was able to lend a hand while between gaming sessions, teaching Crusaders Thy Will Be Done, Caverna: Cave vs Cave, and 7 Wonders Duel to various folks before moving on to seek out whatever might be coming down the pipeline. Having these available in more than one location might be my one suggestion for the next year, but these were outstanding.

The Game Library – It was a massive set of games that were available to check out and play, and the only requirement was scanning your badge with the game in order to check it out. Even at the peak for gaming, there were a ton of titles still available that ranged from HABA games on up to some massive boxes. The later inclusion of a “staff recommendations” shelf was also a great idea, and several times I was tempted to ignore my pre-made wishlist in order to grab one of those titles. All in all it was a very friendly and efficient system, and I liked how they somewhat had things organized in a way that made sense once you figured out there was a co-op shelving unit, etc.

Water & Mints – There were a ton of locations with pitchers of ice water and containers of mints. Both of these were excellent additions to keep players hydrated and to keep the closeness of playing with strangers a little more comfortable feeling, as no one wants to have bad breath when going over lengthy rules explanations, etc. It was a small detail, but an excellent one that was fully appreciated.

Open Gaming Space – There was so much room for open gaming! It always felt full, but never to the point where players couldn’t find a spot to sit down and set up a game. The noise level was a little high at times, and I would have liked a little more natural light in there during the day, but as a whole it was an excellent space and they had everything spaced out in a very good manner. There were a lot of external tables from the main room, too, for those seeking a slightly quieter location to play a game or two.

The Duelists’ Lounge

My one event was on Friday evening and it went from no one signed up to having 8 pairs of players over there playing games against each other for nearly three hours (a full hour longer than planned, which was a great thing). A lot of games were taught and played during that span of time, but even that wasn’t the most rewarding thing. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are the games that were taught and the gist of the reactions from the players:

Circle the Wagons – The first two to make their way over were curious about the little wallet games and so I grabbed this as their gateway into the wallet games. They were delighted so much by it that they played it twice, wrote down the company and game name, and I was happy to also tell them about Sprawlopolis.

Imhotep: The Duel – This was a popular game to want to play, but it only worked out that one pairing got to try it. However, they both enjoyed the game so much that I saw both of them using the lending library’s copy to play with other players during the convention and know it was played at least four more times by different folks, so it clearly was a worthwhile hit that continued to spread beyond that one play. It was enjoyed both by those who have played Imhotep and those who have never played it (like myself)

Hanamikoji– This one was grabbed by a pair of guys who swung by and was the first of the games they enjoyed. They had knowledge of Battle Line/Shotten Totten, which helped a little, but had their mind blown by the action selection, the small number of cards, and the tough decisions. One of them continuously checked out the lending library’s copy and taught it to other players, making it a game I saw out often and was, like Imhotep: The Duel, taught to far more gamers than those who were present at the Duelists’ Lounge because of how much the initial players enjoyed the game.

ORC – A good father brought his little girl over and they started with ORC. Pretty sure they enjoyed it, even though they were already familiar with the game (which helped the little girl, I’m sure).

Skulk Hollow – The Circle the Wagons pair moved on to this game, as it was already set up on the table. After a quick start for Grak, the Foxen Heroes got close before eventually losing to the giant bear. They really enjoyed this game, even though I think it was a change in pace for their preferred type of game.

That Snow Moon – The Hanamkoji guys pulled this out while I was teaching Skulk Hollow, and this was the one and only game in my bag that I didn’t know the rules because I hadn’t played it. Once it became clear it was a card-flipping dexterity game, it seemed to click and they enjoyed it enough to flip sides and play it a second time.

Odin’s Ravens – After ORC was finished, the father asked what other game might be good for him to play with his daughter and I pointed him toward this one. The Loki cards might have been a little advanced, but the core of the game made it a perfect fit for them.

Targi – After Imhotep: The Duel, that pair moved on to Targi which one of them was already familiar with. I failed to get feedback on that experience, but I’m relatively certain it was enjoyed by them both.

Antinomy – The third Button Shy title to get played, and this was the only one I took part in because the Skulk Hollow pairing had lost a player after that game. I taught this little brain melter and, yes, it was an experience full of pauses as we agonized over how to move to where we needed to go to get a Paradox. I went from being up 2-0 to ultimately losing 1-5 and we were delighted with the experience. Hopefully I converted a gamer to Button Shy gaming goodness between this and Circle.

Bushido – The star of the convention came out of Bushido, as the Hanamikoji/That Snow Moon guys moved to this next on my recommendation. The fact that one of them asked to borrow this on both Saturday and Sunday from me, and I know he checked out the gaming library’s copy when I wasn’t there, should be a clear indication of how well this went over. I’d be surprised if this was then taught to fewer than half a dozen other gamers after the one session on Friday evening. Grey Fox Games has a genuine hit here, and if it wasn’t a 2018 release it would easily be in contention for the top honors on 2019 game of the year.

Liberation – This came on Saturday, but I made a point of mentioning to the That Snow Moon guys that Liberation is Star Wars: Rebellion in wallet game format. And so the enthusiastic gamer who played Hanamikoji and Bushido to death over the weekend found me when his Rebellion-loving friend arrived on Saturday so I could teach this to them. The Dynasty side turned out to be a lot harder than he expected in terms of tracking down those Liberation scum, but I think they enjoyed this one as well.

Ranking the 16 Games Played

Now we come to what most of you are probably here to read: my take on the 16 games played this weekend. Again, not a single one of these would be considered a bad game. Most of the ones down at the bottom of the list aren’t there because I disliked the game, but rather because I liked one of the others just a little more.

#16 – Lost Cities: Rivals – As a general rule of thumb, I am not a big fan of auction games. And really that is the majority of what Lost Cities: Rivals boils down into, and requires you to play the players moreso than playing the game. It is what prevented me from warming up to games like Power Grid or Bohnanza in the past, and the same holds true here. I did enjoy the play, apart from the final rounds where a player to my right with a single coin was just auto-bidding on the cards simply to spite me. It also didn’t help that we played the game misunderstanding a rule, thinking you were obligated to discard a card from your winning rather than it being optional. Which was why the player was an exceptional jerk, forcing me to bid on the two cards I need and requiring me to discard one of them. In looking up the 2-player differences (there are none), I also see that we did not have the winning bidder flip a new card at the end of the auction, and we incorrectly included the numberless mutliplier cards when counting to see if we had 4 or more cards in a color. Those all change things pretty significantly, pretty much making my experience obsolete. I think a new play, without said player and with the correct rules, would improve the experience.

#15 – Saboteur: The Duel – This little pocket-sized game only caught my interest as a play-to-win because it was a 1-2 player game in a tiny box. I had some downtime on Saturday between games so I checked this one out – and ended up taking it home as my play-to-win prize. The game is quite the table hog, and in the solo game it is a matter of dealing with obstacles as they flip up which can make your progress slow or completely remove parts of the tunnels you are making to the potentially-lucrative goal cards on the table. While I did enjoy my solo play of the game, I can see where this would be improved tremendously with another player. So had I played it with another, I expect it would have appeared higher on the list.

#14 – New York Slice – There is something satisfying about teaching a game to a random couple who look completely lost, and then get utterly annihilated by them in the game. My second play of this game was a delightful one, being such a quick game to teach, an interesting theme that has table presence, and a clever “I cut, you choose” mechanism that ties really well with the theme. It would be a fine game as that is, but the specials crank the decisions to 11, and can lead for surprises along the way. Such as one player getting both Tiebreaker and the ability to count combo slices as 2 slices. She scored around 40, with her husband as a distant second. I didn’t score a single slice majority, getting all of my meager points from eating Pepperoni and my two specials. I like this one a lot, but I don’t know that it would be very interesting with 2.

#13 – Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle: Defence Against the Dark Arts – I had really high hopes for this game and it failed to deliver. I wanted to like the original Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, using it as a way to maybe get my wife to play a deckbuilder from time to time and to play a cooperative game. This 2-player version dueling against each other promised to be a much better implementation for our preferences. And it still might be – after all, only one hex was ever played because we didn’t see any hex-giving cards until it was a little too late in the game. With a second play, that aspect might take on a whole new dynamic and improve the overall experience tenfold. But I suspect, even in that case, my wife would never really want to choose it because deckbuilding just isn’t her thing – and if I am going to force her to play a deckbuilder I’d want to choose a better game like Mystic Vale, Eminent Domain, or Core Worlds. So this remains one I would love to try a second time to see how it plays out, but one that we’re unlikely to pick up because it just wouldn’t get played enough times. But if you really like the original game, this will be a great reimplementation of a system you know and enjoy.

#12 Funkoverse Strategy Game: DC Comics – This was my first game played for the con, and it was a pleasant surprise. I expected it to be mostly gimmick with the Funko figures slapped onto a subpar skirmish system. But it has a surprising amount of fun in there, enough that I am genuinely hoping to play it some more in the coming weeks/months. We did the recommended first play version, which was extremely vanilla but was enough to whet both of our appetites to try it some more but, as happens, an opportunity simply never surfaced again. The scenarios will take that game and elevate it significantly into a game that has better legs than expected, and having a few options in the box supplemented by small add-on packs seems like a really smart way to work with this game system they have.

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#11 – Tiny Towns – I had high hopes for this game, as there was a fair amount of buzz for it earlier this year. And I can see why, after a play of the game. However, the 2-player game as written in the rules is not very interesting at all because you can very easily anticipate what your opponent is going to choose and can plan accordingly. It still might not help, but it does make things a little easier. The demo gal did make a good suggestion on what could spice up the 2-player experience through using the randomizers for choosing every 3rd resource to gain into the town. I suspect that would make it a better game at lower player counts, instilling chaos into an otherwise predictably stale back-and-forth.

#10 – Everdell – The tree is a gimmick. Now that I have that out of the way, let’s talk about the game of Everdell. It has some nice engine building in the game, and a very simple rule set. Three of us fumbled through it at the end of the night Saturday, when we were all pretty exhausted, and that in itself was satisfying. The problem with Everdell, at least from the first play, was two-fold: the pebbles are too scarce of a resource and too prominent in constructions, and the special goal cards require two very specific cards to come out. The pebbles is an issue because, with 3 players, there is exactly one space to gain them from in the game. When you have 3 players in the game, the first player has a significant advantage because they are the only one to gain a pebble until they take the Prepare for Season action. If you can’t get the right cards, there is no way to overcome this apart from trying to time your Prepare action the turn before they take it, opening up the space for you to use before someone else covers it for another 25-30% of the game. The event cards are another big deal. We went through over half the deck. Out of the four event cards, only one had both cards appear during the play.That isn’t even me being bitter about a misprint on the one I was waiting for all game, as there is no Tower card in there. I did enjoy Everdell in spite of these things, but this seems like a game that is going to require the highly-regarded Pearlbrook expansion in order to make it more playable, as I hear that helps with the Pebble problem at least.

#9 – Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra – It takes a very special sort of Azul to get me excited. The base game, after all, is where I boast a pitiful average of 55.56 points per game (my wife’s average is 72, as a frame of reference here). There is a reason why I never select to play Azul, and usually if my wife picks “Azul or ___” and lets me decide between then, I’ll almost always pick ____. Yes, there are exceptions. I seem to do far better in winning with a 3rd player. But as a whole, Azul is just not my kind of game. And there comes the beauty of this version, because it radically changed the game AND made it a lot more gamey for my tastes. It becomes less of a spatial puzzle and more of a trick to manipulate your worker’s position along the rows, and to fill in as much as possible from right-to-left to cascade into bigger scores. All of which sounds simple enough, but is far more challenging to execute. I really, really enjoyed this version – don’t let the “low” appearance on the list fool you. The games on here are all good, and this is the entry that begins the “next tier” of separation in the pack.

#8 – Antinomy – The more I play this game, the more I come to fall in love with this simple design. I wasn’t convinced, from the Kickstarter, that I wanted the game. But I bought in and haven’t regretted it for a moment. It can be absolutely brutal, brain-burning, and all those other delightful traits that are not conveyed by a cute little wallet package. The fact that every card has three traits, and depending on how you move determines which trait(s) you use – and that a color is always off-limits but is constantly changing…well, there are so many little variables that all add up to a perfect little filler that plays in 15-30 minutes. I can’t recommend this one enough, as it is probably one of my Top 5 Button Shy titles, and is probably only this low on the list because it wasn’t a new experience for me.

#7 – Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – The 2-player Agricola is an outstanding version of the game which takes a lot less time to set up, tear down, and play. It removes all the hassle of growing your family or feeding your people and allows you to focus instead on expanding your husbandry ability with animals and collecting buildings to make your farmland more effective. I love that most buildings also come with room to house some animals, making it a little more forgiving on those whom like the buildings approach. Animals are worth a shockingly little amount unless you have a ton of them, meaning you’re probably going to need to balance both constructing buildings and raising animals if you want to do well.

#6 – Tiny Epic Mechs – This one was a mixed bag of anticipation for me as I’ve loved every Tiny Epic game I’ve played for the first few plays and eventually they’ve fallen off my radar. I wonder if, at this season in my life where I value shorter games that provide a lot of fun decisions, this line of games is one I should look at a second time. I expected to find it to be an okay game, especially when I realized it was a programming action game. And I did utterly horrible against the two solo AI opponents in my attempts to play this as my final game on Sunday. But the one thing I didn’t expect was the level of fun I would have. Once I grasped the flow of the game, it hit a nice rhythm and provided plenty of tough decisions that I think I would cherish. And without the use of dice, this makes it a game that will be far less swingy than Tiny Epic Quest or Tiny Epic Galaxy can be.

#5 – Call to Adventure – This might be the “lightest” game on the list, yet I found the game to be quite an enjoyable experience with a relatively easy setup and play experience. I’ve seen mentions of getting screwed by rune tosses, but I found there were enough ways to generate extra runes, or to spend Experience for added effects, so that I was never in a dire situation. Part of the challenge is weighing your options and deciding, based on your rune pool, what you can reasonably accomplish for the turn. And in the solo game, you know from the start who your nemesis will be and, by extension, what cards to prioritize for making that rune pool for the final attack. The game is gorgeous, the production is fantastic, and I can’t wait to try out the Stormlight Archive expansion when it drops because I love Sanderson’s books. And need to read the Rothfuss series to get excited about the recently-released Name of the Wind expansion.

#4 – Le Havre – I like a good, classic Rosenberg game apparently. This one was quite interesting. I downloaded the app for this probably 2 years ago and it just never clicked for me in the digital “teaching” of the game. Probably because knowing the cards is extremely important, and knowing nothing on the cards, plus not really understanding the rules, led to some really bad experiences with it. I probably still wouldn’t want to do the app of the game, but the physical game is definitely a Top 3 Rosenberg for me at this point. I’m going to want/need to play this, and Ora et Labora, a few more times before I update my Top 100 list next June. The game flows so fast, and there is no chance of ever doing enough things during the game to where it all felt like an interesting challenge of figuring out the best way to get by and score points. I came in a very close 2nd, even though I had to pivot with my plans more than a few times by the end. Loans in this game are a little too forgiving, costing only 1 Franc per cycle through the ship spaces regardless of the number of loans you have.

#3 – Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale– Flip and write games are a thing now, and this was my first in that category. No surprise, this was a delightful solo experience for me to try out early in the convention. I would love to have a matching set of colored pencils to make the maps pop a little more as I sketch out my towns and forests, etc. onto the paper. I enjoyed Roll Player, and still need to try it with the expansion. I’m pretty sure I like this more than that and I have even higher hopes for Lockup, which I really wish I had taken the time to try over the weekend. When I looked for it Sunday, it was already checked out to my great disappointment. But overall, Cartographers is a game high on my wishlist because of its smallish size, relatively quick gameplay, and because I think it would be really fun to try with my wife as well in the future.

#2 – Jorvik – Feld’s masterpiece, The Speicherstadt, but with an interesting theme on the package. Yes, you can slap a Viking theme onto any game and it’ll be enough to make me want to check it out. But in this case, it takes an excellent game and makes it far more visually appealing. I don’t like auction games in general (as stated above), but this one is an exception to that rule. While I don’t think the base game would be great with 2 players, the inclusion of the expansion in here would enhance that 2-player game potential with the addition of an extra worker per player, a good set of new cards, some new resources to collect, and another half of the board with its own unique bidding aspect. This game has literally been on my wishlist since I heard about the Viking retheme, and the weekend’s play confirmed that I really need to add this one to my collection soon because this is, so far, my absolute favorite game by Stefan Feld.

#1 – Pipeline – There was so much buzz surrounding this game going into Gen Con, and after Gen Con, that I started to wonder if this was succumbing to pure hype. No game could be that good, after all, right? I am beyond thankful that I was not only able to learn the game, but could also experience it with 2 players rather than more. It moved along at a really nice pace once we got through the rules, and there are a ton of approaches to consider for how to go about managing your Pipeline with efficiency. The game can be unforgiving, as the teacher and my friend learned the hard way…ending with a negative score. Maybe I did a good job at indirectly foiling his plans as I fumbled through how to pull the right levers. But somehow I recovered from stupidly taking two contracts in the first year, meaning I had to continuously fulfill them in the second and third years for an inefficient flow of income. I’ve been thinking back to the gameplay and how I should have done things differently ever since the end of our play, which is the hallmark of a great game experience. And with it being a Capstone title, it would fit right in with my other Capstone titles and have a realistic chance of dethroning Lignum as my favorite Capstone game with some more plays. Yes, it is that good. And yes, it is in the running for my top game of 2019. And yes, it is now the very top of my Secret Elephant wishlist…even above all the Lacerda games I know I would love to own.

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That was a long post. So I’ll wrap it up by just saying Cardboard Caucus was a ton of fun. I look forward to being more involved throughout the year, if I can, to help contribute to an even better Year 2. And I hope to see you there.

Uncategorized

Level Up with Level 99 Games #2: Shovel Knight (Exceed Solo Fighter)

Like the earlier hyping of KAPOW!, I can’t help but to be excited for the next release coming from Level 99 Games. That’s right, a new season of Exceed is likely to be one of the next things to hit the market from Level 99 Games, and it is going to be a good one regardless of any experience you may, or may not, have with the IP of Shovel Knight. The characters are going to have unique card backs, which helps to differentiate them going forward for ease of organization, cleanup, etc. The artwork in the game is ridiculously good. But what really has my attention is the level of customization they poured into the character creations. It is enough to convince me that I should play those Shovel Knight games at some point in time…

But today I want to focus on Shovel Knight himself. No, not the Shovel and Shield Knight duo that are coming up in the Season 4 release, but rather the standalone that they made of Shovel Knight previously for Exceed. We’ll talk about his cards, and some basic strategies to consider pursuing with him in a game of Exceed. Because he was a standalone character rather than a release in a box, I know that not everyone is going to have him in their collection. But perhaps this might help you to make an educated decision about whether he is worth dropping $10-12 to pick up because he’ll still play quite different (I’m told) than the version coming in Season 4 of Exceed.

His Character Card

Shovel Knight has a very straightforward, but beneficial, effect on his character card. The starting side allows him to draw a card every time he chooses the Move action for his turn. This will allow the character to essentially execute two actions that turn, since drawing a card is one of the possible actions. Granted, this isn’t a free draw because you need to pay Force for every space you Move, but it can allow you cycle the less useful cards with the promise of replacing at least one of them. For 2 Gauge the Shovel Knight is able to Exceed, flipping to his other side. This operates in the same way, except it also allows him to Move 1 after the paid movement and drawing the card. That extra space of movement can be really key, essentially allowing him to pay fewer cards than the opponent to get into position, in addition to that extra card draw.

The Ultra Attack Cards

Propellor Dagger – At costing only 1 Gauge, this card is among the cheapest options for these high-power Ultras in the game. It is relatively quick at 6 speed, and has a decent 1-2 range on it for 4 attack. Not bad, right? The cool thing about this card is that if you hit, you can spend a Gauge to return the card to your hand, allowing you to repeat on a later turn. And if that wasn’t enough, after hitting you can spend a Gauge to Move up to 3 spaces to position yourself for the opponent’s turn. There are plenty of times I would gladly spend a Gauge to get out of range of an opponent’s attack, and this card can potentially allow you to do that, provided you have enough to spend for it. One of the best parts of the card, though, comes from its Boost effect because it lets you discard one of your Continuous Boosts to Draw 3 cards and Heal 3 life. Healing is overpowered, friends, and there are plenty of free Continuous Boosts that can be deployed to set this up. Not only that, but your opponent will have to consider, every time you play a Boost, if you are setting up to use this on your next turn or not. Which might prompt them to making unfavorable attacks in order to try and block your huge card Draw and Heal effect, letting them stumble right into whatever trap you had in your hand to play against them. Bonus points if you play this one against them, striking quickly and bringing it back to your hand to solidify the threat of this card getting played.

Troupple Chalice – The threat of this card can be pretty strong as well. It costs 3 Gauge to play the Ultra, which is a little on the pricey side for a mere 5 Power attack. However, it has a good distance for its Range with 2-4, and doesn’t care about its low speed because it grants Stun Immunity. The Hit effect feels right, though, because it allows you to Draw 2 and then heal up to 5 at the cost of 1 Force per life. Like the Propellor Dagger, it has a really nice Boost effect on the card by granting a Continuous Boost of +3 to Power, Speed, and Armor. Yes, you need to discard a Continuous Boost, but it is likely a worthwhile trade that also lets you Draw a card. If you haven’t guessed it yet, Shovel Knight has a clever way of getting to do several Actions as part of choosing a single Action, which can help him to gain and maintain an advantage over your foe.

The Character Cards

Alchemy Coin – At a range of 1-5, it is one of my favorite cards to see in my hand because it offers a ton of flexibility for usefulness on a turn when my opponent makes an attack. Its very slow Speed of 1 is offset by a reasonable Guard of 5, making it likely that you can strike back at whatever they happened to throw at you. And dropping 4 Damage isn’t anything to brush aside, but the real value of this card is in its Hit ability: Draw a card for each space between you and your opponent. That makes this a real gem at long range, especially if facing a fighter with very few ranged options if you can force them into a Wild Swing on your turn. Going for a Propellor Dagger on their turn, which can allow you to move back out of their attack’s range after it hits, and then going into Alchemy Coin on your next turn can prove a lethal combination to cycle out and frustrate the opponent. However, This card can also be used for its Continuous Boost of +3 Power at the cost of 1 Force, which is a fine tradeoff.

Chaos Sphere – If you want a toolbox kind of card, here it is for you. The stat line isn’t bad at first glance with a 1-2 Range, 4 Power, and 4 Speed on the attack. It is the definition of a “nice” card to get into your hand, right? Average stats and at least small options on range for positioning. It is the text on the card that makes this a really good card to have, because you can potentially add +4 Range to it at the cost of 1 Force per point of Range. This makes it a flexible, yet costly, card to have available for you but it helps ensure that you avoid a miss, and can help lull your opponent into expecting a very different sort of attack based on positioning. However, even more useful is that you get to either Push or Pull your opponent 2 spaces after hitting them, which is a great way to set them up for your next attack or to possibly shift them out of range for their attack, should it be slower than yours. And the Boost here is nice, giving you +3 Speed at the cost of 1 Force for a Continuous Boost. Going first can be a huge game changer, especially depending on the matchup and/or circumstances. This is another card to hold close in your hand until it is needed, simply because it has strong options available for you.

Flare Wand – This is the speediest attack in the Shovel Knight kit, coming in at a 7 Speed. Most likely you are using this in situations where you really need to act first and/or you are looking to trigger its effect that happens After you Hit. You’ll look at this, and at first you’ll think it is discard fodder with that 0 Power. And I won’t blame you at all, especially since its range is only 1-2. But when it hits you can spend up to 2 Force for +1 Power each, making its attack value really a 0-2. It isn’t going to blast through any defenses, of course, but every little bit can help and Shovel Knight isn’t going to lack for disposable cards in hand. The real benefit is to Retreat 2 after you hit, ideally to set up for Alchemy Coin or Troupple Chalice on your next turn while also avoiding your opponent’s attack this turn. Not a fan of the weak card’s effect? Don’t despair because you can play it as a Continuous Boost for 1 Force and get +3 Armor, which is actually really good and useful. And if we’re honest, it is probably the way you’ll use this card most of the time. Unless you’re using it to pay Force on some other card.

Mobile Gear – Any time I see a card with a value of X on there I know I’m going to have an extreme opinion on the card: either I will really love it or I will really hate it. Why? Because X is almost always a gimmick, forcing you to follow a very specific set of circumstances to trigger the effect. And sure enough, this one has a Range of X that will hit as long as you Advance past your opponent during the Before phase of the combat. However, being able to Advance 4 is nothing to complain about, since it can help you go from a long-range Alchemy Coin to getting up close and personal with some of your other 1-2 Range attacks. With a 5 Speed, it is pretty goods odds to go first, and moving that far will definitely mess with what your opponent planned to execute. The 3 Power isn’t terrible, But most of the time you aren’t playing this because you are concerned about the damage. This can absolutely ruin your plans if you carelessly Wild Swing into it, forcing you out of position for whatever attacks you had planned in your hand. The Continuous Boost effect on this is a nice one, allowing you to spend Force upon Hit for +1 Power per Force with a cap of +4. Again, this guy is really good at drawing extra cards so being able to boost into a +4 can be really nice, especially since this costs nothing to put out and so if you whiff the next attack, you can just let it go without paying extra. That threat of +4 will make your opponents nervous late in the game.

War Horn – The final card to talk about here before I give some overall thoughts on the character. This is actually a pretty strong card, with a 5 Speed and a 5 Power with a Range of 1-2. That in itself is reason to get excited when you see the card. However, a Guard of 3 also helps protect the attack, as it allows some small cushion for defense (which could be Boosted beforehand with, say, the Flare Wand or the Troupple Chalice) to help make sure it fires off. It will Push your opponent 2 spaces on Hit, making it another one of the cards that helps to manipulate positioning – something that (if you didn’t catch it by now) the Shovel Knight does really effectively. Which is also reflected in the Continuous Boost effect of this card, giving a +1 Power for the next attack while also allowing you to Move 3 right now.

Overall Thoughts/My Review

Shovel Knight is a fun character. He isn’t going to stand out stat-wise because he doesn’t really excel in any one of those areas. I suppose he’s probably best with Range, because all of his attacks have a spectrum of Range rather than a single number – this makes him a very flexible character over the course of a battle and helps him to be in more situations where his cards are useful. Wild Swings, for example, are more likely to hit using him because he is less likely to flip a card that is extremely restrictive on a required Range. Especially at Range 1-2, he is far more likely to pull something useful than not. That makes him a dangerous opponent, even with an empty hand.

But he isn’t likely to have an empty hand, and if it does get used up it rarely stays that way for long. He can just Move around to gain more card Draw, something that shows off his two biggest strengths: cycling more cards to his hand and being able to constantly maneuver around the battlefield. In fact, Shovel Knight is at his most dangerous when he does have a full hand of cards, because he can easily dump 3-5 of them to make his attacks more lethal, getting more mileage out of a hit that lands rather than depending on getting future hits. The longer a match goes, the more danger Shovel Knight will be in losing via decking out from all of the extra card Draws and that provides a very real strategy to try and overcome him – simply avoid or absorb as much of his output as possible and make him outlast you.

The Shovel Knight is at his best when he is cleverly moving around the board, positioning himself for the next turn or two while thwarting an opponent’s plans. Because most of his attacks come with a moderate Speed, there is a decent chance he’ll go first often enough to be able to pull off crazy maneuvering shenanigans during at least part of the battle. Darting in close, dropping a quick attack, and then backing out of Range before they can retaliate is the dance of the Shovel Knight in this deck, and he does it pretty well. Characters with short, limited range options or a slower speed without Armor or Guard will be frustrated by his shifty nature. However, speedy characters or ones with stronger range spectrums will be able to do just fine with the Shovel Knight shenanigans, especially the speedy characters since he lacks many options that will prevent him from getting Stunned.

All in all I really enjoy the character and the style of gameplay he brings to the Exceed Fighting System. For what it is worth, he’s a character I would definitely invest in adding to a collection because his style feels quite unique when compared to many of the characters out there. He doesn’t want to go toe-to-toe and trade blows, nor sit back comfortably and blast. That maneuverability makes him exciting to play as, and can be very frustrating to play against.

Sorcerers & Starships

Sorcerers & Starships #2: KAPOW! Hype and Epic Card Game First Impressions

One of my favorite things about moving toward these monthly features is that I can take on different roles as a fan of games. I’m absolutely capable of falling victim to hype, no matter how much I might fight tooth and nail against the latest hotness trends in the hobby. However, my hype is less for the abundance of sculpted miniatures, or the latest multi-hundred dollar full-back pledge level with 99 Kickstarter Exclusive unlocks running on Kickstarter, or even the latest Stonemaier title to hit the wild (although I do admit, Tapestry turned out to be far better in the first play than I anticipated). I am more likely to get hyped for the latest titles from some of my favorite publishers, just like I’m sure many of you are, and White Wizard Games falls into that category. And so this morning, when there was an email announcing the latest game to hit their lineup – well, let’s just say I wouldn’t do much for a Klondike bar but I’d bend over backwards to get an early review copy of the game….

But before I talk about why I am extremely excited about KAPOW!, I wanted to create some useful content with some first impressions of Epic Card Game. I finally got in two games of it a few weeks ago, and was overall impressed with the quick-pacing and easy-to-understand flow of the game. Anyone who has played Magic: The Gathering will feel at home with the premise of playing events and deploying Champions to form your army which you will use to try and defeat your opponent. The clever twist in this game, and this is the thing that really impressed me, is that cards either cost 0 or they cost 1 coin. You get 1 coin to spend during each turn, meaning I have a coin to spend on my turn, and I have a coin to spend during my opponents’ turn. There are some insanely powerful cards in there, but when everyone feels overpowered it turns out to strike a sense of balance. Games are really fast, and armies of Champions can fill out quickly in the game. We used completely randomized decks of 30 cards from a single starter and had a really good time of it. It can only get better going forward, once we both take time to customize decks to use in the game.

The best thing about Epic is that it skips all the boring “ramp” of deploying puny cards and slowly building up to be able to play something fun in 7-10 turns – assuming a game would last that long. You can play your most powerful card on the first turn of the game, but so can your opponent and you want to make sure that powerful card isn’t lost quickly as a result. Because there is no stressing about resource generation, you also are able to focus on filling your deck with exciting cards and players are always on an equal footing in terms of what they could do.

However, it isn’t a perfect product. There are so many keywords, and you need to turn to the center of the rulebook to look them up – a printed player reference for each person playing is going to be a must for quick and easy reference of what these keywords mean. Some will complain about there being only 1 of each card in the game, when you could ideally construct decks with 3 of each card. This means some players are going to feel compelled to buy in at 3 of every product in order to have a maximized card pool for deck construction. If that doesn’t bother you (and it doesn’t bother me, as I don’t need 3x of every card!) the price to play this game is extremely reasonable at about $15 for the base game and plenty of expansion boosters that run around $5 each for a fixed set of cards. Going all-in on the game is not too far off from a normal board game, and there is plenty of fun to be had even with just the base game. I backed the latest Kickstarter for the Duel/Jungle sets before playing the base game, and I am pleased with that decision now that I tried the game. Turns out this is going to be a fun and solid one for my collection that I will eventually want to own everything for.

But first, I need to buy the bigger box because, well, there is no room for expansion cards in the base box.

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And now to hype their newest game: KAPOW! A Fast and Furious Buildable Dice Superhero Game. This looks like it checks so many boxes for me:

* Superhero theme
* 2-player dueling game
* Simple ruleset
* Fast and engaging gameplay where the “complexity” comes from the decisions made in-game rather than an overwhelming rules overhead.
* Customization of certain dice over the course of the game, allowing you to adopt strategies on the fly based upon how things are unfolding

I’ll be honest here, I hadn’t heard of KAPOW! Until this morning. Had I known about it, I probably wouldn’t have backed the Kickstarter because I don’t go in on those very often. However, I would have definitely considered it and found a way to get this into my collection before now. With the folks at White Wizard getting involved, this can only mean great things for a game that already sounds great. Because while dueling with a few Superheroes and Supervillains is fun and all, getting more variety in the future is going to be a desirable thing. And I have a hunch that this game is going to get expanded beyond the game that already exists. I’m not saying I’ll buy everything KAPOW!, but I’m also not saying I won’t. If it plays half as good as it sounds, this will be a game I will gladly own and expand in my collection for many years, much like Hero Realms, Star Realms, and Epic Card Game.

My biggest hope with the game, like any game I end up loving obsessively, is that they develop some strong lore for the game. They don’t need to go as far at Greater Than Games did with their Sentinels of the Multiverse line, but I’d love something. As a writer, and as a fan, I want to know the background of the world, and to know more of the characters than just their simple stat sheet with various powers.

If you are at Essen, I’m jealous of you because you can go try out the game. If you go to PAX Unplugged this year, I’m more jealous because it sounds like it will be available for purchase there. And this game is very, very high right now on my wishlist of games to play because it simply sounds like it will be a lot of fun. If you want to learn more, check out the announcement from White Wizard Games here:

https://www.whitewizardgames.com/introducing-kapow-a-fast-an…