Board Gaming · Review for Two · Two-Player Only

Review for Two – Odin’s Ravens (Second Edition)

Thank you for checking review #22 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.

**A copy of this game was provided by Osprey Games in exchange for an honest review.

Times played before review: 5* (actually 6, since I had to play a tiebreaker flight)

An Overview of Odin’s Ravens

Odin’s Ravens is a game designed by Thorsten Gimmler and is published by Osprey Games. The box states that it can play 2 players and has a 15-30 minute play time on the box.

Every morning Odin sends his ravens, Huginn and Muninn, across the entire world to bring back news of what life is like on Earth. Naturally, after thousands of years, they’ve gotten a little competitive. Race through the landscape in opposite directions to be the first to return to Odin. Focus on speed, or enlist the help of the trickster god Loki to create shortcuts and hinder your opponent. Can you be certain Loki’s changes won’t help your opponent instead? There’s only one way to find out!

The revised edition of Thorsten Gimmler’s award-winning Odin’s Ravens has been completely redesigned, with new rules and a beautiful new art style inspired by Norse mythology.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

The game is a 2-player only so nothing changes. There is a deck of land cards that gets shuffled and 16 of them are placed on the table, side-to-side, and are placed so that no two matching terrain types are touching. If they would be, rotate the new card. If they still have a matching terrain side, you put the card on the bottom of the deck and take the next one.

Each player gets a set of 8 Loki cards and 25 flight cards and shuffles each of those decks. A player draws a starting hand of 5 cards, in any combination from the two decks. The ravens start at the same end of the table, but begin on different paths of the cards.

On a player’s turn, they can move forward by playing either a single flight card that matches the land type shown on their card or by playing two matching flight cards that do not match the land type shown. They can move as many times as they have the cards to do so. They can also play Loki cards from their hand, which allow them to break the rules in some ways such as flipping cards, rotating cards, adding new land cards to the path, and removing land cards.

The first player to have their raven fly down the path and back the other side will win.

My Thoughts

I don’t often like to comment on the aesthetics of a game, as the appearance is a very subjective quality, but this is a well-produced game. The cards are nice, and I like that they are tall but have a smaller width than standard. The wooden ravens look and feel fantastic. The artwork on the backs of the cards and for the terrain catches the eye. This is a game that looks and feels good while you play it.

The games are quick and competitive. No matter how far ahead one raven may seem, it takes just one turn to get back into the race. Out of the five games I’ve played, four finished with either a tie or the second raven being a space or two from the end. In a game that boils down to a race, you want to always feel like you have a chance of winning and you want to always feel the pressure to extend your lead if you’re ahead. This game succeeds at that.

The Loki cards are a nice touch in the game. They add just enough to alter the game, allowing you to make or break combos of cards. I love the dual options on each card, making you choose between the two potential uses. I also enjoy how those cards really capture the feel of Loki, the trickster god from Norse Mythology. One option usually helps you, while the other typically sets your opponent back on their path to victory. Another great thing about the Loki cards: each one can be used just once. This is a deck that cannot be reshuffled, so their use needs to be timed just right.

I like that you have two decks to pull from, and that finding a balance between when to draw what type of card is a key to success. It is also great that you aren’t stuck on a space until you get that matching terrain type from your flight deck – although sometimes it can be painful to play two of a terrain that you know is coming up.

There remains a certain amount of luck in this game. It is a terrible feeling when you draw three cards at the end of your turn and end up with no pairs and no cards matching the terrain you need to move onto next. The other side of that is the lucky draw, getting the exact three cards you need. The luck never feels like it controls the game, but it is present to an extent.

This game lacks depth for strategy. Outside of the Loki cards and when and how to use them, the game is very straight-forward in its approach. There are small decisions a player can make, but even choosing not to play your pair can work against you since your hand limit is capped at seven cards. Yet this game isn’t trying to be a deep game full of challenging decisions. So if you’re looking for a lighter filler game that contains some meaningful choices, this one would fit the criteria.

Oh the tiebreaker. I do like that you aren’t penalized for being the second player, getting a chance to finish the flight and “tie” the game. The first tiebreaker is fine, looking at who has the most flight cards still in hand. I’d think looking at who has the most unplayed Loki cards might have been a better first tiebreaker due to their power. The second tiebreaker? Reset the board and race again. Boo. I’m not opposed to multiple plays in a row of this one, but I don’t want to race twice just to earn one victory. And what if you both tie on that second flight? Do you reset and play a third flight to see who wins that first game? This is one that really stood out to me when it came up, and is something I’m not a big fan of.

Final Verdict

This game is very simple, yet in its simplicity there is a nice amount of strategy that can be unearthed. This is one of those games that won’t ever be the star of a collection, but will serve as a nice niche filler game to pull out under certain conditions. Its simplicity makes it a game that even younger children could play and do reasonably well with, and the Loki cards are easy enough to understand visually that they could even use those during gameplay.

I do enjoy the game in spite of my near failure to win a play of this game. I suspect my wife took it easy on me in our final play of the game so that I could write a review having won at least one time. She really enjoys this one, perhaps more than I do, even though I really dig the theme. It is a game I’ll rarely choose on a game night, but one I’d never turn down if someone suggested it. Which is about what you’d want for a light filler like this one.

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

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Review for Two

Review for Two – Fields of Green

Thank you for checking review #21 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.

An Overview of Fields of Green

Fields of Green is a game designed by Vangelis Bagiartakis and is published by Stronghold Games and Artipia Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 45 minute play time on the box.

In Fields of Green, players take the role of farm owners trying to expand their property and business. By adding fields, livestock and facilities, they build an economic engine that will bring them closer to victory.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

Fields of Green is played over four rounds (years) during which players draft cards and add them to their ever-expanding farms. At the end of each year comes the harvest season when they must water their fields, feed their livestock, and pay maintenance costs in order to receive valuable resources that will allow them to further expand in the next year.

Since this is a card drafting game, there is a variant for playing with two players. Rather than drafting a six-card hand and then taking one at a time, passing the hand, you both draft a six-card hand and mix the twelve together. You will then flip six cards face-up on the table and the first player will take one and build it, then the second player will do the same. Two more cards will get flipped face-up, and this cycle is repeated until all twelve cards have been selected and played.

We do a very, very slight modification on this. Rather than flip them face-up and play them as they are selected, the first player takes the six cards and chooses one, passing the remaining five. The next player takes a card from those five and both players put their cards into play. Then two cards are added to the four, bringing the total back to six. So instead of face-up, the same pattern is followed but with the cards being held in-hand to make it easier to read what they are.

My Thoughts

The spatial element to this game sets it a notch above the card drafting games out there. You aren’t just looking at the powers and the costs on the cards coming at you – you also need to consider how that card will, or will not, function with what is currently in your farm. This gives great balance to the cards, because there is no single card that is necessarily stronger than another. It is all situational based around what you’ve built so far and the cards you place into the farm going forward.

Another stroke of brilliance is the fact that many look at cards that are 2-3 spaces away rather than in your entire farm. The building cards have fewer restrictions on space but are offset with high costs. your water towers are critical elements of the farm, but they can only reach two spaces away and you get a limited amount of water each year. The restrictions on the spatial aspect of the game is what makes this one shine more than anything.

The drafting system is great at all player counts. Each player gets to take any six cards they want so long as the cards come from at least three of the four decks. Want to get an early building to focus around? You can do that. Need a late-game field? You can try to do that. You can increase the odds of getting a card you need through what you draw, yet you’re also limited in the number of those cards that you’ll get a chance to buy (2 cards in a 3-4 player game).

The two-player variant for the drafting is excellent. Mixing the twelve cards together and having a few revealed at a time gives the same limits as you’d get with more players while also allowing you to try and plan long-term. Getting the first pick at a card is huge, and both players will get that chance twice over the course of a game. It feels like you have more control because you’ll see a decent number of those cards again so you can try and set-up for the card to go in the right spot at the right time. Yet at the same time there is a good chance your opponent will take the card you were hoping to buy next.

The harvest phase is important. Not only does this allow you to earn food and/or coins, but it is also the way to keep your farm intact. I really love that you get punished if you cannot pay a harvest cost, forcing your card to flip and be treated as an empty space until you repurchase it on a later turn. I also like that you get to pick and choose the order in which you harvest. You need to be aware of that order, so that you can maximize your gain over the course of the harvest. Some may feel this part of the game is fiddly, but it is an important mechanic where the order really does matter.

Equipment is a nice addition as well. They can add one-time powers, recurring powers/benefits, or end game scoring opportunities. Being able to add two on a card is great, and their scarcity (most games) makes them potential game-changers. Going heavy on equipment doesn’t secure a win, and ignoring them doesn’t guarantee a loss in the game. Yet they can really alter how your own farm functions and what you need.

There is a feel of variety in the large decks, yet there are a lot of repeated cards in there. This is both good and bad. More unique cards would be great because everyone loves variety, yet sometimes multiple copies of the same card can combo together well and if you need a certain card there is a better chance of finding it. The decks and equipment stack make it look like you have a ton of choices, yet you’ll see a lot of the same cards.

There is a ton of empty space in the box. This is one of the few games that we own with the insert in there still, which essentially covers 2/3 of the space in the box. Which means this game could fit in the box of, say, Battle Line. Unless there are a ton of expansions planned, and Among the Stars would indicate there is a chance of expansions, this box is full of air.

The scoring system is great and intuitive. There are a lot of ways to score points, and there are diminishing returns on some of the ways to score (1 point per 3 coins, for instance). The cards themselves have some good point values. Yet there are some buildings that can become overpowered in a farm. Nothing is worse than seeing your lead in points get blown away by the other player netting 30 points on their six building cards.

Final Verdict

It should be enough that I went to a demo day of the game and walked away paying the MSRP for a copy of it. The game hooked me from the first play, and hasn’t let me down yet. I’ve played at 2, 3, and 4 players and find I enjoy them all. There are certainly different viable strategies to the drafting depending on the player count. Much like 7 Wonders, this drafting game doesn’t really increase in length as you add in players unless they are all new players.

I’ve never played Among the Stars, but if this is the system that game uses then I would love to get a chance to play it. I love Sci-Fi theme, but the 20th Century Farming in this one is very fun and well-integrated. It is easily my favorite card drafting game to date, and I love how you build your own engine as you are placing the cards. So many elements work well together in this game, providing an experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome at the table.

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

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Review for Two

Review for Two – The King is Dead

Thank you for checking out my twentieth review. 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.

**A copy of this game was provided by Osprey Games in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of The King is Dead

The King is Dead is a game designed by Peer Sylvester and is published by Osprey Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 30-50 minute play time on the box.

The King Is Dead is a board game of politics and power struggles set in Britain in the chaotic period following the death of King Arthur. For the good of the country, a leader must unite the Scots, Welsh, and Romano-British — not by conquest but by diplomacy.

In The King is Dead, players are members of King Arthur’s court. Whether a loyal knight, a scheming lord, or an ambitious noblewoman, you all have one thing in common: power. As prospective leaders, each player uses their power to benefit the factions, gaining influence among their ranks. The player with the greatest influence over the most powerful faction is crowned the new ruler of Britain.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

There are no major changes in setup for two players, simply the removal of two Followers (cubes) of each faction from the game. Each player gets their hand of eight cards. The eight territory cards are shuffled and placed along the sides of the board to determine the order in which territories will resolve. Two cubes of that color will go on the map in the territories that have the colored symbol on there, which indicates the home regions for those factions. The remaining cubes go in the bag and get mixed up (minus black cubes unless playing with the variant) and each player gets two cubes at random. Then cubes are pulled at random, with every territory on the board getting a total of 4 cubes.

KingisDead

During a player’s turn, they can either play a card from their hand or pass. When a card is played, it can never be played by that player again for the rest of the game. After playing and resolving the card, the player may select a cube from anywhere on the board and remove it, placing it in their personal supply. When both players pass consecutively, the next territory in order gets resolved, with the color having the most cubes in that territory placing their token on the area. If there is a tie for most, the Saxons conquer instead. Once a territory is resolved, its card flips over and all cubes are removed. Play continues until either the Saxons control four territories, or when all eight territories have resolved.

The player who has the most cubes in the color that controls the most territories will win. If the Saxons trigger the end game, then whoever has the most complete sets of 3 cubes wins.

My Thoughts

I love the artwork and the theming here. I know, those are subjective, but worth mentioning. The aftermath of King Arthur’s death and the struggle for power…what a great theme!

This game is very unique in its approach. It is an area control game, yet not like an area control game. It is a set collection game of sorts, but not at all like a set collection game. You’re removing followers to gain influence, but those followers reduce the influence that faction has remaining on the board. No player controls a specific faction, meaning any player can hold influence with any faction. I love the twist this game takes on a mechanic we’re used to seeing in games.

KingisDead4

This game has no secrets to take you by surprise. Once the board is set up, you know exactly what is available. You can see the order in which things will resolve, what cubes are where, and what eight actions you and your opponent will both be able to do over the course of the game. The only things you can’t predict is when your opponent will play each card and which cube they will take. But even then, as you get experienced you can start to predict some of those things. This game rewards the better player in nearly every play of the game, especially at the 2-player count.

I love the limitation on actions over the course of the game. It makes every decision meaningful. Do you play cards early to try and manipulate the board in your favor, or do you keep most of your cards in reserve to try and control the final territories? Do you sit by and let your opponent gain yet another blue cube while the blues conquer another territory, or do you counter their move? Your eight actions make this play out like a game of cat and mouse, in a way.

KingisDead3

The only way to gain influence in your own court is to play a card, which allows you to remove a cube from anywhere on the board. This is great because it encourages you to sometimes play a card that isn’t very beneficial because you can manipulate the balance in a territory through that removal. It also presents interesting decisions. You want to control the most in the color that eventually holds the most territories, yet gaining that influence makes them weaker in areas of the map. Going after a certain color early can tip off your opponent, yet balancing your selections across all three factions will limit the number of cubes you can ultimately hold in that majority color. This is yet another area of the game that provides challenging and interesting decisions for a player.

How the game’s end triggers determines how the game is scored. This is great because it forces you to react to how the territories are resolving. There is a chance that your majority in a faction will be meaningless when the game ends, causing you to lose to collected sets instead. Only once have I seen a game where the Saxons triggered the end, but it has always been in my mind as a possibility. I really like that dual trigger for the end of the game.

I would give this a full star for components, but I cannot. The box is great, and I love the artwork inside the box as well as on the outside. The map is outstanding, the cards are good. The bag and the cubes are a nice quality. But the tokens are so flimsy, they feel as though they will bend and break easily. This is the only component in the game that is of poor quality, and it was a little disappointing in a game where everything else is of fantastic production. I’m hoping a company makes upgraded wooden versions of these markers, as I think this would be a game that I’d jump on that upgrade.

KingisDead2'

As you can see, it becomes easy to think of the components in terms of the colors rather than the factions themselves. This is the same sort of flaw you see in a game like Lords of Waterdeep. Sure, there are the tokens to help signify, but they don’t include the names of the factions on there, either. So most players will refer to the factions by color rather than by name, apart from the Saxons because they’re the special invaders. Which is a shame, because the Scots, the Welsh, and the Romano-British are important factions from that period of history.

The Mordred variant in the game sounds so interesting, but I found it to be a poor inclusion in a 2-player game. It changes several dynamics and adds a third end-game trigger, but that trigger becomes easy to manipulate in a 2-player game. It rewards the player who acts last, and so the whole game played out in a predictable sequence of events that led to an unsurprising loss. With 3 players, this variant would be a great inclusion. I might try it one more time in a 2-player game, but if it follows the same pattern it’ll likely be reserved for the larger player count.

if you typically play with someone who is analytical then you may run into really long bouts of downtime. There is a ton of open information available, and so a person can sit there and think through every card you both have in your hands and how those are likely to be played and alter the board. If you dislike games that could encounter that sort of downtime, this may not be the game for you. My wife, for instance, would certainly never play this game against someone who overanalyzes their turns. She’d get too impatient while waiting for them to take their turn.

Final Verdict

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I really like this game. It is a fun, thinky game that plays rather quickly. A person could sit and puzzle out a ton of scenarios, and I’ve been involved in those intense matches. I’ve also played where it was a little more relaxed, reacting to the current situation instead of trying to analyze all the potential options. Both approaches are enjoyable.

This game does play better with three than it does with two, but it still provides a great experience with two players. If you’re wanting a game that plays 2-3, this is a great option. Even as just a 2-player game in your collection, it is certain to see some plays and could provide a lot of good fun. I certainly have enjoyed this game a lot, and will continue to play this game many more times in the future. It is a perfect opener or filler during a game night if you have a small number of people needing a game, and playing this a few times in a row is something I usually enjoy. It plays in the perfect amount of time, and I love the perfect set of information that is available to all players. As mentioned before, I love the twist this game takes on a mechanic we’re used to seeing in games. That makes this game one that should be added to many collections.

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

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Review for Two · Two-Player Only

Review for Two – Battle Line

Thank you for checking out my nineteenth review. 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.

**A copy of this game was provided by GMT Games in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Battle Line

Battle Line is a game designed by Reiner Knizia and is published by GMT Games. The box states that it can play 2 players and has a 30 minute play time on the box.

In Battle Line, two opponents face off across a ‘battle line’ and attempt to win the battle by taking 5 of 9 flags or 3 adjacent flags. Flags are decided by placing cards into 3-card poker-type hands on either side of the flag (similar to straight flush, 3 of a kind, straight, flush, etc). The side with the highest ‘formation’ of cards wins the flag.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

This is a 2-player only game, so nothing varies at this player count. You shuffle both decks, deal 7 troop cards to each player, and set the 9 pawns in a line in the center of the table.

Players take turn playing one card from their hand and then drawing a card from one of the two decks. A flag can be claimed if both players have three cards out, or if a person can prove the other player cannot win that flag via the cards left in the deck. For instance, if they need a Yellow 8 to get a higher total, then you can win the flag by showing the Yellow 8 is already in play elsewhere. Even if there is a Tactics card that could break this rule, the battle can be resolved and therefore prevent any more cards from being added or removed from that battle.

My Thoughts

This game rewards both long-term and short-term strategy. It can feel overwhelming at the start, because you don’t know what cards you’ll draw or where you opponent will place their cards. There is value in rushing to get to claim a spot early, and equal value at times to play segments slowly. The more options you leave open, the longer you’ll be able to continue drawing and playing cards. You’ll want to try and steal a fast win by claiming three adjacent flags, but you’ll also need to keep your opponent from doing the same. There is a lot of thinking and planning that can go into such a fast and simple game. Which makes this a wonderful quality of Battle Line.

The tactics cards are a fantastic addition, and they can change the entire dynamic of the game. There is nothing more satisfying than throwing down a card that claims a flag for you or delays one for your opponent. However, the balance comes in knowing these cards aren’t a factor in a player proving a flag cannot be claimed. Just because there is a card in the tactics deck that could allow you to get that Green 9 you need isn’t enough if the Green 9 is already out elsewhere. So while these cards are powerful, they only matter if you’ve already played them.

There is a tough decision on when to draw a tactics card and when to draw a troop card. The tactics can be powerful, yet taking those can allow the card you really need to go to your opponent’s hand instead. Or will allow the card they needed to go to their hand. There is a balance to find here, and it can be a tough thing to navigate. A hand full of tactics cards can end up being worth little if there aren’t the right troops to pair them with.

The 30 minute play time is an exaggeration. For a single play, including setup and teardown, we clock in around 15-20 minutes. Which makes this a perfect game. I’ve mentioned other games that play in a filler time but have gameplay beyond the typical filler game. This is one of those games. This is perfect for us, because we still have a young one in the house. Sometimes 15-20 minutes is all we can spare, which makes this a game we can pull out to play any time.

I like the battle system for determining the victor at each flag. It can seem overwhelming at first to remember what defeats what, but after a few plays it begins to click. As your opponent plays down cards, it allows you to narrow down your options to what cards you can play there in order to take the victory.

A player who likes to calculate their odds will enjoy this game; however, it can also be paralyzing. Later in the game it becomes tempting to look at what is out there and start trying to figure out what cards are in the deck and/or your opponent’s hand. This can lead to long turns for some players. It isn’t an issue either of us has, but definitely something that could be encountered.

At the end of the game, you may reach a point where you cannot play a card. Or, worse, where you have to play a card on a flag’s battlefield because you have only a few choices and no cards that go with your intended strategy. This is frustrating, because there are still cards in the deck but you’re forced into those plays. Because you have to play a card from your hand if possible. Should you pass, your opponent keeps playing until they cannot play any more cards on their side. I really found myself wishing I could simply discard to draw the next card.

I really enjoy the small touches placed in here, having each of the ten numbers be a different unit type from the Ancient world. There are two leaders in the tactics deck and they are powerful, but not if you end up drawing them both (because an army doesn’t need a second leader). My next point is on the theme, and while it isn’t a rich theme, they did put consideration in what goes on the cards. You’d expect Elephants to trample over any troop type, thus they are the 10.

This game could be rethemed in a thousand ways, as can be seen by the images on the BGG page. It isn’t supposed to be strong in theme, and it certainly makes sense to deploy these troops to win along the line of battle. If you are the player who needs a rich, immersive theme then you will be disappointed.

Final Verdict

This game is a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure how well she’d like this game because of the poker hand values and the potential math the game can require. Thankfully, my fears were all for naught as we’ve both quite enjoyed this game. It plays fairly quickly, and we are apt to play this several times in a row. This takes a few simple aspects and really makes them work well to deliver a perfect 2-player game.

This is one I’m very thankful to have in our collection. It is similar in some ways to Hanamikoji, a game we played before Battle Line, but they are different enough that we could definitely have both games in our collection and enjoy them both. If you’re looking for a game for two that requires short-term tactical thinking while rewarding long-term strategic planning, this one will fit that requirement. And it plays in a short span of time, allowing it to be squeezed into moments where you can’t play longer games or enabling it to be a game you play multiple times in a row.

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

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Review for Two

Review for Two – Haspelknecht

Thank you for checking out my eighteenth review. 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.

**A copy of this game was provided by Capstone Games in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Haspelknecht: The Story of Early Coal Mining

Haspelknecht is a game designed by Thomas Spitzer and is published by Capstone Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 60-90 minute play time on the box.

In Haspelknecht, the players take upon the role of farmers with opportunities to exploit the presence of coal in their lands in the southern part of the Ruhr region of Germany.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

Each player’s board is the same setup regardless of player count. The variance enters in two areas: the development tiles and the resource board.

In a 2-player game, there is one single resource board used which is divided into two sections. On the left are two spaces for three discs apiece, which basically provide a preview of the discs that will enter the pool for selection in the following season. On the right are two spaces for six discs each. Taking from the bottom space with your first disc selection will add a pit water into your mine. In a 2-player game, most seasons will see up to 10 of the discs chosen from the right-hand spaces, meaning the leftovers will merge with the three in each queue and then a few additional discs will be drawn from the bag and placed into those current selection spaces. Also of note, there will be exactly 18 discs used for the game which means they will all be in one of the four boxes at the beginning of a season. There are four yellow, seven brown, and seven black discs in the pool for a 2-player game.

The other change is the development tiles. Only three out of the five tiles in each color are used, meaning that the board is smaller but there will be several developments that do not appear. The strategy you take is not just dependent on where the tiles are placed, but also upon which ones are even available. This also means there is a fairly high chance a player may inadvertently place their disc on a development you wanted, allowing you to pay them an additional cost to claim the development as well if you aren’t already adjacent to that development.

My Thoughts

This game challenges the players. You play three years of time, and in those three years there are only three seasons where you actually do something. That means you get a total of nine turns to accomplish everything you need to do. The scarcity of some of the resources needed really challenges you to maximize your decisions. I’m yet to reach the end of the game feeling like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to, yet I also never feel like I was too restricted in my choices.

The Resource Board is a really interesting mechanism. The bottom box penalizes you with a water if you take from it first. The number and type of discs you take with your first pick are also important to consider because it dictates turn order for the season. Each season you can get at most two colors and at most a total of five discs. I also love that you can plan ahead, knowing three of the discs sliding over in the next turn.

The Development tree is another great mechanic. You have to start at the top. The first player in each of the four colors gets a reward, and the next player gets a smaller reward. You can only play on a development adjacent to one you already have a disc on…or you can go onto a development your opponent is on. But doing that means you also have to pay your opponent valuable materials. So there is incentive to not only plan your route ahead of time, but also to jump on it early.

Points can be really hard to come by in this game. A winning score for us is usually around 30-35, and the other player is never far behind. This is great because it keeps things competitive along the way while also rewarding you for those tough decisions. Do you leave all the coal in your shaft so that you can score more for them next year? Do you push to clear the upper mine Year 1 or get started on the Development tree? So many tough choices because those points are hard to come by and it feels like every point you earned could matter by the end.

The theme in this game is fantastic. It is the small details that matter: the ability to gain an extra food in the summer, increased productiveness from your workers if they both do the same action that season, the coal needing to be mined and then cranked up the shaft, wood needing to be placed to support the ceiling before you can mine deeper, and more. Even the developments make a lot of sense, such as the bucket prevents you from getting a water during the rainy seasons. This was a game designed with the theme in mind, and the overall package is a very engaging experience with interesting mechanics.

The excavation of the coal is a very visual process. The cubes start on your board. The top part clears and becomes a brand new player board with two workers to replace the one. The water level as a factor is fantastic. You have to add the wood sticks in the designated spots to go further. You gain points for digging deeper, as well as unlock symbols that might earn extra points. Well-designed for a player board, even if a bit fiddly in setup.

This is the first game in a trilogy of games. After playing this one, I’m ready for more! The fact that this is the “easiest” of the three has me excited to ramp up the difficulty.

There is great power in certain developments. Depending on the draw you get for those, it is possible to get a ton of points without needing to excavate much in your bottom mine. There are also possibilities that provide a ton of points without needing to try and bring the coal up with the Haspelknecht. So depending on what comes out, you may find the game encourages you to take a certain path in order to maximize your points.

I really wish there were just a few more development tiles in the game. Five in each color come in the box, and in a 2-player game you’ll be using three of those. Which means at best, you’ll have two unique tiles per row if you play a second game in a row. As you add in players, you use more of those tiles so a 4-player game uses all 5 tiles per color. The layout of the tiles will change, and be more impactful at that player count, but I’d love to see a few more in there.

Final Verdict

This is a game that anyone who enjoys worker placement games should try. I’ll admit the theme didn’t excite me, but it is executed really well and provides a fun yet challenging experience. The variability in the developments makes a 2-player game have some nice replay value, and there are advanced patterns to put out the tiles to make it more challenging and interesting. You can only plan so much because there is the randomness of the disc draw, but early planning can help you to overcome the desperate need to get a certain color disc.

This is a game that will make you think a lot, which is a welcome surprise. On the surface it doesn’t seem like a taxing experience, and a game of Haspelknecht won’t exhaust you. Multiple plays in a row might drain your mental power, though…and in a good way. You have hard choices to make in order to scrape up every last point possible. This is easily among my favorite worker placement games, and I can’t wait to try out the other games in the Coal Series by Capstone Games.

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

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Review for Two

Review for Two – Yokohama

Thank you for checking out my seventeenth review. 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.

**Giveaway ended – congratulations to Brian Dau, the winner of a free copy of Yokohama!

An Overview of Yokohama

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Once Yokohama was just a fishing village, but now at the beginning of the Meiji era it’s becoming a harbor open to foreign countries and one of the leading trade cities of Japan. As a result, many Japanese products such as copper and raw silk are collected in Yokohama for export to other countries. At the same time, the city is starting to incorporate foreign technology and culture, with even the streets becoming more modernized. In the shadow of this development was the presence of many Yokohama merchants.

Yokohama is a game designed by Hisashi Hayashi and is published by Tasty Minstrel Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 90 minute play time on the box.

In Yokohama, each player is a merchant in the Meiji period, trying to gain fame from a successful business, and to do so they need to build a store, broaden their sales channels, learn a variety of techniques, and (of course) respond to trade orders from abroad.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

While the gameplay is the same regardless of player count, there are quite a few things that remain in the box for a two player game. The back of each location tile and management board provides a helpful guide, as the ones used in 3 and 4-player games are marked on the back accordingly. So you’ll set any of those back in the box, which should leave you with 10 location tiles and 4 management boards to use with two. You’ll shuffle those location tiles and make a pyramid, starting with 1 tile at the bottom and progressing up to a row of 4 tiles at the top. The score-tracking board should be set out with the 4 management boards nearby. Shuffle the three decks of achievement cards and place a card from the A deck, a card from the B deck, and a card from the C deck on the card outlines on the scoring board.

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Shuffle the Order cards and place 16 back in the box. Then, deal two order cards to both players. Each player will select one to keep and remove the other from the game. Place six order cards from the top of the deck onto the Port management board. Shuffle the technology cards and place the top six cards on the Laboratory management board. Shuffle the building site cards and place one face-up in the top left corner of each location tile. Randomly place a 5-power token face-up on the 5-power spot on each location tile. Give each player a copper, a silk, a tea, and a fish token. The starting player will take 3 yen, the other player will have 4 yen. Each player will start with their President pawn, 8 assistant cubes, and 2 shophouses. The remaining assistant cubes, shophouses, and trading houses should be placed in the corresponding spots on their player’s board. Finally, a neutral-colored assistant cube is placed on the spot marked with the 2-Player icon on the Church and Customs management board.

There are six parts to each player’s main turn, and a few additional actions that can be done during the first or second half of a turn (before or after the six main turn actions). the main actions are:

Placement Step where a player puts out either 3 assistant cubes on 3 different action spaces, or 2 cubes onto the same action space.

Movement Step where a player does one of three things: takes their President Pawn from their playing area and puts it on the board where they have at least 1 assistant cube; moves their President Pawn from one space to another, so long as there is at least one assistant cube in each space they pass through as well as at least one on the space they end at (note: a player cannot end on a space where the other player’s President Pawn is located, but they can pass through the space by paying their opponent 1 yen); or they can remove the President Pawn from the board and return it to their playing area.

Area Action Step where a player activates the ability of that location, adding up the number of assistant cubes, shophouses, trading houses, and their President Pawn to determine the power level of that action (a number between 1-5). Typically, the higher the number the stronger or more effective the action is. An easy way to remember is to count everything on that space of your color.

5-Power Bonus step where a player can take the 5-power bonus token if they are the first person on that space to reach 5 power during a single action. These bonuses range from additional resources, yen, or imported goods.

Build a shophouse or trading house where a player whose action power was at least 4 can take a shophouse or trading house they have purchased and place it on one of the spaces on the building site card. Each card can hold only one shophouse of each color, and only one total trading house. They would then collect the reward that their house covered, and as an added bonus those count toward your total power on future actions on that space.

Recovery step where a player returns any assistant cubes on the action space to their supply.

This is the essence of what you can do during a game. The extra actions are to complete an order, to use a foreign ambassador (it is used like a President, only it does not add to the power of the location nor is it restricted by an opponent’s President Pawn), or fulfill an achievement card on the scoring board. Any goods or resources needed for the achievement are not spent, but an assistant cube is placed on the card thus reducing the number of them in your available pool for the rest of the game.

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There are many other gameplay elements that could be discussed, but others have done far better than I could. So I’ll conclude this aspect with how the game ends. The end of the game is triggered by one of these conditions being met:

1) A player has placed their eighth shophouse on the board
2) A player has placed their fourth trading house on the board
3) A 4th cube, including the neutral cube, is placed on the Customs management board (with more players, this number may be higher)
4) A 4th cube, including the neutral cube, is placed on the Church management board (with more players, this number may be higher)
5) The order card deck is empty and there is at least one empty space on the Port management board.

Points are scored based on position on the Church Board, position on the Customs board, value of technology cards, sets of country cards, unused foreign agent tokens, remaining yen, and remaining goods. The highest point total is the winner.

My Thoughts

The first thing that I really enjoyed was how variable the setup of the game would be. While it isn’t as strong of a positive as I initially imagined, this is still a great thing. The locations will not appear in the same order each game. The bonuses for building your houses and doing the 5-power bonuses will change each game. The achievements will change. This helps prevent the game from being a stale exercise in trying to be the most efficient at executing the same exact path each time. However, in a 2-player game the board is small enough that the arrangement of the spaces doesn’t impact your overall strategy.

The movement aspect of this game is great. I love that you need to arrange paths via your assistants in order to move around and that you’ll need to stockpile them on spaces in order to take the stronger actions. It is a game with planning and strategy in abundance, and in a 2-player game you’ll almost always be able to get around to where you are wanting to go as long as you plan ahead on making the paths.

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The power aspect of this game is also another area of design I really like. Most spaces you’ll always be able to do the action if you can get there via movement, but if you want to be efficient with your action you need to plan ahead and load up enough assistants on a space. Pooling them too soon can cue your opponents in on what you are trying to accomplish, allowing them a chance to potentially block you by going there first or stopping in your path. You also need to get at least 4 power in order to place a shophouse or trading house, making extra incentive to get just enough power in there to add that benefit from your move.

I really like that claiming an achievement, or cashing in on the Church or Customs management boards takes one of your available assistants from your pool. It makes you either plan ahead to free more workers from your warehouse, or else leaves you scrambling to make long enough paths and pooling enough power to be effective.

I like a game with set collection in there, and this one works nicely. There are dual incentives here: each pair of country symbols gives you a foreign agent (which is worth either an extra “president” action in a turn, or else 1 VP at the end of the game), but collecting a set of 4-5 different countries scores you higher amounts of VP at the end of the game. With one of those five countries being really rare, that makes it no sure thing that you can get all five countries or be able to do so multiple times. The fact that they are represented on both order cards and technology cards is another great implementation of design.

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I love, love, love the multiple ways to trigger the end of the game. This game doesn’t only provide several ways to score points, but also multiple ways to bring about its end. Several of those are dependent on your own actions, but there are a few that are impacted by everyone (running out the orders deck, placing cubes on the management boards). In a 2-player game, with the automatic inclusion of a neutral cube that counts toward the limit on the management boards, this could potentially end really quickly. We’ve had it triggered by all of the possible outcomes so far, and every time we feel like it was the perfect length for the game.

The game looks very overwhelming when set up, but it takes only a turn or two to realize that this is a very simple and easy-to-understand game. Especially with two players, the number of options out there are not too high because a lot of the locations have similar effects (collect X of a resource, purchase X by paying Y, etc.). The board is perfect in size and is far less busy than it initially appears. It also takes less time to understand how things work in terms of how to gain what you need and how to turn things into points for a game.

The iconography of the game does take some time to get used to. Some space actions are simple, showing a good or VP to collect. Others, like the icons on the Laboratory, take some referencing in the book to really wrap your head around the action and/or limitations from that space. These are a small barrier at first during the first plays, but with familiarity they become easier to interpret and integrate into part of the experience.

In a 2-player game, it never really feels like I am blocked out of what I want to do. Even when an opponent is where I want to go, I know that they will be moving the next turn so I can get there one move later. The board is small enough that I can get anywhere without having to pay the opponent so long as I plan ahead effectively. So while many worker placement games place a value on being the first player so you can get the action you need each turn, this one focuses more on the long-term route planning. You’ll almost always be able to get done what you want, and usually waiting just means you can make it, or another space, more effective while being delayed. With more players, this could very well change but I suspect it would still be similar enough in experience.

The theme is unique and represented well. Art is a subjective thing, and while the appearance of everything in this game is solid, it isn’t memorable. You can definitely get the feeling of being a merchant trying to collect and ship goods, but it isn’t super-immersive. Few worker placement games are immersive in theme, and they tend to touch upon the more unique themes like this one. If you care about beautiful, memorable art or a really immersive theme, this one won’t leave the impression you are looking for. However, it doesn’t feel like the theme is pasted on nor is the artwork detracting.

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Final Verdict

This was a game that surprised me a lot. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew its worker placement aspect was unique enough to make it worth checking out. Many people want to compare it to Istanbul, and after my first play I thought I no longer needed to obtain Istanbul for my collection. After a few more plays, though, I realized that it is a very different game from Istanbul and in a good way. It does several things that I really enjoy, such as the power system, the use of assistants for movement paths, and the multiple end-game triggers.

The one thing that I was really disappointed in was the variability of the game. Yes, it will be set up differently each game. But each of the three achievement spots has only four cards to choose from. Many of the 5-power tokens are similar in what they provide. The building site cards are very similar in the rewards offered for building your shophouses and trading houses. So ultimately, the variability is not as earth-shattering as it might sound in the beginning. That isn’t a bad thing, but it also means that the games will still feel very similar each time you play. Which is the same thing that could be said for Istanbul, and many other worker placement games out there. The path toward victory is similar each game, even if the way you choose to pursue that changes slightly based on what appears and where they appear for the game.

I definitely recommend this game for anyone seeking an unique gaming experience from a designer whose name I’m suddenly seeing everywhere. This is a really solid game, and should last through quite a few plays before it runs any risk of feeling like you’ve exhausted what the game has to offer. It is a solid 2-player experience that is certain to improve with higher player counts, but even if added to a collection that would never see more than 2-players this game is definitely worth picking up.

Thanks again to Tasty Minstrel Games for providing this game for review, as well as their generous offer to provide a copy to give away.

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

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Review for Two · Two-Player Only

Review for Two – Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft

Thank you for checking out my sixteenth review. 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.

We were provided a copy of this game by Devir Games in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft

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In February 1895, London woke up to a loud bang. A large pillar of smoke showed that a bomb had exploded in the Houses of Parliament. Security forces were activated immediately and they arrested a suspicious young laborer near the area.

Mycroft Holmes, at the service of the crown, was commissioned to investigate the relationship of the young laborer with anarchist groups. He thinks it will be an easy task that he can do from the comfort of his armchair in the Diogenes Club — until he is informed of disturbing news; his younger brother Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, has been hired by the boy’s parents to prove the innocence of his son, who believes to be a scapegoat of a dark conspiracy.

For the first time, the brightest minds in London face each other. Was the young laborer involved in this terrible attack or he is just a scapegoat for a dark conspiracy?

Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft is a game designed by Diego Ibañez and is published by Devir Americas. The box states that it can play 2 players and has a 20-30 minute play time.

A game of Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft lasts seven turns (days of investigation). At the beginning of each day, famous characters extracted from the books of Arthur Conan Doyle appear in London.

Each player has three action tokens that move from one character to another to use their special abilities, knowing that a player can never have two tokens on the same character. Therefore, a character must be freed before reuse. The abilities of each character allow them to obtain Evidence Cards or gain Investigation Tokens in multiple ways. The game has great replay value because it is not known whether a character with a specific ability will make their appearance on the board in the Day 1 or in the final Day 7. Each game is different!

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

The game is playable only with two players, so there is no special setup. Each player takes the three meeples of their chosen color (blue or orange) and five magnifying glass tokens. The three starting character cards – Watson, Mrs. Hudson, and Inspector Lestrade – are placed on the board where their names appear. The remaining character cards are shuffled and placed on the draw pile space on the board. The top two of the deck are flipped out, giving you five cards face-up to begin the game.

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The deck of clue cards are shuffled and then four are flipped face-up. These four cards are what are available for purchase most of the time, although there are a few ways to purchase cards from the top of the deck. Players will take turns moving one of their meeples onto the character card of their choice, laying them down when placing them. Each character card can have only one meeple of your color on there. You carry out the action (such as gain magnifying glasses, trading magnifying glasses in to take cards, and other varying special abilities that will appear) the character provides. After your action is complete, flip over cards from the top of the deck to replace any that you purchased and the next player goes.

After all three meeples are placed laying down onto character cards, the day has ended. All meeples are then placed standing on the cards they visited. If any card, except the starting three characters (Watson, Hudson, Lestrade), has two meeples on them they are flipped over and unable to be visited during the next day. A new character card is placed on the next day, adding an additional location for the meeples to visit. Any character cards that were face-down the previous day are flipped back over and can be visited once again. Because the meeples remain on the card they visited the previous day, the order in which you move your meeples becomes important if you want to revisit a certain character card because you cannot already have a meeple of your color on the card.

The objective is to collect the majority in each set of cards. There are eight possible sets to collect:

Numbers 3-9, and each of those numbers has cards in the deck equal to their value. For instance, there are six cards with the number six on them. There are wild cards which can be added to any existing set you are collecting, but you cannot have more than one wild per set. You do not have to immediately assign the wild to a set, but once you do assign it the card cannot be rearranged. There are also five map fragments which provide points based upon the number you collect (1 is worth -1, 2 are worth 1, 3 are worth 3, 4 are worth 6, and all 5 are worth 10 points).

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Whoever has the majority in each value at the end of the seventh day will score the point value of the card, minus one point for each card the opponent has collected in that value. For example, if you have four of the 6 cards and your opponent has two, you will score 6 – 2 = 4 points. If you collect all cards of the number (wild cards do not count toward this), you score three bonus points in addition to the value of the card. Unplaced wild cards in your reserve are worth negative points at the end of the game. If players are tied in a value, neither player gains the points.

It is worth noting that one character card will not be seen each game. There are also two simple variants in the game. One adds a double-sided Sherlock/Mycroft card which starts with the player who goes second. At any time in the game, even after a card just flips over, the player with that card may take and reserve it for purchase later. Once the card is purchased, the double-sided card flips and is moved to the other player’s possession. Any card reserved but not purchased by the end of the game will cost that player three points.

The other variant is to add two villain cards into the character deck after the first two cards are flipped for the Day 1 action spaces. When one of them is revealed you do their action, they are discarded from the game, and then a new character is flipped to be placed on the next day. James Moriarty causes each player to discard two cards from their play area or pay two magnifying glasses per card. This is done with the first player choosing their first card or paying the cost, then the second player will select or pay for both of theirs, and then the first player will do their second card or cost. The other villain is Sebastian Moran, and he causes both players to lay one of their meeples down, essentially making it so both players get two actions for the day instead of three.

Both of these variants are easily integrated into the base game and add some extra strategy and unpredictability.

My Thoughts

The most brilliant thing this game accomplishes is the worker placement aspect of the game, and there are two reasons why. The first is the restriction of having only one meeple of your color on a card in combination with your meeples remaining on the board at the end of each round. That means a player can never take the same three actions as they did the previous round, although with some careful planning they could do two of the three. It makes the order in which you move your meeples matter, and that is a wonderful mechanic that I hope to see implemented in more games in the future. The second thing is having a card flip over if both players visit the card. Sometimes the card gets used because it is easily the best card available. Sometimes you’ll want to go to that card after your opponent does simply so they can’t reuse the card the next day. There are a few abilities that may be much stronger for one player than the other, and so it is a legitimate strategy to deny them that space for a day.

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After our first few plays, I wasn’t a big fan of the random appearance of characters. It seemed like the last days had characters appearing who had no value because their abilities had costs equal to the current day. I’ve come to appreciate the variable board, though, because it helps the game’s strategies to feel at least a little different each time we play. The last game we played had Shinwell “Porky” Johnson in the Day 1 characters. His ability is to choose 1-3 cards from the face-up queue to discard. His presence changed the entire dynamic of the game, making certain sets harder to collect because cards were being trashed from the game. An early Irene Adler can also bring about a little “take that” because she allows you to steal a card from an opponent (placing it face-down in front of you, which prevents it from being stolen back) by paying magnifying glasses equal to the day number. Overall, I have come to really enjoy how different our approach can be based upon who flips during those first few days.

In every game there will be one character you do not see, and usually a small handful of cards that may never flip for purchase. I like both of these because you cannot count on seeing that card you’re waiting for. There are a few abilities that also allow a player to obtain a face-down card so you can never be sure what they have or don’t have. The last game we played, my wife lucked out because the final 3 flipped with my last purchase of the game. Because she went second, that allowed her to complete her set. Had I chosen a different action than a purchase, she never would have seen that final card, which ended up being worth an extra three points. A card counter could potentially know the probability of their success with the cards they have, but there are enough variables to remain uncertain if you do have enough of a majority to score the points.

Our first games we went after the high-numbered cards. We focused so much on 7-9 that the winner in each of those didn’t really score that many points. I like that every card you get in a number is taking away a point from the opponent. So even taking those late-game 9’s can be meaningful. It also is a system that doesn’t reward a player for over-collecting. You get the same points from those 9’s whether you have the majority by one card or by five cards. The only reason to over-collect would be to prevent them from stealing your points. Which makes an interesting balance to the game. You don’t want to completely ignore a number, especially a high number, but you also don’t really want to go all-in on a number unless there is a chance of getting them all.

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The map fragments are a personal favorite of mine. It scores on a system that is very characteristic of a standard set collection game, and I also like that having only one makes you lose a point. Is it worth taking that map fragment so your opponent can’t get all five? If the trashing character hasn’t flipped, that might be the only way to prevent them from getting a high return on those map fragments. But even though those ten points may seem like a lot, it is no guarantee of victory! I managed to get them all in one game, but ultimately at the cost of not gaining enough majorities in the other sets.

This game is fast and fun. We play a game in about 15-20 minutes now, and every time we play we’ve immediately reset the game to play again. It is a lot of fun and the sort of game that will often be played as a best-of-three series when we pull it out. And the best part is, as I’ve mentioned already, each of those three games will have a slightly different feel to them because of the order in which the characters appear. The addition of the variant cards adds no extra time to the game, nor any complexity, which makes them seamless to add into the game after a few plays without them. This is easily the fastest worker placement game we own, and it executes things so well and in such a unique way that it will still see plays even with Agricola, Caverna, Viticulture, and other worker placement heavyweights in our collection. There are some games where you think, during the game, “I could be playing X instead”. Even though it is a faster and lighter worker placement game, I never get the feeling that I am having an inferior experience compared to one of the others in my collection. Which is the mark of an excellent game!

The theme in this game is a mixed bag for me. The components (apart from the meeples) all scream Sherlock. I love the characters, the artwork, and even the use of the magnifying glass tokens. I really enjoy that this game is about Mycroft and Sherlock competing on different sides of a case. However, at the end of the day this game doesn’t feel like a Sherlock Holmes case. It feels like I am collecting numbers rather than trying to find the key clue to convict or acquit the suspect. This is a fantastic game and is a lot of fun. Visually, this is very much a Sherlock Holmes game. But when you’re playing it, it doesn’t feel like a Sherlock Holmes game. And I don’t think it was intended to be among the games like Watson & Holmes or Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. What this game does, it does well. It executes so many great things that you really don’t mind that it didn’t feel like a Sherlock game.

There is no clarity as to which color of meeple belongs to which of the Holmes brothers. I’m fine with the choices of orange and blue, but some players might not enjoy either of those colors. I know my wife isn’t a big fan. I understand custom meeples would drive up the price, but even a small sheet of stickers, or a player card for each player showing the character with their color, would have helped to associate which one belongs to which brother.

One thing that ties into the above, that I think is a missed opportunity, is that there are no special powers as Sherlock or Mycroft. That player card mentioned above could have held a single one-time-use power that made them play just a little differently than the other side. They could have been really small and character card-specific, such as Sherlock being able to pay an extra magnifying glass at Irene Adler to take a card off the top of the deck in addition to stealing a card from the opposing player. This would help distinguish both sides and allow them to have slightly-different decisions along the way in the game to help them gain cards. I enjoy games that are asymmetric in approach, having variable player powers, and even in a simple game like this something could have been executed to that effect. Especially since you are playing as the Holmes brothers, competing against each other.

Final Verdict

Overall, I really enjoyed this game. It is fun, fast, and offers some interesting decisions along the way. Although you are primarily doing the same thing each game – collecting sets of numbered cards – how you approach that will change every game because of the character cards and the order in which they appear. That adds great replay value to the game, and it provides us with a worker placement game that we can pull out even if we don’t have a lot of time. Even on nights where we could play something longer, pulling this one out will leave me satisfied because of the unique approach toward some familiar mechanics.

There are a lot of great 2-player-only games out there, and this one certainly deserves to be included in the conversation. It will never be the game you pull out when you want to play a Sherlock game, but it is one you can pull out when you want to have a fun and unique experience. If you play games often with just one other player, whether that is a spouse or a friend, this is definitely a game you want to add to your collection. It is small, fast, and relatively inexpensive for the greatness of the game that comes in the box.

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

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas