Tuesday, January 31, 2017

31 Plays in 31 Days


I saw a lot of New Year Resolutions on Board Game Geek's  webpage about 10 Plays for 10 Games.

Basically, this was/is a challenge out to play 10 games, 10-times each. I like this in theory. After all, you can really get a good sense of games you love and well, the one's you don't. Let's face it, board gamer's as it were have an addiction. Okay, I'll go first. My name is Joshua and I have an addiction to Board Games. I have compiled quite a little collection in the last two years, 126 in fact. So, this challenge up front seemed like a great idea. This could help me define my favorites more clearly and ones that should either be sold to a loving home where they might get played, or traded, or even donated.

However, after more thought, I was like, I don't know. Focusing on 10 games for 10 plays each could be excruciating (The Hardcore Version) What happens if I pick a game I haven't opened yet and it's a dud. Sometimes, you can be bamboozled, The Goonies: Adventure Card Game, comes to mind. When I saw this on KickStarter, I was drooling. Although, I cannot imagine forcing myself to play this 10-times on purpose. I know, "Goonies Never Say Die!" However, they just missed the mark on this one. However, other games, 10 plays would be a cinch, here's looking at you Dead of Winter, Scythe, The Resistance: Avalon and Tiny Epic Western to name a few.

There is a normal challenge too, where you can swap out any of the 10 games at anytime, with others, and just meet the goal of 10 plays of 10 games. I just felt there was too much structure involved. So, I came up with my own: Play as many games a month as there are days. They can be whatever you want, as light and simple as the card game Loonacy, or more in-depth like Scythe.

I just completed January. I played 20 different games over the 31-days, ranging from a 20-minute game of Loonacy to a four and a half hour game of Scythe. Can you guess which game I have really enjoyed so far? My goal for February is you guessed it, 28 games in 28-days. Ultimately, I am shooting for 365 games in 365-days. The games that made it to the table in January were:


  • Love Letter
  • Chrononauts
  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue
  • Tsuro
  • Coup: Reformation
  • Farkle
  • Munchkin Quest
  • K2
  • Alchemists
  • Mysterium
  • Cheaty Mages
  • Scythe
  • Codenames
  • Secret Hitler
  • Get Bit
  • Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
  • Jail Break
  • Welcome to the Dungeon
  • Loonacy
  • Tiny Epic Western
What games do you think should make it to the table in February? Leave a note in the comment section.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Zombies! Brains! Zombies! Brains!


     I am a huge Munchkin fan which is made by Steve Jackson Games. However, they have other games too! One of these such games is a quick playing, fast action dice game called Zombie Dice.

     Objective: The goal is to be the first person to collect 13 or more Brains and win (if you have the highest total.)


     Gameplay: So, you have thirteen dice which are colored green, yellow and red. Each dice has three pictures: Brains, Foot prints or Shotgun Blasts. Depending on the color depends on the number of pictures. So, for example the Red Dice have more shotgun blasts and the Green Dice have more Brains.  On your turn, you take three die out of the cup and roll them. If you get brains, you move them to the side. At anytime you can stop, count your brains and pass the cup. So let's say on your first roll you roll one red dice and two green dice. You roll one brain, one footprint (known as runners) and one shotgun blast. You would move the shotgun and brain to the side. You cannot re-roll shotgun blasts. So, you would pick up the runners and add two more dice to your hand and roll again. This time you get two brains and a shotgun blast. So, you put all three dice to the side. Presently you have 3 brains and 2 shotgun blasts. If you get three shotgun blasts on any one turn your brains you have collected during that turn are voided because you have died. So, do you roll again in hopes you get more brains? Or do you stay, collect your three brains and not take the chance of getting another shotgun and forfeiting your loot!

     Players tend to egg others on to see if they will give in to pressure and gamble. Peer pressure is not immune when playing Zombie dice. The action really heats up when someone reaches 13 brains and ends their turn. This gives everyone one last turn to beat the persons high score. If they tie and stop, they go into a roll off. However, people tend to push the envelope with nothing to lose.

    Zombie Dice is a great game. I rate it 4 out of 5 Stars for the sheer enjoyment and quality family time it brings.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Love Letter


     Board games are fun and technically, Love Letter could be considered a card game. However, it has a boxed edition, so therefore, I declare for my Blog: It's a board game. However, that is all semantics because when you get down to it, whatever classification you wish to give it, it is fun. Lots of fun. It is easy to play, easy to learn and quick (around 15 Minutes.) It's a great travel game or for around the kitchen table.

     Love Letter is from Alderac. The objective is simple, Woo Princess Annette. However, she has locked herself away in her palace. You need to find a way to get your love letter to her first? Can you? She has other suitors you know, namely those you are playing against.

      Object: The object is to be the last person standing with a card and if tied with another player, holding the highest card.

     Gameplay: Shuffle the 16 Cards. The cards have numbers 1-8. The princess being the highest at 8 and the Guard the lowest at 1. Deal one card to each player. Make sure it is face down and they keep it a secret. The remaining cards go to create a draw pile in the middle. Make sure to also give each player a reference card which explains each card and the action they perform. The first person who recently had a date goes first. If everyone who is playing is married, go with the youngest.
    So, the first person will draw a card and now have two in their hand. They have to discard one. Each card has an action. So let's say you have a Guard and drew the Princess. Now, you must discard a card. Well, if you discard the Princess - You lose (It says so on the card and after all that is who you are after.). So, clearly you must discard the Guard. When doing so, you must try to guess a card in another players hand - that is the Guards action. If you do, they are out. If you don't, your turn is over and the next player goes. Now, there is some strategy involved. Let's give another example. We'll say on your next turn you have a Handmaid which is a 4 and a Countess which is a 7. Clearly you don't want to discard the Countess, so you play the Handmaid which protects you from anyone guessing your card or playing something against you until your next turn. This allows you watch the other players defeat each other. As a third example: You have the Countess and pick up a Baron which allows you to compare hands. You discard the Baron and secretly compare hands with the player you choose. If they have less than a 7, you win but if they have the princess you are out and play continues with those left.

     If you play 2 players, the first person to win 7 games as represented by red tokens of affection wins. You can play as many as 4 players.

     You will be surprised on the outcome more than not. Sometimes people outsmart themselves. In one of my first games, I had the King and a guard. I decided to play the King as it allows me to trade hands. I gave my Guard to the player and they gave me the Princess. I was like, Yeah! And then they turned around and played the guard (Obviously they new what I had), guessed it and I was out. So much for being smart.

     Like I mentioned the game plays quick and is easy to learn. It tends to generate a ton of laughs. It is great for the kids too.

     I rate this game 4 out of 5 stars and I am sure you will too just as 95% of those on Amazon have.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Pandemic:2013 Edition


    Pandemic by Z-man games first arrived on shelves with its first edition in 2008. Definitely at that time, it was an anomaly as far as board games were concerned. It was a cooperative game, rather than a competitive game. Everyone in the  game to win it all, together rather than I am going to defeat all of you and claim victory as all classic board games were designed before.

    With what I consider to be a REAL resurgence in board games in the last couple of years, Pandemic has perfected cooperative game play. Zman games has released a new version: Pandemic Legacy and so I thought it was appropriate to write a review for the game that I believe spawned this fever: Pandemic: A New Challenge, published in 2013.

     Do you remember the movie Outbreak released twenty years ago starring Dustin Hoffman? In short it was a movie based on an outbreak of an airborne virus in a California town that threatens civilization unless a group of researchers can quarantine and eventually eradicate it. Pandemic channels it's inner Outbreak.

 Synopsis: Pandemic is a game where a series of four virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously throughout the World! You and your team have a specified amount of time to cure the diseases (which is before the pile of cards representing player cards runs out, or a specific disease - represented by colored cubes is completely dispersed or if more than seven outbreaks happen) or Humanity is lost.

Roles:  Each player has a role. You have the Contingency Planner, Operations Expert, Dispatcher, Quarantine Specialist, Researcher, Medic and Scientist. Each role has a specialty they bring to the team and its your job as a team to utilize these roles to the benefit of humanity.

Gameplay: You lay the board out, give each player a reference card to help them navigate through their actions and have them select one of the aforementioned role cards randomly. While doing this, have another player Separate the cubes (diseases) out and place the research station along with all the players pawns (represented by their role) in Atlanta. After all, CDC's home base of operation in real life is in Atlanta. Next you place the outbreak markers and cure markers "Vial" side up. Then, give each player a reference card to help them navigate through their actions as well as 2 player cards (if playing with 4.) Now, take four epidemic cards out if new to the game (Trust me, it's plenty hard enough) and shuffle the player deck. Finally, place the Infection tracker marker out and infect 9 cities. You are now ready to Go!

     The player with the highest population in their city goes first. Each player has has four actions which can consist of moving, playing an event card, building a research station or removing a disease cube. Your role can make some things easier for your team. So for example, the goal is to cure all four diseases, but  to do so, you must be in research station and have five color related city cards. A Operations Expert can build a research station in any city without actually having that city card in their hand.
     A typical beginning might be to move to an adjacent city if three cubes are there and remove one or two. So, we'll say that in the initial setup of the game, Montreal was hit hard with three cubes of a specific disease. An Operations Expert could go from Atlanta to Montreal as two moves and for the next two moves remove a cube(one per action unless they were a Medic), ending his/her actions. He/she would then pick 2 player cards, hopefully cities and not an Epidemic. Finally they would infect cities which is calculated based on the infection tracker (so if your on a level 2) you pick 2 Infection cards (also represented by cities) Let's say one was Chicago. (If the player had not previously removed any cubes, this would given it 4 triggering an outbreak, which gets you one closer to death and populates the surrounding connected cities with the disease making your task much harder.

    Remember I told you I hope they were NOT epidemic cards. Here is why.

Epidemic Cards: Epidemic cards are just that: Epidemic: a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. These cards do Three parameters: INCREASE: Raise the infection marker meaning on every ensuing turn you will infect more cities. It has an INFECT parameter which asks you to pick a bottom card of the infection pile and immediately put three cubes on a city putting you on high alert and INTENSIFY: Shuffle the discard pile and put it on top. So, the city that was just infected, could get infected on the next turn which could alter your original plan on the following turn.


     Pandemic is an excellent cooperative game with lots of strategy, suspense and replay ability. Do you have what it takes to save humanity?

     I give this game 4.5 out of 5 Stars.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Do you have your Ticket?


     Trains. They have a certain special appeal. You get your ticket and the conductor comes along and punches it. You know you're on a trip. And there is something exciting about going on a trip. As a kid, we used to have a train go around our Christmas tree. The different lights shining on the cars as it circled around was mesmerizing. Most amusement parks, including Disney World have a train that will take you around the park. It seems every time we go to an amusement park, my kids are like, "Dad, we need to go on the train." There is just some Je nais se pais ce que quality about trains.

     The makers Days of Wonder have captured that Je nais se pais ce que quality perfectly in Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary Edition. The Board is larger, easier to read. The collector Tin sets of trains are a worthy upgrade with their detail and different designs, from the original make the game just, well, complete.

     Game Objective:  Use all your trains, complete all your destinations and have the most points at the end. There is also a bonus card. If you lay down the longest end to end continuous train, you will get the coveted Longest Train Bonus Card worth an additional ten points.

     Gameplay:  After you lay out the board which lists cities all across the U.S. connected by colored train tracks,  you then must choose from one of five different colored trains, each with their distinct look and detail and grab your associated colored marker. Every player starts out with four train cards which are color coded (white, black, yellow, orange, red, green, blue, pink and have one wild card that represents all trains.) Finally, you pass out three destination tickets. You get to decide which paths you wish to try to complete. You must keep at least two. (Shh! Don't tell people which destination tickets you kept! Keep them face down.)
Once everyone has decided on their destination tickets, you take the remaining train cards and place five out face up. Now we are ready to start!
   

          Take your Turn:  On your turn, you have initially two plays, you can either choose cards that are face up or from the draw pile. Or you can play cards from your hand to start building your train route.  When you draw cards on your turn, you can either draw two of the face up pile, or one Wild card. Or you could elect to pick one face up color train card and one off the pile. Or you could just ask for two  unknown cards from the draw pile. However, if you draw a face up wild card, you can only pick one card on that turn. Wild are special, so you only get one! If you decide to play train cards out of your hand, they have to be the same number and color of the train track. So, for example, you want to lay track from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The tracks connecting are three pink or three yellow. So, you would have to hand over 3 pink or 3 yellow cards depending which track you were looking to lay down. However, if you had two pink and a wild that would work too. When you lay down track, you get points dependent on length. This is where your marker comes in. On the outside of the board, there are numbers and this keeps track of your points which you acquire when laying down track and completing destinations.What if as the game goes on you have reached all your destinations and still have trains. You can use your turn to acquire additional Destination tickets. You draw three and keep at least one. But be mindful, just as you get additional points for completing train routes, you can be deducted points at the end for not completing a route.

    This is the simplest of all the Ticket to Ride games but that is what endears it to so many. My parents and children both love to play this game. If you are one looking for additional strategy and complexity, I would tell you to obtain Ticket to Ride: Europe or the Expansion game Nederland which requires either Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride complete games. They add additional nuances requiring multiple strategies. Look for my reviews on these variations soon!

     I rate this game 4 out of 5 Stars due to the wide audience it captures, the ease of play and nostalgia of trains. So, go full steam ahead and punch your Ticket to Ride!
     
     


Friday, October 23, 2015

Mysterium


     In light that a week from tomorrow is Halloween, I figured now is a good s time as any to review an other worldly board game. Have you played Clue? Have you watched the TV series Medium? Mysterium is where their paths cross.
   
     Gameplay:  Mysterium takes place on Halloween night in the 1920's. In your role as psychics, you have been invited to a night time Seance. This time of year is the best time to connect to the other side and your ultimate goal is to allow the ghost to cross over peacefully by figuring out who killed them. However, the ghost is exhausted from roaming the astral plane: where a persons spirit goes between dying and the spirit world. The ghost is too weak to speak, so they communicate with visions. Each player is given their own vision. The psychics job is to collectively interpret and connect the visions to a number of suspects and narrow down the possibilities. You then can vote on each players decisions. If you agree with a player's interpretation and they are right, you gain clairvoyance points. The more clairvoyant you are, the more clues you get at the end to determine who has done it, where it happened and how they killed, the now ghost. However, if your own interpretation of a vision is wrong, you do not go onto the next stage and must try again. You also need to decide which room it took place and what weapon was used. You basically get seven turns which is kept track by a most excellent grandfather clock (an hour strikes per turn) to reach the fourth stage. If all of the players cannot make it pass the third stage in seven turns, the ghost is again, for another year, trapped on the astral plane. However, if all players reach the end within the allotted seven hours (seven turns) the ghost summons a final vision which everyone votes on to hopefully identify the suspect and free the ghost to allow them to crossover to eternal peace.

     There is a timer that limits how long you can discuss the visions before making a decision. This added pressure can sometimes make you make a rash decision. Also, you can ask the ghost questions, but they return confirmation or lack thereof by knocks on the table; one knock for yes and two knocks for no. Alternatively, there is a atmospheric soundtrack you can download while playing. Sadly, I was disappointed in that piece and we played without it.

     I should also mention that there are three different levels, each one a bit more difficult allowing for replay ability.

     The cover makes me think of Sherlock Holmes and the Haunted Mansion from Disney World. It was enough intrigue to purchase it and I was not disappointed.

     I rate this game 3.5 out of 5 stars.


   

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tsuro


     We all are looking to walk our own path and hope it is the one that leads us to prosperity and happiness. However, as in life there sometimes are people who wish us not to succeed.

     Tsuro is the award winning game published by Calliope Games. It is designed for 2 to 8 players and fun for the whole family. It is a relatively short game but fun nonetheless.

     Gameplay: Each player starts out with their own marker and chooses where to start their journey by placing it next to a number of marks around the board. Each player is then dealt three tiles. Now, each player looks to play one tile on their turn and move their stone along the path created. Be careful though! If your path leads you to collide with a fellow player or off the board, you are eliminated. You could strategically place your tile where you doom your opponent as you carry on. The winner is the last one standing.

     This game although not involved, is a great change of pace, simplistic and nice break of routine to spend some quality time with family without having to carve out a great deal of time.

     Are you ready to clear your mind, and choose the path to victory?


     I rate this game 3.5 out of 5 stars.