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Board Game Review: Brass Lancashire

A few months ago, I fell in love with Brass Birmingham (you can read that review HERE). I fell hard. It was an all time top 10 best games ever kind of love and so when Roxley Game Laboratory offered to send me Brass Lancashire to play and share my thoughts, I was a bit hesitant.  Is there even a chance I could enjoy it as much as Birmingham? Lancashire was the original game designed by Martin Wallace, and while it’s been updated for the most recent release, I was concerned it might prove to be an older, tired version that couldn’t compete with Birmingham.

My concerns were unfounded. Brass Lancashire is fantastic. Playing Lancashire after playing Birmingham is a bit like dating someone and then dating their sibling. Sure, there’s a resemblance, but the kissing feels different.
The artwork for Brass Lancashire is beautiful, radiating a classic style evocative of the theme (industrial era production). The artists have shown great attention to detail such as the raised gold lettering on …
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Kashgar: Merchants of the Silk Road

Last month I added Kashgar: Merchants of the Silk Road (designed by Gerhard Hecht and published by Grail Games) to my board game library. This deck building game originally debuted in 2013 to much acclaim, winning the 2014 Fairplay a la carte award, but an English language version only became available in 2018.In Kashgar, players take on the role of spice dealers traveling the Silk Road with caravans, seeking to enlarge their caravans, build up supplies of gold, spices, and mules, and fulfill orders for their trade partners in Kashgar (a city in China). Each player begins with 3 caravans (decks) splayed face up before them in a tableau. Each caravan starts with 2 member cards: a Patriarch card (of course!) laid down first, and a random starting card, slipped behind and under the Patriarch card. Each turn, a player selects one card to activate, choosing from a pool made up of the front card closest to the player in each caravan. On the first turn, that’s any of the Patriarch cards. Car…

Board Game Review: The Shipwreck Arcana

We hosted a lot of small gatherings in December and they presented the perfect opportunity to bring some games to the table that we hadn’t yet played. The Shipwreck Arcana was one of these games. My husband Christopher talked me into acquiring it, promising it would be something I’d enjoy. I was skeptical because he described it as a logical/mathematical pattern building puzzle game (BoardGameGeek.com classifies it in the Math category among others) and I don’t tend to enjoy those as much as other types of games. We played several games, usually with the full count of five players. The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the game was how pretty the Arcana cards are. The artwork is is unique in style and reminds me a bit of a tarot deck. It’s a pleasure to lay out the cards for display on the table. Components include the Hours card, the Arcana cards, fate tokens, score and doom trackers, number line tokens, and a velvet grab bag. All of the components are sturdy enough to hold up to…

Board Game Review: Brass Birmingham

Here’s a story of a lovely lady (spoiler: it’s me) and her pride and how it has led to the discovery of the single greatest board game I have ever played. It’s probably also a good primer for other reviewers on increasing your reach.At GenCon this year, I was perusing the wares of the various booths and my eyes caught a glimpse of two beautiful game boxes. Each had crisp metallic lettering with an old world feel and artwork that radiated European class. I made my way to the booth and waited patiently to speak to to the team manning it as there were many buyers lined up to purchase the games. I didn’t know anything about the games (Brass Birmingham and Brass Lancashire), or the publisher – Roxley Game Laboratory – but I knew I wanted to review one or both of the games. Almost every board game love story I star in in can be summed up this way: I am seduced by the artwork or theme and then I stay for the right mechanics. When the lead rep spoke with me, he gently rejected my request. He …

Board Game Review: Mercado

Recently, the good folks at Kosmos sent me a review copy of Mercado. It’s a game my husband has had his eye on and asked me to check out, so I thought I’d give it a go and see if I enjoyed playing it. We played two games -  a 3 player game with the two of us and our 13 year old daughter, and a 2 player game where my husband and I faced off against each other. In our 3 player game, my daughter got well ahead of my husband and I early in the game and I only managed to catch up to her on the very last turn as I crossed the finish line and landed right on top of her token. The tiebreaker rule is a bit interesting – the person who lands on the occupied space last wins – and allowed me to pull off a surprise victory. In our second game, my husband and I were neck in neck in scoring the entire game and both ended on the same space just past the finish line when all was said and done. Once again, my token was on top and so I was declared the winner. Two for two!  In a sea of board games, with…

Board Game Review: Spy Club

This year at GenCon, my husband Chris was in charge of scouting out potentially excellent games to play in the demo hall. He signed us up for a session of Spy Club and explained it to me like this: “Remember how awesome Encyclopedia Brown books were when we were kids?" This game is like that and you get to be the kid detective!” . It sounded intriguing so one afternoon we found ourselves sitting at a table in the demo hall with the designer of Spy Club, Randy Hoyt. He ran through the game rules with us and then we played a few games. We had signed up to play a full campaign (five individual games, chained together, unraveling a bit of storyline with each play) but I actually stopped the play halfway through because I was so enamored with the game that I wanted to avoid any potential spoilers and save the experience to be savored with our kids (daughter 13, and twin sons, 9). I came away from the demo with the game in hand, excited to play once we got home. Spy Club is a cooperati…

Board Game Review: Cabaret

Know Chance Games is a publisher with just two games in their catalog as of this writing – an atrocious card game called Stealing Mona Lisa that I covered in my review here and Cabaret!, a trick taking card game that turns trick taking card games upside down with the twist that you may not follow suit. Cabaret! is a lovely game. I thought I might do better at it then I do when playing other trick taking card games since it behaves contrary to what experienced trick takers are used to, but I still couldn’t pull off a win. There is something about the logical thought patterns required to succeed at these types of games that runs counter to my thought patterns. Still, I enjoyed the game play. It’s relaxing and a bit thinky all at once. My 13 year old daughter proved to be the best at the game over the course of our plays with her, her father, and I. She really enjoyed it also and picked up strategy quickly. The artwork is well illustrated with a vintage feel and emphasizes the storyline …