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Showing posts from 2018

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 …

Board Game Review: Stealing Mona Lisa

Note: This might be my most overdue review. A few GenCons ago, I crossed paths with the team from Know Chance Games and picked up a copy Stealing Mona Lisa. I brought it home and I’m embarrassed to write it but it got lost in the shuffle of a million new upheavals in my life – a divorce, a remarriage and instant stepmotherhood to three kids, and a cross country move. But this is my year of playing all the games. 800+ games in our library now and we are slowly making our way through all of them, old and new alike. We’re doing a quick brown fox challenge to play every game in our collection, letter by letter, going in the order of the famous pangram “A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. In addition, we play games sent to us by publishers for review as soon as we are able – usually within a week of receiving them. Within this flurry of activity, I thought it best to finally address Stealing Mona Lisa.Stealing Mona Lisa is a quick to play and easy to learn card game for three to se…

Board Game Review: Mini DiverCity

This year at GenCon I had the pleasure of meeting the team from Sphere Games as they were providing demonstrations of Mini DiverCity. In this cooperative game, players assume the role of divers attempting to save the diverse ecosystem of a coral reef (DiverCity is a wordplay on diversity) as exploitative corporations attempt to destroy it through actions that either move animals toward extinction or construct hotels that destroy undeveloped island habitat. I came away from the booth with a review copy of the game and the intention to introduce it to my kids (daughter 13, and twin boys both 9). The husband and I finally had the chance to sit down and play a few games of Mini DiverCity this week with the children. They all had fun with it and the boys are head over heels in love with it. “It’s superfun!”, Max and Locke said. They really loved the idea of saving animals and they liked that you have to turn your hand of cards facing outward so that other players can see them while you can…

Board Game Review: Robit Riddle

A few months ago, the good folks at Baba Geek Games sent me a review copy of their cooperative storytelling game Robit Riddle. Our kids (we have a 13 year old daughter and two 9 year old twin boys) love the storytelling game Legacy of Dragonholt, so I had high hopes that they would similarly enjoy this game. Robit Riddle offers three different storybooks in the base package, allowing players to immerse themselves in a colorfully illustrated fantasy world wherein they are robots searching for their missing pets (called robits) that have gone missing under suspicious circumstances. Players begin the game by choosing a robot character and taking turns telling the rest of the team about their character. We had a lot of fun with this aspect of the game, each of us employing special voices to distinguish our characters from other robots. The story begins by opening the storybook to the first page. Players are presented with multiple paths forward in a choose-your-own-adventure manner at imp…

Board Game Review: Guild Ball

Strolling through the aisles at GenCon, my eyes were drawn in by an assembly of striking miniatures arranged in face offs on a demo table, with pools of beautiful dice and other color coordinated accessories nearby. I made my way over to the publisher’s booth to get more details on the game, which revealed itself to be Guild Ball. The good folks at Steamforged Games spent a lot of time going over the game play, explaining the ins and outs of movement, measurements, initiative, conditions, and more. It all seemed very complicated but I was sure a lot of that had to do with the background noise at the convention making it difficult to concentrate. While I don’t have any experience with minis-facing-off-on-measured-terrain games like Warhammer or similar,  I’ve played many heavy Euro board games and have no problem following the rules, so I reasoned that Guild Ball couldn’t be that difficult to master. The team provided me a generous review copy package including all components needed fo…

Board Game Review: My Little Scythe

In the beginning of September I had the chance to play Scythe (another release from Stonemaier Games) with a group of friends for the first time and fell head over heels for it. My husband and I play board games together at least a few times a week and we also get together with our friends for regular game nights as well, so finding a challenging and engrossing game such as Scythe to add to our collection is wonderful. But we also have three children (a daughter 13, and twin boys, 9) and we love to play games with them too, so we were especially happy to discover that a father-daughter team (Hoby and Vienna Chou) had taken the mechanisms behind Scythe and translated them into a more kid-friendly version called My Little Scythe. I thought it would probably be a great fit for our family. A few weeks ago a new box arrived to our home and inside was My Little Scythe. We gathered the boys around our gaming table one Saturday afternoon shortly thereafter and sat down to play (our daughter w…

Trip Pictorial: Butchart Gardens

A few years ago I had the pleasure of touring Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C. (Canada) during the autumn season. These are some of my favorite pictures taken on the trip.

Board Game Review: Railroad Rivals

A few months ago at GenCon I had the pleasure of speaking with the team from Forbidden Games about their recent release of Railroad Rivals. After taking a cursory look at the game, I came away with a copy of it and a bit of excitement about getting on the table. There are two different editions of Railroad Rivals available on the Forbidden Games website – the standard edition (which is what I brought home) and the platinum edition. The latter features upgraded wooden tiles and components which are lovely to hold in hand, but even in the standard edition, the component quality overall is very high. I found some minor issues with my copy (a locomotive or two was not sized the same as the rest in the supply and one of the railroad stock counter tokens was missing) but the publisher took care of the problem quickly after I contacted customer service. The sturdiness and beauty of the components in the game is a reflection of the improvements in craftsmanship among board game manufacturers …