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Showing posts from 2020

A Tale of Two Towers–Part One (A Review of Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time)

Six months ago I didn’t even know what a tower defense game was and now I’ve played two of them several times and have some strong opinions on each one. In this post, I want to talk to you about one of them - Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time . The good folks over at Lucky Duck Games sent me a review copy of the game, designed by Helana Hope, Sen-Foong Lim, and Jessey Wright. Now I mentioned that this is a tower defense game, but what exactly does that mean? In games using this type of mechanic, one of the primary objectives is to continually defend your assigned sector of the board (i.e. your home base) against incoming threats. This is managed through the use of armed towers, which reign down violence and death on any malicious parties approaching. This mechanism got its start in 1980's video games (source: Wikipedia ) and is one of the most popular mechanisms in modern game apps on cell phones and tablets. More recently, it's crossed over into the tabletop board game industry, wit

Board Game Review: Artsee

Before the pandemic trapped us all in our homes, I spent many an hour at our local United Action for Youth center in Iowa City volunteering as a board game coordinator. Every month, I’d bring a few games with me and introduce them to the teens who hung out at the center after school. One of the games that got rave reviews from the group is Artsee .  Designed by J. Alex Kevern, and published by Renegade Game Studios , it’s an easy to learn, quick playing card game with a small table footprint for up to five players. Each player takes on the role of an art gallery curator, attempting to build the most prestigious gallery in order to win the game. Galleries are built from individual exhibits (cards) that depict two or three paintings from different categories (abstract, landscape, portrait, or still life). In addition to the paintings, each exhibit also indicates a featured category. Each time an exhibit is played to one of the four columns in a gallerist’s tableau, all opponents of the

Board Game Review: Tokyo Sidekick

Earlier this summer, Tokyo Sidekick arrived on our doorstep from Japanime Games. I knew absolutely nothing about the game before it showed up. Turns out, it's a big game, with a big board, in a big box. Unpacking everything, I was pretty impressed with the breadth of inventory. Check out the pic below from the publisher of the core game components beyond the board and cardboard standees. My copy also included a comic book giving the origin stories of the heroes, as well as upgraded acrylic standees. The components are well made and I particularly like the acrylic upgrades; you’ll want these for sure if you can get them.   Perusing the rulebook, I started to get a good understanding of Tokyo Sidekick . It’s a cooperative game designed by Yusuke Emi where 2-4 players take on the role of heroes and sidekicks who battle against villains, supervillains, and menaces, while also navigating around the central board to deal with incidents as they crop up. There’s a lot going on at once for

Board Game Review: Hues and Cues

Last week we received Hues and Cues from The Op Games. We recently finished playing through Scooby-Doo Escape from the Haunted Mansion (a fantastic game in The Op Games catalogue designed by Jay Cormier, Sen-Foong Lim, and Kami Mandell that you should absolutely pick up to play with your family) and wanted to give another game from the same publisher a go. I picked Hues and Cues because I’ve been pleasantly surprised by other “test whether our minds think the same way” games such as The Mind   and Wavelength. In Hues and Cues , players gather around a large central board comprised of 480 graduating colors of the rainbow surrounded by an x-y axis and scoring table. White and black (which are technically not colors) are conspicuously absent as are shades (mixtures of color + black; e.g., grey) and tints (mixtures of color + white; e.g., cream).  On each player’s turn, they draw a card with four colors and the x-y axis codes of those colors depicted and they select one. They are in the

Board Game Review: Wingspan European Expansion

I was really looking forward to playing Wingspan:European Expansion   since I enjoy the base game so very much (see my review for Wingspan ). According to the publisher, the expansion encompasses all of this: In this first expansion to Wingspan, we increase the scope of the world to include the regal, beautiful, and varied birds of Europe. These birds feature a variety of new abilities, including a number of birds with round end abilities, abilities that increase interaction between players, and birds that benefit from excess cards/food. Along with the new bonus cards, they’re designed to be shuffled into the original decks of cards (and cards from future expansions). The European Expansion also includes an additional tray for storing the growing collection of birds (past, present, and future), as well as 15 purple eggs, extra food tokens, and a colorful new scorepad designed for both multi-player and single-player scoring. It's designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and features birds ill

Board Game Review: Tapestry

It’s usually several months after a Stonemaier Games release before we pick the game up for our collection. By then, the flurry of strategy articles on the BGG forums have been written, the F.A.Q.s on the rules have been clarified, and the debate on where the game falls in the ranking of the entire Stonemaier catalogue is well underway. Tapestry , designed by Jamey Stegmaier (artwork by Andrew Bosley and Rom Brown), is no exception. The game was released in 2019 and arrived just a few months ago to our household. In Tapestry, each player takes control of a civilization and its capital city, and works to advance their civilization more adeptly than other players. It’s played over rounds (called eras in Tapestry )  but in a departure from many other games, players advance rounds independently of one another. I might be well into in my third era while you are still in your second. This is a bit different than Jamey’s other games where play might come to an abrupt end for everyone when one

Board Game Review: Betrayal Legacy

Let me start by saying I’ve never played Betrayal at House on the Hill .  Despite that, when Betrayal Legacy was released, I jumped on it. Horror themed legacy game designed by Rob Daviau? YES PLEASE. As soon as we got the game, we rounded up a team of friends to play through the 13 game campaign with us. Two of them had played Betrayal at House on the Hill   before and the other three of us had not. Having at least one player familiar with the standard game is helpful, as they can help explain the nuances of the gameplay, but don’t take that as some sort of requirement to play or enjoy Betrayal Legacy .  This is a narrative driven game. Each time you sit down to play with your team, the story picks up with a return to the same setting (the haunted house) and you might be reprising the same character you played in the last game, or one of their descendants. The story is tracked in the back pages of the Traitor’s Tome booklet – you’ll need a volunteer to journal the events. Excer

Board Game Review: The Island of Doctor Lucky

One evening a few months ago, we pulled out The Island of Doctor Lucky   from Cheapass Games to play with our friends as a warm up to a heavier Euro game. We set the main board up, gave each player their own character, passed out starting hands of cards to all players, and got things moving. In The Island of Doctor Lucky, players spend their time chasing Doctor Lucky around the board, trying to corner him alone to kill him. At the same time, they're also trying to thwart other players' attempts to off the doctor. Each player’s turn begins with a move of their pawn, or a move of the cat (Doctor Lucky’s panther Ragu; she prevents player pawns from seeing into neighboring spaces), or by playing a hazard (on the doctor or another player). Then the turn is finished with a draw from the deck or an attempt to kill the doctor (the player’s pawn must be alone in the space with the doctor’s to have a chance of success). If  a player decides to attempt murder, their opponents can play l

Considering an RPG: A Board Gamer’s Review of the Red Star Rising Campaign From GooeyCube

So there we were, my husband and I, perusing the aisles of the GenCon Exhibit Hall when suddenly this distinguished gentleman called out to us, inviting us over to his booth. He introduced himself as Alphinius Goo. He was animated and gregarious and he wanted to draw our interest to his pride and joy – the Red Star Rising   RPG campaign. Other gamers gathered around the GooeyCube booth as well, as Alphinius began to walk us through the world of Zyathé, where the campaign is set. As he explained the campaign and the materials that come packaged in the GooeyCube bundles (there’s so much stuff!), I started to feel that this was something my husband Chris and I could actually manage.  Up until then, the closest I’d come to playing an RPG was a year long campaign working through the Pathfinder Skull and Shackles Adventure Card Game   (which is often billed as the board game for RPG players). Role playing games always sounded interesting to me – I’ve several friends who are active RPG player

Board Game Review: Disney Villainous

My husband Chris and I played another game of Disney Villainous last night. It’s another mass market game release from Ravensburger. Refresher: mass market games are those that are typically published by a major toy company (vs a dedicated board gaming publisher),  have a lower price point, cheaper components, uncredited or corporate designers and artists, weak narrative, and are light to medium weight in complexity. In Villainous , players take on the role of Disney Villains who are competing against each other to be the first to complete their character specific objectives. These objectives align neatly with the narratives of the Disney movies from which the characters have been borrowed. For example, Ursula must find the Trident and the Crown and place them in her lair. And she gets rid of her enemies by using binding contracts! There are six villains included in the base game (more are available through the expansions) and turn sequence for each villain is pretty simple. There a

Board Game Review: Horrified

I have been playing board games since I was a kid. Chinese Checkers , Chess , Monopoly , Clue , Skipbo , Taboo, and Pictionary   were in regular rotation on our table when my parents and I or my friends and I sat down to play. Into my adulthood, and over the years since, I have continued to enjoy these games. And then, about ten years ago, I was introduced to "serious" board gaming. I began to play board games from small publishers where the designer and artist are a topic of discussion, as are game mechanisms (e.g. worker placement, area control, etc.), weight of the board game, replayability, and other concerns. I started with Settlers of Catan and then fell for PowerGrid , Puerto Rico , and Robinson Crusoe . Then I joined a few board game meetup groups in my community and my passion for the hobby really bloomed. 900+ games in my collection later, I've come to understand there's a bit of snobbery in board gaming circles. The games I knew and loved as a child are l

Board Game Review–Cities: Skylines –The Board Game

  W e got Cities: Skylines – The Board Game   a couple of months ago and I really didn't know what to expect before my first play. Sometimes there is a game on the horizon that's all the buzz in my circles and I'm super excited to order it, get it home, and get it on the table. Other times, it's my husband who catches the fever for a game and brings it into our house. And every now and then, a publisher asks me to review a game I've never heard of and haven't built up any anticipatory excitement for yet. Such was the case with Cities: Skylines – The Board Game . The team at Kosmos sent this cooperative game my way and asked me to give it a try. It’s designed by Rustan Hakansson (other works of his I am familiar with include HexRoller and Tribes: Dawn of Humanity ) and based on a video game of the same name that’s popular across multiple platforms (Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, & Nintendo Switch).   I remember opening the box for the first time and setting ever