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Board Game Review: Anno 1800

Whenever Martin Wallace designs a new game, I am all over it. This is because I absolutely love Brass Birmingham (another MW designed game); in fact Brass Birmingham is my #1 board game of all time. Over the years, his other games I've tried have been pretty good, but not necessarily amazing must-buys. Still, I keep trying each new release of his, searching for that next star performer. That's why I'm excited to report that Anno 1800 is, in fact, a star performer, and an amazing must-buy board game. Anno 1800 was adapted by the publisher (Kosmos) from a Ubisoft video game of the same name. In the board game, players take on the role of industrialists, charged with developing their island economies and exploring other islands. Each player begins the game with a personal industry board with trade & exploration ships, a shipyard, and industrial goods tiles printed on the board. A starting collection of workers (wooden cubes) of various types to produce the goods is a
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Board Game Review: Tapestry Arts & Architecture Expansion

The good folks at Stonemaier Games sent us a review copy of the newest expansion for Tapestry recently. We have the base game and the previous expansion, Plans and Ploys, in our game library. Arts & Architecture is designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Mike Young, with artwork by Andrew Bosley and landmark sculptures by Rom Brown. The expansion adds more of the familiar components: five new civilizations, six new capital city mats, 5 new landmark cards with landmarks, twenty new tapestry cards, and eleven new tech cards. Arts & Architecture also adds completely new features to the game, including an arts track with accompanying landmarks, twenty masterpiece cards, twenty inspiration tiles, and an upgraded science die to include iconography referencing the arts track. The new arts development track is quite useful and thematically blends well with the overall concept of the game. It gives you the opportunity to place more of your income buildings, score victory points for tech c

Board Game Review: Rolling Realms

At every company, there’s some guy trying desperately to figure out a way to harness a current wave of consumer demand and somehow direct it right onto the doorstep of the company. “Even better…”, that guy explains to rest of management, “If we can deliver something on *that* demand that our customers will gobble up and that will drive their demand up for our *other* established products, we’ve gone above and beyond! A cross-promotional windfall!”  Well, it looks like someone at Stonemaier put that guy in charge of roll and write game development and Rolling Realms was the result. It’s meta game of sorts that mostly serves as an advertisement for the rest of the Stonemaier product line, as each card in this roll and write game is named after a different Stonemaier game title.    On the plus side, Rolling Realms is a pandemic friendly, easy to learn, and quick to play roll and write that plays as easily over zoom with 20 people as it plays in person with a few people around a table.

Board Game Review: Lost Cities Roll & Write (A Comparison to the Original Lost Cities)

I really love the card game Lost Cities , designed by Reiner Knizia. When my husband Christopher and I were first getting to know each other, we used to meet up at Starbucks sometimes and play games. Lost Cities was one of our frequent picks. It’s a head to head, two player game in which both players are trying to outscore each other by laying down ascending runs of card suits on a small board between the two of them. There’s a theme laid over the mechanism (completing expeditions in the lost world) but it’s basically pasted on and so that is the last we will speak of it. So there we were, newly in love, eyeing each other across the table, smiling and flirting, and doing our best to beat one another at Lost Cities . It was awesome. And now, with the roll & write genre having made an impressive rebound a few years ago (let’s not forget the mechanism has actually been around since the 50s with Yatzee ), Knizia has ported his award winning game Lost Cities   into this format, releasi

Board Game Review–Quests & Cannons: The Risen Islands

I had the opportunity to play a preview edition of Quests & Cannons: The Risen Islands   from Short Hop Games in advance of the game’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign. Designed by Eric and Shannon Geller, the preview edition arrived in a bright and colorful cover box that hinted at the beautiful artwork within. We got it on the table for a family game straightaway. As we unpacked the contents of the box, I was impressed with the quality of the wooden components. Especially for a preview copy, everything was incredibly well made and sturdy, which speaks to the care and enthusiasm Eric and Shannon have put into the game. The illustrations on the components are just lovely! The artists (Lily Yao Lu, Tony Carter, Regis Torres, Sita Duncan, and Lilia Sitailo) did a really great job integrating the theme into the materials.  Quests & Cannons   is very easy to setup and the rules are straightforward,  so you can get started playing pretty quickly; no one is going to be stuck spendin

Board Game Review: Red Rising (Collector’s Edition)

I had a board game first this summer: I read an entire series of novels in preparation for playing a board game. When Jamey Stegmaier announced he was designing a new game with Alex Schmidt based on the award winning Red Rising   series by Pierce Brown, his excitement was so palpable that I wanted to understand the draw of the saga held for him. I checked my local library and the first book was already reserved, with a long waiting list in line before me. So I took the plunge and purchased the whole series from Amazon, hoping it would captivate me as it seemed to have done for Jamey. Start with a narrative universe politically ordered by a tightly controlled color coded caste system;  pull in the concept of a boarding school with quirky teachers (like Hogwarts from Harry Potter) but introduce some structural changes to the school so that only the most socioeconomic elite in the caste system are permitted to attend; have the students compete in fight to the death brutal competitions (ev

Board Game Review: Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Years ago, on a snowy winter excursion to Bavaria, I took a tour of King Ludwig (Mad King Ludwig) II's  castles. I really feel for the poor chap Ludwig II. He was very excited to be king and wanted to be a *real* king of the old order with power and dominion. Alas, he was born much to late in Germany’s evolution for such things and was reduced constitutionally to being a mere figurehead (such as Queen Elizabeth II is in England today). So he consoled himself by building castles throughout the countryside where he would escape and  fully immerse himself in his pretend kingdom where all subjects worshipped him and did as they were told.  Linderhof was one of the first castles he built and it was pretty modest so the taxpayers didn’t really bat an eye. This was the first stop on our tour. The same could not be said for his next building project: Castle Neuschwanstein. This grand and glorious castle (just up the hill from his parents’ country castle) was the castle to end all castles.