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Board Game Review: Beyond the Sun

Almost a decade after my interest was first sparked in reviewing games for Rio Grande Games, I finally met someone on the inside of the company in a mutual FB industry group and made a connection. Soon after, a review copy of Beyond the Sun by Dennis K. Chan was at my door. Game Reviewing as a Hobby: A Peak Behind the Scenes I have always had a soft spot for Rio Grande Games. I spent part of my childhood growing up in New Mexico, and graduated from New Mexico State University, where the actual Rio Grande itself was practically in my backyard. Because of my time in the area, I really enjoy supporting New Mexico businesses. So there's that. And the first "serious" board game I ever played was the Rio Grande distribution of Power Grid, which is still one of my favorites. We own over 30 games from the Rio Grande catalog, including Dominion, Puerto Rico, Carcassonne, Race for the Galaxy (another favorite), Stone Age, Underwater Cities (this game is amazeballs), and more.
Recent posts

Board Game Review: Wingspan Oceania Expansion

When Wingspan was released in 2019, it caused quite a stir. It's a compelling board game that detours far far away from the usual themes of conquest or agriculture. The game romanced me with its beauty, mechanics, and unique subject matter (see my review here ). Later that same year, the first expansion ( Wingspan: European Expansion ; review here ) was released. It proved to be more of a subtle change to the footprint of the game versus a turn-everything-upside-down-and-wow-you kind of addition. It took me awhile to warm up to it, and I wasn’t sold on it as a must-have item. More recently, Wingspan: Oceania Expansion , was released in 2020.  After several games, I’ve taken to this expansion much more than the previous one. That might be, at least in part, because my expectations have evolved for the series. Taking a lesson from my experience with the previous expansion, I assumed when opening the box that the designer (Elizabeth Hargrave), wasn’t likely to include any major disru

Royal Architects, Unnamed Noblemen, and Viscounts–A 130 Year Tale of West Francia in Three Parts. Part Two: The Unnamed Noblemen (A Review of Paladins of The West Kingdom)

During the early reign of King Charles III (Charles the Simple) in West Francia, the area was besieged by Viking invasions, while the memory of the previous and frequent Saracen incursions was still fresh in the minds of the general populace. The Saracens were Muslim - mostly Berbers from Africa – and had only let up on the Franks because they’d been pushed back by the Vikings. The local nobles were left largely to fend the Vikings off on their own. In Paladins of the West Kingdom , players assume the role of these unnamed nobles (most likely Dukes), working to keep the region safe and spread their faith (historically: Christianity).  I really enjoy this theme, and in fact, playing the game nurtured my interest in the historical kingdom of West Francia.  That’s why I can tell you that while the rulebook notes that the King lends his Paladins to the nobles to aid them in their quest, I’m giving all the credit for the loan to the designers, Shem Phillips and S J MacDonald.  Paladins are

Board Game Review: Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated (spoiler free)

We’ve had our eye on Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated since its debut in 2019 from Renegade Game Studios. In our house, we love legacy games and we own most of the other Clank! editions, so it seemed like a good fit. Boy, was it ever! We finally got the game a couple of weeks ago, and immediately fell for it so hard during the first few minutes of the game that we played it nearly every day with our 11 year old twin sons, Max and Locke. In Clank! Legacy: AI , designed by Andy Clautice and Paul Dennen, players take on the role of employees at a small organization. At the beginning of the legacy campaign, the organization is in the process of applying to become a franchise of Acquisitions Incorporated, a megacorp famed for its for-profit adventuring services. We loved the narrative and appreciated the touches of authenticity,  like the franchise charter agreement.  We’ve played through other legacy campaign games over the past year where the narrative fell flat at times (I’m l

Board Game Review: Tapestry Plans and Ploys Expansion

I was so excited when Jamey Stegmaier’s Plans and Ploys   expansion for Tapestry   (published by Stonemaier Games) showed up in the mail. I’d  played a lot of Tapestry games with my social isolation pod (see my review for Tapestry   here ) over the summer and I was eager to explore the new Tapestry cards and civilizations promised in the expansion. Beyond these updates, the Plans and Ploys expansion also includes a new game element (Landmark cards), new space tiles, a handy bag for drawing exploration tiles, and landmark place marker tokens which offer an easy way to identify which landmarks have already been claimed just by looking at the central board. As soon as we unboxed Plans and Ploys , we invited a few of our friends over to give it a go. Our previous social isolation pod had disbanded with the spike in new COVID cases in our state (Iowa: ground zero for the pandemic once the fall semester of school started) and none of the members of our newly formed pod had ever played the

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