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Showing posts from August, 2019

Board Game Review: Wingspan

It might be mildly offensive to the scores of board game designers out there, but until just recently, I’ve never played a board game that was so unique it made me want to learn more about the designer and why they designed the game. A lot of games are exceedingly wonderful, and they push me to stay tuned for what the designer might release next, but that's altogether different from wanting to understand what motivates the designer and makes them tick. And then along came Wingspan , designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, and released by Stonemaier Games. We have close to a thousand in our collection, and I’ve never seen anything like Wingspan before. It’s a game centered on birds. Beautiful, fascinating birds of all sizes, habitats, colors, and species. One hundred and seventy birds to be exact, in this first release of the the base game. It’s so richly and specifically themed; even with Jamey Stegmaier’s signature stamp of influence (goal oriented worker-placement game with win-win act

Board Game Review - Triora: City of Witches

There are some games in my collection that I get excited about when they arrive at my house but it takes me months to get them to the table. Typically in these cases the artwork is lovely, the theme is interesting, and the mechanics look promising but there is something standing in the way of playing the game right away. For Triora: City of Witches (designed by Michael C. Alves) , what stood in the way is the game’s rulebook. It absolutely flummoxed me.  Even with the errata notes released a few months ago, it’s hard to make sense of the rules. It made a mess of things. And look what’s it’s done to my review – I usually like to start with a nice overview of a game’s theme, cover the components and artwork, and then dive into the gameplay.  But the rulebook is so awful in this case, I’m forced to lead with that. The publisher needs a skilled editor to rewrite the rulebook entirely. It’s laden with spelling errors and unclear language. So that’s the bad news; the rulebook is subpar. The

Great Western National Parks Itinerary and Pictorial

There was a time – before I sank my teeth into the board game hobby and before I took on the demands of being a stepmom to three children - that I planned frequent trips for my friends circle. Each month would see us jet setting off to a different part of the United States (or a different part of the world) in search of adventure and great cuisine. I would pour myself into the research project that proper trip planning requires and create a custom itinerary for our group, working to ensure we caught all the highlights of our destination. This post is about the one I worked up for our last trip to some of the great Western National Parks in the United States.  I share it here with the hope that you might find the itinerary useful in planning your trip out west.   --> Full Photo Gallery – Come and Explore   DAY ONE MORNING Depart for Butte, Montana Pick up rental car AFTERNOON Lunch (& ice cream) at Matt’s Place (Butte) Transfer to Grand Teton National Park (4.5 hr

Board Game Review: Mystery of the Temples

Deep Water Games provided me a review copy of Mystery of The Temples , an abstract area control game designed by Wei-Min Ling. It's one of three games in my collection from the Deep Water Games catalog that were originally published by EmperorS4 and feature artwork by Maisherly Chan ( Shadows in Kyoto and Hanamikoji are the other two). In Mystery of the Temples , players take on the role of adventurers on a quest to collect ancient runes protected by dark curses.  In order to break the curses, crystals must be collected and aligned. During game setup, five temple cards are arranged face up in a circle and two wilderness cards are placed in between each pair of temple cards (the picture below shows an alternative arrangement for a 2-player game). A stack of rune cards (4 cards per stack; these cards provide valuable crystal bonuses) are placed face down above each temple card and the top card in each stack is flipped face up. Temple objective cards are laid out; these cards provid

News From GenCon 2019

When Chris and I were at GenCon this year, we had the chance to sit down with a few of our favorite publishers for some 1 on 1 interviews and get information on upcoming releases from their catalog. I wanted to share some of this info with you guys to aid you in planning your board game purchases.  Japanime Games Domina Anthology featuring Argot, Miraris, and Pralaya ( 2019 4th quarter or 2020 1st quarter expected Kickstarter delivery then retail release) . This anthology of games from Japanime is illustrated by Qtonagi and features games originally released by Domina from 2015-2017. Argoat is a worker placement game in which players travel trough the land looking for pieces to get to Eden and escape the nightmare of their current reality (bonus – it’s colorblind friendly). Pralaya is  competitive press your luck set collection game reminiscent of Forbidden Island in which your island is sinking and you must collect relics and pay the boatman to get off the island before it sin

Board Game Review: Teotihuacan

The team at NSKN names (now Board and Dice) sent me a review copy of Teotihuacan and I’ve had the opportunity to play several times in the months since, across all player counts, including solo against the Teotibot. Scholars tell us that Teotihuacan was, in its prime, the largest city in the Americas as well as the sixth largest city in the world. It’s only fitting that a prominent board game designer should make it the focal point of a compelling strategy game. Daniele Tascini is that designer, and in Teotihuacan , players take on the role of noble families working to build the great city and its Pyramid of the Sun while accruing wealth and glory. Odysseas Stamoglou is the artist behind the illustrations and tile carvings in this game. A casual glance from a player like myself (who is not steeped in deep knowledge of Mesoamerican art but has visited the Teotihuacan ruins) observes that the illustrations are reminiscent of the decorations found on structures and items from the famed

Board Game Review: Black Skull Island

Black Skull Island is a quick playing 2-9 player card game from Strawberry Studio (now under the publisher Board and Dice). I was sent a review copy of the game and it only seems to make it onto the table when we need a filler game to serve as an appetizer before a meaty Euro. The gameplay is extremely simply: each player gets 2 pirate themed character cards and selects one of them to play during a round, keeping the other one in hand. Every card is numbered from 0 to 15. All players reveal their character cards simultaneously and then the actions on the cards are executed by the players who hold them in sequential order of the the card numbers. Most actions focus either on (1) drawing booty (treasure cards or coin cards), (2) stealing or deactivating other players’ character cards, (3) stealing or swapping booty cards  from/with another player or (4) an order for all players to pass a character card to their left or right. Over successive rounds, booty cards worth 0-4 coins build up

Board Game Review: Shadows in Kyoto

That second slice of cheesecake when the Cheesecake factory was running their $0.88 a slice promo. The late night boardgame marathon when I had to work early the next morning. Hosting a dinner party every night for 12 days during the 12 days of Christmas. I fell in love with the idea of all these things, but once I experienced them, I realized they were mismatched to my temperament. They were so enticing, and they whispered to me with promises of fun, but I couldn’t love them the way I wanted to. That’s what Shadows in Kyoto did to me too. I picked up a copy of the game based solely on the artwork. It’s beautiful, as we have come to expect from Maisherly Chan. I should have known what I was getting into because we already own other games that lean heavily toward the abstract - such as Hanamikoji (another game for which Maisherly provided artwork; see my review for it here: ) - and I have never come to love thos

Board Game Review: Cryptid

My favorite board game as a child in the early 1980s was Clue. Put the clues together, use your deduction skills, and solve the mystery before anyone else. Aha, now you’ve got it! Aren’t you the smart one! Board games have come a long way since then, with increasing complexity in structure and mechanics; deduction games are no exception. If you liked Clue as a child, you’ll probably love Cryptid . Released by Osprey Games, Cryptid is a deduction game designed by Hal Duncan and Ruth Veevers. Players take on the role of cryptozoologists searching for an unidentified cryptid (an animal that people claim exists, but which has yet to be verified) in North America. The geographic search area in Cryptid is comprised of six modular board tiles, which are arranged in rows of two tiles each stacked to form a 2x3 grid, which looks like this: Because the boards can be rotated and moved around, this results in around 46,000 different board set-ups. There are five terrain types possible for each he