Saturday, August 29, 2015

Behind the Line - Pick of the Podcasts!

The past couple of months I have been filling my drive time with gaming podcasts, I just want to share with you the ones that I have been enjoying the most. - Hosted by Sean and Alex. It's only been running for a little over year, and I only started listening a few weeks backs myself. The banter between the two is what makes this show, they have very different tastes in board gaming which can make it all the more interesting when they agree on a game. Half tempted to take the drive out to ABQ to join in their weekly meetup. I highly recommend checking them out. - Paul Dean and Quintin Smith have been at this a little bit longer and it shows. They really know their stuff. As well as the awesome podcast their video reviews are the best on the web, the infusion of humor and theme that they put into them is fantastic. Also the spot the pear meta-game can be fun as well. - Taking a different approach to board game reviewing the team of Flip the Table plays the bad games so we don't have to. Often reviewing the games you see on the shelves of your local thrift store, they take the time to give these games a honest shot as well as offering up opinions on how they could have been improved. - My final pick is a new podcast on the block and a little fan service for a friend of mind. Jason Hancock and Jason Washburn put together this podcast to interview other board game reviewers, designers and other people with a love for the hobby like them.

And there are some many more, so take the time out of your day and check these ones out.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Weekly Route - From Ancient Rome to turn of the century New York

The Weekly Route is never planned, sometimes there may be lots of stops and occasionally just one or two. This is where I like to take a look back at the previous week and check out the stops my gaming hobby took me to.

Just want to drop a precursor to the week that has passed. What a week it has been, thanks to a new member of our gaming group, I got to play three of my wishlist I posted the other week and another two are waiting in the wings. So along with him I want to say a huge thank you to all those who play a part in my little tour of games each week, company is half the fun.

Set in Ancient Rome, each player is attempting to run their own arena, trying to put on the best shows and attract important Roman dignitaries. You need to collect together the needed assets for each event to garner more wealth so you can improve your arena or lure the Emperor to come see your show. Another great game from Days of Wonder, along with the likes of Small World and Ticket to Ride this can work as first step into the hobby board game world. It serves as an entryway auction and trading game, and theme shines through as you compete to put on the best show before the end. This has hit my must get list, sadly this is currently out of print, but there is a new edition coming via Kickstater in October.

Baseball Highlights: 2045
Baseball Highlights: 2045
Let's start this week by heading out to a ball game and crossing a game of my wish to play list. It is the future and the popularity of baseball had been waning, in an attempt to bring the game back some things have changed. Games got shortened to six innings and they now allow cybernetic augmented players and even robots alongside the naturals. To recreate this new golden age of baseball the game uses a deckbuilding system in head to head world series between players. The quick back and forth make a sport that I have no interest in at all, very compelling to me and sheer variety of different cards to pick from will make every game unique in how it plays out. Can't wait to get a chance to play it again and would like to pick up my own copy.

New Your 1901
New York 1901
Being touted as a Ticket to Ride killer in many circles, this game gives a similar feel but rather than placing routes you are building up skyscrapers across the skyline of a 1901 New York. On their turns players draw a colored lot card and place out one of their workers, then have the choice to pass on the turn or pick the worker back up and place a building, scoring points immediately. As you score higher you'll have the chance to place larger buildings, score higher and even tear down your older buildings and replace them with real world buildings such as The Wentworth and The Met Life Building.

Set in Mythic Greece, the game itself is a mix of tableau building and set collection, as you try to build your legends using cards representing five different Greek gods. You purchase these cards into your domain, where they each have powers that can be beneficial to you, before you transfer them down into your Elysium and create the legends of old. This is my fifth play of this game and even with same five gods each time every game has felt a little different as various combos play out on the board and for other players. Looking forward to bringing in one of the three other gods that come in the box to the field next time.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Reimplementing his design from Agricola, Uwe Rosenberg brings a game that seems to grow before you. The players representing the titular dwarven Cave Farmers, as you attempt to mine and farm your way to victory. Many options are laid before you as you send out your workers to bring back resources to help you build rooms to be able to grow your family and farm fields to help feed them. One of the heavy hitters of the board game world, #3 on Board Game Geek, this game lives up to it's reputation and with more plays will surely fly up my list.

An elaborate scenario-based deduction game for upto 4 players, three players assume to role of the protagonists (loopers) and the other would be the mastermind. There is a map of locations between them and across those places a several characters. Each scenario has a tragedy, or more than one tragedy, that the players are attempt to prevent and the Mastermind is trying to bring about. If the players fail, they loop back to the start of the scenario and have to figure out what they did wrong in an attempt to avoid it happening to them again. If they manage to get through all the days in a scenario they win, if they run out of loops they lose and the Mastermind is victorious. This game is well worth the steep learning curve it provides as it is utterly unique and unlike anything I have played before. I will certainly be looking to pick this one up for myself at the first chance I get.

Other stops
Got to try out the new Artisans in Five Tribes... Was less than impressed when I got [redacted]... Made many Patchwork quilts... Traveled deeper into Euphoria... Lost every shootout in Carson City... Tried out a lengthy run of Imperial Settlers... Picked up a Dead Drop... Went horribly into debt creating a vineyard in Grand Cru... Rediscovered the wonders of a Small World... Found out once again I'll never be an architect in Castles of Mad King Ludwig... Got shoot up again in Bang: The Dice Game... Finally, revealed my alter-ego as a Rhino Hero!!

Told you it was a busy week!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Behind the Line - Kickstarting the habit

Board gaming is an addiction. Like with many addictions there are enablers.

One of those enablers is Kickstarter.

Please proceed at your own risk.


Designed by Alf Seegert and being published by Ryan Lauket's Red Raven Games, this 2-4 player family game has you trying to successfully guide your animal through the dream world.

You start with a grid of 25 tiles, set up at random in a 5x5 dreamscape. You also start with one extra tile, with a picture of your animal on it. On the opposite side of each of your tiles is a picture of your animal. Each turn, a random card is drawn, telling players which tile they should flip. When you flip a tile, it means your animal is travelling through a part of the dreamscape. Your goal is to guide your animal through the dreamscape by putting him in specified spaces (which are different each time you play). Each time after a card is drawn, you take your extra animal and slide him into the dreamscape, shifting one row or column of tiles until a new, different tile emerges from the opposite side. You'll use this tile to shift another column or row on your next turn. Play continues until one player's dreamscape tiles matches the goal. The player then shouts his or her animal's name-- "Dingo!", for example, to win the round.

As with all Red Raven Games, the artwork alone is awesome, coupled with the opportunity to pick up the 2nd edition of Ryan Lauket's City of Iron makes this a project worth checking out.


Cultists of Cthulhu is a semi-cooperative game for 3-6 players. All but one of the players are Academics, working together to accomplish the scenario-specific goals, while the final player is the Cultist, who pretends to be an academic while secretly working to kill the other players.

This takes an exploration mechanic like Betrayal at House on the Hill, but instead of a random player being selected to be the traitor this game begins with a traitor already in play. Can you figure out who is working against you?


As a big shot executive you need to keep your network stacked with the best shows in Prime Time. A basic goal for any TV show is to "win" its time slot for the network by having the highest ratings, and thus the highest ad revenue. As you add talented actors, producers and writers to the show, you’ll have to decide how to arrange your TV Guide to win over the most viewers. Will you be putting your best shows early in the week? What will you leave for the Friday night death slot? Make your choices wisely so you can become the #1 network.

A Euro-style game based in the world of TV networks, if the theme clicks well with the mechanics I can see this being alot of fun. 


Cat Tower is a dexterity-based, tower-building game starring CATS! You and up to five players have the grueling task of stacking unwieldy, lethally cute cats in various, precarious positions based on the roll of a giant cat die.

Not much to this one, the description gets it all, but look at the cute and relatively low price of $20, this looks like a fun filler.



Tabletopia is a sandbox. Players should know the rules of the game to play it. There is no AI or rules enforcement, but at the same time it has the freedom to play the game your way - exactly as if you were playing at a real table.

This is my choice for my first KICK OF THE WEEK. The sheer gaming potential of such a program is limitless, as well as the creative implementations for game designers this looks incredible.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Weekly Route - From the Panama Canal to a dystopian future

The Weekly Route is never planned, sometimes there may be lots of stops and occasionally just one or two. This is where I like to take a look back at the previous week and check out the stops my gaming hobby took me to. Going to add something new this week, my CHOICE DESTINATION, basically my game of the week.

Dice to the Panamax!
First let's hop on a ship in Central America and traverse the Panama Canal, I have been hoping for a chance to get this one in. Finally it came my way at our Sunday game night. This is a pick up and deliver game turned upto eleven, a heavy euro which involves dice action assignments with a sidebar of stock manipulation. Of course for a first play it was a lot of learning and taking in all the aspects. I did love the dock bumping mechanic and how you can affect other peoples ships and deliveries to your own advantage. This one surely requires a return visit for me to fully appreciate it.

Farmers fight too
Lords of Xidit
A programming game that is less punishing than Robo-Rally or Colt Express, in this you get to be a Idrakys - the noble heirs of Xidit, and you must journey around the land collecting up brave warriors to fight off the marauding creatures, in the process accumulate your wealth, send bards to sing your praises or build up your guilds. At the end game you have to compare your standings in each of those three areas to determine the final legend of Xidit. A game that is pleasing on the eye on the table, a bright and colorful landscape of creatures and recruits. Attack the darkness with me next time!

Grand Cru
Before Viticulture and Vinhos there was this wine making game. You are an ambitious vintner setup up your vineyard, you have to begin by taking loans so you have money to spend on new vines or improvements to your business. Money is tight and wise choices will guide how well you do, you may look at short term gains, or hope for a long-tern play and wait for those expensive wines to mature. The game ends when someone has paid back all their loans and who has the most profitable vineyard wins. The opening loan mechanic interested me, you basically choose how much in debt you want to start off and it will certainly limit you if you go for less loans. I only got to play this two player with my wife, I think it needs another play with more players, but if Viticulture is anywhere near this won't see the light of day.

Building a dystopia
My final star
Have you always wanted to live in a dystopian future where all your workers are dumb and happy? Well now is your chance! Euphoria brings a unique back story to life, you control a team of workers, represented by dice. The numbers on each die represent your worker's knowledge, the awareness that he is stuck in a dystopian world, if your worker's collective knowledge becomes too high they will leave you. You work to place your influence (stars) throughout the world, the first player to complete this wins, the world is littered with paths to this victory with so many choices that are influenced by your initial allegiance selection at the start of the game. I happily squeaked out a victory in my first game and I felt I was just concentrating on one or two aspects of the game, which I loved, next time I will try something different. StoneMaier hits another one out of the park with this.

Here is a game that is strictly 4 players, if you don't have that number you will be unable to play. In this game each player is a investigator to a mystery, each of you is given a separate piece of the puzzle and the way you pass on information is restricted. You may only whisper to you direct neighbor, so telephone style the clues are passed around the table. During this time you aren't allowed to write anything down, only when all of it has had a chance to circulate around the table can you put pen to paper. At that point the detectives get asked three questions, no discussions, and you are scored on a total out of 12 scale on how you did. The uniqueness of this deduction game made it the highlight of my week and anticipate playing it again soon.

Other stops
Not a fan of being a Black Sheep... Pushed my luck pirating with Dead Man's Draw... Got all artistic again in Pastiche... Splendor provided a quick break... Welcome to the Dungeon, we got fun and games!!! An older card game Saga... Got my quilting on again, Patchwork... and finally Shadow Hunters allowed me to attack the darkness for the second time in a week... aww I'm out of mana.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Behind the Line - Wishlist!!!

So I ran through my Top 10 games for all those that I've played, this time I want to look at a list of games I haven't played yet, but would love the chance to try them out or even own them myself. Here are six titles that keep bubbling to the top of my wishlist!

IMPERIAL SETTLERS - A card game in which players are building up their civilization, you place buildings and then place workers on the buildings to collect resources. From what I hear the cartoon art style can be misleading to the depth of strategy within this game and also the amount of take-that that can happen during play as their are opportunities to attack other opponents. 
Why do I want to play? I have enjoyed the few civ-building games I have got to play and bright colorful art style of this one appeals to me alot. But the general excellent word of mouth on this one attracts me.

TRAGEDY LOOPER - A deduction game, which contains several different scenarios. For each one there is a mastermind, essentially the bad guy for the game, who plays against upto three other people, the loopers. In each scenario there are a number of characters and preset tragedies (murders, suicides). Each day (turn) players and the mastermind manipulate the characters on the board, moving or affect their stats. At day's end if a tragedy triggers if certain conditions have been met, a character in a certain location for example. If a tragedy happens, then all the players are looped back to the start of the scenario and have to try and deduce why the tragedy happened. If the players manage to get through a set number of days and loops without a tragedy occurring they win, otherwise the mastermind does.
Why do I want to play? I'm attracted to both the complex logic problem deduction that the players face and also to the interest part the mastermind has to play in the manipulation of the characters to get what they need to happen.

ARCADIA QUEST - Dungeon crawl! Players each lead guilds of heroes in a semi-coop campaign to defeat the Vampire Lord. Each guild consists of three unique heroes, all represented by great looking chibi-style minis. Only one guild will win the end so you have to do your best to hinder your opponents while still working toward the same goal.
Why do I want to play? Solid reviews across the board. Also I got my taste for dungeon crawl style games with a few rounds of Imperial Assault and would like something new to me to flesh out my collection. Having said that if I can't get this, Imperial Assault would be a great substitute.

FORBIDDEN STARS - Set in the Warhammer 40k universe this is a epic space battle between upto four of the major races - Space Marines, the Eldar, thr Evil Sunz Ork clan and Chaos Space Marines. This is touted as a streamlined Twilight Imperium which forces conflict as each player searches out there specific objective tokens that were put in place at the start of the game, usually in enemy territory.
Why do I want to play? Why wouldn't I? Gorgeous and unique minis for each race representing ground forces and spaceships. The awesome action selection system used in the out of print Starcraft. Dice based combat. And of course the potential to crush my foes under my foot!

BASEBALL HIGHLIGHTS: 2045 - It is 2045, baseball was a dying pastime until the introduction of cybernetic implants and robots. Now you can relive the moments of one of the greatest baseball seasons yet. A deck builder at it's core, this game strips away all the play-by-play action of baseball and gives you quick broken down highlights. Keeping each game stripped down you can play a seven game series in a short time.
Why do I want to play? I don't even like baseball and from what I've heard I have to play this game as soon as I get a chance.With a solid in box base set and planned mini-expansions this looks like a game that could have legs.

BLOOD RAGE - In this one each player controls their own Viking clan’s warriors, leader, and ship. Ragnarök has come, and it’s the end of the world! It’s the Vikings’ last chance to go down in a blaze of glory and secure their place in Valhalla at Odin’s side. You draft cards that help you select how you want to go about gaining the victory points needed to come out on top.  Most of these cards are aligned with one of the Norse gods, hinting at the kind of strategy they support. For example, Thor gives more glory for victory in battle, Heimdall grants you foresight and surprises, Tyr strengthens you in battle, while the trickster Loki actually rewards you for losing battles, or punishes the winner.
Why do I want to play? Another game with amazing looking minis. It reeks of theme, who doesn't want to be a Viking warlord, hell bent on crushing your enemies. Again I seem to like crushing at the moment.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Behind the Line - My Top 10 Games

My Top 10 Games

Way back in January, when I first attempted bringing back a blog, I posted my Top 5 games, now just 8 months later I feel I have gotten deeper into the hobby and it's time to give everyone an idea of where my tastes lie now with a full blown Top 10. Oh how things have changed!

Honorable mentions: Dominant Species, Dice Masters, One Night Ultimate Werewold, Elysium, Legendary Encounters, Dead of Winter, Carcassonne, Voyages of Marco Polo, Sheriff of Nottingham, Shadows Over Camelot.

Of all the hidden role games that we've played I have the most fun with this one. Although alot of the game can hang on good or bad die rolls there is still a enough strategy dependent on he role you get given at the start of the game. This hits my Top 10 due to amount of times we have played this along with it being one of the games my kids actually get excited to play each time it is brought out.

I still owe so much of my love for hobby board gaming to this one, and it hangs on by a thread in my Top 10. I will always have a soft-spot for it and will rarely turn down an offer to play it. And with the news of another expansion map on the way which will include the United Kingdom I can see it staying here for a while longer.

With a variable board which looks like a rainbow threw up on it after setup, this game has so many ways to victory which will keep me coming back to it whenever I get a chance. Still haven't played with the expansion yet either.

Building crazy looking castles for the Mad King is a blast, we so many unique room tiles no two castles will ever be alike. It's just fun to watch as you building grows before you and you attempt  to combo the bonus points from rooms as you go. Another one with an expansion on the way.

A unique worker placement game, that has you trying to time your placements rather than worrying about being blocked on spots. The sheer depth of strategy that comes from making the decision between placing and picking up is amazing, it will burn your brain.

My favorite Uwe Rosenberg game has you trading and building your part of the harbor in Le Havre. A great thinker of a game, with a limited choice of what you can do on your turn, with a balance of figuring out how to feed your workers each round.

Such a wonderful game. The theme of the old west is thick on it which is enhanced by the worker placement mechanic when two people go for the same spot you have a shoot out to decide who gets the benefits. Really hoping one day I'll be able to pick up the reprint.

StoneMaier games find i hard to miss and for the time being this is their masterpiece. Of course to get this high it requires the Tuscany expansion. But oh my is it worth it. You never have enough worker to get what you need to do, but I love that feeling when I want to do all the things and now have to choose what would be best for me each year. Just never play this game with my wife, she will finish you.

A blend of heavy euro and logic problem, Alchemists is overall the best game in my Top 10. The deduction that goes into figuring out the chemical build of the ingredients could make a fun game itself, but add in the limited worker assignments you make each round molds the way you play each game.

Thanks to the quick playtime combined with simultaneous play and dice rolling this game is easily my favorite game. I love the decisions you have to make each turn, deciding if you should bank on another player picking a phase you want activated or just go ahead and activate it yourself. I will never turn down an offer to play.

Let's give this all another few months and see where I'll be then..

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Weekly Route - From making quilts to selling vegetables in Loyang

The Weekly Route is never planned, sometimes there will be lots of stops and occasionally just one or two. This is where I like to take a look back at the previous week and check some of the stops my gaming hobby took me to. And to see if I interested in stopping back at those games again in the future.


So much of my gaming involves a group, more often then not games involving 5 or 6 players, that it can be really nice to find something that plays for two. I stumbled across a copy of the hard to find Patchwork a week ago. I know making a quilt doesn't sound like the most enthralling theme, but this is a fabric woven by Uwe Rosenberg. We've only had a handful of plays this past week but the depth to such a simple game is becoming clear. It's a small scale mix of spatial, time and resource management, it blends so well. You really have to weigh up picking a piece of fabric to fit on your board, look at what pieces you may be leaving for your opponent and see how much time you may be saving or wasting in the process. Hoping to weave more quilts than boatload of aunties.

At the Gates of Loyang
At the Gates of Loyang
From one Uwe stop to another, this time he take us to China and turns us into farmers growing and selling their vegetables outside the city of Loyang. I equate this to a gamer version of Diner Dash. You have customers that have to be satisfied each round, if you manage that you get a payout, if you fail you can suffer a cash penalty as they become dissatisfied. Of course much of this can be mitigated by getting trading stalls of your own or by hiring helpers. I had fun in my first play of this one and hope to get a chance to travel to those gates again soon. Adding another Uwe to my played list is always a bonus.

Captains of Industry
One of my gaming group regulars owns this game and has been wanting me to try it out, so this past Sunday I got a chance to play a full game. It has fairly good economic mechanics in which you produce goods and set the price but then opponents can under cut you and sell their items first, grabbing the all important market share. It can take planning to figure out how to maximize your shares, but it can be hard to plan with the randomness of the end of each age, of which there are three. At the end of each round cards are drawn to advance the age and the wrong pull at the wrong time can see your well-laid plan falling apart. I feel there are other games that do the same but better, will skip this stop the next time round.

The final highlighted stop this week is one I hadn't heard of before a friend of mine lent it to me. Upon opening the box I initially felt over-whelmed and that it would be a bear to learn due to all the talk about color creating and matching. However, a quick read through the rules with my family and we all had it down within a couple of rounds. The game is based around famous works of art, we have private commissions as well as a shared pool of paintings in the galley. On your turn you place a hex tile onto the table to line up colors to create more colors for your palette. With these created palette cards you can turn them in to complete your commissions and score points. Playing for the first few times was fun as we kept seeing the new pieces of art and had to stop for a second to ogle them. Will certainly get this to the easel again soon.

Other stops
I kept returning to Asia to hang out with Marco Polo... I got to chop the heads off French nobles with a Guillotine... I figured out the chemical elements of a toad in Alchemists... and became the Black Sheep of poker.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Weekly Route - From Chichen Itza to Mars

The Weekly Route is never planned, occasionally I may have a stop in mind but whether or not I'll get there is another thing. This is where I like to take a look back at the previous week and check some of the stops my gaming hobby took me to. And to see if I interested in stopping back at those games again in the future.

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
Starting off in an ancient civilization may not be the best place for some, but this fascinating take on worker placement has shot up my favorite games list.

The center piece of the game, and what makes it unique, is the gears on the board. Plastic gears that turn to advance the seasons. The main mechanic of the game is a simple as can be, you only have 2 choices. Either place workers on the gears or pick-up workers from those spots. It becomes a game all about timing it right, as the gears are turning the position of your workers and what they do change each round. With several routes to victory and that unnerving feeling that you are never doing quite enough to ensure victory this game can be a brain burner. Can't wait to return.

Got another chance to play this fantastic game, the blend of the logic problem style deduction pieced with worker placement makes me feel all funny inside. With limited choices to make each round and only working with what information you can garner from your tests, sometimes taking an educated guess to get your theory on the board can be crucial to staying in the hunt.

Brew Crafters
Brew Crafters
Can you be the first to brew a certain type of beer? Yes another worker placement game, can you guess my favorite mechanic yet? This is has to be one of the heaviest games I have played, lots of choices as you upgrade your brewery, tech-up your lab and collect resources to brew beer. This was our group's rookie play of it and we can see all the different choices that can be made as you grow your brewing empire.

Voyages of Marco Polo
Voyages of Marco Polo
Traveled from Italy all the way to the far eastern shores of the Pacific Ocean building trading routes using a worker dice placement mechanic. It feels like a heavier Ticket to Ride as you are given destination cards at the start of the game which help give you direction in the early rounds of the game as you set up trading posts. But that isn't key to success as the game lays many routes to victory.

Mission: Red Planet
Mission: Red Planet
This one was a first play for me this week and I eagerly await a second chance. The gameplay felt easy to get into and I can see how it would be a great gateway game to play with the family. In the game itself you are trying to get your astronauts to Mars and fight for control of the planet's resources. I played the original edition and with a new reprint coming from Fantasy Flight this year I hope I can pick up my own copy.

Other stops
Got a chance to run around Europe on the hunt for the Count in Fury of Dracula, had some fun although I feel it has potential to run a little long... Stopped in the wild west for a while and built up Carson City, definately one of my favorites... Failed to protect a village from vampires and ghouls while writing up Ghost Stories... Got a party going with Codenames an awesome deduction puzzle game with friends... Called everyone's bluff in Cockroach Poker, not sure if I like this one yet... Finally got some 2 player games under my belt, Dragonheart, Roma and the hard to find quilt making Patchwork.