Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kickstarting the Habit - Spirit Guardians against the Deadly Sins

Another trio of picks for you to kick this week!


Eric Lang and Cool Mini or Not are at it again. This time they are setting us up to battle the Seven Deadly Sins, players will take on the roles of members of FAITH (Federal Authority for the Interdiction of Transdimensional Horrors) a paranormal organization tasked with battling the evils corrupting the town of Haven.

With awesome miniatures and a horror campaign that doesn't involve the oncoming arrival of Cthulhu, if you have the money to burn this is certainly a campaign to get behind. As always with their campaigns it has funded and then some opening up almost all of their stretch goals.


Arthursburg is under attack, the residents and wildlife of the town are transformed into monsters out to destroy the town. Now it's upto you and your friends to rise up and battle the oncoming evil. You are The Guardians. Players have to draft cards to build up a deck to help them fortify locations around town. The game has a semi-cooperative aspect as each player will have their own secret quests to complete along the way to become the True Guardian.

Out of the box the game comes packed with cards and great artwork. The theme sounds a blast, with card drafting being a a fantastic way to build up your hand. This is definitely worth considering.


Set in an alternate history of 1700AD, players take on the roles of different spirits of the land, using unique powers the object is to protect your island from encroaching colonists in a strategic area control co-op game.

I love to see games designers still managing to create unique themes for their games. In a world where civ-building plays a big part of board games, this game puts in the other side of the story as you protect your land from the building society around you.


Friday, September 25, 2015

The Weekly Route - From LV-426 to Mallorca


Theme bleeds from every pour of this game, Upper Deck have really hit on a winner with this. Pushing their Legendary deck building system into a movie franchise that reeks of tension and fear. As you play through each of the movies that come in the core set for this, every card turn can cause collective cringing and gasps of relief. I finally got a chance to teach it to my wife, at first she didn't seem too enthralled but as we built toward the end of scenario she came around and was riding right there alongside the movie's heroes.

If you enjoy deckbuilders you'll love this, if you have a love for the movie franchise you'll love this. Looking forward to getting Predator and the future expansion for this.


In my quest to play my way through the Top 100 on BGG I rarely turn down plays of games currently occupying it. On the lower end comes Glory to Rome, a game that I have heard alot of mixed feelings for. It is a card driven city building game that features a very unique mechanic of playing cards, every card in your hand can be used in multiple ways. It really brings about a depth to game that is simple in it's mechanics, giving you alot of choices on each turn. You can use them to build up roles in your tableau so each time you have a turn you can use certain powers multiple times. Scoring comes from the buildings you complete, along with resources you managed to store along the way.

I played with original cartoon style artwork, which detracts from the game itself as it gives it an old look on the table. Definitely a game that should be reworked with new art.


Crossing another one off the 100 list here, hadn't really heard much about this before playing but came away feeling I got to play something a little different. The theme places you as competing companies trying to make theirs the most profitable by building up plantations on colonies during the 16th century. Each phase of the game starts with a auction, players have the chance to put certain items up for bid, if one of your opponents win they pay you, if you decide to take the item you get it for cheaper than the highest bid. Once that is over you have a very limited number of actions to level up their technologies, grow on plantations, gather ships and build up colonies.

Once the game is flowing it plays rather quickly and a nice feel to the engine building that doesn't overstay it's welcome. Certainly would like to play again.


Controlling farms on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean, players compete to deliver their goods to market and earn the title of "La Granja" for their estate. Taking a heavy influence from Glory to Rome and many other Euro games from designers such as Stefan Feld and Uwe Rosenberg. This is a game of great depth and decision each turn, multi-use cards, resource management and turn manipulation are all things you have to keep track off. With an element of timing over the seemingly short six rounds of play make every choice you make huge.

Initially the game will seem to have a high AP level, but I think over time and familiarity with the cards that will level out with multiple plays. A contender for game of the year for sure.


Taking an elegant puzzle design like the original Lewis & Clark and turning it into a shorter playing dice game and carrying over a similar feel is a hard task, but one that Discoveries is more than upto. Taking the journal aspect of their journey across America, Lewis & Clark and other members of their expedition wrote page after page of new species they discovered and maps of the lands they traversed. Using the dice to help you push your expedition along and collect as much knowledge as possible in your journal is key to winning the game. With just two choices on your turn, place a die or pick up dice to add to your pool it converts the original into a different kind of puzzle.

Excellent all round, art is fantastic to look at and there is enough dice mitigation to not get stomped by bad rolls each turn.



Set on the beautiful shores of Scotland's gem, the Isle of Skye, players compete to build up the best kingdom. Each round players place land tiles up for auction to each other and once they are purchased they are laid into a personal tableau of the isle as it builds up. Each game has a selection of 4 objectives to score points of, from a potential pool of 16, creating a different feel each game as how you build your kingdom will change from game to game.

Personally this game could replace Carcassonne and Castles of Mad King Ludwig as it fills the feeling of each of these in a tight clean package, that plays in under a hour. Also the art is bright and colorful creating a great look on the table once everyone is finished.

Dug up fossils and went on expedition into the jungle with Artifacts, Inc... Went to Medina to build a city... Travelled to San Juan to sell tobacco... Voyaged to the new world to mess with the Spanish Main alongside Francis Drake... Became an Istanbul gem hoarder... Finally ran my way around London to find Mr Jack and defeat my wife for the first time.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Weekly Route - From castaway to finding my way to the Pacific

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.

As always thanks to all that make this journey possible each week through my gaming groups.

7 Wonders
A couple of weeks ago I got to revisit Small World, this week I managed to pull to the table another old favorite. This is a fantastic drafting game where you are building up your wonder with locations that can earn you victory points. The simultaneous nature of the game play makes any player count run over the same amount of time once all the players know what they are doing each turn. There is a fun balance between keeping something you need while also not passing on cards that would be helpful for your neighbor. We played this with six players and it seemed different strategies earned victory each time and my wife even seemed to enjoy a play of a game she isn't really that into which speaks volumes for how this game is with the right group of people around the table. Also I need the practise as I just signed up for the tournament they are hosting at Rincon this year.

Robinson Crusoe
This was my first playthrough of this supposedly brutal co-op game. Players are all castaways, awaiting rescuing on a tropical island. You must explore your surroundings and collect resources to help battle the elements and the island's wildlife, while at the same time trying to complete the objective for the unique scenario you are currently playing. This is certainly unlike any other co-ops I've played, it has many decisions for you to make each round and an excellent implementation of dice rolling if you decide to do a task alone. As I said I was warned about how hard it would be to win at this, which we managed to do in my first sitting, I think a large amount of good luck helped along with playing it with two very experienced members of our group. Thanks Matt and Nicole couldn't have made it off the island without you.

Panic Station
You are sent to a remote space station to investigate an alien presence there, now one of your team is infected and you don't know who it is. Working as a team and against a traitor in your midst you must search the station looking for the alien hive to defeat the threat. Although the game seemed to have some clunkiness in the rules and needs to have printed player guides for what cards do, for me at least the game instilled a frantic level of paranoia as we got closer to the end. The major mechanic of the game is that when you enter a room with another player you have to essentially 'swap-spit' by trading cards in your hands, in the process of this any infected player has the chance to pass off an infection card and in turn infect another member of the team. At points during the game you can scan all the players and through the secret playing of cards it can be revealed how many people are already carrying the alien parasite. Just imagine The Thing as a board game and you are getting there.

It can be a rare thing when a game is equally beautiful to look as it is mechanically sound, but in the case of Lewis & Clark we have that rare joy. At the heart of it this is a race game, as players lead expeditions across America, trying to be the first to reach the Pacific coast. To achieve this you use a unique card playing system mixed with worker placement, you lay a card from your hand to activate it's action but to use that action you may have to use another card face down to power it. So as you go you turns become a puzzle of what cards to use and what to lose the chance to use that turn. Need to get my own copy of this one for sure.

Other stops
Got Chibis to the table with Takenoko... Tried a hand at 3 player Brew Crafters... Made a wonderful steam powered machine in Steampunk Rally... Spyfall inspired a hunt through a submarine... Robbed the Colt Express

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Weekly Route - Travelling through time and crafting brews

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.

As always thanks to all that make this journey possible each week through my gaming groups.

Gaming as a learning and teaching tool is certainly something that is often unique among many games but a method that can open gaming upto families and new gamers. I had never played the Timeline series before, put off by it's simplicity but I was won over by the detail in the artwork on the tiny cards and the way the game can get a family around the table together playing. The game is simple, you have a hand of cards that represent events during history and you have to play all of your cards correctly into an ever growing timeline on the table. There are several versions of the game dealing with unique themes and they can all be potentially combined into an uber-game. Looking forward to an new announced version called Timeline Challenge, which includes a player board and tokens but no details on the rules yet.

Yee-arrr! It's a pirate's life for me! Sailing the seven seas and fighting other ships for the share of the booty. This card placing and semi-trick taking game brings out the theme fantastically with take-that rounds as cards are revealed. Players secretly play role cards to choose order in which they can grab at the booty each day, but some special powers can change what was played or even kill off opponents crew members. Over 3 separate campaigns you attempt to amass the most booty. At times the game feels a little stretched but with the right group and attitudes it'll be fun, keeping the player count down to four may also help.

Arcadia Quest
Imaging Gauntlet the arcade game as a board game where there are teams of adventurers fighting one another for gold, then you have Arcadia Quest. There is a light back story to the game involving the rise of a Vampire Lord who is bringing turmoil to the city of Arcadia. Each player runs a guild of heroes fighting one another for renown in cleaning the streets of goblins and orcs on their way to defeat the Vampire Lord. Each scenario has a mix of PvP and PvE objectives for your guild to complete, achieve a mix of 3 of these and you win that round. The combat system is fun and tense, helped by exploding dice, where rolling critical hits mean you get to re-roll dice and add to your damage.  This game is an absolute blast and a close 2nd choice for my game of the week.

An absolutely solid second play of this game last night, for those who I played with I apologize for my grumping while playing, definitely not a game to play when you're tired. But my choices each turn were consuming my brain. I went for a heavy tech and building strategy which meant trying to keep track of alot on my turn. In the end it paid off and garnered myself a win, certainly need to run at this again and see if it would work a second time. As a worker placement game I don't feel it does anything new but with this one it is the theme that comes through strong, you get the feel that you are brewing and pushing through sales and growing your brewing empire. The game itself is a work of master craftsmanship.

Other stops
Got my first win in Tzolk'in... Just couldn't find my rolls in Roll for the Galaxy... Played on the small side with Tiny Epic Kingdoms and The Builders... Introduced my family to Trains... Had my first run at Mr Jack.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kickstarting the Habit: Caverns packed with gems and booze

With Essen around the corner it is a fairly slow time for Kickstarter, but there are still a few I think could be worth checking out.


From Overworld Games the publishers behind the hugely successful and fun Good Cop Bad Cop comes another hidden role and deduction game. Set during the time of US Prohibition, 3 mobs compete to be the most profitable. With no player elimination everyone gets a chance to try and figure out who is on their team and sell alcohol on their way to victory.

This campaign also features a chance to pick up another recently funded and well received Kickstarter in the form of New Salem. Also if you are feeling it you can bling out your copy of Booze Barons with an awesome custom made Game Trayz insert.


At first glance Trove may look like just another dungeon crawl where players are adventurers running through a cave or two collecting up gold and killing the monsters within. But this one takes a unique take on the roles given to the players.

In this game you can choose to be the Knight, who must kill the dragon, or the Goblins, who are trying to end the Knight's quest, the Dragon, who is just trying to to escape, and finally the Cave itself, who is trying to expand and then collapse. This promises to play like nothing else out there and no two games will feel the same with a tile laying mechanic to building the cave.

Definitely worth checking out, with most of the stretch goals hit already and a fifth player option waiting to be unlocked.


Eduardo Baraf is back on Kickstarter, after his fun alien escape game Lift Off! he returns with a gorgeously cute family card game. In this game upto 5 players will be collecting geminos and completing sets to earn the victory points to win.

Like his previous game this looks like it will be a perfect gateway game with the use of bright primary colors to help attract players to the game. There is also a version available on iOS which plays like a puzzle game as you help the little geminos blast off on rockets.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Weekly Route - From occupied France to laying track in Japan

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.

As always thanks to all that make this journey possible each week through my gaming groups.

Imperial Settlers
I did get a chance to learn this the week before, but managed to sit down for another play after my first game went for a little long. From designer Ignacy Trzewiczek this is a re-working of another game of his 51st State. It is a civ-building card game with an endearing cartoon style art that belies the deep yet mean gameplay below. As you build up your own tableau of locations before you, you have opportunities to raze your opponent's to gain valuable resources and take points away from them. My second play of this was a two player against my wife, the game played easily in under a hour, with a great feeling of back and forth between us. Certainly want to pick this up for myself.

Operation F.A.U.S.T.
Deep in occupied France during World War II a war inside a war raged as independent art partons tried to prevent the Third Reich from plundering all the cultural valuables. Through bluffing and deception players must attempt to acquire works of art with the help of spies, allies and the French Resistance, the player who recovers $1,000,000 worth first is the victor. The game uses a hidden role mechanic similar to Coup, where each player has at least two roles in front of them and they can choose to use the abilities of the ones they have or bluff something from one of the other roles. Unlike Coup though, there is no elimination if you lose a role through a challenge you just draw a new one, keeping you going.We just got a couple of playthroughs of this in and it felt like lying wasn't absolutely necessary as you tried to attain the paintings. I feel more plays will surely be needed to get into the depth of this one.

I had seen this game being played within my group over the last week and I finally got a chance to
get in on a game last night. It is revised and expanded version of a 2002 game, players buy and sell railway stock, trying to outsmart opponents through a push your luck bidding system and stock retention. The more stocks on the table, the more they are worth, but as other's sell the same stocks ones in front of you will become worth less. I see this as a gateway game to bigger stock manipulation type games, easy to understand what you can do, but not quite as easy to understand what you should do each turn. Just need to mention the one component that really makes this game is a wooden bowl that you use to drop your bids in each round, it is a unique head turning that gets people interested in this one.

Small World
Need to make a honorable mention to one of my early tastes in the hobby gaming world. Been a while since I had gotten this to the table, often distracted by the new and shinies that cross our tables each game night. If you want to get a non-gamer who thinks RISK is the be all of area control, then this is the game that can get them into our wonderful world. Small World takes an easy to understand system to attacking opponents, just have more units and you win the area. The game is filled with fantastic fantasy races with crazy powers that you manipulate to your benefit as you run rampant through the lands, spread yourself thin, then kill off your race and start up a new one. So glad I got to visit this old friend again this week.

Taking a deckbuilding mechanic and tying it into laying tracks across Japan doesn't sound like the most fun but this is far from it. Gameplay is so smooth and quick as you use your hands to lay tracks, build stations and purchase more powerful improvements for your deck, as you race to collect points across the map. Each game will have a random selection of cards to purchase, so the variability inspires repeat plays. 
I like trains. I enjoy deck building. I love Trains! 

Other stops
Heard a gentle rapping at my chamber door, Nevermore... Anger the gods in Tzolk'in... Searched the depths in Abyss... Built, collapsed and re-built with Rhino Hero... Attempted to protect a village with our Samurai Spirit... lied to my friends as a Good Cop Bad Cop and in the courts of Avalon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

TableStop Review - Nevermore

A Treacherous Card Game
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door
            Only this and nothing more.”

Coming from Smirk and Dagger comes another game filled with chances for all kinds of backstabbing and underhanded play. Nevermore is a casual, card-drafting game where you try to collect cards that are good for you, while attempting to poison your opponent's hands. In the hopes of transforming all of your opponents into ravens or collect enough victory points to claim the triumph.

The game is played through two different phases, drafting and resolution, The main goals of play are to garner either six victory points or all your opponents have lost enough health to be transformed into ravens. To achieve this at the start of round players are dealt five cards each and then drafting commences. You have to pass on three cards first, then two and finally one to complete your hand. Then the round moves onto resolution where hands are compared to do damage, heal hit points, earn victory points or gain Magick cards.

There are five different suits that you can attempt to collect - Attack, Heal, Victory, Radiance and Ravens. During the resolution phase the totals of each of these sets that players have managed to get into their hands are compared. The difference between the player or players with highest amount of a suit are compared to second highest. This decides the value. For example in the case of Attack cards, one player plays 3 Attack cards, and the second highest playes just 1 card. This would mean the first player would be able to deal out two points of damage however they would like.

If a players health ever drops to zero they get turned into a raven, they cannot win the game but they still play a part in the rest of the game and even have the opportunity to return to human form if they can get full sets or one of each suit into their hand before the end of drafting.

This game is great fun and I love the quasi-elimination given to you by being turned into a raven, that power gives you plenty of king maker opportunities as you peck away at the humans who are still busy fighting one another.  In many games that could be seen as a problem, but with Nevermore it works within the constructs of the gameplay.

The hard decisions that are given to your during drafting with such a limited pool of cards is tense and that first pass of three cards can be heartbreaking to either you or the person you are passing to. A good collection of Magick cards throughout the game can easily help you to victory or hinder other's plans. Light Magick is powerful enough, but if you have a chance picking up a Shadow Magick or two can be even more overwhelming for your opponents.

Game weight wise this one sits just above Sushi Go! on the scale and it's general ease of play could be a good gateway game for people who don't mind being mean to one another. You have to be prepared to be mean in this one, and also be ready to be on the receiving end of a knife in your back.

The only negative I can lay at this game is some of the back and forth can cause the game to run a little longer than needed, but the fast gameplay can cover that once every player knows what they are doing.

Rating - 7.5/10 - Solid backstabbing fun and will stay in my collection.

Publisher: Smirk and Dagger
Designer: Curt Covert
Players: 3-6
Time: 45-60mins
Mechanics: Card Drafting, Set Collection