Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Weekly Route - It's back!

A little delayed this past couple of weeks, managed to play quite a bit over that time, trying to keep it short and sweet for everyone. In my side quest to play games that are sitting the BGG Top 100 I hit 47 games played this week.


Here is a lesser known game from the designer of Stone Age that I had the pleasure of playing. The abstracted theme has players taking control of various people throughout the Mediterranean as they spread out and build their monuments to the gods. Using hand management and set collection, players can play cards on their to spread out around the map or to claim god tiles that give you passive or immediate abilities. You earn the much needed victory points mainly by placing out your control columns in certain spots on the map, but also through bonus tiles and gods.

There is certainly randomness to how cards come out and what bonuses are revealed each turn but a depth of strategy can be reached. It doesn't quite live up to Stone Age's reputation, but it sits at the same family level with a little less seriousness than it's worker placement counterpart.


The 'theme' for this euro is that players are each one of a great noble house in Europe during the 17th century. Using country cards that players acquire via drawing each turn, players can turn them in to gain influence with various titles. Once in with a title, players can be bumped out when intrigue cards are played on their spots. Points are earned as you move into each city, at the end of each round based on the most influence in each country and finally end game scoring based on who has the most sway with each title.

I put this game at gateway plus, easy to teach and the use of a Ticket to Ride like card drawing mechanic helps ease players into decisions. Card drawing can leave a lot to luck but otherwise this is a fairly decent game.


A month or so ago I got to play Glory to Rome, it was a brief play, but the multiple action selection for each card was a fantastic mechanic. Mottainai comes from the same designer, Carl Chudyk, and it's boasted as a refinement to his earlier design. 

Coming with only a deck of 54 cards at first it may not seem much, but there is a great variety choices and not too much to become overwhelming. The game is hard enough for most to wrap their heads around but with familiarity I could see playtime coming down alot. With multiple plays you will find your flow and ability to create cool card combos.


In Soviet Russia rail tracks build YOU! Well at least start earning you a truckload of victory points. Through worker placement players compete to build out their railway network, advancing the modernization of their rails and upgrade locomotives to further their reach across the country.

It is a true railroad race as players escalate up the scoreboard, building up to those final round combos that earn you big gains. I absolutely loved my first play of this and look forward to growing my railway reach again as soon as I can.



Trading in the Mediterranean is the very familiar core to this game. Players works as dynasties of the Roman Empire as they extend their reach sending out colonists and building up a trade network. To achieve this, each player starts the game with a hand of cards and their turn they play one out to activate an action on that card. As the game plays out you have opportunities to pick up more cards, which is encouraged as these cards double as end scoring at the end of the game if you meet the requirements of the Roman God on the card.

Strategy can be rewarded in this one, with little player interaction other than copying card plays. The appearance of cards can be variable but over the course of a game you will see all of the eventually, along with the variable board layout of resources adds to replays of the game. A deserved Top 100 game.


I thought I would add something new to bottom of my weekly posts, just to keep a comparison of all the games I have been playing over the past four weeks and how they stand in my wish to get them to the table again.

1. Manhattan Project
2. Concordia
3. La Granja
4. Arcadia Quest
5. Russian Railroads
6. Isle of Skye
7. Mottainai
8. Kemet
9. The Grizzled
10. Between Two Cities

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kickstarting the Habit - Believe the Hype!

There is a lot of hype behind a certain title on Kickstarter this week, but there are still a other out there worth checking out.


Here is a co-op card game where the players are students at a school for wizards. You have to work together to pass tests and fight off the monsters invading the school.

This one may not be up to all tastes but cool cartoon style artwork and a Harry Potter-like theme is sure to appeal to many people.


Players work together to build up the city and defend it from the oncoming onslaught of natives and barbarians. You take on the role of outlaws attempting to atone for their sins by helping the King spread out into new lands and defend.

The game features to modes of play, PvP where one player can be the attackers attempting to break their way into the city, while the others have to defend. Then it can be played in a co-op mode becoming PvE as all players work to battle off the oncoming attacks.

This game has a great look, also interesting stretch goal unlock on the higher tiers with the potential of added miniatures to replace the wooden cubes. Keeping an eye on this one.


Looks like Scott Almes is doing it again. It is the nearing the turn of the 19th century and it is a boon time for paleontologists. Players take on the roles of these famous scientists as they attempt to be the first to dig up the most complete fossil sample. You rush to find the best bones and can also dabble in notoriety as you can steal other people's finds.

A fantastic dinosaur building system that rewards you points is the central mechanic of this game. Loving the look of being able to build up your own dinosaur before the end of the game.



The hype certainly precedes this one. Not much I can say about a game that picked up over $500,000 in backing in the first 24 hours. StoneMaier's proven track record with the likes of Euphoria, Viticulture and Between Two Cities before it speaks enough volumes to have the gaming community as a whole excited for this game.

Extensive playtesting and a knowledge of how you put a Kickstarter together is sure to help this one along. Absolutely gorgeous artwork and a unique, intriguing theme blows my mind.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kickstarting the Habit - Morrocan market stalls at the World's Fair

Even with Essen happening soon, there are still plenty to choose from hitting Kickstarter at the moment


An unique theme for this one, players adopt a teams of dogs and get to train them so they can compete in an agility competition against your opponents dogs.

Much like designer Brett Povis' previous game Morels, this is a two player game with the strategic intention of playing with planning and timing to beat your opponent to the finish line. Through hand management and some resource management you have to work your dogs through the courses on the way to victory.


Once again the team of Riddle, Pinchback and Eagle Gryphon games are here to give us their unique take on a Euro-style game. 

Using area control, players will be sending members of their family of artisans out to claim stalls at the market. There is plenty of give and take as players work their way into the market.

Of course the art design and components are top notch and well worth checking out if you have the time.


Harking back to the days of choose your own adventure books like the Fighting Fantasy series. This game is for 1 to 4 players working together to explore and discover the world of the 7th continent. 

The board builds up using numbered event and terrain cards to create a story as you move around. Promising over 1000+ minutes in one campaign and a story save feature much like video games, so you can drop out of the game anytime.


It's almost the turn of the 19th century and in Chicago a historic event took place. The World's Fair featured many achievements in science, technology, culture and entertainment. As organizers of the fair, players have to use their influence to get the exhibits that will be on display when the fair opens.

I think it is fantastic when game designers can take a part of history and involve the player in it's creation. This looks like it implements the theme into the game seamlessly. Looking forward for a chance to play it.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rincon 2015

This past weekend I took a physical trip for gaming, headed down to Tucson with friends for RinCon 2015. Today I'm going to take a look at some of my experiences playing over the weekend and my first convention.


I started my con playlist with a highly regarded civ-builder. Players compete to build up their civilization through history through the drafting of cards, using resource management you can garner better technologies, new leaders and even build up wonders to improve your empire. You have to balance growth in all areas, if you concentrate too much on science or resources you may leave your military side weak and open to attacks from the other players.

This game is a solid commitment and I hope to get to play it again as unfortunately we only managed to get about half a game in as one of our players had to leave early.

As a side note, Essen this year will see a new edition of this, which includes rule tweaks and streamlining.


As I will get into more later, dexterity games rule the Con for me but it all started with this wild west inspired flicker. With many scenarios included in the base game players take turns as either lawmen or outlaws shooting out around town. 

The one I got to play was the outlaws robbing the bank and the lawmen trying to stop them. It had a king of the hill style win objective that at the end of the game whomever had the most money in the saloon (outlaws) or the bank (lawmen) would win the game. So it had this back and forth as you had to shoot across town to each location grabbing money and bringing it back, all the while at the constant threat of getting taken out by your enemy.

To make matters even more thrilling it came down to the wire as the game was tied and the final lawman had to shootout against the remaining two outlaws. His first shot ended one of the outlaws, but the other outlaw's final bullet ended the hopes for the good guys and the last standing bandit rode off into the sunset.


This takes a design that took Battlestar Galactica and crammed it down into a game that only lasts around 90 minutes, then re-theming it in a remote research station that is on the brink of falling apart, that makes it feel like you are in the center of John Carpenter's classic The Thing. 

As a team you are trying to work together and survive until you can get rescued, the life support keeps needing repairs, the shields are beginning to flake out and the central control systems are unreliable. But now there is an unknown virus that has infected some of the crew, they have become unpredictable and violent toward the rest and will hinder all attempts of escape.

Even without the threat of the infected, this semi-coop would be hard enough to keep the team alive. The added paranoia and suspicion can put the wrong person in quarantine or make an infected the commander. Definitely moving up my wishlist.


This was my unexpected surprise of the Con, finding myself between games I had sat down to chat with a fellow attendee when someone else walked up and asked if we wanted to play. Stupid question! So I got introduced to Super Motherload.

This is a tile-laying, deck builder. Players a competing crews of miners on the surface of Mars, each turn you can play cards to dig deeper into the ground and mine the precious resources as you go. The income from these minerals can be spent to improve your deck of cards. As you digger deeper you have opportunities to pick up achievement cards for victory points.

It has the look and feel of an old school video game, such as Dig-Dug, the scrolling board as you dig and the awards give enhance that sense but it has enough to entice lovers of all styles of games.


One player takes the role of the Godfather, he holds his precious cigar box which has a false bottom that contains his stash of diamonds. He entrusts his surrounding henchmen with the care of this box and passes it around the table. As the box reaches you, you have two choices, either become a robber and steal diamonds from the box or take one of the loyalty tokens that remains. Once the box has made it back around the table to the Godfather, they must begin the questioning to find out who he can trust and who he should accuse to recover all his diamonds. But don't be to hasty in those decisions as making the wrong ones will allow the robbers to win the game and the Godfather to lose face.

It takes alot in the modern age of board games to come up with a hidden role game that has a different and unique feel. This is one that can be added to that echelon of games you know how to play but never know quite how to play.


Each players takes control of a nation in the nuclear arms race. By sending out your workers to collect resources, build facilities or even attack your opponents you compete to be the first to reach 50 victory points. Victory points are only garnered by building bigger and better bombs, testing them and even loading them onto your bombers. 

Using a great worker placement mechanic, with no rounds or end of round scoring the game just flows around the table. It has an awesome puzzle type aspect to how you send out workers or pull them back to your pool. It's all about being efficient and taking your chances when you can. While the theme could likely put people off, it is softened with the cartoon like artwork.

Of all the new games I got to play while at the Con this was easily my favorite.


My final experience of the Con was getting Kemet to the table. This is a hefty box of a game and one that looks wonderful laid out on the table. This is essentially area control, players compete for regions of the board and the first to amass 8 points at the end of a round win the game. Unlike alot of empire building type games, you get to start out with enough resources to dive straight into battle if you wish. Alternatively you may want to suit back and build up your pyramids to help purchase power tiles to improve your followers and even add creature to your troops.

I came close to victory in this one, but good push from a fellow player plucked the win from my hands and earned it for him. A great game that is well worth the time giving a shot.

As stated earlier, dexterity games became the defining event for me at the Con. Late on Saturday evening there was to be a dexterity triathlon, hosted by Trevor Kvaran.

We all started with Tumblin' Dice on a custom made board, not my shining moment as my dice just kept on tumblin' or wouldn't tumble enough. I need more practice at this one.

Then I was introduced to Crokinole, a Canadian bar game, that has solidified itself a spot in the BBG Top 100. It can be likened to a mini version of shuffleboard, that you can sit at a table and enjoy. Again the board we played on was custom made by Trevor K. So awesome looking, I wonder how much he would charge to make one for me? Anyway I digress. Players take turns flicking wooden discs into the center, attempting to score, only rule is that if an opponents disc is already on the board you must make contact with that first or your disc will be removed from play. Awesome fun.

Finally we moved onto Konexi, a word creating, letter balancing game. For this you take turns choosing letters and then placing them onto the ever growing tower on the table. With placement you score for any word you can create from the connecting letters. If you knock over the tower in lose points and start again. 
The completed tower

The game did begin out as competitive, and word scoring was taken and building was aimed at making it difficult for the opponents. But around two-thirds into the alphabet the game changed and competitive turned to co-op. Scoring was left at the wayside as we aimed for getting all 26 letters balanced in one perfect tower. 

Collective sighs and deep breaths were taken as each letter was placed with the greatest of care. Concentration was high and a group of cheers was raised around us as the final letter was placed. Thanks to the two Trevors and Dori for making this a Con memory we won't forget.

The Konexi tower building team - Trevor Shaff, Trevor Kvaran, Dori Lovers and Me

Finally, this was a great experience for me, getting to meet lots of awesome new people with the same love for the hobby as me. Learning lots of new games. Thanks to the organisers from SAGA for putting it all together. 

I look forward to getting the chance to head to Tucson again next year and also to my plans for my own local con here in Surprise, AZ.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Weekly Route - From the search for artifacts to surviving the Great War


With awesome looking sculpts this is a hard game to not get into as you play. It feels like an old school coin-op given life, much like Gauntlet, you fight you way across a monster infested arena picking up gold and power-ups. Except this time other players can be attacking you as they try to complete their quests.

You are fully at the mercy of the dice, which in a game such as is this is part of the fun. You can go from epic critical hits to rolling morale dampening blanks.


Another type of quest continues as I strike one more off the BGG Top 100 must play list. The design of this game effortlessly blends many mechanics, auctions, tile-laying, worker placement and pick up & deliver. 

I loved the decisions this game puts before you as you have to decide how to use the many workers you have either as action activators or bidding tokens in the auctions. Then at the end of the game you have open bidding for end scoring tiles, this can get mean as you take away points from someone if you get the bids right. Can't wait to play again.


Doing for a board game what Indiana Jones did for a film, this one embodies the pulp adventures of the 40s. Car chases, collapsing bridges, hidden artifacts in temples and Nazis span the globe as players take on the roles of a variety of adventurers racing to get their hands on the hidden treasures. 

My first playthrough was co-op as we worked against the common threat of the nazis, and boy did we cut it fine in the end, squeaking out a victory. This is a singular experience, reeking with theme, random events and dice rolling that can cost you everything. 



Inside the rule book for this is an intention note from the desginers about how this game was created out of respect to those who fought in the Great War. And that this game is representative of the struggles they dealt with everyday. I feel they succeeded in providing that in the amazingly small package of a co-op card game. Players feel the ups and, more ofthen than not, the downs  of being entrenched. Pushing forward often feels futile as a mission failure will cause you getting deeping in the hole.

This game has to be played at the full five player count to be fully appreciated, as that offers the greatest and almost impossible challenge. Try it, you won't be disappointed, but expect to be beaten.

Got my first taste of Tiny Epic Galaxies... Ran off to the Isle of Skye again... Got a chance to complete in the Camel Up SuperCup... A fun full table game of Wits & Wagers