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Topics - Black_Wolf

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Game Discussion / Game Review: Holiday gift ideas
« on: December 05, 2019, 04:24:39 PM »
So the calendar has flipped to December, so it’s time to think of holiday gifts for the board gamer in your life.

Keep it simple suggests Guilder Jeff Chasse.

“My goal is simple -- to learn games that are fun,” he offered, adding he has just bought a Farkle board for his parents for Christmas (Shh don’t tell them). “It is a wood decorative board looks like a nice crib board. Reason is they enjoy the game and it can be played with a large number of people and friends.”

Other gift games Jeff has given in the past included Tsuro, zombie dice, and Partido.

Adam Daniels went hog wild on his holiday gift suggestions breaking things down depending on what sort of gift you seek.

As a ‘stocking Stuffer’ Adam suggested Pairs.

“The game of Pairs is easy to learn and loads of fun. This game is just a special deck of cards, and it plays easy and yet it is so addictive you will continually want to play one more. While this game could be mostly scene as a filler game, you could play it the whole night. It comes with so many different variants to play, and it was designed as a pub game if you really want to have a good time.”

For larger gifts Adan went with Pandemic, especially as an intro game for someone.

“Perhaps the best board game ever, at least to me,” suggests Adam. “Everyone should have a copy of this great game, it is also a great game to start a collection. I am sure there were co-op games before Pandemic but this became the measuring stick for all co-op games since, and none have matched it in my opinion. The base game would be great for anyone, but the Pandemic Iberia version might be a better a gift. Iberia takes a little from expansions and uses those mechanics to make a better game experience compared to the base game. Iberia also looks amazing when set up, when on the table it has a very old timey aesthetic. I guess it comes down to the person you’re buying for Pandemic as a sleek and modern feel. Iberia feels older while using wooden pieces and just the overall look.

Another of interest might be Zombiecide.

“There are many types of gamers in the world. Board, video and mini gamers are just a few. Most people will pick a lane and stay in it,” reasoned Adam. “That is probably wise because in the long run it would probably save you money. I am not one those people. I have loved mini games for a long time and have played them since I was probably 10. Most people who play board games are turned off by getting into minis, for a number of reasons. Which is why Zombiecide is a great game since it is both. It comes with so many zombie minis and is played on a board. It is a great gateway game to get people into mini gaming. It also sneakily teaches some fundamental rules for most mini games, (movement, line of sight etc).

“It also helps Zombiecide is just a fun co-op experience, which can be enhanced with further expansions, or if you are really into the game painting the minis themselves which in itself is a fun part of the hobby.”

For a gift under $30, Adam turned to Lanterns.

“This is a fun cheap tile laying game. The whole point of the game is to lay tiles and make the best display of lantern display. It is a bit longer than a filler game but isn’t going to take hours to play. It is a fun and relaxing time and would be a welcome addition to any collection or just a good cheap game to give as a gift. The rules are quick, and easy to learn even for non-gamers. The other games I recommended tend to be on the expensive side but this game is under $30 and would make a great gift,” he suggests.

In my case I do suggest knowing who you are giving the gift too. If it is to a non-gamer, with a young family I’d suggest finding a nice checker set, buying two, and putting all 48 checkers into one box with a board.

Then do a bit of ‘Net research and print the rules from some of the best games. With a double set of checkers you open the board to having literally dozens of games played on it without adding a thing. Some of the best would be Lines of Action, Croda, Dameo, Murus Gallicus, Bashni, Breakthrough and Turkish checkers.

If you have a diehard board gamer on your list it’s a much harder chore just knowing what they have in their collection, so you might be best to opt for games that are less well-known in Canada, but are great games. I’d start with Tasso. It’s a wonderful, all-wooden components game that looks nice on the coffee table, and is easy to learn and quick to play. It can be found at

From the same company check out Totem, another all wood offering that will look great on a table to entice interest, and a veteran game should appreciate its aesthetics.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Squarriors
« on: December 05, 2019, 04:20:57 PM »
Among the members of the tiny Meeple Guild we own literally dozens and dozens and dozens of games.

None among the plethora are more visually stunning than Squarriors: The Card Game.

From the box top that screams ‘look at me’ if it were sitting on a game store shelf, to the art on each card gleaned from the comic book series of the same name, to the embossed card backs to the rulebook, this game is gorgeous to the max. I have no qualms in calling it the best looking game in our collection.

In fact, as you thumb through the cards provided, it’s easy to get lost in the art, a number of card depictions being so cool they’d make great art prints for a games room wall.

Aesthetically, from box top, to rulebook, to cards, few if any games have done it better than Squarriors. This one is gorgeous to the max.

So how does the card game from Ash Maczko play?

Well, to begin with Squarriors: The Card Game is a tabletop game based off of the comic book series, Squarriors, which I actually reviewed at one point. The book has a bit of Watership Down feel for sure, with a dash of the Secrets of Nimh mixed in. I totally loved it.

In Squarriors TCG, there is no deck of cards to draw from, instead all cards start either in play or in your hand, which is neat aspect, as it lessens the ‘hope’ factor of drawing the card you need.

Your ‘deck’ (known as your Tribe in S:TCG) consists of 20 points worth of creatures, three domains to defend (your Council, Army, and Vanguard), and 10 Tactic cards that start in your hand; all of which are chosen by the player.
So a key aspect of this one is card selection, discovering which cards have synergies, and putting together the winning selection of cards from the many provided. That effort will make the game for some. Certainly old Magic: the Gathering fans will enjoy the ‘building’ aspect which almost creates a solo element to the game.

And it will be a turn off for others who want to just play the game.

At any given time, each of your creatures are on the battlefield in one of your three domains, and each of these domains have a power variable that will be modified as the game progresses. If a domain reaches zero power it is destroyed and creatures there must move to one of the remaining domains controlled by that player. When a player has lost two of their three domains, they are eliminated from the game.
This is not a new mechanic, the idea of defending and attacking ‘sites’ to win and lose a card game. It remains a very workable scenario and certainly fits with the story as portrayed on the comic (not that reading Squarriors is required to play the game).

Each creature has several base statistics and many various abilities, keywords, and game texts. These creatures can take various actions and make different types of attacks depending on what domain they are in.

Again this is sort of boilerplate stuff in terms of such card games, but again it works to the theme.

Tactic cards, which start in a player’s hand, serve two functions. Initially, they can be used as an action, trap, instant etc. But after they have been played, they serve a second function by being added to your strategy. Each of your three domains can host a strategy chain and each chain adds more layers of abilities and enhancements to your tribe. Each card in a strategy chain can gain new abilities or functions depending on the other cards connecting to them in the chain, explains the rules.

This is the most interesting aspect of the game, the one that plays to good ‘deck-building’ and wise card play.

Overall, this is a game that you will get as much out of it as you put in. The more you play, the better you will understand what works, and that will allow more creative card building, and ultimately a better game experience. This is not a game that will be loved out of the box, but like a good relationship, put the time in, and you might indeed be in love.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow Adam Daniels for his help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Tonooo
« on: December 05, 2019, 04:17:02 PM »
It was interesting to get Tonooo to the table.

This is one of those interesting games in the sense it is perfect information, no dice, card draw, or imposed luck, but the information is only known if you have a good memory game.

As a memory game Tonooo was a rather new experience for The Meeple Guild. We might have a games’ room piled high with games, plus more at the homes of members, but none of us could recall a pure memory game among the collection.
That suggests it is not exactly a style of game we are attracted too, so Tonooo was immediately something very new for us.

From Ludarden the game is all wonderful wood, which is always a plus in my mind. Wooden games have a vintage look and feel that plastic can never come close to matching.

As for rules, Tonooo, like most of the Ludarden line, are quite simple, although the ruleset being translated to English does at time require just a minute to interpret.
The aim of the game is to be the first to have four small cylinders of different colours in front of you, which can include joker, which make those very important if you can find one.

Each player on his turn does one of two choices.

* Either they draw a small cylinder from the bag and places it in one of the four big cylinders, letting players know what he drew so you can put it in your memory where it went;
* Or they pick up one of the four big cylinders and look at all the small cylinders placed in it. If there are at least two small cylinders of the same colour, the player keeps one of them in front of him. If there is also a joker, they claim it too.

Each time there are not two small cylinders of the same colour, the player is penalized and replaces one of the small cylinders in front of him in the bag, if they have one.

Since this is a memory game, you need to be in the mood to pay attention to the game you are playing, and wanting to make the brain work too.

In my case I tried to simplify things. There are four large cylinders that the smaller ones are placed. I tried focusing on two, being fairly confident when I went hunting that there were two matching pieces inside. It worked not badly as a strategy.

However, ultimately jokers tend to be part of a win, which isn’t surprising.
A quick game from designer Philippe Proux that I’d be up to play as a filler anytime.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Greener
« on: December 05, 2019, 04:10:16 PM »
Greener is one of those great little abstract strategy games in a bag from XV games.

The bag has the board printed right on it, so it’s a great option to take the local coffee shop, sort of.

Greener, by designer Nestor Romeral Andres is a nice little game, but in this version the bag makes a rather small board, which in turn necessitates small game pieces, which ends up equalling a bit of a fidgety game in terms of play.

Greener utilizes pyramid pieces, as noted, quite small pyramid pieces in this version.

There are 18 neutral green pyramids, and nine black taken by one player, with nine white for the other in this two-player offering.

Randomly place the black pyramids and white pyramids on any empty spaces of the board (one pyramid per cell). Fill the remaining cells with green pyramids.
Once the board is filled, “on your turn, you must make one capture if possible, other-wise you pass the turn. Stacks capture other stacks that are on the same row or column and with no other stacks in between them, by stacking on top of them,” explains the rules. “Stacks cannot be split. But this time, you can capture stacks of any colour (even your own).”

The game ends when all players pass in succession.

The player with the most green pyramids captured (being part of stacks they control) wins the game. In case of a tie, the player with the highest stack wins.”
As you might imagine the stacks can get quite high, and on a board that is on the side of a bag, it’s not the most even surface, so it can be a little fidgety because of it too.

Still, the game is fun, and harder to master than it might first seem. Jumping on an opponent’s piece seems like a good idea, but can quickly be lost to their next move if not careful.

Battling with an opponent also is not capturing green pyramids and that is the way you win.

Balance in how you play is a key.

Definitely fun, easy to learn, depth to explore, but this version is just a tad small, so be aware.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamer Adam Daniels for his help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Totem
« on: December 05, 2019, 04:06:30 PM »
Some games just look so good that you want to buy them, play them, and share them with the world.

That is pretty much the situation with Totem from designer Philippe Proux and publisher Ludarden.

The game when complete looks a bit like an art nouveau sculpture, to the point it begs to be left out on an end table where it can be a conversation starter.

The great thing is once that conversation starts, Totem takes about 90-seconds to share the rules with someone new, and you are set to introduce a new player to the game.

Play is so simple Totem is a great entry level offering, for those people who are convinced they don’t like board games.

Once played this game is sort of an addictive nature too. You might lose, but you are left wanting just once more game to redeem yourself.

So what is Totem all about?

Well the goal of the game is to have one of your pieces atop at least three of the five ‘totem poles’ at the end of the game.

Each player has a set of 12 pieces of the same colour. The pieces are in varying shapes, and can be played onto the poles in different ways, varying how much of the pole they take up.

The first player puts one of his pieces on one of the poles. Then each player plays at his turn by putting one of his pieces in one of the poles. It should be noted the five poles are slightly different in height, so what you do in terms of strategy needs to vary a bit pole-to-pole.

When a player puts one of his pieces on an opponent’s piece, he has to play again. This is an intriguing aspect of the game. It might seem an advantage to play more pieces, but ultimately it only matters who tops each ‘totem’.

The game is over when one of the players has no more pieces, or when it is not possible to place a piece any more.

The player who has the most pieces on the top of the stacks is the winner.

This is not a game that has the depth to be an all evening focus for game play, but it has a simple charm, and definite beauty that makes it a game you are likely to return to over and over again.

It is definitely a lightweight game, but a contender for the belt in its weight class.

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Dungeon WC
« on: December 04, 2019, 03:16:00 PM »
When it comes to theme board games have covered just about everything, or at least I had thought they had.

Then I got my hands on Dungeon WC.

The WC here stands for water closet a rather antiquated name for a toilet.
Yes this is a little dungeon crawler where you must get your hero through the dungeon to the water closet in time.

But, therein lies the true challenge of the game, Dungeon WC is a real time, game.
You have to play out tiles, deal with monsters, explore treasure chests, and all the while sand runs through a tiny egg timer. If the sands run out you lose.

The game from designer by Dario Dordoni and Dracomaca Games is a cooperative one for one-to-five players working together as quickly as possible to move the hero along.

The game is essentially a card game where the players try to connect dungeon cards to bring the Hero to the bathroom before time ends.

While the time is short in the timer, there are ways to flip it over just before the final grains fall, to essentially restart the timer. You can pay gold, although there is never enough gold in any world is there?

Or, you can find a treasure card that lets you flip it, although not always at the most opportune time.

There are some neat features incorporated into this small, quick game.

One aspect requires you to flip tokens in a particular order to progress. That means having a good memory, but it is co-operative so fellow players can help.

Defeating monsters is a dice roll, which is terms of a battle makes some sense, as a sword fight often has an element of luck.

Overall, this is a game that surprised me in terms of how much fun it was. I was not sure what the timer element would be like, it’s the only game in the collection with time a major element, but it works here, in part keeping games short enough that the fun of the game is maintained.

Dungeon WC is not a play all evening game, but it works as a quick filler with different mechanics to make it interesting.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Tasso
« on: December 04, 2019, 03:12:50 PM »
Typically dexterity games are either love them, or leave them in my world.
Crokinole is the best game there is, rod hockey is fantastic, but most are not exactly my forte.

So Jenga is a game that I appreciate for the steady hand required, and understand why it is often a party favourite, but it has never been very high on my list.

Then along came Tasso, which will have many thinking about a sort of reverse Jenga.

The game from designer Philippe Proux and game company Ludarden is about stacking wooden pieces, although you don’t end up with the eventual stack collapse and the search on the floor if one spills off table.

Each player lays one of his sticks flat, either directly on the game board (part of the stick may be outside the board), or you can lay the piece on two sticks already laid which are not already supporting any others.

When one player lays his stick on two sticks already laid, then he has another turn. This is a key to winning, as the first player to rid themselves of all pieces wins.

There is no limit to the number of layers of sticks, although we have not gotten past a third layer so far.

When a player lays a stick he must not:
* Touch any stick other than ones on which he may be laying his stick
* Cause any stick to fall on or off the game board.

If he does either of these things, he takes all fallen sticks and receives a stick of each player. The offloading of pieces from other players is a death knell in a game as it is near impossible to catch up again in terms of laying off the added pieces. The more playing, the more onerous the penalty too.

As soon as the player has let go of his stick, he can’t pick it up again.

The game is aesthetically wonderful. The base board is wooden and a cheerful red in colour. The pieces are wooden as well, in a natural tone. The look and feel are wonderful.

The rules and play are quick, and the game is easily transportable to be a coffeehouse favourite.

If you want a game with more colour, this one has been re-issued at Tasso Safari. In this one the pieces, which vary in length in the new incarnation, are painted to match African critters, cheetahs, giraffes and such.

Tasso Safari also offers obstacles that are placed in the base prior to laying sticks, Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria both make an appearance, offering both beauty and obstacles around which players must maneuver, along with a couple of trees and a second smaller mountain.

The obstacles and the varying lengths of the sticks give Tasso Safari a fresh feel, and it is a brighter looking game, which would appeal to younger players.

Both versions are highly recommended. Check them out at

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: 1066, Tears To Many Mothers
« on: December 04, 2019, 03:09:58 PM »
While not a massive fan of historical battle recreation games – not something I generally seek out – it’s also a genre I am not opposed to exploring.

So 1066, Tears to Many Mothers, from designer Tristan Hall, was a game that definitely caught my eye.

The game name comes from a quote apparently, at least as referenced in the rulebook, which I must say I found interesting in and of itself.

“You’ve come, have you? ...You’ve come, you source of tears to many mothers, you evil. I hate you! It is long since I saw you; but as I see you now you are much more terrible, for I see you brandishing the downfall of my country. I hate you!” - Eilmer of Malmesbury on Halley’s Comet, De Gestis Regum Anglorum.

So as you have likely already garnered this is a game recreating one of the more storied battles in history.

1066, Tears to Many Mothers retells the story of Duke William, King Harold, and the infamous Battle of Hastings.

The winner will be the first player to:
*Destroy two Wedges of enemy troops at the Battle of Hastings, or
*Destroy their opponent’s Leader, or
*Have their opponent run out of cards in their card deck.

So starting with the positive, the art here is excellent. You get a good feel for the period, the key figures and the ‘grunt’ troop types, all well rendered on the cards.
Game play is a tad tedious early on in this card game.

“Each player has their own Objective deck, which is placed in the same set order each game. The players race to defeat each of the Objectives in their deck, in alphabetical order, to reach their final Objective card - the Battle of Hastings. Once that’s revealed, they can begin dealing damage to wedges of enemy troops (represented by Wedge cards) to try and win the game,” explains the rules.

That you repeat the same process each game in what is essentially a troop build-up phase detracts from the game. As a variant they say you can shuffle the objective deck but there is not enough that a shuffle will change things a great deal.

While going through the objectives has a troop build-up purpose and reflects some history, it by far the weakest aspect of game play. That said, if you aren’t matching your opponent step-for-step in achieving objectives in the two-player game you can be disastrously behind as you get to the meat of the game.

Once you do progress into head-to-head play trying to capture ‘wedges’ the game picks up a smidge, but sadly not as much as hoped.

You draw only two cards a turn, and to play a card you must use resources, which are generated in one of two ways, using a card with a specific feature already in play, or by discarding cards in your hand. Sine some cards cost fie resources to play, and you draw only two each turn, there is a snail’s pace here. I will grant that probably mimics war with foot soldiers but it fails to excite here.

The mechanic also means a player edging ahead early stays ahead most times, since resources to mount a comeback are in short supply. Again that may be historically accurate, but not fun.

As a tool to learn about the battle, to get a feel for the era, 1066 is a winner.

It is far less so as a game, at least for this reviewer.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamer Adam Daniels for his help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Libraria
« on: December 04, 2019, 03:05:40 PM »
When it comes to abstract strategy games there is a lot to be said for simplicity.
The easier a game is to grasp in terms of rules, the better the chance of enticing someone not usually into abstract strategy games to give it a whirl.

Of course, the game must have some depth of play in spite of any simplicity in order to be more than a passing interest.

Games that are a tad overly simple in play become generally filler games, the kind you squeeze in at the end of a night of gaming, or over coffee with a bud.

Libraria, a game by Marcello Bertocchi from XV Games falls squarely into the simple filler category.

“The players take the role of Librarians who fight for the control of the bookshelves. They try to get as many books as possible, while watching out for book-eating mice,” denotes the intro to the game in the rulebook.

As is often the case the library theme is pasted on to the game, having no true bearing on play, but it still works.

Setup is simple, as laid out in the rules, “Shuffle the bookshelf tiles and put them in random order on the table creating a 5X5 square board. This board is called “the bookshelf”. The bookshelf has 36 spots where a counter can be placed; the 36 intersections of the lines around each tile. Each player chooses a colour and takes all counters of that colour. The player who most recently have been into a library is declared the starting player. Otherwise determine the starting player randomly.”
It then is simply a case of placing stones on the corners of the tiles, the player with majority at game’s end, (three corners), gets the tile.

Tiles with books count toward your score, based on the number of books pictured.

If you get a tile with a mouse, it’s a negative to your score.

That’s it folks, about as simple as a game gets.

They suggest 10-minutes to play and that would be accurate.

The good thing, you can teach youngsters the game, the spouse not really into abstract strategy games, frankly anyone, so therein lies the greatest merit of Libraria. It is very much an entry level abstract strategy game that is still fun to pull out and play.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Widget Ridge
« on: December 04, 2019, 03:00:38 PM »
When I read a description that states “a steampunk deckbuilding game with crazy inventions that connect to make even cooler inventions,” I am pretty well hooked.

Such was the case with Widget Ridge from Ian Taylor and Shawn Martineau from Furious Tree Games.

As you might expect from a steampunk-themed game, this one is about building whacky creations, which works pretty slick as a deckbuilder, that mechanism allowing for the collection of parts throughout the game.

What is limiting here is that Widget Ridge is a two-player game, which is not unique among deckbuilders, there are several others, but the vast majority do play more. So if you grab this one, and you probably should, just be aware it only accommodates two.

In Widget Ridge you’ll be playing ‘Widget’ and ‘Gadget ‘cards to generate ‘Gold’ and ‘Spark’.

Gold and Spark are basically the currency of the game allowing you to but more cards or to build contraptions.

Players buy new inventions, connect inventions in their workshops, and of course sabotage their opponents by destroying their inventions.

The artwork on the cards is suitably ‘steampunky’ with clean lines that is appealing if you are into the genre to start with.

The scorekeeper cards work in a neat way I haven’t seen elsewhere, which is simply innovative.

This is a fine little deckbuilder that has tons of potential for expansions, which of course the norm in games in general these days, and in particular with deck building where new cards can be rather easily added.

The key here is you have to like the flavour of steampunk, or a big part of Widget Ridge’s charm may be lost on you.

You also need to have the bud to play a two-player with, which is sometimes harder to arrange than a game’s night with a group.

But if all the cogs fall into place for you, Widget Ridge is a very solid game to look into.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamer Adam Daniels for his help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Wizard's Garden
« on: December 03, 2019, 11:48:35 AM »
As a bonafide fan of abstract strategy games I am quite surprised it has taken so long to find and explore Wizard’s Garden.

The game was designed by Tim Schutz back in 2004. Known then as Wizard's Garden - The Alesalitis Plant it was a finalist in the 2004 Board/Card Games/Abstract Games Magazine Shared Pieces Game Design Competition.
Now the game is being published by XV Games, a company only launched in 2018, with the neat motto: “one minute for the rules, one life for the play”.

No game XV Games will ever produce more closely fits their motto than Wizard’s Garden.

The website explains the game as; “a classical abstract game of the Reversi family, Wizard’s Garden has its strength in shared pieces and non-intuitive strategical gameplay.”

It is the neat shared piece mechanic that really makes this game a winner, but more on game play in a bit.

This first tabletop edition by XV Games comes with embossed wooden discs in a velvet bag with the board printed on it, making the version a highly portable one.
The concern here might be that when you take the game to the coffee shop and it gets coffee spilled on the bag, and such things happen, will the board design be lost if you try to wash the bag? It’s a small quibble, but it is a possible drawback.

On the positive side the play area is a 4X4 grid which is rather easy to replace.
This game is brilliantly simple.

Players initially take turns placing four pieces on the board. Pieces are double sided but it does not matter which side is showing in set up. They must however note be connected orthogonally.

A piece is flipped, the other player calling the colour. Whoever wins the flip goes first.

Game play now proceeds with each player in turn dropping a stone of either colour on an empty cell orthogonally adjacent to at least another stone on the board. All stones orthogonally adjacent to the played pieces then flip colour.

After the flips, any four in-a-row (with stones of the same colour) is removed from board, and that player gets one point. He keeps one of the pieces in his scoring pool, and the remaining three go back to the shared piece pool.

The game ends when there are no moves available. The one with the most points wins.

There is a built in tie breaker that is neat but a tad more detail than needed here.

This game is simply fantastic. It’s simple to learn, quick to play, with a lot of replay allure, and it’s highly transportable. This is a game that is not only recommendable, but should be in any collection if someone liking the abstract strategy genre. I may have taken 15 years to finally play it, but it was certainly a game worth discovering.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Shobu
« on: December 03, 2019, 11:43:54 AM »
When Shobu arrived and I opened the box I was immediately taken by the aesthetics of this beauty designed by Manolis Vranas and Jamie Sajdak.

The components really make this game appealing out of box before even looking at the ruleset.

There are four etched wood game boards, two for each player. Nothing is better than real wood for game boards, especially abstract strategy game boards.

A player gets one dark and one light board on their side which are considered your home boards.

There is a cotton dividing rope which basically divides the play area to define which side is which players. It is absolutely unnecessary but adds to the overall medieval Japanese feel to this game, which of course starts with its name.

The pieces here, 16 for each player, are black and white polished river stones, which is just plain awesome.

Game play in terms of rules is super simple.

On your turn, first move one of your stones up to two spaces in any direction, including diagonally. The move has to be made on one of the two home boards, (those on your side of the rope). The move cannot jump, nor push a stone of either player’s.

You must then match that move with another of your stones on the opposite color board – and this time you may push an opponent’s stone. If you can push that stone off the board's edge, so much the better since the goal is to remove the four opponent’s stones from any one board.

The game’s website suggests the game is “instantly familiar, yet wholly unique unto its own, Shobu feels like a game that has stood the test of time. The rules are amazingly simple and can be learned in moments, yet halfway through your first game, you realize the game has a depth and spatial challenge similar to 3-D chess.”
Having not played 3D chess I won’t comment on the comparison but as simple as the rules are there is a ‘thinky’ aspect to Shobu. It would be easy for a game to bog down with analysis paralysis for some players, so a clock might be a good idea for some.

This one is a winner. Certainly in contention as my selection as best new abstract strategy game of 2019, although there is nearly half a year to go too.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review: Parks
« on: December 03, 2019, 11:41:20 AM »
If you are a sucker for great looking games then you will be blown away by Parks a brand new release from Keymaster Games.

Parks is quite simply gorgeous.

The game is a collaboration between Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series and Keymaster Games. The artwork in this game comes from the print series which features more than 40 artists around the world. The illustrations highlight 45 national parks found across the United States.

The art on the cards is thus outstanding.

To see the full collection of national park illustrations and to purchase prints in the series, visit

But, what about game play?

“Players take on the roles of two hikers as they trek across different trails during the four seasons of a year. Each trail represents a different season, and as each season passes, the trails change and grow steadily longer. Each turn, players send one of their hikers down the trail. While on the trail, hikers will see beautiful sites and perform an action when they arrive. When a hiker reaches the end of the trail, they can spend tokens they have received to visit parks and earn points. Your goal is to have the most points from your parks, photos, and personal bonus at the end of the year,” notes the rulebook.

In many ways this game reminds very much of Tokaido in terms of the play. Tokaido is a great game with a more minimalistic art style with of course a Japanese theme, but how the games play are most certainly similar.

There are a few additional aspects here, but frankly you could toss the ability to gain gear that plays a small role, and not really change Parks at all, leaving the core again very much like Tokaido.

In fact, at the end of the day if you have Tokaido I’m not sure you gain anything, past the art to look at, by adding Parks to a games collection.

If you have neither game, then I can easily recommend that you add one, the game mechanic of rather leisurely meandering down a path toward victory points is a laid back, yet fun mechanic. Whether Tokaido or Parks is likely a choice made based on the art, both have merit.

Living in North America where you might visit some of the American parks highlighted in the art, and the recent release, might tip the scales toward Parks for many.

Certainly, if you chose parks you will not be disappointed. A game in contention for a top-10 review game of 2019.

Check it out at

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Game Review Aristeia
« on: December 03, 2019, 11:35:40 AM »
The best games, or perhaps these days, like movies, almost all games, end up with expansions.

That is actually a very good thing.

If you have liked a game then having something new to explore within that game get it back off the shelf and onto the table.

If you haven’t enjoyed a game, well you can pass on any expansions – with a little willpower.

When it comes to miniatures gaming expansions, additions, add-ons, etc., are basically part of the genre. They are not just expected, but generally highly anticipated. People who like playing with miniatures covet more minis to play with.
I like miniature gaming quite a lot, so when I first played Aristeia from Corvus Belli I was quite interested and ultimately impressed.

It is part of an emerging segment of the miniatures hobby where players each control a small number of miniatures, maneuvering across a board, bot so unlike chess pieces on a grid board. Such games are very easy for players to grasp in terms of movement, and are ideal as an entry game to freer form miniature game options.

With the background of a well-defined gaming world Aristeia has a build in heritage to draw upon. The rulebook ‘fluff’ notes from the original game, “… 175 years into the future, humanity has reached the stars. The nations of old coalesced into federated blocs who proceeded to carve up any star systems found suitable for human habitation. Technology has advanced beyond our wildest dreams, but its benefits are still available only to those who can pay. Synthetic bodies, artificial intelligence, a data network connecting planets light-years apart, miraculous regenerative medicine … The presence of all these technologies has enabled the creation of Aristeia, the high-stakes contact sport that’s sweeping the Human Sphere.

“Tens of millions of fans keep their eyes glued to their holo-screens for the thrill that this match could be the last for their favourite fighters, some of whom enjoy an unprecedented level of celebrity adoration on Maya. Aristeia is non-stop action and top-level athleticism. Get connected and enjoy.”

The idea of a battle arena watched by fans is not new reasonably starting with the gladiatorial games in the real history of our world, but it still works here.

There were eight characters included in the base game of Aristeia.

And since the game released there have been a rather wide range of expansions by way of new characters.

With new characters of course come new in-game abilities, and the potential to create new synergies with characters previously released.

It is the exploration of what characters compliment others on the battle board that has players always anticipating new releases.

So today, I believe there are about 30 characters released for Aristeia, and more are likely to come, so you can imagine the diversity to game play available. That is a massive plus in favour of this game.

It helps as well that the minis generally come fully assembled, with fine detail, so no gluing and painters have nice sculpts to work with.

We recently got our hands on a group of recent additions; Master of Puppets and the Chemical Brothers, both expansion boxes containing two miniatures, and then Lunah, an Elven Ranger cast in metal, whereas other minis in the range are plastic.

If you pop over to the game website (, there is some great fluff relating to each of the characters, which will be a plus for those who desire an immersive backstory.

Now it should be remembered that expansions tend to add at least some complexity to a game, or in the very least new abilities for the new characters that have to be learned.

The Chemical Brothers, for example, add the ability to poison others characters, something not in the base game.
The Master of Puppets add fire, which wasn’t in the base game, and its effects are really explained unless you have the expansion Smoke and Mirrors. Without that you are on your cellphones look for rules the first time fire pops up, as we were. I can say that is a frustrating thing mid game.

Just for information Smoke and Mirrors added a couple of things, although we have note played with the set as its not one we have.

Smoke affects Space visibility, blocking Line of Sight without hindering movement.

A new State is added; Burning. While the blue side of a burning token is up, the player rolls an Orange Dice. For every success, the Character receives one damage, while for each Special the Character receives a new Burning token.

So from the original game, and whatever expansions you might have players select a team of four.

Each character as special skills, its own movement limitations, and learning how work your team to best support other characters is the fun.

Aristeia uses cards to add some randomness to things, with good moves potentially being trumped by the cards of the opponent. Randomness is not a favourite thing for me in general, but in an arena battle it helps reflect a level of mayhem.

The cards are a tad ‘busy’ with a lot of iconography to grasp, so there is a learning curve which will send you to the rulebook checking what things mean the first game, or two, although experienced mini gamers won’t get bogged down too much. A new player though may find it a bit daunting.

“Throughout five game rounds, players direct their character’s actions to meet goals of the scenario, earning victory points to win the game. The first player to collect eight victory points wins. Failing that, the player with the most victory points at the end of the fifth round wins. If there’s a tie, the player with the most frag tokens wins,” explains the rules, and that sums up the game, although different goal-based scenarios are part of the mix as you get into the game in more detail.

There is definite strategic depth to explore here, and more is added with the expansions such as Master of Puppets and Chemical Brothers.

Aristeia is a game with so many possibilities in terms of abilities. There are so many amazing minis to choose from. The company has a long history that suggests support for the game will be ongoing. It all adds up to a can’t be missed game for mini game fans.

I know I look forward to seeing more characters and doing more reviews in the future.

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

Game Discussion / Review: Forest Fighters
« on: August 01, 2019, 09:07:23 PM »
Personally I like deck builder quite a lot.

Ditto the group as a whole.

But, as we have now played more than 40 games which have deck-building as at least an element within the game, it’s not so easy to find a game in the genre that really impresses.

But, it happens.

Forest Fighters is such a game.

I’ll cut to the punch line here as they say, and note that the three of us who sat down recently to test drive the pre-production version of Forest Fighters all ended up agreeing it flirts with the top-10 deck builders we’ve played.

In my case I track that on Board Game Geek where I keep a ‘GeekList’ of deck builders, and after adding Forest Fighters to the database, it’s that new, it ended up number six.

So yes, I like this game a lot.

I’ll start with admitting it plays much like Dominion at its core.
Dominion is the granddad of the genre, and some might balk that this plays so much like its foundational ancestor.

But, there is certainly enough different here that the comparison, while natural, is not a steal of concept.

To start the theme is a fun one, focusing on the critters of the forest fighting to secure acorns. The player with the most acorns at the end of the game wins.

From Forest Fighter’s Kickstarter; “The winter is fast approaching and with the cold and snow comes a lack of food. The leaves are beginning to fall from the trees and with them the acorns. All of this means that it is time for the squirrel tribes inhabiting the forest to begin gathering food for the winter. There is just one problem! There is only one oak tree left in the forest making the much coveted acorns a source of warfare. The squirrel tribes have gathered their forces and have even resorted to hiring other forest animals to help them squirrel away as many nuts for the winter as possible. Gathering acorns is easy; protecting them from bands of raiders sent out by the other squirrel tribes is a different story. In Forest Fighters you will hire forest animals to help your tribe of squirrels gather and protect acorns while stealing acorns from your opponents. Once all of the acorns have been gathered, the game ends and the player with the most acorns wins.”

You might gather from the introduction that this game allows for more player-to-player confrontation than a game like Dominion.

Most critters have an attack and defence rating and on your turn you can attack an opponent. If the attack rating is higher than their defence you get to steal acorns, or send critters back to the supply, or rob them of blackberries, a key resource in the game. Even in a battle win you face decisions.

Of course if you battle, then you likely won’t have resources left that turn to buy acorns – remember you need them to win, or to add other critters to your hands.

Most critters come with special abilities too, all well thought out here. For example a rabbit attracts another rabbit when played, the old multiplying rabbit theme. Bees get you honey. Moles can bury acorns.
I like that the abilities fit with the animals.

The game comes with 326 cards: including 21 different characters and 3 items. This allows for a lot of replay as you don’t use all of the animals every game. Different strategies emerge depending on what critters are in play.

The artwork, again this is a prototype has a school student artist appeal that might not please all, but if it is the final art I’d be quite satisfied.

This is a game where cards have neat special abilities and so far we haven’t found a broken combination which detracts from the game.

There are always choices for players to make, and there does appear to be different strategies, based on card combos, that can put you seriously in the race for a win.

If you like deck builders at all this is a game I’d rate a must have.

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

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