GenCon Must-Sees

GenCon is two weeks away, so I compiled a list of the things I will not miss! It’s kinda giant though so I’ll understand if you skim it! I can’t imagine I’ll have time for all of this, but I’m going to try! I’ll follow up my time at Indy with a video top 10.

Because of the nature of GenCon I would imagine FFG will have very cool stuff not listed here that they have not yet announced. I didn’t link to the Haba/r&r type kids stuff but I’m sure those are worth a look or two.


Fief: France 1429: This is a classic game in France getting a big fancy update for the states! Made a heck of a lot of money on kickstarter.

Doomtown Reloaded: This is the LCG remake of this immensely popular game. It’s a territory control game with a poker feel.

Consequential: I do not have words to explain the interest this game holds for me. It has world-building aspects, a companion app that is required and the base game comes with 4 acts. This could be the next iteration of technology mixed with legacy-style gaming. I originally tried to kickstart this project before they held it back to further design work.

Abyss: This is power-grabbing card/draft game with amazing art!!

The Witcher Adventure Game: This is based on the books/games/comics and retold through a game by Ignacy Trzewiczek  This is story-telling with asymmetrical character-driven decisions.

Five Tribes: This is Days of Wonder trying to break into the heavier space of gaming. This is worker manipulation? You move your tribe around a bit, so you don’t remove them like regular worker placement. I couldn’t be more excited about this one.

40K Conquest: This is the next in the LCG line to follow up the Star Wars card game. Players will battle (somewhat brutally) over planets until they can claim the prize! Yeah, I know that this is only going to appeal to a certain demographic, but I’m excited none the less.

Epic Resort: fun-looking casual worker placement game about running a resort. I missed the Kickstarter for this one, but Ben Harkins(the designer) is one smart cookie. Cannot wait to see it in person.

Nautilus Industries: Beautifully designed with a very unique market system. Supposedly works well even with two players. Yay stocks!

Argent the Consortium: I wanna be a wizard! Very unique worker placement game. Opponent’s abilities are changing constantly. Do want.

Chaosmos: This space game looks mean and fun. You drop cards off around the universe as you hop from planet to planet.

Imperial Settlers:   This is one I have ordered for pickup. This is the farming/pillaging take on the 51st State Engine from Portal Games.

Panamax:  Very heavy, lots of actions. Shipping. Dice that aren’t rolled. Yesssssssss

Temporum: Time jumping game from Rio Grande. Almost no advertisement… so I guess I’ll just see it for myself.

The Z-Man Booth: They will have Tragedy Looper, Battle at Kemble’s Cascade and the new standalone Pandemic. All the things.

Operation FAUST:  Lets all hide precious art from the Nazis, and each other!

Dead of Winter: This is the first of Plaid Hats’ new series. It is a “meta cooperative” and that term is not my favorite thing… but the game couldn’t look cooler.



Euphoria Review and Thoughts and Dystopias… er whatever

A look into Euphoria: Building a Better Dystopia

This is 2-6 player game that plays in around 60 minutes.

My thoughts on the game begin at minute 24… and my tangents go a little undone. whoops!!

I found the bits in the box to be superb! Beautifully done. The strategy is not deep, but the politics and faction-play keeps the game exciting.

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Welcome to the Foo-ture Ginkgopolis Review and Overview

Ginkgopolis is a 1-5 player game from Z-man Games. I love it!

Skip ahead to minute 20 to skip the rules overview. Play from the beginning to… not skip the rules overview.

Overall I’m delivering a 7.5/10!! Loves it!

Components are top notch. Nice-feeling cards, lots of wooden bits, not-useless(almost) player screens.

The gameplay is rather simple, but the rulebook is tangential and hard to decipher.

Playtime is short due to simultaneous action selection.

Preorder for Omen is active!

ImageZOMG, Pre-orders went live this week for Omen: Reign of War!!

This is a STUNNING two-player card game from Small Box Games. They are only making 1000 copies, so most who would like copies will be pre-ordering them now. For twenty bucks, I couldn’t resist.

The game itself is a 2-player war game. Players use units of soldiers, spirits and beasties to gain rewards and accomplish feats for victory! Lots of neat card interactions in this.

I’ll be sure to post up some thoughts when it comes out later this year 😀

Hail Caesar! while he still lives…

box design

Lets look a little more in depth at the overlooked Chicken Caesar from Nevermore Games. My first impression of this game, i am not shy to admit, was wholly negative. The pun, the kickstarter, even the cover art… something in making a game when you’re unknown to a community should be in perception, right? Game-makers Bryan Fischer and John Sizemore, have made themselves an excellent negotiation game.

The good: The table is full of open information that doesn’t shy away from real, direct confrontation. This kind of interaction between players is so rare. Honestly, if shown this game without any theme, i really think i could sell it to just about anyone who walks into my store.

The bad: the game hits at 4-5 players without much wiggle room.

Who should check this out? anyone who likes lying and betraying their friends, RIGHT IN THEIR FACE! Welp, I suppose you can play this game a little nicer. Any big bad wolf among you is going to have quite a feast!

here’s how it works:

CknC board

So your chickens have decided the coop could use an overhaul. The roman government is the (obviously) best choice.  Its politicking(politiking?), focus on intellectual discussion, and ultimate treachery seems very cock-like. The Caesar shall be accountable for health and happiness. The tax guys will decide on tax-things, guards will be bribed and monuments to our fallen fowls with be built.

Chicken Caesar is played out over around ninety minutes. Each player represents a powerful chicken-family. Chickens wheel and deal themselves into some of the 5 different government positions. The aediles choose how much to tax the citizens, lining their pockets will also mean that blood is spilt. The Praetors will assign the guards to watch the officials in each office, often sending the traitorous guards after those who are building themselves up too fast. The consul will deliberate on their fallen cohorts; Often taking some financial incentive to build out a monument of an opponent’s family. The Caesar and censor make one important decision during their often short term. The Caesar may veto any one vote as it is placed. This can prevent death of a former beneficiary. The censor will send one chicken into exile until the next offices are seated. They can in fact exile themselves to prevent death.


In any round in which a single chicken has died, so shall the Caesar. If his censor is still seated, he will be demoted. All remaining chickens will ascend to their new offices and voting shall continue to place remaining chickens into the empty seats. The game will end when an entire family has been eradicated, or when there are not enough remaining chickens to fill the seats of a new round.

I’ve to date won half of my games of Chicken Caesar. Sometimes it has been throwing shade at the craftier opponents, sometimes trying to fly under the radar of others. Being sweet and simple is not something i’m known for, so this tactic will only work with folks who do not know me. I would totally do this, if opportunity allowed.

The scoring of Chicken Caesar is interesting. It is easy to know when you are winning or losing, as all scores are open. One well-placed monument can put any player over the top in scoring. The chart is an optimization-based score, like Agricola. Individual chickens will earn an insignia for each office they serve from round, to round. If they survive multiple rounds, this develops an “extra” insignia. These can then be offered up to the consul to be built onto your fallen chickens. For every chicken that carries the same kind of insignia, a score will be reached. The Caesar’s insignia is the greatest number of points, as it is very difficult to obtain, and even harder to survive into an extra insignia to be built later.

So the game is built upon good timing, and better negotiation than the next guy.

Overall i would recommend this as a great 5 player negotiation game. Much better than the Bang-werewolves-resistance style, if you’re trying to fill an entire evening of play.

Libertalia First Impressions

My first impression of Libertalia tonight was a mix of swarthy joy and uncertainty. Will this Imagestill be fun in two months? Can i maintain a pirate voice for more than ten minutes? Should i just play Citadels more?

Libertalia is a card game for 2-6 players designed by Paulo Mori. Players get a set of 9 identical cards. Every player will choose their card at the same time. Cards are displayed and arranged in order of rank. The lowest ranked card will activate first, moving upward. Then, the remaining cards will take turns splitting up the booty for that round.

This continues over 6 turns. Then another 6 cards are added to each players handand play begins again.(eventually there are 3 rounds)

This was fun. Trying to find neat combos, sending out a powerful card, only to have it discarded by a lower-ranking pirate. Cursed booty passed around the table and pirate jokes abound.

ImageThere was a great influence of Citadels and other role-selection games here. The quick and light nature made it feel fresh.

I’ll have to play a few more games to be sure, but i’m excited to do so. I love interactive gamer’s party games. I can see this going hand in hand with RoboRally. Just quicker to play!!

What i would want to see in a more sophisticated version is a draft to determine the opening hands…

Review of Terra Mystica

game setup

setting up the board

This week begun my journey into Terra Mystica. I’ll start this impression by saying that i loved this game even before the second playthrough.  It was like Hansa Teutonica, but even more advanced!! I love the use of non-randomized favor pools, asynchronous play with different factions, and many paths to victory. This one is going in my plus column, so i’m not going to be objective.

The nitty gritty:
Theme: 9/10  I love how each race has their own strategy and motivation. No one faction feels out of balance with the rest of the game. It has been so much fun just to discover all the different races(i’ve played 7 out of the 14 so far) and try to best compliment their strengths while slowing down my opponents.
Components: 8/10 Big, chunky wooden bits and beautiful player boards/maps. My only complaint was my box splitting down the side after a week. Purple duct tape to the rescue!!
Length: 40 minutes per player the box says 30, but it’s going to take some time to get to that point. Most plays will include one or more new players, playing new factions.
Mechanics : 9/10 What a lovely dance!! The motivation for players to directly compete for space  is great. Each action seems to serve a great purpose. The rivalrous nature of the power actions as well as the map make for tense sessions.


a look at the player board (a little messy, whoops!)

A little explanation of gameplay: The game involves a number of cultures, each of whom would like to expand their home territory. Each faction has a kind of terrain and the power to terraform surrounding terrains into their own. Each faction also has an inherent ability. This ability ranges from where they build, how they build, and methods of moving up in the temples of various cults.

The game takes place over six rounds. Players spend each turn taking one of seven available actions until they pass. Once a player has passed, they will choose a bonus for the next round and wait until all other players have also passed. Each faction is trying to expand from their initial placements by creating new dwellings, houses and temples. Each new building has a power value. Towns are founded when a player creates a group worth seven points. Towns net an immediate bonus of some victory points and a resource bump.


mid-game in the first playthrough

In our second game, we used the recommended beginner’s setup. This means we had halflings, mermaids, nomads, and witches. The halflings’ strategies seemed pretty straight forward. The halfling player wanted to terraform and soak up each bonus victory point that they could. The Nomads had an advantage of a free terraform each turn; He went to set up many different townships to turn them into cities in the last few turns. The witches get to set out dwellings on an extra green space each turn. He spammed out the board and worked toward bonuses on the cult track. The mermaids can make cities over river spots. I floundered a lot. I needed to spread out quickly and then work on making cities. I worked on leveling up my player board first, allowing my fellows to corner me out of much of the map.

 When a player builds adjacent to an established building or buildings, the established player will have an opportunity to exchange victory points for power. Power is used to gather any of the basic resources, or to take special actions. This keeps players interested in cozying up to the other players, so they can glom some free stuff as players work on establishing their towns.

 The six rounds of the game feel as if they fly by. Each is marked at the beginning of the game with a bonus marker. Bonus’ are accrued by some means during the turn(such as 2 points for building dwellings) and a cult-track bonus at the end of the round(a worker for every space climbed in the air cult). The end of the game replaces the resource bonus with the end-game scoring for the most connected structures on the map and the highest levels achieved for each cult.

Why is this game so special?

TM is reminiscent of Hansa Teutonica, Eclipse (and a little Settlers thrown in

the cult track to begin

the cult track to begin

for good measure). Terra Mystica still stands on its own, giving players neat interactive play. The 14 different races included are so well-designed. There are literally 100’s of ways to play it.

What’s the rub?

A game with this many decisions can lead to long decision-making. A group prone to analysis-paralysis should be weary. That and my poor, poor game box splitting is the only thing i can fault TM for.

Whatever its faults, this is one of the best designs I’ve played in a while. I cannot recommend this game enough. From what i’ve seen it is selling out everywhere so pick it up if you see it in the wild!!

Top Ten 2-Player Games!

Two-player games remain to be the brass ring in many relationships. Folks want a fun experience that fits into their busy schedule. A great many games which list ‘2-4’ players will feel as if a competitive element is missing with only two participants. Other games will even use a facsimile third player to shoehorn the game into working for just two.

Let us start by compiling a list of my favorite options for two-players for all levels of skill and interest.


Battleline Cover

Battlelinelearn it in 10 minutes/30 minutes to play. Similar to Reiner Knizia’s Lost Cities, Battleline is a tactical bluffing game that uses a poker-like scoring system. It plays in just thirty minutes, and is easy to learn. Players will battle to break through either five of the flags between them, or three flags in a row. Each turn they will play a card in front of a flag, and then draw a card. There are two stacks to draw from. One deck is full of troops. Each troop is a unique number from 1-10 in six colors. The other deck is a tactics deck. Players may play a tactic on any battle to change one value or rule in that flag. Players may never play more tactics than the other player. Once a flag has three troops, that battle is locked until either player can prove a decisive win.  Battleline can also be carried around in a small deck box, meaning i can throw it in a normal-sized purse!

Hiveten minutes to learn/20-30 minutes to play–  An intuitive chess-like abstract. A game of Hive lasts only thirty minutes. Players make an interconnected hive of bug pieces. Each bug has its own kind of movement. The goal is to trap your opponent’s queen bee by surrounding it with pieces. The expansions for Hive are definitely the way to go, as it makes for a quicker pace in-game. I like that playing with the same partner over many games stays really fresh, as both players find new traps and tricks.

Dominion20 minutes to learn/ 60 minutes to play– Dominion is a deck-

Dominion (card game)

Dominion (card game) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

building game where players build their decks as they go. Great low-interaction game for those who don’t like as much competition. Each side begins with a dinky 10-card deck. Each turn they’ll have an opportunity to purchase new cards to build up the strength of their deck.

 The player with the most point cards in their deck at the end will win. The same point cards have no effect during the game, so a balance must be found. Players may especially like Dominion if they’ve played many combo-based card games like Magic: the Gathering. Dominion is all about trying to combine effects of cards and eeking out free actions

Netrunnerone play-through to learn/ 70 minutes to play– This game is an asymmetrical card game. One player is a corporation attempting to further their own agendas. The other is the hacker, trying to expose the corporation’s secrets.

The runner plays the aggro deck, jumping out in the beginning of the game, netrunnerputting pressure on the corp, and trying to pick up a few easy points. Slowly the corp will build up a defense. Everything the corp does though, is hidden until later it can be activated. The cat and mouse nature of this is why Netrunner is addictive and greatly varied. Fantasy Flight Games also puts out a non-randomized pack of cards monthly to edit the decks and keep the format fresh.

Carcassonnelearn in 15 minutes/60 minutes to play– Carcassonne is a tile-laying game with a tricky system of timing. Players take turns building out a map and placing their pieces along the roads, cities and farms hoping to score big points as the map is completed. The interaction in this game can be very mean as the easiest way to maximize your points is by discounting your opponents’ work with a couple well-placed blocks. Criticism for this game should mainly be given to the scoring mechanic at the end being a little clumsy.

Word on the Street learn it in 3 minutes/plays in 45 minutes: This is a fun word tug of war. Players have thirty seconds to think of a word for the category drawn. Once their word is declared, they’ll pull the letters in that word one step toward themselves on the mat. The goal of the game is to pull eight letter tiles completely off the mat on your side. As the letters start dropping off, players have to best use the letters left over to keep earning tiles!

Catacombs-boardCatacombs-learn it in 5 minutes/play for 60+ minutes– Part RPG, part crossfire. Catacombs pits the overseer of a dungeon against four brave heroes.  The combat and movement in this game is done by flicking disks representing your character toward the minions of the Overseer. Combat can be done melee or ranged. Each hero has a special ability, adding to it’s power, financing or range.

The game’s outcome is very much skewed toward the overseer; The overseer gets to attack the heroes room after room before facing them himself. This game can be a lot of fun when you’re done with your thinking for the day and would like to have a good chuckle.

Innovation10 minutes to learn/60 minutes to play– This is a quirky civilization builder with a lot of interaction. As your society moves through the different ages, they will pit themselves against fellow civilizations, marking their achievements and possibly stealing their technologies.

Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold Warone play-through to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAlearn/ 90 minutes to play– Part puzzle, part Stratego— all awesome. Players must direct their spies to gather a briefcase from the center of the board and sneak it across enemy lines. Players do not know how their own pieces move, instead deducing each unique movement with a series of questions posed to the other side. Fun, if not a little confusing to learn.

Cribbage15 minutes to learn/25 minutes to play– An oldie, but still a favorite with me and mine. A card game of estimated guesses and quick math. Cribbage makes for some great fun, with just enough luck of the draw to keep it interesting.

My honorable mentions go to Citadels and Race for the Galaxy for their awesome two-player variants!! Also do not forget Babel, though i wouldn’t write it up ’cause it’s soooo hard to find.

protip: those looking for new games: most games which encourage players to competitively bid, control territory or trade among each other will waffle a little at the two-player level. These are simply not mechanics which work well without a group.

Ladies & Gentlemen, First Impression

gentlemen What made shopping, stocks, gossip, fashion, and misogyny so fun?? Ladies & Gentlemen did. Gentlemen go to the stock exchange every morning, ladies head off to their favorite shops; After all, the ball is only a few days away!! I can’t even make this up!! The most elegantly dressed lady at the end of the game will take the victory. Men must bring enough bacon home to pay for the ladies’ fashion choices and household help.

This game makes perfect use of the Victorian Era as most Americans probably know of it. Ladies must be fashionable, though they can be a little gossipy. The men work at the stock exchange, and grimace at the credit card bill upon their arrival home. Men will find also themselves having to foot the bill for a very expensive courtesan’s wardrobe if they want to keep their reputation for class.

The gentlemen’s job is a kind of race. There are a number (equal to the number of gentlemen) of revealed contracts with needs of 2-5 specific resources. At the opening bell, the men will look at the resource tokens, one at a time, with the ability to keep three and find a number token to determine his and his ladies’ initiative for the round. In the afternoon, the gentlemen will, in initiative order, sell their resources for cash or complete contracts.

The ladies’ morning means window shopping. They choose from a number of sales to place in their favorite shop. Theladies sale is for hired help, apparel, accessories or jewelry. In the afternoon each lady decides, in secret, which shop she’ll visit. Ladies will search from among the sale items and take their choices home on credit.

Each evening the ladies will hand their dapper gentlemen the various things they’ve found during the day. The gentlemen will choose for which of these things they’re willing to foot the bill. Each garment has a number of elegance points, though they must adhere to a couple of restrictions. After five rounds the ladies & gentlemen will meet at the big ball, and the lady with the most elegant outfit will win the envy of all the town.

Last night’s two session games saw the ladies fighting over finding a dress. The gentlemen’s side ran somewhat smoothly, with huge competition over the big-money contracts. The winner eeked it out with lots of cheap jewelry/accessories. In my (triumphant) second game, it was a mix of designer-specific pieces and helpful servants that snatched up my victory!

What a fun game! It brings out the silly in everyone to whom I’ve shown it. The game begs for as much flavor and role-playing as possible. The sexist theme and dual-sided play wants for funny voices and lots of jokes.