designed by Eric M. Lang, published by Cool Mini or Not
Based on the tough-as-nails video game. You and your fellow adventurers fight strange monsters through simultaneously selecting different tactics and weapons cards. However, the monster gets first strike and will most likely kill all of you. But if you survive, damage the monster, take its blood echoes (which are your victory points as well), and if you kill it, everyone who participated gets a trophy as well. But be careful, if you are killed and you didn’t “bank” your blood echoes, you lose those points! You can upgrade your cards with more death-dealing weapons, some which even mess up your opponents. Fun, quick, with a little bit of deduction…what will my opponents do, and can I kill this thing?…and yes, wildly swingy.
Great sense of player interaction as you balance between hurting your opponents and keeping them around to help you. Pretty quick and easy to learn: almost a filler.
One Line Verdict: Not quite a killer game, but definitely has its moments of tension and surprise.
designed by Mark Corsey, published by Breaking Games
“The Game of 49”
Bid for spaces as you try to get four in a row! A pure bidding game as you bid for spaces that come up for auction on a 7×7 grid. Flip a card, bid on it. That’s about it. Win the auction and place a marker on the board. The more markers you have, the more money you can make in later rounds when these Payoff cards are flipped. But there is a careful balance in this game as you try to get the spaces that you need, but have enough left at the end to get that space that will win you the game.
Next level Connect 4, as you try to outbid and outfox your opponents for coveted spaces. Admittedly, a better game than that with a clever twist for payout cards. Basically a pure bidding game.
One Line Verdict: If you like auctions and bidding, this is a must. If you don’t, then pass on this one.
designed by Masao Suganuma, published by IDW Games
“Diamonsters” These cute little monsters want diamonds! A very quick and easy bidding game: flip a card, and try to win that monsters and add it to your collection by bidding with a card numbered 1-5. The same number card played by different players cancels each other out, and high number left wins, but 1 beats 5! Winner places the card she used plus the card she won into her face up “monster collection.” Repeat until one player has three of the same monster in her collection or has five face-up diamonds (which are printed on the cards). The winner of the round gets one plastic diamond piece. Repeat until one player gets five diamonds (or so, depending on the number of players).
More of a “what card do I think my opponents will play?” sort of filler, with surprisingly poorly written rules for the endgame. Because you take the monster you played and the one you won into your collection, there is some strategy. Not much, but some. Cute illustrations, giant box.
One Line Verdict: These monsters are easy to avoid. Unless it’s for like 5 bucks.
designed by Reiner Knizia, published by Out of the Box
A Reiner Knizia designed game that plays QUICK. There are six mines: each turn you play a settler or gold on a mine. If you play a settler, you can stake a claim. But be careful, you only have three claims you can stake, and if you place it too early, people will fill your mine with fool’s gold, which score nothing. Play too late, and you won’t be able to score on a lucrative mine. A game all about timing and patience and knowing when to strike. Or strike out, as the case may be.
For fans of Western themed games with a strong press-your-luck element, with some good old-fashioned cut-throat action thrown in.
One Line Verdict: Drop a claim on this one for a fun little filler.
“Star Trek: Five-Year Mission”
designed by David E. Whitcher, published by Mayfair Games
Become the crew of the Starship Enterprise (either TOS or TNG) and explore the galaxy in this dice allocation game. Draw an alert of either blue, yellow, or red indicating the difficulty of the missions: maybe it’s a transporter hiccup. Or maybe it’s the Borg. Then roll your dice and then assign them to complete different missions. Match the dice requirements on an alert card to complete it, but if you and your crew have too many uncompleted mission cards out, a mission fails. Complete a number of missions based on difficulty to win the game, or fail five to lose.
Not too high a difficulty curve, with special powers for each role to make things just a little more interesting, because it’s just roll the dice, match them on a card, and repeat.
One Line Verdict: Trekkers beam up for this one. Everyone else, it’s pretty light and diverting, but not planet-shattering (not like that big beam that Nero used to destroy Vulcan in the Kelvin timeline).
designed by Vlaada Chvatil, published by Czech Games Edition
Try to survive the dangers of space in this real-time programming game. Threats in the form of random space debris and alien ships will hurtle towards your from space and aliens will try to take you from inside your ship! Fire lasers, raise shields, increase power to your different ship systems, control kill-bots, and launch fighters to deal with these threats. But this is a programming game: play your cards in advance in a 10 minute real-time round, and then execute them one at time in the execution to see what actually happens. Maybe you guessed right. Or maybe you’re just hanging out somewhere watching your ship slowly fall apart.
Trying to keep track of one crew member’s actions is hard: doing two at the same time in the 10 minute time limit is well-nigh impossible. But with a full four, it is a frenzied blast.
One Line Verdict: Sign on for this voyage for some fast, tense, space-faring action.
“Mission Red Planet” (2nd Edition)
designed by Bruno Cathala & Bruno Faidutti, published by Fantasy Flight Games
Send your steampunk astronauts to Mars to control areas and collect valuable resources. Pack your astronauts into a ship, blast a ship off, land on some section of Mars, move some of your Martian men, or even sabotage spaceships journeying to Mars. Score points for area majorities on different sections of the red planet. Simultaneous card selection to perform these actions: do you pick a high number to go first, but get a weak action, or do you wait to perform a more powerful action? Or do you watch your opponent blow up your rocket with three of your astronauts in round 2 of the game and watch all hope of victory escape your grasp? I would say the last one. Definitely that one.
A good introduction to action selection and strategic play. Light enough to learn, with just enough strategy to make things interesting.
One Line Verdict: sign up for this particular mission to Mars.