designed by Seth Jaffee, published by Tasty Minstrel Games
Players: 2-4; Playing Time: 45 min.; Good for: Deckbuilder AND engine building fans, future galactic overlords.
Become the pre-eminent force in the galaxy in this space-themed deckbuilding game. Survey new planets, peacefully colonize them or attack by through force of arms, build resources on those planets, and then sell those resources to gain influence in the galaxy. Most influence at the end of the game wins. You begin each round by choosing to play one card for its action that only you can do. Then you choose a Role from the common stacks: Survey, Colonize, Warfare, Research, or Produce/Trade. You get to perform this action with a bonus, while other players will have the option to perform the same action, which players can boost by playing additional cards from their hand. The chosen card is then added to your discard pile, thus building your deck for later rounds. As your survey and settle planets, you will not only get the chance to generate resources, you can also Research more powerful cards to add to your deck. Once the influence points are distributed or one or two of the common stacks are used up, the game ends and the person with the highest influence from points previously earned, settled planets, and researched tech cards, wins the game and rules the galaxy in peace and prosperity. Unless you chose Warfare. Then you can pretend to rule the galaxy with an iron fist.
Clever combination of deckbuilding, action selection, and tableau/engine building. Depending on what you focus on, you can find numerous paths of victory: build up your armada to invade planets? Sure. Research new technologies to earn points? Okay. Generate resources and trade them in for points? You got it!
One Line Verdict: With numerous paths to victory and an elegant combination of various mechanics, definitely sign up to explore this distant star.
designed by Peter Mariutto , published by Freshwater Game Company
[Note: this is a prototype submitted to the reviewer by the publisher in advance of their Kickstarter campaign, which can be found here].
Players: 2-6; Playing Time: 30 min.; Good for: Abstract game fans, people who like bright colors
Outwit your opponent in this duel to make the world’s ugliest checkerboard. Well, actually, to score the most points by laying down tiles to form different patterns on the board. Tiles feature four colors, two different colors on each side, and players take turns placing tiles on the board. The only rule is that matching colors cannot be put next to each other (basically opposite dominoes). Players thus use these orthogonal placements to form patterns simple patterns like “the line” and “the x” or more complex patterns like the “big w” to score points for the shape in that color, as well as bonus points. The game ends when the last tile is placed and the person with the most scoring cards wins! Or you simply go color-blind from all those colors on the board…you can do that too.
Like other games of this type, the key is figuring out the best placement that will allow you to score points but to prevent setting up your opponent. The fact that the tiles are double-sided with different colors AND that you can put tiles on top of previously placed tiles allows for some brain burning strategies. But getting a cascade of different shapes when scoring points can be pretty satisfying. But with so many choices, it can also promote some crippling tunnel vision.
One Line Verdict: Abstract fans will probably enjoy this, but if you struggle with too many choices, you might want to stick with Qwirkle.
Review by Paul
“Card City XL”
Designed by Alban Viard, published by AVStudio Games
The Quick Summary: With the cards at your disposal, you are in charge of building the highest scoring city. With a crafty card drafting system, where the first player creates small decks of partially hidden cards for other players to choose from, “Card City XL” requires some long-term planning to optimize your town by fitting the best cards within a 5×5 or 6×6 square. You can place cards to grow your city, but optimal card placement can allow some districts to develop by themselves and grow without actually using cards from your hand! The key feature of the game is that it comes with 240 different ways of playing. Some of them are pretty similar, just easier versions of the same game, but it does have a lot of possible variations.
- A lot of potential variety when it comes to winning conditions and objectives.
- Many different levels of difficulty.
- Will appeal to both casual gamers and more strategic gamers.
- Comes with a solo variant that allows you to try to create your own metropolis.
- The nice combo of tile placement and organic growth of your city makes for interesting decision-making.
- Fast setup.
- The many different levels and winning conditions can be confusing at first glance.
- A good insert to store the cards would have been nice.
- Solo variant only measures your success based on your score. You can’t lose. You simply compare your score to the chart in the rulebook.
- The size of the city, once you reach a certain amount of cards makes it very hard to manage. You need a BIG table (or a lot of moving your city around) for 3-4 players games.
Keep it or leave it? This is a keeper since the more hardcore gamer can be satisfied because of the long-term planning required and it will also attract more casual gamers (just lower the difficulty).
Review by Sébastien