“Too Many Bones”
Designed by Josh and Adam Carlson, published by Chip Theory Games
The Quick Summary: You are a Gearlock (a tech-savvy mix of goblin, elf and gnome) going out for adventure. By dealing with different encounters you will gain skills and improve your stats to finally face the final boss of the adventure. You have a limited amount of days to achieve enough progress points to be allowed to face the boss. They call this a dice builder RPG, and it’s pretty much right on.
- Very high quality components (neoprene game mats, plastic cards).
- Great feeling of really developing a character.
- Many different bosses with different game durations. One game can last from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours.
- If you take the time to read the stories on the cards, you get a nice RPG feeling.
- Dice! Many, many dice! Each Gearlock comes with it’s own personalized dice that represents its skills.
- Very nice dice-rolling mechanic where you need to make choices (can’t use all your skills all the time!).
- Can be played solo.
- Combat and health system that uses poker-like tokens is very original and works very well.
- The rulebook isn’t optimal. Many rules aren’t clear or are only present on the summary sheet. I had to watch a video to understand better the flow of the game.
- Randomness of rolling dice can be a negative for many, but you know what you get when you buy this game!
- Nothing! Except maybe the price and limited distribution (only via the editor’s web site).
Keep it or leave it? Definitely keep it. This game is a masterpiece for its art, component quality, and gameplay. Very good potential for replayability and a good challenge.
Review by Sébastien
designed by Raphael Guiton, Jean-Baptiste Lullien, & Nicolas Raoult, published by Cool Mini or Not
The Quick Summary: A classic dungeon crawler game with a predetermined map where 1 to 6 heroes try to achieve their objectives while fighting monsters. You play as heroes with specific abilities complemented by a class that brings another set of abilities. You will rely on three actions per turn to move, to open doors, to fight and to pick up loot. As you progress from tile to tile, the level of difficulty and quality of loot increases and you gain experience points to purchase better skills.
- Great looking miniatures.
- A lot of variety when it comes to characters because you can pick different classes for your hero.
- Character development allows you to personalize your hero.
- A lot of variety when it comes to loot and monster types (mobs of weaker monsters, powerful roaming monsters and agents that summon mobs).
- Can be played solo. – Difficulty can vary a lot so it brings a little thrill.
- Many quests have objectives or special rules that depart from the usual « Kill the Big Monster » missions.
- Comes with a Story mode (but see The Bad).
- Event cards at the end of each turn can change the momentum of the game.
- A bit long (2.5 – 3h per game).
- Can feel repetitive sometimes (move, open a door, kill monsters, repeat).
- Story mode (campaign mode) was not play tested enough. Works well in the beginning but your group quickly becomes overpowered.
- Too much loot, way too much loot unless you play 6 heroes.
- Highly random, which often makes the game too easy or too hard (mostly too easy).
- Once your group has looted many level 2 chests (out of 5 levels) they usually become powerful enough to finish most quests easily.
Keep It or Leave It? I will keep this game because I’m a big fan of dungeon crawlers. When I don’t have my brain and just want to kill monsters this would compete with “Zombicide: Black Plague” or “Descent” (when I want to use my brain a little).
Review by Sébastien
“XCOM: The Board Game”
designed by Eric M. Lang, published by Fantasy Flight Games
Take command of the XCOM and defend the Earth from marauding aliens! Based on the video game of the same name, each player takes on a different role of the elite XCOM organization: from planning scientific research to deploying air defense fighters to ordering ground troops to making sure all this stuff comes under budget. All of this is done in a real-time decision making phase controlled by a free, downloadable app that is required to play the game. After this, nerve-jangling, tension-filled decision making phase, the game slows down into a resolution phase where you can watch all your smart, lightning-quick decisions be undone by crappy dice rolling.
A totally different experience from the video game, whose heart is basically a tactical turn-based shooter with a larger resource management overlay. This game definitely focuses more on the resource management and quick decision-making with the tactical fighting basically abstracted, but still a nerve-wracking blast overall.
One Line Verdict: Join this particular fight, unless you really hate randomness. In that case, watch the world be destroyed from a distance.
designed by Kane Klenko, published by Renegade Game Studios
Work together to defuse the bombs that threaten your ship! In this cooperative dice-drafting game, cards represent bombs. You defuse them by placing the dice drawn from a common pool in whatever combination the cards requires: maybe a certain color or a certain number placed in a certain order. But be careful, you are working with your fellow players and you all draft from a common pool: don’t leave a player without a dice they can use or they will pay a penalty. Oh, and did I mention this was real-time with a 10-minute time limit? Frenzied action as players shout out what they need, what they can work with and what definitely doesn’t help them. Unfortunately, you will usually end up in the last case.
Basic, intuitive rules drive the action and the tension ramps up pretty quickly. A fun app also adds great thematic atmosphere to the whole affair.
One Line Verdict: Fans of real-time cooperative games should beam up to this one. Others watch the ship explode from a safe distance.
“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.
designed by Florian Flay, published by Z-Man Games
My vote for one of the most ridiculous titles I’ve ever seen…but a clever sci-fi themed co-op where you fight off invading alien hordes in several different scenarios. It even has a three-dimensional board with raised platforms for multiple level combat! Roll dice to allocate actions, trade among players, activate special abilities in your rooms, and blast the multitude of rampaging aliens to satisfying bits. The aliens are simply programmed through cards to move and attack, and it’s up to you and your team to maximize your own dice in relation to their actions. It’s like a complicated puzzle that you need to solve. A complicated puzzle to avoid your horrible, brutal deaths from withering alien attacks.
A good game for fans of the equally punishing “Ghost Stories” where success is both hard-won and satisfying. But that name…oh, that name…
One Line Verdict: Join the fight! Much more intellectual than the theme and title suggest.
“Escape Room: The Game”
designers unnamed, published by SpinMaster, Ltd.
Use your puzzle-solving skills to solve the puzzle and escape the room in one of four scenarios! An escape room in a box, the game comes with plastic keys and a neat timer/decoder that counts down from 60 minutes. Solve the puzzles to figure out which are the correct four keys to insert into the box and win the game! Each scenario has multiple stages, with each stage getting progressively more difficult. Look at maps, do logic puzzles, and yes, even word searches in your quest to escape! Or lose. You can do that to. The best way to do that is miss one vital, if fairly obvious clue in your haste to get things done.
It’s all in the title, and presents a fun experience in that vein. Getting the breakthrough: awesome, But, can also be terribly frustrating and at times and players will just sort of spin their wheels.
“Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game”
designed by Matt Hyra, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment
Strap on your Air Gear and get ready to fight off some titans! Two great tastes in one: based on the very popular anime and using the Cerberus deck-building engine, which is the core of the DC Superheroes Deck-building game. Defend the wall from rampaging Titans as you use new Thrust cards to scoot along the wall buyin’ cards and fightin’ Titans! Great wound system and an excellent spatial component: surely the Reeses Peanut Butter Cups of deck-building games.
Just the right balance between challenge and difficulty in this light to medium deck-builder. Plus, it’s Attack on Titan!