Designed by Josh & Adam Carlson, published by Chip Theory Games
The Quick Summary: Welcome to the world of pick-locking where you will compete with another player or against the game! While flipping and moving tokens, you will need to remember where everything is so you can sort them out in the right order to complete what is required by your cards. Doesn’t sound too hard, unless your opponent or the game decides to move everything around.
Very high material quality, like everything from Chip Theory Games.
Fast game (15-30 minutes).
Can be played solo.
There are many different characters that each bring a different skill or advantage.
Rulebook is very hard to understand. Had to read it twice and watch two videos to get the feel of how the game works. The rulebook would benefit from pictures or schematics to better understand the flow of the game.
Basically a memory-based puzzle, which is bad for me, but can be good for you.
The pick-locking theme feels like it was just tacked on a game mechanic. You never feel like you are actually pick-locking a lock.
Keep it or leave it? For me it’s a big leave it. I received my Kickstarter copy, played with it, and put it on sale five days later. I recognize that for some people this will be an awesome game. The game mechanic and flow will attract many players, but for me it was a big failure.
designed by Michael Kiesling & Wolfgang Kramer, published by HABA Games
Defend the kingdom from the rampaging fog creatures by collecting swords, magical herbs, gold, and bold companions, lots and lots of bold companions! Everyone starts with their 8-10 (depending on the number of players) on the top left corner of the board. Each turn, each player will draw two cards that will direct them to place one of the items (sword, herb, companion, gold, or fog monster) by grid coordinate (A-K, 1-10) on the board. Then players have two moves. They can move one adventurer twice, or two adventurers once. Here’s the catch: players can move their adventurers any distance down or to the right on the board, but they can’t move up or to the left. In other words, everyone heads inevitably to the bottom right of the board. Once an adventurer stops in a space, he will pick up the item in that space: swords and herbs help in combat, gold scores points at the end of the game, and companions will join the player’s meeple, forming a party that moves with that adventurer, making it easier to fight monsters along the way. Or he’ll fight a fog monster! Once the companions and swords run out, the game ends, and scoring begins!
Three different scenarios offer different scoring and different strategies, giving this game lots of different strategies, with the first scenario easy enough for kids, and the last is a clever area control game. Even though the same objects will always appear on the same space, the order that they appear is random from game to game and thus forces interesting strategic decisions, especially since your adventurers can’t go back or up once they pass a space. But invariably, someone just gets a massive army of dudes that end up chilling in the castle at the lower right of the board.
One Line Verdict: Gather your friends, the grand adventure awaits!
designed by David Turczi with Viktor Peter & Richard Amann, published by Mindclash Games
The Quick Summary: Anachrony puts you in the role of a faction that tries to control its planet. By placing workers on the appropriate tasks you will build your faction’s capital to gain victory points. Anachrony brings a nice twist to worker placement : time travel. You can, for free, gain resources you need right now from your future self. Later in the game, you will have to build a time machine, travel to the past and give your past self the resources you requested earlier in the game. If you don’t, you will create disturbances in the time continuum that will affect your final score. Being able to time travel, your future self also informed you that a meteorite will hit the planet so you need to plan accordingly to evacuate the world council to gain precious points. So many things to do, so little time…
Very strategic. You need to plan ahead to achieve your victory points.
Time travel as a game mechanic. What more can be said?
Replayability is very high because many paths to victory exist.
Can be played solo against a Chronobot. The challenge is pretty good and unpredictable.
Miniature mechs can be bought instead of the cardboard ones in the basic game. Doesn’t change the game, but they are great looking!
End game can happen at different moments. You don’t exactly know on which turn it will be over.
Resources are not easy to gather. You will manage your faction carefully and it makes the game very interesting.
Many tokens and parts. Takes a lot of real estate on the table.
Setup and take down can be long.
Complexity level can be scary to many players…or fun, depending on where you stand.
Keep It or Leave It? Definitely keep it. I would keep this game even if my collection was made of only 10 games. If you enjoy worker placement and are ready to handle more advanced rules, this is a must.
Be the first brave explorer to find the mysterious lost temple in this…wait didn’t I already write this review? Oh, but this is a tile-laying game and there are multiple temples to get to. Race your explorers to their matching temples in this clever little tile-laying game that feels a bit like bingo. One player places her stack of tiles face down, and each turns draws a tile and calls out the number of the tile drawn. The other players find that tile, and everyone places the same tile somewhere, anywhere on their own personal game board. Or, players can discard that tile to move an explorer a number of tile spaces they’ve already played on the board equal to the number of road spaces that lead off the tile. Score points to be the first to lead your explorer to each of the temples, or by picking up diamonds gold nuggets that appear on certain tiles. The person with the most points when the tiles run out wins!
In essence, everyone has the same tile to place and their explorers and temples are start in the same place, but the real strategy shows up when you decide what to do with tile: do you place it down to build your path? Or do you discard it to move? Or do you keep it for the gold, even though it gives you good movement? Simple gameplay and lots of choices makes this a great family game.
One Line Verdict: Yet another trip into a jungle? But a different one with new scenery. Grab your hat and go already!
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).
You are all traders attempting to load all your goods onto one poor camel. The camel has a load limit of fifty and players will take turns playing one card, either adding or subtracting from the total load. Some cards, like Furniture will add 9 to the total, but the Flying Carpet will subtract anywhere from 2 or 9! Whoever plays the card that pushes the camel’s load over fifty breaks the camels back and gets nothing while all OTHER players will score the point values of the cards remaining in their hands. Except, if you play the Straw card. If the load is exactly fifty and you play the literal Straw that breaks the camel back, only you get points for that round and everyone else gets nothing! High score wins after playing as many rounds as there are players!
While the Straw card adds a nice bit of thematic strategy, the rest of the game turns into holding on to your high point value cards and only playing the bad cards (either 0 or negative points), causing the load to rise very, very slowly at times, much to the chagrin of the more impatient players in the group.
One Line Verdict: Not quite straw into gold, as the game turns to tedium pretty quickly.
designed by Jeff Johnston, published by Gamewright
Play hide and seek in the woods at night while trying to be the first one home in this charming kid’s game. Each round, players will “hide” by placing their player tile face down with other tiles with matching backs. Then a dice roll determines how many firefly tokens they can collect from the pool. Next, players will use firefly tokens to try and guess where the other players are hidden. If you are found, you are “frozen,” and you can’t advance on the track back home. If you aren’t found, you take one step closer to the house. Players who were “frozen” get to draw new tiles to mix in, thus making it harder to guess where they are hiding, and repeat! First player to make it back home wins…and settles in for a nice cup of warm hot chocolate waiting for everyone else to get back in.
This game is built on two fun, strategic, and easy to understand mechanics. The first, using the wood tiles to “hide” your player tile is a great way to psych out your opponents, and the second, adding more woods tiles for the frozen players works as a great catch-up mechanism. Both allow you to look your six year-old in the eye, and point to a tile, and say “you are here” and be absolutely right and feel like a big man.
One Line Verdict: Grab your flashlight and join in this fun romp in the woods with the family and kids. Older players may want to stay in the house.
designed by James Ernest and Mike Selinker, published by Mayfair Games
Journey back to the beginning of the Strip and wheel and deal your way to become the only Lord of Vegas! (Not on the box. Maybe they should use this). Players vie for victory point supremacy by owning lot, building casinos, making cash to convert into larger casinos and swallowing up their smaller rivals. Each round players will draw a card representing one lot on the board and one of the five casinos. Then they get ownership of that lot, money if they have casinos of that color, and victory points for the total size of that casino of that color as well. They then take as many actions as they can afford: build a new casino, sprawl an existing casino and take over an empty lot, remodel a casino to change the casino color, gamble to make some extra spending dough, or even re-organize the dice on the casino tiles to change who the boss is, and who ultimately controls that casino and scores those points. Most interestingly, the game offers open negotiations among players for nearly everything in the game to really mix things up and give that the game that freewheeling vibe of Old Vegas. The true Lord of Vegas is determined when the “Game Over” card is drawn, everything is scored on more time, and the player with the most points comes out on top!
With its use of randomly drawn lots determining ownership, the game resembles Z-Man’s “Chinatown.” While that game emphasizes the importance of negotiation more, the extra mechanics here offers paths other than negotiation. In fact, the freewheeling nature of the negotiation is almost under-emphasized, being the next to last section in the rules. Nonetheless, there are plenty of deals to be made as you trade, consolidate, and hope you guessed right about the next payout.
One Line Verdict: For players looking for a game that is equal parts luck, strategy, and negotiation. Just like going to Vegas…not really.
designed by Stefan Feld, published by Tasty Minstrel Games
Race around the Mediterranean to be the first to complete the tasks assigned to you by the gods! Build your course with a wonky modular board and that still oddly creates a challenging course for you to navigate your ships. Be the first to complete the myriad tasks set before you: pick up some statues or other material and move it to another place or erect each of your temples on designated items. You will have different randomly determined objectives each game. To accomplish these tasks, each round you roll your three action dice. The color of dice determine the types of actions you take: maybe you can move to a green space (up to three) with your green die, or pick up a green statue or investigate a green space. Or you can you use favor tokens to advance the die to a different color on your action rondel. Earn god powers along the way and recruit heroes to give you some game-breaking power to be the first to complete all your tasks and race back to Zeus and be crowned winner! Or come in a close second in a race of inches as much as feet.
At last, a Stefan Feld game that ISN’T a point salad. Clever use of a dice color system that is both random enough and elegant enough that even new players catch on quickly after a turn or two. Lots of components and a daunting set-up, but a game that plays silky smooth and moves quickly from turn to turn.
One Line Verdict: Not quite the future of gaming, but drop in on the Oracle for a quick spin.
designed by Bruno Faidutti, published by Stronghold Games
Be the first brave explorer to find the mysterious lost temple in this role-selection game! Each round, players will choose one native from a common pool to help you move spaces on the jungle board towards the temple. Each native will grant the player special powers that may change the player position or steal from another player or allow her to pay gems to move a certain number of spaces. Players take turns according the number order of the card they chose (from 1 to 9) by taking one gem from the supply and then playing the card they chose and executing the special power on that card. End your movement on chance spaces and have something good (more gems or extra steps!) or something bad (lose gems, go backwards, or drop a machete) happen to you. Cut your way past deep jungle spots with machetes and cackle as you steal away someone else’s gems or weep as you are moved from first to last by the Shaman.
So, yes, it’s basically “Citadels,” but not as mean. By turning the game into race on the board rather than building a tableau, this games feels both different and more dynamic. The chance spaces on the board adds a fun random element while the deep jungle spaces provide an interesting additional challenge. The choice of cards even make thematic sense as you are engaging the help of the natives you move through the jungle.
One Line Verdict: This particular jungle is worth exploring.