Taking Stock of GenCon…

A week later, a picture of the GenCon haul:

GenCon 50 Haul


Not quite the new hot-ness; more like the current cheap-ness.  Except for “Wok Star.”  That thing is out-of-print.

Fairy Tale Magic

30-Second Boardgame Reviews Fairy Tale

“Fairy Tale: A New Story”

designed by Satoshi Nakamura, published by Z-Man Games

Card-drafting? Set collection? Cool anime inspired fantasy art? All plusses, adding up to a neat little game that plays quickly with some neat strategies with the different card effects. Each round, players will get five cards, and then draft five cards. With their new hands of five cards, players will play cards one at a time in front of them, but they only have to play three. Cards are played for points, but some powerful cards will cause cards to flip. Flipped cards don’t score in the endgame, which occurs after four drafting and four playing phases. The key to the game is drafting scoring combos: some cards are “friendly” with other cards and require them to score, while others require a majority or type. Lots of scoring options transforms this into a next level “Sushi Go.” And watching players misread the text is always a hoot.

Multiple scoring options and wide variety of card effects really makes this a next-level card-drafting game. The visual style is a bonus. Well, for fans of anime maybe.

One Line Verdict: Don’t hesitate to enter into this gorgeous fantasy realm and leave the Sushi (Go) behind!

I Will Survive…With Only One Organ

30-Second Boardgame Reviews OrganATTACK! by Awkward Yeti


designed by Nick Seluk, self-published

Save your organs from horrifying Afflictions all the while spreading illness and disease to your opponents in this medically-themed cardgame based on the Awkward Yeti webcomics. Players get three or four different organs in front of them, ranging from such as well known ones as the Brain and the Heart to lesser known ones like the Spleen or the Pancreas. Luckily, each card is delightfully, humorously, and factually illustrated with original art by the makers of Awkward Yeti. Players will take turns playing Affliction cards against their opponent’s organs: specific Afflictions will affect specific organs or use Wild cards to affect any organ. Two Afflictions, and an organ is destroyed and you’re one turn closer to losing. Mix the game up with Immunity Boosts and Necrosis and other actions cards that both help and hinder. Last person with organs left wins! Just like in real life.

Specific Afflictions affecting only specific organs sometimes make you feel like you don’t have many choices, and the Sedate and Vaccination cards which either takes a player out or defends a player for two turns seems to allow the players using them a little too much sway over the game. And everyone else begging not to be attacked.

One Line Verdict: A little like “Munchkin” in its “take that” elements, only shorter, with less strategy, and more educational. Finally find out with a spleen actually does!



Survival of the Meanest

30-Second Boardgames Reviews Survive! Escape from Atlantis!

“Survive!  Escape from Atlantis!” – 30th Anniversary Edition

designed by Julian Courtland Smith, published by Stronghold Games

Escape from the sinking island of Atlantis by putting your 10 survivors on boats while sending sharks, whales, and the dreaded sea serpent to your enemies. Each turn you move your hapless survivors off of the sinking island of Atlantis and closer to safe isles, either on a boat, or through an achingly slow swim. Then you draw a tile as the island “sinks.” Maybe a shark or whale or appear, or even a boat, or you can get a tile you can use later to speed your progress or impede your opponents by moving the whales or sharks out of your path and into theirs. Finally, roll the dice to move the shark to eat unfortunate swimmers, the whale to wreck their boats, or the dreaded sea serpent to devour both boats and swimmers. The game ends when the volcano tile is turned over and everything on the board is destroyed. Add up the points of the survivors on the safe isles, highest total points wins.

All kinds of fun as you try to maneuver your survivors onto boats while trying to avoid the beasties the other players are sending towards you. Special tiles give you special powers and adds a fine strategic element to the game. Lots of “take that” as you sink boats, eat swimmers, and watch people get sucked into whirlpools. And laugh at your own feeble attempts at sabotage that ends helping the other players: as in, “ha, fall into the water, and, oh, here’s a boat.”

One Line Verdict: Pay a visit to this particular tropical paradise. Just make sure you catch the first boat leaving.

Memoirs of the Geishas

30-Second Boardgames Reviews Hanamikoji


designed by Koto Nakayama, published by Quick Simple Fun Games

Journey to the mysterious geisha district of Edo in this gorgeously illustrated two-player card game. Seven geishas are lined up between the players, valued between 1 to 7. Each geisha is lured by a specific element: maybe a flute or a fan or some other appropriate item. Players take turns taking one of four actions: saving a card from their hand, discarding two cards from their hand, or more importantly, placing cards matching each geisha to influence her to your side. Two actions let you place cards, but the catch is, they also let your opponent place cards from your hand! Players take turns until they each perform all four actions, and then scoring takes place. Players will lure the geisha if they have the most cards featuring that item on their side of the table. Whoever has either four geishas or 11 points in geisha value wins. If not, repeat until a winner is determined!

With so few actions and the “I split, you choose” mechanism, the gameplay is very tight and strategic. You have to make difficult decisions almost every round trying to anticipate what your opponent will do. Except for a little vagueness in the end of round rules, this is a thrilling little game in a small box.

One Line Verdict: Take this particular trip to the mysterious and ancient Orient and spend some time with these pretty ladies.

Missing the Deadline


The Pyramid’s Deadline

designed by Jun Sasaki, published by Oink Games

Race to build the grandest pyramid for the dying pharaoh in this small box game from Japan’s Oink Games. Each round, a lead builder will roll the dice allowing players, one at a time, to draft different shapes in order to build their pyramid. Choose from a rectangle, a big triangle, a little triangle, and a square in order to complete your pyramid, from base to capstones and following the rules for laying tiles But be careful, the square also represents the pharaoh’s life, and if you take the last square, you automatically lose the game for killing the pharaoh. Likewise, make sure you actually complete your pyramid before the pharaoh’s life runs out. The player who scores the most points (length of pyramid x height of pyramid – the number of capstones) wins and has the honor of having a moldy, dessicated mummy reside in their grand creation.

A potentially simple and elegant tile-laying game is hampered unclear scoring rules for the endgame. The definition of different legal placements for the tiles feels unclear at times and turned the game from strategic tile-laying into, “I don’t think that counts as legal” arguments. Sometimes less means more, but here less just led to confusing.  And definitely one of the most brutal instant lose conditions out there.

One Line Verdict: Great concept with flawed execution; leave this one buried in the desert sands.