A Quick Straw Poll Says…No.



designed by Richard James, published by AEG

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.

Crafty Card-Crafting down in the Vale


“Mystic Vale”

designed by John D. Clair, published by AEG Games

Regenerate the blighted land in this fantasy-themed card game.  Instead of just a deck-building game, features a “card-building” mechanic with clear cards that you slip into sleeves to power your cards on the way to gaining the most victory points. On your turn, flip over cards to see how much power you have.  But be careful, if you reveal too many blight tokens, your turn ends and you get (almost nothing).  Use your available power to buy upgrades WHICH YOU ADD TO YOUR ALREADY EXISTING CARDS.  Build up your cards, buy more powerful card parts, then eventually buy lands for more powers and even more victory points.

Feels like “Splendor,” but with do-it-yourself cards.  Might seem gimmicky, but it’s a solid system and provides lots of interesting possibilities and choices.