“Bottom of the 9th”
designed by Darrell Louder and Mike Mullins, published by Greater Than Games (Dice Hate Me Games)
Players: 2; Playing Time: 5-20 min.; Good for: Baseball fans, couples, and armchair quarterbacks (to mix sports metaphors)
The game is tied, with two men on, two outs, and a full count. You stare into the eyes of the opposing batter, and you’re on your last legs. What do you do? Find out in this two-player game that recreates, well, the bottom of the ninth inning. The home team wins if they score a runner while the away team wins if they get three outs. Players begin with a “stare-down” where the pitcher chooses a pitch using two wooden disks and the batter tries to guess that pitch using the same method. Successfully guessing the pitch will give the batter an advantage, while outsmarting the batter will give the pitcher the same. Then the pitching player rolls dice to determine how well the pitch turned out, randomly determining a ball, a strike, or even painting that elusive corner. The batter responds by rolling a die, the number indicating a strike, a foul, or a hit, and even the type of hit. Players play through each pitch like this, with the pitchers earning fatigue with certain pitches and the batter trying to CRUSH THAT PITCH.
The best part of this game is the way they use game mechanics to capture the feeling of the batter-pitcher duel. The picking of the different pitches, the way the dice offer randomness, the way contact works, and the way pitcher fatigue is built in: all nicely done, and yes, really feels like baseball in a box. The fact it only recreates half an inning also makes sure it doesn’t wear out its welcome. Did I mention unique player powers for each batter and pitcher? A lot of game in a little box, and quick enough to lose two or three games to your son, who doesn’t even watch baseball, in an evening.
One Line Verdict: Don’t leave this one on the bench, especially if you’re a baseball fan. Even if you’re not, pick this up as a great two-player experience.
Review by Paul
“Attack on Titan: The Last Stand”
designed by Antoine Bauza & Ludovic Maublanc, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment
Strap on your air-gear and defend the wall…wait, didn’t I already write THIS review as well? No, this is not the deck-building game, but a one vs. all recreation of a pitched battle between the Survey Corps and a single titan. Human players roll dice to get different actions: move on the 3D board, attack, or defend, all the while trying to get into position to execute the tactics that will fell the mighty titan. You can roll as many times as you want, but roll a titan face on your die and that die goes to the titan character to use one his special powers to wreak havoc with the humans: maybe eat a civilian or regenerate health. Meanwhile, the titan player chooses two attacks: one face up and one face down. The humans can then use their dice to neutralize the titan’s attacks or try and activate a tactics card. The titan wins if he kills a character, eats all the civilians (there are 12 to begin with) or destroys six cannons. The humans win if they finish off the titan. But much harder than at looks, as there are only two cards in the 8 card tactic deck that actually kills the titan!
Each character on the human side has different special abilities while there are three different titans to choose from. The 3D board looks cool and works thematically as players try to position themselves around the titan for the killing blow. Almost too easy with two humans, one titan: the humans only have fulfill two of three conditions on the powerful tactics cards to activate them. A higher player count would avoid this issue. Then again, if you roll three titan heads to begin with, not much is going to save you.
One Line Verdict: Is there room in a collection for two Attack on Titan games? Yes, yes, there is.
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
“The Oracle of Delphi”
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.
“Bang: the Dice Game”
designed by Michael Palm & Lukas Zach, published by dv Giochi & Asmodee
Be the last man (or woman) standing in this Wild West duel. At the beginning, each player is assigned a role: sheriff, outlaw, deputy, or renegade, with each role having a different goal to win the game: the sheriff and his deputies have to survive the withering gunfire of everyone else, while outlaws win when the sheriff is eliminated, or the renegade wins when she is the last one left alive amid all the carnage. All roles are hidden, except for the sheriff. Then players are given a unique character with a special power to help when the lead starts flying. Players take turns by rolling dice (up to three times via the old Yahtzee mechanic) and then resolving the actions on the dice: shooting, healing (with a swig of beer), blowing yourself up, or maybe even calling down Indians to deal damage to all. Run out of life points, and you’re sent to Boot Hill (that is, you are eliminated), but your team can still win! Whoever is left (according to your win conditions) wins the game!
Plays quick and easy with the hidden roles adding a layer of strategy that keeps the game interesting and makes people really mad when you start shooting the members of your team. The quick play keeps the game moving and getting eliminated less sad and boring.
One Line Verdict: Strap on your six-shooters and draw (or roll, in this particular case) for a fun, quick-moving hidden role game that doesn’t require all that talkin’ and negotiatin’.
Risk: Star Wars Edition
Designed by James D’Aloisio, Austin Rucker, & Craig Van Ness, published by Hasbro
Yes, it’s by Hasbro, but that’s okay: a fast-moving, card-driven, dice-chucking recreation of the Battle on Endor on three fronts: fight in space, advance towards the bunker on Endor, and fight the duel between Luke, Darth Vader and the Emperor. Each turn players pick three cards to play which allows them to take actions on one of the three fronts. The Rebel player controls the Millennium Falcon and squadrons of X-Wings, B-Wings, and Y-Wings which offer different attack values. The Empire has TIE Fighters and the mighty Super Star Destroyer at her disposal, not to mention the sector-smashing power of the Death Star. Advancing on the Endor and duel tracks earn the winning player extra cards to play during their turn, perhaps changing the tide of battle in their favor. The Empire wins when all the attacking Rebel fighters around Endor are destroyed; the Rebels win when they advance to the end of shield generator track and destroy the Death Star!
The cards provide just enough strategy as you try to figure which scene to advance on, and the dice provide just enough randomness so the Death Star doesn’t toast your entire fleet. Admittedly, after several plays the Empire has never one, but that’s movie accurate, right?
One Line Verdict: The Force is strong with this game for a quick, light re-creation of this epic battle.
“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 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.
Designed by Orin Bishop, published by Roxley Games
Take the role of a turn-of-the-century inventor or scientist, ranging from Nikola Tesla to Ada Lovelace, and then proceed on a wild road-race in your crazy steampunk vehicle. Draft cards to build energy, add parts to your vehicle, or get special powers. Use dice to power your different vehicle parts and fly down the course. But be careful, the faster you go, the more likely you will damage your vehicle and have to slough parts. And go limping across the finish line with literally only your cockpit left…
Draft, build, race: go for a spin! I mean that both literally (that’s what you do in the game) and idiomatically (give it a try).