The Next-to-Last Samurai



designed by Nicolas Sato, published by Iello

Battle your enemies for supremacy on the battlefield in medieval Japan! In this card game, cards representing different battlefields are laid out between two different players; thus requiring players to win on two different fronts. Your units are represented by different cards and these units have different numerical values and different special powers. Cards are placed either face up or face down (depending on the type of unit) next to each battlefield, which also have special conditions that can affect how the battle plays out. Players alternate placing units, trying to outsmart both players. After all units are placed, the total values of units are compared, battlefields are scored, and the winner, with the most points is crowned! Generally not the person who got their most powerful unit wiped out by a lucky guess on the part of their opponent (that would be me).

Lots of strategic decisions to be made between all the powers, the battlefield conditions, and the fact that you have to fight two opponents. A little like the old classic “Schotten Totten”/”Battle Line” only without poker hands and a little gimmicky.

One Line Verdict: If you liked “Battle Line,” join this fight! More lateral move than next level, though.

Pirates of the High Skies


“Sea of Clouds”

designed by Theo Riviere, published by Iello Games

Travel through the sea of clouds as steampunk pirates! Collect crew, treasures, and rum in order to amass the most points. Each round, the first player will look face down at a designated loot card: she can take it, or leave it. If she does, she adds one card to that loot stack and looks at the next loot card. Same decision, and repeat one more time for good measure. If she refuses all three cards, she can take the top card off the deck. The next player now does the same, but if the previous player left cards, they have more to look at and potentially take! But be careful, there are plenty of bad cards out there, and you can collect sets of items, but the first few of each item are almost always negative points! Oh, and you fight every once in awhile. Count up your points at the end of your voyage and rule the Sea of Clouds! Arrrrr.

Peeking at the loot is fun, but the turn progression seemed odd: you change start player and move the ship after every player has a chance to look at the loot, but the way player changed seemed harder to keep track of than it should. Light, fun, easy choices. But, if you don’t collect those sets, either because you passed on them or thye got snatched before you can even get them, you can seriously lose. Like me.

One Line Verdict: A must-stop for steampunk pirates, but others may want to keep sailing.

We Got Fun and Games (and Orc and Goblins).


“Welcome to the Dungeon”

designed by Masato Uessugi

Can you defeat all the monsters in the dungeon with the “help” of your opponents? Choose an adventurer with lots of special powers and then look at a monster card: decide if it goes in the dungeon or if it goes out. If it goes out, take away one of the adventurer’s special powers. The net result: the dungeon gets more dangerous as the adventurer gets weaker and weaker. The next player does the same: until everyone passes and only one player remains. That player takes the poor, under-equipped adventurer through the now enemy-packed dungeon and hopes for the best. It’s mostly about playing your opponents: what do you think they will do? Probably go in just when you want to and win the game.

It seems so easy with such easy choices, but don’t timing is an issue and it becomes critical when it’s just you and your opponent: you know you can make it, but you have to force her out somehow before you lose the one thing you need…