Want to be a Lock-Picker? You May Want to Pass…



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.

The Awesome:

  • Very high material quality, like everything from Chip Theory Games.

The Good:

  • Fast game (15-30 minutes).
  • Can be played solo.
  • There are many different characters that each bring a different skill or advantage.

The Bad:

  • 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 Ugly:

  • 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.

Review by Sébastien


Up, Up, and Away…



designed by Aaron Weissblum, published by ABBA Games

Travel the skies as a steampunk adventurer as you attempt to collect the most valuable treasures! Players take turn being the captain of an airship: they roll the dice to determine the hazards – from lightning to fog to storms – and then the passengers decide: does the captain have the right cards to avoid the obstacles? If no, bail out now and get whatever rewards there are from the ship is currently at. If yes, everyone left on board sails on and sees if the captain actually does have the cards to save the ship from certain doom. If he doesn’t have the cards, the ship crashes and everyone on board dies and gets nothing and those who bailed out have a hearty laugh while savoring their treasure. Then the cycle begins from the beginning of the path. If he does have the cards, the ship sails on to the next lucrative stop and those on board laugh at those schmoes who had so little faith and bailed out early. Then the next player becomes captain and those left on board make the same hard choices. Special action cards also mix up gameplay and make those decisions just a tad bit harder. Stay or go? Or just make the wrong decision every single time and watch victory dissipate like the clouds surrounding the ship.

Part bluffing (on the part of the captain) and part press-your-luck makes for a fun, interactive game with great tension. The 3D cardboard airship also makes for a great visual.

One Line Verdict: Definitely climb on board and sail these clouds.

Martian Chronicles, Steampunk Style!


“Mission Red Planet” (2nd Edition)

designed by Bruno Cathala & Bruno Faidutti, published by Fantasy Flight Games

Send your steampunk astronauts to Mars to control areas and collect valuable resources. Pack your astronauts into a ship, blast a ship off, land on some section of Mars, move some of your Martian men, or even sabotage spaceships journeying to Mars. Score points for area majorities on different sections of the red planet. Simultaneous card selection to perform these actions: do you pick a high number to go first, but get a weak action, or do you wait to perform a more powerful action? Or do you watch your opponent blow up your rocket with three of your astronauts in round 2 of the game and watch all hope of victory escape your grasp? I would say the last one. Definitely that one.

A good introduction to action selection and strategic play. Light enough to learn, with just enough strategy to make things interesting.

One Line Verdict: sign up for this particular mission to Mars.

Always with the Steampunk…



designed by William Attia, published by Ystari Games

Become a steampunk industrialist using the newly discovered element spyrium.  Locations providing special powers and actions are placed in a grid on the table with space between them.  Place workers between two different locations you need: build buildings, hire workers, patent techniques. The trick is, the more demand for that thing (that is, as more people place workers around a location), the price goes up. Build up your mines and factories to earn you spyrium and then transform that spyrium and workers into victory points.

Putting the workers between two locations really opens up the possibilities and makes it so that when someone takes an action you also want not so bad. Worker placement and engine building fun.  As with other worker placement games, awards careful planning and long-range thinking.

Racing and Steampunk: Two Great Flavors

“Steampunk Rally”

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).