What Have We Been Playing – 7/21/17

In our weekly feature, we recap the games we’ve played over the last week!

7/15/17 – Winter is nearly here and our Rockford gaming group was so excited for the new season of Game of Thrones that we decided to host a day dedicated to the theme.  So Two Board Meeples packed up their most Westerosi games and headed on down to the land of Ice and Fire.   We started with a meeple versus meeple match of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, with House Lannister against the The Knight’s Watch.  In the Game of Thrones Card Game, you build a deck with base set and expansion packs, choosing which house you want represented in your deck.  You can then play against up to 4 different players and try to become the best house in Westeros.  After a little bit of rules reminder, the Meeples begin to battle it out, with eventually Amber and House Lannister winning the Match.  We then moved on to playing Game Of Thrones: The Iron Throne, a Cosmic-Encounter like game that again pits the houses of Westeros against each other to spread the most influence to the other houses.  Battles were fought, promises were broken, and eventually House Martell and House Lannister tied for a victory.  Needing to brush up more on our Seven Kingdoms facts, we moved on to Game of Thrones: The Trivia Game, a game which allows you to use your knowledge of the TV Show to gain control of the Castles of the Seven Kingdoms.  After realizing that we were much like Jon Snow and knew very little, we decided to end the day outside of Westeros by playing A fake artist goes to New York , a game much like Spyfall where everyone knows the secret word but one person.  One by one the players take turns drawing one line of the secret word; after everyone has gotten a chance to draw two lines, players must guess who the “fake artist” is.

7/18/17  It was tiring travelling from Westeros to New York, so we took a few days of rest before attending the weekly meetup with the Rockford Pegheads.  The Meeples got there a bit early, so we snuck in a quick game of Dreamwell, a set collection game where players are navigating dream worlds to gain the most points.  After a harsh victory by Ethan, more people began to join us and we had a large group to play Werewords, a cross between Bezier Games’ Werewolf and 20 Questions.  In this game, the Mayor chooses a word that the werewolves and the seer know, while the villagers are trying to figure out what the word is.  The Seer has to be careful not to let themselves be know too much, because of the word is found, the Werewolves still have a chance to win by eliminating the Seer!  After a few fun rounds of word guessing, the Meeples split into two groups, Ethan playing Facade Games Salem (which we have reviewed here) and Amber playing Century: Spice Road, a engine building, card buying game which some in the group consider to be a solid replacement for Splendor. The Meeples got back together again to play a game of Bruges, a game that we have visited before. In Bruges, you are working to building up your canals, create houses in your personal village, and gain successful societal members to place in your houses, gaining points for completing canals and gaining important people. After a while of brain burning, we ended the night with a few games of The Chameleon, a Target Exclusive game by Big Potato games. Another game similar to Spyfall, everyone except one person has access to the secret word from a sheet of similar words. Then every player takes a turn quickly saying another word related to the original word, while after players vote to find the The Chameleon.

This week we were able to play a lot of different types of games, which always makes for a good week!

What Have We Been Playing — 7/14/17

In our new weekly feature, we recap the games that we’ve played since last Friday!  Join us as we look back in the week of gaming.

7/8/17 – While not a traditional board game, we were invited to participate in an Escape Room with 10 of our friends from our Janesville gaming group.  We haven’t been to the Janesville Group as often lately because of scheduling conflicts, so it was nice to see everyone again.  We arrived at the same time as another couple, who ventured into what appeared as the store front of a candy store.  After looking around for a moment, a crackle came in over a speaker and we were encourage to find the hidden entrance to the room.  Surprise had us fumbling, but not for long as we entered a space age lounge to find our friends waiting for us.  A few other groups were waiting for their times as well and we discovered that four different groups would be doing four different adventures that day.  After the guide briefed us in the rules of the escape room, a man with a funky eye makeup began to escort the groups back to their rooms.  One by one the groups went back as a soft “psst” of air flowed in the doorway.  When it was our turn to enter, we were lead into a hallway with 6 different doors, all of which lead to different escape rooms.  All the way in the back corner was our room, where our guide told us that it was the 1960s, we woke up in a warehouse surrounded by blood, and we could hear noises from the next room.  We were given an hour to escape and were ushered into a small, dark, creepy room, dirty and splatter with blood and body parts.  We worked together diligently to be shocked (literally at one point) and amazed at how well we work together.  Out of the four groups that went in, we were one of two groups that made it out on time, so we were pretty proud of ourselves!

7/11/17 — Slurpee Day! (We unfortunately did not partake.)  It was weekly gaming at the Gaming Goat and the gloom and doom outside brought out the murderous side of us, which lead us to play The Last Friday, a one-versus-many game which takes place at Camp Apache, a stereotypical 80s slasher movie camp.  The game plays out in four chapters, with one person portraying the serial killer “The Maniac,” and all other players taking roles as movie trope campers.  In the first chapter of the game, the camper players are running from The Maniac, trying to find keys to 5 different color cabins and hide away to safety while The Maniac is trying to kill all the campers, which would cause The Maniac to win.  Our campers were diligent and made it into safety, but not without two casualties in the camp.  In the second chapter, daylight is about to break and The Maniac must seek shelter until night falls again, while the campers seek out The Maniac and attempt to put him to rest.  The campers succeeded and the blue player had the pleasure of killing the killer, becoming The Predestined, but what kind of horror movie would this be if The Maniac were to just stay dead?  In the third chapter, The Maniac seeks vengeance against the predestined, spending the entire chapter attempting to kill the predestined and win, while the other campers are helping keep the predestined safe.  If the predestined survives this chapter (which she did!) then we move onto Chapter 4: The Final Chapter.  In chapter 4, dawn is breaking yet again, but this time it’s the camper’s final opportunity to seek revenge against the mayhem The Maniac has caused.  Like chapter 2, The Maniac is try to seek refuge from the campers, but this time it’s real for the campers.  If the predestined can kill The Maniac in this chapter, the camper team wins.  If The Maniac escapes, he is the winner.  The campers in our game were able to surround The Maniac, making his moves very obvious and causing a fantastic camper victory!

Since The Last Friday is a bit longer game, we only had time for one more short one this night, so we decided to pull out Garbage Day.  In Garbage Day, players are roommates in an apartment and unfortunately, no one likes cleaning or taking out the garbage.  Players draw cards from the deck and either place them in their room or on top of the garbage can depending on what type of card they draw.  If you have to place your card on the garbage can, you must carefully balance your card on the existing garbage, if you knock over the garbage, you could be out of the game!  There are also a few mischief cards in the deck, which allow you to place garbage in another person’s room or mess with how they place their garbage. The garbage was flying with this one, with Amber and another player “getting married” to try to preserve the win, but in the end someone else prevailed, becoming the king of the apartment and not cleaning their room!

7/12/17 Wednesdays are Masterchef Night at the Two Board Meeples household, and while waiting for Chef Ramsey to critique those home chef’s dishes, we decided to make it a Cthulhu Night (because what’s scarier, than Gordon Ramsey’s criticism, right?).  We busted out Cthulhu Dice first, which didn’t really go very well with two players.  To be honest, we didn’t even check to see if it could be played with two, but since we’ve played it before and wanted to knock it off our unplayed list of the year, we decided to chuck the dice and take each other’s sanity anyway.  We segued from that into Munchkin Cthulhu, a classic game with an Elder God theme.  While it was fun to revisit the game that got me into the hobby, there were very typical frustrations in game: someone running away with the lead, being the target of attack after attack.  There was definitely a feeling of, “when will this game end” coming from Amber, but it was a fun revisit and a nice laugh at some of the old jokes that were forgotten.  Plus, it gave us a chance to use our cool new countdown dice!

That’s all our gaming for this week, join us next week as we report back with more “What Have We Played!”

Chronicles from the Crow’s Nest — Pathfinder Adventures #1

Welcome to a new feature on our blog where we recount the adventures of one of our regular Pathfinder groups as we navigate through the Skulls and Shackles Pathfinder Adventure Path.

Please be advised that this post will contain spoilers for the “Skulls and Shackles” Pathfinder Adventure Path.  If you are currently playing or plan to play this adventure path, caution is advised to prevent spoilers.

Sunday, July 9th began our second session into the world of Skulls and Shackles, but before we tell you about that, we’ll have to tell you how we got to where we are.  In our previous adventure, our characters found themselves mysteriously swaying on the floor after a night of debauchery.  However, this was not (entirely) due to the alcohol imbibed the previous night, but rather because they were in the bilge of a pirate ship!  Never having met before and with no time left for introductions, the Captain bid us welcome.  Captain Harrington informed us that we had been shanghaied from a local tavern and were “willingly” conscripted into service aboard the Wormwood.  Based on our talents (or lack thereof) we were given duties aboard the ship and set off to do a day’s work.   Some of us choose to work diligently, while others snuck about the ship, trying to discover its secrets and sometimes getting kicked out of the Captain’s Quarters.  Day turned into night and there was a little free time, where we got to know each other a bit better and socialize with some of our fellow conscriptees.  Our party consisted of Sadie Di Morte, the roguish pirate; Worm, the grapple-happy monk; Avar Clan Killer, aasimar cleric of Sekhmet; Broma, a half-elven ranger; and Maximillian, the catfolk swashbuckler.  During the cavorting, Sadie snuck off to search people’s belongings and found a bit of gold, while others gambled, discovered other parts of the ship, or further fraternized with the crewmates who had been aboard slightly longer.  The sun rose yet again and our band of misfits were awoken to an attack by three other members of the crew, who roughed us up a bit before we were able to make our way up to the deck for morning duties.  Here we faced lashings from the captain’s right-hand man and discipline officer, Mr. Plugg, due to our tardiness.  Some of our gang didn’t take kindly to this and began plotting for the demise of Plugg, but for now we were stuck with our daily duties.  Worm, who had demonstrated considerable climbing skill, was tasked with clambering up and down the masts and securing ropes.  Broma was established as the cook’s mate.  The other three were given general swabbing duties and other such menial work needed to keep the ship afloat.

This routine continued for several days: wake up, work from dusk until dawn, and spend the evenings socializing with or entertaining the fellow crew.  During one of these evenings, Avar, who had been harboring the strongest and most vocal anti-Plugg sentiment, found himself in a tangle with Owlbear, a hulk of a man and Plugg’s “pet”.  Avar took a bit of a beating, but eventually triumphed over Owlbear, and seemingly won some respect from the strong but simple man.  Meanwhile the highly charismatic Maximillian had made a favorable impression upon and gotten to know most of the other crewmen, especially taking a liking to Rosie Cusswell, the short but fierce Halfling fighter.  Rosie was particularly perturbed that her prized fiddle had been taken from her and locked in the quartermaster’s storage, so Max began to hatch a scheme to get it back, both by enlisting the help of more of his newfound compatriots and by currying favor with Grok, the tough-as-nails half-orc quartermaster.  Sadie meanwhile engaged in more general sneakiness, trying to discover every hidden nook and cranny on the ship, which ended up landing her in the brig for a time.  Broma and Worm used their time to rest up and not cause too much of a ruckus.  Then one day, after a small fishing expedition off-ship proves more challenging than intended as we were beset by a couple of reefclaws (but managed to fight them off and bring them back amongst the crabs we’d collected), the captain rewarded our loyalty by returning the gear that had been taken from us upon our capture.  It was good timing too, because it wasn’t long after that we came upon another ship, a merchant’s vessel that the captain decided to take as a prize.  After a brief but successful skirmish, we managed to board the ship, the Man’s Promise, and take it as our own.  Since Captain Harrington obviously didn’t need two ships, he tasked our group, under the captainship of Plugg, to sail to Port Peril to salvage for gold.

The days on the Man’s Promise were similar to those on the Wormwood, but with about half the crew, making our daily jobs that much more strenuous. We managed to survive, though, until one day when we were assaulted by a massive storm that blew us off course. As the crew frantically scurried about on deck securing ropes and battening hatches, Avar saw his opportunity to strike back against the distracted Plugg. However, his efforts were in vain, as Plugg effortlessly knocked him down in a couple of blows. Avar attempted to confuse the situation by using his clerical magic to change himself into Plugg’s image, claiming he was the real captain and Plugg was an imposter that attacked him. Unfortunately for him, nobody bought it, but to his favor the crew was so slim, Plugg couldn’t afford to keelhaul him, so Avar just earned himself some time in the bilge. Then, as the storm cleared, we found ourselves shipwrecked on an island and missing a few crewmates. Plugg, ever the taskmaster, sent our small party out to the island to find materials to repair the ship as well as our missing compatriots. Fortunately, Avar was released to be able to join our landing party. Upon ascending the shore, we happened upon an abandoned village, where we made camp and ended the session. 

Tune back in next time as our pathfinders explore this mysterious island. What will they find? Only time will tell!

Board Game Review – Food Chain Magnate

Overview

Quick Facts

Designer: Jeroen Doumen, Joris Wiersinga
Genre: Economic, Manufacturing
Players: 2-5
Time: ~45 minutes per player

It’s the 1950s, and fast food is the latest craze.  Nothing gets the families of small-town suburbia out of their houses like the promise of hot food and cold drinks, served almost instantly.  You can see this new market starting to form and decide to start up your own restaurant chain, planning on making bank selling to hungry (and lazy) people.  However, you’re not the only one with this brilliant idea, as several other competing chains have started up in your very same small town!  Now, you must out-produce, out-advertise, or out-price your opponents out of the market and make your way to the top of the food chain!

Food Chain Magnate is a very heavy strategic game where players build up a fast food franchise starting with just one restaurant and a CEO.  You will then need to hire more employees to begin producing food and drinks, advertising your products, and selling to the customers in town.  The player who makes the most money by the end of the game can truly call themselves a food chain magnate!

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Culling the Collection: The Whats and Whys

Today I finally got around to updating my Board Game Geek Collection, which basically means that I went to Ethan’s BGG profile and copied the ones I was missing from his to my own.  I paused before I started, staring at the number of games it said was in our collection. “500?!”  I gasped.  “There are five hundred games in our collection!  I tell everyone it’s about 300 or so!”

“Well, the promos and expansion are listed too.  Let me see if I can filter it to just the base games.”

After a few clicks on his computer, Ethan figured out we actually only have 366 (!!!) unique base games.  There was a discussion on the BGG Facebook group a few weeks back on why people have so many games, but I won’t get into all the details here on how and why our collection is this way.  What we have begun doing, however, for the first time ever, is getting rid of games in our collection.

It all started with attending Gaming Hoopla in Gurnee, IL, where Ethan signed up to do a math trade.  How this works was, Ethan put a bunch of games that we’re willing to get rid of on a list.  Then, other people put what they’re willing to trade on a list.  Hey, person B has a game I want, but I don’t have anything they want.  But, I have something that person C wants, and person C has something person B wants, so we go around in a circle.  Do this with a few dozen (or hundred) other people, and we have a math trade!   Doing this allowed us to get some games that we didn’t play out of our collection and gain a few new games and promos we were interested in.

The main factor in doing the math trade was there was games in our collection that we don’t play and didn’t plan on playing again.  We traded off Canterbury, Nightfall and a few expansions to go with it, as there were other games in our collection that filled those needs..  We were able to trade off a few promos as well for games we don’t have and aren’t planning on getting, which was pretty popular with a few people in the trade.  This opened up this thought to us, that our collection doesn’t have to keep growing bigger and bigger; there is opportunity to trade things out!

Moving forward, I see more opportunity to keep doing some exchanging in our collection.  There are games that just aren’t for us or aren’t for us anymore.  What about your collection?  How do you manage the games that you have?  Or does it matter to you at all the number of games in you collection?  Let us know!

International Tabletop Day 2017

Like many gamers around this great, wide world, Ethan and I spent April 29th surrounded by tables, cardboard, and groups of loud, passionate people.  Because yesterday was International Tabletop Day!  Yesterday we travelled to Beloit, WI on the advice of the leader of our Rockford Pegheads Group to a company called Acculynx.  They are a software development company that builds services for other companies (at least, that’s what I figured they do!) who were gracious enough to let a few dozen geeks come hang out and play games for the day.

We started our day off with a bit of Mystic Vale.  It’s a game both Ethan and I had played before, I was personally not super impressed with it the first time we’ve played.  This deck building game has a mechanic where instead of adding more cards to your deck, you build on top of your preexisting cards.  The clear cards required for this mechanic seemed gimmicky at first, but was a bit more enjoyable my second play around, even though I lost terribly.

After a few rounds of ping pong (hey, it was tabletop day!), we played Sagrada, the game of “dice drafting and window crafting.”  We recently received our Kickstarter copy of this game in the mail and needed some time to play it, so we decided to give it a go just the two of us.  The mechanics were fairly simply to pick up on and the game overall was very pretty to look at.  It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays with more people.

Next up was Libertalia.  I’ve played this game on Board Game Arena, so I was slightly familiar with gameplay but needed to have the game I hand in order to really understand what was going on.  With everyone starting off with the same cards, it was interesting to see how everyone played out their cards differently.

Then we decided to do some party games, starting with Two Rooms and a Boom.  This game pits two teams against each other, the red team and the blue team, in a battle of trying to keep the “bomber” away from the “President,” or getting him in the same room as the President depending on what team you’re on.  We’ve played this game before with our home game group, but adding the special roles to the game this time made it much more interesting than just using regular roles.

After that, we continued our hunting adventures with Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, a game we love and have reviewed.  We haven’t played this game with our group as much lately, but it still holds up as a fun deduction game with the Inspectors trying to find the murderer while the Forensic Scientist gives clues.

Next up was Unfair, a TOTALLY FAIR game of building the best amusement park you can.  However, the game isn’t really all that fair.  It starts off pretty nice, but a most businesses come to understand, you have to follow code, get inspections, and may have shut rides down for a turn.  We’ve played our copy just the two of us, so it was nice to be able to try the game with three.

Building amusements parks is hard work, so we needed to cool down with a little Incan Gold, a press-you-luck treasure collecting game.  In this game, you must decide if you will press further into the temple in hopes of collecting more gems and possibly an idol.  But if you press too far and run into the same hazard twice, you leave with no gems.  Press your luck is a mechanic I love for the adrenaline rush of it, so this may have to be a game we add to our collection.  I’ll definitely be adding it to the list of games I play on Board Game Arena!

We ended our day at Acculynx with a game of Codenames.  It’s always interesting to play this game with new people, as it’s fun to tap into people’s minds and try to figure out why they gave the clues they did.  Our team had a respectable loss and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of the new Codenames modules that’ll be coming out this year.

 

Solo Board Game Review – Deep Space D-6

Overview

Quick Facts

Designer: Tony Go
Genre: Solitaire, Dice Placement
Players: 1
Time: 30 minutes

Exploring the deepest reaches of space can sometimes be a lonely job, and when a fraudulent distress signal leads your ship into an ambush, you’ll have to survive by yourself until backup arrives!  As the captain, you’ll need to tactfully assign your crew to deal with both internal and external threats, maintain the shields and hull, and take care of crew members that have been put out of commission.  Can you survive all of the threats that will be constantly plaguing your ship?

Continue reading “Solo Board Game Review – Deep Space D-6”

Gaming Challenges: 2017 Edition

Hi, Ethan here!  Last year, I posted about some gaming challenges I was participating in, as a way to add some extra fun to my gaming experiences for the year.  Well, a week into this new year, I’m here to report that I’m doing it again this year, and even have Amber trying some new ones out too.  Here’s what I’m challenging myself with this year:

Continue reading “Gaming Challenges: 2017 Edition”

Two Board Meeples’ Top 5 Games of 2016

arkham-horror-lcgWe may not have been writing posts, but we’ve sure been playing games, and 2016 has brought on all kinds of new and exciting gaming experiences.  As we individually rank our top 5 games of 2016, here are some criteria we both followed:

1. The game was released in 2016.  This is according to BGG stats on release date, so we’re relying on their accuracy.  (That means, please don’t blame us if we mess up!)

2. We’ve played this game in 2016.  This may seem like a no brainer, but there are plenty of great games released in 2016 that we unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to play.  So if your favorite from 2016 isn’t on here, it may be because we haven’t played it yet.

From there, we created our own criteria on how we ranked our games.  We look forward to hearing your comments on our top games of 2016, and want to know what was on your top list of last year?

AMBER’S DICLAIMER: I feel as if I need to preface by saying that making a top 5 list was HARD for me. I tend to find good in most games and this was no exception. I began the making this list by figuring out all the games I’ve played that were released in 2016 (according to stats by Board Game Geek) and eliminated ones that I felt “meh” about there. Then, I began ranking the remaining games (18 of them!) against each other with no other criteria other than what I had the most fun playing. The games on my list may not necessarily be the “best games of the year,” but there ones that I enjoy and will continue to enjoy in 2017.

 

Amber’s Honorable Mention: London Dread

For those who know me, I had this game on my mind since GenCon 2015. I played london-dreadit as a demo there in the Greyfox booth and fell in love with the game pretty hard. I followed the game through BGG and social media and was thrilled to preorder a copy for pick up at GenCon 2016. As much as I loved the game at the preview, I haven’t had a chance to play our copy since we’ve purchased our own copy, hence why it’s not in the top 5 for this year.

Amber’s #5: The Last Friday

Having played Fury of Dracula and Letters from Whitechapel both, this game wasthe-last-friday high on my priority list around GenCon. When it was sold out at the con, I was pretty devastated, but Ethan preordered it for my birthday and we were able to enjoy it with a full group at a game night. One thing that drew me to this game was the theme; I’ve always had a soft spot for horror movies and I finally had the courage to play the killer in one of these games. The game is played in phases, taking you through the story of Camp Apache, and the stages of killing or being killed, making it different than games of the like. I haven’t had a chance to play as the campers quite yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to playing it again.

Ethan’s #5: Salem (2016)

I really like Salem, and not just because it’s the second game called Salem we have in our pic2877079collection (in addition to New Salem, which only adds to the solution).  The 2016 game Salem is a “pure” deduction game, as opposed to the much more common social deduction game, and it gets a lot of points in my book just for that.  In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to think of many other non-social deduction games besides the classic Mastermind.  In Salem, each player controls a group of seven townspeople, three of whom are witches.  The game is set up in such a way that there are three witches in every row (the groups each player controls) and every column, similar to sudoku.  Then, each turn, players reveal information about their townspeople (such as “1 and 2 are different” or “out of 3, 4, and 5, there is one witch”) without giving too much away.  I really like the deduction aspect of this game in trying to piece together the clues you are given with what you already know about your own townspeople to figure out where all the witches are before everyone else.  The one major drawback to this game, and the reason why it isn’t higher on my list is that it really plays best with exactly six people for the basic game and seven for the advanced game.  While you can play with other player counts, it is a lot better at its full complement, which makes it hard to get to t he table.  But, I really enjoyed it a lot, so I hope to be able to continue playing it!

Amber’s #4: Arkham Horror: The Card Game

There’s something to be said about a game that takes just as long to set up and it ah-card-game-header-192703does to play, and Arkham Horror is no exception to that. Arkham Horror: LCG, however, condenses the game into a more playable deck building format while keeping the fun of the original. The game is still pretty brutal, with your modifiers being chosen randomly out of a bag. We fought hard but lost the first scenario because of this, and it can be a frustrating mechanic when you’re consistently making bad draws. Overall, this game is much more approachable than the full Arkham game with the easy to teach deck building mechanic, which made it one of my top picks of the year.

Ethan’s #4: Imhotep

Imhotep is a game that certainly doesn’t lack praise, as it was nominated for the imhotepprestigious Spiel des Jahres award for 2016.  Even so, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed its deceptively simple mechanics and gameplay.  In Imhotep, each player has a supply of large wooden cubes (and seriously, these things are huge for board game components) in their color.  Each round, there are a number of variously sized rafts where players take turns placing their cubes.  Instead of placing cubes on a raft, players can use their action to refill their supply of cubes (to a maximum of 5) or sail one of the rafts to one of the available locations.  The locations include the Market, where players can get cards that give extra actions or end-game scoring, or a myriad of ancient Egyptian architectures, such as the Obelisk, Pyramid, and Burial Chamber.  Each of these locations scores points differently, and does so either immediately, at the end of each round, or at the end of the game.  In addition, the order in which cubes are placed out at each location is often important as well, so you want to place your cubes on the rafts strategically.  I was also surprised by just how cutthroat Imhotep can be.  You can sail rafts containing your opponents’ cubes to places they clearly don’t want to go, or prematurely sail to a place they do want to go, blocking it off for that round.  So, this game is definitely not for anyone who doesn’t like cutthroat or “mean” gameplay, but as long as you can get past that, it has a lot of table appeal with the huge cubes and evolving structures, and a lot of strategic fun.

Amber’s #3: Mythos Tales

I’ve always been a fan of mysteries but have not always had success at solving mythostalesthem. We’ve played Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and while I love the Sherlock Holmes theme, there seemed to be something a bit lacking with it. When Mythos Tales showed up on Kickstarter, I was eager to back it, hoping that the Lovecraftian theme would add that little bit of extra oomph. We cracked this game open and was able to roll right in. We added my newly gamer mom to the second scenario and beyond, and things began to unfold in wonderful and usual ways. Without revealing too much about the specific scenarios, they added new rules to some of the scenarios, including different types of locations and triggering events based on when you visit a location, which allowed them to play a bit differently than just trying to figure out the mystery. I’ll admit that we didn’t get all the way through Sherlock Holmes, it wasn’t really drawing us in, and so if these things happen in that game, we are definitely missing out. But we played multiple scenarios of this game in a row, for multiple days, which makes this one of my most liked games of 2016.

Ethan’s #3: Beyond Baker Street

One of our favorite and most-played games is Hanabi, the co-op game where you don’t beyond-baker-streetknow what’s in your own hand and need to work with the other players to figure it out.  After about 30 plays, Amber and I have the game down almost to a science.  That is why i was so excited to learn about beyond Baker Street, which takes the familiar Hanabi mechanic and adds a Sherlock Holmes theme and some other elements.  In Beyond Baker Street, you are working together as characters in the Sherlock Holmes canon to track down a suspect, motive, and opportunity before Holmes himself does.  Each of those three items has a card in one of four colors and a target number to reach.  Like in Hanabi, players can tell each other the color or value of the cards in their hand, and then use that information to play clues to each of the three areas.  So, instead of Hanabi’s playing 1-5 in each of the 5 colors, now the colors players are aspiring to vary along with the number/value of cards they must play in each.  In addition, Beyond Baker Street introduces characters that each player is assigned, providing a useful (or not so useful, if you’re looking for a challenge) ability.  Finally, the game has several different “cases”, which really are just levels of difficulty, varying the number of clues you can give and cards you can discard to the Impossible.  Altogether, while I don’t think this game will completely replace Hanabi for us, Beyond Baker Street is a great fresh take on a favorite mechanic, and a good way to add some more to one of our most-played games!

Amber’s #2: Dead of Winter: The Long Night

Dead of Winter was a group favorite of ours for a while. Though zombies weredead-of-winter-long-night-300x294 beginning to fade out of popularity, the story driven scenarios and possibility of hidden agendas kept people interested in this game for a long time. While the game is still brought out everyone once in a while, it needed a special something, which I believe The Long Night did. Instead of just bickering amongst ourselves about each other being the problem, there were real problems in the forms of thieves and new, disgusting, radioactive monsters. The Long Night gave a boost to a beloved game from 2014 and added to an already well-established replayability factor, putting this at my #2 favorite game of 2016.

Ethan’s #2: Terraforming Mars

I’ve only gotten to play Terraforming Mars once this year, but even with that one play I terraforming-marsknow that it’s a great game and I can’t wish to play it again.  As may be inferred from the title, in Terraforming Mars, players take on the role of corporations that are trying to make the red planet inhabitable.  Each player gets a corporation with different starting resources and abilities.  Then, each round players acquire new project cards, and take turns playing cards from their hand to make Mars more human-friendly, increase your own resources, build something out on the planet, or various other effects.  The game ends when three conditions have been met: Temperature, Oxygen, and Ocean Coverage.  When these three factors are complete, players calculate their score based on their final Terraform Rating (given when players increase temperature or oxygen levels, or place an ocean) along with Victory Points gained elsewhere.  So Terraforming Mars is a game of resource collection and management, as well as some card drafting (you draw cards and choose which you want to pay to keep in your hand) and tile placement, in a race to be the most prestigious company by the time Mars is fully hospitable.  The best part of the game is by far the high-quality components.  The board and tile artwork is great, and each of the 200+ different cards are all wonderfully illustrated and easy to understand.  The coolest component, though,  are the little metal cubes used to track resources — they are just so much fun to play with.  Terraforming Mars gets two big thumbs up from me after just one play, so again I hope to play it even more in 2017!

Amber’s #1: Secret Hitler

Social games are a hit or a miss in our group, with favorites established pretty secret-hitlerquickly and misses promptly being pushed to the side. When Secret Hitler was released on Kickstarter, we knew that if nothing else, we’d get a few fun plays out of the game. But this game is a bit different than a normal social deduction game where you have a to figure out “who-dun-it.” Unlike Resistance where you simply choose pass or fail, the President is given three choices of cards. Are they all Fascist policies, giving the President no choice to pass along two of the policies to the Chancellor? Or was there a choice of policies, and someone made a suspicious choice? This added element of decision making creates an extra level of deduction, of causing chaos, shouting and a lot of fun within our gaming group. Because of the more mature theme of the game, we don’t play this at game night, but anytime we have guests in the privacy of our home, someone inevitably wants to play, making this my top game of 2016.

Ethan’s #1: Mythos Tales

Interestingly, while I gave my #3 game, Beyond Baker Street, praise for adding a Sherlock mythostalesHolmes theme to a game I previously liked, this game does the opposite.  The previous game in this case was Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, and this game, Mythos Tales, takes that game’s mechanics and replaces the Sherlock Holmes theme with Cthulhu (and adds some other things in the progress).  If you’ve ever played SHCD, you’re already pretty familiar with how this game works, but if not, I’ll introduce it to you.  It is a lot more like a choose your own adventure book than a game, because there isn’t a board, pieces, cards, or anything like that.  Instead, players are given a map, a newspaper, and a casebook with numbered entries corresponding to the different locations on the map.  Players are given a mystery to solve and then proceed to the locations around the city, reading each corresponding passage and taking notes of clues they uncover and leads as to where else to investigate.  Then, at the end of each case, there is a list of questions players attempt to answer using the knowledge they’ve gathered, and based on points gained from the answers (minus penalties from visiting too many locations), they can compare their scores to Sherlock’s, who almost invariably does much better than the players.  Mythos Tales takes this gameplay formula, and moves it from 19th century London to Arkham, Massachusetts in the late 1920s.  Professor Henry Armitage takes the role of Holmes in this game, and while slightly more amiable can still be fairly demanding of the players, his assistants.  There is a new cast of recurring characters you can visit in each investigation, such as police Inspector Garrison and the eccentric occultist Pasquale Fenton.  In addition, the mysteries players encounter are a lot less mundane and have you encounter strange happenings and horrors directly from the Cthulhu Mythos.  Mythos Tales also adds a few new elements — some of which I won’t spoil, but I’ll touch on those that are detailed in the rulebook.  The first is the Time Track.  In the beginning of each case, Armitage gives the players a deadline as to when the investigation must be wrapped up.  Each day is divided into morning, afternoon, and evening, so the deadline will be something like “Day 5, Afternoon”.  Every location visited, even if revisiting a place or if there is no information there, uses up a unit of time.  So, this track really gives players the feeling that they are up against the clock and really need to make their investigations count.  The second new mechanic is the Requirement Cards.  Starting in Case 2, players may be instructed to take one of the game’s 19 numbered cards during the course of their investigation.  This can correspond to receiving an item, like a key, or information that may be used later.  Then, other locations may provide a supplemental encounter if players have the necessary requirement card(s).  With this, the order of locations visited and clues gathered really comes into play more so than this game’s predecessor, where you could visit anywhere at any time (but where the encounter might not necessarily make sense if you don’t know exactly why you’re there).  These two mechanics put together make Mythos Tales feel a lot like T.I.M.E. Stories to me, another game that I really like where you’re against the clock and need to gather items and clues to further your investigation.  While there are a few typos and issues in Mythos Tales (which I think is understandable given a game so text-heavy), the designers have been good about publishing errata on BGG that should be kept handy when going through the cases.  With that in mind, Mythos Tales has been an amazing adventure through the first half of the game, and I can’t wait to finish up the last four cases and see what new expansions and mysteries are in store!

Board Game Review -Fisticuffs!

Disclaimer: We were provided a review copy of this game by The Nerdalogues.  This has not influenced our review.

Overview

Quick Facts

Designer: The Nerdalogues
Genre: Take That
Players: 4-6
Time: 1530 minutes

In the 20s, an eccentric billionaire flies his airship around the world in search of pugilists willing to fight each other in order to claim the incredible prize of any wish granted.  You are one of the eight participants in this year’s bout, ready to take on your opponents one-by-one in a gentlemanly sporting match.  What you discover, however, that these Fisticuffs bouts are free-for-all brawls where almost anything goes: from the simple jabs and kicks to uppercuts and haymakers, and even spitting on your opponents is allowed in the ring!  Do you still think you have what it takes to knock out all of your opponents and claim the title?

Fisticuffs is a veritable free-for-all of a Take That game, where each turn players will instigate combat against another participant, who can block and counter, or throw in the towel and allow others to tag in and join the fray.

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