Board Game Review – Cutthroat Caverns


Quick Facts

Designer: Curt Covert
Genre: Take That, Semi-Coop
Players: 3-6
Time: 60-90 minutes

When you think of a party of adventurers, you think of a group of friends valiantly questing together, watching each others’ backs and sharing equally in the fame and glory.  At least, you used to think that.  Now you realize that bands of adventurers, who are actually usually strangers that met in a tavern and are united only by bloodlust and lofty aspirations, are just as likely to stab you in the back as to protect it.  And forget sharing in the glory — no, in the Caverns, only the most wily adventurer will get that fame.  Everyone else will likely be quickly forgotten in the annals of history — if they even made it out alive!  Before getting yourself into this mess, you probably should have paid more attention to that old saying: “Without teamwork, you will never survive.  Without betrayal, you’ll never win.”

Welcome to Cutthroat Caverns.  This is a semi-cooperative game in which the players take on the role of adventurers, such as you might see in a typical D&D campaign.  However, the group is only working together inasmuch as they need help defeating monsters and challenges.  Because every monster the team faces only awards prestige to the player who landed the killing blow, there’s bound to be some backstabbery as players fight for that position.  But beware — too much messing with each other and everyone is bound to end up dead.  But in the end it’s all good fun, because after all, what’s a friendly game without a little sabotage?

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Board Game Review – Lanterns: The Harvest Festival


Quick Facts

Designer: Christopher Chung
Genre: Tile placement, Set collection
Players: 2-4
Time: 30 minutes

In Imperial China, the harvest season has just ended.  Before the farm workers can enjoy the (literal) fruits of their labor, it is time for the Festival of the Lanterns, celebrating the harvest!  During the festival, families and friends gather at the edge of a huge lake to watch as artisans release hundreds of colorful lanterns across the surface of the water.  As one of those artisans, you must compete with your fellow craftsmen to put on the best display and earn the most honor before the end of the festival!

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a set collection game, where players add tiles to an ever-growing lake in order to claim the titular Lantern cards.  By collecting certain sets of different cards, a player can gain points by showing his or her Dedication to the craft.  Will you be the most dedicated and honorable artisan?

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Rob’s Top 75 Games of All Time (75-61), 2016

I love lists. Some of my favorite video series every year are Tom Vasel’s top 100 games of all time. And recently his buddies have been doing theirs as well—Zee Garcia is currently releasing his top 100, and it’s great. So last year, I released my top 50 games of all time, just for my own fun, but also to share with other folks what I thought were a bunch of great games, hoping that based on my list maybe a few folks here and there can find some great games and enjoy our hobby all the more.

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Board Game Review – Kodama: The Tree Spirits


Quick Facts

Designer: Daniel Solis
Genre: Card Drafting, Set Collection
Players: 2-5
Time: 20-40 minutes

As a masterful gardener, you’ve tended to all types of trees – big and small, exotic and commonplace… but you never expected to find yourself taking care of the Kodama, the tiny, plushy tree spirits that watch over the forest.  The Kodama can be shy or they can be finicky, often preferring trees that are home to certain flora or fauna, or those from which they can get a good view of the night sky.  You, along with several other gardeners of similar caliber, will have to grow trees that can best support your new tree-dwelling friends and keep them happy so that they in turn will keep the forest healthy.

Kodama: The Tree Spirits is a spiritual (ha!) successor to Kigi, from the same designer, Daniel Solis.  In Kodama, players are each trying to grow a tree that will best house the Kodama, the small tree spirits who live in this forest.  To do this, they’ll need to play branches to their trees with elements matching those already existing on the tree, along with well-timed use of the Kodama’s special abilities.  Will you be the best caretaker of the Kodama?

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Board Game Review — Shakespeare


Quick Facts

Designer: Hervé Rigal
Genre: Action Point Allowance
Players: 1-4
Time: 60 minutes

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts
-As You Like It, Act II Scene VII


In Shakespeare, players take on the role of a theatre troupe during the days of the Bard.  They have 6 days (rounds) to hire actors, build sets, make costumes, and perform dress rehearsals.  Do you have what it takes to put on a show that’s fit to entertain the Queen?

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Summer 2016 Reader Appreciation Giveaway

To thank everyone for supporting our endeavors, we are running a giveaway!  Here’s how it works:

On Friday July 1, 2016, we will be giving away three prizes:

A $25 CoolStuff Gift Certificate, $15 CoolStuff GC, and a $10 CoolStuff GC.

How do I sign up?  By doing one or more of the following:

You can enter via this link:

Summer 2016 Reader Appreciation Giveaway

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Board Game Review — Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar


Quick Facts

Designer: Simone Luciani, Daniele Tascini
Genre: Worker placement
Players: 2-4
Time: 90 minutes

The sounds of tribal drums and squawks of tropical birds fill the air, punctuated only by a loud, periodic CLICK.  The gears of the giant calendar are turning, counting down the days to the next feast day.  You look to the jungle.  Will your fellow tribesmen return with enough food in time?  To the west, a few people are working on erecting a new building to honor the gods, using the materials your tribe had previously gathered.  Just another day in the life of the Mayan civilization…

In Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar, you take on the role of the leader of a Mayan tribe.  Your goal is to gain the most points by constructing buildings and monuments, advancing in several different technologies, and honoring the gods.  The centerpiece of the game is the large Tzolk’in gear, which moves forward one day at the end of each game round, in turn moving all of the attached gears on which workers are placed.  This unique twist on a worker placement game means that the longer your workers stay out, the better potential rewards they can receive.

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Board Game Review — Room 25 (plus Season 2)


Quick Facts

Designer: François Rouzé
Genre: Semi-Cooperative
Players: 2-6 (2-8 with Season 2)
Time: 30-60 minutes

In the not-too-distant future (somewhere in time and space), TV entertainment options have all but run out.  After all, who wants to watch the 90th season of Survivor (on Mars!) or Who Wants to be a Trillionaire?  However, there is one hot new reality show on the market, one where the contestants’ lives are literally on the line…  It’s a simple premise, really: drop a few strangers in a dangerous and ever-shifting maze of rooms and have them try to work together to find their way out in the allotted time.  Oh yeah, and throw a few guards into the mix to keep it from being too easy on the prisoners.  And who cares if a few of them die in the process?  Anything for ratings, right?

In Room 25 (and its expansion/sequel Room 25: Season 2) players take on the role of “prisoners” who are trapped in a mysterious and deadly complex, and they have to explore the unknown rooms in search of Room 25, the way out.  But while some rooms can help the players out, others will hinder their progress or can even kill them!  And on top of that, some of the players could be guards whose job is to prevent the other players from escaping.  Can you work together with your fellow players to make it out alive?

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TBM Update: Our Review System

Greetings, dear reader!  You may have noticed in our reviews that we give each game a numerical score from 1-10, and you may have wondered where those numbers came from.  Well, friends, the truth is that those numbers were completely arbitrary… until now.  We have re-evaluated our rating system and come up with a better way to make the numerical ratings we give have more meaning. To that end, we’ve created five different categories in which to evaluate the games we review. We’ll both rate games from 1-10 in each of these categories, and then our overall rankings will be an average of the five categories. So without further adieu,  here are our new ranking criteria, along with some guidelines to show how a game would get no marks, half marks, or full marks in that category.

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Board Game Review — The Red Dragon Inn


Quick Facts

Designer: Geoff Bottone, Colleen Skadl, and Cliff Bohm
Genre: Take That, Player Elimination
Players: 2+ (base game is 2-4, expansions add more characters)
Time: 15-20 minutes per player

You’ve ventured through the deepest dungeons, conquering treacherous traps and fearsome monsters.  You’ve slain dragons and recovered lost treasures of unimaginable value.  All in a day’s work for a fearless band of adventurers, right?  But fighting monsters and looting treasure sure is thirsty work, so after all of your heroic deeds are done, you and your companions head over to The Red Dragon Inn for a pint, or two, or twelve…  Just make sure you can maintain at least a modicum of sobriety and at least a coin or two on hand.  The inn doesn’t take kindly to deadbeats that can’t pay their tab or heroes passed out all over the bar!

In The Red Dragon Inn, players take on the role of fantasy adventurers such as you might find in any standard tabletop roleplaying game.  There’s a fighter, a wizard, a sneak, and a priestess, and many more roles to choose from!  On their turn, players can play action cards to affect other players in a variety of ways, such as reducing their fortitude (hitpoints), taking money from them, or even challenging everyone to a round of gambling!  Then the player takes a drink, which typically increases their Alcohol level.  If a player’s alcohol level exceeds their fortitude, or if they run out of coins, they are ejected from the inn, and the last player standing wins!

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