Tokaido

Tokaido

  • Fun factor –  6/10
  • Replay value – 5/10
  • Components – 8/10
  • Learning Curve – 8/10

Fun Factor: This game is extremely light, basically you just move up the board and visit places. There is some thought that goes into what location to go to next but its best if you want something you can play with new people or people who like art. The game really just wants to show you how pretty it is and give you the experience of a traveler, which is fine and works well mostly because the game is very nice looking.

Replay Value: The game does change depending on what traveler you end up with by a fair degree but really this game is not the one that you are going to want to play over and over again. I like having it in my collection for the occasional time when I want something light but there isn’t too much to come back to over and over again here.

Components: This is most likely one of the best games for all around visual design. The inside of the box is very minimalist but holds everything nicely, The components are really fantastic looking and the theme of the game comes through amazingly thanks to the art.

Learning Curve:  This game will take you no time at all to learn to play, sadly there isn’t really much to master here either. I think this game is good for kids as well because it will hold their attention just long enough while teaching them to play and then the game itself doesn’t go on too long.

Magnum Opus

Magnum Opus

  • Fun factor –  3/10
  • Replay value – 5/10
  • Components – 6/10
  • Learning Curve – 4/10

 

Fun Factor:  This game was very disappointing; I wanted to enjoy it so much because the theme was so interesting. Attempting to create the philosophers stone through experimentation and deck building sounded so awesome. Sadly the game mechanics were just flawed and boring. First off the deck building is extremely light, there are only 3 levels of “money” to help you buy parts to experiment with and the ability to put things on the “table” makes it way too easy to everything up for your turn. There is no real thought that goes into a turn at all.

Once you do get to experiment the worst part of the game unfolds, the RNG. By the time I had found all 3 of the parts I needed to win the game my wife had yet to get her first part. I had just gotten lucky getting them all back to back. Everything is face down at first and you are just mindlessly going through card by card hoping you get lucky. It’s like the card version of Yahtzee, which to me means it’s not fun at all. If “card version of Yahtzee” sounds fun to you then I would totally recommend this game.

Replay Value: This game comes with quite a large supply of cards but after one game I had no interest in seeing any more of them. Several of them are just the same rule reprinted with a different title. A plus 1 bonus is a plus one bonus no matter what name you hand it. The random elements add the worst kind of replay value, the people making the game get to say “different every time you play” but it’s really not different at all just your roll of the dice.

Components: Most everything here is of fine quality, nothing bad here. The cards feel pretty good and the dice are average quality. The really nice part actually was the tuckboxes, I wish more companies would include these. I think they are an awesome way to store a card game and if you make them of nice enough materials they will last a while. The ones included were made from cardboard so eventually they would start to fail but it would take a good bit of time.  

Learning Curve:  The game is easy to teach but the issue I have here comes from how much time I spent attempting to figure out what rule I was missing, attempting to figure out how to meaningfully do anything in this game can be a real challenge to learn.

Verdict: This game simply was not fun, about half way through the game both my wife and I knew there was no way for her to catch up to me but we kept playing hoping something would happen. Nothing ever did happen and it left both of us disappointed because it was such a good concept.

 

Euphoria

 

  • Fun factor –  4/10
  • Replay value – 5/10
  • Components – 9/10
  • Learning Curve – 4/10

 

Fun Factor:  I have wanted to try this game out for quite a while and finally having gotten to play it I was pretty disappointed in it. There are several systems in this game that could have been great if they would have been further developed into something more. Sadly this game does not deliver any depth of strategy or idea, it’s all on the surface.

 I am a definite fan of dice as workers and so this game had that as an intriguing idea but sadly it simply went with “higher is better” expect in one exact situation. The idea that you want your people to be smart but not too smart (higher numbered dice are “smarter” workers) was a fun concept that was fumbled here. There is a track at the top and you add your total dice to the number on the track, if too high you lose a worker. But this track has no other reason for existing. I had assumed that you would add the number on the track to your dice making them “smarter” but carrying the risk of losing a worker. This did not happen, it’s just a penalty track. I think this is a good example of the entire game, there are so many systems and chunks of the board dedicated to a single concept when it feels like they should offer and handle more than that.

Replay Value: Not much of replay value here. You get some randomly drawn cards at the beginning of the game and that’s about it for changing this game. Everything else is just going to be “did I roll as good this game as last game”. There aren’t really any different strategies that I saw at play and no real way to build into anything so you just want the highest numbers as often as possible to get the best/most parts.  

Components: Here’s the biggest upside for this game, every component is amazing! All the wooden pieces are carved to match what they are representing and its really nice to look at. I am a big fan of the digger meeple, he looks awesome. The box is also large enough to support good organization methods which is a good thing.  

Learning Curve:  I ended up reading through the rulebook here several times because some things in this game just don’t work the way they look like they would work just looking at the pieces or sections of the board. The above mentioned worker intelligence is a good example of this. We also ended up having to go ask another guy at the store we played at, who had previously played the game, how to do some parts because it just wasn’t clear at all.

Verdict: I really wanted to like this game, I loved the idea that you wanted smart workers but had to balance how smart they were but it just did not pan out. I found that there wasn’t much strategy to be had in this game. By the end it felt like the role of the dice ruled everything. I can’t recommend this one at all. If you are looking for something with these ideas I recommend Castles of Burgundy.

 

Shadowrun: Crossfire

Shadowrun Crossfire

  • Fun factor –  7/10
  • Replay value – 3/10
  • Components – 6/10
  • Learning Curve – 7/10

 Fun Factor:  So to start I am going to say that my group isn’t a storytelling group really at all. We don’t read the fluff blurbs on cards we just add up the math and try to win when playing games. So this game was a fair amount of fun, I am a big shadowrun fan and this felt like shadowrun for the most part. However, because my group doesn’t do the storytelling part I do feel like there is something about this game that we missed out on. My score reflects my personal time with the game but I do think that if your group really gets into explaining how every card matches the last and enjoys role playing your character while in a board game, that this would be even better for you.

My biggest issue with the gameplay for this game is that there is a large luck factor happening when you play. We played a match where we started part 2 of the mission and every single bad guy did 2 damage and had 5+ levels of damage to get through. We quickly found that we were not even going to be able to escape the mission at all and simply had to restart. You may have noticed in my previous reviews that I don’t tend to enjoy large random elements too much. It wasn’t horrible here but it does hurt.  

Replay Value: This game has quite a few options for each playthrough of a mission. There are plenty of different cards to choose from for the deck building and many different challenges that can happen during a playthrough. Sadly the game box only comes with 3 missions, I find this to be very lacking personally. I don’t think that in a storytelling sort of game that 3 missions is nearly enough. Saying that I can redo those missions and every time it will play a little different isn’t really enough for me.  For me this heavily drops the games value in total.

Components: Everything in this game is well made. The box easily fits everything and while I would love if the game had come with a better way of storing the cards, maybe tuckboxes or some such, the box is at least large enough to support any sort of organizing you may wish to do. The cards look and feel just fine to me. I do need to mention the “legacy” style of this game, there are stickers and they are not removable. These will permanently alter the game as you use them. However, the game comes with some many different “race” cards (these are the ones marked by the stickers) that I do not think it will ever be a problem at all. I actually think it’s quite fun to put a sticker on there and know that you have permanently altered a character.   

Learning Curve: This game takes no time at all to learn. Each turn is pretty simple and the things that happen are very clear. I have no complaints here at all.

Verdict: I really enjoyed playing this game, however I simply cannot recommend it at this point. It just does not have enough replay value, going through the game mission over and over in a story driven game is not very fun no matter how many different cards there are. This game needed to at minimum double the amount of mission cards that came with the game. When more missions are available, I would highly recommend playing it.

As a final note: sorry for the delay in getting this out there. Had a busy week with PAX and didn’t have time. I should be back on track now. 

 

Quick Tip for Caverna

My group has tried a couple different strategies with the number of dwarves (workers) used. I have found that it really doesn’t work to only have the base amount (2), so my tip is to always make room and food plans to have at least 3 dwarves total. My play style will always lean towards having more actions (workers) per turn but I really think that in this game you should have 3 minimum.

The Castles of Burgundy

Castles of Burgundy

  • Fun factor –  10/10
  • Replay value – 9/10
  • Components – 6/10
  • Learning Curve – 7/10

 

Fun Factor:  I am going to just start by saying that my group really loves this game. We have a fairly sizable amount of games so repeat plays of games back to back are pretty rare for any game over 30 minutes but this one has gotten such attention a couple different times. It is really fun to roll your dice and try to figure out how you are going to make them work to complete the task you want to do. It is the best use of “dice placement” I have played to date and since playing this one we have tried several, none were as good for us.

I think that my favorite part is that no matter what you roll or if others take something you wanted. There is always something good to take, not just an option but truly something that will always really help you. So while you can make poor choices and lose from that, losing to “bad luck” or someone “stealing” what you really needed to win is going to be extremely rare if it’s even possible at all. I have never experienced it personally in my runs through this one.

Replay Value: The base game comes with so many different maps to play on for each player and with the way the dice work together with the randomly drawn tiles I could see playing a huge number of times before ever getting bored or seeing a repeat play. I am also going to bring up how long it takes to play here and how quickly turns go because I think that this really helps make the game replayable. You can normally finish a playthrough in under an hour and each turn goes in less than 5 minutes which means you are always engaged and that the entire game lasts just long enough to make you feel like you finished but also not too long that you are drained.

Components: This is the part that I am going to bring the biggest complaint against. The parts all feel a little flimsy and thin. The player mats are pretty much just thick paper instead of the normal cardboard, same with many of the other pieces. Every time I play I find myself wishing that the pieces had a little more weight and substance. The parts are all good color and are perfectly functional but when I compare them to other similarly priced games I am a little disappointed. I would have happily paid another 5-10 bucks to get better components.

Learning Curve:  The basics of this game are almost entirely easy to learn and are all clearly described through the iconography in the game. At this point I am able to teach most of this game within 10 or so minutes. There is only one thing bringing this part down, the building (light brown) tiles. These are the part of the game that gives everyone the most trouble to grasp how they work. Normally I teach the entire game and then the new player will ask another 3-4 times what buildings do and need explanations again and again. This isn’t horrible and I honestly don’t think there is much that the game could really do to solve the issue but it is a little dent in the otherwise easy to teach game.

Verdict: My group just loves this game, every week this game creeps to the top of the “what to play list” even with brand new games to play. Yea, you should get this one if you don’t already.

 

Imperial Settlers

Imperial Settlers

  • Fun factor –  7/10
  • Replay value – 7/10
  • Components – 8/10
  • Learning Curve – 9/10

 

Fun Factor:  I have a hard time with this game on this topic because on one hand I had a good time playing it but on the other hand I also came away from the game unsatisfied so I am torn, I gave it a pretty good score because I figured that since I had a fair amount of fun while playing then that should be worth something. So the thing I love the most here is that the game really felt like a civ builder on a much faster/smaller scale, which is exactly what it wanted to do so that was almost perfect at least until near the end of the game.

Around turn 4 (of 5 total turns) is when I started noticing a problem that I would have with this game. Basically it’s that you can still get certain cards very late in the game and at that point they are nearly worthless, especially when compared to other cards that are specifically there to help you late in the game. So it ended up feeling way to much like luck was building my civ vs me building my civ. I have a couple thoughts on some house rules that I think might resolve this but I don’t know if they would really help here though I think they would.

Basically, this game’s biggest sin is being a little too random; with how short the game is there isn’t any chance to have the statistics of the randomness come around. You just get unlucky and it feels completely out of your control. I did not enjoy that, but some people will find it just fine and if you are that person than imagine this score as an 8-9.

Replay Value: So this entire game revolves around several decks of cards, one per faction and a common deck. My group made it through about 1/3 of each of these in a single play through.  That is a fairly large amount of replay when you consider that you can have different variations of those cards even after having seen all the cards in the game.

I worry that after having seen all the buildings though the game would get a fair amount more repetitive, because you will know exactly what the best buildings are and then you just hope for them. I don’t think this would be a big issue but I feel like some of the glamour of the game might be lost.  

Components: Considering that it is a card game they included some nice wooden pieces to help you keep track of your supplies in the game and everything was just simply pretty high quality. No complaints here at all. I would have liked to see a better way to keep the cards separated, maybe tuckboxes or something but all in all, very nice.

Learning Curve:  I found this game very easy to learn to play. Everything the game wants you to do is clearly described and the symbology on the cards is instantly clear. I watched a video review of this game and it included a brief how to play. Between that and simply looking at the parts I felt like I knew exactly what I needed to do. That’s a pretty sweet learning curve if you ask me.

Verdict: So my wife and I didn’t end up buying this one after trying it out. However, I find that I want to give it a second chance so I may be doing that at some point in the future but for now, I just don’t think this game is for me.