Archive for the 'Board Games' Category

Review: Race to the Rhine

Posted by James (admin) on 1st August 2014

Race to the Rhine - 3-player gameRace to the Rhine is a game for up to 3 players who each play a WWII Allied General.   You may be on the same side of the war but this is not a co-operative game – first player over the Rhine, or the player with the most medals if time runs out, wins.  As you’re on the same side, there’s no combat against each other but you are in competition for the central supplies and you can place enemy forces to hinder your opponents.

THE GAME
Race to the Rhine is about planning and logistics as you need to keep your Corps supplied with Ammo, Fuel and Food which requires careful timing of your actions.  Players take turns performing two actions: Move Corps, Gain Supplies, Gain Trucks, Place Trucks (moves supplies),  Recon, and Airborne Units.

Movement & Combat
Each player moves their units (Corps) towards the Rhine via a network of roads; however, each player stays within their coloured section which occasionally overlap.  A Move action moves one Corps up to 3 locations (costing 1 fuel) drawing a card when entering each empty location to see what happens.  You normally draw from your own deck (mostly beneficial with a few negative cards).  If the location contains an Axis marker, you draw from the Axis deck (tough enemy).  If you successfully enter a location, you place one of your control markers there.  Combat against Axis forces requires spending various amounts of ammo and sometimes fuel; otherwise, you lose the combat, spend what you can, but don’t enter the location. Read the rest of this entry »

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On the Radar: Essen 2014

Posted by James (admin) on 31st July 2014

SpielSpiel in Essen is now less than 3 months away so the information about (and the buzz around) games being released there has begun.  It’s always an exciting time of year as lots of new games get announced in the lead-up to the event in October.  I will be looking to do the same as I did last year and post short previews of games that catch my interest.

As it’s not possible to write a preview of every interesting game (plus, I notice some games some time before I’m able to post a preview), my Spiel 2014 page will show a full list of all the games I find interesting (whether previewed or not) and links to any previews I’ve posted.

James.

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Review: King and Assassins

Posted by James (admin) on 16th July 2014

King and Assassins gameKing and Assassins is an asymmetric, 2-player game where the King player controls the king and his knights; whereas, the Assassin player controls the villagers in the town of which 3 are assassins who are trying to kill the king.

The rules are simple.  Each player has a number of action points (APs) to spend on their turn which can be used to move their figures, make attacks, etc.  Each turn, a card is drawn which determines how many APs the King player can spend (there are separate amounts for the king and to be spent amongst the knights), plus it shows if a knight can arrest 1 villager that turn (permanently removing it).   Also, each card shows how many APs the Assassin player can spend on their villagers/assassins too.  If the cards run out or the king is killed (wounded twice) before reaching the castle, the Assassin player wins. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel des Jahres 2014 Results

Posted by James (admin) on 15th July 2014

SdJ logoThe winners of the Spiel des Jahres and the Kennerspiel des Jahres were announced yesterday.  The winners were Camel Up and Istanbul.  It’s always interesting to try and work out the winners because I know what I like the most (and would vote for) is definitely not the same as what I think will be voted for by the jury, because the SdJ awards are for a more general German game-playing audience (and not a more serious gamer audience).

If it was my choice, it would have been Splendor for the main prize as it’s the one I enjoy the most; however, I guessed Camel Up would be picked as the winner as it’s a more accessible game for a wider audience and the card pyramid offers an appealing, physical element.  So, Camel Up winning wasn’t a surprise to me.

The Kennerspiel was a hard one to call – I had it down to Istanbul and Rokoko.  I really like Istanbul but I wondered if it was slightly too light for the Kennerspiel, even in the context of the SdJs.  However, Rokoko was maybe too far the other way as it’s a tense game with a lot of elements to balance and time correctly.  So, I was happy with either of those being the winner.

I thought this year’s SdJ was a good one as I found all the games to be good quality – whereas, some years I scratch my head wondering how some of the games were picked.  In fact, it’s the first year I’ve found myself playing all the nominees, and playing some of them quite a lot.  I still think Lewis & Clark should have been at least a recommendation though (if not a nominee) for the Kennerspiel.

Links to my reviews of all the SdJ nominees, winners and some recommendations are on my SdJ 2014 page.

James.

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Posted in Board Games, Camel Up, Concept, Concordia, Istanbul, Rokoko, Splendor, Thoughts On | No Comments »

Review: Lewis & Clark

Posted by James (admin) on 12th June 2014

Lewis and ClarkLewis & Clark is a game about the famous explorers’ journey across North America and the players race along the route from St Louis to Fort Clatsop (on the Pacific coast) which is a sequence of river and mountain spaces.  The winner is the first player to make camp at Fort Clatsop.

Players have characters (cards) and Indians (meeple) which they use to take actions which earn resources and, ultimately, advance their scout.  Each player starts with a board showing several boats (and they can gain more) which is where they store their resources and Indians.  The boats limit how much a player can carry but they have another important role/effect too when it comes to making camp.

Making Camp
On their turn, a player can ‘make camp’ which moves their camp marker to where their scout is, plus they pick-up all their played cards back into their hand.  However, before placing the camp marker, the scout must first move backwards a number of spaces based on how many unplayed cards the player has, plus the resources/Indians in their boats.  Each boat specifically carries resources or Indians – some carry items without penalty, some have a flat rate cost regardless of contents, and some have a penalty for every item in the boat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Game Review, Board Games, Essen Spiel 13, Lewis and Clark, Spiel 2013 | 4 Comments »

Review: Freedom

Posted by James (admin) on 2nd June 2014

Freedom game - main map

Freedom: The Underground Railroad is a co-operative game of freeing slaves in 19th Century America.  The board shows the Eastern United States with routes between cities.  Slaves (represented by cubes) start in the 3 plantation areas in the South and players try to move them across the States to freedom in Canada.  There are also 5 different coloured/shaped slave catchers on the board who move along their own paths (primarily running East-West) throughout the game.

The goal is to get enough slaves to Canada before the game ends after a fixed number of rounds; however, players can only win if they also get enough support for the abolitionist movement (by buying every support counter), plus the game immediately ends in failure if too many slaves are lost.  The numbers of freed slaves required, support tokens, tokens that move slaves and generate income, and maximum lost slaves are all based on the number of players and the difficulty level (normal or hard). Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Game Review, Board Games, Essen Spiel 13, Freedom, Spiel 2013 | No Comments »

Review: Rokoko

Posted by James (admin) on 1st June 2014

Rokoko game - lateRokoko is a euro-game about preparing for the ball at the Royal Palace.  This may sound pretty light-weight but, do not be fooled, this is a euro-game with a lot of moving parts to work out, balance and combine – so it’s a game for gamers.  It’s one of the games nominated for Spiel des Jahres Kennerspiel 2014 (the German complex game of the year).

Players are aiming to earn the most Prestige Points (PPs) by the end of the game which is 7 rounds long when the ball takes place.  Players each have cards which represent their tailors and, at the start of each round, players select 3 of their available tailors to use during that round.  Players then take turns using one tailor to perform 1 action and they can also carry out any bonus shown on the tailor’s card too.  Tailors are either apprentices, journeymen, or masters and some actions can not be performed by the less experienced tailors, i.e. only journeymen and masters can make dresses, and only masters can hire new tailors. Read the rest of this entry »

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Luchador Mexican Wrestling Dice – Round 2

Posted by James (admin) on 29th May 2014

LuchadorLast year, blogger turned designer (and all-round good guy) Mark Rivera created a game called “Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice!” – a fast-paced, dice-rolling-fest.  It’s a fun and fast game as you try to (literally) beat your opponent’s wrestler before they beat yours.  The game finished #26 in the Boardgamegeek Buzz list at Spiel 2013 in Essen.

Now, Mark has launched a new version of the game on Kickstarter with more contents than the original and it even contains a 3D wrestling ring which looks neat.

There is also an option to purchase a pack which will upgrade your 1st version game to the 2nd edition.  (It’s a shame more revised versions of existing games don’t allow you to buy the parts required to upgrade it – yes, I’m looking at you Arkham Horror: Curse of the Dark Pharaoh.)

As I said in my Spiel 2013 Preview: “Luchador is a light, quick, dice-rolling game that is a fun filler, especially if you act it up.”

For more info, check out the Luchador Kickstarter page which ends on June 18th 2014.

James.

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Posted in Board Games, Luchador | No Comments »

Review: Istanbul

Posted by James (admin) on 28th May 2014

Istanbul game

At the bottom of the photo, you can see a player’s hand cart which has yet to be upgraded. When it is, the upgrade tile fills-up part of the missing piece.

Istanbul is one of the games nominated for Spiel des Jahres Kennerspiel 2014 (the German complex game of the year) and is designed by Rüdiger Dorn who has designed a wealth of games.  The game is a race to be the first to collect 5 gems with an interesting core game mechanic and a surprisingly dense amount of decision-making.

The board is made up of a 4×4 grid of locations (large tiles) and each player starts with a stack of wooden discs which are their merchant and assistants (with the merchant always on top).  Players take turns moving their merchant (and any assistants currently underneath it) so they can use the actions of the location tiles.  When a player moves to a location that does not contain one of their assistants, they remove an assistant from their stack, place it on the location, and then take the location’s action.  When a player moves to a location that does contain one of their assistants, they add it to the bottom of the stack, and then take the location’s action.  If a merchant moves on his own (without assistants) and lands on a location without assistants, then he can not take the location’s action.

So, players already need to work out which locations to visit, in what order, and how to do this by dropping off and picking up assistants along the way.  The actions at each location are varied allowing players to gain goods (which come in 4 colours), gain money, buy gems, upgrade their cart, gain special abilities, gain special cards, etc.  One location allows the player to gather up any assistants that are elsewhere on the board and place them under their merchant. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Mount Everest

Posted by James (admin) on 23rd May 2014

Mount Everest gameMount Everest is a game by the designer of K2 which is a great game and you can read my review of K2 for more details.  (This review assumes you have not played K2 and I will talk about comparisons at the very end.)

Players each have 2 guides who can escort clients (climbers and tourists) up and down the mountain.  Players score Victory Points (VPs) for getting clients to the summit, and more VPs for getting those clients who have reached the summit safely back to base camp.  Tourists are worth more VPs but are less hardy than climbers.  Your guides can carry tents and oxygen too which are both very useful (in fact, they’re almost vital).

Each guide has a small board showing what they have with them (equipment and clients) but there is very limited space; for example, a guide can take 4 clients and no equipment, or 1 tent and 1 client, or  1 oxygen and 2 clients, etc.  So, right from the start, you need to have a strategy on what to take and how to split it between your guides. Read the rest of this entry »

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