Archive for the 'Board Games' Category

Spiel 2014 Preview: Admiral’s Order – All Hands

Posted by James (admin) on 1st October 2014

Admirals Order All HandsThey’re at it again.  Yes, the brilliantly (mentally) enourmous scope of Admiral’s Order is back again but this year it has a slightly smaller version of the game.

Last year, I posted about Admiral’s Order as it looked superb but was (sadly) on a scale way larger than I could play.  A game of ship-to-ship warfare with dozens of hand-made wooden ships all with their names burned onto their sides and enough ships to re-create some of the largest naval battles you can think of.  When I saw it in person at Spiel last year, it really did look great.

This year’s game is “Admiral’s Order: All Hands!” which uses the same rules as the previous game but All Hands comes with ‘only’ 36 ships and 5 different scenarios.  It can be played as a stand-alone game so is kind of an ‘entry-level’ version of the larger game (although I use the term ‘entry level’ very much in the context of Admiral’s Order, so that’s still pretty complex/detailed compared to other games).

Like the original game and expansion, All Hands is hand-made with wooden ships, wooden box, and wooden tokens, so the same production values have been applied.

I believe rules for solo play are being (or have already been) released too. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Imperial Settlers

Posted by James (admin) on 1st October 2014

Imperial Settlers game setupImperial Settlers is a new game from Portal Publishing by Ignacy Trzewiczek.  Apparently it re-implements State 51; however, I read the rules to Imperial Settlers and have played State 51 once some time ago, and Imperial Settlers appeals to me a lot more.  (Imperial Settlers was released at GenCon earlier this year, but is a Spiel release too.)

Each player is trying to make the most successful civilisation by using cards to increase their abilities and generate resources.  After 5 rounds, the player with the most Victory Points (VPs) wins – VPs can be earned during the game, as well as for locations they have at the end of the game.

Each player’s faction is slightly different and has its own set of cards, but all players can also use cards from a common deck too.  Each player gets a faction board which helps align their cards into rows of the 3 types of cards (Production, Feature, Action) – player’s own faction cards are placed to the left of their board and common cards to the right.  Each card has a colour in its lower-right to show what type of card it is too.

Each player has several cards in their hand and can pay the cost to build/place these cards so they can use their effects during their turns.  Instead of being used as a location, faction cards can become ‘deals’ which means they get tucked under the very top of the player’s faction board with just their edge protruding to show what resources these cards generate each round.

At the start of each round, players draw 1 of their faction cards and then gain 2 common cards by selecting them from a limited amount (s0 there will be some element of balancing taking items useful to you over taking ones that your opponents want.)  Then, players gain the resources/tokens/workers/cards/VPs that their locations, deals and abilities generate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Night of the Grand Octopus

Posted by James (admin) on 1st October 2014

Night of the Grand Octopus gameNight of the Grand Octopus is a game of second-guessing and double-think your opponents, with Cthulhoid overtones, as you try to be the cult that summons the great tentacled one.  The first player to gather all of the required items to perform the summoning rite wins.

Each player has two tokens – one represents your cultists and the other represents your monster.  Each turn, players set, and then simultaneously reveal, the locations where each of their tokens is going to move to.   Monsters can move anywhere, but cultists can only move to one location one space from their current location.

Each locations starts with items that the players are trying to collect.  If one cultist token is on a location with no monsters, they can take one of the items.  However, if there are cultists and monsters on a location, the cultists gain nothing and a fight breaks out with all players involved losing 1 cult power.  If there are multiple cultists but no monsters, the player must agree to all take nothing, or agree which single player will take an item; if they can’t agree, a fight breaks out and all players lose 1 cult power.

As well as the main locations, the game is played with 1 of the 4 external locations which players can move to instead fora special effect.  I like that the rules explain what effect on the game each of these external locations will have, i.e. longer, more tactical, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Office 21

Posted by James (admin) on 30th September 2014

Office 21 cardsOffice 21 is a quick, card game where players are trying to have their ‘office’ of workers generate exactly $21 million profit, i.e. their values add up to 21.   Players take turns adding one worker (card) from their hand of three into their set of cards on the table (office).  As well as having different values, each card has a special effect too, such as removing a card from your own office, turning an opponent’s card face-down, looking at the next card on the draw pile and choosing to take it or put it back, and so on.

So, cards you play can be used to alter other player’s offices as well as your own office, which means there will be plenty of spoiling other players’ attempts, and subsequent petty revenge (which will be entertaining).  A few cards interact with each other automatically; for example, The Boss and Secretary get on very well indeed.  If a Boss card is showing and a Secretary card is played by someone then both cards are turned face down whilst they are, erm, occupied.  Face-down cards do not count towards your total (but will if they get turned back up again).

There are several ways in which a game can end, and the way it ends determines how the winner is judged.  A player wins if their office has a total of exactly 21 and still has 21 when it is their next turn – so other players get one chance to mess with their office and/or win a better way.  However, if a player plays a Tax Man card, play continues until that Tax Man is reached again (he could get removed) then it’s the player with the lowest total who wins.  Any player who exceeds a total of 21 is automatically out, so a player can win if they’re the last man standing.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Attack on Monster

Posted by James (admin) on 29th September 2014

Attack on Monster game

Attack on Monster is a game of of knowing when to fight, knowing when to run, and knowing when to tell your friends you’ll stay with them to the bitter end and then immediately deserting them so they get killed and you don’t.

The game board consists of a changing row of location cards.  The players start on a location and there is a large monster bearing down on them.  Players simultaneously show if they are going to run (away from the monster to the next location), or stay where they are.  After players move or stay, the monster moves up to 2 locations and fights the first group of players it meets.  If the number of players (plus any bonuses/penalties for equipment and the location’s effects) is greater than the monster’s strength, the monster is killed which earns those players an equipment card and some Victory Points (VPs); otherwise, all players are killed by the monster.  The good news is each player has 3 figures (meeple) so when one gets eaten, the next enters play. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Theseus: Bots

Posted by James (admin) on 28th September 2014

Theseus Bots boxTheseus is a really interesting, tactical game – you can read my review here.  Bots is an expansion that adds a new faction to pick from.  Apart from that, I haven’t seen any other details about it at the moment.  However, I like the main game Theseus so I’m interested in an expansion for it.

Portal Games have a pre-order page for Spiel on their site which can be reached using this shortlink:

For more Spiel 2014 previews, check out my Spiel 2014 Previews page which lists the games on my radar with links to their previews too.


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Spiel 2014 Preview: Royals

Posted by James (admin) on 27th September 2014

Royals box and gameRoyals is a new eurogame by the designer of last year’s Triassic Terror and the excellent Francis Drake too.  The board shows 4 European countries and each has various titled positions (Baron, King, etc.) which players can earn.  Each turn, you draw 3 country cards, or 1 country and 1 intrigue card.  Similar to the game mechanic in Ticket to Ride, country cards are drawn from 3 face-up cards or unseen off the draw deck.

After drawing cards, you can choose to play country cards to take control of a position – each position shows how many cards matching the relevant country are required.  If another player already holds the position, you must play an intrigue card that shows the country as well (each intrigue card shows 2 different countries).

When taking control of a position, you place a cube of your colour on that position on the board (moving any previous owner’s cube to the city space next to the position).  In addition, any player that takes control of a position also places a cube on the tile next to the board that shows the same position – these cubes accumulate throughout the game. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Deus

Posted by James (admin) on 23rd September 2014

Deus gameDeus is a game by Sébastien Dujardin (co-designer of Troyes and Tournay).  It’s a game of ancient civilisation building, whilst trying to appease the gods, and contains some interesting sounding game mechanics.

The board is made up of a number of hex tiles (well, they’re kind of rounded-off hexagons) which contain 7 regions on each consisting of 4 land regions (producing wood, stone, wheat and clay), 2 water regions, and 1 barbarian village.  The layout on each tile is slightly different, and the tiles are placed together randomly each game giving some variety in replay.

Each player has a player board showing 6 coloured columns which each relate to a type of wooden building: civil, scientific, maritime (ships), military (armies), production, and temple.  You start with some buildings on each column, cash, Victory Points (VPs), resources, as well as drawing 5 building cards from the common deck.

Each turn is simple: You can either construct a building, or make an offering to the gods. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: El Gaucho

Posted by James (admin) on 23rd September 2014

El Gaucho gameEl Gaucho is a eurogame of cattle ranching.  From reading the rules, it sound like a fresh mix of game mechanics is a light, fast game which appeals to me.  On the board is a pen for rolling dice, rows of cows to be gained in the paddock, and special action areas.

Each round, a set of dice are rolled and players take turns to take two of these dice and using them to take actions.  One action is to use the dice to gain cows from the paddock.  If a player uses dice whose total exactly matches the large number on the cow’s tile, they place one of their workers (Gauchos) on the tile standing up.  A player can place a Gaucho lying down on a tile if their dice matches the smaller (and easier to obtain) number on the tile, but it takes a second dice matching this small number to then make that Gaucho stand up.

At the end of a round, if a row of cows in the paddock has a Gaucho on everyone one (standing up or lying down), cow tiles with Gauchos standing-up on them are claimed by their owning players (and cow tiles with lying -down Gauchos on them remain where they are as new cow tiles are added to their row).  When a player gains cows, they place them in rows according to their type and new tiles are always added to the right of any existing row.  However, there is a catch: Cows placed in ascending or descending numerical order are fine but, if a newly placed cow breaks this sequence, the current row of cows must be sold immediately, and then the remaining cows to be added start a new row. For example, if you already have a row of brown cows numbered 12-8-6 and have brown cows numbered 9 and 5 to add, you could add the 5 first (making the row 12-8-6-5 and then adding the 9 means you must sell the row as it would break the descending value sequence.  When sold, the amount of Pesos earned is equal to the number of cow tiles being sold multiplied by the highest single tile value. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Games, El Gaucho, Essen Spiel 14, Preview, Spiel 2014 | 2 Comments »

Spiel 2014 Preview: Orléans

Posted by James (admin) on 17th September 2014

Orleans gameOrléans is a new game from dlp games who released the highly-entertaining game Citrus last year.  Orléans combines multiple game mechanics such as bag-building, meeple movement, and worker placement.

Each player has a bag of character tokens (farmers, knights, craftsmen, etc.) and players can add more tokens to their bag during the game.  At the start of each round, players draw some characters from their bag, and each player places them on their player boards in specific combinations to activate actions.  Most actions require 2 or 3 characters, so I can see there will be some tricky choices deciding in which combinations to allocate the drawn characters each turn.  Players can part-fill actions and complete them on a later turn too.

There are lots of different actions to choose from.  Many add a character to your bag and then advance you along the matching track on the central game board which give a benefit – the further along the track you are, the better the benefit.  For example, adding a boatman to your bag advances you along the boatman track which earns you coins.  Adding a knight to your bag also advances you along the knight track which allows you to draw more characters at the start of each round.   Some are a bit different such as adding a trader to your bag allows you to add one of the special action tiles to your player board which you can activate, such as creating goods, or using a boatman character as a craftsman, farmer, or trader. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Games, Essen Spiel 14, Orléans, Preview, Spiel 2014 | 2 Comments »