Posted by: gschloesser | March 25, 2020

GINGERBREAD HOUSE

Design by Phil Walker-Harding
Published by Lookout Games
2 – 4 Players, 30 – 45 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

Who hasn’t grown-up listening to and reading fairy tales, particularly those by the Grimm Brothers?  My childhood was filled with stories of Rapunzel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel und Gretel, and many other fantasy characters that allowed my imagination to soar.  Even as an adult, I still enjoy movies based on these fairy tales, and am hopeful that these stories will continue to be read, told and shown for generations to come.

So, it is no surprise that I was eager to play Gingerbread House, the new game by Phil Walker Harding and Lookout Games.  The theme casts players as witches attempting to lure and capture fairy tale characters who have been helping themselves to tasty portions of their gingerbread houses.  One can understand the witches’ frustration, as they are quite literally being eaten out of house and home.

Each player receives a board depicting a 3×3 plot whereupon they will construct their gingerbread homes.  Each of these nine spaces depict either a type of gingerbread—not-so-cleverly named red, yellow, blue or green—or a special symbol that gives them certain abilities or tokens.  Along the edges of this plot players will place trapped and imprisoned characters, tokens and bonus cards.  Players also each receive 15 double-tiles and one stairway tile.  The double tiles depict two symbols—either gingerbread or special symbols—and will be placed onto the player’s construction site to build their home.  These tiles are shuffled face down and three are revealed.

Read More…

Posted by: gschloesser | February 12, 2020

Bali

Design by Klaus-Jurgen Wrede Published by White Goblin Games 2 – 4 Players, 45 minutes – 1 hour Review by Greg J. Schloesser

Games–like many films–continue to be recycled and reinvented, sometimes receiving a major overhaul, while other times receiving nothing more than just a simple tweaking or re-theming.  I guess this is a good way to bring a former title to the attention of a new generation of gamers. However, many times the re-release is only just a few years after the publication of the original version, which seems a bit premature.  Do gamers really have that short of a memory? Or perhaps the reason is more noble. Perhaps it is because the original game was lost in the avalanche of yearly game releases and another publisher–or perhaps even the same publisher as the original–felt it would be good to give the game a second chance, quite likely with a shiny new veneer and/or theme.

 

Such appears to be the case with Bali from award-winning designer Klaus-Jürgen Wrede (Carcassonne) and publisher White Goblin Games.  Bali is a re-release of Rapa Nui, which was first published in 2011 under the Kosmos label. The original game was set on Easter Island, which is famous worldwide due to its mysterious moai, the large stone carvings which appear at various locations around the small island.  This latest version of the game has a new setting: the island of Bali. Bali’s past is also mysterious and, according to game lore, laden with superstition and spirituality. Islanders attempt to appease the gods and spirits of their ancestors by sacrificing much of their harvests.  Priests help ward off the evil spirits, while the erection of shrines pleases the gods.

 

Game play in Bali is essentially the same as that in Rapa Nui, with a few minor tweaks and the addition of two new variants.  A deck of cards consisting of farmers of four types (rice, peanut, banana and pepper), priests, shrines and stonemasons is mixed, and four columns consisting of four cards each are displayed as the “offer.”  Each player receives one each of the four types of “sacrifice” cards–rice, peanuts, bananas and peppers–with the remaining decks separated and set aside. Players also receive a starting deck of three farmers and one stonemason, as well as a few “stones” depending upon their place in the turn order.

Pages: 1 2

Posted by: gschloesser | January 2, 2020

Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy

Design by Ryan Lambert Published by Adam’s Apple Games 2 – 6 Players, 45 minutes Review by Greg J. Schloesser

I have often bemoaned the lack of creativity and overindulgence in terms of themes used in board game design.  Dragons, dungeons, dwarves, castles and even medieval cities – all have been overused as the setting for games.  So, I am always pleased when a game is released that has a fresh or seldom used theme.

Truck Off by designer Ryan Lambert and Adam’s Apple Games certainly has a unique theme:  food trucks in search of customers at various venues. Players assign two of their fleet of trucks to different venues, then attempt to manipulate the customers and trucks in hopes of reaping the most money.  Dice and card play are the central mechanisms, but a healthy dose of luck also plays a major role.

Depending upon the number of players, up to six different venues are set out, each corresponding to a specific sided die (4, 6, 8, 10, 12 & 20).  Each venue is named, and includes locations such as the Brewery, Sporting Event and Gaming Con. Each player receives a fleet of six trucks, one for each of the venues.  Each player’s fleet has a clever name, such as Fry Hard, BeeBeeQ and Fig Town. Players also receive a hand 12 action cards, but the group mutually decides to discard two from their hands.  There are two recommendations provided, depending upon whether the group prefers less or more “take that” during game play.

Pages: 1 2

Posted by: gschloesser | August 21, 2019

Smash Up!

Design by Paul Peterson
Published by AEG
2+ Players
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

In a world gone crazy, fantasy and historical races and clans all exist in the same time frame, and as can be expected, they do not get along well.  Indeed, they often violently contest for control of various bases, as these grant power (victory points). Garner the most power and your races will control the known universe … for awhile, at least!

Smash Up is a card-based game that is expandable with new races and groups.  Most expansion sets include four new groups, usually centered around a specific theme.  For example, the “Oops, You Did it Again” expansion set includes Egyptians, cowboys, Vikings and samurai, while “Monster Smash” features vampires, werewolves, mad scientists and, yes, giant ants (think the classic film “Them!”). Each expansion includes a few new rules that apply to the new races introduced, so the game does get progressively more complex as new expansions are included in the mix.

Players will each select two races or groups to play, and are free to choose from any of the dozens currently available.  Thus, two decks are required per player. Players make their selection of two races, and thoroughly mix those cards into a single deck, drawing five as their starting hand.  A number of bases are placed on the table (one more than the number of players) and play begins.

Read More…

Posted by: gschloesser | August 12, 2019

The Capitals: Cities Through Time

Design by Thiago Boaventura
Published by Mercury Games
2 – 5 Players, 2 – 3 hours
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

City-building games have always held an attraction for me, as I enjoy watching the city (or cities) expand and develop.  Some are relatively simple and abstract—such as Manhattan—while others are more complex and involved (think La Citta and Suburbia).  One of the earliest I remember playing was Sid Sackson’s Metropolis, which I adored, mainly because of the impressive 3D pieces.

In recent years Suburbia by designer Ted Alspach proved popular, but I grew weary of constantly having to examine opponents’ cities in order to determine the effects and scoring of the tiles I played into my own city.  The absence of this constant examination of opponents’ cities is one of the attractions of The Capitals: Cities Through Time, a mostly overlooked city-building game from designer Thiago Boaventura and Mercury Games. The game has not received much attention from gamers, which is a shame as it is really interesting and challenging.

The theme is familiar: developing and growing a city.  However, the twist is that this is done over the course of three eras, very loosely progressing from the Victorian age to modern times.  Players each plan and develop their own city, mostly without any interference from their opponents. This is not really “multi-player solitaire,” however, as there is keen competition for desired buildings and features, as well as a fierce race to be the premier city in terms of cultural, financial and public service advancements.

Read More…

Posted by: gschloesser | April 5, 2019

Montana

Design by Rudiger Dorn
Published by White Goblin Games
2 – 4 Players, 45 minutes – 1 hour
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

                                                                                             

Montana in the mid-to-late 18th century was still a vast, mostly uninhabited place.  Indeed, even though the gold rush and a desire for land and a new start brought an influx of settlers and entrepreneurs, the area is still one of the least populated regions in the United States.  Perhaps the harsh weather and vast open spaces serves as a deterrent for many. A shame, since it is a beautiful area.

Montana by designer Rudiger Dorn is set in the period when settlers begin moving to Montana in increasing numbers.  Players represent entrepreneurs attempting to establish a new life in this harsh, yet promising new environment. They must hire workers to help harvest grain and pumpkins, mine copper, gather stone from the quarries and establish towns and settlements.  To be successful, players must not only balance all of these needs with limited finances, but must also stay one step ahead of their opponents, who are also attempting to claim the most lucrative land.

The modular board is created by piecing together landscape tiles, each of which depicts seven fields.  These fields depict various types of terrain, as well as the resources that are needed to construct a settlement there.  Some areas reward a player with cattle when a settlement is constructed, while being the first to construct next to a lake gives the player a canteen (representing access to water), which can be used to take another turn.

Read More…

Posted by: gschloesser | March 18, 2019

Reworld

Design by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling
Published by Eggertspiele
2 – 4 Players, 1 ½ – 2 hours
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

Ever since discovering El Grande way back in 1995, I have been a fanboy of designer Wolfgang Kramer.  Sure, there have been a few “misses,” but for the most part I have adored his designs. El Grande, Princes of Florence, Torres, Tikal – all are masterpieces.  His collaborations with other designers—particularly Michael Kiesling—have also been wonderful. It is no surprise that I am eager to play and try any new designs from the master.

Reworld was released at the Spiel in Essen in late 2017 and is yet another joint effort from the duo of Kramer and Kiesling.  It is quite a departure from their usual fare, as it has a distinct “puzzle” quality that is unlike any of the creations in their vast catalog.  In a further departure, the game has a space setting, which I have always been told is not a popular theme amongst European gamers.

Set in the distant future when mankind is traveling the far reaches of the universe and attempting to colonize new worlds, Reworld is played in two distinct phases (“chapters” in game parlance).  During the first chapter—which lasts five turns—players gather various modules, attaching them to the five docking rows on their carrier ship. Multiple modules can be attached to each row. During the second chapter, players will unlock these modules and send them down to the planet Eurybia.  The challenge is doing this in the correct order, as the planet’s terrain must first be prepared and settlements founded before other modules can be offloaded. This takes careful and sometimes clever planning and execution during both chapters of the game.

Read More…

Posted by: gschloesser | February 13, 2019

CLAIM

Design by Scott Almes
Published by White Goblin Games
2 Players, 20 – 30 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

Shortly after discovering German-style games, I was introduced to the “trick-taking” game genre.  I did not grow-up in a card-playing family, so I had little exposure to traditional card games.  Thus, the trick-taking concept was new to me, and frankly, I didn’t understand it. The rule that required one to follow the lead card seemed restrictive, removing the ability to choose which cards to play.  As I gained more experience with the genre, I learned more nuances and began to understand and appreciate the trick-taking mechanism.

A recent development in the genre is the introduction of 2-player designs, a concept which initially perplexed me.  All of the trick-taking games that I have played up to this point were for multiple players, and I feared that the dynamic when playing with numerous players would be lost when only playing with two.

The first (and so far only) game in this relatively new 2-player genre that I have played is Claim by designer Scott Almes and published by White Goblin Games.  The game has a familiar fantasy setting wherein the king has died, and now five different races are vying for control of the realm.  The deck of 52 cards features goblins, dwarves, undead, doppelgangers and knights, with most groups having values from 0 – 9 (the knights range from 2 – 9).  The cartoon-like illustrations and card colors make it easy to determine the race of each card.

Read More…

Posted by: gschloesser | January 8, 2019

Justice League: Dawn of Heroes

JUSTICE LEAGUE: DAWN OF HEROES

Design by Buster Lehn & Fran Ruiz
Published by Abba Games
2 – 6 Players, 1 hour
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

I was an avid reader of DC Comics’ Justice League of America series from my youth until well into my 40s.  The League went through so many changes during that period, as did the writing and art style in the books.  Some of this was good, some not so good.  Through it all, I stuck with the series, even though I grumbled when favorite characters were excluded, second-and-third string characters added, and the core line-up all but vanished.  Through it all I maintained a strong preference for the original line-up of Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter.

As a board game aficionado, I have a keen interest in any board game featuring superheroes, particularly those featuring characters from the Justice League.  Unfortunately, no superhero game has been published that was to my liking, certainly none involving my favorite characters from the League.  So, I was intrigued when I learned of this new title from Abba Games, which features six of the original Leaguers.

Justice League: Dawn of Heroes is a major undertaking which leads players through various missions.  Each mission is divided into chapters, allowing players to progress at their leisure through the chapters and ultimately complete the mission.  This can be done in one sitting, which would take about 3 – 4 hours to accomplish, or spread over several game nights, playing a chapter each time.  Each mission tells a story that gradually unfolds, similar to reading the actual comics.

Read More…

Posted by: gschloesser | December 12, 2018

Road Hog

Design by Randall Hoyt
Published by Jolly Roger Games
2 – 5 Players, 45 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

The road to getting a board game published can be a long and arduous one, more often than not proving to be a dead end.  While I have never designed a game—nor do I have any desire to do so—I have many friends who have traveled this road and all confess that it is a very difficult and trying journey.

In the documentary film The Next Great American Game, producer Douglas Morse chronicles the story of Randall Hoyt and his tireless efforts to get his board game published.  Hoyt was convinced that his design would become, as the title of the film suggests, the next great American board game.  After years of fruitless pursuits, the game has finally been published by Jolly Roger Games as Road Hog: Rule the Road.  Does the game live-up to the designer’s aspirations and expectations?  Let’s take a look.

The theme of Road Hog will certainly resonate with anyone having to drive through a busy city.  Players are challenged with navigating the many road hazards–particularly traffic congestion—in order to successfully exit the busy city ahead of their fellow commuters.  Unlike the defensive driving skills we should all practice in real life, here aggressive driving is the key…including blocking and impeding the progress of one’s opponents whenever possible.

Read More…

Older Posts »

Categories