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Posts Tagged ‘game reviews’

I have been waiting with bated breath to write another board games post, but I told myself I couldn’t write one until I had at least three games to talk about, and until recently, I’ve only had two. And now suddenly I have FOUR!

Splendor

I always want to play this game. The fact that I haven’t yet purchased my own copy is a travesty that means I don’t get to play it half as much as I would like.

This game consists of collecting pleasingly tactile coins that represent different kinds of gems, which you use to purchase cards that also represent gems and potentially give you the points you need to win the game. So really it’s all gems all the time! Do not underestimate the pleasure of stacking up your gem coins.

Playing this game is an almost meditative experience for me. I have the best time being completely quiet and slowly building my collection of stunning gems.

Great things about the game: It plays well with 2 players as well as 3 or 4, which is pretty rare. It is great for travel (it went to Bali and back). The rules are easy to learn, and the gameplay is relatively quick.

Cons about the game: I don’t want to talk to anyone while I’m playing. Some people don’t love it as much as I do. If you get too far behind, it becomes almost impossible to catch up (although I even enjoy playing it then, which I understand sounds bizarre.)

Among the Stars

I want to play this game almost but not quite as often as I want to play Splendor.

Featuring simultaneous card drafting, this game is very similar to Seven Wonders (which I also love) except it has a SPACE STATION THEME. Therefore it is awesome. There is less player interaction than in Seven Wonders, which means which chair you selected at your gaming table is less important.

Great things about the game: The theming is very well done. SPACE STATIONS! YOU GET TO BUILD THEM! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Cons about the game: It’s easy for newbies to forget about the energy cube mechanic. Some people don’t care about space stations, which is hard to understand but nevertheless true.  A few of the race cards seem to be more powerful than the rest.

Here are some people playing Among the Stars. I wish I were one of them....

Here are some people playing Among the Stars. I wish I were one of them….

Codenames

I don’t know how I got to play a social game that isn’t Cards Against Humanity with my group of friends, but it has happened. More than once, even!

Reminiscent of Taboo, Codenames is a social word game at which I don’t suck horribly, which is very exciting for me! Two teams compete against each other to guess all their team words from one word clues from their spymaster. The spymaster tries to choose their clues to act for more than one word at a time. For example, if the spymaster says “Travel, three,” the correct words might be France, airplane, and suitcase. But what if there’s also the word beach on the board? Needless to say, there is a lot of strategy involved.

Pros about the game: A word game I can play without being super bad at it! Great for larger groups. Very challenging but fun to be one of the spymasters. Funny.

Cons about the game: There is an hourglass included with no real mechanics for its use, and it can break the game (or at least make it unnecessarily stressful).

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Aaaah, this game! So much fun!

This computer game (available on Steam) reminds me of the game Space Team, only more complicated. One person is trying to defuse the bomb on the computer. The other people, unable to see the monitor, are using the manual to try to explain how to defuse the bomb. Each bomb consists of several possible mini games, as well as variations in time allotted and mistakes allowed.

Pros about the game: It is super super fun. And quite challenging. The teamwork involved is really satisfying.

Cons about the game: You need a PC to play it. And I’m really bad at the Morse code mini game, which is tragic for me.

Played any games you’ve liked recently? Let me know in the comments.

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I am so happy it’s May! I’m going to celebrate by talking about … board games!

I’ve been playing board games since I was a little kid. I started out with Hi Ho Cherry-O and Sorry, graduated to Monopoly and Pay Day, and then played Dover Patrol, Risk, and D-Day with my dad. For several years I was a bridge aficionado (although alas, I am without a bridge group right now). And a couple of years ago I started going to a weekly board game night, so now I think about board games more than ever.

My gaming group. They are fantastic!

My gaming group. They are fantastic!

Here are three board games I’ve been really excited about recently:

Battlestar Galactica

I’ve loved this game (and its expansions) for a long time, and it continues to be my absolute favorite board game. It’s a semi-cooperative team game that pits the human players, who want to survive and cover a certain distance, against the Cylon players, who want the human players to die. But you often don’t know who the Cylon players are…and you can find out halfway through the game that YOU are actually a Cylon.

What I love most about this game is its strong narrative and evocative atmosphere. I’m immersed in the story while playing, and it can really get my heart pumping! Also, having secret Cylons is just super fun. On the minus side, it can be intimidating for new players to learn and it can take a looong time to play.

I’ve gotten to play three times recently, twice with the Pegasus expansion (although not the endgame because I’m not a big fan of it) and once with the base set. One complaint I’ve heard about the game is that the Cylons always win, something I’ve always argued against because the humans have won more often in my personal experience. But in these last three games, the Cylons have won all three times. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that in two of those games, I played a Cylon character brilliantly (and I even finally got to be a Cylon leader, hooray!). And in the third game, some of our human players were unhealthily fixated on their newfound power to put people out the airlock. But in any case, I’m looking forward to many more games, and I especially want to play more with the Exodus expansion.

Alien Frontiers

I’m a fan of White Wolf RPGs, which means I love rolling dice, so this game is a great fit for me. Plus it has a space colonization theme. (Actually all three of these games have space themes. I’m sure none of you are surprised.) It’s Yahtzee meets space awesomeness meets strategy. Um, yeah. Also, all of the regions on the planet to be settled are named after science fiction writers. How cool is that! (Although would it have killed them to include ONE female science fiction writer on the planet? Or even more than one? I think not.)

Anyway, I have yet to get bored with this game. You roll your dice (which represent your spaceships) and try to gain a foothold on the science fiction planet based on different combinations of numbers. If you don’t like to rely on the luck of the roll, you can invest in alien technology that allows you to have more control over your dice. And there are ways to thwart other players, particularly those who may be playing just a little too well.

My main critique of this game is that it can be a bit slow going, especially in later rounds. You can’t plan your own turn in advance very well because you don’t know what you’re going to roll (and because of the game mechanics, you just can’t roll ahead). So you can have strategies in mind but not specific implementation plans, so things can get bogged down. But otherwise it’s a fabulous game.

Sadly, it’s out of stock almost everywhere until its planned reprint in Q4 of 2013. On the upside, it will make a great holiday present! And until then, it is available on the iPad if you can’t wait to try it out.

Space Alert

Space Alert is my newest game love, a timed cooperative game in which your group is trying to survive scanning missions in dangerous parts of the galaxy. It’s like a cooperative version of Robo Rally with aspects of Galaxy Trucker, and that cooperative aspect is really what makes the game for me. Each player can choose to move or do actions, and they have to coordinate where they are on the ship and who is going to deal with which threat (the threats include asteroids, saboteurs, aliens, and enemy ships). But all of your actions are decided face-down as the computer (or CD) counts down your time and introduces new threats. Then you play all the actions out to see what ended up happening. Hilarity often ensues as people fire at nonexistent threats, run out of the energy required to do the things they were hoping to do, and try to take robots that someone else has already taken.

I love this game because it’s exciting and all about communication, decisiveness, and taking responsibility. It’s fascinating to see how things break down, and it’s really satisfying when the team works well together. Plus each mission doesn’t take very long, making the game very flexible in terms of time commitment. As for minuses, it’s really better with the missions being played for you on the computer, which means you need a computer and internet connection for best game play (although there is a CD for when that’s simply impossible).

Games I Want To Play More of Soon:

Dune, Eclipse, Illuminati, Arabian Nights, Race to Adventure (and Spirit of the Century, the RPG on which it’s based).

What are your favorite board games right now?

 

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