Tag Archive: “Games”

One of the biggest gripes hobby board gamers have about games like Monopoly is the so-called “roll and move” mechanic. I roll a die or two and move that number of spaces. Around and around the board we go in perpetuity, leaving the length of each movement entirely up to chance.

The games I’ve listed here are some of the best scenario-based board games. Rather than rolling-and-moving, players work to complete some objective, which will differ from game to game. While this is not, by any mean, an all-inclusive list, the games here will give you somewhere to start on your journey for a more fulfilling tabletop experience.

1. Descent: Journeys in the Dark—This wonderful semi-cooperative dungeon crawl pits up to four hero players up against one bad guy player known as “The Overlord.” While the heroes are hoping to complete their objective, the Overlord is setting traps and setting out monsters in attempt to thwart them. Gameplay is made up of several quests (one session each) that make up an entire campaign. The success or failure of the heroes determine subsequent quests. The recent creation of a Descent app means you no longer require the Overlord player to play cooperatively, and you can also play solo.


2. Dungeons & Dragons: Temple of Elemental Evil—This game, in my opinion, is the best of the bunch when it comes to the D&D “big box” dungeon crawler games. Fully cooperative, ToEE is played over the course of 12 scenarios, some of which take place in a spooky dungeon, while others go down in the town. Your scenario might call for you to obtain some relic and survive long enough to get it out of the dungeon. This was one of my favorite games from 2015.


3. Last Night on Earth—I don’t see this game getting a whole lot of love, and that’s a shame, because it can be a lot of fun. In Last Night On Earth, there are two teams of players—one plays as a horge of undead zombies, and the other are the heroes trying save the day. The scenarios in this game are a blast. There’s one where the heroes have to gas up a truck and find its keys in order to flee the town. Meanwhile, the zombie players are trying to eat the heroes’ brains. The standalone expansion, Timber Peak, adds a bunch more scenarios and makes the game even more fun by adding elements such as fire, which can burn of control. One of the best things about this game is it can play up to six, so if you have a big group, this one’s for you.

4. Dead of Winter—You’ve probably already heard of this semi-cooperative anxiety attack in a box. In Dead of Winter, players take the role of survivors of a zombie cataclysm. The team of players will have a group objective for each scenario. It might be something like, “collect 10 gallons of water for your camp.” But then, each player has their own individual hidden objective. Hidden objectives might be helpful for the camp, or they might be completely at odds with the group objective. A player might have a hidden objective of “poison the camp’s water supply,” which would screw all the other players. Dead of Winter is a serious nail-biter. The release of Dead of Winter: The Long Night earlier this year means there are even more scenarios to play with.


5. Pandemic Legacy—This game is an absolute treasure to play with family. If you like the original Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy will only enhance your love of the franchise. The game is played over 12 to 24 sessions, each adding a new element to the gameplay. So, while the first session is basically just regular Pandemic, the next session you’ll add something, then something else, until the game becomes quite heavy. It’s almost like a game that includes 11 expansions right in the box it comes in. While not scenario-based in the same way as the games mentioned above, each session does have its own goal. The way that it plays out, I could really see this game being a movie or book, which makes me wonder if there is Pandemic Legacy fan fiction. If there isn’t, there should be!


 Super Hardcore Hamlet Builder Pro 5000 of the Stars! 1599 AD (The Game Crafter)

It’s incredibly difficult to please everybody when designing a game. Different gamers want different things; be it a challenging experience, a high fun-factor, an impressive tactical depth, a great story, or something else entirely. The folks behind Hamlet Builder Pro (The game’s full name is far too long and unwieldy to type more than once.) aren’t trying to please everyone. Instead, they created a fast-paced city-building game with plenty of randomness and customizable degrees of difficulty. Basically, they managed to make a tabletop game that feels like a PC game and can be enjoyed either alone or with up to five friends.


The game is played over seven rounds, each begins with the flip of a card, with different win conditions applied to each round. While revealing Bountiful Harvest allows everyone to collect their income twice, the Taxes card forces players to discard a number of coins equal to their Military and Culture values. Players then blindly draw three building tiles either from the 1-point or 2-point tile bags. Alternatively, they can choose a single 0-point value tiles from a stockpile that everyone sees. These tiles often end up being critical prerequisites to placing more expensive tiles later in the game. Players then use their accumulated coins to pay to place tiles in their hamlets. Once tile placement has finished, players pass their remaining unbuilt tiles to the person on their left. This seemingly adds a great element of randomness to the game but can also provide tactical opportunities to truly screw over opponents. Tiles offer ways to improve players’ Income, Military, Culture, and Coin Storage Limit. The winner is determined by adding up the point values of tiles in one’s hamlet plus Culture and Military values.

If Hamlet Builder Pro sounds incredibly straightforward, that’s because it is. Much of its brilliance is rooted in the game’s simplicity. Experienced players will easily fall into the flow of its gameplay after a few rounds. They’ll soon figure out when to stockpile coins, which 0-point tiles are crucial to their strategies, and how to make the most out of their randomly drawn tiles. There is, however, more depth than initially meets the eye. High cost tiles often require prerequisites or feature special rules. For example, the Blacksmith provides a terrific boost to both Military and Income. However, a Smelt must exist somewhere in a player’s hamlet before the Blacksmith can be placed. Additionally, the Smelt requires a 0-point Mining Camp in the hamlet. Inspired planning is easily thwarted by the luck of the draw, but not so much so that tactical thinking becomes pointless.


While there were a few misprints, such as special rules tiles and tiles with prerequisites displaying the same color icon, but I chalk that up to the version we tested being a pre-release game without finalized artwork or components. Speaking of components, the small white scoring rings are way too easy to nudge in the wrong direction or even blow off of the table with a quick arm movement or sigh. Nevertheless, these are very minor gripes for an incredibly fun game. Hamlet Builder Pro allows its player(s) to easily determine just how challenging the game experience ends up being. That, combined with enough randomness to keep every round interesting, is enough for a whole-hearted recommendation. If you grew up playing any of SimCity’s many iterations and are looking for a more streamlined tabletop experience, Hamlet Builder Pro was made just for you. (The Game Crafter) by Kris Poland

FLUXX DICE (Looney Labs)

Fluxx is a great little game. The rules are simple: draw a card and play a card. The goals for winning change, the actions each turn can entirely reset the rules and overall it’s a lot of good, light-hearted fun. There are also a bunch of different themed decks (notably Batman and Adventure Time, which we reviewed just the other week) to mix and match to your hearts content.

Fluxx Dice is an expansion for any of your Fluxx decks that introduces a fun little trick with a draw and play die. These two dice are rolled at the start of each turn to determine how many cards are drawn and played. Not knowing how many cards you’ll be able to draw and play definitely limits the strategizing from turn to turn, but Fluxx has always been more about playing the game than winning it. Some people won’t like not being able to meticulously plan out their victory, but those people probably didn’t like Fluxx that much anyway.

If the game is in steady rotation at your table, it’s definitely a nice bit of randomness to shake things up (and then roll them). (Looney Labs) by David C. Obenour




By David C. Obenour

Any game that you can explain in a sentence and still be entertained by is pretty great.

In Fluxx the rules are draw a card, then play a card.

Just say that, let it hang there, and enjoy the befuddled look on your friend’s face.

“…but you spent like a half hour explaining the last game to me?”

That was the last game, pal and we all need a bit of a break from the high-stakes world of medieval farming and battling back ancient unspeakable horrors.

As Fluxx goes on, played cards introduce new rules, draw and play amounts, hand limits, goals for winning the game and a bunch of other actions to shake things up. It’s fun, it’s silly and as long as no one pulls any funny business, you’re pretty sure you’ve set up a plan to win in the next three turns. Spoiler alert: there will be funny business.

Taking this concept, Looney Labs has released a number of different Fluxx decks designed to excite nerds of all persuasions.


Batman Fluxx is the latest and probably greatest too. While other licensed product decks have been fun primarily due to the art and warm feelings of recognition with that art, the game integration for the Batman cartoon was really well thought out. The deck is full of villains (which any Batman nerd will tell you is the best part) and there are plenty of fun mechanics like the Bat Signal card you can exchange for Batman, or the Arkham Asylum card where villains are discarded underneath and if it gets cancelled, dealt back out around the table, or the Bruce Wayne card which must be discarded if Batman is ever played (plus, try reading “The Joker Got Away” goal card without humming another verse or two of “Jingle Bells”). Admittedly, comic book inspired art might have looked better, but that won’t stop you from having a fun time.


Next up is Adventure Time Fluxx that, while a fun game, does suffer from what I’d mentioned previously. It’s fun playing with Jake, Finn and Fiona, but most of the cards fit pretty well within the standard Fluxx format. One action card that’s a favorite though is “The Arena” which has all players submit a keeper or creeper for combat and then have a debate about who would win in battle. If you like Adventure Time, you’ll like Adventure Time Fluxx. It’s pretty much that simple.


Finally, with other licensed decks like Monty Python, Regular Show and Cartoon Network, along with nerd favorite themed decks like Cthulhu, Pirates and Zombies, it’s tempting to mix decks together to make your own crossover episode game. Finn and Jake mixing it up with Mordecai and Rigby against the undead? You know that sounds like a good time!

There aren’t exact rules for mixing decks though and doing so can present a few problems. First off, goal cards for winning the game are generally related to the deck from which they came in so finding a specific card requires more deck-digging. Second, sometimes rule cards from different decks may clash with each other. That said, as long as you don’t have a rules lawyer around the table (and really, it’s a fun 5-15 minute game) it’s nothing some good-hearted, on-the-spot playtesting can’t handle. (Looney Labs) by David C. Obenour

GEN CON, July 30-August 2 at the Indiana Convention Center

by David C. Obenour & Kris Poland

Gen Con is now but a memory, but it’s a memory you can continue to relive vicariously through part two of our totally awesome recap! So many games. So may gamers. So much social anxiety. So little time. Please enjoy this continuation of our summary of some of the highs, lows, and creamy middles of this year’s biggest event in tabletop gaming. We’ll catch you again next year!



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Kris: C.R.O.M. (Get it? Get it?) is about halfway funded on Kickstarter at the time of this writing. It’s a pre-painted miniatures game played at the skirmish level. There are starter boxes for the two factions, Conan’s Circle of Iron and the evil Legion of Set. The minis look very nice and have incredibly detailed paint jobs, especially compared to most other pre-painted miniatures. Of special note are the monsters in each set. The oliphant and giant snake will definitely be centerpieces for each army. Pulposaurus even licensed artwork from the Conan comics for the game’s cards and more, making everything about this game a feast for the eyes. The rules are easy to learn, and games should be fast-paced with plenty of carnage. C.R.O.M. has a lot of potential as a skirmish miniatures game. Fingers crossed it gets fully funded!

David: Bad news – Kickstarter funding of Conan: Rise of Monsters was cancelled three days ago. Good news – Reaper Miniatures have entered into a partnership with Pulposaurus and will be delivering us the game by later this year! That’s better than just good news as partnering with a company as well-established as Reaper bodes well for the game’s continued support and availability.


THE CAPTAIN IS DEAD (The Game Crafter, 2014)

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Kris: The Game Crafter embodies a really cool concept that allows anyone to turn their great idea for a card or board game into reality. They do custom, on demand printing that can turn anyone with an idea into someone with a physical product to share. The Captain is Dead is their superstar. It’s a cooperative game for up to seven players that puts gamers in a spaceship just as everything goes haywire. Players have to work together with their fellow crew members to repair the ship’s jump core and escape the hostile alien threat by completing actions in the ship’s different stations. It kind of reminds me of Red November in space and should make for a lot of fun with a sizable group of gamers.

David: Red November and Space Cadets were the two games that came to my mind when we were getting the short run-through from the folks at The Game Crafter’s booth. A hostile alien ship has driven you into an asteroid field and now it’s your job to, as a team, get the jump core back on line so you can get the heck out of there. Also, the captain is dead. Well done art with high-quality pieces – definitely worth a closer look! Good on The Game Crafter for seeing this game’s potential.


BLOOD RAGE (CoolMiniOrNot, unreleased)

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Kris: Upon entering the exhibitor hall first thing in the morning on Thursday, it seemed as if everyone there immediately bought a copy of Blood Rage. I saw it over and over again and again in the arms and oversized bags of everyone around me. Viking battles, Norse gods, and the pursuit of a glorious death seem to be key elements of Blood Rage. I’ll hand it to CoolMiniOrNot when it comes to visual appeal. The miniatures are very well designed, and the game board is colorful and attractive. We couldn’t get through the throngs of people lined up to play it, so we’ll do our best to procure a demo copy soon. As Dr. Rick Dagless M.D. once sang, “One day we’ll all meet in Valhalla.”

David: Yup, it sure seemed to be all the Blood Rage of Gen Con this year. Thank you, thank you very much. Seriously though, even without playing this one I know everything I need to know. As Kris said, “Viking battles, Norse gods, and the pursuit of a glorious death.” It’s called Blood Rage for Thor’s sake. Welcome Ragnarök with open arms, brothers.


MYSTERIUM (Asmodee, 2015)

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Kris: I know very little about Mysterium, other than it was once named Tajemnicze Domostwo. Good move on the name change! It’s co-op, and involves a friendly ghost in a haunted mansion. Sounds like fun to me!

David: Asmodee definitely wins for best booth at Gen Con. The only drawback was that for all of the ambiance their secluded booth created for those lucky enough to demo Mysterium, it also limited the number of tables they had and the amount of people that were actually able to play through the game. Even without a playtest or quick overview though, Mysterium seems like it’d be a whole lot of fun. A cooperative game for two to seven players, one player takes the role of a ghost dealing out vision cards from behind their GM-like screen to the attending mediums (other players) in an effort to solve their murder and achieve peace. It sounds like a spookier, more involved version of Clue. Not getting to play this one was probably my biggest regret of the convention.


CTHULHU WARS (Petersen Games, 2014)

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Kris: The only thing worse than an unimaginable horror from another dimension devouring our reality would be multiple unimaginable horrors from another dimension slugging it out to determine which one will have the privilege of devouring our reality. Enter Cthulhu Wars. It’s a strategy game that pits four Old Ones against each other (up to eight with expansions). The core set contains dozens of slimy, tentacled beasts from your worst nightmares. They’re all nicely modeled and will likely look even better once players take a paintbrush to them. If you’re into Lovecraftian horrors and battling with brightly colored miniatures, this one has your name on it.

David: Though this game is a couple of years old it still seemed to be one of the highlights of Gen Con. With a ginormous box containing 64 high-quality Lovecraftian (right up there with zombies, pirates and Dr. Who in nerd appreciation) miniatures it’s no surprise why either. Also not a surprise surprise, it comes with a completely reasonable for what you get but still hefty price tag. That didn’t seem to stop people. Along with Blood Rage, lots of copies were seen in bags and under arms (two, not one), and playtesting this game required getting on a list as long as that of a Michelin 3-star restaurant.



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Kris: Who hasn’t dreamed of casting off the constraints of modern day society and retreating to one’s secret lair to construct a doomsday device? All of us, right? If you haven’t already walked away from your screen to phone the authorities, this just might be the kind of game you’ll love! Perform research, spy on rival scientists, and protect your own creations to conquer the world. Victory is never guaranteed, as unique Twist cards randomly assigned to players at the beginning of the game make sure that no two games play out in the same manner.

David: That’s me. Dr. Buddy with a PHD in Friendship studies. While I hoped to kill the world with kindness, my fellow play testers seemed to have better luck with deathrays and wide-spread neurotoxins. Oh well, to quote Jake Chambers (for wildly different reasons), “there are other worlds than these” and I’ll be damned if I can’t put this degree in Friendship to use one of these times. At past conventions the major gaming companies such as USAopoly didn’t seem to quite get the level and style of gaming that Gen Con attendees thrive on. Nefarious however is perfect for both family game night and beer and pretzel night with your pals.


POCKET IMPERIUM (LudiCreations, 2015)


Kris: 4X style gameplay with only a handful of cards and less than an hour of playtime? That sounds incredible! Almost impossible, really. Designer David Mortimer must be one smart cookie. I’ll leave the meat of this one to Dave, as he was actually able to play Pocket Imperium. I’ll admit that I’m jealous and more than a little intrigued.

David: Sorry to say, but I was a little under-whelmed by Pocket Imperium. Admittedly, a 5-minute demo isn’t the same as a full game experience but what I did play felt a little too simple for its own good. As Kris said, the 4X gameplay of “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate” is what you’re promised and what you get. But not much else. Is Pocket Imperium like chess or checkers, where multiple plays would reveal more nuances? Totally possible. But in an exhibitor hall filled with the best of what’s out there it didn’t quite grab me.


SHINOBI CLANS (Posthuman Studios, 2013)

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David: This is just a game I sat down at because there was an open seat and I was waiting for someone else so why not demo a game? Boy am I glad I did too! Though Posthuman Studios might be better known for their Eclipse Phase RPG system, Shinobi Clans is a beautiful and tricky (in a good way) game. After drafting a hand of attacking, defending and wildcard ninja cards, the scene is set for – you guessed it – either attacking or defending any of the three dignitaries for that round. Ninjas, being ninjas, are placed in secret facedown, so you’re not sure if the other clans are assisting or clashing with your mission. With so many different card games out there it was fun to run into something so inventive while working so well within its theme.

Kris: When it comes to the whole pirates/zombies/ninja trifecta, I feel as if ninja get the short end of the nerd culture stick. You can’t turn around without seeing another zombie game, and thanks to Jack Sparrow there are still god damn pirates everywhere. Perhaps Shinobi Clans can change that. It’s a card game with couple of neat drafting mechanics, and the cards in question feature absolutely gorgeous artwork. There’s also an element of betting on who will survive and who will not after blades have clashed. I didn’t get to spend much time with Shinobi Clans, but I’m eager to dig deeper.


LUCHADOR! (Backspindle Games, 2013)

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Kris: Two great wrestling games in one convention? Have I died and gone to mark heaven? While both are inspired by wrestling, Luchador! couldn’t be more different from WWE Superstar Showdown when it comes to game mechanics. Luchador! skips the cards and goes straight to rolling dice. Players roll at the same time to see who gets the advantage and, possibly, the pin fall victory. The cool gimmick here is that dice are actually rolled inside a little cardboard wrestling ring. Any dice that fall out or are knocked outside of the ring by opponent’s dice are invalidated. It seems quite fast-paced with a good push-your-luck style of gameplay. I’m definitely interested in spending some time with this one.

David: The cardboard wrestling ring. I think even if this game proved to be a stinker (which it absolutely didn’t), that ring may have been enough to buy it anyway. We didn’t get to actually play this one, but we did get a great walk-through of it from a delightful English bloke who traded ridiculously obscure international wrestling references with Kris while I just stood back and nodded like I had some sort of idea about what they were saying.


BAD DETECTIVES (Forced Output, 2015)

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Kris: While I didn’t get the opportunity to play Bad Detectives, I love the idea of this game. Honestly, I’m kind of sick of so-called storytelling games that ask players to do all the heavy lifting. A lot of them feel half-baked in their attempts to creatively engage with their players. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. This isn’t just a matter of, “Tell the best story and everybody wins!” Instead, players play a detective who is horrible at their job. Everyone tries their best to muddle through a case, string evidence together, and connect victims to suspects and murder weapons. Only one detective gets credit for solving the case, so Bad Detectives seems to fit nicely into the odd competitive/cooperative genre. So stop bitching about season two of True Detective, and engage in some deducing of your own.

David: Hah! Oh poor True Detective, season two. Anyway, I was lucky enough to get the 10-15 minute spiel from designer, Zach Barton (in cop uniform) on how Bad Detective plays out and man, what a well-designed game! Taking inspiration from the well-known HQ tac-board, players string together evidence (or “evidence…?”) tiles between the victim and culprits, weapons and locations. You don’t have to be right, you just have to look right. Being right is one way of looking right, but discrediting your fellow detectives and their work is another. It’s not so much a story-telling game but a game that as it plays out tells a story – which means, sure you can just play it but you can also get into character and read out your tiles in a gruff “I’m getting too old for this shit” voice. Maybe a dozen donuts and a pot of coffee too. Damn, now I really want to play this game!


THE GRIZZLED (CoolMiniOrNot, unreleased)

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Kris: It’s a testament to the quality of The Grizzled that I still want to play more of it after having the worst play-testing experience of the entire con with this game. Despite our rude, obnoxious, task-master of a playtester, The Grizzled felt special. Perhaps it’s because both Dave and I have a passion for WWI history. Perhaps it’s the artistry and care and familial ties linking the game’s creators to the Great War. Perhaps it’s the fact that this game never asks players to fire a weapon or kill another human being. There’s something incredibly special here in a game about surviving the horrors of war through friendship and sacrifice. The Grizzled is not to be missed.

David: All due respect to volunteers, who are after all, volunteers, but Kris is not wrong. I really hope that our playtester wasn’t on the table too long for The Grizzled because she was doing it a huge disservice. After buying a copy (the last one – thanks to the random gamer who had it before me but took pity on my visible dejection) and playing through it a few times I can honestly say that this is the best example I’ve experienced of a game as art. Making that even more remarkable is how much The Grizzled is able to convey in such a short playing game with such simple rules. There are six kinds of threats, you’re dealt task cards that have different combinations of these threats, you’re never allowed to have more than three of the same threat showing or you as a team have failed that mission. In the half-hour playtime, you begin to feel a small bit of the anxiety, fear, hopelessness, but mostly camaraderie that made up the experiences of those who served in the Great War.

GEN CON, July 30-August 2 at the Indiana Convention Center

by David C. Obenour & Kris Poland

Oh shit, dog! It’s Gen Con time! Well, it was last week. It’s over now, but don’t fret. Your pals from Ghettoblaster were there and are back with impressions from the biggest gathering of gaming geeks in North America. After being packed into convention halls with over 61,000 other gamers, we’re both relieved to be back and excited about new developments in the tabletop gaming world. Please keep in mind that Gen Con is way too massive for just a few of us to cover everything that’s on offer. What follows is a list of things that caught our attention, explanations and demos that we were privy to, and some other stuff. Enjoy part one, and check back soon for part two!


FLEET ADMIRAL (Castle Games, 2012)

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Kris: I watched over Dave’s shoulder as he toyed around with this one. It looked pretty neat. That’s about all I can say with any certainty.

David: The thing about Gen Con – as I’m sure you picked up from the intro – is it’s insane how many people are there. Getting a demo can be hard and so can just getting a few minutes of an exhibitor’s attention. The guys at Castle Games came up with a pretty ingenious way around that for Fleet Admiral. As I looked down at their table with interest at the game before me I was greeted with, “roll a die!” and handed a dice to roll. Intrigued and admittedly, not one to really question orders, I did so and then played through a quick turn of this fun and inexpensive “push your luck” cooperative game. The whole thing was over and done in less than two minutes and while that’s a pretty small sampling, it was a really enjoyable one.


ONE NIGHT REVOLUTION (Indie Boards and Cards, 2015)

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Kris: Take The Resistance and condense it down into a single, paranoia-fueled round. That’s One Night Revolution. Rather than going out on multiple missions, the rebels get one shot at finding the informant(s) in their midst. Just like Mafia/Werewolf, this is a party game that gets more interesting and exciting the more players who take part. Not only are players assigned identities as Rebels or Informants, they also play roles that take different actions during the night. For example, the Investigator can look at a single player’s ID. Despite its name, there’s nothing really revolutionary here. However, this could be a good time if you have too many people over to play other games or are looking for a time-filler to play between longer, more involved affairs.

David: I’m a pretty horribly liar. I don’t mean that as some kind of, “Oh, I’m such an honest guy” #humblebrag, it’s just to let you know that I normally have a hard time keeping a straight face during games like The Resistance and Werewolf. I can, but I really need to psych myself out. A fun mechanic for One Night Revolution is that even though you get to see if you’re a Rebel or Informant at the start of the round, during the night your alignment card may have been switched by one of the other players’ abilities and you’re not allowed to check until the game’s over. Confusion, deceit, deduction, “Hey, my card was to the left of me when I closed my eyes!” – it all plays into it and it’s all a lot of fun!


COUP: REBELLION G54 (Indie Boards and Cards, 2014)

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Kris: Coup was always a good game, but with only a handful of characters its variety and extended appeal were quite limited. Rebellion G54 addresses that very issue expertly by increasing the number of characters from 5 to 25. There are still only 5 character types in a single game session, but they can be any combination of the 25 characters included. Where I would normally have had enough Coup after two or three 15 minute rounds, Rebellion offers enough variance to turn those multiple 15 minute rounds into an entire night of gaming. I guess it’s true that often the simplest solution is the best one.

David: Yeah, pretty much exactly what Kris said. While a lot of party games benefit from not having to explain overly complex rules, they also can get old way before someone finally says out loud, “So… do we still want to play this, guys?” Rebellion G54 gives you simple rules with added variety from a number of new characters and roles. Figured out how to win with the Farmer? Too bad! We’re not using the Farmer in the next round.


DEATHFEAR (Travesty Games, 2012)

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Kris: Deathfear traps players in a dungeon with a dismembered demon. The only way to escape is to collect powerful pieces of this demon’s body and murder everyone else in the dungeon. Movement is handled via rolling 2D6 and allows for a re-roll of one die if desired. It’s such a simple idea that really speeds up gameplay. Attacks are automatic when the active player lands on an opponent and result in stealing either demon parts or spirit items from one’s victim. There isn’t a ton of complexity here, but it certainly is an enjoyable romp. The good folks at Travesty definitely know good visual design, as exemplified in their hand-crafted wooden boxes for this game. The playmat is also screen printed on black fabric. These extra touches are what can make a relatively simple game such as Deathfear stand out from the crowd. Good show!

David: This game looks epically awesome. The demon parts adorning the top of its all black wooden box, the rolled-up cloth dungeon map, apparently it comes with a narrator DVD too that we didn’t get to experience at the con – the only thing that’s missing is a copy of Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality. Deathfear might be a little overly simple on repeated plays, but it’s nothing that a few thought out house rules couldn’t improve on (I’m thinking some sort of sanity cost as you attach more and more of these demon parts to your flesh).


WWE SUPERSTAR SHOWDOWN (Gale Force Nine, 2015)


Kris: Dear god. The WWE have gone and made a tabletop game. They’ve also managed to somehow swerve us all. How? It’s actually incredibly fun to play! Gameplay is handled through an easy to understand rock/paper/scissors mechanic that keeps things simple but still allows for tactical planning. The included wrestlers are Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Big Show, Randy Orton, and (for some unknown reason) Big E. The miniatures are nicely detailed and their accompanying card decks to a decent job of covering each wrestler’s in-ring repertoire. Unfortunately, the free promo piece for those who purchased the game at the con was supposed to be Hulk Hogan. For obvious reasons, those promos never made it to Indianapolis. The good news is that expansions are already in the works. Play testers spoke in hushed tones about folding chairs in future releases. I’m most excited to play as legends like Savage or Flair or Mankind. I also want Cesaro and Owens and the entire NXT roster. There is huge potential for this to be a real cash cow for both WWE and GF9. Just give the people what they want: more wrestlers whom they love.

David: I’m always afraid when it comes to licensed products and doubly afraid of WWE screwing up something that could have been great (for the most recent example, see Kevin Owens’ current bewildering storyline and win/loss record). Those fears were immediately erased by the fun and simplicity of Superstar Showdown. Even Ghettoblaster’s lead designer (and my wife), who could barely care any less about wrestling, enjoyed it. The only drawback is for the 2 and 3 man tag games the players outside of the ring are left just watching. Still, there’s plenty of action within the squared circle to compel everyone. I’m holding my hopes for the Mick Foley’s Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind expansion!



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Kris: This is a triumph. Seriously. I was very cynical when I first learned about the Portal board game. Slapping the name of one of the most beloved video game franchises in the last decade onto a board game seemed like a guaranteed way to separate nerds from their money and nothing else. I’ve never been so glad to be so wrong. Players take turns sending test subjects into Aperture Labs, moving portals, a turret, and a companion cube across test chambers, all in an effort to get the most cake (and incinerate opponents’ cakes). Rules change as players activate different abilities, so tactics must be altered on the fly. It’s fun, quick-paced, and retains the fantastic deadpan humor of the video games. Plus, it comes with a free copy of Portal 2 on Steam! Simply put, this one is a no brainer. Buy it when it comes out this holiday season.

David: Spot on! Again, fear of licensed products, but Cryptozoic’s got a pretty great track record so far with their games based off of the Locke & Key comic book, FX’s Archer and Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time (sorry, haven’t and don’t have any plans on playing their Castle or Big Bang Theory games). One thing Kris didn’t address that I wanted to talk to is how aesthetically pleasing this game is. From the turret piece to the pieces of cake pieces, this game was sharply designed.


MONARCH (Tiltfactor, unreleased)

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David: Honestly, I was really drawn in by the gorgeous art and while Kris was paying attention to the explanation I was staring at the cards. I’ll let him handle this one.

Kris: Who will reign? It’s a simple question with an often complex answer. Players in Monarch attempt to answer that question by gathering favor, assembling the best possible court, and ultimately impressing their matriarch. The main mechanic involves pulling together the most glorious individuals and treasures to ensure one’s future rule, all while figuring out the most advantageous ways to tax and/or harvest from lands. Its playtime is less than an hour and should provide a good time for three to four players. Monarch’s most impressive trait is its scratchboard art by Kate Adams. There’s a certain beautiful darkness to her fantasy artwork that adds a lot of atmosphere to the game. Monarch should be available in September.


AGE OF SIGMAR (Games Workshop, 2015)

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Kris: Oh boy. Where to begin? I only started playing Warhammer Fantasy a couple of years ago. I’ve grown to love it, and now they’ve pretty much killed it. GW’s presence at Gen Con was pathetic. They had a tiny booth displaying the models from the Age of Sigmar starter set and two terrified employees who seemed desperate to sell people on this… thing. Ghettoblaster’s experience here can be summed up in a simple interaction. Dave and I asked what AoS meant for Warhammer Fantasy. One GW rep confidently said, “Age of Sigmar is its own thing. It’s totally different.” The other GW rep then approached us and stated, “Age of Sigmar is Warhammer Fantasy.” I expressed my dissatisfaction with that statement, and we walked away.

David: I keep typing things out, sighing heavily, and then deleting them. There’s no way around it, Age of Sigmar is a huge disappointment. I’m not saying Warhammer up until now was without flaws, major ones even, and if internet truth holds any water, it didn’t sound like it was staying financial feasible for Games Workshop – though the End Times campaign sure did seem to get a bunch of people (me included) very excited. But to so suddenly and seemingly so decisively change everything about the way the game plays and how the game looks even (put a new Stormcast Eternal up next to a High Elf spearmen and try to tell me we’re still playing the same game) and then refuse to give a clear answer about what Age of Sigmar is and about what that means for Warhammer? Sigh, just… just fuck you Games Workshop.


Stay tuned for part two of The Games of Gen Con, featuring Blood Rage, Mysterium, Cthuluhu Wars, Nefarious, Pocket Imperium, Shinobi Clans, Luchador!, Bad Detectives, The Grizzled and The Captain is Dead!

ORIGINS, June 3-7 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center

by David C. Obenour & Kris Poland

Welcome back, dear reader! We’re continuing our coverage of the 2015 Origins Game Fair with round two of our game previews, observations, and insights. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of every game at Origins. We’re just hitting some of the highlights. Be sure to check back soon for in-depth reviews and interviews featuring some of the titles discussed here. Enjoy, roll them dice, and grab them cakes!


ENCOUNTERS: BRAVEST WARRIORS (Catalyst Game Labs, unreleased)

1 bravest warrior

David: A really simple, really fun push-your-luck game set in the world of Cartoon Hangover’s Bravest Warriors. Choose a warrior, utilize their ability and then it’s off to slay monsters! Monster cards are flipped one at a time, exposing an encounter value that players need to meet exactly with one or more of their six D6s rolled in a turn. After each successful encounter, players can choose to flip another enemy, but an unsuccessful roll gives your opponent the chance to steal all of your glory from that turn. Short, sweet, and full of glory and defeat! Can’t ask for much more.

Kris: Pendleton Ward’s simple, bubbly character designs are already iconic representations of cartooning in the 2010s. They’re also a perfect match for a simple, bubbly game like Encounters. Having already struck gold with Adventure Time: Card Wars, Catalyst nailed it again with another of Ward’s creations. Encounters is quick and fun as a two-player game and begs to be played for just one more game. Adding the blue and red sets together makes for up to eight-player games that likely take longer to complete but are just as straightforward in the rules department. A nice, inexpensive break from the rules-heavy games that dominate tabletops of late, this one is highly recommended for adults and/or kids.


CONVERT (Yodeo Games, 2014)

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David: No matter how old I get, blocks will always be fun to play with. A simple and sharply designed puzzle game, Convert pits two-players against each other as they place different shaped blocks on a 4×4 grid to convert rows to their solid color for points. Blocks have to be placed within the grid and must be full supported underneath (no hanging moves allowed). At the end of the game, bonus points are awarded for each exposed brick of your color on top and the highest brick decides ties. Eat it Kris! I’m the highest! (Also, as a bonus, if you follow Yodeo Games on Facebook they release a monthly puzzle for you to try to replicate with the blocks provided. More playing with blocks!)

Kris: Whoa, Dave. Way to get aggro. Win or lose, there’s an undeniable charm to Convert. The chunky wooden blocks feel great in-hand, and the minimalist black and white design offer a much needed reprieve from the incredibly busy and colorful box art that most games use to grab players’ attention. Ian Reed has created a game that is quietly understated but has tons to offer. It rewards thoughtful play and strategic planning. Monthly downloadable puzzles offer an awesome bonus that mean endless replayability. And you don’t even have to bother with Facebook. Just look for the monthly puzzle on Yodeo Games’ site.


WAR STORIES: THE GAME (Level 42 Media, unreleased)

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David: Party game, story-telling, celebrities and inappropriate humor. Eh. There’s a kind of cool story about this being used to help the designer’s friends deal with PTSD but I don’t know if I really want to talk about this one. Do you?

Kris: Sure. I’ll give it a go. War Stories: The Game is not to be confused with Artana’s War Stories: Liberty Road and War Stories: Red Storm. The latter two are wargames in which WWII battles are fought. The former is a competitive storytelling game. Each player gets a minute to tell their story using as many cards as possible. Cards feature items, locations, heroes, villains, and more. Once a storyteller’s time is up, it’s up to the rest of the players to decide which cards were used correctly. There are plenty of opportunities to take cheap shots at celebrities, and the only real limit is a player’s imagination. This could be a strength or weakness depending upon players’ creativity or likemindedness. I fear a similar weakness to games like Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity. That being that they aren’t really games. They’re more ways to find out the political leanings, prejudices, and limits of taste of the people with whom you’re playing.

EDIT: It looks like War Stories Kickstarter has been cancelled after they noticed what Kris noticed – Artana already has a game called War Stories. Hopefully they will regroup and be back shortly!


ROLL FOR THE GALAXY (Rio Grande Games, 2015)

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David: Admittedly, I was late to Race for the Galaxy but it’s been in pretty heavy rotation since we picked it up. The original version was a deck-building sci-fi game that focused on maximizing card synergy to get the deepest discounts and score the highest victory points. You could choose to focus on military, colonization, technological developments, producing and consuming or any combination to any degree. Each hand plays out differently based on what you get and what you do with what you get. For as many options as there were, design and gameplay were smartly crafted to assist and not overwhelm. Yeah. It’s a great game.

After a number of expansions, we now have Roll for the Galaxy. I spent so much time describing Race because Roll is essentially the same game in everything except for how it plays. It shares the same theme, the same art, even the same end goals. However, trading card based play for dice make it play surprisingly different. Collecting cards let you plan out in advance, but rolling dice throw wrenches in the works, forcing rethinking and adapting. It’s all of what makes Race for the Galaxy great, only different.

Kris: Race for the Galaxy never really grabbed my attention the way it did with Dave. I played it twice and must say I found it more complex and overwhelming than the other players did. Thus, I spent the period of time Dave checked out Roll feeding quarters into Reaper’s gumball machine amassing as many cool Bones miniatures as I could. However, I like the element of randomness that dice rolling adds to any game. Given that, this might be the version of an already popular game that manages to sink its claws into my brain.


BILLIONAIRE BANSHEE (Game Yay FunBreaking Games, 2015)

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David: I’m not the biggest party game fan, but Billionaire Banshee is pretty fun (and quick enough that as long as you don’t play it into the ground it will stay that way). On your turn you flip a perk and a quirk of a person to hypothetically hookup with, you secretly pick whether you’d date or deny them and then your friends all try and guess your answer. It’s funny, it’s inappropriate and it uses 8-bit art – and though 8-bit art is feeling about as played out as zombies these days – those are all the touching points of a successful party game.

Kris: One of the first cards we came across in our first game of Billionaire Banshee was “Butt Stuff”. Oddly enough, I can’t remember if that was a perk or a quirk. Regardless, this is a fun little game. After a few rounds, our friends made our own rules that basically turned Billionaire Banshee into our own version of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s Would You Rather? I’d argue that’s a significant strength in a game. We could build on the already salacious cards, making them even more ridiculous as we played. Plus, designer Steven “Razlo” Bailey spent a good ten minutes discussing Japanese wrestling with us. Bonus points!


DUNGEON FIGHTER (iello, 2014)

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David: It’s fun seeing more and more games of skill coming out these days. After spending a couple of hours building a Medieval farm or banishing an ancient Lovecraftian horror, giving the right brain a break while you roll dice from under-the-leg to land onto a target damage board is a welcome change of pace. Somewhere between party game and board game, games like Dungeon Fighter offer up something that most everyone can appreciate. It’s cooperative too, so everyone’s on their feet, rooting you on.

Kris: I wouldn’t necessarily call Dungeon Fighter (again, not to be confused with Dungeon Fighter Online. Let’s make up some original game titles, people!) a party game. I’d say it’s a board game with dexterity elements. Players team up to explore dungeons and fight various monsters along the way. The monster battles are where things get interesting. There are three main dice (red, green and blue) that correspond with a special ability belonging to each character. There is also a pool of white dice available to all players. The catch is that once a player rolls a dice of a certain color that color is no longer available to other players. This adds a small amount of teamwork and planning to the often hilarious, dexterous dice rolls that follow. Players must bounce dice off of the table and onto a target to determine how much damage (if any) they will inflict on a monster. If their chosen die lands with its symbol facing up, that player’s special power activates. Dungeon Fighter seems like a feasible alternative to get players out of their seats between marathon rounds of D&D or Axis & Allies. As an added bonus, the artwork is light, playful, and very high quality. It sort of reminds me of the cover of a Terry Pratchett novel.


COCONUTS & COCONUTS DUO (Mayday Games, 2013)

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David: I was pretty skeptical when Kris picked up this game. Flinging coconuts into baskets from a little plastic monkey? What seemed silly and childish quickly became a good-hearted, emotionally-charged game of skill as we lined up are monkeys and drew back their spring-loaded arms. It also quickly became a drinking game.

Kris: I’ll admit it. This was my favorite game of the convention. I was thrilled to see it, and purchased it immediately. I’ve been excited to get my hands on Coconuts when I first learned of its hardcore following and tournament circuit in South Korea. Maybe my brain is just getting softer as I age. Perhaps I’m burning out on rules-intensive gaming. Whatever the cause, this game is just what I needed. 95% dexterity with 5% tactical card playing turned out to be just the right combination of what I was looking for. It’s just as appropriate for kids as it is for adults, and it can be played as a quick diversion or a lengthy tournament. The addition of Coconuts Duo is awesome as it turns a three-to-four-player game into a two-to-six-player game when combined with the original. Kudos to Mayday for seeing the simple brilliance of this game and purchasing North American distribution rights. Laugh at me all you like. I’ll have a blast playing with my Coconuts.


CASTLE ASSAULT (MomentumVolsk LLC, unreleased)

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David: The jury’s still out for me on the whole combat lane mechanic. Part of me thinks it’s overly simple and confining but another part of me thinks that I haven’t played them enough to pick up on the nuances. Either way, Castle Assault is a quick and fun enough take on the style. With a number of race decks to choose from (undead, vampires, elves, humans, etc) players are pitted head-to-head in a, you guessed it, castle assault. Each deck has its unique strengths and weakness, and the designers did a great job of fitting those within the game. Great art too.

Kris: In another somewhat rare occurrence where Dave and I disagree, I’m totally into combat lanes. I’m not sure if there are a lot of nuances to pick up as much as it’s just a case of surrendering to certain limitations. I like that each playable race not only has its unique tactical advantages, but they also have completely different art styles on their cards designed by a different artist for each race. Our game was awesome in that the ending came along in a totally unexpected fashion. I thought I was in a great position to take Dave’s castle out, when he suddenly wiped out my castle’s hit points in a single attack. It was one of those moments for which we all play games. I’m not saying every single instance of Castle Assault will play out as such, but it’s a game that certainly has that potential.


…and that’s all for the games of Origins! Be sure to come back in a little over a month as we bring to you the games of Gen Con 2015. 


ORIGINS, June 3-7 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center

by David C. Obenour & Kris Poland

Greetings, ‘blaster faithful! It’s summer games convention season, and the Ghettoblaster team kicked things off by attending Columbus’ Origins. 2015 was a kick ass year for the Origins Game Fair. With an extra day added and a record breaking number of attendees, more games were played by more gamers for longer than ever before. We’ve compiled a list of some of our experiences from the event, highlighting some games that truly impressed. Enjoy, and come back soon for part two of our trip to Gamesville. Population: nerds like us.


LETTER TYCOON (Breaking Games / Squirmy Beast, unreleased)

1 letter tycoon

David: Great job to Brad Brooks, who designed a really fun take on a word-building game. Players form words out of the letter cards in their hand, earning money and stock and the opportunity to buy patents on any of the letters used. Build the most valuable letter empire and win the game. All of that said, just look at this game. Mackenzie Schubert and Peter Vaughan did a truly remarkable job in designing Letter Tycoon’s amazing artwork. It’s as attractive on your shelf as on your table.

Kris: Letter Tycoon could have easily been a lame rework of Scrabble. Fortunately, that’s not the case. It’s just as much about smart investing as it is about showing off one’s vocabulary. Our demo game was quick enough that Tycoon could end up being just as good a main event with your casual gaming friends as it is a quick in-betweener with your hardcore gaming group. While I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as having amazing artwork, the design is unquestionable attractive. Doubly so if you’re really into typefaces.


BRING OUT YER DEAD (Upper Deck / Ginger Ale Games, 2015)

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David: You can’t take it with you, but you can eternally remind folks of all of the “it” you’d accomplished in life with a great burial plot. The head of a family in Medieval Europe, it is your role to make sure your deceased relatives are buried in the most prestigious plots available. With vampires, grave robbers, fortunetellers and one lazy gravedigger though, things aren’t as easy as they might seem (it’s as much about making sure you win as making sure your opponents don’t). Lots of fun and maddening frustration to the very end. Max from Ginger Ale Games wins playtester of the Con award for his walk-through of this game too.

Kris: I 100% agree with Dave that Max Holliday gave us the best game demo experience of the entire convention. He was incredibly knowledgeable (no surprise, given his role in the game’s development) and provided us with the exact amount of information we needed every step of the way. It also didn’t hurt that Bring Out Yer Dead was a whole lot of fun to play. Planning ahead only gets players so far, as a single card played at the right time can turn the tide significantly. This is a game that focuses on actions and reactions. I have a feeling it will work its way into our gaming group’s regular rotation.


MONSTER TRUCK MAYHEM (Dice Hate Me Games / Greater Than Games, unreleased)

1 monster truck

David: Whew. Real time board games sure can get your blood pumping! Jumping behind the wheel of a mystic monster truck (Cthuhlu, Valkerie, etc) players manically roll their way through the course – crushing cars, jumping buses, spinning out and boosting through turns. Three dice make up your action pool as you roll for pairs to move along. Three of a kind, and you’re forced to move that distance. End up in an oil slick and you’re there until you’re able to get three tires. Get too far ahead and you have to read a “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!” card, letting you show off your best late night commercial voice (and letting your opponents catch up). It’s short, silly and most importantly, a lot of fun.

Kris: Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to play Monster Truck Mayhem. However, I was genuinely impressed by the amount of whooping it up I overheard from the people who were playing it. I can accurately say this at the very least. It sure sounded like a helluva lot of fun. As a child of the ‘80s, just the look of this game brought back memories of Bigfoot and Grave Digger. And just to be absolutely clear, this game is in no way affiliated with the abysmal Monster Trucks Mayhem Nintendo games.

EDIT: It looks like Monster Truck Mayhem’s Kickstarter has been cancelled as of yesterday, though there are plans to bring it back. Here’s hoping, because it was a really fun game!



1 tesla edison

David: It’s funny that we were demoing Tesla Vs. Edison directly across the aisle from the hooting and hollering of Monster Truck Mayhem. A more different game, you’d be hard-pressed to find.

Taking on the roles of 19th century inventors and other luminaries, players compete in the high stakes industry of light and power. After the solid 30-minute game explanation and a few rounds played, the rules made sense, but the dizzying amount of options is what’s bound to fascinate some and overwhelm others. Will you spend your time developing patents, profiting in the stock market to the benefit and determent of your opponents, starting projects in cities across the northern states, or in publicity stunts to promote your preferred current as the most up-to-the-minute option? They’re all beneficial, but there are only so many actions in a round!

Artana Games, previously Conquistador, has a flawless record so far of smart, intricate and gorgeously designed games with New Science and Tomorrow (I haven’t played either War Stories games, unfortunately) and Tesla Vs. Edison is another winner.

Kris: While the demo we played went on way too long for my liking (I have other games to try, dammit), the core gameplay of Tesla vs. Edison is solid as a rock. Choosing allies, researching and patenting technologies, building power plants, garnering public approval, and smart investing are all critical gameplay elements that demand thoughtful consideration. Each inventor has unique strengths and weaknesses that should keep experiences varied over multiple sessions as players fight the battle between AC and DC. Unsurprisingly, the game is a delight for the eyes. If you enjoy the look and feel of New Science, this one is right up your alley. The learning curve may be a bit steep to begin with, but after a few play-throughs it ought to flow nicely.


BATTLE FOR SULARIA (Punch-It Entertainment, unreleased)

1 battle for sularia

David: Honestly, I’m not that much of a collectible card game gamer and a lot of what these guys were saying shot over my head. I’ll let Kris handle this one.

Kris: I love CCGs, so Battle for Sularia is definitely in my wheelhouse. I also love getting hands-on experiences with such games at conventions. Every playtest begins with the same question. “Do you play Magic?” When I respond affirmatively, the look of relief on the face of the designer/playtester/volunteer makes me smile every time. While Magic players will be comfortable with the basics, there’s also plenty to set this game apart from the herd. There are two different resources, Influence and Sularium, that are used to deploy different types of cards. There are also sites that can be played apart from familiar creatures and instants. Additionally, deck construction is based on a points system. Decks must contain at least 60 cards, and each card has a construction value of one through four. A deck’s maximum construction value is 90 points, so min-maxers cannot make legal decks just by gathering up all of the most powerful cards. This should lead to more balanced games. Perhaps most impressive is the amount of backstory created for this game. Sularia is a complex world full of multiple factions, political intrigue, and interesting characters. Most of what I’ve seen of the card artwork is top notch as well. I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the first Battle Kit that pits the human-like Jotune against the mechanized Synthian.


TRICKED-OUT HERO (Prolific Games, 2014)

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David: Kind of a fun concept here! Take a traditional trick-taking card game mechanic (Hearts, Spades, Euchre) and give it a nerdy twist. In Tricked-Out Hero, players choose a classic adventurer (mage, sorcerer, warrior, etc), draw a monster they’ll fight for the round, and then play a hand of trick-taking cards to build up Magic, Melee, Health and Monster points based on the suit of the tricks they take. Monsters are flipped, points are added and then battle is done with a D8 plus any bonuses. A good game to introduce some of your non-gamer friends into our weird and nerdy kingdom of fun.

Kris: I despise trick-taking cards games. It probably stems from the childhood trauma of being forced to participate in them during family gatherings when there weren’t enough adults around to play a full game. Tricked-Out Hero made this mechanic bearable for me. In fact, I actually had some fun with it. Adding the slick veneer of fantasy archetypes and battling monsters to a well-worn genre of card game was enough for me to embrace a gameplay style I never thought I would enjoy again. Well done, Prolific Games!


THE SPOILS (Arcane Tinmen, 2006)

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David: Ditto on what I said for Battle of Sularia.

Kris: The Spoils is a CCG with a rocky past. It came. It went away. It came back again. And now it seems as if it’s here for the long haul. Again, if you can successfully navigate your way through a game of Magic: The Gathering the mechanics of this game will seem like second nature. The cards are pretty. The resource system prevents players from getting mana screwed. Starters and packs are also fairly inexpensive online now too. If you can pull together enough friends for a booster draft, then I definitely recommend this one for a fun night of deck-building and card combat.


FIEF: FRANCE 1429 (Academy Games, 2015)

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David: Though it’s sold in multiple expansions with keep and castle pieces and metal coins (to keep initial cost down), the completed version of Fief was one of the most striking games of Origins. Like Game of Thrones set in 1429 France, players head up families vying for power through any means possible. This includes promotions of barons, earls, bishops and even a pope and king, strategic marriages and alliances to other families, wars, assassinations, executions and more! Originally a French game, Academy is reintroducing this game in English with updated rules, units and art. An involved game, both in terms of rules and play, but it definitely looks like it’d be worth the time and effort.

Kris: Fief looked absolutely gorgeous laid out on a table at Academy Games’ booth. The models of windmills and castle keeps and walls and the historically accurate metal coins scattered across the table really drew the eye to this game. Unfortunately, as Dave said these are expansions. While the base game isn’t as beautiful to behold, it includes the core of the basic gameplay. There were also five books of expanded rules in play. While they may not be as attractive as 3D buildings, I’m certain they add even more depth to an already complex game. It’s just a bummer that, purchased independently, all elements of the game will cost players near $200.

In a rare occurrence for a publisher, Academy Games seem totally committed to historical accuracy and education. It’s possible to actually learn something about French history while playing this game. If you’re interested in political intrigue, arranged marriages, religious oversight, and the occasional assassination in a game that’s likely to consume a few hours of a Saturday afternoon, then Fief is for you.


Stay tuned for part two of The Games of Origins, featuring Encounters: Bravest Warrior, Convert, War Stories: The Game, Roll for the Galaxy, Billionaire Banshee, Dungeon Fighter, Coconuts and Castle Assault!