Tuesday, 9 May 2017

May 13th. The CG Realm May Game Night - Featuring Plague Inc

The second Saturday of every month is board game night at The CG Realm!

Free open gaming from 5 pm until 10 pm. All ages welcome. No experience necessary. Curious about the growing popularity of board games? Come on out! A veteran gamer since the days of the Avalon Hill bookcase games. Come on out!

Every event will have a theme or a featured game. There will be people on hand willing to teach the featured game. This is an open gaming event though and there's no need to stick to the game/theme of the night. The store has a large selection of demo games and many local gamers bring games from home they are excited to teach and play. 

The CGRealm is located at 1311 Tecumseh road east. Right on the corner of Hall and Tecumseh. At the site of the old Party Warehouse. Diagonally across from Family Video. Parking available on the street (free after 6 pm) and in the back.

Featured game: Plague Inc.

Plague Inc: The Board Game is a strategic game of infection, evolution and extinction for 1-5* people - based on the smash-hit digital game with over 85 million players. Can you infect the world?

Each player is a deadly disease and they must battle against each other to spread their plagues, develop new symptoms and ultimately wipe out humanity.

Starting with Patient Zero, you spread your infection across the world by placing tokens in cities - earning DNA points and preventing other players from becoming dominant. Players choose which countries are placed on the board but you must be both climate resistant and connected to a country before you can infect it. Eventually, as countries become fully infected - you try to kill them using the Death Dice.

Each player’s unique pathogen can be upgraded by evolving trait cards onto an evolution slide (with DNA points). At the start, your disease is weak and unspecialised, so you will need to add new symptoms to make it stronger. Choose carefully and plan ahead in order to react to the changing world and exploit opportunities created by other player’s actions.

A simple nosebleed could accelerate things early on, whilst diarrhea will help you thrive in hot countries. Sneezing can infect new continents by air but Total Organ Failure would allow you wipe out multiple countries each turn.

As countries start to fall, use powerful event cards to alter the balance of power. You might try to eradicate a dominant player by bombing their diseased cities, or hold the Olympics to cause huge numbers of infected people to travel to a healthy continent.

When the world collapses, who will be the ultimate plague?

While at The CGRealm check out The Windsor Sandwich Shop. They provide quality sandwiches, soups, salads, coffees, chips, smoothies, desserts and more! All available in a fun gaming environment!

Check out their menu: http://www.windsorsandwichshop.com/menu.html

Personally, I recommend the potato bacon soup when they have it and the oreo cheesecake.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Reducing The Pile of Shame Update - April

A look at what games came out of my Pile of Shame and got to the table in April. 

This is the latest in a series of #ReducingThePile, here are links to the rest of the series so far:
#ReducingThePile Update - March
New year, new games. Further reducing the Pile(s) of Shame

April was a good month for gaming. 37 plays in of 19 different games. Here's a look at the ones that were completely new to me with a short review of each: 

Mighty Monsters - 2 plays - This one was dirt cheap on Amazon along with a bunch of other Queen games so I figured I would give it a shot. It's not bad for what I paid for it and it's simple enough I think my girls might enjoy it. Each player plays an army of monsters attacking the castle. Each round you play monsters onto the board to take part in one of the battles. At most two players can play in each battle. You don't know how hard the fight will be when you play. After everyone has two monsters up you resolve the battles from the gates to the throne room. If the combined strength of both monsters beats the defender then the owners of those monsters split the treasure. If the monsters lose though the entire siege fails and the turn ends and players have to pay to heal all monsters that are in battles that haven't resolved yet. Push your luck, co-op yet competitive reverse tower defence.

San Francisco Cable Car - 1 play - Another Queen game that was at a silly low price. This one is like an improved Tsuro. Actually, I don't see why I would ever play Tsuro again owning this. The basic mode is pretty simple with players trying to create the longest routes for all the cars in their colour. The game really shines with the advanced rules which add a Train Game style stock mechanism to the game. With these rules no players own any particular colour of cable car, instead, they buy stocks in the various colours and try to make sure the best routes are made for the colour they have invested the most in.

Raise Your Goblets - 1 play - The concept behind this game sounded awesome. It's basically the poisoned wine goblet scene in The Princess Bride but with more players. Every player has a goblet in front of them, each round they get two actions. These include adding something to the goblets, rotating them clockwise or counterclockwise, swapping your goblet with someone else's or peaking in your goblet. When you add to a goblet you have to decide if you add poison or an antidote. Once enough rounds have passed a player can call for cheer instead of taking their action. At this point everyone "drinks" by seeing what's in the goblet in front of them. More poison tokens then attitude you are dead. Each round players are randomly given another player colour as a target. You get points for staying alive, and if your target dies. Play three rounds and see who has the most points. To make thing interesting each player is assigned a role at the beginning that gives them asymmetric powers. This was good, but a bit fiddly. Three rounds we had to start over because someone spilt a goblet. Plus it's hard to add things to the goblets without someone seeing what you are adding. I love the concept but it just doesn't play out as smooth as it should. I'm thinking of investing in a lazy susan just for this game.

Junk Art - 4 plays - This has become my favourite dexterity game. The first time I played I thought it was great. The second time it was even better. The fourth time with a completely different group of people had this one cinch my top spot for dexterity game. What I love is that it's like 20 games in one box. Each game you draw three world cards. These determine what cities you will visit and each city has it's own unique way to play the game. In one city you may be building the tallest tower, in the next city, you may be getting points for having a structure build only in one colour. The next city it could be a real time build with the first person to build a tower with 10 parts winning. Each of these games is the equivalent of one standard dexterity game like Bandu. Added to that the components are top notch and are really get shapes that sometimes fit together in very interesting ways. Love Junk Art. This is a must buy if you dig this style of game.

Paris Connection - 4 plays - Did I mention there was a big sale on Queen Games. This one so far is the best of the lot. This game is fantastic. It's a heavy economic game that can be played in about half an hour. It takes the route building and stock trading elements of an 18xx game and manages to give you that feeling in about half an hour. This still blows me away. There are 6 train companies. Players start with a random selection of trains (drawn out of a bag) based on the number of players. Each train represents one stock in that company. Each turn you have two choices: either take 1-5 trains from a company and play them on the board or trade in one of your trains (behind a screen) for two trains of a different colour. Each company only has so many trains (they all have the same amount). When playing on the board you use the trains to represent routes. Every city a route touches is worth points for that company/colour. Once only one company has stocks left the game ends. Players reveal what trains/stocks they have behind their screens, then multiple the number of each to the score that colour hit during the game. The player with the most points wins. It's so simple, so easy to teach but totally scratched that stock trading economic itch.

Colony - 1 play - One of the people playing this with me called it Yahtzee meets Dominion and I don't think they are wrong. It also has a bit of Favor of the Pharaoh in it. It's a resource management engine building game where you use a lot of dice to represent your resources. Thematically the number on the die tells you what resource it represents but really you just collect sets of numbers to buy cards and add them to your tableau which either gives you more dice or lets you modify your dice so you can get the number you need to buy more cards so that you... I'm sure you get it. Each card you buy is worth points and every card can be upgraded (which requires that you roll a straight) which causes them to be worth more points and generally makes the card more effective. It's a race to a point total that varies depending on the number of players. Like Dominion, the most expensive cards are cards that do nothing but give you points. Also like Dominion, this game comes with a tonne of cards and you only play with a subset of them each game. Colony was good but not great. I was expecting more from it.

Dr. Eureka - 4 plays - this one technically comes from my kid's pile of shame, but it was my first time playing so I'm including it here. This is a really fun dexterity game that's fun for all ages. Players start with three test tubes in front of them. In each are two balls of the same colour (so three colours one in each tube). Each round a card is flipped up that shows three test tubes with the balls in a certain orientation. It's then a race for each player to try to match the pattern on the card. The player who matches it first yells out Eureka! and, assuming they were correct, they take the card. The first player to collect 5 cards wins. There's one neat rule where test tubes can be placed on the table upside down that really adds a new level to this game.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Heroclix: Mouser Mayhem Starter Set - 3 plays - Winner for the longest title ever. I've been trying to get into Heroclix with my oldest daughter for a few years now. The problem is that the game has grown so much since launch that it's a huge learning curve to jump into the game now. This starter set helps with that significantly. This set includes a simple introductory version of the full Heroclix rules. Added to that it has three co-op scenarios for playing with up to four friends (actually you can even play 5 where it becomes a one vs many game). To keep things simple the game uses tokens for the bad guys so there's nothing to click there. Also, the heroes (The Turtles) have rather simple combat dials compared to many of the modern clix we already own. They only have two different sets of stats and they each only have two different sets of powers on each dial. This makes learning the powers much easier than the standard game. Full Heroclix rules are also included for those wanting to go beyond the box. Personally, right now my daughter and I are having fun just playing with the contents of this box. Lastly, this set includes the most beautifully painted Heroclix I've ever seen.

Dogs Of War - 1 play - this one is going to be hard to describe. Players are mercenaries in the middle of a Game of Thrones like a medieval power struggle. 6 different noble houses are going to war and the players need to decide who to support each year. In each of the four rounds of the game players use their money to buy soldiers, then use their generals to assign these soldiers to battle. When assigning these players need to decide which of the noble houses to support. Each round there are three fights happening and the houses involved in each is randomised every time. After all the players are out of generals to play the battles are resolved. Players get points for being on the winning side and each house gets points. At the end of the game players, multiple the amount of influence they have with each house by the number of points the house gained during the game. In that way, it plays like many train based economic games. Really this one needs more space to explain. It's a very neat game and there's a lot more to it than I indicated here. This one's heavier than it looks and very AP prone. I dig it and look forward to playing again.

Adrenaline - 3 plays - Normally a first person shooter board game wouldn't interest me but the reviews for Adrenaline have been very positive so I decided to pick it up. What was even cooler is that the copy I got from Brimstone Games even included the Chainsaw promo card. This is a very quick very well done simulation of a first person shooter in board game form. I don't think anyone can realise just how well this works until they play the game. There's something magical about the way things work together in this game. How cool the weapons are as well as how different each plays. How simple the line of sight rules are. How they figured out how to punish people for picking on one player. Everything in this game is just brilliant. I'm loving it.

New York Slice - 1 play - I have a feeling this one is going to see a lot of play around here. It's a pizza based retheme Piece O' Cake. Each round the active player builds an 11 slice pizza. They then divide that pizza into a number of servings equal to the number of players. Then each player, in turn, picks a serving which they take and place in front of them. The person who divided up the pizza picks last. This is the very seldom used: I split, you choose mechanism. Players are trying to collect sets of pizza slices with the same toppings. At the end of the game, only the players who have the most of a set get points and they get points equal to the total number of slices there are with those toppings. To keep things interesting there are special order cards that can be collected and there are special rules for pepperoni and sardine toppings. This one is light, easy to teach, fun and still pretty tactical.  dig it.

Tales & Games: The Hare & The Tortoise - 3 plays - I brought my youngest daughter with me to the FLGS to celebrate Tabletop Day this year and this was one of many games we played together. This is a very solid kids game that is just as enjoyable for adults. The game includes basic rules for playing with kids and advanced rules for people looking for more of a game. I suggest just diving in with the advanced rules. My 7-year-old had no problem figuring them out. At the start of the game, players are randomly assigned one of the animals they want to win the race. They also pick one card from their hand to place a second 'bet' on who's going to win (yes this can be the same animal). Then players play cards from their hand trying to make it so that their animal crosses the finish line fastest. The neat bit here is that each animal moves a different way. The turtle is slow and steady, the rabbit is fast but will take a break if in first, the lamb is even faster but stops at rivers to drink, the wolf can howl causing the other animals to stop for one turn and the fox is the most balanced moving almost every round. All this movement is based on card play from the players.

So there we go, 12 new to me games played in April. How many new games have you gotten to the table?

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Brimstone Board Game Nights - May - Kharnage and Castle Panic

Hey Windsor area gamers, come out to Brimstone Board Game Night! Meet other gamers, play some great games and maybe even win a game to bring home.

Brimstone Board Game Nights hit on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month. These events run from 5pm to 10pm and are open to all ages.

Every event will feature at least one game. There will be demo copies of the game available and someone on hand willing to teach the game so you can try before you buy.

You can win games just by coming out to play. At every Brimstone Board Game Night, you earn tickets that give you a chance to win free games. Every event we will be giving away a copy of the featured game and some events will feature even more. 

Players earn 1 ticket for playing games, 1 ticket for purchasing a snack or drink, and 1 ticket for bringing 1 or more board games for people to play. Earn 5 more tickets for each game you purchase. First-time players will receive 5 additional tickets.

You can find Brimstone at 1421 Tecumseh Rd. E. There is parking in back and there is a municipal lot across the street that is free after 6pm.

May 6th - Kharnage

Kharnage is a fast and fun fighting game in which you are the warchief of the mighty humans, the strong (and alcoholic) dwarves, the amazing horde of goblins, or the ferocious orcs (and their giant!). Your goal in Kharnage is to take control of something strategically essential, astoundingly beautiful, and envy of all other nations: a hill. Yes, just a hill. Admittedly, it is a nice hill. It may have a very commanding view of the surroundings, or it may not. You won't know until you get up there! To do so, you're going to have to drive off the armies of the other players by simply causing as much mayhem and bloodshed as possible.

Each turn, you choose one battle card. The player with the lowest initiative value begins and: Deploys new units and applies skills if needed, or Attacks (shoot or assault) one opponent with all points, or two opponents by dividing their points.

The next player then begins their turn, doing the same. After all players have taken their turn, the player who destroyed the largest number of units wins 5 domination points, the second 3 domination points, and the third 1 domination point. The last one has only their eyes for crying.

Each time a player totally destroys an opponent army, they must yell "KHARNAGE!", loud and clear, and stomp the table. They then take a Kharnage token worth 1 domination point. The other players must cheer them on by yelling "YEAH!"; if not, they lose a Kharnage token if they have one.

After four rounds, the warchief with the most domination points wins!

May 20th - Castle Panic

The forest is filled with all sorts of monsters. They watched and waited as you built your castle and trained your soldiers, but now they've gathered their army and are marching out of the woods. Can you work with your friends to defend your castle against the horde, or will the monsters tear down your walls and destroy the precious castle towers? You will all win or lose together, but in the end only one player will be declared the Master Slayer!

Castle Panic is a cooperative, light strategy game for 1 to 6 players ages 10 and up. Players must work together to defend their castle, in the center of the board, from monsters that attack out of the forest at the edges of the board. Players trade cards, hit and slay monsters, and plan strategies together to keep their castle towers intact. The players either win or lose together, but only the player with the most victory points is declared the Master Slayer. Players must balance the survival of the group with their own desire to win.


2010 Golden Geek Best Family Board Game Nominee
2010 Golden Geek Best Children's Board Game Nominee

Sunday, 2 April 2017

#ReducingThePile Update - March

It's time to look at how well I reduced my pile of shame in March. My goal is to have played every game that was in my pile of shame at the start of the year by the end of 2017. 

This is the latest in a series of #ReducingThePile, here are links to the rest of the series so far:
March was a much slower month for gaming for me. I only got 17 games in total. 6 of those were new to me. The first is a kids' game and technically never hit my pile of shame as it was a birthday gift for Little G but it was a new game to me so I included it in this list.

Bugs In The Kitchen - 3 plays - This is a pretty cool game from Ravensburger that uses Hex Bugs toys as part of the game. My girls love Hex Bugs and will spend hours or even days making setups with their tracks. This game takes one of the neat little robots and tosses it down in the middle of a big plastic board. There are walls on this board made up of utensils and each of these walls can be rotated 90 degrees. In turn, players roll a die to see what type of utensil they can rotate and then do so, trying to get the bug to end up in their scoring area. It's a bit of a dexterity game with a speed and real-time element that seems great for teaching kids about planning ahead. The entire family really enjoyed this one.

Red 7 - 3 plays - Heard good things about this one when it came out but never picked it up until just this past month. What a fantastic game. The rules took a bit to sink in (they aren't hard just very different from most other card games) but once they did we found a great game. There's so much going on here. I would go so far as to call this one a brain burner. If it wasn't for the length I would call it a heavy game. The thing is, that it's a filler. A full round only takes maybe 10 minutes.

The rules are simple. Each turn you play one or two cards, at the end of the round, you must be winning the game. Cards can be played in your tableau or to replace the current rule. That's it. There are advanced rules for scoring that I think really make the game. Once those are added the brain burn sets in. I think everyone needs to give this one a try. I don't think many would be disappointed.

Istanbul: Mocha & Baksheesh - 1 play - I've played Istanbul many times. It's a great game. This was my first time trying the first expansion Mocha & Baksheesh.

More board pieces, more options, and some improvement on old options. I couldn't find anything not to like about the expansion. I really like the addition of quite a few ways to move around the board more quickly. The addition of the barricade which mitigates some of this new movement. The larger board size I also found opened things up a bit, it wasn't quite as cutthroat which I liked. Let's put it this way: I put the expansion into my main box and don't expect to ever play without it.

Lotus - 2 plays - I think I would have liked Lotus a lot more if I didn't play it for the first time the same night I played Red 7 for the first time. I loved Red 7 and Lotus just didn't measure up. Now that's not to say Lotus is bad. Actually far from it. There's a rather good game here. Added to that it's beautiful. It's just much lighter and wasn't as engaging as Red 7. I can see breaking out each for different groups.

In Lotus, players are trying to complete sets of cards represented as flower petals. It's really amazing looking. The player that completes a set (full flower) get's the cards. Each card is worth one point each. In addition, there's an area control element and when a flower scores, the player with the most control gets a bonus.

Homeland: The Game - 1 play - This one has been on super deep discount, both at the FLGS and online. People tend to be scared of licensed games and usually for good reasons. Plus at least here in Canada, the theme isn't quite so close to home as it would be for the U.S.

What got me to buy this was the number of people telling me that it hits a sweet spot between Battlestar Galactica and Dark Moon as far as team based hidden role games go. That had me very curious. For under $20 I figured I would check it out.

Homeland was fun. I love the fact there are three factions in play here. The Political Opportunist role is brilliant, they want some terrorist attacks to go through but not all of them, they are generally a 'good guy' but with an agenda. The way the cards stack is cool. The mechanics are very similar to the 'skill check' system in BSG. I enjoyed it but I think I need to play it a few more times to really solidify my opinion. After one play I'm still on the fence.

Star Trek Panic - 2 plays - First off I am not a fan of Castle Panic. To be honest I don't even remember why. I played it at a WGR event and just didn't have a good time. I think it may have been an Alpha Gamer issue. Then I saw Star Trek Panic announced and saw it at Origins. This seemed like a great way to give the Panic games another shot. 

What a great looking game. Star Trek Panic has one of the coolest play pieces ever. The big chunky cardboard Enterprise is cool but gets even cooler looking as it takes damage. The intro game of this was fantastic. Players were talking in character, we were making all kinds of Trek Quotes. We took some damage but easily beat the missions. Total thumbs up!

Then we played a full 5 mission game. It was a ton of fun for the first hour. But then we did badly on a mission and never recovered. The next hour was just us barely staying alive, failing mission after mission until we blew up. That was not so much fun. Barely hanging on was cool for the first hour but once we got to that second hour, we seriously considered just quitting.

So it looks like this game overstays it's welcome. I do wonder if we were doing better if that time would have gone by quicker and not just turned to frustration. I do want to play again to see if that second game was a fluke. If not I strongly suggest running this like a demo game, just do two missions have fun and move on to something else.

So that's it for me for March. How did you do #ReducingThePile

Thursday, 9 March 2017

What got played by the end of February #ReducingThePile

It's time for another #ReducingThePile update. This is a look at the games I played for the first time between February 15th to the end of the month. One of my goals this year is to get all of the games in my pile(s) of shame played. 

To see how I've been doing so far check out my previous posts:

Checking my stats on Boardgamegeek.com I see I played 52 games in February. not bad, not bad at all. Of course 15 of these plays were kids games and very quick, but hey, they are still game plays.

I didn't get a lot of new (to me) games played since the last update on February 15th but here's a look at what did.

Last Mouse Lost - 10 plays - okay technically I don't even own this game. My wife had to do some banking and the kids and I went to a nearby toy store to kill some time and this was in their demo area. My kids loved it. We will be getting this game at some point, the kids didn't have their allowance on them at the time or we would have bought it right then.

This is a ridiculously simple game, but somehow, actually fun. Each turn you 'pop' any number of mice in one row. By pop I mean push them so they pop out the other side. The person that pops the last mouse loses. That's it. When the game is done you flip it over and you can play again.  It's surprisingly more tactical than you would expect and quite fun for something so simple. The game is that rubber circle thing you see in the picture, that's it. You can bring it anywhere. The box even suggests using it as a coaster. If I owned a bar, I would have these at all the tables.

SeaFall - 2 plays - This is a big one. A huge one. The big Legacy game. I would be surprised if you haven't heard about this game. Designed by the inventor of Legacy games Rob Daviau, SeaFall was very hotly anticipated and much delayed. Then it came out and reviews were very mixed, and I can see why.

We've only played through the prologue and game one. The entire campaign will last approximately 15 games and it's meant to be played with the same players each time. This is why this game was on my pile of shame for so long. As of now, I've got a group committed to playing through these games on Friday evenings when we can. I have a feeling it will take some time to finish but I do expect to finish it.

This is not a light game. This is a heavy pick up and deliver euro with some very interesting adventure mechanics. Those mechanics are similar to Tales of the Arabian Knights or Above and Below and even have you reading through a which-way book. The Legacy aspect starts right away in the Prologue which has a very shocking twist at the end of it.

If you are interested in learning more about the game check for my posts on google plus using hashtag #SeaFall

Logic Labyrinth - 5 plays - This one I picked up as a gift for my youngest's birthday and we played 5 times at her birthday party. It came strongly recommended by The Dice Tower and for good reason. This is a tile laying game that looks a bit like Carcassonne. All that maters here though is making the roads match up.

The game is a pattern recognition game. You roll a die, everyone takes that many tiles and then they all, simultaneously, try to get all their tiles to match up. The first player to match up all their tiles gets the most points. If you can't possibly line up your tiles you can discard and draw, but that takes time. In addition there is a genie on the die, when he's rolled you draw a card from the genie deck. This deck shows a set number of tiles in a specific pattern. All players draw that many tiles and again have to line all their tiles up, the difference here is that they have to match the pattern on the genie card.

I found this game to be the perfect next step from Kids of Carcassonne. The now 7 year old, loves it and even her 9 year old sister enjoys it.

Stronghold 2nd Edition - 1 play - Finally! This one has been in my pile of shame far too long. Technically my wife and I did get it to the table once a couple years ago but only got through 1 of 7 turns before we had to call the game and we needed the gaming table so couldn't leave it set up.

That's my one lesson about this game: most 2 player games are quick, this is not. Give yourself at least 3 hours for the first play and potentially that long every time due to AP (analysis paralysis). There is a lot to think about in this game.

Stronghold has to be the most asymmetric game out there. The two sides in this battle are completely different. Heck they don't even get to follow a normal turn order of one player going then the other player going. The attacker has a set of actions, of which they only need to do two. For each one they do the defender gets time tokens. After any action the defender must spend those time tokens to prepare their defense. It's all very thematic. The attacker does things like build siege engines, train troops, cast spells and move their armies of Goblins, Orcs and Trolls, while the defender is busy building walls, cauldrons, cannons, preying to the gods, using heroes and a whole lot more.

There's a lot going on here and expect your first few rounds to be very slow. Stronghold is worth the fairly steep learning curve. This is one of the best 2 player only games I've played. I love the theme and it really comes out in the mechanics. Plus it's beautiful. I strongly recommend this one.

So that's where I stand at the end of February. I used to have three piles of shame. I now have two. So far so good. How are your efforts at #ReducingThePile going?

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Brimstone Board Game Nights for March - Featuring: Cavern Tavern and Aeon's End

Hey Windsor area gamers, come out to Brimstone Board Game Night! Meet other gamers, play some great games and maybe even win a game to bring home.

Brimstone Board Game Nights hit on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month. These events run from 5pm to 10pm and are open to all ages.

Every event will feature at least one game. There will be demo copies of the game available and someone on hand willing to teach the game so you can try before you buy.

You can win games just by coming out to play. At every Brimstone Board Game Night you earn tickets that give you a chance to win free games. Every event we will be giving away a copy of the featured game and some events will feature even more. 

Players earn 1 ticket for playing games, 1 ticket for purchasing a snack or drink, and 1 ticket for bringing 1 or more board games for people to play. Earn 5 more tickets for each game you purchase. First time players will receive 5 additional tickets.

You can find Brimstone at 1421 Tecumseh Rd. E. There is parking in back and there is a municipal lot across the street that is free after 6pm.

March 4th - Cavern Tavern

In a war torn land, a magical land of heroic feats and epic quests, there is a place that has never felt the wrath of the ongoing and everlasting war between the five realms. Hidden in the hills of Strongcliff , deep in the shadows of a cavern lies the best kept secret for many years.

This place is called the Cavern Tavern.

Cavern Tavern is a worker (dice) placement and resource management game that is set in a fantasy world. Each player assumes the role of a worker in the tavern. Your job is to serve drinks, work in the kitchen, do chores, and on top of that try to keep every guest happy, including the nasty and greedy barkeep.

On each turn, a player can assign his dice to 1 of the 21 locations in the tavern.

These locations are divided in 6 sections. The Main area, where the guests are located and from where each player must pick up an Order, Cellar where all the ingredients that are used to complete the Orders are located, Kitchen where players can work to receive different rewards, as well as the Chores section. Also, the board features the Wizards workshop where the players can seek help for completing the Orders and Nasty the Dwarf's office where the players can go and try to suck up to the boss and badmouth a coworker.

The players will have to complete the Orders as soon as possible, because for each round they are late, they’ll receive less points than the Order's original value.

Also, for being late with the Orders, your reputation with Nasty the Dwarf is affected, something that is vital in the game.

To stand out from other workers and gain your employers favor, you’ll need to skillfully manage the orders from your customers and the resource ingredients. You’ll have to carefully prioritize your moves, and choose from what kind of work you’ll profit the most out of the situation.

So… do you have what it takes? Get ready for the biggest challenge in your life, and start working in Cavern Tavern.

March 18th - Aeon's End

The survivors of a long-ago invasion have taken refuge in the forgotten underground city of Gravehold. There, the desperate remnants of society have learned that the energy of the very breaches the beings use to attack them can be repurposed through various gems, transforming the malign energies within into beneficial spells and weapons to aid their last line of defense: the breach mages.

Aeon's End is a cooperative game that explores the deckbuilding genre with a number of innovative mechanisms, including a variable turn order system that simulates the chaos of an attack, and deck management rules that require careful planning with every discarded card. Players will struggle to defend Gravehold from The Nameless and their hordes using unique abilities, powerful spells, and, most importantly of all, their collective wits.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Pile of Shame reduction Update - Mid February #ReducingThePile

A progress report on my attempts to reduce my Pile(s) of Shame. One of my goals for 2017 is to get every game that was in my pile of shame at the start of the year out of the pile by the end of the year.

I've made some great progress so far. Back in January I got in 9 new game plays (not counting New Years), you can see those reviews here: http://w-g-r.blogspot.ca/2017/02/pile-of-shame-reduction-update-end-of.html

Here's a mid month update for February. These are the games I got out of my pile by Feb 16th.

Santorini - 12 plays - This is one of the games that wasn't in the pile of shame at the start of the year. It was my first game purchase of 2017. Everyone is going nuts for this game and I needed to get on that band wagon.

There's a really good reason for the buzz. This is one of the simplest games I run, I can teach you to play in under 5 minutes, but you will be playing a lifetime  before you master it. It's one of those chess like abstracts where it's all about strategy. Even the basic game could keep you occupied for hours, and there's a reason I've gotten 9 plays of this in already: you can't eat just one. I've yet to play one game of Santorini and put it away, after the first round you always want to play more.

In addition to the core abstract game, the box comes with a ton of God cards. Each player gets one of these and they break the rules in some way. I can't properly express how much the Gods not only change but improve the game. This is what takes the game from good to great.

It doesn't hurt that this is one of the best looking games to be produced in years. Just setting it up you gather a crowd. It just looks awesome. It's also a lot of fun with three players. The game is over quickly but it's very tactical during that short time.

Heroes Wanted - 1 play - I remember when this was on kickstarter and thinking it looked cool but I didn't want to take a chance on it. Then I saw a group of friends playing it at Extra Life 2016. I watched part of the game and saw how much fun they were having and had to get myself a copy.

I really like this game but it may not be what you think. It looks like a silly Amerathrash game. Instead it's a silly medium-heavy Euro. Gameplay is all about turn optimization. Using your action cards to earn the most points each turn while hindering the other players. Yes that's right it's not a co-op. Put on top of these heavier mechanics is a hilarious theme. The game is more Mystery Men than Avengers. The one mission we played was to catch jay-walkers and litterers. The heroes and villains are created through a mix of two element cards each which gave us combinations like Meat Dude and American Knight.

One put this one over the top for me are the quirks. These add an RPG element to the game. Every character gets a quirk, something they have to do when in game triggers happen. What makes this fun is what you actually have to do. In our game, every time someone used a Super Power I had to clap, cheer and offer them encouragement. Another player, had to stand up and announce every headline that was completed. It's hilarious. It also gets everyone in the area to notice the game. By then end of our first play we had a group of 10 onlookers cheering us on.

Dungeon Lords: Happy Anniversary - 3 plays - This is another one that has been in my pile longer than most. The problem with this game is that it intimidated me. This is the only game that I own where the rulebook tries to talk you out of playing it. In the tutorial section it notes that if players don't get it by the end the game is not for them. Then later when talking about the first play it insists that this is a heavy game for heavy gamers, and that even heavy gamers should use the intro rules. So this kept me from trying this one for more than a year.

Eventually I decided that was silly and we needed to learn this game. I do have to say that the rulebook is right: This is a heavy game. It's also not for everyone. But it is for me. I loved this game. As did my wife. As did the other 3 people I've now taught it to. This is one of the best games I've played and we've only played the intro rules so far. I'm loving it and currently have a post on facebook trying to figure out when we can play again.

Quickly: this is a heavy Euro about trying to build the best dungeon. Get food, hire imps, dig tunnels, hire monsters, build rooms, set up traps and try to keep the villagers happy so that the high level adventurers and the paladin leave you alone (unless you are bad ass enough to take them out). It's like Boss Monster extreme! The them sounds light, but it is not. Definitely a try before you buy.

Villages of Valeria - 1 play - this is another 2017 purchase. It barely hit the pile of shame, I played it days after getting it. Valeria Card Kingdom was on my 16 best new (to me_ games of 2016 list. I love that game. I've been hearing that Villages of Valeria is as good if not better, so I had to check it out.

Right now, after only 1 play I can say it's good. So far I don't think it's as good as Card Kingdom but they are rather different games. For one Villages of Valeria is much shorter. The theme is kind of the opposite of Card Kingdom. In this game you are building your kingdoms trying to attract heroes, as opposed to hiring heroes which lets you found kingdoms.

Gameplay is very San Juan like. Each round the active player chooses to lead an action. Then everyone else can follow and take the same action but it's not quite as good for them as it is for the leader. Players use cards to build a tableau and the end game condition is the same: once a player has X cards in their tableau the game ends. Buildings added to the tableau modify the basic actions, in general making them better for you. Most of this we have seen before in other games. The neat new thing is a unique card draw and discard system where there are 5 face up piles on the board and when you discard you choose which pile to discard into, when drawing you have to take from the top of the pile.

I did enjoy my play of Villages of Valeria but I think it will take a few more plays before I've firmed up my opinion on it.

CO2 - 1 play - this is another one that sat in my pile of shame for far too long. It was there for a similar reason to Dungeon Lords. This is a heavy Euro and I was not looking forward to trying to teach it. The rules, while not horrible, just weren't very easy to read and grasp. In addition, for some reason, my copy of the game came with all of the player aids in French.

It took going online and watching a few different gameplay videos for me to really grock this game. At least to a point where I could explain it to other players. Finally got to play it at one of the CG Realm game nights and while teaching didn't go very smooth we all really enjoyed the game.

This is one of those games where you can never do everything you want to do. You only get one action a turn and you will find you want 5. It's also one of those games where other players can benefit from your actions. In this game you don't own most of what you do. You propose a project, but then someone else may come in an add infrastructure for that project, then a third player may be the one to actually build the power plant for that project. This can lead to a lot of AP and some really hard decisions.

CO2 really needs a full review. There's a ton going on here. The world is having an energy crisis. The goal is to stop the increase of pollution, while meeting rising demand for sustainable energy - and of course profiting from doing so. Players need money and resources to build clean plants. They will need to research and attend energy summits, improving their expertise int he various sources of clean energy. They will need to learn to manage Carbon Emission Permits. Managing government grants and getting UN sanctions can help keep your energy empire on top.

I really enjoyed this game. I was pleased to see that there is a new printing coming out in 2017 as well, as this one is currently going for stupid prices on the secondary market right now.

Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem - 1 play - This is a game I had no interest in. I've never seen the show, most licenced games are not very good and Gale Force 9 isn't know for amazing games. Then suddenly it was dirt cheap, like $13 cheap, and all of a sudden there was buzz. The thing is that the buzz wasn't just over the price, it was also about how good this game is. So I picked it up, can't go wrong for under $15.

This game is totally not what I would expect from a game about biker gangs. I would have guessed a dice filled Ameritrash game. Instead I got a medium weight Euro. Mostly area control with some resource management and a rather well done auction mechanic. Components are great. There's a ton of extra cardboard in here that ads to replayability. This is a decent game. I'm thinking that being a fan of the show would make it even better.

There is one problem. The first printing, which seems to be the one that's so cheap, has a printing issue. There's no contraband card included in the game. Now there's a copy shown in the rulebook but it's the 4 player side. So if you play 3 players the game is unplayable out of the box. Now it's very easy to find a copy of the missing info online but it is annoying.

Shakespeare - 2 plays - I admit I knew nothing about this game. Then it was part of a buy 2 get 1 free sale and I looked it up on Boardgamegeek.com. It seemed to review pretty well so I picked it up. I'm glad I did. I rather like this game.  

Now I say that, but in fact I hate it while I'm playing it. We started calling it Misery Theater as there are so many agonizing decisions and you cannot possibly do everything you want. Then when you figure out your best possible move, the player before you takes the costume you needed, or hires the actor you wanted, or messed up your plans in some other way. It's so frustrating! It's awesome! 

The game is an interesting mix of very thematic and completely abstract. You are a play-write and you hire actors and seamstresses and set makers. At the end of the game you need to pay all these people. Each round you pick a group of them to work with you and after the round most of them will need to rest and can't be used again. If your actors are in full costume they help you during the dress rehearsals. All very thematic, but then set building is just coloured tiles, piled up, that have to be symetrical, unless they are gold. If you build on the right spot you get points, because, well you built there: good for you. Costumes are just colored chits, and the value of these gives you money or points. The actual play is in three acts but is just three progress tracks, which no player will probably complete, they are just there to give more money and points. The art on the troup cards is fantastic, the art on the clothes and set tiles is non-existent. It's an odd mix.

Overally if you dig tight unforgiving Euro's, with quite a bit of screw your neighbor this one is for you, Just don't believe the potential 20 minute play time on the box. This one can be very AP prone. Our shortest game was an hour and a half. One last note: this plays just as well with 2 players as with more. It scales perfectly.

So that's another 7 games out of my pile of shame. Well technically 5 of them were part of my goal to play everything that was in there at the start of the year. Two of these were bought this year. I'm still pretty happy with my progress on this so far. I think this is definitely doable.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Pile of Shame reduction update - End of January #ReducingThePile

Back on January 2nd I talked about how one of my goals for this year is to get games out of my Pile(s) of Shame.  The actual goal is to have played every game that was in the pile of shame at the start of the year, at least once, before the end of the year. 

I realize that getting the pile to 0 is probably an unrealistic goal as I'm not going to stop buying games until I finish this challenge. I'm sure there will be some new hotness that I must play right away and will get to the table long before some other games in the piles. 

I'm going to try to document my progress on getting through the piles. I won't promise these updates will be regular but I will try to do them when I find some spare time. In each post I will list the new games I played with my initial thoughts. In some cases I may have only gotten one play in, in others I may have gotten more. I want people to be aware that, in many cases, these will just be initial impressions.

For those following along at home I'm going to use hashtag #ReducingThePile for these posts.

Black Gold - 1 play - This was a surprise. A hidden gem if you will. It's an older Fantasy Flight game from 2010 that I don't remember hearing much about. It was both on sale and part of a buy 2 get 1 free deal so I decided to give it a try and I'm very happy I did.

Black Gold is a very neat economic game where players are trying to prospect for oil, set up oil derricks, deliver oil to one of three companies and then sell the delivered oil at a profit.

This one really deserves a full review as there are some really neat mechanisms. It has one of the best auction phases I've seen in a game and the way the market fluctuates is very well done. Added to the excellent gameplay are some of the nicest components out there. They way you add plastic oil spouts to derricks is very neat, and the fact those same spouts flip over to show stored oil also works really well. I'm hoping to get a few more plays out of this one and was happy to add it to the collection.

Dreamwell - 2 plays - I won this game at one of the Brimstone Games board game nights. I had never heard of the game before that game night. 
I will say one thing: this game has some of the most unique art I've ever seen. All of it is by Tara McPherson and really fits the theme of the game which is wandering around a dream land looking for friends. 

Gameplay is solid. You lay out a grid of tiles, you have two pawns, you use actions to move around the board trying to get your pawns on two tiles that match cards in your hands. You can get more cards and you can manipulate the tiles that form the board (rotating and flipping). There's more game here than at first glance especially once you add flipping tiles. Overall it was a fun enough game but not great and I don't plan on keeping it in my collection.

Medieval Academy - 2 plays - I've owned this one for quite some time. There was a lot of buzz when it first came out. I picked it up and tried to play it at 3am during an Extra Life event.  It didn't go well. I'm guessing due to the fact it was 3am. I had it in my head I didn't really like this game because of that. I was wrong. I finally got in a full play of the game at the beginning of January and found it to be an excellent game.

It's a very simple to teach drafting game that has a surprising level of tactics and strategy. Very seldom do you get a handful of cards and know instantly what card you should take. It's all about trying to guess what the other players are going to do and constantly checking the boards for player position. This is up there with 7 Wonders and Among the Stars for me.

Worlds Fair 1893 - 1 play - The fact this still only has 1 play is a shame. That first game was really good. Near fantastic. I really enjoyed this game. I had heard good things and I know at least one person who says it's the best game of 2016. I'm not sure I would go that far but it's up there. 

Amazing looking game. I love the theme. I love the way the theme is represented on the cards. It's solid mix of area control and set collection. Lots of hard decision points. Can lead to some AP but it's still a fairly light game. It's has that magical combination of simple rules and complex strategy and tactics. I really need to play this one a few more times. It felt like the kind of game that would reward system mastery.

Dungeons & Dragons Attack Wing - 2 plays - this was one of the most shameful games on my pile of shame. I've had this game over 3 years. I received it as a gift for my Birthday back in 2014. At the time I was heavy into X-Wing and just wasn't interested in trying the D&D version. 

I was very surprised to find just how solid this game seems. I say seems because all I own for it is the starter set, which, for this style of game, doesn't really give you the full experience. This is even more true for D&D Attack Wing as there are both ground and flying troops and the core set only gives you flying troops. So really I've only experienced half the game, if not less.

The minis may not be the best painted, but they are pretty cool. Gameplay has some significant changes from X-wing but all of them make sense for the setting. Force building seems to have a lot of variety with spells and skills. I admit it: I'm impressed.

I'm now keeping my eyes open for deals on more units for Dungeons & Dragons Attack Wing. The game has been out long enough that I'm hoping to find a good deal or a lot of figures for a good price. I'm interested to see just how good this can be with the more units and more options and combing ground a aerial combat. 

World of Yo-Ho - 1 play - this one is unique. Very unique. It's a mix of a video game and a board game. Every player needs a mobile device of some sort in order to play. You also have to download the app, and that app takes up a lot of room. Once you have the app and launch it, each player uses their device as their playing piece on the board. 

The actual game is a rather interesting pirate based sandbox game. I've heard it compared to Merchants and Marauders. You start in port and usually start off looking for missions. There's pick up and deliver, discovery, find the missing thing, defeat the monster or even attack the other players. Going to a port where another player has been ads player vs. player missions. All of this tracked by the app. Movement is done by physically moving your mobile device around the board. Combat has a bit of a rock paper scissors feel but that's selling it short. There's actually quite a bit going on here but it's all managed by the app so pretty much invisible to the players. 

I have to say it's definitely neat. I think it's well worth trying. There are a few interface issues (the lack of an undo button being a big one) and there was an issue with people's devices running out of power before the game was done (bring a charger), but I did have fun and will be willing to try again. 

Keyflower: The Merchants - 1 play - I finally got to play Keyflower with all the expansions! I got to try The Farmers back on new years and then played with The Merchants a couple weeks later. Whereas The Farmers seemed to do some work to fix issues in the core game, The Merchants seemed to be about adding more to it. 

Like The Farmers, what I liked most about this expansion, is that it didn't really change the base game all that much. It added more to it without changing the overall feel of the game. Players can now collect orders which are a new method of end of game scoring. There are a new set of boats that you randomize with the originals at the start of the game, adding a huge amount of variety to the game. There are new upgrade tiles which double the score of a tile at the end of the game.Then there are a bunch of new season tiles to go with these new elements. Overall more options and more ways to score. 

The only problem I have with this expansion is that explaining the game just got quite a bit harder and longer. Keyflower was never the easiest game to explain. There isn't really anything out there that does worker placement quite like it. Now in addition to getting that concept across you have animals, and farms, and upgrade tiles and contracts, etc. On a positive note, for players who already know the base game, this new material isn't hard to learn at all. The rules additions are only like a page and a half with some more details on special tiles. For someone learning from scratch though this is going to be a hard sell. 

Chicago Express - 1 play - This one wasn't on my radar at all. Over the holidays there was a huge Queen game sale on Amazon. Many games under $15. When this one dropped that low a small group of gamers went nuts. It was from this buzz that I learned that Chicago Express is kind of like a filler 18XX game. For those that don't know them 18XX games are big, heavy, economic train games, that are as much about building routes as buying and selling shares in train companies. At every major con you will find an area dedicated to 18XX games. 18XX is hobby of it's own and some people only play 18XX games. It's a sub-genre of board gaming like Chit Wargaming. 

Chicago Express focuses on the economic side of the 18XX genre. Track building is simplified as much as possible (if a company has a train token in a hex, they have rails there) all that matters is connections. What's amazing is that they managed to create a very solid economic game and keep the play time down to about an hour and  a half. Probably less with experienced players. All five of us that played this one were really surprised by how solid it was.

Friday - 3 plays - I lost this game for like a year. I was online and someone was talking about solo games and Friday came up. That reminded me that I owned this game. I also realized that I had no idea where it was. After a bit of searching I found it behind the chair that holds part of my pile of shame. Since I had found it I figured I might as well play it.

I'm not one to play solo games. Normally if it's just me, and I feel like gaming, I'll turn on the Playstation or Xbox. The thought to play a board game solo doesn't usually even enter my mind. It's just not really my thing. That said, Friday is a very good game. Lots of agonizing decisions. Very solid gameplay. Very thematic. I would even call it brilliant. Despite this (or maybe because of it) I couldn't help but think it would be even better as an app. Let the app handle shuffling and tracking of life points. 

If you do enjoy solo board/card gaming this one is well worth picking up. Definitely beats a standard deck of cards and playing solitaire.

How big is your pile of shame? Have you done anything to make it smaller this year?