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 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:

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 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?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hero Realms Night at The CGRealm - Feb 11th.

Feb 11th is Hero Realms night at The CGRealm!

The event runs from 5pm until 10pm and everyone and anyone is welcome. No experience necessary. Every event will have a theme or a featured game but that doesn't mean it's the only thing you can play. There's a great selection of demo games at the store and there's no reason not to bring your favourite game! Or not, no problem showing up empty handed. Lots of games on hand and lots of gamers willing to teach you their favorites. 

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

Featured game: Hero Realms

Hero Realms is a fantasy-themed deck-building game that is an adaptation of the award-winning Star Realms game. The game includes basic rules for two-player games, along with rules for multiplayer formats such as Free-For-All, Hunter, and Hydra.

Each player starts the game with a ten-card personal deck containing gold (for buying) and weapons (for combat). You start each turn with a new hand of five cards from your personal deck. When your deck runs out of cards, you shuffle your discard pile into your new deck. An 80-card Market deck is shared by all players, with five cards being revealed from that deck to create the Market Row. As you play, you use gold to buy champion cards and action cards from the Market. These champions and actions can generate large amounts of gold, combat, or other powerful effects. You use combat to attack your opponent and their champions. When you reduce your opponent's score (called health) to zero, you win!

Multiple expansions are available for Hero Realms that allow players to start as a particular character (Cleric, Wizard, Fighter, etc.), fight cooperatively against a Boss, fight Boss decks against one another, or compete in a campaign mode that has you gain experience to work through different levels of missions.

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

Check out their menu:

Personally I recommend the potato bacon soup when they have it.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Brimstone Board Game Nights for February - Santorini and Captain Sonar

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.

Feb 4th - Santorini

Amazing looking two player game that is taking the game world by storm. People are going nuts for this game. Great looking 3d board. Lots of strategy. Simple to learn, difficult to master.

Each turn consists of 2 steps:

1. Move - move one of your builders into a neighboring space. You may move your Builder Pawn on the same level, step-up one level, or step down any number of levels.

2. Build - Then construct a building level adjacent to the builder you moved. When building on top of the third level, place a dome instead, removing that space from play.

Winning the game - If either of your builders reaches the third level, you win.

Variable player powers - What makes Santorini truly special is its seamless integration of variable player powers into a pure-strategy game. Dr Hamilton has designed over 40 thematic god and hero powers, each fundamentally changing the way the game is played

This is up there with games like Hive and The Duke.

Feb 18th - Captain Sonar

If anyone would have told me that one of the best games of 2016 was going to be an updated version of Battleship I would have thought they were nuts. Well they may have been nuts but they also would have been right.

Captain sonar is a great team based large group game. It plays up to 8 players, 4 per side. Each player takes on a different role. Each team is manning a submarine trying to find and destroy the opposing teams sub.

The game can be played both turn based or real time, and I think real time is where this game shines. You really have to try this one out.

Monday, 2 January 2017

New year, new games. Further reducing the Pile(s) of Shame

First off, Happy New Year all Windsor Gaming Resource readers! 2016 was an amazing year for board games and it's looking like 2017 will be just as good. I know everyone keeps saying that we are in a golden age and I have to agree. So many great games. Gaming becoming more and more mainstream (did you see Arby's latest social media campaign?). Gaming cafe's popping up all over the place (we could have 3 here in Windsor by the end of the year) and most importantly to me: more and more gamers out gaming!

Every year for New Years Eve I host a Gaming in the New Year party at my place. It's always been an awesome way to say goodbye to the previous year and welcome in the new one doing what I love the most: gaming with friends. This year was an epic event. We gamed for about 13 hours total and the last game didn't wrap up until about 7am. Personally I played a total of 10 different games, with a total of 14 plays due to playing a few of those a couple times. I think that's a NYE record for me. Then yesterday, New Years Day we got some more gaming in. A friend came over and we got in two more rounds. 

I was looking over pictures from last years Gaming In The New Year party and noticed far too many games were still in my current Pile of Shame (games I've bought but not played yet) that were there a year ago. Those are games I owned for a full year but didn't play. I can't let that happen again.

One of my goals for 2017 is to get games out of my Pile of Shame. Specifically to get all of the games that were in my Pile as of Dec 31st 2016, out of it by Dec 31st 2017. No more owning games for more than a year without actually playing them!

I started on this goal at the Gaming in the New Year party and continued working on it New Year's Day. As of this morning I was able to eliminate 7 games from my Pile of Shame. Here's a short review of each of those games.

Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 - Technically I had played this once at one of the Windsor Gaming Resource events last year. It was a bit of a mess of a game though. Someone else had bought the game, opened it at the event and read the rules. We muddled through that game and I learned that it seemed cool but I'm not sure I would count it as actually trying the full game. Plus, until NYE I hadn't played my personal copy. I liked this game more than I thought I would. It's much heavier than I though. It's a chess like game that felt a bit like The Duke advanced to me. Lots of AP but well worth it. Only played two player and looking forward to playing with more. 

Favor of the Pharaoh - Favor won the Mensa Select award in 2016, which made me assume that it would be a heavier, thinky game. It was not. It was much lighter than expected. It's one of the better Yahtzee based games that I own. This one is "Yahtzee the Engine Builder" or perhaps the dice version of a deck builder. You start with just 3d6, you roll them, each roll you have to lock at least one die. If you have dice left you can re-roll. Based on what you've locked you buy tiles. There are tiles for all kinds of combos: pairs, tripples, all odd, all even, totals of 20+, runs etc. Tiles give you more dice or ways to modify dice in future rounds. The eventual goal is to roll at least 7 identical numbers. If you do that you claim the Queen. Then everyone gets a chance roll a better of set of numbers, either more matching dice or matching dice of a higher value. The variety of tiles and set up boards really ads a ton of replay value. 

German Railroads - This is an expansion for Russian Railroads which is one of my favourite games of all times and probably my favourite worker placement game. German Railroads adds three expansions to the game which can be used in any combination. We played with the new German Railroads and the extra tiles but did not use the Coal expansion. I really loved what the German player boards added to Russian Railroads. It made the game asymmetrical which is cool. While building your rails players get to choose different sections of track which offer different bonuses. no two sections of track are the same so each player's board ends up unique by the end of the game. The extra tiles were also good additions and I don't see why you would bother playing without them. The German boards did change the game quite a bit so I can see choosing to play with or without them in the future. I'm really looking forward to adding Coal to the game next time. 

Broom Service - There a trend in reviews for this game. People pick it up because it won the Kennerspiel Des Jahres award in 2015. They look at it and read the rules and comment about how it doesn't sound that great, doesn't look like it deserves the Spiel. Then they play it, and come back with a review of: Wow that's better than it sounded. Well guess what? This review is just that. You really need to play this game to get it. It's a pick up a deliver game that sounds really simple. It even looks a bit like a kids game. The main mechanic is a bluffing version of action selection. Each round you pick 4 of 9 role cards that you will play during the turn. When you play one, you have to decide if you want to play it brave or cowardly. Brave actions give better results than cowardly ones. If you play it cowardly then you just take the action on the card. If you play it brave, you go around the table and if anyone else has chosen the same role and chooses to play it brave as well, they get to do the action and you don't. You have no idea how much fun this mechanic is until you try it. How rewarding it is to be first player and have a brave action go through or being the last player and snatching away an action at the last minute. The game includes some variant rules that add more complexity and I haven't had a chance to try those yet. 

Cry Havoc - This one is similar to Neroshima Hex! I have tried it once at a WGR event. but his is the first time playing my copy. Plus this play I got to read the rules which really helped me grock it. The thing that has grabbed me about this game is how short it is. It's no filler, but you expect a strategic area control dudes on a map game to last longer. This one reminds me of Kemet as it's fast and furious. You are only going to get 12-15 actions for the entire game and you have to make them worth it. This is the one of the most asymmetrical game I own. Every faction plays very differently. Trying a different race almost feels like playing a different game. The combat system is something I've never seen before and is brilliant (and a bit too complex to fully explain here). If you dig area control you have got to check this one out.

Quadropolis - This one so far is the biggest disappointment. We only tried the classic mode so there's a good chance that the game is much better in the advanced mode. I'm hoping so. I will admit I did have fun playing the classic mode. It is a good game, it just wasn't as good as I expected. This game has a lot of hype and gamers who's opinions I respect have given it a lot of praise. The game is an abstract city builder that reminds me a lot of Between Two Cities. Each round you use engineers to select tiles from a shared main board. The neat bit is that the engineer number determines which tile you take and where you have to place the tile on your board. Engineers point at a row or column and only one engineer can be in each spot. There's also a pawn that gets moved to the spot the last tile was taken from and stops players from playing engineers in that row or column. Scoring is based on different things based on tile type. Apartments need to be stacked, stores need customers, wharves need to be in a row, etc. When you get a tile you also get resources in the form of either meeple or energy. These go on the tiles to activate them. Only activated tiles score and any extra resources generate negative points. It's all very abstract and we found it really hard to tell how much we were actually scoring as we played. This is one I need to play again, and with the expert rules. I have a feeling it will get better with more plays and the advanced rules. At least I hope so. 

Keyflower: The Farmers - This is an expansion for Keyflower that adds animals and farming to the base game. I love Keyflower. I had been told that The Farmers adds breadth to the core game. It adds more options and choice to Keyflower without changing the core gameplay. That is an apt description. The new tiles give you new resources to collect and manage in the form of three types of animals and grain. Some of these additions address minor issues with the base game that have been found since it was released. For example the addition of grain mitigates the lack of transportation points that can be an issue in the core game. We played using all of the new Farmer tiles, which really changed the focus from building, upgrading and storing resources to collecting and moving animals. I'm looking forward to playing it with a mix of the expansion and core tiles, where you would get some of the new farmers tiles alongside more of the original tiles. Overall this expansion took a great game and added a cool new thing to it. It adds some new ways to score and things to think about without adding any bloat. Recommended if you like Keyflower, and how can you not like Keyflower?

So far I've got a good start on reducing my pile of shame, mainly due to our annual Gaming in the New Year Party. Do you do any gaming on New Years? If so what did you play?

Edit: #ReducingThePile

Friday, 30 December 2016

Brimstone Game Nights for January (7th and 21st)

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. right next to Franco's. There is parking in back and there is a municipal lot across the street that is free after 6pm.

January 7th - Cry Havoc

Cry Havoc fantastic new area control game from Portal Games.

This is one of the most asymmetrical game ever made. It plays 2-4 players. Each player takes over a different faction trying to exploit the world harvest the most crystals. With 4 players one of the players is the native spices the Trog. Each faction plays very differently.

There are deck building elements, great looking miniatures, and one of the most unique and cool combat systems I've seen in a game here.

January 21st - Pandemic Iberia

Welcome to the Iberian Peninsula! Set in 1848, Pandemic Iberia asks you to take on the roles of nurse, railwayman, rural doctor, sailor, and more to find the cures to malaria, typhus, the yellow fever, and cholera.

From Barcelona to Lisboa, you will need to travel by carriage, by boat, or by train to help the Iberian populace. While doing so, distributing purified water and developing railways will help you slow the spread of diseases in this new version of Pandemic.

Discover a unique part of the world during a historically significant time period: the construction of the first railroad in the Iberian Peninsula during the Spring of Nations.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The 16 best new (to me) games of 2016

Here is a list of the sixteen best games I tried for the first time in 2016. These games may not have come out in 2016 but rather this year was the first time I've played them so they were new to me. This list is in the order of when I discovered the games chronologically.

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar - This is the oldest game on the list. I'm not sure what took me so long to try this game. Maybe it's the fact that I hate the cover for showing an Aztec Sun Stone on what's supposed to be a game about the Mayan Calendar. Mixed themes aside this is an amazing worker placement game. It adds a resource to a game I've never seen before. Time. As in real time, not time counters. The longer you wait to remove a worker from the board the better the result. This was fascinating to me.

Keyflower - Here's another great worker placement game that does something a bit different. In this game you use your workers to bid on tiles, either to add them to your personal territory or to use the ability on the tile. The neat bit is that the meeple are coloured and once there is a bid on a tile all future bids need to be made using that colour. This adds a ton of strategy to the game. There's empire building, set collection, tile placement, pick up and deliver and even more to Keyflower. It's a heavier brain burner and I love it.

T.I.M.E. Stories - This is the most unique game on the list. It's not often a game comes out that is something completely new. T.I.M.E. Stories is one of those games. It's almost more of an experience than a game. It's a co-op puzzle game that reminds me most of games like Myst or 7th Guest on the PC. Players work together to solve a mystery in a which-way style of game. T.I.M.E, Stories really uses the time travel theme where you will need to take multiple runs to solve each mystery using the information you learned on earlier runs to guide you through the next one. The one issue with this game is that it can be played once. It's a one time experience. Personally I thought it was well worth it and look forward to purchasing some expansions and running through those.

Ashes Rise of the Phoenixborn - Magic the Gathering is still THE card game when it comes to battling wizards and I don't expect that to change any time soon. That said, I think Ashes is actually a better game. That's right a wizard battle, summon monsters and cast spells to beat up the other guy game that's better than Magic. Ashes has the added bonus (to me) of being non-collectible, Ashes uses dice to determine how much 'mana' you have each round and includes many rules that let you mitigate the randomness this causes. Spells when put into play stay in play and can be cast every round. Attacks can be made multiple times in one turn and with a mixed number of attackers. There are a number of other differences to Magic that I don't have time to get into here. I highly suggest checking it out.

Madeira - I have to thank the Heavy Cardboard podcast for this one. I love a good heavy game now and then. At local events we play a lot of shorter 1 hour games and it's very nice to sit down now and then with something longer and heavier. Madeira is just that, a nice heavy Euro that plays in about 2 - 2.5 hours. It's about the early Portuguese economy and the wood covered island of Madeira. A changing economy and randomized Crown Requests add to the replay value of this action selection and worker placement game. Unfortunately it looks like it may be out of print. Hopefully a new printing will be coming soon because if you like heavy Euro's this one is well worth checking out.

Above and Below - Yet another game that does something different. Above and Below combines a pretty standard action selection set collection game with an adventure game like Tales of The Arabian Knights or a Which Way book. In addition to collecting resources and building your city you can also send your workers to explore the dungeon below the city. There you have all kinds of adventures, find rare resources and expand the cave network allowing you to build better dungeon based buildings. I enjoyed the story elements of this game so much that I've even sat and 'run' the game like a GM in an RPG, doing all the reading from the adventure book while the other players enjoy the game.

Mombasa - This is another one I can thank Heavy Cardboard for. I first got to try it at Origins 2016 and was immediately taken by the very unique discard mechanic. Each round you play three action cards. At the end of the round each of these cards goes into it's own discard pile. Then at the start of the next round you only get to pick up one of those three piles. This adds a level of long term strategy to the game that I found fascinating. Along with this Mombasa is a very solid worker placement economic game where you are investing in up to four different companies while also trying to collect sets of resources for yourself. This one is another brain burner and not for everyone but if you like heavier games give it a shot.

Valeria Card Kingdoms - This was the best game I played this year at Origins 2016. It was also the first game I had to buy at the Con. I grabbed it right then and there, after doing the demo. I love this game. To me it's a mix of Splendor and Thunderstone Advance. I'm told by others that it owes a lot to Machi Koro and for many it's actually replaced Machi. Start with only two heroes. Roll dice to generate resources. Use those resources to hire more heroes or kill monsters in the dungeon. Eventually save up enough resources to buy kingdoms. Score points based on monsters killed, kingdoms collected and set collection based on what character you start with. I've played this game more than any other game in 2016, I can't get enough.

Onitama - For a very long time The Duke was our two player game. Any time my wife and I went anywhere together we brought it, from hotels and restaurants to coffee shops and even the beach. Onitama has become the new The Duke for us. I don't know if it will eventually replace The Duke, but right now it's coming out to all those places we used to bring The Duke. This game is brilliant. It looks great. It's so simple to teach and it's so damn tactical. The fact that you have perfect information every turn is what really makes this one. The game is chess-like, where you are moving pieces on a grid trying to capture the opponent's sensei (or get your sensei to the opponent's starting spot). The thing is that each game only uses five different possible moves, for the entire game. When you use one of your two moves, next turn it gets passed to your opponent for them to use.

1812: The Invasion of Canada - I am not a big war gamer. I like a few of them, mostly block games, but not a lot. I'm definitely not a chit based, Squad Leader style gamer. 1812: The Invasion of Canada is my kind of wargame. It has a lot of Euro game elements. It's a card driven cubes on a map game. It reminds me a little bit of the Richard Borg Command & Color system, a little bit, not a lot. The one downfall to this game is that it really does play best with exactly five players, and that's not always easy to come by. Players split into two teams: Two American forces and Three British (The British, Canadians and Natives). Each round turn order is completely random. On a player's turn they play one card. That will let them activate a number of armies. Armies are all the cubes in one area. You can only activate an area with your cubes. Combat is dice based with quite a bit of tactics due to retreats and "command decisions". Victory is determined by owning key spots in enemy territory one the truce is called which has to be done by one of the two sides playing all of it's truce cards.

Food Chain Magnate - This was the surprise hit for me. Quite a few heavy game fans suggested Food Chain Magnate and while it sounded good, I didn't expect it to be that good. It's one of the best and heaviest games I've played in a long time. Even I admit it doesn't look like much but, the gameplay more than makes up for the lackluster graphics. This is a heavy, brain burning, unforgiving, economic game. You start your empire with just you the CEO of a new food chain. Each round you will build your corporate structure and activate each of your employees (that aren't on vacation). They will do all kinds of things like make food, pick up drinks, hire more people, train existing staff, earn you money or launch marketing campaigns. Marketing campaigns are huge and determine what is in demand each round. After marketing campaigns are run the people go out to eat. You get paid for every household eating at one of your places but they will only visit you if you not only have exactly what they want but have it at the best value (based on price and distance). 

Between Two Cities - This is proof that I don't just like heavy games. Between Two Cities is my current favourite filler game. What I really love about this one is that it's a very good game with quite a bit of depth for such a short game and it plays up to 7 players. The neat bit here is that you are building two cities at once, in a team with the players on your left and right. At the end of the game though the only one that scores you points is the one worth the least points. The actual gameplay is tile drafting and tile placement that's mostly about set collection. While drafting you cannot talk to your fellow builders but once you see what tiles everyone has picked you then work with both of them to try to build the best cities you can.

IceCool - When I first heard about this one it didn't sound like something for me. It was huge at GenCon and every podcast and reviewer was going on about IceCool. A flicking dexterity game with penguins? I already have PitchCar, do I need another flicking game? Well it ends up that yes, I did. IceCool is fantastic. Don't get me wrong, it's uber light, there's not a lot to it, but it's just so much fun. It's the way the penguins are weighted that makes this one so much fun. You can pull off really cool curved shots and even make the penguins jump. 

Star Wars Rebellion - Many people are calling this one "the original Star Wars Trilogy in a box" and I'm inclined to agree. This is Star Wars on an epic scale. A small band of Rebels is striking out from a hidden base and the evil Galactic Empire is trying to find them. This is a huge game with a huge board that takes a long time to play. Designed for only two players it can be played with three or four in an interesting team based variant. Gameplay is a mix of worker placement and dudes on a map where players use Heroes to complete missions or move units on the board. What really makes this game is how well it sticks to the Star Wars theme. Rebels can move their base, they can build shield generators on Hoth (or any other planet), they can steal the plans and blow up the Death Star. The Empire can capture the heroes, they can build a second (or even third) Death Star, and they can blow up systems. If it's in the Star Wars trilogy it's probably represented here somewhere. 

Orleans - There was a ton of buzz about this game last year and for very good reasons. I personally didn't get to try this amazing game until 2016 but after only one play I fell in love. I've played more games of this in the last couple months after discovering it than any other game. I can't remember the last WGR event I didn't bring it out to and it's been played every time. A worker placement bag builder, Orleans is just a very solid medium weight Euro. It's almost Feld-like in the variety of viable strategies. Engine building, set collection, bag building, it's all here and expertly balanced. I am looking forward to adding expansions to my copy soon.

Thunder Alley - If you had told me at any time in the past, that I would be putting a NASCAR based game on a best of list I would have assumed you were making a joke. I am not a NASCAR fan. I'm not even a racing fan. It's a sport that I care pretty much nothing about. Yet I really enjoyed Thunder Alley. This is by far the best racing game I've played. I used to think Formula D was the pinnacle of racing games. No longer. Not even close. Formula D is a push your luck dice game, where as this is a real game. Instead of just racing one car you race an entire team. Actions are card based, determining how far and what type of movement you will use each turn. It's the movement system that's brilliant. Using drafting, leader and chase movement you often end up moving an entire pack of cars at once, not just the one vehicle you activated. Added to this is a very well done "component wear system" combined with a brilliantly simple pit system that constantly has you weighing your options. I never though I would like a race game this much, especially one about tuning left over and over :D

So there you have it. The best new (to me) games of 2016. There are so many more games I was tempted to have on this list. When I first sat down to work on it I had thirty-five amazing games on it. It took quite a bit of thinking to get that list down to sixteen. What were your top games of 2016?