Thursday, 9 July 2015

Dungeon Quest

'What was that noise......aaaaaand I'm dead'.

Type: Strategy / Board / Dungeon Crawl
Players: 1 to 4
Time to explain to others: About 1 to 3 min
Time to play: About 15-20 minutes
Difficulty: To play 3/10, Game difficulty 9/10
Portability: Low (Loads of tokens and board tiles)
Overall: 9/10

What a game this is, readers. If Pathfinder is a perfect card version of D&D (as it is effectively a V3.75, long story), this is its board game soul brother. You start with an adventurer and you advance into a cursed dungeon . You are on a timer, as the dungeon seals itself at sunset. You need to go in, revealing tiles as you go, all the way to the dragon hoard in the middle, steal some of it and make your way back.

Also you will die.


Someone with better maths skills than mine has crunched the numbers. The probability of someone making it all the way back without dying is....


That's it.

It is an unforgiving game. Some traps just flat out kill you about 2 out of 3 times. Many animals just pop out and give you about 70 percent damage in one go. Also the dragon in the middle is usually asleep.


I have never seen the like. It is, however, amazingly fun. You do feel it in your core that the next revealed tile might (and probably will) be your last.

Rui's conclusion: A fast paced and unforgiving game. With a couple of adaptations (e.g. respawn) this might be a really great game for the uninitiated. Take 20 minutes and try and beat the dragon!

Monday, 8 June 2015


'If I don't get a fuel card next time, so help me....!'

Type: Strategy / Card
Players: 2 to 4
Time to explain to others: About 1 to 3 min
Time to play: About 15-20 minutes
Difficulty: To play 3/10, Game difficulty 4/10
Portability: High (just a deck)
Overall: 9/10

This games holds a special place in our collection, as it was the first game me and the better half played together. I wanted to introduce her to card and board games, but coming from a place of interest but no other knowledge, she was - understandably - cautious of the complexity of some of these types of games.

Then I came across this game. Rockets, the pictures looked very unthreatening, so 'Huh, I'll have a go!'.

We were hooked from the first play.

You play opposing Space projects, trying to get as many of the rockets into space as possible. Each turn you draw cards: rockets (a sort of  blueprints, if you will), fuel and metal (to actually build the things), and the ever present action cards, that will accelerate you construction, sabotage your opponents', etc.

Said rockets need to go through 3 levels of contruction, and you need to draw the right technician to allow the machines to advance to the next stage. As per usual in these games, you are at the mercy of the cards. Tables can turn at the 11th hour, I've seen games change in 2 turns, as someone draws the right fuel card and/or the right tech, and leapfrogs ahead.

Rui's conclusion: A simple, visually pretty and accessible game. Not as strategic as others, but very easy to pick up. A great introductory game, as well as one for the kids. Great fun!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Oddball Aeronauts

Steampunk alien sailors. No word there I didn't like.

Type: Strategy / Card
Players: 2 (with the expansion, up to 4)
Time to explain to others: About 1 to 3 min
Time to play: About 15-20 minutes
Difficulty: To play 3/10, Game difficulty 4/10
Portability: Very High (see below)
Overall: 8/10

This is a little gem of a game I picked up at Games Expo '15 in Birmingham. I couldn't tell you what drove me, I saw steampunk and airships and bought it on impulse.

I was not disappointed.

Now, if you go to Board Game Geek, this game has quite a low score. And I just about see what they mean, but I truly don't mind. Let me explain.

Oddball Aeronauts is effectively Top Trumps updated. You have a deck of cards, and individual cards have power numbers. You choose one of these powers, and compare it with your opponent. As you can see, typical Top Trumps. But here is where things change.

In this game, you can play one, two or three cards in one go, and you add the power of all of these. So brilliant, I hear you say, I'll always play 3 cards, meaning I'll always win! Well, not quite.

You have to discard the cards you play, so if you keep playing 3 at a time, you'll run out very quickly. And I need to add at this point, your deck is your life, the first person to run out, looses. Also, many cards have special powers, introducing the ever-needed randomness.

When you win the duel, depending on what power you chose (3 per card), the rewards are different, forcing the opponent to discard, recovering cards yourself, etc.

One of the main selling points of this game is that you don't have a discard pile, you simply flip the cards round and put them at the back of your deck. So you technically don't need a surface to play, as all you need is in your hand.

Rui's conclusion: Fast, cheap, quick and fun. Don't expect a hugely deep game, just something entertaining you can play on a plane or a train. Recommended for young ones, newbies and for travelling gamers!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Machi Koro


Type: Strategy / Card
Players: 2 to 4
Time to explain to others: About 1 to 3 min
Time to play: About 30 minutes, possibly bit more
Difficulty: To play 3/10, Game difficulty 4/10
Portability: High to Medium (just a deck, but money tokens)
Overall: 8/10

This game came highly recommended as a simple, easy and accessible game. You are trying to develop the Japanese town of Machi Koro. The inhabitants need 4 landmarks, but these are way to expensive. The only choice is to build an infra structure, so the money rolls in, so that the landmarks can be built!

Each card represents a different building or area (Forests, Stadiums, Farms, etc). They will have a cost (that you need to pay), and a number at the top. You then roll a die(s). Whatever number comes out activates that card, and generates money, gets money from another player, etc. Whoever buils the 4 landmarks fastest wins!

Rui's conclusion: A fantastically easy game, perfect for newbies. Non-threatening, instinctive and fun. Very colourful and engaging, kids will love it. Recommended!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Epic Spell Wars Of The Battle Wizards, Duel At Mount Skullzfyre

                             'Die in the fire of my hatred!!!'

Type: Strategy / Card
Players: 2 to 4
Time to explain to others: About 3 min
Time to play: About 30 minutes
Difficulty: To play 4/10, Game difficulty 4/10
Portability: High, just a deck
Overall: 9/10

ESWOTBW,DAMS (even the acronym is huge!) is what Magic The Gathering would be if its creators had watched waaaaay too many early 90s cartoons, and then dropped some serious, serious acid.

You and your opponents are wizards, about to blow each other to smouldering tiny embers. With what, I hear you ask!

Lots of Spells.

You'll have a hand of 8 cards, and each spell is made of 3 types of cards, a Source, a Quality and a Delivery. The combinations are nearly endless. You can play 1, 2 or 3 cards, and then, Magic-style, you try and get the opponents' health below 20. Last one standing wins!

There are some strategy elements, if you play more spell parts of the same kind, you'll get bonuses, some spells hurt the opponent, some heal you, some do both. Also always try and say the full name of the spell in a Wizard-y voice!

Rui's Conclusion: Simple to play, silly, strategic, fun and entertaining. A good one for newbs. The alternative art might attract some. A must!

Monday, 27 April 2015



Type: Strategy / Card
Players: 2 to 4 
Time to explain to others: About 1 min
Time to play: About 30 minutes
Difficulty: To play 2/10, Game difficulty 4/10
Portability: Two small decks, high
Overall: 9/10

Guillotine is a fast and very entertaining game, where you simulate the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. There are many many necks to be chopped and only 3 days to do it!

At the start of the game, 12 random nobles line up in front of  Mme. Gillotine. The first noble in line will REALLY not have a good time.... But wait! All players have actions cards, that can make the nobles in line move backwards, forwards, randomly, etc.

Sequence of play could not be simpler: play an action card (reordering the line), collect the first noble in line, draw new action card, and the turn is passed. After the 12th noble loses his/her head, the day ends, and 12 more nobles are lined up. Each noble has a number of victory points, and at the end of the 3rd day, whomever has more points wins!

Rui's conclusion: A fast and easy game, perfect for young'uns and newbies. Strategic, but not overwhelmingly so, and very quick. Highly recommended!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Neuroshima Hex

'Target in sight. Do I have the order, general?'

Type: Strategy / Board
Players: 2 to 5 
Time to explain to others: About 1 min, although tile knowledge might take a few plays
Time to play: About 30 minutes, possibly bit more
Difficulty: To play 3/10, Game difficulty 5/10
Portability: Not great, many tiles, but the board is fairly small.
Overall: 8/10

In 2020, mankind developed a series of networked AI's to use in the military (what could possibly go wrong, right....?) These promptly rebelled and wreak havoc upon the world.

30 years have passed. The AI's have split, and evolved independently, now using technology and biology. The human survivors have banded together and organised themselves, using captured machine technologies. The game starts in the blasted landscape of a destroyed city. Two (or more) armies are there to destroy each other.

Welcome to the world of Neuroshima Hex.

I picked this up of the shelf last week and I am completely addicted. Onto an hexagonal-tiled board (see picture above), you play a Headquarters tile (one per player). You then get hands of 3 tiles, discard one and then play one or two.

The tiles are the difficult part of the game. They represent units or events, and most are directional (damaging another unit in one direction, but not the other 5, for example). Some will be melee units, attacking neighbouring tiles, and some will be able to attack units at a distance. Some will do both. Some will prevent units from working at all. All units have a initiative number on them, from 0 to 3. This divides the units into the 3 phases of combat (3 attack first, 0 attacks last). So a 1 initiative unit might be destroyed by a 2 initiative unit before it has a chance to fire.

The game quickly turns into chess. A combat round only starts when special tiles are played, or when the board is full of tiles, or when a player draws the last tile. Location, orientation, distance, all of these issues need to be thought of. Your intention is to cause 20 damage to the enemy HQ. If no HQ is destroyed, the one with the most damage loses. 

All 5 armies are radically different, with different strengths and weaknesses, and they play accordingly differently. The 3.0 rerelease brings a series of cards, showing a number of scenarios (displays of tiles), that can be solved solo. Like you'd get a chess problem in a newspaper: 'White plays first and wins in 3 moves).

Rui's conclusion:  Not an easy game (due to difference of tiles, however the icons therein are easy to follow), and it might need a bunch of plays to get down. Intensely strategic, the closest to chess I've seen in years. Oddly, possibly one for chess and strategy loving newbies. The quick play time might also attract. Recommended!