Month: October 2017

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 82: Strangers in the Night

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 82: Strangers in the Night

If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to nerdologists@gmail.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter! We’ll be doing a recap and Q&A every twenty-five episodes. After coming across some Yuanti, Torin, Nimrose and Finja need to find a spot to […]

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 81: Trouble with Snake People

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 81: Trouble with Snake People

If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to nerdologists@gmail.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter! We’ll be doing a recap and Q&A every twenty-five episodes. Once on the Island of Barbuga things don’t end up being smooth sailing like Nimrose, […]

Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 Board Games

Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 Board Games

We’re wrapping up this series with one last installment — to finish it up, I’ll be talking about my top 5 favorite board games. As Peder mentioned, we both did a similar list a while back, so I’ll refrain from looking at my previous list so that this one can stand on its own. In any event, I’m pretty sure that at least a couple of my choices have changed since then, so I’ll be treading some new ground no matter what. So without further ado, my new and improved list of favorite board games!

5. Marrying Mr. Darcy

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Let’s be honest — a good portion of my love for this game stems from my pre-existing love for all things Austen. But I happen to know from first-hand experience playing this game with non-Jane Austen fans that you don’t have to be into the source material to get a ton of enjoyment from it. The game allows for up to eight players, and you play as the ladies of Pride & Prejudice (or Emma, if you have the expansion). You are competing to (what else?) attract the attention of the eligible men of P&P, in hopes of securing an advantageous marriage. To do so, you collect cards with different types of points, such as charm, wit, and beauty. Different suitors value different things, naturally, so you’ll have to get the right combination to be attractive to the bachelor of your choice.

You can angle for any of the gents you like — however, true to canon, some matches are more advantageous than others. For example, Lizzy naturally receives the most points by pairing off with Mr. Darcy, but if she gets stuck with Mr. Collins, she’ll only get a few points. And if you don’t play your cards right (literally), your character could end up as an old maid, and you’ll have to roll the dice in hopes of getting the least dismal fate that comes with that result.

This game is quick to play through, the turns go around the table pretty fast, and it has that mix of strategy and luck that I find crucial to a good game-playing experience. Add to that the fact that the theme is one of my favorite worlds of fiction, and you’ve got a game fit for any sporting young lady or gentleman.

4. Splendor

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This lovely game first drew me to it for primarily aesthetic reasons — and no wonder. It’s an absolutely gorgeous game, with the painterly artwork on the playing cards and pieces, the satisfying weight and sheen of the gem chips (think poker chips, but with jewels on them), and the general historical feel. It’d be delightful to play just for tactile reasons alone, but the gameplay experience is well worth it, too.

The premise of the game is that you and your fellow players are gem collectors, doing business sometime around the Elizabethan era (judging by the costuming of the characters in the artwork). The object is to invest in smaller jewels in order to buy more and more precious ones, thereby becoming the wealthiest gem collector in the land. The first to 21 victory points is the winner — at first, the gems don’t cost much, and it’s easy to pocket several of them quickly. However, the gems in the early stages don’t have high point values, so in order to afford the higher-value gems and beat your fellow players to 21, you’ll have to do a lot of clever maneuvering.

Splendor also features the optimal (in my opinion) strategy/luck combo that Marrying Mr. Darcy has; it feels accessible and easy to pick up, while still being challenging enough to keep me thinking. It never feels beyond me in terms of strategy; I’m generally able to plan far enough ahead to be a real contender in the game, which I have to admit is pretty rare for me. This is one of those games I want to start playing again as soon as I finish a round — and if you know me, you’ll know that that’s about the highest praise I can give to a board game. It’s one I know I’ll keep coming back to again and again!

3. Sushi Go! Party

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I was introduced to this game a few months ago, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to love it. Yet again, the exterior of the game is what first drew me in — the artwork features little cartoony sushi characters that are just so cute that it hurts. Beyond the surface, though, this game has almost everything I love most about my favorite board games — that luck/strategy sweet spot, a really fun theme, great artwork, and fast-paced gameplay.

I’ve only ever played the party version of this game, so I can’t speak to the original, but I can highly recommend this amped-up version. In the party game, you have a board with slots for the different sushi tiles, which you can switch out to either create one of the combos given in the rule book, or devise one of your own. These tiles show which cards are in play, which the players will combine in hopes of amassing the most points. SG!P is a deck-building game, with a card-passing mechanic similar to the one in Seven Wonders. As the card hands go by, you’ll have to choose wisely in order to gain the most points (and avoid losing any) when the totals are tallied up.

As I mentioned, this game is a delight in just about every way — it’s great for smaller groups and larger ones, and can be a great warm-up or cool-down game, or just a fun one to pull out when you feel like something snappy but still low-key. It has that addictive quality I mentioned with Splendor, and so much variety and possibility that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it (or of looking at those adorable sushi faces!).

I have to say — the only real downside (though maybe it’s an upside, depending on your perspective), is that this game makes me crave sushi like nobody’s business!

2. Lord of the Rings: The Board Game

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From the title alone, I think it’s pretty obvious why I love this game. A board game modeled after my favorite fictional world of all time? Yes, please! Better yet, it’s cooperative, my favorite style of board game. I find that working together to win against the board rather than trying to beat your fellow players is a much more enjoyable gaming experience for me — it means that even if the game gets serious or tense, the players rarely take it out on each other, and that since all players are involved the whole time, nobody’s sitting around getting bored as they wait for their turn to come around again.

In the LOTR game, you play as one of five hobbits (the four from the Fellowship, with the addition of Fatty Bolger, a character from the books who didn’t make it into the movies). Your goal, naturally, is to travel through Middle Earth to Mordor, on the quest to destroy the One Ring. You’ll travel through Bag End, Rivendell, Lothlorien, and a couple of other spots to gather supplies, and you’ll move on to play through multiple scenarios staged on several separate boards — Moria, Helm’s Deep, Shelob’s Lair, and Mordor, in the base game; you may have others if you choose to pick up certain expansions. As you go, you must succeed in a series of events to keep moving, and to keep the eye of Sauron from spotting you before you get to Mount Doom.

Though I love this game dearly, it is almost punishingly difficult to win, with several ways to go down and only one narrow path to success. Many a gaming session has ended with us getting overtaken by Sauron, spelling the end for our characters (and turning Middle Earth into a land of subjugation and despair…*cries*). But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to re-set the board and try again every time that happens. I love everything about this game — the fact that it came out before the movies and is based only on the books (and features Alan Lee’s glorious artwork), its cooperative nature, the excruciatingly high stakes that manage to be serious and exciting at the same time, the mechanics of the game, and just the undeniable feeling that you’ve somehow been transported to Middle Earth and are now personally responsible for saving it. It’s a heart-pounding, exhilarating gameplay experience, and it’s one I plan to engage in many, many more times.

1. Pandemic/Pandemic Legacy

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It’s a close call between Pandemic (and its legacy spinoff, Pandemic Legacy) and the LOTR game when it comes to my top pick, but at least for now, Pandemic wins the day. It was my first foray into the world of cooperative gaming, and there was no looking back. Finally, I’d found my type of game — the type I could enjoy playing no matter what. Put simply, it’s one of the first games that showed me just how amazing board gaming could be, taking what I thought I knew about gaming from playing the tired old classics, and completely re-forming my perspective. Suddenly, board games were a world I not only could engage with, but wanted to.

Dramatics aside, Pandemic is widely recognized among gamer circles as one of the best co-op games out there. It’s been around longer than a lot of other currently popular co-op games, and it’s no wonder that it’s stood the test of time. The object of the game is simple — keep four deadly viruses from spreading across the world for long enough to totally obliterate them, thereby saving humanity. You play as a range of different medical, tactical, and scientific specialists (such as the medic, the dispatcher, or the researcher), and you must work together to keep the diseases at bay until you can cure them and clear them out.

Pandemic is a little more strategy-heavy than some of my other choices, but because of the cooperative aspect, I can bring whatever I’ve got to the table, and even if I’m not at the top of my game, I know the other players will fill in whatever gaps I can’t bridge.

Like LOTR, Pandemic is a super challenging game — there are many ways the world can be lost to disease, and only one way to save it. But due to the pacing and tight, well-laid out mechanics, it remains a ton of fun to play no matter how many times you’ve lost. This extends to the legacy version of the game, as well. In that version, you play through 12 “months” and increasingly difficult and complex scenarios, trying to beat back the diseases under narrowing odds. You’ll almost certainly make some grave mistakes and have your best plans go awry as you play through, but that doesn’t make it any less compelling and satisfying to play. I’ll definitely be returning to the base game for many more replays, and can’t wait to see what future version of the legacy game have in store.

So there you have it — my all-time (so far, at least) favorite board games. To close out, some honorable mentions: Five TribesCastle PanicTicket to RideQuirkleBetrayal at House on the HillDead of Winter, and Phase 10.

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D&D Classing It Up: The Bard

D&D Classing It Up: The Bard

Now that you’ve gotten to know your nerds, I’ve decide to class things up in this joint a little bit. I’m going to be talking about the different classes of D&D and how you might want to play them, or what it might look like […]

Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 Anime

Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 Anime

As many of you know by now, my status as an anime fan is kind of complicated. While I really love anime, I’ve seen relatively few series compared to your average fan (or at least compared to the anime fans I’m friends with), so I […]

Know Your Nerds: Peder’s Top 5 Board Games

Know Your Nerds: Peder’s Top 5 Board Games

So we’ve kind of done this before with Table Top Picks, our top 7 board games, but since then, I’ve certainly played more games, so my list might have changed. I also tried to avoid looking back at my list so I wasn’t basing it off of what I had previously done. So without further ado, here are my top 5 board games.

5. Dead of Winter

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This game isn’t without flaws/weird bits to it; the traitor, if there is one, generally can always tank the game during the last round if they don’t think they are going to win, in order to prevent everyone else from winning. And then everyone has secret objectives, so it kind of makes everyone look a bit like a traitor. I once wrote about how I’d like this to be turned into a legacy game, and I still think this would be one way to improve it. I think another way would be to rework it so that someone who completes their secret objective is the super-winner, even if the group wins the overall game; otherwise, as a non-traitor player in that last round, you might as well try to tank the game, or you’ll look 100% like the traitor.

That said, there are a ton of things I love about this game. The first being the crossroad system — on your turn, another player draws a crossroad card and reads it, and if you do a certain action or move someone to a certain spot that’s specified on the card, this acts as a sort of trigger. The other player then reads out a bit of a story, and you have to make a choice between two options the card gives you (at least most of the time; sometimes there is only one option). In the rules, it says to draw a card per each player’s turn; we draw two, and then if one of them is triggered by a player’s action, that is the one that the player has to deal with. This means that you get these cool story interjection moments. I also really like how gritty this game feels. Yes, it’s about surviving against a horde of zombies, but it’s in many ways more about the survivors themselves, like in The Walking Dead. That puts a different level of stress on you as a player, because you aren’t just worried about mowing down zombies all the time — there’s all kinds of other stuff to worry about. For example, can you feed your people? What do you do if you find more survivors? Is the base getting too messy? Dead of Winter is a fun game and a challenging one, and if you don’t like the hidden traitor aspect, you can certainly play it as a solely cooperative game.

4. Smallworld

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Smallworld is a fun take on the area control concept — in this game, you have a fantasy race and trait that are randomly combined, and you control an army of soldiers bearing that race and trait to take over areas on a board. But whatever number of players you play with, the board is small enough that you’re going to have to take over other players’ areas. This game is meant for that, though, and it’s really hard to have hurt feelings over it (unlike with other area control games), because when you don’t have enough of your current race, you can put them into decline and get a new one and exact your revenge during the next turn. It’s also a ton of fun because you never know what sort of combinations you’re going to get. Maybe you have flying giants or underworld sorcerers or commando pixies. These combinations change every game, too, so it feels different every time you play it (and they have awesome expansions for even more variability). Players’ turns go quickly, and the game has a round limit on it, so it never takes that long to play. The rules are simple, and the fantasy is fun and crazy. This is an area control game that I would pull out to the table anytime, and even people who hate Risk will probably like to play this game.

3. Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

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My first pure cooperative game on the list, Dresden Files is a fun game that is very hard at times. You play through the different books of the Dresden Files series in game form. It is an interesting game mechanically, in that you have action points that you need to use and you have a hand of cards that all cost action points. You have to balance playing cards and discarding cards to get more action points, but sometimes you have to discard a really good card.

This game, while being cooperative, does have some hidden information between players; in most cooperative games, you share openly what information you have on your cards, and often, your hand of cards is right in front of you, but not so in Dresden. You can give general descriptions of your cards, but the details can’t be said. Now, you do develop a sort of a shorthand for that as time goes on, but you never know for sure what other players have. Finally, this game really does feel a lot like playing through the books, which some other games based on books or movies don’t do quite as well. In the books, Harry is always almost losing or getting beat up, and in this game, you feel like that; it basically always comes down to the last little bit and the luck of a die roll to determine if you win or not.

2. Betrayal at House on the Hill

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I love love love this game. It has that campy style of a haunted house or a horror movie where you know someone is going to accidentally piss off the zombie rednecks or turn into a ghost or call death to your location, and you’re going to have to deal with it. This is a surprise traitor game where you start out exploring this old haunted house and encountering weird things and finding omens. It’s a bit like Cabin in the Woods, in which the characters are stuck in a horror movie and somehow something horrible is going to happen to them. Depending on what they mess around with, though, they may trigger the omen that sets events in motion.

That is 100% what happens in this game, except one person is the traitor. This game does have one glaring flaw that becomes less of one the more you play the game — when you get to the haunt, the stage during which the traitor is revealed, sometimes the traitor rules or the survivor rules don’t make a ton of sense. The more you play, the more sense they make, but some of them are just weird and take a while to figure out. Like I said, this has the classic horror feel to it, and I love it; I’ll play it every chance I get, and I’m excited for Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, the D&D version of Betrayal at House on the Hill.

1. Pandemic/Pandemic Legacy

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If you follow us on Facebook, you’d probably guess that this was going to be my number one. I am super jazzed for season 2 of Pandemic Legacy. Pandemic is a game where you work together to find cures for diseases while they are spreading all the time; it’s just a blast. It’s a fairly tough cooperative game that the legacy version then turns on its head and makes into something amazing. In that version, there are story elements that come up each “month” you play; you also find out new things as you go, and the rules change slightly as the game progresses. This game is a ton of fun, and I love bringing it to the table. It’s also an accessible cooperative game in that, although there is a fair amount of strategy, it’s easy enough to learn the base game. If you haven’t tried playing this game, definitely give it a whirl, and if it’s too easy, there are things that you can do to make it harder. And if you are looking for a way to change up your basic Pandemic gaming experience, the legacy version of the game is an awesome way to do that. There are a bunch of great expansions for the game as well, but I haven’t played all of those, so I can’t speak to them.

I always have to do some honorable mentions as well, since there are so many games that I’ve played and love, but can’t put on the list. Plus, it’s rare for me to run into a board game that I don’t like. First on my honorable mention list is Star Wars Rebellion; this game feels like the epic space opera that Star Wars is, in a box. I’ve played it a single time, and I want to play it again. Sushi Go! Party is a game that I can play over and over again, and it’s simple, fast, and has fun strategy to it. Arkham Horror/Elder Signs are how I like to get my HP Lovecraft fix, though Mansions of Madness is a game that I want to play even more and which might pass the other two up. Cosmic Encounters is a fun space game that plays pretty quickly and has fun alien race powers. Finally, Hogwarts Battle is a game that I just got to the table a second time last night, and it was a blast; you get to play as the main characters of Harry Potter and defeat villains as you play through the plot of the books.

What are some board games that you like to get to the table?


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Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 Video Games

Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 Video Games

Trying to nail down my top 5 favorite video games, is, I have to say, a pretty weird experience. I didn’t really get into console gaming until the last few years or so, and I’m still a really casual player when it comes to those […]

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 80: Back to Barbuga

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 80: Back to Barbuga

If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to nerdologists@gmail.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter! We’ll be doing a recap and Q&A every twenty-five episodes. After defeating the eye of the beholder Nimrose and Finja know that the tower is […]

Know Your Nerd: Peder’s Top 5 Anime

Know Your Nerd: Peder’s Top 5 Anime

I think that with every one of these, I say that it is hard to pick my top 5 — for this one, it’s true simply because I haven’t watched all that much anime. Before meeting Kristen, I had watched Neon Genesis Evangelion and Berserk. I enjoyed both of them, but I hadn’t really watched more anime beyond those. Since then, Kristen and I have watched a number of other series. So here is my “what I’ve seen up to this point” top 5 anime list.

5. Little Witch Academia

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So this is one that we just finished up recently, and the show isn’t done yet. This is a really cute little anime about a girl who wants nothing more than to be a witch, so even though none of her family are witches, she gets into a magic school. She, of course, has the most unique roommates in the boarding school. The show is very lighthearted, and you can really appreciate how much joy and excitement the main character, Akko, has. It’s a series that is great to watch and just relax and enjoy. Right now, it’s on Netflix. You can see that it isn’t a cheap anime, beyond watching it on Netflix, as it’s still quite expensive on Amazon. But this is definitely an anime that is worth checking out and kicking back to relax and watch.

4. The Devil is a Part-timer!

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This is another really fun anime; it’s about the “devil” coming from another dimension and getting stuck on Earth. He doesn’t have enough power to get back home, so he is going to try and make the best of it. This is a slice-of-life story with an absurd premise — the devil works at McRonalds slinging burgers, working his way up in the fast food restaurant, all as a part of his plan to rule the world. The characters in this show are great, the situations are funny, and the whole “devil” and other dimension side of things works out quite well. That whole premise is kind of absurd as well, and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s another goofy anime that you want to just sit down and enjoy.

3. Sword Art Online

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Sword Art Online is one of those anime that people like to dislike. I can see why in some ways; it takes itself seriously at some points where you don’t expect it to, but in many ways I like this anime a lot. The story is mostly set within a full-immersion virtual reality video game system that, shortly after its launch, causes its users to become stuck in the game. This is by the design of the game’s creator, and the only way to get out of the game is to beat the hundred levels of the fantasy world of the game, but if you die while playing, you die in real life. Instead of doing what you might expect with a story that focuses on swinging swords and beating the boss monsters, the series focuses in more so on how people are handling their life in the game system. There are the front-line fighting moments, but those take a backseat to people growing closer to one another, having breakdowns, and sometimes becoming twisted. It’s an interesting anime that is a nice blend of action, story, and character work. I do think that it pretends to have more depth at times than it really does, but that said, it’s an enjoyable anime, though a bit weird at times as the story really splits at certain points during the seasons, dividing them in half in different ways.

2. Soul Eater

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I don’t think anyone would say that my anime list takes itself totally seriously; it tends to build off of levels of craziness. But in many ways, Soul Eater is a pretty serious show. There are absurd characters, but the story tries to focus in on broken characters, broken people who all have their different tics and foibles. The main premise is that Death is the headmaster of a school of students who harvest normal souls for him and keep wayward souls from hurting people. He isn’t a monster eating the souls, but is instead a very eccentric character who is worried about shepherding souls. Two groups of students are the focus, as each soul reaper wields a “human” weapon (basically, a person who has the ability to transform into a weapon). Each group has a different dynamic to it, and they have to deal with things that kids their age really shouldn’t have to deal with. The end of this anime feels a bit rushed and odd, but overall, it’s a very good series.

1. Steins:Gate

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In addition to all the light-hearted anime that I have on this list, I’ve also chosen Steins:Gate — while it is absurd at times, it is overall a serious anime. The story is that of time travel, dealing with its ramifications, and figuring out how much you can change the present by changing the past. There are parts of this very short anime that seem a little rushed, but it is emotionally deep, it asks tough questions, and the characters really grow throughout the show. The dialogue is phenomenal. especially from the main character, and the growth of the main character is the type of thing you don’t see in many non-anime shows. Overall, Steins:Gate might have made it a whole lot harder to really appreciate other anime; it is just that well put together.

I do have some honorable mentions, as well. I mentioned Berserk and Neon Genesis EvangelionBerserk is a dark, very serious anime, and Neon Genesis Evangelion is your classic mech anime. I enjoyed both, but they are both in very different realms. Kristen and I have also watched Fairy Tale, which I’ve enjoyed quite well, as it’s a blend of fantasy and silliness; however, there is some terrible filler in it. And speaking of filler, I have watched the first couple main arcs of a show that is almost 50% filler with BleachBleach is a lot of fun, but the amount of filler and the fact that I haven’t watched much of the series has kept it off my list. And finally, Dragon Ball Z: Abridged, a fan parody of Dragon Ball Z, is just hilarious.

There are so many more anime that I want to watch and just need to make time for. What are some of your favorite anime? Seeing what I’ve liked, what would you recommend I check out next?


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