Tag: board game review

TableTopTakes: Silver

TableTopTakes: Silver

Bezier Games is known for their One Night Ultimate Werewolf games, but they have more than that, though, still, with a werewolf theme. One of those games is Silver. Does it really branch from what they’ve done before? In Silver you have a village of 

Finding a New Board Game (Part 2) – Online Resources

Finding a New Board Game (Part 2) – Online Resources

As board games have grown as a hobby, it’s tricky at times to find a good board game that fits you. There are so many of them out there that it can be overwhelming and when you find some more “hobby” games and get introduced 

TableTopTakes: Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

TableTopTakes: Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

You pick up your doughnut and wait for the coffee to brew. Soon you’re pouring over notes, looking up clues in the database, all while waiting on the lab to finish running their reports. Detective is a game where you get a chance to dig deep into cases and try and figure out the whole story of what is going on, while not using up too much time.

In Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, you are playing cooperatively as a team of detectives/investigators who are trying to solve a series of linked cases. But can you figure out the links between the cases, what information from previous cases will be useful, and how much, per case, should you dig into the big picture? To do this, you have to travel around from your Antares HQ to places like the Courthouse, Richmond PD, The Lab, or various places that are all at fieldwork. At these places you’ll look at cards which will allow you to investigate a crime scene, or talk to a witness, or get some reports run on various clues. Doing any of these things costs time, and you only have so much time during the day, 8 hours, to get your work done, or you can work overtime, but too much overtime and you become too stressed and the case wraps up. At the end of the case, when you think you’re ready, you answer a series of questions about what you found out.

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is an advancement in deduction sorts of games where you have a pretty small deck of cards, 35 per case, that you’re going through, and with that, you probably will see around twenty of them per case. So you are only getting a limited amount of information. With that said, there’s so much more beyond just those 35 cards, there’s the whole Antares database that you’ll be using a lot as well. This will have records of interviews you’ve done with witnesses, larger descriptions of crime scenes, or clues, police reports on people or old cases, ways to tie fingerprints together to determine who was at the crime scene. The Antares database is a website that is set-up by Portal Games that they can add new cases to whenever they want. This means for expansions they can add in new cases, redo the look of the database for the time period, or do whatever they want with it. How extensive the database is, is really cool. And it adds a lot of depth and theme to the game. You also can even google some things on the cards to determine what some real events that are referenced actually were.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Out of the five cases in the base box, we’ve played three so far, and while the first two cases felt fairly similar, the third case felt extremely different. I won’t go into spoilers, but it’s fun to see how they can create different almost puzzles for you to solve in the game. Some of them you might be digging up larger parts of an old story that puts together a grand tale that is tying all the cases together. Or you may be diving back into a cold case to figure out why there was such a rush to get the case closed and to find out if there is more to it. Or you might be in a highly time sensitive situation where you’re racing against the clock to stop some bad event from happening. All of them are possible in the game, and it feels like there is even more room to expand.

I do want to talk some about the thematic immersion in the game. I’ll start out by saying that of the three cases that we’ve done, two of them have taken three hours or just a little bit longer, the last one took just about two and a half hours. So this is a pretty long game for something that just have 35 cards per case. But the game is highly thematic, and you feel like you’re investigating to some extent. You’re looking through everything that’s going on, and you can see the threads come together, you’re taking notes and connecting things that seem like they might be separate because of a clue you find at a third location. And it’s not that the game is handing you those connections, you are having to use deductive reasoning to put two and two together and get the right answer. This game really has so much theme, and in fact, so much theme that you get immersed in discovering the story, not just “who done it” that you lose track of time. Each case doesn’t seem like a three hour chunk of time, because you’re puzzling over everything trying to figure out what is happening.

Finally, let’s talk about replayability. I would likely this to TIME Stories, where maybe, after a period of time, I’d be able to play it again, or if you wanted to see how good a job you could do you could play it again. But this game is not that replayable. You are solving a case, and once you know the solution you need to forget it to really be able to play it again, and I think unless five years have passed or more, I’m probably going to have my memory jogged by starting the case again and be able to take an ideal path. My thoughts, because we’re playing in a group of three, is that I might run the game again for another group, be in charge of the cards, like I am now, so that people can’t accidentally spoil themselves, but just sit back and watch someone else enjoy the experience. With that said, there is a Season 1 implementation of this coming out, there is the LA Crimes expansion for this, and there is a Dig Deeper expansion coming out as well, so there’s going to be added content for it, and for the amount of time that you’re playing each case, and the enjoyment from it, I think the base game is very much worth the value.

Overall, I love this game. I know some people won’t like the fact that is uses a screen, but that adds in a ton for the thematic element. Because even though I don’t love procedural cop shows on TV like CSI or Law & Order, Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game has that feel and when you’re the detective and heavily involved in trying to figure out who committed the crime or even how multiple cases tie together, it is so much fun, and the Antares database adds so much to that feel. This is a great thematic experience, and while the questions at the end can seem random if you chased a few red herrings, the story throughout the cases has been crafted extremely well.

Is this a game that you’ve tried, do you enjoy it? Is it something that seems interesting to you?

Gamer Grade: A
Casual Grade: B
Overall Grade: A-

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TableTopTakes: Marvel Champions

TableTopTakes: Marvel Champions

Yes, I did just do a Board Game Battle and a Beyond the Box Cover for Marvel Champions, but I’ve had a chance to play it a handful of times now, with a few different heroes and villains, solo and multiplayer, so I think that 

TableTopTakes: Homebrewers

TableTopTakes: Homebrewers

A long time ago, I wrote an article about beer and homebrewing. And if you’ve watched the Malts and Meeples videos, you’ll see me enjoying a good beer, though, none that I’ve homebrewed recently. Homebrewing is one of those hobbies that got set to the 

TableTopTakes: Castle Panic

TableTopTakes: Castle Panic

There are some cooperative games that are really hard and you will lose way more often than you win. Castle Panic is a game on the opposite end, where you win more often than not. Is that a problem with this game, or is it still interesting enough and challenging enough that it’s worth playing?

Castle Panic is a classic tower defense style game where you and the other players team up as heroes who are sending out troops, firing with archers and trying to stop the goblin horde that is coming to knock down the walls of your castle and destroy it. The game plays simply where players on their turns play out cards matching colors and ranges to kill off the goblins. But some goblins take more than one hit so can you get them taken out before they start destroying everything. Every turn you are drawing cards, trading them, and hoping to take out a goblin or three. To make it a little bit more challenging there are things that you can do like rebuild castle walls and put up barricades to drive back the horde for at least a turn. And there are boss monsters who will do things like cause you to draw and place more monsters on a single turn or heal already injured monsters. Finally, when placing the monsters it’s a die roll, so if you are unlucky, you might have monsters overrun one of the colors.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

This is a simple game that I think works well as an introduction to fantasy games for kids, and as a cooperative game that you can play with a lot of kids. There is a “kids” version, but that is targeting getting kids in that 3-6 age range. The main game they say that it’s for 10+, but that has more to do with the piece sizes than the game itself, I think younger kids would be able to play this and the Board Game Geek community agrees with me as they rate it a 6+ in terms of the age range. The card play is easy, you draw up cards, you can put mortar and brick together to rebuild a wall, you can trade cards, etc. all of this is done in a mainly cooperative way. You can play fully cooperative, but like Marvel Legendary, they suggest that you keep who you’ve killed to see who has done more in the end.

With that said, I do think the game is almost too simple to play with adults. Even in a casual gaming environment with a bunch of non-gamers, the game doesn’t have long term legs. The play doesn’t change up too much and the strategy of the game is fairly limited. You’re really just seeing what you draw in terms of cards and monsters, and where you roll to place out the monsters. There are some things, like discarding and drawing a card that you can push to hope to get a better outcome, but it really comes down to the draws and the rolls. I’ve played games where I’ve gotten the boss who makes you draw more monsters when the bag was almost empty so we couldn’t draw enough, and that makes it easier, or the boss who heals monsters when no monsters were injured, I’ve also had the flip happen as well. I’ve had the one who causes you to draw monsters draw into the tile that has you draw more monster and all of a sudden we’re being overrun by goblins.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

With that all said, I don’t think it is a bad game for what it is. It isn’t your normal kids game, Candyland or Snakes and Ladders where you are at the whim of a die or a random card draw. There is decision making that has to go into the game as you are able to plan multiple turns ahead. You never know what you might draw that might change up that plan, but the monsters move in a predictable pattern, one forward every turn, so you can plan your turns out fairly well and trading cards matters more because you want to get the right cards to the right players at the right time with a limited number of trades that you can make. So I think, even with non-gamers who are adults, it gives you something to think about and do for a play or two, and more than that if you are playing with kids.

Overall, this is a game that i still have in my collection. Yes, it is a bit simple, but I know that it’s a game that I can pull out with most people and get the game up and running fast. There is also the bright colors and 3d towers and walls that look interesting to it has a good table presence and people are more interested in playing it. It isn’t a game that I play that often, but as my kid gets older, it’ll be one of those transitional games into a bigger games as it teaches cooperation and planning in gaming.

Overall Grade: C+
Gamer Grade: D
Casual Grade: B-

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TableTopTakes: The Hobbit

TableTopTakes: The Hobbit

There are times when you stumble across a game on sale and you don’t know anything about it. But because of the theme or a look of the game, and how big the sale is, it is worth checking out. This was the case with 

TableTopTakes: Age of War

TableTopTakes: Age of War

Fairly often the games that I review are these big epic games, like Gloomhaven, Sword & Sorcery, and more, but I do enjoy, fairly often, playing small games as well. And when it comes to games being small, Age of War fits the bill as 

TableTopTakes: Marrying Mr. Darcy

TableTopTakes: Marrying Mr. Darcy

Join us for a fancy party at the Netherfield Estate and try and find the most eligible most eligible bachelor and get married in the end. Marrying Mr. Darcy is a quick card game set in the world that Jane Austen created, and it can handle a large group, which means that it can hit the table for a board game night.

In Marrying Mr. Darcy, you are trying to collect the correct set-up of wit, beauty, reputation and dowry to attract the best possible suitor. But beyond that, you are playing one of the Bennett sisters or one of the other characters, such as, Georgiana Darcy. Each of them has an preferred person to marry, but to do that, they need to get a right combination of those cards. On your turn, you draw a card and you do what it says, it might allow you to play down an attribute card, or maybe it’ll be party where it can help you draw more cards, or lose cards, and parties are done by the whole group. It’s a very simple game with mainly just a bunch of luck in it. The one thing to consider is that some cards can be used for cunning, which doesn’t help you get married, but means that you can attract your suitors earlier in the final phase of the game. So, if you are going to score the most points, as Elizabeth by marrying Mr Darcy, you might want to get ahead of someone else who might score some points by marrying him because maybe their attributes don’t match their ideal suitor.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

The game play is very simple in this, turns consist of drawing a card and doing what it says. That simplicity helps it work for a more casual group, but it doesn’t offer too much in terms of tactical play, because you, when select a character, are locked into which suitor is going to be your ideal. So you’re really at the luck of the draw to see if you can get the right reputation, dowry, wit, and beauty to attract them. The pile of cards you’re drawing from is quite big as well, so while turns are very fast, the game can go on for a little while. Depending on how the game night is going or what plans there are for further games in the game night, you can play with less cards, and playing two players they tell you to play with about half the cards, because otherwise characters would have too many attributes, but with a full player count, you need all the cards.

Then in the final phase of the game, the proposal phase, you match your attributes, see whom you can court, and then going in a specific order, determined by the game, you choose to either roll or not roll a die for the suitor. This offers some push your luck, because the suitors further down the line are going to probably be more suitable for you and for scoring more points. But, if you fail, you can become an old maid, which hampers how many points you can get. This part of the game goes fast, which is good, because the first part can overstay it’s welcome.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

What makes the game work is when you can get into the goofiness of the game. Jane Austen was very sarcastic and witty, and while the game doesn’t always perfectly emulate that on all the cards, it is that on a lot of them. So if you have a group that can enjoy the silliness of the game and lean into that, it helps make the game much more enjoyable. Otherwise, the game is going to be too simple and too long. And even as someone who can lean into the silliness of the game, the game does almost run too long for me. Turns are fast, but there are so many cards that it just takes a while, and eventually even the variety of cards tends to start to seem similar, because a party is still a party even if the flavor of the party is slightly different than the flavor text of the previous party. That’s why I mentioned taking out cards, because it’ll speed up the game with fewer cards in it, the issue with that is that for a full player count and the suitors who need more beauty, wit, dowry, and reputation to be married, you won’t be able to reach those numbers, or you’ll need to be lucky to reach those numbers. And I think for a lot of people because of the simplicity of the game and length of the game, it isn’t going to be an ideal game for them. It takes a group who likes the premise to really make it work.

I haven’t done this before, but I’m going to talk about the expansions. There are two possible expansions that you can add into the game, the first is the Emma expansion. This one just causes it to shift books over to Emma. It adds in a few more event cards so that the game is more thematic for Emma, but the biggest thing is that the characters change. There’s also an undead expansion, because of Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, so of course there needs to be one. This can cause one of the women or suitors to become undead which makes your odds of getting married or marrying them much lower. I think that this expansion adds some needed variety to the game, not because I love zombie games, but because it leans more into the silliness and helps pull people into the absurdity of the world of Pride and Prejudice.

Overall, this is a game that I’d recommend to people who love Jane Austen. Beyond that, though, the game is pretty simple and the game can overstay it’s welcome, so I’d recommend this as a pass. That said, I think that this could be a gateway sort of game for a non-board gamer who likes Jane Austen or at least like the movie, especially if you can help lead the silliness of the game for them. I wish that the game offered a few more meaningful decisions though.

Overall Grade: C
Gamer Grade: D
Casual Grade: C+

2-6 player game, 30-60 minutes (generally closer to 60), and ages 13+ (I’d say 10+)

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TableTopTakes: Skulk Hollow

TableTopTakes: Skulk Hollow

If you’ve read my previous reviews on Root and Cry Havoc, you can see that I really like asymmetrical games. Skulk Hollow, when it came on kickstarter last year, was a game that caught my attention right away. The look had a bit of that