Tag: board game review

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…

TableTopTakes: Tainted Grail

TableTopTakes: Tainted Grail

Let me start out by saying that rarely do I back a Kickstarter on the first day, and I hemmed and hawed over whether or not I would with Tainted Grail. In the end, because of the feeling I got from the setting, this dark…

TableTopTakes: Village Attacks

TableTopTakes: Village Attacks

Some times it is good to be bad. And in Village Attacks, you get to be a horror monster who has been terrorizing the village. So you are the bad guys, but you aren’t terrorizing the village anymore, you’re relaxing for the night. This is a twist on a cooperative game but offers a lot of choices and interesting combos that you can create.

In Village Attacks, the villagers are knocking down the doors to the castle and you, and the group of monsters you’re playing with are just trying to have a nice evening. The villagers have torches and pitchforks and it’s just going to be headache if they get into the heart of the castle. You roll dice to get your actions selected and you’re trying to take out enough villagers and survive the waves of attacks. As you kill those pesky villagers and complete scenario objectives you can get closer to winning the game, but it also powers you up so you can handle the stronger hero villagers who are going to be coming after you. If you can complete the objective of the scenario, you win the game.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Village Attacks is a fun cooperative game because it’s a tower defense game, but it turns it on it’s head. You aren’t these heroic characters fending off tons and tons of monsters, you are the bad guys who are fighting off the villagers who you’ve been terrorizing who are now terrorizing you. While it doesn’t really make much difference in the long run, it is fun to see themes that are twisted and changed up from the normal version of the game. If you were playing the villagers defending against Dracula and his thralls and Renfields, that would make a pretty normal game, but instead you get to be the monster. That isn’t enough to make it a good game on it’s own though.

What helps the game out a ton to start getting it to that good range is that you play scenarios. If it were just a pure tower defense style game it would get predictable, but the scenarios are going to change the game up. In the GenCon scenario from 2019, for example, you are trying to get a bunch of totems into position. So you’re fetching stuff around your castle and bringing them back to a room and placing them in certain spots. While you are doing that, the villagers are pouring into your castle and they are doing two things. They are attacking the heart of the tower, basically the mystical energy that keeps the monsters coming back, so if that hits 0, you lose the game. They are also trying to get into the crypt and destroy the place where you are reborn and if enough of them get there, you lose the game. So not only is it about killing the villagers, who were coming into the castle in three different areas, you’re also worried about keeping them away from the heart and unable to attack and keeping them away from another location. And that’s just one scenario. Some of them might be as easy as defend the heart of the castle, but most are going to have more, and that’s going to change up how you play the game. And while playing a cooperative game that’s challenging and doesn’t have scenarios is fun, Pandemic for example, I think that having the scenarios takes it up a notch.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

The other thing is that your monsters level up as you go. I like this because each monster starts out with a unique ability, but then you can add in more as you go and leveling up goes fast. In a scenario, you might not level up fully, but you’re going to feel like you’re getting a lot of upgrades to your character, especially as there are more and more villagers who show up that you need to take care of. And each character has their own unique upgrades. So if you’re playing one with a bone whip versus on who is an archer, your upgrades are going to be different for your character and it’ll allow you tailor how you want to play that character. I like being able to tailor a character to play my way, and it isn’t just a single upgrade path for a hero, though it isn’t as branching as it could be.

As for the mechanics of the game, there is a bunch to track in the game, but for the most part it’s roll dice, select the dice you want to use, deal with the villagers, more villagers show up, and repeat the process. The game play is actually pretty simple with a few things that feel like will take a bit to remember. Mainly how the villagers attack, some of them are going prefer a certain monster as a target but if they are closer to the heart of the castle, they are going to attack that, and just keeping that in order can be tricky. The game designers knew that though and there’s a cheat for that and other things, such as turn order on the back. I like big games where it ends up actually not being that complex and Village Attacks (plus a million expansions) is one that has that feel.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

I do want to wrap up a little bit about the theme. This is a dark game, you’re killing “innocent” villagers and the artwork can be monstrous or disturbing, for the characters you’re playing. The game doesn’t pull any punches and suggest that you’re the good guys or misunderstood monsters, you are the bad guys who are still being bad. This theme might be a bit dark for some people, but I think with how the game plays, it doesn’t feel like that. And when I’ve played it, people play it more as the misunderstood monsters or that it’s silly. I think of The Fearless Vampire Killers or a movie like that where the vampire is bad, but the whole thing is kind of absurd.

Overall, I liked this game a lot. Unfortunately it’s hard to get a hold of. Fortunately, at the end of last year, they ran a kickstarter which was success so I can get a copy of the base game. I believe that the pledge manager is opening up soon for that, so it might be possible to late pledge at that point. If you want to play a good tower defense/dungeon defense style of game that’s more than something like Castle Panic and has a unique theme, Village Attacks is amazing for that. The game length can be a bit long and seems to scale longer with a higher player count, but higher player is what some of the people running the demo recommend. And if you get the game, don’t let the bits and pieces intimidate you, the game isn’t that hard when you get into it.

Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: A
Casual Grade: C

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TableTopTakes: Risk Legacy

TableTopTakes: Risk Legacy

If you’ve followed the website for a while, you’ll know that a few years ago I was posting about Risk Legacy, but also talking about Legacy games and what games I thought would make a cool Legacy game, because I’m a massive fan of legacy…