Tag: board game review

TableTopTakes: Gravwell

TableTopTakes: Gravwell

So, a couple of weeks ago, I went to San Diego for a work trip. You will know which week, because there were no posts that came out that week. In typical fashion, I spent time around downtown watching the Comic-Con goers, went to Sea […]

Board Game Battles: Arkham Horror vs Arkham Horror vs Elder Signs vs Mansions of Madness

Board Game Battles: Arkham Horror vs Arkham Horror vs Elder Signs vs Mansions of Madness

Yes, this is a four way showdown between the heavy hitters that I’ve played of the Lovecraftian world. Now, there are lot more Lovecraftian/elder god games out there, including Eldritch Horror that could have joined the list. In fact Eldritch Horror would have made a […]

Gloomhaven Characters: Scoundrel (SPOILERS)

Gloomhaven Characters: Scoundrel (SPOILERS)

The Scoundrel

Now, I didn’t play this one, but it was played in our games and was our first mercenary to retire. The Scoundrel is a rogue type of character that moves fast, hits for a good amount of damage and can get extra damage if the conditions are right.

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

The Scoundrel, like the Tinkerer (and I didn’t mention this in the Tinkerer review), had a lower number of hit points than some of the other characters. Where as the Tinkerer has 12 cards to play around with, the Scoundrel had considerably less with nine cards. This gives it a different feel in a game where your cards are generally what determine if you make it to the end of a scenario or not. Whereas the Tinkerer would end up with a lot of it’s cards in the trash, the Scoundrel’s cards didn’t give out as many experience points, and didn’t get trashed all that often. Those that did get trashed, our player never really had those in his deck with the exception cards that he could use without the card ending up in the trash.

One of the other differences that I saw was that the Scoundrel also had the disadvantage of being in the mix always. So with fewer cards and less health than some, they had to do other things to stay alive. As they got to higher levels, they started to get cards that would let them go invisible, but adding gear quickly was key for the Scoundrel. There other advantage was the amount of damage that they could do, and the speed that they could go at. The other two characters had basically a similar speed, but the Scoundrel had several single digit cards that generally allowed them to go ahead of the bad guys. Two things came form this, they were able to potentially kill a threat that would do damage to them, or it would allow them to hit the person they were next to and then run away.

A cool thing about the Scoundrel was how their damage would increase depending on the situation. There was at least one card that damage would go up for the Scoundrel if the enemy was next to an ally, so it would go from a base 3 damage to a base 5 damage. Then, if the enemy was next to none of it’s allies next to it, it would be an additional 2 damage added to the attack, so the base damage would be 7. Now, it sucked if the base damage was 7 and you got the damage cancelled, but because of how you can build the Scoundrel’s modifier deck, there was almost no chance of that happening or chance of pulling a negative card. While the Scoundrel was in place, I definitely left the Tinkerer more as a healing option versus the damage option it became later, because the Scoundrel was so good at fast damage.

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

We didn’t end up seeing some of the higher levels for the Scoundrel as they were the first character we had to get retired. I would assume that those cards would have continued to enforce the trend of acting fast and doing extra damage in various situations. I should also point out that the Scoundrel, as compared to some of the other characters we’ve opened, does not have a ton of area attacks or ranged attacks. It’s an  up close and personal fighter who deals their damage that way.

I think one of the things that can be the most fun with the Scoundrel is the speed. If I were to go and play the Scoundrel, that would be why. You get to set the battlefield, you get to hit for a lot of damage and determine who attacks who, because you go before everyone else. The more straight forward nature, seemingly, of the Scoundrel would also make it strong for a player who might not be ready to tackle a character with more moving parts. It’s also a good one for a person who plays more video games than they do board games and might need more time to learn a character. They are going to understand what a Scoundrel is doing if they’ve played rogue characters before.

Complexity: Low
Combat: High
Support: Low

Have you had a chance to play the Scoundrel, if so how did you like it? Do you generally like to play rogue type characters?


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TableTopTakes: Sagrada

TableTopTakes: Sagrada

Story Time! I have to tell the story of how we got the game, because it’s a ton of fun. Kristen and I were in Los Angeles over International Table Top Day this year to visit some of my family. They were going to be […]

TableTopTakes: Gloomhaven Part 3

TableTopTakes: Gloomhaven Part 3

I said that I was going to come back to Gloomhaven at some point in time, the first two parts were from when we had started playing the game, now we are a ways in, so I wanted to come back to it as the […]

TableTopTakes: First Thoughts on Gloomhaven – Part 1

TableTopTakes: First Thoughts on Gloomhaven – Part 1

This won’t be a full review, as I’ve only played the first scenario in Gloomhaven, but I’ve done it twice, since we didn’t win the first time. But I did want to get up some initial thoughts quickly.

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

Legacy Game vs. Dungeon Crawler

One of the things I wanted to talk about was where this game fits on the game spectrum. The reason I want to do that is that oftentimes, people say “Oh, this game is X type of game,” and try to stick something into a single category. But Gloomhaven can be compared to both legacy games and dungeon crawlers. There are things about it that are typical of legacy games — for example, you can upgrade cards and place stickers on them. Even if you go back and play the same class again later, the cards still have the stickers on them, and that will be impact your game. At the same time, this doesn’t fit so well into the legacy game category when compared to true legacy games like Pandemic Legacy or Seafall. Unlike these, Gloomhaven can be played through again, and actually seems to have solid replay value, in my opinion. In fact, at some point I’ll probably start streaming a solo playthrough if I have time (but I want to get further ahead first, and I’m going to have 7th Continent to stream first), and it’ll be different, because I can pick different starting classes and swap in different abilities. And the game is also a dungeon crawler in that you are going through various dungeons and scenarios, and fighting and killing bad guys. But it isn’t just that, because the world changes and your party changes in those legacy-style ways I mentioned. And there is just a feeling of more when compared to a dungeon crawler like Shadows over Brimstone, which is still a fun game, but Gloomhaven just feels like more than your standard.

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

Eurogame vs. Amerithrash/Ameritrash

I know the term is Ameritrash, but I feel like Amerithrash is a more fun term to describe the same thing. So with that out of the way, what do I mean when I use that term? It’s a style of game that is quite strategic in terms of combat. And while it doesn’t have the Eurogame point salad like you can end up with — here’s a point, there’s a point, everybody gets a point — Gloomhaven has a strategic level that allows you to plan more and be less swingy than in an Amerithrash game. However, it still has the “kill the bad guys, grind it out, go in guns blazing” feel that I expect from Amerithrash games. And there are some swinging points in the game, and your best laid plans might not work out as well as you had hoped. This game walks a line of being something that can be highly strategic and could be looked at as simply a puzzle, but that also feels like, if you divorced the theme and epicness from it, it wouldn’t carry the same weight.

Battle is a Blast

In my opinion, one of the coolest parts of the game is having your own unique class-based combat deck of cards. You have access to your full collection of combat cards, specific to each character. This means when I’m playing my character, it feels different than when someone else is playing theirs, and after playing once, or maybe twice, you know what your character is good at and how they work. Each combat card has a top and bottom half, and you play out two of them each round. You are going to do the top of one and the bottom of the other. When you put them down, you select one of the cards to give you your initiative value. That is an interesting thing in that, most of the time, you want to go fast before the bad guys can get a chance to go, but to set up combos with other characters, a very fast character might have to go slower to get that benefit. That makes it quite strategic, and because you’re on the same side, you can talk about it, but you can’t give specifics. You can’t say, I’m going to move 4 spaces and then do 3 damage to that guy. You can say something like, I’m going to go as quickly as I can and rush that skeleton and try and take him out. But you never know if what you have planned is going to work. Maybe the monsters go before you and they move and ruin your plan. Or maybe an ally does, even if you’ve tried to talk it through. But even when you’ve picked which parts of which cards you want to use, you can always swap that around. Or maybe the attack you planned that would get rid of your card for the scenario isn’t worth it anymore — if that happens, you can always just do a basic attack instead. This helps with analysis paralysis, as you always have something to do.

You’re Running out of Time

With the combat deck for each character, it also works as a timing mechanism for how long you can keep going in the battle. Eventually, you’ll run out of cards. Cards you’ve discarded can come back to your hand, but at a cost. Either you take a short rest and randomly lose one of those cards, or you take a long rest, which takes your whole next turn. If you take a long rest, you get to choose the card you lose and gain some health, which is often key, but it costs you a turn, and you then take your turn at the end of the round, so you’d better not be in a spot where you might just creamed damage-wise if you really need to heal up. This causes each decision to have a lot more pressure, because when you’re out of cards and you can’t play two anymore, you are out of the scenario and can’t help your teammates anymore. This is also made trickier because your best cards, when you use them for their best feature, don’t go into the discard pile — they are lost right away, so that can speed up how long you are able to hang on in combat. It’s a very cool timing mechanism that really forces you to think and makes you feel the pressure of beating the scenario quickly.


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TableTopTakes: Machi Koro Bright Lights Big City

TableTopTakes: Machi Koro Bright Lights Big City

I talked a tiny bit about this game in my AcadeCon review, but I wanted to mention it again and do a proper review on it. Machi Koro is what is called a “tableau building” game. In this type of game, you are building up […]

TableTopTakes: SeaFall – Redux

TableTopTakes: SeaFall – Redux

It’s time for part two of my review on SeaFall (Original Post). I’m going to try and keep this spoiler free, but if I feel like I can’t keep it spoiler free for some reason, I’ll give you a warning as to where the spoilers […]

TableTopTakes: Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

TableTopTakes: Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

Back for more reviews on games that are a bit older, but I’ve finally gotten a chance to play them, and in the case of  Mansions of Madness, was totally worth the wait to check it out.  So spoilers, I’m going to review this pretty well.

Image Source: Fantasy Flight Games

Mansions of Madness is a story based game where you are investigators in a Lovecraftian world, trying to figure out different scenarios, solve puzzles, and search for clues. The investigators have been called to look into weird things that are going at on this mansions and exploring through the rooms, meeting the Butler, and trying to track down the cultists who are working on bringing through one of the elder gods. Things aren’t that easy though, and the monsters that show up and cultists that are running around are definitely trying to hurt you or drive you insane.

Image Source: Fantasy Flight

So, this game seems like there should be a ton of set-up that you need to do throughout the game. You are placing where the clue tokens are, you are setting up the rooms and there are monsters to be placed. That’s one of the cool features of the 2nd Edition of Mansions of Madness, it comes with an app.This app tells you what to set-up, where you need to set it up, and what you are seeing. You aren’t just placing a few clue tokens onto a board to investigate, you are getting a description that there is a family portrait on the wall, and that’s what you’re investigating, or the pile of mail that is sitting in the foyer, or maybe papers on the office desk.

There are other cool features to the app as well, it gives you story pieces, in fact it’s voice acted as you get the information for the case when you start. And it fills in the details as to what you find, so no flipping through a book, you just pick the clue you investigated (and it even tells you how to investigate it), you can then find the clue and information. It allows Mansions of Madness to feel like an RPG but without having someone run the game. And it allows them to do puzzles. Maybe you are very smart, then you can take more turns trying to figure out a puzzle, but they might be worse at combat. Finally, it makes the board different for you, we played the same scenario twice, and the board and clues came up differently.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

The app is definitely the big selling point to this game. There are other fun features as well. The fact that each character is unique and has a unique power is great. Along with that, it’s an annoying thing, but also a fun thing, when you get more wounds than you can take, you get a permanent wound, so you don’t die right away, but now instead of being able to hold a lot of items, now you can only hold two. The same thing happens with sanity, you are going more and more insane, and if you reach your insanity threshold then you go insane, and if you reach it again you die. But, like wounds, going insane means something, for example, when I went insane in the game that we barely won, I had to have a slashing weapon (I think that’s what it was called), and be in the same spot as the other player otherwise, I think the other player would have won, but I wouldn’t have. Now, what I was doing with that knife, never explained, but now I had to do weird stuff in order to be able to win.

Overall, this is a fun game and the app makes this game accessible to people who aren’t gamers. That said, I do think that this is more of a gamers game, and while it is cooperative, someone who is less of a gamer might just be doing what someone else says for them to do, versus playing the game as much themselves. However, and I think this is how it should be, if you are playing Mansions of Madness with someone who isn’t as much of a gamer, let them play, and it’s not super difficult to learn and once they do, they are going to enjoy it more.

Overall Grade: A

Gamer Grade: B+

Casual Grade: B-


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TableTopTakes: Dresden Files Card Game

TableTopTakes: Dresden Files Card Game

During my time between jobs, besides spending a lot of time doing mind numbing training in new programming languages, is go to Fantasy Flight Game Center and try out some different games than I’ve played before. And yesterday I went with a friend and played […]