So, recently there’s been a trend in board games where apps or other pieces or technology are starting to get integrated into gaming. Then CMON announced Teburu a digital board set-up that allows the system to track where your characters are, have your player sheet…
Tag: Board Games
Oh yeah, it’s Halloween time again. I think last year I did a few Halloween themed articles, this year, I’m going to do top five lists every Wednesday on different Halloween themed things in various mediums. Not sure which all topics will be covered, but I’m starting with board games.
Now, when I say things like “Halloween Horror” and “Spooky” in the title, these are games that fit the Halloween theme. It doesn’t mean that they are the scariest games out there, but instead, these are games that I want to play around Halloween, and there are games out there, like IT: Evil Below, that I’ve really interested in getting my hands on eventually, but that I haven’t played yet.
So with all that ado, let’s get onto the list:
There has been a murder, and one person as the ghost is trying to get investigators pointed down the path of whom their murder might be. This is a lighter game, but it’s an interesting and fun one that is accessible to most people. The artwork in this game is beautiful as well, as the ghost is giving you abstracted “visions” to see if you can match up those images with the location, the weapon, and the murder for your own personal case. Then you have to see if you can figure out which one of all of the cases actually is the murderer. The game has some weird methods for how you get to guess which one it is at the end, but those can be house ruled, basically just allowing everyone to guess at the end with all the card information. It’s also nice because you can talk as a group to help people who might be falling behind in understanding their cards. The aesthetic of the game is what really makes it a Halloween game. The cards artwork is just weird, sometimes haunting, and generally amazing.
4- Xenoshyft: Onslaught
This one is technically a horror game, but less of one than the higher ranked ones. I feel like this one you’re getting a bunch of Starship Troops as you fight off waves and waves of bug aliens. What works well in this game is that it’s a fully cooperative deck builder. So you can help each other out, but it’s also a game you’re not going to win that often as you start dealing with larger and larger bugs and they hit your base. This game has some nice pressure to it as you each are defending your own part of the base but you can help the other people out, so that means if you are the last one to go, there might not be much to help you, so you hope you are lucky enough to have some easy bugs you can take out without them getting through. The game is pretty easy to teach as well which is nice, so it’s one that you can get to the table easier or quicker as compared to some of the higher ranked games on this Halloween list.
3- Dead of Winter
There are so many zombie games out there. I haven’t actually played that many of them, but Dead of Winter is a big favorite of mine. The game puts you in charge of a group of survivors after the zombie apocalypse, so that’s normal. But then borrowing from The Walking Dead, the game isn’t as much about the zombies, though, if you aren’t careful they will kill you, it’s about who you can trust. You all have your secret goal that you need to do to win, and someone might be a traitor who is trying to get their own objective that’s different from the groups main objective. You always feel like you are pushing your luck in this game, and most of the time, you don’t know who you can trust. Dead of Winter is a big game with a lot of decisions, it’s probably a board game that would take a whole game night, if you wanted to get into it. There are a few wonky things about it, but that’s mainly with how the winners are determined, but the rest of the mechanics are great.
2- Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
I only wanted to put one Lovecraftian game on the list, and Mansions of Madness, to me, is the most Halloween. I think that Arkham Horror or Arkham Horror LCG also work, but with the app integration into the game, the little bits of random spookiness that can happen are really good. And the variety of scenarios is really good. And while I might personally be about done with the first scenario because I’ve played it a number of times, it’s good that it’s not too hard and enjoyable enough to replay. This game lets you feel the tension as you get injured and are running away from a monster in hopes that it won’t catch you, because another hit and you’ll likely go down. You get the pressure as your sanity slowly disappears, and you know that the plot is progressing, even if it feels like you aren’t progressing.
1- Betrayal at House on the Hill
Is this the best game on the list? It’s one of my favorite games that’s for sure, but with Betrayal at House on the Hill, it feels like Halloween. You are exploring an old spooky house with a group of misfits who probably shouldn’t be working together. Then, in a twist, one of the people turns on the group to enact some evil plan. There can be issues understanding the haunt and how it works, but the haunts are extremely thematic, and if you can immerse yourself in the theme of the game, that balancing issue of the haunt is much less of an issue. This would be the game that I’d pull out nine times out of ten when someone who has played some board games says they want to play a scary board game or a Halloween board game.
There are so many more Halloween games that I want to play. I haven’t played Fury of Dracula, and that seems like an important Halloween game to play. I haven’t played any Zombicide game, and that might not happen, but a game like Legendary Encounters: Alien is interesting to me as well. Or, in my collection, I have Shadows of Brimstone, that game has great horror themes, but it’s a big game that is hard to get to the table at times, so I just don’t have enough experience with it to put it on the list. I’m also curious to see if a game like Folklore: The Affliction, would make it to the list as well.
What are some of your favorite horror board games? Is there one, based off of my top 5 that you think I need to play?
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Join me as I look at Kickstarter and see what games I’ve saved and am or was considering Kickstarting. Dice & Ink: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Aeon Trespass: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Up Your Game: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Isofarian Guard: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Detective City of Angels: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Monster Cards: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Time of Legends: Destinies…
When people think of area control games, they think of games like Risk as the classic one. Risk can be a very long game and a very swingy game that someone could be knocked out of early. Even with all of that, I liked Risk growing up because it was something different than rolling and moving around the board, and there seemed to be more strategy in the game. But as I got older I stopped appreciating the game as much for the issues that the dice rolling is so random and that the games went on forever, and that sometimes, someone just got knocked out early.
That’s when I met a game called Small World.
In Small World, you are pushed into battle with various fantasy races and powers in your attempt to control territories, collect coins, and be the richest at the end of the game. To do this, you select your fantasy race and get the power that is paired up with it. That means that you might get seafaring elves one time, stout halflings, or flying dwarves, and the combinations will probably be different in future games, so that you can’t plan a perfect strategy every time. You take over territories not by rolling dice, but simply be placing down two more cardboard tokens than the number of pieces of cardboard that are there on the board. You can push your luck at the end, but there is no defense roll, unless, you have something like halflings who can’t be knocked out of their first location. Then, once you’ve done all that you can with a race, you put them into decline and you pick another combination that is out there and begin again.
Small World really forces you into conflict, in fact, Small World comes with two double sided boards, for player counts from 2 to 5 players so that the boards are just big enough that you don’t have to fight right away, but you will end up fighting quickly. And that’s just part of the game. In Risk, you would fight and if you did poorly, you’d get knocked out of the game. In Small World, while you lose troops, you can always go into decline when your race isn’t making you enough money and pick another one to come onto the board with and wipe out your enemies. And because of this constant cycling or races and tokens on the board, you don’t feel bad and you don’t feel like people are just ganging up on your troops, because you’ll get them back soon, then they’ll get someone else, and that person will get you and the cycle will repeat.
Small World also has a better time length for the game than something like Risk did. Small World says 40-80 minutes, and I think that’s pretty accurate, with higher player counts the game might go longer, and at two players it might go slightly shorter if both people know the game well. But it isn’t a game that overstays it’s welcome, and that’s what you really want at the table. If it was much longer, it would seem too long because it isn’t that complex a game.
I can actually see the complexity of the game being an issue for some people. This isn’t a highly strategic area control game. It is meant to be a light and fun game and with the art and the race and power combos, that is pretty obvious. You are going to have some tactical decisions to make, but not that many because if you make a mistake and leave an area open, it isn’t the end of the world. That’s good, because the player elimination is another part that isn’t great in some games like Risk. And I keep on comparing this to Risk, because the complexity level is probably less, so it’s a great way to bring people who like Risk or like the idea of Risk into a more modern style of game.
But let’s talk about the one thing that makes this a game that I get back to the table a few times a year, even with all the games that I have, and that’s the race and power combinations. That keeps Small World feeling fresh and unique each game. Plus, it’s something that they can expand, and in fact have expanded upon nicely. I don’t have all the expansions, and I kind of want to get more of them, but it’s fun to have a lot of different races and powers so that you don’t see the same combinations, and even when you do see one repeat from a previous game, you have a whole lot more that are new for you. And sometimes you get really funny combinations that might actually be surprisingly good. Flying Dwarves just sounds funny, but it can actually be good, because you don’t get many dwarves and getting them around to a bunch of mines would give you a lot of points, and that’s easier then spreading them out marching normally. Plus, having your own race and power makes you feel unique, and you get that feeling multiple times during a game.
Overall, Small World is a great introductory game, and even with expansions in there, it’s not too much for players who aren’t board gamers to play. Now, it is probably going to be too simple for some people who have been in the hobby for a long time, and it probably isn’t going to be for the Euro gamer, but for that fun game you can pull out and have a silly good time, Small World does a great job of that. It’s a gateway/entry level game that I would highly recommend for people who are looking to bring those older gamers into a more modern style of board gaming.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: B-
Casual Grade: A+
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Say Bye to the Villains is a cooperative game, that even with all the table talk you might want is an extremely hard game. If you like to win half of your games in a cooperative setting, this game isn’t for you, if you like to win 25% of your games, this game probably isn’t for you. That is how hard Say Bye to the Villains is.
In Say Bye to the Villains, you are a team of Samurai who are seeking to stop a number of villains equal to the number of players. Each villain has a number of face down cards that are going to influence their scores for speed, health, and attack. As players you are trying to build up your own skill sets in those three areas so that you can take on one of the villains and defeat them. Each player has to defeat a villain and every villain must be defeated to win the game. However, you have a limited amount of time, 10 days. And you have cards that you can play down that allow you to increase your stats, look at the villains face down cards and possible turn them face up, and figure out what Samurai should go up against what villain, because, when you run out of time, you have to pick your villain.
Now, this is a very tough game, because you are never completely sure what the villains skills are going to be, and while you might be able to figure out some of them, others are going to be unknown so you hope you set it up right. When you face off against a villain whomever is faster attacks first. If Samurai or villain who attacks first deals more damage than their opponent’s health, they win. If not, their opponent gets to hit back. But, if at the end of a fight both are still up, it’s a draw and the players lose the game because of that. So you have multiple strategies. You might want to be extremely fast and deal a lot of damage while not having much health because you’re goal is to get the kill before the villain can even go. Or maybe you want to have a lot of health and hit hard so that you can take the blow from the villain and then strike back. That doesn’t seem so bad, however, the villains can have cards that say you need to draw with them, because maybe they weren’t actually a villain. So, when you are looking at the cards that the villains have, you hope to find that one so that you know what is going on and don’t accidentally send someone who will kill that villain and cause you to lose the game.
I mentioned earlier that you have 10 days to complete your training and research on the villains. This is not enough time, basically in any game that I’ve played. We’ve had most of the villains scouted and planned, and we know who is going to face whom, but there is almost always a single villain remaining who we just don’t know about. And as we saw above, if they are going to need you to draw against them, you might have come in with too much power and your attack will kill them and then you lose the game. Or, maybe you do get a very good idea of what every villain has, now that means you might not have enough time left to be able to train your characters up enough so that you can actually get enough speed or damage out. But, thankfully, there are some cards that give you time back, unfortunately, villains can also spend your time, sometimes, by giving you false leads. In Say By to the Villains, it’s a constant struggle determining what you need to do for your time and figuring out what information is the most important for you to get or what training is the best to do.
I really enjoy those different things, but they make the game extremely tough. You always feel like you maybe made the wrong decision, but there’s probably no right decision. One decision that you get to make at the start of the game that will influence how you play, though, is what character you take. Each character has unique abilities and starting stats, so that can really determine what you are wanting to do. Some of the characters are helped by discarding cards face down, which can often let you help give cards to other players or to look at what skills villains might have. Whereas other characters are good at removing cards from villains or flipping over cards to see what they are. You can really tailor how you want to play the game by what villain you select, and some villains actually combo together fairly well. However, basically everything is costing you time, and the more powerful an ability, the more time it’s going to cost you, and you only have ten days.
Say Bye to the Villains is a game that I really like, however, I think it has a limited spot on the table. It’s a very difficult game, and because of that, it can be a bit much for some people. It’s also a very collaborative game, so unless you’re involved and paying attention to what is going on closely, you might not be in the collaboration as much as you should be. It also isn’t that fast a game for being a small card game. The play time for 45 minutes seems right because of all the collaboration that happens in the game. And I’m not sure with fewer players that is really makes it that much faster. It probably makes it a little bit faster, but there is a lot going on and to think about with any player count.
Overall, I think that this is a good game. I just don’t know that for a lot of people it’s going to be what they want in a small box card game and I think it can be overwhelming or discouraging if you don’t know going into it that you probably won’t win the game the first time or possibly even the first ten times. Often, I look at it as basically a win if we can take out all but one of the villains, that’s how difficult this game is. For me, that’s some of the draw of the game, however, I want to beat the game, and I want to try a slightly different strategy to see if that will make a difference the next time that I play.
Overall Grade: B-
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: C-
Now, you might notice if you go to my collection, I rate this game way higher. My grades here are meant to be a balance focused as much on how I think others will perceive the game and how it will work to get back to the table with any group, versus something that is purely my thoughts on it. And because of the difficult cooperative nature and the length of the game, I graded it out lower here than what I think of it.