I’ve talked about a lot of games that are about that epic adventure for a small group of characters. Birthright is about epic things, but not on that smaller level. Birthright is about great leaders going to battle against other nations, probably with other world…
Tag: Lord of the Rings
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 The Hobbit game, I got it on a winter inventory clear out sale at a FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store).
The Hobbit is a semi-cooperative game where players are bidding with dwarf cards to see how far they move on a board, but it’s done at the same time, each spot has a different skill or ability that you can raise the level of, so that when you reach locations in the Hobbit story. There you need to complete challenges, and the person who is doing the best gets first crack at them, but those challenges can be difficult and do you want to push your luck further into the pile to get more treasure early or hope to gain it late. At the same time, as a group you need to complete these challenges otherwise Smaug will advance towards Esgaroth (Laketown). You have to work together to make sure everyone is building up their skills, but you can’t discuss how you’re bidding. This leads to people getting something they don’t need at times or someone being under powered, so you have to be careful with that. But in the end, the dwarf with the most gems wins.
This game is interesting because it’s not that complex. You are playing a card, moving on a board, and getting skills. But the semi-cooperative nature adds in some depth to it. You want to get your skills high fast so that you’re able to collect more gems that’ll win you the game. However, if you do that at the expense of others, then Smaug is going to move more and that can cut short the game. So if someone hogs all the skills early in the game, they can get early gems but those might be worth less than later challenges which would give more gems so even in a short game trying to push the end you could still end up losing. For some people, this semi-cooperative nature isn’t going to work, but for me, and the times that we’ve played it, it’s been fun. Everyone can see what everyone else needs so you’re trying to be strategic getting the skills that you need, but not getting it too out of balance, and inevitably it does with someone being extremely cunning but having no power, and that makes it hard to beat some of the challenges. This semi-cooperative nature can be enhance by adding in the rule that if Smaug reaches Laketown the game is over and everyone loses.
A downside to the game is that it can be a little bit simple. I think the rule that everyone loses if Smaug reaches Laketown is almost needed in the game. Otherwise it can have someone rush to get as much treasure as possible and it’s possible that they will end up winning just because they are the only ones with enough skills. There is still luck with that, though, because to defeat these encounters, you are rolling dice and then supplementing with the skills that you have. I’ve pulled off a win by passing on all the smaller treasure encounters and only grabbing the big ones, and I’ve seen that cause people to lose as well if they get a really poor roll while going for those bigger treasures. I think that first blush the game can be a bit simple and the die rolls a bit too random for some people, but there is more strategy hiding in the game than one might expect.
Let’s talk about the theme a little bit. I think that the semi-cooperative nature works for The Hobbit because while Bilbo isn’t after anything more than an adventures, the dwarves want to get as much as they can and to take back the mountain for the riches that are in there. The greed is what is driving them, and that’s what drives the players in the game. You are trying to get the most gems, because that’s how you’re going to win. For that reason I’d say that it’s fairly thematic, but there’s also just this abstract push your luck piece to it as well. It’s a game that you can bring the theme into it, but one that won’t feel like it has as much theme as it might compared to some other Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth themed games.
Finally, let’s talk about the components. The artwork on the game is really nice. It’s very much art that was done before the movie, so if you’re expecting to see something that’s similar to that, it’s not going to tick that check box for you, but it’s classic Hobbit/Middle Earth art. But the game has plastic little gems which is what really makes it shine on the table. They are very cute and actually very thematic because as players, you want to have the games just to play around with. It’s the same mold that’s being used for other games, like Century: Golem Edition. Beyond that, it’s just a well done production of a game.
Overall, this is a fun game. It’s a light game, as much as I liked to talk about how there is more depth than it first seems, it never has a ton of depth to it. Can you workout where you want to be and get that certain ability or land in a certain spot to make your dwarf better? There’s both luck of the dwarf cards that are dealt to you, which you use to bid, and luck as to what everyone else plays. But the game says it only takes 30-45 minutes, which seems right to me, and so for a lighter game, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. I’d recommend this game to people who like Lord of the Rings/Hobbit/Middle Earth, as it has a decent thematic feel to it, and even if they aren’t gamers, it’s pretty easy to understand.
Overall Grade: B-
Gamer Grade: C+
Casual Grade: B
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Now, there are a few announced ones that I’m looking forward to for sure. For this TV show list, I’m looking at new shows, that means stuff that are coming out in the fall of 2020, they might not be announced yet. There are certainly new seasons of shows coming out that I want to see, but what is new that is coming out?
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Yup, I can now put MCU on a TV show list. And this isn’t even one of the show titles that I’m looking forward to all that much, But The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be the first one out there, and I’m curious to see how important it will be for the MCU. Definitely keep on eye on my #10MinMarvel podcast (or ear) to hear any rumors about that. But I am curious to see Zemo used more fully than he was in Civil War.
Lord of the Rings – Controversial pick here, but I’m very interested in it. I don’t know what story they are going to tell and how it’s going to go, but an interesting story set in the world of Middle Earth could be interesting. I just don’t know enough about it, but I definitely am curious. More Hobbit adventures could be cool.
Obi-Wan Kenobi – Disney+ show as well, and again not much known about it. We know that we’re getting Ewan McGregor back, we know it takes place before Star Wars: A New Hope. I’m super curious about it after how much I’ve liked The Mandalorian. If it weren’t for that shows success, I don’t think I’d care that much, but now I’m excited for a new type of Star Wars, that I hope this can capture as well as the Mandalorian did.
Wheel of Time – This book series is so much, like so much of a meandering plot, so many characters, so much going on that doesn’t need to. But, I’m hoping a show will be able to adapt it into something even more enjoyable, because I do enjoy the book series. I like the diverse cast thus far, and I like the fact that I don’t know a ton of the names. If they keep close to the book plot wise, but just tighten it up, that would be great.
The Stand – Stephen King, Post Apocalyptic, I’m in. Now, I haven’t actually watched Under the Dome yet, but I’m definitely interested in anything that is Stephen King. And, since it’s him, it’s going to be supernatural in nature as well. Overall, I think that this is the one of the two Stephen King adaptations that I’m most interested in, because it’s more out there.
Locke & Key – Let’s go from Stephen King to Joe Hill. I haven’t read all of these trade paperbacks/comics yet, but I really want to. The first one was really cool and I definitely liked the horror vibe to it. I’ll be curious to see how they build it into a show, but I don’t know enough of the story to really be able to talk about how well I think they’ll be able to adapt it.
Alright, there are way more shows, and like I said, this is just new shows (some which might not come out in 2020), and I’m going to be busy watching all of these, plus shows that I want to continue watching. So, what are you looking forward to? Is there some something that you want to see adapted (cough Dresden Files cough) that should come to TV?
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We’re back again, now time for the disclaimer text.
These rankings are the opinion of yours truly, and if you don’t like them, that’s okay. We all have different tastes in games and that is great. There are some games that I’ve only played as a demo, and I felt like I got enough of a feel to put them on the list, thanks GenCon for all the demos. These are living rankings so next year I’m sure that things will change, so I’ll probably be doing another one next year. Thanks to Board Game Geek for letting me enter/rate my collection and games I’ve played. Thanks to Pub Meeple for creating a tool that pulls in those games that I’ve rated and creating a ranking tool. Again, the numbers and names will be linked to Cool Stuff Inc and Amazon if you’re interested in the games.
90 – Carcassonne
First classic game on the list, I’d say. This is a tile laying game that has been around for a long time, though, not as long as games like Clue and Monopoly that didn’t make my top 100. In Carcassone, you are trying to connect roads together and build cities, monasteries, and farms. All of these things give you points and when all the tiles have been played you tally up any final scoring and the person with the most points wins. What’s interesting about this game is that as you complete cities and roads where you have placed a knight or a robber, which are just meeples, you get those meeples back, so you are trying to balance getting a lot of points in a single road or city, and not having all your meeples on the board so you miss scoring.
89 – Dead of Winter: The Long Night
So, this is technically an expansion. But it’s also technically stand alone, so I’m placing it on my list because you don’t need Dead of Winter to play it. In this game, like Dead of Winter, you are protecting your base against zombies, however, they add in a few things, like a bandit module, a building module, and a Umbrella Corporation, I mean Raxxon, expansion. This game adds more to a game that already has a bunch of stuff going on in it, hence why it’s a bunch lower than the original, plus, it’s just hard to beat the original. I’d definitely play with any of the expansions though.
88 – Splendor
We’re going away from a more thematic game and going into a game that is purely tableau building. The “theme” of this game is that you are a gem merchant who is buying single use gems to get other gems that you have all the time, okay, that doesn’t make sense. But that’s what you’re doing in the game. Some of the gem cards that you’ll buy will have points on them, and the first person to 15 points wins. This is a great introductory tableau game that looks nice on the table. The game comes with a bunch of cards but what most people notice are the power chips that represent the single use gems that you’ll be getting early in the game. They are nice and weighty and give the game a good tactile feel. This is game that I’ll always play and have a good time with, there are other games higher on the list that fit a similar niche that I prefer though.
87 – Stuffed Fables
Your girl has had her favorite blanket stolen, and as her fearless stuffed animals, you are going to go into the depths of the world under the bed to get back that blanket without waking up the girl. This is a very cute game with cute stuffed animal minis. It’s what is known as a storybook game where you flip to different pages in the book, depending on what you do, and play through different chapters of an adventure by playing through the little scene that is in the book. Stuffed Fables definitely is focused for children, though feels like it’s a bit too complex for most younger children that the story targets more so. The game looks great though, and because it’s cooperative, you can work together as a group, which would be how you can get younger gamers to play and understand what is going on. Eventually this will be something that I play through with our baby.
86 – Legends of Andor
We’re into one of the first story driven fantasy games on the list. I’ve played this one a few times, and what is interesting about this game is that killing monsters causes the story to progress faster. Each round advances, and eventually you run out of turns, and you’d lose the game, but if too many monsters get to the castle, you lose the game, if you kill too many monsters and use up the rounds, you lose the game. This is a fun fantasy puzzle story game, because beating the monsters isn’t always hard, but knowing when to beat the monsters and when to focus on story elements, it’s a challenge. There are a bunch of different scenarios in the game, all of which seem interesting, and there are a bunch of expansions for it. It’s a big fantasy game, but at the same time, it’s not a complex fantasy game, so it’s a good introductory one for younger gamers.
85 – Lord of the Rings
This is the classic Fantasy Flight game where you play as up to five Hobbits traveling to Mount Doom to throw the one ring in. Yes, you read that correctly up to five Hobbits. If you have five players, one person can play as Fatty Bolger. Who is Fatty Bolger, he’s the hobbit who they invite along after add in Merry and Pippin but who declines, if you’ve read the books you’re apt to remember him. This game feels fairly thematic, but mainly feels like a puzzle as you try and play combinations of cards to advance through different locations before time runs out. It’s not a very heavy game, but there are interesting choices, and anyone can hold the ring, so Sam does, always, because he’s steadfast and hard to move. They made a lot of expansions for it as well. If you don’t want a big card game or a big minis game for Lord of the Rings, this is a fun option.
84 – Pandemic Legacy Season 2
We’ll see Season 1 higher on the list, but I did enjoy my playthrough, just not as much as the first season. I won’t go into spoilers, because this is a legacy game, but Pandemic Legacy Season 2 has a bit less direction while having a few clear things to do as well. It’s confusing with how I wrote it, but it still tells a good story. I feel like with the story, though, you’re waiting for the twist to happen like there was at some point in time in season one. What is cool about this one is that the mechanics are different, but they still feel like Pandemic. I’ll be playing through this at some point in time on Malts and Meeples, so if you want spoilers, that’s where it’ll be. Even though it’s a story driven legacy game, I feel like there’s plenty that you can play again with it after a bit of time. Downside is that to do that, you need a new version of the game.
83 – Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
This is a massively bloated game at this point with 20000000000000 different expansions, and that is only using half the characters that Marvel has. In this game there is a villain whom a group of players with hero cards are going to attempt to defeat. It’s pretty standard in how you deck build with a changing market, but it gives you some interesting things like trying to build up enough damage to take out the villain enough times, while also trying to keep a handle on the different henchmen that are coming out. What makes this game tricky is that there are literally too many options now for the game. If you just pick what Marvel superheroes you like, you might end up with a group of heroes that don’t synergize at all, and then the game is going to take way longer than it should be build up the combos that you’re generally looking for in deck building games. However, if you just have the base game, you have enough to keep yourself busy for a while. This is a game that I’ve grown to like more as I’ve played more deck building games.
82 – Arkham Horror 2nd Edition
Yes, this is not the new edition, in fact, the new edition that I’m stoked to try, it’s not on my list, because I haven’t tried it yet. It’s sitting on my shelf just waiting to get played. But this is the massive older version where you are going around Arkham and adventuring and closing gates, fighting monsters, and then probably losing for up to six hours. Like I said, it’s a massive game and that’s without any of the expansions. I’ve really only played this once, and not even my copy, but it was blast, it’s just hard to carve out that much time. I am probably going to keep this game, because it’s the first massive epic game I bought, but also because it seems different enough from the 3rd edition that I probably have room on my self for both. If you like that older grind of a game, this one still holds up well, and there are tons of expansions for it, but you’ll also need a giant table for it.
81 – Dead Men Tell No Tales
I was hoping that this game would replace Pandemic in some ways or be another cooperative option, and I think that it almost does that, but you’ll see where Pandemic falls on my list. In Dead Men Tell No Tales, you are a group of pirates who are going onto a ship that is haunted by ghosts, on fire, and has a skeleton crew, but you’re willing to brave all of that, because the captain will make you walk the plank, and there’s treasure on this burning ship. You take your turn, dealing with fire, taking out those skeletons, trying to build up so you can fight the ghosts, but doing all of that while the ship continues to burn, and you hope that it doesn’t get too bad so that you can’t get to where you need to. It’s like Pandemic in that you have a ton of things that you can do and you never feel like you have enough actions. Or that your actions won’t do anything, and that’s one cool thing about the game, if you only have two useful actions out of your four or five, you can pass your unused ones to the next player so that they can get more done. If you want something that’s cooperative and the theme seems more interesting than Pandemic, I think you’d enjoy Dead Men Tell No Tales.
We’re through another ten, I’m planning that next week, besides Wednesday which will be Halloween focused, I’m going to continue going through my top 100, otherwise it could take a while.
What game from this section looks the most interesting to you? Is there one that you’ve wanted to play? Is there one that would be higher on your own list?
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Board Game Battle – Star Wars Imperial Assault vs Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth vs Mansions of Madness
We have a triple threat match this time as we have three heavyweights from Fantasy Flight facing off. The reason that they get to face off is because all of them have app integration. What this means for all these games is that you don’t…