It’s been a while since I’ve done a board game review. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of Point of Order articles come up and go in that time because I can buy games, but I can’t play all that many of them. But one …
Yesterday I talked about Silver in my TableTopTalks, you can find that here. It’s an interesting little game that is very easy to teach and I like that about it. However, I did see one problem with the game, and that’s with the 14 different sets of cards, 0 through 13, you only have one set for each number, with the exception of 12 where you have two options.
The downside to that is, of course, that once you have a strategy locked in, the game might not change that much for you. And as someone who has played the Silver app a lot, I can say that my strategy doesn’t massively change at this point in time on the app, in person and at different player counts, I think it can, but on the app, I basically understand what I want to do and will do the same thing as much as possible every time. That might have eventually happened to the physical game itself as well. Instead, I picked up
Silver Bullet and Silver Coin
Both of these are standalone expansions, which means that you don’t need to have the base game to play them, they come with their own 0 through 13 sets of cards. That’ll be fun as it will give me some different ways to play the game just straight out of the box. But there’s a bigger reason for picking both of them up and that’s the fact that you can mix and match. I compare this to Sushi Go vs Sushi Go Party. In Sushi Go, you have one set of cards that you’re drafting from, so super simple, only one set of scoring to teach. In Silver, super simple to teach, only one group of cards, and you don’t even need to teach them because the rules are easily explained. In Sushi Go Party, the game is simple because the drafting doesn’t change, you might need to teach a different scoring as you swap out sets of cards you’re drafting. With the stand alone expansions for Silver, Silver Bullet and Silver Coin, the basic rules of the game stay the same, but the powers on cards are going to change. This means that you can play those sets right out of the box, or you can play with them mixed together, as long as you have one set of each number, 0 through 13 in the deck you’re good to go.
This is going to allow the base cards to feel different and create a lot of unique combinations, I am not that good at doing the math but there are a lot. That means if I want to play something that maybe has the simplest rules, I’m not sure, I could just play the base set, if I want something that maybe makes it more challenging, or just something different, I can swap out one thing and I got a different game. And that can be done over and over again with all the different card sets, and I can even increase the number swapped, so maybe out of the 14 different sets it’s five from Silver, five from Silver Bullet and four from Silver Coin, that’s possible, so it makes it that I might get a favorite combo that I like to play, but I can randomly pick and probably not see the same combination for a long time, thus increasing the replayability by a ton.
Have you had a chance to play either Silver stand alone expansion?
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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 …
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 it’s time to come back to Marvel Champions and write up my full thoughts and review of it. But, if you’ve checked out the Board Game Battle, you’ll already have some idea.
Marvel Champions is a cooperative superhero game where you play as a superhero who is trying to thwart the plans of a villain and defeat them. On the heroes turn, you can play cards that might be an ally or give you an additional ability or allow you to thwart the villains scheme or attack the villain. But these cards cost resources, and to get the resources to play these cards, you need to discard cards, so while you might want to play all the cards in your hand because they do something good, you are limited in number to how many you can play because they are going to cost, and the better cards cost more. Then the villain goes, and depending on if you are in the alter-ego side of the superhero side of the character card, they will either work on their scheme or they’ll attack you. Plus, then you need to encounter a card, it might be a henchmen that you need to take care of, otherwise they’ll be pinging you for damage, or it could be treachery card where it causes some other action to happen, like scheming or attacking again. This goes on until either the villain has completed their plan or the hero has taken out the villain. If the superhero takes out the villain, the heroes win, but each villain has two versions that you have to face off against, so taking them down once isn’t enough.
This game does some really interesting things. First, let me say that one of the big things about the game is that it’s a living card game. That means that there are expansions coming out. In the base game, you have plenty to play with Ultron and Rhino as villains and the likes of Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, She-Hulk, and Spider-Man as villains. But the expansions give you new characters or villains to face off against. You can get Green Goblin so that you have to worry about him and his glider in a fight, and you can get Captain America to face off against him. There are other heroes like Ms Marvel, Black Widow, Thor, Doctor Strange, and Hulk that have been announced or are out. All these expansions, and a Red Skull campaign expansion coming sometime this summer, can make the game more expensive, but also you don’t need them all, if you don’t care about Hulk and Ms Marvel, don’t pick them up, and you can still have a great game with lots of fun things in it. And while the expansions are pretty consistently coming out, they aren’t that expensive, which is nice.
But let’s talk about some of the other cool things, first there is the alter-ego and superhero piece. It’s really clever and gives it a great comic book feel, in my opinion. In the comics (I’m going to mainly be using Spider-Man as an example), it’s common for Spider-Man to get knocked around, Peter Parker then needs to rest and recover, which he can, because people don’t know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, but the villain, thinking that they’ve defeated Spider-Man will scheme and plot and get closer to their goal, when Spider-Man then shows up again to stop them. The flipping between sides, alter-ego and superhero, is very much that feeling. Each hero has things that they can do when they are on their alter-ego side and their superhero side that are different as well. For example, Captain America, when he’s in alter-ego form, he can recruit allies easier, but when he’s on the Captain America side, he can un-exhaust so that he can do more actions. So it make sense, Steve Rogers/Captain America is the leader of the Avengers often, so he can go out and recruit a hero, and he also never gets knocked down and out of a fight, so he’s always ready to attack and then un-exhaust and do it again, as he says…
And each hero has their own things like that, which fits their character and makes them unique from the rest of the heroes.
Another cool thing is that the heroes have different aspects to them, and you can change this up. So maybe you want Spider-Man to be more protection cards, you can give him more defensive cards in his deck. That way he’ll be able to stay in Spider-Man form longer and not have to flip back and forth between the two as much. Or maybe you want him to be aggressive you can change out his aspect to that, or Justice or Leadership. That’s going to give you another way to change up things. I played Captain America with a protection cards, and I was able to stay in the superhero side of things for all but one turn because I was taking damage so slowly. But if you wanted to, you could make Cap very aggressive and he’d deal out a lot of damage fast, or leadership makes thematic sense because he often leads the avengers. So you can mess around with deck building that way to create what type of team you want to play with.
Are there any downsides to the game? It takes a few minutes to set-up and if you aren’t familiar with deck building you might just be stuck with the decks that they recommend or you might have some weird deck builds that happen. But you can learn how to do better deck building. I think that the one downside right now is that it is hard to find the expansions, they aren’t printing enough and it takes some time to get a reprint done, and with COVID-19 as well, that could delay the reprints as well. Right now I have the Wrecking Crew villain expansion and Thor character expansion, but those are basically sold out as well. But, with that said, those packs will show up again, and there is enough in the base box that it’s worth it to just grab that and play and learn with those characters.
Now, I’ve done some comparisons already, and that’s in the Board Game Battle with Marvel Legendary, so is there room for both on your shelf, I think if you like Legendary, you will probably will find that this is different enough, and vice-a-versa. But I also want to bring up the other living card games that Fantasy Flight has put out, there is Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Arkham Horror. So how does this compare to the one that I’ve played, Arkham Horror? I think that it’s close between the two, if you go back to my deck building/construction article yesterday for Top 10 in that genre, you can see that Marvel Champions is the spot above, however, it’s close. I like the story driven nature of Arkham Horror: The Card Game, and that’s something that I do miss with Marvel Champions, but that is also coming. I think that I just like the superhero theme a little bit better and being able to pull it out for one game. But because one, right now, is a single game and the other is a campaign, I think that there’s room for both on shelves.
Overall, clearly I like this game. I think that it plays well at both 1 and 2 players and offers unique challenges both ways. There is a lot of really interesting things going on in the game, and it feels like a comic book. If you’re at all interested, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. But, with that said, know that the cost could add up over time if you’re a Marvel fanboy/fangirl, like I am. Because I’ll want to get most of it over time. I also think that this can work for a more casual player to pick up and learn. Fantasy Flight does a good job with their rule book, and the game is pretty simple, but still offers good challenges, so this a game that people interested in it will probably be able to understand easily.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: A
Casual Grade: A-
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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 it comes in a tiny little box with only a few dice and a few pieces.
In Age of War, you are rolling dice trying to match symbols are Japanese fortresses. To do this, you have to be able to place a dice each roll or you lose a die. But you’re completing sections, not just placing a single die each time. So some sections it might be, get four swords, the highest sword count is 3, so you’d have to use at least two dice to get that. When you complete one, if you can on your turn, it goes in front of you and is going to give you points. However, it’ll give you more points if you complete a set of like colored fortresses because they flip over and it’s a higher point total. Once someone has claimed a fortress, they aren’t safe though because for a slightly higher cost, it can be stolen from you. So players might fight over a fortress trying to complete their color set, or to stop a player who is getting close to locking in a color set. Because once they are locked in with a full set, they can’t be stolen anymore. In the end, once all fortresses have been claimed, the player with the most points wins.
This game does a lot of things that people are familiar with, rolling a die, saving it to match symbols. It has a feel like Yahtzee or King of Tokyo, though those games have more of a set limit on number of times you can roll. But the mechanic remains that familiar dice rolling. One thing that I like about this dice rolling that’s different than the games that I mentioned is that you are locking in or tossing out a die each turn. You can’t pick up discarded or locked dice to reroll, and once you decide which fortress you’re going for, you are locked in. So it can be tempting to push for a big once, but that is going to take more luck with your rolls. Also, with the dice rolling, I talked about the swords, there are more sword sides than other symbols, there are three other symbols, but you need to use your swords smartly. In my example, I was looking to get up to four swords, so using two dice is what you want to do, if I have to use three and then I’m looking for specific symbols later, I’ve lowered the number of dice that I’m going to be rolling.
What also works in this game is the ability to steal fortresses. I think without that the game would feel stale and players would probably just go for the most expensive fortress first, in terms of how many dice you need to complete it and victory points given, and then just work down. Though, that might not be the best plan all of the time. But being able to steal and trying to get sets creates more player interaction and while it is just one sided because they can’t defend against it being stolen, it adds an interesting piece to the game. That combined with colors locking if you have a complete set adds some strategy to what you’re trying to roll for. But it isn’t just as easy if as getting in the first place. There’s always an additional symbol that you need to roll, so the cost is going to be higher to steal, so is it worth it to push for that if there are still castles of similar prices and points out there? It still is just about pushing your luck, but it gives you more interesting choices to work on.
There are a few final things working for this game for me. First, it’s an easy game, the dice rolling feels familiar and the rules are easy to teach. And with minimal pieces in the game, you can set it up fast and get it to the table. It also plays up to 6, and I think it works well at that number, probably better at a slightly lower number, but with six, sure, it takes longer to get back to your turn, but it doesn’t add additional length to the game. Which is the final thing I wanted to mention, this is a fast game, so that helps, it’s fast to teach, turns are pretty fast, and the game is done quickly. For a game that comes in a small package, that is what I really want to see.
Overall, I like this game. It’s a good easy filler that offers more than some filler games. It gives you a few choices while being easy to get to the table, play, and put away while waiting for more people to show up for a game night. For some people, it’s going to be lacking because it really does come down to the luck of a die roll quite often, but it offers some choices, and that’s what I want in the game. I think that it’s pretty fun for what it is, and it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
Overall Grade: B-
Gamer Grade: C
Casual Grade: B
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