My First Wargame: Ambush!

As a history major, I love learning about different events and time periods. My favorite, though, was World War II. I’m not sure why I was drawn towards it, but I loved learning about why it happened, how the war unfolded and the stories of various soldiers and their feats of heroism.

I think this is why I was drawn to wargames. Unfortunately, in the circle of friends I had when I started gaming, no one was really into wargames. I did find a class of games that focused on war, but could be played solo. You played against the game itself instead of an opponent. The first one that was recommended to me was Ambush!, which is an older game (It was printed in 1983 by Victory Games).

The box cover of Ambush!
The box cover of Ambush! (Photo taken from user FrUnit7 on Boardgamegeek, https://boardgamegeek.com/image/964790/ambush )

In Ambush!, you take control of an American Squad in World War II, taking them on a variety of predefined missions in Europe. The beauty in Ambush! is that the mission unfolds by making a series of checks when you enter a new hex. You do this by putting a card that contains a series of numbers into a “Viewing sleeve” and then looking up the number it gives you in a paragraph book. That paragraph book contains a variety of things, from German soldiers firing at you to “You notice a British plane flying overhead, spewing flames from the tail”. You may then encounter the plane later in the scenario, if you come across it.

The Mission Cartridge sleeve with a Mission Card enclosed. (Photo taken from user Jeff on Boardgamegeek, https://boardgamegeek.com/image/93878/ambush )

Ambush! also has an RPG feel to it. There are tables so you can roll and generate your own squad, and of course you have to name them, outfit them with gear, etc. You can play a campaign game where your soldiers gain experience and can gain better skills. But that means there are also rules for replacing your soldiers when they are incapacitated or killed. I love this aspect of the game. I really get tied to characters and that causes me to play the game differently depending on the situation I’m in.

As a wargame, the rules can be a little dense, but once you read through them and play a mission or two, things get pretty straightforward. The great thing about the rules is that it will introduce the first sections you need to play the first mission, and then add the extra rules you need to play the following missions. If you are familiar with wargame concepts, then you’ll feel right at home with Ambush! but as a new wargamer it could be a little intimidating.

A mission in progress. (Photo taken from user Blastpop on Boardgamegeek, https://boardgamegeek.com/image/2461950/ambush)

Ambush! has 3 expansions (that are pretty hard to find at an affordable price) as well as a Pacific base game and expansion (Called Battle Hymn and Leatherneck, respectively). These add more missions and different enemies, vehicles and weapons. These can definitely add the the replayability factor, because most of the missions are one use only: that is, once you’ve played it, since they are pre-programmed through the scenario cards, it’s easy for you to remember where certain events or soldiers are.

The Ambush! base game, 3 expansions, and the standalone Pacific version “Battle Hymn”. (Photo taken from user bdegroot on Boardgamegeek, https://boardgamegeek.com/image/720726/ambush)

Ambush is probably my favorite solitaire wargame of all time…and if it isn’t first, it’s definitely top 3. If you can find a copy (they appear on eBay and the BGG Marketplace from time to time at a decent price), I highly recommend it. It’s worth the learning curve, especially if you are looking for an immersive, individual soldier wargame.

d20 List: Top 17 Scary Games

Ryan: So Drew and I had discussed to do out next d20 list on scary games. It seemed like a great idea, it’s Halloween after all. So of course I roll an extremely high number, making this a much bigger chore. So here are my top 17 Scary Games in no particular order.

  • Eldritch Horror- Ok, so it’s not exactly a scary game to play per se, but the Cthulhu Mythos theme is creepy and fun.
  • Pandemic- This game may not seem like much, but if you really just sit there and think about how plausible the scenario is. Maybe not 4 super bugs at once, but one can spread quickly and get out of control in a hurry.
  • Arkham Horror: The Card Game- Like EH, not exactly a jump scare type game, but the theme and scenarios make this pretty spooky.
  • Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters- Children trying to collect treasure and fight ghosts. This seems like a pretty irresponsible thing to be doing. Terrifying for a parent.
  • Go Away Monster!- I mean, it’s right there in the title. The whole idea is you’re so terrified you need to yell at and throw the Monsters out.
  • Rhino Hero- A flying Rhino? And some pretty questionable structural engineering going on here too.
  • Munchkin Clowns- Go ahead, click through and see this nightmare. I mean, Munchkin is scary enough on it’s own and you add scary clowns?
  • Galaxy Trucker- You want to see why space travel is a terrible idea, go play this game. Your ship gets decimated every round by all kinds of unavoidable hazards.
  • Red November- Let’s put drunken gnomes on a submarine and see what happens! This game is just your worst nightmares about what can happen on a sub.
  • The Mind- You are basically trying to create a psychic link with your friends, or even worse, complete strangers! Who knows what kind of stuff you might unwittingly access in their heads.
  • Nyctophobia- I haven’t played this yet, but playing a game where you need to escape from a killer while not being able to see the board sounds like an interesting gimmick.
  • Divided Republic- We played this once, and somehow caused 2 states to become slave states that weren’t supposed to be and broke the Union. I am terrified that the US was so fragile that we were able to break it accidentally. How close are we to something like that today?
  • Cards Against Humanity- I don’t hate this game, but would be scared that playing it once turns into an all night CAH session.
  • Agricola- This farming game scares me as showing how easy it is to not have enough food and how easy it is to end up with a cow living in your house.
  • Hare & Tortoise- It’s frightening how much math is involved here.
  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue- Mimics extremely well how quickly a fire can get out of control in a building, and how difficult it can be for rescuers to get in and help.
  • BANG!- This shows how quickly we’ll turn and shoot each other blindly if we have guns and no consequences.

That’s it. My completely 100% super serious list of scary games. I hope you enjoy it, I had fun writing it.

Drew: Here are my top 17 ‘scary’ games.

  • Richard Scarry’s Busytown: Eye found it! Game: This one has Scar(r)y right in the name! (and yes, it’s gonna be that type of list).
  • Food Chain Magnate: I can’t think of anything scarier than being hungry for the exact same type of food for eternity.
  • Monza: The only thing scary about this game is that I can’t beat my 2.5 year old at it…
  • Disney Villainous: Some Disney Villains are down right scary…I was terrified of Beast when I was younger…
  • Arkham Horror (2e and 3e): A more serious entry for this list, being delayed in Cthulhu’s home is terrifying, as is being cursed for the third time in one game (which happened to me recently).
  • B-17: Queen of the Skies: There is nothing scarier in this game than having to make an entire trip back to base, while on 2 engines and half a wing…
  • Pandemic: Iberia: Thinking about all the diseases you can contract without proper water treatment! Pandemic: Iberia lets you do just that!
  • Zpocalypse: Another ACTUAL game for this list (but one I haven’t played), zombie games are always scary…BRAIIIIIIINS.
  • Dice Hospital: Another real scary thing to think about, I don’t want to be treated by the whims of dice and advance planning.
  • Boggle: Again, the only scary thing about this one is how often I lose at it. I scream anytime it gets pulled off the shelf.
  • Space Hulk: Death Angel: Being stalked by Genestealers in air vents is always fun. Another game where I have a consistent losing record.
  • Fortress America: America being invaded by Communists!!! I can’t think of anything scarier!
  • Pay Day: What’s scarier than playing a game based upon your day to day life? Taxes and Bills! EEEEEEEEK!
  • Silent Victory: Much like B-17 mentioned earlier in the list, trying to find out out if your submarine made it back to port after stalking Japanese shipping ships.
  • Hornet Leader: Cthulhu Conflict: A good one to end the list one. Again, I haven’t fully played this one, but I know you can nuke Lovecraftian horrors. Nuclear War in Ril’yeh? Awesome.

So there it is! Ryan and I’s top 17 SpOoOoOoOoOoOoky games? Did we miss any? What are your favorite spooky games. Let us know in the comments below!!

Klask Review

Sometimes I see a game and I fall in love with the idea. I loved the idea of Tumblin’ Dice, and was incredibly lucky to find a brand new copy in a thrift store for $5. It was one of our most played games for years, and I eventually sold it when we needed some money for a nice profit, it was out of print at that point. But the memories of my 5 or 6 yr old daughter Katlyn beating adults badly, will always remain.

Klask is also one of those games. I loved the simplicity of it, and the table hockey style play. I am a bit of a sucker for dexterity games to be honest. But for some strange reason, I never picked up a copy. I saw it at Target at a completely reasonable price. I even saw a copy at a thrift store, although that price seemed high, and it was taped shut, so I couldn’t verify the contents. The Target price went up as I assume they had the retail price wrong for the first few months, and while it was still fine, I balked at getting it. I saw it on sale, and still never picked it up. I finally grabbed it once I saw a single copy on a clearance shelf. It was 50% off, and I guessed it wasn’t going to come back.

So as I mentioned above, Klask is a Air/Table Hockey style game, with a couple of twists. The first being it’s much smaller, and is designed to sit on a table. It would fit on a small square folding table if you wanted it to. It looks really good on the table, and while not built from the highest quality materials ever, I don’t see any reason why it would fall apart or get damaged with reasonable care. Note: Some research on BGG mentioned the surface may start to scuff eventually, and there are some suggestions of felt pads or other thin layers to help with that.

Ok, so onto the gameplay. The main way to score is by getting the ball into the small cutout circle on your opponents side. You do this by using a pretty strong magnet between 2 pieces with magnets, the longer striker goes on top of the board, and the steering magnet underneath it, and this is the part you move, so you are able to slide the striker around on the board. These parts do come separated quite easily, but this seems like more of a feature as opposed to a flaw, as you can’t just zoom around all willy nilly. If you are unable to get your pieces connected back again if they do become separated, you give your opponent a point. .

And you wouldn’t want to move crazily all over the place very often anyway. If you aren’t careful, you’ll accidentally slide your piece into YOUR goal, and that’s called a Klask, which is based on the noise it makes when it happens, at least that’s the story according to the rules, and again you’ll give your opponent a point.

An additional obstacle is 3 small magnets in the middle of the board. If you ever have 2 of those stuck to your piece, it’s a point for your opponent. They get knocked around quite often, and provide a different element of strategy for just knocking the ball as hard as possible and hope it goes in. Plus it’s another reason to slow down moving around, you want to keep an eye on where these bits are at.

One other slightly different thing is how you start after a goal. You start in the marked area in the corner. It’s not always very easy to hit it well out of there, and adds a surprising amount of difficulty to your opening shots, or at least it has been for me. but maybe I’m just terrible at it.

The first person to 6 points wins the game.

This may sound a bit complicated, but it’s extremely simple and fast paced. My 5 yr old can play it with no issues, and can even beat the grown ups sometimes, because let’s face it, bad hops and accidents can happen very quickly. It’s chaotic and silly, and you learn that finesse is more often the better option than power shots, because you may set off a crazy sequence that ends up with the ball in your own goal if you hit it too hard.

We’ve been having a good time as a family with Klask. The games often take only a few minutes, and the giggling and shouting are a lot of fun. My wife wasn’t too sure about our purchase until the first night we took it out, and all 3 kids took turns playing each other with lots of laughing and trash talking. She looked at me and said “This alone might be worth the $30.” For a family that seems to be on the run a lot, a fun game we can play quickly is fantastic.

Have you played Klask? Any suggestions for some other games like that? I really want to get a nice Crokinole board someday, and we’ve played a lot of Pitchcar over the years. Any other whole family game suggestions?

d20 List: Top Licensed Games

It’s the time of the month that Drew and I make a list. My 5 yr old rolled the big foam 20 sided die she has and came up with lucky number 13. With a Friday the 13th coming in a few weeks, I thought about a horror theme, but I’m not sure I have played that many games like that, so I decided to go with a different theme that Friday the 13 would fall under, licensed games in no particular order.

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers, we don’t know for sure which of these actually require a license or are public domain.

So here are Drew and my top 13 Licensed Games:

Ryan’s List

First off, I didn’t consider other game franchise. I wasn’t sure how it worked with D&D, Shadowrun, or Pathfinder. I did count video games though.

  1. Legendary- I’m going to lump the 3 games I’ve played under this. The Marvel version is one of my favorite games, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer version is excellent, and the Firefly version is fun, but I haven’t played it enough to know if it’s up to the other’s standards, it’s a slightly different game being a Legendary Encounters game.
  2. FFG Cthulu Games- Another group listing. Fantasy Flight Games has made several Mythos based games, and Eldritch Horror, Elder Sign, and Arkham Horror: The Card Game are all excellent games, so I decided to add them all here.
  3. Star Wars: Imperial Assault– Descent has always been one of my favorite games, both versions, and this is a great edition to it. A fun dungeon crawl with a Star War twist.
  4. Harry Potter: Hogwart’s Battle– This is probably my favorite deck builder to teach new players. It starts basic, and you keep adding stuff as you win, basically adding cards from the next book. We haven’t finished yet, we stalled out on Book 4, which I understand is a common place for people, it ramps up the difficulty.
  5. Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League– Space pick up and deliver. THe art is neat. It’s only 2 players, which might be an issue for some. I believe I’ve had it on both my favorite 2-player Games and Underrated Games.
  6. Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery– I never played the computer game, but this game was great. I think it’s be re-done at least once after losing the IP. I really wish I hadn’t sold my copy, it was always a fun time.
  7. The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game– A pretty difficult, but interesting co-op game. I love the novels, so I know the characters well. Each novel is a seperate scenario, and each requires you to play a little differently. As a bonus it typically only lasts about 30 minutes.
  8. Daytona 500– This one uses the same system as Detroit/Cleveland Grand Prix and more recently Downforce. You don’t control a particular car, but you get a handful of cards to move all of them, and you bid on where they finish. I’ve mentioned my affection for racing games, and this one is simple and fun.
  9. Discworld: Ankh-Morpork– I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and this is the best game from that world. Hidden goals with some area control, and just enough take that to not annoy me. It’s a really solid game.
  10. Railroad Tycoon– You’ll sense a them of regret getting rid of games, although most of them were necessary at the time. I have loved this since I fort played my friend Kevin’s copy many years ago. It’s a HUGE board, but it’s such a great system. It’s still in print as Railways of the World and that series.
  11. Gears of War: The Board Game– Did I once own this? Yep. Did I sell it? Yes again. Admittedly, I doubted we’d play it often. Bryan taught us once, and I really liked it.
  12. Starcraft: The Board Game– Another one I owned and sold. Again, it wasn’t going to get played enough, but it was a cool system, and did a great job of building up like the computer game itself. I only played it a couple of times, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  13. The Lion Guard: Protect the Pride Lands– This one is probably more sentimental than it being a great game, but it’s a really solid kids co-op game. Aleksia and I have played it over 10 times since we got it last spring, and she still asks for it. I’m not even sure she’s watched the cartoon very much.

Drew’s List

Now that Ryan has had his say, here’s my top 13 Licensed games (in no particular order).

  1. DiceMasters: I’ve written before how I love Quarrior’s IP Crazy big brother, but when I think of a game that used licensing to enhance gameplay, DiceMasters is at the top of the list. Where else can I combine the powers of Captain America with Green Lantern?
  2. Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit: This is a Grail game for many, and I’ve only played it once at BGG.Con. This was a fun, 3D dice fest and I’m really glad I played it. I don’t think I’ll ever pay to get a copy, but I’d pay it again if given the chance.
  3. Risk: Star Wars Edition: The first time I played this I referred to it as “The Queen’s Gambit’s little brother”. This isn’t your typical risk, and it gives a fun tension where players have to manage three different “battlefields” that are taken from the movies. All in all, it’s a fun game and it looks good on the table.
  4. Arkham Horror (2e/3e): Arkham was my first foray into “epic” gaming; games that tell a story and take a long time to play. It was in college, so I had ample free time to play. Recently, FFG released a 3rd edition that streamlines the gameplay and makes it more scenario based. This is much better for my schedule, and I’ve really enjoyed the couple of times I’ve played it. Either way, Arkham will always hold a fond space in my heart.
  5. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle: My wife and I both love the Harry Potter games, so when we heard there was a deckbuilder coming out in that universe, we were both really excited. We haven’t played it a ton, but when we do it’s an enjoyable time, and it’s a solid game to use to introduce deckbuilders to people who may not be familiar with them.
  6. Bob Ross: Art of Chill Game: When I first heard about this, I thought it was a cash grab. Then I picked it up on Black Friday and played it. It was surprisingly not bad. It’s a little set collecting game where you are competing against Bob to finish paintings. It’s a very zen game, much like Tokkaido, and would be good for a lazy evening where you didn’t want to think too much or get too cutthroat.
  7. Codenames: We have both the Disney and Harry Potter versions of Codenames, and we’ve enjoyed it the few times we’ve played it. The Harry Potter version introduces the rules for cooperative 2p play that Duel has. We have yet to combine Disney and Harry Potter though. Maybe if Disney ever acquires the rights….
  8. The Game of Life: A Jedi’s Path: Yes, it’s Life. But this version allows you to make choices that lead to the light or the dark side. No, it doesn’t have deep strategic game play. But it lets me be a Jedi for a little while.
  9. Harry Potter Labyrinth: This is a themed version of the classic Ravensburger title. This will probably be my daughters first introduction to Harry Potter, and I hope she can use it to get lost in the books like her mother and I did.
  10. Star Wars: Imperial Assault: Descent, but in the Star Wars universe? Sign me up. I admit, I haven’t played a ton of it, but with the app that allows for cooperative play without a Game Master, I’m looking forward to setting some time aside for my wife and I to take on the empire.
  11. Lords of Waterdeep: For a long time, this was my default, go to worker placement game for new gamers. I really enjoy it with the expansions as well. The theme could probably be about anything, but I think the Dungeons & Dragons theme helps to draw people in. This one caused a bit of a debate between Ryan and I, since the company that owns the license is the one that produced the board game. But I argue that even if they own it, it’s still licensed. Help us settle this in the comments 😉
  12. Space Hulk: Death Angel: This solo game is brutal. BRUTAL. I have lost more times than I can count, and can count the wins on one hand. But it’s quick, doesn’t take up a ton of table space, and evokes some of the feeling that you are trapped in cramped hallways with no way out except for through the beasts stalking you. Unfortunately, it’s OOP, so you might have to pay a pretty penny to get a copy.
  13. Arkham Horror: Final Hour: This is the newest game on the list. I had the fortune to play a game of this after a buddy bought it from a local game store after GenCon. This was a really enjoyable, tension filled game that you would expect from the “House of Arkham” line. To me, it felt like a step up from Elder Sign, but a step down from Eldritch/Arkham Horror. It features an initiative system that specifically doesn’t allow table talk where you have to balance the values on the cards in your hand against when you might go in the overall turn order. We lost, but we really enjoyed playing it and all agreed we’d play it again.

So there you have it. Drew and I’s top 13 licensed games. How many of these have you played? Are there ones that we missed? Ones that break the mold of “licensed games are terrible?” Is Drew or Ryan right on Lords of Waterdeep? Let us know in the comments!

A Brief Hiatus!

Hello out there!

Just stopping by to let you know SBP is going to take a brief 2 week hiatus to celebrate the 4th of July holiday.

There will still be plenty of gaming, so we’ll be sure to provide you all with a recap, but that will be in a couple of weeks.

So be safe, have fun, and play more games!!

d20 List: Top 5 Game Mechanics

With some rough weather in Kansas recently, and a holiday on Monday, I was kind of glad to roll a low number for our post this week. I chose our favorite game mechanics, because that seemed like something we wouldn’t necessarily want to do a long list for. I admit, I’m not always sure what qualifies as a mechanic, so I went with the BGG categories.

Ryan’s Top 5 Game Mechanics

A completed board in Sagrada showing how you are placing dice.
  1. Deck Building– I love the deck building mechanic in games. Trying to make your deck work as well as possible by adding cards and combos is a ton of fun. Of course, I absolutely suck at it, and usually just stumble into cool plays, but that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of it.

  2. Cooperative Play– I really love cooperative games. It’s so much more fun to play as a team towards a goal. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind competitive games, but co-ops fascinate me. They have had a big impact on games over the past 15 years, and I look forward to more of them in the future.

  3. Dice Rolling– This covers a lot of ground. It’s not a mechanism that always makes sense or works well, but when someone finds clever uses, it’s amazing. The recent roll & write trend has really shown neat uses of dice, while dice placement games like Sagrada or Roll Player also have some clever ways to use dice. It’s also a common mechanic in racing games, one of my favorite genres. I really enjoy chucking dice.

  4. Card Drafting– This one is a newer mechanic, or at least it seems to be. The main thing I consider it to be is you get a hand of cards, keep one, and pass the rest to the person next to you. The first time I remember this being a major mechanic was Fairy Tale (Still one of my favorite games.), and 7 Wonders also uses it, and is probably more familiar to gamers. I love the tension of should I keep this card to help me, or should I keep this other one to make sure my opponent can’s use it.

  5. Hand Management– This one can cover a wide range of things. Blue Moon City has multiple things you can do with the cards in your hand, and I consider it a really good example of this mechanic. Figuring out which cards you need to use, and which ones you need to hold for future use is something I really enjoy, and am often quite good at, although not as great at in something like Wingspan. I admit to not really understanding everything this mechanic entails, but it shows up on many of my favorite games, so I must enjoy it.
Fairy Tale. Take 1 card, and pass the rest. Nice quick card drafting game.

That’s it. I didn’t think I consider mechanics often when playing games, yet some, like Card Drafting & Deck Building dominate the game play and are really obvious when playing. Mechanics often make the game, but just good mechanics isn’t enough. Deck Building is a good example. You need good card interactions to make the mechanic work, or it’s just making a useless deck. But trying to add too many mechanics can spoil your game too.

Andrew’s Top 5 Game Mechanics

Like Ryan, I used the BGG Mechanic page to guide what is defined as a mechanic. There’s a lot of overlap in mine, but I think I would still like as a standalone game.

  1. Hex-and-counter– This encompasses a majority of board war games. Obviously, as a wargamer, I think they would kick me out of the club if I at least didn’t mention this mechanic. Some of my favorites include Normandy ’44 and D-Day at Omaha Beach.

  2. Deck/Pool Building– I really like the idea of cultivating an engine to get something to grow. I’ve always been bad at open ended deck building (like Magic: the Gathering) but games where I get to work on building a deck or pool to build from from a limited selection of choices always are fun. Some of my favorites include Trains and DiceMasters.

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    Trains: One of my favorite Deck Builders

  3. Route/Network Building– I’ve always enjoyed maps and city building. I think a part of that includes seeing some sort of sprawling network grow from nothing. Route or Network Building games really make me plan ahead in order to play well, which tie into those heavier games I mentioned last week. Some of my favorites include Roads & Boats adn Transamerica.

  4. Tile Placement– Tile placement is probably the earliest mechanic I really remember recognizing as a mechanic thanks to Carcassonne. Combine that with my wife’s enjoyment of Carc as her first Euro game, and tile placement games always get a look at our house. Some of my favorites include Suburbia and Quadropolis.

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    Walnut Grove: A great game that combines many mechanics, including Tile Placement

  5. Worker Placement– I debated adding this one or not, as it is pretty hit or miss with me. I think the Worker Placement games I really enjoy are those that don’t completely lock me out of getting a resource or taking an action because another player has taken it. Games like Viticulture or Brewcrafters can definitely force you to take a less efficient space, but your whole game plan may not be derailed just because someone took that one space you needed.

That’s it. Anything you like we should maybe check out again? What mechanics do you like best? Or even which ones do you hate? Let us know in the comments.

My Top 10 Games to Play When I’m Sick

I am still feeling under the weather, so I figured I would write this week about my top 10 games to play when I’m sick.

(This is meant to be a tongue in cheek list. While I do enjoy all these games, I usually don’t play often when I’m not feeling well.)

Pandemic: The grandaddy of them all. The sick game to beat all sick games. What better way to soothe your sore throat than to track down all 4 strains of the bacteria that caused it…and eradicate it. I give it 4 test tubes.

Pioneer Days: This dice drafting game can remind us all of a simpler time, when one could die of dysentery or cholera on the trail. (Actually, this was one of my favorite games of 2018). I give it 5 oxen.

Healthy Heart Hospital: Another medically themed game, this cooperative experience has you in charge of running a hospital and making sure all patients are treated. I give it 2 aspirin, and call me in the morning.

Stone Age: Much like Pioneer Days, Stone Age makes me thankful that I get the opportunity to take antibiotics instead of just curling up and dying inside my cave. I give it 2 mammoth tusks.

Sushi Go: Nothing says “I’m Sick” more than the questionable meal you ate the night before. Sushi Go, thankfully is high quality and fun to play every time. I give it 2 California Rolls and a few Tums.

Roll Player: I get sick rather often, so my D&D group jokes that Constitution is my dump stat. Well, the joke’s on them! In Roll Player, I can be sure to bump my CON up to an 18 and then we’ll see who gets sick or poisoned. I give Roll Player a +3 to Saving Throws.

Dice Hospital: I actually just played this for the first time the other night, and I’m really glad I picked it up. While some may scoff at the theme, there is a really, really neat dice manipulation game here, and it’s surprisingly thinky. I definitely recommend you try it out. I give it 5 cc’s of saline, stat!

Zpocalypse: When the Zombie Apocalypse comes, it’s going to be because of some mutated pathogen, I just know it. By playing Zpocalypse, I at least know that if whatever has infected me it that pathogen, I know what to expect. I give it 4 braaaaaaaaaaains.

Elder Sign: There are times where I’ve been told illness is all in my head. If that’s true, I had better prepare for my descent into madness by playing something out of the Call of Cthullu universe. Elder Sign captures the feel of longer games like Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror in an easy to digest rules package. I give it 2 Cultists and 1 Great Old One.

1846: The last game on my list, I can’t think of anything better to play while in a Sudafed induced haze than something with lots of numbers and stocks. 1846 fits the bill for this one. I give it 8 Trains!

So, there you are, my top 10 games to play when I’m sick. I hope you enjoyed this silly Top 10 list. Ryan will be posting next week, and I hope by the time my next post comes around I can write about my thoughts on a few new to me games so far in 2019. But for now, I’m gonna grab some chicken noodle soup, wrap myself up in a blanket, and veg on the couch.




d20: Drew’s Top 18 Games for New Gamers

Part 2 of our “Top 18 Games for New Players”

I have been under the weather, so forgive me this week that Ryan and I’s posts have been split in two.

With my approach to games for new players, I tried to select a group of games that covers a wide variety of mechanics.  Also, remember that these aren’t my top 18 games, just ones that I feel are the best for new players. This can be based on how the mechanics are implemented, how easy the games are to learn/play, or just based on personal experience.

So, in no particular order, my top 18 games for new players.

Carcassonne:  One of the classic gateway games, Carcassonne (or Carc) is a great introduction to tile laying games and if you play the base game, very easy to learn.  It also has always come off as a very laid back game (unless someone steals the perfect spot for your next tile).

Lords of Waterdeep:  This has become my go to worker placement game for new players.  It has a bit more of an exciting theme and the rules are straightforward with little to no edge cases or exceptions.

Memoir ‘44: This is my go to introductory wargame.  It has eye catching pieces and the base game is not super rules heavy (and there are reference cards available in the game to help players remember).  This is actually one of the first games that I ever played when I was getting into contemporary gaming, and it will continue to be a part of my collection.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: This is a quick filler of a social/hidden role game.  I hate these games, but this is one that I’ll play if asked because it’s quick and there is an App that walks players through how to play the game.

Splendor:  This is a good entry level game for people who have at least played games before, or maybe are familiar with one or two other games.  It has a straightforward rule set as well as nice components, even if the theme is a little lacking.

Ticket to Ride: Another frequently mentioned gateway game, this again has low density rules, good physical components, and plays relatively quickly.  There are many different versions of it, but I recommend the one that a) will support the number of players you will have in your group and b) you are most familiar with, geography wise.

Kingdomino: This is another quick, light tile laying game that has a lot deeper gameplay than one might think.  I think the biggest thing in its favor is the components, which are brightly colored (it can be easy to catch other players eyes to get them to join in!)

Kingdom Builder: This is a good introduction to area control that, with its many different boards, gives a lot of replayability.  It presents some difficult choices for players and is a good introductory “thinky” game as well.

Sushi Go: This is my go to introduction to card drafting.  The art is silly, personified sushi rolls and the gameplay is quick and straighforward.  It is also a game that teaches you to think about other players which can be very important in some games.

Alhambra: This is another great tile laying game that is a step up from Carcassonne.  This was one of the games I used to get my wife into board gaming, and we still enjoy it after 10 years.

Boss Monster: If you have people in your group who are old school video game fans, this is a great game to use to introduce them into board gaming.  You are building an old school dungeon that you are attracting adventurers to venture in, but not come out. The art is done in an 8-bit pixel style and there are other references to video game culture.

Elder Sign: This is a cooperative game based in HP Lovecraft’s Cthullu universe.  It plays quick and has mechanics that can be compared to Yahtzee, so that can be used as a selling point for people who may be unsure about the game.

FITS: This is essentially Tetris, the board game.  The great thing about this one is that a new player can just focus on getting their score better, instead of worrying about what others are doing.  The components are also great and can catch the eye of gamers.

Forbidden Island: This is a co op game that is in the same vein as Pandemic, only lighter.  This is my go to co-op game, since sometimes that concept can take a second for people to adjust to.  The great thing about Forbidden Island is that there are amazing components and there is tons of replayability if the easiest difficulty gets to be too easy.

Love Letter: This is another  social deduction game.  The components are simple, but the rules are easy to pick up, and even if people don’t like it, it is over quick.  There are different variations if the original theme doesn’t sit well with you.

Takenoko: This is a game about growing bamboo and a panda eating it.  It’s a fun, easy game that has some amazing components and I haven’t encountered many people who say they hate this game.

Tales of the Arabian Nights:  This one gave me some pause.  I tend to describe it more like an experience than a game, but essentially it is a choose your own adventure game set in the Arabian Nights Universe.  It’s definitely worth a play or two, especially with people who will enjoy sitting back and letting the story unfold, regardless of the outcome.

Tsuro:  This is a tile laying game where you are almost forced to interact with other players.  It plays quick, and the rules are essentially match up a path on a tile to the existing path you are on, and don’t go off the board or run into other players.  Seriously. That’s it. This is great as a filler or a warm up game while you are waiting for people to arrive.

So there you are.  My personal top 18 games for new players.  We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction series.  Starting next week, we’ll be back to our once a week posting reviews, session reports, top 10 lists, or who knows what.  Thanks for reading!

Review: Champions of Midgard

One thing that my wife and I wanted to do this year was revisit some older ‘classic’ games that we really used to enjoy, but that have sort have been relegated to the corner of the game shelf as the new hotness arrives.  Sometimes, though, I find a game that revisits mechanics of these classics, and it can even replace the feelings I have for those classic games.  Champions of Midgard is one of those games.

Champions of Midgard is a worker placement/die rolling game designed by Ole Steiness and published by Grey Fox Games.  I would describe it best as a mix between Lords of Waterdeep and Stone Age, because the primary mechanic is worker placement, but there is also die rolling to determine if you defeat monsters or hunt successfully.

In Champions of Midgard, players are trying to vie for the Jarlship by recruiting 3 different types of adventurers and gathering resources that they can use to purchase or lease ships so that they can adventure to battle monsters.  Players can earn glory, but if they aren’t mindful to deal with the trolls that are rampaging outside the village then the villagers get angry with them and give them blame.  If no player defeats a troll each turn, they all take blame, which leads to increasing negative points at the end of the game.  If a player defeats the troll, then they get to give one blame to another player.  To fight monsters, you roll the adventurer dice you’ve assigned to the monster and have to roll enough symbols to meet the defense value of the monster.  You can also roll shields which block some of the damage you would have to take; for each damage you take, you lose a die.

The monsters you fight all have a different color, so there is an element of set collecting to this game as well.  You might try to fight a stronger monster because it’s the last color you need to complete your set (which means more end game victory points).  Each player also has a secret objective they are trying to complete (and a way to gain more throughout the game).

I really, really enjoyed my play of this game, and it’s one I’ve been itching to get to the table since.  It plays quick, is pretty simple to teach and pick up, and there is enough replayability that it would be pretty tough to play the same game twice.  The artwork is awesome and I do feel like it fits the theme really well.

I like the combination of mechanics in this game.  While I like Waterdeep, it can get a little bit samey to me (also because we played it a lot when it first came out) and I really like the dice mechanic in Stone Age.  By combining these two things, Champions is a fun game that provides some tense moments and some really meaningful decisions.

BGG.Spring Recap

It’s been quite a while!! I have been pretty busy with new projects (and new deadlines) at work, but I was super excited to get to spend 4 days gaming in Dallas with a few friends of mine at BGG.Spring convention this year! It was my first BGG.Spring convention, and my second BGG con overall, and I had a great time.  I got to play some games I have been dying to play, got introduced to some new ones, and came home with a ton of new things to play as well.  I also ate some really great BBQ which is also one thing I always look forward to on these trips.

Instead of giving you a play by play of every single game played (because there were some nights where we just played party games, which while fun I don’t think make for very compelling reading), I figure I will talk about the games I played which I really enjoyed as well as some of the games I picked up I’m excited to play.  So first, games I played which I really enjoyed:

 Ganz schön clever (or Clever, as we call it)
This is a pretty simple roll and write game, and for me it was the game of the Con.  I really like the mechanics in it and it plays quick enough that even if you play suboptimally, you aren’t stuck for too long.  Lots of choices to make and if you play your dice right you can set up combos which become really powerful at the end of the game.  I added this to my 10 x 10 list, replacing Viticulture because while I love that game there is no way that we will get it played 10 times this year.

The Colonists
I had been dying to get this one to the table as I’ve owned it for a couple years but never played it, and it didn’t disappoint.  It’s a heavier game that is rules light but the choices you get expand exponentially with each turn, meaning there is a lot to take in and do.  We played 2 out of 4 eras, and I definitely want to commit to playing a 4 era game some day.  Maybe next year to kick off the Con.  This was also on my 5 x 1 list, so it was nice to make some progress on that.

Memoir ’44: The D-Day Landings
Whoa buddy.  This was the whole enchilada.  I’ve posted about my love for Memoir before, but this really took the cake.  We had 8-10 players who played for a good 3.5-4 hours on 6 maps spanning the D-Day landings.  I feel as in this case a picture would help, so here you go.

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Everyone had a good time and we even had a few people who were learning the game for the first time.  This is definitely an experience to behold and I’m glad I set it up and transported all my Memoir stuff down there.

Mystic Vale
This is a unique deckbuilder where you are actually layering clear cards on top of one another to morph your cards into something different. I picked this up for my birthday back in February this year but didn’t have a chance to play.  Luckily my friend Chris also had wanted to try it again so we played through a game. It’s a mechanic that you see a lot of presented in a new way, and I can’t wait to explore it more.

Roads and Boats
This is a game about logistics.  There is no way around it.  It’s meaty, thinky, and a wrong play early in the game can totally screw you over in the late game (which is what happened to me).  I love playing this one about once a year, and it too was on my 5 x 1 list, so I’m glad I got to help teach it to a new player.

Space Base
This was a game I had never heard anything about but a new friend brought it to play the night before the convention actually started.  It reminds me of Machi Koro if you actually made meaningful decisions in Machi Koro; you roll dice, and depending on the roll and the cards you have, you get stuff.   The artwork was great and it was the perfect length for what it was.

And here are the games I picked up in various sales that I am super excited to play:

Bunny Kingdom
I actually played this on a recommendation from my friend who drove down with me, and it didn’t disappoint.  While it looks light, there are a lot of meaningful decisions to be made and the theme (and artwork, especially on the box) are a little silly.

V-Commandos
I bought this after hearing some really great things about it on BGG.  It’s a co-op game where you take a team of commandos on missions in WWII.  I think it will scratch the wargame-esque ameritrash itch if that is what I’m looking for.

Carrier
This is a super heavy, meaty game of WWII Pacific warfare from the 1990.  It’s long out of print, and so to find a copy that someone was willing to party with in reasonable condition was absolutely fantastic.  I am waiting for the right time to get this to the table when I can actually sit down and learn the rules.

Fire in the Lake
My second game in GMT COIN series (well, okay it’s actually like my third but this time I’m keeping it), this is a game about Vietnam, which is a subject I’m exploring more and more as I talk to my father (who served two tours there) about it.  I’m looking forward to trying this one out solo.

And there you have it.  A super fun time was had and I’m definitely glad I went and participated in the festivities.  Have you played any of these games? What were your thoughts.  Let me know in the comments below!