Monthly Archives: July 2015

The review of the game-cation continues with more wonderful games we played.

Level X 61r1VVgh1WL._AA160_

This pleasant EasyPlay game got played once on Friendcation and it’s a favorite opening filler. I actually have four EasyPlay and Schmidt titles in a Ligretto Dice box (adding Finito, Level X, Numeri) that I always bring on holiday with me. Level X is a winner with a fair amount of luck but there are definitely some good choices and strategies. As it happens, this is the first game I’ve played with no bonus tiles awarded in probably 15-20 plays. Sadly, I think it’s out of print now – even has it for about 45 euro. It’s good but that’s quite a chunk of change for a twenty-minute filler.

Loopin’ Louie x10 A1cDZGmhpqL._SL1500_

It’s a kid’s game, you say. Sure it is. But I can tell you that most of the smartest gamer designers I know also have a great time playing this hilariously fun and silly game.

During my game-cation, we played two tournaments with the family, neither of which I won despite them happening on my birthday (Louie was not kind). Tournament play means you must win with a single chicken disc left – if you win with more, you play the next and remaining rounds with one fewer disc each time until you win with only one or the others catch up and win instead.

looping-chewie-2-teaser_largeI’m glad to hear that the US is getting Loopin Chewie later this year and I kind of love that they’re making it three-player only. That keeps the original Louie to four (and Barn Buzzin’ Goofy as the woeful two-player version that could get tedious). Yeah, I know there was this ‘bee’ version but it’s said to be awful on pure physics. Loopin’ Louie is available in the US currently, but that could change quickly so order now.

Love Letter – Batman619McEzHqhL

Despite the bone-headed marketing fail of promoting “LOVE LETTER” on a game themed to Batman, at least this version adds an extra rule (gain a token when capturing a ‘bad guy’) which is most of the cards. Enjoyed by the pool quickly and I could see enjoying it again. That rule could easily be applied to the other editions of the game, moving it along even quicker. Still a small wonder of a design.


This wacky Adlungspiele trick-taker didn’t go over super well (its marriage tricks a unique idea) but I was glad to play this quirky little item again during Friendcation. The marriage tricks let you add a second trick to a round by matching an ‘opposite sex’ card when it is your turn to play (sorry, folks – the lion world of Lowendynastie doesn’t have same-sex marriage yet – although it’s an idea for a variant!), which can also resolve the round. A terrific little game for which I just increased my rating.

The Majority 81tLjhSPr+L._SL1500_

A small press pass-draft game with some interesting elements. It was played while we transitioned from gaming in our room to a pool while on Friendcation but I still found more to like in it. Ninja Star Games did a good job with this one, featuring distinctive art and clever game play that I’m still finding intriguing (and I haven’t even touched the many expansions). Essentially, you partner with another player with four (where it shines) and try to garner second place in each of three suits through careful play that includes a variety of special cards. The game feels familiar but also new. You can find it on Amazon.


The only other EasyPlay game we broke out during the Friendcation, Numeri ended up showing its potential for randomness ruining the day but, to be fair, the most experienced player who knew the strategy won so…


A minor item for the Adlungspiele world, PG is an okay set collector that feels a little like Guildhall. Alas, it’s more of the same kind of collect cards and use their abilities to manipulate how you collect them. Guildhall is a bit more interesting (also more expensive and there are more pieces) and I think PG is going to hit the trail pile. The art is nice, though. 

Pass-Ack Words 2Q==x3

We played this once on Friendcation and twice with the kids at home. A simple twist on Password (with you giving the ‘worst’ clues to your opposing team), we had a lot of fun with it and are still playing it with the kids now the following week. It’s on Amazon – get it!

pic249632_lgPool Position

An older FX Schmidt game I picked up specifically for Friendcation, Pool Position has the trappings of its time: some random elements that can frustrate despite their balance, not a lot of choices, etc. Still, it was amusing to play while we were fighting for pool spots in real life. Not sure we need it but it may earn a place on the ‘seasonal games’ shelf.

Red Dragon Inn91PV9W4v5jL._SL1500_ (1 & 2)

As always, this game was amusing but longer than expected. Might need to house rule it down to 30-40 minutes so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. As a take-that, goofy-themed, and decidedly American-style game where (horrors!) you draw cards at THE BEGINNING of your turn, this shouldn’t work for me. But I like it – maybe mostly because it’s a natural drinking game since the object of the game is actually to, um, drink your friends under the table. Sadly, despite playing on Friendcation, we played without booze! The whole series is available on Amazon.

Red781wbjYrCXjL._SL1500_ x3

Received this welcome gift and then played it twice while celebrating birthdays, then again at Duck Club. Simple and it takes 5-10 minutes but it’s a clever one where you need to be winning at the end of your turn (during which you can play up to two cards – one to your tableau and one to potentially change the rules). Remember how I lamented the set collection/do something with the cards thing on Palastgefluster up above? Scratch that here. Red7 is a delight. BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON.

Roll For The Galaxy81LLUVpgb0L._SL1500_

After years of play testing it, Roll finally came out and Wei-Hua did a great job shoring it up. As the last game of our birthday celebration, we enjoyed the nice components, simple rules (especially for Race players), and a quick play-time suggests this could replace Race For the Galaxy in my heart (maybe).

In a way, Roll to Race feels a bit like Steam to Age of Steam. My take is that it’s a bit more flexible, less punishing for mistakes, and even though the luck of the roll may seem harsh, I find ways to manage it pretty well. Of course, I love Race and I’ve played it hundreds of times so it may partially be the newness factor (I’ve only played Roll a dozen times, perhaps) but it certainly feels like a winner. Available now on Amazon.

Solitaire for Two9k=-1

Silly title but this six-suited version of Solitaire works with groups up to four. I liked it, but mainly for the chunky, Mahjong-y tiles and since I played it mostly solo (my son was looking on and making suggestions), I’ll need to check and see how the cooperative version works. Also, did I mention those smooth, wonderful tiles? #componentlove

It’s quite reasonably priced on Amazon.

July and December are my favorite months because I take a break from work during these months. I mean, a real break from email, side projects, and the long hours I put in at the office. Don’t get me wrong – I actually love my job. But sometimes you need to unwind and board games are always part of that for me.

The beginning of July has marked our Friendcation for the last six years. This is an opportunity to go spend a few days with friends at a resort so we can dine, hang out, and play some games. This year was no exception and I played a ton of games both while away and during a couple of other sessions I was able to get together. I’m posting a few different updates with my capsule comments on games both new-to-me and old favorites that I wanted to briefly ruminate on in this extended session report.

81H3dpSEROL._SL1472_Podcast? Oh, there might just be a couple on the way…

Bang: The Walking Dead – Just Bang with the Walking Dead theme (comic version). Eh. We love the Walking Dead but Bang is a game whose time has passed (at least for me). I now see that they have a Walking Dead version of Bang: The Dice Game, which I find a bit more appealing. But how many times do I need to buy this game. It’s available on Amazon or see my trade list and get mine!

Blue Moon City – I still love this 2007 Reiner Knizia title, one of the last of his that was universally respected, with semi-51oXWtcQPSL._SY450_cooperative elements. Played at Duck Club in Irvine on a copy that I’m happy to have acquired for the Strategicon library. Play it at Gamex 2015! A wonderful game but too expensive on Amazon.

Caffeine Rush51uenX5wwNL – Real-time game of drawing and placing cards on ‘orders between you and another player. This one will work well with a party crowd or casual gamers (it plays up to 6). My wife, the only one at the table with actual barista experience, won the game – and that annoyed the heck out of her. Cute but likely a trade pile item purely on her sensitivity. You find it reasonably priced on Amazon or, again, trade with me (locals, please).

Castles of Mad King Ludwig Castles-Cover-1000x1000– Another play of this fine game that I still fear will be awful with an AP player. Thankfully, we didn’t have that when we played while on Friendcation but we had more completed Sleeping Rooms (which extends the game) than I’ve ever seen.

There is much said about the similarity to Suburbia (hey, game designer and YouTube star Dave Arnott calls it “SirBurbia”) but I find them sufficiently different that it’s worth owning both. I think Suburbia can overwhelm some casual players (although, in fairness there, my own wife was a playtester on it and she enjoyed it a great deal) so I break out Castles of Mad King Ludwig more often. I’m looking forward to the Secrets expansion later this year (bummed to have missed it at the Gathering of Friends due to new players at our table the one time I played it there). Buy it on Amazon because I wouldn’t dare trade my copy – it’s too much fun.

Dead Man’s Draw – A simple press-your-luck game with a pirate theme, DMD was pleasant enough to play a couple of times but I don’t need to own it. Fun for Talk Like A Pirate Day. Amazon has it and you can also buy the International Tabletop Day Edition, apparently.

Dead of Winter (played x2 during game-cation) 61t3z0Oak1L._SX425_– Once on Friendcation, once at the July Birthday event. We managed a betrayal-free win in the former but Bernie revealed late in the game on the latter, foiling our victory because we took an extra requirement from a Crossroads card. A darn good game, even if it’s outside my usual game type. Amazon has it, although it’s cheaper elsewhere.

Deep Sea Adventure x4 51VN++3Y2WL._SL1000_– Twice on Friendcation, Duck Club, and once at the July Birthday party. I never win this game of treasure diving but I still will always play it. I adore the visual design of the Oink Games titles and even though I didn’t like Maskmen, I kind of want all of their titles just to enjoy the art. The games are good, too. DSA is now on Amazon!

Diabolo 511KnPWULML._AA160_– A Michael Schacht item I believe I’ve only played once so I forgot how it played. One of classic games with minimal rules but interesting tactical choices. The US edition from Playroom is called In Limbo and it’s on Amazon.

Dungeon of Mandomdom_image03The Oink edition matches their aesthetic so I needed to have it. A press-your-luck, trash-talking delight, Mandom is getting better with each play. Now available as Welcome to the Dungeon from iELLO, who make some lovely games so I’m sure their version is great.

The Gamepic2405167_md – Still trying to figure out how this hard-to-find on BGG game got an SDJ nomination (other than wanting to give the publisher exposure). It’s an okay version of collaborative 23 that goes up to (and down from) 100 with ugly, unfriendly death & skulls artwork in red and black. This is an ideal family game? I think it’s maybe more fun as a solo game but we played it by the pool with a 6 Nimmt deck since I sold off my official copy. Pandasaurus Games is, however, bringing it to the US in all its ugly glory. 

Glass Road91XFnVT6aIL._SL1500_A terrific game that I’m glad to play anytime. We opened Friendcation with it. This is light Uwe Rosenberg by modern standards (remember, this talented designer also did Bohnanza, Mamma Mia, and Klunker!) but I love it for the quick play time coupled with interesting decisions. Pick up this winner on Amazon.

Greed x261WuR-JsA2L._SX425_ – Twice we played this “Gamer Sushi Go” from Donald X Vaccarino of Dominion and Kingdom Builder fame while celebrating birthdays. The mechanisms are nothing new – a pass-draft and simultaneous reveal. 7 Wonders comparisons abound but the real touchstone is Fairy Tale (which pre-dates the others for this mechanism), which had this kind of card interaction. That said, Greed is more direct than FT and it was enjoyed by all – at least two of our players said it was an instant buy and you can do that, too, on Amazon.

Letters from Whitechapel 51v+aH3WzjL._SY450_– After being disappointed by Specter Ops, I was glad this hidden movement game was much more interesting and satisfying. While our game ran a bit long due to learning and some slow play, I’m very happy to own this one and will play it again soon. I think the different tracks for Jack and the victims versus the investigators is a key part of what makes it intriguing. Amazon has it and it’s a great game for this genre.

That’s it for now. More to come (second half of the alphabet) later this week. Until then, remember – it’s only a game.