Thursday, August 31, 2017

Our Top Ten Gateway Games

When introducing board games to a person who doesn't really play board games, you can't just go and throw them straight into a game like Twilight Imperium. You need to start them off on what board gamers like to call gateway games, or games for beginners. Here are some of our favorite games to pull out when introducing new people to the fun of board games. (As always, click the name of any game to go to it's boardgamegeek page and learn more about it.)


Amber: Patchwork: A lot of people understand the concept of Tetris, so putting all the pieces together on a "quilt" is a pretty fun twist on the old game. I also like the fact that it takes some visual skills to look at a piece and decide if it is a good piece to fit in the spot you have.
Shannon: Shadows Over Camelot: This game is one of the first cooperative games that I learned how to play. It's the lowest one on my list, because it's one I bring out AFTER I've brought out and taught a few other games first, but this one is one of the first ones that I want to teach. 


Amber: Lanterns: This game is an easy teach/learn game because you are just matching colors and hoping to lineup more than 1 for extra cards. I also think it is easy to understand the scoring.
Shannon: King of Tokyo: This game is nice, because it's a lot of fun, the different characters are cute, and it's easy enough for beginner's to catch on to what's happening. It's a fun way to get them to think about how other's actions will affect them.


Amber: Timeline: I like this game in small doses. I am not a huge History buff so I enjoy the challenge to remember dates but, after a few rounds, I can't think straight about when things happened. But for people who love history or remember dates well, it is a fun one to teach and play.
Shannon: Tsuro: This game is simple to teach. All you have to do is lay down tiles and follow the path they take, it helps beginners learn to think ahead. 


Amber: Codenames:I like this one for new gamers that are word game people. I think it has a lot of good twists from other word games out there.
Shannon: Dixit: This is a great game to pull out during a game night with lots of people. Give them an example and most people catch on pretty quickly and have a lot of fun.


Amber: Happy Salmon: This one is GREAT for a small group of new gamers and it is fun and chaotic, which only adds to the experience. I think because it is just knowing the 4 cards that can come up and that it takes like 2 minutes to play a round gets newer gamers to say yeah I will give it a try even if they would normally say no.
Shannon: Codenames: Another one that's good with a bigger group, or even when you have a small group. Most people can catch on to this one pretty quickly.


Amber:  Forbidden Desert: I like this one a lot for beginners because I enjoy them having to think differently in a game as a team working against the desert. I like Forbidden Island for this reason too.
Shannon: Takenoko: Let's be honest, the cute theme on this game will draw a lot of people to it, and it's an easy enough strategy game that even beginner players can play. 


Amber: Love Letter: This one is easy to teach but not always a theme that they can connect too. I have been asked when teaching it, why does it matter who wrote the letter to the princess.
Shannon: Rise of Augustus: This one is a favorite with beginner's that we have taught games to. It's got that fun bingo element with enough strategy that makes it more than just luck.


Amber: King of Tokyo : My husband and I have taught this game to multiple people from age 6 to age 60+ and really who doesn't like punching their friends or being a crazy monster!
Shannon: Forbidden Island: This is probably my favorite cooperative game to teach to new players. It's an easier cooperative game that is also very simple to teach. And you can help coach people along until they understand what they are doing.


Amber: Ticket to Ride : It is hard not to put this one close to the top for me because it is one of my favorite games of all time! But it is an easy game that can be taught pretty easily, you need to make your trains go from point A to point B, by drawing and playing cards.
Shannon: Sushi Go!: When I want to teach someone how to play a card drafting game, this is my go to game. It's fun, cute, quick, and simple to teach!


Amber: Dixit : I feel like this is a great gateway game for people because the concepts are not to far from other more common games. Also the art work is a great conversation starter and why you gave that clue for that picture!
Shannon: Love Letter: This is just one of my favorite games period, and the fact that it's simple enough to teach to beginners makes it even better. I love teaching this game to everyone that I can, and I do!

Monday, August 21, 2017

7 Wonders Review

*Ages 10 +
*2-7 Players
*About 30 Minutes
*Card Drafting
*Antoine Bauza

7 Wonders is a card drafting game created by Antoine Bauza, that is played over three rounds/ages. Each player is dealt a deck of cards for each age, 6 coins, and a starting board. Starting with their Age 1 decks, players pick a card to keep and pass their cards in the direction shown on the back of the cards. Then everyone plays their cards and picks a card from their new deck. This continues until each player has only two cards to choose from. One is played and one is placed in a discard pile in the center of the table. Players then see who has the most in military points against their neighbors and win victory points, or gain losses accordingly. This process repeats for all three ages in the game. There are several different types of cards in this game, resources that help you build other cards and your wonders, science cards that are points at the end of the game that give you more for sets or multiples, military cards, Civilian card which are just point cards, or commercial cards which can be resources, money, or points. Players can also use their resources to build the wonders on the bottom of their boards for points or other various rewards. At the end of the third Age, you calculate your total score and the player with the highest points wins.

Amber's Thoughts:
Favorite Number To Play With: I have played this game mainly as a 4 player game, a couple of times as a 3 or 5. So I would say I am partial to the 4 player because that is what I am used too. 

Favorite Board And Why: I like a lot of the boards in general, but I have 3 favorite sides Ephesos side B, Great Wall side A, and Alexandria side B. I like Ephesos because I feel like I am short on coins and building it's wonders gives me money! I like Great Wall because you can build your wonders in whatever order you want and that it gives you an extra science at the end of the game. I like Alexandria because it gives you a choice of resources during the game. 

Least Favorite Board And Why: My least favorite is Abu Simbel because I don't like entombing a leader for points. 

Mechanics I Like And Dislike: I believe a LOT of 7 Wonders mechanics are great! Like the way it flows for the base game, and the 2 expansions I talk about below. I think the game has lots of ways to win using Military, Civilian, money, military, and science. I also like the balance that if you straight up go for just Military, Civilian, money military, or sciences you aren't guaranteed to win.

Expansion I like and dislike: I really like Cities or Leaders. I like Cities because it adds some good "cities" cards that allow you to copy another player's card at the end of the game and some of the cards are like Commercial in that they can help you with resources. I like Leaders because I like that leaders can give an extra objective to be playing for to give you more victory points. I personally like these cities cards and leaders. I dislike Babel. I like the idea of Babel, getting tiles and building a wall or great projects is cool. But I find myself wanting to do so many other things in the game that the tiles/projects just fall to the side for me. I think Babel brings more chaos to the game and not in a good way for me.  

Favorite Art Or Pieces: I like the art on each board because it fits the name of the board. 

Strategies: I like to go for Science mainly, but I have found it isn't always the best way to win, so you need to mix in some Civilian, Military, and Commercial cards. Also try to keep in mind if you are playing with Leaders what your Leaders do to help you get more victory points. 

Final Thoughts: 7 Wonders was one of my gateway into board gaming games. It is one my husband really likes and I think it is a solid game, probably in my top 25. It doesn't normally make my lets play list because Shannon owns it and they have a lot of games so it just doesn't pop to my brain. It is definitely a game that when it is out on the table I enjoy it whether I win or lose. 

8 out of 10 Stars

Shannon's Thoughts:
Favorite Number To Play With: I tend to like have a smaller group, no more than four, when playing this game so I get to pick more cards out of the same hand more than once or twice.

Favorite Board And Why: I honestly can't think of a favorite board. I usually focus more on the cards than the boards, and when I can, I play lots of science cards.

Least Favorite Board And Why: Maybe the Catan expansion board. I just don't find myself upset when I get any particular board.

Mechanics I Like And Dislike: I like the card drafting part of this, but sometimes I feel like there's just so many different types of cards to decide between that I don't always plan my picks out well enough.

Expansions I Like And Dislike: I really do enjoy the leaders and cities expansions. We always play with those two expansions in the game. I also don't mind the two expansions from Babel. Sometimes they make it feel like there's a whole lot going on at once, but I'm okay with that. Since I'm more the type of person to play to have fun and not sit and overthink every move I make, it's nice for me to have the Babel expansion put into the game every now and then, because it messes with the people I usually play with's strategies.

Favorite Art Or Pieces: My favorite artwork in this game are some of the promo cards that we have received!

Strategies: Honestly it always depends on the board that I have. I try to make a plan on what goes good with my board, but usually there's always at least one other person at the table going for the same thing. Also I usually try to get as much science as I can.

Final Thoughts: This game is fun, but I lose... a lot. This is one of those games, where I'm not as competitive as the other people I usually play with so I don't spend a lot of my time trying to figure out how to block what they are doing.

8 out of 10 Stars 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nevermore Review

*Ages 14+
*3-6 Players
*About 45-60 Minutes
*Card Drafting/Take That
*Curt Covert

In Nevermore, you start off the game with five health point and a Shadow Magick card that can help you later in the game. You are dealt a hand of five card, where you pick two cards to keep and pass the other three cards to the player in the direction indicated on the dealer token in the middle of the table, then you repeat that process and keep three cards and pass two, and finally you keep four cards and pass one. This gives you your hand of cards for that round. First the dealer asks if anyone was able to get A Conspiracy of Ravens, which means that they collected five raven cards, if a player has managed to do so, everyone discards their cards with no further actions being taken and that player earns a victory point. If no one has A Conspiracy of Ravens, then the rest of the cards are then played in a random order determined by the four matching tiles being shuffled and placed in a line upside down. One at a time, they are flipped over and their cards are carried out. (Heart cards are worth health, Knife cards are attack, Radiance cards are worth Light Magick cards, and Victory cards are worth victory points.) An example of how this happens would be if a player had 4 attack cards in their hand and another player had three, then it would be a total of one attack they could make. (The highest number minus the next highest is how much the player with the highest gets.) This happens with all the cards. If a player has any Raven cards in their hand, they must play them with other cards from their hand to cancel them out. (Example a player plays three Victory cards and two Raven cards, then those Ravens cancel out two of their Victory cards and they only have one Victory card in play.) If a player has more Ravens then they had other cards and have Ravens left at the end, they get a Shadow Magick card per leftover Raven. If any player loses all five of their health over the course of the game, they become a Raven and cannot win until they can turn themselves into a human again. They can do so by either collecting a set of five of the same card, or one of each card in the game. The game ends when one human player gets six victory points.

Shannon's Thoughts:
Favorite Number To Play With: I have only played this as a 4 player, but it works well this way.

Mechanics I Like And Dislike: I love card drafting. I love trying to figure out what to collect to get victory points. I also really like that when you lose all your health, you are not eliminated from the game. You still get to play, and you still have a chance to get back in the game and win.

Favorite Art Or Pieces: All of it! I love this style of darker artwork!

Strategies: Honestly, I know other people I play with love going for the Dark and Light Shadow Magick cards, so I usually don't bother with those and try to get points in other ways so I'm not competing to collect the same cards.

Final Thoughts: I really like this game. It's a theme that I love, and I love the card drafting part, and even the take that part is not bad since no one is ever truly out of the game. I have the expansion for this one and I can't wait to try it out.

8 out of 10 Stars

Amber's Thoughts:
Favorite Number To Play With: 4 is all I have played with as of right now.

Mechanics I Like And Dislike: I LOVE COLLECTING THE FIVE RAVENS, I am notorious for trying to collect all the ravens. I have got 5 ravens in like 80% of the games I have played. In fact, the first time we played the game I got 5 ravens and said what happens now? I was just excited to have gotten 5 ravens in one hand. I like drafting, but the mind games of what to pass and keep is something I dislike because of the overthinking.

Favorite Art Or Pieces: I like the simple art and dark colors of the cards.

Strategies: I have 2 main strategies. First one you can probably guess GO FOR THE RAVENS. Second try and get as many light and shadow magick cards as possible. 

Final Thoughts: First opinion, reading through the rules felt overwhelming, but then when playing it was easy to pick up. I got 5 ravens during our first game, so even though I lost, I was very excited and felt very powerful. I am not big on the cut throat feel. I personally am not a fan of playing dirty, and some of the magick cards can be very mean.

5 out of 10 Stars 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ice Cool Review

*Ages 6+
*2-4 Players
*About 20 Minutes
*Brian Gomez

Ice Cool is a dexterity game where you are trying to keep your penguin away from the catcher. The catcher starts anywhere in the kitchen (the room on the top left). Taking turns each player who is not the catcher places their penguin in the school room (bottom right room) on the red dot and then flicks their penguin one time. Ideally you are trying to get your penguin out of that room through a door to collect all your penguin's fish that are above the three doorways. When you get through a door with your fish above it you collect a fish card from the draw stack. Once each runner has had a turn flicking, then the catcher gets one turn to flick their penguin to try and catch the other players. If the catcher catches a player (hit their penguin into another penguin) they take their ID card. The round ends when the catcher has all the other player's ID cards, or one person has gotten through each door to collect all three of their fish. Then you get to draw a fish card for each ID you have. Once everyone has had one turn being the catcher the game is over and you count up all your points on the fish cards and the person with the most wins.

Amber's Thoughts:
Favorite Number To Play With: 3 or 4 players, never played with just 2 people. 

Mechanics I Like And Dislike: I like that there is almost no prior skill needed to flick a penguin around a board. Some times you flick good and some times it hurts your finger and you don't flick good.

Favorite Art Or Pieces: I really like the character cards, or as the kids I play with call them your license or ID.

Strategies: If someone else flicked before you go towards a different room so the catcher has to choose who to go after. Try your best to line up your flick with a door to collect your fish. Also if you get ice skates and you are in the room with the catcher and haven't lost your ID, USE THE ICE SKATES AND TRY TO GET OUT!

Final Thoughts: Laugh a lot, be silly, and have fun. Because it is a kids game and you should enjoy it win or lose. 

7 out of 10 Stars

Shannon's Thoughts:
Favorite Number To Play With:  I like this game with at least 3 or 4 people.

Mechanics I Like And Dislike:  I enjoy that this game gets my kids up and moving around a little bit while they play. Though sometimes it can make everyone's fingers hurt from flicking the penguins so much!

Favorite Art Or Pieces:  I really love the wobbly little penguins in this game.

Strategies: Honestly, it doesn't do me a whole lot of good to have a strategy in this game. My penguin usually doesn't go where I want it to go, so I just have fun when I play this game, and I don't overthink it. It's just a fun game to play with my kids.

Final Thoughts: This game is a great game to play with kids. It's easy to learn, and just a lot of fun to play.

7 out of 10 Stars