Take 6

Design by Wolfgang Kramer
Published by Amigo / Mayfair Games
2 – 10 Players, 30 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

Take 6 - cover

In the board gaming world, a game that has been in continuous print since 1994 is a rarity.  There is a seeming insatiable urge to publish new games, with hundreds, if not thousands released each year.  Often a game is in print for a year or less, quickly vanishing from a company’s catalog before it has a chance to even be noticed.  If  a game doesn’t make a splash immediately, it is usually given little marketing effort and is sent packing to the island of forgotten games.  Even games that are successful often go out of print in just a few years.  A shame, really.

Fortunately that fate was not suffered by Wolfgang Kramer’s entertaining 6 nimmt! (Take 6 in English).  This little card game was popular when first released back in 1994, garnering a nomination for the coveted Spiel des Jahre and receiving accolades from other game publications and awards.  Its popularity never faded and it has been published by over two dozen publishers, often under different names and in several different guises.  It once even had a hurricane theme (Category 5)!

The latest version by Amigo and Mayfair Games returns the game to its original artwork and theme.  Gone are hurricanes, Sponge Bob Square Pants, and a variety of other themes and art.  Now, it is a return to the bulls, which is even touted with a tagline proclaiming “Not a game for the Bullheaded!”

Most folks who have been immersed in the hobby for any length of time will be familiar with the game.  However, for those who may not have played, a description is in order.

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Pandemic Legacy: The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of Games


Pandemic report[Editor’s note – if you have not yet played the game, you can still read this review in its entirety.  There are no game-related spoilers included in this review, so you can rest assured that your experience of the game will not be changed/shortened/etc. by reading through this! ]


  • Designer: Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau
  • Publisher: Z-Man Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Ages: 12+
  • Times Played: Pandemic Legacy – 13 (we started August this week!); Pandemic – 38; Risk Legacy – 17

This is a legacy game – which means there are a whole lot of surprises, twists & turns baked into the design and stuffed into the corners of the box. It makes reviewing the game in any detail a tricky proposition.

There are no spoilers ahead (or hidden in the picture of our own Pandemic Legacy story above)… so you can read on without fear. But you could probably better spend your time and your hard-earned dollars getting a copy of this game and gathering 2-3 friends to play it with you.

Cuz, dude… it’s a stinkin’ case of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

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SdJ Re-Reviews #30: Keltis

  • Designer:  Reiner Knizia
  • Publisher:  ABACUSSPIELE, Rio Grande, Z-Man Games, Others
  • Players:  2 – 5
  • Ages:  8 and Up
  • Time:  45 Minutes
  • Times Played:  > 5

Keltis Box

Keltis: Reiner Knizia wins the Spiel des Jahres…

Reiner Knizia started designing games in the 1980s, and by the 1990s, he had become one of Germany’s game design stars.  He left his job as an executive at a large multinational bank in 1997, instead choosing to pursue game design full time.  Since then he’s released dozens of games each year, making him perhaps the most prolific of the major game designers.   Continue reading

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Castles of Mad King Ludwig is Games Magazine’s Game of the Year

Last year, Games Magazine did not do their Games 100, their annual feature in which they honored their favorite games of the year.  It appeared that the tradition was over, but for now, at least, we have a replacement.  The December issue included a Game of the Year selection, together with picks in four other categories.  It ain’t 100 games, but it’s still nice to see Games back in the game.

Their Game of the Year for 2015 is Castles of Mad King Ludwig, designed and developed, as it turns out, by OGers Ted Alspach and Dale Yu, respectively.  The runner-up is Sheriff of Nottingham, the latest incarnation of 2006’s Hart an der Grenze.  Honorable mentions go to Artifacts, Inc. and The Ancient World, both designed by Ryan Laukat.

In the four categories, the issue listed a winner, runner-up, and, rather unusually, an upcoming game.  I assume the latter was included because of publishing delays, since most of these titles have already been released.

Here are all the games cited in the December issue.  Congratulations to all the winners, particularly to Ted and Dale!

Traditional Game of the Year:  Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Runner-up:  Sheriff of Nottingham
Honorable Mention:  Artifacts, Inc.
Honorable Mention:  The Ancient World

Card Game of the Year:  Sushi Go!
Runner-up:  Flip City
Upcoming:  Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn

Family Game of the Year:  Sheriff of Nottingham
Runner-up:  Quilt Show
Upcoming:  The Village Crone

Strategy Game of the Year:  Extra! Extra!
Runner-up:  New York 1901
Upcoming:  Scythe

Puzzle/Abstract Game of the Year:  Gravity Maze
Runner-up:  Attila
Upcoming:  Onitama

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Machi Koro Wins a la carte Award as Best Card Game

Better late than never!  That applies both to this announcement and its subject.

On October 8, the German gaming magazine Fairplay announced the results of their a la carte award, given annually to what the voters consider the best card game of the year.  The winner for 2015 is Machi Koro.  People have been predicting awards for Machi Koro ever since its first English language version appeared two years ago.  There was speculation that it might make a run for the 2014 Spiel des Jahres.  This year, it was one of the three nominees for the SdJ, only to lose out to Colt Express.  Finally, the game, and its designer Masao Suganuma, has taken home a prize.

The a la carte might not measure up to an SdJ, but it’s still an important honor.  This is the 25th year of the award and its past winners include some of the best card games of all time, including Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, Hanabi, 7 Wonders, and Bohnanza.  So Machi Koro is the latest in a proud collection of games.

As it turns out, the other SdJ nominee that lost out to Colt Express, Steffen Benndorf’s The Game, finished second in the election.  Here are the top ten finishers in the voting, together with their designers.

1. Machi Koro (Masao Suganuma)
2. The Game (Steffen Benndorf)
3. Beasty Bar (Stefan Kloß)
4. Sail to India (Hisashi Hayashi)
5. Evolution (Crapuchettes, Knorre, Machin)
6. Ugo! (Hoekstra, Jansen, Zuidhof)
7. Bad Bunnies (Jacques Zeimet)
8. Greed (Donald X. Vaccarino)
9. Jäger und Späher (Gerhard Hecht)
10. Stichling (Ralf zur Linde)

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Dale Yu: Review of Medieval Academy


Medieval Academy

  • Designer: Nicolas Poncin
  • Publisher: IELLO / Blue Cocker Games
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Times Played: 3, with review copy provided by IELLO


Twelve years ago, when I was still just starting to go to Essen, part of the draw to making the annual pilgrimage was to get my hands on some of the awesome small print run games that you could only get while there.  If you remember those days, you’d be with me scouring the second floor of hall 9 (the mysterious 9.1), buying every Japanese game you could find (because they were all one-time-only print runs of 500 copies or less) or digging through all of hall 6 to find the three teeny booths that happened to be selling games instead of leather bodices and chainmail…

Flash forward to 2015… Now, things are a bit different.  There are still plenty of hidden treasures to be had at Essen, but most of them – given enough time – will rise to the surface with either a reprint or larger distribution when the title is bought up.  Medieval Academy is an example of that new class of games.  I remember seeing the title while walking through the press event on the Wednesday of last year’s Essen, but I didn’t have to get a demo.  I didn’t know anything about it, but the art was cool… later I found out that my good friend Piero was the artist, and I did write it down on my list of games to go check out by the end of the weekend.  As anyone who has been to Essen can attest to – it’s hard to keep to your plans!  There are just so many games to look at, and something will get missed along the way.  I never did make it back to look at Medieval Academy, and only later did I discover that many people who brought it home ended up loving it!  I was trying to figure out how to import a copy from France, but then at GenCon 2015, it was announced that IELLO was going to do a reprint to bring the game to the larger gaming market – and that’s how I got my second chance at this game.  (In the same box, I received a second chance to play Dungeon of Mandom, a fun Japanese game that is also being reprinted by IELLO as Welcome to the Dungeon.) Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of Timeline: Challenge


Timeline: Challenge

  • Designers: Frederic Henry and Cyril Demaegd
  • Publisher: Asmodee
  • Players: 2-10
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: ~30 minutes
  • Times played: 5, with review copy provided by Asmodee


Timeline: Challenge was a game that slipped by under my radar in the hectic days leading up to Essen 2015.  I had not heard anything about it, and I was pleasantly surprised when my press contact from Asmodee asked me if I was interested in reviewing the game.  I have been a big fan of the Timeline series, and the game promised to breathe new life into the Timeline decks that I already own.  The OG has covered some of the Timeline sets in the past:



In this big box game (30cm box), you get a new set of Timeline cards which appears to be new and specific for this version of the game – however, you can use any set or combination of sets that you have to play the game.  The big difference here is that there is a board!  In the center, there is a spiral path where the player pawns will move.  On the left and the right are different areas to lay out cards for the different challenges.  The top of the board has a timeline which splits up the whole of history into 10 separate sections. Continue reading

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Design by Andrea Chiarvesio & Pierluca Zizzi
Published by Asterion / Yemaia
2 – 6 Players, 2 – 3 hours
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

Hyperborea - cover

Hyperborea contains many elements of board game design that I generally dislike:  fantasy theme, territorial conquest, and an abundance of cards with special powers.  Throw all of these elements together and the result should be a game that I detest and would prefer not to play.  Much to my surprise and delight, however, I find Hyperborea to be exciting, challenging and fun.

Designed by the Italian duo of Andrea Chiarvesio and Pierluca Zizzi, Hyperborea is set in a fantasy world wherein an ancient magical barrier has suddenly vanished.  Six kingdoms now have access to previously forgotten realms.  There are territories to be gained and riches to be found, but the ghosts of the ancients still haunt these forbidden areas.  The lust for power and riches will cause the fragile peace that once existed between the six realms to crumble.  Who will prevail?

Hyperborea is a big box production filled with tiles, counters, player boards, civilization cubes, technology cards and dozens upon dozens of attractive plastic miniatures.  It is an assembly that would make Fantasy Flight proud.  In spite of its abundance of components and sheer bulk, the game itself is not that difficult to learn; the actual rules (minus component descriptions and setup instructions) are only eight well-illustrated pages.

In spite of being able to accommodate six players, the board itself is surprisingly small.  A handful of tiles are arranged, most of which are face-down to enhance the exploration aspect.  These are revealed rather quickly, however, as it doesn’t take much movement before players encounter each other.  Each player begins with three miniatures in their homeland, which is located along the edges of the map.  Most tiles depict ancient cities and ruins, which will yield treasures and often special powers.  However, once entering the forgotten realms, these areas will also be protected by the ghosts of the ancients.  Fortunately, these ghosts are more moan than bite and are fairly easily dispatched.

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Design by Klaus Teuber
Published by Kosmos
3 – 6 Players, 45 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

Dohdles - cover

I enjoy a good party game, one that can get a lot of folks involved and where the emphasis is placed on fun rather than intricate rules or strategies.  Way back in 1988, Klaus Teuber of Settlers of Catan fame designed a clever game of sculpting shapes using molding clay.  The game was oddly named Barbarossa, which reminded history buffs of the German invasion of the Soviet Union back in World War II.  The central mechanism of molding and guessing sculptures was fun, but the rest of the game, which among other things involved sticking plastic arrow pieces into the sculptures as guesses were made, felt a bit too fiddly and contrived.

Dohdles is Teuber’s latest reinvention of Barbarossa.  Players still create sculptures from molding clay, but gone are the more complex and fiddly rules that characterized the former game.  Still, the game does have more rules and gimmicks than it probably should, as there are different levels of questions and a cube chute that requires players to quickly and accurately toss cubes into it in order to gain priority in making guesses.   

Each player receives a stick of molding clay, a guess cube, three clue chips and a double-sided “Suggestion” board, which lists dozens of sculpture ideas on one side and 20 possible questions on other.  The round central board has a dozen spaces for sculptures, each with a seven space clue track surrounding it.  These spaces will dictate the type of questions that can be asked.  In the center of the board is the guess funnel, into which players will frantically toss their guess cube in an effort to be the first to make a guess.

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Design by Sébastien Dujardin
Published by Pearl Games
2 – 4 Players, 1 ½ hours
Review by Greg J. Schloesser


Read this description from the box of Deus:

“As the leader of an ancient civilization, explore unknown lands in order to develop your empire.  Found new cities, and construct buildings in order to exploit natural resources and establish trade routes.”

Does this sound like the description for just about every civilization building game you have ever played?  Admitted, yes it does.  However, please do not let this deter you from giving Deus a go, as it has some very unique mechanisms, including card play that is quite clever and fun.

Deus by designer Sébastien Dujardin and published by Pearl Games (Troyes, Tournay, La Granja) is a civilization building game that combines intriguing card play and a modular board.  As described above, the familiar trappings of civilization building games are present.  Fortunately, however, the game sheds the usual 4+ hours required play time of many other games in the genre, playing to completion in about 90 minutes or so.

The central board is formed by placing a number of hexagon-type tiles in a roughly circular pattern.  The number of tiles used is dependent upon the number of players.  Each tile is divided into seven different territories, each of which depicts a terrain type (mountains, fields, forests, swamps or water), as well as one barbarian village per tile.  Each terrain type (except water and the barbarian villages) produces a specific type of resource, which will be collected when the appropriate cards are played.

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