Liga: review of Moo Stick

Moo StickDesigners: Sylvain Duchêne and Olivier Mercier
Artist: Sébastien Lopez
Publisher: Captain Macaque
Players: 2-6
Age: 8+
Playing Time: 20−45 minutes
Times Played: 3

With last year release of Soqquadro, it looks like the idea of breaking the boundary of the box and use the whole house ad playing ground can be explored in many different ways. Sylvain and Olivier decided to implement it in a aliens themed game, wrapped in a small box with multilingual cards and rules. The idea is about finding, as quickly as possible, objects fulfilling the requests on two revealed cards.

Here the details …

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Liga: review of The Tower

The towerDesigner: Simone Luciani, Antonio Tinto
Artist: Valentina Moscon
Publisher: Cranio Creations
Players: 2-4
Ages: 6+
Time: 10 minutes
Times Played: more than 5

Simone Luciani is a well known designer with interesting titles published including the The Voyages of Marco Polo, winner this year of both IGA and DSP. Antonio Tinto was in the Acchitocca Team (Egizia and Leonardo da Vinci). For the first time they deal with a dexterity game and The Tower is the result.

Up to 4 players compete trying to quickly move wooden pawns from the top to the botton of the tower. 40 tokens, in 4 different shapes (triangle, square, circle and cross) are put in the tower from the roof, the hourglass is turned on and than the fight begin.

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Essen 2015 Preview: Shakespeare by Hervé Rigal and Ystari Games

  • Designer: Hervé Rigal
  • Publisher: Ystari Games
  • Players: 1 – 4
  • Ages: 13 and up
  • Time: 20 – 90 Minutes
  • Times Played: 3


“To [play this game], or not [to play this game]: that is the question.”

— William Shakespeare

Ystari Games will release Shakespeare at Essen next week.  I had the game on my Essen buy list, but I managed to snag a copy early.  I’ve gotten in a few plays, so I thought I’d offer a review/preview of the game for those interested in picking it up.  I haven’t had the chance to play the solo version yet, but I have played with 2, 3, and 4 players, and it has a similar feel with any of those player counts.

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Burano Preview

pic2599157Burano is a new Euro style game from the design team at EmperorS4 Games who also did Jungle Rumble. It’s a big game with a lot going on and a fresh mechanism.

The game theme focuses on building the city of Burano a center of fishing and lace production. It’s played over 4 seasons or a total of 14 rounds. Each turn a player may take up to 4 actions if they can afford it. There are multiple ways to earn VP and the most VP wins.


Each player has a player board. imageThe L side has a privilege track. These privilege points can be traded in during the game for small benefits such as more cubes and money. The left side also has the schedule ring. The face of the wheel is modular allowing variable set ups. The R side of the board holds the cube pyramid and the roof tops.

The main board has Burano. Cubes are placed in Burano to build the city. The game comes with a nice punched cardboard overlay to help keep cubes in place. It also has the fishing islands and merchant ships and the lace workshops.image

The action board holds the rooftops, has a summary of clean-up at the end of the round and holds the color action markers.image

A brief summary of game play follows:

At the start of the round each player simultaneously builds a cube pyramid. Cubes determine many of a player’s actions. The cubes may be played into the city of Burano. The color of the cube determines which of the three main actions you may do. The color of the cube needed for each action is randomly determined during the clean-up phase at the end of the round. The actions are fishing, lace making and earning. The cube color also determines which roofs may be built. Naturally since you’ve built a pyramid the cubes at the top of it must be played first.

Rooftops earn the players privilege points or building cards and VP when built. Building cards may give the players some abilities related to the actions or end game points. The roof tops have colored tops and must be built on matching colored cubes.image

If the cube you’ve just played results in a fishing action you may move your boat to a neighboring island or a merchant ship. If when you sail to an island your schedule ring arrows are pointing to colors that match the houses on the island you draw fish cards equal to the number of matches. The workers are placed in a similar manner. If any player has workers on the island from previous rounds they must remove one back to their schedule ring and they receive 2 money. If you move your boat to a merchant ship you may sell fish resulting in VP. image

Lacemaking works in a similar fashion if you’ve played a cube to Burano that matches one of the colors in the lace making action space. You may place workers on factory tiles matching the colors of the arrows on your schedule ring. Workers placed in the same turn must be placed orthogonally. If you place your worker on a spot with a coin you earn it.

The last action cube placement may result in is earnings. Players earn money equal to the number of coin icons uncovered by sending workers fishing or lace making. You may also send a worker home from a fishing island to earn money during this action.

Next follows the clean-up phase. First score fishing island majorities, if a tie divide the VP rounded down. You score 4 in a 4 player game for each island this way. Next score lace making. For each worker in the lace workshop you may score 2 VP if return a cube matching the color of the spot the worker is on. Score additional VP for workers that are orthogonally adjacent. Shuffle the action color markers and place them in the action fields. Refill players’ cube supply by gaining one cube of each color next to each remaining worker on the schedule ring. Leftover cubes from the pyramid are turned in for 1 coin each. Refill up to 3 roof tops. Previous ones may be discarded before drawing. Pass the start player.

After the final round convert privilege points to money and score 1 VP for every 5 coins. Score 1 VP for each unsold fish card. Score building card VP. Most VP wins.

The production and quality is quite nice. The cubes are large and easily handled even when building the second story of buildings. The cut out board to hold the cubes in place works well. The card icons are a bit small to see across the table at least for my eyes but it wasn’t a major issue.

I love my Euros and Burano meets my expectations as a challenging game. I put Burano on the high end of the “I Like It” tier. I’m not sure if it makes it into the “Love It” tier as I have only had one play but it could. I really enjoyed learning the game.

There are multiple ways to score and I found the play and the scoring paths to integrate well. The cube pyramid is a novel mechanism. It does require some planning and flexibility to get the most out of your cubes. I always take it as a good sign when I am thinking about what I might do the next time I play game afterwards and definitely feel that way about this game.

Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers

Jennifer (3 plays) — I played 3 4-player games in the last few days, and I would  still be happy to play it more this week if I find more time for gaming. I like optimization and strategic planning and this game offers plenty of both. I especially like the cube management part – not only do you have to make sure you have the right color cubes to perform the actions you need, but you also need to pay attention to what cubes you need for end of season scoring (if you are in the lace factory) and what cubes you will get for actions in the next round. In one of my games, we ran out of cubes of several colors at the beginning of the last round, so one player who has a ton of fish cards and was planning to sell fish in the winter season was out of luck. It’s also a game that rewards specialization so you can probably mostly ignore one aspect of the game (ex. lace factory) and focus on other strategies and do better than someone who dabbles in everything. Some of the game play is a little fiddly and having to keep looking at what color roofs other players need slows down the pace (also means you can’t always plan ahead for your optimal move because by the time it’s your turn, the optimal move may be different) but overall I find Burano to offer a good mix of strategy and player interaction.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it!

I like it.  Lorna, Jennifer


Not for me…

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Book Review – The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game

The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game

Written by Mary Pilon and published by Bloomsbury, 2015


I was thinking about it recently, and realized that the game I own the most books about, after Bridge, is clearly Monopoly.  Now, it’s not a close competition; I own well over 100 books about Bridge, and before I picked up The Monopolists, a mere 5 about Monopoly.  But for a game not in the public domain, that’s still a fair number.

I should say first – as with most modern board game enthusiasts, I am not a big fan of Monopoly.  But unlike many modern board game enthusiasts, I actually do like the game, and play it occasionally.  And, more importantly, I believe it was an integral step in the development of modern board games, every bit as much so as Tactics and Acquire and The Settlers of Catan.  In particular, the auctioning of properties, the decisions around what properties to focus upon, and most of all the trading in the game are elements entirely consistent with board games produced to this day.  So, having been brought up to respect my elders, as a board gamer I feel a need to respect – and study – Monopoly. Continue reading

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Liga: Review of Rattle, Battle, Grab The Loot

Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot box

  • Title: Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot
  • Designer: Ignacy Trzewiczek
  • Publisher: Portal Games
  • Age: 8+
  • Players: 2-5
  • Playing Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Times played: a lot (more than 5)

I’m a fan of dice games. I really like how different designers are trying to use dice creatively. I’m used to like Ignacy Trzewiczek design thinking there are pearls in his design history, from Stronghold (now getting a new edition) and Pret-a-Porter until the outstanding Imperial Settlers. This time Ignacy used his talent to create a really nice family game, something unusual for him. I’m quite sure design something really good able to fascinate kids is not so easy: kids can’t be cheated, they like fun games.

Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot is not really a standard family game. Yes, it is fun, not too complex and it is about Pirates but it is not trivial and show us a new design frontier: dice used as miniatures in a sort of 3D battle where the displaced face tell us what the die can or can’t do. The rules are not complex but you have really a lot of options: my opinion is that the game is thinked up for a gamers family, able to challenge both kids and adults.

Keep reading if you are interested in my review …

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Dale Yu – Getting Ready for SPIEL 2015, part 2

Well, this probably marks the end of my pre-Essen coverage from home… My flight leaves early Saturday morning, and I have a lot of packing and planning to finish up between now and then — enough work that I’m fairly certain that I will not have any time to write on the blog.   Work will be double-time for the rest of the week (as well as the week after I return), so there won’t be any writing from my desk either!  There are still a few other game previews planned by the other OG writers, and I will likely be able to catch up a bit with the blog once we’re up in the air on Saturday.

Thus far, I’ve gone through the Spiel Preview geeklist on BGG a number of times, and I’ve made my own spreadsheet of games that have caught my eye.  They are color coded due to level of interest as well as US availability.  This will help me get to all the games that I’m most interested in pre-show, and notes on US availability will help me figure out what I have to try to cram into the luggage and what can wait until I get back. Continue reading

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Liga: review of Rush & Bash

Rush & Bash Box

  • Title: Rush & Bash
  • Designer: Erik Burigo
  • Publisher: Red Glove
  • Age: 7+
  • Players: 2-6
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Times played: a lot (more than 5)

I’m really happy when I have the possibility to write about an Italian game that was so good to deserve an international edition. Rush & Bash by Erik Burigo published by Red Glove was one of the best game released in Italy in 2015 for the family target. It got a nomination in Gioco dell’Anno and sold already 2000 copies deserving a reprint. Like with Super Fantasy Red Glove decided to produce a game offering the best game experience in a compact edition with a really appealing product. Of course this can upset gamers looking for huge maps and endless amount of miniatures but I think it is nice to have publishers trying to get just what really the game need, especially in the family target.

I have enriched this quick review with an interview to Federico Dumas, Red Glove owner. You can read a full detailed review on the next Counter Magazine issue.
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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Fool’s Gold



Fool’s Gold

  • Designer: Joshua Balvin
  • Publisher: Passport Games
  • Players: 3-5
  • Ages: 14+
  • Times: 60-90 minutes

fools gold

Fool’s Gold takes gamers back to the era of the California Gold Rush – trying to see who can make the largest fortune in the years of 1849 to 1853.  There are five different areas where you can prospect (Forest, Lake, Mills, Mountains and River).  Each of these areas has a trail of 8 action spots that snake up to the deck of cards which represent the exploration potential in that site – the five decks all have slightly different distributions in the types of gold cards that they contain.  In a 4 player game, each player starts with 3 miners, representing their workforce in 1849.  Each player will receive an extra miner in each of the next 4 rounds.  Players also start with 6 coins which are kept behind their player screen. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Pitch Fleet



Pitch Fleet

  • Designer: Bono Light
  • Players: 1-6
  • Ages: 6+
  • Time: 30-40 minutes


In Pitch Fleet, players are new graduates from spaceship piloting school, and the game represents their final exam – a race to the final planet, with the path taking them through the asteroid belt!  The board (and race course) is made up of 9 different double sided boards which are randomly arranged in a 3×3 array.  Planet cards are shuffled and a starting and goal planet are drawn from the deck.  A 3VP token is placed on the current goal planet.  Teams are also randomly decided at this point.  At the start of the round, you make a pile of 3 power cards for each player and then flip up the top card of each stack.


The game is played in a number of stages.  In each stage, there are three rounds. In each round, there are 4 phases


  1. Starship allocation
  2. Move your starship
  3. Outbound examination
  4. Arrival examination

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