SdJ Re-Reviews #5: Scotland Yard

  • Designers:  Manfred Burggraf, Dorothy Garrels, Wolf Hörmann, Fritz Ifland, Werner Scheerer & Werner Schlegel
  • Publisher:  Ravensburger, Milton Bradley
  • Players:  3 – 6
  • Ages:  10 and Up
  • Time:  45 Minutes
  • Times Played:  > 5


Scotland Yard: An Instant Bestseller

Scotland Yard’s 1983 win marked several firsts for the Spiel des Jahres.  The game was the first SdJ winner – and indeed one of the first games ever – to have elements of cooperative and asymmetric play.  Every game on the jury’s shortlist that year was by a German designer, and Scotland Yard’s designers were the first all-German team to win the award.  Dorothy Garrels was the first female designer to win. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of Barony



  • Designer: Marc Andre
  • Publisher: Matagot/Asmodee
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 14+
  • Time: 45 mins
  • Times played: 5, with review copy provided by Asmodee


Barony is the followup game to Splendor from Marc Andre.  I loved the elegant simplicity of Splendor, and it was my personal choice for the game to win the Spiel des Jahres in 2014.  As such, any new game from Andre is bound to be on my radar.  Previous to Splendor, I believe that the designer had done one other game, Bonbons – a little heard of game from GameWorks – so there’s not much of a track record for this designer – but I’ve liked what I’ve seen thus far! Continue reading

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Time Barons

Design by Jon Perry & Derek Yu
Published by Quibble Games
2 Players, 30 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

The subject of time travel has always fascinated me, and several attempts have been made to utilize this theme in board games.  Sadly, none have worked exceedingly well. Khronos from Matagot Games as probably been the best, but it had the tendency to sow confusion and could easily be misplayed.  One of the more recent time travel efforts is  Time Barons, a 2-player card game from designers Jon Perry and Derek Yu.

time barons - whatyougetcardsEssentially, Time Barons is a “take-that” game, wherein players play cards in attempts to remove their opponent’s followers.  Bolstering one’s own forces, both in terms of followers and offensive / defensive capabilities, is also of vital importance.

Players begin the game with a home base containing ten followers and a handful of five Level 1 cards.  There are four different levels of cards, each level representing a different age.  Cards tend to get more powerful with each successive age, but also tend to take more actions to play.

A player has three actions per turn, but this can be increased with certain cards  Actions can be spent to:

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Epoch: Early Inventors

Epoch: Early Inventors

by Martyn F

Prototype: Currently on Kickstarter

2 – 4 players

75-120 minutes

Non-compensated Preview by Jonathan Franklin


I really enjoy games with technologies, modular boards, and a narrative arc integrated into the game, so when Epoch hit my radar, I asked Martyn F. if I could try Epoch early and write it up. He agreed and sent me a copy of the prototype. The game is now on Kickstarter, so go fund it if this review makes you want it.

Please take this three question quiz now.

1. How do you feel about turns where you get to choose one of six actions, each with sub-actions, as well as unlimited movement, and a few other options as part of your turn?  Do you enjoy planning a few moves ahead and figuring out a way to get the resources you need one turn before one of your opponents?

Like? Neutral? Dislike?

2. How do you feel about extensive resource conversion?  Deer can become tendon, antler, skin, and/or food.  There are also six other basic resources, clay, stone, flint, ore, wood, and flax.  These can become processed goods, including rope, bronze, and leather.  For example, you can gather food and then work for flax to use a rope making tile to convert food and flax to rope, which can then be used to more easily move on to mountain tiles.

Like? Neutral? Dislike?

3. How do you feel about a well balanced game where the exploration mechanism is a tile flip that could enable you to gain just the technology you need or benefit an opponent at just the right time for them?

Like? Neutral? Dislike?


3 likes out of 3 – Pledge now

2 likes out of 3 – Read this review and the rules overview below

1 like out of 3 – Read this review and see if you care about the rules after that

0 likes out of 3 – This game might be like going to the dentist for you

Continue reading

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SdJ Re-Reviews #4: Sagaland (a.k.a. Enchanted Forest)

  • Designers:               Michel Matschoss & Alex Randolph
  • Publisher:                Multiple
  • Players:                     2 – 6
  • Ages:                          5 and Up
  • Time:                         30-60 Minutes
  • Times Played:          > 5


Sagaland: From 8th Place to 1st Place

Alex Randolph started designing games full time in the early 1960s, and in 1962, 3M commissioned him for their newly-minted board game division.  While at 3M Randolph published the board game Twixt, which catapulted him to fame and earned him a Spiel des Jahres nomination in 1979.  Sagaland’s co-designer, Michel Matschoss, was the head of 3M’s game division in Germany, but unlike Randolph, he had no game design experience.  Matschoss and Randolph met through the company, and in 1974 they agreed to one day design a game together. Continue reading

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Larry’s Gathering Report: Prototypes

This is the last segment of my impressions of the games I played at the Gathering.  It’s always fun to try prototypes and I was quite favorably impressed this time around.  I will only discuss games that are expected to be published sometime this year (most likely during the Essen timeframe).  Since these are prototypes, in some cases I’m limited in how much I can talk about, so I’ll do my best to give you what information I can.  Here they are, in order of most to least liked.  The number in parentheses after the game title is the number of times I played the game.

Mombasa (2):  This is a meaty gamer’s game (and a Hippodice competition winner), just the sort of thing we’ve grown to expect from eggertspiele.  The designer is Alexander Pfister, and I may have to start paying attention to his games.  His previous releases include The Mines of Zavandor and Port Royal, both of which are well regarded lighter games.  2015 will be a big year for him:  besides Mombasa, he’ll be bringing us Alea’s Broom Service (which just snagged a Kennerspiel nomination) and Lookout’s Isle of Skye.  Don’t look now, but we may have a rising star on our hands.

Mombasa combines card selection and worker placement, set during the colonization of Africa.  Four trading companies do their best to rape the Dark Continent of its natural resources and the players can buy shares in (and help to expand) any and all of them.  One of the game’s central mechanisms is a simple, but clever way of playing cards.  On each turn, you play 3 cards from your hand, one to each pile in front of you.  Each pile has its own discard pile, made up of the previously played cards.  At the beginning of your turn, you claim one of those discard piles and add it to your hand.  So you slowly recycle your cards, but you have some control in how you do it.

The game is multi-faceted and there’s a lot to think about, with several interesting sub-systems.  I enjoyed my two plays a lot and see this as a must buy when Eggert publishes it (the current release date is September).  If you like involved, heavy, but not super-complex designs, I can definitely recommend Mombasa to you.  OG rating:  I love it! Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of Evolution (NorthStar Games)


Evolution, 2nd Ed. (2015)

  • Designers: Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre, Sergey Machin
  • Publisher: NorthStar Games
  • Players: 2-6
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Times Played: 10, with review copy provided by NorthStar Games

My first review of Evolution was back in 2011 with the original Russian version of the game, published at that time by RightGames.  The English rights going forward were purchased by NorthStar Games, and Dominic Crapuchettes has done a great job working with the game – kudos for him for that.  There has been a lot of alteration done to the game – enough that I consider the 2014 version a different game entirely from its predecessor.  My second review was published a few months ago.  This third review is with an updated version of the game.

The updated box art

The updated box art





The first 2014 box



In Evolution, you are trying to create species and evolve them so that they survive and succeed.  The game tries to emulate the ways in which real species change over time to adapt to the circumstances of their environment.  The game is centered around the trait cards, there are 129 of these in the game.  Each player starts with a single species, this is shown by a wooden species board.  Each board has two tracks on it, one for body size and one for population.  A new species starts with a marker in the 1 space on each track.

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Matt Carlson: Review of Evolution (2nd Edition)

Evolution_BoxIn Evolution, players shepherd their species through a progressively more competitive environment.  Get your species to live long and prosper, measured by one’s food intake over the course of the game, and you win the game.  Limited food, players creating carnivorous species, and subsequent adaptation to avoid them, creates a fun, fast playing game suitable for “serious” boardgamers as well as a family game night.


  • Designers: Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre, Sergey Machin
  • Publisher: North Star Games
  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 2-6
  • Time: 60 mins
  • Times played: 12, with review copy provided by North Star Games

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SdJ Re-Reviews #3: Focus (a.k.a. Domination)

  • Designer:                  Sid Sackson
  • Publisher:                 Multiple
  • Players:                    2 – 4
  • Ages:                        8 and Up
  • Time:                        45 Minutes
  • Times Played:        > 10


Sid Sackson: An Early Pioneer

Sid Sackson is one of the most prolific and influential board game designers of all time, and before we jump into the story of Focus, it is worth making a few remarks on his work.  Though Focus is Sackson’s only SdJ win, as Joe Huber once explained, that’s more due to the fact that “he’d been designing games for over thirty years before the award existed than it is a reflection of the quality of his games.”  Sackson received eight nominations for seven other games: Acquire (1979); Blockade (1979); Metropolis (1984); Die 1. Million (1987); Gold Connection (1992); and Kohle, Kies and Knete (a.k.a. I’m the Boss) (1994). Can’t Stop, which is still popular today, was nominated in both 1981 (making it a competitor of Focus) and 1982.  Sackson designed hundreds of other games, and he worked on the 3M Bookshelf Series alongside Alex Randolph (who would win the 1982 SdJ for Sagaland).

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2015 Spiel des Jahres lists announced!

For Spiel des Jahres – the list is:

  • Colt Express
  • Machi Koro
  • The Game


The recommended list includes:

  • Cacao
  • Looney Quest
  • Patchwork
  • Simsala…Bumm? (Abraca… wha?)
  • Ugo
  • Vollmondnacht (One Night Ultimate Werewolf)

Continue reading

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