Dale Yu: Review of SteamRollers



  • Designer: Mark Gerrits
  • Publisher: Flatlined Games
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: ~45 minutes
  • Times played: 6, with review copy provided by Flatlined Games

steamrollers box

SteamRollers was a new release at Essen 2015, though in small quantities. It appears that there are plans in the work for a full print run, though this may or may not involve Kickstarter. In the game, players work to become the best railroad tycoon by building a network of track and delivering goods.

Each player is given a board and a pen. The map consists of six differently-colored regions, each with a city (hex shaped and denoted as a die number) as well as a town (a thick black dot). Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of The Last Spike


The Last Spike

  • Designer:   Tom Dalgliesh
  • Publisher: Columbia Games
  • Players: 2-6
  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 45 minutes
  • Times Played: 3, with review copy provided by Columbia Games

last spike box

Columbia Games is not one of the traditional Euro-game publishers, as they are better known for their wargames and block combat games.  However, after talking to them at Origins this year, they appear to be starting a move towards starting a Eurogame line.  Their most recent release is The Last Spike, a revision of the designer’s game of the same name from 1976.

In the new version, players cooperate to build a great western railway from St. Louis to Sacramento.  The cities in the West are arrayed in a diamond shape, nine cities in total.  There are twelve possible routes that connect those cities.  Each of the routes has four spaces for track connecting them, and there is a set of 48 wooden tiles, each with a sticker on it corresponding to a particular track space on the board. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impression of Tail Feathers


Tail Feathers

  • Designer: Jerry Hawthorne
  • Publisher: Plaid Hat Games
  • Players: 2
  • Ages: 9+
  • Time: 60-90 minutes

tail feathers

Tail Feathers is a head to head battle game that is set in the world of Mice and Mystics.  Each player controls an army of birds and rodents trying to take control of the skies and the branches of the trees in the sky.  Each side has a home base which serves as the center of operations for their army.  The winner is the player who is able to destroy their opponent’s base first. The armies are represented by cards (of bird units, pilot units, and ground units) as well as nice plastic bird figures on special hinged stands. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Bomb Squad


Bomb Squad

  • Designers: Dan Keltner and David Short
  • Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
  • Players: 2-6
  • Ages: 13+
  • Time: 30 minutes

bomb squad box

Bomb Squad is a new entry in the suddenly very crowded market of cooperative games.  As this genre continues to grow, new games have to bring something new to the table to help them stand out from the rest.  Bomb Squad integrates two known concepts, neither actually new to cooperative games, but as far as I can tell, never used together in a game: unknown hand contents (a la Hanabi) and a realtime component.

Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of 504



  • Designer: Friedemann Friese
  • Publisher: 2F / Stronghold Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 30-150 minutes*
  • Times played: 5 (less than 1%) – with designer’s prototype as well as with review copy provided by Stronghold Games

504 box

504 is perhaps the most innovative game* that I can remember in a long while.  But, perhaps it’s better to refer to 504 as a game system instead of a game – because as the title alludes to: 504 is actually a box which provides you rules and components to play 504 different games!  In this piece, we will review the system as a whole.

The design of the system is based on nine different modules – representing some of the more common mechanisms in gaming: Continue reading

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Tichu Turns 25: A Retrospective on the Hobby’s Favorite Card Game

Game History by Chris Wray, Tichu Tips by Mary Prasad


This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Tichu’s publication.  In a hobby that is often defined by the “cult of the new,” Tichu is still a perennial favorite among gamers, and it is arguably the hobby’s favorite traditional-style card game.  It is the highest-ranked trick-taking or climbing game on BoardGameGeek, and it has long been in the BGG Top 100, a rare accomplishment among older games.  Tichu has more than 100,000 logged plays on BGG (the most of any trick-taking or climbing game), and most major conventions have dedicated events for it.  It has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and has been in-print continuously for 25 years.  

Despite the game’s wide appeal, little is known about its origins.  Fortunately, designer Urs Hostettler generously agreed to answer a few of our questions, and I interviewed him in November about the game’s history.  What follows is my retrospective of Tichu, along with some Tichu tips by Mary Prasad and thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers.   Continue reading

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7 Wonders Duel – Game Review

  • Designers: Antoine Bauza, Bruno Cathala
  • Publisher:  Repos Production
  • Players:  2 – 2
  • Ages:  10 and Up
  • Time:  30 Minutes
  • Times Played:  > 7


I’m always on the lookout for quality two-player games, and 2015 was a good year for such titles.  My favorite ended up being 7 Wonders Duel, which I also ranked as my fourth favorite game overall in our Year in Review.  And apparently I’m not alone: 7 Wonders Duel currently ranks #21 on BGG, the third-highest ranking of any two-player title.  It is one step ahead of 7 Wonders, which ranks #22.  

At its core, 7 Wonders Duel is the two-player descendent of 7 Wonders.  For an excellent overview of that game, I highly recommend Larry Levy’s writeup, Review of 7 Wonders: Believe the Hype.  

In writing this review, I’ve kept those who haven’t played 7 Wonders in mind.  That said, I also try to compare and contrast the two, so players familiar with 7 Wonders will benefit from this review as well. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Council of Four


Council of Four

  • Designers: Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini
  • Publisher: Cranio Creations
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: ~60 minutes
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Cranio Creations

council of four box

In Council of Four, you take on the role of a wealthy merchant – vying with your competition to build Emporiums in the different cities in the kingdom.  The Kingdom is separated into three distinct regions, each ruled by a Council of Four – these four pieces look over their region from a balcony on the board…

The board itself must be constructed each game.  Each of the three kingdom regions is on its own double sided board.  Thus, there are 8 different arrangements that you can play with.  Each region has five cities in it, and each of these (save one) gets a reward token placed on it at random.  The final city is the King’s city, and has the King’s pawn placed on it instead.  The King board is placed at the bottom of these regions, and this holds the VP track, the Nobility track, gold track, and an area to hold most of the cards.  Each player gets all the pieces in his color, some starting money, and possibly some assistant tokens. Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2015, Reviews

Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilizaton Review

  • Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
  • Publisher: Czech Games Edition
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 14+
  • Time: 120-240 minutes
  • Times Played: 7 (2 face-to-face, 7 online), a review copy was provided by Czech Games Edition

[Editor’s Note: this review presumes that you are familiar with the original 2006 version of the game.  If not, I would invite you to read a review written by a fellow OG writer, Larry Levy, which was originally published on Boardgamenews.com but now preserved on BGG, here.]


From the moment it arrived in 2006, Vlaada Chvátil’s Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization has occupied a lofty perch in BoardGameGeek’s top ten. Thus, it seems strange that the game is often characterized, even by its fans, by its flaws. The general consensus was that military was unbalanced and overpowered, several cards were either overpowered or useless, and the game was too blasted long. It seems Vlaada didn’t entirely disagree with those assessments as Czech Games Edition released Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization in late 2015 with the goal of addressing the original game’s shortcomings. To quote Meat Loaf, two out of three ain’t bad.

Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of The Big Book of Madness


The Big Book of Madness

  • Designer: Maxine Rambourg
  • Publisher: IELLO
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 14
  • Time: 60-90 mins
  • Times played: 5, with review copy provided by IELLO


Big Book of Madness had been a long time coming… I had been hearing about it at IELLO promotional events since about 2004.  Well, that’s a slight exaggeration – but probably since early 2014!  The teaser was some awesome art, a big book, and the promise of the next great cooperative game.  I thought I was going to get to play it at GenCon 2015, but as it turns out, it was not quite done, and just more teasing art at the promo event.

Finally, at Essen 2015, the game was ready for release, and I was glad to get a copy to try.  Just writing that should cause you to double take, because as you probably know, I’m honestly not the biggest fan of co-operative games.  The mere fact that I was looking forward to trying it out tells you that I’m either getting really soft in my old age or the hype had gotten to me and I needed to see what it was all about. Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2015, Reviews