Dale Yu: A “review” of Tragedy Looper


Tragedy Looper

  • Designer: BakaFire
  • Publisher: Z-Man games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 13+
  • Times: ~90-120 mins per scenario
  • Times played: 4 scenarios, all as protagonist

tragedy looper

Well, this is one of the last “Essen” games that I’m going to write up – and the delay isn’t for lack of interest…. This has been one of the most intriguing games that I’ve played in quite awhile – mostly because I haven’t really played anything quite like this in the past.  This “review” will have a number of firsts for me: it is probably the first review I have ever written that I haven’t actually ever read the rules for, and it is probably the first review in a very long time that I won’t write a detailed description of how to play the game.

But why?  Well, that’s also hard to write about without spoiling the game.  Essentially, the magic in Tragedy Looper is in the discovery process of the game itself.  Let me try to figure out what I can tell you about it that doesn’t spoil the game.  To start, it’s an all-against-one game.  There is an (evil) Mastermind who plays against all the other players, known as the Protagonists. Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2014, Reviews | 1 Comment

Golden Geek Madness

BoardGameGeek announced the winners of the Golden Geek awards last week, including the Game of the Year – Splendor.  The Opinionated Gamers unsurprisingly have diverse opinions about Splendor.  But we thought, why stop there?  Let’s share our opinions about all of the Golden Geek Game of the Year winners.  So we’ll do this in the same format that we used for Feld Madness last year, where we each individually rated all of Feld’s games on the OG scale and then calculated aggregate ratings to rank his ludography.  This time we’ll try it for the Golden Geeks, and if folks like this, then maybe we’ll do the same thing for other awards or designers.

Aggregate Ratings (4 = Love It; 3 = Like It; 2 = Neutral; 1 = Not For Me)

[Game name – Average rating (Total # of raters, Standard deviation)]

  • Agricola – 3.1  (24, 0.99)
  • Terra Mystica – 3.0  (21, 0.95)
  • Dominion – 2.9  (24, 0.85)
  • Caylus – 2.8  (24, 0.93)
  • Hansa Teutonica – 2.8  (24, 1.07)
  • Splendor – 2.3  (23, 0.93)
  • Dominant Species – 2.1  (16, 1.20)
  • Eclipse – 2.1  (17, 1.11)
  • Shogun – 1.9  (16, 0.68)

Agricola takes the grand prize as the most beloved Golden Geek winner among the OG. Although Dominion is the only game on the list to get no “Not For Me” ratings, with everyone at least “Neutral” toward it or better.  Every single other game had at least a couple “Not For Me” ratings, so I guess Agricola is the favorite and Dominion is the least offensive.  Unsurprisingly, Dominant Species and Eclipse have the highest standard deviations, with opinions on those two games particularly polarized between love it or hate it.  They also have fewer raters, presumably given the time investment required to learn and play those games.  All 24 OG contributors have played Agricola, Dominion, Caylus, and Hansa Teutonica, with Splendor and Terra Mystica close behind.  Below are all of the individual comments and ratings for a bit more detail.

Continue reading

Posted in Best Of | 5 Comments

Larry Levy: 2014 Designer of the Year Award

As you probably know, they just announced the winners of the Golden Geek awards over on the Geek.  I hope a lot of you participated in the voting.  This year, Aldie and his merry crew added even more categories.  So for this set of awards and similar ones, we now select the best games (in various genres), best publishers, best artists, even the best podcasts.  But what about the people who are the principal creative force behind these games:  the designers?  Why does no one reward the best designer of the year?

That was the question I asked myself about 10 years ago, when I started posting my Designer of the Year articles.  The idea is to recognize the boardgame designer who has released the best body of work over the previous calendar year.  Not the best single game, but the best collection of games.  I try to base this on an objective view of how the hobby as a whole views each designer’s games.  My criteria include how well the designer’s games are rated on BGG, how many major awards and nominations they’ve won (or are projected to win), and how much “buzz” their games are generating.  As much as possible, I try to keep my personal feelings out of things. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of City Hall (Tasty Minstrel)


City Hall

  • Designer: Michael Keller
  • Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 13+
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Tasty Minstrel Games

city hall

City Hall is a tile placement, role-selection (or role-auction) game that pits players against each other in the election to be Mayor of New York City.   The board shows a schematic depiction of three of the five boroughs of the city, with multiple plots of land within each borough.  There are 7 city offices that are available to be used in the course of the game, and each of these has its own space. Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2014, Reviews | 1 Comment

Dale Yu: Review of Arboretum



  • Designer: Dan Cassar
  • Publisher: Z-Man Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 30 min
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Z-Man


Arboretum is a game that has players competing to build the most “sumptuous” arboretum – and by sumptuous, I mean the one which scores the most victory points!  The game is played with an 80 card deck, 10 colored suits numbered 1-8.  Each player is dealt 7 cards into their hand and then another card is placed face up in front of them to serve as the start of their discard pile.  The remainder of the deck is left in a singular draw pile. Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2014, Reviews | 1 Comment

Last Year’s Notable Notables

Last year Larry Levy and Tom Rosen wrote a series of articles called Notable Notables.  They looked at each of the last 20 years and listed the five most notable games released during each of those periods.  They also did a pair of companion articles in which they gave their favorite games each year over the same timeframe.

Well, we had so much fun with those articles that we decided to extend the choices to last year!  Specifically, we’re looking at the period from July 2013 to June 2014 (the gaming fiscal year, which is the period of eligibility of most of the major awards).  But the same questions remain:  what do you think were the most notable games released during that year and what were your favorite games of the year?

In order to get even more opinions into the mix, we now have four folks making lists:  Larry, Tom, Ben McJunkin, and Joe Huber.  Each of us has our own opinion about what makes a game notable and, of course, we all have our own favorites.  Hopefully, that will make the choices even more entertaining! Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The King of Frontier – First Impression

Usually I am all about Cult of the New, especially new twists on old mechanisms or new mechanisms, but every now and then the old mechanisms are put together in a new way and it works out just fine. The King of Frontier is a good example.

The King of Frontier may remind you of Carcassonne, Puerto Rico and Walnut Grove, I know that sounds like a mess, but it works surprisingly well and is a compact game in size and playing time.


The game comes with player mats which are folded paper and perfectly functional. You can download the files at the company’s blog if you need a new one. The files also have the mats in multiple colors if that matters to you. You can also download extra score sheets. The tile are of decent thickness and the wood cubes and cardboard money are fine.



There are 88 basic tiles and 16 special building tiles. When you play with fewer than 4 you remove tiles. Cleverly you remove the tiles with a 4 leaf clover on them for a 3 player game and for a 2 player game you remove the tiles with a 3 leaf clover.

A quick rundown of the game. Each player starts with 5 tiles and plays 3 to their player mat. The others are discarded. The tiles are placed the way you would build a city in Carcassonne. Adjacent sides of the tile must match land types or city. In KoF it is allowed to place a land type or city against the edge of the board, that section will never be completed.

Continue reading

Posted in First Impressions, Reviews

Mary Dimercurio Prasad: Review of Terra Mystica

BoxTerra Mystica

Publisher: Z-Man Games/Filosofia Editions
Designers: Helge Ostertag, Jens Drögemüller
Artist: Dennis Lohausen
Players: 2-5
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 30 min per player
MSRP $79.99
Released: 2012

Reviewed by: Mary Dimercurio Prasad
Game Played: Review Copy
Number of Plays: 5+


Terra Mystica is a strategy game with a simple game principle and very little luck involved:

You govern one of 14 factions trying to transform the landscape on the game board in your favor in order to build your structures. On the one hand, proximity to other players limits your options for further expansion[;] on the other hand though[,] it provides some benefits during the game. This conflict is the source of Terra Mystica’s appeal.

The 14 artfully designed factions, each having unique special abilities, as well as the exchangeable Bonus Cards allow for a large number of possible game plays that constantly keep this game entertaining! (From website.)

Rules Summary

The game board is mostly made up of terrain hex spaces separated by river hex spaces. This is where each player will build their faction’s structures. Along one side of the board is a Round Scoring Track, with an end-game scoring summary at the top. Before the game starts, 6 of the 8 included Scoring Tiles will be laid out, one per round in the game. Each round one of these tiles will be flipped so players can tell at a glance which round they are in, as well as what the scoring will be for the current and following rounds. Two tiles will not be used but are provided for variation in other plays. The bottom of the board has six Power Action Spaces for use during the game.

Game Board

Players each receive a faction board. There are 7 double-sided boards included with the game, corresponding to the 7 types of terrain in the game. The game plays up to 5 players so there are a lot of options for future games. Each side depicts a different faction with its own strengths and weaknesses. For example the dark gray board has the Alchemists on one side and the Darklings on the other side. The terrain type for both of these factions, swamps, is also dark gray. Each faction may only build structures on hexes of their home terrain type, thus players must terraform other types before they may build on them.

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Princes of Florence – What if it had been an Essen 2014 release?

Assertion: Princes of Florence would have been a middle of the pack game if it had been released at Essen 2014.

Agree or disagree?

Imaginary review of a new game called Princes of Florence: PoF has tons of auctions, and aren’t we all tired of those, with some odd and irrelevant spatial aspects tacked on. Furthermore, you can easily get locked out of the second half if you don’t get additional characters, so it is non-newbie friendly.  In addition the valuations are highly variable and getting a few cheap jesters breaks the game.  Try it to get a taste, but does it have legs?

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Dale Yu: Review of Akrotiri

 [Editor’s Note – though we try to normally collaborate on a group reviews here at the Opinionated Gamers, sometimes we get our signals crossed and have multiple people write up reviews on their own – rather than try to figure out how to mush them together, we just decided to publish both of them on the same day!]


  • Designers: Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim
  • Publisher: Z-Man Games
  • Players: 2
  • Time: 45 mins
  • Ages: 13+
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Z-Man


Akrotiri is a 2-player game set in classical Greek times – players are competing with each other to find legendary Minoan temples.  The game is played on a modular map.  The center of the board is always a map of the island of Thera, and the uncharted waters of the Aegean sea are explored as new tiles are added to the board.

Each player starts the game with one Easy and one Medium map cards.  These cards show the location of the legendary temples that players are trying to discover.  Each player is dealt two Goal cards, and each player chooses one of these two to keep.  The board is seeded with two tiles, and each player gets a tile for their hand. Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2014, Reviews | 2 Comments