Dale Yu: Review of The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits


The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits

  • Designer: Matthew O’Malley
  • Publisher: Game Salute
  • Players: 2-10
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Game Salute

princess wits

The Princess Bride is one of the iconic movies of my childhood.  Released in 1987, I would say that I have conservatively watched it at least 100 times, and I’ve worn out more than one pirated Betamax copy of the movie due to overuse.  Some of the quotes from the movie remain in my lexicon to this day.  Inconceivable? Not so much.

To the surprise of some, this 28 year old movie is still selling off licensing rights – and Game Salute continues their series of games which started with The Princess Bride: Prepare to Die back in 2013.  There is a set of three new releases, all small card based games, for 2015 that bring the movie back to life on your gaming table.  Though each of the three games stands alone in its own right – we have enjoyed playing them together as a set. Continue reading

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SdJ Re-Reviews #20: Elfenland

  • Designer:  Alan R. Moon
  • Publisher:  AMIGO Spiel + Freizeit GmbH
  • Players:  2 – 6
  • Ages:  10 and Up
  • Time:  60 Minutes
  • Times Played:  > 10

ElfenlandElfenland: From Elfenroads to Alan Moon’s first SdJ win…

In the early 1990s, frustrated that he could not sell more games to established publishers, Alan R. Moon founded his own publishing company, White Wind.  His plan was to sell limited editions of his games, hoping that large publishers would pick them up for wide distribution after a year or two.  The company’s third release came out in 1992 and was called “Elfenroads.”  A few years later, in 1998, a slimmed-down version of that game called Elfenland would win the Spiel des Jahres, marking a turning point in Moon’s career.  Continue reading

Posted in SdJ Re-Review | 3 Comments

Dale Yu: Review of Codenames



  • Designer: Vlaada Chvatil
  • Publisher: Czech Games Edition
  • Players: 2-8
  • Ages: 14+
  • Time: ~15 minutes
  • Times played: 5, both at Gathering of Friends with prototype set as well as with review copy provided by CGE at GenCon


In the past, I have marveled at the scope of different game designs that have come out of Mr. Chvatil’s mind, and Codenames adds yet another entry into his vast and varied ludography.  Codenames is a combination party game and wordplay game meant for larger groups; though there are some rules which allow for play with fewer.

The game is played between two teams: red and blue.  Each team is trying to identify the spies of their team first.  Each team designates a spymaster who will give the clues for their team while the rest of the team (the operatives) works together to answer those clues.  The spies are represented on cards, each with a single word (their codename) printed on it.  25 cards are chosen at random from the 200 double-sided cards and laid out in a 5×5 grid. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Ponzi Scheme


Ponzi Scheme

  • Designer: Jesse Li
  • Publisher: Homosapiens Lab
  • Players: 3-5
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 60-90 minutes

ponzi scheme

Ponzi Scheme is a game which is meant to relive the days of the original Ponzi Scheme – invented in Boston in 1919 by Charles Ponzi.  This type of scheme essentially promised investors that they would “get rich quick”.  Initial investors paid into the system and then were paid back using payments made from later investors.  These initial investors then helped attract more people to the program, getting them to invest more money into it which was then used to pay back the other previous investors.  The problem here is that there is really no money being made – just a bunch of it being cycled around, and at some point, things fall apart and there isn’t enough money to pay out the most recent set of schmucks who paid in.

Continue reading

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Review of Mysterium (Libellud / Asmodee English Edition)

  • Designers:  Oleksandr Nevskiy & Oleg Sidorenko
  • Publisher:  Libellud (Distributed by Asmodee)
  • Players:  2 – 7
  • Ages:  10 and Up
  • Time:  42 Minutes
  • Times Played:   > 7


Mysterium: More than just Tajemnicze Domostwo with new art…

When I reviewed Tajemnicze Domostwo in June, I mentioned that Libellud was planning an English-language version for release at Gen Con 2015.  What I didn’t realize until I read the Publisher’s Diary on BGG was that Libellud wasn’t just re-doing the art: they were re-doing much of the gameplay as well.  BGG separated the database entries for Mysterium and Tajemnicze Domostwo, a decision I agree with: though Mysterium clearly descended from its Polish counterpart, these are different games. Continue reading

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Are Boardgames Getting Better? An Empirical Analysis

By: Chris Wray and Jeff Lingwall

We often mention the “cult of the new” in boardgaming, meaning the feeding frenzy that follows the release of new games. BGG ratings bear this out. For instance, as of today, 23 of the top 25 games were all released in the last ten years. The only exceptions are Puerto Rico (2002) and Power Grid (2004).  41 of the top 100 games were released within the last five years.

But are new games better games? In other words, are games more like literature (hard to improve on the best, despite the passage of time), or like iPhones (just keep getting better, or at least bigger). As reviews of the new Gen Con releases filter in, it seems an appropriate time to examine whether the best place to shop for games is the convention floor, or the thrift store. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Cheng Huang



  • Designer: Jacky Huang
  • Publisher: BigFun Game
  • Players: 3-5 (basic), 3-6(advanced)
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Ages: 12+


Cheng Huang is the “God of City”, and he is responsible for maintaining the well being of the city.  Players in the game serve as the Night Generals of this Cheng Huang, and they search the city each night to reward virtue and punish vice.

At its heart, the game is a drafting card game.  The deck of cards is made up of 6 different types of vice and virtues – the actual distribution of cards is based on the number of players and can be found on the aid card.  There is also a second small deck of Night General cards – there are 9 total in the box, but you only need one per player.   At the start of the game, a first player is chosen randomly.  In each of the 3 succeeding rounds, the first player is the player who has the lowest score in the previous round. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of Isle of Skye


Isle of Skye

  • Designers: Alexander Pfister, Andreas Pelikan
  • Publisher: Mayfair/Lookout
  • Players: 2-5
  • Time: ~60 minutes
  • Ages: 8+
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Mayfair

isle of skye

Isle of Skye is one of the new summer releases from Lookout Games.  As you will recall, they were bought up by Mayfair about 2 years ago, and now the Lookout games get worldwide distribution from the get-go via the Mayfair machine.  The designer pairing of Alexander Pfister and Andreas Pelikan is a hot one – their previous game together, Broom Service, just won the 2015 Kennerspiel des Jahres – so they are definitely riding high right now.

In this tile-laying game, each player starts the game with a castle tile of their own.  There is a game board in the middle of the table which has the scoring track, the round marker as well as spaces for the four scoring tiles used in this particular game.  These scoring tiles are chosen randomly from the full supply of 16 at the start of the game.  Players also get a screen and a discard token which they will use later in the game. Continue reading

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Nominees for 2015 IGA Awards Announced

The International Gamers Awards (IGA) recently announced the nominees for their 2015 awards.  This will be the 17th year for the awards.  There are two categories:  multiplayer games and two-player games.  Here are the nominees, together with the games designers and publishers:


AquaSphere – Stefan Feld  (H@ll Games)
The Voyages of Marco Polo – Simone Luciani/Daniele Tascini  (Hans im Gluck)
Deus – Sebastien Dujardin  (Pearl Games)
Elysium – Matthew Dunstan/Brett Gilbert  (Space Cowboys)
Five Tribes – Bruno Cathala  (Days of Wonder)
Hyperborea – Andrea Chiarvesio/Pierluca Zizzi  (Asterion Press)
Kraftwagen – Matthias Cramer  (ADC Blackfire Entertainment)
La Granja – Michael Keller/Andreas Odendahl  (Spielworxx)
Orleans – Reiner Stockhausen  (dlp Games)
Panamax – Gil d’Orey/Nuno Sentieiro/Paulo Soledade  (MESAboardgames)
Quartermaster General – Ian Brody  (Griggling Games)
Roll for the Galaxy – Wei-Hwa Huang/Tom Lehmann  (Rio Grande)


Baseball Highlights 2045 – Mike Fitzgerald  (Eagle-Grypon Games)
Fields of Arle – Uwe Rosenberg  (Feuerland Spiele)
Patchwork – Uwe Rosenberg  (Lookout Games)
Star Realms – Robert Dougherty/Darwin Kastle  (White Wizard Games)
Star Wars Armada – James Kniffen/Christian Petersen  (Fantasy Flight)
Wir sind das Volk – Richard Sivel/Peer Sylvester  (Histogame)

The winners will be announced sometime in late September.

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Dale Yu: Review of Dragon Farkle


Dragon Farkle

  • Designer: Robert J. Hudecek
  • Publisher: Z-Man Games
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 13+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Z-Man Games

dragon farkle

Dragon Farkle is the “grown up” version of the classic mass market dice roller known as Farkle.  In the original version, players take turn rolling dice trying to score points based on certain dice combinations.  This new version of the game tries to add a few more strategic points into the game in an attempt to attract a more serious sort of gamer to play Farkle.

In the game, each player gets a colored set of 6 dice.  They also have a nice player mat which outlines the flow of a turn as well as giving a handy reference of which dice combination score points.  Each player is also dealt a Companion card – this card gives the player a certain ability which is unique to that Companion.  The Dragon is set in the center of the table – the first player to inflict three damage points on the Dragon in a single turn will win the game. Continue reading

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