- Designer: Rikki Tahta
- Publisher: Big Potato Games
- Players: 3-8
- Ages: 14+
- Time: 10-15 minutes
- Times played: 4 with review copy provided by Big Potato Games
I first ran across this game at Essen a few years ago – at that time, it was called Gooseberry. It was from a small company, La Mame Games which was better known for its signature game, Coup (which, for the record, is completely not for me…). The initial release of the game was kind of quiet, and I got in one sample game at the stand. It was hard to hear in the great hall, and I was playing with folks from all over the place, so language was a bit of an issue. The game seemed ok, but it was very much like Spyfall which I had also recently acquired at the time. For a bunch of reasons, Gooseberry never made it into the IKEA bag of holding that year. Continue reading
- Designers: Thomas Kite and Samuel Kite
- Publisher: Pelta Games
- Players: 2 to 6
- Ages: “all” says the box; I’d say 10+
- Time: 10-90 minutes
- Times played: 6, with review copy provided by Pelta Games
Pelta Peeps is the first game from a small company called Pelta Games. It is a family run board game company founded in 2016 by Thomas Kite and Robin-Luft Kite. With backgrounds in gaming, Fine Arts, and years of experience working in IT, their mission is to explore everything gaming can mean. The company motto is “Play is Art & Art is Play”.
From their FAQ: “We are a small indie company that’s a family affair (2 generations). Our games are designed and made to order by us in Panama City, Florida. We don’t use offshoring because of the exploitation that’s involved as well as associated wasteful transportation impact on the environment.
When we’re in control of how our games are made, we do our best to make that process as environmentally friendly as possible. The pieces of our 1st game are UV printed, laser cut acrylic. This means very low power consumption and VOC free inks. And this results in a durable game that’ll last a very long time vs. most other materials. Our games are made to be enjoyed for years – even generations to come.” Continue reading
- Designer: Bruce Glassco
- Publisher: WizKids
- Players: 3-6
- Ages: 14+
- Time: 20 minutes
- Times played: 5, with review copy provided by WizKids
In Fantasy Realms, each player is the ruler of a far-away kingdom, trying to make the best and strongest kingdom possible – being represented by a hand of seven cards. Each of these cards has a base strength, a suit and some form of bonus and/or penalty value. In this game, you will draft from a deck comprised of only 53 different cards to develop your kingdom.
Well, I don’t think I’ve ever done this – but I’ll copy over the text of the game play in the rules VERBATIM… Continue reading
Design by Stefan Alexander
Published by Mayfair Games
2 – 6 Players, 60 – 90 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser
One of my many weaknesses is chocolate, which I find almost irresistible. So a game about growing cacao and moving it through the production chain so it can become the delicious delicacy was bound to catch my interest. The only other major game that I can recall that had chocolate as its central theme was Schoko & Co., which was released way back in 1987. Unfortunately, I found that game to be a rather dry, economic affair with little taste. Would Stefan Alexander’s King Chocolate be a choicer selection?
In spite of its rich theme, King Chocolate is a decidedly abstract game. The feeble attempt at adding a theme really doesn’t stick and fails to add much, if any, atmosphere to the game. Still, as an abstract game, it is decent and engaging to play.
The game board—which grows and develops as the game progresses—begins with a ring of connected hexes. New hexes will be placed both inside and outside of this ring, enlarging the cacao fields and facilities required to grow and refine the cacao. Each double-hex tile is color-coded and numbered to show which step in the six-step process it represents. Further, each hex has space for one or two cacao cubes. The idea is to produce cacao and progressively move them through these six steps, resulting in a bounty of chocolate.
The results of the Deutscher Spielepreis award were announced a couple of days ago. This is the German game award which focuses more on heavier games than the SdJ does. Terraforming Mars, designed by Jacob Fryxelius and published by FryxGames, emerged as the winner, beating out Alexander Pfister’s Great Western Trail. Here are the results of the top games:
- Terraforming Mars
- Great Western Trail
- A Feast for Odin
- First Class
- Raiders of the North Sea
- Fabled Fruit
- Captain Sonar
- Magic Maze
- The Quest for El Dorado
Kingdomino and Raiders of the North Sea tied for sixth place. I guess the DSP committee believes in friendly ties, because they listed the next four games as finishing from 7th to 10th! I’ve restored the rankings to the more accurate ones, but it’s good to know that El Dorado finished just out of the top 10.
There seems to be a growing consensus that TM and GWT were the two leading strategy games from last year. They finished 1-2 in the Meeples Choice Awards (TM won that battle as well, although both won awards, along with Yokohama) and they figure to battle it out for the IGA’s which will be announced sometime in October. Scythe, which won the Golden Geeks and the Dice Tower Awards earlier in the year, seems to be fading a bit in gamers’ estimations.
Congratulations to Jacob Fryxelius and the rest of the FryxGames team for this significant honor!
For more than a decade now, I’ve made a tradition of ordering my favorite games – all games I rate an 8 or higher. In spite of playing an ever increasing number of games – as I write this, I’ve played at least 2880 published games – the length of my favorites list has remained in a fairly narrow range, from a low of 167 to a high of 191, with some slow upward slope over time.
With each entry, I’ve included the number of times I’ve played the game as of July 10, 2017; this can be taken as a proxy for my confidence in my rating – and thereby the game’s inclusion on this list. Continue reading
- Designer: Matt Loomis and Isaac Shalev
- Publisher: IDW Games
- Players: 1-4
- Ages: 10+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Times played – 3 with preview copy provided by IDW
Seikatsu is a word that means “Life” in Japanese. In this game, players contribute to the development of a garden which is known for both its flowers and its birds. Each player has a pagoda from which they view the garden, and the player who has the most breathtaking view of the garden will win this game.
The garden is a hex shaped affair with pagodas on three vertexes. The central space of the garden is filled with a koi pond – leaving 32 spaces in the garden. Conveniently, there are 32 garden tiles in a bag to be played – 28 have a bird in the center and a flower type around the outside. The game begins with a few tiles being randomly seeded onto the board adjacent to the central koi pond. There are also 4 koi pond tiles which are added to the bag after setup. Each player then draws two tiles from the bag as their starting hand. Continue reading
Design by Scott Caputo
Published by Bezier Games
2 – 5 Players, 1 ½ – 2 hours
Review by Greg J. Schloesser
Really? Does the boardgaming world really need another train game? The market is saturated with hundreds, if not thousands of train-themed games, and dozens more seem to be released each year. I like trains just as much as the average guy, but don’t we already have enough games centered on the iron horse?
Normally, my answer to this query would be a resounding “yes!” However, I continue to be surprised –and sometimes delighted—by the clever and original twists that designers can conceive to make a new train game feel novel and unique. In the past year alone there have been several train-themed games that I have thoroughly enjoyed that were not a simple rehashing of old ideas. Among these is Scott Caputo’s Whistle Stop.
Published by Bezier Games, Whistle Stop has some familiar train game aspects—tile laying, resources, stocks—but is actually a bit of a race game as opposed to a traditional track building affair. Sure, track is built, resources are collected and stock is purchased, but the true spoils come to those who reach the west coast.
Deckscape: Fate of London (spoiler free review)
- Designers: Martino Chiacchiera and Silvano Sorrentino
- Players: 1-6
- Ages: 12+
- Time: 45-90 minutes
- Times played: 1, with review copy provided by dv Giochi
The puzzle game genre has been rapidly growing over the last few years – there have been many entries in this field over that time period. Likewise, we’ve done our best here to seek out as many of them as we can to try. Many of the initial forays into the puzzle area have been big-box affairs, some with electronic solving devices – allowing for multiple expansions that use the same hardware. The catch with most of these games are that they can really only be played once – because once you know the solution to the puzzle, you can’t really experience the solving of the same puzzle again…
The new movement in the genre looks to be in making the puzzle solving experiences more portable. There are a number of different series of games coming out that attempt to give you the same experience in a single deck of cards. Deckscape from dv Giochi is one of them – we reviewed the first entry in this series back in April: https://opinionatedgamers.com/2017/04/22/dale-yu-review-of-deckscape-test-time-spoiler-free/ This review will also be spoiler-free. All pictures here are taken from the dv giochi website, so everything you see here is what they have allowed you to see… Continue reading
- Designer: Ken Shannon, Karen Boginski, Jody Barbessi
- Publisher: Wizkids
- Players: 3-6
- Ages: 14 and Up
- Time: 45 Minutes
- Times Played: 4 (On Review Copy Provided by Publisher)
Tournament at Camelot is a new King Arthur-themed trick taking game in which players participate in a tournament to see who has the most health at the end of the game.
The game, released by a trio of designers and WizKids, was one of the bigger trick taking releases at Gen Con last month. I’ve enjoyed my plays so far. This has a couple of twists, including special powers for each player, plus some novel mechanics for who takes each trick.