Spyfall 2 (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designer: Alexander Ushan
  • Publisher: Cryptozoic / Hobby World
  • Players: 3 – 12 Players
  • Ages: 13 and Up
  • Time: 15+ Minutes
  • Times Played: > 5


Spyfall came out a couple of years ago and was a big hit on the social deduction game scene, cracking into the top 20 BGG party games.  Spyfall 2 was recently released, and Cryptozoic announced that DC Spyfall (based on the DC universe) will be coming in Q4.

If you liked Spyfall, you’ll like Spyfall 2, which adds room for up to 12 players and potentially a second spy at higher player counts.  The game also features 20 new locations.  Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of Haspelknecht



  • Designer: Thomas Spitzer
  • Publisher: Capstone Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Capstone Games


Haspelknecht is the third game in Herr Spitzer’s Coal Trilogy (the other games being the unspellable Ruhrschifffahrt as well as Kohle & Kolonie).  I have had the chance to each of the other two Coal Series games once, and I liked my initial foray into each.  When I was approached by Capstone Games to try out Haspelknecht, I was most definitely interested.  Even more so when I read that the game length was 60-90 minutes.  Part of the reason that I had not gotten the first two games to the table more often is that it’s often hard for us to get a 2-3 hour game scheduled on our weekly game nights.

In this game, players have a personal board which shows their farm and the coal deposits hidden beneath.  The upper area is the “Pinge” – this is the low hanging fruit of coal mining – it’s lumps of coal on the ground that you can just dig up with your shovel.  You place coal cubes everywhere on your board where you see the black cube icon. Continue reading

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Review of Codinca


  • Designer: Leonard Boyd, David Brashaw
  • Publisher: Backspindle Games Limited, Ninja Division
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8 and up
  • Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Times Played: 6
  • Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.



Rival treasure hunters (i.e., players) have discovered the Temple of Codinca while exploring the Yucatan rain forests.  To open the Temple and find the great treasures contained within, players must use various mechanisms to manipulate a grid of sixteen carved Symbol Tiles to match specific Key Patterns.  The first player to match their own Symbol Tiles to their four Key Patterns will unlock the secrets of Codinca.

Codinca is an abstract strategy game that combines skill and chance.  Players take turns using various actions (e.g., flipping, swapping, and shifting) to manipulate a common grid of tiles to create patterns that match their individual Key Cards.  The game is meant to be fast-paced and tactical.

Codinca was first available as a pre-production release at the Essen Game Fair (Spiel) in 2012.  Only 150 copies were available and it sold out.  A Kickstarter campaign was launched in September 2013 to fund a full production release, but it failed to reach the necessary goal.  The game largely disappeared until it re-debuted at the 2016 UK Game Expo in new pocket edition.  According to the announcement from the publisher, “the mechanics have been streamlined, the tiles made substantially chunkier, the rules include six languages (English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish & Polish), and it all comes in a very pretty pocket sized magnetic closing box.”  This review is for the new 2016 release of Codinca.

Continue reading

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Wind the Film – review

Wind the Filmpic3290975_md

  • Designer Saashi
  • Publisher Saashi & Saaashi
  • Player Count 2-4
  • Time 20 Minutes

If you remember when you had to take pictures with a camera with film and not a phone or a memory card you are in for a treat with this interesting card game. Wind the Film is the latest game from Saashi, designer of 2015’s sleeper hit Coffee Roaster.

The theme revolves around the use of a popular old camera used in japan. It allows the photographer to place 2 images in a single frame. In this game cards represent the film and the pictures. The goal to have great pictures in every roll of film.

What’s in the box:

  • English and Japanese rulebooks.
  • 84 cards numbered 1-12 in 7 colors/suites. Each color represents a roll of film and tells a little story.
  • 7 Good Shot cards one in each color.
  • 1 Sunset card
  • 1 Score pad
  • 4 summary cards


How to play:

The number of suites used is dependent on the number of players. A Good Shot card for each color used is available.  The sunset card is shuffled into the top portion of the bottom third of the deck.  Each player is dealt 5 cards. You are not allowed to change the order of the cards.  Then the scenes are placed in the display to draw from in 4 columns with the middle 2 columns being placed face down. The backs of the cards indicate what color the card is in addition to whether the card is numbered 1-6 or 6-12.

Choose the Scene – the active player picks up 1 to 3 cards in a row starting from the outer edge and adds them to their hand in order to the front.img_1037

Wind the Film – the player can then choose to move exactly 1 card from anywhere in their hand forward and number of spaces.img_0968

Snap the Shot – play the exact same number of cards into their tableau. Each color will have its own film strip or row.  After the first card is played they must decide whether subsequent cards will played into to the film strip of the same color by ascending or descending order. Cards must be within value 3 of the previously played card. If the card played meets the criteria it goes face up. If the card played does not meet that criteria for any film strip it is a blurry picture and must be played face down into the film strip. It is worth negative 2 at the end of the game.

If a player has a certain number of good shots which are played in the same color they may earn the Good shot bonus card worth points at the end of the game

If the display has 3 or less cards it is refilled. When the sunset card is drawn the game pauses and players play 2 additional cards from the back of their hand shrinking their hand to 3 for the remainder of the game. Prior to playing those cards they may wind the film once.

The game ends when the display has 3 or less cards after refilling. The players may wind the film once more then they play the 2 cards from the back of their hand. The film strip which matches the color of the remaining card in hand scores zero points.

Points are scored for the number of face up cards and 5 points for each good shot card.

My thoughts:

I’ve played with all player counts 2,3 and 4 and found the game played well every time.

Wind the Film makes good use of the “don’t rearrange the cards in your hand” mechanism. I like that it provides some information on the face down cards as well as cards held by opponents so you are taking calculated risks rather than just blind draws. While this has potential to be AP inducing I think the overall light weight of the game and the limitation of information will prevent this. The choices to make when “choosing the scene” or picking up cards can be straight forward or a tension filled especially later in the game. There is definitely interaction as players compete for the same cards. It’s also possible to leave other players with less than ideal scenes to choose. For a simple set collecting game I feel like Wind the Film provides an interesting challenge and makes a great filler.

Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber (1 play): Recently, many of the Japanese designers have pushed into the traditional European game space, adding components and complexity.  While some of these games are quite good, what drew me to Japanese games in the first place was the combination of interesting themes and simple but fresh combinations of mechanisms.  And that’s what makes Wind The Film so good – the “can’t sort your hand” dilemma of Bohnanza updated with an exception that ties in well to the very fitting theme of taking pictures on film.  I will need to play the game more to know for sure, but I’m hopeful it will move from “like” to “love” for me.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it! Lorna

I like it. Joe H.


Not for me…

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Raven (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designer: Bob Kamp
  • Publisher: Drive Thru Cards
  • Players: 2 – 6
  • Ages: 8 and Up
  • Time: 30+ Minutes
  • Times Played: > 5 (on Review Copy Provided by the Designer)


Raven, a trick taking card designed by Bob Kamp and available on Drive Thru Cards, is at first glance vaguely similar to David Parlett’s Ninety Nine.  But once you get past the bidding system, this becomes a clever design all its own, complete with specialist cards and a scoring system that ramps up the tension.

I was approached by the designer about doing a review of the game, and given my love of the trick taking genre, I agreed to do so.  My group and I have played at several different player counts since, and it has been a hit with us.  This is a clever, well-designed trick taking game, and I enthusiastically recommend it.   Continue reading

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Insider (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designers: Akihiro Itoh, Kwaji, Daichi Okano, Kito Shinma
  • Publisher: Oink Games
  • Players: 4 – 8
  • Ages: 9 and Up
  • Time: 15 Minutes
  • Times Played: > 12 (with 4-8 Players)


Insider is a bit of “20 questions” mixed with “Werewolf” (or, more accurately, “Spyfall”) and it plays up to 8 players in about 15 minutes.  I first played it at BGG.Con, and it has been a big hit with my group since then.  I had previously written a review on BGG, but I wanted to see all of the Opinionated Gamers chime in on this one.   Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of Millennium Blades


Millennium Blades

  • Designer: D. Brad Talton, Jr.
  • Publisher: Level 99 Games
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 14+
  • Time: 2-3 hrs
  • Times played: 6, with self purchased copy


Millennium Blades is subtitled as a “CCG Simulator Card Game”.  In this game, players take on the role of world famous CCG tournament players.  They are all competing to be the world champion at Millennium Blades, this particular world’s most popular collectible card game.  According to the designer, this game was designed to re-create the “excitement, desperation, discovery, hope, dread, and camaraderie” of playing an immersive CCG.

The boardgame of Millennium Blades is played over three rounds.  Each round is broken up into a twenty minute real-time deckbuilding phase and then followed up by a tournament phase where player pit their created decks against each other. Continue reading

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Review of Escape Room The Game (NO SPOILERS)

Escape Room The Game

  • Designer: Team Identity Games
  • Publisher: Spin Master
  • Players: 3-5
  • Ages: 16 and up
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Times Played: Once with 4 players
  • Game purchased using personal funds.

Escape Room The Game


“Escape room game [in a box]” has apparently become the hot new board game genre of 2016.  From virtual versions dating as far back as 1988 to real world escape rooms being created around 2006, it seems inevitable that a hybrid version of the concept would find its way into the growing board game hobby.  Cooperative puzzle games have always been of great interest to many people and capturing the escape room feeling in a box that can be played anywhere is an exciting evolution.  

There are already a handful of “escape room in a box” games available and Escape Room The Game is latest having been released in late 2016 in the USA by Spin Master Games.  However, there are a couple key differences that set it apart from the previous games.  First of all, Escape Room The Game contains not just a single escape room game, but four different Adventures that have varying difficulties and all look, feel, and play slightly different.  Secondly, the game utilizes a unique electronic “Chrono Decoder” around which the game unfolds.  It also helps pull the players further into the game so that they are anchored more to the game and the make believe “room” being created rather than arbitrary location where the game is being played. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of Aeon’s End


Aeon’s End

  • Designer: Kevin Riley
  • Publisher: Indie Boards&Cards / Action Phase Games
  • Players: 1-4
  • Ages: 14+
  • Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Times played: 5 with review copy provided by Action Phase Games


Since Dominion hit the boardgaming scene in 2008, there have been a bunch of deckbuilding games that have all tweaked the core idea of the genre – that is, adding or subtracting cards from your deck to make it play the way you want it to.  Sure, I’ll freely admit that I’m biased towards the whole genre as a whole given my role in developing Dominion.  At that same time, Pandemic also came to market, and for many Eurogamers like me, this was the first foray into the world of cooperative games.  It’s hard to say if Pandemic was the first of the modern cooperative games, but it’s certainly the first one that I paid attention to.  Aeon’s End tries to bring these two genres together – it’s a cooperative deckbuilding game! Continue reading

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Counter magazine #75 (Feb. 2017) now available


Issue #75 (February 2017) is now available for download from the BoardGameGeek store:


Issue #75 is our LARGEST issue ever, with over 130 pages of reviews, articles, commentary, discussion and more…all in full color! You don’t want to miss the special look / preview of Douglas Morse’s new tabletop photo book “Wizards of the Tabletop.” It is a must read for any gamer.

So, what is included in this issue? The following is just a brief overview of the 27 reviews reviews and a nearly a dozen articles included in Issue #75.


Chariot Race: Get on your chariots and ride! Matt Leacock of Pandemic fame now moves to ancient Rome and the grand spectacle of the Circus Maximus. Can you survive the attacks of your opponents and win the favor of Caesar? Ben Baldanza gives us the blow-by-blow account.

Continental Divide: Winsome Games is known for its fine and challenging train-themed games. Eagle-Gryphon Games has teamed with Winsome to release Continental Divide. The game is a derivative of previous titles such as Wabash Cannonball and Chicago Express. As the name implies, it concentrates on the race to construct rail lines to the West Coast in the mid 19th century. Greg Schloesser lets us know if the effort to reach the West Coast is worth it.

Evolution: Climate: Evolution was a big hit for Northstar Games. Now, the Climate expansion makes surviving even more challenging. Dr. Mitchell Thomashow explains how your can help your species survive in this “creature eat creature” world.

Fields of Green: Using a similar system as in Among the Stars, Fields of Green places frustrated city dwellers onto the farm. Can these city-slickers survive and build a prosperous, efficient farm? John Butitta explains whether this move to the farm was a good one.

Great Western Trail: “Head ’em up; move ’em out!” Reminiscent of the old TV series Rawhide, players must lead cattle across the country to the market in Kansas City. Along the way they can stop at various buildings to gain favors and increase the value of their cattle. Is this long cattle drive worth it, or is it just too long and dirty? Greg Schloesser gives us the scoop.

Key to the City: London: Keyflower has been one of Richard Breese’s best designs. This new game (which may well become a series) is a simplification of Keyflower, streamlining it so it plays quicker. Did the changes improve the game, or should folks just stick with the original? Stuart Dagger tells us his opinion.

Oilfield: Black gold! Set in Texas (where else?), players vie to extract and produce the valuable commodity of oil. Who will be most successful. The esteemed Paul Evans tells us what it takes to become an oil tycoon.

Oracle of Delphi: Stefan Feld is well known as a designer of highly intricate games that usually offer a myriad of ways in which to score. Oracle of Delphi, however, is quite different, being more of a race game as players rush to complete Herculean tasks. Does this departure from the norm measure up to Feld’s best games? Stuart Dagger tells us the story.

Terraforming Mars: The red planet has fascinated humans for centuries. Is there life on Mars? In this game with an eye on the future, that life will be human. Can you best help transform Mars’ bleak terrain into land where humans can survive and prosper? Dr. Steve Owen shows us how this can be done.

In addition to all of these reviews, there are nearly a dozen other articles, including:

Wizards of the Tabletop: Douglas Morse gives us an in-depth and inside look at his new book, “Wizards of the Tabletop.”

The Budding Gamer: If you have young children and are hoping to introduce them to our wonderful hobby, Ben Baldanza’s article is a must read.

Second Renaissace: Not too long ago Italy was not a major player in the board game design field. Now, however, they have come to the forefront and are known for intricate, outstanding designs. Larry Levy and Andrea Ligabue take us on a stroll through the history of board game design in Italy.

In addition to these and other articles, there are numerous convention reports on the recent Spiel in Essen.

These are just a few of the many articles and reviews that are included in Issue 75 of Counter. Intrigued? Then make sure you visit the BoardGameGeek store and download Issue #75.

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