BGG.CON Day Three

Everyday I worry it’s almost over. Then I think about what I want to play before we leave. What do I have to play.

Obviously there’s nothing I have to play (but if you know of somebody with a copy of QE, send them my way!), and this year I’m doing better than most at relaxing and just enjoying myself.

Princess Jing. Two designers always on my radar are Fraga and Rossi. I got to play Divinity Derby yesterday, and found Princess Jing in the library this morning. Somewhat Stratego style, but some of your pieces have mirrors, where you can see which of your opponents pieces is in front of it. Usual top notch Matagot production.

We played two of the second round of Unlock! games, House on the Hill and The Tonipal’s Treasure.

I think these are getting better. I liked the first box, but really liked the Temple of Ra PNP scenario, and loved Tonipal’s.

@OpinionatedEaters break. Second trip to Meat U Anywhere.
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And to be clear, when I said 8 AM, I meant earlier as there’s shower, coffee, and a salad first. Maybe my memory is failing me, but hot games was packed this morning (I wrote some of this last night, so some of the temporal wording will be off…). Here’s 9 AM crowds in hot games vs. the rest of the main gaming hall.

Queendomino and Riverboat are often empty, but the other titles have been in constant rotation. I’m doing my best to spread the love of Raja of the Ganges and Heaven & Ale. Speaking of which:
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I’m an 8 AM con person in general. For BGG.CON day one, that means a lot of wandering around, as things don’t quite open until 10.

This year, the con introduced a “premium” badge, which, amongst other things, including a system for setting aside a library game for a few hours. I was delightfully surprised to see some non-new release titles being requested.

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BGG.CON Day Zero

Here’s the registration line as I start.

That first table is usually there from the previous evening and games through the night. The line here has the ability to let you play games as you wait, something untenable at Origins, Gen Con, Spiel, etc. I saw a lot of card games this year, Tzolkin, a Downforce playtest map, and a lot of app games.

Some library changes this year. In an effort to make things more efficient, an exit has been opened at the back.

They’ve also pulled many of the smaller card games out of the boxes throughout. Now those little treasures are stored on these racks:

Speaking of libraries, Continue reading

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Chris Wray: Quick Thoughts on 10 Essen Games

We’re a little over two weeks past Spiel ‘17, and I’ve played about 40 new titles.  So has my game group: every year, I invite everybody I regularly game with in Kansas and Missouri to a small get-together (called “Essen West”) where we play through the recently-released games I hauled back in my suitcases.  I recently wrote about what the attendees at my event thought about various games, but I wanted to do a quick post detailing my personal thoughts on various Essen releases.  

We at The Opinionated Gamers are working on writing up reviews of the games: it takes a while, because we try to play a game multiple times (and have various contributors play it) before we start chiming in.  Reviews will start rolling out in a couple of weeks.

These are just my personal initial thoughts, and some of the ratings below are after just one play, so keep that in mind.  Also, to cover all of these titles, I’m skipping any rule review and going straight to my opinion.   Continue reading

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Tery Noseworthy: Stop Thief! – Game Review


Designer:  Rob Daviau, Robert Doyle, Justin D. Jacobson

  • Publisher:  Restoration Games (originally Parker Brothers)
  • Players:  2 – 4
  • Ages:  14 and Up (according to box; website says 8 and up, which is more accurate)
  • Time:  30 – 45 Minutes
  • Times Played: 2 with the current version, dozens with the original version. Current version purchased by me via Kickstarter.

Stop Thief One

I played a lot of board games as a kid. My dad was always up for a Saturday morning game session and as I got older I would play board games with my friends. When Stop Thief! came out I was drawn in by its electronic device and its mystery theme and pleaded for a copy, which I finally got for my birthday. It lived up to my expectations, and got played a lot for a couple of years, until I entered full teenagerhood and was too cool to play what  I perceived as a kid’s game anymore. My copy was sacrificed to a yard sale, never to be played again by me.

Fast forward to several months ago, when a friend forwarded me the Kickstarter announcement; my nostalgic inner child immediately jumped on board. I am happy to report that Restoration Games has done a great job with this recreation of the game.


Each player is a private investigator whose goals is to catch a thief that is moving around the board. The thief’s movement is hidden from the investigators; players must use audio clues given to them via an app to try to track the thief’s location.

There is a Restoration Games app that must be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet in order to play the game; the app provided the audio clues and some general guidance.

Each investigator has a pawn, movement cards and $3000. The deck of thief cards is shuffled and the first card is turned face up; this is the first villain the investigators will try to catch. The app tells you where the general location on the board where the first crime is being committed.

Stop thief board

On your turn you first press “Get a Clue” in the app. The app will play the clue for all players, and can be replayed as needed. The thief makes his/her move based on some simple rules.  Spaces on the board are numbered and the thief always moves forward to the next numbered space or stays on the same space, and from the sound you know what type of movement the thief is making; there are different sounds for moving forward, going through doors, going through windows, being outside or on the subway.

Once you have the clue the active investigator plays a card from their hand and moves up to the number of spaces on the card. Investigators must move along the footprint path on the board, cannot go through a window or end their space on the same space as another investigator. Some cards will also have a special power that will let you break the movement rules or perform a special action (like getting a private tip) and some thief cards may have an effect that limits or changes your movement abilities.  Cards played remain on the table until you play your card that allows you to pick them back up.

stop thief cards

In order to catch the thief you must end your turn on the same space as the thief. If you think you have done so you announce that you will attempt an arrest. You tell the other players the number of the space you think the thief is on and then enter it in the app. If you are wrong you play $1000 to the bank and play continues; if you are right you collect the reward money from the thief card.


stop thief thief

The game continues with a new thief until a player has reached the amount of cash needed to win the game (from $25,000 to $45,000, depending on the number of players).


I liked this game as a kid and I like it now.  I enjoy deduction games, and while this one is much more of a family deduction game than a “gamer’s game” it is still enjoyable. You aren’t relying on other players to track important information, which for me is a plus. Puzzling out where the thief is still requires some brainpower, but it is very forgiving if someone gets confused; they can use other player’s turns to glean information about where the thief is now. I’ve played it once with family (my niece and nephew, both teenagers) and once with gamers; both plays were enjoyable for me and both groups enjoyed it. The box lists the age as 14 and up, but the Restoration Games website says 8 and up, and I think that is more accurate.

The game looks better; the components and art a more modern and definitely an upgrade. The board is visually more appealing, and the box art and box size are a big improvement. The app is a big improvement over the electronic box – the sound is clearer, the clues can easily be replayed and it helps keep track of where you are in the game. I do miss the clunky electronic walkie talkie-like device from the original game, but purely for nostalgic reasons – the app is much more functional, and it does give you the option of using the retro sounds from the original game if you prefer.

Another benefit to the app is that Restoration Games can easily put out additional modes; currently the app has options for solo, 1 vs. all and cooperative play, all of which are due out in the near future.

The game would benefit from a reference card that reminds players of the thief’s movement, but this is easily rectified by printing/photocopying that page of the rules.

Thoughts from the Other Opinionated Gamers

Erik Arneson: This is an outstanding new version of a game I remember fondly from childhood. Everything about Stop Thief! — especially the new rules, the modern graphic design, and the integration and functionality of the app (the new modes Tery mentions above are currently expected to be available by the end of 2017, according to a Kickstarter update from publisher Restoration Games) — is top-notch. Highly recommended.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Erik Arneson
  • I like it. Tery N.
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…


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Interested in going to PAX Unplugged next weekend in Philly? #PAXUnplugged

PAX Unplugged 2017 , the first tabletop-only PAX, will take place November 17-19, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

We have been given ten 3-day passes to the event to distribute to our readers.  There is no monetary cost.  In return for the pass, they are making (what I think is a simple request): “We’d just appreciate it if you would have folks use the #PAXUnplugged hashtag in some form across Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube. ”

3-Day passes will be available for  winners to receive via onsite pickup at PAX Unplugged’s registration booth during the week of the show.

Interested?  First-come, first serve.  Send us info at:

REQUIRED for Winners: We must receive a full name and email address for each winner in order to register them for a badge. Winners will not be able to receive their prize without this information.

Enter here

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Captive and Knights (James Nathan)

Designer: Manuro
Publisher: Makaka Editions / Blue Orange EU
Players: 1
Ages: 10+
Times played: 9, purchased from European OLGS

Knights (Chevaliers)
Designer: Shuky
Publisher: Makaka Editions / Blue Orange EU
Players: 1
Ages: 6+
Times played: 14, purchased from Blue Orange stand at Spiel 2017

My four favorite releases from 2016 had not been reviewed here on the OG when I joined earlier this year, so I’m stepping a little closer to rectifying that as I talk about Captive and Knights today.  (I gave my copy of Captive to a friend, so you won’t get any photos of it here.)


In a sense, these are Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style books – in Taken, err, I mean, Captive, your daughter has been kidnapped and you’ve gone to hunt down the mercenaries and rescue her – in Knights, you’re a kid trying to become a knight.  In both cases, there will be choices, but these are most often presented graphically.  Continue reading

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Robinson Crusoe

Design by Ignacy Trzewiczek
Published by Wydawnictwo Portal
1 – 4 Players, 2 – 3 hours
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

NOTE:  With the impending release of First Martians, which is based heavily on the system pioneered in Robinson Crusoe, I though another look at the original was in order.  This review is of the original First Edition.

As a child, I remember being fascinated by the Robinson Crusoe movie and subsequent British television series.  I was horrified over the thought of being stranded on an uncharted island, but at the same time thrilled to the adventures he experienced.  It was only recently that I actually read the original novel and didn’t find it nearly as exciting.

Polish designer Ignacy Trzewiczek’s cooperative game Robinson Crusoe is an attempt to capture the excitement and life-or-death struggle of being shipwrecked on a hostile island.  Unlike the novel, however, this time there are multiple survivors of the shipwreck, and the players must cooperate to survive and hopefully be rescued.  It certainly is an intriguing premise and setting.

The action primarily takes place on only a small section of the large board, where terrain (hexagonal tiles) will be uncovered as players explore the island.  Tiles may show resources, food or hunting ground, all of which the party needs to survive.  The rest of the board is mostly dedicated to turn phase diagrams and for providing space to display the large variety of cards, most of which are items the players can construct when assembling the proper resources.

The game includes six different scenarios, each telling a different story and requiring the player to accomplish various tasks in order to achieve victory.  Not all of them result in the players escaping the island, but all do allow the players to survive…provided, of course, they are successful.

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Essen Diary of Regrets-what I did NOT buy at the fair

[Ed note – welcome a new author to our ranks, Simmy Peerutin!]

By: Simmy Peerutin

As most of us do, I had spent weeks before the fair studying the BGG Preview List, watching videos and reading reviews, and I had whittled down the games I was interested in from the over 1,000 listed to a mere 300 or so. During that time I pre-ordered only a handful of games; the rest I wanted to see and experience.


Even though the fair ended less than a week ago and I bought about 40kg worth of games I have already compiled a list of games I still want…and this only days after arriving home with two suitcases stuffed full of games. It got me thinking that I haven’t seen any writing about the choices we make day after day at the fair; which games to buy that day and which to leave for another day. This piece would be too long if I discussed the lists I made each day and why I included certain games, so instead I thought it would be interesting and novel to focus on what I did not buy because I have come to believe that due to the sensory overload in the halls most if not all logic and discipline disappears. Here is my edited recollection of that journey.

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