Copenhagen (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  • Designers: Asger Harding Granerud & Daniel Skjold Pedersen
  • Artist: Markus Erdt 
  • Publisher: Queen Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Time: 20-40 Minutes
  • Times Played: 5

“You know, it’s really kinda weird how they paint and build the buildings in Copenhagen, but it is far more colorful than it is here.”

Polyomino games are a thing, they keep popping up on the radar in different forms, roll and write (Brikks), puzzle (NMBR 9), two-player quilting (Patchwork), the list goes on and on and on. So in order to kind of stand out in what is becoming a very crowded field of games, you have to try something a bit different, a bit brighter, a bit bolder, and that brings us to Copenhagen from Queen Games and designers Daniel Skjold Pedersen and Asger Harding Granerud. 

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Dale Yu: Essen Preview of Zoomate


  • Designer: Ching Chun Hung
  • Publisher: Intelligent Monkey
  • Players: 4-7
  • Age: 7+
  • Time: ~20 minutes
  • Preview copy provided to me by Taiwan Board Games

Each fall, I look forward to a care package sent to me from my friends at Taiwan Boardgames.  I have felt for a long while that the games from the Far East are underappreciated, though their exposure seems to be improving each year!  Sure, there are always hits and misses in each box, but I do love the exploration of the new games…

Well, there is a backstory here – but I can’t make much sense of it, so I’ll just throw it out there.  In some futuristic country, there is a power plant where Team Fire and Team Water are warring for control.  There is also a third team, which is Neutral, which strives to make sure that neither Fire nor Water takes control.  Each player is an animal (not sure why): octopus, monkey, cow sloth, iguana, buzzard or frog.  In most games, there will be one Fire player, one Water player and the rest are Neutral.  These roles are secretly assigned to each player at the start of the game.  You may not show your role to other players.

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Posted in Essen 2019, Preview | 1 Comment

Dale Yu: Review of Era – Medieval Age

Era: Medieval Age

  • Designer: Matt Leacock
  • Publisher: PlanB Games
  • Players: 1-4
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 45min
  • Times played: 7, with review copy provided by PlanB Games

Era: Medieval Age was one of my most anticipated games from GenCon 2019.  I am a big fan of Matt Leacock, and I like his games too… Roll Through the Ages was one of my favorite games of his, and this appeared to be in the same vein.  I was also quite intrigued by the promo images released over the summer with these colored 3D buildings, and I wanted to see what the whole “roll-and-build” thing was all about.   I was able to miss the 1km long line (perhaps a slight exaggeration) by a few minutes, and the game hit the table as soon as I returned from Indianapolis.

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Saturday at Buckeye Game Fest

Last Saturday, I headed to Columbus, OH, for a board game convention on High St. I ate two meals at the North Market with Jeni’s for dessert. The CABS library was there. A consignment store & a “take a game, leave a game” couch. Artemis. Extra Life fundraisers. Play to Wins and a vendor hall.

But it’s September. Origins was three months ago.

This was a different downtown Columbus board gaming convention: Buckeye Game Fest.

Luke talked a bit about it a few days ago, and Dale has too, but today is my turn. As usual, I’m mostly going to talk about what I played, but I sprinkle in some additional quirks of the convention itself.

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Design by Permar Rodaser
Published by dvGiochi
2 – 4 Players, 45 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

I have enjoyed several games from Italian publisher dvGiochi, most recently their clever release 3 Secrets.  So, I was intrigued by one of their most recent offerings, Catalyst, from designer Permar Rodaser. 

Catalyst is set in a futuristic world where special individuals—a type of superhero known as a Catalyst”—uses a new type of energy to achieve remarkable results.  These Catalysts can cooperate and act together in order to build more powerful and acclaimed cities, all for the good of humanity…and their own power, of course! 

The idea of the game is to recruit characters into your ensemble, then combine these with buildings so that you can perform multiple actions per turn.  Assembling a collection of characters and buildings that allows you to perform numerous actions per turn is the key to surpassing your opponents and claiming victory.  There really is one viable path here. 

Catalyst cards are at the heart of the game.  In addition to some very appealing artwork, each card depicts its cost, as well as one or more icons that indicate the power that it grants the player when activated.  From the deck of 60 cards, ten are set aside for the final round, while five of the main deck are revealed on the central board. This linear board serves as a “drafting” row, and can increase or decrease the cost of acquiring a card, depending upon its position on it. 

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Opinionated Gamers Have Other Hobbies Too, You Know

One of the best things about having a spouse who is also a board gamer is that I don’t have to wait for official organized game days to play games. Anytime we are free on a weekend it’s quite likely we’ll be playing games. Many times we’ll have a beer or two while we play, and a while back I jokingly said that we should choose a beer that matched the theme of the game we were playing. We laughed, but then I thought about it some more and realized that this was something I wanted to do. A quick trip to my favorite local beer store and my idea came to fruition. Here is the first entry in my occasional series of board game and beer pairings.

CUPCAKE EMPIRE, paired with Bakery – Coconut Macaroons (The Bruery, CA)

I’m still really enjoying this game. It plays very quickly when played with experienced players, and it is a terrific light strategy game when you are short on time. I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s too random, or too luck-based, but I disagree. Sure, you’re rolling dice, but there are a lot of things added to the game to mitigate the luck involved in the dice. For example, you get bright idea tokens that can be used to buy improvements to streamline production or to reallocate your dice to the column where you want them to be. It also works really well with any number of players, although I haven’t tried the unofficial solo variant yet.

The beer was good, but very sweet. The coconut flavor comes through very strongly and it’s a bit boozy, but the flavors work well together. This is definitely a dessert, sipping beer. It’s not something I would drink on a regular basis, but I enjoyed trying it. If you aren’t a fan of coconut you should stay far, far away.

I should have gone a step farther and made cupcakes to eat with them and add an Opinionated Eaters angle, but that would have required more advance planning (and no, I cannot just use a mix. . . .). Maybe I’ll do that for our next game day, since no one who lives in my house should not be left home alone with cupcakes.

ROLL FOR THE GALAXY, paired with Space Cake Double IPA (Clown Shoes, MA)

I missed the boat on Race for the Galaxy when it first came out. By the time I got around to trying it everyone else had played a million times and played so fast I couldn’t figure out what the heck was happening. I’ve figured it out now, but when Roll for the Galaxy came out I decided to try it right away. I really enjoyed it after two playings and bought a copy, only to have it languish on the shelf for a couple of years. We finally brought it out a while back, and it has held up well. I was very frustrated by my dice roles in this particular game, but in the end my score wasn’t far off the winning score, so things were going better than I thought. I need to put this one into a more regular rotation; there are some really interesting synergies that I want to explore.

The beer is very good. It’s a hoppy, citrusy, bitter IPA, which is right up my alley. It’s a bit boozy at 9%, but it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor. I wouldn’t have more than one of these in a sitting, though, although maybe I would convince my opponents to do so. . . .


Zombicide is yet another game in the long list of games that I played a lot when it first came out but then has sat on my game shelf for far too long. I think of it every time I see someone else’s pimped out copy with painted miniatures, or see one of the many expansions for the game, but it’s still been sitting there waiting to get played. I enjoy a good zombie fight, but I wasn’t sure how well it would work with two players, but it turned out to be great. The game rules scale the game and have you play with more characters when there are fewer players, so normally in a two-player game you’d each start with three survivors.. However, we played a scenario that was specifically designed for two to three players – Might Makes Right – where you only start with one survivor each. (Well, technically we started with 3 survivors each, but when we were doing far too well we checked the rules for the scenario and saw that we’d missed that, despite not even having the cider open at that point. Oops. We started again).

You start the scenario with one survivor each, but you need five to win. You get additional survivors by revealing objective tokens, but then you have to get them all out safely. It was tough, but not impossible. We never managed to get any explosives, but we had some good weapons and some lucky roles, which helped.

There are a lot of things to remember in this game, but the rules are quite clear and it is easy to find what you are looking for. We learned originally from the rules, and it had been long enough that we needed a refresh, but we had no trouble getting up and running quickly (less my completely missing that very clear scenario rule. . .).

The cider was quite good. It wasn’t too sweet, despite honey being one of the ingredients. It also has tart cherries, which made it a bit pink and also kept it from being too sweet. It had good, crisp apple flavor. It tasted especially good, since we were victorious!

I’ve already got a few beers in mind for my next write-up, some obvious (I’m looking at you, Flower Power) and some that just match more of the theme. I think my ultimate goal will be finding beers that pair with games that we really need to get to the table. Any suggestions you have are more than welcome.

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Dale Yu – Thursday at Buckeye Game Fest

I had honestly hoped to write up my experience from Thursday as it happened, but due to some phone issues – mostly personal problems regarding my inability to correctly charge my phone in the car on the way up… – it had to wait for today…

The Buckeye Game Fest is a fantastic local convention hosted each fall in Columbus OH. Per their promotional text: BGF is “central Ohio’s friendliest board gaming convention. Best know for our open board gaming space, and featuring the Columbus Area Boardgaming Society’s extensive game library, this convention has been a local favorite for nearly two decades. Check out a game you’ve been dying to play or bring your own. Our main gaming hall doors and tables stay open the whole convention. “

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The Escape Game: Mission: Mars (Spoiler Free)

Establishment: The Escape Game
Location: Minneapolis
Room: Mission: Mars

The Escape Game is a chain of escape/puzzle rooms based out of Nashville, with locations across the country.  We recently reviewed their Prison Break room in Cincinnati, they have a board game which Dale has reviewed previously, and a subscription puzzle service which we’ll be reviewing soon. 

The company offered I could check out the Minneapolis location during a trip I was making, and while I was at first hesitant, because I didn’t want to spoil a room that I could play at home with my friends, the Minneapolis location had one room that we don’t have in Cincinnati: Mission: Mars. (According to our host in Minneapolis, this room may not be for long. It is a more tech-heavy experience, and the support it requires may be too much; the room isn’t being added to any locations that don’t have it now.)

As with last time, today I’ll give you an overview as best I can of escape/puzzle rooms in general and towards the bottom you’ll get my thoughts on this one.  Of course, I don’t want to spoil any of the fun, so no need to fret on that front; I won’t discuss anything too specific.

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Patrick Brennan: Game Snapshots –2019 (Part 20)

sorry the post was late today – i was glued to my phone watching the Ashes results while sitting out at a soccer match. I guess the Aussies won with one to play. Or something. Anyways, I think these are ashes of stumps and not losing cricketers, but I wouldn’t swear to that either. Apologies for the lack of other pictures, I’m trying to post this from my phone, and well, it’s not as easy as I thought.

The H-index in academia is used to give an indication of the productivity and impact an author has had in their field. By way of example, if their 30 most cited papers have each been cited 30+ times say, their H-index would be 30. The higher the better.

In gaming terms we can bastardise the H-index to use plays rather than citations. A little time ago my H-index hit 50 – the 50 games I’ve played the most have all been played 50+ times each. 

I’m not quite sure what it means really, if anything, in our hobby. I guess it’s a measure of longevity, an indication of experience. It shouldn’t mean my opinion of a game means anything more, as it doesn’t change the fact that an opinion only helps if you know what the opinionated gamer loves and hates in relation to your own tastes, where you can filter and consider the opinion with salt and perspective as needed. Anyway, 50, for what it’s worth.  I’ve been playing games a while.

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Lots: A Competitive Tower Building Game (Game Preview and Review by Brandon Kempf)

  • Designer: Zachary Connelly
  • Artist: Claire Donaldson
  • Publisher: Royal N. Games
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Times Played: 5

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of Lots A Competitive Tower Building Game from the publisher in order to preview this upcoming title. 

“If you put that block there, I don’t think it’s going to stand, you are taking away the structural integrity of our building.

Seriously, I told you so.”

In the past few months, I’ve been backing away from Kickstarter and its myriad of games that are coming. Reasons too numerous to mention have kind of forced me to take a second look at what I am backing, and what I was telling others they should think about backing as well. Plus, I think I was backing games for all the wrong reasons, instead of looking for games I knew would get played and we would enjoy, I chose to help friends along the way and thus, my unplayed pile of Kickstarter games grew, and grew, and grew. So, it has probably been close to a year since I have previewed a Kickstarter title, and what catches my attention? Lots A Competitive Tower Building Game

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