Dale Yu: First Impressions of Grimslingers



  • Designer: Stephen Gibson
  • Publisher: Greenbrier Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 20-40 minutes
  • Times played: 2 (free for all duel) + 1 co-op, with review copy provided by Greenbrier Games


Normally, games that arise on Kickstarter fly under my radar – mostly because I’m so busy with already published games that I simply don’t have time to really look at games that might possibly be…  However, Grimslingers is one that was brought to my attention by a number of friends, and I have been following its KS page occasionally to watch its development.  The game had a modest goal – likely enough to simply allow for the production costs of the game – and the successful campaign ended up raising almost seven times the goal amount.  When I was contacted by Greenbrier Games to take a look at one of the production copies, I was more than interested in trying it out.

At its core, Grimslingers is a dueling card game set in an alternate Wild West, one with magical undertones.  What interested me most about the game was the flexibility of the system.  The game can be a 2p PvP battle, it can be played in teams, and it can even be played cooperatively. As there are essentially two different games in the box – the versus duel and then the cooperative campaign game – I will talk about them in separate sections.   Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of 3 Wishes


3 Wishes

  • Designer: Chris Castagnetto
  • Publisher: Passport Games / NSKN
  • Players: 3-5
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 3-5 minutes
  • Times played: 7, with preview copy provided by Passport Games


3 wishes3 Wishes is a micro game – given to me as I visited at the Passport Games booth at Origins 2016. The entire game comes in a small ziplock bag, made up of 18 playing cards and 3 extra cards which have all the rules on them.  The game is a quick playing game that involves memory, intuition, bluffing and a lot of memory… Continue reading

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Beyond Baker Street (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designer:  Robin Lees, Steve Mackenzie
  • Publisher:  Z-Man Games
  • Players:  2 – 4
  • Ages:  13 and Up
  • Time:  20 Minutes
  • Times Played:   > 5


I was drawn to Beyond Baker Street when I heard it compared favorably to Hanabi —  which is one of my all-time favorite games — and I ended up playing this new Z-Man title a few times during Gen Con.  The rumors were true: the game is quite similar to Hanabi.  But in the end, Beyond Baker Street is a different game, one that is more forgiving and more variable.  If you like cooperative deduction games, this is worth checking out. Continue reading

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Area 51 – A First Look

Area 51 – A First Look
By Stefan Alexander
Art by Christian Opperer
Publisher – Mücke Spiele
Ages: 12+
Length: ~15 minutes per player
Players: 2 – 6 players (probably best with 3-4)

First Look by Jonathan Franklin


Have you ever wanted to gain alien technologies for fun and profit?

Of course you have. There are six places I want to teleport to right now.

Have you ever thought about where you would put all that stuff? I hadn’t until I started playing Area 51. It takes security, the right conditions, and space (ha!) to store these goodies.

Area 51 is a clever game about building bunkers and transporting alien technologies around Area 51. Alas, the other players are trying to store those same items are in their bunkers.

Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2016, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Dale Yu: First Impressions of Evolution: The Beginning

Evolution: The Beginning

  • Designer: Dominic Crapuchettes
  • Publisher: North Star Games
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 45 min
  • Times Played: 2, with review copy provided by North Star Games

evolution beginning box

Evolution: The Beginning is the “first step into a vibrant ecosystem of evolution-themed games”.  The original game in the series, Evolution, was originally designed and produced in Russia (SEE REVIEW HERE – https://opinionatedgamers.com/2015/05/20/dale-yu-review-of-evolution-northstar-games/) – though a few years ago, the entire product was sold to North Star Games; the game was tweaked by Mr. Crapuchettes and re-released.  Since then, a few expansions (Evolution: Flight and Evolution: Climate) have been added to the family.

This most recent release is meant to be a primer to the series, targeted as mass market audiences.  As North Star Games already sells their games in stores such as Target, they definitely have a pipeline to said mass market. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Aquarium



  • Designers: Tim De Rycke, Sander Vernyns
  • Publisher: Z-man Games
  • Players: 2-6
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 45 mins
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Z-Man Games

aquarium box

In Aquarium, players vie with each other to have the best aquarium – by having the best looking fish and plants – at the end of three rounds of playing (at least in a 4p game).  The game revolves around the pet shop board – a place for up to five cards to be displayed.  At the start of the game, each player gets a matching set of 9 Action cards and fifteen points worth of beads.  Each player is also randomly dealt a one-star valued fish.  The deck is then divided into six equal-ish piles and a Feeding Time card is shuffled into sections 2, 4, and 6.  The deck is then reconstructed with pile 1 on the top and pile 6 on the bottom.

The 4p game is played over three rounds.  Each round ends immediately when a Feeding Time! card is revealed from the deck.  Thus, there are a variable number of turns in each round, and each player may not get the same number of turns in any particular round. Continue reading

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Codenames Pictures (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designer:  Vlaada Chvátil
  • Publisher:  Czech Games Edition
  • Players:  2 – 8
  • Ages:  10 and Up
  • Time:  10-20 Minutes
  • Times Played:   > 5


Codenames Pictures is the much-anticipated follow-up to Vlaada Chvátil’s Codenames, winner of the 2016 Spiel des Jahres.  Czech Games Edition released the game at Gen Con, where it was piled high and selling well.  Codenames Pictures topped the Geekbuzz leaderboard for the convention, and it seems like this game is on its way to being a hit.   Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of Costa Rica


Costa Rica

  • Designers: Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Mayfair

costa rica

Costa Rica was a “submarine release” (to borrow a term from fellow OG writer Jonathan Franklin) – I literally knew nothing about it until it surfaced on my front porch.  Though I think I’m pretty close with the Lookout guys – I had no advance warning of this at all.  Once I did learn about it, I was instantly interested as it brings together two designers with recent hits for me (Relic Runners for Dunstan, Divinare for Gilbert) from a publishing house that has almost always produced hits for me (Lookout).

In Costa Rica, players explore the country trying to count the different animals found there.  The map is made up of hexes in a larger hexagon (5 hexes to a side).  There are three different types of terrain: Forest, Mountains and wetlands.  Each terrain type also has a common and a rare animal type for that terrain.  For future reference, you should know that there is a different chance of finding animals based on terrain as well as different chances of encountering danger (represented by a mosquito).  Each player takes six explorers in their color and places one at each of the corners of the board. One of the players is designated the start player, and he gets the exploration leader token. Continue reading

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GenCon 2016 Mega Rundown – Strange but True

There’s more to GenCon than a bunch of publishers hawking their wares.  I would hazard a guess that GenCon is the largest convention around for trading card and roleplaying games.  There are minis galore and grognards in deep concentration playing their wargames.  Here’s a few photos I snapped that didn’t really have much to do with boardgaming.

Continue reading

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2015 Meeples Choice Award Winners

The voting for the Meeples Choice Awards has ended.  30 games were nominated during the preliminary round and during the final round, the following three games were chosen:


Codenames was the overwhelming pick during the preliminary round and it finished in first during the final round by a comfortable margin.  It gives designer Vlaada Chvatil his first MCA win, after three of his earlier designs just missed making the top 3.  FCM is also the first MCA winner for the Splotter design duo of Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga.  Marco Polo is the second MCA win for the design team of Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini, as their Tzolk’in was selected three years earlier.

Two games narrowly missed the winner’s circle:  Mombasa and the pre-election favorite (due to its status as the #1 game on the Geek), Pandemic Legacy.  The latter of these is having a hard time converting that top-rated spot into awards, as it lost out to Isle of Skye in the SdJ’s Kennerspiel award.  But the award season is just getting started.

Here are the complete vote tallies for the final round.  The first number after the game listing is the number of votes received during the last round, while the number in parentheses is the votes accumulated during the preliminary round.  Congratulations to all the winning games!

1.  Codenames – 30  (49)
2.  Food Chain Magnate – 21  (26)
3.  The Voyages of Marco Polo – 20  (23)
4.  Mombasa – 17  (26)
4.  Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 – 17  (24)
6.  7 Wonders: Duel – 13  (21)
7.  Grand Austria Hotel – 10  (22)
7.  T.I.M.E Stories – 10  (20)
7.  The Grizzled – 10  (13)
10.  Mysterium – 8  (23)
10.  Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization – 8  (15)
12.  Isle of Skye – 7  (22)
13.  Baseball Highlights: 2045 – 6  (15)
14.  Nippon – 5  (16)
14.  Mottainai – 5  (7)
16.  Elysium – 4  (13)
16.  Inhabit the Earth – 4  (10)
16.  Ponzi Scheme – 4  (10)
16.  Arboretum – 4  (7)
20.  The Gallerist – 3  (13)
20.  Blood Rage – 3  (9)
20.  Above and Below – 3  (8)
20.  Between Two Cities – 3  (7)
20.  Churchill – 3  (7)
20.  Steam Time – 3  (7)
20.  Trickerion – 3  (7)
27.  Tiny Epic Galaxies – 2  (9)
27.  Deception: Murder in Hong Kong – 2  (7)
29.  Cacao – 1  (8)
30.  Broom Service – 0  (10)

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