Sunday, December 23, 2012

First plays: Riff Raff....

Late yesterday night we unboxed and played Riff Raff, a clever dexterity game of balance on a ship amidst the stormy sea.  To say the game is a riot might be a bit of an understatement.  And through some simple but clever use of cards to bid for turn order and location, this game feels different enough from every other balancing act out there.

Here is the setting up:

And here is yours truly losing horribly (keep in mind in this game, if you catch the pieces they don't count against you):

Friday, December 14, 2012

Board games that SHOULD be movies....

Here's a great little article saying that despite the disaster that was Battleship last year, there are some games that would make great movies.  My favourite of their choices is Arkham Horror:
Imagine the aesthetics and attention to period detail seen in something like HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Now add portals to other dimensions, gangsters firing tommy guns at giant spiders and monsters that can drive characters insane in seconds. Every game of Arkham Horror oozes menace and atmosphere and since players are forced to band together against a game that's doing its damnedest to wipe them out, every round becomes a tale of heroes fighting against overwhelming odds. Lovecraft has proven difficult to adapt in the past, but perhaps the key to bringing his world to the screen is this game, which takes the author's concepts and filters them into an action-horror story. This could be the next great horror franchise.
But boy would it have an unhappy ending.... 

(Thanks for the tip, Kelly!)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On The Horizon: Lords Of Waterdeep expansion...

Last night we got yet another play of Lords of Waterdeep in with my ridiculously cute new DnDeeples (which can be ordered from a very nice Canadian guy on BGG.)  Suffice to say having little warriors, wizards, rogues, and clerics instead of cubes makes a world of difference to game play.  I'm now realizing this rather lightweight, remarkably unoriginal worker-placement game may well be the most played game for me this past year.  It does nothing new but it still does it quickly, simply, and with a ton of fun and interaction.

So I'm pretty excited to see the announcement for the upcoming expansion on BGG:

Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport adds two new expansions to the Lords of Waterdeep board game – Undermountain and Skullport – inspired by the vast dungeon and criminal haven under Waterdeep. The Skullport expansion adds a new resource to the game, Corruption, while the Undermountain expansion features bigger quests and more ways to get adventures. Players can choose to add one or both expansions to the base game.

Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport also includes new Lords, new Buildings, and materials for a sixth player.
We knew this was coming from the extra space on the board but it's still something to look forward to!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Problems at the Panic Station...

As one can tell from the complete and utter lack of posts the last few weeks, I've been busy.  In fact, so busy I've barely been playing games.  So it with some unadulterated joy that I made to games night last night - only to have that joy killed by a particularly mean-spirited game of the unforgiving Nordic edition of Ticket To Ride.  I was about skulk off early to lick my wounds when I was begged me to join a game of Panic Station which needed one more player.  I had heard about PS before and it's "problematic" winning conditions but they convinced me it was short so I agreed.  Perhaps a little cooperation would cheer me up.

If you haven't heard of Panic Station, it's kind of a semi-cooperative game with one player secretly designated the evil alien host whose only goal is to infect the other players or, if necessary, kill them.  Meanwhile, the humans, while they remain uninfected, are trying to locate the Hive card and bring three gas tanks there to blow it up.  Players can't show others their cards (unless a certain special card forces them to) so noone is entirely sure who is who and everything is delightfully paranoid.

My post-game realization last night, having never played Battlestar Galactica before, is that the rules need to be explained VERY CLEARLY.  Otherwise the game goes sideways.  Quick.  And players need to understand them CLEARLY.  Otherwise any question asked could reveal your identity and make a you a target.  Suffice to say this game was really explained and we just "got into it" causing a few situations to arise:

SITUATION #1:  I rush to the hive with my 3 gas cans only to be reminded that only the human you control can kill the hive.  The android can only shoot a gun, not firebomb a hive (go figure.)

Me:  "But now everyone knows I'm still human!  Crap!"

SITUATION #2:  Another infected player then shoots my player repeatedly with a gun.  I have not been informed I can be shot and/or shoot others.

Me:  "You can shoot each other?!?!?!  But I've had bullets this whole time?!?!?!?"

SITUATION #3:  I am forced to trade with a player who I know is the alien host.  But then she stops and says she's not sure she can trade her last blood card.

Me:  "Um, you just told everyone you're an alien."

SITUATION #4:  In my stupidity, I slip her the wrong card forgetting that she infects me if I don't pass a gas can.

Me:  "Uh, I forgot that rule.  Again.  Oh well.  Does this mean it's over?"

SITUATION #5:  I'm the last person turned into an alien so suddenly we all win the game.

Me:  "We all just won?  But I just lost....  Huh?"

So the first 4 situations could have been avoided with a crisp, clear explanation of all the details of the game and perhaps a single playthrough.  But the fact that suddenly we all won the moment I feel like I've lost, is, as I said, "problematic".  It's definitely been discussed thoroughly on BGG since the game came out.  It's a conundrum because I think there is a really tense interesting little game here, albeit filled with a few too many little details (cards and rooms and monsters and stuff).  But I'm not sure I can get around the winning conditions.... 

Anyone else have this experience? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

By the way...

I'll be emailing people this week about the game giveaway.  Thanks for all the responses!!!!

A brief review of Knizia's Indigo....

It's interesting to be playing and enjoying Reiner Knizia's Indigo a week after reviewing You Are The Maniac.  They are very different games but both very reminiscent of earlier titles, Maniac being basically a re-skin of the earlier Guillotine and Indigo being strikingly similar to Tsuro and Cable Car before it.  But whereas Maniac offers nothing new (or at least interesting) to the gameplay of its predecessor, Knizia tweaks Tsuro's formula just enough to make it a fun, nasty, and surprisingly engaging little game.  And he's definitely done this before with lighter titles like when he re-mixed Blokus to make Callisto (which I have to admit I prefer), when he expanded on Peter Burley's classic Take It Easy! with Take it Higher!, or even when he turned Tetris into the clever F.I.T.S.

The gameplay of Indigo, as always with Knizia, is deceptively simple.  Players add tiles in turn to expand the routes on the board and gems travel those routes until they land at the outside of the board, rewarding the players whose control markers are there.  A few little wrinkles, though:  certain gems are worth more points than others and players share the spaces on the outside of the board.  So if you connect a gem to your wall, you'll often be awarding another player with the same points as you.  Of course, if you must you can just crash the gems into each other so no one gets the points, which will cause many groans and objections from the other players.

Because the points remain hidden till the end and players often share the points, the game causes quite a bit of haggling and harassment considering how short it is (~20 minutes).  It's not deep by any stretch but the games I've played have been quick and nasty and interactive.  And of course, since it's a Ravensburger game, it's lovely to look at as the routes on the board expand.  Definitely recommended if you're looking for a fun, nasty filler and thought Tsuro could have been just a little bit smarter.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A short review of 'YOU Are The Maniac!'

They say that imitation is the sincerest from of flattery.  In that case, I'd like to think the publishers of Guillotine, a quick and humorous little card game that has been out for over a decade, should be very flattered.  I've only played Guillotine once a couple months ago but I only needed to read the rules for YOU Are The Maniac to realize that it's pretty near the same game.  Oh, the theme is different and Maniac adds a few new twists (plot twists, final girls, etc.) but the inherent gameplay is pretty much the same.

Basically a line-up of victim cards is made (horror movie victims in Maniac, French aristocrats in Guillotine) and each turn a player may play an action card then takes (kills) the first victim card in the line-up.  The actions do things like re-arrange the order of the victims, force opponents to discard cards, switch hands, etc.  Now certain cards give more points for certain victims, some cards combine to provide bonuses, etc but in general that's the game.  And in both cases it's featherweight-light and very short.  If either of these games lasted more than 20 minutes, I would cry tears of sheer boredom. 

Where Maniac diverges is by adding more chaos to the formula.  At certain points, plot cards will need to be drawn, and the final victim on the wall is always worth a hefty ton of points.  And if you're into the theme of horror movies, it actually is quite amusing.  In our game the Final Girl was killed in Part 1 but then escaped and showed up in Part 2 (the second round) and I immediately pictured Jamie Lee Curtis making to Halloween 2.  But these chaotic elements definitely remove what miniscule control one has over anything in the game.  Again, short game, thank god.

I guess your enjoyment of the game will hinge on a few things - theme, originality, and lightness of play.  The horror theme actually is a bit amusing and the characters add some amusement.  But if you own Guillotine, I dare say you don't need theis game.  It's pretty much the exact same game re-skinned but confused by some extra rules.  They are so similar that even The Count and Countess cards in Guillotine are renamed as Prom Queen and Prom King and score exactly the same in Maniac.  Yikes.  As well, as I said, it's very chaotic and random so this will aggravate anyone who doesn't like that sort of thing.

But if you're looking for a card game with a horror theme, I'd say this is dripping with it. It's being launched on Kickstarter here for 7 more days so you can contribute and have a copy sent to you (it's already reached its goal).  I dare say you should grab a copy before the Guillotine people find out....

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reminder of game giveaway!

Haven't had many responses to the game giveaway.  You've got one more week to shoot me an email.  Check out the details here

Currently it looks like I may be shipping multiple games to a very few lucky people who responded.  That's fine with me!

On a totally unrelated note, my sister just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl yesterday evening.  Congratulations - one more future gamer in the family.

Friday, November 2, 2012

HammerCon 2012

HammerCon IV, Southern Ontario's largest game convention for gamers by gamers, is this weekend at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Hamilton, Ontario. The convention features a variety of roleplaying, board games, LARPs, tournaments, and Protospiel North designer event.

Im excited to be posting from Hamilton, as I eagerly await for the doors to open this evening. If you have any time this weekend to pop in, I highly recommend it. You can purchase a weekend or day pass at the door. Also, here is a link to the program if you are interested in checking out what is going on: HammerCon Program

If you do come, please stop by and say hi. I will be running the Great Canadian Board Game Blitz on Saturday from 1-8pm. Otherwise, you can probably find me in Pavilion "A" where the Protospiel North events (board game designers) will be happening. Hopefully I will make a few posts this weekend, and get some exclusive interviews with board game designers over the next couple of days. Stay tuned!

-- Daryl Andrews

Sen-Foong Lim teaching his game Belfort at HammerCon 2011

Inappropriate Facebook humour...

I warned ya in the title....

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy 400th Blog Post-iversary Giveaway!!!!

 That's right.   This is the 400th post on this here blog!  It also happens to be the same week that we are doing renos in our condo and trying to find a storage solution for my stupidly large collection of games.  What does that mean for you?  Game giveaway!!!!

Yep, I'm offloading 16+ games which I'd be happy to send your way if I draw your name.  A few caveats, though:

1)  Shipping sucks lately.  If you live outside of Canada, I'd probably only send you a card game unless you want to pay the shipping yourself.  It'd probably be cheaper for me to just send you the money to buy the damn game yourself new then ship you a used copy.

2)  Don't expect it anytime soon, perhaps by Christmas....  If you're lucky....  Not only am I busy/lazy (as you can see from the lack of blog posts recently) but also refer to #1.

3)  Send me an email to '' with your name, country of residence, and the games that you'd be interested in in order of preference.  I'll draw names in order in a couple weeks using a random number generator.  If your name is drawn, I'll pick the game that's left that you want the most.  Unless it's Castle For All Seasons and you live in Antarctica.  Sorry, then you're SOL.

So here's the games and why I feel I can part with them:

Baker's Dozen - Basically a reprint of Knizia's filler Poison but with donuts.  I think I was hungry when I bought it because I don't like Poison.  Duh.

Fairy Tale - Great little card-drafting game but now that I have 7 Wonders I don't feel any need for it.

Ohne Furcht und Adel (Citadels) - I bought this when there was a only a German version.  Reading the translations is a bit of a chore.  Now that I've played the English version I'll never go back.

Quo Vadis - Never played it.  Not a huge negotiator. Sorry, Knizia.

Castle For All Seasons - Not bad but not feeling like I will play it again.  Great artwork.

Chaotic Connections - A copy I was sent to review.  Very light and unbalanced but some good ideas.  Yours if you want it.

Faux-cabulary - Kinda like Balderdash with word dice.  Bit too silly for our group.

Industria - Excellent Schacht auction game that again is all German.  Now that there is an English version I won't miss this.

Dao - Little abstract which was given to me.  Nice container, never played.

Miam - Impulse buy.  Turned out to be a simple set collection card game.  Probably excellent for a family.

Worm Up - I think this Alex Randolph game is silly fun but my friends refuse to play it.  Ah well. 

Skull & Roses - VERY simple bluffing game.  I think I prefer Liar's Dice.

Frank's Zoo - Excellent "climbing" card game of getting cards out of your hand before the others.   The neat thing is there are no numbers, only animals who beat other animals.  However, since I met Tichu, the best "climbing" game, this one has not been played since.

Lucca Citta - Card game.  (STOP BUYING GAMES YOU WON'T PLAY!  STOP!)

Can't Stop - Absolute classic from Sid Sackson, original push-your-luck dice game.  I want a new version.  You can have my old destroyed one that I found in a garage sale in '95.  That was a good day.

Risk - We now play Risk: Legacy.

7-in-1 Chess/Checkers/etc. set - Honestly I hate Chess and Checkers.  But I'm not shipping this one.  It's heavy and you could buy it in your local departments store for a 15 bucks.  If you're local to SW Ontario, let me know. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First plays: Luna....

Stefan Feld is very hit or miss for me.  In The Year of The Dragon is a total masterpiece of simple, agonizing choices but I found Macao to be a cluttered mess that had a decision tree which expanded to infinity by the final rounds.  Lately it seems his game have gotten even more involved so I must admit I was a bit wary of Luna: In the Domain of the Moon Priestess.  One can only do a single action per turn but there are about 19 different actions one can take (I'm not actually kidding here).

I've now played a couple games, one solo learning game and now a game with the full capacity of 4 and my feelings are rather mixed.  On one hand the theme is unusual and rather lovely and the game feels very interactive and dynamic.  On the other hand, for a game that takes almost 90 minutes over 6 rounds, there is no story arc and little opportunity for any long-term strategy.  Despite the ridiculous number of options the gameplay is mainly tactical due to the fact that any workers you can get into the temple will most likely be kicked out later anyways.  One also has the option to build shrines which offer some bonuses but it seemed that every play built them when given the opportunity so there was little diversity in strategies.  For a game with such a learning curve, playing it still feels a bit shortsighted.

Still, I would probably play again if only to solidify my opinion now that I think I have some semblance of what the hell is going on.  Fun game, but I think not enough of a payoff for the amount of work involved.

Islands surrounding the temple

The path surrounding the island temple

Mater builder just chilling on the isle of waves

Ladies and Gentleman, these are your options....

Everyone wants to get with the Priestess!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Epic Settlers of Catan boards...

Found on the Settlers Facebook page  - 8- and 9-player Settlers games.  Epic.

(Although I feel like expansion and trading would be remarkably easy and a bit dull....)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Two more reasons why I love Days of Wonder...

This is mostly due to my somewhat unhealthy ongoing obsession with all things Ticket To Ride, one of the greatest board games ever made.  In any case, here they are:

1)  'Heart of Africa' expansion with new terrain cards that can increase the value of routes when claimed.  Yes, yes, please.

2)  A new set of orange Halloween-themed trains for no other reason than the sheer awesomeness of miniature freight cars bearing pumpkins.  Amazing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Blitz this past weekend...

On Saturday, I spent the day and evening involved in a board game blitz at a local pub.  I hadn't participated before but I really like the semi-competitive set-up.  There were 5 rounds of gaming and I got in some good games - Citadels, Ticket To Ride: Europe, Caylus, Can't Stop, and Egizia (which was new to me and I disliked mightily....  what a bloated mess!)  In most of the rounds, players got to choose what games they got to play in order of their current placement in the tournament starting with the lowest score and moving towards the highest, which seemed quite fair.

The upcoming dates for local Blitzes in Ontario are here.  If you're ever near one and have the afternoon free, you should try out it out.  A great way to meet new people, try out some new games, and maybe even win a prize.  I didn't place highly but I was still elated to win a draw for the 2-player tile game For The Win.  Seems appropriate.

Thanks again to GeekStop Games, Rumbletum Cafe, and Just by Chance Games for prizes.

Round 1 game options
Round 2-5 games in separate piles
Learning Havana
Dominion.  Of course.
Prize table!!!
Finished the night with a round of a prototype for Viticulture

Monday, October 1, 2012


What is wrong with this company????  Maybe I'm just not the demographic they're aiming for....

And I'm sorry, but my 120 lb. Italian Mastiff Cain keeps me busy enough picking up doggie doo. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Preview of Viticulture....

Kickstarter has been used to launch some pretty great games like Alien Frontiers and even now big and emerging companies like Queen and Tasty Minstrel Games are using it to fund their projects.  Still, the majority of gaming projects on the crowd-funding website are independently produced labours of love.  And there is always some risk with helping to fund these projects as the games don't necessarily go through the rigorous development and testing that a major company's release would see and often the reviews are quite limited.

Still, I've had some great success with indy games lately - Alien Frontiers which I continue to mention, Vanuatu which I own but have yet to play, and Morels which wasn't crowd-funded but is still wonderfully produced and delightful.  I'm happy to say the upcoming game Viticulture seems like another winner.  We managed to play a 6-player round of a prototype copy after the Blitz yesterday evening and despite a few issues, the overall experience was surprisingly enjoyable.  I've had the prototype all week and had hoped to play it sooner but this just happened to be one of my busiest AND sickest weeks this year.  Yuck.

Drinking wine while playing a wine-making game
In short, Viticulture is a worker-placement game which lightly simulates managing a vineyard and creating and selling wine.  Now I know a ton of wine-making games have cropped up in the past few years, none of which I happen to have played yet as the complexity of many of them sounded high.  Viticulture manages to keep things fairly simple, thanks to easy-to-explain actions and a wealth of cards.  The quirk that keeps this game different from the abundance of other worker-placement games is that there are two distinct rounds of placement, a summer and winter season, and you need to spread your workers over both which requires a bit of planning.

Overall, it presented a relaxing but strategic experience involving planting vines, giving tours, harvesting and crushing grapes, and bottling and selling wines.  Now, there were a few glitches we experienced mostly due to the ruleset but I am certain we did not have the final version (and I will be sending some suggestions to the designers).  As well, some of the cards did seem a bit wildly powerful (note to future players - grab as many visitor cards as possible) but I know the designers have actually modified a few since we were sent a copy.  One other thing came to light while we played was a possible "perfect" strategy but this may or not be a possibility in a game with less than 6 players.  A certain player who designs games himself decided to choose the same action of giving vineyard tours every round.  He upgraded his building to get an extra point every time he did.  Combining that with one other action and repeating this every round, he managed to win the game by a narrow margin.  Now, I suppose a boring strategy like this can often win as well in a game like Dominion, you know just buying coins repeatedly and taking no actions until you can afford to buy everything.  But still this is something to be aware of.

In general, though, Viticulture is a very well put-together and engaging game.  It's got some chaos in the card draws but I kind of like that as I find worker-placement games can often be quite stiff.  There is a definite satisfying story arc and a relaxed pace to the game as you build up your infrastructure and workers over a few years (rounds) until you can finally produce and sell wine.  And considering how well the Kickstarter campaign is going, this game is going to be a gorgeous production.  It's clear the game has been playtested and that they are still fine-tuning it.  Good to see.

Future artwork
If this sounds interesting to you, definitely check out the Kickstarter site - there are 7 days to go and the designers have already hit enough stretch goals to add specially designed pieces, double-sided gameboards, and wooden buildings.  I kickstarted it, perhaps you might want to, too.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Deadly Danger Dungeon

Hilarious video. Inspires me to make crazy role & move games. Also, makes me wish I still had all my old crazy kid creations from years long past. Anyone else like me out there, who made crazy homemade games like Deadly Danger Dungeon?!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Eric on 570 News

Yay! Our very own Eric Martin was a guest of the Gary Doyle show on 570 news. I tried my best to capture the whole thing on my iPhone - but failed. So my gracious friend Marc Lanctot (founding father of the Great Canadian Board Game Blitz) saved the day and captured this audio file.

Listen HERE

Also, you can see some quotes from Eric & I (plus shout out to Christian Monterroso) about the Great Canadian Board Game Blitz in the KW Record: HERE

How To Make Money with your Game Design

What's your plans this Sunday?!

Game designer Keith Meyers is going to be at Snakes and Lattes in Toronto (600 Bloor St. West) on Sunday September 30, 2012 at 11am for a free 4 hour presentation and discussion and Q and A about the game industry.

Keith is an American designer of games including Shake 'n' Take, Tiki Topple, Sitting Ducks, Second Guess and Fast Figure. In 2008 he published "Paid to Play: The Business of Game Design", a terrific handbook on the practicalities of being a game designer for a living. Snakes will have some copies on hand for purchase at this event.

The Game Design Central website is also one of Keith's productions, a great resource for game inventors - beginners will find a terrific amount of helpful information there. Have a browse through to see what Keith has to offer and what you'll get out of the presentation at Snakes and Lattes.

This event will have a little something for everyone, novices to experts alike, and a great opportunity to meet and talk with someone with a wealth of industry experience.

Im tempted to attend. But not sure how I will do after the Great Canadian Board Game Blitz hangover I anticipate.

And let me know your thoughts if you attend!

-- Daryl Andrews

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Better learn quick...

I realized last night that I've signed up for a Euchre tournament that runs tonight but I have yet to ever play the game.  Been playing madly all lunch on my Ipod, trying to burn into my brain the stupid right Bauer rule (yes, that jack of clubs to the left is NOW a spade). 

I swear I'm gonna renege ten times in this tourney before I get it right....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nasty American politics as lame Monopoly ripoff...

Ah, board games! So often reflecting what people REALLY think.  Not sure which is more offensive - the depiction of people who need social assistance as lazy and useless or the vaguely racist image of Obama as a "Marxist clown".  Kinda reminds me of this game...

(Source, if for some reason you actually want to order it.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Um, I kinda get the feeling you like Monopoly....

Hard to tell if this is a super-fan or an employee of Hasbro.  Definitely not the designer of the game because she's been gone for a long time.

Either way, I think I know which token this person plays the game with....


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Great Canadian Board Game Blitz!!!! (Kitchener-Waterloo edition)

If you're near the Waterloo region of Ontario on Saturday, Sept. 29th, you should really come to the GCBGB event in Kitchener organized by DOM contributor Daryl.  I'll be there helping out as well as contributing from my ridiculous wealth of sadly underplayed games.  What is it, you say?  From the website:
The Great Canadian Board Game Blitz (GCBGB) is a circuit of board game tournaments held at Canadian game conventions and retailers. You play several rounds of games over the span of eight hours, collecting points based on your finishing rank in each game. The finals are held each summer in Toronto at Fan Expo.
Join the Facebook event page for more info the Kitchener event which is only $5 to enter in a LICENSED ESTABLISHMENT (best part!) or the main website for other times and locations throughout Canada.

Hope to see some of you there!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A little test to see whether "Cards For Humanity" is the right game for you...

Do the following images make you

A)  giggle uncomfortably and/or laugh out loud?


B)  look for the unsubscribe button on this here blog page?

"What do old people smell like?"

"What did the US airdrop to the children of Afghanistan?"

If you picked A), you're a sick disgusting individual... and you'll probably enjoy this perverse update of the Apples to Apples formula about as much as we did for 3 hilarious hours last Friday night.  Play it. ASAP.

If you picked B), well, uh, sorry?  I did try to show some of the tamer cards that we encountered in our game.  Seriously, it's that bad.  Don't play it.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you...

Happy 40th birthday, video games!!!!

Definitely want to check out the 'video games as art' exhibit at the Smithsonian...  (Source)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First play: Dominion - Dark Ages....

Instead of reviewing this, I'll just tell you that the theme of Dark Ages is the trash pile. 

And now I'll show you a picture of our trash pile near the end of a 3-player round.  Epic.

About 70 cards in there...