Tag Archives: Board Games

COLT EXPRESS League coming on Tuesday nights in February!

ColtExpressBoxBoard Game League play returns to Games and Stuff!

Starting Tuesday February 7th at 6pm and every consecutive Tuesday throughout the month, we’ll be hosting a COLT EXPRESS Epic Heist League!

Here’s how it works. Every week, you’ll play two games against 2-5 fellow outlaws. For each game you play, you’ll receive “Prestige Points” based on your final standings. First place gets 6 points, second place gets 4, third gets 3, fourth gets 2, and fifth gets 1.

There’s a $5 entry fee each week, and every week we’ll be giving away a copy of the game! Every participant will also receive a special set of cursed loot tokens to add to their game.

colt_express_playmat

At the end of four weeks, the overall winner will receive a special Colt Express deluxe playmat, and a 3D cardboard train station.
Second place finish will receive a train station.

Depending on overall turnout, we’ll also be awarding gift cards to top finishers.

UPDATE! Thanks to our friends at Asmodee Digital, each week we’ll be giving away a code for a free download of the Colt Express app!

NO EXPERIENCE is necessary! We’ll teach everyone how to play!

So get your 6-shooters loaded and ready for action! Yee haw!

INTERNATIONAL TABLETOP DAY! SATURDAY APRIL 30TH!

Join us for an all day long celebration of table top board gaming! This year we are pleased to have Passport Games, Czech Games, and USAopoly as sponsoring partners! The fun starts right at 10am!

Paul will be serving as Master of Ceremonies as he hangs out in the Game Room all day. There will be giveaways, piles of promo items, door prizes and more! We’ll be featuring game demos from our partners such as Warehouse 51, Codenames, and Nefarious.
You are of course invited to bring your games from home or play anything in our extensive board game library!

We’ll also be hosting a Small World tournament at 12 noon. Ten dollars gets you in, and we’ve got a bunch of prizes available including metal turn markers and a limited edition Small World Amazon statue.

And did we mention giveaways?
We’re not kidding. There will be all kinds of goodies given away throughout the day to people participating in the open gaming in the back! We can’t wait to see you!

 

[Card.Board.Box.] #26: The Voyages of Marco Polo Review

VoyagesofMarcoPoloI love it when a game comes along and surprises me.  The Voyages of Marco Polo wasn’t even on my radar much at all when it got an “official recommendation” from the 2015 Kennerspeil des Jahres committee.  Designed by Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini, the minds behind Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar (another Kennerspeil recommendation) it’s certainly got some designer pedigree, and the theme appealed to me, but I didn’t give it too much thought until the buzz machine really started getting loud at the Origins Game Fair, just after the Speil nominees were announced.

But while at Origins and looking for a buzz-worthy, as-yet-unreleased new game to bring back to share with my customers, there was really no competition.

KingsburgSo, the game itself:
my initial reaction was not a good one. At its most fundamental level, Voyages of Marco Polo is a worker placement game of the die-rolling variety, not entirely dissimilar to something like Kingsburg.
The problem is, I hate Kingsburg.  A lot.  I find the die-rolling to be incredibly frustrating, as I don’t really have any compelling choices to make because they’re all limited by the die results.  Long-term planning goes out the window and I often find myself thinking “whatever, I guess I’ll just do this.”  The result is remarkably deterministic for a game involving so many dice. But Voyages of Marco Polo eliminates this problem in a number of intriguing ways, which I’ll get to in a minute.

MarcoPoloCharacters (2)As should be obvious from its title, the game is themed around the famous travels of brothers Niccolo and Maffeo Polo (and Niccolo’s son Marco) and the people that surrounded them at the end of the 13th century.

At the beginning of the game, you’ll be assigned one of eight different characters (they are drafted in the Expert Variant).  Over the course of the next hour to hour and a half, you’ll be travelling the length of Asia with your camel caravans, and completing contracts for trade goods (pepper, silk, and gold) while attempting to reach up to four locations dictated by your hidden goal cards.

The basic mechanics of the game are in fact worker placement, with the “workers” in the form of dice.  You roll your handful of five dice at the beginning of each round before taking turns placing one or more of them. You also have a number of optional “bonus” actions that you may take in addition to placing your dice.

MarcoPoloGrandBazaar

Generally speaking, the number on the die determines the specific quantity or quality of the action you get to perform. Certain actions require two or more dice to be played together, but only the lowest value die is the one that counts.  In the above photo for example, the green player will be receiving three silk for placing his pair of fours on the Grand Bazaar.
Unlike many other worker placement games, in most cases the presence of another player’s dice does NOT preclude you from placing on that same space.  You do, however, have to pay coins (equal to your lowest value die being played) if you are not the first player on that space.
Not only that, but if after you first roll for the turn, the sum of your dice is less than fifteen, you receive the difference in coins or camels.  So not only are low-rolling dice compensated for, but sometimes, given the payment requirement for placing on an already occupied space, low valued dice become desirable.  It’s these two mechanics that more than make up for my frustrations in Kingsburg.
(Note, coins ≠ gold. Gold is a resource, used to complete contracts, and coins are money.)

The available die actions each turn include getting new contracts, traveling,  acquiring coins and resources (including camels which are very important for travel), and earning the “Khan’s Favor” which is a clever way to get exactly the resources you need and prevent opponents from doing the same.

MarcoPoloBoardstate

Traveling, is actually a very expensive endeavor, requiring lots of coins and often requiring the expenditure of camels, depending on the route.  Thematically, this is appropriate, and really makes the idea of attempting to traverse the entirety of Asia really daunting. But if you want to get the points from your goal cards, that is often what you’ll have to do in an effort to visit all of your cities.

The bonus actions available to you each turn are all choices that you can make in any quantity and order, in addition to your basic die-placement action.  These include completing contracts, and most interestingly, paying camels to manipulate the facing of the dice that you rolled!  Camels, as should now be obvious, can become a very valuable commodity.

The variety of cities available is what really makes this game sing. There are two varieties of stopping points along the roads, large cities, and outposts.  At each one, you’ll place one of your Trading Posts when you stop there.

The outposts each have a small reward that is granted at the beginning of each turn to every player that has a trading post present.  These reward tiles are placed in a very specific order, but randomized in the Expert Variant.

MarcoPoloBoxArt2

The larger cities have City Cards that provide new options that open up to every player with a trading post there.  These options are alternate places to put your dice for actions, similar to the way buildings work in Lords of Waterdeep. The game comes with a LOT of City Cards, way more than the eight cities on the board.

This giant stack of cards, combined with alternate Outpost placement, and the variety of characters all contribute to radically different game states and a utterly massive amount of replayability.

MarcoPoloBoxArt1This is one of those games that I can’t stop thinking about. Every time I’ve played I have a completely different set of considerations spinning around my head.  Do I spend the energy to attempt to make routes to all four of my goal cities?  Maybe I need to go out of my way to take advantage of all the options available in remote, exotic Sumatra.  Maybe I’m playing the merchant and I’ve got an excellent flow of trade goods, so completing contracts is my path to victory. Perhaps I’m playing Kublai Khan himself, and instead of starting in Venice, I start way across the other side of the board in Beijing!

It’s the new mix of concerns every game, and the multiple, valid paths to victory that have already brought this game to the table again and again.

 

-Paul Alexander Butler runs Board Game Tuesdays at Games and Stuff. He enjoys playing Voyages of Marco Polo with DVDs of Michael Palin’s world travels running in the background.

-[Card.Board.Box.] is Paul’s catch-all column about gaming for Gamesandstuffonline.com

 

[Card.Board.Box.] #25: Taste Them Again for the First Time

MissionRedPlanetNEW“Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle.” -Jon Snow

We’re living in a golden age of board gaming.  Anybody who says otherwise just isn’t paying attention, or is being willfully contrary.

That being said, there are a large number of games released in the last ten years or so that missed their window of opportunity.  They were released just a bit too soon, and disappeared before the now vastly increased numbers of board-game-playing folks got to experience their wonders.  Lucky for us, there’s a few publishers out there smart enough to realize this, and are bringing back a few gems.

I consider it nothing less than my spiritual duty to inform you about these glorious games that you probably missed on their first go ’round.  Breathe deeply of the incense, focus your mind, and together we’ll go swimming in the mists of time to view your ill-spent past and the redemption of your board gaming future.

TigrisEuphratesTigris & Euphrates
Back in print as the first of Fantasy Flight’s new “Euro Classics” line and available now in a gorgeous new edition with stunning plastic monuments and leader icons, Tigris & Euphrates is the epitome of creator Reiner Knizia’s perfectly balanced mathematical sensibilities.  On it’s most fundamental level, the game sort of plays like Knizia’s Ingenious on steroids.  Simple rules surround a foundation of tile-laying and set-matching, but provide a deep strategically immersive experience inspired by ancient Mesopotamia.

Why does it matter? It’s been referred to as both “The Perfect Game” and in “A Class of its Own” by various reviews.  Tigris & Euphrates is one of those amazing games that’s got gateway-game level instructions, but has almost un-quantifiable depths of strategy.  You’ll be playing this one for a long, long time.

LostCities Lost Cities
This one hasn’t been gone that long, just since summer of last year.  It had something to do with Kosmos deciding to distribute their games themselves in North America instead of letting Rio Grande do it.  But it’s back and on shelves now! A simple two-player card game with a fair amount of depth, players are competing explorers trying to manage their investments and successes across as many as five different expeditions.

Why does it matter?  Also designed by Reiner Knizia, Lost Cities is THE default answer to the question “What two player game can I get my non-gaming spouse to play with me?”  The pseudo-Indiana Jones theme doesn’t hurt, and you can play the game without a board, making it perfect for travel.  And it’s only twenty bucks.

DragonsGoldDragon’s Gold
This one is also already available in a gorgeous new edition from IDW Games.  It’s been published multiple times in Europe since it’s first incarnation in 2001, but this might actually be the game’s first proper US release.
Push your luck against your fellow adventurers as you strive to take home the most dragon gold.

Why does it matter?  Sure, you all work together to take down the dragons, but it’s the strict 60-second time limit on negotiations with your fellow slayers to split the loot that elevates the game. Yup, you’ve got one minute to argue, cajole, and/or convince your companions to give you the gold you feel you deserve. Run out of time before coming to an agreement?  You’ll all leave empty handed.  There’s no other game quite like this.

Fire&AxeFire & Axe: A Viking Saga
Due within the next month or so, Fire & Axe was published independently before being revamped by Asmodee and released in 2007.  Now long out of print, it wasn’t uncommon to see copies sell for $200 on the secondary market.  IDW Games is once again the savior here, with a new edition complete with a total graphic overhaul, due any day now.

Why does it matter? It’s the best viking-themed board game ever made.  Yeah, I said it. Raids on villages, the sack of Paris, bitter frost-riddled settlements on far shores, all while attempting to out-smart and out-sail your opponents… and with a really compelling Euro-style scoring mechanic.  I’ll say it again.  It’s the best viking-themed board game ever made. No, don’t argue, just get it. It’s what Odin would want you to do.

MexicaNewMexica
Part of the celebrated “mask trilogy” of games designed by Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer (that also includes Tikal and Java) Mexica disappeared from shelves over five years ago.  Tikal is a perennial favorite of mine, but sometimes I think Mexica is even better.  Players build canals in the pre-Columbian city of Tenochtitlan, and place pyramids of varying heights to claim the districts which are formed between the canals.  It’s action-points and area control and cool plastic pyramids.

Why does it matter? As far as I’m concerned, the Mask Trilogy is one of the pillars of modern board gaming.  Both Tikal and Torres (the unofficial fourth mask game) won the Speil des Jahres, and as previously mentioned, Mexica might actually be better than either of those. It’s incredibly visually compelling and the new edition, with its textured pyramids and wooden bridges will be an absolutely gorgeous addition to any collection, while the build-them-as-you-go nature of the “areas” that need to be “area-controlled” give the game its unique mechanical spin.

MissionRedPlanetNewPilotCardMission Red Planet
I’ve written about this game in the past, way back in [Card.Board.Box] #3 in 2011. But here’s the short version: Combine designer Bruno Faidutti’s character card selection mechanic with area control and hidden victory conditions.  The new edition from Fantasy Flight Games  features upgraded components, new mechanics featuring Mar’s moon Phobos, and the ability to add a sixth player.

Why does it matter? One of the first steampunk-themed boardgames, Mission: Red Planet is still the best.  The character card mechanics will be familiar to anyone who’s played Citadels, Mascarade, or Lost Temple. It’s got gateway-game appeal, but the hidden card selection rewards multiple plays.

Stronghold2EStronghold (second edition)
From designer Ignacy Trzewiczek (Imperial Settlers, Robinson Crusoe, The Witcher Adventure Game) comes this game of an orc siege upon a human castle.  This is easily one of my favorite games, great as a two player game, and equally fun as a 3-4 player team experience.  Out of print for quite a while, Portal Games and Stronghold Games are making a second edition due out before the end of 2015. (Here’s hoping the original’s Undead expansion gets a reprint too)

Why does it matter? The rich theme feels like the best of Ameritrash, but with mechanics like a Euro.  Win or lose, you’ll have a rich story to tell after the fact.  Like that time the human defenders were utterly blindsided by the suicidal goblin bombers that blew a hole in the ramparts.  Or when all hope seemed lost, mankind released the prisoners from their cells and it was only their added manpower that kept the orcs from the tops of the walls.

MareNostrumMare Nostrum
This one is on my own personal wish list.  One of the few games that escaped me over the years, I’m glad to see it’s getting updated and re-released from Academy Games in a new edition called Mare Nostrum – Empires.  I already have a number of “big” civilization building games in my collection, but this one stands out with multiple paths to victory and a rulebook that’s only two pages long!

Why does it matter? Designer Serge Laget is an unsung hero of the board gaming world, with some truly outstanding titles under his belt, including Shadows Over Camelot, Mystery of the Abbey and Ad Astra (the latter two with designer Bruno Faidutti).  Also, did I mention.. big civ-building game with a two page rulebook?!?

There’s a ton of other re-released hotness coming soon, including Queen’s Neckace, a second edition of the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game, and out now: Dohdles, a remake of the 1988 Speil des Jahres winning  Barbarossa.  Desinged by Klaus Teuber the brain behind Catan, it was one of the earliest clay sculpting party games.

-Paul Alexander Butler is the Store Manager at Games and Stuff, where he’s been running Tuesday Board Game Night for over five years.  He has most of these games in their previous incarnations and would like to infect as many more people with their board gamey awesomeness. Now if only some brilliant publishers would reprint Faidutti’s Fist of Dragonstones or Kramer’s Wildlife, he’d be a happy camper.

-[Card.Board.Box] is Paul’s semi-regular gaming column. Sometimes, he steals the title from twenty-five year old Cornflakes commercials.

Things Obi-Wan Never Told Me: Episode 6

I got to try FFG’s IMPERIAL ASSAULT the other day. And I was impressed.

First, it is really pretty. The pieces are good quality, the board pieces are distinct and well colored without being obnoxious, and the minis cry out to the RPG and miniature player in me for some paint – they look awesome naked but a semi-good painter would make them look even better! The character cards were both appealing to look at and had clear text for how each character’s special abilities worked.

Second, the rules are simple and consistent. It helped that it is clearly based on DECENT: 2nd EDITION, another highly enjoyable game. Anyone who has played Decent will quickly see how the two games relate to each other and will have no trouble adapting to the slight differences between the two.

Third, modular board! While this does increase set-up time, the maps are small enough to not make this a negative. It does allow for a huge array of possible maps. There’s a fortified building, some jungle, a trash compactor…yes, a trash compactor, Death Star style. Hopefully no dianogas…

Finally, it plays quickly and you spend very little time out of play – there is nearly always something you can be doing, sometimes even during other player’s turns (this is particularly true of the smuggler character!). We did three missions in just about two and a quarter hours the other night.

I am actually playing the part of the Bothan sniper in the campaign we started that day, backing up an exiled Jedi and sly Smuggler in our efforts to restore freedom to the Galaxy. Our Imperial opponent (and GM) warned us that so far, he had not lost a match in either of his two other campaigns! We just took this as ‘challenge accepted!’

Our first mission was to destroy four transmitters in a fortified building in six turns or less – and, oh, by the way, the Empire knows you’re coming, so it’s probably a trap. Sure enough, when we arrived there was a big pile of Imps blocking the door when we arrived… but our daring trio barely had to slow down as we blasted and slashed our way through. By the end of the second turn we were at the door, and had disabled the first transmitter. The ambush was sprung – but even that couldn’t stop us. My Bothan and the Smuggler cleared a route for the Jedi, who raced through to get at the two transmitters furthest in, then the Smuggler followed as the Bothan’s precision fire forced the Imperials into a defensive pose.

But two Transmitters were still up as the final turn came up – but both were damaged, and the Imperials were too low on troops to keep us away from them. A glorious swing of the shockstaff by the Jedi wrecked one, and the Smuggler shot the other one apart. My Bothan, wounded in the furious assault, was medevaced back to HQ and made a full recovery in time for our second mission…

But I don’t want to talk too much about the missions; it’s currently the only campaign available for Imperial Assault, and I don’t want to ruin it for other players by giving away its surprises.

The other very good thing about this game is that it has a two-player mode: skirmishes! Both players can recruit heroes and troops for their side (Rebel or Imperial) and duke it out on a larger board as if it was a miniatures game. It uses the same rules as the skirmish, but units tend to be more fragile than heroes. You also have access to some more potent units you probably won’t see in the campaign – Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Chewbacca…

In short, this game is a fine addition to our Star Wars gaming experience. I know I will enjoy playing through the campaign, and I look forward to trying the skirmish battle in the near future.

Tabletop Day 2015!

Tabletop Day 2015 is almost here! This year is bigger than ever and we are pulling out all the stops for this exciting event. We will have loads of great Promos to hand out, Door Prizes to give away, and other amazing ways to celebrate this day of gaming!

In addition to tons of cool giveaways, open gaming, and demos, we will be running the following events:

Ticket To Ride Tournament – The best engineers are assembling to get their railways running! Do you have what it takes? Join us at 1 PM for a Ticket To Ride Tournament with fantastic prizes! First place will go home with a Tenth Anniversary Edition of the game (a $100 value!). Second place wins a set of limited edition translucent trains for their game.
This event is $5.
If you have a copy of the game, please bring it along to maximize the number of participants in the tournament.

CONCEPT Demo Games – Concept is a Spiel de Jahres nominated game of clues and abstract thinking. This amazing party game is an absolute blast and we will be running demos from 2 PM onward. Some lucky players may even win a copy!

Evolution Meet and Beat – Evolution is Northstar Games popular game of creature creation! Andrew from Northstar will be on hand to give you a chance to meet and beat one of the company’s best! Andrew will be on hand from 1 to 5 PM.

There will also be tons of people on hand to run games so feel free to come and join in wherever you can! We have an amazing community of gamers who are always happy to teach new games!

Cards Against Humanity Arrives at G&S!

You have asked time and time again. People have called from all over only to be told no. But that time is past…

Cards Against Humanity is finally available at Games and Stuff! We have the base game, all of the official expansions (1-5), and the one third party expansion (Crabs Adjust Humidity) all in stock.

So what are you waiting for, get over here and start being wrong with your friends!

SuperfightIn addition to CAG, we also brought in the game SUPERFIGHT! This viral sensation features players arguing who would win in the most ludicrous situations you can imagine (George W Bush with Nunchuks and Fire breath vs. Hermione with flaming cabbage and a glass of port). You know, the perfect way to spend an evening with friends!

Superfight and all its expansions are now in stock.