200 MPH on Your Table

I think we can all agree that rolling a die and moving a ‘pawn’ around the outside of a board is one of the most boring game mechanics around. But what if you changed that pawn to a race car, and instead of rolling a die, you had 6 different die to choose from. And what if instead of just going around the outside of a board, you cut in and out around the board and weaved around other cars. And while you and up to 9 others are doing the same thing, you’re trying to reach the finish line without blowing your car up… I present to you – Formula D.

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Let me just start by saying, this board is MASSIVE. It’s actually not even a board, it’s two boards that you unfold and put side by side. This thing is over 3′ wide, and 2′ tall. Not only is this board massive, it’s also double sided! What?! OK, enough about the board. This game also comes with 20 individual cars, each painted a different color than the other. Ten indy style cars, and ten street racing cars. There are 5 different colors, with variations of the colors on each car. This means that you can play up to 10 people at a time, or do 5 person races where each player controls two cars of the same main color.

One of the coolest components of this game though is the ‘dashboard’ that each player gets. It actually has a gear box style section with a little shifter, that you move around to show what gear your car is in. Another cool thing is that for the street racing cars, there are ten unique drivers – all with unique skills and abilities. And to make things even better, the game comes with two sets of rules; a beginner rule set, and an advanced player rule set. Jumping from beginner rules to advanced rules is easy, it basically just breaks your car’s wear points (WP) into different categories, rather than just having 18 ‘blanket’ points.

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Gameplay is insanely simple, but the choices you need to make can either blast you into the front of the grid, or blast you right off the board. All players will start in a random formation and in 1st gear. 1st gear allows a player to roll a 3 sided die with the results of 1 or 2. On a player’s second turn, they can shift their car into 2nd gear, and then roll a 6 sided die with results of 2 – 4, and on their third turn can shift into 3rd gear and roll an 8 sided die with results of 4 – 8. Eventually, if you plan it right, you can throw a 30 sided die with results 21 – 30!! However, you can’t go blasting through corners at maximum speed.

Every turn in the track has a number in a yellow section next to the turn name. That number is the required number of ‘stops’ needed to be taken on your way through the corner. For example – a turn with a 2, means you must end your car’s movement in 2 spots within that turn before leaving the turn. If you fail to stop twice, and only stop once, your car will take damage based on how far it overshot the turn. If you fail to stop in the turn at all – you went way too fast, and went off the track into the wall, and your car is finished for the remainder of the race. However, lose all your WP and you’re out of the race as well. There are a couple more specifics regarding turns, but you can learn about that on your own.

You can play 3, 2, or 1 lap races and even include pit stops. If you really want to get crazy, I suppose you can do more – though I’ve never played a race longer than 2 laps. Just like real racing, first one across the finish line on the final lap is the winner!


My Thoughts: This review is shorter than most I do, but this game is also very simple at its core. However, once you sit down and start playing it, you’ll understand the depth in the strategy and the important decisions you’ll have to make. Should I take the longest route through the corner in order to guarantee I stop the required amount, or do I risk it and take some damage in order to close the gap to the leader, or pull away from the rest of the drivers? If I go through the turn in 2nd gear, I’ll definitely meet the required stops, but do I really want to start the next straight away in 3rd, or would I rather be in 4th? These are the types of questions you’ll ask yourself each time you approach a new corner. I’ve played games where the person who started in 6th place out of 6 drivers ended up winning by the end. I’ve played a 7 player game, where only 5 players were able to finish the race, and one of the players was taken out by a die roll because of a collision check. I’ve yet to play a game where the isn’t some kind of nail biting excitement going on at one point or another. Sometimes I’m not even involved in the situation, but it’s still so intense! There are also a whole bunch of expansions available that provide different tracks to race at, and every expansion has a double sided board… one indy car track and one street racing course. If you think you would enjoy the racing theme and are up for some of the most exciting game play you’ll get from a dice rolling game, you need to acquire this game. If you aren’t really into racing, I still urge you to find someone who has this game and give it a shot – it’s really that good. I give this game a solid 9.5/10 because I can’t imagine a time I will not be excited to put this on the table, or a time where I’ll include it in choices for someone to choose what we should play that night. Not only that, the art is great, the quality of the components is wonderful for what they are, and it’s always a great time playing it. The loss of the 0.5 is that sometimes the rules are a little confusing when they don’t have to be, and it’s kind of a niche theme.


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.0
  • Playtime: 60 min
  • Complexity: 1.99 / 5
  • Mechanisms: Dice Rolling, Grid Movement, Press Your Luck, Player Elimination, Roll and Move
  • Category: Racing, Sports
  • MSRP: $60

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Crafting Windows with Dice

When I was purchasing this game yesterday, my friend asked what it was about.

I said, “You make stained glass windows out of dice! It looks really good!”

He looked at me funny and replied, “Oh yeah… sounds great.”

“Hey, you said the same thing about the tree game (Photosynthesis) and you really liked that one.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to play that night, but I did get some games in with other people, and I even threw down some solo play. All of which will be covered in this review of Sagrada.

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Pretty, aint it? However, games can’t just be good looking and get away with it. They need to be well oiled machines with mechanics that flow together and work well. Everything needs to come together into a cohesive package, and result in game after game of pure fun and entertainment. That my friends, is what Sagrada does exceptionally well, 90% of the time.

In Sagrada, you are competing with other ‘artists’ to make the most fantastic stained glass window. There are restrictions you must abide by, and everyone has their own individual restrictions as well. No two players will ever have a window that looks the same. Everyone begins the game with a secret Private Objective Card. This card has one of five different colors on it – again, no two cards are the same. Each player is then given two of the 12 available Window Pattern Cards, which are also double sided. These cards have varying difficulties which provide players with Favor Tokens that can be used to utilize community Tool Cards. Each player chooses one of the window patterns, and slides it into the bottom of their Player Board, which happens to be a very nice double- layered cardboard, stained glass window.

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Three random Tools Cards, and three random Public Objective Cards, are then placed in the center of the table. Each Public Objective card has a specific pattern or set that must be matched in order to gain a set amount of victory points. Once set-up is complete, it’s time to get crafting!

Sagrada comes with a very nice cloth dice bag, and 90… yes – ninety colorful, translucent dice. Depending on the number of players, a starting player draws a set number of dice, and rolls them. Those are now the die results for the remainder of the round. The starting player chooses 1 die, and puts it in their window starting on any edge or corner spot. If there is a gray shaded die icon, the die placed there must have a result matching that icon. If it’s a solid color, then the die must match the color icon. If it’s blank – there are no restrictions. The next player than chooses a die, and follows the same procedure.

Players are also able to use tool cards by placing 1 favor token on it if it is empty, or 2 if someone has already used it. Choose wisely though – each unused favor token is worth an additional 1 VP at the end of the game. One the dice reach the last player, that player chooses his first die, and then immediately takes another turn. There are now a set of restrictions that must be followed carefully when placing more dice on your window board.

  • Dice must be placed adjacent to an existing die (diagonally or orthogonally)
  • Dice can not be placed orthogonally to another die that shares it’s value or color
  • Dice must follow the restrictions on the space of the Window Pattern Card

Players may also choose to not draft a die on their turn and either just use a tool card, or simply pass.

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Play continues in this fashion for 10 rounds, and then points are totaled to see who crafted the best window using the objectives provided.


My Thoughts: This game definitely deserves all the praise it received when it was released. It’s no wonder it’s the Top 7th game on the list of abstract games on Board Game Geek. The rules are simple, I basically just told you how to play. The rule book is 2 1/2 pages with lots of pictures. But don’t let that fool you. You will be racking your brain on which dice to choose, where the best place for it is so you aren’t locking yourself up later, which tool card to use and when… this game is full of interesting choices to be made by the players. I can’t wait to get this game on the table agai — but wait… I said it’s great only 90% of the time – what about the other 10%? Hands down, this game is meant to be played by 2 – 4 players (5 – 6 with the expansion). However…. this game is listed for 1 – 4  players, and it does include a solo variant.  Because of that – I can’t just ignore that feature. I sat down and played a couple solo games, and lost by a landslide. I’m talking 60+ points as a target score, and only reaching 35. I won’t go into the details of how the solo variant works. It’s mostly the same, with a few … variations … but I don’t think it was play tested enough. I went online to see if maybe it was just me and I suck at solo play, but there were many others who were running into the same issues I were, with some people reporting only one win over 10 plays. I feel if they completely did away with the solo variant, and just marketed this game as a 2 – 4 player game, it would be damn near perfect. However, I can’t ignore a section of the game that was added in. With that said, I still give this game a solid 8.5 / 10. The replay value is very high with the different window patterns, and the fact that every game has a different scoring procedure based on the always random objective cards. I can see this being a game that I consistently bring to board game nights, or ask if company wants to give it a shot. It’s super approachable, and it’s a really beautiful game.


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.6
  • Playtime: 30 – 45 min
  • Complexity: 1.86 / 5
  • Mechanisms: Card (Dice) Drafting, Dice Rolling, Pattern building, Set Collection
  • Category: Dice, Puzzle, Abstract, Family
  • MSRP: $40

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Villains Rule, Heroes Are Annoying

I’ll be honest, I was a bit skeptical when I was asked to play this game yesterday. Mainly because of the big ‘Disney’ logo on the front of the box. I’m always up for trying new games though, so I gave it a shot – and boy, was I pleased!

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Disney released a new board game called Villainous the beginning of this month. It’s a game where you and the other players choose a famous Disney villain and are competing the complete your dastardly objective before anyone else. My first game of this, I played as Price John from Robin Hood, and the other two players chose Ursula and Jafar. The thing that makes this game quite interesting, is that everyone’s win condition is different. For instance, Prince John needs to start his turn with 20 power. However, Jafar needs to get the Magic Lamp to the palace, and have Genie under his control. But things aren’t always as easy as they seem. Your opponents will have opportunities during the course of the game to send heroes – specific of your realm – to counter your progress.

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Let me just say first, this game is super thematic. Each player board has 4 different locations specific to the movie/realm they are from. Each player will also have a token piece that represents their villain. Players will move their token to a different location within their realm each turn to use actions. The image above, is my Prince John board, and Jafar’s board after turn 2 of the game I played last night. Each location will have a specific number of available actions (Usually 4+/-). The actions allow you to; gain power, play a card, activate an ability, fate an opponent, move an item or ally, move a hero, vanquish a hero, or discard cards.

You’ll have two decks, one with all your evil tricks, items, and allies, and another deck containing heroes specific to your realm. Most of the abilities are self explanatory, so I’ll just be covering Fate and Vanquish. Fate allows you to draw the top two cards of your opponent’s Fate Deck (the deck of heroes). You will then choose one of those two cards to play. Sometimes it’s a hero, sometimes it’s an ability that affects a hero or negatively affects the villain in one way or another. If you choose a hero, you send that hero to a location in that Villain’s realm. The hero then covers the top two actions, preventing that player from using those actions at that location. Heroes can become quite annoying.

So how does one deal with a hero? You vanquish them of course! The vanquish action allows you to compare strength values of your allies against the hero(es) of the same location. If your ally’s strength meets or exceeds that of the hero’s, the hero and any allies used to accomplish that are discarded. That spot the hero was occupying is now has the actions available for use again.

The concept and rules are very simple, but the strategy is definitely there. Knowing when to play a card, or what cards to discard to draw something better is very important. At the end of every turn, you will draw back up to 4 cards (standard maximum hand size). I lost to Jafar by 2 turns last night, making it a very close game. For quite a while I was combating heroes and having to spend my precious power in order to play cards. At the end of the game, I had 19 power – 1 short of what I needed to start a turn with.


My Thoughts: Absolutely surpassed my expectations. I went into this game thinking it was going to be some cheesy simplistic game – with the hopes it wasn’t. The rules are indeed simple, which is great, but there are definitely important decisions to make. When do I play this card instead of the other one? Should I discard this card this round? Which location should I move to where I can get the most use out of the actions available? You’ll be asking yourself these questions almost every turn. The thematic elements are amazing as well, and the components are great (beside the cheap power token bowl) with great artwork on the cards. With 6 different villains to choose from, and each having their own unique win condition or objective, the replay value on this game is huge. Also, being that there are only 6 villains, you can be sure future expansions with new villains will be coming out in only a matter of time. They already have a site you can go to and vote for which villain you’d most like to play as. I give this game a solid 9/10.


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.6
  • Playtime: 50 Min
  • Complexity: 2.22 / 5
  • Mechanisms: Hand Management, Take That, Variable Player Powers
  • Category: Card Game, Movie Theme, Family
  • MSRP: $40

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Taxi to Ride

No, that’s not a typo. Today’s review is a Ticket to Ride game, but instead of trains, you make routes with taxis! I’m talking about Ticket to Ride New York!T2R-NY-Game-Setup-LR

I have not yet done a review on classic Ticket to Ride, but I will at some point. This version of it was released very recently and is a great, quick game to pick up. Set up is easy as handing out little bags of taxis and shuffling two decks, and dealing cards to each player. The game plays in 10 – 15 minutes, which allows for multiple plays in a short period of time where you can try different strategies or attempt different route ideas.

The gameplay is simple and is taught in just a few minutes. On each players turn, they have 1 of 3 options for tasks they can perform. They can grab two colored transportation cards (unless one is a face up wild – then that is the only card you can grab) from either those face up or from the top of the draw pile. Another option is to discard matching colored cards to place down a line of taxis between two points on the map. The third option is to draw two ticket cards, keeping at least one.

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Play continues until a player ends their turn with 2 or fewer taxis. Then every player, including that player, gets one last turn. At the end of the game, points are added for routes on the board, completed tickets, and connected tourist attractions. Tourist attractions are what make this version of Ticket to Ride unique from the others (beside the taxis). The locations with a penny – instead of a red dot – are tourist attractions. You get 1 point for each tourist attraction that you attach to your network with 1 or more routes.

And that’s the game! That’s mainly all you need to know to play Ticket to Ride New York!


My Thoughts: I really like this version of the game. I’ve only played the anniversary edition of Ticket to Ride with the 1920 expansion. I can’t really give you a rank on where I’d put this based on other versions. I’d really like to get my hands on Rails and Sails though! This game though is a fantastic grab. Super simple to teach, quick to set up, and plays in no time at all allowing multiple plays at a time. With the smaller board than typical TTR games, you really have to be aggressive with route planning, because you can easily be cut-off and have to take a long way. However, you also want to keep an eye on the tourist attraction locations and try to link as many as you can into your lines. Overall, I give this game an 8.5/10


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.2
  • Playtime: 10 – 15 min
  • Complexity: 1.33 / 5
  • Mechanisms: Card Drafting, Hand Management, Set Collection, Route/Network Building
  • Category: Trains
  • MSRP: $20 (Target Exclusive)

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Dragon Overlords are Real

Ok, maybe they aren’t really real, but they exist in Dragoon! This game is slated to release to retail this summer. It is a kickstarter game that raised $88k of it’s $9k goal, and was able to be acquired for a regular cost of $45. The copy I played the other day was with the deluxe “board” (it’s really a roll out cloth “board”, which is very nice) and metal figures.

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The gameplay is very simple. During your turn, you must take 3 actions, with each action having a variable cost from 0 – 2. Your goal is to trample across the lands, claiming or destroying towns and cities while collecting – or stealing – tribute. Tribute comes in the form of gold, and the first person to reach 50 gold wins the game. You can either gain gold from the humans in their villages/cities, or steal gold from the opposing dragons through combat or taking it straight from their cave!

There are also cards you acquire each turn which let you do special things like move spaces for free, gain an extra action, prevent someone from stealing your claimed village/city, or even rampage across the board laying waste to everything you come upon. However, between each round, the humans continue to populate the land, raising more villages and possibly even turning villages into cities.

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Honestly, there isn’t much more to say about this game – but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a very easy to learn game that is approachable by people of all experience and skill levels. Sometimes it just takes being in the right place at the right time, and suddenly you are able to scream across the scoring track, other times you can be sitting pretty with 4 claimed villages/cities, and suddenly someone lays waste and destroys everything of yours, and hordes the gold for themselves.


My Thoughts: I really enjoyed playing this game. It was a nice relaxing, banter filled game with simplistic rules and a straight forward strategy. There were no convoluted rules or ways to go about things. I also didn’t feel at some point in the middle of the game that I suddenly understood something better than before, because it’s just so approachable right out of the gate. First impressions of this game, I’d give it an 8/10. I really enjoyed it and would recommend picking it up if you enjoy the theme and the minimalist art style.


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.3
  • Playtime: 30 – 60 min
  • Complexity: 2.08 / 5
  • Mechanisms: Action Point Allowance System, Area of Control, Area Movement, Dice Rolling, Grid Movement, Hand Management
  • Category: Dice, Fantasy, Fighting, Medieval
  • MSRP: $45 (I’m assuming the price based on the Kickstarter tier)

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This IS the Game You’re Looking For

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Man, I really wish I could take the original trilogy of Star Wars and do it a little differently.”? Or perhaps you’ve said it to someone else. Maybe you want it to be relatively the same, but would rather have played it out yourself. But perhaps all you really want is just Star Wars in a box. Well Star Wars Rebellion by the wonderful people at Fantasy Flight Games lets you do just that by giving you the entire original trilogy in a box.

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If you want to experience an entire galactic war and movie series within the confines of a box, then this game is for you. Clear your schedule though, because this won’t be a quick sit-down – it’s an epic game of epic proportions. To date, this is the most complex game I have reviewed as well. A lot goes on in this game, which is nice because it provides endless entertainment the entire play through. There are always decisions that need to be made, things changing, or battles being fought.

This game plays 2 – 4 players, but is best played with just 2. One player controlling the Imperials/Empire, and the other player controlling the Rebels. In the cases of 3 or 4 players, 2 players will split the responsibilities of a faction, where one player will control the Navy (fleets, space combat, etc.), and the other player will control the Ground combat, Generals, and ‘politics’. Each round is split up into 3 phases with a handy guide on the back of the rule book to reference.

Players will begin each round with the Assignment Phase, where they will assign leaders to mission cards that are kept face down, beginning with the Rebels. These mission cards have multiple different uses, some missions are repeatable, while others are a one time use. Certain missions will be used to capture or free a leader, produce units or ships, or mess with the opponent in one way or another.

Once the Imperial player chooses their missions, players move to the Command Phase, where they take turns revealing missions (in the order they choose), or activating systems in order to move units. Players can attempt to block missions of the opposing side by sending non-assigned leaders to face off and try to block the mission attempt. Once a leader is used, it goes to the board in order to carry out a mission, block a mission, or move units. Leaders on the board cannot be used again that round.

If a player moves space units into a system where the opponent has space units, a battle begins. Space battles are resolved first, and then ground battles are resolved if there are units from each side in the system.

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Once all players are finished revealing missions and/or moving units, the round moves to the Refresh phase. During this phase, players will retrieve their leaders from the board for use in the following round. They will also draw new mission cards, the Imperial player will launch a probe droid in order to attempt to locate the rebel base, and the Rebel player will draw an objective card. The time marker is then moved one space along the track, and available units are deployed.

If the Imperial player finds and destroys the rebel base, they win. If the Rebel player can gain enough reputation by completing objectives to where the time marker and the Rebel reputation marker are on the same spot, the Rebels win the game.


My Thoughts: Man, do I love this game! I give it a 9.5/10, and the only reason I won’t score it a 10/10 is because it just takes a long time to play it, so it’s not something I’ll always suggest playing. But with the right person and with the available time, I would rather play this game over anything else. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and this is absolutely Star Wars in a box. The action is constant, the game gets super tense toward the end – when the base has been discovered by the Imperials, and there are two spots between the time marker and the Rebel’s reputation marker… very tense. And you just get so much in the box; more than 150 miniatures, a massive amount of cards, and a two piece game board that includes 32 iconic systems.


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 8.5
  • Playtime: 180-240 min
  • Complexity: 3.63 / 5
  • Mechanisms: Area Control, Area Movement, Dice Rolling, Hand Management, Variable Player Powers
  • Category: Fighting, Miniatures, Movie Theme, Wargame, Science Fiction
  • MSRP: $99.95

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It’s a Small World After All

If I just caused that awful song to be stuck in your head, I apologize. It is though, the perfect title for today’s feature game – Smallworld. Smallworld is a great entry level area of control game. If you want to introduce people to the area of control mechanic, definitely consider this game as your starting point.

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Smallworld comes for Days of Wonder, the same people who supply the world with the wonderful Ticket to Ride series. This game comes with two different boards for different player counts so the game is well balanced and competition for zones is inevitable. Players will compete during the course of the game to control the most area with their race(s) in order to earn the most coins.

Players begin selecting a race which is randomly selected an ability. They will gain a specific number of race tokens equal to the number found in the top corner of each the race card and the ability card. They will then distribute their race tokens across the land following specific placement rules. After placing their tokens, they will count the number of areas they control, add any bonuses from their race/ability cards, and then collect that number of coins.

The next person will go, select their race, and spread across the land. Players are able to take areas occupied by other players as long as they have 2 more race tokens available to place than what is in the area. For example, if an area is occupied by 2 race tokens and a different player wants that area, they will need to place at least 4 tokens to take that spot. Once the player runs out of race tokens, it then continues to the next player.

Once all players have taken their initial turn with that race, they collect race tokens off the board, leaving no more than 1 token in each area. If they want to abandon an area, they may do so. They then use what tokens they gathered to redistribute across the map, gaining even more area. There will come a time when you are just stretched out too thin, or you’ve lost too many tokens through battles. If that is the case, you may use your turn to put your race into decline. It gets flipped over and now becomes inactive. On your following turn, you will get to choose a new race to conquer with.

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Play continues for a pre-determined number of rounds based on the number of players. It’s a very simple game to understand, but your strategy will be very important. When is it time to make your current race inactive and choose a new one? Misjudge it by just a turn, and it can throw your whole flow off. Is it better to stretch out as wide as possible, or is it better to reinforce key areas you’ll get extra points for? With each game being unique in regards to the race+ability combinations, you’ll rarely ever see the same combination twice.


My Thoughts: I give this game a solid 8.5/10. While it’s not the most innovative or tense game out there, it does what it’s meant to do very well. There is a lot of player interaction which leads to constant banter and excitement as you vie for different areas, sometimes flip-flopping them multiple times throughout just a few rounds. It is an excellent game to introduce people to the area control mechanic in order to introduce more complex games like Blood Rage or Scythe. There have also been expansions released which add different races to the game as well, some even add new regions. I always add in the Be Not Afraid… expansion, which adds in a few more races without complicating the game any further.


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.3
  • Playtime: 40 – 80 min
  • Complexity: 2.36/5
  • Mechanisms: Area Control, Area Movement, Variable Player Powers,
  • Category: Fantasy, Fighting, Territory Building
  • MSRP: $45

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