News Post #1

Hey everyone! Hope your July was fantastic and your summer has been enjoyable. I’m going to start a new segment in my blog for board game news! It will mostly be reports on upcoming games and new releases, but it could be news on companies, publishers, designers, etc. as well.

First off, I’d like to announce I’ve made a Facebook Page for my blog, if you’re on the book of faces, I’d appreciate you dropping a like on the page which you can find by clicking here! I’ll be cross posting blog article links on there, but will also be sharing some shorter tidbits of information that don’t warrant an entire blog post.


Two New Marvel Games Incoming

Marvel Champions: The Card Game

This is a cooperative Living Card Game (LCG) from the Marvel universe for 1-4 players. Players will assume the roles of iconic Marvel Superheroes as they band together to take on the infamous villains of the Marvel universe. The core set will include everything you need to play as Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Black Panther, or She-Hulk.

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Unlike other LCGs, Fantasy Flight is claiming that you will only ever need to purchase one Core Set copy. Gone are the days of needing two or even three copies of a core set to flesh out your decks.

The game brings the epic battles that define the Marvel Universe to your tabletop, inviting you to select a hero for you to embody and a scenario consisting of a dastardly villain and their devious scheme. Each villain and scheme provides a different experience, but all are challenges for your heroes! Nevertheless, if you can fight through the villain’s various forms and thwart them with a combination of teamwork, skill, and luck, you and your fellow heroes will emerge as champions!

But it won’t be that easy. Every villain has their own encounter deck, full of minions and tactics, ready to knock out the heroes before they can save the world.

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If you’ve ever played Sentinels of the Multiverse, this sounds a lot like that description, minus all the Marvel things. From what I’ve seen through conversations online, some people are saying there are differences. I’m not super experienced in Sentinels though, so I don’t want to say much about that and lead anyone astray. You can read more about this new game here though.

Marvel Crisis Protocol 

Not a ton of news on this one yet, but it’s a Tabletop Miniatures Combat game, by Atomic Mass Games. It features classic superheroes and villains from the Marvel Universe. Players will assemble a team of heroes and villains and then battle their friends in a 1v1 free-for-all. Miniatures will be made of high quality hard plastic, and will need to be assembled and painted by players. A Core Set will be released this fall, with new figures and content released on a monthly basis.

Here are a few pictures that have made it to the internet from the Gencon Announcement:

This one is reportedly due for a Fall 2019 release. Miniatures will come unpainted and assembled.


New Ships for Star Wars Armada

Fantasy Flight Games also announced two new ships for Star Wars Armada. These ships come from the Aftermath Novel trilogy by Chuck Wendig. The two ships are the Nadiri Starhawk for the Rebels and the Onager-class Star Destroyer for the Empire.

Both ships are slated for release in Q4 of 2019. There will be further information on these two expansions at a later date.


 

I’ll leave you with these 3 announcements for now. In the meantime, I’ll be scouring the internet for some good resources for breaking news posts. This coming week I’ll be away for a week, so it will probably be a while before you see another news post. ‘m definitely excited about doing this format as it’s a refreshing break from reviews, and it is a nice change of pace.

The Bird Craze Sweeping the World

A brief aside:

First, let me apologize for not doing a review in over 7 months. I don’t think I have had any hardcore followers, so this apology might be going out into the voids of the internet, but I feel bad about it. I’ve been playing games right along, so I have tons of potential review content. I’m going to aim for pumping out a review per week for the next few months. Aim for the stars, land on the moon – right?


Wingspan

The new game of 2019 that is sweeping the world over! In fact, just this week it won the Kennerspeil 2019. For those who don’t know what that is:

The German Kennerspiel des Jahres, first awarded in 2011, expands the prestigious Spiel des Jahres to recognize the “connoisseur/expert game of the year”. (“Kenner” can be translated as both “connoisseur” and “expert”, among other terms.) These are games which are meant for a more experienced audience, and where the Spiel des Jahres typically recognizes the best games for the entire family, the Kennerspiel des Jahres is more for gamers looking for games which present more of a challenge.

With that being said, let’s get right into the review!

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Wingspan is a game about birds. It’s about what birds eat, what kind of nests they make, what habitats they live in, and their behaviors. You don’t need to know anything about birds to play this game, but I promise you’ll learn something about a species or two by the time you are done. The game plays 1 -5 players, and plays in 40 – 70 minutes. The reason for such a time gap is because with 2 players, you can definitely get a game in within 40 minutes. With 5 players, you’re most likely looking at 70 minutes. It’s a medium-weight, card driven, engine building game.

Engine building games are ones where players start with very little and build a system of interactions (in this case cards) that produce constant results.  For instance, in Wingspan, you might need food to play a bird. You put a cube in the left most empty space (a space not containing a card) of the forest, and you can gain 1 food from the feeder. You gain a food because the cube activates the spot, and that spot allows you to gain 1 food. But wait! This is an engine builder!

Put a bird (card) in the forest, and now when you go to get food, you can gain 1 food from the feeder and also discard a card for an additional food because that’s the new left most empty spot.

Now let’s say that bird you played in the forest was a Northern Cardinal. The Northern Cardinal card has a “brown power” which allows you to gain a berry (food type) from the supply whenever you activate the Northern Cardinal. Screen-Shot-2019-02-11-at-11.14.48-AM-1024x480.jpg

So let’s play this turn out. You put your cube in the left most empty space in the forest. The spot becomes activated, and you gain your food, and choose whether or not to discard a card to gain an additional food. Now, you move the cube one spot to the left, which is now where the Northern Cardinal is. When activated, the Northern Cardinal allows you to gain a berry from the food supply. This means, now your forest that at most could get you one food, now can get you a maximum of 3. Keep playing birds in the forest, and the food gaining possibilities become greater and greater.

Every habitat works basically the same. The Forest gets you food, the meadow gains you eggs, and the wetlands gain you cards. If you understand one habitat, you understand them all – trust me.

Each round, you’ll have a set number of turns that decreases by 1 each round. The game lasts 4 rounds, and players then count up their score. You score points for each individual bird, each egg token on your board, each food token on your board, each card that is tucked behind a bird, points for any bonus cards you completed, and points for end-of-round goals you may have achieved.

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I’m not going to get into all the rules and nuances of the game, since this is just a review and not a rules guide. For the most part though, this game is very straight forward with how things work. You pick a habitat (row), start in the left most empty space with one of your available cubes, and then work your way to the left side activating each space/card.


My Thoughts:

This game is excellent! Absolutely excellent. We taught my 77 year old grandma how to play, and by the 2nd round she was making her own decisions and firing off slick combos. The rules booklet is easy to follow, the rules are simple and concise, and it’s a breeze to pick up. I’ve played it with people who love birds, and I’ve played it with people who can’t tell a titmouse from a nuthatch. No one has told me they didn’t enjoy the experience. The art is great, there are little tidbits about each bird at the bottom of every card, and there is no bird in the game that appears twice. There are 170 birds in this game, and I promise you’ll never have the same game experience twice. Beside every bird card being unique, there are 8 double sided goal tiles that are randomly picked for each game. So even the 4 end of round goals will always be different or at least in different rounds each time you play. The replay value is high, the component quality is above and beyond, as is common with Stonemeier published games… it’s an absolute boardgame masterpiece. If you enjoy birds, pick this game up. If you enjoy engine building games, pick this game up. If you are lukewarm about birds and not sure if you like this style of game, find someone who owns it and give it a shot. I’m scoring this game a 9.5/10 it’s really that good. By the way, did you know that in most North American bird species, only males sing, but female cardinals break that rule? If you didn’t, you might have after playing Wingspan!


Boardgamegeek.com Stats:

  • Rating: 8.1
  • Playtime: 40-70 min
  • Complexity: 2.37 / 5
  • Mechanisms: Card Drafting, Dice Rolling, Hand Management, Set Collection
  • Category: Animals, Card Game, Economic, Educational
  • MSRP: $55

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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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