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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Oaks, Elms, and Spruce, oh my!

Abstract is the best way to describe this game. Your currency comes from the sun, the board basically changes every round, and you don’t use meeples, pawns, or miniature warriors – you use trees. Photosynthesis is the name of today’s game, and as a friend of mine said when playing it for the first time, “This is a lot more interesting than what it sounded like.”

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The premise is simple, you start with a couple trees, gain light points, grow those trees or distribute seeds, turn your seeds into more trees, harvest trees when they reach full maturity, and ultimately have the most points at the end of the game – which is the end of the 3rd sun revolution. To break it down further, it’s quite simple. You’ll start the game with two small trees on the board on the outer edge of the forest. This will ensure that everyone is able to receive light points from the first sun revolution stage (there are 6 each spots the sun ends up in each revolution. Using the acquired light points, you can spend them to either grow your existing small trees into medium trees, and then later medium trees into large trees. You can also use light points to place a new seed a pre-determined number of spaces away in order to grow new trees.

Every player will have a player board that acts as a sort of bank. You will need to purchase trees and seeds from your board in order for them to go into your supply and be available to be placed on the forest board. If at any time you remove a tree or seed from the forest board and there isn’t an empty space for it on the player board, you’ll lose that item for the remainder of the game.

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Keep in mind when growing your trees and planting new seeds, that each time a round is over, the sun will shift its position to the next corner. Any trees in the shadows of equal sized or larger trees will not produce light points for that round. Therefor, placement and growth order is a very important strategy that must be used in order to be successful.

Once you get a tree to it’s largest size, you can then harvest it for points! ON each circle on the forest board, there is a specific number of leaves. When you harvest a tree, you gain a point token from the top of the pile of the corresponding leaf number. The point token piles are always placed with the highest point value on top to the lowest point value on the bottom. That means it is more lucrative to grow a tree through it’s stages and harvest it sooner, rather than later, in order to obtain the maximum amount of points.


My Thoughts: This is a nice change from the typical board game theme or mechanics. I’ve never really played another game like it, it’s definitely unique. It’s also another easy to learn game, so new players won’t feel overwhelmed. The first time I played it was fresh out of the box with 3 other people whom had never played it either. We understood all the rules and any questions we had were easily answered by a quick look back at the rules. I have only played this game once so far, but I will give it a 9/10 because I don’t see why I would never consider this game in the future.


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.4
  • Playtime: 30 – 60 min
  • Complexity: 2.33/5
  • Mechanisms: Action Point Allowance System
  • Category: Abstract, Economic, Environmental
  • MSRP: $45

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Let’s Go on an Adventure!

Today I bring you this lovely choose-your-own adventure type game called Above and Below.

Your last village was ransacked by barbarians. You barely had time to pick up the baby and your favorite fishing pole before they started the burning and pillaging. You wandered over a cruel desert, braved frozen peaks, and even paddled a log across a rough sea, kicking at the sharks whenever they got too close, the baby strapped tightly to your back.

Then you found it! The perfect place to make your new home. But as soon as you had the first hut built, you discovered a vast network of caverns underground, brimming with shiny treasures, rare resources, and untold adventure. How could you limit your new village to the surface? You immediately start organizing expeditions and building houses underground as well as on the surface.

With any luck, you’ll build a village even stronger than your last– strong enough, even, to turn away the barbarians the next time they come knocking.

That blurb is straight from the game. It’s a nice set up to a very story driven game. In Above and Below, players compete to gain the most points by developing their village both above… and below… ground.

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Each player gets a board representing the area their village occupies. There is a central market which players can purchase buildings from to construct either above ground or down in the caverns/caves. In order to access caves to build in, players must send villagers to go exploring.

When a player goes exploring, they take the top card of the exploration deck and roll a die to determine which adventure they are going on. Another player will then take the adventure guide and read aloud the adventure, and then give the adventuring player a few different options to choose from. The different options will generally have an ‘explore’ value like ‘explore 3, explore 6’ or perhaps just one value. If the player chooses an option with an explore value, they must roll a die for each character they sent exploring and compare the result with the amount of lanterns received. Each lantern is an explore value, and if the player meets or exceeds an explore vlue for that adventure choice, they gain the result. The result can be a gain or loss in reputation, item loots, money, or even new characters.

All the characters can be used to send on explorations, but only certain characters (denoted by a quill or hammer) can be used to recruit more people into the village or build new buildings. Make sure you don’t overpopulate though, because at the end of each round, all the villagers will need to rest, and you can only rest a number of villagers equal to the amount of beds there are in the village. You can use cider barrels to get around this, but those are usually in short supply.

While you can’t sabotage or attack other player’s villages, you can deny them certain buildings by paying to refresh building rows or buying buildings before others get a chance to.


My Thoughts: I really enjoy this game, and it’s a nice change of pace when you just want a chill board gaming session where you can go on unique adventures and share some laughs. I have found that whoever gains and exploits one or more key or star buildings will usually run away with a victory, so be sure to not ignore those buildings in your strategy. It’s quite straightforward to understand and learn, and the different actions you can take are always the same and easy to understand (similar to the Blood Rage action system). If you enjoy choose-your-own adventure type stories, a laid back game experience, and the village/city building category of games – you should seriously consider picking this one up. I give this one an 8.5/10.


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.6
  • Playtime: 90 min
  • Complexity: 2.55/5
  • Mechanisms: Storytelling, Card Drafting, Action Point Allowance, Dice Rolling, Set Collection
  • Category: Adventure, Book, City Building, Exploration
  • MSRP: $50

Welcome to Carey’s Cardboard Castle!

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Welcome! This blog castle is going to be chock full of tabletop game reviews for all sorts of different games. I say tabletop, because not all games that will be featured here are necessarily played on boards, but they will all involve cardboard of some type I’m sure. There are a few things I’d like to cover with this introductory post before I start laying out the reviews.

Personal Introduction: Born in 1987 in the Hudson Valley region of New York, I’ve grown to enjoy the geekier things in life. I’ve been playing board games for as long as I can remember, starting with the classics like Clue, Sorry, and Monopoly. However, after college I discovered a thing called a ‘game store’. My good friend told me about this place near by that does Magic: The Gathering tournaments, and said I should get into the game and come with him to one of the events.

The first time I walked in there, it was like I discovered a piece of my life that had been missing all along. This little store was called Money G’s Cards and Collectables. When I found this place, it had only been open less than a year. However, as it grew in popularity, it also grew in size. At first they carried strictly card games like Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and YuGiOh. Then miniature war games were introduced in the form of Warmachine. Then Hordes evolved from that, and eventually the store – which I refer to as “The Shop” – relocated down the road to a larger venue. And with the larger venue, came more product. Board games I had never heard of made an appearance, then X-Wing, then Dice masters, it just grew and grew, and kept growing. Moving to larger space after larger space, and acquiring more and more product.

During it’s growth, I became good friends with the owner and recommended different products and became sort of an ambassador of all things non-card game related. Which eventually led me into my board game obsession. As of June 9th, 2018, currently have a little over 40 games which occupy a 6′-6″ tall book case in my living room. A couple more games, and I’ll have to get another one. A lot of my game reviews at first will be of games I currently own, so they may have been out for a few years already, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Which brings me to my next topic…

My Goal: The goal for this blog is to share my love of board games with the rest of the world. While I do that, I hope to inspire other people to get involved in this fantastic… hobby I guess I’d call it, and realize there is an entire world of high quality, entertaining, engaging, and frankly better games out there beyond the ‘Parker Brother classics’. Also, I hope that my reviews will help people make that decision as to whether or not they should buy a game they may be on the fence about.

How it Will Work: Once a week, I will post a blog entry of a review of a unique game. Sometimes this may happen twice a week, but I’d rather promise one week and give the bonus of twice, than promise twice and give the disappointment of one.

The review will talk about my thoughts of the game, how it plays, the style of game it is, how many people it plays, and how long it takes. I will do my best to remember to take pictures, but sometimes I might forget, or not be able to get a good picture, so I’ll use photos of it from somewhere else online.


I’m also open to suggestions of games from readers as well. I’m more than happy to try out something new and report back to you! I’m excited to embark on this adventure, and I hope anyone reading this sticks around and regularly checks back for new reviews!

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