Tag Archives: Boardgames

Xenoshyft Dreadmire, a boardgame for 1-5 players by Cool Mini or Not (2016)

In the time where I still played computergames, there was a certain type of mission that I always truly hated. I can tell you that many a controller almost died, when I let out my anger on that helpless piece of machinery. The type of missions that I am talking about, is the ones where you had to defend a base from a couple of waves of enemies. Usually there was a timer, and you saw that one advancing in agonizing slowness, while the health of your base dropped faster than you could even blink. Aagh, I get frustrated by even thinking about it. But we all know that anger can lead to the Dark Side (yes Master Yoda), so I’m pretty glad I don’t play computergames anymore. No, these days I am back to oldschool gaming. You know, those games that don’t use computers or controllers, otherwise also known as boardgames. Last year I purchased the excellent card/boardgame Xenoshyft Dreadmire. In this game for 1-5 players you have to defend your base from being overrun by alien enemies. Wait, what? Erm….that can’t be right? Can it?

Components

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Yup…it’s a pretty big box. 

This being a cardgame it is probably not going to come as a really big surprise that this game contains cards. And a lot of them as well. You will find close to 400 cards in this box, that feature the different types of enemies, troops, weapons and other stuff that you are going to be dealing with in this game. But these aren’t just any normal types of cards. No, you will find that the illustrations on these are serious works of art. The vile enemies that you will face in this game are absolutely disgusting and horrid creatures. And the illustrations that depict them are truly the stuff of nightmares. Also included are a couple of cardboard boards, on which you will place the cards as well as the troops to defend your base (more on that below). Rounding out the game are a couple of plastic tokens that you use to keep track of health and powers, and a rules booklet. (Well, duh …you do want to learn this game don’t you?). The rulebook is written very clearly and gives enough examples to learn you the game in basically no time at all. And if you have trouble remembering a rule, you can find it quite easily during gameplay. Besides the rather dull boards, the components are top notch, and awesome to look at.

Game overview

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Hey, I already said the artwork for this was amazing right?

This game is being described as a strategic base defense deck builder. That is quite a mouthful isn’t it? But it is not as hard as it sounds. This game takes place in a science fiction universe where the Nortec Corporation is trying to recover the very precious resource called Xenosathem. This being the ultimate energy source that powers weapons and basically provides unlimited power, it is a highly coveted commodity. But it also has a nasty side effect: it turns the indigenous lifeforms into horrifying monsters. Of course this doesn’t stop a greedy corporation from wasting precious human lives in order to recover this stuff. And that’s where you, the players come in. This game simulates one of those mining operations, where you have to defend the Nortec base from being overrun in a series of nine game rounds.

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Just a couple of the friendly neighbourhood creatures you will encounter.

Everyone starts of with a set of basic lowlevel cards. Some of these cards can be used to buy new troops and weapons in order to make your deck of cards more powerful. And that’s where the word deckbuilder comes into play. When everybody has bought their cards the “fun” begins. The troops and weapons you have purchased are placed on a player’s lane, and will be your first and only line of defense against the horrible creatures that are trying to destroy your base. Of course there is a limit to the number of troops and weapons you can place, and as such players have to think strategically what they are going to be using. When everything is placed, the enemies enter an opposing lane. There are three waves of enemies that players need to survive, and each wave consists of three rounds. So in other words players need to overcome nine rounds in order to win the game.

Each wave you can buy more powerful stuff, but the enemies also become stronger. After the enemies are placed combat begins. Enemies deal their damage to troops first, but when there are no troops left, the base gets damaged instead. The base has a certain amount of damage it can take, and when it’s down to zero, it’s game over. So that in a nutshell is how this game gets played. Pretty simple huh?

Difficulty

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Definitely not something you see every day…..

This game is quite easy to learn. Especially if somebody is around that has played the game before and can teach it to other players. But even if you play the game by yourself, it’s relatively easy to get the hang of it. It’s the winning part though, that is an entirely different matter. This game is brutal. I have played it solo for about 7 or 8 times now, and I have not won the game even once. The closest I got was to round 8. Even when I played the game together with other players, that was the highest result that I have so far managed to achieve. There is a luck factor in this game as well (some combinations of enemies are just so powerful that no matter how well you prepare, you can’t really do anything about it), but it also comes down to thinking a lot. And that’s what I really like about it. Figuring out certain combinations of cards that really work well and manage to achieve great results is just one of the fun things this game has in store for you.

The Verdict

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It goes without saying that it takes a while to put sleeves on these cards. 

Well, what can I say this game is awesome. Even though it is incredibly tough, and victory has still eluded me so far, I have had a truly fun time playing this game. The cards look amazing, and the mechanics of this deckbuilder work really well. Not only that, it provides a good challenge, and because of the sheer amount of cards included no two games are ever the same. This is a game for people who love science fiction, and also enjoy to use their brains in order to beat a game, and not just luck.

I give Xenoshyft Dreadmire a 9 out of 10 score.

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Special Features Presents: And now…the end is near!

Don’t worry, I am not going to be closing down my blog. This is just the final post that I am going to be writing. For this year that is. Everyone has been saying it: “Wow, has this year flown by”. And it certainly has. For me this year has had it’s ups and downs. More downs than ups if I am going to be honest, but I don’t want to write my final post of the year as a depressive one. In short I want to make this a cool and fun post to celebrate the end of this year. And what better way to do that, than in showing you all my favorite things that I read, watched and played in 2017. But before I start on that I also want to say that this first full year of blogging has been amazing. I have seen my blog grow in ways that I really did not expect. I have met an awful lot of new bloggers along the way, and some of them have turned into a couple of really amazing friends. Combined with the people I already knew I can really say that I could not live without my blog anymore. It’s become a part of me, and I want to thank each and every one of you that has ever read a post, left a comment or a like. You really are all amazing, and I hope the new year is going to bring you all only fun and good things. And now, let’s kick off this end of year post shall we?

Favorite movie of the year: Bladerunner 2049

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If someone would have told me a few years ago that Blade Runner 2049 would end up as my favorite movie of the year I would have flat out laughed out loud. As I really thought that this sequel to such a classic science fiction masterpiece would be doomed to fail. But I was proven wrong. This beautiful movie had everything in it. It expanded the story of the original film, and combined with breathtaking visual effects, some solid acting and a brilliant score this one is simply the reason why I love movies so much. I can’t wait to own this one on dvd, to watch it over and over again. My absolute number one film for this year.

Favorite anime of the year: Your Lie in April

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One of absolute highlights of 2017 was the watch-a-long with Weekend Otaku for the breathtaking animeseries Your lie in April. I know this one was released in 2014,  but for me it was the first time I saw it this year. What can I say about this beautiful show that has not already been said? It’s an emotional roller coaster that this show takes you on, but it’s one well worth taking. You would be wise to stock up on numerous boxes of tissues because I guarantee that you are going to cry multiple times. But this is a show that is simply put: perfect. I had never thought I would like a slice of life show as much as I ended up enjoying this one. It’s still my number one alltime anime series to date.

Favorite Korean Drama of the year: Goblin

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On the front of Korean dramas I have had a very disappointing year. As in: I saw way too few of them (Sorry about that Kay). I plan to really watch more of these next year, as there are quite a number of them that I still want to see. My favorite pick for this year was really easy though. Goblin was an amazing drama with high production values, a beautiful and heartwarming story but best of all were the characters. They really made this series into an incredible fun watch. I’m not one that usually likes comedies, but the humor in this drama was just hilarious. I really had to laugh at so many scenes. But this certainly wasn’t a comedy as there were also many exciting, tearful but also quite horrifying scenes. If you have never seen a K-drama before this might be a very good place to start.

Favorite Tv Series of the Year: Stranger Things 2

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When a first season for a series is highly succesful and a second season gets announced, fans look forward to it, but obviously are very anxious for it at the same time. What if it sucks? Stranger Things is a show that proves that a second season can be just as good, if not at times even better than the first one. While overall I did think the first season was just a tiny bit better, this second season was just a blast from start to finish. The entire 80’s vibe, the wonderful characters (both old and new), and the storyline combine to make this a show that you can’t stop watching until you have finished it. It was an absolutely amazing watch, and I am already looking forward to next year where season 3 will hopefully give us that same experience again. Stranger Things is simply put: awesome!

Favorite Book of the Year: Sisters of Battle

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Ugh, as with Korean Dramaseries, reading books this year has really been underwhelming. I have such a huge pile of books that I still need to read, and because of the wonderful Dani ,Kim and Didi my Good Reads to read list has completely exploded. (Thanks for that girls 😢 Just kidding, you know I love you 😊). And now there are the wonderful Lashaan and Trang that also keep adding books to this seemingly never ending list. But I did read some books this year, and my favorite was also one that I finished quite recently the Sisters of Battle Omnibus. This one was just a blast to read from start to finish. Great characters, explosive battlescenes and just a terrific science fiction setting are just a couple of the things that made this novel so much fun. But the girlpower is what gave this book it’s real edge. This was a pageturner and a book that I could hardly put down.

Favorite Boardgame of the Year: Eldritch Horror

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When it comes to boardgames it simply doesn’t get any better than this. Eldritch Horror is a fantastic horror/fantasy boardgame that I gave a well deserved perfect score. It’s a joy to play, even when playing it solo, because of the great narrative components it contains. You will find yourself racing across the world trying to prevent an ancient evil from awakening. In the meantime you will experience all sorts of adventures that are always different whenever you play this game. If you love reading books or watching adventure movies, this is a game you should definitely consider adding to your collection. Trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed by this in any way.

Final thoughts

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Well people: that’s it. Time for me to call it a day. At least for this year that is. I hope you will all enjoy the upcoming final day of the year. If you are going to be using fireworks please make sure you aren’t going to blow any of your hands off. I do want to see each and everyone of you back safely next year. Speaking of next year, I will continue to write about the things I love the most, but I do want to bring a little bit more structure into my blog, as it has sometimes been going all over the place. I have also been thinking of a few new features I want to add, but that is a story for later. As always thank you for reading this and for your amazing support the past few months. See you all next year! 😀😀

Blog Update

Maybe a few of you have noticed, but the past few days I have been a little bit less active on my own blog, and commenting on posts from your blogs. Now, no worries, my blog is not going to shut down or anything like that. I have just been a bit busier than usual, (and a bit more stressful lol), as these are the final days before my three week vacation from work. As such I have a lot of things I need to finish before I can finally go on my break. This does mean that in the upcoming days I will in all likelyhood miss out on a few posts from you, for which I apologise in advance. The good news is that after the upcoming weekend I will have a lot more time on my hands. So I thought I would share some things that will be coming up in the next few weeks.

Upcoming Reviews

Movies

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I have seen quite a number of movies that I haven’t been able to write a review for yet. As you have come to expect from me, these movies are all from very different genres. Reviews that will be coming up are: Kong:Skull Island, The Wailing, Lethal Weapon 2, A Company Man, War for the Planet of the Apes, Don’t Breathe to name but a few.

Anime

imageI am really running behind on watching anime, something I hope to catch up with in my upcoming vacation. I am currently in the middle of watching Corpse Princess, which so far has proven itself to be highly entertaining. After that I am really looking forward to Ergo Proxy, and finishing Black Bullet, which is also a very interesting series. You can expect reviews from all these three shows, and probably a few others that I just need to find time for.

Boardgames

imageTwo boardgames that I have been dying to try out, are the ones that are pictured above. Scythe especially has been gathering dust on my shelf for ages now,and hopefully my vacation will turn that around. Salt Lands is one of my newer purchases and looks like awesome fun, especially since it’s setting is in a Mad Max type of wasteland. Hopefully both games will hit the table soon, and when they do you can expect reviews for both of them.

Books and tv series

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Ofcourse I can’t forget books and tv series here. I am currently reading the art and making of Alien Covenant, a beautifully illustrated book about the latest Alien movie. Speaking of Covenant, the fantasy epic The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever I finally plan to finish in the coming weeks as well. It is a massive 1100 page epic fantasy novel, which has been an amazing read so far. As far as television series go, the Korean drama Bad Guys I have almost finished and it has been a blast. Next on my to watch list is the spinoff series of The Walking Dead: Fear the Walking Dead, that cronicles the beginning of the zombie outbreak. All these and more will be reviewed in the coming weeks.

Final Thoughts

Now, as mentioned the coming days will definitely be very busy. In the weekend I will be hosting an Asian movie festival at my own home for my parents. It is a lot of fun to do, but also will need some planning from my part (that is selecting the movies and buying the food to get us through the weekend lol). And then there is ofcourse my work, which already is stressful to begin with, not only for these final few days. I will try and keep up with your blogs as best I can, but if I miss the occasional post, please do not bite my head off. I hope there are some things in this update that you are looking forward to. As always thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

Eldritch Horror, a boardgame for 1-8 players by Fantasy Flight Games (2013)

Now, this review is long overdue. I have had this game for quite a while now, but because of a lot reasons it has taken me a while to finally make this post. Before I get started I want to say that I dedicate this review to Kurt aka the Vitruvian Gamer. If you like boardgames, and also enjoy seeing them in action, I highly recommend to check out the boardgame channel of the Vitruvian Gamer. Not only is this one of the best boardgame channels out there, Kurt is a really kind person who always takes the time to answer any comments you post on his videos. And all of his videos are a lot of fun to see, and really help you to learn the rules of a certain game. I have included a Link to a playthrough series of his of this game, so you can watch the game in action, and ofcourse subscribe to his channel. (Which is pretty much a no-brainer). And now on with the review of this great game, which really has become on of my alltime favorite boardgames.

Components

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This being a Fantasy Flight game, the components are absolutely top notch. Contained within the box is a lot of awesome stuff. The gameboard looks simply amazing, and depicts a map of the world across which you are going to be travelling in order to stop an ancient evil from rising. Also included are an enormous amount of cards that are used in a lot of different situations that will arise throughout the game. We get cards for spells, artifacts, assets, and encounters to name but a few. In total there over 200 cards that can be used in the game. Ofcourse there are also a lot of tokens included, that will be placed on the board in a variety of situations. Rounding out the game are 12 investigator sheets with matching tokens and plastic stands, which are the roles that the players will take upon themselves, and 4 standard dice. Last but not least we get two rules booklets, one to help you quickly get started, and the other a reference guide to be used when the more difficult situations creep up during a game. The rulebook is well written, and because of this system with the usage of a reference guide, it will not take you very long to set up the board and start your first game.

Game overview

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In a game of Eldritch Horror players take on the roles of investigators, who are in a race against time to stop a being of immense power. This so called Ancient One is intent on bringing about an age of darkness, and possibly even end the entire world. Eldritch Horror is played in a series of gamerounds. Each round has three phases, that are resolved in the same order every time.

First off the players will spent some time to take actions. These range from moving across the board, gain assets that might help them during the game, or even rest in order to regain some strength. Next up is the heart of the game, the encounter phase. During this phase pretty much anything can happen. Players might get attacked, become cursed, gain clues which might help them to stop the Ancient One, or any other number of exciting things. This phase is really a lot of fun, and because of the number of cards that are included within the box, you never quite know what might happen. Finally the Ancient One takes it’s action, which is resolved by drawing a card and play out what happens. This usually means something bad, that will hamper the investigators, and sometimes turns the entire game upside down.

As this game is a cooperative game, either everyone wins, or everyone loses. To win the game, players need to find enough clues to resolve a number of mystery cards that put an end to the rise of the Ancient One. If they can’t do that before the Ancient One awakens (depicted on the board by a timer called the doom track), this usually means the players lose immediately or it becomes incredibly hard to win. Sometimes certain cards can also bring about the end of the game. This creates a tense atmosphere with players racing across the world to put a stop to the rise of the Ancient One.

Difficulty

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Now one would expect that a game with this many cards and tokens to keep track of, will be quite hard to learn. Honestly, you might be really surprised by this when I say that is not the case. Reading the rulebook takes you about half an hour, and after that it will be not much longer and you are off to playing your very first game. The great thing is that when a certain situation arises throughout the game, you take out the reference guide and will quickly find the rule you are looking for. This works extremely  well, and because of that it will really not take you very long to learn the game.

Winning the game is a whole different matter though. Because of the sheer amount of situations that can arise in Eldritch Horror, no game is ever the same. There are a lot of ways you can lose though, and this does depend a lot of times on luck as well, I will not lie to you there. Sometimes getting a bad dice result on a very important test might cost you the game. I have so far only played this one solo (and really this is one of the best sologames out there), and have not yet managed to win. That said, this game is so much fun, that quite frankly I have not even cared about losing the game.

The Verdict

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I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect game. Every game has it’s own flaws, but this one most certainly comes very close. Ever since I have bought this game, I have been enjoying it more and more with every session. Having recently bought a few expansions for it, it has become an even better game. The fun thing about this one, is the enormous amount of situations that can arise. One moment you are in a city being chased by evil cultists, and then you might find yourself in a icy cave tracking down an ancient artifact. One might argue that the amount of encounter cards for the cities in the basegame, should have been more. But that really is a minor note, to an otherwise splendid game. If you like adventure movies with a small touch of horror, this game is most definitely for you. I highly recommend it, and if you don’t always have friends to play a game with, this game provides a very satisfying solo experience as well.

I give Eldritch Horror a 10 out of 10 score.

 

 

 

 

Special Features Presents: Merchandise

It has pretty much become a fact of life that whenever a certain franchise becomes popular, the merchandise is never far off. And why not? Certainly for fans it is pretty cool to own something from a beloved movie or tv show. It ofcourse also has a downside, and that is it usually is not very kind to the contents of your wallet. When there is money to be made, they usually know how to cash in on something that is very popular. I’ll be honest, I can be highly influenced by advertisements. Especially if I like a movie franchise or tv show a lot, I pretty much begin to collect stuff from it. Ofcourse there are certain lines that I don’t cross. If I have to cough up an amount of money that I have to work a year for (yes, I like to exaggerate lol), than I say thanks but no thanks. But if it is something that I really like, and the price is right, than I really like to add another piece to my collection. Showcased below, for your enjoyment, are three franchises that I enjoy collecting stuff from.

Star Wars

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Ever since seeing Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, I have been a massive Star Wars fan. I love science fiction, and without a doubt Star Wars will always be my favorite galaxy, far, far away. Over the years my collection has been growing a lot, and it contains novels, action figures, trading cards, artbooks, comics, and games. We are about a month away now from the latest installment hitting the theatres, and I am already looking forward to it immensely. The problem with Star Wars merchandise is that there is so much to buy and collect, that it is almost impossible to keep track of it all. Still, with no end in sight to what is on offer, there is a lot to enjoy for fans.

The Walking Dead

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What can I say, ever since first seeing the first episode of this incredible tv series I have been hooked. After learning it was based on a comic book, I started with collecting those, and when the tv series became popular, the merchandise train got on board as well. The Walking Dead has some truly awesome action figures on offer from McFarlane toys, as well as novels that expand the story, and some very cool boardgames. Though the range is not as wide as Star Wars, there is still enough on offer for fans, to start collecting stuff.

Sword Art Online

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Earlier this year a friend of mine told me to start watching an Anime series called Sword Art Online. Honestly, at the start of the show I did not enjoy it. Sure, the storyline was interesting, the animation looked cool, but I just could not get into it. However I did continue to watch, and I am really glad I did. This series has become one of my alltime favorite Anime shows, and as is usually the case with things I like, I just had to start collecting some stuff. A few months back at the Amsterdam Comic Con (which is pretty much the same as the American version, only smaller) I found some truly cool items, which are on display at the picture above. This collection is at the moment pretty small, and I don’t think it will grow as big as my Star Wars or Walking Dead collection. Still, if I come across something interesting, I will probably add it to the existing pieces.

Final thoughts

Merchandise can be a lot of fun. As long as you can contain yourself and don’t go overboard with spending money, I see absolutely no harm in starting a collection of cool stuff. The biggest problem I think is that whatever you start collecting, there is usually way too much on offer, or too little. Some movies or shows, that are a little bit less popular, have almost no merchandise to collect. That can at times be frustrating, especially if you are a fan. On the other hand, with too much on offer, it usually comes down to what should I buy? You can only spend your money once (duh) and with so many cool items on display, it can become very hard for a fan to make the right decision.

So what are your thoughts on merchandise? Do you like it, hate it? If you are collecting stuff, what are some of your favorite pieces? Let me know in the comments section. As always, thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

Special Features Presents:Solo Boardgaming

For those of you that have been following my blog for a while, something must be pretty clear by now: I have way too many hobbies. As such I always have too little time on my hands, but I am also never having the problem of being bored. I used to be a very fanatic online gamer, but those days are pretty much behind me now. These days I am back into one of my older hobbies: playing solo boardgames. When I tell people that I play boardgames by myself, I usually get asked the questions: How does that work, and is that any fun? Let me start by answering the last question first. Yes it can be a lot of fun. It really isn’t all that different from playing a computergame on your own. These days, a lot more fantasy and scifi boardgames are coming out, that have solorules included. There are even games being released that have been designed for only a single player.

As for the first question, how does it work? Well, there really is not an easy answer to that question. With so many games on the market these days, every game works differently, though some have overlapping features. Starting below, I have made a personal top five (okay, six) of Boardgames that I really enjoy playing by myself. This list is by no means complete, and it just contains some of my favorite games, but there are a lot more games out there that I enjoy playing solo as well.

1. Legendary Encounters

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There are currently three Legendary Encounters sets out, Aliens, Predator and Firefly. Being based on a few of my favorite franchises definitely is a plus for me. Basically what you do in these games is play through a movie (or in the case of Firefly an episode), where you try and complete a number of objectives. You start with a deck of weak cards, and as the game progresses you acquire more powerful ones. Hence the name deckbuilding game. With these cards you try to beat the enemies the game throws at you, as well as complete the missions. Being an enormous Predator and Alien fan, I absolutely love these games.

2. Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

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Though technically I guess you could say it is not a boardgame, it is a game that uses dice. The best way to describe these books, is a novel in which you are the hero. Every gamebook contains a story that presents you with a choice you have to make at certain points. For example, will you head off in the dark tunnel to the right, or take a safer path through the forest? These books are a lot of fun, and if you love reading this is definitely something you might want to check out.

3. Xenoshyft

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Xenoshyft is another deckbuilding game, but a really tough one. You take command of a group of heavily armed soldiers that are trying to protect a mining corporation from bloodthirsty aliens. The artwork in this game is absolutely spectacular, and it also presents a really tough challenge. You have to plan very carefully and protect your base at all cost. If you lose your base, you lose the game. With the aliens growing in power every round, the game also get’s more difficult by the minute. Even though I have lost a fair amount of games with this one, I still love playing it.

4. Star Trek Expeditions

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One of my favorite franchises combined with a boardgame, nothing get’s better than that. In Star Trek Expeditions you take on the roles of Captain Kirk and his crew, as they try and overcome challenges on a planet that is considering to join the Federation. This game has all the things you expect to find in a Star Trek television episode: starship combat, political intrique, espionage and some very interesting missions. The only downside of this game is the lack of expansions, something that this game would definitely benefit from. Still, it is a lot of fun to play, and with some very cool miniatures included, this game looks the part as well.

5. Fortune and Glory

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Having recently done a review on this game (you can find it here ), this game has turned into one of my alltime favorites. It comes as close to starring in your own Indiana Jones movie as you can get. You are an adventurer racing around the world to recover ancient artifacts. In your journey you will encounter a lot of things, from ancient temple traps, to vile people who are trying to stop at nothing to prevent you from reaching your goals. This game oozes atmosphere, and is a blast to play.

6. Elder Sign

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The last game on my list, Elder Sign is a dice/cardgame based on the Ctulhu mythos. You take on the role of an explorer who has to prevent an ancient evil being from rising up, and plunging the world into darkness. Searching in a dusty and ancient museum, you try to find and locate Elder Signs, that will stop the Ancient One from rising. Along the way, evil creatures, traps and other horrors will try to prevent you from reaching your objective. And….you may not be able to hold on to your sanity, as the increasing horrors you witness, might take their toll on your mind. Great stuff, and another one of my alltime favorite games.

Final thoughts

A boardgame will always be the most fun with more players. I definitely won’t deny that fact, as the fun of interacting with each other, can never be matched by a solo game. Having said that, I do think that solo boardgames have improved over the years. As such they are still a lot of fun to play, even if you are on your own, and especially with games driven by some kind of storyline, you feel a sense of satisfaction when you manage to beat the game. Luckily there are more games arriving every month (not that I did not have enough games yet already lol), but this does keep things interesting. If you have never played a sologame before, a few of the games in my list, might be worth checking out. Thank you for reading, and see you on the next post.

Samurai Spirit, a Boardgame for 1-7 players,by Fun Forge (2014)

I absolutely love Asian culture. I have the highest respect for it, and I always love finding out more about it, both on modern day culture as well as ancient history. When delving in the Asian past, one of the stories that has always fascinated me was that of the samurai. That ancient warrior caste, with all of it’s customs and legends has been the source of many great movies as well. One of the most famous samurai movies ever made is “Shichinin no Samurai” (Seven Samurai), by legendary director Akira Kurosawa. And that brings me to the game I am about to review, Samurai Spirit, which was inspired by this classic film.

Components

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Even though this isn’t a huge gamebox, there are still plenty of components contained within. First up is the gameboard which features the town that the samurai have been entrusted with to protect. The board is small, which is honestly somewhat refreshing, as a lot of games these days take up so much space, that you almost need a second house to lay it all out. Also included are 7 cardboards that feature the 7 samurai whose roles the players will assume. These playing boards are double sided, one side featuring the human form, the other depicting the animal form that the samurai can change into. The raiders that will try to overcome the samurai and destroy the village are shown on 66 playing cards. Rounding out the set are a couple of wooden meeples, some tokens for houses,barricades,villagers and wounds, and ofcourse the rulebook. The components are of a sturdy quality, and the rulebook is written clearly, with a lot of examples to explain the rules.

Game Overview

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The objective of Samurai Spirit is to protect a small village from being destroyed by a bunch of bloodthirsty raiders. The players will have to hold out for three rounds of increasing difficulty in order to win the game. The players assume the role(s)of samurai who have special powers to fight and defend against these raiders. Each round is divided into a number of turns in which a player can choose one of three different actions. A player can either choose to fight, use a special power as support or pass. The fight action is the thing you will do the most. As mentioned above the raiders are depicted on a bunch of cards, showing a picture of the attacking raider, and a number ranging from 1-6. The higher the number, the more dangerous the opponent. The samurai fighting the raider either can say he is defending or confronting this enemy.

And this is where the tactical aspect of the game comes into play. Each samurai has a track called the combatline. When confronting enemies you must try not to go over the highest number of your combatline, also known as your Kiai value. When confronting enemies the cards are played to the right side of the track. If the the total value of the raiders goes over your limit, you have to pass and are effectively out of the round. But if you manage to get a value that is equal to your Kiai value, you may activate the special power of your samurai. This power is different for each samurai and range from removing raider cards, to restoring barricades to protect the village.

When a samurai chooses to defend, he can place a raider to the left side of his character board. He can only do this for a maximum of three times, and only to raiders that have special symbols on them. Samurai can also receive wounds, and after getting wounded a second time, it changes the samurai to it’s animal form. This makes him more powerful, but the game also get’s more dangerous for that particular samurai. A round ends after the players have overcome all the raiders. After checking if the village has not been destroyed a new round will be started, but more powerful raiders are added to the deck. If all samurai have passed, one of them is killed, or the village has been destroyed, the game ends, resulting in a loss. But if the players manage to hold out for three rounds, the players are victorious, and ofcourse that is what everybody wants, right?

Difficulty

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This game doesn’t take long to learn. As mentioned earlier, the rulebook has been well written and contains enough examples to explain the more difficult rules. However, mastering the game is a whole different matter. I love how this game has a great balance between luck and tactics. Knowing when to attack, and when to defend is definitely key to winning the game. What’s also nice is that the game contains four levels of difficulty. On the higher levels, players get penalties for losing villagers and buildings, making the game a lot tougher. In this way you have a nice learning curve, and when you feel comfortable you can increase the difficulty in order to make the game more of a challenge.

The Verdict

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This game was a pleasant surprise. I love games that force you to think about your next move, and not only depend on luck. You really have to plan your strategy, and sometimes take some risks in order to win the game. This makes for some tense gameplay situations, where you might have only one more chance to save the village. Will you risk it all, or play it safe? The game has enough components for replay value and with four modes of difficulty will keep you going for a while. Still, this is one of those games that you won’t play for an entire evening, but is fun enough to play two or three times and than call it quits. A typical gameplay session takes about half an hour for up to three players. When adding more samurai, this time will increase.

If you like heroic games, where you must hold out against impossible odds, this one is definitely worth checking out. The Asian theme for me was an absolute plus as well, and that for me made it worth it even more. All in all this is just a fun little game, which you will definitely bring to the table more than once.

I give Samurai Spirit a 8 out 10 score.

Special Features presents: Top 3 Boardgame YouTube Channels

Hello everyone. Starting today I have decided to add a new category to my blog called Special Features. So what can you expect to find here? Honestly, pretty much anything. My blog has so far only concerned itself with writing reviews. Don’t worry I am not going to stop doing this, because it is still one of the things I enjoy doing the most. But sometimes I come across things like a very cool trailer, an interesting news story, or some other element that I feel like sharing. Ofcourse it would be weird if I would publish an item like that as a review, hence the new category. As always, everything that I am going to publish, will still be concerning itself with boardgames, books, manga, anime, movies, tv series etc. In short all the cool stuff. Kicking off this new feature will be a post about the top 3 Boardgame YouTube Channels ( well in my opinion ofcourse).

Those of you who have been following my blog must know by now that I love playing boardgames. The games I play usually take place in sci-fi/fantasy settings, and have a lot of cool elements to enjoy. One of the more annoying things that sometimes pop up when I buy a new game is a rules book that I truly need to read a 100 times before I can even understand what it is about. In the old days I could tear my hair out when this happened, but nowadays we have YouTube. Since boardgames are becoming ever more popular, there are now entire channels devoted to this fantastic medium. They contain news items, unboxing videos, and playthroughs of a certain game. This last feature is one of the best things that you can come across, as you don’t have to read the rulebook anymore to play a game. (Well at least if they are done right lol). There are three channels that are truly standing out from the crowd, and they all have their own qualities. If you like playing boardgames, these are the 3 channels you should definitely check out:

1. Watch it played

One of the oldest channels devoted to boardgames, it is hosted by the wonderful Rodney Smith. This guy is one of the kindest individuals you can come across, and his playthroughs are absolutely amazing. He has a very calm and patient way of explaining things, and if you don’t understand a game after watching one of his videos, chances are you never will. Besides making playthroughs, he also features news items and other things about the boardgame industry. You can check out one of his videos below.

2. Vitruvian Gamer

A somewhat newer channel,but steadily gaining more and more followers this is one of the more unique boardgame channels. The host of this channel, Kurt, for instance has a regular feature called All Aboard. In this video besides sharing news about boardgames , he welcomes every new subscribers to his channel. I think that is one of the nicest things you can do, and it definitely shows he cares about his viewers. In his playthrough videos there is a lot of humour as well, and they are an absolute joy to watch. This is one of his All Aboard videos.

3.Rahdo runs through…

Also one of the more older channels, this one has published a very impressive amount of playthrough videos. Hosted by Rahdo, a guy who has a very infectious enthusiasm, he can truly interest you in a boardgame that you may not have even noticed otherwise. His videos are fast, but a lot of fun to watch, and nearly every game he shows will feature three videos: a short walkthrough, an extended gameplay video, and his thoughts on the game. I always watch his videos with a smile on my face, and have bought a few games, just because I watched one of his videos. Check out one of his videos below.

 

And that’s it for this first special features post. Don’t worry I am not only going to be talking about boardgames in special features, but as mentioned above, it will concern itself with a lot of other things as well. Thank you for reading, and see you on the next post….

Fortune and Glory the Cliffhanger game, a boardgame for 1-8 players, by Flying Frog Productions (2011)

The torchlight flickered against the dark walls of the temple. It looked like no one had been inside for maybe hundreds of years. The ancient map showed two corridors branching off from the main room. Neither of them looked very promising. However at the end of one of them, the Armour of Atlantis would finally be found. Suddenly a portcullis slammed down, the way back sealed off. A maniacal laugh could be heard in the distance, quickly followed by a mocking voice with a thick German accent: “Good luck”. Now for those of you who think this is the opening scene of the new Indiana Jones movie, I am sorry to disappoint you. However I just made this up to help set the tone for the incredibly fun game Fortune and Glory, set in the Pulp Adventure era, and which comes about as close to you starring in a Indiana Jones movie.

Components

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This game is huge. I placed a small cover for a pen in front of the box, just to show you how big this game is. There are so many things included within, that it is impossible to describe them all. I will go over the most important things though. First up is the incredible gameboard, which shows you a world map, and all the places you can visit in your hunt for ancient artifacts. There are over 165 plastic pieces contained inside the box, which include miniatures, gold pieces, temples and a very cool looking Zeppelin. Then there are an enormous amount of cards that are used in a lot of different situations. There are cards that feature the dangers you have to overcome, gear and allies you can buy for your characters, and a lot of other stuff. The cards are made of very sturdy material, and can definitely take a beating. A pretty unique item is a soundtrack cd, which can help you get into the mood when playing the game. Rounding out the game are a whole bunch of counters, dice, and ofcourse a rulebook. The rulebook is a hefty 30 pages long, but written clearly. However it would have been nice to include an index, which could have helped you find certain rules more quickly while playing.

Game overview

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You can play this game in a number of different ways. There is a competitive mode, which means it is pretty much everyone for himself. Then there is the cooperative mode, which as the name implies, has everyone cooperating in trying to beat a certain evil organisation. And you can also play the game solo or in teams. Being mostly a solo player, my review will focus itself on the cooperative mode, which plays pretty much the same on your own, as it does when playing with multiple players.

So what is this game all about? In Fortune and Glory you take on the role of an adventurer who will travel around the world to recover ancient artifacts. While you are doing this, the game itself plays the role of a vile organisation, that wants the artifacts for their own nefarious reasons. Included in the basic game are the Mob and the Nazi factions. The game takes place in the late 1930s, and as such it creates truly a very rich atmosphere. When you finally arrive at the site where an artifact can be found, you have to take a number of tests to recover it. These are incredibly fun, and there are an enormous variety of situations you can encounter. For instance, you might have to solve an ancient puzzle, escape in a car chase, fight a bunch of enemies, the possibilities are endless. All tests are described on the so called danger cards, and resolved by throwing a number of dice.

When you fail a test, the danger card flips to a cliffhanger side, and things become even more dangerous. Just like in the movies, you might find yourself going over the edge of a waterfall, or having to escape from a plane that is going down. If you finally manage to overcome all the tests, you can recover the artifact, and sell it for Fortune, the main objective of the game. Depending on the number of players you have to reach a certain amount of Fortune, before the evil organisation you are fighting against, reaches it’s own goal. Things can become very tense indeed, with you racing across the world, trying to recover a final artifact in order to beat the game.

Difficulty

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Now I am not going to lie to you, this game has a lot of rules. As such it will definitely take you a while to get the hang of this game. I have so far played three sessions, and I still find myself looking through the gamebook trying to look up a particular rule. However, this game is such an incredible amount of fun, that I did not mind this one bit. What helps is just looking at a few great walkthrough videos on YouTube, especially the ones made by the Lonesome Gamer. Not only are they fun to watch, they really help you in learning the game. If you are a casual gamer, you might not like the game as this is definitely not a pick up and play type of game. Sessions can last for three to four hours, and time can be extended if you are playing with more players.

As for winning the game, that is also no easy task, but on my last game I did get close. One thing that can be annoying is the dicerolling. If you are really unlucky with the dice, especially when trying to pass certain tests, you have almost no chance of winning.

The Verdict

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I have had this game in my collection for quite a while now, and I finally got around to playing it. I absolutely love it. There are so many fun situations than can crop up during this game, that not one game is the same. One moment you try to sneak aboard a Nazi Zeppelin, and in another you try to escape from a crumbling temple. Everything can happen in this game, and if you are a lover of the Indiana Jones movies, than this game is really worth checking out. Yes there is a big element of luck involved, I can’t deny that fact, but the game is so much fun to play, that I really did not even care when I failed at another test. All in all I highly recommend this game. Put on your hat, crack your whip, and start the plane….just try to avoid any snakes while you are at it…..

I give Fortune and Glory a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

Fuse, a dicegame for 1-5 players, by Renegade Game Studios (2016)

Don’t you just hate it when that happens? One minute you are cruising along in the galaxy aboard your spaceship minding your own business, when suddenly alien invaders have breached your hull. And as if that wasn’t bad enough they have left bombs on every deck in order to blow you, your ship and the valuable A.I. of your ship to smithereens. Okay it is time to get your dice out and start defusing them. Wait, what?

Components

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The components of this dicegame are relatively few, but they get the job done. Inside the box you will find a total of 25 coloured dice, and a nice looking cloth bag in which to place these dice. Also included are a total of 54 different bomb cards, and 11 special fuse cards. The rulebook is the last thing included, and it is written well, with enough examples to teach you the game. The components are relatively simple, but this is one of those games that is not about the way it looks, but the way it plays. And gameplay is definitely a blast (pun intended).

Gameplay

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In Fuse your ship has been attacked and unknown assailants have placed a enormous amount of bombs aboard. You have 10 minutes to defuse them all, and this has to be taken very literally as this game plays in realtime. The game has a (free to download) app, in which a clock counts down together with a very annoying ship A.I. (Artificial Intelligence). In the beginning she is very encouraging, but as the clock is counting down, she becomes somewhat less friendly and tells you to hurry things along. Ofcourse you don’t have to use this app, you can also a regular timer, but I honestly say that I found it pretty funny listening to her.

So how does this game work? Each round, depending on the number of players, a number of dice are pulled from the dicebag. After you have rolled the dice that have been pulled from the bag, they are then used to defuse the bombs, which are depicted on the cards. Every bomb is different, and has it’s own set of problems to solve. For instance some cards require you to put dice on them in a particular order, or combination of numbers. On other cards you might have to build a stack of dice, starting at the bottom with a particular colour. If a die can’t be used, you have to reroll that one, and remove a corresponding die from a bomb you are in the middle of defusing. Depending on the level of difficulty you are playing at, there are a certain number of bombs you have to defuse before time runs out. This creates a very nervewracking game, especially when time is beginning to run out, and you are not even halfway through.

Difficulty

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You can learn this game pretty quickly. The rules are really not that difficult, and as I mentioned earlier, the rulebook is pretty well written. However mastering the game and beating it, is a whole different story. I have so far played this game only solo, and after a couple of rounds have not yet managed to beat it. The timer is effective, and even though you should not let yourself be affected by it, you sometimes can’t help it. Being a dicegame there is ofcourse always an element of luck included, but you also have to think quickly and plan in advance, in order to become a winner. And trust me when I say that by using the app, you will eventually begin to get very annoyed at the ship A.I.voice. She can truly be a real….well I guess you can fill in the blanks for yourself.

The Verdict

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I simply put, love this game. This is just one of those games that is easy to pick up, but  has that “Let’s try this one more time ” quality. Okay, this is not the most awesome looking game ever, but that really does not matter, as this game just has fun written all over it. I am primarily a solo boardgame player, and I find that this game really works well playing it alone. (Well not alone, you still have that kind and friendly ship A.I. to keep you company). I can imagine that when playing this with other people, things can become even more tense, passing the dicebag around, with the timer counting down to destruction. I highly recommend this game. If you like dicegames in general, this is almost a no-brainer. Well, with only 1 minute left to total ship destruction I am going to give this game my final score.

I give Fuse a 9 out of 10 score.