For those wanting a quick read these are my game previews where I slap down my initial thoughts for quick digestion
Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North
Even though there are six asymmetric faction decks …..it felt like it was on rails. Each deck basically has a standard strategy, for example one of the decks you want to really focus on the sheep resource and utilize them to gain you more points. Another deck has you focusing on building cards with an igloo icon that synergizes. It’s like this with each deck and it kinda feels like there isn’t much agency with them because of it.
I didn’t dislike my plays but I felt like I was just going through the motions and didn’t really have any deep or interesting choices to make other than which cards to keep. You basically want to play EVERY card you get since they are worth 1 VP each but the decks just didn’t feel interesting to me.
Also, two other things that are negatives for me. First, there are no player aids and this is a game that sorely needs them especially when you first are trying to learn the actions and the flow of a round. Second, and this is more a personal pet peeve of mine, but I hate the oversized style rulebooks. The size of those books makes it really hard to have the book setup on the table next to me while trying to learn the game. It’s doubly bad in this instance since there are no players aids. So I am folding and bending this rulebook all different ways to try and situate it in a fashion that makes it easy to follow while learning.
All that said, I had a decent time playing and wouldn’t mind giving it another shot in the future but I don’t see myself picking up any of the expansions.
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game
Tried this one as it was meant to be played semi-coop and just hated it. Not a fan of how one player can burn down an enemy but not kill it (based on chance of the dice) and then another player can swoop in, finish it off and claim the kill and all the glory. This alone, leaves a bad taste.
Then I tried the full co-op variant and it was a bit better, but only a bit. With this version you just work together to clear out the machines to gain enough points to move on to the next encounter. The problem though, is the game play isn’t much fun. Now, I LOVE each players unique deck and the card play that comes from that. I love how you can level up and upgrade your deck and use scrap you gain from the machines to buy new cards to add to your deck between encounters. All of that is amazing. The main problem with the game stems from the core gameplay aspect, the hunts.
The main phase has you hunting down the machines to progress which sounds awesome on paper. But the way it’s implemented here just comes off very bland. Your actions consist of moving about and attacking although there is one, “distract”, that allows you to move a machine somewhere else…… Ultimately the game is wanting players to be sneaky, hiding in the tall grass sections on the board tiles before they strike to try and minimize the damage they take in return. But based on the way the tiles are designed, this is very repetitive and uninspired. And in most cases there are only two machines during the entire encounter anyway so charging in (especially with the small machines) is a very viable way to win, and usually the quicker way to complete the encounter.
Once you complete an encounter you draw up 3 cards, pick one and setup for another encounter, rinse and repeat this until you get to the final boss encounter which is a Sawtooth in the base game. Simply put, this game is extremely repetitious and bland. The dice rolls for attack are boring with just hits or misses, then the enemies do the same to you minus defense. The only saving grace in this one is the very interesting upgrade and card decks for the players. Now, if they could just wrap a more interesting combat mechanic into this and also create some scenarios to spice up the game more. Perhaps have some missions where you have to find a particular ancient tech and then in further missions, apply it to unlock something. That would be cool. But as it stands, with the boring combat mechanic mixed in with the repetitious “wipe out the machines over and over until you can wipe out the boss machine”, this is one I would pass on.
The Lord of the Rings
Disclaimer: I’ve got the “Anniversary Edition” and have never played the original version although I don’t think much of anything has changed gameplay -wise.
Things I love:
-The Artwork is astounding. Gorgeous throughout on the different boards and the card art.
–The event track is exciting how it explores different aspects from the books pertaining to the boards they are located on. Also I find it neat that the only way to get certain legendary cards is to go down the event track.
Things I find so-so:
-The general gameplay is unique and I do like how you need to try and visit different “paths” on each board BUT it’s super random on which path you can even move up.
–The components are fine. Nothing amazing but nothing terrible.
Things I despise:
-The rulebook is probably one of the most poorly written and omitted pieces of work I have beheld. And that’s saying something because I’ve read through quite a few Monolith rulebooks. My first time trying to learn this game I got so frustrated trying to understand how to even BEGIN playing that I boxed it back up. Months later I unearthed the game again and finally made my way through a game having pieced together the base ruleset from different online sources.
–The sheer fact that this “Anniversary Edition” is a MAJOR money grab from Fantasy Flight rubs me incredible wrong. The proof is there from the fact that the rulebook has these big of issues and obviously wasn’t proofed by someone who wasn’t familiar with the game. Literally all that was changed from the original release to this one was the card borders and components. And it’s arguable if the newer components are better. They really should remove the “Anniversary Edition” from the box and just say it’s a 2nd edition. There is NOTHING that makes this even come close to being an “Anniversary Edition” other than being released during the year it was.
-Lastly, I really don’t like the whole scoring system they have built into the gameplay. Where you try to make your way up as high as possible on mount doom and if you die (lose) the game before you can toss the ring in, well, just record your number score and try again. That pulls me clear out of the theme. On top of that this game is basically 90% luck based on if you can even move up the main track you need anyway. You draw a random token and move up the track you draw. THEN if you have cards in your hand for the track you need, then you can move up it. Luck upon luck. There is some decision space but it’s very little.
–One more thing. Once you get to the top of mount doom, you roll the threat die to see if you survive, THEN if you do survive, you roll the threat die AGAIN. It’s like what the flying heck is this? A super cheap difficulty gimmick at the very end of the already random game, forcing you to roll that dice twice in a row. Just seems lazy.
Anyway, the event track and artwork are the two saving grace things for this game. I actually am planning on keeping it, mostly though so I can frame up and display the individual boards as I think they look fantastic
Seemingly has all the workings of an interesting idea for a game. Reading about it and setting it up I was getting excited to play. The idea of being a shop merchant that can upgrade his shop with employees and then display items to lure in adventures to sell to sounds awesome.
But……..The actual play was just…boring. It ended up being more an exercise of matching the correct symbols on cards and the payoff of battling the monsters was super bland. The game has some nice variability with the collection of monsters and heroes you can encounter but…again, it’s all the same matching symbols actions.
Anyway, the gameplay just came off very flat to us. Walked away from the game not really enjoying the time we spent but at the same time, not hating it. I could see how these mechanics could be enjoyable for some and I don’t think it’s a bad game at all, but for us it just sputtered out.
Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit
Played twice now, first time as droid side, second as Naboo side. Just incredible the excitement this game generates. I haven’t had this much fun rolling dice and being on the edge of my seat based on those rolls in a long time. The game took around 2 and a half hours but the time flew by so fast. And after the game was over ( I lost btw) we just sat there and discussed all the different aspects of the game. Already I’m wanting to play this again.
-Copious amounts of luck throughout
-Extremely high levels of Theme
-Easy to learn and fast to play (per turn, not total length)
Now, the luck will for sure turn some players away as this game is just dripping in it. You will roll dice for everything from determining battles to determining the gains of Anakins ship. Speaking on that specific part there is another layer of luck since the “evil” player has to “guess” which of his successful dice go on what numbers for defensive purposes.
Then you have the luck of the card draws and the almost pointless arrangement of the 4 playable cards per round. I say almost as there IS a teensy weensy bit of strategy to ordering them, like, if you want to make a specific move or attack before the other player does something to hinder it.
Beyond the luck fest here, this game is just a blast to play. I mean EVEN THOUGH the field battle is just tossing dice and seeing if you can gain ground and with that, extra bonus cards…which equate into extra turns next round, It’s still a fun time. I love the way the three sections interact with each other. The Darth Maul battle area literally just has players, again, tossing dice to see if they can damage one another. But if they win out over there, then they can move that powerful unit into the Palace area to help wipe out the rest of the chaff (aka palace guards or battle droids).
And even though the luck factor is almost overwhelming, the game still has left me pondering some other potential strategies. Should I focus more on the field battle next time? Perhaps I should spend more time moving my droids into defensive positions in the palace? In any case, I really enjoyed my time playing this. It was a treat and I’m looking forward to getting it out again and trying my luck as the other side.
Fireball Island: The Curse of the Vul-Kar
The game looks awesome but…the GAME just isn’t all that fun to play. It mostly boils down to a simple movement game where you move an exact amount of spaces and just pick up randomly placed treasure tokens. All the while you are collecting these over and over again, a player may play a particular card that will cause a marble or two to be dropped into the Vul-Kar monument. Now, this is where the fun happens with the marbles rolling in a random-ish direction and possibly knocking your characters over or further down the mountain.
But then you just stand then back up and start the mundane task of moving about the mountain again. Luckily it plays really fast or this would be a stinker. All that said, the plastic board looks amazing and I currently have it setup as a decoration in my game room and it always impresses. I wouldn’t pay full price for this one but if you can nab it on sale, I think it’s worth it just for the looks. Also, my kids LOVE it so that’s another consideration.
Gorgeous components and artwork but the gameplay (at 2-players) felt lacking. The actions devolved mostly into moving one resource tracker down a certain number of notches to move another resource tracker up. All in an effort to gain a certain number of a particular resource to have area majority on certain spots on the board to gain extra points. I mean, this is worker placement at it’s MOST basic and the end game here is majority bonus of tiles……/yawn.
The game felt redundant and uninspired. The thing is…..I can already see some incredible possibilities here. With how the cavern tiles are random and variable and NOT printed on the board means that in a future possible expansion we could see some fun and exciting end game ideas come to fruition. There could be an expansion with a board add-on that allows for the use of more than 3 drones, perhaps a way to spend a lot of resources to add more drones to your board, effectively giving you more actions per round. OR even more exciting, adding in special drone abilities. I mean with the way this game is setup the possibilities are endless!
Unfortunately, with the current state of the game I cannot recommend this one. Again, it’s a GORGEOUS game with incredible components and artwork, but, that’s where my praise ends. That said, I plan on keeping this one in the hopes that they release expansions that improve the gameplay because it could be amazing!
Here’s one that LOOKS amazing on the outside and heck, even on the inside. But once I got this behemoth of a game set up and started playing it was a behemoth of a letdown. The actions boiled down to basic worker placement to gain a very small amount of TONS of different resources. The board itself has planets you can visit to gain these resources but they are scattered haphazardly all over the place with no real rhyme or reason in relation to the end goal products you are trying to attain with said resources. Leaving players constantly scouring the board trying to find which planet they want.
The components themselves are a mixed bag of goofiness. You have these really awesome plastic mech minis and nice plastic cubes and even the player boards and the cardboard tile components are pretty nice. But then you have this wretched HUGE resource tracker board to try and keep track of the umpteen million resources you have to manage, which is just hideous. And the ugly wooden player ship tokens? What’s up with these things? Seems a really odd choice to mix euro style wooden tokens with ameri-style plastic minis. They just don’t mesh well together at all.
But beyond all the misses in this game, I do really enjoy the interesting and nifty player board setups, even if they are MASSIVE table hogs. The way you link the pilot and the different mechs together to unlock different abilities is awesome. And how you gain weapons and items to upgrade your mech warrior and place them strategically around your player board is also neat. I just wish the rest of the game was as neat and thoughtful as the individual player boards. Even the combat is a boring, “just beat a certain number” affair, based on whatever weapons you happen to acquire. I am really hoping the expansion livens this game up a bit more as right now it seems to contain a mixed bag of Euro and Ameri styles but misses the mark on both.
Two big minuses with this one. First my biggest gameplay complaint with the game stems from the randomness of the action card draw. There are only three actions to perform, move, recruit or scavenge. BUT, on each card chosen there are different options as well as bonuses to either tracks along the top of the board…which give even more bonuses as you work your way up them. My problem is that you only see the top card of each stack so have no idea what will be revealed next and how helpful that will be for a player. Here’s an example: I notice that I am only two spaces away on the red track to gain another bastion (which are VERY valuable) so I take the only action available that gives me a red advance. The very next card gives two advances on the red track……which of course the other player takes giving them the bastion. Now, this could be construed as bad luck but in a single, two-player game, this happened multiple times and it left a really sour taste. It probably isn’t as bad with more players but when playing with only 2, it’s SUPER detrimental.
My second gripe is that the vp tracker on the board is just too damn short, only going to 30 points. By the end of our first game I had lapped it once, which is expected I believe since the tracker token is meant to be flipped to keep track. BUT my wife lapped it FOUR TIMES! How do you keep track of that with a two sided token haha. Anyway, there is plenty of empty space on that board where they could have wrapped that vp tracker bar up and around both sides easily. The high score was due in large part to the Bastions and how many times you score them. Which is another aspect that I think is kind of lazy. Bastions should probably be the number ONE thing you focus on in the game. Forget battling to gain points since you score your bastions as you work your way up one of the two tracks. When end game is triggered you score bastions again THEN take another round and score bastions AGAIN. The big difference is that you gain 2 points per bastion for both end game scoring sections. Now that is totally fine except it really limits the variety of how you can win the game here. You want to win? Hold as many bastions as possible and try to get that extra scoring card that scores bastions AGAIN.
Now, for the things I like about the game. I love the artwork and colors throughout. Everything looks amazing. I love the three simple actions and the depth those bring to the table especially with the extra actions on each card (just wish the track gains were a bit more balanced). I love how the battling works with each player taking a turn placing a die rolled. This creates an awesome back and forth and can change the outcome DURING the battle. Many a time I could see early on that I just wasn’t going to win the battle so instead of placing dice to try and get to that point, I instead focused my dice on ways to hinder the opponent in some way such as making them spend their blessing tokens or causing casualties. It’s alot of fun! The unique exile characters are a fun and variable inclusion as well.
As for things that are neutral: the “advanced” side of each player board offers an asymmetrical playing option..BUT….it really never felt asymmetrical. The small difference between them was TOO small to make any real difference and certainly didn’t feel like I was any different, a wasted opportunity. The “Blessing” tokens, although are a nice dice mitigation tool, felt too overpowered. You basically get them for everything, you battle? Here’s a free token. You win the battle? another token. You rolled any blanks of your dice, have some more tokens. Players will build up a huge pile of these things EVEN when they are using them for mitigation. Again, this probably won’t be as big an issue in four player games as they will run out but in a two player game it felt….cheap.
Bottom line, It’s alright. I WILL keep the game as I think it’s a nice alternative area control battling game to Blood Rage. They don’t have many game mechanics in common but it’s got the same weight and core mechanic. Because of this I would pull this one out when I get bored with Blood Rage. That said, I don’t like it at two players. Keen to try it out with four to see how much more I prefer it.
X-ODUS: Rise of the Corruption
Initial solo game with 4 ships was good and interesting. The rulebook is a jumbled mess, both the versions 1 and 2 unfortunately. I felt like the rules were THERE but they were all over the place and not in a good order to understand how to play the game easily. Once you get the rules figured out and understand exactly what you are supposed to be doing, then the game is a fascinating play on teamwork. Each ship has a particular strength that makes you want to join a “Fleet” so you can all steam roll the tiles BUT there is a time limit and you need to branch out and explore quickly so you can find the gates you need to win. So, determining when to split up and when to team up is key in this game.
I’m still on the fence about the combat, on one hand it’s nice that it’s simple but on the other hand it’s just rolling two dice (per ship) over and over until one of you dies or you run away. I wouldn’t call the combat exciting. Not until you get some upgrades on your ships can you start utilizing the specials which do add a little oomph to it.
The components are generally excellent, I really like the double layer player boards. The cards are super low quality however, thin and flimsy. The dice are really nice and engraved with a nice heft to them. Not a fan of the standees, it just feels like the theme has been sucked out of the game with these. LUCKILY, the publisher is kind enough to have the 3d printer files for free available so the enemy ships can be printed. Doesn’t help those without a 3d printer though and still no player ship minis.
As it stands it’s a very compelling space opera that’s not 8 hours long (*cough Twilight Imperium) and wrapped up in a VERY small package. Would recommend.
Star Wars: Legion – Clone Wars Core Set
As far as miniatures wargames are concerned I think this is a bit better than Fallout Wasteland Warfare if comparing those two. The ruleset is easier to pick up and understand, you get more out of the core set box including some terrain (barricades) and imo the detail on the minis is a bit better in comparison. I have since picked up a few more mini sets to bolster both sides, a couple player mats to set the stage and 3d printed some neat terrain features. My only real gripe is the typical Fantasy Flight nickel and diming customers over the smallest of things. The amount of dice the game comes with is NO WHERE NEAR the amount needed to play the game. My very first battle I needed 7 of a particular dice to roll for an attack, the game came with 3. This wouldn’t be a huge issue BUT you are expected to remember hits and crits on dice to know just how many hits you do and their power. And why I believe they are nickel and diming? They already offer extra dice packs for sale. I mean cmon, just include enough dice to, at the very least, make a single attack with some troopers.
Back to the game itself, I really enjoy the interesting card mechanic at the onset of each round where each player picks from their unique hand of cards to determine a special power for that round and what units activate along with turn order. Another thing I love is how that hand of cards can be even more unique when you buy new commanders to add to your forces. OH! and how each card can only be used ONCE per game, I love that since you really have to think about which card to use at the most opportune moment.
One learning game by myself and one game at 2 players so far.
As far as my thoughts on the collectors edition……Not a fan of the metal coloring on the cubes, the colors are too faded when compared to the high contrast of everything else, makes them look rather “drab”. The card holders (which I assume are part of the collectors edition) are cool but a stiff breeze or a caught shirt sleeve knocks them right over revealing everything. I LOVE the gold foil on the gold cards, makes them look and feel like they are special. I really like the insert, I think it holds everything really nicely and it looks good, I also have no problems with the box size.
For the gameplay, at 2 players it plays EXTREMELY fast. Not a bad thing, just surprising at how fast we blazed through the game. The actions are simple but the cards (which there are a bookoo) all have varying effects based on other cards. Since there are TONS of unique cards it’s highly possible you won’t even see certain cards that you need to enhance the scores. That said, at the end of the game I got to thinking about it and the game is really all about taking what cards you start with and making the best of them with what’s on display. And also switching out the cards that don’t mesh well and gaining others. It’s a fun and deep experience although highly variable based on what is available to pick from.
The end game triggers are simple as well and really also depend on your cards. For example the house I played, Diana, rewarded me with extra institution points when I took the marker and luckily I had cards that worked to not only gain those points but move me up the fleet track. So, I completely ignored the red crystals and went hard core into institution and fleet and ended the game rather quickly defeating my opponent by more than 40 points. It left me very curious on how the other factions play out, for example I think Mars is stronger with the red crystals in some way and might benefit from them more.
Right now the thing I’m most curious about is how the game plays at 6. I don’t think it would be a comfortable situation with how small the board is AND how much text you need to read on the cards to make a proper decision on which card to pluck. BUT, I’m very curious what the downtime would be because of all the reading.
PS. I also wanted to add that I never really felt like I was playing AGAINST the other player. The game never made me feel like I had ANY agency on affecting his outcome at all. Since I have no idea what he has in his hand other than IF I pay close attention to what he picks up and make assumptions based on those cards (which would be VERY hard to do in a higher player count game). Basically, I only focused on my own hand of cards trying to maximize the points from them while keeping an eye on the other player/s track positions and tokens to make sure they are not close to initiating the endgame. This is a classic multiplayer solitaire affair with the ONLY thing really affecting me being what card the other player took….BUT since we don’t know what helps or hinders the other player, how can we accurately gauge what needs to be taken other than what helps ourselves?
Clank! Adventuring Party
10/10 expansion, a must-have if your group is usually over 4 players. Beyond the player count increase you also get six new unique character boards with unique starting decks AND custom meeples. Not to mention the few extra new rules and tokens that only go to add more interest into the game.
The new rule for the additional cards the expansion comes with allows playing a card during another players turn but usually goes to allow you to go ahead and play the particular card to the table and draw another right then. SO, mostly it’s a way to get additional cards played on your turn. The different characters are each unique and interesting with Monkeybot Prime being my fav of the bunch and Whiskers coming in second, that sly little kitty……I absolutely love the differences between the characters and how each has a unique power they can utilize which makes the game even MORE enthralling.
Before this expansion I adored Clank! with Clank in Space being my all-time fav game. However WITH this expansion vanilla Clank has been elevated right up there with the space version. I will never play the game without the characters now. They just add so much to an already amazing game. If you love clank and usually play with more than 4, this expansion is a MUST BUY. Heck, even if your groups are usually 4 or less, I think this is a great expansion JUST for the interesting and unique characters.
Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps
VERY Thematic and excellently encompasses the movie. The gameplay however isn’t my favorite. Super fiddly, especially after gobs and gobs of aliens start spawning. With the Alien minis all bunched up next to each other (which inevitably happens) it’s like playing with a barrel of monkeys with them all getting stuck together. Add on top of that all the tokens under each alien to show the number and it’s a huge mess.
Further, the fiddliness continues with all the movement you have to complete for all the blip tokens, rolling a die for each section to determine how far they move. OH, and this goes back to the barrel of monkeys, moving the aliens minis and tokens when they all are holding on to each other.
Not a fan of how you have to supplement “Grunts” in larger games if you want any chance of winning. Basically making players control side characters as well as their own. This tells me that the game is not balanced as you always need more players to handle the swarms of aliens.
Now, all that said I still think it’s a fun game but the gameplay wears thin after a few hours, especially if you get overrun and have to constantly roll for counterattacks and defense over and over. It’s almost like zombicide but with little hope of actually winning, WHICH basically takes the wind out of your sails to play. I’m going to keep it as I still haven’t played the interesting looking 1 vs many aliens player mode or through the campaign yet but I’m not sure either of those modes will change my mind that drastically about the game.
A pretty ok dungeon crawler. I like the variability of the different decks so you can experience a different challenge with each game. The different features that you may experience and that each has its own mini is really cool. However, I don’t see the point of the size of the gameboard. This board is huge (about double the size it needs to be) based on the fact that you will only visit a max of 8 rooms before you complete your quest. On top of that, the board just feels empty, perhaps it’s the size.
The gameplay is 50/50. On one hand I really enjoy the interesting cardplay and how each character has a unique deck. But on the other hand the board play is pretty boring to me. You basically open a door to a new room (which is the most exciting aspect), draw a feature card and set the mini of the feature up in the room. Draw threat cards which usually spawn enemies or traps in the room and draw a quest card which usually attaches to the rooms feature card and has to do something with the current quest chain you are playing.
After that the game play devolves to just killing off the enemies that spawned and then perhaps searching the room for loot. Rinse and repeat for every room this same exact method. There is also a main villain that will eventually appear if you take too long, and in that case you will have to deal with it as well.
There is A TON of stuff to scatter all over your table. Tokens aplenty and card decks galore. Not to mention each players own specific play area. Speaking on that a bit, I think the threat cards and the player play areas are a little wonky since they don’t exactly translate well to the game board. For example, player 1 might draw a minion card to their play area (threat area) but based on the location of the enemy on the board it might attack a different player. Because of that I feel like this was a card game that had an added board segment added to it as an afterthought.
Now, all that said, I am still finding myself enjoying the story booklet bit where you can make decisions akin to a choose your own adventure tale. And you can gain upgrade cards to add to your “journal” if you play the game as a campaign, which is pretty awesome.
Oh the rulebook is atrocious. That thing needs to be tossed and completely rewritten. I would say if you are the kind of player that does not like fiddly games with LOTS of tokens and cards and doesn’t want the struggle of learning how to play because of a poorly written rulebook, then stay far FAR away from this game. On the flipside if you are ok with all that, I think this game is a HIGHLY variable and replayable dungeon crawler, even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel with anything it does.
Bloodborne: The Board Game
Played solo 1 character through The Long Hunt campaign and solo with two characters through the Growing Madness campaign. This game is fun! I am actually having a bit more fun playing with two characters than one and feel it’s better balanced that way. With one there is just too much running around trying to get to everything and not enough time. With two you can split up and check out different areas and work on different missions at the same time.
LOT’S of rules ambiguities and little things here and there that I’ve had to question but overall I am really, really enjoying this one. It’s almost rare anymore than I play a game and want to continue playing that same game for hours on end after I finish it. The missions are pretty basic, mostly you are trying to ultimately complete the main Hunt mission but usually to do that you need to have completed two Insight missions (side missions) which consist of just killing certain enemies or searching through treasure chests. The narrative is interesting on the cards and I really like how you “unlock” new story cards as you complete missions.
There’s alot to play in the core box with 4 different campaigns at three chapters each. Each chapter will take you probably an hour and a half to complete so you’re looking at around a good 4 and a half hours per campaign. Plus there is a way to save your progress in the insert so you can set it back up later. But to be honest, I’ve been so intrigued with the ongoing gameplay that I’ve just left it up and continued on. The gameplay is designed very well although I will say that I would never start an entire campaign over from the beginning if I lost like it states in the rules. I would just start over from the beginning of the chapter.
All in all, I highly recommend this one! Excited to try it out true multiplayer to see if it plays good with others.
Charterstone is a cute, fun legacy game that is a very good introduction to legacy games if you are interested in those. For me it was the perfect introduction to this style of game as I had been reading all kinds of great things about other legacy games such as Pandemic Legacy and Gloomhaven. The initial thought was, “good lord play a game once and be done with it?!” That’s crazy talk…..or so I thought.
Got Charterstone and played through it with my wife and we both were instantly drawn in. The legacy aspect is sooooooo much fun. The game plays like a basic worker placement game where you place down a little guy on a particular spot on the game board to collect resources with which to pay for other things in the game. I love worker placement games as well so that was a nice base for the game. Well as the game progresses you will draw cards that have stickers on them of new places to visit on the game board. Pay the required amount of resources and you can stick the sticker on the game board that really opens up the area of play of new ways to place your character.
There are 12 games that can be played until the game ends completely and each game takes progressively longer as you are adding more and more to the board. For a 2 player game it took about an hour for the first game and each game after that took a little over an hour but never longer than 2 hours. At the onset of each individual game there is a card that details a certain objective, the person that achieves said objective gets the honor of scratching off the card to reveal what reward is underneath (like a lottery scratchers ticket). This will then lead into the next game and how the overall story progresses. As far as the story goes it’s not bad, not the best story in the world but interesting and kid friendly. Not going to spoil anything though.
So you are thinking, “well what do I do with this after we finish the 12 games?” One really cool thing about this particular legacy game is that once you complete the legacy portion of the game there are rules to where you can keep playing the game without the legacy aspect! No 2 peoples games will be the same as the end product once you are done will be shaped by your choices throughout the game. If you really want to play through the legacy portion of the game again, they sell a recharge pack that has all the stickers and components to do just that. Also the reverse side of the board is the exact same so you can just flip the board and do it all over which is cool.
Here’s the thing, I think the game would play WAYYYY better with more than 2 people playing. With only 2 people there is so much board to play on and we never did fill it up which lead to missed chances as far as story sequences and things go. At the end of our 2 player campaign there were a TON of cards left in the box that we never touched. You can get up to 6 players around the board and personally I think that would make a more fulfilling game.
In any case if you are wanting a nice light legacy game to see if you would like that style, this is it. Since playing this game I have went on and bought Gloomhaven which I love even more. Charterstone is a very simple to learn, kid friendly, legacy style board game.
This game has a very unique play mechanic where one player acts as an overlord and the rest of the players act as the heroes of the game. This works and it doesn’t . The game touts that it can be played by 2 players but let me tell ya, I tried that and it was a massacre. To get the complete fun experience out of the game you will want to play with the full amount. The overlord player has a bookoo of power at his disposal and when going up against just one player , they don’t stand a chance.
Now when playing with the full company of players you have a more even match. To play, there are a number of scenarios written in one of the two rulebooks (more on that in a bit) based on the number of players playing the game. Pick one and set the game up like the rulebook says and begin! It’s that easy…..or is it? I can tell you it is NOT that easy. The rulebooks are separated between a heroes book and an overlords book which are supposed to explain the different sets of rules depending on which role you are playing. However they are a MESS. Heck the game should have been on how to figure out how to play the game from reading those rulebooks. Worst Rulebooks EVER. The good news is you can get on the publishers website and print out pdf’s of new and vastly improved rulebooks that they did. So at least there’s that.
Once you get the rules down and start playing, it really is a fun game. The heroes usually have some quest they need to complete, taking turns doing their moves or actions. Then the overlord gets his turn to put down enemies or attack. The overlord especially is fun to play as you get a plastic overlords board to lay down your enemy tiles and keep track on who you can play and how much they cost to play. It’s a really neat system. On the other side of things playing as the heroes isn’t as unique as the overlord but each hero has a little hero card to show their carry weight and skills AND you get that added fun of discussing strategy with fellow friends which creates good table talk whereas the overlord is all alone over there being devious.
There are a ton of minis included in the game as well as two double sided game boards to mix up the scenarios a tad and a whole plethora of story scenarios to choose from in the rulebooks as well as more online you can find. So the game has a bunch of replayabilty. The other components in the game are all of a high quality as well however the storage solutions for the game are wretched. Once you get everything popped out you will need to find some baggies to store the hundreds of tiny pieces (and there are a ton of different ones). The minis have a couple storage boxes but that’s it for storage. Getting everything back in the box and getting the lid to close all the way is yet another game within a game.
Besides the storage problems, terrible packed in rulebooks and unplayable 1 vs 1, this really is an excellent game, especially with the full repertoire of players.
Another great Cthulhu and team mythos board game! In Eldritch Horror you (and up to a total of 8 players) are tasked with discovering clues that will ultimately lead you to stopping the summoning of an elder god into your world. So first think I would like to point out is the number of players you can have in this game. 8! Yes you can have up to 8 total players which is pretty nuts, and what is even more nuts is that this game can be played solo as well. And honestly I actually prefer playing it solo. The way the rules change to accommodate more players is by adding more spawning enemies or gates and the like. Basically just adding more all-around “stuff” to the game board so there is a lot going on.
There are a TON of components to this game. You will spend a decent amount of time setting the game up for play. Let me think……I just played last night so this is still pretty fresh….there are multiple stacks of cards that differ, multiple stacks of tokens that differ and of course your player sheets with whatever inventory you have and your life and sanity tokens. You have a smaller sized card pile of inventory assets (your weapons and ally’s etc.), a small card sized pile of Artifact cards (your trinkets), a pile of small cards for the conditions of your characters (status effects like dazed or bless etc.), a pile of small cards for spells (spells you can cast).
Then we move on to our normal sized card piles. Let’s see there is a pile for each of the differing grouping of locations to draw from depending on which location on the game board you are located. 4 of those piles. Then there is a general location pile for those locations that are not named cities. After that we have a pile for expeditions to draw from that change throughout the game. Then we have the other worlds pile that you draw from when you try to close a gate on the board. Then the 2-3 piles for whatever elder god you are trying to stop, these are drawn when you pick up clues and when you complete mysteries. Oh and let’s not forget the famous Mythos deck which is drawn at the end of the round. Phew.
After the card setup you have a nice variety of tokens to keep separate. These consist of the health and sanity tokens, stat improvement tokens, travel passes of the ship and rail variety, rumor tokens, eldritch tokens, clue tokens, gate tokens and a smorgasbord of enemy tokens of the regular and elite variety. Suffice it to say that this game is a beast to get setup. I’m not even going to go into what you have to do with the cards starting out having to sort the mythos deck based on what elder god you choose and all that.
The gameplay is…….complicated but not NEARLY as bad as the setup. The first time I got this game out I was SO overwhelmed by the setup that I had it in my mind that the game play was going to be horrendously complex. But honestly the gameplay isn’t that bad. There is a manual for the directions and also a reference manual that has all the little tidbits of rules for a quick lookup. On the back of the reference manual is a 1 page easy to read and understand game play order. Just keep that handy when you start your turn and you can follow right along with it to easily grasp what you are supposed to do.
The gameplay boils down to each player taking 2 actions like moving or resting etc. and then an encounter happens at whatever location they are at. The encounters are where you also fight monsters and when you get those delicious clues you need. After the encounter takes place then the mythos card is drawn and “stuff” happens on the board. Like more gates opening and more enemies swarming through or more clues appearing on the board. Once the mythos phase is over then you start again with your 2 actions and rinse/repeat.
To win the game you have to complete 3 mysteries which lock away the elder god. To complete mysteries you are usually tasked with finding clues and completing objectives in a certain way. For example one of the mysteries you have to complete has you close a gate but you also have to discard 2 spells to complete the mystery when you close the gate, makes the game much more dynamic. To lose the game however a few things can happen. Either all the players are killed, the doom track reaches 0 and the elder god is summoned and then you lose the ensuing battle with the god or the mythos deck runs out of cards.
Speaking on when players are killed a bit. I found this aspect really cool as when you either go insane from losing all your sanity tokens or wounded from losing all your health tokens. You flip your player card over and there is a whole section based on each of those aspects that you read. Usually another player will have to pass some sort of test with rolling the dice based on their stats. And this will determine what happens to your character and them. Either way you are out of the game after that. It’s a really awesome and thematic way to leave the game.
Theme. This game oozes theme. If you are looking for a good Lovecraftian themed game this one is one of the best. There are TONS of story elements and things to read aloud to the group to create a very tense and ominous story situation. And there are so many different options to choose from based on your location on the game board that you will be hard pressed to read the same text twice after multiple playthroughs.
The game length for 1-2 players is about an hour, perhaps an hour and a half. I haven’t tried with a full 8 players but I suspect the time wouldn’t be that much longer as you still have to contend with the ever present doom track that seems to always be counting down to your demise. There are no minis in this game so if you are looking for that you will have to look elsewhere. They utilize cardboard standees for the characters and little cardboard tokens for the enemies. The quality is very good in the board and cards as well as the tokens. However there are no plastic pieces save for the player standee bases. That said the cardboard is all very well made and looks to be something that would last a long time. No warping in the board or anything like that.
All in all I really like this game. Very thematic and fully cooperative and with the extremely varied player count and story situations you will almost never play the same game twice. Highly recommend.