Morocco Review

Morocco is an area control/resource management board game set in the market square of Marrakech. Morocco works for 2-5 players, and takes about 45 minutes to play. It is designed by Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback, published by Eagle Gryphon Games. In Morocco, players take on the role of artisan families who are trying to claim the best stalls in the market by attracting customers to sample their wares. Each turn, players gain information cubes, then spend those cubes on putting their workers into the stalls. Players vie for majority in these stalls, and score points accordingly when the stall gets full. The game ends once there are only 5 open stalls left on the board, in which case, players finish out the round, then calculate end game points. Whoever has the most points, wins!img_0271

At its heart, Morocco is an area control euro game. Players are trying to get majority in each stall, or at least, getting 2nd in majority. Players get points based on if they are 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in majority in the stall as well as getting extra perks such as bodyguards. What’s interesting about Morocco is that each stall space costs information cubes, but the cubes they need to spend are based on the row and column the stall is in. For example, one stall may cost a green and a brown cube in order to place a worker into that stall. The stalls are laid out as a grid with the information cubes randomly put at the end of each row and column at the setup. This determines the cost of placing a worker into that stall. However, this can change throughout the game, as players obtain gold coins that they can spend to swap information cubes in a row and column.img_0274

In Morocco players start out with a very strategic way of playing, then have to switch to a tactical way of playing, as opponents get the gold coins and bodyguards (counts as 2 assistants in the stall). Players also have cousins and tourists they can use throughout the game, which allows players to add extra assistants to the board. In this way, Morocco is a tactical game, as players must always adjust their plan based on how the board changes by their next turn.img_0272

My group was very intrigued by Morocco, some of them never having playing any other game like it. We enjoyed the initial rounds of planning, where the board does not change too drastically. A few in my group thought it got chaotic at the end, but I believe you just have to go with the flow and do what’s best on your turn. You cannot plan for all the contingencies in this game, which makes it more of a tactical game then a strategy. I also liked how the game kept short, our first four player game took about an hour.img_0270

We did appreciate how Morocco had minimal colorblind issues. There were a few times our colorblind player mixed up the brown and orange, but otherwise, it didn’t affect his gameplay. I did find the scoring text on the board to be a bit small, as players could not read the text from across the table. Otherwise, Morocco had quality components and a board that made sense with the mechanics.

Morocco is a good medium weight euro that is a good introduction to heavier area control games. I would recommend Morocco to anyone who enjoys area control euro games.

2 Player Experience: 6/10
Slow start as it takes awhile for stalls to fill up
Bodyguards are much more prevalent because almost always there was a 2nd place award.
It was easier to gain the information cubes you needed
Game dragged on at the end, it was hard to get to five open stalls left. Felt 2 rounds too long

4 Player Experience: 7/10
Pace felt much faster than in 2 player since the board changed a lot per round
Bodyguards were harder to get, as players usually tied for 1st.
Some players got stuck with no gold coins, making them lose turns since they didn’t have the right information cubes needed.
Gameplay was much more tactical, players had to adjust every turn their plan
Just the right amount of rounds, didn’t feel too long.

 

We were given a review copy.

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Carcassonne Gold Rush Review

Carcassonne Gold Rush is a standalone Carcassonne game with a Wild West theme. Players who are familiar with Carcassonne will learn the new rules fairly quickly. Each player starts with 4 cowboy meeples and a tent. Gameplay is simple, players draw a tile, lay down the tile in accordance with the rules, and score any points if applicable. Players continue drawing and placing tiles until the last tile is placed. Whoever has the most points in the end, is the winner!97afb7dd-1e31-497e-9250-426d05fb51c6

Carcassonne Gold Rush is part of the Around the World series of standalone Carcassonne games. Each of these standalone games add some different mechanics to Carcassonne. Gold Rush adds a few notable differences. For one, cities are now mountains, and players can collect mining tokens on these mountains if they pitch a tent in the mountain. A player does not need to have a meeple to play a tent in the mountain. This way, players can effectively steal mining tokens from players who own the mountain with their meeples. While this seems cutthroat, in our experience, players receive around equal mining tokens at the end of the game.

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Also, instead of roads, Gold Rush has railroads. The main difference is that if there is one and only one locomotive on the road, then that player receives double points for the road. It definitely makes roads more viable than in the base game of Carcassonne. I also like that the “farms” are simplified in Gold Rush. The farms are called prairies and instead of scoring for completed cities in the farm, players score points based on how many tipi camps and wild horses are in that prairie. I really like this way of scoring because often farms are hard to visualize in the base game.

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Lastly, in place of monasteries, we have named cities (Carson City, Nashville etc). Players get points based on how many completed roads come out of the city (3 points per completed road out of the city). This is surprisingly easy, and players can rack up easy points if they draw a few city tokens.

These differences, along with the cool Western art and theme, make Carcassonne Gold Rush a refreshing take on the classic of Carcassonne. We didn’t find Carcassonne Gold Rush to be any more cutthroat than the base game, because our group tends to play Carcassonne very aggressively.

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I found that Carcassonne Gold Rush was very fun and so far my favorite of the standalone Carcassonne expansions. I enjoy the Wild West theme and the new mechanics keep the Carcassonne line fresh and exciting. I highly recommend Carcassonne Gold Rush to any Carcassonne fan, and even new players to the game can jump in and learn without any issues.

Carcassonne Gold Rush is for 2-5 players and takes about 35 minutes.

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Game Like A Pirate Day

Talk Like A Pirate Day is every year on September 19th. One of my favorite themes is pirates, so I celebrate Pirate Day each year by having a board game party. While I don’t have nearly as many pirate themed games as I wish I did, I do try to get in a few pirate themed games.

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One of last year’s additions to our pirate day gaming was Libertalia. It’s an interesting card game where you try to play just the right number of pirate to get the right loot and points. While it is very fun, it did seem a bit too long with 6 players, so we’ll likely skip Libertalia this year. We also usually play Liar’s Dice, but my group doesn’t tend to like that game so instead, we’ll be doing some pirate variants of games we do like.

We do plan on playing Codenames, but print out our own cards with pirate themed words. Words like Doubloons, Matey, Davy Jones, and more. It should be really fun, especially considering Codenames already has quite a few pirate words already in the game.

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One of my favorite pirate games we’ve recently bought is Pathfinder: Skulls and Shackles. We’ve only played a couple games of it, but hoping to teach it to our game group tomorrow. I absolutely loved the “Rum Punch” scenario, and we definitely drank Rum Punch while playing it.

Lastly, I’ll be playing Jump Ship and Friday solo if I get time tomorrow afternoon. Jump Ship is a choose your own adventure card game designed by Gamewright, and it’s loads of fun. You all know that Friday is my favorite solo game and one of my favorite games ever. I hope I can beat the pirates on level 4!

I’m so excited to drink some rum, play some games, and talk like a pirate tomorrow!

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Games I own that work for a pirate day:

  • Libertalia
  • Jump Ship
  • Survive
  • Pathfinder: Skulls and Shackles
  • Harbour
  • Friday
  • Lucky Pirate
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse (Captain Scarlet Villain)
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Back to School: Gaming Edition

School is starting very shortly in our house. My son will be starting preschool in 2 weeks, and I’ll actually be aware of school schedules and events now! This summer, you may have played tons of games with family or friends. With school starting, here are some ways to keep playing board games even when the schedule gets busier.

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1. Schedule family/friend game nights:

Choose a night every week or every other week to be your game night. Specifically put in on your calendar. Gaming can often be put on the back burner with all the extracurricular activities and sports you or your kids do. Game night is very important, because instead of everyone just going on their devices and ignoring each other after a long day, you can connect face to face!  If you build it into the schedule, then it won’t go by the wayside.

2. Start a board game club.

What better way to get gaming in then to start a board game club at your school! If you are a parent, this can be a good way to bring board gaming into the community. It’s also a great way to find out who your kids are hanging out with! You can even go into the educational parts of gaming, such as mathematics, social skills, and English skills.

3. Gaming at lunch

Some schools have longer lunches or recess, if the weather isn’t good, you can encourage your kids to bring a short board game to school. This can be a great way to meet new kids, as well as introduce board games to many students. If you are a teacher, you can have board games available in your classroom for kids to check out at lunch, or have them or when students are done with schoolwork/tests.

4. Host a board game event at school

Many schools have a math night, why not try to host a board game event at school? This would be another great way to get to know the kids and parents in your school community. It could also show many teachers and administrators the educational aspects of board gaming.

These are some fun ways that you and your family can keep gaming during the school year.  I know we’ll be doing more family game nights, especially since my son asks for games often. School may be starting, but that doesn’t mean gaming is ending.

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Quixo Review

Quixo is an abstract strategy board game for 2 players (or 4 players with 2 teams). Quixo is designed by Thierry Chapeau and currently published by Gigamic Games. Quixo is a take on tic tac toe, except more complex and incredibly more fun. Quixo is played on a 5 by 5 grid of cubes, with blank sides, and both X and Os. One player is X’s and the other player is O’s. The goal of Quixo is to match 5 of your cubes  in a straight or diagonal line. While this may seem easy, this puzzle spatial game can work your brain.

Quixo has such high quality components.
Quixo has such high quality components.

At the beginning of the game, all cubes are turned to their blank side. On your turn, choose a cube with either a blank side or one with your symbol. Then, the player chooses one of the incomplete rows and uses the cube to push the row down, replacing the space. Whenever a player chooses a cube, they always make sure it is turned to their symbol. A player cannot ever take a cube that is their opponents’ symbol. Play continues until a player gets 5 of their symbols in a row, either diagonally or in a straight line.

You cannot put a cube back in the same place, instead you must push the incomplete row with the cube to replace the gap.
You cannot put a cube back in the same place, instead you must push the incomplete row with the cube to replace the gap.

Quixo is very fun because it is easy to learn and quick to play. While I don’t typically like spatial puzzle games, Quixo was very enjoyable because it was fairly easy to see all the options of moving the cubes. It’s one of those games that can be easy to learn, but takes awhile to really master. You have to balance doing both offensive and defensive moves, not allowing your opponent to get too many of their symbols in a row and being stuck with just helping them win.

Early game it can be very important to get the center piece in your symbol.
Early game it can be very important to get the center piece in your symbol.

I’m also very impressed by the quality of the board and the cubes. I feel confident Quixo will last a long time, even playing the game with kids. Quixo has a very clean and modern look to it, and I know this will be a great game to play out on the patio or even at a park. I recommend Quixo to anyone who enjoys 2 player abstract games and loves sturdy, high quality components.

I was provided a review copy of Quixo.

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Scoville Labs Review

Scoville Labs is an expansion for Scoville (review here). Scoville Labs is designed by Ed P. Marriott and published by Tasty Minstrel Games. Scoville Labs adds a new mechanic to Scoville, namely, a personal lab where players can plant and crossbreed peppers. Opponents cannot plant in your lab, nor walk through the lab to harvest peppers. Each player gets their own lab board, and can plant a pepper in the lab after the main plant phase of their turn. Scoville Labs also includes extra peppers, recipe cards, market cards, pepper multiplier tokens, and a new crossbreed chart.

Scoville Labs in action with a full lab!
Scoville Labs in action with a full lab!

Scoville Labs is a fantastic addition to Scoville. Being able to plant and crossbreed peppers without opponent interference is very fun. While you still have cutthroat nature of the main board, each player has their lab in which they can get a few extra peppers. This allows players to be able to focus more on recipes, because they are able to get more peppers per turn. I also feel like this can speed up the game a bit, which is important in higher player counts.

I love the new crossbreed chart. It's much better for my brain.
I love the new crossbreed chart. It’s much better for my brain.

I also appreciate the extra recipe and market cards added to the game. The market cards, in particular, a new way to pay for market cards, such as money.   It’s always good having more market and recipe cards, so that each game is very different. Scoville Labs definitely adds to the replay value of Scoville. I couldn’t imagine playing the base game without Scoville Labs now, because it just adds so much to the game without being too complex.

I love some of the new market cards!
I love some of the new market cards!

Very solid expansion, I recommend Scoville Labs to anyone who owns Scoville and enjoys the game.

I was provided a review copy for Scoville Labs.

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Quarto Mini Review

Quarto Mini is a 2 player abstract strategy game designed by Blaise Muller and published by Gigamic Games. Quarto Mini is a smaller version of Quarto which is the same game. Quarto has 16 high quality wooden pieces each which have 4 different characteristics: light or dark, round or square, tall or short, and solid or hollow. The goal of the game is to create a line of four pieces all which share one common characteristic.

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Players start the game by setting out the 16 pieces and game board. Determine a first player. On your turn, you select a piece that the opponent must place anywhere on the board. Then, the 2nd player chooses a piece for their opponent to place anywhere on the board. Play continues until a player calls Quarto, indicating they have made a line of 4 pieces with at least one common characteristic. That player wins the game!  You do not have to place every piece in order to make a Quarto. In that sense, no piece is owned by any one player.

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Quarto is a simple game to learn, but full of strategy. You must be careful which pieces you give your opponent for them to place. Ideally, you want to get a set of three set up so that your opponent has no choice but you give you winning piece. I love the minimalistic style of Quarto, including the box art. It is very clean and high quality. The pieces and board are gorgeous. While this game has no theme, it doesn’t need it with its fun gameplay and strategy.

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I enjoy Quarto Mini because I can easily take it on trips.  The small board size makes it possible to play almost anywhere. It’s a very solid 2 player game, and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves logic style strategy games.

*I was provided a review copy*

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Games to play on the 4th of July

4th of July (Also known as Independence Day) is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Fireworks, yummy food, hanging out with family and friends, it’s just so much fun. Typically board games aren’t played on this day, usually because we are just busy swimming, playing outdoor games, or shooting off fireworks. In recent years, however, we’ve actually played a few board games while hanging outside! Here are some thematic favorites to play.

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Hanabi

This goes without saying, but Hanabi is a perfect 4th of July game! We’ve played this for the past few years while waiting for it to get dark enough to shoot off fireworks. It’s also great for newer gamers because it’s cooperative. We usually grab a couple people and play a quick game.

Timeline: Americana or American History

I love the Timeline games, and the Americana/American History versions are awesome for the 4th. It’s also a shorter game, and can be easily played on a small table outside. Timeline is easy to teach, and almost anyone can play.

Rolling America

Rolling America is a more recent acquisition and it’s a great puzzle dice game. You can even play this one solo, so if no one can play, you can get a quick game in. Rolling America is easy to learn, but hard to master. I love the custom star dice!

There are many games you could play on the 4th of July, these are just a few that I have that will work with the theme. I’ll hopefully get one or two of these in on the 4th!

 

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World’s Fair 1893

World’s Fair 1893 is a area control, set collection board game, designed by J. Alex Kevern and published by Renegade Game Studios and Foxtrot Games. In World’s Fair 1893, players act as organizers of the fair, who are trying to gain favor with influential figures by sending out their supporters to find the best exhibits to put on display at the World’s Fair.  World’s Fair 1893 supports 2-4 players and takes about 40 minutes to play.IMG_5939

The gameplay of World’s Fair is quite simple. On your turn, you place a supporter on one of the five game areas. If you have any influential figures from your previous turn, play those cards now. Then, you take all the cards that were in the area where you placed your supporter. The areas can hold either 3-4 maximum cards. There are three different types of cards: Influential figures, Midway Tickets, and Main Exhibit cards. Influential figures allow you to add or move supporters to different areas, which can help gain dominance in one area. Midway Tickets are one point each at a scoring round, and move along the round track. Main exhibit cards are how you obtain exhibit approval tokens, which will be points at the end of the game.

World’s Fair has both area control and set collection mechanics within the game. During one of three scoring rounds in the game, players will look at the game areas and find out which player has the most supporters in that area. That player then gets points for being 1st as well as the ability to turn in up to three exhibit cards of that area color for tokens. These tokens are then counted as points at the end of the game. If a player is 2nd in an area, they can turn in one exhibit card and may get points, depending on the player count.

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World’s Fair is very interesting because you must consider the cards you collect with also being 1st or 2nd in an area. You may have several exhibit cards, but if you don’t have any way to turn them in, they are useless at the end of the game. Gaining dominance in areas in very important, especially because you need to collect unique sets of tokens. There are other ways to gain points, such as having the most midway tickets during a scoring round.

I love how easy it is to learn World’s Fair, with also having very interesting choices each turn. Do you try and get dominance in an area, or focus on getting the cards you need to make a unique set? These decisions are not often AP inducing, and the turn go fairly quick.  The art and components of World’s Fair are very high quality. I love the detail in history on each card. It was very enjoyable learning so much about the World’s Fair while I played.

World’s Fair 1893 is a great gateway game to set collection and area control. It does not feel too cutthroat, and has a very good game pace. I would recommend it to any gamer who likes these mechanics and appreciate the art and history of this beautiful game.

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2P Experience: 70

  • Shorter gameplay, less rounds.
  • Easier to predict who will be in 1st for each area
  • More cutthroat as any positive decision is mostly negative for the opponent
  • Still fun to play, but more predictable

4P Experience: 80

  • Longer gameplay, more interactive
  • Harder to predict who will be in 1st/2nd during scoring round
  • Very fun, like it most at 4 player because of the interaction and excitement.
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Eminent Domain Exotica Expansion Review

Eminent Domain Exotica is an expansion to Eminent Domain, designed by Seth Jaffee and published by Tasty Minstrel. The Exotica expansion can be played with or without the Escalation expansion. The rulebook suggests to play Exotica with just the base game for several games to get used to the new technology cards, planets, and the mining mechanic.Exotica expansion pic 1

Exotica adds two new types of planets, exotic and asteroid.  The exotic planet gives points as well as the ability to produce a new resource: crystal. Also, the exotic planet can have a translator effect on it, which turns the new exotic symbols into usable symbols such as research, colonize, etc. These exotic symbols are on the new technology cards.

The asteroid planets are easy to settle and attack but they don’t give any points. However, new technology cards allow the player to do special effects if they have asteroids in their empire. Also, the new mining action allows players to mine an asteroid immediately by discarding their hand, instead of settling or attacking.Exotic expansion photo 2

Eminent Domain Exotica differs from the Escalation expansion in a variety of ways. For one, Exotica does not have much player interaction, other than following or dissenting during another player’s turn. In Escalation, there were some cutthroat technology cards, as well as stronger ships which encourage players to either do warfare or get the peace treaty card. For players who want a less intense expansion, Exotica is the way to go. I found it more straight forward than Escalation in terms in strategy, and learning the new technology cards was easier.

The only caveat I have with Exotica is reading the red halo around the exotic symbols was very difficult. I have 20/20 vision, and even under bright LED lights, I could barely see the red halo. This is important for some scoring at the end, and it was not thick enough, and thus I short changed myself some points at the end, until I realized there was a red halo on the exotic planet card. For players who are colorblind, the red halo is impossible to see. You may have to memorize or mark the cards that have red halos around the symbols in order to score the game correctly.Exotic expansion photo 3

I highly recommend the Exotica expansion for anyone that enjoys the base game: Eminent Domain. The exotic and asteroid planets add some variety to the game, and I really enjoy the new technology cards! It definitely helps the replay value of Eminent Domain, and adds a less complex and cutthroat expansion to the EmDo series.

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