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Board Games and Speech Therapy

When I was in speech therapy as a kid, we played Candyland as a reward for doing our pronunciation work. Fast forward to now, and I’m playing board games with my son as part of his speech therapy. Except we aren’t playing Candyland. We’re playing Animal Upon Animal, Qwixx, and Sum Swamp. And board games aren’t just a reward, they are actually part of his speech therapy!IMG_6951

My son’s speech therapist is a huge advocator of board games and oral motor games during speech therapy. Instead of just rote pronunciation, she finds what is behind not talking, not pronouncing. She builds the foundations from the ground up, instead of working on the symptom of speech delays or pronunciation issues. So, board games are a huge part of my son’s speech therapy. It’s part of sequencing, planning, and making logical choices. These all help with speech!IMG_7063 2

So, we play Animal Upon Animal, talking through each turn, then do oral motor exercises in between. Think tongue pops, la-la-la’s, and putting cheerios on the tip of our tongue. It’s so fun, and my son responds really well to it. And we get to play board games daily as part of his speech therapy! How cool is that?IMG_7166

Another thing I love is that his speech therapist is very open to trying new games. I got her hooked on Codenames, and recently she bought No Thank You Evil to try with her students. Board games are more than just entertainment for us, they are a means to get my son talking and talking well.

What’s exciting is my son’s speech delay is gone. He’s talking at the right level for kids his age, now what’s left is to work on his tongue and lip strength so he can get those pesky L’s, F’s, and V’s. Well off to do more oral motor games with my son while we play Space Planets!


The Goonies: Adventure Card Game Review

The Goonies: Adventure Card Game is a fully cooperative board game for 1-4 players using the movie: The Goonies as the setting. The Goonies: ACG is designed by Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle and published by Albino Dragon. The goal of The Goonies: ACG is to find all paths to One Eye Willy’s ship by clearing obstacles and defeating the criminal family the Fratellis.

My son makes a cameo in set up photo for The Goonies: ACG
My son makes a cameo in set up photo for The Goonies: ACG

At the start of the game, players choose one of the neighborhood kids as their character. Each character has a different power which can be used throughout the game. There are 5 different locations where players have to search for the path to One Eye Willy’s ship. There are also obstacles in each location, which the players have to play cards from their hand to clear.img_3064

What’s most interesting about The Goonies: ACG is that there are no individual turns in the game. Players have four actions as a whole group and have to decide together what to do. This is a great mechanic for groups who make decisions easily together or for players who are newer board games. It is easy to teach as just one experienced player can help the whole group make decisions.img_3061

However, players do get to make some individual decisions as their characters has special abilities they can activate during the game. This helps players to feel important in the game, otherwise, whoever had the strongest personality would just take over the game. The decisions in The Goonies: ACG are pretty basic, you just need to play cards to clear obstacles, and keep track of how many Fratteli cards are in play. While the game itself is not complex, it does provide good fun especially for those who enjoy cooperative games. I also appreciate that there are different difficulty levels and a challenge mode. This will help the game to have good replay value, since the default game is straight forward and easy to win.img_3067

While many of the cards had photos from the movie, other cards had pretty basic object art on them. I wasn’t super impressed with the art, and I wish it had been a little higher quality. To be honest, I think this game would have been better with having its own custom art and not having The Goonies IP. There was nothing inherent to the game that said “The Goonies” other than the photos on the cards. That being said, having The Goonies theme could allow casual gamers to pick this up because of the IP and get more into board gaming.

For anyone who has seen The Goonies movie, this will be a highly nostalgic board game. The cards have photos from the movie, which bring back some of the characters and famous scenes. The Goonies: ACG is on the lighter end of cooperative games and can be a great gateway to heavier games. I’m excited that there is a solo mode, which works incredibly well since players don’t have individual turns anyways. While the theme doesn’t mesh completely with the mechanics, it can bring people to play the game where they otherwise might have been intimidated by a different theme. Overall, The Goonies: ACG is a good cooperative game especially for families and casual gamers.


2016 Board Game Year in Review

I can’t believe how quickly 2016 went for us here at Board Game Duel. It was a busy year, with tons of family time, the start of preschool for our son, and lot of volunteering in our church and community. We also got in so many board games and video games with family and friends!

We got Arabian Nights for Christmas and after one play we instantly fell in love with it. We'll be playing it on New Year's Eve!
We got Arabian Nights for Christmas and after one play we instantly fell in love with it. We’ll be playing it on New Year’s Eve!

Favorite Games We Obtained in 2016:

Mansions of Madness, Star Wars Destiny, Tickets to Ride Rails and Sails, Small World Realms, Codenames Pictures, Qwinto, Nimmt Card games, Carcassonne: Gold West, Pathfinder: Skulls and Shackles, The Game, Mysterium, Arabian Nights

What we discovered about our gaming style in 2016:

We have started enjoying more thematic games, like Mansions of Madness and Arabian Nights. Because we’ve gotten so involved doing Dungeons and Dragons, it’s allowed us to see past euro games and see that storytelling is extremely fun too. I’ve really enjoyed doing more immersion in gaming, like having color changing lights and music. We’ve also been playing some lighter games like Qwinto and Codenames because that’s easier to do with family and with our son, who started playing more games this year. While we still play euro games (7 Wonders and Concordia are still favorites), we also play many thematic games where the mechanics play well into the theme. We still don’t like overly random games, but we do enjoy games that mesh theme and mechanics well.

Our Game Groups in 2016

Our main weekly game group is usually between 3-5 people and always a fun time. We’ve been playing lots of Mansions of Madness lately, has that’s been a favorite. We also enjoyed playing through Pandemic: Legacy during the beginning of the year. We haven’t done as many game groups at my husband’s work just due to scheduling. But we have been playing more board games with friends and family lately. We usually get to play board games 2-3 times a week and even more when there’s an extended holiday break. It also helps that our son is getting into board gaming and can easily play games like Carcassonne, 6 Nimmt, and Qwinto.

Favorite Kickstarter of 2016:

I would definitely say Hero Realms. It came just about on time and it’s excellent. I really need to play it more, but I love the fantasy theme and the gameplay is quite fun. We also loved the ABCs of RPGs Kickstarter, because my son loves the alphabet! I was highly impressed by that Kickstarter and I believe it came on time as well!

What we are looking forward to in 2017

I’m definitely excited to play more games with our son as he gets older and better at games. I also want to start playing role playing games with him as his speech catches up. While we aren’t planning on doing any conventions this year, we are excited to play more games with family and friends, and play games while on vacation. We also look forward to playing more and more thematic games and D&D!


Star Wars Destiny: First Impressions

I was on vacation last week and almost missed out on getting the first print run on Star Wars Destiny. Thankfully, my FLGS, Cloud Cap Games, saved the day by saving a copy of Rey’s Starter Set for me. And they easily convinced me to also get a booster box of 36.


Upon opening the starter set and boosters, I was immediately impressed by the dice and card quality. With superior packaging, they ensured no cards would get bent. The dice are a thing of beauty. Printed on photos and big, these are fun to roll and very easily to read.


The art of the cards is very good, with some art of Star Wars The Card Game showing up, but also some new art showcasing all parts of the Star Wars saga. I was pleased to see some Star Wars Rebels art, as well as plenty from Force Awakens.


Many folks have asked how this is any different than Dice Masters. To start off, it’s a deck builder, not a dice builder. You build your deck of 30 cards before you start the game, following some basic customization rules. The customization rules are less restricted than Star Wars the Card Game, which I really appreciated. Also, not every card you put in your deck has a dice attached to it. So, it’s very much more like a deck builder than a dice game. There are dice, sure, but they aren’t the only part of the game.


As someone who has played very little collectible games, I cannot speak to the price point that much. So far I’ve spent 115 bucks and can build 4-5 decks. I’ve only built 2 so far, since my main focus is casual play with my husband, James. I also ordered the Kylo Ren starter set, which I will get next week. We were a bit low on villains from my booster pulls.


After just 2 games, I’m very happy with Star Wars Destiny. It has the pace of Star Realms, with the deck builder aspect of Star Wars the Card Game. It’s way more strategic than Dice Masters, and the dice and cards are much higher quality. I’m looking forward to many more games of this, and I’m excited to tweak my decks more and more as I get better at the game. May the Force (and dice) be with you!



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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)

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.


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.


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.


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.