Category Archives: Blog

Blog posts about various topics of board gaming.

Favorite Games in Categories

Facebook may not be my favorite social media, but I really like the “On This Day” feature. Today, it popped up that I had posted my Top 9 Board Games back in 2015. It was really fun seeing what games I liked and still like, and those that have been barely played since 2015.
It’s really hard coming up with a Top 9, because some games I like specifically to play with family or my game group. My Top 9 probably changes even at the time of year, whether we are playing tons of board games on the holidays or I’m doing more solo games because my son is in school.

My Top 9 Board Games in 2015
My Top 9 Board Games in 2015

Instead of a Top 9, I’d rather make a list of my favorite games in certain categories. I made sure there was no overlap, although some could be in two or three categories. My game tastes change every few years for sure!

A few years back, my game group used to be super into heavy euro games. Now, we play our fair share of cooperative, roll n writes, and immersive games. We still get out our euro games, but tend to stick to light-to-medium.

Here’s my list!

Top Games as of Summer 2017

Solo Games
One Deck Dungeon
Deep Space D6

2-Player Games
Star Realms
7 Wonders Duel

Dice Games
Roll Player
Dice Stars

Euro Games
7 Wonders
Lords of Waterdeep

Conflict Games
Small World
Hero Realms

Co-op Games
Pandemic Legacy
Mansions of Madness
Exit: The Game

Immersive Games
Arabian Nights
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
A Study in Emerald

Card Games
The Game

Party Games


Roll and Write Revolution

What are roll and write games? The simplest example is Yahtzee. You roll dice and write down the set you got such as three of a kind or a full house. While Yahtzee is the first roll and write I played, in the past few years, new and improved roll and writes have been designed. It seems like every month I am finding out about new roll and write games. Gamewright has certainly helped start this revolution with fantastic R&W games such as Qwixx and Rolling America. But other games have surfaced that provide some more complex strategies in such a simple mechanic.



What I love about Roll and Writes is how much variety there is in each game. One game of Qwixx can be very short if the dice roll write or can be longer. I also like how I can play them anywhere, because of how small they are. I’ve even played Rolling America on the plane. Most Roll and Writes also have solo variants in the box, which increases their play value. I’ve played Dice Stars and Viva Java Dice so many times solo.


I also like how many Roll and Writes are very easy to teach and set up. It makes playing with kids and casual gamers a breeze. There are also more strategic roll and writes that have many ways to mitigate dice. Roll and Writes aren’t only for filler games but there are some that require more strategy and set up such as No Siesta!

Don’t know what roll and writes to try out? Here’s a list of my R&W games in a few different categories. Enjoy!


Easy To Learn

  1. Qwixx
  2. Rolling America
  3. Qwinto
  4. Dice Stars

R&W with Solo Variants in the Box

  1. Dice Stars
  2. Viva Java Dice
  3. Rolling America
  4. Octodice
  5. No Siesta
  6. Avenue

Strategic Roll and Writes

  1. Octodice
  2. No Siesta
  3. Viva Java Dice

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!


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!



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.


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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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!



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.


Good Games That Won’t Break the Budget

When you get into the hobby of gaming, it becomes clear that careful budgeting is very important when buying new games. Some games cost 10 bucks, while others cost 100+ bucks. Cheap games don’t mean cheap quality and I have some favorites that won’t break the budget, all these listed can be found for under $15.

No Thanks

No Thanks

No Thanks is a quick, press your luck card game for 3-7 players. Each turn, you can either choose to grab the face up card or say “No thanks” and put a token on it. Any points on the card will penalize you at the end of the game, unless you have at least a 2 card run, in which only the lowest card in the run counts against you. Also, if you run out of tokens, you must take the face up card! It’s a great little card game, and kids enjoy it as well as adults.

No Thanks! can be found for about 10-12 dollars.

Tides of Time

Tides of Time

Tides of Time is drafting card game for 2 players. Players draft cards each round in order to build up their kingdom and earn victory points. There are 5 different suits and each card has its own scoring objective, so some card combos will be much better than others. The art is beautiful and the cards are high quality.

Tides of Time can be found for about 10-12 dollars.

Bang! The Dice game

Bang the dice game

Bang! The Dice Game is a secret role, semi-cooperative dice game for 3-7 players. It’s based on the Bang! card game, but plays much faster. Each game takes about 15 minutes. A player is either a Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw, or Renegade, but their role card remains hidden. Players try and figure out who is on their team while rolling dice and taking out other players or healing hit points. You may unwittingly kill a team member, but thankfully the game is quick so you can play another if your side doesn’t do well!

Bang! The Dice Game can be found for about 12-14 dollars.

Oh my Goods!

Oh my Goods

Oh my Goods! is an resource management card game for 2-4 players and has multi-use cards. Players build up their engine of cards in attempt to gain more resources so they can buy more cards and earn more points. It has similarities to San Juan and Isle of Trains. It’s very thinky for such a small card game, which gives it lots of replay value.

Oh my Goods! can be found for about 13-15 bucks.



Timeline is a logic card game for 2-8 players and has many different sets such as Historical Events, Inventions, and Americana. Players try to fit their card in the correct timeline, if they are wrong, they draw a new card, if they are correct, they have one less card to solve. Timeline is great for classrooms or with anyone that enjoys history. With all the different sets, it’s easy to find one that your group will enjoy.

Timeline sets can be found for about 10-12 bucks each.

Other games that won’t break the budget:

Qwixx, Codenames, Rolling America (Favorite Family Games)

Martian Dice, Coup, Love Letter, Great Dalmuti (Games that Travel Well)