Category Archives: Strategy Games

A listing of all the strategy games we have reviewed, with the link to the review and the 2P vs 4P rating.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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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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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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Scoville Review

Scoville is a resource management pepper farming board game for 2-6 players, designed by Ed Marriott and published by Tasty Minstrel Games. In Scoville, players take the role of pepper farmers, who try to crossbreed peppers to make the hottest ones in order to make the best chili, sell goods at the farmer’s market, and win auctions to gain more peppers. By planting, harvesting, and crossbreeding peppers of various kinds, players can earn points in a variety of ways. Whoever has the most points at the end, wins!

The crossbreed chart is very handy!
The crossbreed chart is very handy!

Scoville is a very interesting resource management game. Players start out with some base peppers (red, yellow, blue), and must plant peppers and harvest to gain hotter peppers. Since players are competing for space on the pepper farm, you can effectively block opponents from harvesting certain peppers and beat them out to recipes and the farmer’s market points. Players also auction for turn order at the beginning of each round, which keeps players on their toes. Since harvesting (where you pick up crossbred peppers) is done in reverse turn order, sometimes, a player may want to get last in the round to beat out other players to a good crossbreed.

We bunched together which made it so we could block each other easier.
We bunched together which made it so we could block each other easier.

I was very impressed by the theme of Scoville, and I loved the board and artwork. It’s a very light and fun theme, although it can get a little cutthroat in the planting and harvesting phases! The game isn’t quite colorblind friendly, however. They did make an effort to make similar colored peppers different heights, such as the red and brown, but the cards are not as bright as the pepper pieces, which caused issues for our colorblind players.  Also the green and orange peppers are the same height, and looked like the same color on the cards for colorblind players. The game is still fun, even with these issues, but just note that a colorblind player may need some extra help with the cards.

Scoville takes up quite a bit of table space.
Scoville takes up quite a bit of table space.

Scoville had a really great pace, and on a couple games, it even felt a little too short. Our 3 player game took just an hour, which is perfect to fit in on just about any game night. There wasn’t too much downtime in between turns, even with planning ahead for the next round. Scoville is a great introduction to heavier euros, and has a fairly easy learning curve, especially as they provide a crossbreed cheat sheet to each player.

You keep your resources and points hidden behind this screen.
You keep your resources and points hidden behind this screen.

Overall, our group really enjoyed Scoville and I’m looking forward to more games of it. I liked that I could play it in about an hour, and that there was good player interaction without being overly cutthroat.  The theme was fun, artwork was high quality, and it will definitely stay in our collection for a long time.

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