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.

Luna Review

Luna is a worker movement strategy board game for 1-4 players set in a moon religion theme.  Published by Tasty Minstrel Games and designed by Stefan Feld, Luna is a strong euro game where there are many paths to victory.  Players take turns activating their novices on the isle tiles and doing various actions based on the isle that the novices start their turn on. Players will also receive favor tiles in which they can do extra actions. Play continues for 6 rounds, then the game is over and points are tallied. Whoever has the most points wins.

Luna is a very beautiful game. High quality components and art.
Luna is a very beautiful game. High quality components and art.

While Luna was originally published in 2010, the Tasty Minstrel Games version was published this year for US distribution.  Luna is very enjoyable strategy game in typical Feld style, many paths to victory and many ways to earn victory points.  Luna uses a worker movement mechanic instead of a worker placement.  Each players’ novices (workers) start on an isle tile which surround the temple island.  Each isle tile has different actions in which the player can perform if their novice is on that tile at the start of the round (or if it is moved there using the sailboat favor tile).  Because of this, players will often be doing actions in order to prepare for future turns. Also, there are figures which move around the isle tiles, which can give negative points, positive points or ability to build a shrine.  Noting where these figures will be in future turns is key to planning ahead.  For example, you don’t want to leave several of your novices in a tile in which the Apostate will be on, or you will lose many points.

There is also two different area control parts of Luna.  The first area control is in the temple island.  Eventually, players will get their novices into the temple, and be able to knock other players out of their tiles if their tile is a lower number.  Because you get points from novices being in the temples, you must be aware of placement and what other players’ are doing.  Also, the other part of area control is with the isle tiles.  If the moon priestess figure is on a tile at the end of the round, players will receive points if they have the most novices on the tile (but only if there is competition on that tile).  This will also change how you may do your turns in order to prevent a player from getting those moon priestess points.

Close up of Luna at the beginning of the game.
Close up of Luna at the beginning of the game.

There are many different strategies in Luna and not just one will ensure victory.  You must be able to adjust throughout the game based on opponents in order to maximize points.  If your group is prone to AP with planning games, you may want to carve out extra time for Luna to account for the strategizing.  Also, every game will vary because  isle and temple tiles will get placed in different order at the beginning of the game.  Also, if not playing with the introductory rules, you will get a choice at which holy isles that your novice starts on.  This can greatly effect the rest of the game, so plan carefully!

I enjoyed Luna far greater than I thought I would. I wasn’t stressed about the planning (even though some members of my group were), and I felt like the game had a good pace.  While the area control aspects may turn off some players, I wasn’t as concerned about it.  I just tried to focus on what was best for me, and planned my strategy accordingly.  Although I didn’t win, I definitely look forward to many more games of Luna.  I definitely recommend it to any Feld fan and any player that enjoys euros with heavy planning.

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Bomb Squad Review

Bomb Squad is a 2-6 player cooperative real time board game where players are a team of operatives controlling a robot that diffuses bombs and saves hostages. Bomb Squad is designed by Dan Keltner and David Short, published by Tasty Minstrel Games.    Players take turns doing various actions, whether it is giving a teammate a clue about their hand or programming the robot. Play continues until time runs out, the robot’s reserve battery goes to zero, or players fulfill the mission conditions. In the last case, players win the game!

Players face their hands outward and cannot look at their own cards.
Players face their hands outward and cannot look at their own cards.

Bomb Squad uses an action and movement programing mechanic to control the robot as well as hand management with a twist: players must face their hands out toward their other teammates. In other words, each player does not know their individual hands, only the hands of their teammates.

One of the actions that players can do is give clues to a teammate’s hand; for example, show their teammate which cards in their hand are red or which ones are move cards. Another action a player can do is play a card into the programming queue for the robot. In regular missions, players have to do this face down, so only their teammates know if it was the right card. Thirdly, a player can discard a card and name an attribute of the card to recharge the robot battery. Lastly, a player can program the robot by turning over the cards in the robot program queue and arranging them as needed in order to move the robot, open doors, disarm bombs, or save hostages.

Programming the robot can be tough sometimes.
Programming the robot can be tough sometimes.

What makes Bomb Squad stand out from other cooperative games is that it is real time.  You have to make fast and frantic decisions, as the time ticks down. Players who have analysis paralysis beware, you cannot take time thinking about the optimal move, you must go on instinct. While there are other real time cooperative games out there, what I love about Bomb Squad is the replay value of the game. There are 11 missions and 2 tutorial missions, and they are hard. It took my group 3 tries to finish the 2nd tutorial mission. You will likely have to play each mission at least twice, depending on how fast your team thinks.

Will you save hostages before time runs out?
Will you save hostages before time runs out?

There is also a modular board, so later missions will have a larger board and thus a harder set. No mission is longer than 30 minutes, so even if you lose one of the harder missions, you can reset easily and try again. The modular board is a very tight fit though, we had to force the pieces to close. Otherwise, the component quality is very good. The various tokens are thick and the cards shuffle well. There are no colorblind issues because the cards are primary colors and they have levels that correspond with the color.

Warning: Bomb Squad may make your team delirious from the frantic decisions. Laugh your way through the stress :)
Warning: Bomb Squad may make your team delirious from the frantic decisions. Laugh your way through the stress 🙂

I like to say that Bomb Squad is like Hanabi meets Robo Rally in cooperative real time.  The outward hands plus having a time limit makes for a very different strategy than Hanabi, and discarding cards does not yield bad penalties. It also varies than Robo Rally in that you don’t have to worry about turning the robot, which definitely helps for those that have a harder time with spatial reasoning.

Bomb Squad is a very solid cooperative game that will leave you sweating at the end. Having to make frantic decisions has the time ticks down holds to the theme very well. Gamers that want a challenging cooperative game will certainly enjoy Bomb Squad.

I was provided a review copy for Bomb Squad.

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Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers Review

Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers is a standalone card game for 3-5 players designed by Philip duBarry, published by Tasty Minstrel Games in the Eminent Domain Universe. Players take on the role of a captain of a mighty battlecruiser in the middle of a skirmish and trying to collect precious 15 ore or destroy their opponents. Each player gets cards in their color based on the one of the recommended sets in the rules (dependent on player count). Every player has the same cards as the other players. Upon setup, one of those cards gets randomly discarded, and another face-up in the Recovery Zone.  This makes it so not every player has the exact same cards in hand at the beginning of the game.

Battlecruisers in action.
Battlecruisers in action.

Each player gets a player card which shows where the discarded cards go, the recovery zone, in play cards, and a reference to how each round occurs. Play goes as follows: Choose a card from your hand and place it facedown in play.  Once every player has chosen a card, they are revealed.  Starting from the smallest card to the largest, resolve card effects. If no other person played that card, resolve the main card effect. If opponents played the same card, then you resolve the clash effects. Then, cards get picked up from recovery zone to hand, and cards in play into the recovery zone. Check for win conditions, then play another round if no one has won. Play continues until one or more players have 15 points or more at the end of a round or all players but one have been knocked out. A player gets eliminated if they are out of cards in their hand, in play, and recovery zones at the end of a round.

My hand of cards.
My hand of cards.

Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers is very akin to games like Libertalia or Eggs and Empires.  Battlecruisers is my favorite of the three, for several reasons. Battlecruisers is short with each game being about 15-20 minutes, which is perfect for a game with elimination. There are also many different recommended card sets, as players only use 6-8 cards in a game out of the 33 cards that are included in the base game.  Once a group gets tired of one card set, they can try a different card set which will require various strategies. This greatly helps the replay value the game.

The first game recommended set.  This is the orange player's cards.
The first game recommended set. This is the orange player’s cards.

I also liked the art of Battlecruisers, loving the space theme that Eminent Domain has. The only issue we have with the graphic design is the card text is much too small.  Playing with several different people, they all commented on the text size.  In one group, we had to find a table with brighter light as they could not read the text.  Also, the clash effect has red text, which was difficult for my colorblind husband to see unless under very bright light.  I’m hoping in later editions they increase the text size, especially for people who have bad vision or colorblindness.

The art is very cool in Battlecruisers.
The art is very cool in Battlecruisers.

Battlecruisers is easy to learn, short, and has good strategic decisions. Do you focus on making your opponents discard their cards or earn victory points?  Do you knowingly play a card that will clash to make your opponent get less victory points? While Battlecruisers can be a little cutthroat, it’s short enough that if you get eliminated quickly, you can start a new game soon enough.

Overall, we liked Battlecruisers and it played very well in our groups. Players who prefer short, strategic simultaneous play with a cool sci-fi theme will enjoy Battlecruisers. We recommend it!

We were given a review copy but also did back the Kickstarter. 

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Orleans Review

Orleans is a bag builder worker placement board game set in medieval France, designed by Reiner Stockhausen and published by Tasty Minstrel Games. In Orleans, players place their followers on action spaces, which allow them to perform different abilities and actions during a game round. These followers may be traders, builders, scholars, each having their own track. Every time you gain a follower, you advance that track, which give players various bonuses.

Start of the game of Orleans.  Note that goods are supposed to be face up, we made a mistake the first game.
Start of the game of Orleans. Note that goods are supposed to be face up, we made a mistake the first game.

Orleans is a very interesting euro game that uses the bag building concept. Instead of a deck of cards or dice, players have a bag in which their followers go upon gaining and use in a round. This does cause the game to have some randomness, but there are many ways to mitigate the randomness. One such way is to build places, which can allow the players to have special powers or action spaces. Each player has a bag in which these followers go, and players have to only take a certain amount of followers out of the bag per turn (based on their knight follower track). Because of this, Orleans requires careful planning, flexibility, and strategizing in order to have the most efficient rounds.

The action spaces of Orleans corresponds to which actions a player can take on their turn, as long as the action space is completely filled (usually using two or three followers).  What’s interesting is that players don’t have to activate their action space even if it’s filled, because of timing reasons with other players.  Also, players can start filling up their action spaces and those followers stay on the action spaces until it’s activated.  This can make less followers in your bag that you pull in the round, guaranteeing certain pulls if you need certain types of followers for the next round.

Closer shot of the player boards which house the action spaces.
Closer shot of the player boards which house the action spaces.

Orleans has many viable paths to victory which you must adapt to since there is a limited number of followers and buildings.  This means that players cannot use the same exact strategy every time and have to be flexible because they may not be able to activate an action space if it is out of followers on that track.  Also, when using experienced rules, players take out places they think may be overpowered. This means that a player may not be able to do the same strategy every game, if another player removed a place they used for victory in a previous game.  It can create more balance in the game and closer victory point totals at the end.

Orleans has very high quality components and art.  The cardboard is quite thick and good to handle.  The board looks fantastic, and the player boards also are well thought out.  The iconography of Orleans is easy to understand, especially after the first game.

We put the bags on our head to indicate we were done with the planning phase of the round.  Note: goods are supposed to be face up, we made a mistake the first game on set up.
We put the bags on our head to indicate we were done with the planning phase of the round. Note: goods are supposed to be face up, we made a mistake the first game on set up.

Orleans is a refreshing euro in the midst of many on the market. There is high replay value, due to many different ways to win and gain points.  Players will enjoy the constant planning and strategy that occurs during the game, as well as the high quality of the bits and art.

2 Player Experience

  • Highly recommend the experienced rules, even in the first game.  Suggestions for places to remove: Bath House, School, Hospital, and Tailor Shop.
  • We don’t like that followers are removed, it seems to punish the person that was already behind in that category
  • Runaway leader is a possibility, especially if you do not play the experienced rules.
  • 2 player wasn’t as fun in our experience, but still worth trying.

4 Player Experience

  • Solid and mostly balanced play, especially if you do the experienced rules
  • Not too much downtime since most phases can be done simultaneously
  • Overall, very good with 4 players, recommend it as the best player count

Note: We were provided a review copy of Orleans.

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SET Review

SET is a abstract puzzle game for 1 or more players designed by Marsha J. Falco and published by Set Enterprises. The object of SET is to identify a set of 3 cards from 12 or more cards laid on the table.  Play is simultaneous, whoever can accurately call “set” grabs the 3 cards that form a set and put them in their pile.  Those 3 cards get replaced before any other player can call another set.  Play continues until the deck is emptied and there are no more sets to call out.  Each player counts up the number of sets they have, whoever has the highest score, wins.

Photo Provided by The SET Enterprise Media Kit
Photo Provided by The SET Enterprise Media Kit

Each card in SET has 4 different features; a shape, color, number of symbols, and shading.  These help determine what constitutes as a set.  A set is defined by 3 cards in which each of the 4 features are all the same or all different.  Because this is a simultaneous play game, players have to figure out how to spot sets quickly, before other players.  This can be tricky for players of varying visual spatial skills, so a few practice games may work well, especially in a classroom setting.

Top Right shows an example of a set.  the 3 cards share the same color, shape, and number, and have different outlines.
Top Right shows an example of a set. the 3 cards share the same color, shape, and number, and have different outlines.

SET itself moves very quickly, especially for players who can spot sets right away.  A game can be finished in about 10 minutes or less.  It provides a great way to work on visual spatial skills, as well as provide a fast-paced, exciting game.  One very interesting aspect of SET is asking players how they go about finding sets.  Each person has a different way they analyze the play area and determine sets.  It can become a great lesson for math in a classroom, or a fun way to play with family and friends.

Each card has 4 different features, shown here.  They have a color, shape, number, and shading.
Each card has 4 different features, shown here. They have a color, shape, number, and shading.

Card quality of SET is good, and it is easy to shuffle the cards.  The card art is basic, but being an abstract game, it works well.  Some colorblind players may have issues with the colors, as they are red, purple, and green, especially in low light.

SET is one of my favorite games for working on visual perception and teaching some basic Set Theory.  I enjoy playing SET with my normal game group and it is a big hit in the classroom, where I teach a Math in Games class.  While SET is not a new game as it’s been out since I was born, it is still a great stocking stuffer or game for the classroom.

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Gold West Review

Gold West is a resource management area control game set in the height of the Californian gold rush, designed by J. Alex Kevern and published by Tasty Minstrel Games.  Players take on the role of prospectors competing to build up their mining empire while going after the precious metals they find.  Whoever manages their resources and areas most efficiently will be the best in the West!  The player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.

Gold West in mid game.
Gold West in mid game.

At the start of the game, players receive a player board, 12 camps (10 in 4P), 12 influence tokens, 3 stagecoaches, and resources (metals, wood, and stone) depending on their turn order.  Each turn, players activate their supply track from one supply bin and drop a resource in each bin they pass upward.  The resources that are left above your player board (usage area) are the resources you may use in that round.  With the metals (gold, silver, and copper), you may use them in 3 different ways.  One is to spend them on investments which are pubic goals that give points. Second you may use them to buy a boomtown office, which give end game point bonuses.  Lastly, you may use metals to go up a shipping track and gain points as you cross certain spaces.

Player board mid game
Player board mid game

After you use your metals, you may build a camp or settlement on a hex region on the board using a stone and/or wood.  This gives you the resources on that hex token as well as influence in one of the four colored regions.  Influence in these regions give end game bonuses if you are 1st or 2nd in that region.  If you do not have a stone or wood, you must loot!  Looting gives you resources but also negative points at the end of the game.

The board map is amazing.
The board map is amazing.

Gold West is a careful game of managing resources and vying for control of the regions on the board.  The supply track forces players to plan ahead many turns in advance, since you drop a resource in a bin with each pass.  This means you cannot obtain resources right away to use on your next turn, unless you put them in the zero points bin.  Putting resources farther down the line, gives more points but you will need to plan ahead to use those resources. Resources do not carry over from your usage area to the next turn, so you must plan wisely to be most efficient.

One must also take into account their opponents.  Allowing an opponent to get ahead in influence or shipping can cost the game.  Each turn, you must calculate how to gain the resources you need for future turns, as well as how to gain the most points by the investments, shipping, and end game bonuses.

Investments are public goals.
Investments are public goals.

Gold West is a beautiful game.  The game tokens are quite thick, and high quality.  The board map is modular, so every game will have resources in different spots.  Because each type of region token has different art on it as well as color, colorblind players will not have an issue.  The player colors are also non-standard, and very cool.

Love the dark purple as a player color.
Love the dark purple as a player color.

At first glance, Gold West looks like a light-medium area control.  However, it can become heavier with players who like to optimize their resources, planning out several turns ahead.  The board map can also get crowded, causing players to pick up resources they may not need in order to stay ahead in a region.  All these decisions makes Gold West quite a thinky game.

2P Experience

  •  Easier to track your opponents’ points and strategy
  • Shipping track is much less competitive
  • Less planning each turn as the area control is less cutthroat
  • 2 player is lighter but still quite fun

4P Experience

  •  Shipping, investments, and boomtown become very competitive, hard to keep track of what every person is doing strategy wise
  • The board becomes more crowded, less obvious who will win in a region
  • Planning your resources becomes much more important, as someone may take what you were working towards.
  • 4 player is heavier, more strategic, preferable for people who likes optimizer games.
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Steam Works Review

Steam Works is an engine building worker placement game set in a steampunk world, designed by Alex Churchill and published by Tasty Minstrel Games.  Players take on the role of inventors who hire mechanics to build devices for Queen Victoria.  These devices will gain you prestige as you build them, as opponents use them, and when particular components are activated.  Whoever has the most prestige (victory points) at the end of the game wins, and becomes the Official Inventor of the Majesty.

Shown above the persona boards is each players' devices.
Shown above the persona boards is each players’ devices.

At the beginning of the game, players receive a persona board, which gives different starting sources and/or components as well as coin.  These sources and components can be later built into devices, along with other tiles that you obtain throughout the game.  The persona board also gives the player four spaces that their mechanics (workers) can be placed on.  Later in the game, players can build devices which mechanics can also play on.  Essentially, Steam Works is a worker placement where you are building the placements for the workers.

Shown above the persona boards is each players' devices.
Shown above the persona boards is each players’ devices.

In order to build a device, players must connect at least one component to at least one source.  This source has to be played legally.  For example, I can only connect a Scroll Rack using a Clockwork Source.  The source is the spot where players place their mechanics and activate devices.  If the source is connected to multiple components, every component will activate, giving a player several actions to do in one mechanic placement.

The genius in Steam Works lies in the device building aspect. Not only do you build more and more powerful devices over time, but your opponents can also use your devices. This is mostly a positive thing, because every time an opponent uses your device, you get one clock (worth a VP at the end) and any owner bonuses that a tile may yield when activated.  You actually want to make your tiles more lucrative than other players’ tiles, because you can gain almost a 1/3 of your endgame points this way.

Opponents can use your devices.  If they do, you receive a point.
Opponents can use your devices. If they do, you receive a point.

There is much calculation and planning in Steam Works, which will satisfy the type of player that loves to optimize.  It’s a game where your turns becoming more and more efficient, yielding precious coin, tiles, and victory points in just one mechanic placement.

Steam Works blends mechanics with theme very well.  As an inventor, it makes sense that you will overtime, build better devices.  It also makes sense that you gain prestige every time an opponent uses your device, showing that you are the best inventor.  The board also has the tiles come out on conveyer belts, where they shift down every turn.  The rightmost tiles not used in a round get discarded, just like a conveyer belt would dump components that aren’t used.

Steam Works mid-game, there are more components available to obtain.
Steam Works mid-game, there are more components available to obtain.

The art and game components in Steam Works are very high quality.  The back of the tiles are gorgeous, showing awesome steampunk gears.  The tiles are thick and sturdy.  Each persona board showcases different types of steampunk themed characters such as a Tesla fanatic or a lord with a mechanical arm.  The art and theme will impress any steampunk fan, especially knowing how well the mechanics mesh with the theme.

Steam Works will fill that niche of a worker placement with an engaging theme and unique mechanics that will make every game different and exciting.

Rulebook Note: A tile explanation was omitted in the final rulebook of Steam Works.  Here is the image of the omitted tile: The Librarifier.  Revised Rulebook on BGG.

Librarifier

2 Player Experience 

  •  Players receive one coin when their opponent uses a device
  • Because of this, less reason to make a device more lucrative for that opponent
  • Focus more on making devices that work specifically for your own strategy
  • Works fantastic as a 2 Player, lighter than with more because of less decisions to make

4 Player Experience

  •  As more devices are built, turns will go longer as players have to figure out what works best for them
  • Many decisions to make, may cause some analysis paralysis
  • Want to make your own devices attractive to opponents in order to gain points
  • Overall, very fun as a 4 player, lots of planning and optimizing.
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Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse Review

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse is a frantic, dice chucking survival microgame for 2 players by David Miller, on Kickstarter.  Players take on the role of Meepletown citizens trying to survive an impending Apocalypse. One must get their citizens in the Fallout Shelter before their opponent does, or before the Monster attacks and eats everyone.

Game in play.  Game mat is available in the deluxe version.
Game in play. Game mat is available in the deluxe version.

The game is played simultaneously with every meeple placed facedown.  Players roll both their dice, as fast as they can.  If they roll a 7, they can do one of many different actions. The player can stand up a meeple, knock down an opponent’s meeple, get one meeple into the Fallout Shelter, etc. If a player rolls doubles on what the current monster die is, the monster die goes down by 1.  Once the monster die reaches one and a player rolls snake eyes, all players lose the game!

sample play 2

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse is exciting and very fun.  The simultaneous play allows for players to get in many games in a short span, and even though it’s a dice game, there’s enough you can do that you don’t feel the randomness ebbing in. Because you activate actions on 7s, you never feel like there’s nothing to do.  You’re either rolling dice frantically or using your actions.  To make the game even more exciting, David included a soundtrack to the game, with 7 tracks that can be downloaded into MP3 files.  The soundtrack definitely adds to the game and provides an an awesome ambience.

All the components fit just right.
All the components fit just right.

Like the previous Mint Tin games by David Miller, the game comes in a mint tin, this time mini size!  Every component is manufactured in the USA, and put together in David’s home.  This not only helps out small businesses, but also allows David to get the games out sooner to backers.  No having to wait for the games on a ship!

Comparing another mint tin to show how small it is.
Comparing another mint tin to show how small it is.

Each Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse game comes with the Manhole Expansion, which adds strategy and depth to the game.  The deluxe version of Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse comes with the game mat shown in the photos, as well as a journal and extra manhole cover.  Every copy comes with instructions on Revlar paper, which coincides well with the theme, as it’s tear resistant and water resistant paper.

The game mat has fantastic art, definitely a good addition to the game.  Game mat available with the deluxe version.
The game mat has fantastic art, definitely a good addition to the game. Game mat available with the deluxe version.

If you love microgames, pick up a copy (or several) of Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse.  These will not be going retail after the Kickstarter, so this is your only opportunity to get your hands on this incredibly small, amazing game.

I was provided a review copy.

 

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Flip City Review

Flip City  is a microdeckbuilder by Chen, Chih Fan, published by Tasty Minstrel Games set in a city building theme for 1-4 players.  Build your city, upgrade it, but be warned, citizens may be unhappy if you build too much at once!  Your ultimate goal is to play 8 points in one turn from your cards or play 18 cards in one turn if you have the convenience store in play.  Once you do that, you win, and all others groan in defeat.

There's no hand in Flip City, which makes for interesting play!
There’s no hand in Flip City, which makes for interesting play!

Flip City is unique in many ways.  Each card has two sides, a base side and an upgraded “flipped side”.  Each player starts with 9 of these cards, with plenty of unhappiness in the deck (more on that later).  The decks are shuffled, and carefully, so that no card gets flipped.  There is no hand in Flip City, cards are played directly from the deck into play. Because the cards are double sided, you always know the top card in the deck.

Always have to be careful with the unhappiness!  Don't want to bust.
Always have to be careful with the unhappiness! Don’t want to bust.

You can play as many cards as you choose to in Flip City, but there is a catch.  If you ever reach more than 2 unhappiness symbols in play, you bust and your turn is over!  If you didn’t manage to bust, you have three choices on what to do in your turn.  You may buy a card from the supply, you may flip (upgrade) a card in your discard pile, or you may develop a card from the supply (buy and flip it at the same time).

Getting churches can be essential if doing the convenience store strategy.
Getting churches can be essential if doing the convenience store strategy.

There are ways to handle the unhappiness in your town.  If you flip a hospital, for example, you get the church and are able to up your unhappiness limit.  Also, you can flip the residential areas into an apartment, and later spend coin to give those apartments to other players.  This is the one big interaction in the game, the ability to slow down your opponents by putting more unhappiness in their deck.

Flip City is filled with many viable strategies to win, which is awesome for such a small game.  One may go for filling their deck with churches and convenience stores to go the 18 card route.  Other players may keep their deck small and go for central parks and stations in order to get 8 points for victory.

I believe I won this solo game with both ways to win!
I believe I won this solo game with both ways to win!

Flip City has fun, bright art and high quality cards.  The rulebook is short, succinct, and to the point.  There were no misunderstandings on the rules, and if you’re still unsure, there’s an SR Code to Watch it Played.

If you want a quick deck builder with unique mechanics and interesting art, Flip City is highly recommended.  It could be a great gateway into deck builders or a good intro to game night for experienced gamers.

Special Note: There is a solo variant for Flip City in which you must race against time in order to complete your city.  It’s a great way to learn the game, but also a way to try different strategies without the pressure of opponents.  I recommend the solo play for those who enjoy solo games and want an extra challenge.

Flip City is the English localization of Design Town.  The graphic design and location was done by Adam P. McIver

 

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Jaipur Review

Jaipur is a 2 player only set collection card game by Sèbastien Pauchon set in a desert merchant theme.  The goal of Jaipur is to become the richest trader (most rupees=points) at the end of each week (round).  In order to earn rupees, you collect goods and sell those goods at the market.  Camel cards are used as a great way to exchange cards and get extra rupees at the end of the week.Jaipur 1

Each turn, players have a choice of taking cards or selling cards.  Players can take cards in a few different ways.  One option is to take exchange goods using cards in your hand or by using the camel cards.  A second way is to just take one single good.  The third option is to take all the camels in the market.  It can be advantageous to keep a good stock of camels as they can be used for exchanges and do not take up space in your hand.

Selling cards is ultimately how you get rich in the game.  You can always sell just one good unless it’s one of the 3 expensive goods (gold, diamonds, silver), in which you have to sell at least two.  For selling goods, you take as many tokens as you sold.  These tokens are your points in the game, and the tokens do go down in value as they are sold.  Only silvers maintain their value (5).  If you sell at least 3 goods, you can take  a bonus token which gives extra rupees at the end of the round.

I started the game with 3 diamonds.  Awesome!
I started the game with 3 diamonds. Awesome!

The round continues until 3 types of goods tokens are depleted, or there are no cards left in the draw pile when filling the market.  Players add up their rupees and total score.  Whoever is the richest gets the seal of excellence.  Play another round if a player does not have two seals of excellence. At the end of a round, if a player has two seals of excellent, that player wins the game.

Jaipur fills that niche of a light to medium weight two player only game.  I love set collecting games, so Jaipur gives me that experience without being too long or overstaying its welcome.  The camels are a very interesting part of the game, as they add quite a bit of strategy.  Do you take the camels and possibly reveal goods that your opponent needs?  Or do you exchange the camels to gain a set of goods to be sold later?  I love the decisions in this game, and thankfully they don’t cause any sort of analysis paralysis.

Notice the camels in the background.  Camels in games are the best!
Notice the camels in the background. Camels in games are the best!

The art and components of Jaipur are high quality and well done.  The goods tokens are made of thick cardboard and feel nice in the hand.  The cards shuffle well and are playing card quality.  The rulebook of Jaipur was easy to read and understand.  The custom insert fits everything in the box well.

Overall, Jaipur is a very solid set collecting game.  While the light weight of it may deter some gamers, it’s balance and ability to play multiple rounds wins out the weight.  When wanting to play a 2 player game in under an hour, Jaipur is an excellent choice.  I can see gamers bringing this to vacations or playing it at lunch hour.  Highly recommended for those that like shorter 2 player only games.

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