April 11th, 2007
Alyssa and I love playing board games. When we lived in Kansas, our apartment was often used as a tour apartment for those who wanted to move into the complex. The management mentioned that almost everyone commented on our games.
"Wow, that's a lot of games."
Since moving to California, we've bought a few more, thanks to the folks at Game Kastle, our local game store. Because of my birthday, Easter, and Christmas we recently purchased a new batch of games.
Alyssa and I have enjoyed playing them and we've often talked about creating a Game Database, much like our DVD Library.
But we haven't done that yet, and I want to write about the games we got, so that's what this entry is for. These are the games we're purchased since coming to California. (So it's about one year's worth of games).
We got this one on our way back from visiting Alyssa's parents in Utah. I first played it on a game night in Kansas, and Marin and Ammon had just purchased it themselves.
The Gist of the Game - The purpose of the game is to get points by collecting gold, treasure, and fame points by raiding islands. The island you choose to raid is chosen secretly and if two (or more) players chose the same island, they have to battle to see who gets it. You can improve different areas of your ship at different islands.
The Good - The game is very engaging and has a high fun factor. You almost have the feel of a pirate. The game is beautifully made and doesn't take too long to play (in fact it can seem a little short at times).
The Bad - Conflict in the game happens randomly. The only way to avoid it is to try to pick an island that no one else wants to go to (which is harder than it seems). Also, it's hard to bounce back from a particularly difficult battle, which means once you're down, it's hard to get back up. This can be a little discouraging.
The Verdict - I always like playing the game, although I might pick something else if I'm in a mood for a more strategic game. This is a good game for people who aren't "gamers" or for a quick weekend game.
I first played this game when I was in college and loved it, but never got around to buying it. Then our friends, the Madsens, bought it and we were hooked. Alyssa and I play this a lot because it can be played with two players.
The Gist of the Game - You draw cards and play them, trying to collect carrots. At the end of the game, one carrot is chosen at random and the player with that carrot is the winner. During the game, players play Bunnies, and then use weapons and other means to kill the other players bunnies (usually in humorous ways). You need to survive to collect your carrots, but you can always draw and play another bunny if yours dies.
The Good - This game is extremely fun, in that anything can happen and the course of the game can be changed at any time.
The Bad - Don't play this game if you take winning and losing personally. The winner is chosen at random, so even if you do better than any other player you still might lose. Also, this game can be complicated (even more so if you add the expansion packs--see below). There are a lot of rules and things that need explaining.
The Verdict - A great game as long as you have someone there to teach you the rules. A lot of the game depends on what cards you draw and most of the actions are explained on the cards. Alyssa and I like playing this game together and each game is different with different strategies that could be effective.
Killer Bunnies: The Booster Packs
I'm lumping all the Booster Packs into one review. There are a total of 10 booster packs (one is included in the "Starter Set"), but Alyssa and I only had four: Yellow (came with the original game), Red, Purple, and Orange.
The Good Points - Every new booster pack comes with something new and fun. Often it adds a new dimension to gameplay and makes the game a little more interesting.
The Bad Points - Each pack makes the game that much more complicated (and that much harder to introduce to new players). Each pack comes with a load of new cards and so the draw pile grows with each new pack. There's something to be said for too much of a good thing.
The Verdict - Alyssa and I are happy with the booster packs we have, but we don't think we're going to get any more. The next pack (Green) adds another layer of complexity and at this point, we've lost interest.
This is a spin-off of the original Fluxx game, which Alyssa and I both had before we were married. The original is a great game which I recommend to anyone. I bought this because I'm a science nerd. I like nature and I liked the original Fluxx.
The Gist of the Game - Fluxx has ever changing rules and ever changing goals. Players generally draw cards and then play them based on what the current rules are. Players win when they have the card necessary based on what the current goal is. Sound complicated? It's not really, once you start to play it makes complete sense.
The Good - Just like the original Fluxx, Eco-Fluxx is fun to lay and a great weekend game, even for people who don't like to play games. Fast, easy to learn, and always changing.
The Bad - Eco-Fluxx isn't that much different from regular Fluxx, although there are some cards that add to the gameplay. The design is nice and all, and it would be a perfect game for me if I was still teaching science (maybe I should introduce it to the homeschoolers sometime).
The Verdict - The original Fluxx is probably a 5/5 for what it is. Eco-Fluxx is like playing Star Wars Monopoly--same game, different characters.
We got this game from Nathan and Allison for Christmas (we generally buy each other games).
The Gist of the Game - A variation of trump, players estimate the number of "tricks" they'll take on that round based on their cards. Points are based on how close the player's estimate was.
The Good - A quick game that's pretty easy to understand. Skill is needed in determining how many tricks you'll take based on the other players estimates.
The Bad - It's not as "pretty" as some of our other games and not as immersing (meaning it doesn't really have a story or anything).
The Verdict - We'll play this every once in a while, and it's easy to explain the rules to people. We need to play this game more than we do, but it's only 3-6 players, so Alyssa and I can't play it ourselves, and when we have friends over, they usually pick "showier" games.
I really wanted a good two-player game for me and Alyssa to play. Killer Bunnies was great, but I was eager to try something new. Jambo looked interesting.
The Gist of the Game - Players try to collect gold by drawing cards and using them to purchase and then sell wares. There are also cards that will help you, or hurt your opponent.
The Good - This is a beautiful game. I enjoy playing it just for that. It also has a good sense of immersion. The gameplay is balanced and fun.
The Bad - It's only for two players, so this makes it a hard game to share with friends.
The Verdict - Alyssa and I were playing it incorrectly for a long time. The right way to play is more difficult, so it's hard to play the correct way, know how it could be. I still like the game though.
I bought this game because I like the drawing style. It looked like an interesting, Uno-type game.
The Gist of the Game - Players try to get rid of the cards in their hand by playing them in a lineage--marrying some and producing offspring, on which they can play more of their cards.
The Good - The characters are so cute!
The Bad - I must be missing something about this game. Playing the characters makes sense, but there are action cards that can also be played, of which I don't really see the point. Maybe it would be different if we were keeping score. Usually we'll just play after removing all the action cards.
The Verdict - I may need to spend more time with this game so that I can try to figure out the point of all those action cards. Maybe I'm missing some key strategic element. Until then, I'll usually pick something else to play.
We were looking for another good two player game and the clerk at Game Kastle recommended this one.
The Gist of the Game - Players score points by laying down cards which progress their journey down five different paths. Players can invest in a journey for extra points, but they must get at least so far or they will lose points.
The Good - A fun two player game with an interesting aspect of interaction. Easy to learn and easy to play.
The Bad - Not much. There is math involved and calculating the scores can be tricky.
The Verdict - Great for a quick gaming session. It took Alyssa a while get the concept, but now that she has, she usually beats me whenever we play.
We first played this game with our friends the Snells. We really liked it, so we bought a copy for ourselves.
The Gist of the Game - Players try to increase their levels by fighting randomly-drawn monsters. Players get treasure for beating monsters, which will enhance their characters to help them beat more monsters. Players can also help or hurt each other.
The Good - The game is funny and fun to play. The rules are easy to explain and gameplay is fun and lively. Enhancements to characters are fun to get.
The Bad - There are a lot of fantasy/role-playing game in jokes that might be lost on a non-gamer. Gameplay can also lead to one particular player getting picked on, which can be frustrating.
The Verdict - A fun game to play all around. Most people enjoy the humor of the game and for those who don't like fantasy/RPG stuff, there are other versions that involve Super Heroes, Kung Fu, or Spies. Maybe we'll buy these versions sometime.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
We bought this at the recommendation from a clerk at Game Kastle. It just sounded really fun.
The Gist of the Game - Players explore a house, collecting items, omens, and dealing with events, until a player triggers the "Haunt"--a random scenario which chooses one player as a traitor, giving him instructions on what he must do to win the game. The other players then try to stop him.
The Good - This game is almost completely random. The house is explored by placing randomly chosen tiles, the players get randomly chosen cards, and the Haunt is chosen by rolling dice. The Haunt could be one of 50 different scenarios, each one with unique goals. Every game is completely different.
The Bad - The randomness of the game can really stack the odds against one side or the other. Getting completely wiped out can be frustrating. The advise for this game: Don't take it too personally. Also some of the scenarios can be a little vague, which can lead to misunderstandings and frustration.
The Verdict - Lots of fun, although it takes a while to explain the rules. The randomness and the suspenseful nature of the game add to the atmosphere. Because we want to experience different Haunt scenarios, we're always willing to try again.
Fury of Dracula
Another one that we bought on the recommendation of a Game Kastle clerk.
The Gist of the Game - One player is Dracula and the rest are hunters. Dracula moves secretly around a map of Europe and the hunters try to find him by uncovering his trail. Once found, they must battle with Dracula to kill him and win the game. If Dracula survives for long enough, he wins.
The Good - Dracula moves in secret which makes this game like Scotland Yard. I really like being the player that everyone chases, so I'm always Dracula. The game also has a great sense of immersion, with a beautiful board and well designed cards and tokens. It can also be played with two players, with one controlling Dracula and one controlling all the hunters.
The Bad - This game is pretty complicated. I read the rules to Alyssa and it took about two hours. We still have to refer back to the rulebook on certain aspects of the game. The game itself can also take a long time (2-4 hours).
The Verdict - We love this game so far. It's not for inexperienced gamers, but it's a really fun game.
Tigris & Euphrates
This second highest ranked game on Board Game Geek.com. Because of that I was interested in it, and after reading reviews of it, decided that I really wanted it. Alyssa got it for me for my birthday.
The Gist of the Game - Players score points by developing four different areas--farming, trading, cities, and temples. Development can lead to conflicts between players, which can earn the winner more points. The players should develop the four areas equally because the winner is based on the score of the least-developed area.
The Good - Most of our games involve luck and randomness, but this one is high in strategy and skill. I like that in a game, which was one of the reasons I wanted this one. There are a lot of ways to score in this game, so attention can be spread out and options are open.
The Bad - The rules take some getting used to. I had read the rules a couple of times before we played, but it took Alyssa a while to get everything down (I still had to refer to the rulebook for a number of things as well). The game also took a long time to complete, as we put a lot of thought into our moves.
The Verdict - Alyssa and I have only played this once, but I'm excited to try again. We played first by controlling two different players (the box said 3-4 players) but we since learned that it works fine with just two. It's not one that I would introduce to non-gamer friends, but I'm glad I have it.
We wanted a game that we could play in the hospital, and remember this game from our childhood. We found it at Toys 'R' Us.
The Gist of the Game - One player creates a code and the other tries to guess it, with the codemaker reporting how close each guess is.
The Good - A quick game and it challenges the mind (especially younger minds). The new tray is nice.
The Bad - This particular version. Aaah! It's so shiny! And the colors are neon! Whatever happened to red, blue, green, white, yellow, and black? Stupid marketing department.
The Verdict - If we ever find a better version of this game I'm totally going to get it. Otherwise, it's fun to play as is.
Ticket to Ride
We got this one to play with family when they come out to visit Ethan. It was recommended as a "gateway" game to introduce players to more complex and fun board games.
The Gist of the Game - Players score points by building railroad connections between major US cities. Players draw colored cards to determine where the tracks can be laid. Extra points can be earned by completing paths between specific cities.
The Good - This game is really easy to understand and the rules are simple. Gameplay is fast-paced and the game isn't that long.
The Bad - It is a simpler game and so it leaves a little to be desired for the serious gamer.
The Verdict - Just as predicted, a great game for non-gamers. Easy to explain and fun to play.
Wow, that took a lot longer than I had anticipated. I really had fun making this list though, so maybe we do need to make that game database. In the meantime, if anyone wants to play these games, just come on over sometime!
 April 6th was always celebrated by my family as Christmas, although I was intrigued to find out the history of this Mormon belief. See April Sixth and the Conception of Jesus and Mormon Myths--April 6th and Defense of April Sixth for more rigorous views of this matter.
 We bought Killer Bunnies for my brother, thinking he would love it, but it turned out to be too complicated to bother with. We're hoping to get a chance to play it with them to explain the rules better. It is a complicated game.