If you don’t know what “Space Invaders” is, then there’s a good chance I’m older than you. Much, much older. It was a game I used to play on my Atari 2600 and with my one button joystick, tried to shoot aliens out of the sky (and the occasional UFO for bonus points). “Space Invaders Dice!” recaptures the retro feel of this quote unquote “ancient” video game rather nicely and can be played so or with three other people. Special thanks Wholesale Manager Zack Krnavek from Turn One Gaming Supplies for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
If I were to try to make a fireworks display in real life, I’d probably set a house on fire or at the very least, singe my eyebrows off permanently. “Hanabi” is all about making a fireworks display cooperatively with other players though the kicker is, you can’t look at your own cards. This poses a problem, as cards must be played in numeric order by suit. Personally I think “Hanabi” is an excellent team-building game that requires both memorization and critical thinking skills. While some might consider open discussion against the rules, it can actually promote some good communication/team-building skills as well.
I liked “Paperback” (by Timothy Fowers from Fowers Games) so much that I gave it a 9/10, observing that it “combines the ideas of spelling words for points and deck building rather nicely”. I also enjoyed my time with “Word Domination” (by Jeff Beck from Uproarious Games), which I previewed for a Kickstarter campaign back in August of 2016. Back then, I claimed that it was “truly a step up from the word games in my collection” and I maintain that praise. Enter “Hardback”, a game that both gentlemen are working on that is similar to the aforementioned “Paperback” in a number of ways (which is a good thing). “Hardback” will be seeking funding through the Kickstarter process starting April 4th, 2017. As such, the game copy I received was a prototype and thus, everything seen here (including the rules) are subject to change.
Fancy yourself a submarine captain but don’t feel like spending hours playing cat and mouse against an enemy sub? “Brace For Impact!”, a 2 player game that’ll be launching on Kickstarter in March of 2017, may be what you’re looking for. It supports ages 12 and up and has an average play time of 5 minutes, making it very quick and easy to play. It also comes in a small tin case, making it very portable. Special thanks to Chris Rossetti from Rampage Games LLC for providing me with a prototype for preview purposes. It’s important to stress that prototypes are not often reflective of the finished product, making everything you’re about to see and read about here (including the rules) subject to change.
Ever since I was little, I enjoyed playing simulators that had me manage a business of some sort. Of course, there wasn’t a whole lot around of those types of games back then, but “Lemonade Tycoon” and a few others come to mind. Perhaps I enjoy the genre because I can drive a business into the ground as badly as I want to without losing any actual money. “Bargain Quest”, a game that’s on Kickstarter presently, has players running their very own item shop. Like most real life retail stores, you’ll have a display window where you can place items but they can’t be sold. It’s an interesting concept to see in a tabletop game to say the least.
I love abstract games, but Tak grabbed my attention in ways I wasn’t expecting. Like “Chess”, you’ll often be thinking moves ahead in order to get a leg up on your opponent to win the game. Unlike “Chess”, there are only a few pieces…but don’t let that fool you. This game is jam-packed with strategy in the way the pieces behave, stack, and move. Your main goal is to form a road from one side of the board to the other. The stacks can be uneven so as long as you control the stack (your piece is on top). Doing this is easier said than done, however. Special thanks to the folks at Cheapass Games for providing me with a press copy for coverage purposes.
“Hoard” is a rummy style game with a dragon theme with a little bit of memorization thrown in for good measure. Odd combinations, I know, but it works. The whole idea of the game is to gather sets of cards without waking the dragon as doing so ends the round…though you may want to if you’re ahead of the others on points. Special thanks to Julia Schiller from Cheeky Parrot Games for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
It seems we’ve been playing a lot of cooperative games lately, and that’s a good thing. It promotes teamwork and instills a sense of comradery instead of competition and sometimes hostility. The cooperative game “Mole Rats in Space” for 2-4 players, despite its kid-themed feel, is much more difficult than we first expected. It’s like a cross between “Chutes and Ladders” and “Forbidden Island”, in my opinion. Kids will easily be able to grasp the mechanics, but I highly recommend a few variants to help lower the difficulty. You can check my suggested variants out in my video play-through below. Special thanks to Kelley DeVincentis from Southard Freeman Communications for providing me with a press copy so that I could cover it here and on my YouTube channel.
Games like “Rampage” are notoriously fun for when you want to break things and tear down a city, but what if a game came along that let you purchase rooms and structures in order to build 3D castles? It just so happens that you can in “Castle Dukes”, a game that’s currently on Kickstarter right now, and has already reached 30% of its funding goal as of the date of this posting. It supports 1-4 players and is for ages 12+ with an average play time of 60 minutes.
Cooperative games like “Pandemic” are fantastic in that players get to work together toward a common goal. Unfortunately, some cooperative games are as tough as nails and take a while to play. “Magic Maze” is not only easy to learn, but takes very little time to play. In short, players will be moving four heroes around using actions, actions that only one player has access to. One player may only be able to move a character left while another can make use of the game’s portal / fast travel system. The goal is to coordinate all four characters onto their colored shop space so they can simultaneously steal their item. Once they do, they’ll all head for the exit. Did I mention this was all timed and normally, you can’t speak to the other players?
“Jack the Ripper”, a primer game similar to “Werewolf” and “Mafia” takes less than fifteen minutes to play, blew past its Kickstarter goal back in August of 2016. Now the game is retailing and available for all you lovers of deception and cunning. For example, you can find the core game on Amazon for about $20.00, though you can get the full set for $30.00. If Amazon isn’t you’re thing, head on over to the game’s official website and buy it through PayPal.
“Clear for Takeoff” tells you almost everything you’ll need to know about this game right out of the gate…pardon the pun. Players will be tasked with getting all three of the planes to take off and the first who does so wins the game. Each player will receive three planes (small, medium, large) and will need to use action cards to move them from the hangar and down the runaway. The larger the plane, the more cards you’ll have to play to move it. Of course, taking off requires that the weather cooperates. Special thanks to the folks at Blue Orange Games for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
Enjoy tile-laying games like “Alhambra” but don’t have a lot of time on your hands? “Kingdomino” is probably what you’re looking for and it’s family friendlier to boot. It supports 2-4 players & ages 8+ with an average play time of about 15 minutes. Essentially, players are trying to create a 5×5 grid and score the most points based on the size of their territories multiplied by the number of crowns that are on said territories. Turn order is determined by which tiles player choose in the future which is a neat feature that much-needed strategic element to a game like this. Special thanks to Blue Orange Games for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
“Unlocked: The Mansion of Mana’s” setting feels like it was heavily inspired by “Clue” and other similar murder mysteries in that you and other strangers arrive at an old Victorian mansion complete with separate invitations. Only here, you’re competing (as kids) to become Uncle Alfie’s apprentice by helping him get out of a plane of existence that he was caught in during his research of interplanar travel. Put simply, you’ll be unlocking rooms via ancient runic stones and the firs player to make it through the mansion will become his apprentice and win the game. Special thanks to Sean Howard from Good Knight Games for providing me with a prototype for preview purposes. It’s important to stress that prototypes are not often reflective of the final product, making everything featured here (included the rules) subject to change.
“Zero” has been around for a while (1998-ish?) and has gone through several printings. This particular printing by Blue Orange Games (designed by Reiner Knizia) draws a lot of similarities to “UNO” in the sense that you’re trying to score zero points. Instead of getting rid of all of the cards in your hand however, you’ll always maintain your hand size of nine. Your ultimate goal is to get five cards of the same color and five cards of the same number by swapping cards from a public pool. Special thanks to the folks at Blue Orange Games for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
I didn’t realize how cut-throat the food truck business actually was until I laid my hands on this game. “Truck Off – The Food Truck Frenzy”, a game that’ll be launching on Kickstarter in February 2017, is designed for 2-6 players and takes about 30 minutes to play. While the goal of earning the most money at the end of the game might sound simple, you’re going to be going up against competitors (other players) looking to seize the opportunities before them and put you out of business. I’d like to thank Adam Rehberg from Adam’s Apple Games, LLC for providing me with a prototype copy for preview purposes. It’s important to stress that prototypes are not often reflective of the final product, making everything you read about in this article (including the rules) subject to change.