100 orbital points is all you’ll need to win this game but in reality, it’ll take you a bit of luck and brain power to get there. “Orbital”, a 2-4 player card game that’s presently being sold on The Game Crafter, has a relatively simple premise but is pretty engaging at the same time. In short, you’ll be playing orbs of different colors in front of you which you can later activate for their special abilities, though doing so will force you to discard it from play. This is key, as orbital cards, the very thing that scores you orbital points, requires orbs. Before I go any further, I want to thank Game Creator Doug Clelland for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
While I’m all in favor of games that have an average play time of less than a half-hour, there are days where I long to sink my teeth into a game that’s both meaty and heavy. “Feudum”, an upcoming Kickstarter project, looks like it’ll fit that bill and then some. Per the Kickstarter campaign page, “Feudum mechanics include action programming, area influence, hand management and a unique economic ecosystem. The game features the kinds of strategic complexities found in deeper games such as Terra Mystica, Brass, Caylus and Dominant Species.” Like I said…meaty and heavy.
So I recently published the 2016 DGA Awards and got to thinking: “Will people just take my advice and go out and buy the games I listed without any thought to whether or not they’d be a good fit for their family?” Experienced gamers who know their way around the board, I figured, would be OK in that regard. Newcomers, on the other hand, may be a bit overwhelmed by the games I had listed should they rush out to buy them. To that end, I came up with a short list of games that I feel would be idea for beginners to play. There’s more out there, obviously, but the below should get you started.
2016 has been the year of hell with regards to my personal well-being. I know, I know…I shouldn’t be starting articles like this on such a positive note, but I’m a rebel that way. For those of you who forget that I have a semi-updated news feed, I’ve been rather sick as of late. It all started around November/December of last year…costochondritis, GERD, hiatus hernia, a rare inflammation in the throat that makes it swell, having my wisdom teeth pulled, and a bunch of ER visits. The fun is STILL on-going, huzzah! As such I really haven’t played a lot of board games, though I have now produced over 4,000 videos on my YouTube channel. While I didn’t get to play as many tabletop games as I would have liked, I have received a number of excellent games this year that are definitely in the below list. Like last year, I’ll be listing ANY game that I own regardless of release date.
Trivia games, in general, make me feel stupid at times and surprise surprise, I don’t find them to be all that fun as a result. “First: A Game of Knowledge and Discovery” or simply “First”, a game that’s looking for your help on Kickstarter as of 11/2/2016, promises to break the mold in that regard. A minimum pledge of $45 will net you the full game, though there are plenty of levels to pledge to should this game be of interest to you. Special thanks to Game Designer Melissa L. Tatum for reaching out and providing a prototype for preview purposes. It’s important to stress that prototypes aren’t often reflective of the final product, making everything you read about here (including the rules) subject to change.
I used to mine a lot of ore in space way back in the day. I’d hop in my rust-bucket spaceship held together by duct tape and blast off toward the nearest asteroid field where I’d spend minutes scouring for the more precious ores, only for some jerk to come by and blast me out of my cockpit because they could (oh EVE Online, those were the days). “Darkrock Ventures” luckily doesn’t fall into the same repetitive trap that most video games set in space have a habit of falling into…mine, sell, repeat. Rather, it’s a worker placement game that allows players to manipulate dice in a LOT of ways to mine that ore and make some money. Before going any further, I want to thank Ian Stedman from Magic Meeple Games for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
Why are cooperative tabletop games so successful? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that everyone is on the same team…those of you with kids know how THAT goes, especially with games that encourage backstabbing and the like to win. Feelings get hurt and egos get bruised, which is so not the point of having “family fun night” in the first place. “5-Minute Dungeon”, a game that’ll be launching its campaign on Kickstarter on November 1st, 2016, fits nicely into my collection for all the above mentioned reasons in that it’s quick, easy to play, and cooperative in nature. Before we get started, I’d like to thank Sarah Gumina on behalf of Wiggles 3D 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 you see and read about here (including the rules) subject to change.
Kids, it turns out, have quite the active imagination. Whether it be excuses as to why the chores didn’t get done or blaming an ill-mannered smelly/noisy bodily function on some sort of imaginary animal, kids certainly know how to make your brain spin. That’s why I have a feeling “STORY CRAZE” is going to be a success, because it encourages kids to be creative and tell stories…after all, you can bet they’re going to do it anyway in some other setting. Why not direct their energy into creating something fun that the whole family can laugh about? Before we talk more about this upcoming Kickstarter project, I’d like to thank Maestro & COO Ellen Stebbins from StoryClub Games, LLC 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 you see here subject to change.
Ready for some fast-paced robot combat mayhem? Of course you are. If you’re like me, you grew up with games like “Mech Warrior” that allowed you to sit inside the cockpit of a beast filled to the brim with weaponry. “AEGIS” is a hex-based tabletop tactics game that’s seeking your help on Kickstarter that, you guessed it, involves lots of combat utilizing teams of robots. There’s only a few days left to support the game, so time is of the essence.
“Cosmic Pioneers” is a rather interesting area control game that unfortunately falls short in a few areas. What impressed me the most, in all honesty, was how the game was set up. That sounds strange, I know. Most game set ups involve some sort of repetitive ritual that most people detest. Here, the system of planets is different almost every time and is made up of the alien and scenario cards drawn for the game. Once you get past setup, you’ll find the game to be a mix of strategy and luck with a lean more towards the latter. I didn’t like the required “going on an adventure” roll, for example, as there was no way to avoid bad rolls. Part of me wanted to play the game without that phase altogether to assist in keeping things somewhat less random. Landing on another player also involves a die roll with the loser crash landing and unloading all cargo onto an adjacent viable planet. Sure, you can offset the combat roll by upgrading your ship’s weapons, but you’re still at the mercy of the die gods.
I wasn’t a big fan of wrestling as a kid, but I always enjoyed a good “Royal Rumble”…that is, more than six wrestlers in the ring at once trying to eliminate each other. Now imagine the same kind of setting, except the wrestlers are super heroes with some really wicked powers. Interested? Thought so. “Super Powered Smash Masters” will be coming to Kickstarter in September of 2016, so you won’t have long to wait. Special thanks to Adam Cogan from Dark Unicorn Games for sending me a prototype for preview purposes. It’s important to stress that prototypes are not often reflective of the final product, making everything you read about here (including the rules) subject to change.
If you’ve ever dreamt of being a mage who has the ability to summon lands and creatures at his/her fingertips? “Luminous Ages”, a card game that’s seeking funding through the Kickstarter process starting October 12th, 2016, aims to do just that. While your ultimate goal is to bring your “dream god” into play and keep them there for three consecutive turns, you can also win by draining your opponent’s dream life to negative ten points. Before we begin, I’d like to thank Game Creator Anthony Christou for sending me a prototype for preview purposes. It’s important to stress that prototypes are not often reflective of the final product, making everything you see and read about here subject to change.
Rarely do I come across an educational game that makes me wish I was back in Science class way back when I was a wee lad…”Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration” did that to me and then some. Almost half of the rulebook is a workbook containing interactive activities like crossword puzzles while other parts teach you about the very science you’re “playing” with throughout the game. It’s easily a thumbs up from me and can be found (as of the date of this posting) on Miniature Market for about $25…Amazon lists a $35 price (use the sidebar search tool to send a little change my way), so I’d grab it from the former unless you have Amazon Prime (free two-day shipping). The components are top notch so I decided to do a video tutorial / review, so go check it out below before you leave this page. My only real complaint was that the game didn’t come with a couple of baggies or rubber bands to hold the cards while the box was closed for non-use. Special thanks to Game Designer Dante Lauretta for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
Think YOU have what it takes to gain control of 17th century Europe? Then you’ve come to the right place. Don’t worry, you won’t need to manage armies or build an economy…rather, you’ll be gaining points based on how far your influence takes you. Players will be playing country cards to place their cubes onto various people who occupy influential positions and score victory points. You can gain victory points a number of different ways…being the first to put a cube on a particular city, occupying all of the cities of a country…the list goes on. I opted for a video review as the game is very visual and easy to play, so be sure to check it out below. Spoiler: “Royals” reminds me of “Ticket to Ride” in some ways, which is a VERY good thing. Special thanks to Tony Gullotti from Arcane Wonders for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
I’m not a fan of paper and pencil RPGs, but I do play a lot of RPGs on the PC. “Skyrim”, “The Witcher III”, “Dragon Age”…you know, games that allow you to level up your attributes in one way or another and gather loot. “Roll Player” is a board game about making a character in the most efficient way possible based on their class, back story, and alignment. As the name of the game implies, you’ll be using dice to do so. I decided to do a video review as I had a lot to cover, but in short I really enjoyed this one…so much in fact that I intend to play the game again tonight just after launching this review. It just oozes theme and gives players a LOT of options to modify dice on their character sheet so that they can meet their individual requirements. As a fan of PC RPGs, I love “Roll Player” and what it does. If you’ve done any sort of role-playing in the past, then you should too. Go check out the below video for the specifics. Special thanks to game creator Keith Matejka for providing me a press copy for review purposes.
Finally, a game about “yellow cake” that doesn’t include a three-second rule. You see, this kind of yellow cake is a tad…well, nuclear. In “The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction”, you’ll be using yellow cake, uranium, and labor in order to build bombs and score victory points. Doing this will involve the chaining of cards so that inputs produce outputs, although cards can be used for their indicated labor too (not both). We chose to share our first playthrough and first impressions in the video below so that you can see how gameplay flows, but our resolve that the game is awesome still holds strong after the fact. Special thanks to James Mathe from Minion Games for providing us with a press copy for review purposes.