Boardgaming in 2017!


Received 13 Days for Xmas, looking forward to getting on that at some point.

Actual Xmas gaming was:

Rhino Hero - absolute banger
Key to the Kingdom - stupidly out of date game design but a bit of a laugh when on a 15% imperial stout at 9pm with family
Exploding Kittens - total junk food gaming for a nerd culture that has nothing to do with me


I’ve been on the fence about picking this one up. Be sure to let us know what you think of it!


Congrats on caving with Armada Tom. First one’s free kid!

I vacillated on it for a while since, handily enough, my new next door neighbor is a big game dork as well. I ended up a no since I decided between star mats and more ships it was just more than I wanted to ultimately spend. I mildly regret my decision, but probably not as much as I would being the not-so-proud owner of Armada.


Always happy to spread the addiction… err hobby.


Christmas is the time I play the most new family games which I invariably enjoy more than I suspect since I spend the rest of the year nerding out over heavy Euros. This year we played:

  1. Insider: a pretty simple combination of 20 questions and Werewolf where one person asking questions knows the answer but loses if people can guess who it was. This game is so much more fun than it sounds. You’ll play a few rounds in a row and everyone begins to establish their norm for how they play 20 Questions. Then you get your turn as the Insider and you have to ask questions in a convincing manor to how you’ve been doing it the whole rest of the game but also ask unsuspicious leading questions to get the rest of the group to guess the answer. For others, the combination of watching everyone else ask questions while trying to remember the information gleaned so far is surprisingly enjoyable.

  2. Imhotep: A pretty mean game that’s simple but still quite interesting. You have a group of boats and group of destinations. Every turn, you either put one of your stones on a boat or sail a boat to a destination. When the boat arrives somewhere, you get points based on where you stone is in the order of the boat. It’s basically an extended game of chicken where you’re slowly loading up boats hoping the turn will get around to you again so you can move that boat into a high scoring place. Plays quickly, has some interesting choices, and is extremely easy to teach, so I think this is a keeper.

  3. New York 1901: A very clean builder game that feels a bit like Patchwork but played on a shared board. Basically, you get a bunch of tetris pieces and choose cards from a set to put them onto the board. Instead of playing a card, you can destroy your previous tetris pieces to replace them with a higher level piece. The challenging part is figuring out how to claim land that can benefit you immediately for building, but also works towards your future bigger projects you want to upgrade into. About Ticket to Ride level complexity and fun. It’s a game I’d be happy to play again, but probably won’t pick up a copy for myself.


Stiil the last gasp of 2016, but I’m happy to report I’ve gotten some gaming in.

Played a game of Blood Rage and while I thought for such a fast and simple game it was pretty meaty, I wasn’t a huge fan. All the minis are nice, but the game itself just didn’t grab me.

We also played Roll for the Galaxy which was sublime! It kinda smoothes our Race and adds a big dollop of fun to the engine building. Definitely would like to see it hit the table again and it’s now on my "need a copy list.

Mysterium and Tokiado rounded out the new games played (got in a few rounds of LotR:LCG as well) and both fell pretty flat for me. I’d play Mysterium again in the right group, maybe, but Tokiado is pretty blah aside from the incredible art.

Super happy to be boardgaming again, it’s been a while. Ended up ordering the new edition of Robinson Crusoe to celebrate and Mechs vs Minions, Forbidden Stars and Warhammer Quest card game all recently arrived. 2017 is looking like it’s gonna be a good one!


We’ve had a chance to try out and play quite a few Christmas gifts in the past few days.

The most surprising family hit (to me) is Dream Home ( ) which my 10 year old daughter got for Christmas. It’s a card drafting and placement game. Everybody enjoys it, from children aged 10 to 18 as well as the adults. It’s not super deep or hard. But if you want a 2-4 players game that looks really nice and which you can get children or non gamers into, it’s very neat.

Mechs Vs Minions ( ) arrived and we’ve played through the tutorial and first mission (which we failed. Planning to retry tomorrow). People know the game looks great and has got a ton of components. But that doesn’t do justive to the size of the box and the quality of what’s inside. It’s crazy. The co-op gameplay is also a hoot and there is even a radio play online which you can play alongside the game (in between scenarios sections). The whole thing is awesome so far.

Chinatown ( ) has also been a bit hit. I think we played it 4 times over 2 days. The game is so simple in principle: 6 rounds during which all the players try and take over the businesses in Chinatown and make the most money. You draw a few cards and game tiles and then the meat of the game are the 6 negotiation rounds which occur. There are so many ways to skin the cat and try and get richer than your neighbour. Everybody has loved it. Requires you not to be drunk or play after 1 am when your brain can’t cope with trying to formulate and negotiate trades.

Still on the list to try for tomorrow: Clank! ( ). We’re looking forward to that one.

We’ve also played Mysterium with the Hidden Signs expansion ( ). All it adds are a few suspect / location / weapon cards. But they do shake things up nicely as we had grown quite used to the standard set.



The problem with this game (to play with family) is the time. It states 60-90 minutes and not sure if they would like the game enough to play it repeatedly.

When you play does it feel on the long side? Or does it keep people involved enough that they do not get antsy?


Started a few games I had not tried before that I got around xmas.

Race For the Galaxy Solo. - Got my ass kicked 48-25 my first “automa” game. Trying again after i type this.
Snowdonia - This showed up and, yay, German rules and cards…Funagain is sending me the English versions.
Gato Leader - Played this once and somewhat enjoyed it. The tactical part Is kind of like setting up the tactical part of Hornet leader which I got tired of doing. So, this goes and I have Thuderbolt-apache leader headed my way.
Mechs vs. Minions - Got this for my kid…he is too much into video games…but have not opened it yet and am pretty excited to get it out there.


Yes, not only it’s an excellent game, but it has to be one of the top five board games ever produced (in terms of production quality) and it is has the most impressive production quality/price ratio ever. Honestly, it does feels like a $200-$250 game. It’s impressive and even though I looked at a lot of videos and photos, that didn’t prepare me for the astonishment of opening the box. Even now, about 11 plays in (we are at mission 8) I can’t help but feeling a little shocked everytime I set it up.

[quote=“geewhiz, post:28, topic:127711, full:true”]The problem with this game (to play with family) is the time. It states 60-90 minutes and not sure if they would like the game enough to play it repeatedly.

When you play does it feel on the long side? Or does it keep people involved enough that they do not get antsy?[/quote]

Setup is like 10 minutes once you know where everything is on the box. This includes reading the scenario specific rules.

There’s no downtime. Like one/two minutes most in a 4 player game. Game flows really, really fast, at least in subjective time. Not counting set up and tear down I would say its a 30-90 minute game, but it depends on mission, and, being co-op, group. I would say most of our plays have been at 60 minutes or lower. I think only in two scenarios we went over 60 minutes, and only one of them (mission 5) felt long at all.

My group is really, really casual. My wife balks at reading rules and having them explained to her, and my sister and her husband like light games in general. I have shifted a lot of my boardgames buys towards solitaire games because of this.

However, Mechs vs. Minions is a hit with all of them, including the heavy game loving me. And kids… I don’t have kids (yet), but I can imagine this being an incredible success with kids about 8-12 years old.


So it seems they are doing a wave 2 of Mech vs Minions due for July '17? Am I reading that correctly?

Might have to pre-order since the universal praise being heaped upon it…


I have pre-ordered the game; thanks for the input @Juan_Raigada!


I don’t feel comfortable offering an opinion on that as we’re still in the first post tutorial mission (haven’t retried it yet today). But you can tell that Riot spent quite a bit of time streamlining the learning experience, with new rules being introduced bit by bot so the players don’t have to listen to a long set of rules before the first mission.

As for the missions themselves, Short fuse has so many minions rushing you while you desperately try and accomplish the mission goal that it didn’t feel long to us while playing. It will play even faster next time now that we already know the rules.

But I can’t speak to the length of the following missions.



For Christmas, I got Agents of Smersh. Sorry, I mean Agents of SMERSH. SMERSH is actually a historic Soviet organization whose name roughly meant “death to spies.” It formed during WWII to ferret out Nazi espionage.

With that bit of history out of the way, know that the game has nothing to do with that. This is James Bond Espionage, that thinks Moonraker and Goldfinger had to much restraint and realism. The game play is a sort of a simple co-operative. You have a spy character and who you move around the board. In some areas, there is intel, which you can move to a captured pool, or remove to spawn a henchman in another location. Defeat the henchmen enough times, the game ends. Then, if you have the right intelligence for how deep you are in the game, you win.

What actually makes the game, however, is the massive binder of story vignettes. Every turn, a player will have an encounter, which will be somewhat randomly determined. Sure, a die roll determines victory, but the flavor is quite good.

The game also has an interesting mechanic. Your skill level determines how many dice you can pull randomly from a bag. The bag holds 5 dice, but the dice all different odds. One die only gives a 1/6 chance of success. The best die gives a 4/6 chance of success, but then has a chance to hurt the player. Typically only 1 success is needed to pass a challenge. However, every failed challenge advances Dr. Lobo’s track, meaning difficulty is harder to get.

There is more of course, but if you like Spy Themes and games with a story telling element like Eldritch Horror, I can recommend this one.


You misspelled “solitaire”. :)

I like what Agents of Smersh is trying to do. The overarching concept of collecting intel before confronting the henchmen was a cool risk/reward concept. But what killed it for me was how samey the characters are. Ultimately, all that matters is the skill tokens you collect. Despite starting differences, the characters are eventually just repositories for skill tokens. Contrast this to say, Eldritch/Arkham Horror, where character asymmetry doesn’t get buried as you develop your character.

But overall, I did enjoy it. In fact, I liked it so much that I manually re-threaded that ginormous spiral-bound book! The spiral was “off” by a hole; turning the pages would have ripped them. So I carefully pulled the spiral wire thing out and laid the pages in a couple at a time. You can bet I wouldn’t do that for, say, Mage Knight!



Where is this image from?


That’s the picture on page 1 of the rule book and found in promotional material about the game.



And yet it has more character differentiation (and mechanics in general) than Tales of the Arabian Nights, which is the pretty direct inspiration. Unfortunately, for me where it fails in comparison to that game is the writing and overall production values, which are much better in the modern edition of Tales.


I’m not sure I understand the comparison. They’re such different gameplay experiences. And not just in terms of genre. Tales of Arabian Nights is a racing game in which every player begins on the same starting line and then travels down a randomly generated obstacle course. Whoever reaches the end first wins. There is no cooperation, or even meaningful interaction, among the players. Playing solitaire is just a matter of timing yourself. There is no system pushing back beyond the random card draws and die rolls.

Games like Agents of Smersh, Eldritch Horror, and Pandemic rely on much more than randomly generated narrative. Their core concepts are a) asymmetrical characters with distinct and complementary abilities that lend themselves to synergies, and b) a system that the characters are working to contain and overcome, which often involves some element of territory control or management.

Tales of Arabian Nights doesn’t have either of those and I would argue they’re a fundamental part of those games’ identity, much more so than drawing a card or flipping to a page and reading some text. We had a four-player game of Tales of Arabian Nights last week, and while Fun ™ was had by all, there wasn’t much by way of gameplay. That’s not a charge you can level at Agents of Smersh or Eldritch Horror!



The primary mechanism of both games is referring to a giant book of pre-written encounters and resolving them based on whether or not your character has a given skill (or in Tales, status sometimes) . There is certainly more game to SMERSH, but it’s very light and I wouldn’t describe it as the core of the experience.