Boardgaming in 2018!


I have a couple things to say to this.

One is that the one puzzle on the Pharoh we couldn’t solve without a hint did something that is somewhat standard for Exit, but since this was our first three us for a loop. When they say use everything…

As for Unlock, they have improved a lot on their design. In fact they’ve done one thing that’s really smart, they’ve leaned into the app integration. Little audio clues and puzzles that aren’t straight math codes improve the games. It has allowed more interesting usage of their machine mechanic.

And the most recent ones we’ve done have had some really great design on them. The pirate one uses the card backs in a way I really enjoy, it felt appropriately Treasure Island. The Wizard of Oz has characters, and each has a personal quest. So just because you defeated the witch doesn’t mean you’ve won, you still need to help the Cowardly Lion find bravery. It makes it feel like much more of an adventure. Easily their best effort yet.


I feel like it’s a concern that only makes sense if one ignores the actual review and leaps straight to the bare bones conclusion. If you read or watch a review, and one factor doesn’t matter to you then you can, in a well made review (and IMO SU&SD reviews are), ignore that factor and make a decision based on the other things they present that do matter to you.


For me 2009 was the year of Endeavour and Carson City. I am sure there are other good games from then as well but those two in particular struck me as being really well designed and having a great pace and overall length.


I got excited for a moment about all the new posts. I thought something big must be happening in 2018 and a new awesome game or maybe a few, hopefully not only 1-4 players was coming but nope… haha. I don’t look at the years around 2009 as anything good, and I certainly wasn’t in a position to buy anything. I really should go back some day and see what I missed.


There are tons of ways to mitigate the random draw in Cosmic Encounter. That’s an absurd complaint that would only hold up if everyone playing the game didn’t care who won. If your table is letting anyone get to 4 colonies, then yeah it’s going to be random who wins. At 3 colonies, there’s no safe trading and a player needs to somehow get an ally to 4 and then ally with them again to win as a pair, which isn’t a guaranteed play at all since who you face is random (and could end up being the person you allied with).

I’ve played the game in more party-ish settings where we’re not playing competitively and the game is silly-fun, in line with what you’re saying, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you get people around the table who want to play competitively then Cosmic Encounter definitely holds up to that playstyle and, unless powers dictate otherwise, you’re unlikely to be winning with your opening hand anyways.

I still think this is the best design with take-that elements out there. It depends a lot on the players coming to the table for the same reason, but I think that’s true of any game with heavy take-that style design. Nowadays I only play it a couple times a year, but I don’t think I’ve gone a year without playing it in the last decade. And I’m intending to keep that train rolling.


Ha! But in their Seafall review, they told everyone to go buy a copy just to appreciate the design!


They took the factions that were on the verge of being overpowered and made them better, then nerfed the factions that were on the verge of being underpowered.

They wanted to make it faster, so they shrunk the map and doubled the base movement speed. That was a huge nerf to factions that relied on some kind of movement advantage as their strength: Guild, Fremen, even the Harkonen/Atreidis starting with a spaceport.

They took away the Fremen super unit, but let the Emperor keep his, because…reasons?

They took out blank cards. I can see wanting to remove that aspect in the game, but again they were a pretty big part of the balance (played into Harkonen and Atreidis strength) and they didn’t replace the part they removed with anything else.

There was something about with the way the card worked that triggered alliances that they changed that made it less turbulent, but I can’t recall it.

A new rule they put in was “no secret talking”, which was a huge nerf to Atredis since they relied on information brokering.

They took away all factions being able to trade money at the end of a turn, which was a HUGE boost the Emperor. The Hacan (Guild equivalent) in REX often have tons of money they can’t do anything with because they don’tneed it for movement, and they suck in combat due to their weak leaders.

WHY ARE YOU BOOSTING THE EMPEROR SO MUCH, FFG!!! He was already one of the strongest factions in Dune, requiring careful play by everyone to not hand him the game. Then they went and hobbled all his rivals. The emperor got major boosts, the Bene-Gessrit went untouched, and everyone else got indirectly nerfed when they removed or downplayed a bunch of mechanics that played into their strength but didn’t compensate for it. I…have no idea why they just straight up removed the Fremen super unit.

Dune took longer to play, but it was worth it.


Well, if there’s one thing I know about Chvatil, it’s that no two of his games are alike. Dude’s a chameleon or something.

Oh, I do. But Pandemic tries to address a lot of the issues that bogged down boardgame design up to that point. Catan is just a dumbed-down family-friendly Euro game that somehow got super successful, and while I agree with you that the idea of built-in player trading is good, I don’t think the implementation in Catan is worth a wooden nickel. Pandemic, on the other hand, addressed issues of theming, player interaction, pacing, balance, modern day relevance, AI, and so on. It was one of the first games to say, “Okay, forget all those other games everyone is playing; let’s try something different.” I think there are far better versions of Pandemicsome by Matt Leacock himself – but that’s the turning point* where good boardgame design was invented. The equivalent of nailing theses on a church door.

We tried Carson City recently, and I think I’m out of love with it. :( Endeavor, on the other hand, is still gold.

It’s certainly the purest, isn’t it? It’s like the whole game design is a support structure for a lot of back-and-forth “take that’ing!”


* Look, we all know I’m casting about for an arbitrary point in time. Basically, I’ve been saying “there are no good boardgames older than 10 years” for too long, so now I’ve got to fix the statement to a specific date, and seems the publishing of Pandemic is as good a date as any.


Except it is 3 years post Railways of the World, and ergo your chosen date is invalid.

If you’d have said 2005, I’d have shrugged, but 2008 excludes that masterpiece so I must loudly plant my flag there. Gotta stand up for my second favorite board game of all time.


I’ve gotten in a couple of games of Thunderstone Quest now and it’s my current favorite deckbuilder, by a lot. In terms of core deckbuilding game play, it’s a further improvement and refinement of the prior games. For example, now all the complex stuff about “attributes” versus “abilities” and so on is all gone, replaced by fairly simple phases of “in the village”,“in the dungeon”,“before battle” and “after battle”. The additions are more content: a modular dungeon layout with rooms affecting the monsters in many more ways than just light=strength, and several options within the village. You can also purchase consumables now which can even out good and bad hands quite a bit.

The biggest change is that defeated monsters no longer go into your discard pile: you get experience chits for defeating monsters (and sometimes other stuff) and then the monster card is removed from play. This prevents that whole “I did awesome early and now my deck sucks rocks” issue.

Another great change is that the monsters are now tiered by level. There’s always a pushover Tier 0 opponent (infinitely respawning like the Goblin in Clank!), and then tiers 1 to 3 of progessively tougher opponents. Taking on the low tiers doesn’t require much light, but going deep its gets pretty dark. This means that you have the option to start killing stuff in the dungeon very early on, but to score the big points you also need to hit town to train and buy the good gear.

Two thumbs all the way up for me. My buddy has the Kickstarter with 2,000 cards and I will sadly have to buy the retail version and piecemeal out the expansions.


I jumped in on their last Kickstarter for the co-op/solo barricades mode (plus all the other stuff). It’s like 4 tons of cards. I very much look forward to that delivery day. I like the theme of Thunderstone too where you are actually leveling heros and equipping them as you play. I have the original first edition Thunderstone. It looks like it has improved a lot over the years.


So the burning question hanging over Arkham Horror 3: does it obsolete Eldritch Horror the same way Eldritch obsoleted Arkham Horror 2?


I have never heard of this game so it can’t possibly be any good. Hmm, early Martin Wallace? I’m skeptical.

@sharpe, I haven’t seen Thunderstone since it first came out. I imagine it’s come a long way. Looks like there are folks selling the full Kickstarter edition for $200 on Amazon:

Not really. Oddly enough, it comes closer to obsoleting the Arkaham Horror LCG. So much stuff directly imported from that design. It feels a bit weird.

But there’s simply not enough content in Arkham Horror, Third Edition for it to obsolete anything. And in these games, which are pretty much just drawing cards and making skill checks, content is king. Also, the epic globetrotting adventure vibe in Eldritch Horror still makes it stand out from the more confined parlor room feel of Arkham Horror. And there’s no counterpart to the persistent deck-building in the LCG. So at this point, it’s just kind of a sad little starter kit.

That said, I find Arkham Horror Third Edition oddly compelling in the same way I do most Fantasy Flight games before they bury them under an avalanche of cruft. There are some pretty solid design decisions here in terms of card management and creature combat.



“A sad little starter kit” is how I’d describe the card game!

I’m not a fan of deck building in general, so 98% of the appeal to AH:TCG was the narrative and discovering the surprises (which made it a terrible dollar value investment). Maybe…3rd edition would be just right for me?


Played a couple new (to me) games at a meetup today.

Quartermaster General Cold War is a fun addition to the series, though I feel like the complexity of the new rules may be a bit much for newer players. Also, like most 3-player games, its really important to keep the leader in check, which the players I played with seemed to have trouble understanding. Would like to try this again, but right now I think I prefer the WWI or ancient Greek QMG games.

Trick of the Rails is a really weird duck. Its a trick-taking train game. Players play tricks of cards to win stocks and build rails. Its actually a pretty cool concept, though it was very difficult to teach. Definitely one of those games that you need to play a couple times to get your head around. Its super portable too, which means it will probably travel with me to many future meetups.

North American Rails is basically a highly-simplified 18xx stock round card game. Players buy stocks, build connections to cities, and receive income from the companies. There was actually some pretty cool company and stock maneuvering that happened during this game, which surprised us. I’ve heard people call this “Chicago Express: the Card Game”, which seems like a pretty accurate description. However, the paper money in this game is absolute trash, and I can’t wait to use my poker chips to play it.


I just found this in depth write-up of Discover: Lands Unknown which leaves me conflicted:

The sense of Discovery sounds great. But the way things can fall flat and the lack of replayability one the twists and turns are known are a concern at that price point.

It sounds like an interesting experience though.


Hmmm… And then there is “So very wrong about games”, a podcast I enjoy, which just went into a lot of depth about Discover and really, really, really didn’t care for it one bit. Their opinion is scathing.


Feels like a potentially cool idea. But not that interesting after all.


I’ve never been of the belief that either of the games “obsoleted” the others, but Eldritch did bump Arkham from the rotation. My gaming group is 90-10 in favor of Eldritch, but I tend to be more 65-35 for Eldritch. I have always liked the small town feel in Arkham more than the globe trotting in EH, but I think Eldritch’s mechanics are better.

That said, to eat @tomchick was mentioning, at the end Eldritch had a weird weight to it. They introduced a lot of mechanisms that bloated the game. I was never a fan of the side boards. Prelude cards, Adventure cards, mystic encounters, focus, improve and degrade skills, all got to the point where I felt the game needed a GM to keep track of it. That said, I do still really like the game. However, Arkham 2 I can get on the table in about 15 min due to my organization scheme, but EH took a solid 30-40 min to get set up. I may take another go at organizing to see if I can make it faster, but I’m not sure.

AH3 has a lot of promise. I like the modular board and the scenarios. I like the improved mythos mechanics. I like how damage is handled. Like most FFG games, it feels like it needs another expansion for content. I’m not sure well it replays yet, but all scenarios seem to be a variation of “put x clue tokens on the scenario sheet before x doom tokens” and then a bunch of cards tell you what happens. That said, AH2 is just a race to close gates with some variables, so AH3 is a race to put tokens.

I have played 3 games so far and really enjoy it. I am looking forward to the expansions.


Hmm. That sounds like it addresses the thing that usually broke original Thunderstone for me - because things could come out in any order, you could end up completely unable to attack the dungeon for many turns on end. (Exacerbated by some monster sets playing very poorly without cards that countered their gimmick being available in the village/heroes, which seems like it would be harder to fix.)


Indeed. I keep considering buying stuff for the AH card game, but each of the adventure packs just seem way overpriced for the content they add, though. FFG really feel like they try to sell me a lifestyle, not a product.

That said, I was really impressed by TI4, which was packed with stuff. It really feels complete to me, and I don’t miss any of the bloat they did cut from TI3 and its expansions.