Love Letter - Another really pretty game, but not a lot of luster, very similar to the Mirror, Mirror theme, you are trying to deliver a letter to the princess. However, unlike Mirror, Mirror, it’s a card game. The deck has 16 cards, each with a card value and you are trying to knock other players out of the game over a set number of rounds. It’s not great but did I mention the artwork was pretty?
Mage Wars- If you like the idea of Magic, but don’t like the idea of being poor because of it, Mage Wars may be a good option for you. The base games comes with everything you really need, but they will also be releasing new mage expansions every few months if you get bored playing the ones in the base set. The games premise is you are each a powerful mage combating in an arena. Your mage has a slew of spells, bonuses, and creatures that allows you to formulate your strategy to your liking. I think I may prefer Dungeon Command a bit more in terms of a battle game, but it is well put together, and people seemed to really be enjoying it at the CON. I personally didn’t see anything super special about it.
Morels – One of my favorite games at the CON. A nice fellow sitting at a small booth was demo-ing a card game about cooking mushrooms. Now I don’t know if you went to BGG CON, but they gave you a BINGO card to fill out. You are supposed to go around to the different booths and get stickers by having a “meaningful visit”, meaning you a.) buy something or b.) demo a game. If you get BINGO! you got geekgold, if you blackout, you got entered into win prizes at the Saturday night drawing! So challenge accepted, I went for the blackout! Long story short, it was sort of a pain to get blackout, took a few out of each day at the CON and they ended up only doing one drawing for the BINGO cards which was lame. BUT, I made a lot of visits to booths that I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to do, which included this cooking mushrooms game called Morels. It’s a strategy card game for two that requires you gathering up items & mushrooms that you collect from the forest. You form sets of these mushrooms and can cook them for end game points or sell them for forging sticks which allow you to expand your options for gathering items in the forest. It’s an interesting hand management game, with some fun aspects of bonus combos and that really make the game quite fun, and I don’t even like mushrooms, but I definitely liked the game so much that I ended up picking up a copy.
NOIR : Killer vs. Inspector – A cute little card game from level99 games. Each player takes on the role of the killer or the inspector. There are two stacks of cards, one in which you lay out all the cards in a grid fashion, they are double sided for “active” or “inactive.” characters, and a separate deck of all the characters where each player gets a secret character card. You take turns manipulating the grid and/or eliminating characters. By deduction, the inspector attempts to find out who the killer is and the killer tries to either eliminate the inspector or kill off 20 of the 25 suspects before they get unmasked. The killer can also take turns to draw a new character card to “change their disguise” which makes things even more interesting. It’s a light filler and is also available in the App Store for on 99 cents. Definitely worth checking out and one of those game you can just throw in your bag and take anywhere.
Octopus Garden - Octopus Garden is a game about placing sea animals in your garden in order to score points. You are buying tiles from a centralized board and placing them in your garden. Pearls generate money but yield negative points, while other plants and animals give bonus points (by attracting large sea creatures) when you place adjacent to similar tiles. One tile will move around your board eating up your pearls. Octopus Garden is a light game with very little player interaction. Buying from the centralized area is not that fun either. This game needs a mechanism like “Zooloretto” to gather resources. Also, the base game tiles are not as interesting as the expansion tiles which I think should have just come with the game.
Pax Porfiriana - a card game about toppling the Mexican government. It packs a whopping 220 cards, yet you only use about 50 of them, so each game will play a little different. The artwork on the cards are great and make you feel like you staring at a ad board in a Mexican village. However, looking at many cards next to each other (something you will see a lot in this game) will likely make you nauseous. This game is hard to explain, hard to follow, fiddly and just plain un-fun. There are those out there who like it because there is quite a lot of depth. But I don’t ever see it hitting the table again for me personally.
Qin – I generally really like Reiner Knizia games. They are usually very simple games to learn, yet involve a lot of strategy and thought. I tried Qin at the CON quite a few times with various numbers from 2-4 players and really enjoyed it each time. The concept is very simple, each player places their pagodas on the board, expanding their territory. First player to place all their pagodas wins. You have a hand of 3 color tiles that corresponds to a particular landscape. You place pagodas by forming areas of the same color landscape. The hand of 3 tiles limits you to areas you can place so you must formulate mini strategies to seize and conquer areas on the board. However, if a player forms a larger area of the same color and connects it to yours, they take it over and you must take back your pagoda to your supply. So to simplify it’s an area control/tile placement game. I’m surprise how low the BGG rating is of this game because I will definitely be adding it to my collection.
Try it out in the app store and see for yourself!
Slapshot - Hockey fans, grab some beer and pretzels, tonight is hockey season. In Slapshot, players are a full hockey team trying to draft a great team in order to win the season. You are given a card for each position (3x forwards, 2X defense, 1x goalie). Each round you can draft a player, steel another teams player, or challenge a team to a game of hockey. Each hockey game plays out much like the card game war with some special powers. But don’t let that turn you off. The game is really about when to challenge people, and when to bluff. It’s a light game that will definitely be disliked if you were expecting a serious strategy game. It also lasts a longer than it probably should.
Smash Up – Meh. A seemingly cute theme of mixing together factions to create unique combos of cards like Pirate-Zombies or Nnja-Dinosaurs… but the game itself isn’t… great… You are trying to smash various bases, and the players who did the most damage gets the most points for that base, following with points for second and third place. It was just okay, I didn’t see the hype.
Terra Mystica – Now this little treasure was perhaps my favorite of the whole wide CON. It’s currently in pre-order and I hope to have a copy in January that I can do a proper full review with pretty pictures in all. But for now, just know it’s packed full of awesomeness. You each take on a faction and attempt to terraform neighboring terrains to your factions lanscape type, to in turn develop your different dwellings to work your way to victory. There is a lot going on in this game from the dwelling bonuses, to in game bonuses, seafaring opportunities, and the multiple ways to gain victory points, that allows for constant planning and very little downtime. Each faction has very different abilities which makes for a very different game each time. There are also some really unique aspects, one in particular being power, that gives a interesting twist to the game. Though not a perfect game since some factions are seemingly a bit stronger than others, this slight unbalance is muted by all the other multitudes of awesome going on in this game.
The Great Zimbabwe – I only had one opportunity to play this, but I’d definitely like to try it again. Heavy gamers will definitely find it appealing as there is a lot of calculations during the game. Players choose a god to worship that determines their victory condition. Most each god has a benefit during the game, and based on how strong that benefit, increases the victory points needed to win. The main aspect of this game is developing a network of monuments. Players produce and obtain goods to raise their monuments, the higher the monument, the closer to victory. Even though I won the game I played I feel like I kinda took the cheap way out, being able to choose my god last, everyone else had picked high blessing, high victory point gods, so I picked a low victory point god and focused more of getting those victory points than a lot of the other aspects of the game like technologies for example. I’m not sure if this is going to be a great or even good game, I’d need more chances to play it. But if you are really into highly economical games, you might want to check The Great Zimbabwe out.
Zpocalypse – there are a lot of zombie games out right now, with the current craze going on, it’s expected. But most of them haven’t been great and most don’t have a whole lot of strategy. I think Zpocalypse offers a bit more of strategy compared to most of the previously released zombie survival games, and also a bit more to think about in terms of what is going on during the game. There are A LOT of rules and things to learn prior to playing, in addition there’s a lot of in game things to deal with, which can be a bit time consuming when you just want to kill some zombies. The only game I’ve really liked to date for a zombie game is Last Night On Earth, and I only like that game when I get to play the zombies and attack the survivors. So maybe zombie board games just aren’t for me. I’d much rather play Left 4 Dead on Steam.