The PAX Aus 2018 Schedule is live, and the Enigma Box is coming!

Pax Australia 2018

When PAX Aus makes your day better a month early!

So yesterday at work I was having one of those Thursdays.  From the moment I rolled out of bed, everything had been full speed ahead into every brick wall in sight, and was like that all day.

But late yesterday I took a break to read my emails, and lo and behold there was one from PAX Australia!  I was hoping it was saying my tickets were in the mail, but really next best thing:

The PAX Aus 2018 Schedule is now live.

I will be sitting down over the weekend and trying to make some choices, but it is always hard at PAX.  There are a lot of great panels all through the three days, and as usual, there are so many things that I want to see and do that all overlap.

This year, the opening Storytime is with Rhianna Pratchett.  The daughter of Sir Terry Pratchett, many gamers have experience Rhianna’s work for years and probably never realised.  And then the choices just get harder.

Gameifying Government, or Mental Health Representation in video games?  They may sound niche, but I am interested in both topics and would love to hear what’s happening.

As usual, so many things to see, so many overlapping!

LoadingReadyRun Live is the chance to see some great creators live as I have wanted for years.  But at the same time, there is the annual Dungeon Crawl – always a worthy event.  But overlapping both events is Outside Xbox and Outside Xtra hosting the first ever PAX Movie night!  Another team of creators I love to leave watch to cheer me up, I’m already torn for which to go and see 🙁  Seriously if you enjoy gaming and want a smile, watch Show of the Weekend with Ellen and Luke.  Luke’s puns are usually awful, but Ellen just has an infectious exuberance about her that is fun to watch 🙂

Unfortunately, this year Gabe (Mike Krahulik) cannot attend PAX Aus.  While for selfish reasons this is disappointing, I am really glad that he can feel comfortable discussing such personal issues with the community as a whole.  Even better, it is wonderful seeing such acceptance and support from the community as well.  It’s this kind of atmosphere that makes PAX very special to me.

I was really hoping to see how the adventures of the Star Wars themed Acquisitions Inc. game continued, but the “C” Team will be just as much a blast to see in person 🙂

It’s important to note that the schedule is not yet complete.  There are still some to be confirmed panels, and there is no tournament information yet.  However looking at the filters, there is a VR tourney option – this could be fun 🙂 I need to put the Vive back on now…

The other little surprise I got today is my Enigma Box is finally on its way.  I have been waiting eagerly for this for a couple of months now.  Partly this was the anticipation of getting a great project and partly fueled by some updates saying things were ready to ship.

Late July and early August, there was information that the boxes were being sent in waves, with the furthest people getting it first as it takes longer to travel.  Living in Australia, I was ecstatic as we are normally near the end of the process!  So much escape room logic puzzle deductions were being planned it was great 😀

Then I found out basically the US was getting it first.  Last time I checked, Australia is further that Spain and the UK than the US is.  So much for the geography clues guys :p

Really though the last is just a playful jab – the box is coming, and around when we were told it would be when the shipping was clarified.  Very happy John waiting for games night Tuesday to see it in person for the first time!

I got my notification and all going well I will get my box Tuesday next week.  This may be the subject of one of those live Facebook videos I talked about yesterday – watch and see!

I hope everyone has a great Friday, and I will catch you later 🙂

Until then,


You thought E3 and Origins hurt your wallet – the Steam Summer Sale is here!

Steam Summer Sale Banner

Well there goes another whole bunch of hours

Steam Sales.  They are every six months, and we buy a whole heap of games we won’t play because it’s only $2 and I have wanted to see what it’s like for ages!

There are some really good deals though.  Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, for example, is almost half price, which is making me think of not playing it on the PS4.  I know, I’m a rebel what can I say :p

Subsurface Circular, an experimental text-based detective story where you try and solve a mystery confined to a single train carriage, is finally in my cart.  As has the 2014 Time game of the year 80 Days, where you get to participate in Phileas Fogg’s famous race.

This year the folks at Valve are doing something a little different.  You can play some mini-games on the site and help protect the Saliens from the Doldrumz!

Yes it’s cheesy, but it is a fun little touch and you get to win some games in the process.  I have only had a chance to play and protect one sector (and didn’t do great as I haven’t levelled up yet), but I can see this being a quick distraction during the day.

Steam Summer Sale Salien Game
Haven't you always wanted to play a game while you are shopping for games?

Check out the Steam site, even if only for a free game for a couple of weeks in the Saliens web game.

I would also suggest checking out the Asmodee Digital collection, which has been impressively growing over the last few months.  The ability to solo play quite a few games quickly and with no setup can be a lot of fun, and worth a peek!

Until next time,


April Fools Day 2018

Renegade April Fools

Oh yeah, that’s ama… Wait… Damn it it’s April Fools, isn’t it?

Sometimes, companies troll us with great sounding ideas.  Other times, we all laugh with the joke.  Today, I thought I would just list a few board game related April Fools jokes that made me smile 🙂

Let me know which ones you wish you were playing!

Other than that, I hope everyone has enjoyed/is still enjoying their long weekend and catch you all soon.


Lego VacuSort

Can’t stand stepping on Lego blocks?  Don’t have hours to sort everything?  How to fix two problems at once!

Lego VacuSort

Renegade Game Studios

Renegade Game Studios is my favourite new publisher and one of my all time favourites as well.  I can’t think of a single game they have published that I don’t enjoy.

And now, thanks to the great news released April 1st, I don’t have to worry about storing the games I don’t have!

Renegade April Fools

Mayday Games – Get Bit Legacy

Mayday also announced their contender for the Legacy craze.  Get Bit Legacy sounds rough!

Get Bit Legacy

Sony knows where the games are at

Even PlayStation gets in on the act.  I am sorry to say I really wouldn’t mind the mini controller pieces though.

PlayStation Board Game

Space Cowboys gives us the expansion we didn’t know we wanted

Cites of Splendor is a fine expansion that adds greatly to the base game.  But it’s no Kitties of Splendor.

Kitties of Splendor

Stronghold Announces Fields of Mars

Can’t decide between Fields of Green and Terraforming Mars?  Why not both?

Fields of Mars

ZMan goes all out with the newest Pandemic Title

Yeah.  Image says it all 🙂


New York Slice gets the Legacy Treatment

Honestly, Beziers April Fools made me smile, then wonder why I was still watching.  Then I watched the people at the end.  It’s always great seeing people enjoying not taking themselves too seriously!

ThinkGeek is in on it as always

ThinkGeek is never one to shy away from a good prank, and this year it makes character creation so easy!


Wyrmwood announces a new line

And speaking of not taking yourself seriously…

Top 10 Most Anticipated Expansions for 2018

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Expansions. There are many possibilities to what they can do. Players can be added, rules refined (or fixed for the cynical), mechanics that didn’t have time to be polished can be introduced. Most commonly, it simply gives you more game to play.

One thing they almost always do is make you think about the base game again. You can tell exactly how much you enjoy the base game just by looking at an expansion on the shelf. There may be excitement that there is a new reason to play an old favourite. You could be stumped, standing in the aisle trying to remember if you have played the game before. Confusion where you are sure you know the game they are talking about, but it looks completely different on the back of the box.

This list is by no means final, as at the start of January 2018 I have no idea what other expansions could be coming out this year. So if you happen to be reading this and wonder why the new hot expansion isn’t here – it’s probably because it wasn’t announced or I missed the announcement.

On that note, on to the list.

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This is at number 10 simply because I wonder if it should be on the 2018 games list. Technically each scenario is completely stand-alone, so may be considered individual games. I tend to look at them as the Unlock! ‘system’ though, so to me each game is an expansion.

Apart from my subjective musings, there is one hard fact why this shouldn’t be on any list. As yet, no third set (or scenarios 7-9, or however you like to number them) have been announced.

Unlock! is a great series, and holds it’s own even in the current very lucrative home escape room phenomena.

Exit and Escape the Room, two other escape room style games, both have a lot going for them and are great games I will play at any opportunity. But Unlock! just has the edge for me overall. Yes, there is less that can be done in some ways with just a pack of cards. It’s easier to setup, and takes less space to play. You don’t have to print things off to reset an adventure (if you are playing an adventure that can be reset!).

So basically, any new Unlock! adventures will have me hooked and waiting to buy them. And it would be very surprising for Space Cowboys not to have more in the works, the players are jumping at all of these games at the moment and just makes them too much money!

Have a look at Unlock! at Board Game Geek here

Unlock 1 - Escape Adventures
Unlock 2 - Mystery Adventures
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The 7th Continent is currently ranked 41 on Board Game Geek. That shows a lot of people that REALLY love this game.

A mixture of choose your own adventure, role play and escape room games, there is a lot to offer many different types of player.

The 7th Continent is not the sort of game you can say too much information about without spoiling, and going into the additional scenarios multiplies the spoil factor. So I won’t be going into any detail at all really, I just really want more 7th Continent. That simple.

This is the sort of game that if new content came out regularly every couple of months or even quarterly, a lot of people would be playing it for a very long time.

You can see more on the expansions from the Kickstarter page here.

To see more on The 7th Continent, check out the Board Game Geek page here.

7th Continent and Expansion Box Art
7th Continent Contents
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Time Stories has been a series I had very high hopes for when it was first announced, and it has mostly delivered.

I have learned to expect long delays in getting new items games in Australia. It’s something you have to get used to here.
But Time Stories have had some long breaks due to extended delays between adventures. Also, gamers have a lot of newer and more complete experiences that have released in the last two years, which understandably has caused a lot of players to lose interest.

So why am I still interested? Well, I can’t go into too much detail or even tell you exactly where I am up to, because of spoilers. But two years later I think they are where they thought they would be after year one.

I have also been playing with a couple of groups, and so I have been the constant player in all of the adventures. It’s been long enough from when I started that I would like to get a new group together and all play through all the scenarios from the beginning and relive the experiences again as a collective group.

These expansions would have been higher on the list, but honestly, I would have trouble recommending Time Stories for brand new players to buy. It’s a lot of fun, and I would pull my copy out to play with you with no hesitation.

But if you had to invest the over $350 now to get everything to be where I am now, I can’t recommend Time Stories to you.

While they are very different experiences, Arkham Horror: The Card Game, even just the base game, has so much more game out of the box for half the price. And a game like Gloomhaven, even with almost double the RRP of the base game, is a complete campaign with about 100 hours of gameplay.

Because I have all the current games I can get my hands on, these new scenarios are relatively cheap for me to grab and so I can build on the experience. And because it’s starting to do what I was hoping it would do at the start, I am itching to play again.

Check out Time Stories on Board Game Geek here.

Time Stories Box Art
Time Stories Board
Time Stories Game Area
Time Stories Demo
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I openly admit I enjoy watching people react to situations games put them in. Well, that guiding the game to a specific situation as well.

To this end, I enjoy social deduction games. Some are better than others, and each game is aimed at different groups. There is no better class of games to demonstrate this than social deduction.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong contained something that is missing from a lot of other classic games – information to instantly act upon.

It was fast and fun to play, and player elimination to me had a unique twist – you eliminate yourself from the game by accusing yourself, so it was very hard for people to gang up on each other.

One thing though is to me it was very much like the first Resistance or the original Werewolf. Once you played it a few times, the way to play becomes pretty clear. Having a different coroner with different play styles, the random scene clues to be given, even different players and their thinking helped with replayability. Eventually, though, Deception came through as more of a gateway or quick filler.

But also like the original Resistance and Werewolf, new life is being breathed into the game with new roles and special powers for both the investigators and the killer.

The roles have minor twists but are enough to change the game slightly without being too overpowered (at least on the surface). The more subtle roles also allow players to hide in plain sight, which with the right group can make a game so much more. More clues and means cards always helps with the randomness as well 🙂

Everything going well, I should have my copy Early February from the Kickstarter. You can bet I will be bringing this out for a new game again straight after.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

The Kickstarter Page can be seen here.

Deception Undercover Allies Box Art
Deception Undercover Allies Contents
Deception Undercover Allies Game Layout
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The Networks is a fun game where players each run a new TV station and tries to have the best shows with the hottest stars, paid for by ad revenue. But also like a TV station, you need to keep your line up new and fresh, or you will lose viewers! But if you really need help, the Network card can make or break you.

A unique twist on essentially card drafting/engine building and set collection game, The Networks is a fun game that taught relatively quickly and can be played in just under an hour if everyone is switched on. The main thing that will slow down a game like this is known as ‘Analysis Paralysis’, where players stop and weigh up the optimal moves.

In the new Networks: Executives, gameplay is expanded with Executives just as the title suggests. These executives give you special powers and benefits, but each also comes with a disadvantage to even things out. Things like you could be a government station, so you have guaranteed income each round, but you have a lot of paperwork to handle that no other player has to deal with. These executives will have a major impact on the gameplay, and I can’t wait to see what they all do.

Another significant change is ‘Season 0’ cards. In the networks, you would start all at a similar level in the first season of programming. The Season 0 cards, however, can be thought of as pilot shows, and are proper shows in their own right. At the start of the game, these shows will be drafted by the players. Some will give you a Stars and Ads, but have no Genre. Some have a Genre and Ads, but come without Stars.

This can be seen as more of a ‘gamer’ addition, but it will make players strategise at the start of each game on the fly as all of the conditions change, not just drawn shows during the game. Also, this is being added by an expansion, so it leaves The Networks accessibility intact.

Also included are mogul cards. These cards are collective bonus conditions that players are also trying to work towards, giving another layer of play and strategy to play towards.

This looks to be an outstanding addition to an already solid game and will give not only a new boost to the gameplay but also provides longevity in the form of replayability.

Check out The Networks: Executives Board Game Geek page here.

The Networks: Executives can be preordered on their Kickstarter page here.

The Networks Executives Box Art
The Networks Executives Cards
The Networks Executives Game Demo
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Two Red Raven games in one day! Near and Far, the sequel/follow up to Above and Below, came out to rave reviews. To say these are the most popular Ryan Laukat games would not be an exaggeration.

The drive for a narrative playing experience is evident in all of his games, and the chance to play more Near and Far to me can’t be a bad thing.

Amber Mines is one of those expansion I really like – it adds modules that you can add or remove according to taste and who you are playing with. This allows for a lot of flexibility and takes the frustration of learning a lot of rule changes at once if you don’t want to.

If you have never played Near and Far, bug someone you know what has a copy and try it! They are campaign style games where you uncover story and events as you go. The Amber Mines changes some aspects to the game, but it’s more alternate locations than sweeping game changes so it opens up new story possibilities.

You get to replace the Mine with the Amber Mines (title did give that away). You get to play with Magic. You can add a new General Store. And you have new threat cards.

This may not mean much to you if you haven’t played the game, and you will probably be scratching your head why it would be exciting. All I can really tell you is if you’re a fan, this is a good thing.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Near and Far Amber Mines Box Art
Near and Far Amber Mines Cards 2
Near and Far Amber Mines Cards 4
Near and Far Amber Mines Cards 1
Near and Far Amber Mines Cards 3
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Hidden movement games are another of those out there mechanics that I enjoy, but can be intimidating when you first get into this kind of game. One of the first of this type of game was Scotland Yard in the early 80’s. Scotland Yard can be a great intro to hidden movement games, but there are a lot of people that look at a game this old and turn their nose up at it.

Newer and more complex games like Fury of Dracula and Letters from Whitechapel are great, but take multiple hours to play and have a fairly steep learning curve, especially for the hidden player. These are games that can technically be played straight away new, but you really need someone that has taken the time to thoroughly review the rules and maybe played a simulated solo game to host a game.

So there seemed in 2015 not much in the middle. Then Specter Ops was released by Emerson Matsuuchi and Plaid Hat Games. Incidentally, Emerson Matsuuchi has had a great 2017 with the Century series of games (Spice Road and Golem).

Specter Ops I still say is a great gateway version of hidden movement games. That is not to say it is not without it’s faults, and two years later it’s greatest one is still to be addressed. On release, there was news of a companion app coming, a new thing at the time. This would allow the hidden player to have help with things like selecting only valid moves and checking line of site rules. It was even demonstrated at Gen Con 2016. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t arrived, and I know a few players that were waiting on the app before taking the plunge.

All that aside, Broken Covenant is a stand-alone expansion with a new board and new characters and equipment that can be combined with the original. A long game of Specter Ops is still less than half the time of a quick game of Fury of Dracula, so it’s the hidden movement game that gets the most play, and I can’t wait to try it.

You can find the Board Game Geek page here.

Specter Ops Broken Covenant Box Art
Specter Ops Broken Covenant Cards
Specter Ops Broken Covenant Game Layout
Specter Ops Broken Covenant Minis
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Elder Sign is a game I can usually trick people into playing a Cthulu game with. If I had to describe it in the fewest words possible, they would be ‘Campaign Cthulu Yahtzee’. Let’s see how you wrap your head around that for a minute.

So why do I have to ‘trick’ people into playing a game at all? This is something I feel you shouldn’t have to do. But Elder Sign is one of those games that even though it’s Cthulu themed, if you have a player or group that likes dice games and enjoy collection adventures then this will work for them. The problem I have to convince people on is the theme – just like Zombies, it has been overdone I must admit. But Elder Sign is part of Fantasy Flight’s Arkham Horror Files line, including Arkham Horror and Mansions of Madness, and this universe a lot of people I play with end up enjoying, especially as there are many different styles of games depending on what they like.

So if I know people like the style of game but aren’t keen on the theme, I tend to describe the mechanics and remain vague on the setting until I know they are interested in the game, then tell them about Cthulu and maybe show them the box. This way they still can make a call before any time is committed, and only once has this not ended in players giving it a go despite their feelings on the theme.

Elder Sign has a lot of components to it as a board game though, and setup is very tedious. I must admit if I want to solo a few rounds I simply fire up the Elder Sign: Omens game on Steam, iOS and Android. The rules are a little different, but the system takes care of all the setup and whatnot. You just have to roll the dice and make decisions on what you want to do. One thing that the app did that the board game did not is let you play little mini-campaigns with varying locations and objectives. For example, in the Call of Cthulu app content, you can find supplies, sail around and then have your final battle. It works very well, and until last year and the Omens of the Deep board game expansion you couldn’t do this in the board game, it was always one location and one objective.

Omens of the Pharoah is the latest expansion announced in the series and takes players to a new area – Egypt. This is another expansion based on the Omens campaigns, but now I can play it around the table with people and have the whole experience that board games can offer, rather than passing around a mouse or a tablet and being totally removed until it’s my turn again.

I honestly don’t think I can get Elder Sign in on a general game night, it’s not quite that kind of game, but any new stories for it for the few times I can get a game in are always appreciated!

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Elder Sign Omens of the Pharoah Box Art
Elder Sign Gloria and parts
Elder Sign Game Layout
Elder Sign Adventures
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Flamme Rouge. A simple game that almost feels like it shouldn’t be as fun as it is. The premise is pretty simple – teams of riders consisting of a Rouleur and a Sprinteur race to be the first to cross the finish line.

This is done over a variety of courses, achieved by giving you pieces of track, kind of like old school slot cars. These are double-sided as well, giving you a fair bit of variety.

The mechanics are fairly simple. You draw cards and choose how many spaces your riders can move. If they are in the very front of a pack of riders, you get exhaustion cards which only allow you to go forward a small way. If you are one square behind a rider, you can take advantage of their slipstream and move up one square. And if you are riding uphill, you can’t move more than five squares, while you can’t move less then five going downhill. The mechanics really are that simple, making it easy to teach and learn. It also helps that everyone has had a lot of fun playing the game 🙂

Peloton is billed as being the first expansion for Flamme Rouge. While there are new mechanics added (primarily cobblestones forcing chokepoints in races), the most obvious addition is two new teams of racers, increasing the player count to a maximum of six.

The bottom line is Flamme Rouge is a fun game, that the four player cap stopped it being put forward many times on games night. Now with the extra teams, I am hoping a couple of games a month can get into my regular games night. Possibly even an ongoing league play could be on the cards!

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Flamme Rouge Peloton New Teams
Flamme Rouge Peloton Sample Trap
Flamme Rouge Peloton Box Art
Flamme Rouge Peloton Cluster
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And another racing game expansion!

Downforce was a game I was dying to play last year, and Restoration Games hit it out of the park. I enjoy racing games, but Formula D is just too long and overly complex to be anything but a game for ‘true fans’. With the release of Downforce, Rob Daviau and co took everything that was fun with the like of Formula D and distilled down to a quick and enjoyable experience.

After my very first game, I commented on how easy Downforce was going to be to expand. New tracks and new team powers alone could be released and they would be popular, and this looks exactly like what is happening.

The name makes me think that there may be a new mechanic as well. Maybe similar to the Formula D Danger Die when players got close to each other? While something like this could be an interesting addition, the bottom line is this Danger Die was anything but and dragged out an already long game. But players risking potential damage or loss of position due to contact may be worth investigating for gameplay as an optional addition.

This is just me thinking out loud. Doubling the number of tracks and player powers guarantees this will be on my preorder list just as soon as I get the chance.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Downforce Danger Circuit Box Art
Downforce Danger Circuit Back of Box
Downforce Danger Circuit Board
Downforce Danger Circuit Teams
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Fields of Arle is an Uwe Rosenberg game for 1 or 2 players. It is a worker placement game like some of his other hits such as Agricola or Caverna, but with the difference of being balanced for specifically two players.

In it you expand your territory over a nine-year period, preparing for the next summer or winter. I have only gotten it to the table once as a two player game, but a few as a solo experience.

It’s one of those games that unless you are a Rosenberg fan, honestly it is going to be hard to sell it too you. You know about it or you don’t, and this is a very heavy two player game I would never suggest to anyone to buy on a whim.

But Tea and Trade looks to not only add new mechanics but a third player as well. Normally I have mixed feelings about increasing the player count in expansions, but one of the big problems I have had getting Fields of Arle to the table is when I had some people around for a bigger game session, it is always 3-4 people so we couldn’t play it.

This looks like an expansion that will fix this problem, and for that alone, I am keen to have a go.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Fields of Arle Tea and Trade Box Art
Fields of Arle Tea and Trade Layout


I had gone off Imperial Assault over the last year or so. Not because it’s not enjoyable, but because it was hard to get to the table.

But now Fantasy Flight have developed an app in the vein of Mansions of Madness second edition that allows me to play it solo if I feel like it. While the scenarios I have played have been fun, I still prefer Mansions of Madness at the moment. The scenarios were designed more for a human player to be in charge of both sides, and the solo experience just feels like it is missing a little bit.

But future expansions now the app is a real thing? Well, that could be very different. Or it could be more of the same. Either way, I will be grabbing the next major expansion for Imperial Assault and giving it a go to find out!

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Star Wars Imperial Assault Box Art
Star Wars Imperial Assault Components


This one is all of the different. Power Grid is an age-old favourite, and I would say the highest ranked Friedmann Friese game on Board Game Geek.

Power Grid is a very maths heavy resource management/route building/auction game that is pretty much a gaming staple on ‘must have played’ lists for the last decade.

Fabled Fruit on the other hand is a new type of game from the same designer that has come out of nowhere and catching on big time. I am looking forward to playing three new games based on this ruleset – the Fast Forward series.

But what is this ruleset? Well, there is no rulebook. Instead, you have a deck of cards that contains the rules, and as you continue through the deck you find new rules, so the game changes over time.

Combining the two games will be very interesting indeed, and I can’t wait to see how it all works out. My gaming group knows enough games like Power Grid these days that I am hoping to get a few games of Fear (first in the Fast Forward series) and see who would be interested in trying the two combined.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Power Grid Fabled Expansion Box Art
Power Grid Fabled Expansion Sample Cards

Top 10 Games I Own – But Have Yet To Play! 2018

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2017 has been the best year for gamers to date. I don’t think anyone can disagree with this statement. No medium was left untouched with a slew of top quality releases that left gamers in a whirlwind of enjoyment and trying to find time to play everything.

While this is always a great position to be in for the hobby, for the first time I have had many board game purchases that have been left unplayed. I am used to this with my video game collection (Witcher 3, I will get there this year I promise), board games are something I can usually get at least a couple of games in regularly.

So with this in mind, I bring you my top 10 games I own but have not yet been able to play!

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Charterstone is a game that just makes this list as it was released late 2017, and I have been able to play the first game in 2018 at the time of writing this list.

I don’t feel too bad including it for a very simple reason – I am still looking forward to playing a solo campaign. This is done with the aid of a recharge pack and simply flipping over the board. A legacy game that can be reset using largely the base game rather than buying a completely new copy is great.

While I really enjoy legacy games, the ‘play and done’ mentality of a lot of them does cause me concern. This is increased when to my knowledge a high percentage of board games are not made with recycled (or even recyclable) components in mind. Having a legacy game specifically designed to become a ‘normal’ game at the end of the campaign is something I think more legacy games should be striving for.

Charterstone is the latest game from Stonemaier games. It is a competitive legacy game wherein each of the 12 games you slowly build the village. This allows a low learning curve initially with only a few options available to players, and options and strategies grow as the players build more as the campaign continues.

The component quality is superb, the artwork is fantastic, and the game I played (mistakes and all) was very enjoyable. The only downside so far is it has the type of stickers that permanently stay on if the sticky side comes within a centimeter of anything – great for long-term permanence, terrible for misaligned placement!

That aside, a full review will be coming later in the year when the campaign is complete.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

Charterstone Box Art
Charterstone Box Opening 1
Charterstone Complete Setup
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The Android universe for me is in a lot of ways becoming like the Munchkin universe to me. I love the world and the possibilities it presents. Every new bit of news makes my ears perk. But the main game I can take it or leave it these days. That is a story for another day though.

So what does all this have to do with New Angeles? In some ways, think of this in a lot of ways as Diplomacy light. You meet your goals by negotiating the tables actions, then watch as these decisions resolve. Who has being honest, and who saw the advantage in doing something else? Each round is a new chapter, and you never quite know who to trust.

Players represent the corporations of the Android universe. You all need to work together to keep the city operating and meet required goals each turn, all while keeping government involvement out of your city.

That’s right – you don’t work together to win, you work together to not lose. Well, at first anyway. Then the final revelations are made.

The winners are determined by secret objectives, including the possibility of a traitor in the mix. A player that is intentionally trying to make everyone lose so that they can win. Players also have rivals, and they win if they meet a requirement over their opponent, e.g. you win if have more money than them.

So yes, a relaxing afternoon of quiet discussion, respect and building trust is what is in store for you when you sit down to play New Angeles. Well, in the opposite universe anyway 🙂

I think it would be fair to say people I play with regularly would call my playstyle Chaotic. And it deserves the capitalisation. Once I have the basics down, I enjoy seeing what others do in certain situations. Winning the game takes a second seat to the limited social experiment taking place around me. How would this player react to I play this? Will someone else spot the opening left if I do that?

With that in mind and a group of like-minded players available, New Angeles needs to be on my played list. It seems perfect for a player like me. The higher player count and time required has blocked me for far too long.

New Angeles also has the honour of being on another ‘get to it’ list of mine – I really want to paint the minis as well 😀

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

New Angeles Box Art
New Angeles Components
New Angeles Cards
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I enjoy Fantasy Flights Arkham Horror universe. I can understand that people are over the Cthulu games, but this series is for me one of the standout examples of these games done correctly.

Yes, they are long and involved and take afternoons to play, but I enjoy these types of games occasionally. Just like the subject material, they games aren’t for everybody.

All that said, Fantasy Flight is doing a fantastic job at opening this universe up to new players. Mansions of Madness, probably my favourite that I could get new players to try as well, recently had an upgrade. The second edition that not only streamlined the game with the assistance of an app for rules and puzzles but allowed me to be a player instead of the bad guy. I can even play it alone!

Along these lines, Arkham Horror: The Card Game is opening up adventures to fans of a completely different style of gameplay. Deck building adventure games aren’t exactly new, but it’s a first for a series like this.

I have enjoyed similar style games such as Warhammer Quest and Death Angels, but neither had an ongoing campaign, just new adventures. So in Arkham Horror, I get an ongoing story with a light role play element that is being continuously built on with regular new packs.

There are even game night scenarios for competitive type play.

With the base game, I can play it solo or with a partner. With a couple of base sets, you can play up to 4 players. This gives you a lot of options on how you want to play, and this flexibility is great!

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

Arkham Horror LCG Box Art
Arkham Horror LCG Components
Arkham Horror LCG Cards
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I don’t think I need to go into too much detail why I can’t wait to play this.

Terraforming Mars currently sits at number 5 on the Board Game Geek rankings, which in itself is something that a lot of people have discussed.

It’s one of those games that really needs an organiser or at the very least upgraded playmats. The most common complaint has been component quality, especially the effect of knocking the table and losing track of everything as cubes fall off your player card.

Not having found an organiser I am willing to buy just yet is a reason I haven’t pulled this out even to play solo.

That’s not quite true. I have found some from Piece Haven, but they don’t ship to Australia for some reason, and I really can’t justify having it sent to the US/somewhere else and reshipped.

Apart from that, remembering this is a more complex type of game that usually appeals more to certain groups of gamers, having it ranked so highly speaks volumes for its gameplay. Yes, it’s not a perfect game and has some issues, but when the thickness of the cards is the more pressing matter to highlight who wouldn’t be keen to give it a play?

There is even a digital version coming this year. I am hoping with the quality of board game adaptions lately that this will be a fun way to belt out a couple of games quickly solo. Digital just doesn’t cut it for me multiplayer 🙂

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

Terraforming Mars Box Art
Terraforming Mars Box Art
Terraforming Mars Board
Terraforming Mars Board
Terraforming Mars on Tabletopia
Terraforming Mars on Tabletopia
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Nemo’s war is a game I don’t expect many people to have heard of let alone played. A large part of this is because to my knowledge this is one of the biggest single player games out there. I don’t mean like Gloomhaven or The 7th Continent where you can play it single player and it works well. This is a single player game with variants for more players (and they don’t seem to work well at that). Add to this a reputation for a brutal difficulty, and you have a very niche game on your hands!

Following the story of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, you take the role of Nemo and work to improve science, crush imperialism, and possibly go to all-out war. The choices put before you are pretty much the best and potentially worst parts of the character of Nemo, and you get to play them as you see fit.

This is a game with a lot of replay value, as you can change how you want to play it or based on starting setup. It’s also incredibly beautiful and comes with high-quality components.

You play the game in multiple stages, with variable adventures drawn from a pile. These adventures can also change depending on your motivation, creating even more variation.

There is a mix of worker placement to keep the Nautilus in check, area control, naval combat, and dice. So many dice.

A disadvantage of the game is there are always multiple things happening at the same time, and playing solo a rules mistake or forgetting an order of play can have a devastating effect on the game though. If you watch reviews online, a short one is normally about thirty minutes, because there are so many facets of gameplay to look at. As such, I will simply leave the teaser descriptions here, and if they sound good to you, have a look at Board Game Geek and see what you think.

If you are the sort of player that enjoyed Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island and enjoy solo games, this is probably a great game for you.

With all this said, Nemo’s War is one of the rare games I think would really benefit from a digital version. As a single player game, the computer can handle all the setup, scoring etc. that does weigh down the game when playing solo. It can also have preset tutorials and the like making learning the game much easier.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

Nemos War Box Art
Nemos War Kickstarter Nautilus
Nemos War Game Order
Nemos War Game in Progress
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Yes, I included a huge cheat entry. But it’s for a good reason I promise.

I have still unopened a series of Dungeons and Dragons Board Games. These are Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, The Legend of Drizzt, Temple of Elemental Evil and finally Tomb of Annihilation.

Castle Ravenloft came out in 2010 and was based on the fourth edition D&D rules, and was a great way to get board gamers into Dungeons and Dragons pen and paper.

These games are self-contained D&D adventures playable without a Dungeon Master. And they can be combined into a single campaign. Which is exactly what I have been planning to do for the last five years or so. Last year when Tomb of Annihilation came out, I resolved that within a year I would have all the games opened and the miniatures painted so that I could start a campaign with some new players.

It’s great to have five campaigns ready to go, and personally, I am looking forward to it as I don’t have to be the games master. Even setting up a custom campaign, I can still play and work with the other players cooperatively and have a few great afternoons together. All this without having to sit and plan out a campaign myself – something I enjoyed in my younger days, but I just don’t have the time for today.

This will be a lot of fun for me playing campaigns that I played over 20 years ago, and seeing new players experience them for the first time. Just like some movies define a certain generation, you can tell an old-school RPG player just by mentioning the Temple of Elemental Evil. It was the Dark Souls run of the day, and I can’t wait to revisit!

Check out the Board Game Geek starter page for all the games here

DnD01-Castle Ravenloft Box Art
DnD01-Castle Ravenloft Components
DnD02-Wrath of Ashardalon Box Art
DnD02-Wrath of Ashardalon Components
DnD03-Legend of Drizzt Box Art
DnD03-Legend of Drizzt Components
DnD04-Temple of Elemental Evil Box Art
DnD04-Temple of Elemental Evil Components
DnD05-Tomb of Annihalation Box Art
DnD05-Tomb of Annihalation Back of Box with Components
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I was almost going to leave this as ‘Terra Mystica. In Space.’ I would be correct, but it wouldn’t exactly describe why I am looking forward to playing it so much.

Terra Mystica is a great game with a lot of moving parts, but they are all parts that make sense to you once you have played the game. It’s one of those bigger type games though where people will need to block out a good couple of hours to play, possibly an afternoon if everyone is learning.

A large number of races that comes with the game and the slight difference in conditions and powers makes for a game that will take a long time to master. For such a large game, Terra Mystica is easy to learn as there are core rules that everyone plays with and goals to achieve. This makes the game a little like over the top chess. You know what everyone can do, what they need, and where they would likely want to go. It makes for an experience that is somehow both unique and uniform at the same time.

Gaia project takes these core mechanics and puts you out into space. This to me is already an improvement, as the changing of the land types becomes terraforming a planet. This is something I am instantly more comfortable with in terms of game setting. The starting board is also made up of 10 ‘sectors’ that can be randomly placed, adding to the replay considerably.

There are a few more small improvements as well. There are Gaia planets that can be colonised by every faction already, and planets that can be upgraded to Gaia planets as well. Each faction also has many different skills they can upgrade during a game. Skills such as Economy, Research and Artificial Intelligence can lead to different bonuses and conditions for abilities, allowing both flexible gameplay for your faction and another layer for your opponents to try and predict.

If you liked Terra Mystica, you really should enjoy Gaia project. If you have never played Terra Mystica before I wouldn’t worry. Either game will be fun, and simply gives you a choice between a fantasy and sci-fi world to play in.

Check out Gaia Project on Board Game Geek here!

Gaia Project Box Art
Gaia Project Components
Gaia Project Tiles
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Robinson Crusoe was one of those games that I had always heard about, but never really got a chance to play. Robinson Crusoe was designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek, a Polish designer that does some great if very complicated games that have a strong story element to them. Unfortunately, another aspect of his games that is well known is the manuals.

One of the things I was excited about for Robinson Crusoe was the fact it was a large solo game. Sure you can play with more people, but by all accounts, it works best solo or as a pair at most. Now, targeting solo play is becoming a big thing, but a few years ago this was a bigger gamble. The most popular solo game at the time was Friedemann Friese Friday, and that is only a card game in comparison.

I started to get a little hopeful of getting my hands on Robinson Crusoe when a second edition was announced, published by Z-Man instead of Ignacy’s own company Portal game. There would be no differences in the game, and I was hoping that the manual may be tidied up after a lot of feedback over time. Then on Board Games Insider, a podcast featuring Ignacy and Stephen Buonocore, I heard of a new theme for Robinson Crusoe – First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet.

The island setting or Robinson Crusoe works well, but I enjoy my sci-fi. Being trapped in space design wise can open up a door to a lot of directions you can go. You can be fanciful and include aliens, or you can go realistic and simply be fighting the lack of everything you need to survive, or anything in between. So First Martians became the game I was going to finally get and sit down with.

Then I got really busy and completely missed the pre-order, and Portal games take ages to hit retail if at all over here. But in December I finally got my hands on a copy, and I think the wait will actually work for me. Manual wise, apparently this is right up there with the most complicated of all time. But on the Portal site there is now the First Martians almanac, an FAQ on steroids. This living document is apparently the way to learn the game, alongside another great Watch It Played video from Rodney Smith.

The companion app is supposed to be pretty good now, and I look forward to trying it out. On launch, there were apparently quite a few bugs and issues but the consensus is these have mostly been fixed. Something I really like is there are already new cards and a new scenario included, increasing the number of missions to seven at no additional cost.

This is the game I am looking to play very soon. It looks like a lot of fun, and I can just pull it out and play through the campaigns myself on one of those nights I want to do something, but I can’t look at a screen anymore. And you need to be in that specific mindset to play this game. Just look at the board in the images – there is so much happening and going on, you can’t be in a ‘just sit and relax’ frame of mind with this one.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

First Martians Box Art
First Martians Components
First Martians Gameplay
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I don’t think this will be a surprise to anyone. This is the number one game in the Board Game Geek rankings right now, and I have made plenty of references to it.

Even if you have no interest in the game itself, you can’t deny it’s bordering on a cultural phenomenon. It’s not the first game of its kind. It’s not the most funded game ever. It’s not the most well-known game of all time. But it’s so close to everything it almost might as well be. Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 remains the most funded game on Kickstarter to date, but Gloomhaven is the name that people outside of the board game hobby know as ‘That really big game’.

I don’t know how much of a claim to fame this is, but it even replaced Cosmic Encounter as Tom Vasel’s number one game of all time.

Without having played it or watched it too closely to avoid spoilers, it a little hard to explain Gloomhaven.

Think of it as a legacy type euro inspired dungeon crawler? That will make sense to a few people, but not so much for others. If that didn’t make sense to you, think of this as a board game with multiple adventures that you can go on and level up your characters, in a world that changes everytime you play.

It’s huge. Literally huge. The box weighs in at something like 10 kg. There are hundreds of hours of gameplay in this box, and you never quite know where it’s going to take you. To get this sort of variety before, it was thought you needed to be playing video games. While you can go through Gloomhaven solo, the consensus is to go through with 2-3 players to share the experience without dragging things out too much.

I am hoping to get one or two people each week to start playing it with me. I can’t wait to play enough to do a first impressions review of this game soon.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

Gloomhaven Box Art
Gloomhaven Components
Gloomhaven with organiser
Gloomhaven in play
Gloomhaven in play 2
A lot of the physical game contents are missing from the digital version - but the developers are working on it and being very upfront about it
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Another one that probably isn’t a surprise to a lot of people that knows me. I have been chomping at the bit to play The 7th Continent and Gloomhaven for ages. The main reason why this is higher on my list than Gloomhaven is simple – by all accounts, while Gloomhaven works well solo, The 7th Continent works better as a single player game.

This means I can sit and play without having to organise players or groups, and when my free time is only really known a the last minute, that is a big deal for me.

When I was growing up, the choose your own adventure and pick a path books were a staple of my library. These then evolved into the fighting fantasy series with the Sorcery series remaining my favourite of the series and my first exposure to a solo campaign adventure that didn’t require a computer. Now that I am older, I still enjoy these types of adventures, and also now escape rooms to look forward to as well.

By all accounts, The 7th Continent does a fantastic job of combining all of these elements into a massive campaign experience. I understand the same thing has been freely available in video game form for some time, and I myself have given examples where for solo play I will play digital versions of a game. But in general, these are quick games like Onirim and Elder Sign: Omens, where I can have the entire game finished within a few minutes. There are times where I would love the grander experience, but at the same time, I don’t want to be looking at a screen anymore either.

Between The 7th Continent, Gloomhaven, Charterstone and Pandemic Legacy Season 2 I have a great year of adventures to look forward to 🙂

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

7th Continent and Expansion Box Art
7th Continent Contents
7th Continent rockworm
7th Continent minis

Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2018

JohnHQLD Logo

The cult of the new. It’s real. There is always the next big thing around the corner. I admit I enjoy the new shiny. The thrill of the parcel arriving. The smell as you open the box for the first time. I especially when I can see how the older games have helped influence the new become the wonders that they can be.

New games don’t always equal great games though. There can be misses, just as there can hidden surprises. It can be easy to be caught up in the hype.

That said, like every other fan, there are games due to be released this year that I can’t wait to try.

This list has no expansion content – that’s for another list! It also isn’t the definitive list. Here are just the games I know are coming out this year (or at least have a good chance of coming out this year) as of January 2018.

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Detective: City of Angels is a 1940’s Noir style mystery with multiple play modes. This is one of those games where I can see the earlier influences on the gameplay. One vs Many play, solo play with the aid of case files, finding the correct clues to solve the case – it’s all elements that we have seen before, but this seems to be designed in ways that has my curiosity more than piqued.

Most of the players will play as Detectives trying to outwit and capture the final player, The Chisel. The detectives must establish who the murderer is, what the murder weapon was, and the murderer’s motive to win the game. The Chisel wins if the detectives take too long, so they are trying to force the Detectives to waste time with false trails and the like to escape.

The game can be a one vs many style game, where Detectives work together to try and outsmart The Chisel and solve the mystery. I can see this being the main game mode for a lot of people, especially as they are learning the game.

The game can be a purely cooperative. This mode means there is no Chisel player, and instead, the detectives all work together to solve the mystery in a provided case. This option that can have Detective shown as similar to Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective but with a board, which limits what the game can actually be.

Finally, you can play purely competitively, which is the version I am most looking forward to playing. Each Detective is a dirty cop, where there are bribes and other motives on top of trying to capture The Chisel for the promotion as well as shaking down establishments for more money and the like.

This is very much the game basics, but I hope you can see the possibilities that are on offer. If your even a little intrigued, have a look for yourself on Board Game Geek here.

If you are really keen, you can still late pledge for an additional USD$5 on the Kickstarter page as well!

Detective City of Angels Kickstarter Banner and Box Art
Detective City of Angels Board
Detective City of Angels Cards
Detective City of Angels Contents
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I love a lot of the Martin Wallace games. To be fair, they are in general games you will enjoy, or won’t. There is rarely a middle ground.

AuZtralia continues the trend of strangely named Martin Wallace games.

Players continue in the world of A Study in Emerald from the Neil Gaiman short story as well as the original game, where the constant battles have ravaged Europe and America and the world is finally being explored after the Old Ones defeat. This allows the story to explore the world for the first time, and gives new twists to players.

Gameplay is a tight balance between exploration and combat Being a Wallace game, it also means managing the limited resources that will be available to you.

Another thing that Martin Wallace is well known for is his design iteration. Many of his early games including A Study in Emerald were criticised for being overly complicated. But a lot of his newer games show how he takes the same mechanics and improves upon them again and again.

A Study in Emerald Second Edition still had some faults, but for what is essentially the third visit to the core game with new features, I can’t wait to get some people around the table for the afternoon after having a couple of solo games.

Check it out on Board Game Geek here.

AuZtralia is also available to play as a solo introduction on Tabletopia. If you would like to have a look, you can do so here.

And as a final bonus, you can read the original A Study in Emerald short story here.

AuZtralia Box Art
AuZtralia Components
AuZtralia on Tabletopia
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Betrayal at House on the Hill is a strange game for a lot of players. I love that each game is so random, and I have not come close to seeing how each game ending (or haunt) plays out.

The downside to these games is that each game is so random. If you get unlucky, either as the players or the traitor, the experience can be soured. Another issue is the betrayer can’t ask the players for rules help, as they have to keep their information secret. This can lead to two groups playing two different games simultaneously, diluting the experience again.

Then there are Legacy games. To say they are catching on is an understatement. The increase in popularity in only a couple of years has been astounding, and two very recently released legacy games currently hold the top 2 games of all time on Board Game Geek. When Risk Legacy came out the concept was new, and players had no idea why ‘Legacy’ was a selling point.

I think it’s great that one of the original designers of House on the Hill and arguably the father of the Legacy format is revisiting Betrayal and combining the two.

Not much is known about the game at the moment which makes sense. Betrayal hinges on not knowing what you are doing until you are halfway through the game, and Legacy relies on the surprise for very similar reasons.

It is known that you will play a campaign of about a dozen games, and each player is in fact a different family, not just a single character. By representing a family rather than just a player, the game can now span generations instead of a short period. Spoils of one game become family heirlooms, passed on to the next in line. You may even return as an older version of your previous character.

Another facet that has me excited is this is the first Legacy game advertised as replayable. I can see how the Betrayal system could help with this, but I am keen to see how they do as, as well as keeping any legacy games playable in my collection.

Between the people in my group keen on both Betrayal and Legacy games, I am sure this is a campaign that will be played out in short order this year.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Betrayal Legacy Boxart
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Root is a game that makes me excited for two reasons: The previous game was amazing, and feedback has been taken onboard to improve the next experience.

So is Root a sequel? Not really, but it is the second in the series of asymmetrical designs from Leder Games, whose previous game Vast: The Crystal Caverns many gamers may have heard of from their Kickstarter campaign.

Vast is a game I have enjoyed myself solo a few times, but not one I have taken to games night for one simple reason. Each of the five players is playing a different game at the same time. That means I need to simultaneously teach five games
and try to keep advice and rules from other players because they may not apply to the others.

While this wouldn’t be too bad with only a few people over for a game at home, at a larger event this is much more difficult. It’s the sort of game I have thought of playing with a couple of people at different times and teaching them one role so that everyone can get together and play one large game, but that has issues as well. You would have to get everyone together fairly quickly so that the rules were still fresh in their minds, and have everyone preselected for a role that may not be what they want to play (e.g. peoples faces when you tell them you can play ‘The Cave’ can be hilarious!).

Root is still a game of individual player powers, but there are now common rules to help simplify teaching. This by itself will help get it to the table for newer players, as well as possibly make this the more gateway version of Vast in a lot of ways.

But that’s all the technical stuff anyway. Root looks gorgeous, and the theme of the animal kingdom working together against the evil Marquis de Cat just appeals to me.

One player must take the role of the Marquis. They have probably the most straightforward goals. The Marquis has seised control of the wilderness and builds things like workshops and lumber mills while recruiting guards and improving the infrastructure to retain their position.

The Eyrie are hawks that must make take this opportunity to capture as much of the wilderness as possible. Sounds easy. However the Eyrie is essentially a warring group of clans, so you not only have to defeat the other players, you need to do so before your faction casts you down and replaces you as the leader!

The Alliance is the stealth type faction for Root. They hide in shadows, recruiting and planning conspiracies and conducting sabotage. In the beginning, it may seem like the Alliance has no chance on the board, however late game if the player has done everything right, their presence will dominate, and the people will rise to rule.

The Vagabond is probably the role/faction that appeals to me personally the most. The Vagabond is the stereotypical ‘play all sides to further your own goal’ type character and will allow me to stir the others the most. A role I always look forward to!

Check out Roots Board Game Geek page here.

Or if you missed the Kickstarter, you can check it out as well as pre-order from here.

Root Box Art
Root Cards
Root Prototype
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Dead of Winter. Battlestar Galactica. These game are as divisive as social deduction games can be, and usually on a deeper level. When the ‘good team’ is trying to find ‘the bad guy/team’ everyone is playing the game together in a way. But when the game forces you to look your friends in the eye and lie to them, that to some is crossing a line. And I understand that hence some social deduction games I will not recommend to some people.

But what takes such games more stressful is the Betrayal/Traitor mechanics. For the ‘good guy’ players, knowing that someone is actively playing against the team in secret also builds a sense of paranoia as the game continues. It is really important to note that this is physically stressful and not all players can handle this. It’s like skydiving. It puts your mind and body through a lot, and some people enjoy it, and others don’t.

This physical stress can be very obvious to the other players and usually makes the ‘traitor’ stand out and effectively ends the game for a lot of people. The ‘traitor’ has nothing to do as they are effectively shut down by the group, and the normal players are just going through the motions to finish the game.

There have been some unique ways of trying to work around this. My favourite so far has been the ‘Exiled’ goals of Dead of Winter, where if you were thrown out of the group for being a traitor you now have new goals to try for, but again this isn’t for everyone.

This is a game that actively hopes to take this sense of paranoia and tension and increase it over a couple of hours and keep you there. If this sounds like something that is a horrible way to spend an afternoon to you, this probably won’t be a game for you.

Who Goes There? is the name of the story John Carpenters The Thing is based on. For those that don’t know the story, an alien shapeshifter is discovered in the Arctic, and the remaining small group of humans working at a remote outpost are trying to stop it from escaping the base and taking over the world. This is made difficult as the Thing (see what they did there?) changes form perfectly so, no one knows who to trust. I can highly recommend seeing this movie if this sounds interesting to you. The special effects waver between being dated and still being shocking, but the story is amazing. As a side note, the 2011 film The Thing is a prequel that remained amazingly faithful to the 1985 film, but I don’t suggest watching it first.

Another interesting thing about Who Goes There? is there was an almost simultaneous announcement of The Thing: Terror at Outpost 31 board game. So two games announced right on top of each other, from different companies, with the same premise, how did I choose? It was purely a personal call, but I think I have made the right choice.

The Thing: Terror at Outpost 31 has the rights to the movie, was a ‘normal’ published game and was due to hit the shelves only a couple of months after the announcement. But the gameplay information before launch felt almost secretive with not much information being provided. It came out a while ago, and while I will have a go given a chance, something about it just isn’t hitting with me.

Who Goes There? had a heap of information on their Kickstarter, including (and was almost the clincher for me) a family playing the game a little but their reactions at the end of the game.

The real clincher for me is if you are the Thing (the betrayer) you don’t have different goals with the rest of the group like other games. The victory condition for everyone is essentially to get off the base by fixing the helicopter and flying away. If there is a Thing escaping, the humans lose.

This makes the Thing player more at ease because they don’t have to do things they may not want to. Simultaneously, this makes the game more stressful for everyone at the same time because you don’t know if people are infected or not. Veteran betrayer players can now stand out near the end of the game because they are the only calm player!

The Thing can infect other players by attacking which is pretty open, or by simply passing items as everyone works together. This introduces the issue of ‘over infection’ in the game. If the Thing turns all the human players, there is no-one left to fix the helicopter, and everyone loses. It is very thematic to the story and adds even more pressure on working cooperatively because you can’t be sure why that player is smiling while they offer you the card you need.

Hopefully, this is still on track for a mid-year release. While it would be large chunk of game night at two hours, there are a few players I know that would be great to play this with!

Check out the Board Game Geek Page here.

Sorry there isn’t much in the way of images, Certifiable has been great with video updates at the moment but static images not much is available. You can see the Kickstarter and still preorder here.

Who Goes There Box Art
Who Goes There Live Playthrough 2
Who Goes There Live Playthrough 1
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They say you can’t be successful being a one-person show. Then someone like Ryan Laukat comes along. Ryan is an accomplished games designer, does the art for his games, and publishes games under Red Raven Games. A couple of games of his you may have heard of from him are ‘Above and Below’ and ‘Near and Far’.

Empires of the Void was Ryan’s first published game and went a long way to streamlining 4X games. It also added some twists and features to make the game a little more unique compared to other games such as Twilight Imperium or Civilization.

If you aren’t sure what a 4X game is, the name comes from the player’s objectives of eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. Usually, these are games where you play as a fleet or empire and explore a random map to find new areas and resources to build your army/empire. They almost always involve negotiation and temporary/permanent alliances, and also heavy player elimination as players challenge each other. These games are usually long and involved affairs, so a two-hour game is usually considered a ‘light’ game.

In my collection, the primary ‘big’ 4X game I have is Eclipse, and as much as I enjoy Twilight Imperium, I probably will never buy it. The reason being pretty simple – Eclipse with three new players and myself teaching takes about 4-5 hours to play, and about 3 hours when everyone is comfortable with the game. Twilight Imperium I have seen eight veteran players take up to 12 hours to play a single game, and that wasn’t an especially long game either! It’s simply too long a game to get to the table with a regular group of people. Even Eclipse I have only bought to the table twice in a couple of years. I usually have to play the iOS version if I need a game, as that I can at least save and come back to.

So why am I so keen on Empires of the Void? Because it has all the elements of these bigger games, and distills them down into the fun parts without dragging things out. You can play as a military dictatorship, or negotiate your way to victory. There are special events that help build a unique narrative to each game, and non-player races you can find to gain access to special abilities. There are no shortcuts in what the players can do compared to other games of this type, it’s just implemented in a more streamlined and simpler version. This does remove some flexibility of style overall, but halving the playtime and complexity at the cost of options you could use 5{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of the time seems more than fair to me!

Some of the examples of this streamlining are the planets you can explore in the galaxy. In most games, there will be a large number of tiles that can be randomised to provide the board, with each planet giving +x resources of a particular type. Some special planets may have an additional rule, but finding a planet essentially is just ‘add this number to your resources’. In Empires of the Void, there are only eight main planets, but because there are a smaller number of planets, available events can concentrate on telling stories of these planets and their people making them more alive to you. There are still other random resource planets, but this amount of narrative is rare in many 4X games.

Another aspect that speeds up both the game and enjoyment is player interaction. Normally in the bigger games, you play a fairly solitaire game until about half way through the game, where there may be some negotiation but more often than not battles start and people start getting knocked out. The way Ryan designs his games, this is going to be a lot harder to accomplish as you need to be aligned with the other players immediately as you are in a much smaller space.

It also helps that I have the upgraded components from Meeple Source to use when the game arrives 🙂

Empires of the Void II will be great for anyone wanting to dip their toes into the heavier end of the gaming spectrum or like me people that enjoy larger games but don’t have the time.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Empires of the Void II Box Art
Empires of the Void II Board
Empires of the Void II Planet
Empires of the Void II Race Choices
Empires of the Void II Fleets
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I love Firefly. It is a universe of possibilities, and like many feel that as a TV show it was not given a chance. And like any licensed game out there, there has already been some good Firefly games, and some not so good ones.

Brigands and Browncoats can be summed up as Firefly Descent or Imperial Assault. Up to 5 players can play as one of the main crew members (Malcolm, Zoe, Jayne, Wash or Kaylee) and try to finish a scenario/job.

You have a grid-based floor for movement and distance, but you also have 3D buildings (admittedly cardboard fold ups but still) that will create the area the job is taking place. Each crew member also has two minis – one casual, the other heroic. If you are in heroic mode, everyone pays close attention to you, but you get to do things you couldn’t casually do. Casual minis allows you to walk around and setup for some proper misbehaving. The idea sounds good, but to be honest, I am still a little unsure of the need for two figures to do this. But a playthrough or two will soon tell if it was necessary or not.

Gale Force Nine, the publishers, can be a little hit or miss with their games. The original Firefly game was fun and very thematic, but took up way too much space on the board and was unnecessarily long. ‘But that sounds like a reason to be wary of the game!’ I hear you think. Or you probably should be thinking. And for a lot of people, you would be right. I can’t see this being a cheap game, and I can see a lot of expansions coming out for it – in fact, the rest of the crew have already been announced as expansions. New models, new buildings, new scenarios. The reason this still sits so high on my list is at the worst, it gives me the tools to make my own Firefly ground-based game. And I am sure many talented people out there will make up their own rules if the need arises.

But even though I didn’t preorder the game, there are a lot of small touches I can already see that give me a lot of hope. For example, the buildings that come with the core set double as a game organiser (as shown by lucky preorder receiver Chirs M on BGG). The feedback from fans at demos of the game has been universally positive. And they seem to have taken their time with this game – it definitely hasn’t been rushed out.

Have a look at the Board Game Geek page here.

Firefly Adventures Self Organiser
Firefly Adventures Box Art
Firefly Adventures Gameplay
Firefly Adventures Kaylee Starter
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You will have seen a few times with games I mention one vs many type games. Generally, these games have one person as the ‘bad guy’ and acts as games master, with the other players learning a smaller subset of rules and helping each other.

I enjoy these games, but to be honest, I would like to play a few where others can be handed the reigns so to speak, and I can just play. The new game companion apps like Mansions of Madness Second Edition help with this, but I have quite a few games where this still won’t quite work.

Enter Alone, a new sci-fi one vs many dungeon crawlers. The difference? There is ONE hero, and everyone else is the evil players making the heroes life as hard as possible until the end.

True, in a lot of ways this does not address my position of being alone against the other players, but for a change, the other players can have the power to change the game as they see fit, and I have to jump through their hoops.

Also, there aren’t traditional player turns. The evil players can react and interrupt the hero’s actions, so there is a constant feeling of tension on the hero’s part. In a lot of these games, the players know that there can be interruptions to the others turn, but not knowing from one minute to the next what could be exciting.

Alone is ultimately a campaign game like Descent or Imperial Assault, with the winning side affecting conditions in the following games.

Unfortunately, I missed the Kickstarter (even the late pledges!) but it looks amazing, and I hope to get the retail version as soon as I can.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Alone Miniatures
Alone Demo 2
Alone Box Art
Alone Starting Setup
Alone Demo
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This entry might surprise some people. Not that I have it on the list, but that it’s at number 2.

CMON games. What started as an occasional treat is now a Kickstarter staple. Zombicide is now an almost annual affair, and Blood Rage was a runaway success in so many ways. There may be many people that can say they don’t like a particular game, but you will have to look very hard to find someone that doesn’t agree that the minis are gorgeous.

When I saw the Kickstarter for Rising Sun, I was still very much on a high from Blood Rage. The description ‘from the same team that brought you Blood Rage’ was pretty much all I needed to hear to hit that pledge.

But to call this Blood Rage in Japan is incredibly unfair. Looking at the board (and the team), the comparison is understandable. Even when CMON tried to highlight the alliances and diplomacy, I know a lot of people assumed it was working together temporarily against another faction. This usually works in Blood Rage, especially when there is a runaway leader starting to take the lead.

But in Rising Sun, these alliances aren’t just a temporary convenience. Nor are they quite a Diplomacy ‘Hey trust me’ alliance where you can lie about your actions to your partner and do what you wish. Betraying your alliances may give you a short gain, but the game itself not just the other players will hold that against you. For me, this could lead to players being rewarded for holding to your agreements, even when it’s not in your best interests in the situation. But maybe it won’t – people that do the ‘wrong’ thing still end up ahead after all. The formal inclusion in the game scoring of something normally experienced and managed by the group that has me excited.

This looks like an amazing, involved and tense game in all of the best possible ways. And on a happy note, Aetherworks has the games and is starting the final distribution process. So I will have all the goodies to show off soon!

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Rising Sun Box Art
Rising Sun Army 5
Rising Sun Army 3
Rising Sun Army 1
Rising Sun Components
Rising Sun Army 2
Rising Sun Army 4
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Now, this is probably an entry that is going to confuse a couple of people. Victorian Masterminds takes the top spot for a very simple reason – I have been dying to play it since 2016.

Victorian Masterminds is a collaboration between two of my easily top 5 designers – Antoine Bauza and Eric Lang. When it was first being discussed, it was being published by Space Cowboys. At the time, Space Cowboys was a new up and coming publisher with games like Splendor, T.I.M.E Stories and Via Nebula published or on the verge of being released.

Then everything went quiet until December 2017, where CMON announced that they will now be publishing the game. No real reason has been given, but I have to wonder if the constant delays with Space Cowboys products in general caused some doubts, and/or Eric Lang becoming CMON’s Director of Game Design in early 2017 had any impact on the decisions.

Either way, a game I have been looking forward to playing is coming out this year!

The premise of Victorian Masterminds takes a theme that has made a resurgence of late and adds a twist that puts a smile on my face.

Sherlock Holmes fans old or new know of the ‘death’ of Holmes and Moriarty as they battled over the Reichenbach Falls. This is a story that was supposed to mark the end of the series, but instead launched a myriad of different fan theories and stories from different authors.

Victorian Masterminds takes place after this story, with the public mourning the loss of the detective. The underworld society however reacted very differently to the news, with different factions deciding that they should take Moriarty’s place as head of the underworld.

Primarily a worker placement game, each player takes control of their gang including henchmen, machinists, saboteurs, pilots and their trusty ‘Number 2’ to finish building their own diabolical contraption to bring the world to its knees. Of course, if another player finishes their machine, victory will be denied to you. Even worse the Government stops you, then all players will lose.

Being able to play as the ‘bad guy’ is a small twist but different enough that it makes me smile. Coupled with what appears to be a few twists on some standard worker placement mechanics, and you have what I think will be a medium sized strategy game that will scale with the players, great for games nights.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Victorian Masterminds Box Art
Victorian Masterminds Playtesting
Victorian Masterminds Prototype
Victorian Masterminds Demo
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It’s the Conan system. With Batman. Conan is a game I wanted to play, but for a lot of reasons just couldn’t. At the time, the cost was a factor. A few eyebrows about components (I will just leave it at that for here) also had me weighing up the universe vs where I could comfortably sit with the line. Wasn’t sure the system would hold up.

Today, with the clarity of hindsight and the direct involvement of DC comics, I am pretty confident this will be a great game to occupy so much of my shelf space.

So why isn’t it on the list? Because the Kickstarter is at the end of Feb, and delays mean I probably won’t see this until 2019. Not saying it’s a sure thing, but just trying to be realistic. I will keep mentioning this game until I have a copy so that you won’t forget about it anytime soon!

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

Batman Gotham City Chronicles Box Art
Batman Gotham City Chronicles Painted Batman
Batman Gotham City Chronicles Demo
Batman Gotham City Chronicles Painted Bane


This one is on Kickstarter NOW. As of posting, there are about two weeks left. A lot of talent has gone into this game, with semi-cooperative and fully cooperative game modes available.

I’m not going to go into this one much, as you can just check out the project. But why doesn’t it make the cut? Because it’s a Kickstarter, and I will be surprised if I get it in 2018. Just like Batman, I am not saying delays are a certainty, but things happen.

Check out the Kickstarter project here.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

Nemesis Box Art
Nemesis Game Demo


I didn’t know this was a game until after I had written my lists, but this will also be a game that I won’t be putting too much detail into. Because it is the easiest premise to sum up ever.

It’s KerPlunk. Cthulufied. I’m in.

This isn’t a narrative-driven campaign experience or a heavier weight game like most of my list. This is a game I intend to pull out when people need something silly to warm into the night with, or possibly call it a night with. Plus I can keep a clocktower with tentacles on my shelf to look at and smile at.

Not for everyone, but a little bit of nonsense fun that I can’t wait to try 

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

Tower of Madness Box Art
Tower of Madness Game Components


This is going to be an interesting one, and more one I am watching for. It’s a card crafting game, meaning you essentially mix and match to make your own cards with sleeves to create different powers and effects each game.

It’s also a medium-sized worker placement game, and it has a cube tower. There seems to be a lot of moving parts in this one, and from a publisher that I normally enjoy their smaller experiences like Love Letter and Lost Legacy.

It’s not the first ‘bigger’ game AEG have released by a longshot, but while I am curious and want a game or two, if 2018 slips by and I don’t get to play it I won’t be too upset either.

Check out the Board Game Geek page here!

Edge of Darkness Box Art
Edge of Darkness Demo