Game Reviews

More Thoughts About Reviewing Games

In my Review of Reviews post I touched upon some of my thoughts on reviewing games. As I have been thinking more about game reviews lately I felt like addressing some of these thoughts.

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Market of Alturien Review

Market of Alturien box cover

Market of Alturien feels like a new twist on a familiar classic, sort of a more-skill-less-luck Monopoly if you will. After having played it several times I’ll provide a brief review of the game and how I feel about it.

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Tom Lehmann’s Review of Dominion – An Example of Something I Would Twitter

Scott has been looking into getting Twitter set up on this blog. One of the main reasons I have been asking for it is things like this post. Generally these posts are simply things I have found amusing and thus wanted to share but often don’t because I don’t feel as though they deserve a full “post”.

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Agricola – Review of the Very Popular Intense Farming Sim

agricola-box-cover

Agricola is not simply “Very Popular” it is in fact the number one game over at BGG. While for some this might not mean much, it certainly influenced my decision to purchase it (or rather have it purchased when one of my friends said “what should I buy?” while we were at the local game shop).

So, reviewing this game is a tad bit intimidating. I sort of feel as though I should take a stand and either say “wow this game is awesome OMG, OMG!” or take a contrary position and bash it and talk about how “freaking overrated this ‘been there, done that’ eurogame is” but really I can’t honestly take either of those positions. There are things I like about Agricola and things that I don’t like and I will try to express them without bias.

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Saying “No Thanks” to Dominion

After reading my review of Dominion it would be hard to imagine that recently when people have suggested it, I have shrugged and said something along the lines of “If everyone else wants to, I guess” and yet that is exactly what has happened.

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Game Crazed – A Bit About the Board Games I Have Played Recently

Over the past few months I have played a lot of new games. I have written about some of them briefly and reviewed others but there are a few I have played that I haven’t even mentioned yet.

The three that spring to mind are Agricola, Shogun, and Android.

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Alhambra – Review

I’ve been a bit busy the past few weeks and I am falling even further behind in my game reviewing. Today, thankfully, is a bit slower than some (I don’t have to work through lunch today for a change and I should even get out on time!) so I figured I should finally get around to writing up the long anticipated review of Alhambra.

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Masquerade – Card Game – Review

This would be the first review I have written since my Review of Reviews. I chose Masquerade partly because I have owned it for a while and I have been meaning to write about it but also because it is fairly simple and I hope to demonstrate how I plan to review further games in the future with a game that will not be too overbearing.

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Review of Reviews

What follows is a discussion of how I have been reviewing games and a description of how I plan to review games in the future. While I have reviewed role-playing games and role-playing game books in the past, this article is in reference only to board games and card games.

While I feel there can be a general way to review board games and card games, reviewing gaming books falls under a different umbrella and while I may some day analyze the way I have been reviewing these products this is not that analysis.

Why Review Games?

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Rorschach – The Inkblot Party Game – Review

After my review of Dominion I thought I would turn to a less-than-stellar game that I recently added to my collection, namely Rorschach.

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Dominion – Review – Best New Game I Played in 2008

Normally I am rather reluctant to call anything “the best”. This is true both with games and the rest of my life. The reasons are many but it often boils down to my feelings that things feel better at certain times or are better for certain reasons but will falter at other times. For example, when you’re in the mood for a comedy it is unlikely that a horror movie will fit the bill and is thus not “the best”. Perhaps that’s a rambling bit of nonsense but essentially what I am trying to say is, that I sort of feel like I am going out on the proverbial limb when I call Dominion the “Best New Game I Played in 2008” and yet I am still willing to say it. Which hopefully says a lot.

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Race for the Galaxy – Review of the Popular Card Game

In some ways I almost feel silly (as well as intimidated) writing yet another review of this much talked-about game, but I still feel obliged to do so. My reasoning is that every opinion counts and I suspect that while my opinion will mirror some, in some ways it will diverge from others. I have the advantage and disadvantage of going into this review knowing that the game is immensely popular. I could for example try to write a very negative-minded review for purposes of garnering attention for the blog (there is no such thing as bad publicity) but I will not do that.

What I will try to do is describe the game in my own words, the basic play of it, and then describe what I like and what I don’t like. This is essentially what I always try to do, which is why I generally stay away from giving my reviewed games a “score” of any sort but it is certainly far more intimidating when I am dealing with a game such as Race for the Galaxy. Race (which i will often refer to it as) has been both heaped with praise and analyzed by many that are certainly smarter than myself. Still, I will do my best.

Race for the Galaxy Box Cover

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Smart Ass – Game Review – A Trivia Party Game

No, this is not a cheeky game review but rather a review of a game called Smart Ass.

Overview

Smart Ass is a rather simple but interesting Trivia Game from University Games, a nifty little company that I had never heard of before playing Smart Ass. Essentially the game is about one player giving the others little clues until someone can identify What, Who, or Where the “I” of the question is. The game moves fairly quickly and while it has a few snags should appeal to anyone who likes trivia.

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D&DI – Brief Review of the Bonus Tools

D&DI Bonus Tools

Currently individuals willing to pay for a D&DI subscription have access to three “Bonus Tools” with the promise of more online tools, not called Bonus Tools but still tools of a sort, to come. Obviously the most dynamic of these eventual tools is the Game Table but for now all we have is The Encounter Builder, The Ability Generator and The Monster Building which are the three tools called Bonus Tools. I had played around with the first two already and finally took some time to check out The Monster Builder, so far I’m very unimpressed.

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Say Anything Review – Simple and Fun but Maybe Missing the Pop

Say Anything Box Cover

I’ve discussed and reviewed a lot of party games over the past year and this is another game that falls in that category. Say Anything is the newest game from North Star Games, the company that brought you Wits and Wagers, discussed briefly in my Life is a Four Letter Word post. While the game doesn’t really play the same, Wits and Wagers is a trivia game where Say Anything is not, you can certainly see the similarities.

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Review of Risk Revisited Edition

In case you missed it Hasbro has a new version of their classic Risk game. This game is being called a reinvention as it is not the same as Risk 2210, Lord of the Rings Risk, Godstorm or any of the other versions of the game but is instead a new version of classic Risk and is being distributed by Hasbro as a mass market game and not by Avalon Hill as several of the other versions have been.

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Ticket to Ride: Marklin Edition – Game Review

Before I get into the review I feel I should mention that I haven’t played any of the other versions of Ticket to Ride.  This review will reflect that and those who have played other versions of the game are welcome to comment on the differences, but as I only have second-hand accounts of the differences I will not be discussing them.

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Review of Shadowrun: Runner’s Companion

Shadowrun Runner\'s Companion

As I have mentioned several times I am a huge fan of Shadowrun. I love almost everything about the game from its living world with new and interesting events happening all the time to its concise and well thought out rules. Shadowrun, for me, offers the perfect mix of action and role playing and really opens itself up to all kinds of gamers.

Recently I purchased the Runner’s Companion combo pack which gets you the pdf version of the book and the hard bound version when they release it. Most likely I would have waited for the hard bound version if my next game were not starting soon but as it is starting soon I wanted the new options available for my players. I also figured that it gave me the opportunity to write a brief review of the book in a somewhat timely fashion.

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Kill Doctor Lucky – Why a Binary Win Condition Fails

Recently I had the opportunity to play a newer version of Kill Doctor Lucky (thanks Dan, for having one of those birthday things) and find out how it compares against the original. There are a few important differences, which I’ll run through before describing their ultimate impact on gameplay.

Kill Doctor Lucky – Game Overview

Imagine Clue (the game, though the movie was great). Now imagine that instead of each player trying to uncover the identity of the killer, each player is out to be the killer but only when nobody is looking. Oh, and change Mr. Body’s name to Dr. Lucky, because he’s, well, extremely lucky and uncannily avoids numerous attempts on his life.

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Quelf – Review – A Party Game for Gamers but Only Certain Kinds of Gamers

I got a chance to try out Quelf a few weeks ago but then over the weekend I got it out again and the room was filled with laughter as a full eight player game took place. I ended up sitting out to let others play but it certainly made its mark on the participants.

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Pandemic – Review

I got a chance over the weekend (well, Saturday, as Sunday was taken up by other things) to play a few more games of Pandemic and I think I now have a pretty good idea of how the game works. So below you will find the review I promised last week when I was talking about Co-Op games in general.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – A Wickedly Short Review

Many people beat me to the punch of reviewing D&D 4.0. In truth if you were looking for reviews and opinions of the new edition you could easily have found them long before the game was officially released (you could even have found some here!). In fact you could have found the whole game before it was released since a pirated copy showed up online and Buy.com released some hundred copies a week early.

So, I really don’t feel another normal review of the game, one that goes over the changes and then either says “D&D 4.0 scores big for its simplicity and fun” or “D&D 4.0 is now a completely different game, Wizards has destroyed the game we all know and love!” is in order. Instead what I would like to do is talk about one of the things I was doing this weekend instead of writing a review, namely going to see the musical Wicked.

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Co-operative Board Games: Working Together for the Enjoyment of All

Yesterday I was given a copy of Z-Man Games’ Pandemic. I knew it was on the way and had originally planed to buy it myself until I was informed that someone else had ordered it for me as a gift (thank you Matt). I plan to do a full review on the game after a few more plays (got two in with two players last night but I would like to get a more even assessment before writing my review) but I thought that I could at least do a brief post about co-op games in general.

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Vegas Showdown – Games I Play

Vegas Showdown

I haven’t done a Games I Play post in a while and I have been meaning to. After getting a chance to play Vegas Showdown with Scott over the weekend I thought now would be a good time to do a quick write up about it. Remember, this isn’t really a full review so I will try to keep it short. There are, as always, good reviews over at the Geek including a review by Yehuda Berlinger who was kind enough to link to our blog way back when we were first getting started.

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Carcassonne: The Discovery – Review

Carcassonne: The Discovery

I mentioned yesterday that I picked up two random games for my birthday, this was the other game.

Overview of Carcassonne: The Discovery

Carcassone: The Discovery is, in many ways, your standard Carcassone game with mountains, grasslands, and oceans in place of cities, farmland, and roads. You still draw one piece a turn and play one piece a turn and you still have little followers that you place on different aspects of the board to try to score points. The game is fast moving and can be taught to new players easily. The parts are all sturdy and the rules are fairly clear.

But What if I Haven’t Played a Carcassonne Game Before?

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Catan: Dice Game – Review

Catan Dice Game by Mayfair Games

So today is my birthday, which really only matters because my wife had me grab a couple of random games at the game store as an early birthday present. There were a lot of cool-looking games of course (I love random games, I’m usually willing to try anything) but I wanted something that would be fun and easy and not involve a lot of stress. Here I’ll review the first of two games I picked up.

Catan: Dice Game Basics

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Three-Dragon Ante – Games I Play

Three Dragon Ante – Game Overview

Three-Dragon Ante Box

Three-Dragon Ante is a simple non-collectible card game produced by Wizards of the Coast. At its core it is meant to be a poker-like gambling game that should feel like something a group of adventurers would play while sitting around the local tavern just after returning from an adventure.

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History of the World – Games I Play

History of the World – Game Overview

History of the World Game Box

History of the World is an Avalon Hill war game for up to six players. History of the World was originally published in 1991 while the most recent version came out in 2001. Players play through seven epochs, playing different civilizations (“empires”) each time.

The goal is to expand your influence across the map and then hope it sticks. Points are calculated for a player immediately after that player takes their turn and the number of units a player gets is not based on previous accomplishments (but rather is a static number associated with the empire that you are playing for that turn) which gives History of the World a very different feel than many other war-related board games.

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Life is a Four Letter Word

I haven’t posted in what feels like forever but I have been dying to get back into it. My job took an interesting turn recently that resulted in me having slightly less free time than I am use to but did cut down on my stress levels a bit. Combining that with my new pets (three rats named Bartleby, Loki, and Rufus, of whom I plan to get some pictures of up here at some point) I have been a bit busy as of late. Perhaps not as busy as Scott but I’ll let him talk about that if he so chooses.

Before the holidays I posted about some of my picks for best party games. I would like to add two more to that list as I now own them and have played them both several times.

Wits and Wagers

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Best Party Games, or How to Party Like a Gamer

So the past few weeks have been pretty stressful for me with work being a bear and the Holidays creeping up. I’m still playing Magic of course and for the most part that has been going well but I thought it might be nice to take this blog in a different direction for a change. (If it’s a different direction… it probably has to be a change.)

Last week I hung out with a couple of friends on Saturday. This happens almost every Saturday but on this occasion there was a slightly different mix of people and one friend in particular was not so big on playing complicated “gamer” type games. We ended up playing several party-ish games that I had lying around and that got me thinking about games that tend to be fun for my non-gamer friends but are still tolerated by my more hardcore friends. And so, as I mentioned above the holidays are coming up and a lot of people will be having parties, throwing parties or seeing family and I thought it might be good to write briefly about the more party-oriented games that I play.

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Rocketville Review

Rocketville is an Avalon Hill game by Richard Garfield.

What follows is a modified and updated version of a review I wrote for Board Game Geek back in March of last year. The review aims to tell the reader what type of game they are dealing with and does not get into the details of how the game plays. For information of that sort see Avalon Hill as they have a detailed and accurate description of the basic play of the game. I know this is a bit non-topical since the game came out a while ago but as you can often pick up Rocketville for a very reasonable price perhaps this review will convince some of you to give it a try (or show others of you that even for a very low price, this is not the game for you.)

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Wreckage Game Review and House Rules

Wreckage Board Game

Wreckage by Fantasy Flight Games takes place on post-apocalyptic Mad Max-style desert highways. The art and design of the cards and game pieces are superb, readily setting the stage for car combat mayhem despite the game’s threadbare story.

Playing the game with my group did not, however, unlock the fun that its impressive-looking components suggested. Rather it revealed another case of style over substance. Yet it feels like there is some potential within this game, unrealized by the rules, waiting to be released.

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Welcome to Pair O’ Dice Games

Pair O’ Dice Games has a brand new games blog! Written by a couple of veteran gamers, it’ll feature gaming articles on topics like:

  • Game reviews
  • House rules and game rules variants
  • Role playing story, adventure, and character ideas
  • Game strategies
  • Game design

Check out the latest gaming articles, and subscribe to the Pair O’ Dice Games Blog RSS Feed to stay notified of new additions – we’re just getting started!

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