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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Its Christmas and New Year!

to my 2 or 3 fans out there, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I just got back from a trip to Hong Kong with the wifey and managed to visit 2 boardgame cafe/shops. Purchased a few games, met a fellow boardgamer and am now trying to decipher a chinese-only game that I got.

When I am free, I will attempt to post my thoughts on 2012 as well as my top 10 games of 2012!

Until then, keep boardgaming people! :D

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Terra Mystica, String Railway, Geistes Blitz, Oddville, Ginkgopolis, Tahiti, Evil Baby Orphanage, Disaster Looms, Keyflower, Ladies of Troyes, Archipelago, Tzolkin the Mayan Calendar


Quickly climbing up the ranks of best games played in 2012, I manage to play 2 games of Terra Mystica this week. Once as the Darklings and another as the Fakirs. I won as the Fakirs but I did not really use their powers more than 4 times during the game. Still it is the first time i have scored over 100 points so I am satisfied. This game certainly rewards multiple plays as you start to know what to look out for and hone your strategies in accordance to what the other players are doing. The various gaming sessions so far that i attended, there was at least one game of Terra being played. While most games are played with 4 or 5 players, I do think that it should handle itself well with lesser players because players will want to be adjacent to each other in order to get the Power bonuses. Everyone who has played it felt that it was a very good game and I feel the same. It is a surprise hit for me as when I heard about it and read about it I wasn't so sure it will be my cup of tea. Fantasy euro seemed a bit odd. But i am so glad that after reading a few more reviews, I did pull the trigger to get my own copy. I will probably do a review on this soon.


We also played the new version of String Railways. I have played this game (in its original format) once maybe 2 or 3 years ago and it is a simple light game with an innovative method of laying tracks by means of strings of your own color. The new art I did not like as I preferred the previous one, with its anime like characteristic. That being said, the group that I was playing to managed to make this game a rather cut throat game as we try to screw each other up by always attempting to reach their starting station or lay tracks to make it difficult for them as well. Light game and you should try it at least once.


To end that night, we played this dexterity game called Geistes Blitz. In the game, there will be a deck of cards which will be revealed one card at a time. When each card is opened, you will need to be the fastest to grab one of 4 items on the table. The item to be grabbed must either look identical as that of the card OR the item that does not appear at all in the card (both in terms of the item itself and the color). This light game is surprisingly quite fun to play as you are testing the agility of the mind to be able to find the desired item and agility of your hand to grab it before your opponents does. If you grabbed wrongly, then you need to pay the penalty by returning a card from your hand. If you guessed correctly, you get to keep the card. Once the deck runs out, the player with the most cards in hand wins the game. Light easy game to play but surprisingly fun! I won't be surprised if there is a drinking game version of this. Good ending to a long night!


Wanted to bring this out for my group again and also see how my 2nd play will make me feel about the game. One rule we keep getting wrongly is the rewards that you receive when you expand Oddville. We did not notice the availability of roads which will determine if we obtain the rewards from the neighboring houses.I think my group was not too hot for the game. Probably a meh at best. Art wise it is quite good and nice to look at. The characters do add a lot of tactical decisions to the game as their powers allow you to break the rules of the game. Game wise it is a fairly straight forward game. However it seems to be lacking something for me that makes it something that I want to keep in my collection. One word of caution is that this game may take up a lot of space depending on how the players expand Oddville.


This second time we played Ginkgopolis, we discovered that we had played a rule wrongly. That is, the benefit of Exploitation only occurs when you are playing a card by itself (without a tile). That is crucial mistake which turned this game from a average to an above average for me. Previously we played such that whenever you play a card (with or without a tile), you will get the benefit. Thus sometimes the games ended very fast or felt a bit unfair to those that did not have cards with such benefits. This time, playing with the proper rules, the game really shined for me. We are actually playing cards by themselves (instead of always expanding and adding floors) so as to get the benefit or get resources. I am not sure if during drafting it will cause players to just choose 1 of each benefit to hedge their bets. Now with the correct rules, I can heartily recommend the game. Its medium weight euro with good tactical decisions to be made. While the "passing the card" element may not allow for very deep strategic planning, it does not feel as if you have that little control over what you intend to do. I played Ginkgopolis another 2 more times and it is interesting to see how different players take to the game. Highest score so far i see is 68 points. it is definitely a good game and all players involved agreed as well.


Tahiti is a light-medium weight game that involves exploring as well as ferrying of goods. During your turn, you have a number of actions depending on how much goods your canoe is already carrying. While taking your turn, if you pick up goods, you may find yourself with even less action has the game has an interesting mechanism whereby once the number of actions you have taken is equal to or more than the number of action spots left on the canoe, your turn ends. The game also has its own timing mechanism where you are forced to move the goddess and explore a tile and once all tiles are exposed, you start to place a depletion tile on empty islands. once there are only 4 island tiles left that have no tile on them, the game will end. When you pick up goods, you also determine what type of goods you can pick up. Either you pick up all different goods OR all the same. This can also determine how fast you can travel. Between island tiles there are coral reefs. Whenever you cross 1 reef, you need to draw 2 goods from the bag. If any matches the goods on your boat, then you have to discard them. You score points based on the goods you have delivered, your secret objectives and even sets of goods. The player with the most points wins the game. Tahiti is about seeing what is the most efficient way to collect and bring goods back to the main island. The components are colorful, the bag to contain the goods is of a very good quality and it is not a bad little game.


Someone brought out their copy of Evil Baby Orphanage to try and we played with the correction which is once a player has 8 points, he/she wins. This makes for a much faster game. It is still a relatively light game and requires the right crowd to bring out the fun in the game. I found that using different terms from most games (unsupervised and supervised) does make it slightly more difficult to understand how the game works. However if you roleplay, it will definitely help in understanding and enjoying the game.


Disaster Looms is a kickstarter game which is a space exploration cum space-taxi type of game. Thematically, the earth is dying and you are trying to ferry people away to colonize the other planets while trying to make a profit. Everything then translate into points and the player with the most points wins. There is surprisingly a lot of luck in terms of what technology you draw (your scientists seems to have a mind of their own in what they research) as well as the events that may occur when you explore. Sometimes bad luck can cause you to surround yourself with lousy planets that provide not many assets thus you can be down a few turns which may make it hard for you to come back during the game. There is some interaction as well in terms of leaving your colony unprotected and being bought over by another player. I believe if we played in a very cut throat manner, then we may be in a kind of a stalemate as ships will not leave their more valuable planets and thus nothing gets moved during the game. Ultimately though, the technology will determine the shape of the game as they provide rules which will allow you to move and teleport for example or move 3 spaces as compared to the normal 1 or 2. An average game for me and some of us were hoping for the game to end quickly to get to another game.


Another game of keyflower! This time i scored 68 points but lost by 6. I do love how there is a lot of thinking involved and timing is very important. When to upgrade, when to use the buildings and when to auction are all related and a mistake can be quite costly. However interactions during the game are rather subdued as it happens only when someone takes a spot you may have wanted. There can be a lot of screwage definitely but in a typical euro game fashion, you just go "aw man...." then start to think what else you can do during your turn. The ships which allow you to disregard the primary colors when bidding or activating the building seems a bit overpowered as they are really very powerful. Still the player that won did not have such a boat in the end. So i guess it is not overly powered.


I managed to bring out Ladies of Troyes and played all the modules with 4 players. Explanation fo the game took longer than expected and the game did end up taking 2+ hours to complete. I am not really feeling the expansion as much as some of the other players. The extra purple dice does make it such that you still have some options if other players gang up against you and buy off all your dice. The extra roles and events are fine by me though I am not too sure if play balanced has been done with the base game as well as promo cards. Why? Because we had 3 players with 30+ dinars (and even 1 with 80 dinars) at the end of the game. We actually ran out of dinar tokens and had to use money cards. The movement around ramparts is pretty ok i guess but I totally ignored it during the game. Overall, it seemed as if the game took much more longer with all the modules in play. I will need a few more plays to see how it is before passing a judgement but for now it seems to make a tight game much looser and not as fun? Hmmm...


Ah.... Archipelago. I really want to play this game properly for once. Even after taking out the Separatist goal card, the game ended and beat us when the natives became restless. In my games so far, 2 of them the game ended and the player with the Separatist card won. This game, we just weren't cooperative enough to quell the growing unrest and the game won. We discussed about this later and I even posted on the bgg forum to ask and it seems that having the right group with the right mindset is important for such semi-coop games. One player commented that he cannot see clearly if he was winning thus rather than risk putting in the effort and coming in last, he rather we all lost. As such, I cannot fully enjoy the game so far. I already ordered the Solo expansion and I am hoping that can redeem some of the game for me. Oh well, better luck next time...


After 6 hours over 2 days, I managed to finish painting my copy of Tzolk'in the Mayan Calendar and got it out to play. I have since played it 4 times (phew!) and it is a great game. It is not just a simple worker placement and to me the wheel is a very clever mechanic to affect change in 4 different areas at the same time easily and quickly. During the game, you can only do one of 2 actions. Either you place at least 1 worker (and as many as you can) OR remove at least 1 worker (or as many as you can). For placing workers, the more you place, the more corn you have to pay. In addition, some spaces will require corn as payment. For removing workers, you will take the action of the space that the worker was removed from. The game ends after the wheel has rotated fully once. Player with the most points win the game. Timing is very crucial in the game. Knowing when to place and remove workers, when to take the first player token and even when to move the wheel twice (usually you can only do this once per game) is key to winning the game. Corn is also very important both as a way to provide flexibility in placing workers as well as feeding your workers as you are penalised during feed day (there are 4 in the game) if you cannot feed them. Players will often directly interact with each other as sometimes the slot you were aiming for will be blocked by another player or the building you were aiming for is taken. It is easy to teach yet has a lot of strategy and planning. Players with analysis paralysis can stall the game but usually the game will end in about 2 hours. Subsequent plays will allow the game to move much faster as players are more familiar with future planning and the available slots and buildings. I heartily recommend this game and encourage owners to paint their wheels as it will make the game more pleasing to the eye and enhances the players' experiences with the game. Unfortunately right now after a few plays it seems as if temple scoring is the main way you can score points and win the game. Thus a strategy combining temple + something else seems to be the clincher. I certainly hope this is not the case and hope to try out different strategies in future games. Otherwise... sigh.... it can be a game killer for me.

All in all, this has been a great few days of playing and all the euro releases from Essen 2012 have been excellent. Not only are they high quality and well produced games, they are surprisingly thematic to a certain level with clever mechanism, good balance and deep enough to make my brain melt a little at the edges but still provide enough fun for me. I am hoping to get in a play of CO2 which has been raved at as well before the year end and then I can make my final top 10 list for 2012. Needless to say, this batch of Essen releases 2012 sure give all the other games I have played in 2012 a serious run for the money. Great year for Euro gamers and I sure hope 2013 will be of the same level, if not, even better!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Trains, Bullfrog Goldfield, Rattus Cartus, Terra Mystica, Magic Labyrinth Card game, Ginkgopolis, Keyflower, The Great Zimbabwe, Trajan, Myrmes, Oddville, Shadows over Camelot the card game

Super awesome week of gaming as my packages from German has finally arrived (after like 2+ weeks of waiting) Also mom-in-law managed to bring back some other games from wifey (who is coming back soon! Yippeeee). Thus it was a very good week of gaming for me. Here we go:


TRAINS is a game from Japan which is essentially a deck building game very similar to Dominion. The enhancement would be a game board which you can also score points on and adds an extra element of area control to the game. Theme wise it is pretty pasted on as deck building game + trains don't really gel well. That being said, since the mechanism is based on Dominion's tried and tested success, it is easy to pick up and play and quite smooth flowing as well with a lot of variety and replayability. The board allows more point scoring as well as may dictate what types of cards you will be buying and utilizing for the game. During your turn, you can play as many cards and buy as many cards as you can and then that is your turn. Once the end game condition is reached, the game ends and you see who has scored the most points. The game's 2 main mechanisms which are track laying and station building will generate 1 Waste card which will be added to your deck and thus create clutter. You can pass during your turn to discard all Waste cards from your hand.
It is a fun game to play but i am no longer that interested in dominion clones. Furthermore, this game is currently not available (only was available in Essen 2012) so will be hard to hunt down. Art wise it mixes real life (in the cards) and the somewhat cartoon like feel of the board.


Another essen release that I got to try but rubbed me off the wrong way. The rules weren't written very well and it was confusing for me to play the game. Even halfway through the game the light bulbs weren't lighting up yet. This game is largely a stock buying game where you are trying to diversify investments between mining and train companies so that you will get the most points at the end of the game. At the start of your turn, you will get to choose a role. Then you get to do a variety of things during your turn. I won't go into too much details because I cannot remember most of them and I had to refer to the slightly confusing player aid. Art wise, its pretty dry and bland. The stocks have quite nice artwork though but because the many colors are similar between the Train and mining companies, this can get slightly confusing. All in all it left a very bad taste in my mouth and even though I may not have understood the game entirely, I will not try it again.


After having played this once, it certainly was beneficial to me and I won this game. The swords were very powerful and helped me to snap up a lot of cards even after using a whole bunch of it myself to advance on the track. It was also quite lucky that the number of rats we can have at the end of the game was rather high so we could daringly push our positions on the tracks. Definitely the theme is quite removed for the card game. Maybe if I get to try the boardgame version I can make a better comparison.


A better 2nd game and I could feel myself optimizing and playing the best I can for my race which is the Chaos Magicians. I had thought I was doing quite well on the Cult track until this attracted the attention of another opponent which then proceeded to steal my positions and thus my points. The blue player was so so far in the lead that the rest of us could only hope to fight for 2nd place. It is very impressive just how far a lead he got. I would definitely want to bring this out again just so I can experience the other races and improve. Certainly a good contender for top 10 games of 2012 for me!


I saw this on the site and I thought that Magic Labyrinth was quite fun so why not try the card game. This is a really light game with similar mechanisms as the board game itself minus the fun magnets. Definitely a game good with kids and beginners but not my cup of tea. I am glad I manage to pass it along to someone else that will probably enjoy it more! I was hoping it will be light but fun like Tiki Topple which can still be fun for me but alas, it was not meant to be.


One of the games from my german package was Ginkgopolis. It is a city building game which reminds me of Sunrise city but much better in my opinion. At the start of the game, you will get 3 character cards which can give you extra benefits when you perform one type of action during your turn. This can also be drafted. I think the beginner version without the drafting may make for a more balanced game. During your turn, you can play a card with or without a tile. Depending on your card, you can get a building tile or a resource (your hexagonal piece) or activate a building and get items from orthogonal connected tiles. Blue buildings give you more tiles, Red buildings give you more resources and Yellow buildings give you points. The number of items provided will be dependent on how tall the building is. If you played with a tile, you can either add a new floor to a building OR extend the outskirts of Ginkgopolis. There are many other subtle rules and details but I won't go into them now. At first play, it felt like I have finally found the city building like game which I have been looking for. At the 2nd play though (after most of us have played it once), the game ended abit too fast and abruptly for me. There is not really a lot of strategic plans you can make and most of the team you are planning tactically. It is not necessarily a bad thing but I would prefer more control and more planning to be available. Its a nice looking game with quite good components and is quite fun but I will need a few more plays to determine if its a keeper for me.


This is a first Key- game for me and I had a lot of fun playing the game. The game lasts 4 seasons and during each season you can either bid or activate a building. Once this phase is over, winners of auctions will get to place these buildings to connect to their starting house. Then you get to choose all contents of a boat and the next season is setup. Its actually quite easy to explain and play. However the tricky part is looking at the whole board to understand what each building does so that you can create your engine going which will give you the most points to win the game. The auction mechanism is quite unique and there is a lot of planning and strategy involved. You also need to pay quite a bit of attention to your opponents so that you can utilize their available resources and can even block them from using their own village. I will definitely want tot try this game again to get a better sense of it but right now its looking quite good for me.


OMG this was quite a tedious 5 player game we played. The most difficult part of the game is the craftsman, where to place them and what resources are exclusive and if they are usable because the board may get cluttered and a little hard to decipher. Herd is really very powerful and maybe a little too overpowered for my taste. It could also be because we were tired after a day of playing so we weren't really thinking of much strategies anymore. Still I do think its quite fun for me as it fits the euro medium-heavy weight games that I enjoy.


A very fast 1+ hour game for 4 players. This time I wasn't too focused on getting the trajans and accomplishing them and did start to pay attention to what my opponents maybe getting and seeing if I can block them. Still a very good game and one I would love to bring out to the table regularly so as to see where else I can improve and win the game. I was quite far away from the first player but still managed a good second place finish. Its a very good game and if you are still hesitating to get it, please don't hesitate anymore!


Even after quite a few plays online, I am still making silly mistakes and not being efficient enough. My first mistake came when in the 2nd round I committed my nurse to an objective. That limited me a lot in subsequent rounds. 2nd mistake was expecting to be able to achieve 2 objectives during 1 round which is not possible. Still its quite a fun game for me and I am glad this game is in my collection.


Another city building game which I had gotten. This is a card based type game which reminds me a little of Race for the Galaxy but with a city building theme. During your turn you can do 2 things, play a worker card OR build a building into Oddville. You have 4 worker cards from which you can choose to gain coins, gain a resource or gain a building card. When you build, you must make sure the building can fit into the city and have the resources to pay for the building. You then gain benefits from that building and all buildings that can be reached that are adjacent to your card. There are also guild characters which will award you certain powerful actions and even points if they are with you at the end of the game. The game ends when a player has placed 6 of his workers into the city. We felt initially that there was a runaway leader problem but when the game ended, we were surprised that our points were quite close and I did not win (even though most of them felt it was a sure win for me). It feels kinda odd (well.. duh i guess) to me and the rest of the players and I will definitely need a few more plays to cement how I feel about the game. Oh it came in a surprisingly small box and is essentially a card game :)


A game I just got today and manage to bring it out for a quick play to see how it is like. It is really a memory game and well we were mostly tired so I would say I did not fully experience it as it was expected to be to make a judgement call now. What I want to complain about is the card sizes. I don't know if I can find the right sleeves for the cards as the rumour cards are not even Power grid sizes and the Traitor / Knight cards are not the normal sleeve sizes! I mean, how hard can it be to make them the right sizes so I can sleeve my games easily? Sheesh. I will bring this game to office to try and lets see how my impression of it will change. So far its an ok game for me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tzolk'in The Mayan Calendar

So I got wind that I'll be receiving this from my Dicetower Secret santa (Thanks santa!) and I CANNOT wait to try my hand at painting it! I mean, just look at what others have managed to do:

aren't they all SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO PRETTY ? I cannot wait! :D

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Last week's plays: Mage Knight, Merchants of Venus, Inception, Noah, Myrmes, tier auf tier, Fauna, Quills, Spartacus, Terra Mystica

I have received my BGG santa's gift and its Myrmes and Friday! Both great games and what I have been looking forward to! Dicetower santa's gifts are a whee bit late (mid dec) and I am guessing its Tzolk'in as I recently bought Terra Mystica after checking if that was what he may have gotten for me :P My BGG and dicetower targets both love their games and I am especially interested to find out if my BGG target loves milestones as much as I do! Which reminds me, I should probably start working on my top 10 games for 2012 that I have played and give my opinions (if anyone is really interested :D )

Here's what I have played recently:


I manage to bring this out again recently and have a go at the 2 player FULL CONQUEST mode! It took us almost 4 hours to plow through this but to me it was quite satisfying in the end. My opponent put up quite a good challenge as I was scrambling to explore and do some conquering myself to level up and not lag behind. I did win with 132 points and it certainly felt almost epic to me. My opponent mentioned that he is still not too sure about the game and its replayability. Unfortunately I have never had the chance to play a PVP version of Mage Knight yet as it will take some considerable investment of time to understand the game and be familiar enough to start a PVP game. I am definitely looking forward to the expansion and see what it can bring to the game. Here's hoping I get to have a go at it before the end of 2012!


Ahh,.... one of the hot hot anticipated games of 2012. A friend manage to get this as his secret santa gift (So lucky!) so we could get it out and have a game. I wanted to find out if I will love it enough to keep my copy which is with my wife now in NYC. The game is light weight and can be seen as a roll and move. It is not a straight forward roll and move and there are some decisions you can make but you don't have to think about it very long. Component wise it is definitely good (as expected from FFG's games) and it wasn't too difficult to learn the game. However after playing this game, I will not be keeping my copy.. For the target audience (which are casual gamers), I think this will be a fine addition. However for more serious or avid gamers (who enjoy the heavier games), I feel that this may not be able to fulfill their boardgaming needs. Pity as I really wanted to like the game. Oh well....


I think for majority of the readers of this blog, this is something new. Inception is a card game from publishers in China and is a surprise hit with me. I attended a local Mensa meetup and was introduced to this game. Though my Mandarin is kinda sucky, picking up on the game is relatively easy and with help from the other players, I got into this game fairly quickly. You can find more details about the gameplay here but in a nutshell, 1 player is the Dream master trying to protect the main objective from the other players while trying to whittle down the deck. Dream master wins if the draw deck runs out. The other players who are not sided with the Dream master, wins if they find the objective card behind 1 of 4 vaults. There is no player elimination in the game but "dying" does make it difficult for a player as you or someone else need to spend 2 cards to "revive" you. While the fun of the game may depend on the group (the teasing and the psycho-analysing), the mechanics are simple enough to pick up and enjoy. Replayability and the fun factor is enhanced by the variety of characters in the game which players get to choose at the start of the game. It plays also from 4 to 8 and while with more players you tend to play less (because the vault maybe opened before it goes back to you again), its not too bad. I played the game 3 times and I was the dream master twice and I won all 3 games. Winner's biases aside, I did enjoy the game tremendously. It does not feel so much like a party game even though it caters for so many players. Banter and mind games are a must and thus it adds quite a bit of depth to the game. I loved the game so much that I hunted around online for a copy and found to my delight there are 2 editions of the game. Though sadly, they have not been reprinted for along time and I can only find the edition I played available online at a Hong Kong based shop. This also triggered me to explore games that are made in China/Taiwan and Hong Kong. Sadly though they are not very represented in BGG thus information can be hard to come by. But since I'll be heading there in December, I will get myself a copy. Now to translate the cards for easier play especially in office.....


I played Noah again but this time with the advanced rules and I must say they certainly added more depth to the game. You are now looking forward to hitting the magical 21 so that you can give a card to other players. Its much harder though to be able to place the same breed as the previously played card as timing is hard to master. Still its a great light game that I don't mind playing but I will prefer it with the advanced rules. Recommended!


To my pleasant surprise, I received a copy of Myrmes from my BGG Secret Santa! (Thanks Santa if you are reading this!). I have tried this online here and I did enjoy it so I couldn't wait to try it with 4 in person. It is not a difficult game to explain as the symbols and phases are marked very clearly on the board. Kudos on that. The components are also quite good except for the misprint which is talked about a lot already at BGG. Its not a big deal as long as you remind every player about the misprint. Myrmes is a worker placement and area control game (as I quickly discovered when the Blue ants occupied SO MUCH space and had a runaway victory) at its heart but even though the mechanics are not ground breaking, the theme (which is unusual and surprisingly engaging) makes the game unique and fun for me. This game is quite punishing if you start off on the wrong foot and so far I cannot see a catch-the-leader mechanism so it can have a runaway leader problem. There is no direct confrontation in the game though but the area control and objective scoring are probably the main ways in which players get to interact with each other directly. I am still playing it actively online and I hope to bring it out to the table to play a few more games but so far I am loving the game. One little gripe would be the the need for the plastic ants. They are just representative of soldiers/workers that you have and are more aesthetic than anything. Still they do help to bring the theme of the game and its just a little gripe. Still recommended!


Ah Habba, how nicely you make all those wooden bits for your games. Animal upon animal is a game I have played before but I was surprised they have a bigger version plus secret objectives and a dice! (or was it in the smaller version all along?) In this version that I played, some of the animals are prearranged around the board with a bridge in the middle where the crocodile starts. During your turn, you will roll a dice and that will determine from which region you can take an animal from OR take from any region (if you rolled a "?") or pick an animal already on the bridge (if you roll the Bridge symbol). If any animals drop during your placement, then you draw another secret objective card. At anytime if the makeup of the animals on the bridge matches your secret objectives, you can reveal and declare it completed. The player who has completed ALL his/her secret objectives wins the game. The wooden pieces are surprisingly slippery (or it could be late at night and we are all shaking from lack of sleep :D) and the bat pieces are the trickiest of them all. You can probably guess what happened in the picture. Not a bad party like game and certainly might be more fun if the group has been drinking ;p


Fauna is a game about animal trivial. Because of the trivial bit, it reminds me of trivial pursuit but more specialized as it deals with animal facts. During each round and in player order, players will place their cubes at certain specs of the animal in question. These specs are length of the animal, length of the tail, weight and which region this animal can be found. After all players have passed, then the details are revealed and you will score points if you are correct or adjacent to the correct answer. For 4 players, the game ends when 1 player has passed 100 points (this equates to roughly 8 animals). When i was much younger and collecting stickers (for sticker books), there was a WWF sticker book which I loved, I would have nailed this game. During that time, there were also Trump cards and one of the favorite were these animal ones which had length, weight, lifespan etc and how we played was we will deal out the cards (usually 2 players) and starting with 1 player, he will look at his top card and choose a specs. Then compare this with the other player and whoever has the highest will win. I remember the Black mamba was a favourite (not sure what the specs was) and the Elephant (for its weight). Great times... For Fauna, you can see we were trying to imagine how big or long the animal was and measuring it against our arms and the table and even Comet (my huskie was lying behind us chilling). It is definitely an educational game more so than a gamer's game and I would recommend it to teachers or parents if they want to educate their students/children about animals. 


If you have a smart phone, you would probably have come across a multitude of word games for your smart phone. I am recently playing Letterpress and I am hooked by how a simple word game has some strategic depth to it. Quills is like a word game come alive in card form. During each round, each player is dealt a fresh hand of cards and try to make words out of them in a combination which will score them the most points (in terms of cards used, the bonuses on them and if you have same colors or all different colors). During that round, you are allowed to discard 1 card to draw 1 card and/or discard 3 cards to draw 1 or 2 of any of the face up cards for your own use. Once a player has formed a word, he/she turns over a timer and the count down begins for the other players to form a word. When time is up, all players compare their words and award rankings. The rankings will determine how many chits you get during that round. The player with the least number of chits at the end of the game wins. This is certainly not a game to be played so early in the morning as brains aren't functioning. Certainly the cards being dealt to you matters. This game will also be good for educators and parents and I will also recommend a dictionary nearby to settle disputes.


Another game which I have heard a lot about and finally got my own copy to the table. Even though I am the only one out of the 4 that have watched the show, we quickly got into the spirit of the game and it seems that we were mostly having fun during the arena fighting. We were baying for blood because our coins were riding on the outcome of the matches. That being said, this game had several issues that I feel will probably not make it last in my collection.The game depends a LOT on the players to make it lively and interesting. Players who do not like direct confrontation or negotiation and scheming, plotting and outright lying will not enjoy the game. If the players aren't very familiar to each other and do not engage in banter, then for most part of the game, it can get dull and boring. That is also because the flow of the game without all the banter is just playing cards, bidding on stuff, going into arena. Then repeat until someone scores 12 influences to win. To solve this? Make sure everyone had at least watched a few episodes and some booze may help. 
The game also has a gang-up on the leader problem, similar to games like Munchkin, which can drag the game on. This can probably be mitigated but will require a longer build up time for players to have enough defenses before performing the final moves to secure the win. This problem will probably drag the game for most sessions. An alternative to this would be to have some secret objectives and thus allow for a way to declare you won the game. The game length itself is too long for the game depth that it delivers. I suspect an influence range of 1 to 7 will probably be better as you get to enjoy the full range of the game. 
During arena battles, there is no rounds limit or penalties for "bad performance" as gladiators could end up circling each other for many many rounds without the match ending. There could be a penalty such that if the match doesn't end in 5 rounds, both houses will lose influence points or the loser is the gladiator with the least health remaining. 
I would definitely want to try this game a few more times before I pass the verdict but so far it seems a possible Meh for me.


Another hotness from Essen 2012! I checked with my Dicetower santa before I made the purchase from (which was only available yesterday!) and I was so excited to bring it out yesterday. I had not really read the rules so I used the video review from my friend Joel to do like a video introduction to the game while i prepared the board. After that, we all dived in eagerly. This game reminds me a lot of Myrmes in that it is an area control game and is brutal if you start off on a wrong foot. I learnt this the hard way when I found myself all alone and couldn't do a lot because of bad decisions from the start. Half the game I had way too few options and I ended up being last in the game. 
There seems to be a catch-the-leader mechanism in the form of the 4 pillars where you can send your priest to advance on the track but I will have to play a few more times to be sure. So the game really is about finding ways in which you can place your structures onto the board in as efficient a manner as you can. You want to find a way to quickly advance to the larger buildings because not only do they give you different income later on but they may also garner you favor tiles which are very powerful. Furthermore, there is a pool of magic for you to use which provides some alternatives for certain benefits. I still don't see why Joel has mentioned this is a very neat mechanic in his video but this is only my first play and well, I cannot make a judgement call on this right now. 
There is definite replay value because of the number of races available for you to choose from and the players all did have fun and were talking about it. Now, knowing better, I will definitely want to give it a go again. Verdict pending more plays for now :)

so all in all, a great week of gaming with several new games played. I should be composing my top 10 list for 2012 soon as the year closes and the number of new games I get dwindle. 

Nah..... who am i kidding :p I am expecting a lot more new games in the coming weeks and especially when my wife comes back with my goodies from USA!