Dice City: Royal Decree Review - Off With His Die!

I wonder how long Artipia/AEG can milk the Dice City franchise here? I don't see it being played as often as I would like, which is a shame as it's a great game and the expansions, even though they are very pricey, do improve it further. Maybe that's what is hurting it, who knows. But for me this kicked Machi Koro clean off the shop window offering the same feel but with a little more meat and mitigation and variety without being unbalanced beyond belief.

We've already had two mini expansions that added some extra simple mechanics/resources to improve on the variety we already had. Both were decent, if overpriced. Royal Decree is now the third in the line of expansions except this one is a little less "mini" than the others. We're not talking a full blown expansion here, but size wise it's a little bigger mainly because of a new board that features. Hopefully it's not too big though, Dice City already has a bit of a table hog issue.



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Attack on Titan: Deck Building Game Review - Big Unfriendly Giants!

Ok this isn't exactly a Xmas themed game, but run with it! Maybe if you imagine all the Titan's are all killer Santas.............no that's not going to help either! Anyway, I'll make it plainly clear now I've not watched more than 10 minutes of Attack on Titan. So I don't know the characters and as far as I know, the plot is about big giants eating people! I'm sure there's more to it than that, but who knows maybe I'll find time to watch it once I've got through Luke Cage during the Marvel/DC Midseason break.

Cryptozoic have not been my go-to publisher for deck builders despite their impressive range of licenses used in their games. The theme strength tends to vary, but the mechanics seem to work fine. They also boast that you can combine the sets no matter what they are, but seriously does anyone do that? Has anyone tried to combine Lord of the Rings with DC Comics with Football?

Now they are tackling Attack on Titan, attempting to retain the anime theme and introduce a spatial element of moving around locations. Sounds interesting, maybe it will spark me further to watch the show? Or will it be just another deck builder among hundreds?



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7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon Review - Gods In The Background

7 Wonders Duel is one of the best 2 player games that's out there. Is it my favourite? I'm not sure on that, I think in January I should get a Top 10 2 Player Games list done, it's about time I did and I know some crackers I could talk about. I'll put that on the list after we get the Top 10 of 2016 done. But enough of that, 7 Wonders Duel did the impossible - take a game which we already loved for its ability to play up to 7 players in a quick time and somehow make it work with 2 players, especially as I don't know anyone who likes the 2 player variant in the original game.

It was only a matter of time before an expansion came out, but I was expecting something more in line with the expansions that came out for the original 7 Wonders. This one seems a little different, introducing "god" cards instead, which we haven't seen in 7 Wonders. Now Duel was easy to teach to a player familiar with 7 Wonders so I don't want added complication here. But this is Bauza and Cathala we're talking about here, they know what they're doing! Let's see if my faith is not misplaced.



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Season 2 - Episode 3 - EAGLES

Sorry it's been a while, had some personal issues to deal with lately! But let's talk about happy stuff. . . . mostly.
Today it's not all about Xmas, it's instead about Eagle Gryphon Games, where I give you two brand new reviews of some Essen releases from this publisher. Morocco and Continental Divide, one I like, one I hate, have a guess which one is which!
01:03 - Introduction (long wait, game room, future video prospects)
09:08 - Morocco Review
16:56 - Continental Divide Review
28:37 - Conclusion


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Jaipur Review - Watch Out, They Spit!

Ahhhh it's so nice to have something nice and simple and small to review. No complex rules, no different player counts, no £100 monstrosities with a hundred miniatures. Just a simple, 2 player only card game. And I love a good 2 player game, they always have that feeling of "back and forth" and there's no hard feelings about being mean because after all, you only have one opponent.

The downside is that 2 player games are the hardest thing to get to the table. You'd think it would be easy, but for me, it's a nightmare. I live alone, the girl I'm dating is not a gaming fanatic and when you go to a group meeting you're usually only wanting to play 3+ player games. So the quicker and easier they are, the better. And Jaipur certainly fits that bill, but is it fun to play? After its long break out of print Jaipur has finally returned to shelves for easier purchasing and I'd best give you the lowdown.



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Royals Review - A Noble Effort That Pays Off

This is a slight cheat in that I've played the original version of Royals already from another publisher, but at most I could only do a first impression of that game. This new edition by Arcane Wonders via Dice Tower Essentials is as far as I'm aware, identical in rules with at most a couple of minor tweaks. The main change is the production quality and artwork improvement. Now that I've received a review copy of this new shiny version, I can finally give it the review it needs as I suspect it's one of those titles that unless you live in the US and come across Kevin from Board Game Theater regularly, it's probably flown under your radar.

First glances should make you think I should hate Royals. Not only having a pasted theme, but also a boring theme. Seriously does anyone get a kick of dealing with Kings, Dukes and Counts these days? I see them used so often in these historic setting games like Madiera and Lancaster and whether I like the game or not (spoiler, I like Lancaster and got bored with Madiera), it's just such a dull theme for me, almost sleep inducing.

So do the mechanics and depth of Royals propel me past these issues? It's happened before, I still enjoy a good game of Terra Mystica, Tigris & Euphrates and Amerigo after all. Here goes!  


Designer: Peter Hawes
Publisher: Arcane Wonders
Age: 12+
Players: 2-5
Time: 60-120 minutes
RRP: £46.99


From Board Game Geek:

In Royals, players take on the roles of the great noble houses of the 17th century, fighting for supremacy in Europe at that time. With the help of the right country cards, they occupy influential positions and obtain bonuses for this in the form of victory points. The higher the rank of the title associated with the position, the more country cards required. Already-occupied positions can be contested by playing intrigue cards.
The game proceeds over three periods, with a scoring taking place after each of them. During scoring, the players with the greatest influence in each of the four countries score victory points. After the third period scoring, the game ends with the scoring of the individual titles. The player with the most victory points wins.

A Dish Fit For A King


I don't remember the original Royals winning any asthetic awards, let's put it that way. But Arcane Wonders have continued their run of really putting some effort (without going nuts) into the production quality. Yes you have to deal with cubes and cubes are boring, I wish there was another way. But other than that, the board is really gorgeous and colourful whilst still being very functional. On top of that the new shaped point counters for all the different cities and countries are large and thick allowing for easier set up and take down. Even the artwork on the portrait tiles is decent as well, I swear the Count looks like John Malkovich. . .

The insert does a good job of keeping everything separate albeit with some wasted space, but it's still a pain to get all those cubes out of their compartments with your bare hands. Do yourself a favour and bag those cubes up, you'll at least get rid of that burden on setup. But to contrast this, it's a relief to see that Arcane Wonders are one of the few publishers who remember to allow room for premium sleeved cards in their games! Seriously publishers, what the hell, all that wasted space in the box and you can't even give us a couple of millimetres?!


Dabbling In Politics


For a game that promises a lot of depth, Royals is actually really easy to teach and play and the rule book does a good job of carrying that with pictorial examples and clearly worded text. Essentially you're using the same card draw/play mechanic from Ticket To Ride except you have a second deck of cards to also draw from and a hand limit. Aside from that you just need to explain how point scoring works and how to steal cities from other players and your job is done, get playing!

Royals is therefore very accessible to a lot of players, however the options you have and the choices you have to make would elevate this I believe outside of the Gateway Game category. It can burn your brain a little and new gamers would likely be unsure of the best path to take at a particular time. Once they're more comfortable though, this is easily a Next Step game.

Now of course, as stated, this is entirely themeless. It's a dry Euro and you're harvesting points, that's the straight and narrow of it. I try hard to add some thematic roleplay flair into it depending on what countries I'm in (apologise in advance for my horrible impersonations), but it takes a lot of effort! It doesn't take too long either to wrap up with 2-4 players, keeping nicely to a 60-90 minute game timer. 5 players can drag a little too long, crossing past 90 minutes, but the downtime isn't that long providing you don't invite the Analysis Paralysis player along!


Adaptable Intrigue


So where is the depth I speak of? Well that comes from the multitude of options you have of where to get points. There are four key areas to focus on - influencing all the title cards whether by spreading the load or focusing on a couple, being the first in a city, controlling a whole country and having the most influence in a country during a "scoring" period end. Which ones you focus on and when are going to depend on the board state and your own personal goals and these will change dramatically over the course of the game.

During the first period you might try to grab all the cheap cities for all the little points. Then move on to focusing on a particular country later and stealing precious influence at the last minute. Then either continue that trend or change tactics again. This is not multiplayer solitaire at all, you need to pay attention to what they are doing and in turn they can have a direct impact on your play by stealing cities from you.

This lends itself to giving you a lot of choices to make throughout the game. Yes some of that depends on the cards you draw, but you can mitigate that with the face-up cards or base your new strategy on what you have. For example I became the King of Spain quickly on one game, held my own in Spain for period scoring and country bonuses, but when the yellows dried up for me and another player starting kicking me out, I emigrated over to France and focused on getting all the missing title cards I needed for those points. Royals can play out very differently in each game, adding to its replay value. If you think the luck is going to put you off, fair enough, but your choices are still important and a little bit of luck helps to allow for some more balanced outcomes among groups.


Verdict on Royals


Royals is one of those surprises in that I shouldn't like this game, but I do. It's a super dry Euro involving Dukes, Kings and Barons, that's about as far from my interest as I can get without going Splotter or 18XX on me. However despite that, Royals actually manages to get me to ignore those shortcomings and focus more on what makes it good and that's the simplicity of the rules combined with a strong level of depth with a little luck thrown in to keep things balanced.

You've got several paths to victory, none of which have so far appeared unbalanced, but strategy is only a small part of the game. What really elevates this is the tactical adaptability you need to employ based on the cards. Start off playing one way and then later, focus on other entirely different areas to grab every last potential point you can.

Now it's not one I'm going to pull out all the time due to the dry theme and with 5 players it does drag a bit. But Royals is for when you want a simpler Euro to teach with impressive production quality and don't mind a little bit of luck. Essential? No. Decent? Yes!




BROKEN RATING - 7 English Dukes......Counts.....Kings, who cares?! 




YOU WILL LIKE ROYALS IF:


You want to experience a true "Euro" style game, but one that isn't too complex.


You like the "Ticket to Ride" style of card selection and want to take that further.


You enjoy a game that rewards both strategic planning, yet requires tactical flexibility.




YOU WILL NOT LIKE ROYALS IF:


Super-dry games are not your thing - there's no theme here whatsoever.


You aren't going to like the constant take-that factor of losing your nobles.


You feel it's going to drag with high player counts.


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The Goonies Adventure Card Game Review - Heeeeey Yooooou Guys!!

Ask anyone within about a 5 year span of my age (32 if you're interested) and chances are they'll have heard of a little family movie from the 80's called The Goonies. This was basically as close to a classic treasure hunt adventure as you could get, from deadly traps to cool puzzles to skeletons covered in gold and a cool looking pirate ship. Back then I loved this movie and placed it in the same top rankings alongside gems like The Labyrinth.

Nowadays I look back and still give it a lot of respect, but I'm not sure I could watch it again. It's definitely aimed at younger audiences and the more I think about it, several of the kid characters did get on my nerves rather quickly and would probably make me cringe now. But that's personal nitpicking, it's still a cool movie and worth checking out for nostalgia alone.

Out of nowhere comes this card game based on the movie though and I'm always a little wary when a game uses a well loved intellectual property. They are very hit and miss and don't always keep the theme strong. Is this one going to rekindle my respect for a cult classic?  



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Chariot Race Review - Ben Hur: A Mini Adventure

There aren't many racing games out there that I would consider must-owns. Currently the only two in my collection are Snow Tails and Automobiles. I'll defend Snow Tails as my favourite - it's so simple to teach, the new edition looks great on the table, it's modular, it's a laugh and it can have its fair share of close finishes. Automobiles is a bit more heavy, but its unique way of incorporating bag building into a racing game keeps it on my shelf.

Matt Leacock is no stranger to the industry especially when it comes to making light games accessible to many. Pandemic, Forbidden Island/Desert, Thunderbirds and many more, these all have a common demoniator of being light enough to fit the gateway games category. Most racing games I know tend to be quite heavy and full of rules (yes I know Jamaica exists but that feels more like a take-that shoot-em-up every time I play it). If this can work as a light-hearted race game without too many compromises, it could fill a nice gap in the market.



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Android Netrunner - Intervention

It's been super busy, but don't worry, here's the next Netrunner pack! I'll try to get the next one out a little bit quicker - let's hope FFG give me a bit of a time break though!

To repeat a previous disclaimer, I'm a casual player that enjoys the game and can hold my own in a local store tournament despite having much to learn myself. That's all. Take that for what its worth, but maybe that will allow me to consider combos and ideas that will be fun to use rather than simply dismissing anything that doesn't make a Tier 1 level deck or whatever! So that being said, let's start. You can already check out my Android Netrunner review on my site. If you want to see all the images for each card, I recommend you visit netrunnerdb.com and use their search engine.



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Marvel Legendary: Deadpool Review - Going Too Far!

Right, straight up, I'm not going to lie, when it comes to the chart of who I love in the Marvel universe, you've got Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, all the classics up the top. Then you've got some of the human characters like Professor X, Black Widow and Agent Coulson, who to be honest are more up there because I find their movie/TV counterparts so cool from the actors playing them. I'm a big Marvel fan though, I love a ton of the roster, but also remember I have not read the comics.

But Deadpool is pretty low down on the list for me. Keep those pitchforks down please, but I don't find him that interesting. Now granted, I enjoyed the recent film for the most part, it was a good laugh with perfect casting. But its goofy style just feels out of place for Marvel, though thankfully he's not part of the official MCU. That's just my personal opinion though, perhaps I'm more inclined to the "traditional" style of superheroes, who knows? I know a lot of Deadpool fans and to be honest as long as everyone has a superhero they love and adore whether it's Marvel or DC, I'm happy, you know me I love superheroes period.

So with Legendary Marvel now getting a Deadpool mini expansion I must admit, I'm not as excited to delve in as with say Guardians of the Galaxy or Spiderman, but I'm sure it will probably work fine and just be a theme issue. . . . also who was asking for a Marvel Noir pack and why has there still not being a Defenders expansion? And where's Agent Coulson as a hero, oooh maybe an Agents of SHIELD pack, come on Upper Deck!



Designer: Devin Low
Publisher: Upper Deck
Age: 8+
Players: 1-5
Time: 60-90 minutes
RRP: £19.99


From Board Game Geek:



Five new heroes! Four new schemes! Two new villain groups! Two new masterminds! One insanely fun expansion!
The Merc with a Mouth brings his charming personality, as well as a few friends, to the Legendary universe with Legendary: Deadpool, a 100-card, small box expansion that allows you to play with — and against — other players to defeat the nefarious threats aligned against Deadpool!


One For The Fans


One thing you're going to notice immediately (other than the usual average artwork) is that this set is deliberately poking fun at itself. You know those sets in some CCG's where they're basically a joke set not to be taken seriously, such as the title of this review from Magic The Gathering? Well that's what this feels like and as such I feel it's going to be solely one for Deadpool fans.

Firstly you've got "half" values all over the place, which you add up as normal, but become quickly irritating. The flavour text is certainly more entertaining to read as it's all the typical fourth-wall breaking nonsense that Deadpool is known for. Even the rulebook is written from Deadpool's perspective so don't expect a standard approach to learning the game. Now if you love all this stuff, you're already on a good start to enjoying this expansion. If you don't, I'd start getting concerned at this point.


Did I Just Jump Into Another Cartoon Series?


The heroes are not in themselves bad though. Deadpool himself is pretty powerful and his friends and even Bob are pretty solid also. Deadpool can give you some pretty powerful effects, but they're based on weird things like the time of day and the flavour text. And he really loves those weird "halves" on the cards, which you add up as normal, but they got on my nerves a bit. Not to mention if you use them on their own alongside older heroes then the halves tend to get wasted a lot.

Bob, Agent of HYDRA is up there alongside Nick Fury as a hero who loves the little guys. He's based around card draw and making good use of HYDRA and SHIELD heroes to your benefit. Other than that he's pretty straight forward in how he operates, but put him with Black Widow and Nick Fury and it's quite a cool combo if somewhat odd. Not sure what Captain America would think of him though . . .

Slapstick has one card with a strange effect of comparing people's heights, but otherwise, he's all about the new Excessive Violence keyword which gives you a bonus if you have "excess" fight value when taking out a villain. Certainly fits the style of this expansion and it makes him easy to use. Just build up the fight value and go nuts! But I can't get over his look, he looks like something I would expect to see in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Give him a large wooden mallet and some cookey sound effects and you're away.

Stingray is more of a jack of all trades, but has less conditional card draw than Bob so he's not bad if you just want a traditional engine builder. But he's also not overly exciting to use and feels like the most generic of the set. And Solo sure does like his halves! But what gets my goat about a lot of these cards is the silliness of the abilities. Look at the one on Bob above. Asking Yes/No questions about a players card? Everytime I use one of these abilities the immersion takes a substantial hit for me.


Who's Going To Pay Our Medical Bill?


The schemes are a good challenge, even if they are a tad ridiculous in their naming and operation. Deadpool Writes a Scheme is just pure nonsense where each twist inflicts some random effect. The others introduce unique and legit challenges such as a quick time clock and an emphasis on protecting bystanders, but when you name the schemes "Deadpool Wants a Chimichanga" or "Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe", it's really weird.

The villain groups are just as weird as the heroes, but the new "Revenge For" keyword amps up the difficulty evenly throughout the game. It's difficult for me to take Macho Gomez seriously as a Mastermind, but using the Master Strikes as "bounties" is pretty cool where you can trade them between players for recruit points. Yes you take wounds when new ones are revealed, but last time I checked, Wolverine can deal with those and Hulk has an interesting time with them. Evil Deadpool (really, how original!) was actually more difficult than expected, hope you like wounds!



Verdict


There was only one expansion in the past of Marvel Legendary that I didn't add to my collection and that was because I knew nothing about the source material or characters involved. Other sets have occasionally had this issue, but some familiarity or personal interest has kept them in. Unfortunately for me Deadpool doesn't offer enough for me to want to hang on to it.

It feels very out of place for Legendary. All the "half" values and the odd humour and abilities feel like a disconnect, but then I'm not a big Deadpool fan. That does not make this a bad expansion though. The heroes are pretty powerful and the villains/schemes offer up some unique challenges, so mechanically it works fine and I can see the potential for one who is knowlegable in the Deadpool lore to really get invested here and be able to follow it. But I will say that unlike the majority of Marvel Legendary sets it's a very "niche" expansion, one solely reserved for Deadpool fans and sadly I'm not one of those people.



BROKEN RATING - 5 Fourth Wall Breaks (OI!! 5?! He just doesn't understand how great I am! Those of you who are educated in my awesomeness can at least give this an 8!!)



If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/



YOU WILL LIKE MARVEL LEGENDARY: DEADPOOL IF:


You are a fan of Deadpool, which goes beyond simply the recent movie.


You want to add a little bit of humour to the card pool.


You're a fanatic and at all costs you'll add every card you see to the box!




YOU WILL NOT LIKE MARVEL LEGENDARY: DEADPOOL IF:


You know very little about Deadpool - the references and characters will make no sense.


The odd humour in this set feels out of place in your collection.


Those "half" values drive you up the wall.


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