Family Games

My Dad has been a long-distance truck driver for pretty much all his adult life. Before he retired, he’d be gone for a week at a time, living out of a suitcase in run-down motels, eating in cheap diners, and racking up endless miles all around the southeast U.S. But he was still a great dad, and despite what the reality of his experience probably was, it always seemed so cool and interesting to me how he got to travel to so many places. So when I heard about Dice Hate Me Games’ newest game, The Great Heartland Hauling Co., I immediately had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for the theme. And as I’ve now had the chance to play the prototype a few times, let’s see how well the gameplay lived up to the theme for me…

Garden Dice is definitely a family-weight/”gateway” level game, and as long as you don’t expect more from it than it’s trying to be, I think it has a lot going for it…

I’m a big fan of cooperative games, of course, and when I heard about a new coop on Kickstarter that was all about being a firefighter saving people from a blazing inferno, I jumped at the opportunity to support it. As I found out later, it had actually been around for a while on The Game Crafter in an earlier form, but Indie Boards and Cards was going all-out to make it all spiffy and decked out with tons of cool bits and extras. Heck, I even got fireeples out of the deal!
In the months since getting the game, however, I’ve played it a number of times and actually have some mixed feelings about it. But rather than get into that now, let’s start with the…

There was definitely a lot of anticipation for Kingdom Builder, mostly because everyone in the boardgaming world wanted to see how Donald X. Vaccarino was going to follow up on his crazy success from Dominion. In the months since it’s come out, it’s gotten a rather mixed reception from the gaming community, but it seems to me that most of the negativity is due to misplaced expectations rather than from any issue of the game itself. Now that I’ve played it a number of times myself and had the chance to solidify my thoughts on it, here’s my relatively final opinion…

At its core, Carnival is a set collection game, where each player is trying to gather all the components they need to open rides in their carnival. There are five different rides (colors) in the game, each containing several copies of their four components: Seats, Materials, Banners, and Lights. The first person able to complete and open 4 of the 5 rides will win the game…

To be completely honest, I’ve already preordered 4 copies of the game through Kickstarter to give away for Christmas, at least one or two of which will be going straight into the Dirty Santa exchanges I love so much (it’ll sort of be like the “home game” that contestants used to get when they were on a game show)…

I published this review in Thru-the-Portal issue #2 and forgot to ever republish it here. But since Tobago just won the Golden Geek for Best Family Game, I’ll pretend that it’s timely…

PowerMage 54 is a simple combat game between superheroes that the game calls “PowerMages”. You start at 100 health, and the last person with any left is the winner…

If Wishes Were Fishes is a game that took me by surprise.  I wasn’t expecting much from it other than maybe a light children’s game.  From my first play and continuing up to this point, however, I’ve found a significant level of depth and a whole lot of fun hiding behind the silly cartoony fish illustrations of the box and cards…

Zooloretto is a very approachable and entertaining game with a great theme, which has already established itself as one of the very best gateway games in the market. The game looks great, has wide appeal, and is a solid “super filler” that can hold the attention of both gamers and non-gamers alike…

Ticket to Ride is a fantastic game that has an incredibly wide appeal. It strikes a delicate balance between being accessible to everyone while still providing the opportunity for real strategic action. It is touted as probably the best overall “gateway” game, and its popularity has given rise to an ever-growing catalog of exansions and sequels…