Reviews

In this episode, I start off with an especially long segment of Recently Played games, featuring some comments about the Unpub ProtoZone at the Escapist Expo. I then have a bit of a rant about Kickstarter rewards, and mostly share fears I have about the abuse of stretch goals. And then, I wrap up with a full review of Lancaster…

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…

In that vein, I was given Zulus on the Ramparts! last year by my good friend Kenny, and it quickly jumped right to the top of my favorite solo games. I’ve taken it on trips, played it over lunch at work, and occasionally pulled it out when everyone else was asleep and I had a hankering for something to play…

The Manhattan Project is a pretty incredible game. In addition to looking great and bringing some real innovation to the worker-placement genre, it is one of the absolute best euro/American-style hybrids that I’ve ever seen. So far, it’s definitely one of my favorite games of 2012, and I really hope to play it a lot more in the future…

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…

Kingdom of Solomon is mish-mash of euro mechanics that might be easily ignored by a lot of boardgamers. If you look superficially at its component parts, it’d be very simple to write it off as derivitave, uninspired, and nothing special.

But if you look a little deeper, you might just be surprised at what you find. From its theme to the tweaks it takes on familiar mechanics to the way that everything fits together to make something greater than the sum of its parts, Kingdom of Solomon really does stand out in a number of ways…

Letters from Whitechapel is a hidden-movement/deduction chase game about the hunt for Jack the Ripper through the streets of London in 1888. The theme is relatively interesting but somewhat controversial, but in reality, the brilliance of the game comes from the elegance of the movement and search mechanics. I’ve played around a dozen games of Letters from Whitechapel so far, and it’s even been the Game of the Month! for my game group, so I finally feel comfortable giving my final judgement on it…