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Tash-Kalar: Arena Of Legends (Acquire-To-Zendo)

🧙‍♂️ Durbgu! Nazg-shu! Durbgu! Nazg-shu! ...

2013, 2-4 players Complexity: medium
Mages gather in the arena to summon their servants to do battle with one another. This is a card-based dueling game in the tradition of Magic: The Gathering, but unlike MTG, this is a fixed-deck game that relies on pattern matching and spatial logic in order to win. Let's See It In Action
In Tash-Kalar: Arena Of Legends, you and your opponent face off against one another (technically there are rules for three and four players, but this is intended to be a two-player game) in the arena. Each player takes a pre-built deck of cards and draws three of them into their hand. Each player also draws two cards from a common "Legendary" deck and one from a common "Flare" deck, making a hand of six cards.

On your turn, you will perform two actions. The most common will be to place on of your tokens on the board, but you can also use tokens you have in play in conjunction with the cards in your h…
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Takenoko (Acquire-To-Zendo)

🐼 Pandemonium...

2011, 2-4 players Complexity: light
Long ago the Emperor of Japan received a panda as a symbolic gift of peace from the Emperor of China. It was a powerful gesture. It was also a bit of a pain to care for, so the Emperor tasked his courtiers with managing it. Let's See It In Action
In Takenoko, you and one to three friends will take on the role of courtiers to the Japanese Emperor and are seeking to win his favor by cultivating the most pleasing garden while also keeping his new pet panda happy. The board consists of a number of pink, green, and yellow hex tiles surrounding a central pond. Any tile that is watered will grow bamboo of the same color--tiles that are adjacent to the pond will automatically grow, but anything farther out will need to be irrigated. Some tiles have a marker indicating that they are self-watering, can't be eaten from, or fertilized. There are also figures for the panda and gardener that can move around the board at the players' direc…

Star Fluxx (Acquire-To-Zendo)

🌠 Star Trekking Across The Universe...

2011, 2-6 players Complexity: light
Fluxx is a series of games from Looney Labs that are all based around the same engine and come in a variety of flavors. There's Pirate Fluxx, Zombie Fluxx, Cthulhu Fluxx, even Batman Fluxx and Firefly Fluxx. But out of all of them, Star Fluxx is my favorite. Let's See It In Action
Fluxx games are all based around the same mechanic: you and one-to-five friends are trying to accomplish the game-winning goal through an ever-changing card engine with a healthy dose of "Take that!" gameplay.

The basic rules are draw 1 card and then play 1 card, but these rules won't stay in play very long. Many of the cards you can play will allow you to play or draw extra cards, as well as a whole host of other options, such as hand-size limits, extra goals, or letting you play the top card off the deck as part of your turn.

In addition to rules cards, there are goals, actions, and surprises, but the cards you'r…

Splendor (Acquire-To-Zendo)

💎 In The Sky With Diamonds...

2014, 2-4 players Complexity: light
Set in the Italian Renaissance, Splendor is game about collecting gems, acquiring mining and transportation rights, and building a jewelry supply chain. But mostly it's a eurogame about buying cards and building a tableau. Let's See It In Action
In Splendor, you and up to three friends will take on the role of gem merchants, dealing in gems that are red, black, white, green, or blue. On your turn, you can either take gems from the supply or spend your gems to acquire cards.

The supply of gems is determined by the number of players. If you're taking gems, you have two options: you can take three gems of three different colors, or you can take two of the same color--but only if there are at least four of that color in the supply. If you end up with more than ten, you have to discard down at the end of your turn. In addition to the five gem types, there is gold which acts as a wild, but it can only be taken when yo…

Spirit Island (Acquire-To-Zendo)

🏝️ We've Got Spirits, Yes We Do...

2017, 1-4 players Complexity: HEAVY
Games--not just tabletop games, but video games as well--are increasingly about ideas. Modern gaming puts more emphasis on tying theme to gameplay and using gameplay to have something to say about the ideas at the core of its theme. This can be subtle, as in the way Megacity Oceania is premised around a world flooded by rising sea levels, or it can be not so subtle, as in CO2, where the point of the game is to create green energy production to stave off a climate disaster. In addition, recent changes in popular attitudes to the West's imperial past have cast games like Twilight Imperium or Catan in a new light--games where exploiting scarce resources is at the heart of gameplay and the game is themed explicitly around colonization. Spirit Island is an attempt to shift that paradigm. Instead of asking how people can compete most aggressively against each other, Spirit Island asks the players to band together a…

Space Base (Acquire-To-Zendo)

👨‍🚀 All Your Base Are Belong To Us...

2018, 2-5 players Complexity: moderate
Machi Koro is the first tableau-building game I remember playing. It took the mechanics of deck-building--purchasing cards and adding them to your pool--but changed things up by using a die as a randomizer instead of your deck. Purchased cards went in front of you as part of your "tableau" and were activated by a die roll. Some get activated during your turn, some out-of-turn. It's a fun game but it has a slow ramp-up and a huge table footprint. I've played a few others since, notably Valeria: Card Kingdoms, and I like the mechanism, but I've been waiting for someone to really work out the kinks.
In Space Base, John D. Clair worked out the kinks. Let's See It In Action
In Space Base, you and up to four friends are commodores of your individual space fleets competing for a promotion to the admiralty. You have twelve ship-building sectors generating resources for you, which you will then d…