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Showing posts from September, 2020

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 t

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 (dice tower not included--that was a gift from Aunt Liz) 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-b

Smash Up (Acquire-To-Zendo)

💥 And Everybody's Smashing Things Down... 2012, 2-4 players Complexity: light/moderate Smash Up is the flagship title for AEG. It was featured on an early episode of Wil Wheaton's  TableTop and with its myriad expansions and party-like atmosphere, it's been a gaming fixture for the last eight years. Let's See It In Action Smash Up is sort of hybrid of area control gameplay, take that mechanics, and fart jokes. It's built around a gimmick called "shuffle-building". The base game has eight factions in it: Robots, Wizards, Zombies, Pirates, Tricksters, Ninjas, Dinosaurs, and Aliens. The different factions are built around unique gameplay mechanics. Pirates move around from base to base, ninjas play out of turn and do generally sneaky and underhanded things, zombies play cards from the discard pile (known in Magic: The Gathering  as "the graveyard"--get it!?), etc, etc, etc. And the gimmick is this: instead of picking one faction, you pick two, s

Skull (Acquire-To-Zendo)

💀 Leave Your Body At The Door... 2011, 3-6 players Complexity: light/moderate Skull , also known as Skull And Roses , is a bluffing game inspired by Dia De Los Muertos. I've heard apocryphal stories that it was played by the Hell's Angels in biker bars, which is why it's played with coaster. That's... almost certainly not true, but it's a very intense press-your-luck bluffing game. Let's See It In Action In Skull , you and two-to-five friends will try to bluff and outbid each other. Every player has a two-sided mat and four coasters, three of which have roses on them, and the last of which has a skull. At the start of the round, you place one coaster on your mat, and then in turn order, each player has the opportunity to either place another skull or make a bid. The bid is the number of coasters you think you can flip over without revealing a skull--but here's the kicker: you have to flip over all of the coasters on your own mat first. Once one player has b