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Review Roundup

It's not just Saturday... It's long-weekend Saturday. Short of full-on "Vacation Saturday," this is the best kind of Saturday. Just time to do aaaaall the things. What, exactly?... I've not relaly figured that out yet. But I'm sure it'll end up being something... or it'll be nothing, and that's just fine, too. But, before I get to maybe doing something or nothing, I need to get you your reviews I know you so desperately desire.

Today we have: Machina Arcana 2nd Edition, Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Carthago, Dungeon Draft, Ticket to Ride: First Journey, Agra, Ruthless, Blitz Bowl, Lost Cities: Rivals, Root, Clank! The Mummy's Curse, Thieves Den, and The Edge: Downfall.

Board Game Quest:

Machina Arcana ~ From Beyond: Second Edition Preview

The Machina Arcana ~ From Beyond base game mechanics mirror the 1st Edition. There are still four phases that drive the gameplay: Explorer, Spawn, Horror, and Monster Phases (two are retitled from the 1st Edition but still primarily the same actions occur). Instead of going into full detail of the gameplay it would be best to highlight the changes for From Beyond and give the link for those who want a full reference to the official page for draft rules: Machina Arcana ~ From Beyond rules.

Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig Review

Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Between Two Castles going forward) is a collaboration between Stonemaier Games and Bezier Games that blends two of their games: Between Two Cities and Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

Between Two Castles is a semi-cooperative tile drafting, castle building game for 3-7 players (with a 2 player variant) that takes about an hour to play.

Carthago Review

In Carthago: Merchants and Guilds players will attempt to become the most influential trader in the Phoenician city of Carthage. Players use multi-use cards to perform actions, trade goods, and spend money in the guilds to increase both their trading and prestige.

Carthago is an action selection game for 2-4 players. It scales for player count well and feels very similar with any number of players. Carthago typically lasts from 45-60 minutes.


Dungeon Draft Review

Two overarching philosophies drive role-playing designs.  There are hard hitting, fast paced, stats reliant, dice rolling adventures with lots of action, fights and big results.  Or the more narrative driven, cinematic churn in which imaginations and complex scenarios rely on stats only to support the players as they tell the story.  While providing completely different tastes, both are enjoyable and have their place. Sometimes you want to steep yourselves in a commonly crafted tale and explore rich character development.  Other times you just want to bash heads, bulk up and collect loot.

Enter Upper Deck’s Dungeon Draft.  The design from Justin Gary, of Ascension fame, delivers a flash fire burn by streamlining both its theme – dungeon crawl – and its core mechanism – card drafting.  The goal? Hire heroes and equip them to the max in order to complete quests and take down baddies…all for XP – aka victory points.

The design wants so badly for you to jump into action that it completely eschews back story and the tavern setting prologue, stalwart mainstays of the role-playing genre.  Yet this is a card game, after all, so the omissions are refreshing. The former is often so much pointless fluff that insults a gamer’s intelligence. The latter is just simply trite.

Ticket to Ride: First Journey (Europe) Review

Ticket to Ride: First Journey is a set collection/network building game for two to four players. Players are trying to connect cities on the board with their trains to claim destination tickets. The first player to complete six destination tickets wins.

Polyhedron Collider:

Agra Review

Agra is a heavy euro in the purest and most literal sense of the word. It’s a sort-of worker placement game and is so big and expansive, it makes Jupiter’s Great Red Spot seem more like a pimple on a teenager’s face. Opening the box for the first time, I was genuinely impressed with the sheer amount of stuff in there; I nearly put my back out when I picked up the box, which, as regular readers will know, is a positive test result for a game. Physical injury is a basic requirement for any decent board game. What you’ll also know being the loyal and faithful subjects that you are, is that I also love heavy euros and buying Agra was only a matter of time. That and it was recommended to me by Paul Grogan and to say our tastes align is like saying that Steve likes a bit of Lovecraft.

Ruthless Review

Ruthless, from Alley Cat Games is very much like a firework.  Not the type of firework that goes off randomly at 11:36pm on a Thursday night in March, waking the dog up, and thus you.  No, Ruthless is like a firework in that despite the fact you’ve played many other deck builders, this one will make you go “Ooohhh”, like you do when watching fireworks, despite having seen many fireworks go off before.

Drive Thru Review:

Blitz Bowl Review

Blitz Bowl Review Intro (00:00); gameplay overview (01:15); final thoughts and review (11:38);

Lost Cities: Rivals Review

Lost Cities: Rivals Review Intro (00:00); gameplay overview (01:08); final thoughts and review (07:36)

Root Review

Root Review Intro (00:00); gameplay overview (01:57); final thoughts and review (12:48)

One Board Family:

Clank! The Mummy's Curse Review

Clank! The Mummy’s Curse is the second expansion for the base game and it introduces some fun additions that fit the Egyptian theme. In this expansion, players are given access to two different locations to explore. One is a pyramid board that has a unique feel due to the diagonal orientation of the board. On the other side you have the Sphinx which is slightly more difficult but has the same set of rules.

Undead Viking:

Thieves Den Review

theMCGuiRE Review:

The Edge: Dawnfall Review

theMCGuiRE review takes a look at the brand new The Edge: Dawnfall board game and this thing is MASSIVE! It offers 3 modes of play: a competitive miniatures game, a fully cooperative multi-player campaign game and a solo campaign experience. Each game mode is an awesome and well executed experience and yet again adds to Awaken Realms stock of excellent games!