Saturday, July 20, 2013

Race To Adventure

Racing across the globe to collect stamps from exotic locales and rescue prisoners from the sunken city of Atlantis, Race to Adventure is a fast playing board game based in the universe of Spirit of the Century, the Fate powered RPG from Evil Hat. You play as one of five characters from the RPG and novels, including the gorilla, Professor Khan, and star of the upcoming Young Adult novel, Sally Slick.

Each turn consists of players choosing from a number of items, such as the Jetpack, Biplane or Raygun, starting with the current First Player and proceeding clockwise. Once everyone has chosen, all players do their actions together, simultaneously. Then the First Player token moves clockwise to the next player and the next turn begins.

Race is a very easy to learn game, with a well laid out, clear and simple rulebook, and lovely colourful cards with big, clear symbols for the actions. Honestly, the most difficult thing about Race for us during our first games was learning that the game really does play that fast! Turns flash by. Players move together, reaching over each other to get to their tokens and perform their daring feats. Because everything is so well laid out and the visual design is so clear, everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and how it might effect their turn this round. The rules are easy, but overcoming that ingrained board game concept that each player should finish her turn before moving to the next players actions is harder. But once you get it, you understand how the game can be over in 30 minutes, despite a lot to accomplish to claim victory.

The board is made up of tiles that are laid out in a 3x3 grid, beside the heroes base of operations in the Empire State Building that makes up the leftmost column. In a move that is nothing short of genius, each tile has a standard side and a Shadow side. This ties nicely into the setting, where the heroes are Centurions, while the villains of the universe are referred to as Shadows. The Shadow sides offer a higher level of difficulty through greater mission requirements and more impassible borders, requiring more thought on strategy for the current and upcoming turns.

As it was funded through Kickstarter, the copy of the game I received included the expansion, adding more tiles that can be swapped in, as well as new enemies and objectives. That said, even just the base game has a lot of replayability, as the tiles play in a different order every game, making it fresh and new with each play. As well as that, you can play on the standard side, the Shadow side, or a random combination of both. Nigh-limitless variation!

Race to Adventure is another fun, fast game that I love to play whenever we feel like something shorter than Battlestar Galactica! In fact, Race can play faster than some games of No Thanks!

Related Posts
Board Game Review Hub
Risk: Legacy
King of Tokyo
Pandemic
Shadow Hunters
Forbidden Island
Elder Sign
Red November
Escape The Curse of the Tomb

Escape The Curse Of The Temple

Most board games have a suggested playtime printed on the side of the box, helping you pick a game that might last 30-45 minutes, or one that lasts 90-120 minutes. However, this estimate is usually wildly inaccurate, as you lose time explaining the rules to new players, checking the rulebook for a clarification, or getting bogged down in the dreaded "Analysis Paralysis" common when players have a number of choices in order to proceed.

In Escape The Curse of the Temple, players have only ten minutes, and always only ten minutes in which to succeed. It comes packed with a soundtrack CD, and you can download the tracks direct from the games website if you've left the concept of a CD behind in the last decade. You start the game my pressing play on the MP3, and you have until the MP3 runs out to survive. The MP3 lasts ten minutes, with an event at roughly 3m30s and again at around the seven minute mark.

As soon as players here "Escape" in an ominous voice at the start of the soundtrack, they start rolling the five dice they hold, and don't stop! The faster you roll, the more likely you are to survive. You have to match symbols on the dice with other on the tiles that make up the chambers of the tomb, uncovering new rooms, moving and completing objectives. Your goal is to escape the tomb as a team. If even one member gets left behind, everyone fails.

Escape is a co-operative game. You can share roll results to unlock the dreaded locked dice belonging to other players in the same chamber or work together to reach the higher goals in some chambers. If the party gets split, it can be a race against the clock to rush back for lagging members who have been stuck in a chamber due to bad dice rolls.

This is easily the most intense board game experience I've had in a long time. It's pulse-pounding on a level usually reserved for video games and blockbuster movies. Board games are usually more sedate, as players weigh their options and chose the best strategy for the turn. Even horror themed games like Arkham Horror don't really get the players anxious. You have all the time in the world to make your decisions, and can debate with other players at length about the optimal strategy to deal with the current situation. Escape is frantic. Every moment you stop to look at your dice and think about where to go next costs you valuable seconds you are not getting back!

Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Escape comes with two expansions already in the box, both of which add alternate chambers to the tile deck and new rules, such as treasures or curses. Playing with curses raises the manic hilarity, as players are suddenly forced to play with their left hand on their head, not speak any more, or discard any dice that fall off the table for the rest of the game, a killer curse as you only start with five dice, and any board gamer or role-player will tell you that dice fall off the table all too often!

Escape is a great way to get a gaming night going. It puts everyone in a good mood, and plays fast enough that you're not losing significant time for that game of BattleStar Galactica or Pandemic that is coming up.

Related Posts
Board Game Review Hub
Risk: Legacy
King of Tokyo
Pandemic
Shadow Hunters
Forbidden Island
Elder Sign
Red November
Race to Adventure

Red November

So, you're on a submarine and suddenly all hell breaks loose! Reactors start to overheat, water starts rushing in everywhere and someone just reported seeing a kraken appear on scopes. Worse, you're all gnomes, and there's nothing you enjoy more than a bottle of grog. There's no disaster so bad that grog can't help. Well, no disaster you've survived so far. This one, however, is looking particularly bad.

Red November is a mostly co-operative game of disaster management on a rusty old submarine. You play gnomes tasked with slowing the constant assault on your metal habitat, lowering flood waters, putting out fires and repairing critical systems. A time track running around the edges of the game board, where your time tokens move to keep track of how long you've spent on your turn. Every Action takes time. some are set, such as opening a door or moving through a flooded room, while other Actions allow you to decide how many valuable minutes you'd like to expend on them, like repairing, or fighting fires. If one of the three disaster tracks fills up before everyone makes it to the end, then everyone dies. Also, that kraken can eat you too. Many ways to die, only one way to win. Man! Co-op games!

I did say "mostly" co-operative, though. In the closing turns, a gnome holding the Aqualung item can chose to abandon ship and swim to safety. If the submarine does indeed sink, then that gnome alone wins. If, however, the remaining crew manage to hold off the rising tide, then they win, the mutinous gnome is executed and everyone apart from that gnome wins! Fun times, and a neat twist right at the end.
This is a fun, fast game. Once you learn the rules, each turn plays out remarkably fast. Players declare what they're doing, then move their pawn for the Action, and a ghost marker moves along the time line to track the expended time. At the end of the turn, the players actual time marker moves up to the ghost marker, encountering any Events along the way, most of which are disastrous!

The game board and pieces are beautiful, and the art is vibrant and funny. I have the big box edition of this game, rather than the first edition mini-box. The submarine board in the first edition is just a thin card, and is hard to make sit flat on a table once unfolded. Unfortunately, I find that my larger scale game board also has difficulty sitting flat once unfolded. A minor quibble, however, and one that doesn't hinder the enjoyment I get playing the game.

Red November is a casual game that runs a little too long to be a night-opener before a more involved game, but it is perfect for an evening with friends who just want to chill, chat and play something light and fun that won't exactly tax your mental capacities, but will definitely elicit a chuckle or two from the players.

Related Posts
Board Game Review Hub
Risk: Legacy
King of Tokyo
Pandemic
Shadow Hunters
Forbidden Island
Elder Sign
Escape The Curse of the Tomb
Race to Adventure

Elder Sign

Fantasy Flight board games are notorious for their number of pieces. They use separate tokens for health, sanity, stamina, coin, treasure, victory points, monster health, enemy movement, player turn order... And if you can use one token to represent two or more elements, don't suggest it to these guys, as it'll fall on deaf, piece-loving ears. Add in expansions, and suddenly you're carrying multiple boxes for a single game, with components and tokens scattered across the various containers.

Arkham Horror is one other biggest board games we own. Even just the base game components won't fit on our 1.25m x 1.25m gaming table, and we require two side tables to hold the elements that don't get used every turn. Heaven forbid you include the Dunwich Horror game board, and suddenly players don't even have room to place their character boards on the main table!

Elder Sign is based in the same universe as Arkham Horror, inspired by the mythos conceived in the deranged mind of H.P. Lovecraft. The story follows the players as they attempt to stop a great old god from being brought into our world, battling supernatural abominations, cultists and powerful occult leaders along the way.

If you've played Arkham Horror, you'll be familiar with the characters and artwork, as player character portraits are reused, giving a nice sense of continuity. Similarly, Health, Sanity and Clue tokens are all identical to those in Arkham, though Clue tokens differ in use between the two games. Amazingly, despite being from Fantasy Flight, and the same family as Arkham Horror, Elder Sign strips the components down, replacing Arkham's enormous board with location cards, and streamlining the experience down to a much faster game overall.

But both games differ dramatically beyond the general look. Arkham Horror is a massive undertaking, regularly clocking it at over five hours, not even including the hour or more you just need for setup! Elder Sign is much closer to 90 minutes to two hours, and setup time is around the three to five minute mark.

This is another of those a co-operative games I'm enjoying a lot recently. The player characters are exploring a museum during the closing hours, moving from room to room and combating the horrors within. The core mechanic is dice rolling, requiring you to complete objectives on cards by rolling matching symbols on the custom dice. Fail to complete a step in the card objective, and you simply discard one of the dice you're using and reroll the rest, a dice down, but still in with a chance. Succeed in getting all the matches and you collect the printed reward. Fail and you suffer the card's penalty. You can use items or spells to add extra dice to your hand for a better shot at the good stuff.

Everyone is working as a team trying to reach a set number of Elder Signs before the elder god awakens. Signs are usually won through the defeating room cards, while the Doom tokens that slowly waken the god most often appear as penalties on rooms. There are a bunch of gods included in the basic game, each with its own required number of tokens, as well as abilities and rules for when it awakens.

The basic game does seem a little easy to me. We've played a lot of games of this, especially in the months after we first go it, and I found I was winning maybe 4 out of 5 games, maybe even more. As you complete rooms and kill monsters, you hold on to the tokens and cards and can use their Trophy value to purchase a variety of things from the entrance sheet. This includes restoring Sanity and Health, finding items or spells and even buying those Elder Signs. What generally ends up happening is that everyone just saves up for the Signs and never buys anything else.

However, the recently released expansion, Unseen Forces, removes the ability to purchase Elder Signs, and adds in Blessing and Curse dice. Characters who are Blessed get to roll an extra dice. Those who are Cursed have a chance of losing a dice in a roll. Get double Blessed and you are gifted an item card. Get double Cursed and you are Devoured!! Although we've had the expansion since the day it was released here, we haven't had a chance to try it out yet, as the weather is unnaturally glorious, and it's hard to find an excuse not to go outside as much as possible. I am hoping that the expansion ramps up the difficulty a bit, but we'll have to wait and see.

Our house has been a big fan of Arkham Horror since we first played it many years ago. It was always one of Claire's favourite games, and she immediately fell in love with Elder Sign. Elder Sign allows us to play in the Arkham world, but in a faster, more accessible game. It hasn't entirely replaced Arkham Horror, which gets pulled out and played every few months, but Elder Sign gets played on a monthly, and at times, weekly basis.

Related Posts
Board Game Review Hub
Risk: Legacy
King of Tokyo
Pandemic
Shadow Hunters
Forbidden Island
Red November
Escape The Curse of the Tomb
Race to Adventure

Forbidden Island

To describe Forbidden Island as "Pandemic-Lite" is accurate to a degree, but does the game a grave disservice. Both games are designed by Matt Leacock, and while they have many similarities, I love having both on my game shelf.

In Forbidden Island, players play a team of Adventurers, co-operatively trying to recover four artifacts before the island they are on sinks into the ocean, taking the artifacts and the Adventurers with them. Players must gain sets of same-coloured cards in order to retrieve the matching artifact, similar to curing the diseases in Pandemic. Also like Pandemic, each Adventurer has a unique ability, and success depends on players maximizing how those abilities play off each other.

The island itself is made up from tiles that are randomly placed in a thick + shape at the start of the game, revealing where the Landing Pad and the four artifacts are in play. Forbidden Island cuts the Infection and Player decks present in Pandemic into a single deck, containing Waters Rise cards in place of Epidemic cards that slow cause the island to flood. Eventually tiles can sink beneath the waves, and be removed from the game. If a critical tile is removed, the players immediately lose. As is common in co-operative games, there are many ways to lose, but only one way to win.

The theme is much friendlier toward younger players than Matts apocalyptic Pandemic, and the rules are lighter. Players can trade any cards simply by being on the same tile as each other, unlike in Pandemic, where you must be in the city named on the card to be traded, severely restricting trade, and making multiple trades in one players turn almost impossible. Also, once an artifact has been recovered, it's yours to keep. There is no equivalent to eradicating the diseases from Pandemic. Everything has been stripped and streamlined. This doesn't make the game easier, but just different. In fact, Forbidden Island has it's own difficulty scale, and it is alarmingly tough to win at the higher settings.

Forbidden Island is a great game. It plays fast, at 30-45 minutes, and the artwork on the tiles is simply gorgeous. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to have a game on hand for either younger gamers or introducing people to board gaming, while still offering a challenge for experienced gamers.

It also makes a great stepping-stone for introducing players to Pandemic...

Related Posts
Board Game Review Hub
Risk: Legacy
King of Tokyo
Pandemic
Shadow Hunters
Elder Sign
Red November
Escape The Curse of the Tomb
Race to Adventure

Shadow Hunters

In Shadow Hunters players are assigned secret roles, either Shadow, Hunter, or Neutral. Shadows must kill the Hunters to win, Hunters are out to kill the Shadows, while Neutrals have unique victory conditions listed on their cards, such as "You win if the Player on your left wins" or "You win if you're the first to die". Yeah. Neutrals are wacky.

On your turn you roll the two dice to determine what card or action you get this turn. Unusually, Shadow Hunters uses one D6 and one D4 for its dice, and I've had to explain how to read a D4 more than once because of it. There are three colours of cards you can get, White and Black cards are Items or immediate Actions, while Green cards allow you to learn something about the other players.

Green cards are the core of Shadow Hunters. They might say "I think you're either a Shadow or a Neutral. If so, take a point of damage. Otherwise, do nothing." You read the card in secret, decide who you're giving it to and hand it to that player without revealing what's on it to anyone else. Then you just watch how the player reacts. If they take a point of damage, you know that they're either Shadow or Neutral. If they do nothing, they're a Hunter.

Sounds simple, but keeping track of all the possibilities from all the cards you give out begins to tax the memory! Meanwhile, you're fighting off other players who are attacking you, or trying to subtly move toward your victory goal.

Shadow Hunters is an enormously fun game with a larger group. It takes the hidden Cylon element of Battlestar Galactica and makes an entire game of it. If it sounds a bit like Bang!, then that's because it is. You're trying to figure out who's on your team and who isn't, while not revealing your own allegiances too early. Unlike Bang!, if you do get caught out, you can reveal your card and use your characters unique ability to help win the game, but doing so obviously lets everyone know who they can or can't trust.

Unfortunately, Shadow Hunters has its failings. It really doesn't work with smaller groups, despite the box claiming that four player games are possible. Also, I really don't enjoy the theme. The games art and setting are heavily animé inspired. It's an entirely aesthetic thing, but I can't see myself buying my own copy of Shadow Hunters because of it. I love the gameplay, and I've enjoyed many great games with my friends copy. It plays much better than Bang!

I just wish I could take the theme from Bang! and the gameplay from Shadow Hunters and mash them into one, perfect game.

Related Posts
Board Game Review Hub
Risk: Legacy
King of Tokyo
Pandemic
Forbidden Island
Elder Sign
Red November
Escape The Curse of the Tomb
Race to Adventure

Pandemic

In designer Matt Leacock's Pandemic from Z-Man Games you play members of an elite team from the Centre For Disease Control, fighting to stop four contagions from wiping out all life on earth. Actually, they're only worried about those filthy, over-populated metropolises that litter the lands. While we're being anal about terminology, you're hardly the CDC's "elite". I'm pretty sure they realized early on that the earth was doomed, and sent your dumb, idealistic ass out to die a slow and agonizing death while they locked the best and brightest into self-contained underground vaults to wait out the apocalypse. And you know they totally took the Jesus Medic, as well. None of you are ever the Medic.

It's A PandemicThe object of the game is to gather cards of a matching colour to discover cures for the various contagions. You work as a team to slow the infection rate, as well as controlling the areas that are already infected. As you play co-operatively, the Infection Deck works against you to spread the nasty stuff, moving you ever closer to those dreaded Outbreaks. Even the Player Deck is seeded with the vile Epidemic Cards that increase the rate of infection across the globe.

Pandemic is a fast and fun co-operative game that is easy to grasp, but difficult to win. There are four or five ways that you could watch the world burn, but only one situation in which you can sit back as the victors. The expansion, On The Brink adds more roles and introduces some new play styles, including allowing one player to act as the bio-terrorist, sabotaging bases and infecting cities of their choosing.

I have the Second Edition of the game, with the new art work and game board. I love the art, especially the blue colours on the game board world map. It makes it feel really like a war-room battle map, surrounded by top men; top men who haven't a clue what's happening. The new edition contagion cubes help as well. In the first printing, the cubes were wooden, but they were replaced with plastic ones in this edition. At first, I was annoyed because wooden pieces feel really nice in-hand. However, the plastic ones look really good on the board, catching and throwing back the light, looking like they're glowing.

This is a tough game. Apart from some early games on the Easy setting, I have yet to win a game on Normal or Hard. We came painfully close several times, the worst of which was when I had the cards in-hand for the final cure to win the game and had ended my previous turn standing on a Research Station. All I needed was a single Action to for our team to win the game. The player immediate preceding me took her turn carefully, then flipped her Player Cards, revealing an Epidemic Card that resulted in three massive Outbreaks, and using up all the black cubes. Double death.

Because it's entirely a co-operative game, Pandemic does fall into the problem of what I can only term "Expert Instruction", when one player instructs the others in exactly how to take their turn, resulting in a session that might appear to be a four-player game, but is actually just a single-player experience with viewers.

If you can overcome this urge to direct, then Pandemic is a wonderful co-op experience, where you can go from cruising along with no sense of immediate danger, to watching a continent melt under the pressure of a dozen cubes in a single turn. It's nice to win, but thrilling to lose.

Before I finish, one of my favourite aspects of Pandemic is getting to name the various contagions each game. You can be as imaginative as you like. Unlike Risk: Legacy, naming these has no effect on the game, and names can change from play to play. So, will you be curing Terminal Runny Nose or Techno-Techno?Will one of your cubes represent the encroaching threat of Terrorism or Capitalism, or will you scratch the massive spread of Crotch Rot from the plants loins? The choice is yours!

Related Posts
Board Game Review Hub
Risk: Legacy
King of Tokyo
Shadow Hunters
Forbidden Island
Elder Sign
Red November
Escape The Curse of the Tomb
Race to Adventure

King Of Tokyo

At first glance, King of Tokyo is a no-brainer for me. It is supposed to be a fast, push-your-luck dice rolling game of giant kaiju attacking Tokyo. The artwork is lovely, the game is clear and colourful, and the rules seem light enough to support quick play. Players pick their monster, then battle for control of Tokyo. Monsters inside Tokyo damage all monsters not in Tokyo, and all monsters outside attack only the monster occupying the city. To add a wrinkle to the drama, monsters occupying Tokyo are not allowed to heal with Hearts rolled on the dice, so you have to resign your position in Tokyo to an attacking monster if you want to survive at times. There are also power cards that can be purchased with energy. These give extra health, victory points, attack or defences, or other bonuses described on the card.

Even with everything going on, King of Tokyo is supposed to be a fast game. However, any time we played, it seemed to last over an hour, and more than once, over 90 minutes. That's a fair amount more than the suggested 30-45 minutes on the game box. I felt it dragged a bit, and while technically you were supposed to be able to win by victory points or last-monster-standing, elimination seemed significantly faster to do, despite dragging along even then. Winning on points seemed really hard to achieve. If you got knocked out early, rather than watch the remaining players battle down a few more hit-points and finish soon after, players were sometimes left sitting out for over half and hour. Also, while the box claims 2-6 players, the two player game seemed to play really poorly, and basically didn't work at all. After trying the game several times, I decided it was just not for me.

But, thanks to Wil Wheaton and Tabletop on Geek Sundry, I realized we were making a mistake in the rules. So, when friends asked to play again, I thought I'd give it one last chance, with the proper rules.

And it was immediately way more fun!

So what did we learn? What rule had we not followed, and in fixing, had changed the entire balance of the game? It must have been a major change, right?

Nope.

When you roll three of the same number on the dice, you get that many victory points. So three 2's gives you two points. What we hadn't realized was that every extra number of the same value rolled adds one more victory point to the roll, so a fourth 2 would award us a total of three points, and a fifth would award a total of four points.

It seems tiny. In fact, it seemed insignificant. But it wasn't.

On the first game under the correct rules, the winner won on victory points! Even the two-player games became more involved, and again, our first two-player game was won on points. The games moved much faster, with some players focused on amassing points, while others went for damage. Players were much more inclined to push their luck and stay in Tokyo beyond what was probably advisable, sometimes to their advantage, sometimes to everyone else's. Getting knocked out really did just mean having to only wait a round or two before the game was finished.

With one tiny change, King of Tokyo has joined the list of games that I now enjoy as an opener, a game to play quickly before we jump into BattleStar Galactica, or Pandemic. As long as the players don't spend too long thinking about their turns and play it as intended, rolling and rerolling the dice as fast as possible, making their decisions on the fly, it's a fun, fast game. As mentioned above, the artwork is great, with each of the monsters looking unique. The dice are big and chunky, and feel great to roll, with the symbols and numbers printed very clearly.

In the basic game, all the monsters start the same, but an expansion adds unique decks for each monster. I'm not sure yet if I like this, as it lengthens the game, while you attempt to learn how best to use these cards.

All in all, as long as you read the rules and follow all of them, King of Tokyo is a fun, light game. I enjoy it, but I'm still glad I didn't buy my own copy.

Related Posts
Board Game Review Hub
Risk: Legacy
Pandemic
Shadow Hunters
Forbidden Island
Elder Sign
Red November
Escape The Curse of the Tomb
Race to Adventure

Risk: Legacy

I've never played a game of classic Risk. One of the factors that kept me away from the classic version is the length of gameplay. Risk was about playing until there was a single army standing, and games could go for hours as people battled over land, formed and broke favourable pacts, and slowly whittled each other down. It rewarded strategy, cunning and experience, none of which I possessed in great amount. If you got knocked out early, you usually had time for another game of something else while you were waiting for Risk to end, so I just skipped the pain and didn't start playing in the first place.

Recently, however, I got my hands on a copy of Risk: Legacy, the newest version of the game, and one with dramatic changes to the core gameplay. I'd heard about this game around it's release in 2011 and it sounded too much fun to ignore at the least the hype around it. So I grabbed a few similarly minded friends and cracked it open.

As well as standard Elimination, Legacy brings in the concept of victory points, speeding up the gameplay significantly. Victory is awarded as soon as one player achieves four Red Stars. HQs count as one, so everyone starts with a point, and you can buy more with cards. If you've never won a game on this board before, then you start the game with an extra Red Star! If you have won, then you get a missile for every victory you've managed instead.

But how do you keep track of who has or hasn't won a game? Or how often one player has won over another? That's where Legacy becomes, as far as I know, utterly unique, and, as far as I'm concerned, absolutely fascinating.

In Risk: Legacy, players Mark the board in a number of ways. Before your first game, you sign the back of the board, building up a list of signatories of those who fought over this Alter-Earth. Each game you play you sign the back of the Faction board you're controlling this game, marking if you Won, Held-On, or were Eliminated at the end of the game. When you win, you sign in an area on the left of the global map. All these make it clear how players start during the subsequent games. Do you get a bonus Red Star, or a missile? Check the list of winners and count how often your name appears. How is your chosen Faction doing compared to others? How is its Win/Loss ratio? Has it ever been eliminated? Check the back of the Faction boards.

But it's not all just penmanship and neat handwriting. Win or lose, you get to Mark the board in a variety of exciting ways. Players get to place stickers on the game board, permanently altering the board for all future battles! You can found and name Minor or Major Cities, alter the value of a territory, strengthen a location or even name an entire continent! Earth 23190 (every copy of the game has a unique serial number, your own Earth designation! Amazing!) now has the Major City of New Raynia, as well as the continent of Heaven's Rayn (formerly Europe). We can battle over the cities of Porkchop in China, Outsourced in India (genius-level naming from a friend!), or Pomidor in Russia, among many others. In my experiences, this founding and naming phase often takes longer than the game itself, which is testament to how much fun this is, how much thought players want to put into these permanent changes, and how fast the game play is!

So you can Mark the board before and after the war has been fought, but also during! Scar tokens are stickers you can play from your hand to affect territories. But be warned, they stay Scarred for all future games as well. Nothing it transient. Everything you do has dramatic, lasting effects. What helps you now could destroy you in a future game. Put an ammo shortage on Greenland, and suddenly it's easy to sweep into North America from Europe, breaking a powerful continent bonus at a critical moment.

And once you've expended a card on a Scar, you rip it up! Tearing up board game elements is a thrilling experience, and I recommend anyone that has been frustrated by an over-powered card in any game to give it a go. Better yet, it never stops being a rush. Weather it's the first game or the seventh, ripping up a card from Risk: Legacy, permanently destroying an element from the game box, raises my heart-rate by a few beats and brings a huge smile to my face. I personally like to image those cards as the Skeletons from Small World, the Curator from Elder Sign, or the [REDACTED] from Risk: Legacy itself! Frakk you, you nine unit killing [REDACTED]! I so enjoyed tearing you up.

But ripping up cards means you run out of them at some point, right? Sort of. As you play, you get to open new packets of cards under certain conditions. The first time a Faction is Eliminated, the first time one players signs the board a second time, the first time three missiles are used in a single combat. All these and more allow you to open sealed envelopes of new cards. These cards progress the war, altering rules in the rulebook, or elements of the board. They add new cards to the decks, or entirely new decks of cards! I'm not going to spoil anything that is inside these envelopes. Opening one truly is a wonderful moment, and the anticipation brought on by not knowing what is about to happen is something I can never experience again, but you should.

All that is well and good, but how does Risk: Legacy play? Well, it mostly plays like Risk. You build up troops each turn, move out and conquer territories, and try to gain enough of a foothold to unexpectedly snatch victory, without becoming too powerful too quickly and becoming a unifying threat to your opponents. One huge change is that "turtling" really doesn't work. In classic Risk, a valid and powerful strategy is to hold an area, with a large number of troops in border territories, building up a dominating force to wash out and cause chaos. Legacy moves much to fast to allow that. There simply isn't enough turns in the game. Plus, it rewards even the smallest skirmish with territory cards awarded to a victorious attacking army, which can be used to purchase more troops or Red Stars. So pressing the attack on your turn is always in your interest, keeping the game moving at an astonishing clip. Some of our games have literally lasted as little as three turns per player!

Risk: Legacy is a fun, exciting, pulse-pounding experience, both during the hard fought wars, and in the cold aftermath. If you've always avoided Risk, do yourself a favour and try this game. I've loved every one of the seven battles I've fought to date, even when I lost. There is always something fun to do, weather you win, lose or get eliminated.

The components in the box allow for 15 games where the world can be Marked or Scarred, at the end of which an ultimate victor is declared and the ravaged planet is set. How often have you played any board game 15 times? For me, I could probably only say Battlestar Galactica has reached that number. With that in mind, even altering the game forever, even having a point in the future where we won't have anything more to place, removing the most fun aspect of this version, Risk: Legacy is worth every penny.

In the two years since its release, no-one else has copied Legacy's style, and it's easy to see why. In a world where errata's and FAQ's are common place, there is no room for error in a game like this. If an unexpected sticker combination breaks the game, it's difficult to easily fix that after release. I can only imagine Legacy was playtested to death and back again to make certain that nothing slipped through, and that level of testing and refinement is not possible for every game. Thankfully, it paid off here.

One last point, which has nothing to do with gameplay. The production quality for this game is astounding! The whole game is presented in a beautiful box that resembles a briefcase, with sticker packets secured to the inside lid, reminding me of those war cases from Mission: Impossible or some Cold War era spy thriller. Everything from the unique tokens for each Faction, to the beautiful and vibrant global map, to the gasp-inducing [REDACTED] in the [REDACTED]* envelope is made with a high standard of quality, but what impressed me most, I think, was the stitch binding on the rulebook! It's just a neat little touch that cleanly illustrates the love and respect that Hasbro have towards this game, and the confidence that it was going to be a big hit.

*- Now I'm just teasing!

Related Posts
Board Game Review Hub
King of Tokyo
Pandemic
Shadow Hunters
Forbidden Island
Elder Sign
Red November
Escape The Curse of the Tomb
Race to Adventure

Board Game Review Master List

Since moving to Vancouver, I've had the chance to play and experience a huge range of new boardgames thanks to new friends with new interests, not to mention an surge of new releases in that time. I've occasionally tweeted my enjoyment or disappointment over a game, but I thought I'd expand on those 140 characters here, and break down my favourite board/card games.

Some of these are new games, some are old games that have just been introduced to me, and a few are reprints, or new editions. There are a number of ways I could approach this list, but after giving it some thought, we will start with Risk: Legacy, then King of Tokyo, and so on in that fashion.

Risk: Legacy
King of Tokyo
Forbidden Island
Elder Sign
Red November
Escape The Curse of the Temple
Race to Adventure
Pandemic
Shadow Hunters
Hanabi
Love Letter & Lost Legacy
Cosmic Encounter
Legendary Encounters
Dixit
Sheriff Of Nottingham
2-Player Mini Reviews
Codenames
Quantum
XCOM The Board Game

Captain Sonar

I update this list with new links as I write more board game reviews, such that this post is a hub for all my reviews. Bookmark it for easy access any time you need it.

Bonus Related Posts:

The Game Canopy
ChromaCast Cajon Bag
Battle of the Board Game Bags, a comparison of the Canopy and the ChromaCast