Like many board game reviewers, I have a twitter account for engaging with my followers and to keep tabs on what’s happening in the gaming community. One of my followers, David, posted about these new games he was creating that fit entirely in Altoid-like mint tins. I was intrigued, and found his obvious love of the hobby and enthusiasm refreshing. Over the course of a few months, we exchanged ideas, gave each other feedback on our respective projects, and grew to be friends. As the Kickstarter for David’s games revved up, he kindly sent me a copy of both Mint Tin Aliens and Mint Tin Pirates, knowing I would give an honest review of his games.
So here we are, a few days before his Kickstarter ends, and I’m finally ready to show you these (spoiler alert!) awesome games. I’m going to review each separately, since they both give you a completely different gaming experience. Also, many thanks to Ing for the fantastic piece of art he created just for this review! You can purchase a print of his work here.
During one of my daily BoardGameGeek website visits, I came across Paperback, a game by designer Tim Fowers. It was only on Kickstarter, with a few people receiving and playing prototypes. Advertised as a Scrabble-like deck builder, I knew I had to back it. I’ve been playing Scrabble with my family since I was a kid, and I figured this was something I could enjoy with my parents. About six months after the Kickstarter, I received Paperback in the mail. I had completely forgotten that I’d ordered it, so talk about a pleasant surprise! I managed to play two games of it since then, and you can read my thoughts in this review. Currently, the only way to buy this game is to find it on auctions, or pre-order the second printing. You can order it here (click me!), and I strongly encourage it if it seems like something you’d enjoy. Once pre-orders reach 500, the printing will proceed, and you will not be charged until that goal is reached. But I have no doubt it will happen.
Also, this is a special review because I am co-hosting/co-reviewing with Mr. Richard Ham of Rahdo Runs Through! I’m a huge fan of his videos, and I can’t believe I am getting the opportunity to collaborate with him. Thanks to Richard, my wallet has suffered from buying the games he features on his channel. I can’t say I mind, though my mom is a bit annoyed at the stacks of board games taking over the house. C’est la vie! There is a great interview at the end of this review, and once Richard posts his video and final thoughts, I will include them in this post. [Edit: the videos are now below!] Meanwhile, check out his run throughs on YouTube by clicking the link in this paragraph.
This review also will be different because I am trying out a slightly new format. Let me know which you like better in the comments – just check past tabletop reviews for comparison. I’m always trying to improve, so feel free to give constructive criticism 🙂 Now, on to the review! As always, click on the images to enlarge them.
Designer: Tim Fowers
Artist: Ryan Goldsberry
Publish Date: 2014
Players: 2 to 5 gamers, ages 8 and up
You’ll like this if you like: Scrabble, Dominion, Boggle … Read more…
This past Christmas, I participated in BoardGameGeek’s Secret Santa. It’s a pretty huge event, with over a thousand people signing up to send complete strangers brand-new board games. This was my first year giving it a go, and I could not have been happier with my experience. Not only did my Santa send me Forbidden Desert and Ghost Stories, two games that have been on my radar for a while, but they also sent the hard-to-find (at the time) Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. I’d heard about Fantôme when I read a preview of the new games premiering at Essen, and the theme alone sold me. Phantom of the Opera is kind of my guilty pleasure – I adore the musical, and even liked the Gerard Butler movie. My mom is a bigger fan than me, so I knew I had to get this game as soon as it came out. Thanks to my Secret Santa, though, I didn’t have to! If you’re reading this, Santa, you’re awesome. So what is this game all about? Did it live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.
Le Fantôme de l’Opéra
Publisher and Date: Hurrican, 2013
Designers: Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc
Ages: 9 and up
Length: 30 minutes BoardGameGeek Link: Le Fantôme de l’Opéra
You’ll like this if you like: Mr. Jack, Clue, or any strategic bluffing game
There’s a great little store in the local mall called Marbles – they sell various board games, card games, books, and toys, all to engage the different parts of your mind. It’s a chain, though I don’t think there are too many locations. Anyway, on my first trip there, I saw a tabletop game with an intriguing cover: a test tube bubbling over, amoeba-shaped art floating around it, and a bright, rainbowy color scheme. I asked the shop guy what it was about – he told me, “you basically destroy your opponent with science.” Without even glancing at the reviews on BoardGameGeek, I purchased it. I don’t usually buy a game without any inclination of how it plays, but I knew I needed to have this one. How did I end up liking it? Well, let’s find out.
Publish Date: 2011
Players: 3-7, though there is a two-player variant.
Ages: 10 and up
Length: 60 minutes
BGG Link: Strain
The object of Strain is to be the first player to score twelve victory points by completing the objectives pictured on your organism tiles. At the start of the game, the tiles are divided into three piles, differentiated by their categories: cytoplasms, organisms, and petri dishes. On each turn, the player must go through three phases, and perform the optional actions within these phases. The phases are: Awaken, Evolve, and Shed.
I’m a big fan of the card and storytelling game Gloom, where the object is to make your characters as miserable as possible before killing them off. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? I truly love dark humor. So when I heard Atlas Games had another macabre card game available, I had to snatch it up. It did not disappoint! Let’s take a closer look.
Murder of Crows
Players: 2 to 5
Ages: 13 and up, although I think it’s fine for slightly younger players.
Publish Date: 2012
BoardGameGeek Link: click here
According to the rules sheet, the objective of the game is to “reveal a complete murder story by playing all the letters in the word ‘M-U-R-D-E-R’.” Each card contains one of these letters, along with an accompanying image and a line of story text.
To start the game, players are dealt five cards, and the remaining cards are used as the draw pile. On your turn, you must draw one card and play one card. You can also choose to skip your turn and draw two cards. To play a card, you simply place it into your Murder, which is the table space in front of you. You eventually want to spell out MURDER; this seems easy, but each card allows you to perform an action once it is played associated with its designated letter. For example:
M‘s action is “misplace,” which allows you to take one card of your choice from an opponents murder and put it into your hand.
U is “uncover,” where your opponents reveal their hands, and you take a card of your choice.
R is “reap,” which is drawing an additional card from the draw pile.
D is “drain,” where you must choose one letter and your opponents discard one of that card from their Murder.
E is “expel,” where your opponents have to discard their entire hand and draw three new cards.
I credit my dear friend Sarah with getting me into board games; she would bring over something new to play every time she visited. Over the 15 years that we’ve been friends, she’s helped me discover some classics, such as Castle Panic, Forbidden Island, Puerto Rico, and this gem – Spy Alley. So when I saw it in the store, I had to pick it up for the nostalgia…and for the spies. There’s nothing I love more than deceiving people (in a game! I’m not a shady person, don’t worry), so this one is right up my alley. My spy alley, as it were.
Players: 2 to 6
Ages: 8 and up
Publish Date: 1992
BoardGameGeek link: click here
In Spy Alley, players choose a spy identification card that is kept hidden from everyone else. They are also given money which will be used to buy the items they need. On your turn, you roll the dice, and move to the appropriate space. The object of the game is to collect all of your spy items (password, disguise, code book, and key) for the country you represent without giving away who you are. Items can be purchased by landing on their space on the board; once your item is purchased, you mark it off on your scoreboard so everyone can keep track of what you own. When you collect all of your items, you must enter spy alley and land on your embassy – the first player to do this wins the game. Other players can guess who you are before this occurs, but if they’re wrong, they lose the game. If they guess correctly, you lose. There is a space on the board that allows you to take a free guess, but the person you are calling out must be in spy alley – so that can be a bit tricky. You can also win by default if everyone else has been eliminated. … Read more…