Card Games

Don’t Buy Uno, Get this Simple Card Game Instead

Card Game Review:

Point Salad

Rating: 7.6 out of 10 stars

Intro

What I hope to accomplish with my card game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Point Salad is a card drafting game for 2-6 players. It has over a 100 ways to earn points, which is why it is called point salad. In the gaming world, point salad has come to mean a game in which there are a ridiculous amount of ways to amass points and win. The name is very fitting and clever.

Gameplay (8 out of 10 stars)

The game is super simple. On your turn you can take one point card or two veggie cards. The point cards dictate what veggies you need to earn points. The veggies allow you to actually earn those points.

There is another optional action that you can do once per turn. That is to flip over a point card in order to gain the veggie on its back. (Cards are doublesided.)

That’s it. Easy to learn, harder to master.

Design (6 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art is aesthetically pleasing, but nothing special. The designs are simple and generic.

It’s a basic card game, so there is not much in the form of components, but that is understandable.

Strategy (8 out of 10 stars)

The strategy level in this game is very high because of the ways to earn points. There is a definite gap between those players who are making decisions on the spur on the moment and those that really know what they are doing. My dad is an expert player and thinks more mathematically than I do, so he beat me by more than a hundred points last time we played.

Originality/Creativity (9 out of 10 stars)

This game is creative, especially in the way that it utilizes both sides of the card, and by the sheer number of ways to get points. The title is creative too, as I said earlier. There is not a game in my family’s collection that is quite like it.

Replayability (7 out of 10 stars)

It is short so you can play several times in a row. I do think it would get old if it were played too often though, mainly because the gameplay is so simple. Serious board gamers may get bored quickly.

Conclusion

The game box says it is for ages 14 and up, but I would say any child who knows rudimentary math skills should be fine playing this game. In fact, it could be used to help children develop their math skills. It is not primarily an educational game, however–it is mostly just fun. I played this game with a variety of people of different ages and everyone enjoyed it, so I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys simple but creative card games.

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Board Games

My Top 10 Favorite Board Games in 2021

Since I became a board gamer, I have played dozens of board games with my family and friends. It is a hobby that has changed the way I interact with family and friends in a positive way, creating many treasured memories. I decided to share my own top ten board games list just like I did in 2020. These top ten games are ones I would love to get to the table whenever possible. They are amazing and I would fully recommend them.

Here it is:

#10: King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo is a dice-rolling game where you play as a monster, robot, or alien and fight to control the city of Tokyo. Anyone who loves comics will enjoy this comic-book style brawling game.

Each turn, you roll dice and can re-roll a couple times to optimize your roll according to your strategy. You either roll numbers for points, hearts for healing, claws for attack, or energy for buying special powers. For the numbers, you have to roll three of the same to get any points. Special powers include growing an extra head to get an extra die and many others.

The player who occupies Tokyo gains extra points each round, but cannot heal while in Tokyo. However, their attacks hit everyone outside of Tokyo. Eventually, the player in Tokyo usually has to cede Tokyo in order to heal.

There are two ways to win. One way is getting to 20 points. The other way is to kill off all of your competition. Almost every time I have played, the game ended when only one player was left standing.

I love the comic-book vibes and the colorful theme of this game, but the gameplay is also very fun and competitive. A good game all around!

#9: Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker-placement game. In this game, you play as one of the Lords of Waterdeep, each of which has a secret objective. No one but you should know who your Lord of Waterdeep is.

You gain points by completing quests, and can sabotage your opponents or get ahead of the game with Intrigue cards. You can also build shops that give you bonuses when other players shop at them.

To complete quests, you must use cubes which represent people and influence. Completing quests usually is the most important way to gain points and win the game.

I like this game best with its expansions, which create an added element by offering a corruption track. You can take profitable actions if you are willing to gain corruption, but it can have disastrous consequences at the end of the game if you don’t find a way to remove the corruption.

#8: Castle Panic

Castle Panic is a cooperative board game where players work together to protect their kingdom from monster hordes. Even though players win or lose together, only one player can be the best monster hunter, and that person becomes the overall winner. This creates a friendly spirit of competition in this otherwise cooperative game.

This is one game that is fun even though the players frequently lose. This is either because there is particularly competitive person at the table or because the amount of monsters is just overwhelming. The game presents a real challenge and winning feels like a real victory.

Even though this is one of my favorite games, my family doesn’t play it often because they don’t like it as much as I do.

An honorable mention here would be My First Castle Panic, a simpler version of the game that I play with my 5-year-old and 3-year-old sisters. It is just challenging enough to be interesting even for older members of the family

#7: Wingspan

Wingspan is a competitive game where the goal is to collect diverse species of birds on your wildlife reserve. The artwork in this game is stunning to say the least. It a very well-designed game thematically.

This is another game where you can take on a variety of strategies based on your preferences. You can try to broaden the species of birds on your reserve, accumulate eggs on your cards, and try to achieve your secret goals. Of course, it is best to do all of these things, but often one of these becomes the focus of your game. There are also objectives for each round you can complete to gain extra points.

This game is beautiful, enjoyable, and rewarding to play.

#6: Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is a cooperative, dungeon-crawling game. However, it is shorter than most dungeon-crawlers, so my family is able to get it to the table more often. Gloomhaven also relies on cards instead of dice-rolling for combat, which is unique for dungeon-crawlers.

Each turn, you choose two cards from your hand that constitute your actions for that turn. The deck of cards you have to choose from gets smaller over the course of the game, so there is a limit to the amount of time you can spend in the dungeon before running out of actions. This adds to the tension of the game but does not take away from the enjoyment.

In this game, you play through many scenarios and have choices about which missions to undertake. It is like a stream-lined version of Descent with an interesting story line and several gameplay differences, which is why it’s my #6.

#5: Mechs vs. Minions

Mechs vs. Minions is another cooperative game that plays campaign-style. In it, you play one of four possible Yordle characters whose primary objective is to keep minions from overrunning the base and creating an assortment of problems.

One of the most creative aspects of this game is that you pretty much program your movement with cards. Each turn you add a card to your programmed movement. When you get hit by a minion, you have to add a damage card to your programmed cards, which can really mess you up.

When this programmed movement goes right, it can allow you to skewer or trample a lot of nasty minions. When it goes wrong, it’s hilarious.

For example, I once did a 90 degree turn to the left, then turned back 90 degrees to the right. Following that, I shot randomly while striking nothing, spun around, and ran into the side of the board. All while hordes of minions were approaching.This game is enjoyed by me, my sisters, and my dad.

Honestly, the programmed movement is my favorite part of the game and why this game made #5.

#4: Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter is a zombie game, and I hate zombies.

Why do I still love the game? Well, it’s a tense cooperative game with an awesome thematic design that even I can appreciate. The scenarios presented by the game pose actual moral dilemmas that make decisions difficult. That is why it is called a Crossroads Game.

Furthermore, like Castle Panic, everyone either survives or dies together, but even if you survive, the real winners are the ones who complete their secret objective. Last of all, there is occasionally a hidden traitor, whose goal includes causing the others to lose the game.

Sometimes, just making it through the round and managing to feed everyone is the best you can do.

Each player controls a faction of survivors that can scavenge, contribute to the stockpile, clean up camp, and complete other actions to progress the game. What actions you can take is based partially on the luck of a dice roll, which makes sense because even survival is based partially on luck.

As you might guess from the title, Dead of Winter is set in the middle of winter. Thus, in addition to infections from zombies, players risk frostbite in they venture from camp.

Overall, this game is well-designed, tense game of survival.

#3: Mansions of Madness

Mansions of Madness is an adventure and exploration fantasy game that can be very challenging. It is completely cooperative and operates using an app in addition to the board, cards, and miniatures. My family uses a tablet for the app, which has creepy music and many interactive features.

Mansions of Madness is all about mystery, horror, and choices. Who will you accuse of murder? Time is running out, do you explore more or move forward? Will you risk insanity or death?

The mental puzzles you have to go through at times are rigorous. And the pressure to hurry at times is strong, amplified by the eerie music and the fast pace of the plot.

I love this thematic game and find it challenging but rewarding.

#2: RWBY: Combat Ready

In RWBY: Combat Ready, players can each choose a character from the anime RWBY: Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Yang, or Penny. Each of these characters have unique fighting styles and decks.

In the base game, you can play against one of three villains: Roman, Cinder, or Adam. In addition, you will be fighting against groups such as Roman’s Henchman, the White Fang, or the Grimm.

At the beginning of each duel with the villain, one player starts at the beginning of the Hero Fury Track. The villains starts at the beginning of the villain track. Supporting players can choose to assist or combo with the main player, using different abilities on their cards accordingly. Or they can take out one of the lesser villains such as a henchman or Grimm.

The game is a series of high-stakes, challenging duels in a cooperative, beautifully designed game.

#1: Terraforming Mars

My absolute favorite game ever is Terraforming Mars. Part of that is the theme – it’s such a cool idea. Preparing Mars for settlement by gradually making it possible for life to inhabit the red planet – genius! The board and cards are well-designed, and some of them are even humorous.

You can take actions such as civilizing the board with cities and greeneries and using space event cards, action cards, and general cards. The strategy you take on depends partially on your corporation – for example, you might focus on making investments in titanium or megacredits, the currency of the game.

The reason I love this game so much is that even when I lose, I feel that I have achieved so much that it doesn’t even matter – it’s still a ton of fun.

Out of the expansions, I can only recommend Prelude. I have the other expansions, but I cannot say they improve the game at all. They simply make things more complex.

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Board Games

Board Game Review: Terraforming Mars

Board Game Review:

Terraforming Mars

Rating: 8.6 out of 10 stars

Intro

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Terraforming Mars is my favorite board game. I am willing to admit it has its shortcomings, but it is my go-to game when choosing what to play. I very rarely win. In fact, I have only won it once, and I took a picture as a memento. (Picture on left.)

The fact that I love the game despite constantly losing it says a lot about the game. It’s a game that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something no matter what your score.

Objective

What I hope to accomplish with my board game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Terraforming Mars is a strategy board game for 1-5 players. It utilizes mechanics such as hand management, engine building, and set collection. The theme is set in the year 2400, when various corporations are attempting to increase their profits by making Mars habitable.

Gameplay (10 out of 10 stars)

It’s a pretty complex game, but I’ll try to simplify it here. Obviously for the complete rules, consult the instruction booklet that comes with the game.

Basically, during the game you are trying to boost your terraforming rating as much as possible. You can do this by using cards to build your corporate empire, using tiles to transform the surface of Mars, boosting the temperature, increasing the oxygen level on the planet, or creating oceans.

The cards are varied and include those that boost your production levels, those that introduce animals or plants to the planet, those that allow you to hurl meteorites and asteroids at your foes, those that can be played again as actions each generation, those that reduce the cost of future cards, etc.

You can fund awards or reach achievements to gain endgame points as well as gain bonuses for placement of tiles.

The corporations give beginning of the game bonuses as well as powers that can affect gameplay.

Design (5 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art leaves much to be desired. Much of it is from free stock photos. All the photos fit the theme, but they could’ve done better.

The components are mostly pretty good, except the player mats. The player mat shown in the picture above is from a kickstarter, mostly because the originals were basically unusable, so flat that pieces would constantly be moving around. It was hard to remember what level all my stats were at, so until we got the kickstarter player boards, we would use a separate piece of paper to keep track of stats.

Strategy (10 out of 10 stars)

The strategy level is high in this game because you have so many options. Will you focus on increasing your Mega Credit production, or on titanium or steel? Will you mostly plant greeneries or build cities, carve out oceans or raise the temperature? Which corporation will you choose? When will you invest in cards and when will you save your mega credits for the next opportunity? Do you sabotage opponents and risk retaliation or play it safe?

Originality/Creativity (9 out of 10 stars)

The game mechanics are pretty original when paired with the theme. I don’t know of any other Mars-themed games that can stand up to this one.

Replayability (9 out of 10 stars)

I would replay this anytime, but I know not everyone would. Its length usually lasts longer than the 2 hours suggested, even with our house rules that shorten the game. (In our house, we start with 1 production on each track on the player boards and do not have to buy our initial cards.) The length does make it hard to replay unless we are planning ahead.

Conclusion

I fully recommend this game, but caution that it is not for everyone. If you like medium-weight engine-building games, this is probably a good one for you.

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Board Games

Board Game Review: RWBY Combat Ready

Board Game Review:

RWBY Combat Ready

Rating: 8.8 stars

Intro

When I heard there was a board game based on one of my favorite shows, I just had to play it! I ended up getting it as a birthday present. By now I’ve played it several times and found it challenging and fun every time.

Objective

What I hope to accomplish with my board game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

RWBY Combat Ready is cooperative board game for 2-5 players. It is based on the anime series RWBY, and its name comes from a quote by the character Penny – “I’m combat ready!” The game takes about an hour unless you are doing a campaign, which will take around 3 hours. It was made for ages 14 and up.

The publishers are Arcane Wonders and Rooster Teeth Games.

Gameplay (7 out of 10 stars)

In RWBY Combat Ready, players can each choose a character from the anime: Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Yang, or Penny. Each of these characters have unique fighting styles and decks.

In the base game, you can play against one of three villains: Roman, Cinder, or Adam. In addition, you will be fighting against groups such as Roman’s Henchman, the White Fang, or the Grimm.

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At the beginning of each duel with the villain, one player starts at the beginning of the Hero Fury Track. The villains starts at the beginning of the villain track. Supporting players can choose to assist or combo with the main player, using different abilities on their cards accordingly. Or they can take out one of the lesser villains such as a henchman or Grimm.

The Hero deck is made up of attack cards of various types. Some are ranged, making them effective against flying enemies. Some are melee. Others are dash attacks. Each have different advantages and disadvantages.

The attack speed on the card is probably the most vital part. If the attack speed of the hero is higher than the villain, the hero hits the villain. If the villain’s attack speed is higher, the villain hits the hero. If they match, nothing happens. Higher speed attacks tend to do less damage, but lower speed attacks may not hit.

The villain’s deck is made up of Subtle, Aggressive, Balanced, and Event cards. Subtle cards are tricky – they could be high or low speed or damage. Aggressive cards will be very high speed or damage. Balanced cards will be in the middle. Event cards are bad and generally amp up the game by making everything harder. You can kind of predict the villain’s attack speed and power based on the card types, but it is hard to know just how fast you will have to be, so it’s a bit of a gamble. After the heroes choose their cards, the top card of the villain deck is flipped and the attack speed is compared, after which the conflict is resolved.

The hero and villain move up one step on the fury track per damage each dealt. When characters move up the fury track, they get bonuses. Once a hero reaches the end of the fury track, they can use their ultimate move. When a villain reaches the end of the track, they can bash a hero out of the duel.

At the end of each duel, whether a character uses their ultimate move or is bashed out of the duel, the next player starts a new duel and the villain is returned to the start of the Fury Track.

It is worthwhile to note that each hero has a different Semblance power they can use to help out once during each duel.

Between duels characters can use experience points received during battle to upgrade their cards.

For each game, you can either play against one villain or complete a campaign scenario. Campaigns are against three villains and are much harder.

Design (8 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The miniatures in this game are great and detailed. They are colored to match the signature colors of each character. Still hoping to paint them someday when I get the time.

The boards are well-designed and the components are in general made expertly.

The cards are cool in some ways. The differing styles of design on cards reminded me of Pokémon cards, especially the old ones. However, some of the artwork was made with such artistic license that it no longer even looks like the character, like the one with the 7 speed shown above.

Strategy (10 out of 10 stars)

The strategy in this game is extremely high. Deciding what attack cards to use based on the style of villain card rewards careful decisionmaking. Choosing when to combo or assist is an equally hard decision. Also, you have to remember the lesser villains such as the White Fang or they’ll deal damage to the main player at the end of a duel. You also have to consider when to use semblances and ultimate moves, and when to fight vs. when to retreat. You can even customize your deck by leveling up!

Originality/Creativity (10 out of 10 stars)

The dueling in this game is unique and offers tension and a feeling similar to the anime. It is a well-balanced game that even experienced gamers will find complex enough to enjoy. The speed-focus I have only seen in this game and makes sense for RWBY. The way that players can either combo or assist is also creative. Leveling up at the end of each duel is also something I have only seen in this game.

Replayability (9 out of 10 stars)

The replayability of this game is high due to the complexity of the dueling system, the existence of campaign scenarios, and the challenge of winning this game. Even with four players at full effort my family barely won each time we played.

Conclusion

I would recommend this game for anyone who enjoys the RWBY anime series, but also for those just looking for a challenging, engaging game.

Links

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