This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

splen·dor [splen-der]
1. brilliant or gorgeous appearance, coloring, etc.; magnificence: the splendor of the palace.
2. an instance or display of imposing pomp or grandeur: the splendor of the coronation.
3. grandeur; glory; brilliant distinction: the splendor of ancient Greek architecture.
4. great brightness; brilliant light or luster.
5. a board game designed by Marc André and published by Space Cowboys

2014-06-01 20.06.47I bought Splendor on a whim after seeing a run-through/review on a YouTube channel somewhere. I am pretty sure it was Joel Eddy and Drive Thru Review. But no matter…

Everyone has been raving how it should win Spiel des Jahres! I have to agree, this game is awesome! It hits that sweet spot of 30 minutes or so. It plays fast and smooth and I can teach it to anyone in 3 minutes. It is currently one of my favorite games and I never see it leaving my collection. I’ve played it only two and three player. Not sure what happens at four, but the game does change a bit from two to three players as more cards tend to stay on the board instead of disappearing into other players tableaus or hands.

Gameplay: There are chips in the bank of 5 colors and the amount varies based on number of players. On the table there are three stacks of cards (level 1-3) with four dealt from each…so 12 cards on the table. The Level 1 cards (green-backed) are easiest to acquire, then Level 2 (yellow) and last the blue-backed are the hardest or most costly to acquire. More on this later.

2014-06-01 20.17.55On your turn you do one of four actions. They are:
1) You can pick three chips of three different colors (no more than 10 can be in front of you)
2) You can take two chips of one color if there are at least four in that stack (again discard down to 10)
3) You can take card from the table and put it in your hand (no more than 3) and a gold (wild) chip
or 4) You can purchase a card from the table.

Cards are purchased by paying the bank the number of color chips required in the lower left area of the card. The gold chips are wild and each can be used in place of another color chip. As you purchase cards, you can use the gem in the upper right as chips for payment toward other cards. So eventually, you can “buy” cards for free because you have enough bonus gems in front of you to pay for it. Then, in later turns, you can buy other cards that give you bonus points indicated by a number of 1-4 in the upper left of the card. At the end of your turn check the nobles on the table (three were drawn at random at the set-up of the game), if you have the number of bonus gems in front of you indicated on the noble card, you get that noble card and it’s bonus points. First person to 15 points triggers the last round. Easy, peasy.

2014-06-01 20.07.08Thoughts: Now, this game isn’t exactly age appropriate and although she doesn’t quite grasp the strategy involved in winning the game, she does understand the mechanics of getting chips to buy cards and discounting them with the bonuses in front of her. I think she loves to want to play it because I like it so much. And she loves the chips. She is definitely going to be a fan of quality components when she gets older. But hey, aren’t we all? And yes, she has beaten me on occasion – and that’s only because I was helping her make the hard decisions which in some cases screwed me over.

2014-06-22 18.44.26Like I said, the component quality is fantastic! The chips could’ve been made out of cardboard or plastic and people would still love this game. But in this case, the components really add an extra level of quality and swag to the game. They are really fantastic, meaty, heavy ceramic poker chips with stickers applied to both sides. This game can be a little luck driven with cards that come out into the field, but there is also some strategy involved as players take cards off the table to purchase or into their hands to prevent you from taking them. So, ya, even a little of “take that.” I introduced Splendor to my gaming group and all loved it. They thought it was fast and easy to learn! Granted, a little slow at first, but it picks up speed quickly as you build up your gem engine and speed toward your 15 point goal. A great 30 minute fix. Not really a filler, but not quite a full-on lengthy game. I recommend it highly. Go get it!

Splendor is for 2-4 players, ages 10 and up and plays in about 30 minutes. It is designed by Marc André and published by Space Cowboys. You can follow Space Cowboys on Twitter @SpaceCowboys1

Viel Spaß

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Aquaman isn’t so bad after all

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

So in this blog post my 16 year old son Jeffrey gets a turn. DC Deck Building Game

I picked up DC Comics Deck-Building Game in a recent Math Trade on BoardGameGeek. I thought it might be a good introduction to deck building as a mechanic that my son has not yet experienced. Why not go to Dominion first? I’m not a fan of the theme of Dominion from what I’ve seen from the various reviews online. At the same token, I’ve never given it a try. However in his defense, my son (and myself as well) likes superhero anything. He doesn’t care so much whether it’s Marvel or DC as he likes both. He doesn’t know the whole mythos of either universe but knows enough of the characters, that either DC Deck Builder or Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game will make sense. (Legendary we don’t own yet, but he says he wants to try it) We played several games over the weekend it came in the mail and his first impression was that he loved it. In fact, so much so, he said it’s “one of his favorite games of all the games we own.” Aquaman Role Card Simply, each player selects a role randomly. They include: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, and others. As you get better at the game you could choose two at random and then select which one you want to be. My son had a habit of getting Aquaman. Now, Aquaman is the butt of all jokes in the DC universe especially if you’ve seen Robot Chicken or Big Bang Theory but in this game he is actually a very cool character to be since his ability allows for cards that costs 5 Power or less that you gain can go right to the top of your deck to be used the next turn. A Sample Hand with Punch Car Each player starts with 7 Punch cards worth 1 Power and 3 Vulnerability which are worth 0. The Vulnerability cards just clog your deck so you can’t get as much power in a turn. Weaknesses work the same way except they are also worth -1 VP each at the end of the game. So as the game progresses you want to get rid of those when the opportunity arises. Like most deck builders, you shuffle, then deal 5 cards to yourself, purchase as many cards as you want up the available Power you have in your hand. Everything then goes into the Discard pile (unless a card’s ability changes that rule), then next player has a turn while you deal yourself 5 new cards. When you run out of cards, you shuffle your Discard pile to make a new deck. Rinse and repeat. The Line Up and Decks Over the course of the game, you are buying special equipment, or locations that offer ongoing abilities, super powers, heroes, with special card abilities and villains. Think of buying villains like Solomon Grundy or the Penguin as defeating them and the power you gain later when you play them as experience you gained in your battles against them. You can also defeat Super Villains which cost much more power to defeat and when they first appear, unless you have a defense ability card in your hand, you must suffer the penalty of an Attack which includes losing a card in your hand to your Discard pile or worse. When this deck runs dry (there are 8) the game is over and you total up the Victory Points. The player with the most points wins. Also, if the main draw deck runs out the game ends. Supervillain: Black Manta Jeffrey liked the fact that the game play is simple and can be taught in just a couple of minutes. He liked how it plays fast and usually we want to play again right after the game ends. The artwork is really nice, and although I wish the text was bigger on the cards (my usual beef), with a little effort and looking over my glasses I could make them out. After a lot of plays I can see where the replayability could run out as you will see the same cards over and over. There is an expansion out called Heroes Unite which is a stand-alone game but can also be mixed with the base game for more variety. Later this year, is another stand-alone game being released called Forever Evil where you can play a villain role. Again, here you can mix these cards in with the other two sets. DC Deck Building Game in Progress I know that some people have an issue with the gameplay in that as you acquire cards, you might buy cards that don’t relate with your role card. For example, you might be Batman and acquire cards like the Batmobile, or the Bat Signal – makes sense. But often times you are acquiring other cards like Heat Vision or Wonder Woman’s Lasso. I look at it like this: you might be Batman but you are calling in reinforcements to do battle from other heroes. So if we’re on the same “good guy” team, why isn’t this a co-op? Well, I think the competitive nature of the game is such that we are working together as “The Justice League” but secretly we keep track of the villains we defeat much like Legolas and Gimli did in The Lord of the Rings – friendly competition among heroes.

I can see where the game would become tiresome if overplayed with no expansions. But it is simple, fast and plays in less than hour for experienced players who are familiar with all the card types and their abilities. This comes fast with only a couple of plays.

Jeffrey does want to try Legendary as this is also a deck builder but cooperative. Set in the Marvel Universe, the game play is a little different than DC but the basic concept of accumulating power and combo-ing those with other cards for maximum effect. Game in Progress This game will stay in my collection for a while since I can teach Natalya this game when she gets older. The box says ages 15 and up. I am not sure why this is. As long as you can read the text on the cards and do simple math, the game is easy. Anyway, a great gateway game to deck building and if you like superheroes, it’s even better. And don’t feel bad if you get Aquaman – his trident is a pretty awesome card too.

Viel Spaß!

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Roll Three Times

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

At some point or another, I think most people, if not everyone, has played Yahtzee. I still play it with my daughter. Even though it’s probably her least favorite game, but she likes rolling dice. To make things easier, I built us a small dice tray that keeps the dice from being flung across the room. As much as my daughter would laugh and love to see that happen, it would get old real quick.

I think most kids like rolling dice. It’s fun. You shake them. It makes a cool sound. And every time, they’re different. Sometimes they go flying across the table = funny. It gives the child a small sense of control. They are “doing it” even if they don’t understand the concepts revolving around chance and statistics. She doesn’t quite understand the strategy in playing Yahtzee. Yes, there actually is a strategy. She needs help with doing the math. But her counting the pips is a great start on her road to arithmetic expert. Baby steps. In the end it doesn’t matter. As long as she has fun.

Yet, it’s actually a nice way to introduce her to the Yahtzee mechanic that so many games now a days have. I’m sure one day, when she can read better, King of Tokyo will be on my shelf but for now it remains on my wishlist. Or perhaps one day she will try and roll the dice to defeat Azathoth or Cthulhu himself! She was a Halloween baby, so Elder Sign might be right up her alley. There other great little dice rolling games that she might like including Roll For It! and King’s Forge. We love The Three Little Pigs and I’ve done a review for it.

So for now, we play Yahtzee every now and then. She usually doesn’t ask for it, but I will sometimes suggest it.

Viel Spaß!

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This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

First off, credit where credit is due. I won Click Clack Lumberjack! from an online contest run by http://www.islaythedragon.com courtesy of Mayday Games. So thanks, guys!!

I gave this game to my daughter for Christmas. Big Hit! No pun intended.

One last thing: this blog post originally appeared as an article on Today in Board Games.

Click Clack Lumberjack Box
If you like Jenga then try Click Clack Lumberjack especially if you have young children.
Originally published in Korea as Tok Tok Woodman, Click Clack Lumberjack, now in its third edition, is a unique dexterity game (sorry folks, no worker placement here) for 2-7 players, ages 5 and up from Mayday Games. I play this regularly with my 5 year old girl. So much so, that it has become my daughter’s “go-to- game” for the month; maybe even the next few months or at least until I can find something to replace it.

The game is made up of nine plastic tree centers or “cores” stacked up on top of a tree stump. Slid around into the edge of each core are 4 pieces of bark. The object is to use the included plastic axe and tap the cores to free the bark for one point each. You only get two chops per turn. But be careful! If a tree core falls off the tree stump you lose 5 points! If your bark has a sticker of a grub on it (my daughter calls them scrubs) you get an extra turn! Once all the bark is off the tree, whether center pieces remain or not, the game is over. You tally the points, whoever has the most points wins.

Simple. Easy. Peasy.

2013-12-25 16.14.36Jenga is all well and good but it is an abstract tower of wood and not very thematic. Click Clack Lumberjack looks like a big tree (even if it is made of plastic and not wood) and it’s fun to try to chop the tree to get the bark off. Plus, when the pieces fall they make a god-awful racket which kids love! Many games aimed at young children are usually dexterity-based games with simple rules and game play. Click Clack Lumberjack is no different. I see no reason why a 4 year old or even a 3 year old wouldn’t have a blast playing this game. If you have young meeples at home, go out and chop, err, pick up this great little game.

Viel Spaß!

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Huff and Puff

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Rolling the dice in the Three Little PigsThree Little Pigs is one of my daughter’s favorite games and it should be yours too. Why? Simple Yahtzee mechanics that everyone understands. The theme is cute and solid. It also adds just a little more difficulty for other or all players with awards cards.

Published by Iello Games and designed by Laurent Pouchain with illustrations by Xavier Collette, it is part of what is now a two game “Tales and Games” series. The box looks like a book as does the second game Baba Yaga. Inside the box along with the game is a 6-page story book of the The Three Little Pigs.

The object of the game is to build houses out of the various tiles. The taller the house, the more points. The better the building materials, the more points. In other words, wood is better than straw and brick is better than wood. You can also score bonus points if the tiles have a little flower pot picture on it. But the game will end when a certain number of the stacks of tiles have been emptied which varies depending on the number of players.

Pink Dice!In the setup of the game, you have 9 stacks of 4 tiles each. Three roofs, three windows, three doors; each in their respective building materials: straw, wood and brick. C’mon, you know the story. There are 5 pink colored dice; three with black icons and two with white. The dice are pictured with doors, windows, roofs and wolves. A player rolls the dice, keeping what they want, and rolling the remainder up to two more times. If you can get 2 symbols, you can buy that straw part of the house. If you roll 3, you can buy that wood part of the house, and 4 lets you buy the brick part. You can also mix and match if you can “afford” it. However, if you roll one wolf, you have to put it aside and cannot re-roll it. (Note: wolves are only on the black imprinted dice and not the two whites) If you roll a total of two wolves, bad but fun things happen.

Wolf SpinnerWhen two wolves are rolled, the player stops rolling and cannot buy anything. He/she picks an opponent’s house and spins a spinner. For more unsanitary fun have the player blow on the spinner! Whatever the spinner lands on (straw, wood or brick) the wolf blows that down. Those tiles are removed from the game. Tiles on top of that collapse on top of the ones below. A house can have several windows but only one door and one roof. Although a door is not necessary, once a roof is put on top, it is completed. Uncompleted houses do not score any points at the end of the game. That’s it! There are optional award cards that can be put out on the table as well. If players complete the objectives on any of those cards, those players get extra points.

A nice collection of housesNatalya dominates at this game. Dice like her. They hate me. Iello has a real winner here. The components are top notch. The dice are nice and the tiles are thick and well illustrated. Be it known, I am not a fan of spinners. I am also not a fan of people “blowing” on my game bits. I wish they had included a single die with three straw sides, two wood sides and one brick side to replace the spinner as an option. I know…nitpicky. I have only played it with two people. Although it scales to 5 players, there would be some significant downtime for the others while they wait for people to roll. But overall the game is solid, plays fast and is a great time.

Viel Spaß!

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I am not an Animal!!

Animal upon Animal BoxThis post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Natalya got Animal Upon Animal from Santa this year. He really knows his toys and games. Components are excellent as is the norm for all Haba games.

Game play is simple. The crocodile goes in the middle of the play area. In a two player game, each player takes one of each animal (7 each) to form his/her supply and returns the rest to the box as they will not be needed. Youngest player should always go first. Roll the die.

* If you get a one or two, balance that many animals of your choosing from your supply onto the crocodile.

* Roll a hand and give one of your animals to the other player for them to place.

* If you roll a “?” then the other player has to tell you what animal to place on the crocodile. If you roll a crocodile you may place one of your animals at the crocodile’s head of tail. This gives you more space to balance your animals!

If one or two animals fall while placing an animal then that player takes those two into their supply. If two or more fall, then that player takes two and places the rest back in the box out of the game. If the entire stack collapses, two animals go into the player’s supply and the rest go back to the box and you start over again.

First player to stack all their animals is the winner!

Placing a snake on top of the stack of animals

Natalya’s doing pretty well here placing her snake on the animals.

A stack of animals

After a few minor setbacks, Daddy places the penguin. Not sure if that was a good idea.

And the animals fall over

Nope, it wasn’t.

Animal Upon Animal comes with 29 wooden components. Four of each animal: snake, sheep, penguin, toucan, monkey, kangaroo (at least we think it’s a kangaroo), lion (again, we think so), plus one crocodile and a nice chunky wooden die. You also get a multilingual rule book. According to the box, the game is for ages 4-99 and is for 2-4 players.

This is a fantastic little dexterity game that plays in about 10 minutes. Great fun for the whole family. Roar!

Viel Spaß!

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Shoo! Monsters!

2013-12-26 16.40.28This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

The other day, Natalya and I broke out Monster Chase by Antoine Bauza who has designed some other great, albeit more adult games, such as 7 WondersGhost Stories, and Tokaido. The game is marked pre-school and it’s a fun little game that anyone can play. The rules are simple and well written. The art work on the cards is well done and not “too” scary for little ones.

This is my daughter’s first cooperative game and she liked that we were working together to chase the monsters away with our toys into the closet!

2013-12-26 16.36.26-1Essentially you have a stack of cards (with a child in bed on the backs). On the face of each card is the monster that comes along side of the bed. On each face is also a picture of what the monster is afraid of: a xylophone, a teddy bear, a doll, a dump truck etc. Tiles of these toys are placed near the bed face down. If you correctly find the toy after flipping the tile, the monster goes under the “closet card” and is effectively “shoo-ed” or chased away. If you don’t, then a progression card is turned over of which there are three – red-sided and then blue-sided.

Close up of cards

[Sorry for the glare on my photos. Obviously I need some other kind of lighting in my dining room.]

When the progression cards are all the same color, another monster card is reveled and placed next to the bed. If the progression cards are all one color and the bed is surrounded by 4 monsters, the monsters win. If you can turn over the right tiles and find all the toys the monsters are afraid of and they all go to the closet, the players win.

Close up of Tiles

There are two extra blue tiles (socks and monster under the sheets) for the more advanced player who needs a slightly harder challenge. The socks tile doesn’t scare any monster instead you swap it’s position among the toy tiles with another one, making the memory mechanic a little harder. The other blue tile flips all the remaining progression tiles over and a monster appears. Stay away from that tile, kids!There are also variants for a game where the child cannot lose as well as competitive variant where you try to “win” as many monster cards as you can.

Close up of TileMy daughter really liked this game. It was her first co-op and she loved working with Daddy to beat the monsters and the game. There are a lot of tiles beside the bed, but as the players find the hidden toys and then turn them back upside down, memory prevails and finding those blocks, book or astronaut tiles becomes easier and easier. A great little filler game for you and the kids for about $10. A good deal.

Monster Chase! comes with 20 monster cards, 1 closet card, 3 progression cards, 10 toy tiles, 2 blue expert toy tiles, and a simple one page folded rule book. The game plays in about 10 minutes, for 1-5 players ages 4 and up and is published by Asmodee.

Viel Spaß!

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