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10 Games that Blew Me Away

Hey there loyal readers!

Once again, I find myself writing about the top ten games of some description (I did so thoroughly enjoy myself last time!). However, rather than looking forward to games I haven’t yet played, I’ll be diving into the past to tell you about the ten games that blew my mind when I played them.  Some of these may not be surprising, sure, but that doesn’t make the impact they had on me any smaller. If you’re just starting your foray into the hobby, or are just looking for high quality games, then this is the list for you! Let’s get straight into it.

10. Illuminati

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Way back when I was a wee lad, I used to accompany my mum to her boyfriend’s house. One night he pulled out Illuminati, touting it as “the game that got him into gaming”. Taking control of a secret organisation vying for world domination, Illuminati is a wild, mathy ride of alliances, betrayal, blowouts and secrecy that kept me entertained for hours on end; the game manages downtime exceptionally well by keeping everyone involved in the action pretty much all the time. It also did hidden identities and variable player exceptionally well, and is a game that, in my opinion, was well beyond its time.

It’s definitely an involved game. It requires a lot of calculating and some probability knowledge certainly won’t go astray. It  lends itself to kingmaker scenarios  especially as if the leader snowballs out of control. Surprisingly, some cheeky humour combined with a gaming experience I haven’t found elsewhere make Illuminati an easy include. It  That being said, dedicated hobby gamers whose feelings are not hurt by vicious, potentially backstabbing friends will love what is offered in this game of conspiracy.

9. Revolution

Revolution Box Cover

At CanCon many years back, someone brought Revolution back to our cabin to give it a go. Many hours later, we finished our session of several games of this cutthroat, strategic bidding/area control game. Each turn, you spend all of your resources in order to influence various members of the city and gain a mix of resources, points and influence in the city. Rinse and repeat until the city is filled with influence, then the person with the most points is the winner, with the different areas of the city awarding points for the majority influence holder in them.

Bidding games are sometimes a bit tedious but Revolution’s revolutionary (I love my puns) bidding mechanic drew me in quickly.  Resources are great, but temporary; Influence is awesome, but it can be removed. Points are great, but they make it harder to gain support on the following turn. What do you go for and when? Do you focus on controlling a few, powerful members of the city or do you try and influence as many as possible, risking getting outbid? A quick forty or fifty minutes per game, Revolution has been a hit every time, and I still happily play this one to this very day.

8. 7 Wonders: Duel

7 Wonders: Duel Box Cover

When 7 Wonders came out, it was a roaring success among many board gamers, myself included. However, as time went on, I grew  tired of it; sometimes the player on the other end of the table would win and it wouldn’t mean anything to me. It was bland at times, and sometimes the game left it completely out of my control. It became a little too chaotic at higher players counts, where it becomes a popular choice due to how “well” it plays so many. I’m not saying 7 Wonders is a bad game; on the contrary, it’s quite wonderful. But something was missing…

And it feels like 7 Wonders: Duel has taken everything I loved in the original and added so much more. Easily a stronger game than its bigger brother, this little two player head-to-head card drafting game is now my go-to two player game for anyone looking for a great two-player game. Accessible but strategically very deep, Duel is an exciting journey through the ages in around thirty minutes, with a constant back and forth feeling in the game, as well as different avenues to victory that are all viable. What’s not to like about all that? If you loved 7 Wonders, you’ll likely adore this smaller yet strategically richer entry in the line.

7. Agricola

Agricola Box Cover

I debated putting this one higher on my list, but here at number seven we find the game that introduced worker placement to me.  Agricola is a controversial game that divides many gamers. Some abhor having to feed their people and the constant pressure they feel because of it. Others, myself included, love this stress and almost problem solving gameplay, layered with so many different card combinations that no two games will be the same. The first few times we played, we simply dealt out the cards randomly, which resulted in some very powerful combinations. Since then, we’ve implemented the drafting variant, and man oh man does the game really shine then.

There are many valid criticisms of Agricola, and it certainly takes a lot of getting used to. All that being said, I often think of Agricola as a very important steeping stone in my own gamer journey, and there was a time when we played it weekend after weekend without tiring of it. I have yet to play Caverna, which supposedly addresses some of Agricola’s shortcomings. Even so, I doubt it would supplant this wonderful, whimsical farming game from this list.

6. BattleCON: Devastation of Indines

Really, this could stand in for any of the BattleCON games, but this was the big one which really secured my love for it. After playing the game on iPad, this was the first game I really went out of my way to get because I loved it so much. Whereas Yomi was an absolute dud for me, BattleCON captured my love of arcade fighting games and tactical card games.

The result is one of the most innovative games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. What’s more, there is enough replayability in the box that you’ll never run out of content. Wildly different characters, simple yet deep mechanics, and an amazing double-think style of play mean this is likely to never leave my shelf.

5. Apotheca

Apotheca Box CoverThe most recent in mind blowing games, Apotheca is the game that came out of nowhere. I’ve not heard of the companies that made it nor the designer, nor did I hear anything of the game on Kickstarter. But one gaming night, when I was preparing to play Archipelago, I saw the fanciful potions and the grid-like board of a puzzle game, and kept a constant eye on it as I played my own game of colonisation. The more I watched, the more I wished I was playing this wonderfully unique abstract game.

Something of a very advanced Connect Four, Apotheca asks players to find clever ways to get three potions of the same colour in a row. With many unique player powers, a solid catch-up mechanic, simple set up and great player scaling, I’d go so far as to say that Apotheca is the best relatively unknown game I’ve played ever. This is a criminally underrated and unknown game; if you can, track down a copy and you won’t regret it. This has been a success with gamers and non-gamers alike, and at some point I’ll get around to getting a copy for myself too!

4. Power Grid

Power Grid

Few games have racked up nearly as many plays as Power Grid for me. I can distinctly remember playing five or six games of it in a row late on a weekend night in Canberra, sleeping only as the sun was just about to come up again and my brain was out of energy. Incredibly mathy and punishing, Power Grid is one of those games that really rewards precision. Make one wrong calculation, one wrong purchase, one misstep, and you’ll be crushed underfoot.

That is what blew me away about it, though. Everything you do, the bidding on power plants, the purchasing of resources, where you expand to, what you use to power your cities, literally everything matters so much. You have to be paying attention to everything in the game, every slight change in what people are doing, lest you fall behind in the money race. It’s been years since I’ve tabled this, but if someone were to ask me for a game, I’d happily jump in and be a power company CEO again.

3. Codenames

Codenames Box CoverAt the end of last year, I began hearing about a party game all about words. A game where players would try and link as many words together with a single clue. The premise sounded interesting, and when I managed to snag a copy of Codenames at CanCon, it was an instant crowdpleaser. We played so many games that night at varying player counts, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing a party game. Dixit amazes me too, but there’s something so satisfying about giving a good clue in Codenames, or even just being on the same wavelength as the spymaster. And, of course, it’s an absolute riot when you’re not. As the rules booklet says, win or lose, it’s fun to solve the clues.

Codenames is one of the only games that I consider to be “perfect”, winning the Spiel des Jahres. In fact, it’s the only game on this list of games that blew my mind that I consider so. That’s quite a testament to this game’s magnificence, especially given that it has to compete with my favourite game of all time:

2. Star Wars: Rebellion

Star Wars: Rebellion Box Cover

It’s no secret I’m a huge Star Wars fanboy. When I finally got the chance to play Rebellion, I tried to keep my expectations in check. I’d heard wonderful things, and I was worried about being disappointed. The giant board was set up, I’d read the rules the night before in anticipation, and took Imperial Command. And so began the greatest Star Wars experience any game has ever offered me. Having played two games since then every single one has had me hooked for every second, from the setup ’till the destruction of the Death Star or the Rebel Base.

With the exception of extended combats, which tend to be a bit of a drag, Rebellion blew me away not only thematically, but also mechanically. Never had an asymmetrical experience felt both so unfair yet fair at the same tim. It encapsulates the struggle of the rag-tag Rebels and the might of the Empire so well, you constantly feel hounded and sneaky as the Rebels, whilst feeling almighty and unstoppable as the evil Empire. The mission mechanic is also something I want to see in more and more games going forward; the assigning of all your favourite characters to missions truly evokes an emerging narrative as you play, and even though it does take quite a while, I’ve always come away wanting more.

1. Pandemic: Legacy

Pandemic: Legacy Box Cover

Number one on boardgamegeek for a reason. Pandemic: Legacy is one of the most revolutionary game in board gaming history. This is not the best game by no means. Sometimes we were eliminated by pure chance, or a series of fortunate draws or events meant we breezed through. There were lulls or gameplay that seemed a bit tedious. Yet here it is, at number one, and here’s why.

There is no game like it on the market at the moment. No game can come close to delivering the ongoing and mostly engaging story that it can. No game makes your triumphs feel better or your failures feel as bad as this one. No game has made me this attached to a character, or had me as surprised  at the twists it offered. Playing through those twenty games it took us to emerge victorious was an incredible journey; far and away the most novel and unique gaming experience I’ve ever had. Simple enough to get into, and if you have four willing to play, Pandemic: Legacy is hours of fun. Forget the naysayers talking about the finite experience. if I had three people eager, I’d go through it all again even though I completed the story.

Yeah, it was that good.

 

 

Toy and Games Expo 2014 and the Australian Boardgames Championships ACT

Toy and Game Expo 2014

2014 looks like its going to be a big year for the Toy and Game Expo. After a huge attendance last year, TAG14 looks like it will be the biggest one yet. Heaps of new exhibitors like Moose Toys will be there and there is the usual huge amount of board games to play and too buy.

We plan to bring a bigger and better stall this time around with the usual awesome selection and value prices.

Check out what else is on: http://www.toyandgameexpo.com.au/

Join in on the 5-6th of July!

Australian Boardgaming Championships

Think you are hot in Carcassonne, Dominion, Ticket to Ride and Settlers? There is only one week left to try your hand in the ACT Family Tournaments.
Prizes include paid trip and accommodation to the Australian Boardgames Championships during TAG14 in Sydney.
Play with the best and see how well you go. I also hear that the winner of the Ticket to Ride Championships gets offered a trip to Paris.

Live in the ACT? Check out the details here: http://tournaments.toyandgameexpo.com.au/index.php/act-family-tournaments

Join in on the 20-21st of April!

Living the Game!

Christmas is in full swing and we are constantly restocking and adding new games to ensure the freshest batch of games this Christmas season.

Live the Game!

A bit earlier in the year we started a video making contest with Brand Honee. Budding film makers were urged to send in their best vids of what it is like to ‘Live the Game’.
Check em here : http://www.brandhon.ee/Project/live-the-game-9

They are all awesome videos and I am really digging the fantasy quest theme. That’s pretty much how I feel everyday: like a wizard.

 

Personal fav is here

We would love to thank all those who contributed and voted. This was an amazing achievement and it looks like its going to be a hard contest to judge.

Whats new!

Way new additions from Sirlin Games, Flash Duel and Puzzle Strike is now instock.

Scratch that deck building itch with Resident Evil Deck Building Game Mercenaries. It adds one of my favourite characters Rebecca Chambers into the mix which is always awesome.

For all you Penny Arcade fans we also have limited quantity of their Paint The Line series of Cold War card play. This looks like a faster themed complement of Twilight Struggle of which I am a major fan of!

 

What’s Restocked?

Cathedral is back in stock, the classic city moving game now has a new box and better playing pieces.

After a quick sell, Can of Worms and Test Match Cricket is now back in stock all held orders have been completed.

Post Gen-Con World

Gencon has come and gone and that means one thing…HYPE!

What’s new ?

While there is a lull right before the swathe of Gen- Con releases, the wait is pretty much over.


New Warhammer 40 000 boxed set – Dark Vengeance . Did you see those models? The detailing is just sick. I do like it how they are creating a sort of board games-esque experience where you can get playing as quickly as possible. They are really making awesome stand out sets now starting from Assault on Black Reach.

The Hobbit: Over hill and Under hill. At least this isn’t being extended to a trilogy. The Lord of the Rings Card Game was always one breaking Card game conventions, but  I never knew if it was one to have legs.  These sets need to really affirm what Lord of the Rings LCG can do with the mechanics and it has been a great journey. At least in Over hill and under hill they are pushing the mechanics of their system to the fullest. Time will tell if this series will reach a competitive state or just a fan favourite for casual play. Really needs an Epic mode or something.

Leviathan: Massive box filled with flying dreadnoughts. Sign me up. Actually surprised me with the 1/1200 scale models as I thought there was just going to be stand ins.

Dominion Dark Ages : Still have to try it out so good thing I’m gaming over the weekend!

 Whats Hyped!


After eagerly watching Gencon happenings from my Tumblr and Boardgamegeek I could pretty much assure you that Netrunner is pretty much a big deal. Netrunner could be the real boost that FFG needs to bring their LCG series to full competitive status to rival the TCG format. Not to say that it would happen overnight but there seemed to be enough movement of Netrunner to validate the claim that it is the biggest card game related decision this year. Mind you Return to Ravnica is not out yet.
Seasons also sold out very quick which can only mean good things from the same studio that brought you 7 Wonders. Finally the last stand out would be Mice and Mystics which was demo only and seems to be piggy backing the Mouse Guard wave. Plaid Hat( Summoner Wars anything) has been a quality studio and I’m sure they are going to bring that professionalism to a miniature title.

What I Played

Have a new white board near the gaming table so people can record their greatest triumphs.  NOT an exercise in narcissism.


Infiltration : Pretty much a themed version of Incan Gold. Sort of has that tension though Incan Gold’s simplicity lends itself alot of strength. I still like playing Infiltration as it is fast and exciting. Just use Extract and reduce the floor sizes from 6  to 5.

Twilight Struggle : Watched my friends play and saw the entire world swing back and forth. In the end the US couldn’t influence a decolonized Africa and a domino fallen Asia to lead USSR ascendant into an alternate future.

Olympus : Keyaerts dealing with what he deals best. A limited space and limited time game. Very tight gameplay but large decisions means that this game will take longer than you think it will despite the simplicity. The BOX LIES just like Evo, expect 2- 3 hours.

Dystopian Fortress Ankh- Morpork

What’s Up?

SALLLLEEEEEEEE!


Preorders!

Nearly all stock is 15% off; which is crazy!
It is only for one week though so quickly finish those lists and pick up the games you want on the cheap!

Quarmageddon for all you Quarriors out there

Dixit Journey and Eclipse is now Out of Preorder and all preorders have been sent last week.

Mind you Eclipse is moving really fast and we might be out of stock soon of the monster.
Fingers crossed I get to play Eclipse this weekend

*end Hype

 

What’s New?

Dystopian Wars will slowly be integrated into the website as we love to support this cool line of miniatures. Maybe I will even update the blog with the painting of the Prussian Fleet.

 

Some awesome stock from Treefrog games such as;
Discworld Ankh Morpork Collectors edition!
What we Played!

Fortress America.

 

Lasers.
Lasers, everywhere.

This game is nuts and tons of fun. Definitely play it with the single invader victory rules to make the game extremely frantic.

 It is a weird dudes on a map game which really emphasises risk management. The game looks so stilted against the US player but eventually the wheel will turn against the Invaders. The invaders have to really throw themselves at the laser batteries to even stand a chance against the US defenders.

Can’t wait to try Eclipse

Weekend Games Frenzy! Till Sunday!

Just for all you games fanatics out there; we are introducing an all new newsletter every Friday!
We will spotlight 8 different games with amazing prices!

This selection is not just old dusty games, we have an elaborate choosing system in which new and popular games are chosen.
Mostly through gladiatorial combat.

This weeks eight games are:

Battleship Movie: Combat Case

The Hunger Games: District 12

Strozzi

Royal Palace

Taj Mahal

Tikal

Fresco (Free Promo Cards Included)

Warrior Knights

And their prices are red hot…
Pick these games up quick, the sale only lasts till Sunday!

TGIF amirite?

May the odds be forever in your favour…

If you are a fan of the books or are loving the new movies there is a new set of games ready to throw you into the world of
The Hunger Games.

We have just received two new ones. The Hunger Games: District 12 Strategy Game and The Hunger Games Jabberjay Card Game.

The Hunger Games: District 12 Strategy Game.

Learn to survive survival by evading the Reaping. Players try to survive in the notorious District 12, gathering food, medicines and supplies while outwitting the other players. At the end one player will be chosen for the Reaping being instantly eliminated from the final tally.

While a few players shy away from direct elimination, in this 30 minute game of cut throat worker placement you find that not only is it in theme but you are thrown face first into an ice cold bowl of tension. The game also has a push your luck mechanic which can give you the edge but also increases the chance of you being chosen.

A great game to introduce to fans and new boardgame players.

 

 
The Hunger Games: Jabberjay Card game


For those who love public deduction games like Werewolf and Mafia comes the Hunger Games Jabberjay card game. Players have hidden roles and hidden objectives. The District Citizens have to find the peacekeepers hidden among them. Clever card plays will force people to reveal their identity and be forced to flee the wrath of the other players.

Similar to games like The Resistance, the Jabberjay card game creates this scene of hidden intrigue and trying to read or guess your opponents role is as important and clever strategies.

 

These are just two games in the Hunger Games world.Pick up these games and immerse yourself in the ruthless world of Suzanne Collins in board/card game form.

 

and remember…

 

May the odds be forever in your favour.

22/100 Games in 100 Days: Cyclades

It was around 8:00 when our small game group decided we wanted to finish the night with one last hurrah.
We muddled around and flicked through a bunch of games. Our last choice (Evo) took quite a while and left us to choose something a little bit fun and light.

Nope…

Cyclades!

Bidding! Creatures! Doods on the map!

Triremes made a splash and suddenly we were off. Early aggression and control of Ares gives you easy Island control but it was plain to see that Zeus was the key to the game. Priests were flowing and suddenly 12 Drachmas on the feet of Poseidon was no big deal. Mythological creatures were flying out as if they were going out of fashion.
one sat on one.The game started to slip away from me once I was out played on every bid on Zeus and it left me at a meager no metropoli while every

The bank of Apollo saved the day with one final massive bid on Athena which not just built a Metropolis filled with nerds but a Half Chimera Half pegasus Hybrid for the win.

 

Score one for the Badguys!

Anyone checked out the expansion?
What do you think about it?

Till Tomorrow!
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21/100 Games in 100 Days: Ares Project

I felt that this game just did not get enough credit.
Such a faithful recreation of the Starcraft meta in a boardgame format.
Perfect for 1v1 and slow but playable for anything else.

Ares Project deals with that whole integration between units, strategy and time that all RTS’s try to deal with.
As a boardgame it is a sublime mix of tension and strategy. A hidden race of whether or not you can beat your opponent in a fight.

Then suddenly it sort of disappeared of the map and it is hard to find any one that is willing to play that extreme confrontational 1v1 aspect of the game.

Pity… It does have an amazing place in my collection.

Definitely a favorite in 2011.

Till Tomorrow!

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19/100 Games in 100 Days: World of Warcraft Trading Card Game

I love playing trading card games.
They always sate the completionist in me and I love that gameplay that Magic the Gathering brings to the table.

World of Warcraft TCG sort of turned me off because of the theme.
I am wary of tie ins and as an (previously) avid WoW player it sort of
felt weird for the IP to be transferred to a different medium.

The game plays like magic.
Two players walk in and one walks out.
No clunky land system. Any cards act like land (I like to think of them as XP)and its you and your allies and swords and shields vs their tableau.

Suddenly it is on and both of you are scrabbling for advantage.

Also Loot!
I was relieved to find out it played well. Alot more aggressive than Magic the Gathering and heaps of decisions to make every turn.

It really adds that step up to Magic I was looking for that The Spoils also filled.

And A Game of Thrones
And L5R
And Call of Cthulhu

Maybe Warhammer Invasion?

Till Tomorrow!
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