18 Quick Board Game Reviews in One Article
Every year myself, my partner, and the gaming group we are a part of go to the amazing and wonderful UK Games Expo. Every year we come out with arms full of games that we attempt to play and review within the year. Unfortunately, it never quite ends up that way.
This is why last year we looked at the article 15 Quick Board Game Reviews in One Article – to try and give a quick opinion on all the games we bought at the previous UKGE before the actual event. Well, dear reader, it is that time of the year again, and this year we have yet more games to look at
Now, we have a confession to make – we actually bought 27 games last year (and you can see the full list here) but haven’t got round to playing all of them. They are on our SHELF OF SHAME and desperately need to be played. As such today we will be looking at 18 of the games and try to review them all in one article.
In this article we will cover –
- Battle for Rokugan
- The Chameleon
- Escape the Dark Castle
- Fog of Love
- Halfling Feast
- Imps: Devilish Duels
- Monty Python Fluxx
- Pocket Mars
- Samurai Gardener
- Spirit Island
- Truth Bombs
- Weird Things Humans Search For
Let’s do this!
Battle for Rokugan
Battle for Rokugan was actually one of the games we specifically set out to get at the UK Games Expo in 2018. We picked it up and man – what a game is it.
Battle for Rokugan is an area control game based in the Legend of 5 Rings universe and set in feudal Japan. It involves trying to outsmart your opponents with a series of military moves and bluffs, whilst aiming to conquer as many territories as possible. Battle for Rokugan uses a couple of mechanics really well, and doesn’t over complicate things. It is able to be completed in around 45 minutes to an hour, and is well worth playing.
Battle for Rokugan has become one of our favourite games and is certainly one of our most enjoyed. The mechanics and the theme work perfectly together to create a beautiful coalition of style and sophistication.
Verdict: Soars like the Phoenix
Cadaver was the first game we played at the UK Games Expo last year as we opened it whilst waiting for the No Pun Included show to begin. It is a fast little card game, published by Triple Ace Games, in which you play as a necromancer come mad-scientist looking to raise as many bodies as possible. The concept is a fun one.
Cadaver was perfect for what we wanted it to be – a game we could keep in our pockets and break out when we needed it. Oddly enough, although we enjoyed it, we didn’t actually get around to playing it again and it hasn’t made it out to the gaming table. I don’t think that is for any specific reason other than we just haven’t got around to it, as I remember it being a fun game. Cadaver is quirky and we appreciate that quirk.
Verdict: Still warm.
We have always been fans of Big Potato games and there are a few on this list. We have seven on our shelves, and regularly pull them out whenever we have a party-size group to enjoy them with.
The Chameleon is one of those games, in which players all try to describe a word in a way to show that they know what the word is. One player is The Chameleon and they don’t know what the word is. They have to guess what it could be, without giving themselves away. Think Spyfall meets Scrabble.
Firstly, the box for The Chameleon is incredible – however, we found the game missed a certain je ne c’est pas. We will always remain fans of Big Potato; however, The Chameleon is the last one of their games we would pull out for a game night. We would always choose Scrawl, Mr Lister’s, Bucket of Doom, or Truth Bombs first.
Verdict: Rarely seen.
Bruno Cathala, Ancient Greece, and an awesome bidding system – what isn’t there to like?
Cyclades is a beautiful territory control game with a bit of a difference. Firstly, what you can do each turn is dictated by a fantastic bidding mechanic (and some fate) in a way that is both interesting and exciting. Secondly, you get to hire the help of mythical creatures, some of which have badass figurines, to aid you on your way.
Cyclades is another game on this list that merges an interesting theme with a brilliant set of mechanics. It can be held up as a great example of a territory control game, and manages to be original within the theme.
As such, we would recommend Cyclades for all that it is worth (although I am writing this sat next to my girlfriend who is sulking because she’s never won it).
Escape the Dark Castle
Escape the Dark Castle is probably the game we have played the most out of all the games we got at the UKGE 2018.
Escape the Dark Castle is an odd game because, a bit like Castles of Burgundy, it is not a hugely attractive game; however, it is a brilliant experience to play. That is exactly what Escape the Dark Castle is – it’s an experience. You don’t play to win (I mean…you do…but that is kind of secondary) but you instead play for the journey and the story telling. Personally, I even quite like the artwork as it reminds me of the original AD&D rulebook.
Some gamers may be put off by the amount of luck in the game, but I would argue that luck is only a small part of it. There is an amount of strategy and a fair chunk of teamwork that makes a game like Escape the Dark Castle an experience to be relished.
Verdict: An unexpectedly good journey.
Fog of Love
Fog of Love is another game that is hard to describe. On one hand it is a collective RPG experience, and on the other it is the Game of Life meets The Sims.
In Fog of Love, you and your partner play as opposing sides of a relationship as you navigate the obstacles and challenges of falling in love. It’s an interesting premise, and one that works remarkably well considering the broad concept of the subject matter.
To achieve its goals, Fog of Love pits players against each other in an series of circumstances designed to put their fictional relationship to the test. There is, as such, a fairly common point about Fog of Love where some players suggest it doesn’t work as well if you are in a real life relationship with the person you are playing with. Where I believe it may make things easier, we also found that Fog of Love was a great game to have a chilled evening with.
Verdict: Perfect with a glass of wine.
Any D&D player knows that Halflings like to eat. Last year, the concept of a Halfling eating concept as a game was too good an opportunity to pass up, and thus we ended up buying Halfling Feast.
Halfling Feast is a fun little game by the same team who published Cadaver. It in you, as explored above, play as a Halfling looking to snack your way to victory. You need to eat, make room for more eating, and eat some more.
It may not be the most complicated game in the world, and it may have a sometimes crude premise, but Halfling Feast is good, honest fun. It could be argued that it is in the same vane as games like Munchkin that don’t take themselves too seriously and thus can end up being light entertainment for a quick game.
Although it doesn’t make it out all that often, when we play Halfling Feast we know we are going to enjoy the game, and that is what counts.
Verdict: Good for Second Breakfast.
Imps: Devilish Duels
Once again, published by the same company as Cadaver and Halfling Feast, Imps: Devilish Duels is another small card game that can be played in around 20 minutes or so.
Imps was an interesting game going in and somewhat difficult to define. At the time, we played a fair amount of Star Wars: Destiny and Imps definitely shares a few concepts with that. It is a game that puts players in charge of characters (with abilities) using dice to determine the effects of the game. Imps is similar in ways to that, but it is also very different.
The artwork to Imps is, it has to be said, superb and it is a very good looking little card game. That being said, how well the dice rolling mechanic works is open for debate, and we often struggle to gel with it. It is definitely a game worth looking at if you like the mixed medium of dice and cards, but it isn’t one we break out often.
Verdict: Glowing embers.
Imagine Stranger Things as a card game and you are halfway to understanding Inbetween.
Inbetween is a game from the same company as Multiuniversum and is, it has to be said, just as good if not better. Inbetween is a game for two players in which the forces of light and dark battle it out for control over a small town. Players use ability cards to push each other back and further their control, with one side being good and one side being bad.
What is more – Inbetween is an absolutely stunning game. The artwork is absolutely nuts, and helps create the idea that this is a small, interconnected community fighting for the light whilst facing the decline into madness.
Inbetween is well worth checking out, if you haven’t done so already. We have thoroughly enjoyed it throughout the last year and look forward to many more games in the future.
Verdict: Eleven out of Ten
Monty Python Fluxx
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition…unless you have watched enough Monty Python that you can quote it all backwards.
My girlfriend is a massive Monty Python fan and so, last year, when she saw the Monty Python Fluxx box at the UKGE she had to have it.
Now, a couple of things can be said about Monty Python Fluxx. Firstly, although there are references from across the Python repertoire in the box, 90% of them are from The Holy Grail (again, I’m writing this next to the girlfriend and she is quoting Monty Python at me as I type – “you seek the grail!” – yes…thanks Beth…). Secondly, well…Monty Python Fluxx is…well…Fluxx. It plays the same as all the other Fluxx games only with more coconuts.
Verdict: T’is but a Fluxx.
“A heavy weight filler.”
Those are the words that originally attracted us to Pocket Mars as a game and ones that we wanted to immediately test to see how accurate they were. We’ve played it a few times this year, and I can confirm that it is a heavier filler game. The box didn’t lie.
It’s also a bit of a mathy game that has been fun to break out on occasion. The theme is that of space exploration, and it is a bit thin at times; however, that doesn’t really matter. It is a game about order and managing resources. Since it is a fairly quick game the theme doesn’t hugely matter, and the game play is challenging enough to make it interesting.
Pocket Mars isn’t as “martian”-esque as games like Terraforming Mars but it has been an enjoyable challenge. The resource management side of it works well, and it uses a few mechanics that merge together to form a fairly ambitious game.
Verdict: Shoots for the stars.
“It has dragons”.
It’s amazing the things that justify a game in Beth’s eyes.
RYŪ is a game we picked up incredibly cheaply for a big box game at the last expo. It was only £15.99 and was worth a punt.
In RYŪ you play the roles of different groups looking to build giant dragons. This is done through a tile flipping and cube drafting mechanic that make the game interesting, if not a bit repetitive.
RYŪ is a game we have enjoyed over the past year, and it is not a bad game by any means. That being said, the mechanics and the theme don’t seem to merge quite as well as other games on this list. It is fun, but it can also be a bit dry under the surface. That being said, it does use a few mechanics in unique ways, so may be worth checking out for board game buffs who want something a little different.
Verdict: Got wings, but struggles taking flight.
One of the best games we have ever bought, we were a bit sceptical going into Sagrada. How can a game about making stained glass windows be so much fun? All I can tell you is that it is an amazing game.
Sagrada is a dice drafting game in which you are looking for certain dice to complete a specific pattern in a stained glass window. Built like a puzzle, there are several ways of scoring each game, with variable goals and interesting tools to use to make your window a reality.
Not only is Sagrada beautiful. but it is fantastic to play. It looks and feels great, and each game always plays out differently.
Sagrada is the kind of game that I would say is perfect for people who like their own individual puzzle whilst playing. Player interactions aren’t hugely high, but they don’t need to be since everyone can get immersed in building their own window whilst playing.
Sagrada is not only a game we try to break out as regularly as possible, but it is also a game we try to introduce as many people to as we can. It is a fantastic entry level game and one that gamers of all backgrounds can enjoy.
Verdict: Crafted by a master.
Sometimes you just need a relaxing game, and Samurai Gardener is just that. Kind of matching beautiful artwork with pattern recognition game play, it is down to you to cultivate the best Japanese garden.
Samurai Gardener is enjoyable for several reasons, but mostly because it is a chilled out game. There are so many games on our shelves where you either need to use a lot of brain power (like Trickerion) or that are hugely competitive (like Munchkin). Samurai Gardener isn’t particularly either of those things, and is instead a game where you can sit back and enjoy the game for what it is.
All in all, Samurai Gardener is a game I am happy we have on our shelves as it is a game I am more than happy to chill with.
We are now down to the last couple of “heavy” games on the list and Spirit Island is an interesting one.
A game that we like to describe as “Catan in reverse”, Spirit Island is a cooperative game in which you play as the elemental spirits of an island looking to fend off settlers. During the game you use a deck of special abilities to fight off those looking to exploit the island for their own gain.
Where Spirit Island has a great theme, it is also a game that has a lot of rounds. Taking a while to learn, Spirit Island is not a game we break out all that often, and we usually end up having to relearn it every time we play since it is so complex. It is actually the second most complex game we own, coming in with a massive 3.93/5 complexity rating on BGG.
Don’t get me wrong – there is no doubt that Spirit Island is a technically masterful game; however, it is sometimes a bit too complex. Having a little less to do or keep track of each turn would probably mean we would break it out more often.
That being said, we love the theme of Spirit Island and are glad we have it in our collection. It is another absolutely stunning game, and one that deserves to be played more, if only we could remember the rules.
Verdict: Rock Solid.
Hmm. Trickerion. What can be said about Trickerion? Well…you know how I said above that Spirit Island is the second most complex game we own…well…
Trickerion is an insanely complex game. A worker placement game, set around the concept of building incredible magic shows, Trickerion is the only game to have physically broken me. I love it, and it is amazing, but I don’t break easy. It blew my mind as I tried to play, and it sums up the typical worker placement experience – I want to do ALL the things, but can only do a handful. It then masks that experience under a whole series of complexities that are probably more difficult than the tricks they convey.
Trickerion is not a game for the faint of heart, and it takes a while to learn the rules. That being said, it is ridiculously complex and requires more brainpower than the Technological Singularity.
Full of theme, Trickerion is more than just an interesting game to play – it is a real experience as you put your brain to the limit trying to create a better show than your opponents.
Verdict: Blows your mind.
We’re almost there, dear readers, as we review 18 games in one article. Second to last, we look at Truth Bombs by Big Potato. This is a game you may remember us talking about earlier.
Truth Bombs is an example of Big Potato doing what Big Potato do best – create successful and inclusive party games that everyone can play.
In Truth Bombs a series of questions are laid out in the middle of the table. You each write your name on a sheet of paper and pass it to the person next to you. They will then write one of the answers on your behalf. The sheet then goes to the next person who does the same, and so on. At the end of the game you get a sheet of paper with a single answer to each question on it, revealing what people really think about you.
Or not. Most of the time people just write really funny answers instead.
We’ve had some amazing evenings playing Truth Bombs. It really works as one of those games you can play with anyone and this year has acted as one of the go-to party games, especially with family.
Verdict: Truly Entertaining
Weird Things Humans Search For
As someone who runs a blog and who relies on Google to drive traffic to it, Weird Things Humans Search For immediately appealed. Weird Things (which we shall call it for short) was one of those games that we bought for the the theme and we are glad we did.
Weird Things is a quiz in which you try to guess the top answers for weird things people searched for under certain topics.
It is easy to underestimate the power of a simple quiz for bringing people together, but they do have that ability. Weird Things is the perfect example of that, and it is a game we have (once again) played with all kinds of different people. In great Big Potato tradition it is incredibly funny and occasionally a bit rude, and all in all those make for an entertaining evening of gaming.
We have two quizzes in our gaming collection and both are Big Potato games. We enjoy both as well. All in all, Weird Things was a good purchase.
Verdict: We’re feeling lucky.
We did it! We managed to quickly give opinions on 18 games in one article – and now are feeling exhausted (as if we had just played Trickerion in fact!).
The UK Games Expo is now in just a couple of days time and we are truly excited. This year marks the first year that myself and Beth will be attending the Press Preview as well, so expect a lot of updates over the weekend.
For now though, we need our strength and our rest. I hope you have enjoyed this article and the past…3400…words. I hope to see you at the Expo!